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A lot happening in Salem, where it looks like the Community Preservation Act will make the ballot.

Here’s the roundup:

In today’s paper, Tom Dalton reports that supporters of the CPA gathered more than enough signatures to put the issue before voters in November.

Also today, read three letters on the issue, all disagreeing with our editorial in support of the CPA:

Carter Vinson says the CPA is “not the best way for Salem.”

Steve Ferrante of Peabody says the CPA is “a tax by another name.”

Finally, Salem City Councilor Paul Prevey says the council showed leadership on the issue.

For background, here’s the editorial where we welcomed the petition drive.

In this December 2009 photo, Christopher Evans Jr., 1, plays in the hotel room he and his parents, Chris Evans and Dawnmarie Johnson, live in at Motel 6. The family had been living there since August. Photo by Deborah Parker

As Matt Roy reported in today’s Salem News, the ‘hotel homeless’ population is once again on the rise in Danvers. Selectman Keith Lucy also weighs in,  with a letter on the Opinion page.

The problem is a stubborn one, with challenges for struggling families, schools and town officials. Last year, Far From Home, a weeklong, award-winning Salem News series told the stories of the homeless and the officials and good Samaritans trying to help them. The entire series can be found here. It’s still worth a read to those interested in going beyond the numbers.

One of our sister papers is located in Joplin, Mo., and the folks there have gone through hell over the past month.  One longtime worker was killed in the tornado and many others lost their homes. It’s a tribute to their resiliency and talent, then, that they can report and file the funniest story I’ve read in a long, long time:

DUQUESNE, Mo. — Amid the rubble in Duquesne, residents and search-and-rescue teams have been discovering items of … well … a personal nature.

A very personal nature.

Tommy Kitch, Duquesne police chief, said some of the contents of Christie’s Toy Box, including “articles of clothing and other battery-operated items,” were found among the debris in Duquesne, just east of the store.

“It’s a glimpse into people’s lives that we would rather not have,” Kitch said with a laugh.

The full story can be found here.  If you are at all interested in learning how the region is recovering from disaster, you should be checking in at the Joplin Globe site every day. They are doing remarkable work under tremendously difficult circumstances.

Know someone doing something special? Nominate them for inclusion in the third edition of our North Shore 100 magazine, due to publish in March.

Each year, we profile 100  people making a difference in their neighborhood, their town or the region at large.  We rely on you, our readers, for nominations, and for two years you have come through with hundreds of suggestions.

Take together, the 100 profiles show what makes the North Shore such a special place to live. The glossy, full-color magazine includes stories from all walks of life will be represented – CEOs, doctors, teachers, professors, clergy members, volunteers. As we like to say, the only real requirement is that whoever is on the list is changing the North Shore for the better.

To nominate someone, simply use our online form, which can be found here.

You can also e-mail a nomination here.

To take a look at the inaugural North Shore 100, go here.

040429_SN_PBI_CHAMPWe won’t soon forget our friend and colleague Steve Landwehr, who succumbed to cancer this summer. It was Steve who made our Lives column — which chronicles the lives and passing of so-called “regular” people — a must-read every Monday. Last week, we learned his influence lives on in New York, where the Glens Falls Post Star has started a similar feature. That paper’s column, Epitaph, came about after an editor there took part in judging entries for the New England Associated Press News Executives Association writing contest earlier this year (Steve’s work took second place in the column writing category).

The reporter working on the stories at the Post Star tells us she was impressed by Steve’s ability to produce a detailed, powerful column every week.  We know how she feels; Steve was continually surprising us. Much of his success can be attributed to his passion for telling the extraordinary tales of ordinary people. He also had an uncanny ability to find the thread of a deeper story hidden in a few sentences in an obituary.

Reporter Bruno Matarazzo Jr. is now writing Lives for The Salem News, carrying on Steve’s compelling work. That and the debut of Epitaph tells us Steve made a lasting contribution to community journalism.

williams21Today is the 50th anniversary of Ted William’s last at bat for the Red Sox, and as with all momentus events, there’s a North Shore connection.

