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In The News

September 21, 2021
Michael Sullivan, Joshua Garcia, win Holyoke mayoral preliminary, will face off in November election

September 8, 2021
Holyoke City Council can’t reach agreement on sewer use fee hike; fails to muster supermajority vote

August 18, 2021
Holyoke police investigating shooting of house, car with AK-47-style gun

August 18, 2021
Drive-by shootings in Holyoke reported by police

August 4, 2021
Despite deficit, Holyoke holds off hiking sewer fee

July 6, 2021
Closed since 2015, Holyoke’s Pouliot Pool reopens in time for hot stretch; $2.2 million renovation completed

June 24, 2021
Volunteers sought for "Community Police Relations Board"

June 23, 2021
Holyoke City Council approves $144M budget for fiscal 2022; includes over $424K in cuts

June 2, 2021
Facing criticism, Holyoke’s acting mayor says ‘I did a poor job explaining’ executive order on racism

May 25, 2021
Baker signs bond bill to reconstruct Soldiers' Home
PDF | Video

May 21, 2021
City Solicitor rules tabling cash transfers as ‘out of order’

May 19, 2021
Holyoke City Council delays vote on charter change to recall elected officials

May 17, 2021
Mass. to lift mask order, remaining COVID-19 restrictions on May 29

May 12, 2021
Police OT under scrutiny in Holyoke
With 10 Year Data

May 13, 2021
Holyoke Acting Mayor Terence Murphy seeks $3M in cuts for fiscal 2022

May 5, 2021
Holyoke City Council delays vote on changes to marijuana ordinance; acting mayor offers updates

May 5, 2021
Officials warning of fake prize checks arriving in the mail


Local News Archive

COVID News Archive



HOLYOKE MASSACHUSETTS
WARD 5 CITY COUNCILOR
THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE YOU AS YOUR WARD 5 CITY COUNCILOR!
I promise to work hard and do the best job I can for you and Holyoke



^-- Front page - My latest campaign mailer - Back page ---^

City Hall to Reopen June 1, 2021

Click link above for details - [PDF]

August 2021 Update from Linda

Hi Everyone, Happy Tropical Summer!
Topics:
  1. Budget
  2. Sewer Rate
  3. Sunset/Ashley project
  4. Apremont Hwy/Rock Valley intersection
  5. Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202
  6. Old Geriatric Authority property
  7. Homestead Avenue & Neighborhood Watch
  8. Pot holes, sunken man hole covers & traffic
  9. Election Season
  10. Sidewalks
Click here to continue reading ...

1) Budget:
Money has been made available to the City from Federal tax dollars which can be used over the next two years. This money is one-time and is not ongoing funding for the city government. I am asking our Mayor to use as much of the money as possible for long term capital expenses that will help to reduce the ongoing cost to the city and give taxpayers the best long term result from the funding.

2) Sewer Rate:
A rate of $8.05 (from $6.65) has been proposed and there will be another City Council meeting to attempt to set a rate. For the past few years, the general fund has been supporting the sewer fund meaning those who do not have city sewer are paying for the sewer service. My position is that we should support the lowest rate needed to keep the fund balanced and hold rate payers who owe money accountable. Various rates were proposed. I supported the lower rates, but those seeking the higher rates would not join and 9 votes are required to pass a rate.

3) Sunset/Ashley project:
After a citizen’s petition, public hearings and overwhelming support from the neighbors in the Sunset/Ashley neighborhood the project is complete! Safety and peace throughout the area has been restored that had been disrupted after the construction of Doyle Drive and the increased traffic from Westfield. It was a complicated problem to solve, but with DPW and our City Engineer along with citizen participation we all worked together to get it done. As your Ward Councilor, it is rewarding when after months and years of effort, a problem can be successfully addressed.

