AROUND THE VALLEY
Winter Giardino at Tuscan Market Highlights Skating Rink, Tree Market, Igloo Dining
Developer and restaurateur Joe Faro was joined by members of the Boston Bruins and The Greater Salem Chamber for a ribbon cutting on Saturday, Dec. 12., for Tuscan Market’s Winter Giardino. This winter garden features public skating, a 30-foot Christmas tree, an L.L. Bean pop-up store and igloo dining.
Igloos are open every day with a full menu available and can be reserved by calling Tuscan Kitchen Salem at (603) 952-4875. To learn more visit here.
The skating rink is open through April on Wednesday and Thursday from 2-8 p.m. and Friday-Sunday 12-8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 Salem for residents, and $5 for kids. Skate rentals are available on-site. On Sundays, Tuscan Kitchen will donate admission proceeds to a local charity throughout December. Admission for the skating rink can be purchased day of at the skating rink gift card booth. Masks are required while skating.
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera to Serve as President and CEO of MassDevelopment
The MassDevelopment board of directors voted unanimously to empower Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, the board chair, to extend a contract offer to Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera for the position of president and chief executive officer.
Rivera joins MassDevelopment after serving as mayor of the City of Lawrence for seven years where he managed a $341 million operating budget, a $92 million capital improvement plan, and oversaw approximately 3,500 employees. As Lawrence’s chief executive, Rivera led efforts to invest in infrastructure and attract hundreds of millions of dollars in private development, while also overseeing the creation of over 2,400 units of affordable and market-rate housing.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Statewide Rollback to Phase Three, Step One, Additional Restrictions Effective December 13
On Tuesday, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that effective Sunday, Dec. 13, all communities in Massachusetts will return to Step 1 of Phase 3 of the commonwealth’s reopening plan. This will reduce indoor capacities across a broad range of sectors of the economy and tighten several other workplace restrictions. The administration announced the roll-back to respond to an increase in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations since the Thanksgiving holiday.
The return to Step 1 will also require the closure of certain businesses designated as Step 2 industries. These include indoor performance venues and certain high-contact indoor recreational businesses. In addition, capacity limits will be reduced to 40% statewide for most industries, and the limit on outdoor gatherings will be reduced statewide from 100 persons to 50 persons. Additional safety measures will be applied to restaurant dining as well.
The administration also announced additional guidance for certain sectors including restaurants, office spaces and gyms, to address activities where mask wearing is not possible at all times.
Annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest to End Youth Homelessness Carries on with Raffle Fundraiser
In spite of this year’s limitations on social gatherings, Lowell Mayor John Leahy intends to continue the tradition of the successful Mayor’s Holiday Rock ‘n’ Roll Fundraiser tradition, begun by Sen. Ed Kennedy and former Mayor Bill Samaras, by holding a raffle to raise money for this important cause. In the three years past, Mayor’s Kennedy and Samaras have raised over $60K.
Tickets may be purchased here. Sponsorships are also available. All donations raised through the Mayor’s Holiday Fest Raffle will help Community Teamwork continue their efforts to prevent youth homelessness.
Community Teamwork estimates that there are over 100 young people in Lowell each year who experience homelessness for reasons including family conflict and abuse, sexual identity, pregnancy, addiction or mental health issues, contact with the juvenile justice system or aging out of foster care. This at-risk youth population is often overlooked. In response to the need, Community Teamwork’s youth services program has built out the Youth Opportunity Center (YOC) to provide low-barrier services and crisis intervention to homeless and at-risk youth between the ages of 16-24.
The drawing will be held live on Facebook (@MayorofLowellMA) on Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 4 p.m. Raffle tickets are $50 each. Prizes include: a guitar signed by country music duo Martin and Kelly, a monthly chicken pie from Lenzi’s for a year, and more.
Visit here for more information.
New UML Fellowships Advance Efforts in Climate Education, Sustainability Research
UMass Lowell (UML) faculty and students pursuing climate education or sustainability research that seeks to improve the environment have received funding to support their work through a university initiative dedicated to these issues.
The funding for the projects was presented by UML’s Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy (RISE), a collaboration between the university’s Climate Change Initiative, energy engineering program and Office of Sustainability. Founded in 2019 with the support of UML graduate Brian Rist and his wife Kim, the institute recently named its inaugural class of fellows to honor and advance their work. They are economics assistant Prof. Kelly Hellman, along with Kerry Candlen, a plastics engineering major from Westford, and Maria Fonseca Guzman, a chemical engineering major from Roswell, Ga.
Hellman was awarded a $15,000 faculty fellowship to create a new course, “The Economics of Climate Change,” which will examine how the phenomenon is affecting the economy, human health and the environment. Students will also study economists’ predictions for future impacts.
Red Sox, City of Lowell Working to Keep Baseball in Community
The Red Sox and the city of Lowell announced on Wednesday that they are working to keep baseball in the Lowell community. The two sides are in the early stages of evaluating various opportunities for the 2021 season, and will continue to discuss longer-term options in the weeks ahead.
“For over a year, we have worked with Congresswoman Trahan, Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue, Major League Baseball, and Lowell Spinners ownership to examine every option that would keep baseball in the City of Lowell,” said Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy. “We are exploring what form that could take in 2021, and are committed to maintaining the 24-year-long tradition of baseball in the Lowell community. We are grateful to Governor Baker, Senator Markey, and Senator Warren for their support of our collective efforts, and look forward to our continued work with Lowell’s public officials as we develop and formalize our plans.”
