Kayla Cruz, A Great Ambassador For Lowell

Gov_Kayla_351There are some very impressive young people in Lowell. Too often we only hear about kids getting into trouble or being disrespectful or lazy.

In my experience in getting to meet some of the students attending the Lowell Public Schools, it is clear the “good apples” far outnumber the  “bad apples.” The future of Lowell is in good hands.

Kayla Cruz is one of those good apples. Having just completed 8th grade at the Pyne Arts School, Kayla was an ambassador in Gov. Deval Patrick’s Project 351, an initiative designed to promote and support the next generation of service leaders. Membership is made up of eighth-graders from each of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns.

Earlier this month, Kayla addressed the Project 351 reunion at Gillette Stadium, presenting the project the Pyne Arts Jr. National Honors Society completed earlier this month, a walk-a-thon that raised $4700.93 to benefit Boston Marathon bombing survivors Celeste and Sydney Corcoran of Lowell. For more on the walk-a-thon see this post:  https://room50.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/pyne-arts-strong/

Below is the speech Kayla delivered before Gov. Patrick and other members of Project 351 at Gillette Stadium:

Good morning!  My name is Kayla Cruz, and I’m a Project 351 Ambassador from the Pyne Arts School in Lowell.

On behalf of all Project 351 Ambassadors and Alumni, I would like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone who helped make this day possible. In particular I would like to thank you, Governor Patrick, and the Patriot’s organization, for believing in us. I am so honored to be here and part of Project 351.

I will never forget being called in to a meeting at school last November and learning I’d been nominated as my city’s Ambassador.  We have over 1,000 8th graders in Lowell, so I felt like I had won the lottery.  Being the 2nd youngest of 6 children, I didn’t exactly have a lot of leadership opportunities at home… but I have always found joy in helping others, and my teachers recognized my leadership potential.

Governor, in January you talked about the example of Dr. King and asked us to “Unite, Act, Lead”.   I want you to know that I — and all of the Ambassadors — listened.

And, we served through Spring Greening and countless acts of kindness.  Every person here has their story of making a difference as an Ambassador and every one of them is amazing.  I’m honored to share mine as an example of what Project 351 inspires.

Just this past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to “unite, act, lead” through a school walkathon to raise money to support victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

My friends and I came up with idea in April, but we had no idea how much work it would take.  But, I have learned, that when you have people who believe in you like my Project 351 coach and teacher Mr. Neagle and you — Governor Patrick — anything is possible.

As you know many people were severely injured in the attack. Two particular victims were Sydney and Celeste Corcoran of Lowell. I didn’t know them, but Sydney was a high school student who graduated from Lowell High last week, and Celeste is her mother. Sadly, Celeste lost both of her legs, and Sydney almost died, but amazing bystanders saved her life.

Our ‘Walkathon’ really had two goals:  to show Sydney and her mom that we were thinking about them, and to try to raise some money for their medical bills.

I had the opportunity to go to Lowell City Hall to present our idea to the Lowell Parks board meeting, and they approved my park permit and waived the fee.  My friends and I then visited classrooms to talk about our walk and we gave pledge forms to 500 students. We also made t-shirts, posters, and PA announcements to get everyone excited.

At the recommendation of Carolyn from Project 351, we invited first responders to be our honorary guests. They were incredibly supportive and it really made the event special. We had 2 fire engines, a rescue truck, 2 police cars, and a K-9 unit!  Nothing like this has been done in our school before.

Our initial goal was $2,000 but everyone went above and beyond what we expected. All together we raised $4,700.93 in just 10 days!

The best part was presenting the check to policeman Paul Corcoran, Sydney’s uncle. He had tears in his eyes, amazed by the total. My friends and I were so proud that we put the whole day together and raised almost $5,000. We didn’t think we would even raise $2000, but we all worked very hard and accomplished our goal.

No surprise, Project 351 and the walk-a-thon has really had an impact on me. To know that I—an 8th grader, can present to city hall, lead students and encourage them to show compassion for others, and play some small part in the healing process for such a senseless tragedy, is really inspiring.  And, to know that hundreds of other 8th grade Ambassadors and Alumni are serving their communities like me makes me proud.

