The City of Lowell Has Gone to the Dogs

habitat 111On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Patrick Murphy, along with officials fromn the city’s Office of Economic Development, Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, and Merrimack Valley Small Business Center joined sisters Deb Chicarello and Karen Philips at the Grand opening of their pet bakery/boutique Pawsitive Thoughts at the corner of Central and Jackson Streets.

Karen Philips and Deb Chicarello

Karen Philips and Deb Chicarello

This is their second location. The first is on Boston Road in Billerica. They bake homemade dog treats (aka “pawstries”) made from all natural ingredients and loved by their taste testers, Deb’s dog Nike and Karen’s dog Chloe.

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Chloe and Nike

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Treat time!

They also carry a variety of pet food products, toys, and apparel. For more information visit http://www.pawsitive

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Mayor Patrick Murphy presented the sisters with the following citation:


 Be it hereby known to all that

the City of Lowell in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

hereby welcomes


and its owners


 to its location at 219 Central St .

 The City is honored that Deb and Karen have chosen to open a store in Downtown Lowell where all of our furry friends can stop in for toys, apparel, pawstries, or just to chew the elk antlers and make new friends.   

 We wish them many years of helping to keep our canine and feline citizens healthy and happy, while making downtown Lowell a more friendly and fun place to live, work and shop.

 The entire City of Lowell extends its deepest wishes to Pawsitive Thoughts for many years of success.

 Given this 26th day of November, 2013

Patrick Ó. Murphy


Joseph Mendonca

Vice Chair

 Rodney M. Elliott

Edward J. Kennedy, Jr.

John J. Leahy

Martin E. Lorrey

William F. Martin, Jr.

Rita M. Mercier

Vesna E. Nuon

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Special order doggie meal for Thanksgiving. They are also offering a Christmas meal.

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Home for the Holidays

Mayor Patrick Murphy congratulates the Medeiros and Pol families as they move into their new homes.

Mayor Patrick Murphy congratulates the Medeiros and Pol families as they move into their new homes.

Last Thanksgiving, Sandra Medeiros was notified that her application was accepted by Habitat for Humanity.

This Thanksgiving, she and her five sons will celebrate in their new home.

They and Lorna Pol and her family were given the keys to the duplex at 49-51 Rock Street in the city’s Acre neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.

habitat 042Last year at this time the lot, donated to Habitat by the city, was just dirt. Since then, 1,100 volunteers, including Sandra Medeiros and Lorna Pol put 9,900 hours of work into building the house. Another duplex is in the process of being built next door.

The Rock Street project furthers the city’s vision for the continued revitalization of the Acre neighborhood, which has been ongoing for 15 years. It is the first project Habitat has done in Lowell since the construction of three duplexes on Harmony Way in the city’s Back Central neighborhood in 2004.

Sandra Medeiros hugs Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager Scott Carpenter.

Sandra Medeiros hugs Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager Scott Carpenter.

The organization has built 24 homes in the region since 1991 in Bedford, Billerica, Reading, Westford and Lowell.

Those chosen to own the homes are not given them for free; they are granted and must pay back a 0% 30-year mortgage. Applicants are vetted to determine they do have a steady income and are required to invest 400 hours of sweat equity in building their home.

Sponsors for the Rock Street project include: Thrivent Financial, Netscout, Cisco, RE/MAX Prestige, Progress Software, Litle & Co.; IBEW 103; and Greater Lowell Technical High School.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell, visit

The groundbreaking for the Rock Street houses on October 25, 2012.

The groundbreaking for the Rock Street houses on October 25, 2012.

Sandra Medeiros helping to lift a wall of her home into place on February 5.

Sandra Medeiros helping to lift a wall of her home into place on February 5.

Trouble in Toyland — What NOT to Buy

toys 025By Jennifer Myers

It is a place that may contain toxic levels of lead, cadmium, phthalates, and antimony.

A Superfund toxic waste site? A research laboratory? Area 51?

Nope – your toy box.

Tuesday morning MASSPIRG (Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group) released its 28th annual dangerous toys report, “Trouble in Toyland” at CTI’s Children’s Corner Learning Center.

Among the dangers discovered this year were several toys that lab tests determined contain high levels of toxic substances, explained MASSPIRG Advocate Matthew Wellington.

