Sunday, October 21, 2012

Southbridge, Tantasqua Pop Warner Coaches Suspended




UPDATE: Fox News 25 Boston interviewed Southbridge Pop Warner coach Scott Lazo today. It is expected that the interview will air on the regularly scheduled newscast tonight at 6 pm and again at 10:30 pm (latter delayed from its normal 10 pm time due to Presidential debate).

The Boston Globe and The Worcester Telegram are reporting that coaches of the Tantasqua Pee Wees and the Southbridge Pop Warner team have been suspended for the 2012 season and put on probation for the 2013 season after a game that resulted in five of the 10 to 12 year old players suffering concussions. 

According to the Globe article:

In an alarming case of young athletes being put at risk, five children suffered concussions last month in a Pop Warner football game that resulted in disciplinary action against both coaches and association presidents.

The injured children, all 10 to 12 years old, played for the Tantasqua Pee Wees Sept. 15 when they were overrun, 52-0, by a Southbridge team whose website’s banner states, “Are You Tough Enough.’’

The five children missed various numbers of school days because of their injuries, and one has not returned to the field.

The coaches, Southbridge’s Scott Lazo and Tantasqua’s Erik Iller, were suspended for the remainder of the season and placed on probation through the 2013 season after a lengthy hearing Thursday conducted by Central Mass. Pop Warner.

The association presidents, Lazo’s brother, Doug Lazo of Southbridge, and Iller’s wife, Jen Iller of Tantasqua, also were placed on probation through the 2013 season because they attended the game and failed to take action, according to the hearing committee.

In addition, the three officials who worked the game have been permanently banned by Central Mass. Pop Warner.

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

28 comments:

  1. Thank you, Ken, for alerting the community to this. The comments on the news articles, particularly the T&G, are pretty much on target. There are some apologists, of course.

    Parents who continue to allow their children to play for such coaches are as guilty as the coaches themselves.

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    1. Brent if you don’t have the facts you should reframe from posting. The Southbridge Coach in question is an excellent coach with 18 years of experience and it shows with his team being undefeated and unscored on. Tantasqua coach has 1 year being a head Coach. Education is the key. Proper techniques both blocking and tackling were never taught to the Tantasqua team and this was evident when watching this game. Yes it was a lopt-sided score. Southbridge went into the mercy rule after only 6 min of game play and followed all the guidelines set forth by the Pop Warner association. The referees and the Southbridge coach asked the Tantasqua Coach if he would like to stop the game. Did he? NO he did not yet he continued to put his kids in harm’s way by putting injured players into a game that he clearly had no way of winning .As far as concussions the fact remains that there were only two instances of the EMT running onto the field. 1 was a shoulder injury and the other was for a possible concussion. If the Tantasqua Coaching staff visually saw the concussions than why did he or the Tantasqua Pop warner President (who was at the game) not stop the game? This again is a violation of Pop Warner rules. Tantasqua had a 17 man roster, Again league rules state that you must have at least 16. Let’s do the math. 5 players injured leaves you with 12. Again a violation of league rules. My question is why did the Tantasqua Coach not stop? the Game. He clearly put his kids in danger by not following the guidelines set forth by the Pop Warner Association. Southbridge followed the rules. Yet their kids and the Coaching staff are being punished.

      Delete
    2. I can repeat this, but I know it will not sink in. ALL adults are responsible in protecting the well-being of children. Even if everything you said about the Tantasqua coach were true, that does not release other adults from their responsibility.

      If you saw a child being physically abused, would you turn away? How sad if your answer is "yes."

      I may not know the specifics of this particular game because of the conflicting reports, but I DO know the decision rendered by the CMPW. You may wish that I reframe [sic] from posting, but I will always weigh in where the well-being of children is concerned.