There are so many other stories like mine here today, and I am honored to stand up and represent my fellow Ambassadors and Alumni.  To us Project 351 is not just a name, it’s become part of who we are.

Serving with my fellow Ambassadors, learning from you and the Project 351 team, and having the support of my family, teachers, and classmates has given me the courage and confidence to lead.  I’m so excited for today and grateful to you Governor Patrick and to the Kraft family for inspiring us to develop our leadership skills and make the world a better place.  We won’t let you down.


Welcome to Neighborland

Econ 004Hooters? Affordable housing? Macy’s? — TRADER JOE’S?! What do you want to see move into the vacant spots in YOUR neighborhood? The city’s Office of Economic Development wants to know.

Econ 016Wednesday at noon,  Lowell launched Neighborland, a civic engagement initiative to solicit ideas from the people who work and live in the city regarding how they would like the vacant ground-floor commercial/retail spaces in the downtown used. While there are challenges to being able to attract some of the suggested ideas, the city hopes to harness the creative energy of Lowell’s population to help shape the make-up of the downtown. Additionally, having a deeper understanding of what people want to bring to the city will assist the city in its business recruitment efforts.

Today “I want ______ in my neighborhood” stickers were placed on the vacant storefront of 107 Merrimack Street, previously Chantilly Place. People passing by are encouraged to use the Sharpie provided and express their thoughts. A big part of this initiative is having a presence on all social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even the Neighborland website.

Econ 005Econ 005SHARE your ideas online at https://neighborland.com/cities/lowell-ma
TWEET photos of your stickers by using the following hash tags #Lowell #Neighborland
LEARN more about Neighborland visit: http://www.neighborland.com

Econ 007

Mosquito Control Coming Soon!

mosStarting July 1, Lowell will become a member of the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project.

On July 2, 10, 17, 24 and 31 staff from the CMMCP will be investigating mosquito complaints in Lowell. Those dates are subject to change due to weather conditions, mosquito populations, mosquito virus activity and/or special event spraying.  To register a complaint, call 508-393-3055 between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

If warranted, following investigation, the targeted complaint area will be sprayed with insecticide, either by hand or by truck-mounted equipment dependent on the extent of the application. Information regarding the types of insecticide used can be found here: http://www.cmmcp.org/products.htm

By law, residents may exclude their property from spraying, which can be done by calling the CMMCP office or applying for an exclusion through their website:


The best way to limit the mosquito population and decrease incidents of mosquito-borne disease around your home is to follow these tips: 

Mosquito Control Around the Home:

Mosquito activity around the home can be reduced significantly by decreasing the amount of standing water available for larval mosquito habitat.

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property. Do not overlook containers that have become overgrown by any type of vegetation.
  • Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have accumulated on your property. The used tire has become the most important domestic mosquito producer in this area. To remove your tires free of charge, check this link: www.cmmcp.org/tires.htm
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left out of doors. Drainage holes that are located on the sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to develop in.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce many mosquitoes each season.
  • Turn over plastic kiddie pools when not in use. A kiddie pool becomes a significant mosquito producer if it is not emptied on a regular basis.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths. Both provide breeding habitat for domestic mosquitoes.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family that goes on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may develop in the water that collects on swimming pool covers. Call CMMCP for assistance with abandoned swimming pools.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts more than 4 days.
  • If you have wetlands in your area you may be tempted to put something in there to control mosquitoes – IT IS A VIOLATION OF THE WETLANDS PROTECTION ACT FOR ANYONE TO ALTER A WETLAND IN ANY WAY WITHOUT APPROVAL FROM THE LOCAL CONSERVATION COMMISSION. Please call our office if you have a wetland in your area. We are trained and allowed to use mosquito control products in these types of areas. This service is provided free of charge to residents of our member cities and towns.
  • Often people use a tarp to cover items such as firewood or boats. Always keep the tarp tight and drain any water off the surface. Any depressions in the tarp can hold enough water to produce many mosquitoes each week.
  • Boats can hold rainwater. Make sure the plug in the bottom of the boat is open so water can drain from it. Or better yet, put your boat in the garage or turn it over so it can’t hold any water.
  • Habitat management in your yard may be of benefit. While mosquitoes do not reproduce in tall grass or shrubs, any areas with shade may serve to harbor mosquitoes during the daytime. If you can keep grass cut short (4 in. or less), keep shrubs & trees trimmed, and keep low brush away from the areas you like to use in your yard, you may be able to minimize your exposure to mosquitoes. Sun and wind will help to keep large numbers of mosquitoes away from your area.
  • If you have mosquitoes inside your house, check your window screens to make sure there are no holes in them. Even small holes can allow a mosquito to enter the house.

