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The support and generosity of numerous individuals, families, organizations, and institutions in our community allowed us to award 130 scholarships to college-bound graduates in the Manchester Essex Regional High School Class of 2021. A sincere thank you to all who contribute to our local and regional scholarships.

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The Selectmen’s public forum Thursday on whether Manchester should join the North Shore Regional Dispatch may have been effective in staging the case for regionalizing public safety dispatch operations, but the public hearing lacked a key ingredient: hearing from the public.  I would offer the following points of consideration for the BOS moving forward:

I write to thank the voters who attended the annual town meeting (ATM) on Monday evening.  We gathered again on the Manchester Essex Middle/High School’s Hyland Field, as we did last year.  Thanks to thorough preparation by town board members, we were able to complete the town’s essential business in less than two hours and dissolve a few minutes before sunset. 

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Recently, there has been some discussion about the disposition of the town flagpole on the Town Common.  Currently, the town does not have a written policy with regard to the flagpole, though the topic has been discussed in past years.  This year has seen changes to the flagpole as a result of the Town Common renovation project.

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In this last, very difficult, year a number of neighboring districts and districts across the state used the outdoors for music classes, chorus rehearsals and  concerts, and band concerts.... Our students lost out on so much.

In analyzing the data gathered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Schools, the Manchester Essex High School Report Card states that only 60 percent of students are engaged in the Arts. In comparison, districts identified as having similar demographics to us have participation rates from 72 percent to 96 percent.

The spirit of community is thriving in Manchester-by-the-Sea (MBTS) and we can all be thankful.  A few short months ago, in the depths of winter (and a pandemic), a group of citizens began meeting weekly on Zoom to address Manchester’s need for affordable housing.  The group is called CIMAH (Citizens Initiative for Affordable Housing) and their mission is clear.   The community needs to come together and act expeditiously, because the need is urgent.

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Far too often, in my opinion, Town Elections are a ho-hum, non-competitive affair, and even when we do have a competitive race, it seems voters rely on name-recognition or Facebook banter to “check a box”.  This year, we have a very real election race with several well-qualified candidates vying for two open Planning Board seats.