      Delete
  2. I'm the proud parent of a former Pop Warner player who refused to play in dangerous circumstances - Pop Warner allows older-lighters, and my son's team (7th/8th graders) would be expected to play against kids who were old enough to be high school juniors. He took a brave stance, considering the ridicule he faced from kids/parents in the organization (football being the macho sport it is), but in the end, calmer heads prevailed and our town decided to switch over to American Youth Football. My son's difficult decision benefitted future players, and taught him not be be afraid to stand up for what he believes in.

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  3. Really Tantasqua Join the ladies leaugeOctober 22, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    My two sons played for the southbridge pop warner teams and never got injured because the were properly taught how to play the game. The problem with the injurys comes from not training the kids properly, Brent i take offence to your comment but of course i look at the source one who never played the sport if any. It is a tough game and not all jids are up to it, so they shouldnt play football they should play golf oh but thats dangerous too maybe get hit in the head with a stray golf ball! the saying goes are you tough enough if not stay home and watch on tv!. Has Mrs Iller played football?

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    1. It is the Pop Warner Association that administered the penalties. Apparently they disagree with you.

      When children are placed in harm's way, the adults are supposed to protect them from that harm. In this case, they were instrumental in causing it.

      Intentionally keeping kids in a situation that puts them in a harmful situation due to the failure to follow the clearly safety rules is child abuse.

      The rules are there for a reason, and sportsmanship should be the primary goal, not winning at all costs. And the results of brain injury research shows that the costs can be high and permanent.

      ALL the adults in this situation had the obligation to stop the game. 5 concussions? These kids took second place because the adults put the game above their well-being.

      Take offense all you want. The failure of the adults to act as adults is disgusting and should be stopped in the future.

      Delete
    2. You are the epitome of “ignorance is bliss”. Actually, the fact that your spelling is atrocious leads me to believe that you are just ignorant. Let’s take a closer look at your statements:

      1.“My two sons played for the southbridge pop warner teams and never got injured because the were properly taught how to play the game.”
      How do you know they were properly taught? Did they ever play for coaches who were not from a Soutbhridge program?
      2.“Brent i take offence to your comment but of course i look at the source one who never played the sport if any.”
      Brent hit the nail on the head with; “Parents who continue to allow their children to play for such coaches are as guilty as the coaches themselves.”
      I believe that if parents and players past and present came forward, Mr Lazo would be banned from coaching indefinitely.
      3."It is a tough game and not all jids are up to it, so they shouldnt play football they should play golf oh but thats dangerous too maybe get hit in the head with a stray golf ball!”
      I rest my case on the fact that you are ignorant.

      It’s parents like you who perpetuate intimidation and bullying in sports. Here’s some food for thought from three great football coaches:

      “The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.” Don Shula
      “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it.”Lou Holtz
      Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good.”
      Joe Paterno


      Delete
  4. Oh, and your chosen screen name says everything that needs to be said about your mentality. Some people never grow up.

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  5. I feel if your not a parent of a player nor favor sports you should not comment on this situation. My kid plays for coach Lazo and you know what im ok with his technic and with knowledge of the sport . I watched him tell a kid in front of his parents (if your not going to do your job blocking on this field then go home and dont come back,im not going to put you on the field to get hurt or allow you to let one of my other players get hurt cause your not blocking)that kid stepped up his game and is on that team.

    Southbridge coaches show there players how to hit and it shows .if sturbridge coaches and cant teach there kids the proper way to hit then they should not be coaching.

    As a parent I just want to add that I ask my son every year if he wants to play ,it is his choice.

    He is on that field.....

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    1. I certainly hope that your child's wisdom does not prevail in all cases.

      Good luck. You will need it.

      By the way, here is something that you will no doubt utter in the future: "Where did I go wrong?"

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    2. If you know so much about coaching and the how great Coach Lazo is then you are blind. Did he say that to the boy while holding his helmet and shaking his head? If you like intimidating coaches then Scott is your man. Coaching children at that age is about teaching fundamentals and fair play. NOT intimidation and head butting. By the way, Brent knows more about coaching than Scott will ever know. What do you think teachers do? A true teacher is also a coach and mentor...

