Chelsea High Class of 2018 will Graduate this Sunday

Chelsea High Class of 2018 will Graduate this Sunday

The Chelsea High School Class of 2018 will hold its Commencement Ceremonies Sunday at 1 p.m. at the high school.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque will address the large gathering and offer her official congratulations to the graduates.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and School Committee Chairperson Jeanette Velez will also be part of the ceremony.

Former CHS director of athletics Frank DePatto said he is looking forward to attending the ceremony for the first time in his capacity as a member of the School Committee.

“I know this class very well and they are an accomplished group academically and athletically,” said DePatto. “I look forward to being present as our graduates attain this important milestone in their lives. Graduation represents the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. I wish the graduates continued success as they move on to college, the military, and the work force.”

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Memorial Day Parade

Memorial Day Parade

The Chelsea Girl Scouts hosted their 7th annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday morning, May 28, on Broadway.
Despite the rain, they had a great turnout for the annual march up Broadway for the official exercises. Here, Kaylee Bird and Skye Travassos keep dry before the parade.

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Reimagining Our Waterfront: Chelsea Green Space Encourages Resident Input in Upcoming Meeting on Waterfront Visioning Process

By John Valinch

As City Manager Tom Ambrosino recently noted, Chelsea is a dynamic city that is undergoing a transformative period. Perhaps the most discussed and contested question worth analyzing during this process is how, where, and to what degree Chelsea will undergo development. The Chelsea Waterfront is one area where work is already underway to discuss a comprehensive approach to conceptualizing the future of the space.

Over the past 20-plus years, Chelsea Green Space has engaged the community in efforts to thwart negative developments such as a power plant, ethanol “bomb” trains and other environmental and public health threats. But outside of community-supported processes, has the city, state or any other entity asked us, the residents, what we want for our waterfront? Now is our unique opportunity to act. Chelsea Green Space encourages your participation and involvement.

Recently, the City of Chelsea has contracted the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to begin the visioning and planning process for the development of the waterfront. As part of the MAPC’s process, meetings with community residents are now being conducted in order to build consensus and discuss the goals, concerns, and ideas that residents have regarding the opportunities on the waterfront. On March 3, MAPC met with members of the Chelsea Green Space Committee to begin an initial conversation on perspectives on and intentions for this visioning process.

On Wednesday, March 23, Chelsea residents will have their next opportunity to meet with each other and MAPC to continue this conversation on waterfront visioning. A public workshop will be facilitated by MAPC at the Chelsea Senior Center at 10 Riley Way from 6-8 p.m., and will serve to gather input from community residents as well as allow residents to hear proposals from MAPC on developmental possibilities. In particular, MAPC will be providing examples of potential plans to develop the waterfront in such a way so as to balance various stakeholder interests.

At the conclusion of this series of meetings, the MAPC will be tasked with consolidating the information gathered during the various sessions and producing a proposal to be submitted to the city for approval. As MAPC is contracted by the City of Chelsea for this monumental work, it is of the utmost importance that residents attend the meetings to produce an authentic voice that reflects our current residents’ needs and perspectives on the future of the waterfront space.

The November municipal elections here in Chelsea demonstrated a resounding commitment to a particular thematic issue: development. With the new council now in office for just over three months, the time is now upon us within the community to engage with our councillors, each other, and MAPC to raise the standards by which our community mobilizes and communicates on issues of development. In order to ensure that Chelsea develops equitably, sustainably, and transparently, residents must become informed on and active in the various initiatives throughout the city.

Building our community does not stop at your polling location with the official you elected, but is instead an active process of planning, outreach, and consensus building. If re-imagining our waterfront is important to you, clear your calendars for just two hours on March 23 to engage in this timely and essential conversation. Let’s build a waterfront that works for our community, protects our residents, and expands upon Chelsea’s resource network.

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Homeless Count Finds Those Often Unseen Among Us

It was even earlier than the early shift as dozens of volunteers, City officials and state officials filed into the Chelsea Police Station on Thursday morning – some time just after 3:30 a.m.

