The Story Behind Sparky’s Shutdown

Jackie Vlahos ‘16

Design Editor 

As students were returning from winter break, North Andover health inspectors were shutting down the campus cafeteria because of cockroaches and other “critical” issues.

The Beacon obtained the report filed by health inspectors in North Andover on Jan. 20. The report resulted in a shutdown of Sparky’s from Jan. 20 to Jan. 23 so the facility could be cleaned. The North Andover inspector found “critical violations” with the kitchen itself, “equipment and utensils,” and “pests.”

“Conditions exist that are an imminent threat to public health. Kitchen is to cease production, preparation, cooking or service of food to the public,” the report states.

The North Andover Health inspector found “30+” living and dead cockroaches under and on top of food equipment. The roaches were also found in cardboard boxes of fryer oil that were eventually discarded.


Among other issues discovered were problems with excess food build-up in drains, dirty carts, pooling water on dirty floors, and filth underneath the conveyor belt.

Several Sparky’s workers told The Beacon that Sodexo managers for Sparky’s, Michael Newmark and Ross Dahlstrom, were made aware of the issues with cockroaches in December. The workers, who asked to be anonymous, said they were told by managers when they saw cockroaches to “brush them away or kill them.”

Both Newmark and Dahlstrom have been transferred by Sodexo and were unable to be reached for comment.

The workers said during the inspection, cockroaches fled from grease traps removed from the flat top grill where eggs are scrambled every morning. The inspectors’ report noted problems with roaches in the traps.

The kitchen was immediately shut down by inspectors. Per order of the health board, employees were ordered to cook on grills outside the Sakowich building. But the group of workers said they were told by their managers to come in early — before health inspectors arrived — to cook in the kitchen. The workers claimed they would cook as much as they could in the kitchen until health inspectors arrived. The workers provided The Beacon pictures of items baked in the kitchen the day after Sparky’s was shut down.

Merrimack’s Associate Vice President of Communications James Chiavelli said this was the first time North Andover health inspectors found health violations, adding that every other inspection has resulted in a perfect score. He said Waltham Pest Control was brought in to take care of the roach infestation.

Students were notified of the Sparky’s closure on Jan. 20 by Merrimack Senior Vice President Jeffrey Doggett.

“Student safety and well-being remain the college’s paramount concern, and we assure the campus community there is and was no safety issue resulting from this,” Doggett wrote in his email.

Snowmageddon 2015

Zachary Ingalls ’15

Staff Writer


It’s been a record-breaking winter for snow. In the last three weeks, the Boston area has been pummeled with 7 feet of snow and it’s like there will be more on the way.

Merrimack has dealt with the snow as best as its resources have allowed it. Merrimack facilities and the campus as a whole have truly come together during this unprecedented second half of winter.

President Christopher Hopey has accommodated Merrimack students during these harsh blizzards in multiple ways. The college has worked with its students and its employees step for step keeping them feeling safe and constantly updated. Sakowich dining services have remained open throughout the two major blizzards that have hit the entire Boston area.

Students say they feel safe and are thankful for the Merrimack employees that have had to work abnormal and lengthy hours to accommodate them through what many are calling “Snowmageddon.”


Junior Jonathon Roberto who is also the reigning Mr. Merrimack champion said, “I really feel comfortable during these storms and have not felt abandoned by the school at all. The emails and RAVE alert system have kept me updated about everything I needed to know during the storms.”

When asked about the cancellation of multiple classes, Roberto stated, “Having a few days off has been nice and has allowed me to catch up on some of my school work, but I am ready to have a full week of classes and get back into my normal routine.

Merrimack Facilities has had a tough two months and its members have had to work lengthy hours with minimal sleep in order to keep up with the campus’s snow accumulation. Facilities have kept up with the huge snowstorms by rotating crews. When one crew leaves the campus to return home and get some sleep another crew begins working. This tactic assures that there are always facilities members keeping up with the rapid snowfall around campus.

Gaining extra help from Merrimack students who are interested in making some extra money shoveling residences has also helped facilities. This is a great example of the entire Merrimack College community working together during these tough times to keep students shoveled out so they can move around campus as routinely as possible.

