More than 400 people tuned out Friday night to attend the Valley Patriot 9th Anniversary BASH where the editors of the monthly newspaper (Tom Duggan, Dr. Charles Ormsby and Ralph Wilbur) honored police officers, firefighters, veterans, and those who contribute to The Valley Patriot with awards, citations and a program that included comedians, singers, a rapper, and a spate of congratulatory speeches by local political leaders and celebrities.
The event emcee was The Valley Patriot’s PuppyGirl Kate Whitney who writes the Valley Patriot’s “Puppy Love” column and donates her time to rescue puppies that are scheduled to be killed at animal shelters. PuppyGirl and One Tail at a Time then find foster homes for the rescued dogs and then permanent homes.
“Tonight is about you,” Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan told the sold out crowd. “Tonight we want to honor those of you who help the Valley Patriot function every day. We wanted show our appreciation to those who help us in very big ways and those who help in small ways but make a big difference with their contribution.” he said.
A PROGRAM LIKE NO OTHERS
Keynote speaker Jeff Katz formerly of Talk 1200, an exclusive columnist for The Valley Patriot and is now a successful motivational speaker.
“”I counted 89 times tonight, Tom mentioned how everybody at the Valley Patriot does things for free. There is a dedication and a devotion on the part of Tom, and there’s a dedication and devotion on the part of those of us who are thrilled and honored to be part of The Valley Patriot.”
“The Valley Patriot, for nine years has done a lot of hard work. I congratulate Tom, in my neighborhood we would say ‘Mazel Tov’. Congratulations to everybody who has been able to step up, work hard, make a difference, and I would urge you to stay strong, because there are a lot of people who are counting on you,” Katz concluded.
The event included a comedy performance by famous comedian Mac Livingston, a rap tribute to The Valley Patriot’s expose’s on Willie Lantigua, by award-winning rapper Dramatik (Andreas Gonzalez) called “Congress Shall Make No Law”, and a tribute to radio legend and WWII veteran Ronnie Ford. (photo)
There was a special appearance by famous crooner Brian Evans, who sings the official song of Fenway Park “At Fenway”.
Evans stunned the over crowded room by giving them the very first look at his new music video (to be released on April 1, 2013) featuring William Shatner. Evan’s song has been nominated by the Major League Baseball Music Hall of Fame.
“If not for the Valley Patriot having the courage to tell my mother’s story, CNN and other news wouldn’t have picked up the story. It’s because of this newspaper that my mother’s story is now known and because of the Valley Patriot, State Senator Bruce Tarr is sponsoring legislation to make sure what happened to my mom won’t happen to anyone else,” Evans said.
Evans mom Helen Bousquett was admitted to the Holy Family Hospital last year for knee surgery and died, because, Evans says, the hospital did not give her the care she needed during recovery for sleep apnea.
Duggan also showed a three minute video tribute to The Valley Patriot’s Over 30 Girls softball Champions “The Valley Patriots“
State Representative Jim Lyons praised the Valley Patriot and publisher Tom Duggan for their fight to get the state’s public records laws changed so that officials can no longer conceal public documents.
During the ceremony held at the Lawrence Firefighter’s Relief In, Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan Jr. stunned the crowd y calling up Lawrence Firefighters and members of the Relief In with a story and a present. Tom Duggan’s father, Officer Tom Duggan Sr. was a Lawrence Police Officer killed in the line of duty in 1990.
RE-DEDICATION OF A LANDMARK
“After my father was murdered in 1990, I spent a lot of money on a plaque to honor him at the Lawrence Police Station. A few years later I found that a Lawrence Police Captain who never liked my father very much had taken the plaque down. I found it in his office on top of some boxes with a bag of garbage on it. I picked up, tucked it under my arm, and it has been hanging in my office ever since,” Duggan said to a room of applause.
“People who knew my father know that when he wasn’t working, which wasn’t very often, he spent a lot of time at the Firefighters Relief in, playing cards or watching football. He considered the Firefighters Relief his second home. Here he would unwind with other police officers and firefighter so, I thought it appropriate that we the Duggan family rededicate this plaque to the Firefighter’s Relief In, where I know it will honor him among the men and women who will appreciate what he lived for and what he died for.”
L to R. Radio legend and former Philadelphia police officer Jeff Katz, and Tom Duggan, Jr. flanked by Lawrence Fire Chief Murphy, Lawrence Firefighter Manny Gonzalez, and retired firefighter Brian Kane (holding plaque), and Sharon Birchall President of the Lawrence Exchange Club, Methuen Police Officer Dan O’ Connell, Tom’s sister Becky Duggan Kruschwitch and her daughter Ava, Officer Duggan’s sister Dorothy Duggan Incropera, Officer Duggan’s granddaughter Justess Jacobson, Tom’s sister Quianna Roy and Officer Duggan’s shift commander and brother-in-law Frank Incropera.