The goal was to complete the first-ever Chelsea Homelessness Count – an effort championed by Rev. Sandra Whitley of the People’s AME Church and the Project Opening Doors in Chelsea volunteers. It was officially sanctioned by the state and by City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

In the end, some 14 men were found and counted – all of which were offered services and help if they wanted it.

For Ambrosino, the first count was inspirational.

“I know we had expected to find between 15 and 20 and we found 14 throughout the city, though there are some we could have missed,” he said. “We are trying now to provide services to these folks, but frankly some don’t want any services. In that case, we make sure we can help them with blankets and gear to survive the cold weather. I was very surprised in a happy way at the numbers of volunteers there who went in the middle of the night to help us. It’s another example of the great spirit of this community that continues to amaze me. I am so impressed with the amount of people here who want to come out and try to do good.”

Whitley said she was grateful for the volunteers as well and deemed the first effort a success – noting that the numbers found were reported to the state agency, as were other similar efforts in Boston and other locales last week. The annual homelessness survey is carried out annually in the last week of January all over the nation.

“I thank the Lord for 25 volunteers showing up and getting engaged,” she said. “I was in my zone with others of like-mindedness — people helping others with a good spirit about it all. I had a wonderful time with Chelsea family coming together around what we can do to help somebody, in this case the homeless. Of course, the City Manager and city leadership support and presence made it all the more worthwhile because they are in the position of making decisions on how to genuinely put faces to and find ways to help the less fortunate…Chelsea cares about those less fortunate than ourselves.”

Before filing out onto the streets to find the homeless individuals living out in the elements in places such as under the Tobin Bridge or on the waterfront or in certain alleyways, volunteers took a training course. They were also instructed to let the homeless they encounter know that there are services available.

Not only does the state offer services and shelter from the cold, but also the City is now getting into providing such services to help folks who want to get off the streets.

In the community room of the police station, 25 volunteers divided up into groups of six, named Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot. They practiced asking the pertinent questions and also how to make sure they were safe above all things.

From around 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., the teams searched the areas that the homeless within the city are known to congregate and to sleep.

Two men were observed and counted, while 12 men were interviewed for the official survey.

Volunteers and coordinators plan to schedule a meeting afterward to discuss the methods used and organize for next year’s effort.

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Stephen Leon Honored at Memorial Day Exercises

Stephen Leon Honored at Memorial Day Exercises

During the official Memorial Day Exercises at City Hall, Bronze Star Recipient and Parade Marshal Stephen Leon salutes in solemn remembrance as the Memorial wreaths are placed on the City’s War Memorials. While guarding a military barracks at night, Leon risked his life to save several hundred sleeping Marines from a terrorist attack in Afghanistan. He is a life-long Chelsea resident and a career military man.

During the official Memorial Day Exercises at City Hall, Bronze Star Recipient and Parade Marshal Stephen Leon salutes in solemn remembrance as the Memorial wreaths are placed on the City’s War Memorials. While guarding a military barracks at night, Leon risked his life to save several hundred sleeping Marines from a terrorist attack in Afghanistan. He is a life-long Chelsea resident and a career military man.

Monday morning on Broadway Chelsea was a long way from April 2, 2011 for veteran Stephen Leon.

While he walked down the main street of his hometown – the grand marshal of the Memorial Day Parade – his thoughts were still keenly aware of that day in Afghanistan when he put his life on the line to protect hundreds of sleeping military men from a surprise terrorist attack on his Camp Phoenix outpost.

For his heroics, he has been awarded the Bronze Star.

As he and other members of the night watch stood guard over the camp, they were suddenly barraged with small arms fire, hand grenades and two suicide bomber insurgents who meant to penetrate the barracks and kill thousands.

“There were 8,700 soldiers behind us and they were all sleeping in the middle of the night, so we figured it was going to be our time to die because we weren’t going to let them get to those 8,700 sleeping soldiers,” Leon said in a Record story published in 2013. “My partner got hit and I said to him, ‘Just keep shooting because if they get by us, it’s all done.’ I got blown up, but we stopped them.”

According to his commendation letter from the Army, despite being rocked by multiple explosions, Leon was able to gather himself and deliver lethal shots to the attackers and to the suicide bombers who had not yet detonated their vests.

