Behind the news: A look at the Dartmouth people who made 2019 memorable

Dec 25, 2019

From a new fire chief to a DeMello teacher living out his dream, 2019 was filled with stories from newsmakers in Dartmouth. 

Here’s a look at Dartmouth Week’s most viewed profiles about the people who made news in Dartmouth. 

From the classroom to the dugout. 

At DeMello Elementary School, Josh Rodrigues traded in his Chromebook for a baseball bat for his dream job: Replay Administrator for the Tampa Bay Rays. The school's technology instructor left the post he'd held at DeMello for three years for the Sunshine State in February. 

Baseball is Rodrigues' passion, and he had built up a reputation on social media as an expert in baseball statistics. Now he's crunching numbers professionally to help Major League Baseball stars get better at their game. 

In his new role, Rodrigues also works behind the Rays' dugout monitoring an array of television screens. His job is to look out for rules violations or close calls, like an out that could have been called incorrectly. 

Fighting crime with spreadsheets. 

Rodrigues is not the only one using data to improve people's lives. The Dartmouth Police Department's new crime analyst, Keri Lebeau, is helping to make Dartmouth a safer place to live and work by hitting the spreadsheets. 

She was drawn to police work as a child, as her father was a police officer for 31 years. Armed with degrees in sociology and criminology, she returned to her native New Bedford and joined its department as a dispatcher and analyst. 

Although she took the exam to become a police officer, she decided to use her skills in data analysis to serve on the civilian side instead. 

New leader at the fire department.

Fire District No. 1 gained a not-so-new leader: Peter Andrade, a 29-year veteran of the department. Andrade was named to the post of Fire Chief in November, and officially took over in December. 

Andrade has held nearly every job title in the department during his tenure at Fire District No. 1. He has attended numerous training and management programs at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in Stow and the National Fire Academy in Maryland. 

He plans to establish a new comprehensive training program, improve recruitment, and maintain the department's call status in the coming year. 

And the loss of a legend in the fire department. 

Fire District No. 3 and the Dartmouth community said goodbye to an icon: Former Fire Chief John J. McNamara, who passed away on September 18 at the age of 76. 

"Chief Mac" as he was known served the district for 37 years, 24 of them as Chief. He retired in 2005, but continued to serve the department on the Prudential Committee until 2015. 

His legacy with the department will not be forgotten any time soon, however. His three sons all worked in the department, with his eldest, Garth, still a full-time firefighter. Current Fire Chief Richard Arruda was himself under Chief Mac during his tenure. 

Spreading Azorean culture. 

What started out as a family cookbook grew into a passion to spread Portuguese cuisine for author and television cook Maria Lawton. 

The São Miguel  native and Dartmouth resident authored a cookbook, “Azorean Cooking: From my family table to yours," documenting cuisine passed down to her from her family. She launched her own cooking series,"Maria's Portuguese Table," in May. 

What began as a simple task of writing down the recipes she picked up from her family would turn into the "little cookbook" that has gained a worldwide following. She also hosts a podcast focused on Azorean food. 

Renovating a Dartmouth icon.

When Kim Arruda and Jim Chouinard took over the historic Davoll's General Store in Russells Mills Village, they knew it would need a lot of work to renovate and rebrand it as the neighborhood general store it once was. 

But they rose to the task, spending more than a year and a half to renovate the building which dates back to the 1790s, and has never seen a significant overhaul since the 1800s. 

Arruda and Chouinard were passionate about preserving the building and its reputation as a community space and neighborhood general store. 

Their work was recognized by the Waterfront Historic Area League, which presented them with the 2019 Sarah R. Delano Preservation Award. It recognized their “Outstanding contributions to the rehabilitation, restoration, and interpretation of the historic character and environment of Greater New Bedford.”