Letter from the editor 12/28/2011
Here we are in this last week of December, getting ready to send The Patriot to the printer for the last time in 2011. If you had told me in January that I would be the paper’s editor for most of the year, I would have said, “No way.”
But it happened, and for the last nine months I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the good people of Webster, Dudley and Oxford. Many of you came to our office on Gore Road in Webster and that’s how I met you; others I met at interviews and local municipal meetings and events, or on the phone and by email.
I’m going to mention here just a few of the many people who were welcoming and helpful, assisting with stories and facts.
Early on I met Mike Hackenson, Principal of Bartlett High School, and Jack Joyce and Kim Dobro of the Guidance Department, who rounded up students for stories. I appreciated teacher Van Constantine, who invited me to speak to his journalism class. Several of the students later wrote articles for us during the summer months.
I met Webster School Committee chairman Mike Makara by phone when he returned my first call to him because he said I sounded sane and reasonable, or something to that effect. We had a great chat about Webster schools and the staff’s dedication to the kids.
Walter “Dan” Ricci, Chairman of the Webster Board of Selectmen, is always ready to answer questions, and suggested the bi-weekly Selectmen’s column.
Dudley Treasurer Richard Carmignani patiently educated me on local aid.
Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar always has an encouraging word for me and for the newspaper. Michelle Jervis is always cheerful.
Oxford’s videographer Tony Troiano, unhesitatingly offers assistance with photos of town events. Karen Crandall, clerk at the Oxford Selectmen’s office, and Debbie Light of the police department, are always ready to help.
Shepherd High School.Principal Mary Pierangeli sent a ticket for graduation when I asked, and was gracious when I didn’t attend, and sent us senior Maddie Billis, who faithfully wrote articles for us all summer.
Webster Lake Association President Gloria Ricker kindly educated me on Lake issues, and how much time and money it takes to keep it clean.
During the summer months we had frequent visits from hydroplane racer Mike Grendell, who single handedly brought the first ever high speed boat races to Webster Lake. His enthusiasm for the sport and his dedication to making it a grand event for the town was infectious.
We also had frequent visits from Maurice Healy, as he wrote weekly stories about the experiences of his great-great grandfather during the Civil War, readying readers for the reenactment that took place at the end of August when Webster also celebrated the opening of the French River Park.
After the summer came the ten year commemoration of 9-11. I had the privilege of talking with Webster’s fire chaplain Deacon “Tony” Surozenski about his experiences at the Ground Zero immediately after the tragedy. His book, Called to Serve, Life as a Firefighter-Deacon came out in the spring of this year.
More than a dozen local officials helped us honor the event with their personal experiences and observances, including Congressman Richard E. Neal, State Senator Richard T. Moore, State Representative Kevin J. Kuros, Webster BOS chairman Walter Ricci, Oxford BOS chairman Jennie L. Caissie, Dudley BOS chairman Steven Sullivan, Webster Police Chief Timothy J. Bent, Oxford Police Chief Michael Hassett, Dudley Police Chief Steven J. Wojnar, former state representative Paul Kujawski, Webster town Administrator John F. McAuliffe, the Rev. Janice Ford, the Rev. Clare Overlander, veteran Donald Wayman, and veteran Robert Mailloux. Many thanks to all of you.
Just two weeks later we had to do another commemorative issue, this time for Dudley selectman Anthony B. DiDonato Sr. who passed away on September 21 while in his 13th terms. He had served Dudley as a devoted public servant for more than 50 years. I had not had the opportunity to personally get to know Mr. DiDonato, but I learned a lot about him from his brothers Leo and Jerry, who came in to our office to talk about him just two days later. Again a whole host of you came through in short order to help us remember Tony’s many accomplishments as well as Tony the friend and colleague. Thank you to Clif Wilson, former State Senator Louis Bertonazzi, Dudley Board of Health chairman Jack Zajkowski, former state representative Jim Whitney, Senator Moore, Rep. Kuros, Paul Kujawski, VFW Commander Geoge Bibeau, former Dudley selectman Al Reich, Police Chief Wojnar, Treasurer Richard Carmignani, Veteran’s Agent Richard J. Holewa, Dudley Highway superintendent Daniel Gion, Dudley Town Administrator Peter Jankowski, and Dudley selectmen Sullivan, Paul Joseph, Jonathan Ruda, and Nancy Runkle.
Just recently, I had the privilege of discussing their visions for Dudley with the selectmen candidates running to replace Tony DiDonato, Peter Fox, John Marsi, and Al Reich. All three seemed to be as dedicated to the good of Dudley as Tony was.
Again, thank you to all of you for helping us get the newspaper out each week. I hope to meet many more of you in 2012.
Finally, a big thank you to the staff at Webster Manor, Lanessa, and the TCU for the huge fruit basket you gave to us last week. “They never forget us,” said our ad manager Laura.
We wish all our readers and advertisers a Happy New Year.