New Children’s Librarian Katherine Palencia said landing the position at the Library is a dream come true for her.
When new Children’s Librarian Katherine Palencia sits at her desk in the basement of the Chelsea Public Library near the Children’s Rooms, it’s a place that has been familiar to her since she was a little girl – coming to the library with her mother and experiencing a safe, learning environment.
Now she has been hired as the new full-time
librarian after having worked part-time at the library for about 10 years, and
is excited to share her love of reading with a new generation of Chelsea kids.
“I didn’t want to leave Chelsea because my
family is here and my memories are here,” she said. “I don’t want to work in
any other area. I want to help Chelsea grow and I want to be part of the
growth…This position is a dream come true for me. I worked here in high school
and came back after college and have been here since 2011. It’s a dream come
true because I believe in what the library provides – the education and the
free access to information. I enjoy seeing kids excited about reading or coming
to work on their homework. I want to help them out. It’s a dream come true
because I have always seen myself here.”
Palencia attended St. Rose School as a girl,
and then went to the Williams Middle School. She attended Chelsea High School
and graduated in 2007. She graduated from Salem State and is currently pursuing
a Master’s Degree in Library Science at Cambridge College.
Palencia said her memories of the Chelsea
Library are very comforting, and she hopes to be able to pass that on.
“I think it was the people who made it very
special,” she said. “They had great relationships with my mother coming in here
and being able to feel comfortable and to ask questions. They always quenched
the curiosity I had.”
Palencia has been spearheading the English
as a Second Language program that meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., and now she
has expanded that to working in the Children’s area.
She said her big push right now is for the
upcoming Summer Reading Program.
“I am already really excited about summer
reading,” she said. “I am looking for any local businesses wanting to
collaborate with the Chelsea Public Library to donate prizes. It could be as
simple as a free ice cream cone, or as much as a free bike – which the Knights
of Pythias donated last year.”
She said they will be bringing back the
story times soon, and will have a full range of winter and spring activities
soon as well.
“I’m a life-long Chelsea resident and also
very proud to be Latina,” she said. “I’m happy that we can bring in more
Spanish speakers. Our staff does a great job and we have so many knowledgeable
people to help accommodate everyone.”
New Children’s Librarian Katherine Palencia said
landing the position at the Library is a dream come true for her. Having fond
memories of attending the library as a girl, she said she is excited to pass
that on to a new generation of Chelsea kids.
Chelsea city councillors are looking at ways
in which they can legally find a way to reserve some of the recreation
marijuana licenses for Chelsea residents.
Councillor Roy Avellaneda forwarded an order
recently to reserve at least two of the four recreational licenses for Chelsea
residents, as so many residents have been impacted by the War on Drugs and the
prosecution of marijuana possession crimes.
Avellaneda said his order is to amend the
current retail marijuana ordinance in similar fashion to Somerville and Boston.
At the state level, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) signaled early on
that it would approve licenses quicker in communities like Chelsea that
historically have been heavily impacted by drug prosecution.
However, Avellaneda and other councillors
said they have only seen well-heeled investors from out of town turning up to
take advantage of that designation in Chelsea.
“The recent rush we have seen by well-funded
and politically connected individuals and groups to apply for the available
licenses puts those living in communities like Chelsea at a serious
disadvantage,” he said. “The goal of the legislation I have introduced is to
provide a two-year window for two of the four licenses just for Chelsea
residents or a business entity comprised of 60 percent Chelsea residents…I
think we would have better host agreements and community benefits
offered by an individual or group based from Chelsea than from someone with no
connections to this city. Should we allow the money made from these lucrative
licenses leave the city? Or should we try to keep that revenue here?”
The Council held a Committee of the Whole
meeting on Monday night, Feb. 4, to discuss the matter and try to find a
Council President Damali Vidot said she and
Avellaneda and the rest of the Council seem to be on the same page with the
idea, but may differ on how to accomplish it.
“My concern at Monday’s meeting and a
couopld of other councillor’s concerns were that we could be interfering with a
business’s right ot commerce,” she said. “If I own an adult-use shop and want
to sell it, I don’t know if we can limit who you sell it to. We don’t want to
cut people off at the knees. That will effect investors because they may not
want to enter into a place where there are so many limits on their
investment…Also, we’re only allowing the rich to get richer. If you live in
Chelsea and have the money to buy one of these, you’re obviously already rich.”
