New Clark Avenue School Opens with Buzz of Excitement on Wednesday

New Clark Avenue School Opens with Buzz of Excitement on Wednesday

It was a new year at the Clark Avenue Middle School Wednesday morning, Aug. 29.

But it wasn’t just any new year.

It was the year that students poured through a brand new front door to the clean, sparkling hallways of a brand new $54 million school building with all of the most modern amenities that their old school – the former 110-year-old Chelsea High School – couldn’t provide.

“I really want to see the new gym; I can’t wait,” said William Bay, a 7th grader, as he waited outside his new school Wednesday morning. “I guess I just want to see all of the school. I’m excited about the whole thing. I think it will help me do better in school. I’m going to learn more here.”

For parents, the excitement was just as frenzied.

“I’m so excited,” said Bernice Reyes, who brought her two sixth graders for their first day. “I have a college graduate who went to the old Clark Ave. I remember that school. It couldn’t give these kids what this one will.”

Said Sara El-Mahil, a returning student, “It’s better than the old one for sure. The classroom are larger and all the water fountains will work now. I really like the space in the front where kids can hang out before school. Everything is going to be more organized.”

The Clark Ave began several years ago, with Phase 1 concluding in December 2016 and kids being welcomed into the new classroom portion along Tudor Street. This year, however, the entire school was opened to students – revealing a new gym, new music rooms, the library and numerous other amenities that completed the project.

“It’s a fantastic building,” said Principal Michael Talbot. “The kids are going to love it. The teachers are going to love the new options that this building gives them to teach the kids. Everyone’s excited.”

Supt. Mary Bourque and other district officials, including Gerry McCue – who shepherded the project through before retiring this year, were on hand to welcome students and parents.

“I am so proud of what the City has done here with this facility,” she said. “This was the right thing to do for the kids and the community.”

One of the most appreciated things on Wednesday morning for the students, parents and staff was the new, sprawling courtyard and outdoor amphitheatre at the corner of Tudor  Street and Clark Avenue. The new space is still under construction, but was finished to the extent that it offered a great place to gather before school.

Previously, the school hugged the sidewalk, and there was little to no space for gathering.

The new outdoors space will support learning at the school, and will also be available for the community to use for things such as outdoor plays or movies.

Williams School sewer problems

The Williams School – home of the Browne Middle and Wright Middle Schools – experienced a heart-attack moment on Monday afternoon when a major sewer blockage threatened opening day.

Around 3 p.m. on Monday, the sewer backed up and caused a major problem in the school. All of the teachers getting prepared for the school year in the building were sent home.

Joe Cooney and his team at the Buildings and Grounds Department went to work on the problem and soon found that there was a huge cluster of baby wipes clogging the sewer pipe and drains.

“Joe’s team worked throughout the night washing and sanitizing everything and we were ready to be back in business Tuesday morning,” said Supt. Mary Bourque. “I am truly the luckiest and most grateful Superintendent for our dedicated and hard-working Buildings and Grounds department.”

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Prism View

Prism View

Khalani Gonzalez seems to be coming at all angles and from every direction as she peers through a prism during the Lewis Latimer Society’s Chelsea Science Festival in the PORT Park on Friday afternoon,Aug. 10. Scores of kids came out to learn about various aspects of science and community from fire safety to mosquito biology to 3-D printing and, the most favorite kid subject, how to make slime. The event was deemed a great success once again on what was a gorgeous summer day.

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Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp Seminar Will Be Starting on April 29

Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp Seminar Will Be Starting on April 29

Last summer two friends were chatting about how expensive college tuition is these days and the impending mounds of debt their collective six kids were most likely going to be faced with.

The conversation continued and one of the moms shared that she happened to be in the audience when Major Nippy Betz gave his TEDx talk a year prior and she was lucky to get to speak with him afterwards. She recalled having her mind blown open about the hidden world of scholarships and how if you cast a wide net, and are disciplined (just like fishing), you can reel in a boatload of free money. It was at that moment where they looked at each other and had an idea.

