My time in the State Senate
I have accomplished the following

New Public-Private Partnership Will Provide Jobs to Local Disabled Veterans

Posted on November 9, 2015

 

On the heels of this coming Veterans Day, the Methuen Home Depot and Career Resources Corporation (CRC) have announced they will join in a public-private partnership to provide jobs for disabled veterans across the Merrimack Valley who are seeking employment.

CRC, which is based in Haverhill, is a nonprofit that serves communities across the Merrimack Valley. For 47 years, it has worked to empower individuals with disabilities and other barriers to be successful and self-sufficient. The organization’s partnerships with Valley Works Career Center, the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center and the City of Haverhill Veterans’ Services have provided area veterans with comprehensive support to seek and maintain employment.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who secured $125,000 in the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget toward CRC’s initiative to help disabled veterans find jobs, facilitated the recent meeting between CRC and the Methuen Home Depot that led to the partnership. The Methuen Home Depot will work with CRC to identify disabled area veterans in need of employment and potentially hire them for Home Depot jobs.

“Giving back is personal to The Home Depot,” said Carmen A. Fulchini, store manager of the Methuen Home Depot. “It is a part of our core values. More than 35,000 associates at The Home Depot have served or are currently serving in the military. Partnering with CRC allows us to give to those who have made the sacrifice for our country and also to let them be part of a productive and fun environment and to continue to have that feeling of contributing to make a difference. I want to thank Diana and the CRC for being dedicated to this and for allowing us to be a part of something that can help those in need”

“We are very excited to partner with the Methuen Home Depot to assist more veterans with disabilities in becoming employed,” said Brad Howell, chief executive officer at CRC. “Home Depot is a great example of a company that is willing to commit to making a difference in the lives of veterans. We are very appreciate of Representative DiZoglio who has supported CRC’s veteran’s program right from the beginning and continues to keep the needs of veterans foremost in her legislative and community work. ”

“As we approach Veterans Day, it is so important that we work together to address unemployment among our veterans, which remains high comparative to the overall population,” said DiZoglio. “These are men and women who have put their lives on the line for us and we need to do all we can to help them transition back into the community. I am grateful to CRC and the Methuen Home Depot for their commitment to joining forces in helping to put our unemployed disabled veterans back to work.”

DiZoglio Launches Parkinson’s Disease Caucus at State House

Posted on November 5, 2015

 

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted a kick-off of the Massachusetts Legislature Parkinson’s Disease Caucus at the State House on Wednesday, November 4.

The purpose of the caucus, which will meet again in the spring, is to provide legislators an opportunity to come together with experts and advocates 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. The exact cause of the disease remains unknown.

Co-hosting the Caucus kick-off were the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Massachusetts chapters of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA). Among those in attendance for the caucus were the Offices of State Senators Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport) and Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover).

This past April, DiZoglio hosted Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day at the State House and sponsored a resolution, co-sponsored by 50 other legislators, proclaiming the month of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in the Commonwealth.

“Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic and progressive neurological disease without a treatment to slow or halt its progression,” said DiZoglio. “I was honored to host the kick-off of the Parkinson’s Disease Caucus and look forward 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 the kick-off and for helping to launch the Caucus.”

“Representative DiZoglio has been a true friend to the Parkinson’s community here in Massachusetts,” said Charles Brown, Massachusetts state director of the Parkinson’s Action Network. “This caucus gives the Parkinson’s community a tool to communicate needed services to improve the quality of life for us, our caregivers, and family and friends. I don’t know where my future journey will lead me, but it’s full of hope that there will be a cure.”

House Passes Funding to Move Women Addicts Out of Prison, into Treatment Beds

Posted on November 2, 2015

 

Included in the Massachusetts House of Representatives’ FY16 supplemental budget, passed on October 28, was $5.8 million toward moving women, civilly committed under Section 35, out of the Massachusetts Correctional Institution (MCI) in Framingham and into a hospital facility for treatment.

Under Section 35 of the Commonwealth’s General Laws, persons battling substance abuse may be involuntarily committed at the request of a family member, doctor, guardian or police officer if they are deemed a risk to themselves or others. They are ordered by the court to undergo detox and treatment at a licensed facility.

