DiZoglio Hosts Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day

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State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, recently hosted advocates from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth at the State House for the fifth annual meeting of the state legislature’s Parkinson’s Disease Caucus.

DiZoglio, who serves as co-chair of the caucus alongside State Representative John C. Velis, D-Westfield, provided legislators an opportunity to learn more about Parkinson’s and consider legislative steps to address the neurological disease, which affects an estimated one million Americans and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States.

It is estimated that 60,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S. with Parkinson’s and its prevalence is expected to more than double by the year 2040. The exact cause of the disease, which is chronic and progressive, with no treatment to slow or halt its progression, remains unknown.

Joining the Representative for the caucus meeting were the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA).

During the caucus, DiZoglio presented a Senate resolution, co-sponsored by legislators from across the Commonwealth, proclaiming April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in Massachusetts.

“Greater research, education and community support services are needed to find more effective treatments and to provide access to quality care to those with Parkinson’s,” said DiZoglio. “I am honored to chair this important caucus and committed to continue raising awareness around the disease with advocates from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth. As always, thank you to North Andover’s Charles Brown of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease for again helping to organize this important event.”

DiZoglio officially created and launched the Parkinson’s Disease Caucus in November 2015.

“It is hard to believe this is our fifth year of holding this event,” said Charles Brown, North Andover resident and public policy and advocacy volunteer with the Michael J. Fox Foundation. “This would not be possible without the support that we have received from both Senator DiZoglio and her chief of staff Andrew Carden. They both have been true supporters of raising awareness around Parkinson’s.”

“It’s important that we get to speak to legislators on a daily basis to help people who are living with Parkinson’s Disease,” said Chad Moir, owner of DopaFit, a Parkinson’s management center based in Southampton.

Moir’s advocacy began when his mother passed away from the disease, which affects between 18,000 and 21,000 people in Massachusetts.

“She inspires me, along with all of the inspiring people I meet every day who fight this disease,” he said. “It was great to see a strong turnout today and to see all of the senators and representatives in attendance. I thank them for their continued efforts.”

Attendees of the caucus heard from several residents from across Massachusetts living with Parkinson’s. They noted transportation and building access as two of their greatest daily challenges living with the disease.

One attendee, Greg Heath, a former Westfield firefighter who has battled Parkinson’s for seven years, spoke on behalf of a bill filed by Rep. Velis that would provide accidental disability benefits to firefighters who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

In addition to Senator DiZoglio and Representative Velis, other legislators in attendance at Thursday’s event included Reps. William Galvin, D-Canton, Joseph McGonagle, D-Everett, Ruth Balser, D-Newton and Patrick Kearney, D-Scituate, as well as Sen. Walter Timilty, D-Milton.

Galvin, who sponsored a House resolution naming April Parkinson’s Awareness Month at the request of his constituent Dan Harvey, said he has become more aware of the disease in the five years that he’s known Harvey and is impressed with the efforts of advocates like those in attendance.

McGonagle, whose late mother also fought a courageous battle with Parkinson’s, vowed to continue supporting Parkinson’s-related legislation.

“Since I came into the house, I told Diana I would be a big advocate for her because of my own personal experiences,” said McGonagle. “Know that I will help carry the torch in the House of Representatives.”

Regarding the firefighter bill, Velis said it is “absolutely critical” that the Commonwealth treat a Parkinson’s diagnosis the same as a career-ending injury suffered by a firefighter in the line of duty.

“On a daily basis, firefighters put their lives at risk to keep the public safe,” said Velis. “We must err on the side of doing the right thing when it comes to providing our firefighters with the support they need should they be diagnosed with this disease.”

State Approves $2 Million to Combat Combined Sewage Overflow Along Merrimack River

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced it will release $2 million to the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) for the purchase of an emergency generator for the Riverside Pump Station.

Located in North Andover, the Riverside Pump Station treats more than 10 billion gallons of wastewater annually and serves about 250,000 residents in the cities of Lawrence and Methuen, as well as the towns of Andover, Dracut, North Andover and Salem, New Hampshire.

With the release of the $2 million for the emergency generator, residents of these communities — and other communities downriver — will be protected from a potential spill of raw sewage into the Merrimack River in the event of a power outage.

These funds were previously secured in the Senate’s 2018 Environmental Bond Bill but may not be released without the approval of the Governor’s Office through the Department of Environmental Protection. State Senator Diana DiZoglio, (D-Methuen), has in recent months strongly advocated for the release of these funds and met recently with DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg to make the case for the generator.

