The Chelsea Public Schools has hit a major shortfall in its budgeting for next year, and reported at recent meeting that it is in deficit $3.1 million, and has been underfunded by as much as $17.2 million by the state funding formula.
It has now become a major call to action for the school community and for activists in Chelsea, including the Chelsea Collaborative – whose Director, Gladys Vega, called on the City Council to support joining a lawsuit against the state for underfunding schools.
That suit was filed by Brockton and Worcester last week due to what they believe is chronic underfunding of urban schools through the 1993 Education Reform School Budget Formula.
“This reimbursement problem in the formula needs to be solved and I think we need to address the formula and I urge the City and the City Council to join with Brockton on this lawsuit against the state,” said Vega at Monday’s Council meeting.
She was right on the same page with Supt. Mary Bourque, who on Monday morning said they are seriously considering making that move.
“We have not officially joined, but we are seriously exploring the need to join this lawsuit,” she said.
By the numbers, the state Chapter 70 School Budget has underfunded the Chelsea Schools in five categories, according to the schools. One of the key pieces comes from the new definition of economically disadvantaged students (formerly low-income), which has caused an underfunding of $1.077 million in the coming year. Other areas included things where full reimbursements are promised, but only partially delivered – such as with Charter School reimbursements.
Those numbers include:
Fringe Benefits, $5.78 million
Charter School Reimbursement, $2.014 million
Special Education Tuition, $7.98 million
Homeless Student Transportation, $373,059
This came on the heels of a very lively and contentious meeting at City Hall by the School Committee on March 15, where the School Budget process was rolled out to a standing-room only crowd.
Bourque led off the meeting saying it is time to stand up for public education, and pressure legislators to take up the cause – a cause she said was the Civil Rights struggle of our time.
“Sadly, we find ourselves in a time and place where we are not willing as a society to invest in public education,” she said. “Each year I come to you with a budget that is failing each year to meet the complex needs of our students. Each year I come to you with a budget that fails to provide an equitable education compared to public school children in wealthier communities. Each year these educators…are being asked to do more with less and less. Providing our schools with the funding that’s needed to educate the next generation is the Civil Rights struggle of our time. I ask you: Will you join me in this Civil Rights struggle and our quest for social justice? We need to have the courage to standup now and today for public education.”
The Chelsea Teacher’s Union called for the same kind of advocacy, but also called on the City and the City Council to use its $34 million in Free Cash to shore up the School Budget.
“For the short term, the City of Chelsea has made some significant investment in the schools and we appreciate that. However, we need more,” said Sam Baker, vice president of the union. “The City has $34 million in Free Cash and the City is seeing significant real estate development. What is the purpose of all this this development and progress if the proceeds aren’t going to support the education of the kids in Chelsea? The CTU welcomes the opportunity to advocate for changes at the state level. That’s a long term solution. I’m asking the School Committee and the school community to lobby the City Council to release more funds to the School Department here in order to prevent the cuts to this proposed budget.”
Catherine Ellison, a special education teacher at the Browne Middle School, said many of her students have suffered because of budgets last year. She said last year the middle school Special Education budget was slashed, and after hearing of the impacts, the budget still wasn’t restored.
“Caseloads have soared while resources have severely declined,” she said. “Children have been forced to struggle in mainstream classes while funds were cut…Our staff and our students have been aggressive in addressing the increasing and complex needs of our brilliant, resilient and magnificent children. It’s time for the school district to do the same.”
Chelsea is not alone in the struggles, which is why the lawsuit is such a tempting option for urban schools like Chelsea.
Already, in Everett, mid-year cuts to the tune of $6 million were avoided by an infusion of cash by the City, and it is expected that the Everett Schools could need as much as $8 million to plug holes next year.
Revere has a similar circumstance and isn’t as far in its budgeting process as Chelsea and Everett, but it is expected they will have a sharp deficit as well.
Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate unanimously adopted a bill designed to protect the health, safety and well-being of animals. S.2332, “An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns” (PAWS II), expands on gains first secured in the original PAWS law which was filed in response to the Puppy Doe animal abuse case of 2014.
“I was proud to support this important piece of legislation that strengthens and adds to the animal safety and welfare protections created under the original PAWS bill,” said Sen. DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “This bill sends a strong message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated, and we will continue working to ensure that all animals are treated humanely here in the Commonwealth.”
“The Puppy Doe animal torture case inspired strong legislative action designed to increase protections for animals and prevent animal cruelty and neglect. PAWS II builds on the foundations of our original law and will ensure that abuse is reported and enforced, that animal drownings are outlawed, and that our animal control laws reflect the seriousness of animal torture and abuse,” said Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Minority Leader of the Massachusetts and the original sponsor of the bill.