Like many moms, these friends are employed, over-extended and crazed, however they decided they needed to bring Nippy to Boston to share his education and his secrets. As they began to dig deeper, it became quickly evident that there was a lot they didn’t know, and likely other parents didn’t know as well. They decided to roll up their sleeves and plan the first ever Massachusetts Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp.

Kerry Strollo, Lexington resident, mom and event co-organizer said “This is about educating parents that you don’t have to sit idly by and just hope something down the line will work out financially for your kids. This is about early success planning so you (and your kiddos) are not panicked when they are a senior in High School on how they, or you, will afford college. Who knew kids in 7th and 8th grade can start to obtain and stockpile scholarships, and High Schoolers can earn so much they pay for their college education and then receive overpayments for living expenses after college? I didn’t, and we have 4 kids! As soon as I learned this I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops.” Strollo added, “There are tips, techniques, and a path to finding the scholarships, however it starts with putting together a plan of action. This Bootcamp is designed to help you craft that plan for success.”

Rosette Cataldo, a Revere native, mom and event co-organizer looks at it though a different lens. “I watch my kids, albeit great students, wasting time every day on the internet, Fort Nite, YouTube, Netflix…you name it. These kids must use their devices and brains for a better purpose. I want to educate my children on how to make the internet a gold mine that works for them, their future and not just a time suck.” This event is all about educating local parents and students at the same time and getting them aligned to work together with a plan so that the family isn’t crippled with debt

The Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp will be held:

April 29, 2018 11 am – 1 pm Diamond Middle School, Lexington

April 29, 2018 4 pm – 6 pm Sheraton Hotel, Framingham, MA

April 30, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Larcom Theatre, Beverly, MA

May 1, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Marriott Hotel, Newton, MA

For more info please visit:

Tickets are $49 per person. Students are encouraged to join their parents. Group rates (20+) available. To hear the story about a Tuft’s graduate with massive student debt please view this video

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Red Sox Offer Chelsea High School Students Discount Tickets

Red Sox Offer Chelsea High School Students Discount Tickets

For less than the cost of movie ticket, Chelsea students can enjoy the magic of Boston Red Sox baseball at Fenway Park this summer. The Red Sox are offering young fans affordable tickets to games through the team’s Student 9’s program, which provides high school and college students the opportunity to purchase $9 tickets with a valid student ID at every home game.

 “We want to make sure that this new generation of fans finds Fenway Park accessible, affordable, and enjoyable. It’s essential to the future of our game,” said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy. “We introduced the student 9’s to remove cost as a barrier for students, and allow for the spontaneity of deciding to come to a game last minute. Students can now come to Fenway Park for less than the cost of a movie ticket and with little advance planning.”

Student 9’s are the lowest priced tickets at Fenway Park and provide access with guaranteed standing room tickets and the potential for an upgrade pending availability.

Young fans can register to receive student offers by visiting or text ‘students’ to the Red Sox at 23215 to sign up for alerts at any time.

Student tickets will be delivered to mobile devices or available through the Ballpark App. Students can scan their ticket directly from their phone when they arrive at the ballpark gates, and are asked to bring their student ID for verification to gain entry.

Student 9’s are part of the Red Sox’ “Calling All Kids” initiative, an ongoing effort to connect baseball to the next generation of fans. Calling All Kids aims to provide greater access to Red Sox games, enhance the kids experience at Fenway Park and celebrate the game of baseball in the community.

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Community Reacts to Multiple Shooting with Vigil,Meeting

Oscar Villeda, the dad of of Pablo Villeda, who was gunned down at a party in Chelsea over the weekend, becomes emotional during the arraignment of Emanuel ‘Manny' Marrero on murder charges at Chelsea District Court Tuesday.

Oscar Villeda, the dad of of Pablo Villeda, who was gunned down at a party in Chelsea over the weekend, becomes emotional during the arraignment of Emanuel ‘Manny’ Marrero on murder charges at Chelsea District Court Tuesday.

By Seth Daniel

As the sun rose on Washington Avenue and Orange Street Sunday morning, neighbors were grasping for answers to another – and even worse – shooting incident that had left the streets closed down and cordoned off and, in effect, a war zone situation.