“I am grateful the Commissioner and his team were willing to meet with me so early in this session regarding this issue, that they heard our concerns loud and clear, and have agreed that we need to take immediate action on the issue of combined sewer overflows,” said DiZoglio. “This generator will contribute to the overall health of the Merrimack River, from Lawrence and North Andover, all the way up to Newburyport.

“This funding benefits so many communities who, without this generator, could expect millions of gallons of sewage to potentially be dumped into the river during a power outage,” said DiZoglio. “There is, of course, much more work to be done but this is a huge, tangible win for the Merrimack Valley.”

“The Greater Lawrence Sanitary District wishes to thank Governor Baker, the Massachusetts DEP, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, all current and former senators, representatives, mayors and town managers who worked to make this possible,” said Cheri Cousens, executive director of the GLSD. “This was a huge collaborative effort and it shows what we can do when everyone works together for one common goal. Hopefully this can continue in resolving long-term concerns related to combined sewer overflow”

CREST Collaborative Students Visit State House

Students from the Methuen-based CREST Collaborative recently visited the State House for a tour and a firsthand glimpse of the legislative process.

Serving students from 25 communities in northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, the Collaborative for Regional Education Services and Training (CREST) serves students and adults with social, emotional and physical disabilities on three campuses in Methuen.

The organization’s mission is to empower all learners by “maximizing strengths, removing barriers, forming relationships, seeking innovative solutions to create a lasting positive impact into their adult lives.”

CREST also looks to equip adults with tools to succeed in a “safe and supportive learning environment and within the greater community.”

The visit was sponsored by the office of State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen.

Students from grades 6, 7 and 8 took part in the State House tour before eating lunch and meeting with Senator DiZoglio.

This is our next generation of leaders, so it is important that we encourage them to be actively involved in the democratic process early on

“I am proud to have such an innovative school in Methuen educating students and helping people from all over our region,” said DiZoglio. “ It was an honor to host these students – our next generation of leaders – for a visit to the State House and encourage them to become actively involved in the democratic process early on in their lives.”

“For each of these students, it was their first time visiting the State House and they were just in awe of the building,” said Peter Silverman, a special education teacher at CREST who chaperoned the trip. “We’ve been studying the three branches of government and how bills become laws. To share the pageantry of this building with them is special.”

North Andover High Kicks Off Women’s History Month with Empowerment Day

NAHS Women 4State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently kicked off Women’s History Month by hosting Young Women Empowerment Day for female juniors and seniors at North Andover High School.

The two-hour program, held on March 1, featured a roster of more than 20 women from North Andover and neighboring cities and towns who work in a variety of career fields, including a police officer, fire fighter, small business owner, journalist, attorney, realtor, nurse and more. Participants discussed their personal journeys, difficult challenges and successes, and what it took to get to where they are now. Students then had the opportunity to personally engage with each panelist.

The event marked the fifth consecutive year DiZoglio has hosted Young Women Empowerment Day, having previously organized them at Haverhill High, Lawrence High and Methuen High.

“Typically, these girls learn so much about successful women who have made history in the past,” said DiZoglio. “Rarely, however, do they have the opportunity to connect with the incredible women who are making history right now and glean insight and wisdom from them. I’m incredibly thankful that so many amazing women joined me in empowering our next generation of leaders at North Andover High.”

“Thank you especially to Kaitlyn Parks, a North Andover High senior, for leading the charge and organizing this event alongside my office,” DiZoglio added. “She’s been interning with me for a few years and is one of the most determined, dedicated and intelligent young women I know. I am so proud of the way she is already making a difference in the lives of her peers.”

“I am so excited and proud that North Andover High held this successful Empowerment Day,” said Parks.

“We were excited to connect with Senator DiZoglio and our community partners to kick off Women’s History Month,” said North Andover High Principal Chet Jackson. “It was very special to have our senior student Kaitlyn Parks plan and coordinate the event for our school. More than 110 young women from our junior and senior classes were able to connect with female leaders and professionals from across the Merrimack Valley. It was great to see our young women have an opportunity to have small group, extended conversations with professionals of their choice. It was a chance for our students to learn about some career paths and to just talk about life with worthy mentors. Our students had a great time and left empowered to continue their journey beyond high school. We look forward to a continued partnership and to bringing the event back to North Andover High. All of our guests were extremely kind and motivating to our students.”

“What a fantastic morning,” said educator and former North Andover School Committee member Zora Warren. “It was inspiring to be in the company of and engage with so many successful women and motivated students.”

“I want to go into business management, which I know is a very male-dominated field,” said Riva Chatsman, North Andover High junior. “It was so great to hear from women who have made a strong presence in this workforce.”

“It was awesome to see women in careers I’m interested in, like business and law,” said Eisha Haroon, North Andover High junior.

