Melrose Police Sergeant Lenny Ford is a member of the NEMLEC regional SWAT team, which responded to the mass shooting at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield on December 26, 2000.
I joined the SWAT team when I was 40. It was an opportunity to see if I could stand up to the challenges of it. The people in charge didn’t think a person my age could do it. It was tough, but I hung in there.
What people don’t realize is that with all the equipment we have, SWAT is about saving lives. I did it for 20 years and I was never involved in a shooting. I had been shot at, but we’ve always managed to take the person into custody without having to use deadly force. We were prepared to use it but we didn’t have to use it.
The morning of Wakefield, I was off duty, and I got the call from NEMLEC—at that point in time we were using beepers—”Respond to Wakefield,” with the address. I was in camouflage—I was the only one in camouflage that day because at that time I was working as a counter-sniper. Everybody else was in their blacks.
Upon arrival, the chief from Reading was waiting for us. Mucko [Michael McDermott, the shooter] had already been taken by the Wakefield police. The chief said they believed they had a second shooter in there. I was told to take point, so I was the lead man. We didn’t even wait for the full SWAT team. We took a couple of NEMLEC negotiators and went in looking for the bad guy—but we also had a lot of innocent people who were hiding under desks, hiding in closets.
We searched the whole building from the cellar on up. You are announcing you are the police, so if there is a shooter there you are saying “Here I am,” but you have to do it because you have innocent people and you want to get them out. You don’t know who is who, and you are deathly afraid of making a mistake.
Being the point man, I had to step over bodies. I could walk by the bodies and put it [mentally] where it belonged, because I was looking for a gunman and this was not a threat to me. After the fact, I can still picture everybody I walked by. It is something that stays with you forever. I have seen death before, but never something to the extent that I was walking through there.
Everybody has to deal with things in their own way. I dealt with it by talking with family members, who just basically let me vent. It wasn’t bragging, it was catharsis. A couple of times it has really bothered me. One time I had to go in and search a business, and it was cubicles, the same way Edgewater was, so it was definitely a flashback situation. The other time was my son’s confirmation; the bishop was talking about the Wakefield shooting and I had to walk out.
You never get rid of it.
In the long run, the training I had with NEMLEC made working in Melrose easier for me. When something was going bad, I was able to come in and verbalize and take command of the situation, and our customer—that’s what I always call someone who is in trouble, they are just a customer—they would sense it and we were able to do it without anybody getting hurt.
My proudest thing is that I have never had to use deadly force, even with all those years with the SWAT team and all the years out on the street. My job is to help people. Am I good with my hands, am I good with physical confrontations? Yes, I am. But I am so proud that I can shoot the heck out of a piece of paper and that’s all that I’ve ever had to shoot.
Melrose High School Class of 1991
Come join us to celebrate our Twenty-Five Year Class Reunion!
We’ve planned a great night – Spin City D.J., cash bar and food provided by Bobby C’s
Hope you all can make it!
Saturday November 26, 2016 7:00pm-11:00pm
GAR Room, Memorial Hall, 590 Main St. Melrose
R.S.V.P. by November 16th
Please make check or money order payable to: Melrose High School Class of 1991, 22 Lebanon Street Melrose, MA 02176 (please include name of each guest attending and alumni’s email address)
Please help us find classmates! If you have contact info for someone that is not on Facebook or who may be hard to find, please send it along to us.
Check out event updates at the “Melrose High School Class of 1991” Facebook.
Contacts: Neal Dike, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-526-1201, and Bridget (Riley) Braverman, email@example.com, 617-642-2132
After a lengthy and inclusive process, we presented to the Board of Aldermen on October 5 a proposal to move forward on a plan to address student population increases in the City of Melrose and the need for more classroom space in our schools. The Committee on Appropriations recommended passage, and the Aldermen voted to approve the funding on October 17.