4) Apremont Hwy/Rock Valley intersection:
A revised traffic pattern is being tested at the Apremont Highway/Rock Valley intersection. Feedback from you has been shared with Mike McManus and Bob Peirent at DPW as this test period continues. Feedback shared includes:

So far the feedback has been more positive than negative. A summary of suggestions so far follows:
A suggestion is for a 4 way stop which you have addressed previously:
  • A concern expressed is: when taking the new right on to Apremont from Rock Valley, if you have a large vehicle the center line is crossed before the driver straightens out on the road (it looks like some modifications could be made there for turning right more easily)
  • Fear from drivers coming down the hill at a fast rate if taking the same right ( maybe because it is closer to the hill….)
  • Suggestion for more tree trimming on Apremont so if someone is stopped to take the left on to Rock Valley they can be seen better and sooner by those behind them
  • More signage has been requested: such as left turn sign
  • One idea: could we add a sign on the hill-when coming down Apremont- (traffic entering ahead) or something to that effect?
If there are other concerns or ideas please let me know or contact DPW directly if you prefer.

5) Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202:
The installation is planned to be completed in October.

6) Old Geriatric Authority property:
The sale should be finalized soon this month. Some permitting regarding fence height is being addressed for safety at the site.

7) Homestead Avenue & Neighborhood Watch:
Recently there have been drive by shootings on Homestead Ave, twice at one location! If neighbors want to set up a Neighborhood Watch group as we had in the past here in Ward 5, please let me know and I will set up an organizing meeting as soon as possible.

8) Pot holes, sunken man hole covers & traffic:
These concerns remain problematic here in Ward 5 and throughout the city. I forward your reported concerns to our DPW and/or file orders with the City Council as needed. While it is a frustrating situation, the needs currently exceed our resources. Hopefully some of the COVID $ can be used for these issues. Our Mayor will be deciding how to use the money (approximately $14M) within certain rules that have been set by the Federal Government. The DGR Committee will meet tomorrow to recommend use of the money for local improvements to our Mayor.
9) Election Season:
We have seven certified candidates for Mayor this year! There will be a primary election on September 21st. Please vote as you will determine the two final candidates in the November election.

10) Sidewalks:
There may be an opportunity to make repairs to existing sidewalks throughout the city. I am checking throughout the ward, but also ask that you let me know if there is a sidewalk in your neigborhood that should be on the list.

For more information on local issues and articles please visit my website at lindavacon.org
Thank You,
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
533-6498 or 210-6077

Finished reading

Top 100 Salaries of Holyoke Public Service Employees,
2020

Top 100 Salaries of Holyoke Public Service Employees,
2019


Top 100 Salaries of Holyoke Public School Employees,
2019-2020

Salaries for Holyoke Elected Officials,
2019-2020


Fraudulent Vaccine Calls

It has come to the attention of the Holyoke Board of Health that people in the region have been receiving fraudulent phone calls about Vaccine Registration.
The Holyoke Board of Health and the Holyoke Council on Aging will never ask for your social security number, credit card / bank information or ask you to transfer money.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free. If you are contacted by the Board of Health or the Council on Aging about the COVID-19 vaccine, we will only request your name, date of birth, address, medical history and insurance information.
If you have any concerns about the legitimacy of the call, please hang up and call the Board of Health at 413-322-5595 or the Council on Aging at 413-322-5625.
Regards,
Sean Gonsalves, RS
Director of Health
Holyoke Board of Health

COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates

More VACCINE locations are opening on a daily basis. If you are currently eligible and need assistance registering to receive a vaccine, you can call the Holyoke Council on Aging at 413-322-5625.

Local, Mass. COVID Stats, Maps and State House Reports

[Includes Soldiers Home News]


Holyoke Honors US Army Vietnam Veteran Charles Sullivan

I was honored to attend a special event at the home of Charles Sullivan, a US Army Vietnam Veteran, here in Ward 5 today, September 28, 2016.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts brought their Blue Crew of 30+ employee volunteers on a bus from throughout the state for their Annual Company Service Day.
They worked on the home of US Army Vietnam Veteran Mr. Charles Sullivan, landscaping, painting, replacing a broken window, replacing an unsafe kitchen floor and broken kitchen doors. In addition, they built stairs with railings and a small deck.
To honor his service, the volunteers also installed a new flag pole and presented Mr. Sullivan with a U.S. flag with an honor guard arranged by Jim Mahoney, our Veterans Service Director.
I was pleased to be a part of this special day for a person who served our country and in turn was assisted in his time of need.
Charles Sullivan,
to Linda's left
Charles Sullivan, left Flag pole installation