“It is so exciting to see the community come together,” said Izabel Ferrao, North Andover High senior. “This was a great chance to hear and see how women got to where they are.”

DiZoglio to Chair Senate Committee on Community Development and Small Business

On Thursday, State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, was named the chair of the Community Development and Small Business, as well as the vice chair of the committees for Municipalities and Regional Government and Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.

In addition, DiZoglio will sit on the committees for Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, Financial Services, Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, and Transportation.

Committee assignments handed to members by Senate President Karen Spilka will help shape a legislator’s priorities for the next two years.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity, as a freshman senator, to head a committee that will debate substantive policy and can help communities along the New Hampshire border,” said DiZoglio. “As a region, the Merrimack Valley will greatly benefit from policies that encourage redevelopment and help our small businesses thrive.”

On the same day that DiZoglio was tapped to lead the senate committee and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Lowell, was appointed its vice chair, Merrimack Valley Reps. Andy Vargas, D-Haverhill, and Christina Minicucci, D-North Andover, were given seats on the House Committee on Community Development and Small Business.

“I’m pleased so many local legislators will also serve on these committees to bring strong representation for our region,” said DiZoglio. “I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting right to work.”

In his second term representing the 3rd Essex District, Rep. Vargas is looking to apply his private sector experience assisting budding entrepreneurs to his work with the committee.

“In a time where small businesses struggle to compete in this new economy, I’m looking forward to doing all we can to support local entrepreneurs,” said Vargas. “We build stronger communities when we prioritize community development and boost our small businesses.”

Rep. Minicucci, who succeeded DiZoglio as representative for the 14th Essex District, said Thursday she is thrilled to bring her own small business experience to the table in her first term and join her regional colleagues to find innovative ways to support our small businesses.

“The Merrimack Valley has always been a hub of entrepreneurship,” said Minicucci. “Community development is a team effort and I look forward to working with community stakeholders to support our entrepreneurs, help existing companies innovate, and grow job training opportunities to ensure our economy continues to thrive.”

Haverhill and Methuen Receive Shannon Grant to Combat Youth Gang Violence

The Cities of Haverhill and Methuen will be receiving $185,000 through the Commonwealth’s Shannon Community Safety Initiative to address regional youth gang violence.

An additional $29,709.61 will also be distributed to the University of Massachusetts, Lowell’s satellite campus at Harbor Place in Haverhill, which is a Local Action Research Partner with the program.

The $7.1 million being distributed through this year’s grant is being administered by the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The Shannon Grant, is designed to help reduce the prevalence of gangs through community policy initiatives that encourage youth mentoring and improving relationships among families, law enforcement and school faculty.

“The funding provided through this grant will enable the Haverhill Police Department and our partners to continue to provide critical services to at risk youth in danger of falling victim to gang affiliation, criminal behavior and abandonment of educational and vocational opportunities designed to prepare them for productive futures in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Haverhill Police Chief Alan DeNaro.

“The Shannon grant awarded to Methuen and Haverhill aids us dramatically as we combat drugs and gangs on our streets and in the Merrimack Valley,” said Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon. “Senator DiZoglio’s efforts toward obtaining continuing funding are vital as we compete for available resources. I want to thank her for her consistent support of law enforcement and our efforts to make the Merrimack Valley safer for everyone.”

“I am pleased to see Shannon Grant funding return to Haverhill as we continue working to thwart the corrosive influence of gangs in our communities,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen. “Young people are the Merrimack Valley’s most valuable asset, and we at the state level are excited to continue working with our amazing local law enforcement partners to help keep our kids moving toward bright futures.”

Dennis Everett Honored For Community Work in Haverhill

IMG_3185As part of Black History Month and the state’s efforts to commemorate the work
of prominent African Americans in Massachusetts, state legislators nominated local activists, businesspeople and community leaders to be recognized during Black Excellence on the Hill Day on Monday, February 4.

The nominee for the 1st Essex District, Dennis Everett of Haverhill, received a citation Monday from the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus for his work within the city and around eastern Massachusetts.

A married father of seven, Dennis and his wife Katrina Hobbs Everett are heavily involved with the Rehoboth Lighthouse Full Gospel of Haverhill, where Katrina’s father and mother, Bishop Franklin Hobbs and co-pastor Carolyn Hobbs, have been longtime community leaders.

Through their non-profit, Power of Self-Empowerment (POSE), the Everetts work with at-risk youth and seek to empower individuals toward self-sustained social responsibility. Everett has taken a special interest in helping men who are reentering society after a stay of incarceration.