Here is a Q & A with James Chiavelli, Associate Vice President for Communications at Merrimack College, on the how the campus is dealing with the snow:


Jim Chiavelli

What has your reaction been to how the Merrimack community has dealt with the unprecedented amount of winter snowstorms this semester?

As President Hopey often says, Merrimack is truly a family.

It’s easier to act like a family when everything’s going as expected, but difficult times are the true test, and this campus has really come together — students especially. Almost everyone has reacted with patience, with a sense of shared purpose, and with a great deal of humor (yes, we follow social media, and yes, some of it does make us laugh, too). The general level of cooperation around things like plowing and late openings has been great. Employees have come in or stayed late without being asked, knowing that essential service have to continue.

What extra steps has the college had to take for removal of the snow on campus?

Facilities crews have been working long, long hours. We’ve hired more snow-removal contracting crews, including specialists for clearing roofs. And we’ve worked a lot more with students — Student Government Association has been a terrific partner, both in planning and in messaging — to try to get parking lots cleared, by having resident students move their cars around campus. It’s been an inconvenience at times, we realize, but it has by and large worked very well once folks get the idea that we’re all in this together.

Of course, dealing with this winter has gone far, far beyond snow removal. There have been outstanding efforts by police, Sodexo workers, residence life staff and library staff to provide service to students during college shutdowns. Faculty members have had to take extraordinary steps to deliver class material, and continue to explore ways to ensure educational outcomes for their students. We’ve begun a test program of parent newsletters, keeping them informed about campus operations and plans during storms, and they’ve been overwhelmingly thankful.

How much extra snowstorm budget has the college had to spend on the storms compared to previous winters?

The honest answer is: We don’t know yet. It’s easy to say “a lot more than previous winters” without fear of contradiction, but the president’s charge to Facilities has been “do what you need to do.” We have without question used a lot more employee overtime, a lot more contractors, a lot more gasoline and diesel for vehicles, a lot more salt than anyone on campus can remember, but we won’t have a full handle on these numbers until a bit after the last snowfall — which we’re all hoping is very, very, very soon.

Merrimack has dealt with these storms in a professional and as convenient as possible way. Everyone is hoping that the snow will reside but the way this winter has gone leads one to believe that we may not be out of the snow yet! As long as the Merrimack community stays and works together we will get through this vigorous winter. Although it may seem far away, spring is just around the corner!

Mack Yack

Merrimack community on Twitter

follow us @MCBeacon

Kellen Smith ‏@Loaf4lif Feb 17
Pretty stoked on having Lee Brice come to Merrimack in April

Dino Spumoni ‏@CaptainPancakes Feb 16
Hey remember how Merrimack towed the cars that didn’t move in time for plowing like they said they would? Yeah I don’t either

Marissa Barreiro ‏@marissareneex Feb 13
HAPPY BID DAY!!! 🎉 Congrats to all of our new sisters!! Today is just the beginning 😍😘👑 #zta #bidday @ZTA_Merrimack

Merrimack Bookstore ‏@MerrimackStore Feb 10
New Merrimack College sweatshirts available in a variety of different colors!

Why does @merrimack care more about having classes then the safety of the students and faculty??? #dangerous

Questions on the Quad: What did you do for Valentine’s Day


Ashley Wellhoff ’18: Attended a track meet at MIT


Eddie Cetrone ’15: Spent the night in Boston with my girlfriend


Jaclyn Vlahos ’16: I had a nerf gun fight


Megan Mccoy ’18: I played cards against humanity


Meghan Reynolds ’16: I went snowmobiling with friends from high school

Police Log

2/12 Resident student called MCPD to report some of his items have been stolen. Report


2/12 The Shuttle was involved in an accident with a North Andover ambulanc. No personal injuries.

2/14 One male resident student will be issued a Court Summons after an altercation.

2/14 MCPD assisted Residence Life with issues involving several resident students.

2/15 (No smoke/fire) The House 1 fire alarm was activated at 9:12 by a smoke detector. Units were dispatched.

2/17 RA called to report a student had a laceration over eye.