“Our commitment towards ending the cruel and inhumane treatment of innocent animals is steadfast, and today we have taken significant action to protect their safety and welfare,” said Chairman Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), a longtime champion of animal welfare legislation. “There is zero tolerance for such despicable brutality and today’s action by the Senate sends a clear message.”
“We do not tolerate animal cruelty in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This legislation ensures that animals are treated humanely and that those who engage in animal cruelty are punished. One animal that dies of mistreatment is one animal too many.”
PAWS II will enhance humane treatment of animals, expand the role of mandated reporters, and punish those who engage in animal cruelty. Key components of the bill include provisions to:
ensure abuse is reported;
ensure efficient enforcement of animal control laws;
prohibit the drowning of wild and domestic animals;
prohibit engaging in sexual contact with an animal;
remove automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting;
add animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and or release upon conditions;
prohibit discrimination against specific dog breeds; and
require abandoned animal checks in vacant properties.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Nathan Smolensky, a non-profit manager from Somerville, has announced that he will be running as an Independent for Massachusetts’s 7th District Congressional seat.
“We need Independent voices to speak up,” says Smolensky, “now more than ever. The parties are becoming increasingly polarized, and that means more strong-arming and undermining in our politics, and somehow even less getting done. The Democrats and Republicans are locked in this endless tug-of-war, and the American people are paying the price. But we can break the partisan stranglehold by demonstrating a formula for Independent success, and if we do that we can really change things.”
Smolensky’s own brand of non-partisan politics is focused on themes of empowering local solutions by making the federal government more symbiotic with local efforts, improving government efficiency by addressing wasteful and unsustainable spending programs, and making long-term policy possible by creating a blueprint for Independent success that can pave the way for a shift of the political landscape away from the volatile pendulum swings of the current paradigm.
The 27-year-old Somerville resident is currently best known for his work with the non-profit Massachusetts Chess Association, where he has served as president since 2013. In that role, he has spearheaded the organization’s educational initiative, Chess for Early Educators, which currently has pilots for curricular programs run by regular schoolteachers in several Somerville public schools.
Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District is comprised of the municipalities of Somerville, Everett, Chelsea, and Randolph, roughly 70 percent of the city of Boston, and about half of the city of Cambridge and the town of Milton. Since taking its current shape in 2013, it has been won by incumbent Democrat Michael E. Capuano, also of Somerville, without a general election challenge. Its lopsided nature, however, can be a boon for independents, argues Smolensky:
“That’s the beauty of running in a district like this one. There’s no third-party or spoiler stigma. You’re not asking anyone to throw their vote away. You don’t have that bogeyman of the greater evil to scare people away from voting Independent. This is the kind of environment we [Independents] can thrive in, and, thanks in part to gerrymandering, there are a lot of places we can find it.”
Currently, Capuano is facing a primary challenge in Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. No other candidates have announced intentions to run.
Americans are paying too much for prescription medicines. State lawmakers are fed up with Washington’s apathy towards high pharmacy bills. So they’re taking matters into their own hands and pushing forward with several bills
Their proposals are well-intentioned — but they’re doomed to backfire and hurt patients. Why? The bills are based on false assumptions.
Many lawmakers believe that prescription drug prices are skyrocketing. They’re not. In fact, after accounting for all the rebates and discounts manufacturers offer, drug prices have barely budged in recent years. Drug spending grew just 1.3 percent in 2016, according to the latest federal data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Overall health spending increased by 4.3 percent.
In other words, drug spending is growing slower than hospital and nursing home expenditures. In fact, it’s growing even slower than the general inflation rate, which has averaged just under 2 percent.
Legislators also blame drug prices for rising costs in Medicaid, the entitlement program for low-income Americans that is managed and partly funded by the states. Once again, they’re mistaken.
Drug companies provide generous discounts and rebates back to Medicaid to curb its overall prescription drug spending. Medicaid’s statistics rarely reflect these discounts. In 2014, the program reported that its gross spending on drugs reached $21 billion. But after factoring in discounts, the program actually spent only $8 billion on medicines.
Federal law guarantees Medicaid the lowest drug prices on the market.
Nevertheless, state lawmakers insist that drug companies are charging too much. So they’re calling for a variety of price controls.
One measure floated in Utah would allow patients to import medicines from Canada. That’s a bad idea.
The policy wouldn’t lower healthcare costs. Ninety percent of all drugs sold in the United States are generic, and generics generally cost less in the United States than in Canada. a patient’s co-pay — what he actually pays at the pharmacy — is often lower than the price paid at a Canadian pharmacy, even if the list price of the medicine is higher in the United States.
Another proposal in Louisiana, would allow the state to infringe on manufacturers’ patents. State legislators want to give generic drug companies the right to make cheap knockoff copies of hepatitis C medicines, which are heavily utilized by the state’s Medicaid and prison populations.
