The year of 2018 in Everett will go down as one that started rather tamely, but progressed and ended with a great deal of turmoil and tension throughout the City.
While the face of the city has changed dramatically with new investment and new excitement for property here, it has also seen many larger than life figures toppled suddenly. When 2018 started, Wynn CEO Steve Wynn and Everett Supt. Fred Foresteire were both at the head of their organizations and at the tops of their careers. By the end of 2018, both men were no longer associated with those organizations and things had turned in a much different direction.
That said, many fun and exciting times were had, including wonderful celebrations that seemed to up the ante on some great times had in 2017.
In all, 2018 for Everett was a year of extreme ups and downs, and a year with a great eye towards 2019 – which is expected to be an unprecedented and historic year for the city as the casino opens and investment pours in.
Here are the top five stories of the year, with several honorable mentions included below as well.
1. Wynn CEO Steve Wynn seemed to be in control of his company and the project in Everett until late January, when he was accused of sexual misconduct in a Wall Street Journal report. The allegations quickly gathered steam, and by February Wynn had resigned from the company and the license for the Everett casino was in jeopardy and the project to be moving forward “at risk.” The new CEO became Matt Maddox and the company saw huge amounts of turnover throughout the year. By the end of 2018, the license for the Everett site was still in limbo and an investigation into the matter still had yet to be revealed – having been delayed for months.
2. Supt. Fred Foresteire had been in charge of the Everett Public Schools for decades, and had spent 52 years in the system in total. He was a larger-than-life figure in Everett and made sure everything was always nothing short of perfect. But that tight ship came crashing down suddenly, and unexpectedly, in December when he was accused of sexual harassment. He retired from his position on Dec. 20, and multiple investigations into the matter are still ongoing.
3. School Finances were a major issue all year long. Starting in February, the School Department began to identify that it would be short several million dollars this year in its budget. Later, school officials indicated they would have to lay off numerous educators to absorb the shortfall. With the City stepping in and agreeing to pay several million dollars in aid after a hugely contentious meeting at City Hall in the spring, the problem seemed to be resolved. However, the budget for the new school year was also marred with tension between City Hall and the School Department. In the fall, that tension brought in Sen. Sal DiDomenico when a state budget allocation of $2.5 million became a source of controversy between City Hall and the School Department.
4. The September 4 Primary Election. The state representative race captured the attention of every savvy Everett resident throughout the summer and early fall, with three viable candidates contending for the seat including Rep. Joe McGonagle, Gerly Adrien and Steve ‘Stat’ Smith. Residents were glued to the race throughout several debates and forums in the summer, including a packed house at the library for a forum between all three candidates. McGonagle ends up beating Adrien with 46 percent of the vote to her 39 percent, while Smith was not a factor. The biggest headline of the night, however, was when Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley upset sitting Congressman Michael Capuano decidedly. Capuano had campaigned hugely in Everett, and won here with 65 percent of the vote. However, a strong Boston turnout propelled Pressley to an big win.
5. Down the Line Disappears. Though few notice, The Line neighborhood disappears slowly, but suddenly, in 2018 as the Encore Boston Harbor project continued to buy up property adjacent to its casino site for parking and future related development projects. What once was a mix of homes and industry in a unique neighborhood near the industrial waterfront disappeared almost completely in 2018. Now, most of the streets that made up The Line have been transformed into a construction parking lot. It was a part of Everett that many thought little of prior to Encore, though several prominent Everett residents grew up ‘Down the Line’ over the years.
• Gov. Charlie Baker attends the inaugural ceremony for Mayor Carlo DeMaria, the City Council and the School Committee in January – congratulating the Everett contingent and sticking around for the entire ceremony. Mayor DeMaria makes a very forward-looking address and calls for a new City-owned transportation system and a new stadium at 7-acre park on the Malden River.
• A bomb cyclone hits Everett and the surrounding region on Jan. 4 and drops 13.5 inches of snow in a matter of hours. It was a story that became regional and made the national news as well.
• Long-time football coach John DiBiaso stuns the city when, after retiring a month earlier in Everett, he accepts a job as head coach of the Catholic Memorial football team on Jan. 15. Later in the winter, he records his 500th win in basketball at Everett. Meanwhile, the School Department announces that Theluxon Pierre will take over as football coach, and Stanley Chamblain will be the new basketball coach.
• The Pope John Tigers captured the attention of anyone who likes basketball when they ran and ran and ran to a Division 4 State Championship on March 17, bearing Maynard at Springfield College 89-57. In the fall, the reconstructed Pope John football team made a march to the Super Bowl, but fell short at Gillette Stadium, losing to St. Bernard’s 46-35.
• The Everett High School Crimson Tide football team gets the 800th win in the history of the program when it travels to Xaverian High in the opening game and beats them quite easily on Sept. 7. The Tide were led all year by superstar Mike Sainristil, who eventually signed to play football with the University of Michigan.
• Everett Sgt. Larry Jedry received the state Hanna Award for bravery in September at the State House from Gov. Charlie Baker. He was honored for his bravery in confronting an armed man in Everett Square in October 2017.
• With an air of controversy, the Homecoming Parade is cancelled in October due to the large expense of the parade and budget shortfalls. The City declines to pay the $100,000 cost for the parade, but instead hosts a Homecoming Celebration at Glendale Park the night before. It was the first time in decades that there wasn’t a homecoming parade in Everett.
• Village Fest draws thousands once again and became a September staple in the Greater Boston area with entertainment, games and breweries coming together for a fun time. This year, 1990s icon Sugar Ray (Mark McGrath) highlighted the show and brought smiles to numerous nostalgic fans.
• Sen. Sal DiDomenico is involved in a heated and intense bid for the office of Senate President over several months, but in the summer comes up just short in getting the votes necessary to prevail. Sen. President Karen Spilka gets the nod instead, but DiDomenico remains the assistant majority leader and ends up coming out of the battle in a very good position of leadership.
• Firefighter Susan Pipitone-Braley passes away from occupational cancer over the summer, part of a very challenging year for the Fire Department – which saw two sudden deaths and a severe fire-related injury to its membership. For Pipitone-Braley, firefighters from Everett and beyond gather for her wake and funeral on Aug. 3 and 4. She was the first woman on the contingent and was a driver for Engine 1.
• As the City has prospered, it has also become known for its willingness to try anything and be an innovator. That has been very obvious when it comes to public transportation and the Everett Bus Rapid Transit program. At no time was that more visible than on Aug. 14 when the bus stops in Everett Square were hit with a “Flower Bomb.” Both stops were decorated elaborately with all kinds of flowers and greenery, drawing many curious onlookers, drawing tons of media, and bringing smiles to the faces of riders.
• The National Grid gas worker lockout debuts in June in Everett in a whacky way as the company builds a strange “back door” entrance and exit through the fence of their property and onto Wyllis Avenue – having to cross a gas line and the bike path to get there. It draws the ire of locked out workers and Mayor Carlo DeMaria as well. The lockout continues for the rest of the year and workers – including several Everett residents – are still in flux.