DiZoglio Files Bill in Response to North Andover Triple-Homicide

Diana Substance Abuse

This past January, three North Andover seniors, Walter Hamilton, 78, George Kettinger, Jr., 79, and Francis Kort, 68, were murdered in their public housing complex at Foulds Terrace.

In response to this tragedy, at the beginning of this year’s legislative session, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) filed legislation, House Bill 1094, which would establish a task force on elderly and disabled persons residing in public housing.

The task force would advise the Secretaries of Housing and Economic Development and Health and Human Services on best practices to ensure the safety and welfare of the elderly and disabled in public housing, including investigating efforts to maximize overall facility and individual apartment safety and security.

The task force would report to the General Court and chairs of the Joint Committees on Elder Affairs and Mental Health and Substance Abuse the results of its investigation by 2016.

DiZoglio’s bill has endorsements from the North Andover and Haverhill Housing Authorities, as well as Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, who presented testimony at the legislation’s public hearing held on July 14 before the Joint Committee on Housing.

“As an experienced administrator in public and affordable housing and long-standing advocate for elderly persons and persons with disabilities, I understand the complex needs and issues that arise when mixed populations coexist in apartment settings and housing authority developments,” said Cathy Hoog, Executive Director of the North Andover Housing Authority. “With the close consideration and discussions of the proposed task force in this bill, more solutions can be reviewed and considered. It is necessary that we have these discussions and more importantly, provide solutions.”

“The potential for this study to address the safety needs of the elderly population and provide means to resolve issues and concerns to ensure quality of life for elders living in subsidized housing is a key concern for ESMV and we support Representative DiZoglio’s bill to explore this issue further,” said Rosanne DiStefano, Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley.

“I believe the study called for in House Bill 1094 will help to clarify some of the assumptions about the characteristics of the population of individuals in so-called elderly housing who are living with disabilities and/or disabling conditions,” said Ellen Walker, a North Andover resident who resides at the Foulds Terrace complex. “The entire population who live in elderly and disabled housing is made up of people who are vulnerable, and the safety of all tenants should be a priority.”

“Passage of H1094 will strengthen the Commonwealth’s housing authorities’ mission to provide safe, decent and sanitary housing to the low income populations that we serve,” said Joseph A. Hart, Executive Director of the Haverhill Housing Authority. “We can do better to protect the safety and welfare of our residents. This bill will begin a long-overdue discussion of the issues that arise in mixed population housing developments.”

“This bill is the first step in what I hope will be a comprehensive effort by citizens, in North Andover and across the Commonwealth, to protect our many seniors and disabled persons residing in public housing,” said DiZoglio.

Rep. DiZoglio, Auditor Bump Host Lawrence Seniors Day on Beacon Hill

From left to right, Lawrence Senior Center Director Martha Velez, State Rep. Marcos Devers, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, State Rep. Diana DiZoglio and State Rep. Frank Moran

From left to right, Lawrence Senior Center Director Martha Velez, State Rep. Marcos Devers, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, State Rep. Diana DiZoglio and State Rep. Frank Moran

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) and State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump recently hosted the Lawrence Senior Center for a visit at the Massachusetts State House.

About 50 Lawrence seniors participated in the visit, as they toured the State House and joined DiZoglio and fellow Lawrence legislators for a meet-and-greet over coffee and pastries.

DiZoglio brought the seniors into the House Chamber where they sat in the seats of legislators as the Representative explained how ideas become laws and encouraged them to be actively involved in the democratic process. Auditor Bump joined DiZoglio and the seniors in the Chamber to discuss the role her office plays in the Commonwealth.

Joining DiZoglio and Bump to welcome the seniors were State Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) and State Representatives Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence) and Marcos A. Devers (D-Lawrence).

“I have strived during my time as State Representative for the 14th Essex District to host events like these that bring our wonderful seniors together,” said DiZoglio. “I believe it is immensely important that we keep our older adults independent, socially engaged and active and I intend to sponsor many more gatherings over the months and years to come.”

DiZoglio, Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley Host Awareness Program at State House

From left to right, State Representatives Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence), Paul A. Schmid III (D-Westport), Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen), David Nangle (D-Lowell) and Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley President Larry F. Giordano and State Representatives Paul J. Donato (D-Medford), Bradford R. Hill (R-Ipswich) and David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton).