She said the marijuana licenses mimic the
regulations for liquor stores, and there are no such limits on liquor licenses.
That said, she agreed that Avellaneda has a
good idea that needs to be explored and hopefully implemented in some fashion
to help Chelsea residents – to empower those economically who have been
affected in the past.
Avellaneda said the idea is consistent with
the recent 100 percent residency requirement for all new police and fire hires,
as well as the affordable housing requirement for Chelsea residents.
“It asks that any new jobs created in
Chelsea have a priority for Chelsea residents,” he said. “I doubt Chelsea would
lose any opportunities or see a delay in applications because any outsider
looking to open in Chelsea would look to partner with a Chelsea resident rather
than risk losing a chance at a license by waiting two years.”
Western Front Moving
Quickly on Webster
The Economic Empowerment marijuana proposal
on Webster Avenue is moving quickly through the local process for a marijuana
dispensary at 121 Webster Ave.
Western Front is a minority-owned firm that
received the Economic Empowerment designation from the state last spring, and
had its community meeting shortly after. The firm plans to open a dispensary
and also employ those who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs –
particularly people from the Chelsea. The ownership of the company comes from
Boston and Cambridge though.
Western Front is scheduled to go before the
Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. It is the first ZBA hearing
in Chelsea for a marijuana proposal.
Rather than Russell Disposal, the trash and
recycling trucks rumbling down city streets could one day say City of Chelsea.
While that possibility is a slight one at
the moment, the City Council is asking City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to look
into the costs of the City owning its own trash trucks and picking up its own
trash. Currently, the City has a contract with Russell Disposal, Inc. of
More than half the sitting councilors had
their name attached to the order that was introduced at Monday night’s meeting:
President Damali Vidot, District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero, District 1
Councilor Robert Bishop, District 4 Councilor Enio Lopez, District 3 Councilor
Joe Perlatonda, and District 2 Councilor Luis Tejada.
Lopez said he does not believe Russell is
doing a good enough job with trash removal, sometimes leaving trash behind and
picking up recycling on a haphazard schedule.
“They are being paid big bucks and they are
not doing it,” Lopez said. “For the amount of money we are paying, we can get a
few trucks and hire people from the city of Chelsea.”
Bishop said he has heard no complaints from
his district about trash collection, but did support having Ambrosino look at
“If this saves money, I’m interested in what
(the city manager) has to say,” said Bishop. “The whole idea is to see if we
can save money.”
In some procedural wrangling,
Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson made a motion to move the issue into conference
“I feel like we keep putting things out
there and we have no idea what the costs will be,” said Robinson. The
councilor, who said his family has a long history in the waste management
business, said a single trash truck could cost over a quarter of a million
dollars, along with additional costs to retrofit the trucks to collect trash
barrels in Chelsea.
“If we make the move to go pick up our own
trash, there is a lot involved,” Robinson said. “I don’t have a number in front
of me, but it could cost $3 million to $3.5 million per year.”
Recupero said there was no need to put the
issue into council committee at this time, since the request was to have
Ambrosino get more information and numbers on municipal waste collection.
“If he tells us it’s not feasible, then it
can’t be done,” he said. “If it is feasible, then we can send it to committee.”
Perlatonda estimated that the costs could be
even higher than those estimated by Robinson.
While Cambridge has more than double the
population of Chelsea, he said annual costs of municipal collection there are
about $12 million.
“I don’t think it is going to be feasible to
find (an option) cheaper than Russell,” he said.
The vote to move the issue to committee failed,
with Robinson, Perlatonda, and District 7 Councilor Yamir Rodriguez on the
short end of the vote. The request will now go to Ambrosino for his review.
There is no shortage of Super Bowl parties
going on in Chelsea this weekend, but if one wants their party to score high,
they better know how to prepare a proper chicken wing.
Chef/Pitmaster Andy Husbands of The Smoke
Shop (located in Assembly Row in Somerville) said that if hosts think getting a
good wing on the table for the Super Bowl is as easy as popping them in a hot
oven, they would be flapping wrong.
In fact, he said, the key to a good Super
Bowl spread is preparation and thinking ahead.
“Wings are so subjective,” he said. “Do you
like the small ones or the big roaster wings? I go for the big roasting ones.