“While disoriented from a series of explosions, Specialist Leon refused to surrender ground and delivered accurate and lethal fire which prevented insurgents from gaining entry to the base,” read the citation. “His exceptional courage, dedication to duty, care for fellow soldiers and personal sacrifice directly contributed to the successful defense of the main entry control point. His actions saved lives.”

Operating with all humility on Monday morning in front of a hometown crowd, Leon joked about receiving his commendations from General David Petraeus.

“I love being a Chelsea resident because we represent,” he said. “I got all of my commendations from General Petraeus himself. He handed them over to me. When he gave them to me, he asked me what we needed to do to stop the war in Afghanistan. I said to send over more Chelsea residents and we’ll take care of this thing quickly.”

Leon is the brother of Chelsea Police Officer Robert Leon. All three of his brothers have also served in the military, and he said he wanted to have a military career since he was a little boy playing with his GI Joe toys.

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Girl Scout Parade,Memorial Day Ceremonies Step Off Mon. Morning

Girl Scout Parade,Memorial Day Ceremonies Step Off Mon. Morning

The annual Chelsea Girl Scout Parade and Memorial Day Exercises will take place in that order for the fourth straight year, with even more scouts and organizations expected to march in the parade – which is meant to honor veterans and enhance the official exercises at City Hall.

The parade will began around 8:15 a.m. and start at Welch’s Funeral Home parking lot.

The route will proceed down to City Hall, where the official exercises will kick off at the war memorials.

The Chelsea Girl Scouts have grown exponentially over the last few years, and have become a strong supporter of Memorial Day. Acting with local veterans groups, they have been organizing the parade on their own for many months.

“It bears reiterating that none of it would have been possible without the support from our community: The Chelsea Community Fund grant has gone a long way to helping us expose our Girls to the arts,” said Susana Carella of the busy year the troops have had. “TND was instrumental in allowing us to host our first Mother-Daughter Paint Club event on Mother’s Day weekend. We’ve been fortunate to receive generous donations from Zonta Club, Tito’s Bakery and numerous individuals who have contributed supplies and time to our events. Add to that the tireless dedication of the volunteers who donate time, and often money, to leading their troops and it all adds up to an unparalleled community effort. The Girl Scouts Chelsea Memorial Day Parade is the perfect time to unite all those organizations that work in unison to create the sense of community that distinguishes Chelsea from so many other cities. It is our sincere hope that as many of those organizations as possible will come out and march with us.”

Longtime Girl Scout organizer Elaine Cusick said this year will be particularly special as the Scouts will officially welcome the new veterans at the North Bellingham Veterans Home adjacent to City Hall.

“The Girl Scouts are looking forward to hosting another Memorial Day parade,” said Cusick. “It’s especially moving considering that the newly opened veterans’ residential center – the one located in the old American Legion Hall – will have front row seats to the event. It’s a nice welcome to the community for them. Also, for quite some time, Donnie Kingsbury from the Veteran’s Council has helped the girls practice their marching and formation skills.”

The official exercises will begin shortly after the parade contingent arrives at City Hall.

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All-Chelsea Award Winners Announced

All-Chelsea Award Winners Announced

The 13th Annual “All-Chelsea Awards” will be presented on Monday, Oct. 27 to nine recipients who have improved the lives of local residents and enhanced the city’s overall civic standing.

Headlining the awards program is the selection of Superintendent Mary Bourque to receive the “Lifetime Achievement” award.

The remaining eight awards recognize service and achievement over the last year and include:

  • Public Official – Senator Sal DiDomenico
  • Community Organization – Fr. Edgar Gutierrez-Duarte
  • Business – Renee Caso-Griffin
  • Resident under 21 – Jomaira Moreno
  • Resident 21-64 – Lisa Santagate
  • Resident 65 and older – Jack Fraser
  • Contributing Stakeholder – Arthur T. Demoulas
  • Project – Chelsea Empty Bowls.

