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   6 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2011                                                              YEAR IN REVIEW                                                                         SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE

                                                                                                                           Work moves ahead on FSU science center
                                                                                                                           Fitchburg State University’s Parkinson Gymnasium is razed to make room
                                                                                                                           for a $57 million science center, the first new academic building built on
                                                                                                                           campus since the 1970s.

                                                                                                                        Jan. 11: Evergreen Solar Inc. announces it will close its solar-cell
                                                                                                                        manufacturing plant at Devens, moving operations to China and costing
                                                                                                                        800 local workers their jobs. The company, which was the target of about
                                                                                                                        $58 million in state aid for its Devens location — including grants, subsidies
                                                                                                                        and other public investments — previously announced no plans to reduce
                                                                                                                        its local workforce. Officials say Evergreen lost $54 million in the first nine
                                                                                                                        months of 2010, on top of a $265 million loss in 2009.
                                                                    Jan. 13: Daniel P. Moen steps down as president and CEO of Heywood Hospital in Gardner after 21 years. The hospital
                                                                    eventually selects Win Brown as its new CEO.
                                                                    Jan. 21: Graduates make history during the winter commencement for Fitchburg State University, as they are the first group
                                                                    of students to receive the “university” designation on their diplomas. Fitchburg State, along with all of the state colleges in
                                                                    Massachusetts, reached university status in 2010.
                                                                    Jan. 21: HealthAlliance Hospital closes the doors to its inpatient psychiatric ward at the Burbank Campus so it can redirect
                                                                    resources to mental-health care in its Leominster emergency department.
                                                                    Jan. 31: Fitchburg Ward 5 City Councilor Joseph Solomito announces his candidacy for mayor, challenging two-term incumbent
                                                                    Mayor Lisa Wong.

         Don Featherstone and his wife, Nancy, watch “Gnomeo”
                                                                      March 5: Fire rips through a six-family home at 35 Boutelle

         Feb. 2: Several roofs in the area collapse under
                                                                      St. in Leominster. The building, an old Victorian house, is
                                                                      deemed a total loss.

