EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 5, 2013

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to a newly renovated Methuen High — at least in part — welcoming the return of teachers and students.

The southern half of the renovated and expanded high school opened Tuesday morning to allow staff to orient themselves and set up classrooms before students returned yesterday. Construction crews were putting the finishing touches on the first half of the $98 million renovation project. The northern wing of the school will be completed by next summer.

But now teachers and students in grades 10 through 12 can enjoy their new classrooms and other facilities. The change is quite dramatic. Before the renovations began, the high school was designed around the “open-concept” — classrooms without walls — popular in the 1970s. The design exacerbated noise levels in the building and made learning difficult.

Now, teachers like Joyce Gagnon are enjoying their bright, new classrooms with windows, walls and other unfamiliar features. “After 30 years I have my own door,” Gagnon told reporter Douglas Moser. “I took a picture of it.”

There is still work to be done in the southern wing, including finishing a locker room and the auditorium. But with the new building, this school year is off to a good start.

JEERS to lobster rustlers. Two West Roxbury men are facing charges for illegally trying to take home some 30 lobsters from the waters off Rockport.

Igor Moochnick, 39, is facing 12 counts of illegally possessing small lobsters, while Pioter Epshtein, 42, is facing 18 counts of the same charge, with each illegal lobster amounting to a single charge. The men are also facing charges because their diving equipment was not properly marked, and they more than 100 feet from their diving marker, according to Rockport police.

The pair were caught after local divers noticed the men handling a lot of lobsters. Scuba divers can obtain lobster permits, but only lobsters of a certain size can be taken out of the water and kept. Local divers usually take only a few per day.

Harbormasters Scott Story and Rosemary Lesch observed the pair coming up with lobsters for about 45 minutes.

“We had to wait to they came to shore with their catch,” Story told reporter James Niedzinski. “None of it was legal.”

There have been a number of incidents in recent months of illegal harvesting of undersized lobsters.

Harvesting undersized lobsters threatens the population of the crustacean because they have not had time to mature and reproduce. It is a selfish act that deserves to be punished.

JEERS to copper thieves. Stealing scrap metal continues to be an all-to-common criminal activity as metal prices remain high.

Sometimes the thieves are unwilling to wait until the metal is scrapped. That was the case recently as police are investigating the theft of copper wire right off the spools at the National Grid facility in North Andover. A security guard reported witnessing a man cutting pieces of the wire from the spools.

Police searched the area for the suspect with the assistance of an Essex County Sheriff’s Department canine unit, but came up empty.

In an earlier incident, thieves cut through the chain link fence that protects a yard at the facility and stole several rolls of copper wire, according to National Grid spokesman David Graves.

Scrap metal is worthless to thieves without a place to sell it. Stopping metal theft requires more vigilance on the part of scrap dealers.