From left to right, State Representatives Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence), Paul A. Schmid III (D-Westport), Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen), David Nangle (D-Lowell) and Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley President Larry F. Giordano and State Representatives Paul J. Donato (D-Medford), Bradford R. Hill (R-Ipswich) and David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton).

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. and the Foster Kids Legislative Caucus recently hosted a foster kids awareness event at the Massachusetts State House.

The program, which was held at the State House’s Grand Staircase, was held to highlight the nearly 10,000 foster children who currently reside in the Commonwealth.

DiZoglio recently sponsored a resolution, co-sponsored by 25 other legislators from across the Commonwealth, recognizing foster kids in Massachusetts. Among the co-sponsors were State Representatives Marcos A. Devers (D-Lawrence) and Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence). The Representative presented the resolution to Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. during the program.

Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of foster children in the Merrimack Valley, including all of Greater Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, Andover and North Andover. Its goal is to bring a positive influence into the lives of these children and support them as they grow.

“All foster kids need is a little help and someone who cares,” said Giordano.

“Children in foster care are kids who, through no fault of their own, have been removed from their parents due to abusive or neglectful circumstances,” said DiZoglio. “It was my honor to host this important event, raising awareness about foster kids in the Commonwealth, alongside Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley Inc. and its wonderful president, Larry F. Giordano. I want to thank Larry for his years of incredible work serving our communities and for helping to organize this program.”

$1 Million Secured Toward Rt. 114 Public Safety Improvements

Included in the recently released FY2016-FY2020 Five-Year Capital Investment Plan for the Commonwealth is $1 million toward public safety improvements along Route 114 in North Andover.

The announcement of these funds, which will be matched up to 50-50 by Merrimack College in a public-private partnership, comes on the heels of years of accidents and injuries along the highway. In spite of the presence of a shuttle bus to drive them to campus, students at Merrimack frequently cross the traffic-packed four-lane road to get to and from the college, their homes and the many businesses along the Route 114.

The partnership between the Commonwealth and Merrimack College comes after more than a year of efforts by the North Andover legislative delegation to address safety concerns along Route 114.

In January 2014, at the request of the delegation, Merrimack College, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC) and the Town of North Andover, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) conducted a Road Safety Audit of Route 114 in North Andover. State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted several meetings with representatives from DOT and provided the department a tour of the area.

The safety audit ultimately suggested improvements in sidewalk construction, better traffic signals and more clearly defined zones for pedestrians and cyclists. DOT stated in its audit that Route 114 has among the highest reported incidents of vehicle accidents in the area.

In February 2014, the MVPC commissioned a local engineering firm to draft a Route 114 Conceptual Improvements plan, which illustrated a series of improvements from the intersection of Route 114 and Andover Street to the intersection of Routes 114 and 125. In March 2014, the plan was presented to MassDOT and Merrimack College.

“We in the North Andover legislative delegation strongly advocated for funding toward improvements in pedestrian and bicycle safety and, through a Transportation Bond Bill passed in April 2014, met those concerns with action, securing $1.5 million toward sidewalk construction and better accommodations for both cyclists and pedestrians,” said DiZoglio. “These are improvements that, once completed, will leave safer thousands of local pedestrians and motorists.”

After it was determined that $2.1 million would be needed to fund the project design, DiZoglio met with officials from Merrimack College to discuss the possibility of a public-private partnership in approaching the project funding.

“Following several meetings, I was so pleased to see Merrimack College agree to partner with the Commonwealth for up to 50 percent of the project costs,” said DiZoglio. “I see this as a prime example of how important and successful public-private partnerships can be.”

Greater Lawrence Academic Bowl Visits State House

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted the Greater Lawrence Academic Bowl for a visit to the Massachusetts State House.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted the Greater Lawrence Academic Bowl for a visit to the Massachusetts State House.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted the Greater Lawrence Academic Bowl for a visit to the Massachusetts State House.