They couldn’t leave the house.

They couldn’t ask questions, but they knew what had happened.

It wasn’t the first time, and neighbors were immediately broken hearted and at the same time fatigued by a scene that they hoped might not happen again.

But it did.

And it’s left everyone grasping for answers.

Why were the kids out so late?

Who provided the guns?

Where were the parents?

When will Congress act to stem the flow of illegal guns?

Was it related to gangs?

Why didn’t anyone in the building call police?

Was it targeted?

How did they get in a vacant apartment?

Those questions and many, many more flowed out as residents looked for some meaning to what essentially has no understandable meaning for an adult audience.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino was the first to chime in with a comprehensive letter issued to the public on Monday.

“Until this Country and its national leaders are going to take seriously the appalling number of guns on the streets of America, guns that often end up in the hands of young men under 20 whose brains haven’t even developed enough to control their worst emotional impulses, guns whose toll is felt most acutely in minority communities like Chelsea, we could add a hundred more police to our streets, and we still couldn’t end this violence,” he wrote. “Now, saying the City is prepared to do all it can to remediate the problems is not enough. We will not be successful if City government is working in isolation. Parents and guardians have to be willing to reach out for support if they feel their children are at risk. Tenants have to be willing to speak out to our Inspectional Services Department about problem landlords. Residents must be willing to be engaged and alert the police to something that seems out of the ordinary on their street or in their neighborhood. City officials don’t have all the answers. I stand willing to listen, and I know the Council is willing to listen, if you have some suggestions on how we can do an even better job keeping our City safe.”

On Wednesday evening, the community gathered at the crime scene for a vigil and March for Peace, which was coordinated by St. Rose Church and other clergy in the City. The march, which happened after Record deadlines, started at 120 Washington Ave. and was planned to proceed down to City Hall, where a speaking program was scheduled. It was billed as a time of healing for the community, and perhaps, a rally that could serve as the breaking point for everyone to come together to end what has been a string of terrible incidents involving youth over the last two years.

It was to conclude in St. Rose Church where Father Hilario Sanez Jr. was to observe a Mass calling for peace in Chelsea.

“Summer is around the corner and we need to be ready,” said Gladys Vega of the Chelsea Collaborative. “We need to be ready to do something different for the kids, maybe midnight basketball. I don’t know. And we need to make sure they have summer jobs. As a mother it’s devastating. It’s not good young people are out at that time. I’m not so much focusing on that part of what the kids were doing out at that hour as I am trying to figure out how that gun got into our community. Someone has successfully been brining guns into Chelsea from somewhere else, maybe New Hampshire, and selling them in our community. We need to find out who it is. There has to be a way to track them.”

Councillor Yamir Rodriguez, who represents the district and has dedicated his term to stemming such violence, has coordinated a crime meeting with resident Josh Cook and Father Edgar of St. Luke’s for some time next week. It is likely to be at Police Headquarters, but that wasn’t concrete yet.

In sum, a mother appeared at the City Council meeting on Monday – saying her son had been at the party when the shooting happened but had not been a victim or a suspect. In Spanish, she pleaded with the Council for help, seemingly at her wits end.

“As parents, we feel our hands are tied up,” said Lillian San Juan of Shurtleff Street. “We really can’t correct them because they say it is abuse. I am here to ask for help, to maybe have a curfew put in place where the kids cannot be out. A time when the police can ask them why they are out…I really believed my son was sleeping [at home]. I was awakened by the police banging at my door. They told me they had my son and were bringing him home and he had been at the shooting. There are many opportunities to make our city better and we need to work together to support them.”

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Isn’t It Time That We Put Kids First

By Senator Sal DiDomenico

Massachusetts has long been a leader in education, public health, and innovation. However, when it comes to ensuring that all our children have a chance to succeed, we still have much work to do.

