The old expression, “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” certainly seemed to sum up the year 2021 in Everett. The news at the beginning of the year was that COVID was devastating the Everett community with deaths and hospitalizations.
Though by the end of the year many residents had been fully-vaccinated and the number of vaccinated Everett High School school students was near the state threshold of 80 percent, the new Omicron variant, which arose in late November, once again sent COVID-19 cases increasing in the city even among the fully-vaccinated.
Here are some of the other stories that made the headlines in the city in 2021:
After almost a year of remote learning, life returned to normal in early spring, as more students were able to go to school on a limited basis, and by the time the school year opened in September, in-class learning was back, though all school children and public school staff were required to wear a face mask.
Sports for Everett athletes returned to somewhat near-normal in the spring, with all of the EHS athletic programs competing in an abbreviated schedule against their Greater Boston League opponents.
The 2021 fall sports season saw all of the Crimson Tide teams engaged in a full schedule.
However, as the 2022 winter season got underway, the appearance of the Omicron variant of the virus is threatening to wreak havoc with athletic participation.
However, the big highlight for the Everett schools in 2021 was the return of a normal high school graduation ceremony, with more than 400 Everett High School graduates receiving their diplomas at Everett Memorial Stadium in June with their family members in attendance.
Everett voters saw an old fashion political race for the office of mayor as Mayor Carlo DeMaria sought a sixth term in the corner office. Challenging DeMaria were Councilor Ward 1 Fred Capone and Councilor at-Large Gerly Adrien. DeMaria and Capone advanced to the November election where DeMaria was returned to office. Mayor Carlo DeMaria kept residents focused on getting vaccinated and heeding the advice of the medical community to stop the spread, but he also continued to move the city forward amidst the usual challenges that face every city government.
Among the DeMaria administration’s major accomplishments in 2021 were:
— DeMaria made sure that Everett received the full $41.59 million in COVID relief aid to which the city was entitled, a substantial increase from the original federal formula under which Everett was slated to receive only $13 million.
— Outdoor dining continued on city streets and sidewalks, helping many local restaurants stay in business
— State resiliency funds totaling $716,000 were received to help with the drainage projects along the North and South Creeks that eventually will curb the continuous flooding issues in the low-lying sections of Everett
— Everett was named as the top spot to live north of Boston by the Boston Globe — The facial covering mandate was lifted in May by Mayor Carlo DeMaria
— U.S. Census data showed that Everett’s population had increased, thereby requiring the establishment of six new precincts, bringing the total number of precincts from 12 to 18.
— The Everett High School Band took part in the 80th anniversary commemoration ceremony of Pearl Harbor.
— The School Committee voted unanimously to get into the pipeline for state funds for building a new high school.
— Governor Charles Baker and other state officials were in Everett to highlight Everett’s affordable housing initiatives
— DeMaria unveiled plans to link all open spaces along the waterfront from the Charlestown line to the Malden line, giving residents usable access to the Everett waterfront.
— Cathy Draine was appointed Everett’s first Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by Mayor Carlo DeMaria
— School Committee members approved a new program to help former Everett High Students who lack qualifying credits to earn the credits and to receive their high school diploma. With the announcement in September of the 95-acre Exxon Mobil site on lower Broadway coming to the market, combined with the 40 acre Exelon site, that was approved by state officials to be taken by eminent domain, Mayor Carlo DeMaria has set the wheels in motion to have these sites rezoned and to start the process of turning these former brownfields into housing, open space, commuter stops, and buildings for a life science industry. Although Everett can expect to continue to grapple with the fallout from the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also will find a city that is moving forward as it prepares to meet the challenges of the third decade of the 21st century.