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In The News
May 20, 2015:
Holyoke Council grants zone change for $10 million Gary Rome Hyundai project

May 15, 2015:
Holyoke Council agrees to tap reserves for $375,000 for snow-removal bills -
Linda Vacon is lone dissenting vote


May 12, 2015:
Holyoke Council OK sought for $10 million Gary Rome Hyundai dealership

May 11, 2015:
Holyoke Councilors to consider auto-dealer zone changes including Gary Rome Hyundai

May 7, 2015:
Holyoke Hotel site revamp begins as homeless families relocated

May 6, 2015:
Holyoke Council opts to let voters decide officials' terms

May 1, 2015:
Hotel/retail development will add jobs and property taxes

April 30, 2015:
Holyoke Council asks attorney general to investigate separation agreement

April 30, 2015:
Holyoke arrangement on county treatment center not subject to Council vote

April 28, 2015:
Process of relocating alcohol treatment center to Holyoke lacked transparency: Letter to the Editor

April 23, 2015:
Nearby tenants meet with Sheriff Ashe over future of Alcohol Correctional Center

April 22, 2015:
Holyoke neighborhood meeting set on plan for treatment center at Geriatric Authority

April 22, 2015:
Holyoke Hotel to become retail site with Applebee's, hotels, stores



Local 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

Re-election fundraiser

For Linda Vacon, City Councilor Ward 5
Monday, May 11, 2015
6 - 8:00 p.m.
at JP's Restaurant
200 Whiting Farms Road

Thank you to everyone who is supporting my re-election campaign! My kick off event at JP's exceeded expectations.
I was so grateful to be surrounded by so many of you with your positive energy and surprised by your incredible generosity.
With encouragement like this, I am more motivated than ever to do my best "for you...for Holyoke"!

Truly Yours,
Linda



VIEW MINUTES from the Feb. 11, 2015 forum

Letter to the Editor by Councilor Vacon about the Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center use of the former Geriatric Authority building

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See Letter on line
Letter to Editor:
On April 7th the City Council adopted an order "That the City of Holyoke through the Mayor reach out to the Sheriff's department for the possibility of relocating the Howard Street program to the site of the former GAH building."

This order was redundant since the Mayor had already contacted Sheriff Ashe two months prior to the order, when it was noted the renovation costs might be too costly per the Sheriff's department. (April 13th Republican article).

It was understood that a proposal would come before the City Council for review prior to any approval.
Click here to continue reading ...

However, on April 16th it was announced that a lease arrangement had been completed. Then on April 21st the City Council was given a legal opinion that the Mayor did not need to come before the City Council as the agreement is NOT a lease, but a license to use the property. At that same meeting Sheriff Ashe made a statement indicating the space needed very little renovation.

What happened to the promise of transparency made by Mayor Morse? Again, a lack of transparency by this Mayor and his administration is the rule when doing business in Holyoke.

Then, on April 23rd at the neighborhood meeting at Devonshire, a resident asked for a traffic study for the intersection at Lower Westfield Road and Holy Family Road as that intersection was already problematic when the Geriatric Authority was open. A review of the Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center website indicates there will be 182 inmates the former GA building (164 men and 18 women), twice the number of residents when the GA was open. While it was stated that a traffic study would not be completed, the increase in residents and trips indicate that this request is reasonable. As a good neighbor, maybe the Sheriff's department can assist with this matter, perhaps with the $120,000 annual savings they will realize with the agreement the Mayor has approved.

If the City Council had an opportunity to review this deal some questions I would ask include:
  1. What is the safety plan?
  2. What is the mitigation plan for increased traffic at an already problematic intersection?
  3. Why is the agreement providing a $120,000 savings per year for the program when we are in a $3 million dollar deficit?
  4. What assurance is there that this program will vacate the property in 18 months?
  5. What steps will be taken in the next 18 months to ensure that the highest and best use of the former GA property will be realized?
While we can all agree that we need added revenue, can we also agree that it is better to do the business of the city in public?

Submitted by
Linda Vacon

City Councilor, Ward 5

Finished reading

January 15th, 2015
I was so pleased to present this proclamation on behalf of the Holyoke City Council to Dina Levesque today as she celebrated her 100th birthday with her family at our Senior Center!
Dina and her sister and a lovely birthday cake provided by our Senior Center Acting Director to honor Dina's 100th birthday! Very Nice!

"Homeless Hotel" issue


September 19, 2014:
WWLP Ch. 22 Video - Holyoke residents voice concerns over homeless hotels


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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