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DiZoglio, MVPC Announce Scope of Work for Merrimack River District Commission

Posted on December 18, 2019

 

State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission have announced the finalization of a scope of work for the Merrimack River District Commission (MRDC).

The MRDC, which will be funded through monies secured by DiZoglio through the Fiscal Year 2020 State Budget, is an inclusive commission of local stakeholders — from sewage management professionals to environmentalists to elected officials — as well as representatives from state agencies, charged with assessing the current health of the Merrimack River and mapping out strategies to ensure the health and safety of the Merrimack moving forward.

 

The Commission’s scope of work, prepared by the Andover-based environmental engineering and consulting firm Brown and Caldwell, outlines the development of a framework for decision-making and funding priorities associated with the MRDC, including a unified vision and statement of regional goals. The framework will consolidate the pertinent information, encourage communication and support regional objectives for stakeholders along the Merrimack.

 

While there have been studies of the Merrimack River in recent decades, including reports from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, there is sentiment among stakeholders that such data is difficult to access, focused on very specific issues and not helpful toward making informed decisions regarding future improvements to the river.

 

“This scope of work is essential to moving the commission forward, as we bring together experts from all along the Merrimack to address issues around pollution, including discharge from combined sewer overflows (CSOs),” said DiZoglio. “The group has already met a couple of times to hear from experts and discuss strategy. Due to a lag time in receiving funds that were appropriated to them during the budget process, however, it has lacked the structure needed to ensure results are produced from those discussions. Now that the funds have been allocated, they can get into the meat and potatoes of strategic planning. This is a hugely important step needed to set both short and long-term goals for keeping our river clean, healthy, safe and beautiful.”

 

Included in the scope of work are six specific tasks toward establishing the MRDC framework, with an estimated completion of four to six months in total:

 

• A needs assessment, compiling all relevant studies on the Merrimack River from the past two decades and identifying any data gaps, data quality inconsistences and objectives not addressed, among other issues. At this stage, all regulatory requirements for communities and utilities along the river will also be compiled.

 

• The establishment of guidelines for a consolidated data clearinghouse for the Merrimack River, with data types including river uses, water quality data and pollution source data, among others. Guidelines will also be established for a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), a document designed to govern the field, laboratory and procedures for ongoing and future data collection.

 

• The formation of a steering committee and technical advisory group to help ensure the right data is being developed and applied to support regional decisions and to help prioritize and advocate for funding based on identified needs. Pertinent stakeholders, including environmental groups, elected officials, public health officials and other experts will have roles in these groups.

 

• The facilitating of workshops to help craft the framework, articulating consensus goals for the Merrimack River and determining the roles and responsibilities of participating stakeholders moving forward.

 

• Developing the framework with four principal goals in mind: consistent integration of regional priorities, unified advocacy for funding and research, data-driven decisions, and a focus on uses of the Merrimack River.

 

• The presentation of the framework.

“A clean, healthy Merrimack River is vital to me both professionally and personally,” said Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College. “Nearly 700,000 people live in the cities and towns along its banks in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including more than 25,000 NECC alumni, all contributing to the region’s workforce and economy – and I’m a recreational kayaker who enjoys paddling along the beautiful river shoreline. I appreciate Senator DiZoglio’s championing of this effort, and am excited about the work of this commission, bringing together partners in both states to look at the best scientific research available and create strategies to clean up and preserve this incredible natural resource for future generations.”

 

“The Merrimack River is integral to the regional economy and overall welfare of many of our Merrimack Valley communities, including providing drinking water for the cities of Methuen and Lawrence,” said Jennifer Hughes, environmental program manager at the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. “MVPC looks forward to assisting Senator DiZoglio and the District Commission in their efforts to make informed decisions on the best investments to sustain the Merrimack’s economic and environmental health.”

 

“The Merrimack River has long been a reliable resource in New England, providing power, drinking water, wastewater assimilation, recreational opportunities, warm and cold water aquatic habitat, shell-fishing, and aesthetic beauty to our region,” said Kirk Westphal, water resources leader at Brown and Caldwell. “In recent decades, it has been the stage for economic revitalization of the communities that line its shores. Many studies have been undertaken to better understand specific aspects of the river, but until now the information has been decentralized, and priorities for the basin have not always been regionally coordinated. The work that Senator DiZoglio and the Commission have enabled will aim to provide a unifying framework for knowing and caring for the river and the communities it serves.”

