Safe Routes To School

library 091Walking or riding a bike to the McAuliffe and Robinson Schools in the city’s Centralville neighborhood is a whole lot safer than ever before.

The addition of 1400 feet of sidewalk along the driveways of the McAuliffe School; 5-foot-wide bike lanes along the driveways; new ADA accessible wheelchair ramps; pavement markings; new traffic and pedestrian warning signs; and drainage modifications, have significantly improved pedestrian access to the McAuliffe and adjacent Robinson schools.

library 011library 069library 070The $450,000 project was funded by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program, designed to provide infrastructure improvements as well as pedestrian and bicycle safety education. The Safe Routes program, of which the McAuliffe School is one of 500 participating schools in 160 communities statewide, has also promoted anti-idling campaigns to decrease carbon emissions.

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Friday morning, city, school and state officials gathered with students from the McAuliffe and Robinson Schools to celebrate the improvements and discuss the importance of being active and the fun and safe ways to get to school like walking or riding your bike with a friend.

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Human Rights Defending Monk to Visit Lowell

On Saturday December 1, the City of Lowell and the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association will welcome the Venerable Luon Sovath, one of the world’s premier humanitarians and human rights activists to the Stoklosa Middle School.

On October 2, the Venerable Luon Sovath, a monk from Siem Reap Province was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva, Switzerland, for his crusade to defend the Cambodian people against forced evacuations conducted by the government in the name of economic development.

According to Cambodian human rights groups, more than 400,000 Cambodians have been forcibly evicted from their homes since 1993, as the government has turned more than two million hectares of land over to private development companies.

Private citizens have not been allowed to own land in Cambodia since the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s eliminated the nation’s land deeding system. Those who are forcibly evicted are often provided with minimal compensation, but not nearly enough to help them rebuild their lives.

On March 22, 2009 violence erupted between villagers and armed government troops in the Chikreng district of the Siem Reap Province; 100 rice farmers tending their crops were shot with rifles and 12 villagers were jailed.

The Venerable Luon Sovath’s brother and nephew were among those injured, spurring his passion to fight against these human rights abuses.

“In Cambodia, the protection of human rights activities is difficult work,” he said in a 2010 interview. “In our role as human rights defenders, we stood up – protesting, speaking, seeking answers. This exposes us; we face dangers such as jail, death, threats and intimidation.”

Since 2009, he has used video to document forcibly evacuations and peaceful demonstrations. He has been detained several times, received death threats and has been threatened by authorities to be expelled from his monastery and defrocked. Last May, he was arrested for protesting in front of a Phnom Penh courthouse where a dozen villagers were on trial for standing up for their rights.

“After I became a human rights defender in the community, I’ve sacrificed my time, money and personal interest. I’ve lost those things but in exchange I receive happiness, peace, confidence and hope; this is my satisfaction,” he said.

All are invited to meet the Venerable Luon Sovath for a discussion of recent human rights issues in Cambodia from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday December 1 at the Stoklosa Middle School, 560 Broadway St, Lowell. Refreshments and a light lunch will be served.

For more information contact Rithy Uong at 978-996-6969 or CMAA Executive Director Rasy An at 978-866-7333.

Hair Cuttery Opens; Donates to UTEC

brandon 094On Tuesday the Hair Cuttery, the largest family-owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, with nearly 900 locations held a ribbon cutting at the newest location – at 199 Plain St. in the Meadow Brook Center.

brandon 088In addition to celebrating their opening, the salon owners also celebrated the work of the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), presenting them with a $500 donation.

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Pats Receiver Shares Wisdom with LHS Students

Brandon 043Before he made a career of catching passes from guys like Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler and Tom Brady, making an art form of keeping his toes in bounds along the sidelines on Matrix-worthy completions, Brandon Lloyd was just a kid from Blue Springs, Missouri; a kid with a dream, but not the one you think . . .

Brandon 009Tuesday morning, the 31-year-old New England Patriots wide receiver toured Lowell High School and shared some life lessons in work ethic and financial responsibility with a group of LHS seniors.

“He is really committed to financial education,” said Anne-Marie Bisson, assistant vice president for financial education at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union.

Bisson’s connection with the National Financial Educators Council, a group with whom Lloyd works, was the tie that brought the wide receiver to the Mill City.

Brandon Lloyd signs a football for Jake Houston.

