Star Sprinter Honored for Successful Sophomore Year at Central Catholic

Katharine Duren

Katharine Duren, a sophomore hurdler on the Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field teams at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, was recently recognized by the Massachusetts State Senate for her stunning successes over the last two years.

A Haverhill resident, Duren won the Merrimack Valley Conference championship in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.57 seconds on Saturday, May 18, breaking the meet and school records.

This winter, Duren won the Division II indoor state championship in the 55-meter hurdles, setting a regional and school record of 8.35 seconds on February 15, a week after she broke the previous school record at the Merrimack Valley Conference indoor championship with a time of 8.43 seconds en route to receiving All-Conference honors.

“Katharine is one of the brightest athletic stars in the Merrimack Valley,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who invited Duren to the State House for a celebration in her honor. “Her impressive dedication has served her and her fellow Raiders well and it is my hope that she continues her success collegiately at the highest level in the coming years.”

Asked of how she felt earning a standing ovation in the Senate Chamber after receiving an official citation in honor of her accomplishments, Duren said it was a great experience to be there with her parents David and Khristine, her sister Janessa and her grandfather, David Sr.

“It was an honor to be there today, representing my school,” said Duren. “It was really fun and I especially enjoyed being there with my family. They’re my biggest supporters.”

DiZoglio Pushes for Campaign Finance Reform on Beacon Hill

Among the legislation filed in this session by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) is a bill to increase transparency in the Commonwealth’s public elections.

Senate Bill 399, An Act enhancing disclosure of campaign finance activity by expanding the depository reporting system to include legislative candidates, requires legislative candidates in Massachusetts participate in a depository reporting system.

The benefit is designed to be twofold – the legislation allows for any disparity to be identified by the Commonwealth’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) early on so that candidates can review records more immediately to clear the issue and it allows for more transparency in government.

Common problems encountered with the current non-depository system include missed deposits, data entry errors, balance issues and uncashed checks – issues that would be remedied through a depository system. Where non-depository reports are filed merely two or three times per year, depository reports are filed twice monthly by the candidate’s bank, an independent third party.

Recently, DiZoglio testified before a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Election Laws in favor of the legislation.

“Virtually all candidates, including statewide officers, county officers, Governor’s Council, mayors and councilors in cities over a population of 65,000, participate in this depository reporting system today – except for legislative candidates,” said DiZoglio. “This bill enhances government transparency, assuring the public that the information they review on the OCPF website is accurate, and makes it easier for OCPF to do its job by having the ability to promptly address campaign finance reporting issues. In the event of a problem that needs to be addressed, a notification would come quickly, as opposed to several months down the line.”

“Expanding the depository system to include more candidates makes good sense,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “It will increase the accuracy and completeness of campaign finance information and that is a win for voters and candidates alike.”

“Many legislative candidates have contacted OCPF over the years to self-report that their balances do not reconcile to their actual bank balances, usually due to errors that have snowballed over several years,” said Michael J. Sullivan, director of OCPF, in testimony delivered to the committee. “Some of these issues include errors when entering credit card contributions, bounced checks, not entering all expenditures that clear the account, previously reported expenditures that never clear the account, and not accurately carrying the ending balance from the last report as the beginning balance for the next report. Most of this won’t happen if legislative candidates are in the depository system. If this bill passes, OCPF looks forward to working closely with all House and Senate candidates to transition from the non-depository system to the depository system.”

Newburyport Manufacturer Receives Workforce Training Grant

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has awarded a $48,000 grant through its Workforce Training Fund Program to MacDiarmid Machine.

The Executive Office anticipates the grant, which will be used to train 13 employees, will also help MacDiarmid add five new jobs by next year at its 6,000-square foot facility at 7 Perry Way.

For more than 30 years, MacDiarmid has provided precision state-of-the-art machining and assembling components from prototype through production for critical applications in a variety of metals and plastics for markets, including commercial and military robotics, alternative energy, medical, and biotech.

“Continued state investment through programs like the Workforce Training Fund help Merrimack Valley businesses like MacDiarmid prosper and grow, enhancing the economy of our region by putting people to work and giving them the tools to advance in their careers,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen.

Funded by Massachusetts employers via contributions made to unemployment insurance, the Workforce Training Fund helps companies improve productivity and competitiveness by providing resources to invest in the Massachusetts workforce.

In 2018, 926 Massachusetts employers were approved for more than $21 million in WTFP grants, which were used to train 15,278 workers statewide. In FY2018, companies that completed grants added jobs at an almost 12 percent rate, more than three times the state average.

DiZoglio Hosts Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day

Park 2019 6

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.”