, Gloucester, MA

June 18, 2006

Special Needs Dance names king, queen

Chris Palazzola is a regular at the Gloucester Fraternity Club's Special Needs Dance. But he missed the last few years because he fought a tumor behind his nose and cancer.

But through prayers from his Green Street family and two months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments - every day for radiation, once a week for chemotherapy - Palazzola fought away his illnesses.

He was back on the dance floor this year. And he danced like a king.

Organizers of the dance named Palazzola, 46, and longtime date Dotty Skinner, 59, the king and queen of the recent prom. Dances are held once a month, with a prom each year.

"He really battled. He was sick for a while," said his mother, Josephine Palazzola. "We had a hospital bed here in the house. Somebody up there loves this kid, the doctor said. I prayed so hard he would go through this chemo and radiation. You have to stay still during it, but he did it."

Josephine said she and her husband, Sebastian "Busty" Palazzola, got through it by praying to a little statue of Maria Rosa Mystica, a saint who was placed on the Palazzolas' TV.

Their son missed the dances. He was shy when he first began to go about 20 years ago, Josephine said. But he loves them now. And being king helps, too.

"He's been saying, 'I'm King,' for about a month now," she said.

Palazzola and Skinner make a pretty good dance team, Skinner's guardian, Janet Crews, said.

"Chris used to dance with someone else once in a while," she said. "Once they started dancing, they would dance the whole night away. Chris won't dance with anybody else now, and if she's not there, he won't go."

Palazzola likes to collect yearbooks and hang around with friends at St. Peter's Club in his spare time. Skinner collects bottles, loves penny sales, dancing and visiting casinos.

"Dotty would always be ready to dance with him when he walks in that door," Palazzola's mother said. "Then she's with him all night long."

Maritime Heritage Center receives grant for 'Salt' program

Earlier this week, the Essex National Heritage Commission announced the recipients of the ninth annual ENHC Partnership Grant Program. The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center was one of 23 nonprofit organizations that received funding from the commission, which, in total, awarded the programs $75,000 in funding for various projects that highlight historic, cultural and natural aspects within the commission's jurisdiction.

The Heritage Center's project, entitled "Salt," will explore salt from the perspective of marine biology, industrial arts and cultural studies, said Harriet Webster, executive director of the center. The program will be almost completely funded by the commission's $3,000 grant and matching funding from New England Biolabs.

"We have applied (to the commission) for various grants over the years, and they have been very good to us," Webster said.

The center will team up with the Essex Shipbuilding Museum and the Fin Fish Hatchery of the MIT Sea Grant program for this project. Webster said the museum will help develop the cultural aspects of the program, including the history of Essex County shipyards and how ships are fashioned for salt water use. The hatchery will help develop programming involving the maritime science portion, including education on why fish live in either fresh- or salt-water and what large amounts of fresh water rain, like what Cape Ann received last month, does to the salt-water environment.

The project should be completed by next summer, Webster said, but some aspects of the program will be up and running before then, starting by the end of this summer.

The program, she said, will be geared to a general audience.

Goldin chuckles

By earned reputation, the irrepressible Stevan Goldin makes certain people cringe - especially developers and members of the boards they deal with trying to get to build things that the Harvard-educated citizen activist believes sacrifices common for private wealth.

His 10 citizen appeals have delayed and at times blocked big and little developments from Boston to Cape Ann.

But of late, Goldin has been trying out a sense of humor that seems inspired by Woody Allen, with whom he shares a bedraggled aura of intellectual intensity.

Goldin dabbled in shtick Monday night while explaining to the Planning Board why a 94-unit subdivision engineered for the behind the backside of Wingeaersheek Beach would be an abomination.

"It's unclear why 94 units were put forth - the area is unbuildable - other than to antagonize the board," he said, stopping to get the timing right ... "I thought that was my job."

Firefighters do the job

Firefighter union vice president Eric Christopher wanted to send his thanks to 10 Gloucester firefighters who swapped hose and helmets for a set of garden tools Tuesday. The men trimmed brush and bushes and planted shrubs downtown in the vacant lot across from central fire station.

Through a partnership with the Sawyer Free Library, the firefighters will use the lot for parking, something prized in that cross-section of Middle and School streets.

Firefighters also spread Bark mulch, purchased by the firemen's union, around the plantings.

Those who volunteered a few hours for the cleanup were: Donny Barbagallo, Bob Francis, Joe Misuraca, Steve Mitchell, Greg Marchant, Ron Batson, Jason LoCoco, Jay Frontiero, Mark Nicastro and Mike Smith.

Honored veteran

A flag will be flown at the Veterans' Center this week for the husband-and-wife tandem of Charles William "Bud" Thomas and Fannie (Hana) Schwartz Thomas.

Born June 24, 1922, and enlisted into the U.S. Navy in Oct. 9, 1942, Fannie served in World War II as a Storekeeper Second Class. She served in the United States and won the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Ribbon medal and Good Conduct Medal. She was discharged Dec. 13, 1945. She died Dec. 14, 2005.

Charles was born March 30, 1921, and enlisted into the U.S. Navy Dec. 4, 1944. He served in World War II as a Storekeeper Third Class. He served in the United States and won the World War II Victory Medal, American Theatre Medal and Good Conduct Medal. He was discharged May 19, 1946. He died July 21, 1997.

Their daughter, Sharon Thomas, requested the flag in their honor.

Anyone wishing to have a flag flown in honor of a deceased veteran should contact the city's Office of Veterans Services at 978-281-9740.