Council Passes Unique Pilot for Students, Not Everyone on Board

Council Passes Unique Pilot for Students, Not Everyone on Board

The Chelsea City Council passed a unique pilot program by a vote of 8-2 on Monday night that would allow qualifying students at Chelsea High an opportunity to finish their Associate’s Degree after high school on the City’s dime.

The program is a partnership with Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) and was championed by City Manager Tom Ambrosino this year in his State of the City. It is seen by him and the School Department as a logical extension of the dual enrollment program at the high school that allows students there to take college level courses at BHCC.

The problem with the program in Chelsea, Ambrosino and others said, is that many students after graduation don’t have the financial resources to continue on and finish the Associate’s Degree they have been working towards.

The pilot program would use $150,000 in the first year, and would be open to students who have completed 12 credits while still in high school within the dual enrollment program. They also must remain Chelsea residents while receiving the benefit.

If a student applies for and gets a Pell Grant, BHCC will provide a subsidy as well and will waive tuition for the student as part of their end of the bargain.

“I had concerns at first, but I did some digging and it’s a good program,” said Councillor Leo Robinson. “I will be supporting this.”

“Many of the students in dual enrollment can’t complete their degree by the time they graduate high school, and they just don’t have the resources to complete it afterward,” said Council President Damali Vidot. “I think now is a great time to invest in our young people.”

But not everyone was on board, and some who voted for it had concerns as well.

Councillor Luis Tejada ended up voting for the matter, but said he was challenged by it.

“My challenge is with the money going to just Bunker Hill,” he said. “What I have a bigger problem with is you take care of your household first before you take care of your extended family. If you take care of everyone else before your household, you will tank…We have a $3 million deficit in our school system and Free Cash should be devoted to that first…If there is excess cash, maybe it should be devoted to the public schools.”

The chief detractor, however, was Councillor Bob Bishop, chair of the Finance Committee. Bishop said it’s a good program, but shouldn’t be funded by the taxpayers.

“To me, it’s a big problem because we’re using taxpayer money on something we’re not required to spend it on,” he said.

“This $150,000 is a pilot program and next year it could possibly be a lot more money,” he said. “I don’t understand how we can get involved in the business of paying for college for a select few…I suspect this is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. This is $150,000, but it will be $500,000.”

Councillor Giovanni Recupero agreed with Bishop, saying it should be funded by private money and not taxpayer dollars.

Councillor Roy Avellaneda said it was about investing in the future of students in the modern era.

“The school education system we have is outdated,” he said. “Everyone knows you need more than a 12th grade education in this economy. You need advanced courses beyond high school. As a City, we have to prepare them. It only makes sense to prepare them for today. Unlike 30 or 40 years ago, a college education is required for that.”

Councillors Judith Garcia was absent for the vote, but had vocally supported the matter in previous meetings.

  • On a related note, the Council voted 10-0 without much discussion to approve a $50,000 program to help City Hall employees pay for courses to advance their education. That program was also proposed by Ambrosino and championed by the Council.

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Chelsea Police, Cops for Kids with Cancer Assist Local Family

Chelsea Police, Cops for Kids with Cancer Assist Local Family

Cops For Kids With Cancer collaborated with the Chelsea Police Department collaborated to present a donation to a local family during a ceremony at the station.CHEL_20180405_A1

Through a translation by Chelsea Police Officer Sammy Mojica, Sandra Ingles said her family was “very grateful” to the Chelsea Police and the Cops For Kids With Cancer charity for their assistance during this tough time.

Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes praised Cops For Kids With Cancer as “a great charity and an awesome program.”

“They go to police departments throughout New England and assist families with children afflicted by this illness,” said Kyes. “They help out these families during difficult times. We thank this organization very much for coming to Chelsea today.”

Captain Mike Drummy of the Massachusetts State Police said families are referred to the charitable organization by local police departments and social workers. The organization has donated more than $3 million to families.

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Chief: Chelsea Dispatch Erred in Accident on Mystic/Tobin

Chief: Chelsea Dispatch Erred in Accident on Mystic/Tobin

The failure of Chelsea Fire apparatus to be dispatched to a serious motor vehicle accident with an ejection on the southbound Mystic/Tobin Bridge Sunday is being blamed on a dispatch error.

The accident occurred in the southbound lane on the Tobin further into Charlestown on Sunday, and one of the occupants was ejected from the vehicle in a serious accident.

