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Comment Corner: Substance Abuse, Police Logs, and the Ronan Murder

Check out what's kickin' around the comment boards.

This week, three stories in particular drew some heavy comments:

First up, our article discussing comments made by Reading board of selectmen regarding substance abuse in the wake of the Ronan murder drew a series of comments. 'George' said, "Every community needs leaders to step up with outrage, demand zero tolerance and aggresively eliminate the scourge that is killing it's citizens." While 'Peter' said, "The DARE program was in place when these two victims attended Reading schools. I'm not sure that this current Board of Selectpeople has the necessary vision and fortitude that is required to lead this town, too political."

Next, our weekly Police Log was quite popular on the comment boards. In response to a particularly violent week, 'Roxanne' said, "There needs to be more positive youth groups and things to do for the middle schoolers and high school in this town... Not everyone chooses to go away in the summer here!"  In response, 'Cher' said, "Roxanne, Welcome to Reading! Sorry you missed the Reading Rec. summer programs:  http://www.readingrec.com/forms/4806_2011_final_summer.pdf Can't kids do something that isn't organized by someone else?"

Finally, our article discussing the 'teachable aspects' of the Ronan murder, drew dozens of comments, some rather heated. A tiny selection (some comments not in full form):

  • tep2001 said, " The DARE program and Descisions class were/are not geared to today's major issues, those being highly-addictive drugs like Percoset, Oxy-Contin, and heroin."
  • GM said, "Right now, in Reading, it happens to be a concern about substance abuse. However, in Wayland it's about healthy relationships. Lastly, let's not point fingers! Let's get active and try to make a difference in our community!"
  • Steve said, "The AD's feet should definitely be held to the fire. He has let too much go for too long concerning the athletes and some of their so called influential parents. This from a personal experience over 10 years ago. Go get another championship boys and girls!"
  • Peter said, "RMHS's AD = Teflon Man....as long as RMHS athletics keeps winning the coveted Globe Dalton Trophy, everything is just fine in Rocketville!!! A legend in his own mind for sure."
Roxanne August 30, 2011 at 07:06 PM
There are people who got laid off and what I meant to say is that there needs to be more FREE activities for the kids. I heard there used to be an outdoor pool for the town. Also, they could have done more for the girls or boys separately like having a Boys or Girls Club organization and regardless if people can not afford to pay, the kids will be able to do some activities. Also, the library could have had more Wii activities and more fun things for teen girls or boys, sepparate activities.
Emma August 30, 2011 at 07:38 PM
I'm a teenager in Reading and honestly I know adults don't want to hear this but it boils down to sometimes teenagers just do dumb things and make poor decisions. What happened to Joe is a truely horrific thing but we all make poor choices and its sad his ended up the way it did especially after saying he wanted to turn his life around. And trust me alot more of this is happening around town that adults just don't see. it's sad but no matter how much you educate the youth we will always make some bad decisions. that is just the nature of todays youth. sad but true.
Lisa Letourneau August 30, 2011 at 08:09 PM
First of all, there are free things for the kids to do...St. Agnes Church puts on a musical every summer and opens it to anyone in reading who wants to join (though the noise from their practices get the police called on them even though they are inside). Also the library did have things and very few people showed up. Don't blame this on the lack of stuff that is free...you could find things to do if you really wanted to....
ABC August 30, 2011 at 09:38 PM
I knew Joe Ronan and Jack Burke well, for many years. My comments will be unpopular, but here goes. Joe is a victim of a horrific crime, but he is not a hero. Joe kept some tough company. He did serious drugs. He paid the ultimate price. His good parents are suffering dearly. Jack Burke did alot of serious drugs in high school: oxycontin, Percocets, heroin. It was going on a long time. He is no saint but he will end up a victim too.
ABC August 30, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Both Joe and Jack played hockey for a very competetive hockey team, although they were separated by a few years. The RMHS hockey and football teams are notorious for having players that do the heavy drugs and are allowed to get away with it. Everyone in the school and athletic programs know it. The AD has walked away from these reports for years. Is he afraid of the fallout from the parents of the players? Has he no back bone against the coaches? The MIAA rules are the minimum high school teams should comply with. It takes a very principaled AD to enforce those rules -- and to do more, regardless of the heat he may take. That's why he's there!! There are so many cases (too many to type) where players should have been bounced, permanently, off the varisity football and hockey teams for ongoing, serious drug use -- and it never happened. All that results are slaps on the wrists of the players. They may sit out a game or two. Loopholes are found in the MIAA rules. The AD and coaches make excuses and look the other way. Guess what? Making excuses and looking the other way as an AD or coach means you are NOT protecting these players from themselves & getting them help.The players end up with addictions, crimes, death and jail sentences to show for it. Some of the responsibility must rest with the AD and the coaches. As a community, let's not let them maneuver or finess their way out THIS time. A young man is dead. Another is probably on his way to life in jail.
