LET YOUR GOOD WORKS SPEAK LOUDER THAN YOUR WORDS IN ’07

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I’m going to keep my big mouth shut.

That’s my New Year’s resolution. I’m going to stop talking just for the sake of hearing my own voice. I don’t know how many times in 2006 — and all the other years before that — that my fat trap has gotten me in trouble. The problem is, I like to talk. I hear a good story and I repeat it. Oh, and sometimes I embellish.

Inevitably, someone will come up to me a couple of days later and say, “Why did you tell people that? I didn’t think you’d spread that story around. That was between us.”

So for the dozens of people with whom I have had that conversation in the past year, I apologize. I vow to do better in 2007. My sainted mother used to say that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we speak.

That means no more gossip. There is plenty of good, juicy gossip here in the newsroom. Probably where you work, too. Our motto here is “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, let’s hear it.”

That extends to family as well. How many times have I been with family members who are sniping about other family members? I usually ask, “What do you say about me when I’m not around?”

So in 2007, I’ll try to keep a better watch over my mouth.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? If you haven’t come up with one, perhaps I can offer a few suggestions.

Methuen High School athletic director Jim Weymouth and Methuen High School principal Arthur Nicholson should be a little more thoughtful in the coming year. How do you fire your football coach three weeks before Christmas? Everyone says that Glen Gearin was more than a football coach, he was a mentor.

Methuen should also sell all its land west of Route 93 to Dracut so Dracut could actually have access to an interstate highway. That way, Dracut could bring more industry into the town. And sell it cheap. Dracut doesn’t do overrides.

Pelham residents should resolve to be a little more giving this year. Not too giving, mind you, but giving enough that some of the important decisions facing the town stand a chance at the ballot box in March. There is a need for a new high school and a new fire station, and it does nobody any good to simply show up on election day and vote “no” on everything without doing some serious reflection.

The Dracut School Committee should pause to consider what they want in a school superintendent. Do they want a strong leader who advocates for her schools, her staff and most importantly, the students, or do they want a puppet that can be manipulated with the pull of a string? The School Committee should resolve to cut Elaine Espindle some slack in 2007.

Espindle could do her part by resolving to stop this “us vs. them” mentality that exists between her office and the School Committee. Was it Rodney King who said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

And speaking of the Dracut School Committee, resolve that in 2007 you’ll attend some of the football games. I have been to a number of Dracut High School football games and I’ve seen one of you there once. I see Board of Selectmen members there all the time. In fact, they’ve come dangerously close to violating the Open Meeting Law.

To the selectmen of Dracut — keep doing what you’re doing. It’s nice to see you all playing nicely together. Let’s hope that continues in 2007. Step out of line and we’ll sick Mason the police dog on you.

And finally, as Rufus said in the 1989 movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “Be Excellent To Each Other.” Look around you. Anybody gone that was among us when we started out in 2006? Make sure the last thing you said to that person was something positive.

And if you see me on the street, just tell me to “shut up.” I’ll know you mean it in a nice way.

Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is dshaughnessey@thevalleydispatch.com.