Celebrate America’s Birthday in Lowell!




Celebrate Independence Day in Lowell on Friday, July 5, at LeLacheur Park and enjoy an evening of live music and expanded family activities!

(LOWELL, MA – June 24, 2013) The City of Lowell is preparing for a very special Independence Daycelebration starting at 6:30pm on Friday, July 5 (rain date, July 6), in a brand new location: Edward A.LeLacheur Park, located at 450 Aiken Street. Home to the Lowell Spinners, the city’s Minor League baseball team and Class A Short Season Affiliate to the Boston Red Sox, the new location will include expanded activities for families including face painting, mascot madness, balloon art, and a magician. Admission to the stadium will be free, and the city is also providing free parking at the George Ayotte Garage (11 Post Office Square) and at Lot A behind Tremont Place. Additional parking will be at UMass Lowell’s stadium lot for $5.00 per vehicle. Limited on-street parking near LeLacheur Park will also be available.


This year, the entire event is being moved to July 5th to accommodate this exciting new location. The stadium will open to the public at 6:30pm, live music from the Adam Jensen Band will begin at 7pm, and the fireworks finale will start at 9pm. The LeLacheur Park site allows for a different type of fireworks that will be visible for up to a mile from the launch site in Centralville. In addition to LeLacheur Park’s 5,000 seats which will be available free to the public, the new event site also offers additional viewing locations along the River Walk from Lawrence Mills to the University Avenue Bridge and in St. Louis Field across the river in Centralville. Though League regulations prohibit outside food and drinks being brought into the stadium, spectators will be able to purchase a wide variety of treats — including ice cream, hot dogs, popcorn, and assorted beverages – from the Park’s concession stands.


“We think this is a great opportunity to extend the Independence Day celebration throughout the weekend,” said Susan Halter, the City’s Director of Special Events and Cultural Affairs. “On the 4th of July, as always, you can enjoy a leisurely picnic and swimming with friends and family along the Merrimack River at Sampas Pavilion. Then Friday, July 5th, come down to LeLacheur Park to enjoy live music and a spectacular display of fireworks.”


Event sponsors as of June 24 are Lowell Bank, Lowell General Hospital, UMass Lowell, the Lowell Plan, Lowell Development & Financial Corporation, and Athenian Corner restaurant. For full details and a map on fireworks viewing locations, visit www.Lowell.org or contact the City of Lowell’s Special Events Office at 978-674-4260.

Bonjour Amis! C’est La Semaine Franco-Americaine!

Monday morning, in honor of St. Jean Baptiste Day and Franco-American Week, the City of Lowell raised the Quebec flag at City Hall.



Former Mayor Armand LeMay, with Mayor Murphy and Assistant to the City Manager Henri Marchand.

Former Mayor Armand LeMay, with Mayor Murphy and Assistant to the City Manager Henri Marchand.


Lucien Dalpe, Franco-American Club President Kevin Roy, and Franco-American of the Year Therese Daigle.

Lucien Dalpe, Franco-American Club President Kevin Roy, and Franco-American of the Year Therese Daigle.