A. Horch August 30, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Glad I got to read your comments before they are censored. This sums it up: The AD and coaches make excuses and look the other way. Guess what? Making excuses and looking the other way as an AD or coach means you are NOT protecting these players from themselves & getting them help.The players end up with addictions, crimes, death and jail sentences to show for it.
Cheryl Buono August 31, 2011 at 02:33 AM
So the alternative to having nothing FREE to do is to vandalize your neighbor's property, drink, do drugs, break in to your neighbor's home to buy more drugs???The library had FREE activities during the summer. The library has FREE museum passes. Enjoy one of the conservation areas. Take a bike ride or walk in the Town forest. Join the boy or girl scouts (is that separate enough for you?). Volunteer at the Senior Center, Mission of Deeds, Reading Food Pantry or one of the churches. Volunteer to help an older neighbor with yard work. The Y has an outreach program for people in financial need so you can go for FREE. Ride your bike over to lake Quannapowitt, also FREE. The churches have bus trips to ball games - if you are truly in need they will give you the tickets. Get off the couch and you can find many things to do. The delinquents in my neighborhood always had the latest gaming consoles, had pool memberships at the golf course and parents that weren't laid off and still got into trouble (arrested).
Michael Chase August 31, 2011 at 04:36 AM
It's funny that in the comment below this, Mr. "ABC," you criticize someone else for not having "back bone." Here you are writing a comment on a public forum alleging that two people "did serious drugs," but you don't have the spine to sign your real name to that allegation? A real man doesn't throw dirt on the names of others while he's hiding his own name behind a mask or an anonymous profile.
Roxanne August 31, 2011 at 05:57 AM
The Ronan family are in our prayers. As for Cher, enough of the attacks as you are misinformed about my opinion. We are an active family and involved in the community. We do many things and helped raise money for teen camp, go to church, walk, read, write, art projects, visit Ipswich River park, beaches, Y, Burbank ice rink, Jordans, visit Lake, Hammond Castle, Science Museum. We also have helped the Food Pantry. I am thankful for the library and many of our resources. God bless Reading!
Lisa Letourneau August 31, 2011 at 10:12 AM
Then why were you complaining that there is nothing to do in this town?
AnonLikeU August 31, 2011 at 11:29 AM
Here's a good thing. We are all still talking about this. That's good. Let's try for more dialogue vs. debate. Can we all agree that this is a complicated problem, with multiple and complex causes and influences? This means it requires a multi-pronged attack at different levels. At the same time, as Emma says, sometimes teenagers do dumb things and make bad decisions. Usually in the name of fun. Michael Chase, unfortunately ABC speaks the truth, despite the anonymity. If we do not speak the truth aloud, we cannot move forward. This is not to throw dirt on their names. There but for the grace ....
Kat S August 31, 2011 at 11:37 AM
Despite everything we heard/learned over the last couple of weeks I was stunned to hear of an out of control party for incoming Freshman hosted by a parent. Over 60 students responsed to a FB invite to a party on Benton Circle. Kids were running around the street out of control to the point where the police were called. It was open knowledge by those in attendance that many of these students were drinking...we are talking 14-15 yrs old. The next day FB pages boasted of the drunkardness. I am not saying the parent supplied alcohol but I am concerned about the level of supervision that was "not" provided. I wonder how many of the parents of the kids in attendance called the host parent in advance to question how many adults (and not older siblings) would be available to monitor this many kids. When it became apparent things were going out of control why not pull the plug on the event? And for all of you who say you monitor your childs FB, did you not see the multiple posts on how drunk many of the attendees were? Looks like we learned very little from the Joe Ronan story.
Hammertime August 31, 2011 at 12:24 PM
"We reap what we sow" Reading families. The party on Benton Cir was no suprise when you see that many kids walking from all corners of town to a cuk di sac it aint no concert or giveaways. I saw the kids all walking/riding bikes towards the area, Parents did you not know where your kids were? Cops came but no one was lugged, Why? There are serious problems in our town as well as others, Question is what are we gonna do about it? I encourge everyone to be vocal about this with the town, but we have to do our own policing of our kids and neiborhoods. If you see something like those kids calll it in, I am sure RPD will respond to a large group of some 30 teens vs a noise complaint.Wake up Reading
A. Horch August 31, 2011 at 12:27 PM
See the post below regarding yet another parent sponsored under-aged drinking party. That's what dialogues get you - nobody learned anything, nothing changes. Will the parents be charged under the social host law??? Does not matter if they provided the alcohol or not, they can be charged.
A. Horch August 31, 2011 at 12:28 PM
Where's the attack you mention?
A. Horch August 31, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Mr Chase, we all know someone that can confirm Mr or Ms ABC's information.
HM August 31, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Bravo ABC! your comments were very well written, and very true! I really hope that no one flags these comments and they disappear. People need to know the truth about what is going on at the high school, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so we can remedy the problem. It's a shame that a tragedy of this magnitude had to happen for people to open their eyes.