Two hundred and seventy 7th and 8th grade students from Methuen, Lawrence and Andover participated in the visit, as they toured the State House and met with Representative DiZoglio. The visit was organized by Kristen Hollenbeck, Enrichment Partnership director at the Collaborative for Regional Educational Services and Training (CREST), which produces the Academic Bowl.

The Greater Lawrence Academic Bowl is a five-month academic competition that was first started in 1987 as a means of promoting academic excellence and fostering teamwork between neighboring communities. The Academic Bowl strives to increase students’ knowledge, stimulate their imaginations and showcase their talents.

“The Academic Bowl presents an amazing opportunity for students to develop their skills and build new friendships with students from neighboring schools,” said DiZoglio. “They should be so proud of the work they’ve done and I was honored to host them for this visit to the State House.”

“The Academic Bowl is part of the Enrichment Partnership which includes the Apple Magazines, Pen Pal Program and Collaborative Arts Awards,” said Hollenbeck. “Over 10,000 students in the Merrimack Valley are impacted by the programs each year. All of the programs foster appreciation and understanding between the participating communities in the Merrimack Valley. We are very proud of our outstanding Academic Bowl students and invite all middle schools in the area to participate in this exciting educational program.”

“It was such an honor to be in the Academic Bowl,” said Methuen student Abigail Jankowski. “It feels amazing to be chosen to be part of such an important academic competition.”

“My favorite part was positive the environment,” said Lawrence student Adeliza Rosario. “The Academic Bowl motivates me to strive to be the best version of myself and keep up with others at a high academic level.”

Lt. Gov. Polito, Rep. DiZoglio Host Lawrence Girls at State House for Women in Government Day

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and State Rep. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted more than 40 girls from Lawrence’s Arlington Middle School for Women in Government Day at the Massachusetts State House.

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and State Rep. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted more than 40 girls from Lawrence’s Arlington Middle School for Women in Government Day at the Massachusetts State House.

Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted more than 40 girls from Lawrence’s Arlington Middle School for Women in Government Day at the Massachusetts State House.

The students, joined by Lawrence School Committee member Myra Ortiz, had the opportunity to tour the building and then join the Lieutenant Governor and Representative for a photo and meet-and-greet at the State House Grand Staircase. State Representative Frank Moran (D-Lawrence) and his staff helped to coordinate the tour.

“I enjoyed welcoming our next generation of women leaders to the State House with Representative DiZoglio,” said Polito. “It is clear that our next generation is eager to learn and motivated to achieve success and it is wonderful to see them civically involved.”

“It was great to connect with these intelligent and strong young ladies,” said DiZoglio. “Less than 25 percent of the Massachusetts House of Representatives is made up of women and I would like to see that percentage increase significantly in the years to come. In order for that to happen, we must start empowering our young women at an early age and tell them, ‘Yes, you can do this!’ The Lieutenant Governor and I discussed the roles we play in state government and stressed the importance having more young women actively participate in the process.”

“It’s not only important we tell our girls they should be leaders, it is important we show them what leadership looks like,” said Ortiz. “They need to know at a young age that there are women working for them and creating a pipeline for more women in politics. That reality may be a little far off, but it is a goal that has now been placed in their sight.”

Civic Education Day at North Andover Middle School

Lawrence District Court Judge Mark A. Sullivan, Elizabeth Cerda of the Administrative Office of the District Court, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), North Andover Middle School educator Patrick McGravey and Lawrence First Justice Lynn C. Rooney

Lawrence District Court Judge Mark A. Sullivan, Elizabeth Cerda of the Administrative Office of the District Court, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), North Andover Middle School educator Patrick McGravey and Lawrence First Justice Lynn C. Rooney

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) presents North Andover Middle School educator Patrick McGravey with a congratulatory citation in honor of his being awarded the 2015 C-SPAN Teaching Fellowship.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) presents North Andover Middle School educator Patrick McGravey with a congratulatory citation in honor of his being awarded the 2015 C-SPAN Teaching Fellowship.

Patrick McGravey, head of the social studies department at North Andover Middle School, was recently awarded the 2015 C-SPAN Teaching Fellowship, an honor presented to just three educators across the nation.

C-SPAN’s Fellowship program recognizes educators who demonstrate successful methods of integrating C-SPAN’s civics programs into their classrooms. For four weeks during the summer, McGravey will collaborate with C-SPAN’s education department in Washington D.C. to develop new teaching materials with the network.

