About James Ostis

Ph.D candidate in Public Policy. Avid Lowell volunteer. Lowell Heritage Partnership President. Assistant to the Mayor.

Celebrating a century (+) of Lithuanian Independence in Lowell

“In honor of the Lithuanians who came to Lowell for a Better Life”

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Lithuanian monument on the centennial of independence (Photo: Jen Myers)

Those words adorn the Lithuanian monument in Lowell’s JFK Plaza.  Lowell’s Lithuanian community dates back longer than the modern state of Lithuania.  Like many other immigrants and refugees in Lowell, hundreds of Lithuanians fled oppression to work in Lowell’s textile mills, in the late 19th century,

Although they had settled in a new world, many expats kept in touch with the struggles in the old one, as the ancient nation of Lithuania struggled through centuries of occupation by Russian (and briefly German) governments.  The overthrow of Russia’s tsarist regime in 1917 opened the door for the reestablishment of Lithuania as an independent state.

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D.L.K.V. Club in Lowell

101 years ago this month, the Act of Reinstating Independence of Lithuania was signed.  On February 16th, 1918, the transitional council of Lithuania proclaimed the restoration of their country as an independent state governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital.  That document has served as the basis of subsequent Lithuanian constitutions and February 16th is celebrated as Lithuanian Independence Day.

Two years later, Lithuanian Americans in Lowell established the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas (D.L.K.V.) club, named after the famous Lithuanian leader under whose rule Lithuania was the largest medieval European state.

Although the group sold their building on Central Street in 2017, the club’s charter remains intact and they are preparing to celebrate their 100th anniversary next year.

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It was with the backdrop of these recent and upcoming centennial anniversaries that the Lowell City Council welcomed the Lithuanian community to Lowell City Hall on February 16th, 2019 for the annual raising of the Lithuanian flag.

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Vice Chair Vesna Nuon presented a citation on behalf of Mayor William Samaras and State Senator Ed Kennedy brought greetings from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in his dual role as city councilor and state legislator.

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Vice Mayor Nuon spoke about the Lithuanian struggle for independence within the context of his own experiences as a refugee from Cambodia, (even after achieving freedom from the Russian empire in 1918, the country spent much of the 20th century under Soviet rule before finally becoming independent again in 1990).  Senator Kennedy also spoke about attending the Lithuanian flag raisings during his own term as mayor from 2016-2017.

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Unveiling of the Lithuanian monument, June 2012 (Photo Credit: Greg Page)

Both of the councilors were also on the Lowell City Council in 2012 when the Lithuanian monument in JFK Plaza was dedicated during the term of Mayor Patrick Murphy.

The monument’s design incorporates an important symbol of Independence the charging knight on the chield known as the “Vytis”, Lithuania’s national coat of arms. “Lietuva” the Lithuanian word for the country is inscribed below. The side banners reflect the “juosta” or woven sash in the stylized tulip design, a prominent feature in Lithuanian art and costume.

Following the speaking program and the singing of the American and Lithuanian national anthems, the flag of Lithuania was raised outside Lowell City Hall.

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More photos from the 2019 Lithuanian Independence Day Celebration in Lowell:

For More: 2018 Lithuanian Flag Raising Photos

(Mill) City of Presidents

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Quincy, Massachusetts is known as the City of Presidents because it is the birthplace of both the 2nd and 6th presidents of the United States (John Adams and John Quincy Adams) and John Hancock, president of the first Continental Congress, for good measure.

While Quincy certainly has earned its nickname, Lowell’s brushes with the U.S. presidency aren’t too shabby either.   Last week, we covered Abraham Lincoln‘s 1848 visit to the Mill City and some of the various other Lowellian connections the 16th president.   All told, at least 18 of the U.S. presidents have visited Lowell, including the White House’s current occupant.

The first president to visit Lowell was the first one to be elected after incorporation.  Both President Andrew Jackson and his vice president (and future president in his own right), Martin Van Buren visited Lowell on June 26-27, 1833.