A proud member of the Insulators Local 6 union, Everett’s faith and passion for music are a big part of his activism. Under the stage name Preacha Rhymes, Everett’s music has helped raise awareness around issues such as gun violence and has been recognized by local media.

“I’m overwhelmed, grateful and humbled by this honor. I’m motivated to work even harder,” said Everett Monday while also thanking his wife for her love and support. “We’re a team and we support each other always.”

“Dennis embodies so much of what makes the Merrimack Valley and its communities great,”said State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen. “As anyone in the Acre and Mount Washington neighborhoods of Haverhill can attest, Dennis and Kat are real difference makers in this city and I look forward to working with them and POSE in the years to come.”

Haverhill Farms Receive Over $86,000 Through ACRE Grant

Two Haverhill farms have received $86,720 through the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs for the purchase of equipment to be used on both of their farms, located in the city’s Bradford section.

The Rogers Spring Hill Farm and the Crescent Farm have been awarded $57,440 and $29,280 respectively for the purchase of no-till equipment to be used on their farms and farm and garden centers.

The money was awarded through the Baker Administration’s Agricultural Climate Resiliency & Efficiencies (ACRE) grant program, which will distribute over $1 million to 40 agricultural operations around the state this year to assist farms with installing practices that help mitigate their impacts on climate change and also adapt to changing climate conditions.

With their grant, Rogers Spring Hill Farm in Ward Hill will use $29,280 toward the purchase of no-till equipment to be used on their farm, while the remaining $28,160 will go toward the purchase of no-till equipment for the farm’s Garden and Farm Center.

Crescent Farm, also located in Ward Hill, will receive $29,280 with which to purchase no-till equipment.

“While farms are a staple of life in rural areas of the Commonwealth, smaller farms located in sparsely populated areas of our cities also play a critical role in our local economies and food systems. We’re proud to have them here in the First Essex District,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen.

Newburyport Park to Receive $100K Investment from State

The Maudslay State Park Association has received a matching $100,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to assist with its Flowering Pond Dam project.

The project is one of 25 finalists to receive money from the DCR for park restoration and improvement projects in FY 2019. The grant program will provide a total of $1,821,400 for those eligible projects.

On hand to accept the grant at the State House were Marlys Edwards, chairwoman of the Pond Restoration Committee of the Maudslay State Park Association, and Edward Speck, artistic director of Theater in the Open, a non-profit organization that performs at the park.

Now in Phase II, the Flowering Pond Dam project is working to restore a dam at the pond. The infusion of $100,000 of state money will greatly help the Maudslay State Park Association in their goal of completing this project.

“This grant will go a long way toward helping the park association complete this much-needed project,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who represents the city of Newburyport in the 1st Essex District. “This is a great investment that will help keep this public space a wonderful place to walk, run, play and enjoy nature.”

Financial Literacy Bill Signed into Law

28468739_10156083213093480_3302492065284237021_nFinancial literacy legislation sponsored by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has been signed into law.

Under DiZoglio’s bill, An Act relative to financial literacy programs in schools, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is directed to develop standards and objectives on personal financial literacy, for grades pre-kindergarten to 12, within the existing mathematics curriculum. The curriculum will include understanding loans, borrowing money, interest, credit card debt, and online commerce; as well as    banking, housing, retirement and taxes.

DiZoglio was inspired to draft the legislation after reading a study by the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College in Vermont, which gave Massachusetts an ‘F’ grade for the quality of its financial literacy programs. Along with Massachusetts, the study assigned its lowest rating to 10 other states that have “few requirements, or none at all, for personal finance education in high school.”

“I am so pleased to see the Commonwealth adopt this legislation to include financial literacy in our public school math curricula, as many students are graduating without a full understanding of how to manage a personal budget,” said DiZoglio. “As a nation, our failure to teach the importance of financial literacy has led to the exploitation of millions of people and triggered a financial crisis a decade ago that we have only recently recovered from as a nation.”

DiZoglio added that “the importance of understanding how debt, interest and credit affect one’s financial health cannot be overstated.”

The bill signed into law this week will ensure that public schools statewide will teach students the importance of properly managing money and will help inform them of their best options for paying for college, buying a car and someday purchasing a home.

The financial literacy education bill comes on the heels of the passage of another bill expanding civics education curriculum in the Commonwealth.

DiZoglio said the new financial literacy bill, coupled with the civics education law, will lead to important improvements in Massachusetts public schools.

“These new laws will ensure students learn real world skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives and make them more engaged, responsible citizens in our state,” said DiZoglio. “The Merrimack Valley delegation is united in seeking the very best education for our children, because engaging and educating the children of today ensures that they grow up to become the responsible, conscientious leaders of tomorrow.”