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    3. Its seems like your kid did cut it ,so your taking it out on the coach.but I tell u this that kid is on this team .....and do not believe he grabbed him from his helmet I think he yelled at him .but I have seen him grab helmets and if this is who I think it is ,you to have grabbed helmets when you coached. Im done its not abuse get the hate out of your heads and mind your business.

      Delete
    4. You shouldn't have an opinion on something if you didn't see it? If you aren't a parent of a player or favor sports, you should not comment? Flat out, an asinine comment.

      I didn't see the following first-hand, yet, miraculously, I have an opinion:

      The birth of Christ;
      DaVinci painting masterpieces;
      Pearl Harbor;
      Concentration camps;
      The Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima;
      Kennedy's assassination;
      Watergate;
      The Iran Hostage crisis;
      WWII, Vietnam, Gulf Wars I and II, Iraq and Afghanistan;
      The Manson family murders;
      OJ Simpson murdering his wife and friend;
      The KKK lynchings of people of color;
      The murder of Christopher Stevens;
      Hurricane Katrina;
      The attacks on the Twin Towers;
      The Twilight Saga;
      Snooki and Kim Kardhasian;
      The vice-Presidential debate;
      Most of the money that I earn, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

      If you don't get the point, you don't have to be involved in something to have an opinion on it. This was a game with kids in it. Next year, more kids may be involved in it. The public didn't ask for this to become public. Everyone should have an opinion on this, as it affects everyone, and shows society how we react.

      Should you have any opinions on the above items but don't have a loved one involved in any of them, please, consider not commenting on them any further, as, according to your logic, you have no right to do so.

      Southbridge, the stupid comments on this are making this town look very foolish. Time to toughen up, accept that it was an unfortunate situation, could have been handled differently, learn from it an move on. Stop pretending that only those involved have a right to an opinion, and quite frankly, not sticking up for kids.

      I'm not attacking any one person; my point, without assessing blame, is that all adults that were present could have, and perhaps should have, noticed something wrong. The garbage about kids doing their "job" are the most laughable.

      Its a game. Have fun, play rough but fair, but most of all, be safe and conscious of everyone. When I have coached baseball, I'd rather risk hurting a parents feelings by telling them that I admire their child's desire to play, but until they can do so in a safe manner, so as not to get beaned in the head, or try to catch a fly ball and break a tooth, they need to sit and practice.

      And, I have done this before: when a kid of mine mouths off, he's benched until he learns his lesson, and apologizes to his teammates, and, if applicable, the other team. Sportsmanship is either learned or not at an early age. I admire a kid with less skills that is humble and hustles, than a loudmouth bully with a ton of talent.

      The former are the real winners in my book. For both coaches, my advice is this:

      Stop talking to the press, and let this die out, before Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and ESPN do a story. It's helping no one, but hurting all kids, both in this program and other sports program. Get together, guys, talk through it, shake hands, and just state that you accept it, and please move on.

      That's the best, and toughest, thing that you can do, and everyone will respect you both so much for doing it.

      Just my opinion.

      Delete
  6. My son played for Scott for one week of practice. Turned out that my son did not appreciate the team being called derogatory names and being screamed at and continuously disrespected. I saw favortism and even coachs withholding water on sweltering hot summer day for kids that were not performing up to their standards. My son was more of a man at 9 than Scott Lazo will ever be.

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  7. from a different timeOctober 23, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Brent you been around since the start of time havent you ? Do you remember a coach by the name of Mingo Marino well I played for him talk about tough we had some practices where he grabed my face mask and yelled at me face to face, also at the end of practice when we had to do our laps around the field was the only time we got to have a drink of water during the practice session Nobody complained then and we never got hurt. I believe that coach lazo is coaching after what he was taught by a southbridge legend Marino. But maybe they dont make kids like back then because after being coached by marino we were tough enough. Brent did you ever have a teaching job at tantasqua? Just wondering

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    1. Indeed I do remember Mr. Marino. I also recall him smacking kids in the head and swearing openly at players during the game.

