EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 2, 2012

Editorial: Cheers and jeers for some local newsmakers


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Cheers, and smiles through tears, for Robert Lang, his family and Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill. Lang's son Daniel was scheduled to wed Ashley Torr in York, Maine, on Oct. 20. But with Lang in hospice care with terminal cancer, the couple decided to move up the ceremony to make sure he could be part of it. Hospice House readily agreed to host its first wedding. "We both wanted him to be there,” Daniel Lang told reporter Mark Vogler. Is there a better example of the enduring bonds of love and family that marriage is intended to sanctify?

Cheers to Ralph Bates, the 81-year-old Manchester-by-the-Sea resident who is spending his twilight years giving away much of the fortune he made in real estate. He donated $1 million to The Jimmy Fund in 2006, $300,000 to the ALS Association in 2010, and $100,000 to the Pine Street Inn in Boston this year. He has also given $1 million to a community center in New Brunswick, Canada, where his family has roots. The latest beneficiary is River House in Beverly, which is reopening this week, thanks to Bates' $100,000 gift, after being closed since April, Bates donated $1 million to The Jimmy Fund in 2006, $300,000 to the ALS Association in 2010, and $100,000 to the Pine Street Inn in Boston this year. He has also given $1 million to a community center in New Brunswick, Canada, where his family has roots. “I’m a bachelor," he told reporter Pal Leighton, “I figure I can’t take it with me, so I might as well be good to a lot of people.”

Jeers to Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua and his various enablers, who took advantage of the unexpected death of the chairman of the Licensing Board to install a Lantigua crony on the board. Alfonso Garcia was given a temporary, emergency appointment by the mayor. Garcia had twice been rejected by the City Council for appointed positions\ -- once each for the Licensing Board and the Board of Registrars. City Councilors Eileen Bernal and Daniel Rivera also objected to this one. They said state law does not allow emergency appointments to licensing boards, which could invalidate any decisions Garcia participates in. But -- and we know we sound like a broken record -- what does Lantigua care about such legal niceties?

Cheers to the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society, which celebrated its 20th anniversary by helping Salisbury Beach deal with a growing population of feral cats. Volunteers for the nonprofit trap, spay or neuter, vaccinate and release the adults, putting the kittens up for adoption. It's a humane approach to the problem of strays. You can help the society's work by donating through its website, mrfrs.org.
Jeers to the 19-year-old would-be robber who police say was trapped inside Lightship Liquors in Lawrence when he pulled a knife on a clerk and demanded money, only to have her flip a switch that locked them both inside until the cops arrived to find him cowering in the basement. Qualified cheers for the quick-thinking clerk, who probably should have played it safe by letting him out after he grabbed a $20 bill off the counter and made for the exit. But you've got to love it when the victim turns the tables. Let's hope the alleged robber spends much more time locked up -- in jail.

Cheers to the two anonymous citizens who dropped a dime on two alleged armed robbers after watching a video of the crime in progress that was posted on The Eagle-Tribune's website after the July 31 holdup of a Lawrence convenience store. Jeers to the alleged bad guys, who it turns out were already behind bars in New Hampshire on unrelated charges. The prevalence of surveillance cameras in vulnerable stores and the improved quality of the videos they record is reason to smile -- unless you're one of the hapless perps.