AROUND THE VALLEY
U.S Rep. Lori Trahan Announces $18.5 Million in American Rescue Plan Funding for Community Health Centers
U.S. Representative Lori Trahan, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, announced $18,573,500 in federal relief funding through the American Rescue Plan for community health centers in Lawrence, Lowell and Fitchburg.
Specific allocations are as follows:
- Greater Lawrence Family Health Center: $8,527,500
- Lowell Community Health Center: $5,300,500
- Community Health Connections, Inc. in Fitchburg: $4,745,500
The funds, which will be awarded beginning in April, will be able to be used by the health centers to support and expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations; deliver needed preventive and primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, including modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units. This investment will help increase access to vaccinations among hard-hit populations, as well as confidence in the vaccine by empowering local, trusted health professionals in their efforts to expand vaccinations.
In addition to this robust investment in these health centers, participants in President Biden’s Community Health Center Vaccination Program, which include Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and Lowell Community Health Center, have been invited to expand eligibility to populations in the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice’s 1C eligibility tier. That includes frontline essential workers and all persons 16 years and older with high-risk medical conditions. This means approximately 83% of the adults seen at community health centers participating in the federal Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program will now be eligible for vaccinations.
Five Chosen as Finalists to be MCC’s Fifth President
The Middlesex Community College (MCC) president search committee announced that five finalists for the next president of MCC have been selected to meet the college community and be considered for appointment by the board of trustees.
The five finalists moving onto the next phase of the presidential search are:
- Felicia Ganther, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, Maricopa County Community College district
- Lisa Armour, vice president for assessment, research, and technology, Santa Fe College
- Stephanie Bulger, vice chancellor for instructional services and planning, San Diego Community College district
- Julie Leidig, provost and executive officer, Northern Virginia Community College
- Phil Sisson, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, MCC
The five candidates are scheduled for virtual campus conversations the weeks of April 5 and April 12. Open forums for faculty, staff, students and the community at large will be held. Visit here for more information on the finalists.
UML-led Research Team Tracks Path of Pollutant Worldwide
Researchers studying mercury gas in the atmosphere with the aim of reducing the pollutant worldwide have determined that a vast amount of the toxic element is absorbed by plants, leading it to deposit into soils.
Hundreds of tons of mercury each year are emitted into the atmosphere as a gas by burning coal, mining and other industrial and natural processes. These emissions are absorbed by plants in a process similar to how they take up carbon dioxide. When the plants shed leaves or die, the mercury is transferred to soils where large amounts also make their way into watersheds, threatening wildlife and people who eat contaminated fish.
Exposure to high levels of mercury over long periods can lead to neurological and cardiovascular problems in humans, according to UMass Lowell’s (UML) Daniel Obrist, professor and chair of the department of environmental, earth and atmospheric sciences, who is leading the research group.
Obrist is an expert on the cycling of mercury in the environment. In his latest project, he and UML Research Associate Jun Zhou collected more than 200 published studies with data on mercury levels in vegetation from more than 400 locations around the world. In evaluating this data, they determined about 88% of the mercury found in plants originates from plants’ leaves absorbing gaseous mercury from the atmosphere. Globally, vegetation can take up more than 1,300 tons of mercury each year, accounting for 60-90% of it being deposited over land, according to Zhou.
The team’s findings were published this month in the academic journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. The study represents the largest comprehensive review of the uptake of mercury in vegetation and its impact on mercury cycling around the world, according to the researchers. The work moves scientists toward a greater understanding of how mercury cycling works, according to Zhou.
In a separate but related project led by Obrist, researchers continue to measure how vegetation affects mercury cycling in New England forests, focusing on those in Maine and Massachusetts. Obrist’s team is using a variety of instruments to measure the forests’ uptake of mercury in the atmosphere at various heights from above the tree canopy down to near the forest floor, allowing for daily tracking of how mercury deposition may be different in each forest and may change with the seasons.
Artichoke River Woods in West Newbury Conserved
Essex County Greenbelt has announced the successful completion of the Artichoke River Woods Conservation Project in West Newbury, Mass., which permanently protects 38 acres on the West Newbury side of the Artichoke Reservoir.
Funding was provided by Newburyport and West Newbury Community Preservation Act funds, the Commonwealth’s Drinking Water Supply Grant program, a Conservation Partnership Grant, a Merrimack Conservation Partnership Transaction Grant, the Fields Pond Foundation, Essex County Community Foundation’s Essex County Land and Environment Initiative, and generous individuals.
Conserving this land protects drinking water, wildlife habitat and a climate resilient landscape, and offers public trail access and the opportunity for a trail link in a larger regional trail network.
Artichoke River Woods will be a new reservation owned and managed by Greenbelt, with trails and the potential for a modest parking area. For more on the Greenbelt, visit here.
MCC Foundation Awards Student Scholarships
In the Spring 2021 semester, the Middlesex Community College (MCC) Foundation awarded nine scholarships to students in nursing, paralegal studies and health programs, helping make education more affordable and accessible.
MCC’s Nursing Department established the Marie Ryder Beacon of Hope Scholarship to honor Ryder’s retirement, who served as a nursing professor at MCC for 40 years. This year, the scholarship was awarded to nursing student Erica Paddock of Methuen.
As she nears graduation from the program, Paddock looks forward to a future of caring for service members like her husband. She is grateful for the community MCC has provided, as well as for helping her grow more confident and capable as a student.
Established due to her support of MCC’s paralegal students, the Muriel G. Hervey Memorial Scholarship was awarded to paralegal student Kristen Wolf of Haverhill.