This move simply isn’t necessary. In 2017, Medicaid spending on hepatitis C drugs fell by 28 percent — the biggest drop for any class of medicines.
If states start weakening patent protections, it will have a chilling effect on scientific research. Drug companies won’t plow billions in to developing new medicines if the government can break their patents on a whim. Patients would miss out on future treatments and cures as a result of this drop in research.
This isn’t to say that patients aren’t paying high prices for drugs. They are. But drug makers aren’t at fault.
Middlemen, like pharmacy benefit managers and insurers, are the ones raising prices on consumers.
PBMs negotiate drug prices on behalf of health plans. They secure big discounts and rebates from manufacturers. But PBMs and insurers routinely fail to pass these savings along to consumers. Instead, they hike consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses by forcing them to pay ever-higher co-pays and co-insurance.
If lawmakers want to reduce peoples’ pharmacy bills, they should demand more transparency from insurers and PBMs.
Peter J. Pitts, a former FDA Associate Commissioner, is President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.
Price-Espada scores 49 as the Tigers win the Div. 4 state title
By Cary Shuman
Sparked by a sensational 49-point performance by junior guard Angel Price-Espada, the Pope John XXIII High School basketball team blitzed Maynard, 89-57, to capture the Division 4 state championship Saturday at Springfield College.
The decisive victory marked the Everett school’s first state title in basketball as coach Leo Boucher and his team claimed the crown via a phenomenal 24-1 season.
Price-Espada, the 5-foot-7-inch Catholic Central League MVP and All-Scholastic, had the Pope John fans standing and cheering during one of the greatest individual offensive performances in MIAA state tournament history. He hit six consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter as part of an extraordinary, long-range shooting showcase that gave the Tigers a 52-31 lead at the half.
Included in the Price-Espada thrill-a-second package was a mid-air, behind-the back pass to senior Michael Thompson who finished the spectacular play with a layup.
“Angel played phenomenal today,” said Boucher. “I haven’t seen a performance as great as that, not as a player in high school, not as a player in college, not as a basketball coach for 27-plus years – the closest thing I ever saw was Dana Barros versus Don Bosco 100 years ago, and I’ll date myself. That was probably the most incredible shooting performance I’ve seen in a long time.”
In addition to Espada, other members of the Pope John cast stepped up in the state final just as they done in postseason victories over Winthrop, Fenway, Austin Prep, and Mashpee.
Marquis Bouyer, senior center, scored 8 of his 17 points in the first quarter, establishing his powerful presence in the paint as Pope John led 18-11 after one period. Bouyer also finished with 11 rebounds.
Michael Thompson, a senior forward, contributed six points, following his clutch, 14-point effort that helped Pope John defeat Mashpee in the state semifinal.
Junior forward Luis Velasquez, one of the most unsung players for the Pope John contingent, scored 10 points, including a pair of baskets amidst the Tigers’ 34-point explosion in the second quarter.
Senior Mehkhi Collins, a late-game hero against Mashpee, juniors Cam Erikson and Conor Kelly, and freshman Jason Ford also contributed well for the Tigers.
Pope John led 5-0 in the opening minutes, thanks to a Price-Espada three-pointer and a Bouyer basket inside the lane. Maynard would close the gap to three, 9-6, but Bouyer’s mini-surge of five points (two off a nifty pass from Collins), and Velasquez’s basket keyed a 7-0 spurt. Price-Espada hit two of three free throws (he was 9-of-11 overall) after he was fouled attempting a three-pointer.
And then it happened. Price-Espada took over the game with a rapid succession of three-pointers, the majority hitting nothing but net. In eight, breathtaking minutes, the dynamic backcourtman scored 23 points, 31 total for the half.
Price-Espada stayed red hot in the third period and at one point, he had 41 points while the entire Maynard team combined also had 41.
Bouyer closed out the Tigers’ memorable day with seven fourth-quarter points. Rashid Griffin had a three-pointer as the Tigers rolled to an impressive 32-point victory over the defending state champions.
Boucher was asked what it was like to be able to deliver to Pope John its first-ever state championship.
“I didn’t deliver anything – the kids behind me delivered,” he responded humbly. “That’s who made the delivery. I put them in the right position for them to make that happen. It’s a real honor to be able to coach a group of kids like that. The kids came to play.”
Bruins face tough, brief road trip
With the excitement of Ryan Donato’s dynamic debut just starting to settle, the Bruins are once again, back on the road again. Their one game homestand following on the heels of a four game road trip (in seven days), shows how messed up the NHL schedule really is. For Boston it means another stretch of four games on the road in seven days. Those games will be played against four teams, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and the Winnipeg Jets. Each of them is either attempting to gain a playoff spot, or move up in their conference standings, which means tough competition.