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pencil case, for instance, contains 150,000 ppm of DEHP, one of six phthalates banned from toys (the legal limit is 1,000 ppm), as well as excessive levels (600 ppm) of the toxic metal cadmium. Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastic more flexible.

MASSPIRG's Matthew Wellington

MASSPIRG’s Matthew Wellington

Wellington explained the manufacturer is able to get away with using these high levels of chemicals because the law only applies to surface coatings of toys, but if a child were to chew on the soft pencil case he or she would ingest the toxins, which can cause long-term developmental delays and behavioral problems.

MASSPIRG’s survey of toys available for purchase in every place from dollar stores to the big box stores also found items that pose choking hazards, loud toys that can cause long-term hearing loss, and magnets that, if swallowed, can cause serious injury or death.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2009 and 2011 there were 1,700 emergency room visits attributed to the ingestion of high-powered magnets. More than 70 percent of those patients were children between the ages of 4 and 12.

Mayor Patrick Murphy and State Democratic Committee member Elizabeth Coughlin

Mayor Patrick Murphy and State Democratic Committee member Elizabeth Coughlin

“We’ve come a long way from Dan Aykroyd and Bag O’ Glass,” quipped Mayor Patrick Murphy.

While there may not be toys on the shelf today quite as obviously dangerous as the old favorite Bag O’Glass, the hidden dangers packaged in colorful boxes and available at the mall are just as dangerous.

Murphy said, while little can be done on a local level to regulate the manufacturing industry, “we can bring awareness to the issue, and tell the people in our community about the dangers of these products.”

“When toys become a danger, we have betrayed our children,” said Ainat Koren, a professor at UMass Lowell’s School of Nursing, adding that 100,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year for toy-related injuries.

toys 003Koren said she advises parents to “think big” when buying toys for children under the age of 3, to avoid choking hazards. Additionally, some toys that appear to be age-appropriate may not pass the test of a curious child, who will take them apart and get small pieces stuck in his nose, ear or throat.

“If there is a quiet moment in the house, there is danger,” Koren said. “Check on your kid.”

Wellington said the best way to determine if a toy is a choking hazard is if it fits inside a cardboard toilet paper roll.

MASSPIRG’s complete 2013 “Trouble in Toyland” report is available here:

In the last 28 years the annual report has lead to the recall of 150 dangerous toys.

Report unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC at and or call the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772.

The Leapfrog Chat and Count Smartphone emits sounds loud enough to cause hearing loss

The Leapfrog Chat and Count Smartphone emits sounds loud enough to cause hearing loss


Taylor Made (to be Lowell Police Superintendent)

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Lowell Police Superintendent Bill Taylor addresses the crowd shortly after being sworn-in.

By Jennifer Myers

He executed search warrants, rounded up suspects and shut down enterprising drug dealers, large and small, throughout Greater Lowell as a detective in the Special Investigations Unit in the 1980s.

“But, for every drug operation we closed down, there was always another waiting to take its place,” recalled Bill Taylor, shortly after being sworn-in as the 35th Superintendent of the Lowell Police Department. “Community policing found triumphs where undercover work and battering rams would not.”  

Taylor 050During the 1990’s when then-Superintendent Ed Davis, implemented the community policing method in the city, Taylor saw first-hand, as the sergeant in charge of the Acre and Belvidere police neighborhood precincts, how having more officers walking a beat on foot or riding a bicycle, building relationships with residents and business owners not only deterred crime, but also the perception of crime.

Taylor 051“I pledge to the people living and working in the city you will see the return of walking and bicycle officers to our neighborhood streets,” Taylor said Monday morning, adding he will also continue to focus on “smart-policing” principles, using data to strategically deploy personnel.

That strategy will also involve working in collaboration with the city’s Fire, Development Services, and Planning departments, as well as the Department of Public Works to identify and clean-up crime hot spots in the city, Taylor added, pointing to the work that has been done in Jacksonville, Florida as an example.

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Former Lowell Police Superintendent and Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

Davis, who recently retired from his position as the Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, said he, Taylor  and other police officers of their generation “stand here as a bridge” between the old and new ways of approaching police work.

When Ed Davis and Bill Taylor and Ken Lavallee were young cops, they were patrolling places like the Laconia Lounge and other places where they knew there was crime. In the 1970’s policing was more reactive, more about making arrests than preventing crime.

