Page 16 THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2022 The Sounds of Saugus By Mark E. Vogler Town Meeting is where it’s at It’s just a couple of days until the Annual Town Meeting convenes (Monday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m.). This will be the seventh one I’ve covered for The Saugus Advocate. But I’ve covered dozens of them in many communities in a newspaper reporting career that spans close to 50 years. Back in 1975, as a cub reporter for the Portland Press Herald, I got to cover Town Meetings during the month of March in 11 small towns in the Sebago Lake area of Maine — towns like Bridgeton, Fryeburg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Naples, Paris and China. Each community had its own character. The towns that held their meeting on Saturdays usually split up the morning and afternoon sessions with a potluck lunch. Women brought their knitting gear with them as they listened intently to the proceedings. I remember 90-yearold sisters in the tiny town of Sweden leading the charge in a stand against Central Maine Power, which threatened a trout brook with a transmission line it planned to run through the area. Small, but feisty and determined to protect their town, the sisters and the town of a couple of hundred people weren’t intimidated by the utility company. Then there were several communities out in the hinterland — far from Portland, the seat of Cumberland Country — who voted to “go to jail” rather than pay one dime toward the Cumberland County Civic Center that would be located too far away to benefi t them. During my three years on Nantucket Island, there was always something interesting that came up at the Annual Town Meeting, too. The one common theme that was clear to me through all of these town meetings — Saugus included — was that most of the participating citizens took their civic duty pretty seriously and represented their constituents proudly. While Boards of Selectmen in these communities were the more glamorous and coveted political positions, it always seemed to me that the New England Town Meeting was the bedrock of local government. It’s the local Legislature that performs the most important task of all — passage of the town budget and zoning ordinances. Sure, selectmen meet more often and take a lot more votes on a variety of local matters. But none of them are more signifi cant than passing a town budget. Anyone in town who is thinking about getting involved in local government by running for elective offi ce should observe the Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting (set for Monday night) proceedings — and then if still interested — run in the fall elections next year for one of the fi ve Town Meeting seats in their precinct. Spend some time knocking on doors in the neighborhood, getting views from citizens about their local concerns and needs. And if elected, follow through on those concerns by addressing the town manager and the selectmen. If you lose, use it as experience and run again. Get involved with the Town Meeting members in your precinct by working with them on local issues, hopefully for the betterment of Saugus. Being a part of Town Meeting is a humane and noble pursuit, whether you’re a young, college-aged voter or a civic-minded senior citizen. Calling all Saugus servicemen and women The Town of Saugus, along with the Saugus Veterans Council and the American Legion Post, extends an invitation to all local servicemen and women to join us at the Memorial Day Parade on May 28, 2022. Please contact the Board of Selectmen’s Offi ce at 298 Central St., Saugus, Mass. or email the Board at jjarosz@ saugus-ma.gov for further information. Come march with town offi cials, residents, students and fellow soldiers to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedom. The parade — which is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. on Saturday on May 28 (Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday, May 30, the designated holiday) — will be “historical” this year, according to Saugus Veterans Council Commander Stephen L. Castinetti. Billie June “BJ” Farrell, the 77th Commanding Offi cer of the USS Constitution — the fi rst woman offi cer in charge during the ship’s 224-year history — has accepted an invitation to be the grand marshal of this year’s Annual Memorial Day Parade and keynote speaker for the town’s Memorial Day Ceremony. “This is a once-in-alifetime event that you cannot miss!” said Castinetti, a retired U.S. Navy captain. “It’s historical because Commander Farrell became the fi rst female Commanding Offi cer of this great ship in 224 years. Come out and welcome Commander Farrell to Massa

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