MassDevelopment Announces $360,000 in Funding for Arts-Based Projects in Gateway Cities
On Wednesday, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $360,000 in funding for a new round of the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Creative Catalyst Grant program, a competitive grant program for eligible Gateway Cities that supports locally initiated, public-facing projects that advance arts- and culture-based economic development and neighborhood revitalization. Locally, individuals and organizations proposing projects in and near current and former TDI districts in Haverhill and Lawrence are eligible to apply. Grants will range from $20,000 to $40,000 for individual projects, and from $60,000 to $100,000 for clusters of projects in the same geographic area.
Applicants can find the full request for proposals and details about upcoming region-specific informational webinars here. Expressions of interest are due by January 8, 2021, at 5 p.m..
Lawrence Nonprofit Receives $5,000 Grant for Food Distribution During Pandemic and Beyond
Merrimack Valley Dream Center, a Lawrence-based nonprofit, has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Greater Lawrence Community Fund, a fund of the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF). Funds will be used for food distribution during the pandemic and beyond.
Merrimack Valley Dream Center serves the homeless, low-income individuals and families, and those recovering from addiction. Grant funds will be used in its Food Truck Ministry program, a year-round food distribution program that has been providing bags of groceries to residents of the Merrimack Courts Housing Project. The Dream Center plans to expand this work to the Hancock Housing Project in 2021.
During the pandemic, the Dream Center has joined forces with Top Notch Scholars, J. Alavarez & Company, and Town Livery in the monthly Everybody Eats Every Month food distribution initiative supported by New England Patriots’ Justin Bethel through his Beating All Odds Foundation.
Donations of personal hygiene items, socks and gloves are appreciated during the winter months. See their website or call (978) 566-1547 for more information on either of these programs.
Jupiter, Saturn to Form ‘Christmas Star’ on Dec. 21
In a rare celestial event not seen in nearly 800 years, Jupiter and Saturn will align to create what will appear to be one large star in the night sky on Dec. 21, the winter solstice, the day each year with the shortest period of daylight and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere.
This will be the closest alignment of Jupiter and Saturn visible to the naked eye since 1226. Given its appearance amid the holiday season, many amateur astronomers have nicknamed the event the “Christmas star,” according to Silas Laycock, a UMass Lowell (UML) astronomer.
“Anyone giving a telescope as a holiday gift should let the recipient unwrap it a few days early for an experience that cannot be replicated for hundreds of years to come,” said Laycock, who has been tracking Jupiter and Saturn over the past few weeks as they have drawn closer to each other in the evening sky.
Laycock is an associate professor of physics who conducts research in the university’s Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology.
U.S. Dept. of Commerce Awards $600k to Lawrence Partnership
The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC) along with Rep. Lori Trahan, Sen. Edward Markey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the city of Lawrence, and the Lawrence Partnership announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a federal grant of $600,000 to the Lawrence Partnership, a broad coalition of business and civic leaders.
This federal funding will be used to support the expansion of their Revolving Test Kitchen (RTK) initiative, an incubator to invest in small, local food-based businesses in Lawrence. This expansion will allow for the RTK to increase operations and serve up to a dozen food-based businesses in Lawrence at once. The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.
Community Partners Come to the Aid of Seniors Facing Food Insecurity
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity among local senior citizens and the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) is stepping up to help.
Last spring, as COVID-19 began infecting older adults in high numbers, nonprofit agencies providing support to this demographic were hit hard. Most of the volunteers they depended on to distribute meals to their clients were seniors themselves.
Realizing these unforeseen forces were having a profound impact on elder health, last spring and summer GLCF distributed two COVID-19 relief fund grants to two nonprofits that support seniors, Minuteman Senior Services and Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley & North Shore. The spring and summer grants were distributed by GLCF from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund. This relief fund supported those across the state most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, and focused on essential front-line workers and vulnerable populations including the homeless, immigrant populations, people with disabilities, and those facing food insecurity.
Then, in November, GLCF continued addressing food insecurity among seniors by awarding another round of grants to both nonprofits from the foundation’s own COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union Announces New Board Member
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union welcomed its newest board member, Wendy Estrella. Estrella is the founder of Estrella Law Offices, the city’s largest real estate firm, and owner of Estrella Enterprises.
Her various volunteer and civic leadership roles include trustee of the Mass School of Law and a founding board member of the Lawrence Partnership. She was previously appointed by Gov. Deval Patrik as a trustee of Northern Essex Community College and served as a board member of Lawrence Family Development Charter School.
Estrella is a graduate of Northern Essex Community College, Merrimack College and Mass School of Law, and has been the recipient of multiple regional and statewide awards and honors. She lives in Methuen.
Incompass Human Services Announces Appointment of Shawn Nault as Director of Day Services
Incompass Human Services (formerly LifeLinks CLASS), a nonprofit organization that delivers enriching supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families throughout Greater Lowell and Greater Lawrence, has appointed Shawn Nault as director of day services.
In this new role, Nault will oversee the portfolio of Incompass day programs in Chelmsford and Lawrence, including day habilitation, community-based day services, T.R.E.E., and employment services. Together, these programs enroll nearly 400 individuals from the surrounding communities with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
Nault has more than 30 years of experience running I/DD clinical programs, having spent the past seven years leading the day habilitation program in Chelmsford. He also oversees the Incompass Urban Youth Collaborative Program in partnership with Department of Developmental Services, an experiential internship that engages students who are interested in pursuing a career in human services.
Longtime Lazarus House Volunteer Becomes New Director of Operations
Ed Wiederhold of Tewksbury, Mass., began in his new role as director of operations for Lazarus House Ministries on Dec. 7. Widerhold brings with him almost 40 years of operations experience, a love for Lazarus House, and a strong desire to carry on building solid and lasting relationships with the Ministry’s staff, partners, vendors, sponsors and local committees.