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Andrew Jackson

Jackson’s visit to Lowell came as part of a national tour he undertook in 1833, only the third American president to launch such an endeavor at the time.  Jackson had left Washington for New England on June 6th of that year.  His tour was covered extensively in an article by Fletcher Green published in the New England Quarterly in 1963.

Jackson had fallen ill during the tour and even skipped several scheduled stops (with Van Buren filling in for his public appearances) in Salem and Marblehead.  But the president was feeling better as he arrived in Lowell, as Green notes:

Lowell was a different story. Jackson felt fine and was intensely interested in everything he saw in the city. All the mills were closed and the working girls participated in the parade. Some five thousand, dressed in white with different colored sashes identifying them with the mills for which they worked, marched four abreast. They bore green parasols, which they waved in salute.

Jackson expressed a desire to see a mill in operation and one was opened and set going for his benefit. He was so much impressed that, according to Quincy, he talked of little else until they reached the state line the next day. Jackson later wrote that the mills filled him with admiration.

They “were perfect, nothing in the world could exceed them.” 

Van Buren, of course would follow Jackson and become the second Lowell visitor to ascend to the presidency, although his only visit occurred before assuming the top office.  The next two presidents to visit Lowell however would come during their terms at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The impetus for John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States to visit Lowell was set in motion during a visit to another New England mill city, Providence.  The New England Historical Society notes that during his time in Rhode Island: “A delegation from Lowell, Mass. buttonholed Tyler and persuaded him to visit that city, as well. He traveled there after the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument. There he learned of a new disaster brewing for his administration – his attorney general had died. The president decided to return to Washington rather than continue his tour, but his spirits were greatly improved.” 

(He must not have liked his attorney general very much.)

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James K. Polk

Tyler’s successor, James K. Polk‘s visit is covered extensively in this blog post on Forgotten New England.  Future president James Buchanan was part of that visit as Polk’s Secretary of State. Their visit in 1847 came just a year before Abraham Lincoln’s stop in Lowell.

The next presidential visitor came to the city in less official capacities.  Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, was a resident of nearby New Hampshire and made frequent visits to some of his relatives living in Lowell.

Ulysses S. Grant may have been the first president-elect to visit Lowell during his transition period when the union general visited the Mill City in December of 1868.

Grant’s trip to Lowell was the last presidential visit for awhile.  After six presidential visitors in the community’s first 42 years, presidential visits became less frequent.  Benjamin Harrison is said to have come to Lowell on August 15th, 1889.  William McKinley is also rumored to have visited but there are no official records of that according to the Lowell Sun’s review in 2000.

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Perhaps to make up for lost time, one of the first presidential visits of the 20th century was a two-fer!

On April 29, 1912, then current president William Howard Taft and former president Theodore Roosevelt both visited Lowell on the same day, while each were campaigning for president.  (Press reports note that Roosevelt had also visited the city previously).

President Taft spoke before a crowd of 2000 people in scheduled remarks at the Lowell Opera House, while TR was set to meet with the Lowell Roosevelt committee on Middlesex Street.

Dueling visits by two presidents both running for president would probably normally seize all the headlines, but like the opening of Fenway Park a week earlier, Taft and Roosevelt’s visit shared the news day with the Titanic disaster.

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TR wasn’t the only President Roosevelt to visit Lowell.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt stopped by the city on October 31st, 1932, just days before winning the presidency.

Calvin Coolidge has the unique distinction of being the first president from Massachusetts to visit Lowell.  Of course both Adamses were also from The Commonwealth but their elections predated the incorporation of Lowell as a town in 1826.  Silent Cal represented Lowell as governor and visited the city after becoming vice president in 1922.

Of course many Massachusetts-based politicians have unsuccessfully sought the presidency with strong ties to Lowell.  Benjamin Butler and Paul Tsongas are undoubtedly two of the most famous politicians to have grown up in Lowell. Butler ran for president in 1884 under the Greenback party ticket, while Tsongas won several elections in the 1992 Democratic primary race (including the first in the nation New Hampshire primary.)

There is at least one other presidential nominee that had lived in Lowell, John Kerry, who lived in Lowell during the 1970’s during an unsuccessful campaign for Congress was on the ballot for the 2004 general election.  Michael Dukakis did not live in the city, but his father did, and the 1988 Democratic nominee continues to maintain strong ties to Lowell to this day.