Rev. Lucien Sawyer addresses the crowd

Rev. Lucien Sawyer addresses the crowd


Former Mayor Armand LeMay leads the crowd in singing "O Canada"

Former Mayor Armand LeMay leads the crowd in singing “O Canada”

The celebrations continue all week. Here is the schedule of events:

Franco-American Festival Week Schedule

Monday June 24:

7 p.m.: Vespers (evening prayer) in honor of St. Jean-Baptiste at Franco-American school grotto (357 Pawtucket St., Lowell) sponsored by the Franco-American Day Committee. Please bring your lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, vespers will be held in the school chapel. After the prayer service, a wine and cheese social sponsored by Roland and Daniel Martin of the Roland W. Martin Funeral Home will be held in the school cafeteria. Admission is free and the public is invited.

Tuesday June 25:

2:30 p.m.: Québéçois Film Festival sponsored by La Librairie Populaire, at St. Rita’s Parish Hall (158 Mammoth Rd.). Films will be shown at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is free.

Wednesday June 26:

4:30 p.m.: Ham and Bean Supper sponsored by the Franco-American Day Committee at the Ste. Marguerite d’Youville Parish Hall, 1340 Lakeview Ave., Dracut. The public is invited. Adults $7, Seniors $6, Children under 10-years-old $2. Family plan $15.

Thursday June 27:

6 p.m.: Learn how to Quadrille. Club Lafayette, 465 Fletcher St. Come and learn how to quadrille under the direction of Ray Paquin. The event is open to all ages, great for singles, couples and families. No partners needed. The public is invited. Free admission.

Friday June 28:

6:30 p.m.: Family Bingo Night in French at Ste. Marguerite d’Youville Parish Hall, 1340 Lakeview Ave., Dracut sponsored by Royal Arcanum ACA and Club Richelieu of Lowell. One card $2 and three cards $5. The public is invited.

Saturday June 29:

6 p.m.: La Famille LeBlanc from Livermore, Maine will present music that the Franco-Americans love. Soirée Franco-Américaine at the Lowell Senior Center, 276 Broadway St., Lowell. Admission is free and the public is invited.

Sunday June 30:

2 p.m.: Old Fashioned Game Party at St. Rita’s Parish Hall, 158 Mammoth Rd., sponsored by Royal Arcanum ACA. Bring your own deck of cards or games and friends also. Door prize will be given as well as a prize for the winner at each table. Free admission. The public is invited.

Healthy Summer

School is out for the summer! No homework! No Algebra! No food?

Unfortunately that is a reality for too many school-aged children in the United States.

imageWhile summer should be the most fun time of the year for kids, “their parents and guardians may be anxious to provide all three meals during the summer,”  Merrimack Valley Food Bank Executive Director Amy Pessia said at Thursday’s Healthy summer press conference at City Hall.

Nationally, 21 million children receive free or reduced price breakfast and/or lunch during the school year; only 3 million, or 1 in 7 of those children, are fed in summer programs.

In Massachusetts, that figure is a little better, rising to 1 in 5 children.

image“But, we have to do better,” James Arena-DeRosa , USDA Northeast Region Regional Administrator said.

He added kids who are not well fed during the summer return to school in September unprepared and lagging behind their peers.

“Kids who have chronic nutrition problems are not ready to learn,” Arena-DeRosa said.

Mayor Patrick Murphy echoed the statements made by Pessia and Arena-DeRosa. imageGrowing up the son of two Lowell Public School teachers, he was well-aware of the problem of hunger in the city.

His mother, Joan, taught ay the Rogers School, where 97 percent of the student population received free or reduced price meals.

“Many times these were the only meals these kids would have during the day,” Murphy said, adding he fully supports the strong partnerships that have formed in the city between government agencies and non-profit organizations to provide programs to feed kids during the summer months, “so our children can continue to learn and play throughout the summer.”

imageArena-DeRosa urged any parent or child in need of food services to call the Project Bread food source hotline at 1-800-645-8333 to locate local summer feeding sites. There are 800 sites in Massachusetts that serve 3 million children each summer.

imageAdditionally, Pessia added the Merrimack Valley Food Bank is urging people to donate non-perishable food items to the food bank or their local food pantries. The summer is the most difficult time of the year for these organizations because people generally only think about donating food at the holidays, but it is needed year-round.

