Chemalys Receive UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Medals for Public Service and Civic Engagement

John Chemaly, senior vice president of corporate strategies at PrideStar EMS, and his wife Linda were honored last Friday night for their commitments to UMass Lowell. As WHAV previously reported, the Chemalys were scheduled to be honored along with Haverhill native, award-winning and best-selling author Andre Dubus III; Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue and her husband, John O’Connor; and Lowell General Hospital. The Chemalys received the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service and Community Engagement during UMass Lowell Commencement Friday, May 13, at the Tsongas Center. “It’s all very humbling. Linda and I are honored to help represent all the wonderful people who do good things in the City of Lowell, and throughout the Greater Merrimack Valley,” John Chemaly said.

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission to Use $1.5 Million in Fed Grants for Brownfields Cleanup

Cleanup of contaminated and blighted sites in the Merrimack Valley are moving ahead with $1.5 million in grants from the recently passed federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Planning Commission was awarded $1 million to supplement its revolving loan program and $500,000 in Community-wide Brownfields Assessment Grants to address various sites. Cece Gerstenbacher, the Commission’s environmental planner, said the revolving fund provides loans and subgrants to carryout cleanup activities at contaminated Brownfields sites. “The assessment grant is funds we can provide to inventory, characterize, assess, conduct planning activities, develop site-specific cleanup plans and conduct community involvement related to brownfields sites, prior to cleanup activities,” she told WHAV by email. Grants come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are part of $8.1 million set aside for Massachusetts.

Whittier Tech Students Benefit From New State-of-the-Art CAD/Drafting, Engineering Equipment

Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School students are benefitting from recently purchased cutting-edge technology used in the Computer-Aided Design (CAD)/Drafting and Engineering pathways. Whittier Tech purchased an Epilog Fusion Pro 32, a laser engraving and cutting machine, for the CAD pathway. The device has a CO2 laser and a maximum laser strength of 120 watts. An 80-watt laser also was purchased for the Engineering pathway. “Our industry is a groundbreaking one and our students deserve to practice with cutting-edge technology in our area,” said CAD Instructor Scott Robertson.

Area Libraries Present the Basics of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Online

Is Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies the first wave of a cashless future or just an overhyped technology? Michael Gershbein, a former librarian and founder of Very Smart People, discusses the “Basics of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency” during a free online presentation sponsored by area libraries, including Haverhill and West Newbury and Atkinson, N.H.

The presentation takes place Wednesday, May 25, from 7-8 p.m. There’s more information and a registration link at haverhillpl.org, under Calendar of Events. Those who register receive a Zoom link via email.

Methuen and Lawrence Police and AAA Northeast Offer Free Car Safety Event Saturday

Methuen and Lawrence Police and AAA Northeast are offering a free Car Care Safety Resource Event this Saturday. The free day of education, resources, community and fun for all ages includes AAA car safety inspections, a chance to touch and explore public safety vehicles, food trucks, the Lawrence Police Department Ice Cream Truck, opportunities to meet local first responders and information on how to safely respond to road emergency. “Our officers spend countless hours on the road, so we understand the importance of driving a safe and reliable vehicle,” said Methuen Police Chief Scott J. McNamara. Darlene Ford of AAA Northeast said “AAA Northeast fleet technicians will be on hand for free car checkups,” including battery testing and tire pressure checks. The event takes place Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. -2 p.m., at 46 Stafford St., Lawrence, on the Lawrence/Methuen city line.

Standard and Poor’s Upgrades Methuen’s Bond Rating to AA-; City Says Second Jump in Six Months

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has upgraded Methuen’s general obligation bond rating to “AA- with a stable outlook.”

Mayor Neil Perry and Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Maggie Duprey said in a statement Monday the boost is the second rating upgrade the city has received in the last six months. They said the rating places Methuen within the top tier of S&P’s scale. “It takes a multitude of partners to move forward, but without the overall financial blueprint and leadership provided by CAFO Duprey for improved control and planning, these partners, from the mayor to department heads to city councilors, could not have taken the necessary steps to do so,” Perry said. S&P’s summary notes “We believe the CAFO and subsequent changes to the management environment directly led to improvements in the city’s financial position and are likely to result in continued financial balance.” The ratings company cited a stable residential tax base, standard financial management policies, a strong institutional framework and improved reserves and cash balances among the main reasons for the rating upgrade.

Plaistow, N.H., Election Officials Accept Voter Registration and Party Updates Until May 31

Supervisors of the Checklist for Plaistow, N.H., advise residents they have until the end of the month to register or change or declare a party affiliation before primary day. The Supervisors meet to perform updates and accept applications for voter registration Tuesday May 31, from 7-7:30 p.m., at the town clerk’s office, 145 Main St. The filing period for candidacy for the state primary election and general election takes place June 1 -10. Residents may check party affiliation online here.

Grand Jury Indicts Former Methuen Doctor for Illegally Prescribing Drugs, Billing Medicare

A former Methuen physician, practicing in Lawrence, was indicted Wednesday by an Essex County Grand Jury for illegally prescribing controlled substances and defrauding the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth. Dr. Ramon Suarez-Martinez, 69, former medical director at Lawrence Medical Center, was charged with prescribing amphetamines, benzodiazepines and morphine sulfate, Attorney General Maura Healey said Friday morning. In all, Healey’s office said, six patients received drugs along with six counts of Medicaid false claims.

Suarez-Martinez is scheduled to be arraigned in Essex Superior Court Thursday, May 19. An investigation revealed that in many instances, Suarez-Martinez prescribed drugs even when he allegedly knew from repeated urine drug screens patients were not taking the drugs. Healey’s office alleges that Suarez-Martinez knowingly prescribed drugs such as clonazepam, a benzodiazepine; amphetamines; and morphine sulfate, an opiate; “for no legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice, and that these illegal prescriptions resulted in false claims billed to and paid for by MassHealth.”

In several instances, she said, urine drug screens indicated that patients were negative for the prescribed medications but positive for illicit substances such as cocaine or fentanyl.