You want the big, roaster wings. I’d also advise everyone to go early. Don’t go
to the store to buy your wings on Saturday. They’ll all be sold out and you’ll
get stuck with the small wings…Most everything you serve for the Super Bowl
except for ribs can be done on Saturday. That makes it so much easier. You want
it to be enough food for everybody, but you want it to be easy for you too. You
don’t want to be in the kitchen saucing wings when the Pats are scoring.”
Husbands said the centerpiece of a Super
Bowl spread always has to be the wings, so getting them right is important.
Husbands suggests doing what is called a
“You want the best wings, and even though
it’s a bit complicated, I would look up how to confit wings,” he said.
When he pulls it off, Husbands said he
starts by seasoning the raw wings the day before with salt and other
flavorings. Many make the mistake, he said, of putting the sauce – whether
buffalo or teriyaki sauce – on before cooking the wings. One should not do
that, he said.
“That will hamper the wings,” he said.
“Sugars burn quickly, and you don’t want that burnt taste on the wings.”
Once seasoned, Husbands coats the wings in
oil and chicken or goose fat. Then they go into a 205-degree oven until cooked.
Then, take them out, let them cool and remove the fat. The next day, before the
big game, take them out of the refrigerator and use the fat from the previous
day on a sheet pan. Put the wings in the fat and cook them in an oven at 350
degrees until crispy.
“They become crispy and rich and then you
apply the sauce, whether Frank’s Red Hot or Szechuan – whatever you want,” he
said. “That’s a fun way to do it.”
There are, of course, other ways to wing it
for the big game.
Home frying, however, is not something
Husbands recommends. Most people don’t have the right equipment and it uses a
ton of fat for just one dish.
Cooking them in the oven after seasoning is
another option, but it has to be on low heat. A common mistake, he said, is
putting the wings in the oven raw at a high temperature to get them crispy.
However, that leads to a dry and bony wing – perhaps even raw.
“You want to put them on very low heat and
continuously turning them gets them crispy on the outside and keeps them juicy
on the inside,” he said. “After they’re cooked (150 degree temperature inside),
you can crank up the oven to 450 degrees and flash them in until really crispy.
Then you sauce them up. That way you get them fully cooked and crispy. No one
wants raw chicken.”
Yet another way goes to the die-hards, who
will take the opportunity to do some arctic grilling. Husbands said the cold
weather won’t stop him from grilling wings and smoking ribs for his Super Bowl
“I’m absolutely going to be outside,” he
said. “My neighbors all know me well. They don’t look at me like I’m crazy.
It’s more like they want to know if they can have some. It’s a passion and if
you know it love it you want to do it all the time in any weather. I have a
Traeger grill and a Big Green Egg grill and they work in all types of weather.
I might use both of them this time.”
Beyond the meat of the matter, though,
Husbands has some good ideas for buffet style options.
One of those ideas is a chili bar. He
usually cooks a pot of chili and leaves it on low in the Crock Pot, setting up
a chili fixin’s salad bar next to it.
“What’s cool about chili is you can keep it
in the Crock Pot, keep it hot and put out a bunch of toppings – like crushed
Fritos, crushed tortilla chips, scallions, sour cream and anything else you
like,” he said. “People can come back and forth to that during the entire
At halftime, he rolls out a hot dog bar too.
Either grilled or boiled, he selects quality
hot dogs and two different kinds of buns. From there, the sky is the limit on
the kinds of toppings one can offer to guests. Husbands suggests kimchee,
several different types of mustard, cheese sauce, unique pickle relishes and
even his own favorite, sriracha ketchup.
“Guests can have fun making their own hot dog,”
he said. “You can wheel that out at halftime for something new. All of it can
be prepared ahead of time too.”
For the beer lovers, Husbands suggests not
going all lawnmower and not going all high-brow either. In his ice chest, he
said he offers everything from Miller High Life to Trillium Brewery.
“It’s important to have something for
everyone,” he said. “I don’t want to push my passion for craft beer on someone
who wants a High Life. A High Life can be just as enjoyable as a craft beer.”
Super Bowl LIII official coverage starts at
6 p.m. on CBS.
Andy Husbands is an award-winning chef and
pitmaster at The Smoke House, which has locations in Assembly Row, the Seaport
and Cambridge. Just this year he closed down his long-time South End
restaurants Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel – which were neighborhood staples for
Between taking her kids to gymnastics and riding
her bike from her Somerville home to the CHA Everett (formerly the Whidden),
Dr. Erika Fellinger somehow finds time to perform just about any kind of
surgery that might walk through the doors of the community hospital.