Typically, as the long-standing agreement goes, on any Tobin emergency, Boston crews head northbound, and Chelsea crews head southbound due to the easier access for each community in those directions. That is the case even when the emergency is further back on the bridge in Chelsea or Charlestown.

However, during the ejection accident on Sunday, Chelsea crews did not make it there, and some postulated that it was because Boston hadn’t notified Chelsea.

Not so, said Chief Len Albanese.

“This isn’t a Boston Fire issue,” he said. “On this call it was a Chelsea Dispatch error. Boston did notify our dispatch and they had the information but did not send it out. This can’t happen. We have to do a further investigation as well, but this was a Chelsea Dispatch error that we are working to correct.”

Chief Albanese said they have spoken with the 9-1-1 Director about the issue, and the chief wants to re-open the policy regarding the Tobin to make sure everyone is aware that Chelsea goes southbound on all accidents.

“We are going to update the policy immediately and work on the specifics of it,” he said.

The crash happened on Sunday morning on the Cana Ramp with two cars and was listed as very serious due to the fact one person was ejected. The ramp was closed for some time.

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MGC:Wynn Boston Harbor Proceeding with Project ‘At Risk’

MGC:Wynn Boston Harbor Proceeding with Project ‘At Risk’

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said they would proceed as normal with plans for the Wynn Boston Harbor resort casino, but described the situation as “awkward” and said that Wynn was moving forward with the project “at its own risk” – meaning that losing the Region A gaming license is a possibility.

The situation came at the MGC’s monthly meeting on March 29 in Boston, where Wynn appeared for their first quarterly update since CEO Steve Wynn resigned under sexual misconduct allegations in February. The dual nature of the program for Wynn – and the reason for the awkwardness – is that the MGC is running a no holds barred investigation into the company right now, while at the same time proceeding with matters as if nothing has happened.

It is the reason for the ‘at risk’ designation now given to the project.

Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they made the decision to proceed at their own risk and they are not worried about it at all.

“It doesn’t (worry us) whatsoever,” he said. “We certainly understand we are always under review with regards to licensing with the Gaming Commission. As far as the local workforce goes, we are moving forward – all systems go.”

He also explained that there are two investigations going on right now, the MGC one and one from the Wynn Board of Directors. He said they need to let both play out right now.

“The best thing we can do now is let those play out,” he said, noting that they won’t put any timelines on it. “They have significant work to do. They will be thorough.”

Further questioned by members of the media about Wynn’s suitability to hold a license in Massachusetts, DeSalvio said he believed they were suitable.

“We are an excellent gaming company operating at a very high level in Las Vegas and Macau. Next June, we’ll be operating in the Commonwealth,” he said. “Our 25,000 team members do an outstanding job every day…We feel we are very much suitable.”

MGC Chair Steve Crosby said Wynn has made the decision to proceed, and right now their license is still viable – but he said there are investigations that are ongoing.

“We’re simply awaiting the outcome; that’s where it now stands,” he said.

“There are two things happening here,” he continued. “This is the biggest single-phased development in the history of Massachusetts. It’s a $2.4 billion project in Everett. It’s critical for Everett and communities around it…From a workforce perspective, we need to remember this can hurt a lot of people’s lives and lots of money that’s been invested. In parallel, we have to do a thorough no holds barred investigation…We will bring the results of that forward and talk about it in front of everyone.”

He also stated the Wynn project is at its own risk.

“Wynn is making the decision to proceed,” he said. “There is an investigation going on and they will be doing this at their risk. That the decision they made and that’s fine with us.”

The discussion of being ‘at risk’ came at the outset of Thursday’s meeting, when MGC Executive Director Ed Bedrosian Jr. set the tone and addressed the awkwardness of the situation.

He said the investigation is ongoing and that he hopes they can have the results to the MGC by summer. He said that right now there are MGC investigators in Las Vegas making inquiries.

“It’s an awkward situation, but the matter from now on must continue on parallel tracks,” he said.

“As a practical matter, Wynn Resorts is proceeding on the project on an at-risk basis,” he said.

  • Crosby chastises Wynn on sexual harassment

MGC Chair Steve Crosby had a word of warning for the Wynn group during and after the meeting on Thursday as the company discussed hiring and employee matters, but skirted by any discussion of sexual harassment training.