         heavy, wet snowfall, after a two-day storm and               Pastor sentenced in child rape
         previous weeks of accumulating snow.                         Angel Morales, formerly of Fitchburg, was sentenced to
         Feb. 8: Officials cut the ribbon on the Durham                a minimum of 10 years in state prison for one count of
         Center for Learning in Westminster, a school                 aggravated rape of a child in Worcester Superior Court
                                                                      late Friday morning, following tearful impact statements by
         dedicated to teaching children with social and
                                                                      members of the victim’s family.
         developmental disabilities, after it receives state          Morales, who worked as a pastor at a Leominster church
         accreditation.                                               before he was charged with having sex with a 13-year-old
         Feb. 11: Disney’s “Gnomeo and Juliet” screens                girl, was also sentenced to five years of probation following
         for a private audience in Fitchburg, to celebrate            his prison sentence for a second count of aggravated rape
         Don Featherstone, who in 1957 designed the                   of a child.                                                     Boutelle Street fire
         pink, plastic lawn flamingo that became a kitschy,
         pop-culture icon. Disney producers named a main          Vigil for Eric Stafford                        March 19: Fitchburg Police shoot and kill 21-year-old Eric Stafford in his Belmont
         character — a goofy, hyperactive flamingo —                                                              Street apartment, after he charges at officers with a machete. Months of
                                                                                                                 investigation followed, and the Worcester District Attorney’s office determined police
         “Featherstone” after the Fitchburg resident.
                                                                                                                 were justified. In December, the DA released a report stating that Stafford had been
                                                                                                                 acting strangely and was abusing over-the-counter cough medicine before his mental
         New owners pledge to keep Riverside                                                                     decline.
         Village affordable                                                                                      March 22: Westminster resident David Plamondon, 20, is killed when a fellow
         Riverside Village, a 300-unit affordable housing                                                        University of Connecticut student runs him over in a crosswalk. The driver was
                                                                                                                 operating a campus shuttle bus, and admitted to seeing Plamondon before moving
         complex in Leominster, is bought by Schochet
                                                                                                                 forward after a stop.
         Associates in partnership with the Retirement
         Housing Foundation. The owners agreed to keep                                                           Muni-Sun under the spotlight
         the units affordable for another 40 years, including                                                    Several municipalities looking to lease town land to companies are affected after
         preserving 193 of the apartments for people who              the state inspector general issues an opinion that their agreement with consultant Muni-Sun LLC violated state procurement
         qualify for government housing assistance.                   laws. By law, municipalities are required to lease their land without requiring the solar provider to pay an “exorbitant amount”
                                                                      to a consultant, Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan writes in a March 30 letter to the nine communities.
         Feb. 14: Townsend craftsman Jim Craven loses his             Westminster, Ashby and Shirley were among a group of nine communities that banded together with Muni-Sun, LLC, an
         business and nearly 60 years of hard work when               Ashburnham consulting firm owned by James Kreidler, to form one request for proposals to lease land for 20- to 30-year terms
                                                                      to a solar photovoltaic power generating system provider.
         a fast-moving fire destroys a 5,000-square-foot
         workshop on his West Meadow Road property. The
         building had been the center of Craven’s Homes
         by Craven custom cabinetry and home-building
                                                                    April 17: Nine puppies stolen from the Sterling Animal Shelter are reunited in a special event to celebrate their safe return. All
         Feb. 22: Arc Community Services receives an                of the dogs returned safely, but it took several weeks from the March 17 theft for them to be tracked down. Three suspects,
         anonymous $600,000 donation toward its Main                all Worcester residents, were charged in the theft.
         Street renovations, bringing the group, which              April 24: An MCI-Shirley inmate escapes lockup using a smuggled cell phone to arrange his flight. Tamik Kirkland then fled to