With the tight races currently changing many team’s positions daily, the Bruins will not have an easy game in the road trip. As the Record went to press last night (Wednesday), the Bs were hosted by St. Louis. The Blues were just three points out of a playoff spot, trailing eighth place Anaheim, with a single game in hand. The Blues have been playing .500 hockey over their last ten games, but are on a two-game win streak. Next stop will have Boston taking facing the Stars (Friday, 8:30pm), as the struggling Stars continue to fall out of a possible playoff spot, riding a two-game losing streak after posting a 2-5-3 record for their last ten contests. Sunday (7:30pm) will have the Bruins playing the Minnesota Wild. The Wild sit in the fifth spot of the Western Conference, rather precariously as the eighth spot is only four points in the rear, as they look over their shoulder, having only put up numbers good enough for a 5-4-1 record for their last ten games. Boston’s final game of their four-game road trip, will be in Winnipeg to match up against the streaking Jets on Tuesday (8:00pm), the Jets are rolling along on a three game win streak, and a hot 7-2-1 stretch for their last ten. The Bruins return to TD Garden ice on Thursday, March 29 (7:00pm) to host Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins’ 99 points at press time had them tied for third most in the league with the Vegas Golden Knights. Which is rather startling when one looks back over the 2017-18 season, and the unbelievable amount of injuries that the Bs have endured to many of their top players. Patrice Bergeron sustained both a lower-body-injury, and is currently out of the lineup with a fractured foot. Recently acquired Rick Nash is out with an upper-body-injury; Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is missing, also with an upper-body-injury; David Backes has missed 21 of the 71 games played thus far this season, due to medical issues that included a bout with diverticulitis and colon surgery, multiple suspensions, and most recently a leg cut that has him presently off the ice. The loss on defense of Charlie McAvoy to an MCL knee sprain had left a void on the local’s blueline, which Boston has somehow been able to manage; dependable Adam McQuaid lost time due to a broken right fibula; also on defense, Kevan Miller suffered an upper-body-injury; Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask missed some action following concussion-related problems; David Krejci missed time with an upper-body injury; defenseman Torey Krug felt the effects of a fractured jaw; Noel Acciari was the beneficiary of a fractured finger; Jake DeBrusk is currently missing action with an upper-body-injury; and rookie Anders Bjork suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Congratulations to Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna who will be inducted into the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. The ECAC Hall of Fame committee announced the ceremony honoring Bertagna will take place Friday, May 4 at the Crowne Plaza in Danbury, Connecticut. Bertagna began his professional coaching career in 1985 with the Boston Bruins, remaining with the team as their goaltending coach until 1991, and rejoined the team for the 1994-95 season. Bertagna is currently in his 36th year as a college hockey administrator. This season marks his 21st year with Hockey East, after serving in a similar capacity with the ECAC for 15 years. He is the longest serving commissioner in Hockey East history and is currently the longest serving hockey commissioner in the NCAA.
A Tibetan social organization has purchased the former Irish Club on Clinton Street, and several City officials would like to know more about what the new club would like to do with the property.
The matter was first breeched by Councillor Leo Robinson last month at a Council meeting, when he said he had heard there was a new owner and they had an extensive membership.
Robinson was worried, in particular, about the nature of the Club’s activities and their parking plan – as the former Irish Club hadn’t seen a large membership in many years.
On Monday night, City Manager Tom Ambrosino reported that the Tibetan Association of Boston had recently purchased the Irish Club property. He said the club has a permit for the use of the first floor only as a social club.
“That use will be allowed as a matter of right by the new owner,” he said. “I understand the new owner is currently working with ISD to secure the required occupancy permit for that permitted use.”
He said ISD recently conducted an inspection of the property and identified some violations that need to be corrected.
That said, the new owner has expressed to the City a desire to permit the basement for a social club as well. That could only be done by a Special Permit, requiring the new club to make a date with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for expanding a non-conforming use.
It might also require some parking relief too, Ambrosino said.
“Thus far, the owner has started the Special Permit application process, but it has not yet supplied ISD with all the necessary documentation for a full review,” he said.
Ambrosino told the Record that his understanding is the new club has a membership of around 200.
The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the MBTA have pegged April 21 as the first day of operations for the new Silver Line Gateway (SL-3) in Chelsea and East Boston – connecting residents of Chelsea to the airport, the Seaport in Boston and South Station in what is expected to be a 30-minute ride from the Mystic Mall Station to South Station.
“Silver Line 3-Chelsea relates well to the Baker-Polito Administration’s economic development goals,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Silver Line 3-Chelsea is consistent with the notion that if the MBTA can offer an efficient, fully accessible, one-seat ride between key destinations then more people will use mass transit and the service will spur transit-oriented development.”
MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramirez said it will simplify thousands of commutes to and from Boston.
“The MBTA is excited to bring this new service to Chelsea, East Boston, and the surrounding communities,” said Ramírez. “We believe the SL3-Chelsea will simplify the commutes of many of our customers in these neighborhoods.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it will likely make the City much more desirable for those who live here and those looking to live in Chelsea.
“The City is very excited about the opening of the new Silver Line,” he said. “It has been a long time in the making. We feel it will substantially improve transportation options for our residents and make Chelsea and even more desirable place to live and work.”
Maria Belen Power of GreenRoots, an organization in Chelsea that advocates for better public transit, said it will be helpful to residents as Chelsea is highly dependent on public transit and has no subway stop.
“We are excited for service on the silver line to start in Chelsea, as it will provide another line of access from Chelsea to Boston,” she said. “As a community highly dependent on public transit with no subway stop, bus services, including bus rapid transit, are key for our community to thrive. While this is a great and necessary improvement in service, Chelsea still has the three busiest bus lines in the entire MBTA system. We will continue to hold the MBTA accountable to improve public transit in Chelsea for all of our residents.”
State Rep. RoseLee Vincent said she hopes the Silver Line introduction will help relieve the bus congestion.
“This new and expanded public transportation route will help to reduce overcrowding on MBTA buses that serve Chelsea, as well as provide residents of Chelsea an alternative and more direct route to subway routes and downtown Boston,” she said.
Fares on the SL-3 will be $2.25 per ride with CharlieCard, and a Linkpass costing $84.50 per month. Student and senior citizen passes cost $30. Children under 12 are free.
There are free transfers offered at:
Blue Line at Airport Station.
Red Line at South Station.
Bus Rapid Transit lines SL-1 (Logan to South Station), SL-2 (South Boston Design Center to South Station), SL-4 (Dudley Square to South Station).
Local Bus Routes 111, 112, 116 and 117.
MBTA officials predicted bus customers from Revere and Chelsea who tend to experience crowding issues on Bus Routes 111, 112, 114, 116, and 117 will benefit from the SL3-Chelsea. As an additional travel option, they said the SL3-Chelsea will make enhanced, new, or simplified connections to the Blue Line – at Airport Station – as well as the South Boston Waterfront and the Red Line at South Station.
Nearly 7,000 daily bus customers on these area routes take trips that can require several transfers in order to travel from Chelsea and East Boston to downtown areas. This commute is now simple and direct by using the SL3-Chelsea, filling a critical gap in access between these residents to the employment opportunities in the Seaport District and downtown.
Each of the Routes 111, 112, 114, 116, and 117 will also connect directly to or very close to brand new SL3-Chelsea stations, making hopping off a customer’s regular route to board the SL3-Chelsea easy and convenient. Route 111 connects at Bellingham Square Station, Route 112 utilizes a stop approximately 50 yards from Bellingham Square Station, Route 114’s City Hall Avenue bus stop is just three to five blocks from both Bellingham Square and Box District Stations, and Routes 116 and 117 connect at Box District Station.
The SL3-Chelsea route will operate 60-foot, high-capacity buses serving four new stations through dedicated, bus-only lanes in Chelsea and via the Coughlin Bypass in East Boston.
SL3-Chelsea buses will operate approximately every 10 minutes with the time between Chelsea and South Stations anticipated to be between 20 and 30 minutes.
This new service is the first brand new service to be introduced to the MBTA system since the MBTA Greenbush Commuter Rail Line began in 2007. Construction of the SL3-Chelsea route began in March 2015 with construction of dedicated busways and four new stations. Construction of this $49-million investment was managed by MassDOT’s Highway Division and jointly funded by the MBTA (approximately $42.1 million) and MassDOT ($7.6 million).
MBTA officials will present an overview of the new SL3-Chelsea service, discussing schedules, routes, and stops at the following two public meetings this month. Both meetings will provide Spanish language interpreters.
The owners of the old Forbes Lithograph campus on Mill Hill will likely propose a new project to the City in the coming months, like this summer, said City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
The Chinese company once proposed a gigantic campus development with skyscrapers, a hotel and more than 1,000 apartment units in a multi-phase development with one small entrance coming in through the neighborhood. It was vociferously opposed by most every resident and elected official in the City.
That was a couple of years ago, and since that time the company has been laying low and preparing to propose something a little more modest.
“My guess is perhaps they’ll be in front of us this summer,” said Ambrosino.
He said the development could likely be by right, meaning there might not be any reviews or public hearings necessary for the project to go forward.
He said the numbers of units would be far smaller than previously proposed and much less dense.
However, parking requirements for the district are two spots per unit, which might be hard for the developer to achieve by right. That would mean a parking variance would be required, triggering reviews and public hearings.