Her dedication and listening skills, many
say, are notable, and it is one of many reasons she was recently named a Boston
‘Top Doc’ in the latest issue of Boston Magazine. Once a year, the magazine
highlights several doctors and specialists who have gone above and beyond in
the medical profession. This year, Fellinger was recognized.
“It was a surprise, and it’s an honor,” she
said. “I think it speaks a lot for CHA. I love my colleagues. We have a mission
driven group of physicians and I consider myself one of them. I love my
patients and listening to their stories and knowing their families and the
staff here. I think if that’s what gets you ‘Top Doc,’ then there needs to be
more of it. That’s really what we need more of in medicine. We need people who
enjoy the stories and the people. I’ve been on the other end as a patient and I
know how it feels. Even if I can’t fix them, the listening I can do is
Fellinger didn’t come by way of Harvard or
Boston University, like many top doctors in the area, but rather by way of the
mountains and valleys of practicing community medicine in Vermont – with a few
years training in Africa as a member of the Peace Corps as well.
She said the key for her has been to focus
on the patients of Everett, Chelsea and Revere and really get to know them. As
a general surgeon mostly conducting minimally invasive surgery, she can be
doing everything from removing a gall bladder to repairing a knee to treating a
gunshot wound that cannot wait.
In the midst of those procedures, she said
she has always made an effort to visit with the patients – learning about them
whether they are five generations in Everett or they have just arrived from any
number of countries around the world.
“General surgery isn’t usually warm and
fuzzy, but I feel fortunate the training I had in Vermont featured role models
that listened to patients and their stories,” she said. “It helped to find out
what was wrong with them. Coming down here, I realize now that was a really
unique experience and I am fortunate.”
Fellinger, 50, was born in Washington, D.C.,
but said her “hippie” mom retreated to Maine when she was 11. As the oldest of
five children, she said there wasn’t a lot of money, but there was always a lot
of work to be done. She got a big break in landing a scholarship to Smith College.
After college, though, this non-traditional surgeon took another
non-traditional route on her way to the operating room.
“After college, I thought I wanted to go to
medical school, but wanted to get experience so I joined the Peace Corps,” she
said. “I ended up in Africa for four years. It was life changing. I still have
friends there, and with cell phones, it’s much easier to talk to them now.”
She returned to the United States and
enrolled in the University of Vermont Medical School (which is Maine’s in-state
medical school). She married a Vermonter, and was a resident for 10 years up
there, later completing a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery at Bay State
Medical Center in western Massachusetts.
Some 14 years ago, she got an offer to come
to the “big city,” being offered a position at the former Whidden and at
Cambridge Hospital. Going back and forth between the two facilities, however,
was challenging. Soon, she was able to decide between the two, and she chose
“I had a choice between Cambridge and
Whidden and I chose Whidden,” she said. “I loved it. It’s a great operating
staff. Everybody really cares and bends over backwards to help out. I also love
the patients. My practice has grown. I see many of my patients out in Everett
when I go to eat, and I’ve even seen patients while taking a steam at Dillon’s
Russian Steam Bath in Chelsea.”
The hospital has changed, she said, but only
for the better – as she noted everyone is now board certified and it’s much
more academic. She said she often describes herself to patients as a “butts and
guts surgeon” due to the fact that general surgery can entail both parts of the
More than anything, she said she enjoys
being a compassionate physician who could face just about any kind of care.
“It’s a community hospital,” she said. “I
love being able to take care of anything that comes through the door.”
married, and has three children between the ages of 13 and 8. They make their
home in Somerville.
On Nov. 26, at approximately 7:23 p.m., while assigned to the Bellingham Square area on foot a CPD officer was dispatched to Heller’s Liquor Mart, 429 Broadway, for a report of a party harassing the store clerk. Upon arrival, the male party was still on scene, inside the store. The officer observed the male acting aggressively, verbally and physically, as if he was ready to fight someone. The CPD officer attempted to calm him down. At that point, the male took a fighting stance, bouncing back and forth. The subject then tried to strike the officer. The individual was eventually restrained after several officers arrived and took him into custody.
Jaime Abreu, 39, of Everett, was charged with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault and battery.