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Massachusetts native son John F. Kennedy, of course, did win the presidency and possibly visited Lowell more than any other U.S. president during his time as a congressman and senator.

October 16th, 1952 marked another occasion of Lowell hosting two presidents at once as Kennedy joined the incumbent president Harry S Truman on a whistle stop train tour.  The current and future president spoke at the train depot in support of Democratic nominee, Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson would lose in the 1952 election to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who visited Lowell just a few short days later on October 21st as part of his own tour.

On September 27, 1956, then-Senator Kennedy came to the campus of Lowell Technical Institute to receive an honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of his public service and leadership.  This is one honor where his longtime rival, Richard Nixon actually beat him to the punch and got there first, as the then-Vice President received his own honorary degree from Lowell Tech on September 28, 1954.

Another local higher education institution played the key role in bringing former president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara to Lowell in 2001 as part of Middelsex Community College’s Celebrity Forum.

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President George H.W. Bush, MCC’s Carole Cowan, First Lady Barbara Bush at MCC Celebrity Forum 2001 (Photo Credit: Kevin Harkins)

Jimmy Carter signed the legislation establishing Lowell National Historical Park in 1978, but he visited the Mill City two years earlier during his presidential campaign.

Finally among the former presidents, Bill Clinton has come to Lowell on two occasions, once while in office and once after leaving.  His first visit, during the final year of his presidency in 2000, was for a political fundraiser at the DoubleTree Hotel in support of then-Congressman Marty Meehan.

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But it was as September 30th 2007 rally for Meehan’s replacement, the recently retired Congresswoman Niki Tsongas that was perhaps Clinton’s most memorable trip to the Mill City.

Clinton of course bested Niki’s husband, Paul, in the 1992 Democratic primary, but the two families got to know each other very well on the campaign trail, a topic which the 42nd president spoke glowingly about…once he got there.

As the evening wore on, Clinton’s arrival was delayed, but rather than the typical case of a politician simply running late, a more serious issue was facing event organizers.  Mechanical problems had grounded the former president’s plane.  As the Lowell Sun reported, this forced Clinton to “drive like a ‘madperson'” to get from his home in Weschester County, NY to Lowell in time to speak to the capacity crowd.

For the over 3000 assembled at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium to hear the former president speak, it was worth the wait.

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President Bill Clinton endorses Niki Tsongas for Congress as others (including future Vice Mayor Vesna Nuon) look on.

The Tsongas name adorned the building which hosted the most recent presidential visit in 2015.  But could the next president also have stops in Lowell in their personal history?

Elizabeth Warren at Lowell Folk Festival in 2012 w/ former Mayor Patrick Murphy

 

Elizabeth Warren, who made her presidential campaign announcement in nearby Lawrence earlier this month has of course visited Lowell many times as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.  Former Governor Deval Patrick has decided not to run, but Congressman Seth Moulton is said to be thinking about a campaign.

And let’s not forget who UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney welcomed to Lowell last year…

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Happy 210th Birthday to Lowell Visitor Abraham Lincoln!

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A portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the Mayor’s Office, Room 50, Lowell City Hall

February 12th, 2019 marks the 210th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, and on Saturday September 16, 1848, a visitor to Lowell, Massachusetts.

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Old City Hall, Merrimack St, Lowell

The future president visited the old City Hall (now Enterprise Bank’s headquarters) as a young congressman representing the Whig Party in 1848.  It is known that Lincoln gave a speech that night in support of Whig presidential candidate Zachary Taylor, and evidence points to him spending the night in the still young and bustling textile center (some 22 years after the founding of the Town of Lowell).

The relationship between Lowell and Lincoln goes well beyond just that visit as well. Mayor’s Office alum, Jen Myers, has an extensive post on Lincoln’s many connections to the Mill City in the Original Room 50 Blog, including the city’s (literally) riotous reaction to the news of Lincoln’s assassination.