“To not bring attention to sexual harassment and women in the workplace during that discussion seemed to be a fairly substantial missing piece for the protection of employees,” he said. “It seemed to be a pretty big missing piece, particularly for people from Wynn Resorts.”

The discussion came during the report on employment, diversity employment goals and the new employment practices being put in place in preparation for a “mass hire” in early 2019.

Wynn officials said they are in the process of modifying their policies and will report back soon.

  • New commissioner to come soon

Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald has left the MGC as a commissioner, and Attorney General Maura Healey has appointed Eileen O’Brien to the vacant post.

O’Brien will begin her seating on the MGC this week.

O’Brien, a Newton resident, served in various positions within the Special Investigations and Narcotics Division at the AG’s Office, including chief of the division from April 2004 to July 2008.

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Ruiz Camp Ready to Move Forward with Positivity, Awaiting RFP

Ruiz Camp Ready to Move Forward with Positivity, Awaiting RFP

Two weeks after a controversial meeting that was only supposed to be an introduction, members of John Ruiz’s team said they want to be positive  and move forward with everyone – despite any conflicts that arose after the meeting on Feb. 6.

“We want to keep it all positive,” said Mark Giblin, Ruiz’s business manager and a partner in the proposed youth center venture at the old CCC. “Negativity can be contagious and so can positivity, so we want to concentrate on the positive now…Where we’re at now is moving forward with the City and waiting for them to put out the RFP. Once that happens, we will pursue it. We already have a letter of intent from the owner, Mr. D’Amico, to operate in the building.”

The Feb. 6 Conference on Committee was called for by Councilor Leo Robinson, and it was meant to be an introduction. However, some in the Ruiz camp were offended by the questions and much of their presentation didn’t get shown due to questions about money.

Giblin said the questioning in what was supposed to be a preliminary introduction disappointed them, but they still want to try to work with everyone.

“We made it really clear what we intended the meeting to be was an introduction,” he said. “We wanted to take off the table talk about finances and costs. We didn’t want to talk about money yet because it’s about the youth and community now. We were a bit put off because a lot of the questions then ended up being about money…We didn’t want that at all because we wanted to talk about the program with Explorers Post 109. They’ve been in the mix the whole time. We spoke with them before the meeting…We had the support of the police chief too, but we didn’t even get to that part in the meeting because it did become somewhat of an attack in a sense…I can’t speak for John, but I’ve been to Chelsea several times in the last year. I’ve begun to have a place for it in my heart. I think now us, the City Manger and the City Council just need to work together to figure this out and push everything else aside.”

The plan for the old CCC Center is to create a youth center there with a boxing club sponsored by former heavyweight Champ John Ruiz (a Chelsea native) as well as other sports and academic programs. The key part of the program is that it is in the downtown area of Chelsea, and that is something the City is very supportive of.

He said that Ruiz and the team did apologize to Post 109 for not giving them the plan beforehand on paper, but they had been talking about it before the meeting verbally. He said there was never any intention to do anything to displace the historic club.

“The Post has been in this plan the whole time,” he said. “They’ve always been in the proposal and always fit in the proposal. It’s part of the program. We don’t’ want to change anything that’s already there and working.”

In the end, Giblin said he hopes that Council President Damali Vidot will be able to work with them, and be able to help Ruiz give back to the community he loves. He said they are ready to move in a positive direction.

“A Chelsea united is much more  effective than a Chelsea divided,” he said.  “That’s where we’re at now.”

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DA Dan Conley Announces He Won’t Run for Re-Election

DA Dan Conley Announces He Won’t Run for Re-Election

On what was his 16th anniversary in the office of District Attorney, Dan Conley surprised many by announcing he would not run for the office again.

Simply put, the former prosecutor turned City Councilor turned DA, said he believed it was time to let others have a chance to run the county-wide office – an office that covers Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.

“I love the job, the office, its staff, and the people and communities we serve,” said Conley in a statement. “But I have long believed that those of us fortunate enough to lead as elected officials must also be willing to give others the same opportunity. For this reason, I will not be seeking re-election this fall.”

Conley entered office on Feb. 20, 2002.