“A significant reason that Chelsea’s stock continues to be on the rise is the contribution of so many towards the advancement of our community. These nine are representative of all the good that many do to promote our city and address the needs of our residents. We are fortunate to have them working among us,” said City Manager Jay Ash, the coordinator of the All-Chelsea Awards (ACA) Committee.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher to single out award winners because so many are stepping up to make a difference in Chelsea. In the end, we are all winners because the inspiring efforts and overall civic spirit these champions and others contribute to do truly set our community apart,” said City Councillor Leo Robinson, a previous award winner.

The ACA Committee is comprised of residents and leaders of government, business and community based organizations. Representatives from that committee and other community leaders form the ACA Selection Committee. The twenty-five members of the ACA Selection Committee reviewed over fifty nominations and voted by secret ballot to determine award winners. The process is governed by by-laws, and meant to be as fair, impartial and apolitical as possible.

“Apolitical and without agendas best describes the process,” reported Ash about the selection process. “Our community leaders take serious their responsibilities and really work to judge people and organizations based upon the merits of their accomplishments. The results of the voting speak for themselves.”

The Oct. 27 award ceremony will be held in the City Council Chambers at City Hall and will be carried live on Chelsea Community Cable Television beginning at 6 p.m.

The public is invited to attend.

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Chelsea Observes Memorial Day 2014

Chelsea Observes Memorial Day 2014

C1The Chelsea Girl Scout Parade and Memorial Day Exercises were a fitting and well-attended tribute for the third year in a row as the local Girl Scouts have found a way to invigorate the time before the official exercises and increase local participation in the exercises. Pictured is World War II veteran Charlie Lanzillo, who served as a crew chief on the B-29 squadron out of Tinian Island, took an emotional stand during the playing of the Air Force anthem at the City’s Memorial Day exercises.

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Frank Gets Verbal Nod for Council Presidency

Frank Gets Verbal Nod for Council Presidency

Ten councillors gave verbal pledges to Councillor Matt Frank for his Council President run on Monday night at a subcommittee meeting.

The meeting was designed to elect new officers, but the pledges are non-binding and could, theoretically, change. However, it doesn’t appear that will be the case.

Frank voted present, which is customary for the candidate, but received unanimous support from his colleagues. The official vote for president and vice president will take place on Jan. 6 after the inauguration ceremony.

“I am going to begin working on subcommittee assignments and prepare to take the reins on Jan. 6,” Frank said after the meeting.

He will take over for Council President Dan Cortell, who served as president for the past year. The term of office is one year.

Meanwhile, all 10 councillors also supported Clifford Cunningham for vice president. Councillor Chris Cataldo got 10 pledges to be the School Committee delegate.

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Renovated Park Gets Grand Opening in Prattville

Renovated Park Gets Grand Opening in Prattville

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Ginger Brisson (7) and Desmond Brisson (5) got to be the very first kids to play in the renovated Washington Park.

Ginger Brisson (7) and Desmond Brisson (5) got to be the very first kids to play in the renovated Washington Park.

City officials cut the ribbon on the renovated park at the center of Prattville last night, just a little outside of the Record’s deadlines.

As the Record was going to press, City Manager Jay Ash, State Reps. Gene O’Flaherty and Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Sen. Sal DiDomenico and a host of city councillors, led by District City Councillor Paul Murphy, were holding a celebration to mark the official opening of the completely renovated Washington Park in Prattville.

While that event will receive full coverage next week, Ash has already been asking people to step up to be part of a “Friends of Washington Park” committee.

“We have a spectacular park, and the City will do everything we can to keep it clean and fun.  However, for it to really be the community resource it can be, we need local stewards to step up and take an interest in supporting the park,” said Ash.

C1Ideally, Ash said a group of residents might perform a weekly clean-up or maintain plantings, they might organize a quarterly event or maybe be another set of eyes on the park to help keep the park safe and well maintained.

“I’ve seen how a working group of friends can turn a good space into a great place in a neighborhood. I’m hoping people and businesses will do the same here,” commented Ash.

Those interested in joining a discussion about the establishment of a friends group should contact Ash at jash@chelseama.gov.

Ash noted that, already, many young people and families have been observed using the park quite often. In fact, he said it appears that many more are already using it than they were prior to the renovation.

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