Six Months Later, Puerto Rico Still Devastated by Hurricane Maria

Six Months Later, Puerto Rico Still Devastated by Hurricane Maria

Six months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, many areas of the country outside the tourist hot spots are still in crumbling disrepair – some without electricity since the first storm, Hurricane Irma – and residents of the island nation that is closely tied to Chelsea continue to suffer.CHEL_20180412_A1

Record photographer Keiko Hiromi traveled to Puerto Rico in late March to survey the damage, having followed the story last fall when Chelsea galvanized to provide thousands of pounds and multiple truckloads of donations to help relieve the situation.

Residents of Chelsea are closely tied to Puerto Rico, with thousands here having been born there or having had relatives emigrate here from the island.

Hiromi reported that upon landing at the airport, things looked normal, but upon leaving the population centers, she discovered homes in much the same shape as the day after the devastation.

“When I landed at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport on March 21, everything looked normal as if nothing had ever happened,” she said. “As I spent five days travelling through Puerto Rico, sometimes away from the functioning tourist areas, I witnessed Puerto Rico in recovery. Many raw scars were still unmended: debris on roads, houses without roofs. Yet, at the same time, I encountered the faces of resilient, strong, patient people, compassionate for each other.”

At the Chelsea Collaborative, Director Gladys Vega and Program Manager Sylvia Ramirez were not surprised at what Hiromi found. Both said they are worried that too many have forgotten about the disaster despite the fact that little has improved for many there.

“I knew that the island was going to be devastated, and at the same time I am shocked how citizens of the United States are so ignored,” she said. “In the next few months, the hurricane season is going to be starting again, and Puerto Rico is nowhere near able to take their normal storm season. One thing I was extremely sad about is we are not getting any help. The news has forgotten about Puerto Rico and moved on to other things. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico is still in devastation. People are suffering, they have no housing and they’re hungry.”

Ramirez said she feels the same way.

After the devastation, she headed up the Collaborative’s efforts to provide aid to those in Puerto Rico, and also to welcome families coming to Chelsea from the island for refuge.

She said much remains the same there, but that story isn’t getting out.

“I think the lack of coverage in the news doesn’t really portray the reality of what’s happening there,” she said. “People go on with their lives and they focus on their kids, they go to work, Christmas came and went. It’s no longer a priority because it’s not in the news. Our plan here in Chelsea is to do another call for action in June or July to bring attention to the situation. The worry for everyone is that nothing is being done to prepare for this year’s hurricane season.

“People go on with their lives, but there are still parts of the island absolutely devastated and nobody is talking about that,” she continued.

That is exactly what Hiromi reported firsthand.

In Toa Baja, just outside of San Juan Hiromi found Miguel Anjel Mericado at his home. His home still had a collapsed roof that had not been fixed and was open to the elements. Beams rested on the floor and electricity was spotty. He collected items that he could find in order to continue the efforts of fixing the home.

Hiromi also visited Yabucoa, where Maria first made landfall.

In Vega Alta, a rural community in the mountains, she visited a family that had no electricity since Hurricane Irma – the first storm to hit Puerto Rico last year even before Hurricane Maria.

Herberto Rivera, a school bus driver there, had been powering the family home with a generator they purchased months ago. They hoped that power would come back to the community before the next hurricane season.

In Chelsea, Ramirez said they are currently working with 55 families who came to the city after the hurricane for refuge, with 18 of them still in FEMA hotels. Statewide, she said, there are nearly 700 families in hotels who arrived after the storm, and 530 are in FEMA hotel rooms. The dire need is that FEMA will stop paying for those rooms on April 20. Already 123 families have used up the FEMA payments and are being paid for by the Red Cross.

She said they are still collecting furniture for those refugees moving into apartments, and they are still trying to secure more stable living conditions.

At the same time, the identical fight continues on the island of Puerto Rico.

“There are still a lot of people without electricity and with blue tarps on their roofs,” said Ramirez. “That’s the reality.”

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Rita Kalnejais’s ‘First Love is the Revolution’ to Play at Apollinaire

Rita Kalnejais’s ‘First Love is the Revolution’ to Play at Apollinaire

Apollinaire Theatre Company presents the US Premiere of this viciously funny and unforgettable play about first love, teenage lust, and nature vs nurture.