When Davis became Superintendent of the Lowell Police in the 1990’s he ushered in the era of community policing, adding police to the neighborhoods and opening police substations. The result? A 60 percent reduction in major crimes.

Today, police work involves not only the basic tenants of investigation and problem solving, but knowing how to best utilize data and social media.

Taylor 089“He has the intellect to understand the changes,” Davis said of Taylor, one of the first members of the Lowell Police Department to fully embrace social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Side note: Taylor read his speech Monday, not from a printed sheet of paper, but off his iPad.

Davis and Taylor did not meet at roll call. The duo worked together as teenagers at the Market Basket in the Sunrise Plaza on Bridge Street in the city’s Centralville neighborhood.

“Bill was way ahead of me back then – he was in grocery, I was a bagger,” quipped Davis.

Davis left Taylor Monday with a piece of advice gifted to him by the late U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas: “You need to set goals. People need to know what your goals are and they will respond to them.”

Taylor 056Many of the speakers at Monday’s event, noted the depth of internal candidates City Manager Bernie Lynch had to choose from inside the Lowell Police Department in choosing a permanent replacement for retired Superintendent Ken Lavallee.

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The Lowell High School A Capella Chorus performed the National Anthem.

Lynch said his decision was difficult, but in the end it was a “great pleasure and honor” to choose Taylor to lead the department due to his intelligence, commitment to the community and his understanding of the importance of setting goals and strategies, as well as the fact he understands the importance of community policing and the opportunities presented through technology to use  data to make wise decisions in utilizing personnel.

“He does understand the future of policing,” Lynch added.

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Police Chaplain Father Paul Clifford leads the room in prayer.

“It’s an honor to work with you” Taylor said in addressing the LPD command staff, including the two Deputy Superintendents – Arthur Ryan Jr. and Deb Friedl, who served as Interim Superintendent since Ken Lavallee’s March retirement. “Our department certainly cannot succeed without the leadership and guidance you provide.”

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Judge Thomas Brennan administers the oath of office to Superintendent Taylor.

Taylor 107State Sen. Eileen Donoghue and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan also spoke at the event, praising Taylor.

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Middlesex DA Marian Ryan

Ryan said she has known taylor since he was a detective in the Special Investigations Unit in the 1980’s and knows he will continue the deep, rich partnership between her office and the LPD.

“This is a wonderful appointment,” Ryan said, citing Taylor’s varied experience. “Superintendent Taylor comes to this position having done nearly every job in the department.”

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State Sen. Eileen Donoghue

“Superintendent Taylor, your reputation for efficiency, professionalism, and fairness is what Lowell needs now,” added Donaghue. “The job ahead of you is a large one, but I trust and know you are up to the task.”

Taylor, 56, of Dracut, is a 31-year veteran of the Lowell Police Department. He was joined Monday morning by his wife, Karen and children Alena, 26, Patrick, 22 and Victoria, 19.

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Mayor Patrick Murphy

Mayor Patrick Murphy’s Address

Good morning. Let me first begin by acknowledging former Police Superintendents Ken Lavallee and Ed Davis for their service to our city.  And Deb Friedl also deserves our appreciation for the job she has done as acting superintendent.  Each of these people has led the department with distinction. Many others, well qualified, have sought the position, and we thank them for their continued commitment to our city. Lastly, we thank all the officers who do the job of protecting us.

Much talk has been made of late, of concern around the city for the safety of our citizens. Indeed, this should always be our concern.  And while many of the statistics show violent crime trending in the right direction, the feeling of people–the fear–is still there. And so the challenge for the leadership in this city is not only to reduce crime and violence, but also to reduce the fear of crime and violence. Because if less people feel free to walk and bike our streets, to play in our parks at every hour of the day and into the night, are instead frightened in their own neighborhoods and homes, then we will have, in fact, streets and parks and neighborhoods that are less safe to walk and play and live in.

There is also much talk of adding more police officers to address the fear. In the near term, this will certainly help. But is important to recognize that a larger police force is merely a means to an end–that in the end, what we want is a safer community, a place where we are not responding to the worst, not even where we are fixing broken windows to prevent more serious disorder, but where we have created a more caring built and social environment in which the impulse to break windows or commit crime is itself stunted.