The Prudence Drake Health Programs Scholarship was established in honor of the care Drake received from MCC students while at the Carleton-Willard Village Residential Home in Bedford. This year’s recipients include Nicole DeFranzo of Burlington, Arlin Estevez of Lawrence, Ashik Tamang of Lowell and Daniel Yepes Gonzalez of Salem, N.H.
A dental hygiene program student, Estevez is completing her final semester. During her time at Middlesex, she has balanced her studies with working as an assistant manager at Market Basket and as a supplemental instruction leader at MCC. After graduating, she hopes to continue her education to earn a bachelor’s degree in public health.
JDCU Announces Participation in Financial Literacy Bee to Support Youth Financial Education
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union (JDCU) announced that they will sponsor the second annual EVERFI Financial Literacy Bee, taking place from April 1 to 15. The EVERFI Financial Literacy Bee is a nationwide financial literacy challenge for high school students that provides an opportunity to learn the critical importance of saving and budgeting for short-term and long-term financial goals.
The virtual challenge, created by social impact education innovator EVERFI, and supported by leading financial institutions nationwide, features four short digital lessons followed by a capstone essay contest in which students share a short-term or long-term savings goal and outline their plan to achieve that goal. Winners of the EVERFI Financial Literacy Bee will receive a total of $20,000 in college scholarships.
By competing in the challenge, participating students will gain new skills to create a personalized financial decision-making framework that they can apply to their lives now and in the future. Topics include how to save, set financial goals, budget and invest.
UML to Award More Than $1M in Summer Scholarships
In an effort to help offset the financial hardships that many are experiencing, UMass Lowell (UML) is allocating more than $1 million for scholarships for new and continuing undergraduate students who enroll for the 2021 summer semester.
Steven Tello, vice provost for graduate, online and professional studies, said these summer scholarships are being offered in addition to traditional financial-aid programs such as federal grants and student loans. He also encouraged students to apply for the new aid soon by visiting UML’s summer financial aid page, as early applications will be given priority consideration.
“We have frozen tuition rates for the third straight year and increased our scholarship and grant funding, creating a more affordable opportunity for students to move their education forward,” Tello said. “We realize the financial challenges facing our students have increased due to the overall impact of COVID-19. We want to see them succeed and we hope these efforts assist our students in achieving their educational and professional goals.”
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Free Soil Arts Collective Announces Four New Advisory Board Members
Jennifer Aradhya, of Groton, is the vice president for marketing and programs at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. Previously, Aradhya worked for two decades in higher education and received numerous national awards and recognitions for marketing and design. Additionally, she is a mixed media artist with a studio at Western Ave Studios.
Belinda Juran, of Lowell, is a senior fellow in the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. After graduating from college, she moved to Massachusetts to work in the high-tech industry as a software engineer, manager and consultant. While working, she earned an MBA from Boston University. She next went to Harvard Law School and joined the Boston firm WilmerHale.
Thaddeus Miles, of Lowell, is an author and internationally recognized, award-winning photographer. Miles is currently the director of community services at MassHousing, where he is responsible for housing stability, knowledge and capacity building, and strengthening families and communities across Massachusetts.
Anthony Nganga, of Dracut, is the founder of Studio 26 Associates LLC, an architectural firm working with commercial building owners and tenants, giving them the capacity to renovate and re-use existing buildings. Originally from Kenya, when he is not wearing his architect’s hat or serving in the community, Nganga likes to cycle and run, recently completing his second half-marathon.
Pentucket Bank Welcomes Community Leaders to Board of Corporators
Delia Duran-Clark is the principal of Esperanza Academy in Lawrence and was previously an adjunct professor at Merrimack College. She is a resident of Andover, and very active in Haverhill including serving as a director of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.
Maria Bonanno owns the law firm Bonanno Law and Title, PC, in Methuen. She has been a practicing attorney in Massachusetts since 2009. In the community, Bonanno is a board member of the Holy Family Hospital and Nevins Family of Services. She lives in Methuen.
Dr. Noemí Custodia-Lora is vice president at Northern Essex Community College, where she runs community relations and the Lawrence campus. Her professional interests include strategies aimed at increasing access to education, especially for underrepresented minorities, adult learners, and immigrants. She is a resident of Haverhill.
Ryan Horgan is vice president and general manager of Rockingham Toyota in Salem, N.H. His family-owned and operated business was established in 1985 and has deep, extended roots throughout the community. He is active in the community as a board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem N.H. He lives in Atkinson.
Power of Flowers Project Announces Two New Board Members
Kathleen Kanaan is the co-owner of Designs by Don florist in Wilmington. A Wilmington native and mother of two, Kanaan is known throughout the community for helping, educating, and supporting her customers in every aspect of their floral and gardening needs. Driven by a passion for helping others, she takes pride in being a dependable voice in her local community. Kanaan graduated from UMass Lowell, where she was recognized by the NCAA as an All-American for her accomplishments on the soccer field.
Sue-Ellen Kazanjian is a wife, mother of four, and a retired dental hygienist. Originally from Tewksbury, Kazanjian is an avid gardener and current Dracut resident. Her family has a record of public service in both Tewksbury and Lowell. She has been a mentor for Girls Inc., a “big sister” with The Big Brother/Big Sister Organization of Greater Lowell, a softball coach for both Lowell Youth Softball and Highland Sports Association, and is committed to the promotion of Autism Awareness in honor of her adult son.
Strauss Joins Haverhill Bank as Senior Vice President
Glenn W. Strauss of Wakefield joined Haverhill Bank as senior vice president, market manager commercial lending. He will be based primarily in the Salem, N.H., branch. Prior to joining Haverhill Bank, Strauss worked in the Merrimack Valley market for 17 years and brings 32 years of commercial lending, banking and business development experience to his new position. Glenn is a resident of Wakefield and is active in the community. He is currently on the board of advisors for the Burbank YMCA.
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