Chelsea Chief Brian Kyes – who worked closely with Conley and his office on hundreds of cases – said

“The news of my good friend Dan Conley not seeking re-election as the District Attorney of Suffolk County certainly comes as a surprise,” said the Chief. “I have been extremely fortunate to have worked directly with Dan and collaborate with him on a multiple of public safety initiatives and programs during the past 11 years as the Police Chief in Chelsea. His institutional knowledge, wisdom and extraordinary guidance as the leader of the prestigious office on Bulfinch Place has had an incredible impact across the entire region of Suffolk County that will last for decades. While I wholeheartedly respect Dan’s decision, which no doubt was a difficult one for him and his family, I know that he continues to have plenty to offer to the criminal justice system here in the Commonwealth moving forward.”

The news also set off a firestorm of candidates debating or announcing a run.

Already, by Wednesday morning, there were some candidates who had announced their possible intentions to run – most notably City Councilor at-Large Michael Flaherty. The councilor was a former assistant prosecutor.

“After today’s announcement by DA Conley, I have been asked if I would be interested in running for Suffolk County District Attorney to succeed him,” said Flaherty in a statement. “To that I say that I have always been interested in being the Suffolk County District Attorney. But this day is about acknowledging the outstanding job Dan Conley has done for the residents of Suffolk County. I will consult with my family about my own plans, but today we all owe our gratitude and thanks to Dan Conley…”

Long-time defense attorney Shannon McAuliffe, who has roots in Chelsea’s Roca program, had already been planning to run and will continue those plans.

Meanwhile, many have postulated about potential candidates around the area, mostly without any confirmation.

City Corporate Counsel Gene O’Flaherty, a Charlestown resident, has been mentioned in more than a few circles. With support in his former home of Chelsea –where he was the state representative for years – and also in Boston City Hall, where he now works, he could be a potential candidate with backing from key county personalities.

Within Conley’s office, long-time accomplished prosecutor Ed Zabin cannot be overlooked as a potential candidate for the position. His experience and expertise in prosecuting the most difficult cases in the county has no comparison.

Looking at some of the best attorneys in the area, one cannot overlook superstar defense attorney Rosemary Scapicchio, who has argued some of the best cases in the county for her clients with great success – and remarkable toughness.

One cannot discount former Councilor and mayoral candidate John Connolly, who is a close friend to Conley and recently showed up last year during Mayor Martin Walsh’s campaign after years of silence. Could he be looking for the position?

Meanwhile, in East Boston, former Boston City Councilor Mike Ross has been talked about as someone who would make sense in the post.

Any candidate, though, will have big shoes to replace, as Conley has been a very successful DA for many years.

In a letter to his staff, he outlined the scores of changes and innovations that have come to the DA’s office through his tenure – whether with the advent of DNA evidence or the hiring of skilled prosecutors.

In his statement, he also thanked law enforcement throughout the county.

“At a time when law enforcement has come under intense scrutiny across the country I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the men and women of law enforcement across Suffolk County for their courage, their determination to do a difficult job well, and the standard they set for other agencies,” he said

He also said that the people of Suffolk County have been a blessing to him.

“From victims and survivors to families and loved ones, they have shown a depth of dignity and grace amid crisis and grief that has been nothing short of inspirational,” he said. “I am so grateful to them for their kindness, their wisdom, and their faith.”

Kyes added, “Leaders like Dan come along once in a generation. I consider myself a better public safety servant from being given the opportunity to have known and worked with him and have benefited from his leadership. I wish him nothing but the best as he begins a challenging new chapter.”

The election for district attorney won’t occur until the fall, but nomination papers for the seat and the Democratic primary in September will become available shortly.

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Police Briefs 02-22-2018

Police Briefs 02-22-2018

BREAKING AND ENTERING

On Feb. 13, at 6:40 p.m., officers observed three parties walking in the vicinity of Blossom Street at Eden Street walking back and forth from Washington Avenue to Eden Street. Officers saw the three parties walking near parked cars and looking into them as they walked by. Officers proceeded to drive around the block. The officers lost sight of the group upon returning. One officer exited the cruiser and began to walk the path the group was last seen. The officer observed a female in one car and a male in another vehicle both were rummaging through the interior of the cars. Both were placed under arrest for Breaking and Entering. A search for the third suspect was made with negative results.

Genecis Diaz, 20, 104 Williams St., and Kevin Gomez-Solis, 23, of 149 Addison St., was charged with breaking and entering in the night for a felony.