      It is clear that Lazo is trying to be another Marino. To be fair to Mr. Marino, he coached at a time when people were unaware of brain injury and the devastating effects that can result in a lifetime of troubles. In addition, Marino coached high school football, not 10, 11, and 12 year olds. He would quite likely have modified his approach for that age group.

      The safety in sports has changed the game over the years, and those who cling to the past are harming kids.

      While I am not sure of the relevance of your question, yes I taught at Tantasqua Junior High for 31 years. And I have written critically of the school and the system as well.

      ALL of the adults in this shameful situation are to blame. They put their egos ahead of the safety of the children. There are no heroes here, and apologists such as yourself only exacerbate the problem.

      Delete
    2. That's the problem with you knuckle heads who live in the past. Back then coaches didn't have to care about dehydration. Running till you puked was a badge of honor. Coaches yelling obscenities at you was just part of the intimidation you expected. AND, head butting got you to be on the starting line.
      I don't know about you but 40 plus years later...my knees are shot and I have arthritis in my shoulders and fingers. Did I make it past high school sports, no. Was it worth it? As they say, hind sight is 20/20...

      Delete
  8. Macho bullshit from Southbridge losers. Patton slapped a wounded soldier. That happens today? Dishonorable discharge, and the soldiers of today are more than tough enough. Remember years ago when the little woman stayed at home and just cooked and cleaned? Ah, your memories, shaken not stirred by too many hits to your head. The good old days, when you were tough enough and wore leather helmets. All of you goons in Southbridge are the gift that keeps on giving: "duh, our kids are tough enough...your mother wears army boots". Lazo apologists, organized by some head goon. No wonder your town embarrasses yourselves constantly. Get a life!

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  9. You sure you don't mean Mongo from Blazing Saddles, because that's what you backwoods nitwits in Southbridge sound like. Do you also long for the good old days when whites could eat in their diners with their own kind? I'm guessing Southbridge morons also miss the good ole' days of slavery? Ah, to be a moron AND have someone that can do your work for you. Watching and listening to you football obsessed moronic parents and coaches who can't accept responsibility for anything is priceless. You want to know why Sturbridge parents aren't weighing in on the blogs? Higher IQ's. Southbridge is a town that seems to NEVER be able to accept any responsibility, just point fingers, click your heels and say there's nothing like football, there's nothing like football, there's nothing like football, and instead of going back to Kansas? Downtown Southbridge. My friends from out of state who have been emailing me keep asking the same question: why do the people in Southbridge sound like defensive idiots? Easy answer? They're NOT tough enough. I know it's early in the day, but the liquor store's open, so put on your wife beater shirt, go down and buy a six pack of Red, White and Blue, and enjoy another day of football defensiveness! Whistle Dixie through your missing teeth and come up with another defense for the indefensible. Boobs, the lot of you!

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  10. If you don’t have the facts you should reframe from posting. The Southbridge Coach in question is an excellent coach with 18 years of experience and it shows with his team being undefeated and unscored on. Tantasqua coach has 1 year being a head Coach. Education is the key. Proper techniques both blocking and tackling were never taught to the Tantasqua team and this was evident when watching this game. Yes it was a lopt-sided score. Southbridge went into the mercy rule after only 6 min of game play and followed all the guidelines set forth by the Pop Warner association. The referees and the Southbridge coach asked the Tantasqua Coach if he would like to stop the game. Did he? NO he did not yet he continued to put his kids in harm’s way by putting injured players into a game that he clearly had no way of winning .As far as concussions the fact remains that there were only two instances of the EMT running onto the field. 1 was a shoulder injury and the other was for a possible concussion. If the Tantasqua Coaching staff visually saw the concussions than why did he or the Tantasqua Pop warner President (who was at the game) not stop the game? This again is a violation of Pop Warner rules. Tantasqua had a 17 man roster, Again league rules state that you must have at least 16. Let’s do the math. 5 players injured leaves you with 12. Again a violation of league rules. My question is why did the Tantasqua Coach not stop? the Game. He clearly put his kids in danger by not following the guidelines set forth by the Pop Warner Association. Southbridge followed the rules. Yet their kids and the Coaching staff are being punished.