“We don’t want anyone to be turned away when they are seeking emergency food assistance,” Pessia said. “If we can provide them with a little food they can avoid having their electricity shut off or their house being foreclosed on.”

The Merrimack Valley Food Bank is located at 735 Broadway Street. Their website is: http://mvfb.org/

The city’s Recreation Department and their partners are offering a variety of activities to keep kids active and having fun (and fed) this summer. Check out their Healthy Summer brochure here: http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/parks-recreation/recreation-division/HSB


Small Business, Backbone of Local Economy

Two years ago Hanson Bechat moved his business, Neighborhood Parcel, a shipping and document shredding firm, from Tewksbury to Lowell.

At first he was apprehensive. He had faced frustration in the past as a business owner.

Hanson Bechat of Neighborhood Parcel and

Hanson Bechat of Neighborhood Parcel and

“I got used to the answer always being “no” before the question was asked,” he said.
“But when we asked for help from the city of Lowell, we got it. We were shocked.”

“I am very pleased with the level of support the city provides for businesses,” Bechat, who also runs the networking group Boston North Business Association, participated in Wednesday’s Small Business Resource Fair in recognition of Small Business Week at Cross Point.

Elkin Montoya of Sage Bank (formerly Lowell Bank) discusses services offered by the bank to fair attendees.

Elkin Montoya of Sage Bank (formerly Lowell Bank) discusses services offered by the bank to fair attendees.

This year the city expanded its Small Business Week event to include its regional partners in the Middlesex 3 Coalition. Made up of the five communities along the Route 3 corridor (Burlington, Bedford, Billerica, Chelmsford and Lowell), the group is working together to build a long-term vision for the economic development of the region.

“Lowell cannot survive on its own, it is part of a region,” said City Manager Bernie Lynch, adding the expansion of Route 3 has opened up more business opportunities along that corridor.

Both Lynch and Mayor Patrick Murphy spoke of the importance of small and medium-sized businesses to a local economy.

image“You can’t put all of your eggs in one basket,” Lynch said, reflecting on the city’s past.

In the 19th century the city’s entire economic development strategy centered on the textile industry; in the 20th century it was Wang Laboratories. The city struggled for years following the crash of both industries.

Murphy said the city and region needs a mix of small and medium-sized businesses to survive and thrive.

image“The city of Lowell recognizes the role small and medium sized businesses play,” Murphy said, adding support for those businesses has been championed by Lynch and Economic Development Director Theresa Park who “has done a great job as our economic development coordinator.”

As part of the event, Scott Fallavollita, of United Tool and Die of Wilmington, was named the Small business Administration’s Massachusetts person of the year.

imageFallavollita bought the business in 2007 and turned it around with assistance from a SBA loan and a training grant from the state. Today he employs 16 workers and boasts $2.1 million in sales annually.

He also gives back to the community in a number of ways, including employing inmates from the Billerica House of Correction as part of their work release program.

“I took advantage of all of the tools made available,” Fallavollita said. “I’m a big believer in those programs. I think they make a difference and I hope they continue being funded.”

imageimageimageParticipating the in Resource Fair were several banks, UMass Lowell, the City of Lowell, the Career Center of Lowell, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, the Middlesex 3 member towns and others.

imageOne interesting entrepreneur at the event, who you are sure to be hearing a lot more about soon, is Samir ElKamouny.

imageIn the spring of 2014 he will launch Green Bikes Lowell (www.greenbikesoflowell.com), an affordable bike sharing business.

The bikes are GPS-enabled and track your route, how many calories you burned, how much carbon you reduced and how much money you saved versus driving. Bikes can be booked using a web browser, mobile application, or the keypad interface on the bike.

ElKamouny said he will be employing youths from UTEC and Youth Build, teaching them not only how to fix and maintain bikes, but also the administrative tasks that go with running a business.

The event’s keynote speaker was Bobbie Carlton of Carlton PR and Marketing, who started Innovation Nights LLC, a monthly free networking event that over the last four years has launched more that 500 new products, with 394 of those companies still in business.