True to the legend of the man many call the best hitter ever, Williams’ last hit was a home run, off Orioles’ right-hander Jack Fisher. Also true to the legend: Williams refused to come out of the dugout to acknowledge the fans after the homer. As John Updike wrote, “gods do not answer letters.”

Updike, a longtime Beverly and Ipswich resident, captured that day in his now-famous New Yorker essay, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.”

You can read Updike’s essay here.

For more on what Updike meant to the North Shore, check out Paul Leighton’s story on his passing last year, which you can find here.

091222_sn_dpa_evans_3Five reporters and a photographer at The Salem News took home several awards in the 2010 New England Associated Press News Executives Association contest.

For “Far From Home,” a four-day series about homeless families living in Danvers motels, reporters Stacie N. Galang, Ethan Forman, Matthew K. Roy and Amanda McGregor won first place in the Enterprise category. The pictures that illustrated that series also earned staff photographer Deborah Parker third place in the Photo Story category.

For his Lives column, reporter Steve Landwehr won second place in the Local Column category. Lives, which tells the stories of people who have died recently, runs every Monday.

Awards will be presented Sept. 10 at NEAPNEA’s fall conference at the Radisson Hotel & Suites, Chelmsford.

PEOPLE JEANThe Associated Press Stylebook is the go-to reference for media professionals of all persuasions. For that reason, its editors are often called upon to render rulings on seemingly inane or irrelevant word choices, spellings and/or definitions (Example: Is it grey or gray? Answer: It’s gray. But it’s greyhound).

The Internet age has meant the Stylebook, which used to be a red, spiral-bound book updated every few years or so, can now be updated online. That (hopefully) keeps journalists from embarrassing themselves with improper pronunciations or word usages, especially when it comes to pop culture and political references.

The latest addition to the guide, for example,  comes from the odd mix of music and Haitian politics. For all those confused about how to pronounce the name of Wyclef Jean, the former Fugees member and current candidate for the presidency of Haiti, the Stylebook offers this: (WY’-klef zhahn).

Great story by Kyle Cheney of the State House News Service today outlining how quickly state lawmakers have abandoned their promise of a more transparent, ethical government.

Cheney’s story outlines how nearly a year has gone by since the Legislature – with much self-satisfaction – established a commission to study the creation of an “office of public accountability.”

Trouble is, the commission has never met, and nobody knows when it will.

Expecting government to police itself is something of a fool’s game. Lawmakers weren’t the ones to uncover shenanigans in the state’s Probation Department or, closer to home, at the Essex Regional Retirement Board. Journalists did that work, and that’s worth remembering the next time legislators talk accountability.

Six weeks ago we introduced a redesigned salemnews.com. For the most part, the response has been positive.

However, some readers, primarily those using Internet Explorer 8, have had problems with the site crashing whenever they try to visit. Trust me, it’s as frustrating for us as it is for you.

We’ve traced the problem to a bug in IE 8 with a tool called the Smart Screen Filter. This filter, which is designed to pop up a message if a Web site is on a list of “malware” sites maintained by Microsoft, apparently doesn’t work correctly. In certain circumstances, it crashes the browser, even when hitting non-malware sites like salemnews.com.

The IE 8 crashes we’ve found can be stopped if you disable Smart Screen Filter. Users could also switch to another browser, such as Firefox or Google Chrome. That being said, we’re not comfortable telling people to turn off browser security features even if those features cause crashes. And people should be able to use whatever browser they want when visiting our site.

So we’re currently looking for a way to mitigate the problem that won’t require the browser setting switch.

Readers having a problem with crashes can also help us fix the bug by going to this link , copying the information and e-mailing it to us at dolson@salemnews.com.

Thank you for your patience. We hope to have this problem resolved as soon as possible.

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