Methuen Officer Gordon Completes Police Academy Training

Methuen Police Officer Robert Gordon was one of 35 officers representing 13 cities and towns to graduate recently from the Northern Essex Community College Methuen Police Academy. The ceremony was held on the NECC campus in Haverhill. The police academy is 24 weeks long and consists of more than 900 hours of a combination of practical and classroom training, certifications, and service to the community. Some of the classes include first aid, law, applied patrol procedures, firearms, report writing, active shooter training, specialized driving and bicycle patrol lessons and self-defense. Having completed the program, Gordon now joins the Methuen Police Department and will undergo field training for the next three months.

Compromise Health Bill Aimed at Children, Young Adults on Way to Baker’s Desk

The Massachusetts House and Senate quickly approved a compromise bill yesterday aimed at improving health care for children and young adults. The House voted 154-0 Tuesday to advance a version of the bill that a six-member conference committee agreed to and filed Monday. The Senate approved the compromise on a voice vote and the bill appears on its way to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk todday. The legislation would extend MassHealth coverage until age 26 for young adults formerly in Department of Children and Families’ custody, require insurers to maintain accurate online provider directories and create several commissions to study other youth-related health topics. Chief House negotiator Rep. Jennifer Benson said on the House floor, “This bill helps bridge the gap between our children and mental health services; it makes it easier for parents to access these services for their children and it makes sure they will have the information they need to make informed decisions.”

Under the bill, the state will launch a pilot program creating three “regional childhood behavioral health centers of excellence” to improve accessibility to behavioral health resources and conduct an analysis of the challenges children with medical complexities face accessing insurance coverage and services.

Plaistow Police Arrest North Reading Man Allegedly Waving a Knife Outside of Bar

Plaistow, N.H., police arrested a North Reading man late Sunday night after receiving reports of a man waving a knife in the parking lot of a local restaurant. Derek Vadala was charged with felony reckless conduct, felony criminal threatening, misdemeanor disorderly conduct and misdemeanor simple assault.

Police went to Crow’s Nest Bar & Grill, 181 Plaistow Road, at 11:08 p.m. Witnesses told police Vadala was being disruptive. Security employees asked Vadala to leave when he allegedly brandished the weapon and threatened them. It was also alleged that Vadala “chest bumped” a security employee, police said. Vadala was located a short distance away by Officer Edward Barrasso who conducted a motor vehicle stop and made the arrest.

DiZoglio Bill Aims to Prevent Disasters, Hold Gas Utilities Accountable

In light of last year’s natural gas-fueled fires and explosions in the Valley, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio wants a tough new law to hold utilities accountable and prevent future incidents. She has sponsored legislation designed to increase reporting requirements of gas companies when they learn of gas leaks to local fire and law enforcement agencies and to make information about gas leaks public, both on the gas company’s and the Department of Public Utilities’ websites. “Last fall’s Columbia Gas explosions turned my constituents’ lives upside down, as restoration of service not only proved slow but communication to those affected was unreliable,” said DiZoglio. She added, “With lackluster assistance from Columbia, residents turned to social media for help and called daily for assistance from my office as they went from adjuster to adjuster getting less than they were promised – and far less than they deserved.”

DiZoglio said September’s gas leak in the City of Lawrence shows the need for “key tools in our efforts to avert future disasters and ensure gas companies are held responsible for their actions.”

The legislation, which was recently heard before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, mandates that all three entities—the gas company, local law enforcement and the local fire department— record the location of the leak and any mitigation done to resolve the issue. The bill also requires that gas companies remain responsible for any significant project on a public way and authorizes financial penalties for failure to comply with any provision.

With Conard Becoming Portsmouth City Manager, Merrimack Valley Planners Seeks Applications

With its executive director taking the job of Portsmouth, N.H.’s first female town manager, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is seeking applicants for executive director. Last month, the Portsmouth City Council chose Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Karen Sawyer Conard to enter into contract negotiations to become Portsmouth’s next city manager. Portsmouth Mayor Jack Blalock said, “The City Council is delighted to select someone with the depth of experience and strength of character that Karen commands, and see her as a very well-qualified successor to the city manager who has served Portsmouth so well for the past 22 years.”

Sawyer Conard brings to Portsmouth 28 years of experience in the public sector. She started her career working in the legislative and executive branches of state government, serving in various capacities starting with the Massachusetts State Senate, Gov. William Weld’s office, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts Office of Business Development and MassDevelopment, a quasi-public financing authority. After two years as Chief operating officer for a private real estate firm, she worked 11 years as community development and planning director for the medium-sized cities of Methuen and Peabody, and is finishing her third year as executive director of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, one of 13 regional planning agencies in the state.

Fed Gang Crackdown Today Nets 32 Arrests; Four from Haverhill, Five from Methuen

Thirty-two people—including four from Haverhill and five from Methuen—were charged with federal and state drug and gun charges during a large sweep this morning. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston said 79 guns, including assault weapons, were seized. More than 70 federal, state and local police officers carried out the arrests of individuals alleged to have sold a large number of firearms and a variety of controlled substances, including fentanyl, heroin and cocaine. Eighteen of the 32 defendants are alleged to be members or associates of the Trinitarios street gang in Lawrence. From Haverhill, 31-year-old Kevin Gomez, also known as “Monkey,” was charged in federal court with distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

West Newbury Police Charge 15-Year-Old with Pentucket Regional School Threats

A 15-year-old Pentucket Regional High School sophomore is expected to be arraigned today on a charge of threatening to commit a violent act at the school. The West Newbury boy was arrested on the felony charge after new social media posts were reported last night by students and school families in Merrimac and West Newbury. He was charged with threat of dangerous items to disrupt a school, public building, or transport. Police had earlier responded to reports of online threats, but found them “unsubstantiated.”

“Our community is our eyes and ears, and this case exemplifies the principle of ‘if you see something, say something,’” said West Newbury Police Chief Jeffrey Durand. “In this situation, members of our community were not willing to tolerate threats against their high school, and they came forward to police.”

West Newbury and Merrimac police departments worked together throughout the night with the assistance of the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Methuen Considers Changes to Adult-Use Marijuana Ordinance at Wednesday Hearing

There will be a joint public hearing Wednesday night of the Methuen Community Development Board and Methuen City Council to discuss a proposed ordinance for the Regulation of Adult Use and Medical Marijuana Establishments. In 2017, the Methuen City Council passed a ordinance in the Methuen Municipal Code prohibiting all non-medical marijuana establishments. According to a Sept. 12 memorandum from Mayor James P. Jajuga, the city’s Cannabis Policy Working Group is not suggesting changes to the ordinance. The hearing takes place at 6:30 PM in the Great Hall at City Hall.