McGravey was recognized on May 29 for his achievement by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who presented him with a congratulatory citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives. McGravey and student Kaitlyn Parks invited DiZoglio to North Andover Middle School as the latest stop on her Civic Education Tour to engage and educate students across the Merrimack Valley.

The civic education program, which the Representative has brought to schools in North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill, covered the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and, through interactive exercises, was designed to educate students about what it means to be a citizen and how to be active in the democratic process.

During the event, students participated in mock legislative and judicial hearings, the latter featuring Lawrence District Court Judges Lynn C. Rooney and Mark A. Sullivan and Michael J. Ryan of the Office of Jury Commissioner for the Commonwealth.

“This was an amazing opportunity for the students to apply what they’re learning to real life situations,” said McGravey. “Social studies can sometimes be a boring subject, but Diana and the team really brought it alive to the kids and made them realize they need to know civics and how to apply them in real life. I would love to do this program again and recommend it to any educator in the Commonwealth.”

“We thought it would be more interesting and relevant to use a real-world example to illustrate the work judges do, and how the rule of law works in a democracy,” said Judge Rooney, who had the students divide into juries, deliberate on a case, and render verdicts to illustrate the workings of a criminal jury trial and the importance of the presumption of innocence.

“The kids seemed genuinely enthused and engaged to be involved in the process,” said Judge Sullivan. “It’s our hope that these students will appreciate how important civic duty is and how each member of the community can contribute to ensure the fairness and equality of our criminal justice system. If what we did today helped spark that interest and commitment, it would be great.”

“I was honored to join Mr. McGravey, Judges Rooney and Sullivan and so many talented students from North Andover Middle School as I spoke about how ideas become laws and engaged the students in an interactive mock committee hearing,” said DiZoglio. “All too often, our classrooms lack a strong civic learning program that educates students about what state government does in our daily lives. Mr. McGravey should be commended for his focus on civics at North Andover Middle School and I wish him all the best with his fellowship in D.C. this summer.”

“It is critical for students to have an understanding of our judicial system early on, given they should be prepared to serve jury duty as soon as high school,” said Ryan.

“It was an amazing day and such a great opportunity to have Representative DiZoglio come and speak to us,” said student Kaitlyn Parks. “She was so friendly and personable and the students really enjoyed it.”

“It was a fun day and I liked to see that the speakers were doing things that we learned in class,” said student Alexa Pascucci. “I liked the jury duty speaker, Michael J. Ryan, who played a game with us with prizes and had some funny jokes.”

“Although not all of the kids on our team could attend because of a band field trip, I think that the kids who did thoroughly enjoyed it including myself,” said student Madelyn Reveal. “All of the speakers were both entertaining and educational to us.”

In today’s high schools, civic education is often only offered toward the end of a student’s studies, in twelfth grade. On the latest national civics assessment, administered in 2006 by the National Assessment Governing Board, two-thirds of students scored below “proficient.” In 2010, more than one quarter of college students reported they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to do so.

In the current legislative session, DiZoglio has filed several bills pertaining to civic education: one requires the department of elementary and secondary education to develop a model civic education curriculum to be included within history curriculum; another requires registrars to inform high school students about their right to vote, how the registration process works and also provide them access to registration forms; and a third bill would require public schools to better-publicize where students may pick up voter registration forms.

In addition to the North Andover Middle School, DiZoglio has thus far visited North Andover High School, Methuen High School, Lawrence High School, Haverhill’s Hunking Middle School and Lawrence’s South East Middle School and Wetherbee School on her Civic Education Tour.

Lawrence Delegation Secures Funds for Youth Jobs in FY16 Budget

The Lawrence legislative delegation has secured $25,000 in both the House and Senate Fiscal Year 2016 Budgets toward Groundwork Lawrence, Inc. (GWL) for its Green Team youth jobs program.

GWL is a nonprofit that, since its launch in 1999, has been working to empower residents of Lawrence to improve their quality of life. Among the organization’s goals is, through education and employment initiatives, to prepare the community’s youth to be productive and positive leaders in their communities. GWL also works on environmental and open space improvements; community programming and events; and fresh food access programs.

