CHEERS to the boys from the Lawrence American Legion Post 15 baseball team, who are on their way to play in the northeast regional tournament this week after having captured the state title in dramatic fashion last Thursday night.

Lawrence beat Ashland, 2-0, to punch a ticket to the regionals at Holy Cross College. In the win, Lawrence pitchers Miguel Matos and Jairo Vasquez allowed only one hit between them while piling up seven strikeouts.

The last team from the area to win the Legion state championship was from Andover in 2004.

Two years ago, Lawrence didn’t even have a Legion team.

“It’s taken a lot to get here, to get to this point,” coach Julio Ramos told Executive Sports Editor Bill Burt.  “… This shows you what you can accomplish when you have people committed to something. Lawrence can win, and tonight, we put Lawrence on the map."

Congratulations to Coach Ramos and his squad, and good luck in Worcester this week. The Merrimack Valley will be rooting for them.

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JEERS to a drawn-out vacancy on Lawrence’s Planing Board that the city is just now getting around to filling.

Last week the City Council approved real estate agent Betty Camilo-Correa as a sixth, associate member on the five-person board. Her term is not definite, nor is her role in the immediate future. What is clear is that the board could’ve used her these past few months.

The board has been limping by with four members, as staff writer Bill Kirk recently reported, because one member, Franklyn Veloz, was in Middleton Jail on a charge of assault and battery on a family member. He was just released on bail a week ago.

During four-plus months that Veloz couldn’t make meetings, his fellow Planning Board members pressed on. But they couldn’t take action if any of the other members was absent, for lack of a quorum. The paralysis is problematic, especially given numerous projects either underway or in the works around the city.

Mayor Daniel Rivera told Kirk he wasn’t sure of the details of Veloz’s case, though “if he’s convicted, depending on what it is, I’d have to ask him to resign.” Should he be absent in the future, Camilo-Correa can now fill his seat, though she can only vote if it’s needed to make a four-member quorum of the board.

All of which is well and good, though one wonders why it took more than four months to fill this void on an important city board.

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Finally, a CHEERS to new beginnings in South Lawrence. The city passed yet another milestone in its recovery from last fall’s natural gas disaster when it reopened the Sullivan Park basketball and tennis courts near Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The courts at Sullivan Park are so new they shine, with nets that are bright white. The ground is blue and green — and in better shape than it was before the location was picked for a makeshift village of recreational vehicles for people displaced by lack of gas, heat or hot water. The assortment of trailer homes wrecked the blacktop, but “now they’re better than any other courts in the league,” said Lawrence High junior Jameson Ho. “These are brand-new.”

It’s a happy turn of events for a tennis team that practiced and played all of last season on the road.

The city poured nearly $1.4 million into repairing Sullivan Park, a price tag that was covered by an $81 million check written by Columbia Gas to pay for sidewalks, playgrounds and other infrastructure affected by the gas disaster.

“We didn’t know we’d go a whole season without these courts,” Rivera said last week. “It was just more hardship for the kids. But today these courts are available for the kids."