Methuen City Council Returns $1.2M to Budget to Avoid Police Layoffs

The City of Methuen plans to rescind the 50 pink slips
issued to police department personnel last month now that the City Council has
voted to return $1.2 million to the police budget. As a result of the last-minute Council vote, widespread
layoffs expected to begin in March will now be avoided. Thursday’s meeting took
place less than a week after the Massachusetts Inspector General’s office
released a statement that said former mayor Stephen Zanni’s administration
likely violated state laws while negotiating the superior officers’ union
contract. In
doing so, the city contingent “neglected their obligations as public officials
to exercise care and due diligence on behalf of Methuen’s residents,” the
report said. The
Inspector General said the contracts—that would boost the average salary for a
police captain more than 180 percent from the prior contract, for
example—should be voided.

DiZoglio Tours Springfield Casino; Plans to Bring Senators Here

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio was among a group of legislators that toured MGM Springfield Monday. She plans to return the favor by bringing senators across the state to this district in the future. The Methuen Democrat was among senators participating in the “Commonwealth Conversations 2019-2020 Tour.” Sen. James Welch, Democrat from Springfield invited legislators to gauge the impact the casino has had on the region. Topics discussed included employment, tourism, and economic development. The Senate previously visited the site two years ago when the property was under construction.

State Police Begin Wearing Body Cameras for Six-Month Pilot Program

A portion of the force will wear body cameras as part of a new pilot program. (File photograph)

Over the next six months, about 100 Massachusetts state troopers will wear a body camera as they patrol the state and interact with residents as part of a pilot program put into place with other reforms intended to rebuild public trust in the agency. According to the State House News Service, the pilot is meant to allow the State Police to evaluate equipment from several different vendors and officials said the cameras “will provide an additional level of accountability and accuracy for Troopers during their interactions with the public, increase officer safety, and enhance the ability to accurately document the actions of criminal offenders.”

After a series of scandals tainted the State Police’s reputation, Gov. Charlie Baker and State Police Superintendent Col. Kerry Gilpin announced last April that the agency would make a number of changes -- including activating GPS trackers for marked cruisers, the elimination of the Turnpike-patrolling Troop E and early work towards a body camera program -- in hopes of restoring public confidence in the State Police. Gilpin announced Monday that the State Police had begun its body camera pilot program and said the cameras “offer the potential to bring a new level of officer safety, transparency, and accurate documentation to the tens of thousands of interactions our personnel have with the public every year.”

The union that represents most troopers, the State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM), signed a memorandum of understanding with State Police brass to officially support the body camera program.

UPDATE: Tuesday Afternoon Crash on Methuen’s I-495 Injures Eight

A tractor-trailer, pick-up truck and two cars were involved in the Feb. 5 crash, officials said. (File photograph)

A Tuesday afternoon crash on Interstate 495 southbound in Methuen sent eight people to area hospitals with minor injuries, officials confirm to WHAV. Four vehicles—including a tractor-trailer and a pick-up truck—were involved in the crash around 2:15 p.m. Haverhill fire rescue crews also responded to the accident to tend to patients, with Fire Chief William Laliberty telling WHAV the initial call for help came from a woman who reported her, a friend, and a young child were involved in a “minor accident.”

First responders from Methuen Fire, Lawrence General, Salem, N.H., and Trinity Ambulance assisted in patient assessment and transport, Laliberty said. By 3:15 p.m., one lane of traffic was moving again, alleviating congestion near exit 47, State Police Trooper DeAngelis told WHAV.

Ohio Woman Gets Probation for Fraudulent Plaistow, N.H. Gun Purchase

Keri Horan was sentenced to two years of probation for falsifying details during a gun purchase in 2015. (File photograph)

An Ohio woman with previous ties to New Hampshire has been sentenced to two years of probation after officials said she falsified documents to purchase a firearm from a Plaistow, N.H. gun dealer in 2015. Keri Horan, formerly of Salem, N.H., was sentenced in federal court Jan. 24 to two years of probation and a $100 fine in connection with the case, the Department of Justice told WHAV. According to court documents, Horan purchased a 9 millimeter handgun from a Plaistow Road shop for Justin Weldy, a Massachusetts resident who once called Haverhill home.

Patriots’ Super Bowl Victory Parade Is Tuesday: What to Know If You Go

The New England Patriots victory parade begins Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. (Photograph courtesy of NFL)

Cue the duck boats! The Super Bowl LIII celebration continues Tuesday with the New England Patriots victory parade in Boston starting at 11 a.m. on Feb. 5. The celebratory trek—in which Tom Brady, MVP Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Bill Belichick and others will greet fans atop the city’s iconic duck boats—begins at Boyleston and Hereford Streets, turns left onto Tremont Street and continue to Cambridge Street.

MBTA Proposes Fare Hike: Find Out How Much Rates Could Rise

A possible MBTA fare increase would see ticket prices jump starting in July. (Courtesy file photograph/MBTA)

Seeking to contain its budget deficit in the face of rising expenses, the MBTA on Monday announced a proposal to raise the price of bus, subway and commuter rail rides by an average of 6.3 percent beginning July 1 in order to raise more than $32 million in new annual revenue. According to the State House News Service, the proposal, which is open for public input and must be approved by the Fiscal and Management Control Board, would see the CharlieCard price of a bus ride increase by 10 cents to $1.80, the price of a subway trip climb by 15 cents to $2.40 and the price of a monthly link pass, which allows unlimited subway and bus trips, rise $5.50 to $90 per month. MBTA officials said the proposed increases would be the first time in three years that MBTA fares have gone up and that the increases for all fare types will be less than seven percent. By law, the T can’t raise any fare by more than seven percent, nor can it raise fares more than once every two years.

Dana-Farber Cancer Center Plans Outpatient Methuen Expansion

Dana-Farber plans to treat Merrimack Valley cancer patients out of Methuen starting in 2020. (File photograph)

The Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is coming to the Merrimack Valley. Last week, Methuen Mayor James P. Jajuga announced that the oncology-focused healthcare provider plans to open a 30,000 square-foot hospital on the city’s Branch Street. With plans to serve locals in an outpatient capacity, the new Dana-Farber location is currently in the renovation phase at 5 Branch St., with a 2020 opening anticipated. “Providing cancer care in locations that are convenient for our patients is integral to our mission,” Dana-Farber Chief Medical Officer Craig A. Bunnell said in a statement.