The Lowell Heritage Partnership website also details the role that organization played in the restoration of the Abraham Lincoln Monument in the Highlands in this 2013 blog post.  The following is an excerpt from that post.

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Lincoln4In March 1908, Lowell schoolchildren started saving their Lincoln pennies in hopes of raising $2,000 to build a monument for Lincoln’s 100th birthday on Feb. 12, 1909.  The monument, built at the corner of Lowell and Chelmsford Streets was ultimately dedicated on Memorial Day 1909 with a ceremony that attracted thousands, including civil war veterans who were members of the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Lincoln6As can be expected, a century of wear and tear did take its toll on the monument, and as Lincoln’s 200th birthday was celebrated throughout the nation, a group of Lowellians looked to provide a renewed tribute to the great emancipator.  In 2010, the Lowell Heritage Partnership partnered with the city of Lowell by providing $2,500 of the $4,000 cost to refurbish the 101 year old monument.  On June 10th, 2010, local officials, members of the LHP, and students from the nearby Abraham Lincoln School gathered at the monument to celebrate the re-dedication.

LHPlogo-1The Lowell Heritage Partnership (LHP) is a coalition formed in 2000 to preserve and enhance Lowell’s natural, built, and cultural heritage through community partnership.  Be sure to visit lowellheritagepartnership.org for more information on the Lincoln Monument restoration and other restoration projects that the LHP has been involved.

 

 

 

Raising the Afro-American Flag

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LHS Step Team with Mayor Samaras

The first flag raising ceremony of 2019 featured step dancing, celebrations of past and ongoing achievements and a call to action.  For over two decades, the Afro-American Flag raising has marked the start of Black History/Heritage Month in the City of Lowell.

The ceremony was started by the late Robert and Mary Scott Mitchell of Lowell and the tradition continues under the leadership of their daughter, Terri Mitchell Morris and other family members.

On February 9th, 2019, Mayor William Samaras joined with several of his colleagues on the Lowell City Council and School Committee to take part in the celebration.

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He used his remarks to signal the importance of speaking up when you witness  injustice. Evoking the words of the Bishop Desmond Tutu,  the Mayor challenged himself and others, “Do not be neutral. Make a commitment that you will not look the other way when the elephant stands on the mouse’s tail. Make a promise to yourself to speak up when you see injustice.   I know that this group here today certainly does that and as the mayor I look to share that message to the entire city.”

Following the presentation of the proclamation and greetings from the other elected officials, the Lowell High School Step Team performed in the City Hall lobby.

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Terri Morris used her time at the podium to celebrate ongoing successes in Lowell’s African American community including the Step Team, The Kindred Project, and Mill City Barbecue, among many others.

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One person cited by Terri was her cousin, Darius Mitchell.  Darius, a former Lowell City Council candidate, has worked on improving voter turnout and participation in all levels of elections.

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Following the speaking program, those in attendance moved to the City Hall steps for the raising of the flag.

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Look Back at: 2018 Afro-American Flag Raising on Return To Room 50

 

New Year, New Culinary Options in the Mill City

 

It has often been said that you can dine around the world just by walking down the street in Lowell.  Two new businesses celebrating their ribbon cuttings this week certainly served as a case in point.

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State Senator/City Councilor Edward Kennedy

On Thursday, February 7th, State Senator, City Councilor, and Former Mayor Edward Kennedy joined the city’s economic development office and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce the ribbon cuttings at Panela Restaurant (7 Hanover St) and Powerhouse Juice (120 Merrimack St).

Kennedy, who attended many a ribbon cutting during his time as mayor, showed he still knows how to expertly wield a pair of over-sized scissors.

 

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First up was Panela, a new Colombian eatery tucked away on Hanover St (a short street alongside the Western Canal between Market and Merrimack Streets).  Although it can be easy to miss, particularly with the ongoing construction work on the canal and the Market St bridge, Panela is truly a hidden gem in Lowell’s Acre neighborhood.

DSC_0502The restaurant’s name is inspired by panela, unrefined whole cane sugar, which is a staple of Colombian cooking.   Fittingly, panela is one of the top ingredients in their offerings which provides a modern take on the traditional flavors of Colombia.