Tirronen Having Stellar Senior Year

Mathew Galvao ’17, Sports Editor 


Photo Credit: Merrimack Athletics

The Merrimack hockey team has enjoyed much success in this ‘14-’15 campaign. Winning 14 games so far this season  after only recording eight just a year ago. The man behind much of the success this year is goaltender Rasmus Tirronen.

The senior netminder has had his best season to date and has been the backbone of the Warriors defense and has given them a chance to win every game he has started in this season. His team owns a 14-13-3 record and has been nationally ranked for most of this season, something they haven’t done since the ’12-’13 season.

“We’ve started off better than we’ve had in the previous years. I think a lot of it came with having completely new captains that really brought the team together well,” said Tirronen. “Obviously we had a really good freshmen line and good freshmen in general that came in and gave us that boost that we needed.”

Personally, Tirronen has shown that he is one of the top netminders in Hockey East and the country. The Finland native has posted a 10-9-2 record and has a goals against average of 2.29 with a save percentage of .923 which are all career highs.

“For me personally this has been a pretty good year so far, hopefully I can keep it going,” Tirronen explained. “I’ve had a much better d-core this year and have been able to see a lot better.”

During his freshman season which he was ineligible, he learned a lot from former Merrimack standout Joe Cannata and added more to his game when he split time last season with Sam Marotta before establishing himself as the full-time starter between the pipes.

“I go back to my freshman year, I was ineligible but I got a tremendous amount of knowledge from Joe Cannata who was the starter at that point,” Tirronen said. “I tried to help him as much as possible while taking parts of his game and seeing how they work with my game.”

Summers are a really important time for any athlete. It’s a time to remain in top shape and a chance to improve some of the skills that will help you to better perform once the season comes around. This past summer was an important one for Tirronen. Going back home, he took the time to work with his goal-tending coach to sharpen and solidify his game.

“Summer is when you take the big steps. Especially for goalies the summer is huge,” he explained. “I wanted to do everything this summer to prepare myself for this season. I worked with my goalie coach back home and he helped me a lot.”

Just a few weeks ago at Lawler Rink, Rasmus Tirronen had the game of his college career making 51 saves in a 2-1 win over then 10th ranked UMass Lowell. Tirronen explained that he would rather face many shots through the course of the game as it helps him to stay sharp.

“I’d much rather see 50 shots in a game than 14. You get in a rythmn and don’t really have time to think about anything. When it’s a slow night you have so much time to think about that next shot,” said Tirronen. “When it’s boom, boom, boom it just come naturally and that’s when I feel most at comfort.”

One of the strong suits of Merrimack’s game have been their penalty kill. Ranked 4th in the nation with a percentage of 89.3%, it’s helped quiet the power plays of their opponents and has helped lead them to victories. You could say the Warriors penalty kill starts with the goaltender but Rasmus would argue otherwise.

“I would argue it starts with coach Carr. He’s done a terrific job here and has been our penalty kill specialist. He knows what he wants and we just go out there and execute,” Tirronen said. “Guys are boxing out guys and letting me see shots and it works. It’s as simple as that.”

With the vast amount of freshmen that have entered the lineup, Tirronen has found a new friendship in fellow goalie Colin Delia. Bouncing new ideas and techniques at each other it’s helped them both become better goaltenders.

“It’s definitely a back-and-forth relationship. I think we’ve done a good job of adapting stuff from each other,” Tirronen explained. “He’s just a great guy and a good friend. He’s gonna carry this program for the next few years and I have no question in his ability.”

As the season comes to a close in the next two weeks it’s important for the Warriors to take as many points as they can to try and secure home ice advantage for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

“We need to get back to playing our game. Of course we want to get home ice for the first round of the playoffs. These games are hugely important for us,” said Tirronen. “I think if we get back to playing or game I think we’re in good contention to go as far as possible.”

As the senior goaltender plays out his final season, he has enjoyed his time playing in the navy and gold. Being able to get a rich education while playing in one of the top conferences in the country for college hockey, Rasmus Tirronen couldn’t ask for a better four years.

“I can’t say enough. It’s a great place. The school has been great for me and he same with the hockey team. I can’t thank the coaches enough for the opportunity to come here to play hockey and be a student,” Tirronen explained.


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