Letter to the Editor by Councilor Vacon
Holyoke residents with private systems should be excluded from water runoff fees

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See Letter on line
Letter to Editor:
It is NOT fair for residents who pay for private sewer services (septic systems) to be charged an added fee for storm water. As it is, they have been subsidizing the inadequate sewer fee through their property taxes for the last two years. Storm water from the area of the city without a sewer system does not even reach the treatment plant as storm water cannot travel up the Rt. 202 hill to enter the treatment plant.

Those with septic systems want to pay for services they actually receive from the city and that the city is able to provide. It has been stated that there is no sewer service available for approximately 700 homes in Holyoke. Those cities that have a storm water fee probably all have homes on the city sewer system. In that situation everyone is paying for a service they receive.
Click here to continue reading ...

Those with septic systems have paid for the maintenance, testing and compliance with Title V regulations since they purchased their homes. There has been no assistance from the City and none is proposed in the Mayor's budget.

Those who receive sewer service have had one increase in the sewer fee since the upgrades were completed at the water treatment facility.

The budget proposed by the Mayor asks that those with private septic systems continue to subsidize the losses in the sewer fund and IN ADDITION pay a storm water runoff fee.

There is no water running off from those who pay for private septic services into the water treatment facility. Again, it is impossible for water to flow up Route 202 to enter the water treatment plant.

To shift the cost of the sewer upgrade to those who have paid the full cost of private septic costs on their own is unfair. Establishing fees on all to help some is just a 'hidden' tax, and one that cannot be written off because it is proposed as a fee. There are certain limited government services that we all pay for that serve the entire community. The sewer service is NOT one of them!

What should be done?

On December 2, 2014, our highly regarded Acting City Auditor put forth a step by step approach to bring the sewer rates in line with the costs. He recommended a $1 increase over time to avoid the shock of a steep increase (that did not pass the City Council as it was too much of an increase all at once).

The Mayor could have included this recommendation in the budget, but instead retained the subsidy and ADDED another fee. This is not a business friendly proposal.
The addition of the storm water fee to those who do not receive sewer service is not a matter of taxpayers paying their fair share. It is a DOUBLE CHARGE to taxpayers who do not receive a service from the city.

It is time for local government to live within its means as taxpayers must. When free cash is certified it should be used to balance the sewer fund, not to further expand local government. Those taxpayers who pay for their own septic systems should not be required to pay any more and our business owners do not need another fee added to their cost of doing business.

Linda Vacon, Holyoke City Councilor Ward 5
Finished reading

Recent Press releases:
  • NEEDLE EXCHANGE HURTING PUBLIC SAFETY
    Holyoke, MA.Today Holyoke Ward 5 City Councilor Linda Vacon announced that she will continue to fight the needle exchange program. "We need to keep our streets safe. Unfortunately, the needle exchange program that costs taxpayers over $150,000 annually, acts like a magnet and is bringing more problems into our community. ... Continue reading ....

More Info on Needle Exchange

Letter to Editor by Linda to Holyoke Sun
PDF pg. 6 | Jan. 18, 2013 Holyoke Sun issue

Transparency needed

Op-ed by Linda, Herald Publications

Aug. 28, 2012
Holyoke Board of Health Chairwoman Ms. Katherine Liptak, RN, promised me references (during the public meeting) of studies the board utilized to come to their decision in favor of needle exchange. There has been no information forthcoming from the Board of Health at the time of this letter, so I have done some research.
Click here to continue reading ...
It was shown at the meeting that we currently have approximately 30 drug addicts using needles here in Holyoke with illness, and it was shown that male to male sex with multiple partners is responsible for 40 percent of new cases of AIDS. So, in the interest of public health do we spend $150,000 of taxpayer money for a needle exchange, or spend money to continue to educate people to reduce all high risk behaviors to lower the burden of illness and death for many more?

