EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 20, 2013

Editorial: Cheers and jeers for some local newsmakers

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Cheers to Lawrence Fire Department Inspector Frank Skusevich, who heard an emergency call on his scanner and jumped into action to rescue a struggling 72-year-old man from the Merrimack River after the man’s canoe capsized. He had help from boater Paul Bea. Skusevich said he had been headed to a routine smoke detector inspection when his day turned into “a life or death situation.” He added, “That’s why I love this job.” You’ve got to admire -- and maybe envy -- someone who’s so quick-thinking and effective at his job and who also loves what he does.

Cheers and thank you to the members of another fire department, Gloucester’s, for rescuing our colleague, photographer Allegra Boverman of the Gloucester Daily Times, when she became stuck in tidal mud flats while shooting photos of some Fishtown striped bass fishermen last week. Allegra was wearing calf-length rubber boots as she traipsed through the mud to get the best angle for her shots. The suction as the boots sealed around her legs quickly made it impossible to move. Firefighter Dan Kennedy, another quick-thinking fire department member, doffed his shoes and socks and barefooted his way to Allegra. Thanks again, Gloucester FD.

Jeers to Jerry Connor, the erstwhile treasurer of the Londonderry Democratic Committee, for posting an online “Mother’s Day card” addressed to U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte featuring the New Hampshire Republican surrounded by the visages of children slain in the Newtown massacre. It’s fine to take issue with Ayotte’s vote against a gun control bill backed by President Obama. That’s what the democratic process is all about. But pinning the slaughter of innocents on someone who disagrees with a particular piece of legislation is the kind of vicious cheap shot that poisons the process. Compounding his lack of civility, Connor said he would not apologize until Ayotte apologized for her vote. Shame on top of shame.

Jeers to Methuen officials, who for more than a decade have been unable to get a boat ramp built at the site of the old Bea’s Sandwich Shop on the Merrimack River. Methuen has already sunk more than $500,000 into the project with nothing to show for it but paperwork, and it expects to spend another half million or so to get the job done. If it can scrape up the money, the city hopes to begin work late this year or early next. Even then, the ramp wouldn’t be ready until 2016. It took just 410 days to build the Empire State Building.

Cheers to Rudy Baez, a 2007 Lawrence High grad who made a life-changing decision to pursue his education after fist returning to his native Dominican Republic. On Saturday, he became the first member of his family to earn a college degree, receiving his diploma from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, along with a Chancellor’s Medal for Student Service. He was one of six members of the 3,100-plus graduates to earn the award. He credits his grandmother and his late mother for pushing him to enter and complete college. “I was determined to make them proud,” he said. Parents take note.

Cheers and good luck to Moumina Khan, Leena Hamad and Hana Illikkal of the Islamic Academy for Peace in Methuen, who are headed to the National History Bee in Atlanta June 1. The three students have been boning up on history with teacher Amanda Cudmore, meeting once a week after school to study subjects not covered in classes, including the histories of ancient China, and the Mongolian empire. The girls also study up to two hours a day on their own. “We have to learn everything that has ever happened in history,” Leena said. “It will help us in the future as we learn from the past.” The girls qualified for the regional competition in April held at the Pioneer Charter School in Boston. “They’re incredibly hard-working girls who succeed in school and everything they set their mind to,” said Cudmore. You go, girls.