AROUND THE VALLEY
NECC Announces Commencement and Reopening Plans for 2021
The Northern Essex Community College (NECC) 2021 commencement ceremony will feature five small in-person, socially distanced graduation ceremonies organized by academic area.
Each ceremony will be held outside on the Haverhill Campus on Saturday, May 15, starting with the first ceremony at 9 a.m. A student speaker from each of the areas — STEM, professional studies, health, liberal arts, and business — will be selected by the academic centers to speak and President Lane Glenn will present the diplomas. All graduates will be seated 6-feet apart and policies regarding guests will be announced closer to the date, when the guidelines regarding outside events become more clear.
Because last year’s ceremony was virtual, 2020 graduates have been invited to participate.
HC Media will be livestreaming all of the ceremonies so family and friends can watch from anywhere. The college also plans to hand out yard signs. Visit the college’s commencement website for up-to-date information.
NECC also announced plans to expand its course options this fall, offering more opportunities for virtual and on-campus facetime between students and their professors.
UML to Return to Full On-Campus Operations
UMass Lowell (UML) plans to return to full on-campus operations for the fall 2021 semester, the university announced today.
“With vaccinations accelerating nationwide and multiple semesters of COVID-19 lessons learned and effectively implemented behind us, we believe we will be able to create a safe, social and interpersonal living and learning experience for all our students on campus,” Provost Joseph Hartman said. “This spring we’ve already increased our on-campus populations in classrooms and our residence halls. We’ve all learned through their absence just how important person-to-person interactions are.”
Current UML students can begin registering for fall classes on March 26 and new students can do so through the admissions process.
Trahan Leads Reintroduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Tackle Root Causes of Addiction Crisis
U.S. Rep Lori Trahan, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, led the reintroduction of the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, bipartisan legislation to implement a standard for substance use disorder (SUD) training to require prescribers of highly addictive medications to have baseline knowledge in evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment.
“Every person in our community, in our Commonwealth, and in our country knows firsthand or through a loved one the devastating havoc the opioid epidemic continues to wreak. Congress has an obligation undertake a holistic approach to ending the addiction crisis that has taken far too many lives already,” said Trahan. “That can’t happen without understanding addiction’s root causes and the stigma associated with seeking out help. The MATE Act will ensure that medical professionals across the nation have standardized training that not only ensures a strong understanding of addiction, but also gives them the tools necessary to identify, treat, and manage patients with substance use disorders.”
Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would:
- Create a one-time, non-repetitive requirement for all DEA controlled substance prescribers to complete training on treating and managing patients with opioid and other substance use disorders, unless the prescriber is otherwise qualified.
- Allow accredited medical schools and residency programs, physician assistant schools, and schools of advanced practice nursing to fulfill the training requirement through comprehensive curriculum that meets the standards laid out in statute, without having to coordinate the development of their education with an outside medical society or state licensing body.
- Normalize addiction medicine education across certain professional schools and phase out the need for these future practitioners to take a separate, federally mandated addiction course.
- Authorize the federal government to appropriate grants to schools and medical programs to develop the curricula used to train prescribers on how to best identify and treat SUDs.
Expert Says COVID-19 is Complicating Tax Season
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating complications for tax filers this season, according to a UMass Lowell (UML) taxation expert.
This week, the IRS extended the deadline until Monday, May 17, to give people filing individual returns more time to navigate tax implications for 2020. The economic stimulus programs instituted over last year, the millions of people who received unemployment compensation and the fact millions of others worked from home have created a perfect storm for accountants and other tax preparers, according to Janie Casello Bouges, a UML expert on taxation and regulation.
“The federal government has changed and eased a number of tax rules because of COVID. The question is whether the rules will return to the previous status quo once the pandemic is under control. This may represent a huge shift in taxation for business and individuals,” she said.
GLCF awards more than $500K in additional COVID-19 Response Grants
After more than a year after the pandemic began, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) continues its work to support nonprofits providing relief to people affected by COVID-19. The GLCF deployed a new round of COVID-19 related grants, providing an additional $550,142 to 32 area nonprofits through the Commonwealth COVID Grant Program and GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
GLCF awarded $414,992 in grant funding in the first round of the Commonwealth COVID Grant Program, made possible by the Baker-Polito Administration’s $10 million grant program for COVID-19 relief. The program is administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development through community foundations.
Among the 24 Commonwealth COVID Grants funded through GLCF, the International Institute of New England in Lowell received a grant to support food supplies and rental assistance.