The issue of accessing the site still hasn’t been resolved.
Previously, Ambrosino had made a point of requiring that the company look into providing access via a bridge over the Chelsea Creek to the site from Revere. In the previous proposal, he had said he or the City would not support any proposal that didn’t include that access point.
It is uncertain at this point if that’s still the case with the smaller project that is believed to be coming.
When the lights were the brightest, Mehki Collins was at its best.
Collins, who has Chelsea connections, scored 23 points and was Mr. Clutch in the final minutes as the Pope John XXIII High School basketball team defeated Mashpee, 70-62, in the state semifinal Monday at the TD Garden.
Mehki is the son of Teresa Baker and Michael Collins. He is the grandson of Beverly Martin-Ross and the godson of former Chelsea High basketball standout John Martin. It was a proud family gathering at the Garden as Mehki, a junior guard, and Michael Thompson (14 points), a senior forward, took over the game and delivered a thrilling victory to the Tigers.
Luis Velasquez, a junior forward from Chelsea, also propelled the Tigers with six points and a key steal in the fourth quarter. He, too, has been a major contributor for the Catholic Central League champions.
Pope John will play Maynard for the Division 4 state championship Saturday at Springfield College. The school principal at Pope John is former Chelsea resident Thomas Mahoney, who founded and coached the CHS boys soccer team.
Pope John coach Leo Boucher said Collins has earned his reputation as a clutch player.
“Mekhi has always stepped up and been a leader,” said Boucher. “He is always there at the end of the game to take care of the basketball when we need him to. I thought he played really well offensively and was a catalyst for us. He hit some big shots and free throws in the fourth quarter.”
Collins said the team has played as a close-knit team all season.
“We play together and have so much fight in us, and I’m so proud of my teammates and my coaching staff,” said Collins. “We never give up.”
He was excited to play at the TD Garden, home of the Boston Celtics.
“It means a lot to win this game on the Garden floor,” said Collins. “I didn’t feel any more pressure in this game. They passed the reins to me and I did what I had to do. My teammates put me in the best position to score.”
Collins attended the Hooks School and began his basketball career in the Chelsea Youth Basketball where he played for coach Maurice Cromwell. His skills were well known and his coaches predicted a bright future for him.
And they were right.
On Saturday, Collins and the 23-1 Pope John Tigers will try to bring home a state championship for the first time in school history.
Pope John basketball team beats Mashpee at the Garden
Collins, Thompson lead Tiger team into the Massachusetts state finals
By Cary Shuman
Pope John’s brilliant guard Angel Price-Espada was hobbled by a leg injury so head coach Leo Boucher looked to other players to give his team a boost in the decisive fourth quarter of Monday’s state semifinal at the TD Garden.
Senior forward Michael Thompson and junior guard Mehkhi Collins both answered the call with heroic efforts in the final stanza. Thompson scored 12 of his 14 points, including two clutch free throws, in the second half, while Collins had 14 of his game-high 23 points, as North champion Pope John defeated South champion Mashpee, 70-62, on the famous parquet floor.
The Tigers (22-1) advance to the Division 4 state championship game in Springfield against defending state champion Maynard (22-3).
Espada came out dishing and had seven assists, to go along with nine points (11 overall) in the first half. The Tigers’ dependable inside player, Marques Bouyer, also made an early statement with 10 points in the first half as Pope John led 37-32 at intermission. Bouyer also reigned over Pope John’s control the defensive boards. Luis Velasquez helped out the Tigers’ offensive with six points. Cam Erickson, the Tigers’ sharpshooting junior, had a basket while Connor Kelly was a key contributor off the bench, also netting two points.
Velasquez had two hoops in the third quarter before Thompson went on a mini-tear with three baskets and a key steal with the game tied at 49-49. A basket by Collins gave Pope John a 51-49 lead after three quarters.
Pope John was leading 59-57 when Price-Espada left the game after sustaining a right leg injury. He would return to the game, though clearly not at 100 percent.
Collins connected on a free throw and Collins added a basket to keep Pope John ahead, 64-61. Another Thompson hoop, two free throws by Collins, a steal by Velasquez allowed the Tigers to seal the victory.
“That was a terrific basketball game,” said Boucher. “Mashpee just keeps coming at you, they’re a phenomenal basketball team. They were everything we thought they would be and more.”
Collins was a catalyst in the first quarter for the Pope John offense with eight points. He saved his best for last with the game on the line.
“We got together as one unit and played together and we have so much fight – I’m so proud of my teammates, our coaching staff and Pope John” said Collins. “They passed the reins to me and I did what I had to do. My teammates put me in the best position to what I had to do and score.”
Thompson was equally humble about his clutch effort.