To start with, it’s time that Massachusetts gets serious about guaranteeing that every child has a right to a high quality early education. Experts agree that quality early education is a vital indicator of a child’s future success and a key component to closing the achievement gap between high and low income students. Yet, here in the Commonwealth, and an estimated forty percent of 3 and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any formal preschool program.

Furthermore, far too many children show up for pre-Kindergarten already behind, and many of them are never able to catch up. More than 40% of third graders are unable to read proficiently and, among students from low income families, that statistic is at a disturbing 61%. Reading coaches, specialized literacy programs, and summer programs, for example, have all shown great promise in helping to close the achievement gap among students, but specialized help often never reaches the children who need it most.

Additionally, when discussing how we can support our children, we tend to overlook how important it is to also support their parents and families as a whole. Programs such as home visits, prenatal support groups, fatherhood initiatives, and pediatrician outreach have all been shown to have a beneficial impact on a child’s future outcome; yet, once again, too many parents do not have access to such programs, or are unaware of how to utilize them.

There is no greater investment we can make than one for our children, and it is time that we commit our actions today to developing a brighter future for them.

My colleagues and I in the Senate are well aware that the future success of our Commonwealth depends on the success of our children, which is why we have kicked off 2016 with the launch of a new initiative to help identify proven policies and strategies, and to strive toward best outcomes for each and every child across our state.

Kids First, which I am honored to lead, will take a comprehensive and interdisciplinary look at a wide variety of policy areas relating to supporting children, with a strong focus on early childhood development from prenatal through the fourth grade. By creating an open dialogue among experts, policymakers, and stakeholders alike, we can develop a holistic approach to supporting strong, resilient children and families. This initiative will not only explore and identify the best practices and investments we can make for our children today, it will also pinpoint the long-term actions we can take that will put future generations on the path to productive adulthood.

With these goals in mind, we also recognize that every child is different; they come from varying backgrounds with unique needs, and we must take all of those factors into consideration. There is no single path to success for every child, nor is there a single answer to the various challenges we face.

Fortunately, we will not have to look far for help. We have an abundance of local organizations doing incredible work for the children of Massachusetts, and we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to tap them for their expertise on the many different areas we must consider and address.

The goal of Kids First is ambitious, and there is a lot of ground to cover. I have often been asked how we can afford the many different policy proposals that have been offered over the years to support kids across the Commonwealth. My answer to them: how can we not afford to invest in our children?

Senator Sal DiDomenico is Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and he has represented the Middlesex and Suffolk District since 2010..

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CYBL Takes Pride in the Past,Dribbles on to the Future

When the greats of Chelsea basketball are discussed, the names of Sammy Mojica Jr. come up, as well as Autumn Lopez, and of course, Cesar Castro.

All three were renowned roundballers in the city, each scoring 1,000 points for Chelsea High, and they all had one thing in common.

They got their start in the Chelsea Youth Basketball League (CYBL).

“The majority of our kids do make the high school teams,” said CYBL Vice President Yamir Rodriguez, who is also a city councillor. “We have some eighth graders in the league make the freshmen and junior varsity teams. You look at all the greats for Chelsea High School basketball, and they all came through CYBL. Whether Autumn Lopez, Cesar Castro or Sammy Mojica Jr., this league gave them their start. Was the league the reason they succeeded? Maybe or maybe not, but they’re a part of us and they come back from time to time to see how things are going.”

Things, in fact, are going pretty well, but could always be better.

The league is co-ed and hosts kids from age 5-15, with about 200 kids participating on 18 teams right now. Games take place in the Williams School on Friday (5:30-8:30 p.m.) for ages 11-15, and on Saturday mornings (9-2:30 p.m.) for ages 5-11. The league runs from January to March, with a playoff schedule as well. It is open to Chelsea residents.

The non-profit league has been around for years, probably being more than 50 years old.

City Councillor Leo Robinson was very involved for years, but passed the torch on to others, such as Rodriguez, President Michelle Lopez, Secretary Damali Vidot and Kathryn Bourgea.