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  11. 10/22/12
    POP WARNER STATEMENT
    Tantasqua Pop Warner (TPW) is committed to providing fun athletic learning opportunities in football and cheerleading while emphasizing the importance of academic success and sportsmanship. The safety of our players is the forefront of all decisions made by our program. TPW is an all-volunteer organization and comprised exclusively of parents with children in the program. We would like to express our full and continued support for our President and Pee Wee Head coach in light of Central Mass Pop Warner’s (CMPW) ruling. Both have willingly contributed significant time and effort over several years to TPW. Their dedication, along with that of the entire board, helps to ensure that our program provides the best possible opportunities for the TANTASQUA children of our community.
    On September 15th , 2012, the Tantasqua Pee Wee football team played the Southbridge Pee Wee football team in Southbridge. Within the first 6 plays, 4 of our players were sidelined due to injuries. They were given on field evaluations by a certified paramedic. At no time did these 4 players re-enter the game. Three were later diagnosed with concussions by medical professionals. The other sustained a shoulder injury. Before the first quarter ended, the score was 28-0. At that time Southbridge had an obligation to abide by the Pop Warner National mercy rules. These rules were not followed and were not enforced by the 3 paid referees. Two players in the second half of the game were sidelined due to injuries. They were given on field evaluations by a certified paramedic. At no time did these 2 players re-enter the game. These 2 players were later diagnosed with concussions by medical professionals. Immediately after the conclusion of this game, ending in 52-0, the TPW Association asked CMPW for an investigation into this game due to the violation of the lopsided rule, a complaint of an improper weigh-in procedure and the actions of the referees. The TPW President was assured the three referees from this game were relieved of any duties involving Pop Warner football games by the CMPW President on September 18th. A hearing into this investigation was conducted on Thursday, October 18th, 2012. The official hearing results in writing were issued Saturday October 19th, 2012. The head coaches of both Tantasqua and Southbridge were suspended for the rest of the 2012 season and will be on probation for the 2013 season. The President of Tantasqua Pop Warner and the President of Southbridge Pop Warner were put on probation for the remainder of the 2012 season and the 2013 season.
    The coaching staff of the Tantasqua Pee Wee team has taken all required courses for coaching at the Pop Warner level, including concussion training. The Pee Wee head coach was in his 5th year of coaching for TPW and is a USA football certified coach. In his 5 years of coaching these are the first head injuries of any of his players. We stand behind the Tantasqua Pee Wee teams coaching staff and their capabilities and football knowledge.
    Our organization recognizes CMPW’s governing role and will abide by its ruling. We do, however, respectfully disagree with the outcome that was handed down. We regret that the opportunity to address the significant differences between Southbridge’s view on the core values of Pop Warner football and our own was lost.
    It is our position that the ad hominem attacks and disparaging remarks made by members of the Southbridge organization are both unwarranted and completely without merit. They show a clear failure to grasp the real issues at hand (the harming of 10-12 year-old children). More importantly, their unwillingness to entertain any responsibility does a great disservice to their players, families and the Southbridge community at large.
    Respectfully,
    Tantasqua Pop Warner Board

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    1. Additionally, you should gather all news stories, both print and video, where Mr. Lazo is quoted and submit them to CMPW. His remarks clearly violate the stated rules of the Pop Warner Football program.

      Mr. Lazo has a habit of speaking to the press and challenging people's competence. I have called him on it when he goes on the attack against Southbridge Public School administrators, but they have little other recourse.

      Pop Warner is different. Violation of the rules of conduct for adults associated with the program are prefaced with this:

      "All Pop Warner volunteers and participants will abide by a Code of Conduct which includes the following provisions. If any of these rules are broken, the League, Region and/or National Pop Warner shall have the authority to impose a penalty including permanent removal from the program."