VALLEY PATRIOT AWARD RECIPIENTS
*OFFICER TOM DUGGAN SR. LAW ENFORCEMENT AWARD:
The Officer Tom Duggan Sr. Law Enforcement Award is given to one member of Law Enforcement, police or fire, and one civilian who supports law enforcement.
Scott Emerson of Wheelabrator Technologies in North Andover
Every year Scott Emerson of Wheelabrator Technologies sponsors the Exchange Club Police Officer, Firefighter and EMT of the Year Awards. He donates $5,000 every year to pay for the rental of the hall, the meal and the plaques to honor our local police, firefighters and EMT’s who do heroic things. Every year Scott Emerson sits in the audience and watches other people get awards, and then he goes home.
If not for Scott Emerson these public safely officials wouldn’t be getting the recognition that they deserve. So this year The Valley Patriot wanted to honor a civilian, Scott Emerson of Wheelabrator Technologies for all he does to honor and respect the service and sacrifices of the public safety officials who rarely get the recognition that they deserve in the communities that they serve.
The Valley Patriot bestowed the second award to Methuen Police Officer Dan O’Connell. Officer Duggan’ s granddaughter Justess Jacobson explained why:
“As the granddaughter of a fallen officer, it is a great honor to give this award to a man who understands that the little things a police officer does every day can make a big difference in someone’s life, sometimes if only for a moment. My grandfather, Officer Tom Duggan believed that it was the little things a police officer does every day that made the biggest difference in people’s lives. While he worked on many major cases and high-profile crimes he always said that it was the day-to-day work that he did helping people in small ways that really made him love his job.”
“What he was able to do instinctively showed us who he is what he really cares about, helping people. One day at the Fourth of July celebration in Methuen he made differences in the life of a little girl and the expression on her face surely showed it.”
“In that one instant when this officer found a lost little girl, with just a look and a few kind words, was able to show the true meaning of ‘making little things count.’ We need more police officers like this one, and for sure we need more people to give them awards. Tonight, an award for a police officer for showing kindness and concern for a little girl. An award for showing love and appreciation. It is with OUR great honor to present the first public safety officer to receive The Tom Duggan Sr. Law Enforcement Award… Methuen Police Officer Dan O’ Connell.”
*VALLEY PATRIOT HERO AWARD
The Valley Patriot Hero Award is granted to civilians or veterans who make extreme sacrifices and/or show dedication to helping our veterans here at home.
Ralph Wilbur of North Andover presented the First Valley Patriot Hero Award to Helen Mooradkanian.
Mooradkanian writes the Valley Patriot of the Month feature every month.
“A few years ago, at the time when we had to let go one of our writers for shopping our material to the Eagle Tribune we had nobody to write our Valley Patriot of the Month column honoring veterans on the front page. A wonderful woman came over to us out of the blue after a public meeting saying she LOVES what we were doing for the veterans and asked if we would LET her write our Valley Patriot of the Month Column every month…. as if it was her privilege… for her to help US.
” Since that time, she has treated our Valley Patriot of the Month – Hero in our Midst column exactly the same way, as a privilege. To date she has sat with dozens of veterans living among us, listened to their stories of heroism, bravery and sometimes tragedy. Always treating them with the honor and respect they deserve, this woman has perfectly yet delicately captured the essence of their experiences, and relayed them through her brilliant talents as a writer to all of our readers in the Valley and beyond. She is always looking to do more to help even when her plate seems full, and she always makes sure to make our veterans her first priority, whether it is holding a flag during our flag day standouts, attending our Memorial Day Services in North Andover or just lending them a sympathetic ear to veteran who wants to talk.”
“Tonight we thank, honor and grant our first ever Valley Patriot hero award to Helen Mooradkanian.”
The Valley Patriot’s second Hero Award recipient is a man who honorably served his country. And while many veterans do their service and then continue on with civilian life when they return home, this man got involved with the local American Legion, raising money, helping veterans become more aware of the government services available to them, walking them through the process to receive those services and donated his time to help the men and women who sometimes get forgotten by the very government they put their lives on the line for.
On top of all that, he has been elected District Commander of the American Legion, and volunteers his time to write a column for our veterans every month in the pages of the Valley Patriot. American Legion District Commander John Lenotte is our veteran recipient this because of his volunteer work, activism, and selfless work in the community to caring for our veterans.