Population increases are extremely hard to predict and track. The City, in cooperation with the schools, has made many modifications to the current school structures, including building new classrooms, renovations, etc. We have now reached a point, due to a dramatic increase in the school age population in the last two years, that it is time to act. We began this process well over a year ago with a demographic study, a presentation of several options by our Superintendent, a community meeting, a review by our permanent School Building Committee, a recommendation by our School Building Committee as well as a review and recommendation by the Melrose School Committee. What was clear was the community’s clear commitment to our current expanded neighborhood school model that continues the K through 5 elementary schools as well as the grades 6 to 8 middle school. The proposal approved by the School Building Committee and the School Committee, and endorsed by myself, includes the use of modular school additions as well as a renovation of the Horace Mann School that provides a long-term solution to the challenges we face.
The team that presented these recommendations to the Appropriations Committee is the same team that built the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School, renovated Melrose High School and the Hoover Elementary School, and has led all our school projects over the last 15 years. They are second to none in terms of their knowledge of this community and the high standards they keep. They are keenly aware of cost and quality and have an outstanding working relationship with our principals as well as our senior school administrators.
The plan that has been recommended is, I believe, the best plan for students and for administrators. It protects the clear desires of myself and others that fifth graders should remain in elementary schools, that eight graders should remain in middle school, and that Melrose High School should remain a 9th to 12th grade community. I would also argue that the plan provides additional school improvements such as ADA compliance, open space, and advancing educational equity in all our schools. I look forward to continued support from the Board of Aldermen as we advance our solution to this challenge for the City of Melrose.
This blog post was written by Elise Nerden, who was an intern in our summer intern program.
Pepperberry Florist, located at 539 Main Street, offers floral arrangements, unique gifts, and special occasion items. Owned by John DeCola, Pepperberry Florist provides flowers and plants for weddings, proms, funerals, and many more occasions. This past school year, the florist shop had its most successful prom season and donated a portion of its profits to the Melrose High School Grad Night event. The store expanded its business two years ago to include a gift shop, which carries candles, stationery, ceramics, seasonal decorations, and home decor.
DeCola first opened Pepperberry Florist in the Greenwood area of Wakefield in 1996. Since most of his customers were from Melrose, he moved the business to Melrose in 1999, and he said the community has been very welcoming since the move.
DeCola has been in the florist business since he was a child. His family owned a florist shop, and he enjoyed helping out. He has had a lifelong passion for floristry and enjoys being an owner of a floral business. DeCola likes to be creative and try new things in his craft, . His shop does not use any low-grade flowers or plants, preferring quality products for their arrangements. DeCola likes to use plants not normally found in bouquets to make his products unique and special.
When asked about advice for people who want to start a business, DeCola said, “the business owns you.” He believes someone wanting to be a successful business owner needs to be ready for a lot of work. For someone who wants to open a florist shop, they should have at least five years of experience and be able to clean flowers, design pieces, and many more tasks. DeCola loves running his business and providing people with beautiful flowers, plants, and gifts.
Pepperberries is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and closed on Sunday. For more information about Pepperberry Florist and their services, call 781-979-0444 or visit the website, www.pepperberryflorist.com.
Here’s a message from the Melrose Education Foundation.
The flocks are landing all over Melrose, and you only have four more days to place your order!
- Orders will be accepted until Monday, October 24, and flocks will continue to appear until Friday, October 28!
- Make a tax-deductible donation this month and you can send a flock of flamingos to a friend or neighbor in Melrose—or to your own yard! The flock will land on the lawn and remain there for 24 hours.
- You may send a half-a-flock ($25), a full flock ($50), or a jumbo flock ($100).
- Want to flock a block? If you and your friends order four flocks in the same neighborhood, we will add a free flock and coordinate the deliveries for the same night! Be sure to check the box on the “flock the block” box on the flocking form!
- Questions about how it works? Check out our flocking facts page!
The MBTA has informed the Department of Public Works that they will be repairing and replacing the train tracks across West Wyoming Avenue near Berwick Street. Preliminary work will start on Friday, October 21, 2016. The replacement work will start on Saturday, October 22, 2016, at 5:00 a.m. and will continue through Monday morning. The work is required in order to maintain the safe travel of trains through this area and re-establish full service for the Monday morning commute.
Please note that West Wyoming Avenue will be closed at the train crossing in both directions in order to complete this work. Businesses, homeowners and commuters will experience road closures, traffic detours and driveway access delays during the course of the work this weekend. Melrose Police and MBTA officers will be posted throughout the detour in order to assist with traffic flow. Message boards have also been placed in order to educate commuters in and around the area. In general, the following should be anticipated:
- West Wyoming Avenue will be closed at Main Street for west bound travel (towards Stoneham). Vehicles will not be allowed to enter West Wyoming from Main Street.