The 24 nonprofits receiving $414,992 in grant funding in the first round of the Commonwealth COVID Grant Program are:
- Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell: Educational Support
- Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association: CMAA Emergency Response Project
- Catie’s Closet Inc.: Meeting the COVID-19 Needs of the Lowell Community
- Coalition for a Better Acre: Pandemic Response 2021
- Community Teamwork Inc. . COVID Relief Projects
- Dwelling House of Hope: Food Pantry
- Girls, Inc. of Greater Lowell: Remote Learning
- Greater Lowell Family YMCA: Remote Learning
- House of Hope, Inc.: COVID Prevention Baskets
- International Institute of New England: Food Supplies and Rental Assistance
- Life Connection Center Inc.: COVID 19 Basic Needs Emergency Project
- Lowell House Inc.: Housing Stabilization
- Merrimack Valley Food Bank Inc.: Food Assistance in Lowell
- Mill City Grows: Increasing Food Security in Lowell
- NFI MA Inc.: COVID 19 Essential Supplies Support for Lowell
- Northeast Legal Aid Inc.: – Supporting Lowell Tenants Facing Eviction
- Project Home Again: New Items Program
- Sankofa Support Services: Diaper Distribution Program
- The Center for Hope and Healing Inc.: Hopeful Futures, Supporting BIPOC and LGBQ/T Youth
- The Megan House Foundation: COVID-19 Relief Support
- Troubled Waters Inc.: Bi-lingual Recovery Coach Program
- VNA Care Network Inc.: Equipping VNA Care Network’s Frontline Nurses
- Wayside Youth & Family Support Network: Wayside | Lowell – PPE and Addressing Food Insecurities
- YWCA of Lowell: Acre Youth Center Educational Enrichment Support Resources
Additionally, GLCF distributed a round of support from the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Of the six recent grants from the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica received a grant to support COVID-19 Remote Learning and STEAM Enrichment.
The eight nonprofits receiving $135,150 in grants in the latest round of the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund are:
- Aaron’s Presents: Keeping Our Teens Engaged and Creative during the Pandemic
- Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica: COVID-19 Remote Learning and STEAM Enrichment
- Greater Lowell Health Alliance – Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Community Education Roll-out
- Lowell Community Health Center: Strengthening Health Equity – LCHC Patient Access Services
- Minute Man Arc for Human Services Inc. – Safeguarding children with disabilities during COVID-19 pandemic
- Nashua River Watershed Association: Wednesday Walks with NRWA Naturalists
- UTEC Inc.: Madd Love Meals for Dracut + Tyngsboro Elders
- VNA Care Network Inc.: COVID-19 Patient Isolation Kits
Western Avenue Resumes First Saturday Outdoor Art Market
Western Avenue artists are excited to welcome enthusiastic art lovers again. Their first Saturday in-person Outdoor Art Market of 2021 will be on Saturday, April 3, from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Attendance inside the market will be limited to state guidelines and masks will be required to be worn at all times.
Henry Marte, Western Avenue’s marketing manager, is working hard to accommodate the 40 plus artists that want to participate in the outdoor event. Western Avenue will be using their social media feed to highlight the participating artists so the public can get to know participating artists before arriving on site.
This event will mark the first time the new Tiny Arms Coffee cafe (whose owners were recently featured on The 495 podcast) will be open to the public. Tiny Arms is located in the Studios building and will be serving up coffee and tea, as well as selling their beans roasted on site. The Loading Dock Gallery will be hosting their April show, “Invocation of Place,” featuring the work of Priscilla Levesque and Noel Soucy. Levesque is a Western Avenue artist who paint in the pointillist style, building her landscape images from small dots.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Pentucket Bank Welcomes Community Leaders to Board of Trustees
Michelle Lavigne, a corporator of Pentucket Bank since 2019, is the owner of several Servpro franchises, including Haverhill where their headquarters are located. Lavigne officially joined the Servpro team, her family’s business, in 2006 where she worked for her father and fellow Pentucket Bank Corporator, Dave Hart, as marketing and office manager before purchasing the business with her husband Patrick in 2013. Lavigne is a member of the Exchange Club of Haverhill and currently serves on the board as Treasurer. Lavigne is also an active supporter of numerous local organizations including the Liz Murphy Open Hand Food Pantry, Sacred Hearts School, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill and many youth sports programs. Lavigne lives in Haverhill with Patrick and their two children.
Daniel Norris, became a Bank Corporator in 2011. He practices corporate law and is a director in the McLane Middleton Law firm in Manchester, N.H., and Woburn, Mass. Norris received his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and his B.A with distinction from Purdue University. Norris’ areas of focus at the firm include mergers and acquisition and corporate business law, as well as other corporate specialties. In the community, Norris is a member of the Central Catholic board of directors, a member of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and has served on the Salem Boys & Girls Club board of directors, as well as many other local and statewide affiliations. Norris lives in Salem, N.H. with his wife, Lori, and their three children.
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union announced the addition of two new team members.
Tracy Dodier-Brochu to AVP, Operational Risk Management
Dodier-Brochu has more than 30 years of experience at Newburyport Bank, holding multiple officer titles with the most recent being assistant vice president, security and information technology business analyst. Dodier-Brochu has an extensive background in information technology, information security, risk management, and quality assurance, as well as experience in various areas of operations, bank policies, programs, procedures, and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council guidelines. She attended Northern Essex Community College and holds the following certification titles, Certified Banking Security Manager and Certified Banking Vendor Manager.
Yan Ventura to AT Business Services Advisor
Ventura joins Jeanne D’Arc’s Business Services Team with six years of banking experience. He was previously a small business specialist at Santander Bank where he was recognized as the number one small business specialist in the district and a top performer in the northeastern district. Ventura received his BA in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. He holds his NMLS certification and is a certified Salesforce.com administrator.