Given the lack of treatment beds, however, women committed under Section 35 are often sent to MCI-Framingham, the only prison for women in the Commonwealth. Men are sent to the prison in Bridgewater but, unlike women at Framingham, receive treatment under medical supervision. Women at Framingham are strip-searched, given prison uniforms and housed with pretrial detainees.

At the very beginning of this year, in January, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) filed legislation to move Section 35 patients out of houses of correction and into hospitals. That legislation, House Bill 1790, An Act relative to safe in-patient alcoholism or substance abuse treatment, had its public hearing before the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in September.

“Addicts deemed a danger to themselves or others need counseling and treatment, but the Section 35 law needs to be updated,” said DiZoglio. “That is why this past January, I filed legislation to move addicts committed under Section 35 out of prisons and into hospitals.”

On account of the increase in opiate addiction, Section 35 commitments have been rising dramatically in the Commonwealth. According to the Massachusetts Department of Health, there has been a 67 percent increase in Section 35 commitments since 2006.

“When there are no treatment beds at licensed facilities remaining, women committed under this statute have received unsatisfactory treatment while suffering the trauma of imprisonment,” said DiZoglio. “We must provide these women with comprehensive treatment, not jail time.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Baker also filed legislation to prohibit women from being civilly committed at Framingham.

“I am grateful to Governor Baker for his prioritizing of this issue as his administration addresses the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic and also want to thank House Ways and Means Chairman Brian S. Dempsey for his leadership in ensuring these critical funds were included in the House supplemental budget,” said DiZoglio.

 

DiZoglio Bill Would Prohibit OxyContin Prescriptions for Children

Posted on September 16, 2015

 

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has filed legislation in the Massachusetts House of Representatives prohibiting the prescription of OxyContin to children under age 17.

DiZoglio’s bill comes in response to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s August 13 approval of OxyContin for children as young as 11. OxyContin is an extended-release version of the painkiller oxycodone and has become known in recent years for its frequent abuse.

DiZoglio’s bill, An act regulating OxyContin prescriptions for children, states that “no practitioner, registered nurse or licensed practical nurse authorized to administer, utilize, dispense or prescribe a controlled substance in the commonwealth shall prescribe any medication or prescription containing oxycontin to any person under the age of 17.”

“OxyContin is manufactured by Purdue Pharma, a drug company which came under fire in 2007 after three of its top executives pled guilty to misleading doctors and the public about OxyContin’s risk of addiction,” said DiZoglio, who serves on the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in the legislature. “Recently, the FDA decided to ask that very same company to conduct its own studies on whether or not they deemed this highly addictive substance safe for young children. When I heard of this, I was outraged. We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic. This is no time to expand access to opioids, least of all to young, vulnerable children.”

On September 9, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators, including Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), penned a letter to the U.S. Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee calling for an investigation into the FDA’s decision to approve OxyContin, as well as an examination of the rise in opioid abuse and overdose deaths. Their letter notes the FDA decision was made without the advice of an independent advisory committee, which is required by FDA regulations on approving drugs.

The Senators wrote in their letter, “Today, there are 2.1 million Americans abusing or dependent on opioids. In addition, 44 people die every day as a result of a prescription opioid overdose. Abuse of opioid painkillers is also linked to abuse of heroin, increased hepatitis C infection rates, increase in HIV transmission and a host of other negative public health outcomes. As we work to stop this crisis, the FDA’s decision to approve the use of OxyContin in pediatric patients is a step in the wrong direction, as it may lead to an increase in inappropriate prescribing and use among a population that are already at a higher risk for developing dependency and addiction. ”

A study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that in 2014, nearly 1 in 30 high school seniors had abused OxyContin. In 2009, the Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission found that in 2007 alone there were 4,544 substance abuse treatment admissions in Massachusetts for persons age 15 to 19. The commission noted the second most-common source for obtaining prescription opioids was through a physician.

“Each day, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2,500 youth in the United States abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time,” said DiZoglio. “The number of opioids prescribed to adolescents and young adults nearly doubled between 1994 and 2007. We in the Commonwealth have a duty to our children to regulate the distribution of an opioid like OxyContin to these vulnerable citizens”

In addition to this bill, DiZoglio earlier this year filed legislation to develop a model curriculum designed for the purpose of substance abuse and addiction prevention to be incorporated in the Commonwealth’s health curriculum in grades 4 to 12. The Representative also recently secured $25,000 toward the Lawrence-Methuen Community Coalition’s Merrimack Valley Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative.