The brother-sister co-owners of the restaurant, Juan Acevedo and Viviana Duque were both students of Joyce Samaras, the mayor’s wife, at Lowell High School.

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Viviana Duque and Juan Acevedo talk to Maria Dickinson of the Economic Development Office

The walls of Panela are adorned with beautiful murals inspired by Colombia.

 

Senator Kennedy presented the owners and staff at Panela with a citation from Mayor William Samaras, congratulating them on their new business in Lowell’s vibrant and historic Acre neighborhood.

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Panela Restaurant is open 6 days a week (all except Monday), with early breakfast hours available on Saturday and Sunday.  Check out Panela on Facebook for more information.

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After celebrating the opening of Panela, the group took the short trip down the street to 120 Merrimack St where Powerhouse Juice was also celebrating its ribbon cutting.

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Powerhouse Juice is the first cold pressed, organic, and made to order juice bar in Middlesex County.  Owner Heather DeBerio and the team strive on producing one of a kind juice and smoothies using locally sourced and organic produce. Smoothies at Powerhouse Juice have no fillers, purees, ice, sorbet, ice cream, frozen yogurt and no unhealthy sweetener—just 100% pure fruits and vegetables.

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The menu also includes flatbreads, salads, sandwiches and more.

DSC_0537.jpgIn Winter 2018, Powerhouse Juice enrolled in Entrepreneurship for All’s Business Accelerator program. They supplied the mocktails for guests at EforAll Lowell-Lawrence’s Locally Yours Gala in November.

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EforAll Staff joined in the celebration.  Mayor Samaras visited EforAll last month

Shortly after completing the accelerator program they worked with the Lowell Economic Development office and the Lowell Plan in opening a storefront in Downtown Lowell.

They are now the third EforAll graduate to hold a ribbon cutting in the City of Lowell during the term of Mayor William Samaras.

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Panela Restaurant is open 6 days a week (all except Monday), with early breakfast hours available on Saturday and Sunday.

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Senator Kennedy presents the mayoral citation to Powerhouse Juice

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Powerhouse Juice is open 7 days a week, Monday-Saturday from 9-5:30, and on Sunday 9-2.  For more information visit www.powerhousejuice.com

 

Flag Raising Schedule 2019

Lowell is a true Gateway City.  In that spirit, many various community groups have hosted flag raising ceremonies at Lowell City Hall to celebrate the diverse backgrounds that make up the city.  On the eve of the first ceremony of 2019, here is a list of the confirmed flag raisings scheduled so far this year.

Afro-American Saturday, February 9, 2019
Lithuanian Saturday, February 16, 2019
Ghanaian Saturday, March 9, 2019
Irish Sunday March 10, 2019
Greek Monday, March 25, 2019
Khmer Monday, April 8, 2019
Zimbabwean Saturday, April 13, 2019
Armenian Saturday, April 20, 2019
Sierra Leone Saturday, April 27, 2019
Polish Sunday, May 5, 2019
Haitian Saturday, May 18, 2019
Pride Month Friday, May 31, 2019
Portuguese Monday, June 10, 2019
Franco-American Monday, June 24, 2019
Congolese Saturday, June 29, 2019
Colombian Saturday, July 20, 2019
Lao Saturday, August 3, 2019

Other groups expected to have ceremonies include the Puerto Rican, Indian, Liberian, Nigerian, and Zambian communities.

Celebrating the Greatest Quarter Back of All Time!

This week, the eyes of the Commonwealth were all focused on celebrating a milestone achievement in Massachusetts.

Hundreds of children took time out from school to take part in the historic event.

I may be a bit biased, but I strongly feel those in attendance all got a very unique opportunity to see the greatest quarter back of all time!

That’s Quarter Back.

As in the Back of a Quarter.

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All due respect to Tom Brady and the six-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, this post is not about Tuesday’s parade, or Sunday’s victory, or even the season-long journey to get there.