- West Wyoming will be detoured at Cottage Street for traffic travelling in an easterly direction (towards Main Street). It will be closed in its entirety at Pleasant Street.
- Grove Street will be closed at Myrtle Street
- Berwick Street will be closed at Grove Street
- Traffic travelling out of Waverly Place will have to turn right and travel towards Main Street only.
- Access to Corey Street will be allowed from West Wyoming under the direction of the Detail Officers.
We stand committed in making sure that the MBTA completes this project in a safe, efficient and timely manner. If you have any issues or concerns related to the work, please contact our Engineering Division Office at 781-979-4172 or firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can be promptly and properly addressed.
Melrose Police Department Reminds Community Members About Residential and Commercial Alarm Registration
Chief Michael L. Lyle would like to remind residents and business owners of the city’s alarm program, which requires all systems to be registered with the Melrose Police Department.
Registration is free and only needs to be completed once.
According to city ordinance, once you have registered your alarm, there is no charge for two false alarms per year. However, residents or business owners will be charged $50 for a third false alarm response. Any subsequent false alarm response will result in a $100 fee.
Those who have not registered their alarm systems with the police department, and require a response, will face a $50 fine.
“We ask that residents and business owners register their alarm systems so that we have a point of contact and key holder in the event that you are out of town, or not in the area, when your alarm goes off,” Chief Lyle said. “The process is simple and quick and will add an extra level of safety for your residence or business.”
Community members should complete and return the alarm registration to the police department. The form can be accessed here, by visiting melrosepolice.net and accessing it through the “forms” tab, or by picking up a copy at the police station, 56 West Foster St.
Anyone with questions should contact the Melrose Police Department at 781-665-1212.
Did you know the City of Melrose offers a variety of discounts and tax exemptions for senior and low income residents? Mayor Rob Dolan invites you to come to an informational open house either October 26th or November 2nd at Memorial Hall. Come meet with City Departments to see if you qualify and also sign up for a wide variety of discounts that include:
- Senior Property Tax Exemption (Age 65+)
- Water & Sewer Discounts (Age 65+ or income eligible)
- Solid Waste Fee Discounts (Age 65+ or income eligible)
- Property Tax Work Program (Age 60+)
- Veteran Financial and Medical Benefits / Assistance
- Help Understanding Your Energy Bill
This is an initiative that was delivered as part of Mayor Dolan’s 2016 Inauguration and highlighted in the recent needs assessment completed by the Council on Aging. “Our goal with the open house is to educate and enroll eligible citizens in our discount programs for water, sewer, property taxes, and solid waste, as well as veterans’ benefits. We invite all citizens to meet personally and confidentially with a City Hall team in a ‘one-stop shopping’ environment to help eligible citizens continue to live and thrive in our community,” said Mayor Dolan.
- What residents should bring:
- Photo Identification
- Recent Tax Bill
- 2015 Tax Return (Social Security Statement if no tax return)
- Electric Bill
- For veteran’s assistance please bring DD214
The sign up sessions will take place on Wednesday, October 26th from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and then on Wednesday, November 2nd from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m..
Both will be held at Memorial Hall located at 590 Main Street in Melrose. Residents who wish to apply need only to attend one session.
Please join us for an evening of laughter, as we honor our veterans, and announce the establishment of the Bill Forbes Scholarship Fund. Bill was a proud Vietnam Veteran, a 35 year Melrose resident, and served on the Melrose Board of Alderman for 10 years. He was the ultimate family man, and dedicated his life towards helping others. Bill always made us smile, so it is only fitting to celebrate his life with a night of laughs in the company of family, friends, veterans, and members of the community.
The Bill Forbes Scholarship Fund hopes to provide educational opportunities for college bound students in the community, which will make a positive difference in the lives of others for years to come.
An eventbrite link is being established to handle online ticket sales. In the meantime, please call the contact numbers listed on the flyer. Checks are payable to the Disabled and Limbless Veterans, Inc.
We hope to see you on November 11th!!