 

DiZoglio to File Bill Exempting Active Duty Military from Excise Tax

Posted on August 6, 2015

 

Under new legislation to be filed by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), active duty members of the military would be exempted from motor vehicle excise taxes while serving.
 

Presently in the Commonwealth, disabled veterans and former prisoners of war have the opportunity to apply for a motor vehicle excise tax exemption. This does not, however, apply to all active duty members during their service. DiZoglio’s legislation comes on the heels of Methuen City Councilor Thomas Ciulla’s introduction of a city measure exempting active duty members from the excise tax. Ciulla’s proposal passed unanimously.

Ciulla was inspired to address this issue by a constituent, Diane Amato, who reached out to him about the challenges she and her daughter Alfina, who is serving in Afghanistan, have faced with excise taxes. Even though Alfina is abroad serving the country and unable to use a vehicle stateside, she is charged with a motor vehicle excise tax.

This is not the first bill DiZoglio filed this year in regard to the motor vehicle excise tax. Another sponsored bill, House Bill 2484, An Act relative to motor vehicle excises taxes, is designed to simply the excise tax process and prevent multiple excise charges.

“In recent years, through the passage of such legislation as the Valor Act, we have made great strides in the Legislature in improving services to our courageous veterans,” said DiZoglio. “We have for years provided disabled veterans and former prisoners of war with the ability to be exempted from motor vehicle excise taxes and I feel strongly that this opportunity should be expanded to all active duty military members during their service. I want to thank Councilor Ciulla for his tireless work in bringing this issue to the forefront.”

“We need to make the excise tax process easier for our veterans, who all too often are penalized while giving the ultimate sacrifice serving our nation,” said Ciulla. “It’s about time we protect our citizens who serve to protect us.”

DiZoglio Secures Additional Funding for Merrimack Valley Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative

Posted on August 4, 2015

 

Included in this year’s Fiscal Year 2016 State Budget is an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), for $25,000 toward the Lawrence-Methuen Community Coalition (LMCC)’s recently formed Merrimack Valley Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative.

The LMCC is a resident-based coalition focused on the prevention of substance abuse, child abuse and domestic violence through the establishment of neighborhood associations and community networks.

Through a $100,000 grant awarded earlier this year by the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health, the coalition was able to compose an opioid data report on communities in North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence, Haverhill and Andover; a report the coalition recently released in conjunction with the official launch of its Merrimack Valley Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative, which will work to research the factors that contribute to local opioid abuse and find ways to improve and promote substance abuse education and prevention.

DiZoglio’s budget amendment will go toward resources and community outreach for the Collaborative. The funding was initially vetoed by Gov. Charlie Baker but restored by the Legislature for the final FY16 Budget.

“The fight against drug addiction in our communities has been one of the issues I have been most focused on in my time as State Representative,” said DiZoglio, who serves on the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “I have had so many conversations with residents in my district and across the Merrimack Valley who have dealt with substance abuse themselves or have friends or family who struggled with drug addiction. This funding will help specifically with youth outreach, prevention and education in our community.”

“Heroin use, addiction and the death tolls are tragic and rising and more primary prevention and overdose prevention education are necessary,” said LMCC Substance Abuse Prevention Director Delilah Rivera. “Many heroin users report having first abused prescription drugs before turning to heroin. Through this additional effort provided by State Representative Diana DiZoglio, we will be able to do more outreach and provide more education to our youth and community.”

“The additional funding secured by the Legislature and Rep. DiZoglio, is a great additional resource for the area,” said LMCC Director Harold Magoon. “As we continue in developing our capacity in preventing the use of opioids and overdoses in the Merrimack Valley, these resources will allow us to expand our prevention-based programming for youth and community education and engagement.”

 
 

DiZoglio Files Bill in Response to North Andover Triple-Homicide

Posted on July 30, 2015

 

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

Posted on July 27, 2015

 

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

Posted on June 24, 2015

 

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

Posted on June 24, 2015

 

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

Posted on June 16, 2015

 

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

Posted on June 9, 2015

 

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

Posted on June 2, 2015

 

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

Posted on May 26, 2015

 

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

Posted on May 7, 2015

 

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

Posted on April 29, 2015

 

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.”