“I played here when I was 10 years old,” said Rodriguez. “This was the first basketball league I ever played in. I played for three seasons and pretty much stuck around. I started helping to coach after that. I’ve been coaching basketball since I was 14 and this gave me the opportunity to do that and to be a mentor for the kids. The 5-8 year olds are the best group because they want to learn and and have fun too. It’s a great age for basketball.”

For a lot of kids, all said, organized sports or other clubs aren’t for them. Many of those kids – especially the middle schoolers – enjoy the basketball league on Friday nights. The challenge, however, is finding gym space – which comes at a premium price and inflates league costs.

“Basketball is huge for Chelsea,” said Bourgea. “I wish we had the ability to have two or three hours of open gym time for these kids. I feel the kids between 5th and 8th grade get lost in the shuffle. They really don’t have anywhere to go. By the time they get to the high school, they are on the wrong path…The kids we tend to get don’t do an other leagues outside of this.”

Said Vidot, “We hope that one day it’s possible to have our own recreation center where we don’t have to rent a gym. We can have more leagues and charge less money. We have to pay for time now, and that gets expensive.”

Coaches are also in great need now as the league gets stronger.

Being an urban city, organizers said having positive role models – both men and women – is essential to the kids in the league, just as much as someone who knows how to teach the fundamentals of the sport.

“The role model aspect is what we’re looking for and what we stress,” said Rodriguez. “You want to find someone who can be positive. A lot of the coaches do a great job mentoring the kids – especially the 5 to 8 year olds. It’s been a great balance.”

And they’re always looking for help.

“Anyone who wants to volunteer, we encourage that,” Rodriguez said. “We can use any help to make sure the kids have the best basketball experience possible. People can even come by and watch a game. On Fridays, especially, if you don’t have anything to do, come down and support the league by watching few games.”

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Photo by Joe Prezioso

Knights Coach Rob Lewis advises Moe Cromwell IV to attack the middle of the floor more during last Saturday morning’s Chelsea Youth Basketball League (CYBL) games. The long-standing youth basketball league is growing and looking for more players and coaches, league officials said.

Photos by Joe Prezioso

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Warriors Coach Jose Valentin gives the players high fives before the start of the next quarter.

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Damion Caban takes a practice shot and Malay Robles waits for the rebound.

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The Knights, Warriors, Bulldogs and the Blue Devils stand together on Saturday morning, Jan. 16, before the start of the youth program’s matches for the 5-8 year olds. The teams will play eight periods, each lasting six minutes.

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Bulldogs’ Coach Bruan Acosta gives a pep talk to his players.

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Juliane Rodrigues (Bulldogs) dribbles down the court.

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Coach Randy Boutros blows whistle to stop play.

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Chase Collins (red) fights for the ball with Christian Colon (green).

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Jayliana Conception takes the ball out.

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Aaliyah Cruz, Juliana Benitez and Alyssa Bonitto take a rest and cheer on their teammates.

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Councillor Yamir Rodriguez, who is vice president of the CYBL, applauds the play after making a shot.

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A Win for the Ages:Rich Maronski Remembers Chelsea’s Greatest Football Thanksgiving Victory

When the Chelsea High School football team trailed Everett High, 20-0, in the 1980 Thanksgiving game, few fans at Chelsea Memorial Stadium thought a Red Devil comeback was possible.

But the crowd of 8,500 spectators would soon witness offensive exploits that would turn this holiday rivalry upside down.

Chelsea quarterback Richard Maronski rifled a 63-yard touchdown pass to Paul Driscoll to ignite the Chelsea rooting section. Maronski then tossed a pass to Butchie Strukel for a two-pointer to close the gap to 20-8.

But Maronski and Driscoll were just getting started. On the next possession, Maronski connected with Driscoll for a 52-yard strike, bringing Chelsea to within one score, 20-14.

With coach Bobby Fee imploring his Chelsea squad to keep the pressure on the Everett defense, it was Maronski again with an 8-yard TD pass to Driscoll. Edwin Lopez booted the PAT to give Chelsea a 21-20 halftime lead.