 

As the MRDC moves forward, it will be alongside another project of DiZoglio’s and the MVPC’s regarding a pilot program, funded through $100,000 secured by the senator in the FY20 Budget, to notify swimmers and boaters of CSOs in the Merrimack. The program will utilize physical and virtual means to notify residents of potential CSO concerns, in the form of flagging and through a mobile app and website alerts.

 

DiZoglio Welcomes Salisbury Girl Scouts to the State House

Posted on November 14, 2019

 

State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted Salisbury’s Brownie Troop 72433 for a visit to the Massachusetts State House.

 

State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted Salisbury’s Brownie Troop 72433 for a visit to the Massachusetts State House.

 

The troop had the opportunity to tour the State House and meet with the Senator, as well as State Representative Jim Kelcourse (R-Amesbury). DiZoglio brought the scouts into the Senate Chamber, where they sat in the seats of legislators, as the Senator explained how ideas become laws. The troop then engaged in a debate, moderated by DiZoglio, over a piece of legislation.

 

“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,” said DiZoglio. “The girls were given the chance to experience what a day in the life of a legislator looks like and engaged in a discussion on a real-life bill that impacts citizens of the Merrimack Valley. We had a blast!”

 

DiZoglio Bill Would Hold Gas Companies Accountable

Posted on November 12, 2019

 

In response to last year’s devastating gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley, which destroyed homes and buildings in communities across North Andover, Lawrence and Andover, State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has sponsored legislation designed to both hold gas companies accountable and prevent future incidents.

 

Senate Bill 1952, An Act relative to gas leaks and infrastructure, increases the reporting requirements of gas companies when they learn of gas leaks to local fire and law enforcement agencies and to make information about gas leaks public, both on the gas company’s and the Department of Public Utilities’ (DPU) websites.

 

The legislation, which was recently heard before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, mandates that all three entities – the gas company, local law enforcement and the local fire department – record the location of the leak and any mitigation done to resolve the issue. The bill also requires that gas companies remain responsible for any significant project on a public way and authorizes financial penalties for failure to comply with any provision.

 

Furthermore, the legislation requires an annual review by DPU pertaining to certified pipeline inspectors to ensure that an adequate number of certified inspectors are engaged in pipeline inspection across the Commonwealth.

 

“Last fall’s Columbia Gas explosions turned my constituents’ lives upside down, as restoration of service not only proved slow but communication to those affected was unreliable,” said DiZoglio. “With lackluster assistance from Columbia, residents turned to social media for help and called daily for assistance from my office as they went from adjuster to adjuster getting less than they were promised – and far less than they deserved. As those impacted continue to recover more than one year since the explosions, and much more recently since the September gas leak in the City of Lawrence, this bill will provide key tools in our efforts to avert future disasters and ensure gas companies are held responsible for their actions.”

 

In addition to this legislation, DiZoglio is also the sponsor of Senate Bill 1953, An Act creating a Department of Utilities Disaster Relief Fund, and Senate Bill 1954, An Act relative to transparency, accountability, and fairness impacting utility rates, which together create a gas disaster relief fund to help ensure ratepayers don’t bear the brunt of costs associated with such an event.

 

Senate Passes DiZoglio Campaign Finance Reform Bill

Posted on November 7, 2019

 

The Massachusetts State Senate has passed legislation sponsored by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) to increase transparency and accountability in the Commonwealth’s public elections.

Up to this point, the legislature and some mayoral candidates have been exempt from the law that requires statewide, county and many other municipal candidates use the depository reporting system.

 

The bill, An Act relative to campaign finance, seeks to remedy this disparity by requiring all legislative and mayoral candidates in Massachusetts begin participating in the system.

The legislation assists the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) to identify, early on, discrepancies between a candidate’s public disclosure of campaign finance activity and their bank accounting records.

 

The depository reporting system increases accountability by requiring the candidate or committee file a report that discloses all campaign finance activity, once a month, alongside their financial institution. Since depository finance reports are filed 12 times per year under this bill, transparency in campaign finance activity is significantly increased when compared with the current, outdated campaign finance requirements for legislative and certain mayoral candidates. Reports under the non-depository system are filed only two or three times a year.

 

This legislation will assist OCPF to more promptly address issues associated with data entry errors, missed deposits, balance issues and uncashed checks. The change will also make it easier to see how much money a candidate is raising and spending during the course of the entire election cycle.

“Nearly all candidates, including statewide officers, county officers, Governor’s Council, mayors and councilors in cities over a population of 65,000, have participated in this depository reporting system – with the exception of some mayoral and all legislative candidates,” said DiZoglio. “This landmark legislation enhances transparency and accountability in our campaign finance law by requiring that bank statements are sent to OCPF and that we disclose our sources of campaign contributions and expenditures much more often for the public to see.”

