GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 27, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? Relevant coverage from other towns

Why Did My Newspaper Do That?
Ray Lamont

---- — One of our goals in presenting our local news coverage each day is to regularly spotlight Page 1 stories not only from Gloucester, but from our Cape Ann towns as well.

And that’s been the case this week as always, with our Thursday paper featuring both the razing of the Cape Ann Tool Company smokestack in Rockport, and the latest employment and workforce figures from all four Cape Ann communities, while Friday’s front page noted, among other stories, the silencing of the Coast Guard-coordinated foghorns off Rockport’s Straitsmouth Island.

But while our focus obviously remains on Gloucester and the towns of Rockport, Manchester and Essex, some readers may have been surprised to see a Friday story from Ipswich on that town’s plans for dealing with a potential “dispensary” for medical marijuana under the state’s new legalization law, a story last week on the city of Salisbury’s rejection of a slots casino project, and today’s story out of Newburyport on the erosion issues confronting Plum Island and other communities as well.

Are we expanding our coverage to regularly include those communities?

No, we’re very much committed to focusing squarely on providing you with news, sports and feature story coverage right here on Cape Ann.

So, you may wonder, why did we run these stories? In other words, why did your community’s newspaper do that?

Because, while each of these stories may directly involve only communities outside our area, all are stories that can have an effect on our Cape Ann communities and residents in the very near future. And at least one of them should indeed start playing in some or perhaps even all of our communities very soon.

That story was the Friday story out of Ipswich, where town officials there are setting up guidelines, not for banning any medical marijuana dispensaries from town, but for how to map out zoning guidelines and other means of regulating where they can be placed.

Those are frankly discussions that should be held in all of our Cape Ann communities in the weeks ahead, especially in the city of Gloucester. The fact is, the state legislation calls for 35 such dispensaries to be open to qualified medical marijuana patients across the state, with up to five in each county, including our own Essex County. And communities should be pro-actively setting out provisions for issuing licenses for such facilities, or determining where they should or should not be allowed to operate.

Similarly, the story out of Plum Island may prove important for our Cape Ann readers and communities in that it is affecting the heavy sand that many see as choking portions of the Annisquam and the Essex rivers. Meanwhile, the story from Salisbury about the selectmen’s 3-2 rejection of a potential slots casino in that community had, I thought, local ties in that the idea was proposed by the same Maryland company that initially carried out talks over installing a similar facility in Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall.

That, of course, isn’t exactly in our backyard, either, but there seems no question that a slots casino there would impact drivers traveling to and from Cape Ann along Route 128 — and at the time, it also tied in as a threat to the Gloucester Parisi family’s Lucky Seven Arcade at Liberty Tree, one of their two arcades that remain shut down despite no charges yet being filed by the Attorney General’s office.

Our first priority, of course, is to be on top of the local news happening right here on Cape Ann, and we appreciate Cape Ann as a very unique and special place. But, while much of our coverage area is an island, it is not in a vacuum. And I’d like to think that readers and even local officials here can benefit from how other communities are addressing issues with which we might soon be grappling as well.

As always, let me know what you think.

Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future column? Contact times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3432, or via email at rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.