After intermission, Bobby Fee’s Red Devils would not be denied, adding two more rushing touchdowns by Tony DiRienzo and Scott Leonard to build a 34-20 lead going in to the fourth quarter. Everett scored its last touchdown with five minutes left, but Chelsea ran out the clock on its greatest-ever comeback victory.

Maronski vividly remembers the final game of his junior season.

“What I remember most was the players carrying coach Fee off the field right after the game ended,” recalled Maronski. “And I loved the kids I played football with at Chelsea High. We were very close and to beat Everett made our careers special. They say if you beat Everett you have a winning season and we were able to do that in dramatic fashion.”

As for his three successive touchdown passes to his friend and classmate, Paul Driscoll, Maronski says, “The offensive line [Danny Hurton, Kerry Cole, Keith Barry, Bobby Carolan, Glenn Smith] and our fullback [Greg DePatto] gave me excellent pass protection and I was able to deliver the passes to Paul, who was great that day.”

Maronski, who now serves on the Chelsea School Committee, said the Chelsea-Everett rivalry was special.

“Anyone who played in this series knows what a big game it was,” said Maronski. “The 1980 game is something we all will never forget. I was so happy for

The football stars of the 1980 Chelsea-Everett Thanksgiving game, Tony DiRienzo, Paul Driscoll, Rich Maronski, and Scott Leonard.

The football stars of the 1980 Chelsea-Everett Thanksgiving game, Tony DiRienzo, Paul Driscoll, Rich Maronski, and Scott Leonard.

all the kids, the city of Chelsea, and coach Fee on that day.”

The Chelsea-Everett rivalry ended in 1989, but the memories of this glorious game on a cold and blustery Thanksgiving day at Chelsea Memorial Stadium will live on forever.

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MCAS To Be Discussed

MCAS To Be Discussed

The Chelsea School Committee will meet on Wednesday Oct. 1 to review the recently released MCAS data for the district.

Data is currently being reviewed for the district and will be presented to the Committee formally at the meeting.

Data did show that Chelsea was one of the state’s most impoverished districts, with more than 82 percent of the kids qualifying for free or reduced lunch.


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Snow and Cold: A Tough Winter, but We’re up for It

Snow and Cold: A Tough Winter, but We’re up for It

When we were younger, we never truly understood what our grandmother meant when she would say, “It’s been a long, hard winter.”

In a child’s world, a big snowstorm means no school, which would leave us free to go sledding, build igloos in the mounds of snow created by the snow plows, and roam our neighborhood with friends to earn a few dollars shoveling out the driveways of others. And after a long and cold day outside, we’d return home in our wet clothes for our mother to throw into the dryer while she made hot chocolate for us and our siblings.

Ah yes, just the thought of our carefree youth make us envious of our previous life.

But in the adult world, a big snowstorm is nothing but trouble. Commutes to work are longer and dangerous and any travel plans involving the airport are doomed to go awry. A no-school day means that two working parents have to make a choice: Who will stay home with the kids?

And if you’re on the older side, getting about, whether on foot or in a vehicle, is a treacherous and dangerous proposition.

Although we have not had a Nemo-type blast (at least not yet), this winter season already has had its share of potent winter storms and the promise of more storms to come.  These storms have been rolling in on us likes waves upon the shore. And just like those ocean waves, we are powerless in the face of whatever Mother Nature might throw at us.

On the other hand, there is something about a big storm that is energizing to our spirit. Taking a walk on  a snowy winter evening is calming — the crunch of the snow under our feet, amplified by the quietude around us thanks to the lack of motor vehicles on the roads, is unique to days and nights like these.

And yes, shoveling snow is still a favorite pasttime. Not only is it a great workout, but maintaining a clear driveway and walkway is something we can do to bring a bit of control into our little corner of the world amidst the chaos all around us.

On the bright side we only have about four to six weeks left of winter with its bitter cold and snow and giant icicles that form on buildings..

So enjoy the snow and help create memories, whether for yourself or your loved ones, that will last a lifetime.

And remember to keep your sidewalk clear and try to get rid of those icicles on the gutters that have us all looking up like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz as she looks for a house to fall on house


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