WAKEFIELD — Greenwood native Thomas A.C. Ellis has written a new, comprehensive history of Wakefield’s role in the Civil War. It is a worthy companion to other volumes written on the history of the town.

Ellis is an independent Civil War historian who decided to write the book after he searched for information regarding Wakefield’s contribution to America’s Civil War and found it to be lacking. Further exploration and preliminary research revealed a rich history. His book, “Wakefield’s Civil War Service, A History and Roster,” focuses on the epic actions of the Town of South Reading (now Wakefield) from 1861-1865. Meticulously researched, the book chronicles the contributions of Wakefield men and women in America’s bloodiest war.
Continue reading ‘New book on Wakefield’s role in the Civil War’

Policy of truth


“We’re only getting rid of the Warrior logo. The Warrior name can stay.”

How many times did we hear those soothing words of assurance over the last year?

I didn’t believe it the first time I heard it and I don’t believe it now.

Even before they cancelled the logo, I said, “They’ll be back for the name. Mark my words.” Just so you know, I’m batting 1.000 when it comes to predictions regarding this whole process.

And now, having seen a copy of the new School Committee policy on “Logos, Mascots & Team Names,” I’m more convinced than ever that the “Warrior” name will soon be following the logo to the Happy Hunting Ground.
Continue reading ‘Policy of truth’

Cruel summer


August was not a good month for those who believe they have the power to control the weather.

Things started to go downhill on Aug. 12, when those climate deniers at the Department of Public Utilities hastened the incineration of the planet by approving Project 2015A.

Project 2015A a natural gas-fired plant to be sited in Peabody that would assure that there’s enough electricity to keep the lights on and the air conditioning running at times of peak demand.
Continue reading ‘Cruel summer’

For something that supposedly doesn’t exist in any public school anywhere, an awful lot of effort and ink have been spent of late trying to convince us of it’s non-existence.

Critical race theory, they insist in no uncertain terms, has no place in public education.

The messaging usually goes something like this: “Of course we’re not teaching that. You don’t even know what it is. Where would you even get such an idea?”

Or as Wakefield School Committee chair Suzy Veilleux put it more succinctly this week, “Critical race theory is not being taught in Wakefield Public Schools.”

Well. That’s settled.

Apparently, education officials think we don’t know how to use Google.
Continue reading ‘Theory of relativity’

Remember all the way back to last week, when we had a four-day heat wave?

I realize that the return to winter weather over the July Fourth weekend tends to blunt the memory of what came before. But three of those days, June 28, 29 and 30, brought temperatures of between 97 and 100, coupled with high humidity.

Did you run your air-conditioning during those days? Of course you did. So did everyone else. Fool not to. That’s what’s known as “peak demand” in the energy industry, a period in which electrical power is expected to be provided for a sustained period at a level significantly higher than the average supply.

The reason the electrical grid is able to provide that extra power during peak demand periods is because it has the capacity to ramp up to meet that extra demand due to reliable electricity generation powered by fossil fuels.
Continue reading ‘Power to the people’

Train in vain


WAKEFIELD, MA — The closure since last November of the Broadway commuter rail crossing has certainly been no picnic for many, and the damage to nearby businesses is not to be minimized.

At the same time, I’m an optimist by nature, and in the spirit of this week’s theme of arcane 1970s pop culture references, remember the Monty Python tune, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life?” That’s me to a T.

So, I’ve long suspected that at least some Broadway residents may harbor mixed feelings when it comes to the railroad crossing closure. They might not say it out loud, but it wouldn’t surprise me if more than a few Broadway residents are secretly enjoying life on a quiet residential street as opposed to the New England Dragway.

Right now, they have a neighborhood that’s relatively free of speeding traffic and, for now at least, the trains aren’t sounding their horns.

If, as some are demanding, the town were to open the Broadway crossing now, without approval of the Federal Railroad Administration, the entire town would lose its Quiet Zone status. That means trains would sound their horns as they approach each of the town’s six crossings.

forest_street_tenderImagine Greenwood neighbors’ delight at hearing several loud horn blasts seconds apart as trains rumble through the crossings at Greenwood and Forest streets, which are separated by about 1,000 feet.

That would be heaven compared to what lower West Side residents would have to endure as every rush hour train blasts its horn at each of the four crossings along the half-mile stretch between Broadway and Prospect Street.

Ask someone who lived on Emerson Street in the 1980s what it was like. There’s a reason we have a Quiet Zone. Residents demanded it. If the town were to open the crossing tomorrow and let the trains sound their horns, the first ones to criticize that decision would be the same people now complaining that the crossing is closed.

Again, the harm to area businesses is regrettable to say nothing of the inconvenience to upper West Siders who can no longer get to Caporale’s and back during commercial breaks on the View.


The closure has also no doubt impacted traffic at other crossings, especially Albion Street, which is bad news for those eager to blame the as yet unoccupied Harvard Mills apartments for the gridlock in that area.

The current situation stinks, no doubt about it. But those blaming the town are on the wrong track. And the current Town Engineer isn’t responsible for this train wreck either. He just inherited it. Every time he meets the FRA’s requirements, the feds move the crossing gates a little further way.

If this problem isn’t resolved soon, might I suggest letting the Boys & Girls Club take a crack at it?

I hear there’s nothing they can’t do.

[This column originally appeared in the June 17, 2021 Wakefield Daily Item.]



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