We've come to the end of Salem Patch's first full year of existence and with it we've chosen the top 10 stories that shaped the year in town.
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McDougall Arrested, Later Found Guilty of Obstruction
On the evening of June 25 and into the morning of June 26, Salem Budget Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustment member Patrick McDougall was involved in an incident with Salem Police and Fire officials who were attempting to transport his wife, Jane, to a local hospital after she'd called 911 twice complaining of a severe migraine headache.
Police said McDougall would not allow paramedics to transport her. McDougall's wife later signed off on refusing ambulance transport and McDougall drove her to the hospital himself. After a few weeks of investigation, McDougall was charged with a misdemeanor crime of obstructing government administration. McDougall proclaimed his innocence and mainted his position on both boards.
In late August, McDougall was arrested again, this time on charges of witness tampering felonies and other misdemeanors as a result of two alleged incidents. One involved a confrontation with Salem Fire Chief Kevin Breen at Salem Fire Headquarters.
After a trial on the misdemeanor charge in December, a circuit court judge found McDougall guilty. McDougall later announced his intention to resign from both boards and his August charges are still pending.
Double Murder-Suicide Leaves Three Dead on Wheeler Avenue
Salem Police, Salem Fire and state authorities responded to 33 Wheeler Ave. in Salem on the afternoon of July 31 for a reported shooting. Salem Police initially confirmed a death was being investigated at the location in a quiet residential neighborhood.
Later, the state Attorney General's office confirmed three deaths, those of two females and one male. Police said a dog was also killed in the incident. Police called the shooting "the worst in recent memory" in town because of the number of deaths.
On Aug. 1, the AG's office released the names of those dead and gave their preliminary investigation findings: that Jeffrey Kaznecki, 50, killed his wife, Barbara Kaznecki, 51, and his mother, Shirley Leary, 85, before turning the gun on himself.
Woman Dies in Route 111 Accident
A serious head-on collision was reported on Route 111 near the intersection of Autumn Woods Road on the morning of Sept. 10. Initial reports indicated a possible fatality, which was confirmed later in the day by Salem Police and Fire officials.
Police said a 2009 Mazda operated by a female was traveling eastbound when it crossed over into the westbound lane and hit a 2002 Kenworth truck. The driver of the truck was not injured while the driver of the Mazda was killed. Route 111 was closed for almost nine hours as a result of the crash.
Election Day Turnout Causes Logistical Voting Problems
Hot races for president, Congress, governor and the Legislature produced a large turnout at the November election in Salem, a turnout that challenged the new configuration of voting location in town. The number of polling places had been dropped from six to four in 2012.
While voting at Lancaster and North Salem Schools went smoothly, long lines and wait times were an issue all day at Fisk School and the Ingram Senior Center. While Fisk voters could wait inside the vote, Senior Center voters had to wait outside in chilly November temperatures. Parking at both locations was also an issue.
Election officials closed the polls as scheduled at 7 p.m. As a result, police shut down Veterans Memorial Parkway outside of the Senior Center so no one could get into the area and try to vote at that time. Those inside the perimeter at 7 p.m. were allowed to vote.
Selectmen and election officials plan to work to eliminate the possibility of these kinds of problems happening again in the future.