Chelsea’s Apollinaire Theatre will begin a U.S. premiere of ‘First Love is the Revolution’ on April 13.

Chelsea’s Apollinaire Theatre will begin a U.S. premiere of ‘First Love is the Revolution’ on April 13.

Rdeca is a young fox keen to test boundaries, whose curiosity lands her in a makeshift trap set by lonely 14-year-old Basti. When their paths cross, the sparks fly and an impossible bond spirals dangerously out of control.

First Love stars Hayley Spivey as the young fox Rdeca. Hayley recently appeared in SpeakEasy Stage’s Men on Boats and Lyric Stage Company’s Orlando. She is a graduate of Boston University with a BFA in Theatre Arts. She is joined by some Apollinaire regulars including Armando Rivera (Thoreau) and Dale J. Young (Gregor Mole), both most recently seen in Everyman, and exciting newcomers to Apollinaire including Bridgette Hayes and Khloe Alice Lin completing our fox family.

Performances of First Love is the Revolution are April 13-May 5, 2018

Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Thurs. April 26, & May 3 at 8:00, Sun. April 22 & 29 at 3:00

Performances are at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, MA

Tickets are $30, $25 seniors, $15 students

Tickets can be purchased by calling (617) 887-2336 or on-line at www.apollinairetheatre.com

Information and directions at www.apollinairetheatre.com.

Performances will be followed by a Reception with the actors.

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Threat at Chelsea High Ends up a Hoax, Wrong CHS

Threat at Chelsea High Ends up a Hoax, Wrong CHS

In a world where every threat to a school has to be taken seriously, that played out on Monday morning at Chelsea High when the schools were put on alert by a social media threat to “CHS” that turned out to be a month old and referring to a school in New Mexico.

Supt. Mary Bourque said around 7:15 a.m. Monday, Officer Dan Delaney was alerted to a threat observed on social media by a parent, a threat that indicated the person was “going to shoot up CHS.”

Bourque said it was unfortunate, but it was something that’s going to happen more often.

“It turns out it was a month old and was referring to a school in New Mexico,” she said. “Every threat has to be taken seriously. We can’t afford to not take threats seriously. At the same time, this is going to be what it’s like in the times we live in…It’s a sign of the times these weekly incidents for schools will be happening. It’s happening around the nation and we’re no different.”

The high school was functioning normally shortly after the threat was investigated.

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Secretary Pollack Would like Silver Line to go to Everett

Secretary Pollack Would like Silver Line to go to Everett

Just as the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line gets ready to launch in Chelsea on April 21, State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a meeting in Boston that she would like to see it eventually expand to Everett – a plan that Everett officials and the Lower Mystic Regional Transportation Working Group has touted as well.

The Silver Line 3 (SL-3) will being operations on April 21, making a 30-minute journey from the Mystic (Market Basket) Mall to South Station, via Logan Airport and the Seaport in Boston, every 10 minutes. The BRT will run on a separate bus-only lane through Chelsea and over the Chelsea Street Bridge.

Pollack said that a draft of the soon-to-be-released Transportation plan, called Focus 40, will have a recommendation for Everett to be included in an expansion of the new Silver Line service.

“That service will open on April 21, and we’re looking forward to the opening,” she said. “That is a BRT service and we hope to continue it from Chelsea into Everett and Sullivan Square and other highly congested areas. That’s one other thing we are looking at in our Focus 40 plan.”

Those statements came at a breakfast in the Back Bay on March 20 where Pollack was the keynote speaker and addressing investment in the Orange Line. She also highlighted the new Silver Line service and the agency’s hopes to expand it in the years to come.

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MS-13 Leader Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison

MS-13 Leader Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison

A leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique was sentenced today in federal court in Boston.

Rafael Leoner Aguirre, a/k/a “Tremendo,” 22, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 19 years in prison and three years of supervised release, which he will begin serving after completion of the state prison sentence for which he is currently incarcerated. Leoner Aguirre will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence. In November 2017, Leoner Aguirre was convicted by a federal jury after a multi-week trial of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.