BACK AND FORTH
On Nov. 30, at 1:59 a.m., officers were dispatched to 59 Central Ave. for a report of a 9-1-1 hang-up call made by a female. Officers later spotted the female acting irrationally exiting, and then entering, a motor vehicle. The female party was asked multiple times to provide her license and registration because she was in control of a motor vehicle on a public way. Based on the female’s party’s actions, Officers believed alcohol or drugs impaired her. The woman continued to refuse to answer or follow the officer’s instructions. At that point, she was placed under arrest. During the arrest, she continued to struggle with the officers and resist. She eventually was taken to the station to be processed.
Jill Ferreira, 47, of Cambridge, was charged with intimidating a witness, being a motor vehicle operator refusing to identify, and resisting arrest.
Jaime Abreu, 39, 130 Bow St., Everett, was arrested for assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault and battery.
Doroteo Perez, 57, 116 Shurtleff St., Chelsea, was arrested for ordinance violation, dangerous weapons and trespassing.
Jill Ferreira, 47, 341 Broadway, Cambridge, was arrested for witness intimidation, motor vehicle operator refusing to identify self and resisting arrest.
Ralph Ovide, 26, 25 Carmel St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant and shoplifting.
Anita Chamizo, 37, 855 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for violating Harassment prevention order.
Ramon Pagan, 57, 126 Maverick St., Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing.
Christian Ramos, 23, 182 Parish St., East Boston, was arrested for operating motor vehicle with suspended license, warrant and speeding.
After meeting at a dance studio party in Allston 11 years ago, Revere resident Chris Farina and Chelsea native Karen Padulsky Poverman have been dance partners at local clubs ever since.
“I was out with my girlfriends and he asked me to dance,” said Poverman, the daughter of Morton and Sandra Padulsky of Chelsea. “It was magic. I felt like the queen of the disco.”
The reason for the instant, dance-floor chemistry?
Farina, 57, has been an award-winning, high-tempo dancer with his own unique style and he was able to bring out the creative energy in Poverman, a former Chelsea High School cheerleader who had previously taken two years of dance lessons.
“Karen was used to the classic 1-2-3-step, 1-2-3 step that is almost rhythmic and doesn’t allow freelancing on the dance floor,” explained Farina, who is originally from East Boston.
Following weekly visits to Vincent’s Night Club in Randolph and twice-a-week dance sessions at Poverman’s dance studio inside her home, the pair began to elicit tremendous praise from other dancers and build up somewhat of a following. Wearing their color-coordinated dance outfits, they stood out on the floor no matter what disco song was playing.
“Chris leads to the music and I follow his leads as well as to the music,” said Poverman, who is married to Steve Poverman. “So it’s never the exact same dance twice. He allows me to express myself to ‘dance within the dance.’’’
They’ve become so confident in their dancing talents, that the duo has decided to launch a new disco dance studio and give dance lessons at Poverman’s home. They have named the business, KC Dance, and have begun accepting students for lessons.
“We feel we’re ready to teach other couples how to disco dance,” said Poverman.
Farina said that their disco dance teaching methods will not be of the John Travolta/ “Saturday Night Fever” variety.
“It will be club classic, disco music,” said Farina. “It’s not wedding songs like Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” or Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” but rather songs like “Touch and Go,” “Sugar Pie Guy” and “Rough Diamond.”
A dance champion as a teenager
Farina, who is an athletic, 5 feet, 11 inches tall, has won numerous dance contests in his lifetime.
“I’ve been a dancer since I was 14 years old,” said Farina, who was friends with well-known DJs Ron Robin and Vinnie Peruzzi. “Sammy’s Patio, Jimmy Magg’s, Bartolo’s in East Boston, Faces in Cambridge, Boston Boston, Studio Four in Lynn, Chateau de Ville in Saugus – those were some of my early dance places.”
Back then, Farina was such a phenom and considered so technically proficient at disco dancing that he was recruited to be a teacher during his teenage and early adult years.
Finding the perfect
Farina said he was immediately impressed with Poverman’s “natural effervescence and ability to break out of the box away from conventional styles.”
“Karen realizes that there is more of an art to dance than it being structured or engineered,” said Farina. “Karen is more intuitive with me now. That’s a quality you want to enrich. There is an intuitive side of dance as opposed to an analytical, methodical style.”
And now Farina and Poverman hope to introduce other dancers to disco dancing, a phenomenon that was at its height of popularity in the 1970s.
“We love to dance because it gives us freedom of expression,” said Farina. “It’s also great for your physical conditioning. We’re ready and we’re enthusiastic about being able to teach disco dancing to people of any age.”