Police, Fire Officials Investigating Death near Chelsea Brush Fire

Chelsea and State police and fire investigators combing the scene of an apparent brush fire found some signs of accidental ignition Feb. 15, but have not made any final determinations, officials said.

At about 6:40 p.m., the Chelsea Fire Department and State Police assigned to the Revere barracks responded to the area of Route 16 near Webster Avenue for a fire at an unpaved area abutting the roadway. On extinguishing the blaze, firefighters observed what appeared to be a dead body and made the standard notifications for a death investigation.

State Police detectives assigned to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office responded to the scene, as did Suffolk prosecutors, Chelsea Police detectives, State Police criminalists, the State Fire Marshal’s office, and accelerant-sniffing K-9 unit.

The deceased was badly burned but appeared to be an adult male. The office of the Chief Medical Examiner will attempt to determine the cause and manner of his death. A mattress that fire investigators said was highly flammable was found in close proximity to the body, as were cardboard debris, sterno, a cigarette pack, and other items that may indicate an accidental fire. Nonetheless, officials said, the investigation into the origin of the fire, the cause of the man’s death, and his identity is still under way.

Multiple witnesses reported the fire to 911 beginning at 6:37 pm, but any motorists or passersby who may have observed the area shortly before then are asked to contact Chelsea or State Police.

BROKE INTO APARTMENT

On Feb. 13, officers responded to 57 Burma Rd. on a report of a breaking and entering. A representative from Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) stated many vacant apartments had been illegally entered and that they had set up a camera inside 57 Burma Rd. to record any illegal entry. Officers were notified by the CHA that an entry at the apartment had taken place and they had a video of the suspect.

The officers identified the suspect from the video and placed him under arrest.

Carlos Acosta, 18, of 59 Burma Rd., was charged with breaking and entering in the night for a felony, larceny from a building and larceny under $250.

KNIFE THREAT

On Feb. 14, at 2:24 p.m., Officers responded to a past assault at Cottage Street at Highland Street. Upon arrival, they met the juvenile reporting victim who stated four males followed him home, one male whom he identified.

The juvenile victim reported threats were made with a knife against him. The identified juvenile was placed under arrest.

A 17-year-old Chelsea youth was charged with assault with a  dangerous weapon, intimidating a witness, and threatening to commit a crime.

CAR BREAKERS

On Feb. 14, at 12:09 a.m., officers were dispatched to the area of Eastern Avenue and Clinton for a report of a motor vehicle break in progress. While responding, dispatch informed officer’s that the calling party was watching a male subject breaking into a motor vehicle and entering the car. Officers identified a second individual involved and placed both into custody.

Michael Lacrosse, 36, of Lynn, was charged with Breaking and entering a vehicle in the night for a felony, malicious damage to a motor vehicle, larceny under $250, and possession of burglarious tools.

William Linscott, 42, of 934 Broadway, was charged with Breaking and entering a vehicle in the night for a felony, malicious damage to a motor vehicle, and larceny under $250.

DRIVING INCIDENT

On Feb. 5,  at 2:16 a.m., a CPD officer on patrol on Shawmut Street observed an oncoming vehicle without his headlights illuminated. The officer then proceeded to flash his lights to alert the driver. Another CPD officer traveling in the opposite direction also flashed his lights to alert the driver, but to no avail. The vehicle continued to operate on several streets without lights. At that point, officers activated their emergency blue lights in an attempt to stop the driver to ascertain his condition. The car was finally pulled over with the assistance of other CPD officers. Based on a conversation with the driver he was placed under arrest for OUI 2nd offense.

Selvin Parada, 40, of 17 Willard St., was charged with operating under the influence of liquor (2nd offense), negligent operation and lights violation.

TRAFFICKING HEROIN

On Feb. 10, at 10 a.m., officers were dispatched to 74 Springvale Ave. # 1 for a report of a loaded firearm in the apartment. The reporting party stated that she and her husband observed a loaded gun on their roommate’s bed. CPD officers responded to the address and placed the subject under arrest for the illegal possession of a firearm and drugs observed by officers in the bedroom. Officers discovered several packets of what was believed to be heroin and several unlawful prescription pills on the subject at the time of arrest.

The firearm ended up not being in violation of state law as it was a replica airsoft gun.

Olsen Cejour, 27, of 74 Springvale Ave., was charged with trafficking in heroin, distribution of a Class B drug (subsequent offense), and distribution of a Class C drug.

