North Andover High Student Selected to Participate in Massachusetts Inauguration Day

North Andover High School student Kaitlyn Parks (left) was selected to participate in this year’s Inaugural Ceremonies at the Massachusetts State House, as a special guest to State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen, right).

North Andover High School student Kaitlyn Parks (left) was selected to participate in this year’s Inaugural Ceremonies at the Massachusetts State House, as a special guest to State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen, right).

North Andover High School student Kaitlyn Parks was recently selected to participate in the Inaugural Ceremonies of the 190th General Court at the Massachusetts State House. Parks attended the festivities as a special guest of State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen).

Parks, who has interned with the Representative in the legislature, had the opportunity to join DiZoglio in the House Chamber as legislators were sworn in by Governor Charlie Baker (R-Swampscott).

“As someone who aspires to someday get involved in government, it was so exciting to be there on the floor during an official House vote and have the opportunity to meet Representatives from across the Commonwealth,” said Parks. “I even got to shake the Governor’s hand! I have learned a lot in the classroom but nothing can compare to the experience of seeing the legislature firsthand.”

“Kaitlyn’s hard work over the past three years has contributed to our community and benefitted residents in so many different ways,” said DiZoglio. “I invited Kaitlyn today so she could have a firsthand experience at what it’s like to sit in our seats and participate in the legislative process. It is so important to engage our youth in the democratic process and this was a perfect opportunity to do just that.”

Methuen Author Jay Atkinson Honored at State House

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Author Jay Atkinson was recently honored at the Massachusetts State House, in a celebration hosted by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Atkinson, who resides in Methuen, was named an Honors Awardee in Nonfiction by the organization.

Atkinson, whose latest book is Massacre on the Merrimack, has composed several novels, nonfiction books and a story collection. His book Ice Time was a Publisher’s Weekly notable book of the year in 2001 and another book, Legends of Winter Hill, made the Boston Globe bestseller list in 2005. His works have appeared in the New York Times, Men’s Health and other publications. A former college athlete, Atkinson is also head coach of the Methuen Fun Hockey League, a low-cost ice hockey program for children that also promotes youth literacy. He currently teaches journalism at Boston University.

Presenting Atkinson with his award at the State House was State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen).

Lawrence’s Solectria Renewables Recognized at State House

From left to right, State Representative and Manufacturing Caucus Chair John Fernandes (D-Milford), State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), Solectria Renewables CEO Anita Rajan Worden, Solectria Renewables COO Aybike Crott and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.

From left to right, State Representative and Manufacturing Caucus Chair John Fernandes (D-Milford), State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), Solectria Renewables CEO Anita Rajan Worden, Solectria Renewables COO Aybike Crott and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.

The Lawrence-based Solectria Renewables was recognized at the Massachusetts State House as part of the 1st Annual Manufacturing Month Award Ceremony, honoring manufacturers across the Commonwealth.

The leading U.S.-based photovoltaic (PV) inverter manufacturer, Solectria is known for developing and manufacturing string combiners and web-based monitoring components for commercial and residential projects. The company is also renowned for its automated production and advanced monitoring systems.

Solectria was nominated for this honor by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), a member of the legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus.

Baker Signs DiZoglio Veterans Legislation into Law

Veterans legislation recently signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker includes provisions, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), to exempt active duty military from the Commonwealth’s motor vehicle excise tax and find ways to improve transition services for returning vets.

Under House Bill 4285, “The HOME Act,” active duty members of the military will now be exempt from the Commonwealth’s motor vehicle excise tax while serving. The excise tax will not apply to Massachusetts residents in active and full-time military service who have been deployed or stationed outside of the Commonwealth for a period of at least 180 days.

This measure was inspired by a conversation DiZoglio had last year with a Methuen constituent, Diane Amato. Last August, Amato and her daughter Alfina, as well as Methuen City Councilor Thomas Ciulla, contacted DiZoglio regarding an issue the Amatos were facing with excise taxes. Despite the fact that Alfina was serving overseas in Afghanistan and unable to use a vehicle stateside, she was being charged with a motor vehicle excise tax.

“It can take years to pass a piece of legislation,” said DiZoglio. “I am very grateful to have been able to earn the support on the bills that I filed that were recently passed unanimously by both Democrats and Republicans. I am thankful to local advocates such as Methuen City Councilor Tom Ciulla and Diane Amato of Methuen for their passion and dedication to working together with my colleagues and I to see this through to the end.”

The legislation also creates a commission to look into ways to improve transition services for returning veterans and reduce the rate of suicide and effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. The commission will investigate and study veterans’ reintegration into civilian life and issues related to isolation and suicide.

This measure was earlier endorsed by the Gold Star Wives of America, VFW Post 8772 and Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNOC), located in Haverhill.