         provides support for adults with disabilities, much        Springfield, where he shot and killed a customer in a barbershop, before wounding the barber and a State Police trooper and
         closer to its $5 million goal.                             Springfield police officer in a shootout. Kirkland was injured in the gun fight and transferred to a maximum security facility.
         Feb. 22: A state trooper was in fear for his life when     April 26: A Leominster City Council meeting becomes heated and emotional as councilors question Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella
         he shot and killed a drug suspect from Fitchburg           over his partial ownership of a Carter Street house that received $25,000 in housing rehabilitation improvements using
         who drove toward him on Pine Road in Ashby after           money from the city’s Community Development Block Grant budget.
         a brief car chase. The suspect was Roger Reyes
         Padilla, 21.
          May 1: Locals respond soberly to the news
                                                                    June 1: Steven C. Sharek is chosen
                                                                    by Montachusett Regional Vocational
                                                                    Technical School Committee members
          that al-Qaida leader and most-wanted terrorist            to be the district’s new superintendent.
          Osama bin Laden has been shot and killed by               Sharek fills the spot made vacant
          U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan: The death, they              when Superintendent James Culkeen
          said, was a satisfying victory. But as Thomas             resigned in December as the School
          Szocik of Lunenburg said, it didn’t bring back            Committee prepared to investigate
          his son Kevin, who was killed at the age of 27            his actions in dealing with the new
          in the South Tower of the World Trade Center              principal, Nicholas DeSimone, whom
          on Sept. 11, 2001. Bashir Mehmud, imam of                 he had abruptly placed on leave.
          the Fitchburg Ahmadiyya Muslim Community,                 DeSimone’s position was restored in
          said bin Laden did evil in the name of God, and           2010.
          that he gave peaceful Muslims a bad name. “He
          killed more than 3,000 people. My view is, it’s
                                                                    Tornadoes strike
          over, and it was the best thing,” Mehmud said.
                                                                    Tornadoes left a deep cut of destruction
          May 2: Shirley Finance Committee member
                                                                    across Western Massachusetts on
          Bob Schuler threatens to take out his guns                June 1. Though none touched down
          and start shooting during a public meeting,               in North Worcester County, the
          prompting town officials to issue a no-trespass            region was rocked by a spectacular Johnsonia Building fire
          order against Schuler, barring him from public            thunderstorm. Outreach to tornado victims took hold almost immediately, with locals like the Leominster Lions Club traveling to
          buildings unless accompanied by a police                  Springfield and Monson to assist with cleanup.
          officer. Schuler says the comment was a spur-of-
          the-moment remark showing his frustration with            June 6: Crews break ground on a $13.5 million project to increase the size of the Simonds-Sinon Regional Cancer Center in
          the budget process, and has apologized to town            Fitchburg, adding the latest version of a linear accelerator — a state-of-the-art radiation treatment machine. The center is
          officials.                                                 located on HealthAlliance Hospital’s Burbank campus.
          May 4: Jerry Bieler, who headed the Nashua
          Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America,              Fire rips through historic Johnsonia Building
          dies of cancer at 63. The Leominster resident             A fire that breaks out in the attic of the Johnsonia Building on Fitchburg’s Main Street the night of June 13 turns into a six-
          and lifelong Scout is remembered fondly as a              alarm blaze, as more than 100 firefighters from a dozen departments work to extinguish the flames that threaten to gut the
          “gentleman, and always a person you could talk            historic, restored hotel. About 60 residents, condo owners and renters alike, lose their homes to smoke and water damage. In
          to.”                                                      the weeks and months that follow, while volunteers organize a benefit to assist the Johnsonia residents, some of the tenants
          May 17: Fitchburg City Councilors vote to spend           air their growing frustrations over access to their belongings, looting and communication from building owner Clark Straight,
          $57,000 to reopen the Coolidge Park pool, after           in court. In October, renters, through an environmental contractor, are able to retrieve some items, but the fire remains a
          several Fitchburg residents speak in favor of it.         frustration to former tenants and city officials alike as the coming winter weather is expected to cause further strain on the
                                                                    already compromised structure.