 
 

Methuen’s New England Die Cutting Recognized at State House

Posted on October 22, 2019

 

David and Kimberly Abare, vice president and president of Methuen’s New England Die Cutting

The Methuen-based New England Die Cutting was recently recognized at the Massachusetts State House as part of the 4th Annual Manufacturing Month Award Ceremony, honoring manufacturers across the Commonwealth.

 

For the past 30 years, New England Die Cutting has offered solutions through die-cutting, laser-cutting, molding, fabrication/assembly, and waterjet cutting. The company has evolved from a garage with a few manual die-cutting machines to a 70,000 square foot facility facilitating solutions through high quality products such as EMI/RFI absorbers, insulators, thermal pads, tapes, gaskets, and epoxy preforms.

 

New England Die Cutting is an SBA, woman-owned business that employs over 55 people. The company was nominated for the Manufacturing Day honor by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), a member of the legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus.

 

“Local manufacturers like New England Die Cutting are the backbone of our economy, in the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth, and essential to ensuring job creation and growth,” said DiZoglio. “I was honored to nominate this great company, an exceptional example of American ingenuity that provides jobs across a wide spectrum of the Massachusetts workforce, for this recognition.”

 
 

DiZoglio Fighting to Reinstate Merrimack River District Commission

Posted on July 26, 2019

 

In the Fiscal Year 2020 Senate Budget, State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) passed legislation to create a Merrimack River District Commission, an inclusive commission of local stakeholders — from sewage management professionals to environmentalists to elected officials — as well as representatives from state agencies, to assess the current health of the Merrimack and to map out strategies to ensure the health and safety of the river going forward.

 

Though unanimously passed by the Senate, language to establish the Commission was eliminated after budget negotiations began with the House on the final Conference Committee Report – despite the inclusion in the final report of $50,000 to fund it.

 

Now, DiZoglio, alongside fellow senators from the Merrimack Valley, is fighting to have the Commission reinstated. She, alongside State Senators Edward J. Kennedy (D-Lowell), Barry R. Finegold (D-Andover), Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester) and James B. Eldridge (D-Acton), penned a joint letter to State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, requesting that the legislation be moved to the Senate floor for consideration as soon as possible.

 

“This commission has been a priority of mine since the start of this legislative session, as I work to bring together stakeholders from all along the Merrimack to address issues around pollution, including discharge from combined sewer overflows (CSOs),” said DiZoglio. “We have never convened a diverse group of experts from various sectors to work together, agree on the basic facts, and advise the legislature on how to proceed to restore our beloved river so that it may be here for future generations to explore and enjoy.”

 

In June, DiZoglio, alongside the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, hosted a kick-off of the Merrimack River District Commission that was attended by more than 50 local stakeholders, environmentalists and experts, including the Army Corps of Engineers.

 

“While this group will be funded, it is imperative that the Commission be established at the state level, as this will formalize the process, requiring that a report be delivered back to the legislature on the Commission’s findings regarding the health of the Merrimack,” said DiZoglio. “This report will help our region identify both short- and long-term solutions.”

 

“Recent reports have illustrated in stark terms that combined sewer overflows caused by outdated infrastructure pose a pervasive and reoccurring threat to the health of the Merrimack River,” said Kennedy. “The establishment of a Merrimack River District Commission would bring together stakeholders in communities that the river flows through to determine solutions to this issue and to preserve this vital natural resource into the future.”

 

“I applaud Senator DiZoglio for making the Commission a top priority, and I share her desire to see it reinstated,” said Finegold. “Since taking office in January, I’ve heard from dozens of constituents who are concerned about the river’s health and the impact it has on our community. We need the Commission so that we can bring all the organizations, advocates, and experts together and make the best decisions for the Merrimack River in the years to come.”

 

“The discharge of pollution is a serious concern made even more so when it is dumped directly into one of New England’s largest public drinking water sources – the Merrimack,” said Tarr. “This commission could bring key stakeholders and resources together to effectively mitigate the impacts from exposure to contaminants, and improve our economy and quality of life.”

 

While the establishment of the Commission was not included in the final Conference Committee Report, the final budget did include an amendment sponsored by DiZoglio for $100,000 toward a pilot program to notify swimmers and boaters of CSOs in the Merrimack. The program will utilize physical and virtual means to notify residents of potential CSO concerns, in the form of flagging and through a mobile app and website alerts.