Meanwhile people who continue with their drug use (the root cause of the problem) will continue to seek money to fund their habit. They often endanger others in the commission of crimes. They will also often die from drug abuse.

Speakers at the Board of Health meeting made assumptions about the success of the needle exchange programs reducing Hepatitis C and AIDS. Scientific studies have shown these assumptions do not hold true. See the Dr. Lucy Sullivan, 1997 study that states "there is no sign of an impact on the rate of decline (of HIV incidence rates) with the introduction of needle distribution in 1992." Also see the Vancouver study by Strathdee, 1997 showing an increase in HIV among drug addicts using needles. Then there is the Montreal study Bruneau J et al, 1995, showing that drug users participating in the needle exchange program were twice as likely to become infected with HIV as those who did not participate.

To those at the meeting who heckled, booed, and chastised speakers who opposed your views or dared to ask questions, such bullying is unacceptable behavior. It dishonors our democratic process as it discourages freedom of speech and public debate. Such actions should not be condoned by city leaders.

Linda Vacon
City Councilor and Candidate for State Representative
Finished reading

Needle exchange, an outdated, failed program

Letter to the Editor by Linda Vacon, July 18, 2012

A needle exchange program was approved by the Mayor shortly after City Council meetings ended for the summer. This action is contrary to the campaign rhetoric by our Mayor who promised transparency in our government. The Board of Health appointed by the Mayor voted unanimously to approve this. Is anyone surprised by that?
Click here to continue reading ...
This needle exchange program was clearly voted down by our citizens by a significant margin.

A news article stated that the last needle exchange program was approved around 1996. Perhaps that is because this program is outdated and has failed to accomplish the goal of reducing drug addiction. Now it is recast as a program to reduce AIDS and Hepatitis C for approximately 100 city residents, if we are to accept the stated statistics.

While it is a commendable goal to reduce illness, the scourge of drug addiction with its collateral damage from robbery, assault, and deaths, as drug addicted individuals seek any and all avenues to satisfy their drug cravings, is unaffected by this program.

What happened to the image of Holyoke and the marketing for businesses downtown? Who will be the first to open their new business next to the needle exchange? This is hardly the image we need to renew our city.

There is already a needle exchange in Northampton. For those who are drug addicted, syringes are readily available. Let’s not enable the very behaviors that take the majority of time and effort by our dedicated police force.

Linda Vacon, City Councilor Ward 5
Finished reading
As your Ward 5 City Councilor, I will continue to represent you:
By hearing concerns and ideas from residents.
By serving on committees to make things happen.
By making informed decisions.
By keeping you informed on issues and decisions that affect you.
Getting to know Linda:
Professional Profile   Contact Linda   Support Linda

Please feel free to contact me by phone 210-6077 (cell) 533-6498 (home) or use the Contact form with any questions you may have.
Thank you, Linda

4 important local issues, my perspective:

..... Click here to continue reading

First: Our local government needs to be affordable, efficient and effective for the residents. Homeowners and small businesses cannot continue to pay more and more, so the size of our local government must fall in line with the available revenues. Rather than increase taxes even more, we need to provide the essential government services, which include police, fire and public works. Other programs need to be evaluated for affordability and value to the taxpayers.

Second: Our City Council is established to represent our city. When Holyoke had 60,000 residents, the fifteen-member Council was large, even then. Now with the population less than 40,000, the size of the Council is disproportionately high.

Third: I favor the establishment of a City Charter review committee. It is a healthy process for us to re-evaluate our current government structure to see if we can better serve our residents. Many believe that the current model results in a high level of in-fighting between factions on the Council and frequent power struggles with the Mayor. Many wonder if the interests of the residents are well served. I am open to hearing new ideas, have set forth some thoughts on the matter in another section of this web site and look forward to input, discussion and vigorous debate on this topic.

Fourth: I will not promise my vote on a matter before I have listened to constituents, considered input from concerned citizens, and become well informed on the subject. When I do decide on a matter, I will share the reasons for my decisions. While it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time, it is possible to conduct public business in a manner that is open, responsive and has integrity.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

Sincerely,
Linda Vacon

Finished reading, close document

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