Police Log

Monday, 2/5

Selvin Parada, 40, 17 Willard St., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor (2nd offense), negligent operation of motor vehicle and lights violation.

Tuesday, 2/6

Caroline Cash, 23, 84 Otis ST., Winthrop, was arrested on a warrant.

Mario Martinez, 39, 29 Roosevelt St., Revere, was arrested for trespassing.

Friday, 2/9

Bryan Solano-Alvarez, 18, 77 Carroll St., Chelsea, was arrested for receiving stolen motor vehicle.

Saturday, 2/10

Edgar Lara, 30, 53 Dorchester Ave., Providence, RI 02909, was arrested for operating motor vehicle unlicensed and one-way violation.

Olsen Cejour, 27, 74 Springvale Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for trafficking heroin/morphine/opium, distribution of Class B drug and possessing to distribute Class C drug.

Albert Moore, 48, 40 Driscol, Peabody, was arrested for shoplifting.

Monday, 2/12

Ashley Rivdera, 22, 103 Franklin Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the Influence of liquor, possessing open container of alcohol in motor vehicle (2 counts), speeding, stop sign violation (2 counts) and improper operation of motor vehicle.

Eliezer Ordonez, 43, 34 Gardner St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Jeffrey Curry, 30, 5 Waverly Rd., Woburn, was arrested for shoplifting.

Tuesday, 2/13

Roberto Leon, 31, 145 Shurtleff St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant and intimidation of a witness.

Francisco Damacio Lopreto, 42, 101 Chestnut St., Chelsea, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle.

Genecis Diaz, 20, 104 Williams St., Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime.

Kevin Gomez-Solis, 23, 149 Addison St., Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime.

Carlos Acosta, 18, 59 Burma Rd., Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering building nighttime for felony, larceny from building, larceny under $250.

Wednesday, 2/14

Sandra Sargent, 33, 71 Winthrop Ave., Revere, was arrested on a warrant.

Thursday, 2/15

Michael Lacrosse, 36, 13 Moral Ave., Lynn, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime, malicious damage to motor vehicle, larceny under $250 and possessing burglarious instrument.

William Linscott, 42, 934 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime, malicious damage to motor vehicle and larceny under $250.

Jessy Sandoval Aldana, 36, 16 Minot St., Lynn, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle.

Friday, 2/16

Siobhan McKenna, 39, 45 Douglas St., Winthrop, was arrested for violating harassment prevention order.

Ramon Pagan, 56, 444 Harrison Ave., Boston, was arrested for possessing alcoholic beverage.

Asia Galvin, 31, 277 Meridian St., East Boston, was arrested on a warrant.

Gregory Salinas-Rodriguez, 31, 1 Mill Ct. Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor (3rd offense), possessing open container of alcohol in motor vehicle and operating motor vehicle with suspended license.

Saturday, 2/17

Landy Perez, 35, 444 Harrison Ave., Boston, was arrested for dangerous weapon.

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North Suffolk Mental Health Association Partnering With CHA to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Local Cities

North Suffolk Mental Health Association Partnering With CHA to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Local Cities

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), an academic community health-system serving Everett and Boston’s metro-north region, is teaming up with the North Suffolk Mental Health Association (NSMHA) to help get individuals struggling with addiction connected to treatment by piloting a new recovery-coach program at CHA Everett Hospital. Two coaches from NSMHA are now available to patients who struggle with addiction or present with mental health issues in the Emergency Department, inpatient psychiatry and CHA’s med-surg units.

The total number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts, through the first nine months of 2017, was over 1,400 – a 10-percent reduction from the same period in 2016. At the same time, from 2012 – 2016, over 70 people in Everett died from opioid misuse.

The pilot program places recovery coaches in direct contact with patients, on a voluntary basis, following an overdose reversal with naloxone, the lifesaving anti-opioid medication. The aim is to link individuals to treatment and recovery services locally. Other patients may present with medical conditions related to substance use and the recovery coach can use this opportunity to engage the patient in treatment.

“A recovery coach is a person who helps remove personal and environmental obstacles to recovery, noted Kim Hanton, director of addiction services at the North Suffolk Mental Health Association.”