Brandon Lloyd signs a football for Jake Houston.

Brandon 020Lloyd credits his success with how he grew up and the choices he made early in life. As a kid, Lloyd found himself conducting the play-by-play, providing the commentary for neighborhood basketball games. He knew he wanted to go into broadcasting.

As the youngest of seven children, he would need to be creative in finding a way to pay for college; that was where sports came in.

“I never saw sports as my future,” he said. “It was a means to an end; that’s what sports were for me, a way to get a scholarship.”

Lloyd set his sights on the University of Illinois, known for its broadcast journalism program, and secured an athletic scholarship that took him there.

“I surrounded myself with people who wanted to be as successful as I wanted to be,” he said, adding that going to college was “the most important decision I’ve made to this day.”

Lloyd told the crowd in the Little Theater that as seniors they are now at a critical point in their lives.

brandon 051brandon 038“The time for being a kid is over, you are making adult decisions and you need to be prepared to support all of those decisions financially,” he said. “You are going to make terrible decisions with money; you are going to buy things you shouldn’t buy, you are going to make bad business decisions.”

Lloyd did not come to Lowell High alone, he brought his financial advisor, Femi Shote, along for the ride.

brandon 076“Money doesn’t come with instructions,” said Shote, who works with NFL, NBA and MLB players and player unions, guys who at a very young age are suddenly flush with cash and under a lot of pressure regarding what to do with it.

“When you have money, you have options,” Shote told the students, emphasizing the importance of saving money, even a little at a time and learning from your mistakes.

In addition to Lloyd and Shote, members of the JDCU financial education team, along with video messages from actor Wilmer Valderrama and professional skateboarder Christian Hosoi, offered further financial advice.

First off – beware of the credit card offers you will be buried in the first time you step foot on a college campus. Free T-shirts, free airline tickets, free music downloads. Sounds great, right?

Read the fine print; 29 percent interest, $40 late fees. Still sound good? Didn’t think so, and the bad choices made with those credit cards will dog you for years down the road.

“Compounding interest is the secret to becoming a millionaire,” said JDCU’s Leisa Brito, explaining the $100 put in the bank today will be $110 in one year, then that interest earned will earn its own interest, leaving you with $121 in two years; that’s $21 you did not have to lift a finger to earn. Let your money work for you.

When asked how they would spend an unlimited cache of cash, the students answered quickly: “Shoes!” “Clothes!” “Hot dogs!” “My mom!” and “Jewelry!”

Gone Green?

They say it isn’t easy being green, but it seems to be getting easier every year; building professionals are catching on to the long-term benefits to building “green,” which include energy cost savings and efficiency.

The city of Lowell, an enthusiastic supporter of sustainable building practices wants to salute you for your “green” construction project.

The Green Building Commission is accepting applications for their annual Green Building Excellence award.

The purpose of the program is to recognize construction or significant renovation work in residential or commercial/industrial or nonprofit buildings that demonstrate green and sustainable building practices.

City owned or operated buildings are not eligible.

Award criteria are based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process.

Anyone may nominate a building project within the City of Lowell that has demonstrated best practices in sustainable design and construction.

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday January 15, 2013.

Unity Place

Last year the honor was award to the Coalition for a Better Acre’s 23-unit Unity Place Apartment development on Moody Street.

The CBA took a site that had been home to two dilapidated buildings and gave it new, sustainable, life. Green features at Unity Place include: a solar-powered hot water heating system; energy-efficient heating and cooling systems; pervious pavement; high-efficiency windows and lighting and an energy-recovery ventilator that reclaims exhaust heat and tempers incoming air.

For more information about the Green Building Commission, and for a full announcement and application/nomination form, please visit: http://greenbuilding.lowellma.gov/ or call Neighborhood Planner Allegra Williams at 978-674-4252.

Forget the Mall — FREE Photos with Santa Downtown

 

On Saturday December 1 and Saturday December 8, Santa will be in the Mill City and you or your child can have your photo taken with him for FREE! Why pay the ridiculous prices at the Mall? You can even bring your own camera if you prefer!

Santa will be at the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on both days. The first 50 families on each day will receive a free stocking. Everyone gets a free candy cane!

The holidays and winter season are a very busy time. To make sure you don’t miss any fun activities, opportunities for savings, or  important news, follow and like the City of Lowell, Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce and COOL on Facebook and Twitter!