(To inquire about disco dance lessons at KC Dance, please call Karen Poverman at 978-979-7156 or Chris Farina at 781-853-9223).
The ALS Walk for Living on Admiral’s Hill, run by the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCFL), will host its 10th
In its milestone 10th year, the Leonard Florence ALS Walk for Living on Admiral’s Hill is being coordinated by Maura Graham, who came to the LFCFL in January. She said they are in the middle of crunch time for the Sept. 30 walk, but are excited how things are coming together. The walk is expected to attract residents of all ages, including several high school students from Chelsea, Everett and Malden Catholic.
annual walk this coming Sept. 30, and new Director Maura Graham said she is ready for another great event.
“This is my first year as walk director, but I’ve had the good fortune of having the previous walk director sty on to consult and help me,” said Graham. “Now we have 10 years of walks and so we have some history under our belts and it comes together really well. It’s huge for us. It’s our only fundraise at Leonard Florence and 100 percent of the proceeds go towards resident care.”
The Walk for Living benefits ALS and MS patients at the LFCFL, and helps them to be able to do unique activities. It is the only fundraiser for the home, which exclusively cares for those with ALS and MS. As an example, last year several residents with ALS were able to use proceeds from the walk to go to Disney World in Florida.
The walk is a family activity, and Graham said they have a lot of fun things to do in addition to the walk for families and young adults.
Matt Siegel of Kiss 108 will once again be the emcee of the event, this being his fourth year of participating in the walk.
In addition, Phyllis and Alan Bolotin of Swampscott have been named the Walk for Living Ambassadors this year.
“They have been very good to the Leonard Florence over the years and they have graciously accepted the roles of Walk Ambassadors,” said Graham. “They’ve been wonderful and have a huge team coming.”
Also coming will be hundreds of students.
One of the unique things about the Walk for Living is the fact that high school students from Chelsea High, Everett High and Malden Catholic participate and learn about ALS. Many eventually befriend the residents and gain an understanding of what it is to live with ALS or MS.
“Everett, Chelsea and Malden Catholic will all be participating and will have a big group,” said Graham. “Malden Catholic will be bringing a large group because they are honoring Brother Joe (Comber), who lives here at the Leonard Florence. The fact that so many young people participate is wonderful and shows a great sense of unity with the residents here and the community. It is multi-generational.”
Another aspect of the walk is that many of the residents who are benefitting from the fundraising participate side-by-side with the fundraisers. Many even bring their own teams.
“It is a rare thing to be able to walk side-by-side with the people you’re helping,” she said. “It’s a sense of camaraderie.”
Graham came to the LFCFL in January and previously worked in public relations and marketing for the Cambridge Office of Tourism and the Harvard Square Business Association.
“The minute I walked in to the Leonard Florence, I felt it was a great fit,” she said.
Graham lives in Melrose and has two young children.
To sign up for the Walk for Living, go to WalkForLiving.org. Registrations are also accepted the day of the event. Registration is $20 and kids 12 and under are free. Students are $10.
The event begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 30, 165 Captain’s Row.
Now that the Encore casino tower has come into full view of Everett, it’s time to learn how to deal a good hand.
Encore Boston Harbor, Cambridge College in Charlestown and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced this week that they will begin the first session of ‘Dealer School’ at Cambridge College in early September, focusing on teaching dealer basics, Blackjack games and Poker games. In coming years, they will also offer training on other games such as roulette and craps.
The collaboration is known as the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute and is long in the making, debuting now as Encore begins ramping up for the hiring of 1,100 dealers to fill out its gaming staff. Hirings will take place next spring, and it is expected that two full sessions of the Dealer School will be completed by the Encore opening on June 24, 2019.
Classes will start on Sept. 17, and the cost is $700. However, residents of Everett, Malden, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea and Medford will have the opportunity to win scholarships that will make it free. The deadline to submit applications for scholarships is Sept. 10.
“We have been talking with Cambridge College for a number of months about this and it has worked out well,” said John. “The space is 2,500 sq. ft. and it will hold about 80 students per classroom. They will have three sessions per day.”
The sessions will run Monday to Thursday, with sessions at 8 a.m. to noon; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. A student is expected to stay in their time slot once they start.
The Blackjack training will last nine weeks and the poker training will last 14 weeks.
There will also be a weekend session that only offers Blackjack training all day Saturday and Sunday for nine weeks.