“Coaches serve as personal guides and mentors supporting individual and family recovery where support networks are limited.  NSMHA has incorporated this model throughout the addiction division since 2013.  We are thrilled to partner with CHA sharing each of our expertise to build a continuum of support which begins at the most vulnerable time – entrance into the emergency department”

CHA’s chief of emergency medicine, Benjamin Milligan, MD, and a group of providers in the Emergency Department, including Josh Mularella, DO, Emily Adams, PA, and Christine Trotta, PA, ran the Boston Marathon last year and dollars raised through their efforts helped to fund the pilot initiative.

NSMHA’s recovery coaches are trained and certified professionals who guide or mentor patients seeking recovery support from alcohol and other drug addictions. Recovery coaches do not provide clinical services, instead they offer the critical support or link to the services and resources that a person needs to achieve and sustain recovery.

“We are excited to have recovery coaches embedded at CHA Everett Hospital and believe they will strengthen the hospital’s role as a link in patient’s long-term ‘chain of recovery,’” commented Melisa Lai- Becker, MD, site chief of emergency medicine at CHA Everett Hospital. “The ability to partner a patient immediately with a peer who is able to help them navigate to the next link in the chain is invaluable. We are optimistic that the program will have a lasting impact and we may expand the initiative in the future providing a model for a potential statewide network of peer recovery coaches.”

Immediate support when a crisis occurs is vital for effective engagement in recovery and treatment. When a patient arrives at the CHA Everett Hospital Emergency Department he/she is offered a NSMHA recovery coach during peak hours (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

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Viaduct Project Reconsidering Elimination of 5th Street On-Ramp

Viaduct Project Reconsidering Elimination of 5th Street On-Ramp

After a packed meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 24, project managers for the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) said they are reconsidering a recommendation to eliminate the 5th Street onramp as part of the overall three-year Chelsea Viaduct Rehabilitation project.

Joseph Pavao, project manager, said a consultant for MassDOT told them it was believed the onramp could be eliminated. It was believed that the Everett Street ramp and Cottage Street ramp could absorb the traffic.

However, Pavao said they have heard loud and clear from the community that it might not be popular.

“As of right now, it’s still under consideration,” he said. “We have certainly heard the concerns of the local community. We certainly heard it loud and clear at the meeting last week…After an internal study, we thought we could handle any traffic from the closure with the ramps at Cottage Street and Everett Avenue. However, based on community feedback and elected officials, we are reconsidering that and seeing if it’s a prudent thing to do on this project.”

He did say they would definitely be closing the 5th Street onramp at least temporarily for about three or four months in 2020 during the repairs to the superstructure of the Viaduct. Beyond that, though, they are reconsidering the original plan to fully discontinue it.

That reconsideration came chiefly from Councilor Roy Avellaneda and other elected officials and business leaders that sounded off late last year when it was first reported that the ramp might close.

Concerns about traffic coming down Broadway and further clogging Everett Avenue were chief among the comments.

Pavao said they have met with City Manager Tom Ambrosino recently about a mitigation package that was presented to MassDOT late last year. He also said that he hopes to be on the agenda of the next Chelsea City Council meeting to present an official mitigation plan for the project.

The project is now at 25 percent design, and they are hoping to advance it to a final design very soon. He said they hope to have it advertised to bidders this spring.

“We want to advertise this for bids in late March or early April,” he said.

The project includes fixing about 260,000 sq. ft. of structurally deficient decking and superstructure. It doesn’t mean those portions of the viaduct are unsafe, but they certainly need to be repaired.

The project also includes work on the structure below the bridge, improving lighting, improving drainage and making parking lot improvements under the bridge.

They hope to have a contractor on board soon and potentially start in October 2018. The majority of the work will begin in 2019, and that will be on the underneath of the bridge and won’t impact Rt. 1 traffic.

In 2020, that’s when the superstructure work will begin and that will be very cumbersome for traffic.

“That’s when we’ll have permanent lane reductions to two lanes in both directions,” he said.

He said they will use accelerated bridge repair techniques, and they will work 12 weekends (55 hours each weekend) during the project.

It is slated to end in early 2021 with paving and small items.

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Chelsea Inauguration 2018

Chelsea Inauguration 2018

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Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes leads the procession of City Council members to begin the Inauguration ceremonies on Tuesday night, Jan. 2, in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Meanwhile, outgoing Council President Leo Robinson is given a gavel by incoming Council President Damali Vidot. Vidot was sworn in as the first female Council President
since charter reform.

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