We are lucky today to swear in a highly professional and thoughtful leader who understands the importance of community policing and smart policing, the relationship between police and community planning, the use of data to drive decision making, and is, most of all, mindful that he has been asked to contribute to part of larger task.

For building peace in our city is not simply the responsibility of the superintendent, or any single department, or even solely of city government, but of the whole community–businesses, non-profits, churches, children and parents and all residents. We can all nevertheless take great confidence from the selection of William Taylor as our Superintendent.  In his life, he has risen to meet many challenges, and will continue to do so. We offer him our congratulations and our support.

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Service Rewarded

Buckley 016In 1963, 17-year-old Al Buckley dropped out of Lowell High School to join the U.S. Navy.

Wednesday night, 50 years later, he received his high school diploma.

Buckley 005Under Massachusetts state law, school committees have the authority to issue high school diplomas to honorably discharged veterans who fought in World War II, the Korean or Vietnam Wars, who joined the Armed Forces prior to completing their high school graduation requirements.

This summer, following years of thinking about it, Mr. Buckley petitioned Mayor Patrick Murphy, requesting his diploma.

He was awarded his diploma by Mayor Patrick Murphy, Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco and Lowell High School Headmaster Brian Martin at Wednesday night’s School Committee meeting.

Buckley 007Mr. Buckley, 67, grew up on a farm in Dunstable (when kids from Tyngsboro and Dunstable attended Lowell High School). He served in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to 1970, including two tours in Vietnam. He served aboard the USS Buchanan and earned the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze Star.

USS Buchanan

USS Buchanan

vietnamnational defenseHe has lived in Pepperell since 1976 and is a plumbing and heating contractor. He and his wife, Susan, have raised eight sons; the youngest, Nathan, served two tours in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army.

Buckley 014Buckley 018Mr. Buckley has been an active member of his community, having served on the Pepperell Conservation Commission and Board of Health and has served on the Nashoba Valley Technical High School Committee for two decades.

New Bridge Dedicated to Richard P. Howe Sr.

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Mary and Dick Howe Sr. in front, Roxane and Dick Howe Jr. in back.

By Jennifer Myers

“A bridge is a pathway over an obstruction,” Martha Howe said at Tuesday morning’s dedication of the bridge spanning the Merrimack River named in honor of her father, former 40-year City Councilor and four-term Mayor Richard Howe Sr.   “For 40 years my father forged pathways over obstructions. He was a voice for those who had no voice. He welcomed confrontation and his opposition. He welcomed debate.”

Richard Howe Sr., 80, grew up on Shaw Street and after graduating from Keith Academy, earned a baseball scholarship to Providence College where he was a star first baseman. He was then drafted into the Army. Following his service, Howe taught in Billerica and in Lowell and earned his law degree from Suffolk University.


In 1965, he was elected to the Lowell City Council, where he remained for 40 years, deciding to retire at the end of 2005. Howe served as Mayor in the 1970-71, 1988-89, 1990-91 and 1994-95 terms.

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan pointed out that to Richard Howe, being Mayor of Lowell was never just ceremonial.

HoweBridge 075In 1987, when the federal government was threatening to take over the city’s schools, Howe convinced the judge to give him time to pull together a plan. He put together a team that led to the building of 10 new schools in the city and kept the district out of the clutches of the feds.

Howe supported and pushed for the preservation of the city’s historic structures, for the construction of the Tsongas Arena and LeLacheur Park, and helped pave the way for the Cross Point Towers to be reborn following the demise of Wang.

HoweBridge 033He was a big-picture thinker who was never afraid to ruffle a few feathers if it meant standing up for what he believed to be right and in the best interest of the city.

Meehan and City Manager Bernie Lynch talked about what a crucial project the new bridge is for both the university and the city, connecting North Campus with East Campus and the upper Merrimack Street corridor, a connection that will increase economic development activity and continue the revitalization of  upper Merrimack Street.

HoweBridge 140On the North Campus (Pawtucketville) said of the bridge is the university’s $83 million Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center. On the East Campus (Acre) side of the bridge sits the still-under-construction $100 million University Crossing student union building.

HoweBridge 038“Dick Howe Sr. served the city with distinction, with integrity,” said Lynch. “His contributions have made the city what it is today.”