                                                                    June 17: School officials announce that four Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School juniors’ scientific experiment
                                                                    to test how near-weightlessness affects tooth decay would be aboard space shuttle Atlantis, the final shuttle flight in the NASA
                                                                    program. Miguel Velez III and Victoria Holbert of Fitchburg were on the team along with Kayla Nolette of Templeton and Leighton
                                                                    Noel of Barre.

                                                                    Leominster High School begins renovation
                                                                    Leominster High School begins its $40 million renovation and expansion at the end of the school year, setting up 24 modular
                                                                    classrooms on campus to make way for a building-wide overhaul. Inside the building that opened in 1963, ceiling panels in
                                                                    the corridors are out of place, exposing wires running the length of corridors last week, and floor tiling is gone, exposing the
                                                                    concrete slabs underneath. Stairs that led to the former science labs, which were demolished, are gone, and the area is sealed
                                                                    to protect students. Students and staff deal with dust from construction, though air-quality tests show the air is safe for the
                                                                    school. Construction workers are building new science labs equipped with lab benches, gas jets, water faucets with deep sinks,
                                                                    fume hoods and better ventilation.

                                                                                                               June 22: Longtime Leominster Police Chief Peter Roddy announces his retirement,
                                                                                                               effective July 15. Capt. Robert Healey is appointed to replace Roddy, who spent 23
                                                                                                               years of his three-decade police career as chief in Leominster.
                                                                                                               June 28: Developer Russell Barnaby of Arlington announces plans to buy the decaying
                                                                                                               school annex building on Academy Street in Fitchburg and perform extensive renovations
                                                                                                               to convert the building into upscale, loft-style apartments.
                                                                                                               June 29: Freshman state Rep. Richard Bastien, R-Gardner, catches statewide attention
                                                                                                               after filing a bill that would allow fireworks to be sold legally in Massachusetts, if local
                                                                                                               officials approve their sale and fire departments authorize their lighting.
                                                                    Lightning strikes Fitchburg on June 1
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   SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE                                                                  YEAR IN REVIEW                                                                                   FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2011 7