Leoner Aguirre was the leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique. In 2013, Leoner Aguirre entered the United States illegally from El Salvador and initially moved to Michigan. From there, he began recruiting and planning MS-13 activities impacting Massachusetts. Among other things, Leoner Aguirre created recruitment videos for MS-13 and posted them on YouTube. This enabled younger gang members and associates to view these videos, including one witness who testified that he first saw these videos while at a local high school in Massachusetts.

In March 2014, Leoner Aguirre moved to the Chelsea area and immediately began activating, organizing, and supervising the Enfermos clique. As part of that activity, Leoner Aguirre encouraged members of the clique to attack and kill rival gang members, in addition to committing other racketeering acts such as robberies. Leoner Aguirre himself committed a number of racketeering acts, including an attempted murder in Chelsea where Leoner Aguirre struck a victim in the head with a machete.  Leoner Aguirre also committed an attempted murder involving a shooting, which is the incident for which he is currently serving a four-to-five year state prison sentence.  Leoner Aguirre committed both of these attempted murders in daylight on busy public streets in Chelsea.

The other members and associates of the Enfermos clique were Hector Ramires, a/k/a “Cuervo;” Bryan Galicia Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky;” David Lopez, a/k/a “Cilindro,” a/k/a “Villano;” Daniel Menjivar, a/k/a “Roca,” a/k/a “Sitiko;” Angel Pineda, a/k/a “Bravo;” and Kevin Ayala, a/k/a “Gallito.” Each of these defendants has pleaded guilty and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of their sentences.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Commissioner Thomas Turco of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Thompkins; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary; Revere Police Chief James Guido; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon made the announcement.

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Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp Seminar Will Be Starting on April 29

Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp Seminar Will Be Starting on April 29

Last summer two friends were chatting about how expensive college tuition is these days and the impending mounds of debt their collective six kids were most likely going to be faced with.

The conversation continued and one of the moms shared that she happened to be in the audience when Major Nippy Betz gave his TEDx talk a year prior and she was lucky to get to speak with him afterwards. She recalled having her mind blown open about the hidden world of scholarships and how if you cast a wide net, and are disciplined (just like fishing), you can reel in a boatload of free money. It was at that moment where they looked at each other and had an idea.

Like many moms, these friends are employed, over-extended and crazed, however they decided they needed to bring Nippy to Boston to share his education and his secrets. As they began to dig deeper, it became quickly evident that there was a lot they didn’t know, and likely other parents didn’t know as well. They decided to roll up their sleeves and plan the first ever Massachusetts Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp.

Kerry Strollo, Lexington resident, mom and event co-organizer said “This is about educating parents that you don’t have to sit idly by and just hope something down the line will work out financially for your kids. This is about early success planning so you (and your kiddos) are not panicked when they are a senior in High School on how they, or you, will afford college. Who knew kids in 7th and 8th grade can start to obtain and stockpile scholarships, and High Schoolers can earn so much they pay for their college education and then receive overpayments for living expenses after college? I didn’t, and we have 4 kids! As soon as I learned this I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops.” Strollo added, “There are tips, techniques, and a path to finding the scholarships, however it starts with putting together a plan of action. This Bootcamp is designed to help you craft that plan for success.”

Rosette Cataldo, a Revere native, mom and event co-organizer looks at it though a different lens. “I watch my kids, albeit great students, wasting time every day on the internet, Fort Nite, YouTube, Netflix…you name it. These kids must use their devices and brains for a better purpose. I want to educate my children on how to make the internet a gold mine that works for them, their future and not just a time suck.” This event is all about educating local parents and students at the same time and getting them aligned to work together with a plan so that the family isn’t crippled with debt

The Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp will be held:

April 29, 2018 11 am – 1 pm Diamond Middle School, Lexington

April 29, 2018 4 pm – 6 pm Sheraton Hotel, Framingham, MA

April 30, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Larcom Theatre, Beverly, MA

May 1, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Marriott Hotel, Newton, MA

For more info please visit: www.strategicscholarships.com

Tickets are $49 per person. Students are encouraged to join their parents. Group rates (20+) available. To hear the story about a Tuft’s graduate with massive student debt please view this video

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Station of the Cross

Station of the Cross

ChelseaRecord

Julio Figueroa as John The Apostle, Ramona Rodriguez as Mary Mother Of Jesus, and Kinian Lobo as Mary Madeline march in grief at Jesus’s suffering during the annual St. Rose of Lima Church’s Stations of the Cross throughout the streets of Chelsea on Good Friday, March 30. Hundreds of parishioners came out to participate in the march.