“I have to thank my teammates for putting me in that situation,” said Thompson. “I was struggling a little bit, but they kept giving the ball. Their confidence in me and keeping me motivated is what decided those final layups for me.”
Boucher said Collins and Thompson were difference makers in the game.
“I thought our upperclassmen, our junior [Collins] and our senior [Thompson] stepped up,” said Boucher. “Angel was hurt and the leg was bothering him the whole game, but these kids stepped up. They’ve worked hard to get to where they got to, and they won’t be denied. They’re trying to earn the respect they truly deserve.”
Boucher was asked what it meant for the school to be playing in its first state final.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Boucher. “For a little school like us, we have about 200 boys – our basketball team is just about everything to us, so it’s pretty cool. We have a great administrators, great kids, and great supporters.
Two of those administrators, Head of School Carl DiMaiti and Principal Thomas Mahoney, a member of the school’s first graduating class, sat courtside Monday and will now join a legion of PJ students and alumni in Springfield in search of the school’s first state basketball title.
by Bob Morello
Bruins continue to show their resilency by scoring five unansewered goals
Just when it looked like the Bruins were headed for the rare (this season), two losses in row, the Bruins on Tuesday night had an epiphany, scoring five unanswered goals in the third period to notch a 6-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The realization that they had lost the services of defensemen, Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug, and forward Jake DeBrusk, due to injury, the future looked bleak. The forecast had the Hurricanes holding a 4-1 lead and a solid look at a win going into the third period, like many New Englander’s, the youth playing for Boston felt the prognosticators were wrong and decided to do something about it.
Boston’s lone goal late in the first period came from Brad Marchand for a 1-0 lead. For Marchand was his 30th goal of the season, the third consecutive time he’s hit that mark, tying him with Glen Murray, the last Bruin to have three straight 30-goal seasons (2001-2004). At 10:04 of the third period the youngster Matt Grzelcyk scored Boston’s second goal to cut the deficit to 4-2. Then the floodgates opened as David Pastrnak, 56 seconds later, deposited his 25th goal at 11:00, Danton Heinen found a spark 21 seconds after, taking a pass from David Krejci to score his 13th at 11:21, to tie the game at 4-4. Just over five minutes later and no goals scored, Pastrnak took over, scoring the game-winner (#26) at 16:30 and an empty-netter (#27), for the first hat trick of his young career. A startling, entertaining ten minutes that earned the Bruins the two points, leaving them just four points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning who lost to the Ottawa Senators, with the Bs still holding two games in hand.
Once again the moves and non-moves Bruins general manager Don Sweeney made at the trade deadline have proved to be good, decisive ones. Sweeney’s addition of veterans Rick Nash, Brian Gionta, and Tommy Wingels up front, and Nick Holden on the blueline may have looked like overstock a bit, but has proved to be vital, with the loss of Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy. Add to that the undisclosed, possible injuries Tuesday night to Chara, Krug, DeBrusk, and it almost makes Sweeney seem clairvoyant.
Tuukka Rask in net has not looked as sharp as he had been earlier in the season, but despite the fact that he has given up a handful of goals in his last six appearances, with four goals in three of those games, he has managed a record of 5-1 in those six games. In 44 games thus far this season his record is still an impressive 29-11-0-4, goals-against-average 2.35, and save percentage of .917.
Boston’s four-game road trip continues with two more stops: Tonight (Thursday 7:30pm) versus Florida Panthers who are still fighting for a playoff spot (3 points back), with a huge game on Saturday, 7:00pm, with the Bs taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning, in what could still be a battle for the top spot in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. The odd NHL schedule has the Bruins returning to TD Garden ice on Monday (10/19 at 7:00pm) to host the streaking Columbus Blue Jackets who are currently riding a five game win streak, for a single game, before embarking on a five-game road trip beginning in St. Louis Blues on Wednesday (10/21 at 8:00pm). St. Louis is also three points out of a playoff spot. In summary, it will be a tough four games coming up for Boston with each time they face, still battling for position, and a spot in the playoffs.
Brad Marchand was named NHL second star of the week for the week ending March 11. General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the team has signed University of Wisconsin forward Trent Frederic to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2018-19 season. Frederic will join the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. Sweeney also announced that the team has signed University of Wisconsin forward Cameron Hughes to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2018-19 season. Hughes will also join the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.
STEPHANIE SIMON COMPETES IN TRACK MEET IN NEW YORK CITY
This past Friday, Chelsea High sophomore Stephanie Simon competed in the New Balance Indoor High School Track & Field National Championships held at the Armory in NYC.
“Stephanie went into this meet with a personal best high jump of 5’-5”,” said CHS head coach Mark Martineau. “While the results were not what we had hoped for, it was a great achievement for Stephanie. She is the first national-qualified track performer we have had at CHS since the legendary Bobby Goss. The future is bright for this student-athlete.”