         July 1: Leominster Superintendent James Jolicoeur
                                                                  Aug. 20: The Sisters of the Presentation, an order of Catholic nuns, celebrate 125 years in the Fitchburg-Leominster area. The
         begins working in the school district after a six-       Sisters founded the St. Bernard School in Fitchburg, and have been educating and performing outreach since.
         year stint as assistant superintendent in Marlboro.      Aug. 26: Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis asks Gov. Deval Patrick to adopt the federal Secure Communities program,
         Ralph Hicks takes over as superintendent of the          which automatically screens arrested people for immigration status. His request came on the back of a case in Milford during
         Ashburnham-Westminster school district. Jeremy           which an illegal immigrant with a lengthy criminal record hit and killed a motorcyclist with his truck, dragging the Framingham
         Roche, former principal at Nashoba Regional High         State University student for a quarter mile before stopping.
         School in Bolton, is hired to lead Fitchburg High        Aug. 27-28: Hurricane Irene hits the region. Though not as severe as predicted in Massachusetts, the storm threatens several
         School, after principal Richard Masciarelli retires.     area apple orchards and farms, as high winds destroys portions of crops.
         July 10: Downtown Fitchburg is dealt another             Aug. 30: North Central Charter Essential School students and administrators start the year on a very high note, after learning
         devastating blow when the Stratton Playhouse is          that Bob Hildreth, founder of Families United in Educational Leadership (FUEL) would give up to $250,000 in matching funds
         destroyed in a fire that heavily damages its interior.    toward the school’s building campaign.
         The historic theater company vows to rebuild, and
         continues productions at other sites in the city.
         July 12: State Trial Court officials announce
         that plans to close 11 district courts, including
         Leominster District Court, would move forward.
         Cases will be sent to courts in Fitchburg or Clinton.
         July 20: Scott Person, a clerk at JV’s Package &
         Variety in Fitchburg’s Cleghorn neighborhood, is
         gunned down in a holdup outside the store. Two
         men, Rafael Garcia-Concepcion and Jason Velez,
         are charged with Person’s murder.
         July 22: Leominster resident Anthony DeCicco,
         a 19-year-old Worcester Polytechnic Institute
         student, sings the Star-Spangled Banner at Fenway
         Park before a Red Sox-Mariners game.                     Leominster High School renovation under way                               The remnants of Hurricane Irene blew through
         July 24: Officials announce plans to overhaul the
         ramp at Exit 31 off Route 2, the interchange with
         Route 12 that leads to downtown Leominster to the        SEPTEMBER
                                                                  Sept. 1: Four Fitchburg High School students act quickly to rescue a woman from the Nashua River, climbing down a steep
         south and Fitchburg to the north. Plans are in place
                                                                  rock embankment in Riverfront Park to keep her company and direct Fitchburg Firefighters to her until she could be lifted and
         to begin work in the spring or summer of 2012, and       given medical treatment. Jose Kirby Echevarria, Kapree Green, Geraldo Santiago and Amanda Breau, were honored by the
         the project is estimated to cost $8 million.             Fitchburg Police Department for their actions in October.
         July 29: An outbreak of deadly canine parvovirus         Sept. 6: After nearly two years of talks, Lunenburg and North Middlesex Regional school districts reach an impasse and
         spreads among unvaccinated puppies in Fitchburg.         officially end negotiations to add Lunenburg to the regional district. Both districts’ high schools are in dire need of capital
         The highly contagious disease is easily preventable,     improvements.
         and animal experts aggressively spread the word          Sept. 12: Leominster City Councilors vote 7-2 in favor of a resolution asking for a review of the city’s financial practices by
         to dog owners to have their puppies treated.             the state Department of Revenue, amid a charged atmosphere at a council meeting. Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella is resistant to
         July 30: Leominster Pop Warner celebrates its            making the request to state officials.
         50th anniversary.                                        Sept. 27: Fitchburg City Councilor Joseph Solomito wins every ward in the city in a three-way preliminary race for mayor.
                                                                  Incumbent Mayor Lisa Wong receives 37 percent of the vote to Solomito’s 60 percent. Political newcomer Kevin Lynch is
                                                                  ousted from the race.
         Atlantic Union College closes its                        Sept. 27: Federal, state and local authorities intercept a single-engine plane at the Fitchburg Municipal Airport and arrest
         doors                                                    31-year-old Hoang Nguyen of Oregon, the pilot, after finding about 74 pounds of marijuana in the aircraft. Authorities also find
         For nearly 100 years Atlantic Union College has          more than $77,000 in cash, maps, an iPad and several cellular phones inside the plane.
         been a staple in the village of South Lancaster.
         The school, which started out as a primary school
         called South Lancaster Academy, grew into a four-
         year institution in 1922.
         Since then, the old brick buildings on the manicured
         campus have been the home to the fostering
         education and faith of thousands of students
         attending the Seventh-day Adventist school.
         But now the future of the college is uncertain, and
         classes are canceled for the fall, following years of
         financial struggles and the loss of accreditation on
         July 31. Nearly 450 employees lost their jobs.

