AROUND THE VALLEY
MRT Appoints Malika Oyetimein to Artist in Residence
Malika Oyetimein, director of Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s (MRT) critically acclaimed video production of “Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It!” last fall, will serve as the company’s artist in residence for the 2021-22 season. Her role will include the direction of a new play workshop, season planning support, artistic hiring and community engagement consulting.
Oyetimein’s directing credits include “Bootycandy” and “Barbecue” at Intiman Theatre Festival; “Hoodoo Love” at Sound Theatre Company; “And In This Corner … Cassius Clay” at Seattle Children’s Theatre; and “The First Deep Breath” for the National Black Theatre. A member of the Directors Lab at Lincoln Center Theater, she is also the co-adapter and director of Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and a graduate of the MFA program at The University of Washington’s school of drama.
Baker-Polito Administration Kicks Off Statewide Small Business Tour in Lowell
On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joined Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and local business, community and municipal leaders on the first stop of a statewide small business and downtown conversation tour. The purpose of the tour is to celebrate the commonwealth’s reopening and discuss the administration’s $2.9 billion proposal for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to jumpstart the commonwealth’s economic recovery.
The tour will continue throughout the summer and will stop at approximately two dozen city and town centers across Massachusetts. Each stop will include a tour of downtown and main street businesses and a roundtable conversation with business owners, community leaders, and state and local officials to engage directly on how the administration can continue to offer necessary support for economic recovery.
While Massachusetts is known as a global leader in industries such as life sciences and the innovation economy, research conducted by the US Small Business Administration found that prior to the pandemic, more than 45% of the entire commonwealth’s workforce was employed by a small business.
NECC Prepares for a Fall Return to Campus
Northern Essex Community College’s (NECC) COVID response team has been working with college maintenance staff for months to prepare the campuses so that faculty, staff, students, and the community can safely return. This fall, at least 25% of classes will be taught on campus, and it’s expected that most employees will be on campus by September as well. Classes for the fall semester begin Sept. 8.
CARES Act Investments
Approximately $1.4 million in CARES Act funding has been invested to make the campus safer and help prevent the spread of the virus. With this funding, the college has purchased 96 air scrubbers—stand-alone virus killing machines— and the ducts on all campus buildings have been thoroughly cleaned and outfitted with MERV filters that capture mold, pollen, and more.
At this time, anyone who has been fully vaccinated is not required to wear a mask, unless they are in a classroom. Those who have not been vaccinated are asked to mask-up indoors, unless eating or in their offices alone. Anyone who wants to wear a mask, whether vaccinated or not, is encouraged to do so, and the college has masks, including N95 masks, available upon request for free to faculty, staff, and students.
Haverhill Mayor Announces Re-Election Campaign
Mayor James Fiorentini has announced his intention to seek re-election and continue leading the city of Haverhill. He began his campaign in June with a fundraising event at The Tap in downtown Haverhill.
Fiorentini’s new budget, which was approved by City Council on June 29, provides school funding, resources for the police department and a local health department.
According to the mayor, the city has an opportunity to further revitalize and grow downtown by remaking the Merrimack Street entrance. He also said that guiding the Consentino School project will be a focus of his next term.
Essex Art Center Installs Art Along Lawrence Canal
Essex Art Center announced “Gateway to the Arts,” a public art installation along the city’s canal from Union Street to the bridge between Island Street and Canal Street.
Gateway to the Arts is a temporary multimedia public art piece that will include painting the city’s sidewalks and installing plants and lights will the goal of highlighting Lawrence’s canal way and establishing a vibrant arts and culture district.
The painting of the sidewalks along the canal will start in mid-July. The installation will be complete in time for Essex Art Center’s grand reopening celebration and block party on Saturday, Aug. 21. This free, community and family-focused event will run from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and include art activities, live music, and an exhibition of the region’s diverse artistic talents.
Andover Community Blood Drive to Honor ‘Jamesy’s Journey’ on July 24
In July 2020, 3-year-old James Lino of Dracut was diagnosed with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Although he is now in remission, the treatment protocol — which includes supplemental blood as well as chemotherapy — will continue through November 19, 2022.
On Saturday, July 24, 2021, a community blood drive in honor of “Jamesey’s Journey” will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Andover Town Hall. The event was coordinated by Phil Liaboe, James’s grandfather, to raise awareness of the impact of the nationwide blood shortage on many different kinds of patients: a young child with a rare blood disorder, a family member fighting cancer or a friend involved in a car accident.
Click here schedule an appointment and enter Jamesy’s Journey.
Trahan, Donoghue, UML Leaders Highlight American Rescue Plan Funding
U.S Rep. Lori Trahan and Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue participated in a briefing with University of Massachusetts System President Marty Meehan, University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, and other UML officials on how the university will put relief funding from the American Rescue Plan to work.
UML was recently awarded $27,551,474 in higher education relief funding from the American Rescue Plan to address severe financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue serving their students safely. UML officials said the funds will help strengthen the university’s programs for first-generation students, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and environmental sustainability initiatives.