According to Pentagon data, war was the leading cause of death in the military nearly every year between 2004 and 2011 until suicide became the top cause of troop deaths in 2012 and 2013. A recent national study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found deployed veterans have a 41 percent higher suicide risk compared to the general U.S. population, while non-deployed veterans have a 61 percent high suicide risk. Among veterans who died serving during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars between 2001-2007, roughly a fifth were suicides.

“Currently, the rate of suicide among our returning veterans is higher than that of those killed in the line of duty,” said DiZoglio. “This is simply unacceptable. I filed this legislation to ensure additional mental health services would be provided to the men and women who risk their lives to protect us. This bill will assist in their transition back into our communities. I am grateful to Governor Baker for signing this legislation as an example of his commitment to veterans in the Commonwealth.”

Lawrence RMV to Stay Put

The Lawrence RMV branch, once proposed to be moved to a new location in Downtown Lawrence, will remain in its current location on Route 114 in South Lawrence.

A lease has not only been signed to keep the RMV branch in South Lawrence, but also expand and update the location, going from 10,500 to 13,330 square feet and incorporating new physical and technological enhancements. Improvements are expected to be finished by early next year.

The news comes on the heels of years of contentious debate on whether to move the RMV to a new location in Downtown Lawrence. In July 2014, state and local officials, without input from the public or state legislators, announced a plan to relocate the branch from its current location on Route 114 to Downtown Lawrence.

Leading the opposition to the move was State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who represents South Lawrence in the legislature and met with the then-RMV Registrar to advocate for staying in its current location. Five thousand Merrimack Valley residents had signed a petition to keep the Registry in South Lawrence.

“During my time as State Representative, countless residents from across my district have contacted me to express their concerns about the proposed move of the Lawrence RMV,” said DiZoglio. “It was my responsibility to speak up on behalf of my constituents who did not have a seat at the table in the closed-doors discussions on the proposal.”

Opponents had expressed concerns about the economic impact on businesses along Route 114 that would result from a relocation of the RMV branch, as well as regarding the perceived lack of convenience and parking at a new Downtown Lawrence location. DiZoglio requested a public hearing be held on the proposed relocation but this was denied by the RMV, citing lack of precedence for holding such a forum.

“I am thrilled that the RMV will remain in its current location, where it has been so critical to the economic vitality of nearby businesses,” said DiZoglio. “This location is easily accessible for residents across the Merrimack Valley and affords substantial parking. I look forward to seeing firsthand the improvements at the branch, which will help to make visiting the Lawrence RMV a speedier and more pleasant experience for customers. This has been a long, uphill battle. Since I have been working on the issue, there have been three different Registrars of Motor Vehicles. I am very thankful to the current Registrar and the Baker administration for not only hearing the concerns of the people I represent on this issue but also acting on it.”

North Andover Seniors Day on Beacon Hill

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State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted the North Andover Senior Center for a visit at the Massachusetts State House.

Following brunch and a historical tour of the building, DiZoglio brought the seniors into the House Chamber where they sat in the seats of legislators as the Representative discussed the legislative process.

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

House Budget Includes Additional Funding for Local Young Women’s Recovery Home

From left to right, Pegasus House residents Clara and Stephanie, The Psychological Center CEO Carina Pappalardo and State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen)

From left to right, Pegasus House residents Clara and Stephanie, The Psychological Center CEO Carina Pappalardo and State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen)

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) meets with Pegasus House residents Clara and Stephanie

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) meets with Pegasus House residents Clara and Stephanie

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has included in its Fiscal Year 2017 Budget an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), to provide $50,000 for the Pegasus House residential treatment facility in Lawrence.

The facility, operated by The Psychological Center, offers substance abuse treatment for young women between ages 18 and 25. Established in 1985, the facility offers an environment that reinforces a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle. Clients are able to pursue their GED or take college classes at local community colleagues and receive assistance in applying for and maintain a job. The average length of stay is four to six months.

The Psychological Center’s mission is to help individuals across the Merrimack Valley who are experiencing mental health issues, substance or alcohol abuse, addiction or homelessness.

“These funds will help provide critical resources to fight addiction in a time of great need,” said Carina Pappalardo, CEO of The Psychological Center. “In the past 30 days, we have had four graduations at Pegasus House. That is a very successful number. We contribute this to our strong, dedicated staff, effective program model and the ladies’ commitment to maintain a drug and alcohol free lifestyle. Beyond the six months of intensive treatment, the program is reconnecting families, creating happy memories for the ladies and saving lives. There is no better feeling. We are truly grateful for the support of Representative DiZoglio and her recognition of the need for continued services at The Psychological Center. Through education, awareness and treatment at our programs, we will continue to make a visible difference.”

“I found myself here,” said Clara, a current resident of Pegasus House. “This place gives me hope that other places didn’t. The staff here really care”

“This recovery home truly gives a hand up by educating, motivating and assisting recovering young women who require around-the-clock care,” said DiZoglio. “These young women have made a decision to live separate from their friends and family in a facility where they are able to focus solely on treatment and recovery from addiction. This funding will assist in providing the resources they need to succeed.”