                                                                  Janet Cragin inside burned-out Stratton Playhouse                         Teens aided woman’s rescue in Nashua River

                                                                  Oct. 2: Following an argument in their Berrington Street home,
                                                                  the tension between Leominster brothers Andrew, 19, and
                                                                  Richard Morales Jr., 21, escalates. Andrew is charged with
                                                                  murder, after allegedly stabbing Richard. Upon seeing his
                                                                  wounded brother, Andrew tries to save him, police report.
                                                                  Andrew, whose family has spoken in support of both brothers,
         Rev. Richard Trainor led remembrance for Scott Person    is freed on $40,000 in December following a fundraiser. The
                                                                  case is moving through superior court in Worcester.
         Nov. 8: In a hard-fought election, incumbent Mayor
                                                                  Oct. 5: Massachusetts-based restaurant chain Friendly’s
                                                                  closed 63 stores suddenly, including two in Leominster and
                                                                  one in Fitchburg.
         Lisa Wong wins her third term in office, beating
         challenger and City Councilor Joseph Solomito,           Pennsylvania company buys Wachusett Potato
         who trounced her in the September preliminary.           Chip Co.
         Fitchburg’s City Council will see some new faces         The Wachusett Potato Chip Co. is purchased by Utz Quality
         with the election of Ward 4 Councilor Dolores            Foods of Hanover, Pa., but Wachusett managers promise the
         Thibault-Muñoz, Ward 5 Councilor Nicholas Carbone        jobs held by the Fitchburg company’s 50 employees would
         and at-large Councilor Jeffrey Bean. In Leominster,      remain secure.
         no one challenged Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella, who
         sailed into his 10th term; Ward 1 Councilor David        Oct. 23: The Coggshall Park Stone House is rededicated, nearly
         Rowlands beat challenger Gail Feckley and two            three years after a suspicious fire completely destroyed the
         newcomers, Donna Ciccone and Lynn Gaudet won             historic building. Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical
         spots on the Leominster School Committee.                School students did the bulk of the restoration on the house,
         Nov. 14: North Middlesex Regional High School            which overlooks Mirror Lake in the city park.
         comes one step closer to losing its accreditation        Oct. 26: U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, announces he will not
         after being placed on probation by the New England       seek reelection in 2012 after more than 20 years representing
         Association of Schools and Colleges. Just weeks          Massachusetts’ 1st District. Citing family concerns — his wife
         later, Superintendent Maureen Marshall announces         is being treated for cancer — Olver made the announcement in
         her retirement.                                          a written statement.
         Nov. 18: Race organizers announce that the first          Oct. 27: Officials laud the restart of construction on the The
         stage of the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic cycling race      Groop Townview Apartment building on Prichard Street in A snowy October nor’easter cut power to thousands
         will be held in Leominster for the first time in its      Fitchburg. After four years and 48 days — funding dried up in 2007 — the aging building is alive again with workers restoring
         history.                                                 the high-rise.
                                                                  Oct. 29: A massive snowstorm dumps more than a foot of snow on parts of North Central Massachusetts, knocking out power
         Heating-oil demands skyrocket                            to thousands for days, and closing schools. Utility officials work to restore power amid trees badly weakened by the summer’s
         In Leominster, the Mayor’s Energy Fund depletes          Hurricane Irene and past storms.
         within hours of the application period opening Nov.
         1. Demand is at its highest as Leominster residents      Fall Brook Elementary earns statewide praise
         look for help heating their homes. The fund opened       Leominster’s Fall Brook Elementary School students and teachers received accolades from state education officials for the
         for the season with a $12,000 balance but there          second year in a row, after continued improvement on MCAS scores. Principal Paula Leger-Cox credits a full-scale effort on the
         have been about $37,000 worth of requests.               part of every staff member to include education in every part of the day — including lunch time, when some of the custodial
         Fundraising has reached about $23,500 with               staff will play math games with the children. Later in the year, students and staff received a special visit from Gov. Deval
         strong support from the business community and           Patrick, who congratulated them on their achievements.
         local schools. Local and national companies sign
         checks for thousands of dollars to help bolster the
         fund.                                                                                                         DECEMBER
                                                                                                                       Dec. 3: Leominster High School football wins the Central Mass. Division 1 Super
         Nov. 29: Shirley resident and World War II Army                                                               Bowl, beating St. John’s of Shrewsbury, 12-6, a week after beating Fitchburg in the
         veteran Joe Landry receives the French Legion of                                                              semi-finals and in the Thanksgiving Day rivalry game.
         Honor, France’s highest military decoration, for his                                                          Dec. 6: Princeton resident Kathleen Desilets, the wife of a well-known dentist with
         service in helping the people of France during the                                                            offices in Fitchburg and Worcester, is found dead under a shattered, third-story
         war.                                                                                                          window in her Princeton home. Police eventually released log entries related to
                                                                                                                       Desilets’ death, but weeks later, still no cause of death has been released.
                                                                                                                       Dec. 7: Leominster developer James Xarras, his company and trustees, are fined
                                                                                                                       $200,000 for the clear-cutting 100 acres of timber in preparation for the Crown
                                                                                                                       Point housing development.
                                                                                                                       Dec. 8: Local fire departments join in solidarity to support the Worcester Fire
                                                                                                                       Department after veteran jake Jon Davies dies in an Arlington Street blaze.
                                                                                                                       Dec. 21: Dozens of state and local police descend on Meadowbrook Village in
                                                                                                                       Fitchburg when a Brooklyn, N.Y. man is found shot and suffering non-life-threatening
                                                                                                                       injuries. Officers secure the area and attempt to wait out the suspect. After hours,
                                                                                                                       they enter an apartment to find the man had gone. Meanwhile, three men — two
                                                                                                                       from Rhode Island and another from New York — drive through the major crime
                                                                                                         Fitchburg     scene after allegedly entering a Milk Street home and terrorizing its residents and
                                                                                                         shooting      stealing valuables from them.
                                                                                                         drew State
                                                                                                         Police SWAT                         Text by Marisa Donelan
         Gov. Deval Patrick lauded Fall Brook Elementary School                                                                    Photos by Brett Crawford and Connor Gleason

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