This post is about the culmination of a ten year plus effort to put Lowell National Historical Park on the back of a U.S. quarter as part of the America The Beautiful coin series.  Years of behind the scenes work all led the the celebration that took place at the Lowell Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

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A crowd of thousands, including 1500 school age children took part in the coin-launch event which like the coin design itself celebrated the historic and modern day contributions of women in the Mill City.

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Speakers included Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent Celeste Bernardo, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, Retired Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Community Teamwork Executive Director Karen Frederick, Coalition for a Better Acre Executive Director, Yun-Ju Choi, and UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney.

These distinguished women also welcomed guests from the National Park Service and United States Mint including Rosalyn Fennell, Deputy Regional Director of NPS’s Northeast Region and Marc Landry, Acting Associate Director of the Numismatic and Bullion Directorate at the U.S. Mint.

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Always a Lowell Connection: The Mint’s Marc Landry’s grandfather was born in the Mill City

Mayor William Samaras, Vice Mayor Vesna Nuon, and State Senator Edward Kennedy were also in attendance.

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The event featured musical performances by the Lowell High School Band and Choir, a historical look back at the design process by students from Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School, and the debut of a new video dramatization of 19th century mill life in Lowell set to the music of “Mills on the Merrimack,” all leading to the presentation of the Lowell Quarter and the traditional coin pour.

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Following the speaking program, guests were invited to exchange cash for rolls of Lowell Quarters in ten dollar increments (up to $100 per person).  Children under the age of 18 also received a free quarter for attending the event and there were commemorative coin sets also available for purchase.  Area banks will have Lowell quarters in stock for exchange while supplies last.

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Mayor Samaras waits for his turn to pick up a set of Lowell quarters

For a full-detailed write up of the morning’s event, be sure to check out this great post by Jen Myers in the First Middlesex News section on Senator Kennedy’s new website.

For those who were lucky enough to be there to witness it, the Lowell Quarter launch truly was a historic event in the City of Lowell–one that attendees won’t soon forget.

It was literally a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Patriots championship parades tend to happen quite more frequently.

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Coming Wednesday 2/6: LNHP Quarter Launch!

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Last summer, the long-awaited unveiling of the Lowell Quarter design took place at an event in Philadelphia.  Now finally Lowell residents and enthusiasts will be able get their hands on the new quarters at the official Lowell National Historical Park America the Beautiful Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange next Wednesday, February 6th, beginning at 10:00 am at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

Check out this video from the U.S. Mint for some background on the engraving of the design, which was created with the help of Lowell’s own Ellen Antsey, a champion of the quarter effort as described in this post by UMass Lowell.

Guests will be able to exchange money for Lowell quarters in ten dollar increments (maximum of 10 rolls, $100).  The speaking program will include Marc Landry, Acting Associate Director for the Numismatic and Bullion Directorate, United States Mint, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, and Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent, Celeste Bernardo.   Mayor William Samaras and State Senator Edward Kennedy will also be in attendance at the ceremony which will feature the Lowell High School JROTC Honor Guard, Senior Class President, band, and chorus

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Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Lowell, Lawrence, and Beyond

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Mayor Samaras tours Entrepreneurship for All January 25th, 2019

As the first planned industrial community in the United States, Lowell is a city that was literally founded by entrepreneurs.

That innovative spirit is certainly still alive and well today, but budding entrepreneurs with even the best of new ideas often need help starting out.

That’s where Entrepreneurship for All comes in.

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) was launched in 2010 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, a collaboration between UMass Lowell and the Deshpande Foundation. Based in Lowell, EforAll’s initial focus was on the cities of Lowell and Lawrence with the goal of revitalizing communities by fueling the dreams and ambitions of entrepreneurs who live in and near these cities  The organization moved into their current space on the Cabot St side of the Wannalancit Mills in 2013 and rebranded to their current name in 2014.

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Former Governor Deval Patrick visits EforAll in February 2014

On Friday, January 25th, Mayor William Samaras visited EforAll to learn about the work they have been doing to help Lowell build a thriving, community-based entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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Mayor Samaras and Joey Banh during site visit

The Wannalancit Mills location is home to both EforAll’s Lowell-Lawrence’s branch and its national headquarters.  The rapidly growing organization now also serves entrepreneurs in Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lynn, New Bedford, and just recently first the time expanded outside the Commonwealth into a Greater Denver, Colorado-based location.