U.S. Army Reserve and Lawrence Firefighter David Swabrick
“Like most heroes, honorable men who do honorable things don’t want awards and accolade,” said Valley Patriot Publisher Tom Duggan. “They are uncomfortable being publicly thanked for their service because to THEM it is their DUTY to their country to serve…. and being thanked for doing so seems foreign and almost offensive to them despite the well intentions of those who are doing the thanking. Despite that, we are going to offend him tonight anyway.
Our final hero ward tonight is for a man who really knows how to risk his life to save others. We won’t go into the long history of what this next recipient has done because, well he is bigger than me and I know how much he hates to have his story told in the public spotlight. So I am going to keep it simple. After 9-11 When the United State Military needed men and women to go to Afghanistan to fight Muslim Terrorists in our global war on terror, this man said ‘SEND ME’. And when his tour of duty was over, he said once again… ‘SEND ME.’ Eleven times he said, ‘send me.’
He spent ELEVEN tours of duty in Afghanistan and when he comes home after putting his life on the line for his country, he puts on ANOTHER uniform and put his life on the line for his community as a Lawrence Firefighter.
This man has so many awards for bravery and saving the lives of others that I couldn’t begin to list them all here. So… Tonight I just wanted to take a few minutes out of our program to say thank you, thank you, eleven times and more thank you…and give a Valley Patriot HERO award to Lawrence Firefighter and US Army Reserve Sgt. ….. please don’t hurt me…. David Swabrick.
*VALLEY PATRIOT PRESIDENTS AWARD
The Valley Patriot Presidents Award is given to two people every year who volunteer their time to contribute or volunteer their time to promote the paper above and beyond what is asked or expected.
“Our first Presidents award tonight goes to a woman who is, without dispute, is my right hand and partner in crime when it comes to covering state and national politics,” Tom Duggan told the crowd.
“She has not only helped us make sure the Valley Patriot gets exposure on radio and television but also brings our paper with her to the various political events that she attends and speaks at across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She didn’t like it, but she even filled in for us a few times when delivery drivers didn’t show up, and she drove all over Tewksbury and Billerica delivering newspapers. She regularly asks that the Valley Patriot be represented at important public events like Tea Party Rallies, television programs on media bias and political activism… and she always makes sure to mention the paper when she is making public appearances on radio, in public speeches and on tv.”
“She is by far the one person at the Valley Patriot who I ‘go-to’ when something goes wrong or I can’t resolve a problem, she is the one person who thinks no small job is beneath her, and she is someone I proudly call Wife # 2 because, by all right, she is my work wife. Christine Morabito”
Every single person who contributes to the production of this monthly publication is like a cog in a machine. If one part breaks or doesn’t work right, the whole machine doesn’t work well and sometimes doesn’t work at all.
Recipients of the Valley Patriot President’s Award were personally chosen by Valley Patriot President Tom Duggan for their daily help in keeping the paper running smoothly behind the scenes at every level.
Dan Selenius is the guy most responsible for you being able to pick the paper up at your local store, doctor’s office, hospital emergency room, coffee shop, pizza joint, grocery store, street box and local post office or town hall. We certainly don’t pay him enough and he oftentimes goes out in the bad weather to restock the shelves at a moments notice. When we suddenly had to move our Lawrence office on a moments notice, Dan was there with a truck and some friends to help, not expecting to get paid, just to help. When Newt Gingrich came to speak last year at Salem High School and we needed someone who could get papers into everyone’s hands in the room, Dan showed up independently of the group we went with, bundles in hand, happy to help us cover the room.
When one of our other drives was stuck one day in Haverhill he volunteered to get her, brought her to the office and then brought her home. It’s all the little things that people do that make the Valley Patriot what it is. It’s a state of mind, a work ethic that we are all part of a team, working for the same goal. And nobody embodies that work ethic more than our next recipient. Even through some of his own personal problems in the last few years, he has never NOT shown up to deliver papers. He has never complained about how little we pay him. He has never said NO to covering someone else’s shift, when others were not quite as reliable as he is. He just takes what’s available and gives us 110%.
*VALLEY PATRIOT EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARDS
The Valley Patriot Editor’s Choice Award is given to a columnist who makes a big difference in the community through their writing and their actions.