 
 

DiZoglio Secures Funding for Merrimack River District Commission, CSO Pre-Notification

Posted on May 30, 2019

State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has secured through the FY20 Senate Budget funding toward several initiatives around addressing the health of the Merrimack River.

Among the amendments adopted into the budget are two pertaining to a Merrimack River District Commission – one amendment toward its creation and a second amendment of $50,000 funding the commission.

This commission will ultimately bring together a variety of stakeholders along the river — from environmentalists to elected officials — to address issues around pollution, including discharge from combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The commission will advise on next steps, developing a plan to clean and maintain the river moving forward.

“The Merrimack River is one of the single biggest economic and cultural drivers of our region,” said DiZoglio. “By creating and funding this commission, we are working to preserve this natural treasure that has given so much to our state — and to ensure that it remains a clean, safe piece of our region for generations to come.”

Additionally, DiZoglio secured $100,000 toward a pilot program to create and implement a pre-notification alert system for CSOs in the Merrimack River. The program will utilize physical and virtual means to notify residents of potential CSO concerns, in the form of flagging and through a mobile app and website alerts.

“We live along a river that has a long, proud industrial history, but many of the cities that line the Merrimack have an aging water infrastructure that puts the river at risk of combined sewer overflow,” said DiZoglio. “This funding will greatly help in the development of a flagging system that will inform the public of potential hazards and ensure they are able to enjoy what the Merrimack has to offer without fear of illness from pollution.”

“The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is excited to serve as the host of the Merrimack River District Commission, as it is squarely within our mission to facilitate this important conversation regarding the current and future health of our region’s most important natural resource, the Merrimack River,” said Karen Sawyer Conard, executive director of the MVPC. “We look forward to coordinating the effort of the District Commission and its key stakeholders moving forward.”

“I believe that the river communities in the Merrimack Valley have come together to strongly support these initiatives,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday. “While we work to address the infrastructure needs in our cities, it is so important that we notify swimmers and boaters using the river of CSOs.”

Star Sprinter Honored for Successful Sophomore Year at Central Catholic

Posted on May 21, 2019

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

Posted on May 16, 2019

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

Posted on April 26, 2019

 

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

Posted on April 11, 2019

 

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

Posted on March 30, 2019

 

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

Posted on March 6, 2019

 

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

Posted on March 4, 2019

 

State 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

Posted on February 14, 2019

 

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

Posted on February 13, 2019

 

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

Posted on February 4, 2019

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Haverhill Farms Receive Over $86,000 Through ACRE Grant

Posted on January 29, 2019

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Newburyport Park to Receive $100K Investment from State

Posted on January 16, 2019

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Financial Literacy Bill Signed into Law

Posted on January 16, 2019

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DiZoglio Sworn in as State Senator for the 1st Essex District

Posted on January 3, 2019

 

Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has officially been sworn in as the new State Senator for the 1st Essex District.

 

DiZoglio is among the five newly elected members of the State Senate and the only freshman senator to move from the House of Representatives, where she served three terms representing residents in Methuen, North Andover, Haverhill and Lawrence in the 14th Essex District.

She succeeds Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, who served the 1st Essex District for three terms as State Senator.

 

In addition to Haverhill, Methuen, Newburyport and four wards in North Andover, DiZoglio will represent the towns of Amesbury, Merrimac and Salisbury in the 1st Essex.

 

Following her swearing in, the Merrimack Valley’s newest state senator said she is ready to hit the ground running on the issues of critical importance for her constituents.

 

“I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to continue serving the residents of the Merrimack Valley. I can’t wait to get straight to work for the people in our community,” said DiZoglio. “Thank you to everyone who put their faith in me to represent you on Beacon Hill. I will work hard to take our collective work to the next level as your state senator.”

Jackie Marte Named 2019 Unsung Heroine

Posted on June 20, 2019

 

Jackie Marte has been named one of 2019’s “Unsung Heroines” by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, in honor of her non-profit work across the Merrimack Valley.

Marte was recently honored at a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House, recognizing extraordinary women from across the Commonwealth. She was nominated for the recognition by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen).

“As co-founder of the non-profit Suenos Basketball, Jackie has helped countless children in the Merrimack Valley develop the skills needed to succeed both in and out of the classroom,” said DiZoglio. “Moreover, as a member of the Merrimack Valley Project, a group of regional faith, labor and community leaders, Jackie has done extraordinary work taking action on economic and social justice issues and been dedicated to helping those battling addiction in this opioid epidemic.”

“It is a blessing and honor to be nominated as an Unsung Heroine by Senator DiZoglio,” said Marte. “She is a tireless leader and advocate for her community.”

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