On Saturday, August 13, from 8am to noon, The Psychological Center will host the Strike Out Stigma Softball Tournament to raise awareness about addiction, homelessness and mental health disorders. The tournament, in which police and fire departments from local cities and towns will compete, will be held at Burnham Road in Methuen.

DiZoglio Secures $20,000 in Funding for Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project

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The Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project (MVPASAP) was formed in 2013 to bring members of the community together, including experts on drug addiction issues and elected officials, to address substance abuse prevention, education, treatment and recovery.

MVPASAP, which now regularly holds public meetings in Methuen, was launched in response to the heroin epidemic that has ravaged the Merrimack Valley, with record-high numbers of police logs and obituaries noting fatal overdoses of the drug.

Now, the Massachusetts House of Representatives has included in its Fiscal Year 2017 Budget an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), for $20,000 in funding toward MVPASAP for resources, programs and community outreach.

“I can’t stress just how much we appreciate the work Representative DiZoglio has done for MVPASAP,” said Methuen resident Phil Lahey, co-founder of MVPASAP. “We have great volunteers who have been doing quite a bit with little to no funding and with these funds, we will be able to give these dedicated people a chance to start putting their ideas into practice, when it comes to awareness, prevention and education.”

“This funding is an absolutely beautiful thing,” said Colleen Lahey, daughter of Phil and a former heroin addict. “Heroin addiction is the most powerful and dangerous disease I have ever dealt with and any funding to go toward addressing this problem is wonderful. Thank you Representative DiZoglio for making it happen.”

“This is a community-wide issue and needs a community-wide solution,” said Anne Whalen, Methuen YMCA Executive Director and MVPASAP Youth Committee Chair. “This funding will enable MVPASAP to provide more awareness and education on substance abuse prevention, and have a greater impact in the Merrimack Valley.”

“We at MVPASAP are working hard to bring awareness and education to people across the Merrimack Valley,” said Al Ruthazer, board member of MVPASAP. “We are also trying to provide resources and information for those with substance abuse challenges and family members. Financial help is so appreciated.”

“Addressing addiction in our communities has been an overriding focus of mine during my time as State Representative,” said DiZoglio, who serves on the legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “I have had countless conversations with residents in my district and across the Merrimack Valley who have either struggled with substance abuse themselves or have friends or family who have battled addiction. I am so grateful to Phil Lahey for helping to launch this amazing group, as well as House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) for his support and leadership in helping to fight for these funds.”

DiZoglio Amendment Secures $200,000 for Local Disabled Veterans

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has included in its Fiscal Year 2017 Budget an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), for $200,000 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 has also collaborated with the Methuen Home Depot and other local private businesses to identity disabled area veterans in need of employment and hire them for Home Depot jobs.

“Representative DiZoglio has been a steadfast supporter of the veteran’s employment program, successfully advocating for funding for the past three years,” said Brad Howell, CEO of CRC. “Her commitment goes beyond funding as she has facilitated connections with local business that led to veterans and other people with disabilities becoming employed.”

“I felt lost after leaving the military,” said Anthony Reinoso, a veteran who has participated in the CRC program. “Thankfully I was introduced to Career Resources’ Employment Program for Veterans. They helped me explore my options. With their help, I now work two jobs and I could not be happier. I feel as though I am incorporating my military skills into my civilian life and I am serving my country through helping those in need. I have a sense of purpose again, I feel as though I am a solider again. I know how much the program at CRC has positively impacted my life.”

“We must continue to create public-private partnerships, like the ones CRC has successfully made with the local business community in assisting our local disabled veterans,” said DiZoglio. “I have been working together with CRC over the past few years, as they have partnered with local private businesses such as the Home Depot in Methuen, the Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Haverhill and the Greater Lowell Food Bank. Thank you to House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) and the rest of the local Merrimack Valley delegation for supporting this important amendment, which will help hundreds of disabled veterans.”

DiZoglio Declares April Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

DiZoglio with Parkinson’s Disease advocates from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth.

DiZoglio with Parkinson’s Disease advocates from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently welcomed advocates from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth to the State House for the latest meeting of the state legislature’s Parkinson’s Disease Caucus.

The caucus provides legislators an opportunity to learn more about Parkinson’s and consider legislative steps to address the neurological disease, which affects between 500,000 and 1.5 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, Rock Steady Boxing, the National Parkinson Foundation and the Massachusetts chapters of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA).

During the caucus, DiZoglio presented a resolution, co-sponsored by 47 other legislators from across the Commonwealth, proclaiming the month of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in Massachusetts.

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

“Increased research, education and community support services are needed to find more effective treatments and to provide access to quality care to those living with Parkinson’s Disease today,” said DiZoglio. “I am honored to serve as chair of this caucus and committed to continue raising awareness about the disease with citizens from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth. Thank you to North Andover’s Charles Brown, Massachusetts state director of the Parkinson’s Action Network, for his inspirational comments at this month’s meeting and for helping to organize the event.”