Green Team is a year-round program that offers part-time, paid positions for 50 Lawrence High School-aged students to help learn about and lead local environmental and healthy community initiatives, grow food, conduct research, raise awareness, challenge their peers to do community service and participate in hands-on improvement projects throughout the City of Lawrence.

“The work Groundwork Lawrence does every day in our communities is immensely important and I was proud to sponsor this amendment in the House to support youth jobs,” said State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “The Green Team program was developed to prepare Lawrence youth for a lifetime of community leadership and I am strongly committed to supporting it and other Groundwork Lawrence initiatives over the years to come.”

“We greatly appreciate the Lawrence delegation’s commitment to supporting Groundwork Lawrence’s youth job,” said Heather McMann, executive director of Groundwork Lawrence. “These experiences are very important to our youth’s development and studies show that youth employment increases future earnings and career advancement. The Green Team program has more than doubled in the last few years in response to the increase in the city’s youth unemployment rate. This funding will ensure that we can continue to provide these jobs and support the city’s future leaders.”

“As a member of Green Team, I have been exposed to many things that I couldn’t be able to experience anywhere else,” said Green Team member Rosa Diaz. “Green Team has not only been my first job experience but also my first exposure to learn about harvesting, planting, business planning and gaining leadership skills.”

“I’ve learned that I like a lot of things environmental related, it’s probably a career I want to pursue,” said Green Team member Jairo Hernandez. “GWL has taught me about a lot of environmental issues throughout the world and how to deal with them. GWL also taught me how to work in a team. Because different people have different leadership styles, GWL taught me how to be adaptive with different people and different leadership styles.”

House Budget Includes Funding to Assist Disabled Merrimack Valley Veterans

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has included in its Fiscal Year 2016 Budget an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), for $125,000 in funds to assist the Career Resources Corporation (CRC) in its initiative to help disabled veterans who are seeking employment opportunities.

CRC, which is based in Haverhill, is a non-profit that serves communities across the Merrimack Valley. For 40 years, it has worked to empower individuals with disabilities and other barriers to be successful and self-sufficient.

The organization’s partnership with Valley Works Career Center, the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center and the City of Haverhill Veterans’ Services has provided area veterans with comprehensive support to seek and maintain employment.

“CRC is committed to enhancing the quality of life for people throughout the Merrimack Valley who are living with a wide range of disabilities and other challenges,” said Brad Howell, Chief Executive Officer at CRC. “The Veterans with Disabilities Employment program has been extremely effective in assisting veterans obtain employment. Representative DiZoglio and Chairman Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill) have been tireless supporters of this program by successfully advocating for funding and building support among the local delegation. Their commitment goes beyond funding as they also consistently attend CRC events advocates for people with disabilities. CRC wishes to thank Representative DiZoglio, Chairman Dempsey and the Merrimack Valley delegation for their support.”

“Unemployment remains high among veterans, comparative to the overall population,” said DiZoglio, who represents communities in North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill. “These are men and women who have put their lives on the line for us and we need to do everything we can to help them transition back into our community. This program will go a long way toward ensuring the continued success of our service men and women. CRC has estimated that with the inclusion of this funding, it will be able to serve an additional 27 veterans in the Merrimack Valley who are seeking jobs.”

“This program will go a long way in providing our local veterans with the critical support services they need and will ensure that our veterans are provided access to employment opportunities,” said State Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill). “I commend the leadership of Representative DiZoglio on this issue and the hard work of the entire Haverhill delegation in their commitment to our veterans.”

House Secures $400,000 in FY16 Budget for Nicholson Renovations

Included in the Massachusetts House of Representatives’ Fiscal Year 2016 Budget is an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) and the Methuen House delegation, allocating $400,000 toward renovations for Nicholson Stadium at Methuen High School.

“We in the Methuen legislative delegation have worked hard to assist the City of Methuen in completing this long overdue project,” said DiZoglio. “As a Methuen High School graduate and former student athlete, I have been very committed to fighting for additional funds to assist in this project’s completion. We have now secured a total of $1 million and I am grateful to House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) for his leadership in helping to secure these funds.”