This year the award is granted to Groveland columnist and candidate for Selectman Joe D’Amore. D’Amore wrote an amazing tribute to Honoring Jacquelyn Ann Kastrinelis. What’s more, the Valley Patriot has learned that Joe D’Amore was instrumental in raising money and donation items for Hurricane Sandy victims. He did this, never seeking recognition and making sure that other members of the community got credit for helping HIM organize the relief effort.
We also learned from our friends Wayne Hayes and Lawrence Firefighter Manny Gonzalez of “Heal Lawrence” that when a fire left three Lawrence families homeless last year, one again he organized an effort to help. D’Amore opened up his garage and put out a call to all of his friends, business associates and political allies in Groveland and beyond, to gather blankets and other needed items for the families of that devastating fire. Wayne Hayes and Manny Gonzalez both accepted the award on D’Amore’s behalf as he was unable to attend the event.
*VALLEY PATRIOT GOOD WILL AMBASSADOR AWARD
This award is given to volunteers who have made helping the Valley Patriot a part of their daily life simply because they believe in our mission and love what we do. They are the individuals who truly are our eyes and ears in the community. Their efforts exemplify exactly what the Valley Patriot stands for, TRUTH, selflessness, dedication to our neighbors, honoring cops, firefighters and veterans, and have gone above and beyond anything we could have ever expected of them.
Our Valley Patriot Good Will Ambassador Award tonight goes to a woman who does more to promote the Valley Patriot than anyone we know. She started off as an advertiser for her own start-up dog walking business Wiggles and Jiggles in North Andover more than five years ago. Within a very short period of time, we started getting phone calls from businesses in downtown North Andover asking for ad rates and telling us it was SHE who recommended that they spend their money with US if they really wanted to grow their business.
She has delivered papers for us in the snow and rain, she writes a column for us every month, she routinely calls the news office with tips on what is going on in the community, she helps to organize community events in North Andover Like the North Andover Merchant’s Association, National Night out, and others…. And she does it all for no compensation. Most importantly she is a dog lover, which makes PuppyGirl very, very happy.
We’re not sure what the Valley Patriot would look like tonight on our 9th anniversary without all the help and support of Tracey Zysk, for sure we would not be as big ….or as successful as we are. So tonight, in order to thank her in some small way, we bestow our Valley Patriot Good Will Ambassador Award to North Andover resident, activist and dog walker Tracey Zysk.
LAWRENCE “LONNIE” BRENNAN
Lawrence “Lonnie” Brennan is a man who does so much for this newspaper that it would be a crime not to thank him in some small way tonight. This man has run for state office, organized events to help our veterans, was a selectman in his home town, worked on local campaigns, runs a community activist website, is a family man with a wife and children, and even with all of that, he delivers newspapers every month for us in Groveland, Boxford and Georgetown…. and he refuses to be paid for his efforts. He is also a regular columnist, steers advertising business our way, and has never once failed to step forward to say “I CAN HELP” even when it was hard or inconvenient.
He has helped us to expose real scandals and held public officials accountable for their actions. Tonight, we honor a man who doesn’t even like to hear the words THANK YOU, when he pitches in to help… so I KNOW he is going to hate this but our Valley Patriot Good Will ambassador Award tonight goes to none other than our good friend, former Georgetown Selectman and an unsung hero in our community…. LONNIE BRENNAN.
*VALLEY PATRIOT HONORABLE MENTION AWARD
This year’s Valley Patriot honorable mention award goes to someone who is not officially part of the Valley Patriot, but someone who, on his own time never passes up an opportunity to promote the paper whenever he gets a chance.
Mike Grammont is a member of the Merrimack Valley Tea party and volunteers his time to promote patriotism for our country and gratitude to our service men and women. He may not contribute in really big ways as he is caring for his aging parents, and by the way THANK YOU FOR THAT…. and he also working full-time third shift, and doesn’t always have the time to pitch in the way others might. But he does what he can, when he can… he does it out of love for the paper and our mission. He also seems to be one of the Valley Patriot’s most loyal readers and biggest fans.
Because we believe that every contribution, ever effort to make this newspaper more successful is vital to the future of this newspaper, … Tonight we want to honor one of our readers who quietly passes along the paper to his friends and family to read, uses his Photoshop skills on the internet to make people pay attention to what the Valley Patriot is doing with his wit and his personality … tonight’s Valley Patriot Honorable Mention Award chosen by the Editorial of The Valley Patriot, is none other than Mike Grammont.
The event was organized by The Valley Patriot BASH Committee: Pennie Hale, Christine Ryan, Angela Hudak and Stephanie Petrow. 50% of the event raffle were donated to PuppyGirl Kate Whitney’s favorite charity One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue in Haverhill.