      Delete
  12. You have to wonder why a man like Scott isn't banned from Pop Warner football for life...These are his quotes in the New York Times:

    Lazo said in an interview this week. “My team is not dirty. All the issues were on their side of the field. This is a football game, not a Hallmark moment.”
    Also:
    A banner on Southbridge’s Web site asks, “Are You Tough Enough?” Lazo has coached in Southbridge for 18 years, and says he idolizes Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame pro coach who was once said to declare, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”
    When you dig deep into the comments section of the New York Times, there is an interesting comment from a reader in Oregon:
    "Lizzy Denham, Bend Oregon
    Lazo has coached in Southbridge for 18 years, and says he idolizes Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame pro coach who was once said to declare, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Scott Lazo has been convicted of assault twice and charged with assault on his teenage son. Is this a person who should be a Pop Warner coach?"
    Good question Lizzy...

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  13. If this wasn't such a serious matter I'd be laughing hysterically at some of these comments. Good job Scott, you brought some more negative attention to Southbridge at the national level this time. I also know for a fact that several of the Tantasqua parents who are being bashed by Southbridge for various things were born and raised in Southbridge, played sports there, attended school there and got the hell out as adults. Southbridge isn't all bad, but when stories like this surface, it's always the same family names associated with them. The same guy who somehow made it onto school committee and for some reason I can't fathom, is still allowed influence the lives of children despite his record of past criminal assaults. How can you blame educated folks for getting as far away from these boobs as possible? I know, I know Scott, they aren't "Loyal" they don't have any "Pride" and they certainly must not be "tough enough"!

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  14. I understand that there is a video of the game. Stop the speculation and just release the video and let everyone then discuss the actions. If the video is not released then one can speculate that they are hiding something !

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  15. Children were hurt. Look at the whole season - were Tantasqua players hurt when playing other teams? It seems odd to me that they would get hurt this badly in Southbridge but not when playing other teams. If coaches really want to teach children how to be a member of a team, they should accept the consequences of their actions. Let's put the focus on the kids and change 'are you tough enough' to 'are you smart enough'. Show the kids in this community that fair play, intelligence and team work are valued.

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  16. As long as people have nothing better to do they will comment on things that they don't know. That is their own wright as it is Southbridge’s to defend itself
    Get over the Are You Tough Enough it wasn't just thought up this has been the Southbridge slogan for years. Wright, wrong or indifferent it’s never been an issue until now.
    If the comments stay to the coaches and the game itself I have no problem, start talking bad about the children and or town it no longer has anything to do with the situation at hand and you are the ones being a bully.
    This has become a witch hunt on Scott Lazo you have more people making comments because it's Scott, I just wonder if he wasn’t the head coach would all of the comments be made? Southbridge has one town council member trying to make by-laws about Pop Warner all I have to say to that is stop trying to make this political you’re the one that ran the little league into the ground when you were the president of the league so you have no room to talk about anyone.

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    1. In all the comments I have read, and there are a great many of them, I have never seen one that speaks disparagingly of any of the kids involved.

      You have stated here that "Southbridge has one town council member trying to make by-laws about Pop Warner all I have to say to that is stop trying to make this political you’re the one that ran the little league into the ground when you were the president of the league so you have no room to talk about anyone." Mr. Moriarty, the councilor to whom you refer, is not targeting the Pop Warner association. You are spreading disinformation. Mr. Moriarty wants any organizations using town property for athletics to have coaches who are trained in recognizing concussions. I would sincerely hope that this does not make him anti-Pop Warner. It makes him pro kid, which purportedly the Pop Warner League is also.

      Finally, the comments by you and others, including Mr. Lazo, are reflecting negatively on the entire town. You can hardly blame people for judging the people of Southbridge as a whole because Southbridge is so constantly in the news in a negative light. It is not fair to judge us all, I agree. But it is you who adds to the less than stellar reputation and image of the town.

      Wright? er Write? er Right?

      Delete

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