The American Rescue Plan allocated a total of $36 billion for nearly 3,500 public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities nationwide. Colleges and students in Massachusetts’ third congressional district received a total of $81,819,954 of that emergency funding. At least half of the funding will be distributed in the form of emergency cash assistance grants to students who are facing hunger, homelessness, and other hardships.
Feaster Five Thanksgiving Returns to Andover for In-Person Race
The Thanksgiving Day Feaster Five Road Race announced its return to downtown Andover with an in-person race this year.
Registration for the 34th Annual Feaster Five Road Race is now open and race day is November 25 in downtown Andover, with a three-day race expo beginning November 22 at the Merrimack Valley YMCA.
Over the last 30 years, thousands of people have gathered their families together to run or walk the 5K or 5-mile route that weaves through downtown Andover, finishing at Andover Landing at Brickstone Square. All race finishers receive a Table Talk Apple Pie — a Feaster Five tradition. Click here to register for the race.
Essex County Sheriff Department Celebrates Inmates Who Completed Educational Programming
On June 29, a recognition ceremony was held at the Middleton House of Correction for Essex County Sheriff Department (ECSD) inmates who have completed educational programs. Students were recognized by Education Director Darla Lamanna and the Northern Essex Community College (NECC) staff for successfully completing programs offered by the college.
NECC has been offering educational programming for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department since 2019 when the college was selected as part of a competitive grant process. Programs included preparation classes for students taking the HiSET (high school equivalency) exam; three-credit college courses; and a week-long peer class leading to certification as a peer tutor.
NECC maintains a staff at the Middleton House of Correction, including on-site academic and career advisors; learning specialists; law librarians for the inmates’ library, which NECC manages; and a program director.
GLCF Announces LHS Scholarship Established in Honor of Gabriel Cuevas
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced the establishment of the Gabriel Cuevas Memorial Scholarship Fund. This new scholarship fund honors Gabriel’s spirit of giving by annually awarding a Lowell High School (LHS) senior up to $1000.
Gabriel Cuevas passed away unexpectedly in August 2020, just before beginning his senior year at LHS. Cuevas, a beloved son, brother, and friend, used his voice to lift those marginalized and excluded in school and society. Additionally, Cuevas was also a dedicated member of Aaron’s Presents, an organization that provides opportunities for young people to build community and care for others. Aaron’s Presents founder Leah Okimoto established the Gabriel Cuevas Memorial Scholarship Fund through GLCF to honor his memory.
Whittier Birthplace Reopens for Tours
This month, the Whittier Birthplace in Haverhill has reopened for in-person tours after months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The historic Whittier Birthplace was originally organized over a century ago, in December 1892, in order to preserve the historic landscape, house, and other buildings in the same condition as when John Greenleaf Whittier lived on the farmstead. The building is now a tour site maintaining the legacy of Whittier’s literary and abolition.
Whittier, born and raised in Haverhill, Mass., in the 19th century, was a bestselling poet who was active in the abolitionist cause. Visit here to book a tour of this local site.
NMYO Announces In-Person Rehearsals & Concerts
Northeast Massachusetts Youth Orchestras (NMYO) is back for in-person rehearsals and concerts. Now accepting video auditions, NMYO is looking for young musicians to join its ensembles for the 2021-2022 academic season.
The NYMO offers a space to play your instrument, perform in concert, and socialize with other young players. String, Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion students, at all levels of playing, are invited to audition. Musicians new to NMYO and returning students who wish to move to a different ensemble, are required to submit a video consisting of two scales and a piece of your choosing. Returning musicians who wish to remain in their current NMYO ensemble simply need to register.
NMYO offers seven ensembles including two beginning string. Small chamber music ensembles are also offered as part of the Symphony program. These ensembles perform two major concerts and several smaller concerts annually.
Windrush Farm Announces Scholarship for Therapeutic Horseback Riding this Fall
Windrush Farm in North Andover announced that they will offer a new Kathy Blanton Memorial Scholarship to provide an opportunity for a child adolescent, or adult with disabilities to partake in a therapeutic riding session this fall.
The scholarship is for a participant over the age of six, with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges whose family qualifies on financial need and consideration of circumstances. The scholarship is for an individual who has not previously participated in a therapeutic riding program.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Haverhill Police Chief Sworn-in at City Hall
Robert Pistone was officially sworn-in as Haverhill’s new police chief at a City Hall ceremony on Friday, July 16. Pistone is a 22-year veteran of the Haverhill Police Department.
Haverhill Bank Promotes Employee to Branch Manager
Alison Barker was recently promoted to branch manager of Haverhill Bank’s Salem, N.H., branch. Barker has 18 years of banking experience and joined Haverhill Bank four years ago, working as a universal banker and assistant branch manager. Barker is a resident of Atkinson, N.H., and graduated from Winnacunnet High School, in Hampton, N.H.
New Executive Director Heralds Bread & Roses’ Reopening
Jessica Perrault-Gordon has extensive experience with individuals facing addiction, incarceration, homelessness, and mental illness, and remains steadfast in her passion for social justice and economic equality. Her first initiative at the helm of Bread & Roses will be bringing mobile vaccine stations to Newbury Street in an effort to boost vaccination rates community wide.