EforAll supports entrepreneurs in numerous ways, hosting pitch contests, providing co-working space, and through their business accelerator program.

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EforAll’s 20th Pitch Contest, February 2016 at SunnyDa Restaurant

Finalists chosen for the accelerator receive three months of hands-on mentorship from a network of experienced professionals as well as weekly workshops, free office space, access to technical experts, and the opportunity to compete for $20,000 in cash prizes to launch their business. Graduates of the program receive nine months of additional support after the accelerator ends and many individuals in the program remain connected with their mentors even longer than that.

Since 2013, EforAll alumni have created 254 new startup companies, which have spawned 431 new jobs, and generated $9.9 million in revenues.  Perhaps most impressive given the risk involved in starting a new business, 83 percent of EforAll teams are still active.

Some of those EforAll alumni have already been visited by the Mayor and been featured in this blog.  Two companies celebrating ribbon cuttings in 2018, Purple Carrot Bread Company and Kravant Boutique were started with support from EforAll.  The Foundation Mixer also featured several other EforAll graduates at a networking event attended by Vice Mayor Vesna Nuon.

Another graduate of the Accelerator, Powerhouse Juice is scheduled to have a ribbon cutting in early February.

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Another EforAll graduate, invisaWear, founded by Ray Hamilton and Rajia Abdelaziz was the last ribbon cutting of then-Mayor Edward Kennedy’s term in 2017.  Their product was just featured on WCVB TV last week.

These recent startups join well-known graduates in the Lowell/Lawrence area, such as 99 Degrees Custom, Catie’s Closet, and Mill City Grows, among many many others.

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During his visit, the mayor met with EforAll-Lowell Lawrence’s executive director, Lianna Kushi, and program manager, Joey Banh to both learn more about the organization and discuss how the City of Lowell can work together with the nonprofit to help spark even more entrepreneurial success stories.

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Mayor Samaras notices a familiar face among the panel of judges at a past pitch contest

In addition to an upcoming presentation before the Lowell City Council’s economic development subcommittee, some of the other exciting ideas for collaboration discussed during the meeting will be rolling out over the coming weeks and months.

If you are interested in learning more about Entrepreneurship for All or any of the programs that they offer, be sure to visit their website at www.eforall.org.

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Joey Banh, Mayor Samaras, Lianna Kushi, and Emelia Misail

 

Lowell leads the way on STEM Education

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On Thursday, January 24th, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito visited Lowell High School to announce and celebrate the awarding of $1.2 million in grant funding from the state, One8 Foundation, and Mass STEM Hub in support of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education.  The awards included $50,000 to the Lowell Public Schools for the addition of biomedical science classes at Lowell High.

The morning’s events began in the Peter S. Stamas Library where the Lt. Governor got to visit with some of the approximately 100 students who take part in the hands-on engineering classes at Lowell High School which are already available due to the district’s collaborative partnership with Project Lead the Way.

Founded in 1997, Project Lead The Way is an American nonprofit organization that develops STEM curricula for use by US elementary, middle and high schools.

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The delegation of partners then made their way to Lowell High’s Little Theater for a brief speaking program where the grants were officially announced.

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Andreina Parisi-Amon

“Growing up in a family of engineers, I was fortunate enough to have role models to show me that I did belong in STEM,” said Mass STEM Hub’s Andreina Parisi-Amon,   “As I began my career as a biomedical engineer and educator, I encountered firsthand the reality of how many students don’t get that opportunity to spark their interest and imagine the impact that they can have by pursuing STEM.”

 

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Senator Kennedy

“Being able to offer these kinds of courses in our public schools greatly expands opportunities for students, exposing them to careers they may never have considered and keeping them engaged and excited about learning,” said State Senator Ed Kennedy, who was in attendance for the event,  “I am excited to see what the future brings for these programs and students.”

 

In the last two years, more than $2 million has been awarded to 74 schools across the Commonwealth to expand computer science, biomedical science, and engineering education for students in grades K-12.

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