Late Legion of Honor member of the Polish Falcons, Nest 485, Chelsea
September 05, 1922 – March 10, 2018
Helen A. (Zaksheski) Wilson of Peabody, formerly of Chelsea, passed away early Saturday morning, March 10 and services concluded with her being placed to rest together with her late husband in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Peabody. Helen passed away early Saturday morning, March 10 in the peaceful surroundings of the Peabody home where she resided for over 65 years. She was 95 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, she was a daughter of the late
Anthony and Josephine (Trocki) Zaksheski. Helen firstattended St. Stanislaus Parochial School and graduated from Chelsea High School, class of 1940. She began work when she was hired as the first lady bank teller with the Chelsea-County Savings Bank. She later worked as a secretary for a local Chelsea attorney who suspended his practice to enlist in the army during World War II. Thereafter, she worked as a secretary in the offices of Atwood McManus Box Mfg. in Chelsea.
In April of 1945, she married her high school sweetheart and Navy Airman, William J. Wilson. They remained in Chelsea, raising the first of three sons before purchasing their dream
home in the early 1950’s.
A devoted housewife and mother, she also worked outside ofher home as an office manager for Boston Machinery, Inc. in Peabody. She retired in the mid 1980’s.
A woman of deep faith, she was a longtime active parishioner and early supporter of St. Ann’s Church in Peabody and she was a late legion of honor member of the Polish Falcons, Nest 485, Chelsea .Helen was preceded in death by her husband Bill, Sr. in 1992, after sharing what she would describe as a storybook romance of 55 years, beginning with two teenagers from Chelsea high school. In her lifetime Helen enjoyed traveling with her husband, reading and many activities centered around her home — writing and corresponding with friends and family, gardening, sewing, baking and cooking were just a few of the things she liked to do.
She was the beloved wife of 47 years to the late William J. Wilson, Sr., loving mother of Thomas S. Wilson and his wife, Eileen of Topsfield, Stephen K. Wilson and his wife, Kathy and William J. Wilson, Jr. and his wife, Deborah, all of Peabody; cherished grandmother “Babci” of Andrea Margareci and her husband, Michael of Burlington, Christopher Wilson of Peabody, Shannon Wilson and her companion, Christopher Cutone of Danvers and Matthew Halliday of Brooklyn NY. She was the dearly loved sister of the late Irene J. Schultz and Chester V. Zaksheski. She is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and extended family members.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to gather on Friday, March 16, at 9 a.m. from the Conway, Cahill-Brodeur Funeral Home, 82 Lynn St., Peabody followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Ann’s Church, 140 Lynn St., Peabody. Following the Mass, Helen will be placed to rest together with her late husband in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Peabody. A visitation will be held tonight, Thursday, from 4 to 8 p.m. in the funeral home.
Memorial donations may be made to Haven from Hunger, 71 Wallis St., Peabody, MA 01960 or VNA Care, 199 Rosewood Dr., Ste. 180, Danvers, MA 01923, www.VNACare.org
For additional information, to send expressions of sympathy or to sign the guestbook on-line, please visit WWW.CCBFuneral.com or www. WelshFuneralHome.com
Chelsea High School Teacher
Long time Chelsea High School teacher of English as a Second Language Rosaria (LaBella) Caradonna of Revere, formerly of Chelsea, passed away on March 7.
Born in Palermo, Italy on Feb. 26, 1946 to the late Paolo and Antonina (Vona) LaBella, she immigrated to the United States when she was 16 years old.
Rosaria graduated from Chelsea High School. She then received a Bachelor of Arts from Emmanuel College and later in life went back to school receiving a Master’s in Education from Lesley University. Rosaria spoke many languages and had a passion for the arts and poetry. Language was very important to Rosaria as she taught English as a second language for many years at Chelsea High.
She was the beloved wife of Leonardo “Dino” Caradonna; devoted mother of Daniela Szymczak and her husband, Michael of Melrose, and Giuliana Arcovio and he husband, Matthew of Melrose; cherished grandmother of Michaela, Layla and Mila Szymczak and Mackenzie and Rose Arcovio; dear sister of Salvatore LaBella and his wife, Katherine of Long Meadow; caring sister in law to Maria Alvino and her husband, Alfonso of Norwood, Concetta Nicolaci and Giuseppa Favuzza, both of Italy. She is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Rosaria was devoted to her family as a wife, mother, and grandmother who will be sorely missed.
Funeral arrangements were by the Paul Buonfiglio & Sons-Bruno Funeral, Revere. Interment was at Woodlawn Mausoleum. If you are considering a donation in Rosaria’s name, it can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts Chapter, 480 Pleasant St, Watertown, MA 02472. For guest book please visit www.Buonfiglio.com