Kyle Butler August 31, 2011 at 02:55 PM
It's true about the AD. I heard that several years ago an RMHS teacher reported to him that he saw a top football player using a substance banned by the MIAA, which forced him to suspend that player for a game or two. He allegedly took retaliatory action against the teacher by refusing to consider him for a coaching position for which he was the most qualified candidate, and then attempted to harm that teacher's employment prospects when he applied for a position in another school system.
Cheryl Buono August 31, 2011 at 04:19 PM
I welcome you to town and offer a list of free activities. How is that an attack? BTW, Thanks for adding to the list!
Jason Fields August 31, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Sadly I think the AD's tarnished reign is going to be known in the end more for his lack of diligence in policing and setting examples for the teams and the young athletes. "The chickens are coming home to roost" as they say. The Dalton trophies and the ridiculously misplaced "Sportsmanship" awards will seem hollow. Just the hockey program alone is worth several dark chapters, add to that fiascos with the hoops program of late, on and on, sad leadership.
Steve August 31, 2011 at 09:13 PM
ABC you are spot on when it comes to the AD. Kyle, I also heard the same story. I tend to believe it. Years ago the AD had the audacity to threaten me with a lawsuit on behalf of 3 parents whose student "athletes" were reported for abusing alcohol. He told me the parents were "very powerful" people in Reading and they could ruin me financially. This was after he called me at work to summon me to his office like an insubordinate child and I refused. When I told him that I could prove it via witnesses and it had become a police matter due to other issues involved, he couldn't back off fast enough from his threat. The bottom line sadly is there was no punitive action taken against the student "athletes".
Lori September 01, 2011 at 02:51 AM
1. there is a boys and girls club in Woburn that Reading residents can joing 2. you want free activities than do some looking in the surrounding area, we are a town not a city, so dont try and blame the town 3. libraries promote reading, not video games ,if you want than than like I said join Boys and Girls Club of Woburn. Its like 12 bucks for a year. 4. this is a horrific tragedy and families are suffering so be considerate or be the bigger person and keep your mouth shut
susan woods September 02, 2011 at 12:56 PM
I am the parent of the party on Benton Circle. I am also an involved advocate against alcohol and substance abuse. Before making comments like the ones posted here, folks should make sure they have their facts straight. For anyone whose child was in attendance please know that this was not an out of control, underage drinking party. Although a group of uninvited older boys with alcohol showed up, they were promply asked to leave and complied. And the parent of child who apparently got alcohol from these boys was notified. Yes, at 10:00, when most of the kids had already gone home, some were wandering the cul de sac a few doors away from our house while waiting for their rides, and police came to say neighbors had called. No one was arrested, because there was no reason, We were asked to keep the kids in the yard until parents arrived...many of whom had indeed called previous to the party. Kids were swimming, dancing, listening to loud music, as teenagers do, and enjoying the last night of summer. In a small town like this one, gratuitous and malicious talk can add fuel to the fire of any situation.
Christine September 08, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Because it relaxes them after they shoot up!
AnonLikeU September 08, 2011 at 11:07 AM
Susan, thanks for having the courage to set the record straight on this incident and to do it under your real identity, not hiding behind an anonymous name.
Cheryl Buono September 08, 2011 at 11:30 AM
Susan, Thank you for being an involved advocate in the fight against substance abuse? What did the police say when you called them about the uninvited older boys that showed up with alcohol? Did anyone find out how they acquired the alcohol?
Kelly September 08, 2011 at 10:43 PM
To all the parents out there who think that they have a good grip of what their child is doing because they ask, go through their child's text messages, or have a facebook and/or read what their child's facebook page says, you have another thing coming. Kids are not as dumb as you take them for. A recent article on Yahoo news ranked Reading amongst the top 5 suburbs in the US, partially due to income and school systems.... unfortunately what this means for kids is that they have their parents money to spend on drugs and use the information that the high school provides in "Decisions" class not to abstain from drug and alcohol abuse, but how to get ahold of drugs or get drunker faster. Being overbearing on your child's social media outlet and posting gossip about other parents on this page will get you no where with your teenager. The only way to get through to them is to stop being nosy on the internet (whether it be looking at your child's page or sitting here talking about a story about a parent) and to have honest conversations with your kids. Telling your teenager "Don't do this, don't do that" doesn't work. Don't you remember being a kid in Reading and having nothing to do? Be honest with your kids about the mistakes you made as a teen and young adult. They will respect you more and see that you are not only a real person with real life experiences, but someone who they can trust to tell the truth to in compromising situations.

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