In addition to Meehan, Lynch and Mayor Patrick Murphy, others who attended the ceremony included: State Reps. Tom Golden, Kevin Murphy and Dave Nangle;  the entire City Council; former Mayor and City Councilor-elect Jim Milinazzo, Former Mayor Bud Caulfield and former City Councilor Kevin Broderick; and former City Manager
James Campbell.

HoweBridge 049At Tuesday’s ceremony, Mayor Patrick Murphy presented the following citation:


 Be it hereby known to all that

the City of Lowell in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

 is pleased to honor former Mayor Richard P. Howe Sr. upon the dedication of the


 in recognition of his outstanding service and dedication to the city of Lowell, having served 40 years on the City Council, including four terms as Mayor.

 In his January 1970 Inaugural Address, Mayor Howe stated: “The challenge confronting each of us today is to return Lowell to its former position as a leader; to re-establish this city as one with a future and not just a past.”

 A leader known for his integrity, the contributions of Richard P. Howe Sr. over more than four decades, were integral to bringing the city to where it is today – back to its position as a leader among mid-sized cities.  Never afraid to speak his mind regardless of the consequences, Mayor Howe always firmly stood by what he believed was in the best interest of the city and of all Lowellians.

 The entire City of Lowell is proud to honor Richard P. Howe Sr., for his service.

 Given this 19th day of November, 2013.


Patrick Ó. Murphy



Joseph Mendonca

Vice Chair

Rodney M. Elliott

Edward J. Kennedy, Jr.

John J. Leahy

Martin E. Lorrey

William F. Martin, Jr.

Rita M. Mercier

Vesna E. Nuon

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Martha Howe and her mom, Mary.

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Bill Taylor Chosen as Lowell Police Superintendent


Bill Taylor, right, at a lower Highlands Neighborhood Group meeting last fall.

On Monday morning, City Manager Bernie Lynch announced he has chosen Acting Deputy Superintendent Bill Taylor as the city’s new Police Superintendent. The position has been held in an interim capacity by Deputy Superintendent Deb Friedl since the March retirement of Superintendent Ken Lavallee.

taylor02 Taylor, 56, of Dracut, has served on the Lowell Police Department for 31 years.

In announcing Taylor’s appointment, Lynch released the following statement:

I am pleased to announce the selection of Deputy Police Chief William Taylor as the next Lowell Police Superintendent.

My decision comes after careful consideration of the strengths, opportunities and needs of the Lowell Police Department as it serves the City’s residents, businesses and visitors. My process has been deliberate as I have reviewed the department from the inside and outside, looking at information regarding personnel, equipment, procedures and philosophy.

I also sought and gained valuable input from uniformed members of the department, ordinary citizens, neighborhood leaders, business people, non-profit partners, representatives from the city’s institutions, city youth, representatives of Lowell’s diverse ethnic groups and a number of criminal justice/law enforcement professionals.

With all of the gathered information I interviewed and considered a number of exceptional internal and external candidates that had expressed interest in serving as Lowell Police Superintendent in order to determine the best individual to serve in this highly visible and significant position in Lowell’s city government. In the end, my decision was clear in appointing William Taylor.

Deputy Taylor is a committed 31 year member of the Lowell Police Department. He has a well-balanced career within the department having served on the front line of the operations of the department as a patrol officer, detective, and superior officer. He has also been a key participant in the administration of the department through its Support Services Bureau where he was involved in aspects of budgeting, resource allocation, personnel, technology and equipment. Deputy Taylor has been one of the Department’s leaders in Lowell’s community policing initiatives going back into the early 1990’s, and he has also been at the forefront of Lowell’s new leadership in the area of “Smart Policing” based upon the use of evidence based data for the deployment of resources and creation of law enforcement strategies.

Deputy Taylor brings leadership, knowledge, intelligence, professionalism, ethics and commitment to this position of Lowell Police Superintendent. I believe he will use all of these traits along with the lessons that he has learned through life to be an exceptional Police Superintendent for the City.

I would be remiss if I did not thank everyone within the Police Department who has kept the department moving forward over the last several months while this decision was reached. It has not been an easy time as the Department has grappled with several high profile internal issues, and the City has experienced a spike in certain criminal activity that has been widely publicized. In particular I wish to commend and thank Interim

Superintendent Deborah Friedl for her committed service during this time. The Interim Superintendent has provided calm and steady leadership under very difficult circumstances. We are very fortunate to have such an outstanding individual within our Police Department.