Doug Williams, vice president of table games, Gary Hager, director of poker operations, and John all said that the Dealer School is a great opportunity to be ready when Encore ramps up to hire gaming staff next year. If one does get hired, it can mean a starting salary of $60,000 for a full-time job, plus benefits.
“This could be transformational for certain people,” said John. “In a matter of months for a 16-hour commitment and flexible times, you can begin a new career that starts at $60,000 for full-time work. It’s a chance for you to earn good money and have a career for the rest of your life. This isn’t for someone who likes to play cards and wants to do something fun. This is for someone really looking to make a career change.”
Said Williams, “It’s also a good avenue for someone who isn’t going to college or doesn’t want to go to college now. It’s a career you can take with you for the rest of your life. There aren’t many instances in a major metropolitan area where a new industry just pops up and you can get in on it.”
Added Hager, “When these kinds of jobs open up on the strip in Las Vegas, they don’t stay open long. These are good opportunities and this is getting in on the ground floor here.”
Those enrolled in the school will practice hands-on training, being taught by five former Encore dealers who will teach them all aspects of how to deal and oversee a good game. More than that, they will teach them the basics of being a dealer. That includes how to let people enjoy themselves and how to show off a good personality that will enhance the customer experience.
Basic requirements are that one have an 8th grade level of math competency; be 18 or older; be willing to work weekends, holidays and off hours; and have a great personality.
“The personality is very important,” said Williams. “We hear all the time it’s not whether a customer wins or loses that determines whether they had a great time, but it’s the interaction they have with the dealer. They may enjoy themselves more because you are they’re preferred dealer or you become their lucky dealer. You can go a long way here with a winning personality.”
John said, however, there is no guarantee that anyone who completes the Dealer School would be hired, but they would have preferred status.
“Honestly, we don’t know if they will definitely be hired by Encore,” he said. “It’s the first time we’re doing this. Obviously though, if you get through the program, you’ll have preferential status and you’ll be the first person we look to when we’re hiring.”
The full information about scholarships and enrollment in the Dealer School can be found at www.BetOnU.com.
Once again, classes for the first session start on Sept. 17.
With the Democratic primary coming up on Sept. 4, Congressman Mike Capuano and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley discussed the issues of transportation and housing, among others, in the Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District Debate held at UMass Boston on Tuesday, August 7.
From the start, the two sides agreed on their stance against the current administration, although the stance wasn’t simply to be anti-Trump. Capuano pointed to several issues, including healthcare and women’s rights.
“With Donald Trump in the White House, we are in the fight of our lives,” he said. “He’s threatening everything that we care about.”
Challenger Pressley stressed that she wasn’t dismissing the efforts of the incumbent Capuano, who is serving his 10th term in Congress, and his experience, but she emphasized the district’s need for activist leadership.
“What this district deserves, and what these times require, is activist leadership, someone who can be a movement and a coalition builder because, ultimately, a vote on the floor of Congress will not defeat the hate coming out of that White House,” Pressley said. “Only a movement can, and we have to build it.”
Capuano said his run has been a combination of both votes and advocacy. “Votes are important, and, by the way, with Democrats in the majority, we brought healthcare to 20 million people,” Capuano said. “Votes are part of what we do, but advocacy behind those votes and part of those votes is just as important on a regular basis, and my record shows we do both.”
Capuano, who cited how the district has seen its public transportation grow during his tenure, said his experience matters.
“In the final analysis, the votes on the floor of the house are going to be, for the most part, the same,” he said. “The effectiveness of what’s behind that vote will be different.”
Fighting for a majority minority district, Pressley also noted her frustration against the charges of identity politics being lobbied against her. The first woman of color elected to the City Council, Pressley recognized the importance of race and gender but said it can’t be recognized for the wrong reasons.
“[Representation] doesn’t matter so we have progressive cred[ibility] about how inclusive and representative we are,” Pressley said. “It matters because it informs the issues that are spotlighted and emphasized, and it leads to more innovative and enduring solutions.”
The debate was hosted by WBUR, the Boston Globe and UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. It was moderated by WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti and the Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker.
The Democratic primary will be held on Sept. 4, while the general election is on Nov. 6. However, the race between Capuano and Pressley will be decided in the Sept. 4 primary.
The 7th district encompasses parts of Boston, Cambridge and Milton, and all of Everett, Chelsea, Randolph and Somerville.