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CHS Students to Present ‘Shrek: The Musical’ This Weekend

CHS Students to Present ‘Shrek: The Musical’ This Weekend

When a village of fairytale characters is evicted from their home, they are forced to settle in a swamp to the displeasure of Shrek, the surly ogre that resides there.ChelseaRecord

In exchange for the deed to the swamp, Shrek agrees to rescue Princess Fiona for Lord Farquaad. Along his journey to relinquish his precious swamp, Shrek surprisingly falls in love.

That storyline will be played out in four performances on the stage at Chelsea High School (CHS) this weekend, as the CHS Performing Arts Department presents ‘Shrek: The Musical’ April 5 and 6, at 7 p.m., and April 7, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets cost $7 for students, teachers, and seniors, $10 for adults, and can be purchased by calling (617) 466-5051.

“It’s surreal. There’s a lot of laughter,” said senior Austin Henry Vega, who plays Shrek. “It has everything for everyone.”

Having been abandoned at 7 years old, Shrek was accustomed to being on his own, but during his quest, he learns the value of friendship and bonds with Donkey. Shrek evolves from a guarded grump into a valiant hero.

“Shrek is a character I think a lot of people would relate to. He was alone all his life and never experienced love,” explained Vega about the character he plays in his final production at CHS. “He has a grim way of looking at the world. In the end, he learns that he is loved.”

In this romantic comedy, Fiona envisions herself being saved by a handsome prince. She dreams of sharing a true love’s kiss that will break her curse.

However, she learns that life is not always what she expects.

“In the end you see a tale of them falling in love and creating a family, with Donkey included,” said junior Samantha Areli Iraheta, who plays Fiona. “My favorite part about this production is seeing us grow as characters and as a family. Everyone in the cast and crew created a child of a show that we put all our effort in. I am proud of every person who stands on this stage and is in the crew.”

‘Shrek: The Musical’ has a cast of 26 and a crew of 15 members, including middle school students from throughout Chelsea.

“My favorite part about working on this show is getting to work with people you’ve created a bond with. There are constantly new people and perspectives,” said sophomore Tammy Frias Caraballo, sound manager. “The music is so good. I wake up in the morning with songs already stuck in my head. I think people should come see it because you get taken to a world filled with magic. It’s a great show for friends and family.”

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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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Chelsea’s Dockside Restaurant to Close, Will Reopen as a Mexican Concept

Chelsea’s Dockside Restaurant to Close, Will Reopen as a Mexican Concept

After six years of hosting diners from Chelsea and the surrounding areas, the Dockside location in the Mystic Mall announced this week that it would close as of this Saturday, April 7.

Jack Urbaczewski and his daughter, Lisa Urbaczewski McKenna, made the announcement on Wednesday.

“I think we are very grateful to have had the opportunity,” said Lisa. “It’s bittersweet in a sense. We’ve had some really great employees and customers there. The business can be very demanding. Where we are a family business, it makes sense to consolidate. As this chapter is closing, my dad is just really enjoying more family time and being a grandfather…Chelsea is very special to our family.”

Jack had operated a restaurant in the old Mystic Mall many years ago, and he also served on the Chelsea Police Department for 20 years. When he created Dockside Restaurants in Malden and Wakefield, then City Manager Jay Ash recruited Jack to be part of the new Mystic Mall shortly after the new Market Basket opened.

“Having grown up across the street from this spot and serving 20 years on the police force, our time here in Chelsea will always have special meaning to me,” said Jack. “I, along with our entire Dockside family would like to sincerely thank our regular guests for their patronage, our hardworking staff for their dedication and the entire Chelsea community for their loyalty and support over the years. We are very grateful to Market Basket and former City Manager Jay Ash for this opportunity.”
The business will not become vacant, though, as Lisa said they have sold it to a Mexican restaurant from Malden that they are familiar with.

The El Potro Mexican Grille will open in the spot soon after Dockside leaves.

Lisa said they will continue to support efforts in Chelsea like the Boys & Girls Club road race, and the Salvation Army on Chestnut Street.

A farewell get-together for the Dockside location is planned for Saturday, April 7, from 1-3 p.m.

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