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day Celebrated at State House

Posted on April 24, 2015

 

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day at the State House on Friday, April 24.

Joining DiZoglio were Parkinson’s Disease advocates from across the Commonwealth, including members of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and a representative from Rock Steady Boxing, a Lawrence-based fitness center that works to improve quality of life for persons battling Parkinson’s through non-contact, boxing-inspired training.

DiZoglio recently sponsored a resolution, co-sponsored by 50 other legislators from across the Commonwealth, proclaiming the month of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in Massachusetts. Among the co-sponsors were State Representatives Marcos A. Devers (D-Lawrence), Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence) and Leonard Mirra (R-West Newbury).

The Representative presented the resolution to North Andover resident Charles Brown, Massachusetts Assistant State Director for PAN.

“Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disease, with no treatment to slow or halt its progression, that affects between 500,000 and 1.5 million Americans and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States,” said DiZoglio, who represents communities in North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill. “I was honored to host this important event and join with citizens from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth in raising awareness about the disease. North Andover resident Charles Brown lives with Parkinson’s and I want to thank him for his inspirational comments and for joining with us in hosting this Awareness Day.”

 

Diana Hosts St. Paddy’s Luncheon for North Andover Seniors

Posted on March 17, 2015

 

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted a St. Paddy’s Day luncheon at the North Andover Senior Center to celebrate the holiday and bring members of the senior community together.

The event, which drew an attendance of 85 seniors, was catered by Borelli’s Italian Deli in Methuen and featured a traditional corned beef and cabbage lunch.

“I was so delighted to host a St. Paddy’s Day luncheon for a second consecutive year for the amazing North Andover seniors,” said Diana, who represents portions of North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill in the Legislature. “The food was incredible and it was a pleasure catching up with friends and meeting some new faces too. Social events like these are so important to keep our seniors engaged and active and I look forward to hosting more events like these in coordination with the Senior Center in the future.”

Diana Celebrates Read Across America Day with Kittredge, Timony Grammar Schools

Posted on March 5, 2015

 

Diana joined North Andover’s Kittredge School and Methuen’s Timony Grammar School in celebration of Read Across America Day on March 5.

Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), promotes literacy across grades and celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

“I was delighted to read to the amazing students at Kittredge and Timony in honor of Read Across America Day,” said Diana. “Occasions like these are immensely important in working to ensure our youth strongly grasp reading skills and concepts in their education.”

 

My Own Voice Choir Performs at State House

Posted on February 23, 2015

 

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted My Own Voice Choir for a concert at the Massachusetts State House on Friday, February 20.

My Own Voice Choir, a part of the Treble Chorus New England, was founded in 2012 to provide choral opportunities to children and young adults with special needs. Performers from other choirs provide mentoring support at rehearsals for My Own Voice participants. Performers in the choir hail from Methuen, Haverhill, North Andover, Andover, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Peabody and Middleton.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to host My Own Voice for this performance at the State House,” said DiZoglio, who represents portions of North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill in the Legislature. “It was a moving and powerful concert and a reminder that, provided the opportunity, all young people have great talents to showcase.”

“We were delighted to be able to perform on the Grand Staircase for a second year,” said Bernadette Lionetta, founder of My Own Voice. “Providing opportunities like this for our choir reinforces all our abilities and talents. My Own Voice’s mission is to provide as many opportunities as we can for our choristers and we are thrilled that State Representative Diana DiZoglio has helped us with this effort.”

 

Following the performance, DiZoglio invited the choir members to sit in the House Chamber, where the Representative spoke about the legislative process and how citizens can be actively involved in it.

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Diana Sworn-in for Second Term in State House

Posted on January 7, 2015

 

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has been officially sworn-in to serve a second term representing the 14th Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Diana represents portions of North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill in the Legislature.
 

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to continue serving the amazing residents of the 14th Essex District,” said Diana. “My constituents have placed their trust in me and I will continue to work hard to make them proud. With the start of the new legislative session, I am eager to continue working on issues critical to the Merrimack Valley, among them education and economic development and jobs. I am committed to fighting for sufficient funding for public schools and public safety, as well as focusing on substance abuse issues and education.”

 
 

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