Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 14, 2013

Three cheers for some good newsmakers


The Andover Townsman

---- — CHEERS to the Andover High boys basketball team for taking a visible stand to support a pediatric cancer charity over the weekend.

About 10 of the team’s returning players didn’t think twice when they were asked to shave their heads to raise money for One Mission, which helps families with children facing cancer deal with costly treatments and other expenses.

Tyler Reed, an employee at Commonwealth Motors in Lawrence, organized the fundraiser as his way of thanking all those who assisted him when he was diagnosed with cancer about six months ago at the age of 21. He told The Townsman he would never have been able to make it through his treatments financially were it not for the help from his friends, family members and coworkers at Commonwealth.

True, the Golden Warriors hoops team led by coach Dave Fazio has been at the forefront of charitable work over the years. And yes, Andover, along with all of the area’s high school basketball teams, probably has a special place for Commonwealth Motors and its owner, Charles Daher, for playing a major sponsorship role in the region’s annual Christmas tournaments.

But agreeing to shave your head is a pretty serious commitment to the cause. Sunday’s Buzz Off for Cancer brought in about $15,000, with Daher expected to kick in another $10,000. The freshly buzzed members of the boys basketball team can stand proud — if somewhat hairless — in knowing they have done a good deed for what we’re sure must be some very thankful families at a difficult time in their lives.

CHEERS to the Andover Police Department for making quick work in recovering two high-powered FBI weapons that were stolen out of a car parked at an FBI agent’s house in town last week. We can only imagine what could have happened if those guns — a Colt M16-A1 Rifle and a HS Precision Pro-Series 2000 Sniper Rifle together with magazines containing an unknown amount of ammunition — had gotten into the wrong hands.

But within about 24 hours of their theft, they were back safely with authorities and a 16-year-old juvenile from Lawrence had turned himself in.

Andover police were able to track the suspect by retrieving fingerprints on the FBI agent’s unmarked Suburban SUV SWAT emergency response vehicle and another nearby vehicle that had also been broken into the same evening.

Plenty of questions still remain about where those guns were kept and whether the SWAT vehicle was locked at the time of the theft. While FBI policy allows active SWAT members to store firearms in their vehicles overnight “to facilitate readiness and operational needs,” Andover police Commander Charles Heseltine told The Townsman that in the case of the Suburban SUV in town, “there was no obvious sign of a break.” While Heseltine could not say if the SUV was locked or unlocked, it’s frightening to think there’s any possibility the weapons wouldn’t have been safely secured in the vehicle.

The FBI has ordered an internal investigation, as it does with all cases involving the loss of firearms. The public may never know the specifics that led to this theft, but we imagine the FBI will be reviewing its protocol. We also imagine those involved have learned a valuable lesson and, thankfully, no one was injured in the process.

Final CHEERS go to the members of the Andover Fire Department who responded this week to a mother-to-be in labor at home. With no time to get the woman to the hospital, they jumped into action and helped deliver her baby in the back of an ambulance.

Deputy Fire Chief Keith Weightman said it’s not unusual for the town’s firefighters to have a hand in delivering one or two babies a year. Still, the miracle of bringing a baby into the world is far from commonplace.

And this baby — a healthy boy weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces — will now have a pretty unique story to tell about his arrival for many years to come.