For the residents of Winthrop, 2019 will go down as year that saw new faces in the elected offices, and three of Winthrop’s key civic leaders passing away. And Mother Nature did not spare the snow and wind, however damage was mostly minor.
Winthrop lost three civic leaders in 2019. On Jan. 6, Precinct 1 Councilor Michael McDuffee died suddenly at age 62 from a stroke. Town Council President Ron Vecchia recalled McDuffee as a Councilor who shared ideas and opinions about making Winthrop a better place to live.
On Jan. 24, Winthrop Police Detective Michael Delehanty lost his battle to a cardiac condition at age 58. Delehanty was was characterized as a strong yet gentle street cop with a fierce loyalty to the citizens of Winthrop.
On March 7, Robert Driscoll, a member of the Airport Hazards Committee died at age 89. Driscoll was remembered by Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo as, “a man who put the interests of the people of Winthrop first.” Driscoll was a member of the Winthrop Planning Board, the Holy Name Society, a Boy Scout leader and weekly collector at St. John the Evangelist Church.
On the local political scene, residents saw the passing of the political torch to new members.
During the year, one councilor resigned while three others decided not to seek re-election.
On June 20, Precinct 6 Councilor Linda Calla announced that she would not seek another term after 14 years. Calla was one of the longest serving councilors.
Citing that he will no longer be able to fulfill his duties, freshman Councilor at-Large Michael Lucerto resigned from the council in early June.
On Aug. 1, Precinct 4 Councilor Heather Engman announced that she would not seek re-election.
And on Sept. 10, Council President Ron Vecchia announced that he would not seek re-election. Vecchia, 72, cited his decision to spend more time with his family.
With several seats open, first time candidates for offices were elected in November. Barbara Flockhart was elected to Precinct 4 Council seat and Tracey Honan was elected as Councilor at-Large. Stephen Ruggiero was elected as Precinct 6 Town Councilor as was Richard Ferrino as Precinct 1 Councilor.
A single-use plastic bag ban will take effect in Winthrop in 2020. Winthrop joins 122 cities and towns in Massachusetts to ban plastic bags.
Longtime pharmacy fixture, Brown’s on Winthrop Street officially closed its doors on June 13. The pharmacy had be operated for the last 35 years by Ofilos family. Harry Ofilos operated the pharmacy until his death in 2017. Brown’s was known for its friendly staff, having Kane’s Donuts on a daily basis and its functioning soda fountain complete with coffee and ice cream.
The Valkyrie, Winthrop’s ferry returned to service on August 11 after two months of being dormant due to engine problems. More than a 160 riders during the the day used the ferry.
Town officials are following the state example by banning smoking in public places such as Yirrell and Donovan Beaches. Smoking was already prohibited on Winthrop Shore Drive Beach since it is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and recreation.
Strong winds made a fire at 155 Pauline St. much more difficult to extinguish. Firefighters from Chelsea, Revere and Massport aided in putting out the blaze. Damage was in excess of $250,000.
Mother Nature was not entirely on vacation in 2019. The first snowstorm happened over Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend and brought more ice than snow. As a result schools were closed due to the icy conditions. On March 4, residents dug out from a storm that dropped more than 10 inches and cancelled schools.
And on July 3, strong winds clocked at 73 miles per hour hit Winthrop damaging boats and taking down tree branches.
These were some of the stories that made the news in 2019.