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In The News

November 17, 2022
Holyoke mayor Joshua Garcia vetoes ordinance requiring departments to report loss

November 3, 2022
Holyoke City Council orders updated signage on engine breaking

November 3, 2022
Holyoke City Council orders updated signage on engine breaking

October 25, 2022
Holyoke city councilor pushing for more regulations after Trulieve employee death

October 5, 2022
Holyoke City Council approves $50k federal grant for gunfire detection technology

September 13, 2022
Holyoke police unions react to city councilor’s ‘gang’ comment

September 13, 2022
Holyoke Gas & Electric proposes tank project to ease natural gas moratorium

September 7, 2022
Holyoke chief rebukes city councilor for comparing police to a ‘gang’ - PDF version

August 31, 2022
Holyoke seeks reuse of closed Kmart Plaza

August 30, 2022
Holyoke White Hut plans proceed; City Council favors special permit

August 25, 2022
Holyoke City Council gets recommendation to rezone church for museum, Indian motorcycle dealership

August 9, 2022
Ch. 40 Video:
Traffic lines to be repainted on Route 202 in Holyoke following fatal accident


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

Professional Profile   Contact Linda   Support Linda 
Please feel free to contact me by phone 210-6077 (cell) 533-6498 (home) or Email [email protected] with any questions you may have.

Holyoke city councilor pushing for more regulations after Trulieve employee death


Tuesday night, the Holyoke Ordinance Committee met to discuss the topic. We met up with Councilor Vacon outside Holyoke City Hall prior to the meeting to discuss her efforts.

“I immediately filed an order to try to be sure that if there’s any way that we can coordinate and collaborate with the cannabis commission locally, that we would hopefully be able to participate in making sure something like this never happens again,” she told us.

Ward 5 Citizens Forum

Sunday, October 16, 2022, 1:00 p.m., at Dino's on Homestead Aveune
for Pizza, Updates, Q & A, & casual conversation
Topics:
  1. Update from Mayor Garcia
  2. Update on Middle Schools and question: Do you want Donahue to be elementary (through grade 5) or a middle school (grades 6-8)?
  3. Time for updates, questions, concerns & comments
  4. Other issues as requested-please email me so I can provide accurate information.
VIEW/PRINT Forum Minutes [PDF]

Ward 5 Update October 2022

Hi Everyone:
September Topics:

1) Traffic light at the top of Apremont and Rt. 202
2) Line painting on Apremont and crosswalks. City Council Action
3) Camera to monitor truck traffic on lower Homestead between 8PM and 6AM
4) McMahon School and traffic flow
5) HG&E Update
6) Ward 5 Citizens Forum:
Click here to continue reading ...

1) Traffic light at the top of Apremont and Rt. 202:
It is anticipated that the arm mast foundation for the light will be completed in October. Full installation is anticipated to happen in the spring of 2023.

2) Line painting on Apremont and crosswalks. City Council Action:
DPW staff painted the crosslines for the closed lane on Rt. 202 and are awaiting answers to pricing questions to complete the other lines. This item is tabled in City Council to ensure that the project is completed. Just today-October 6th I received an email indicating the pricing question is resolved and the lines should be painted in 2-3 weeks.

3) Camera to monitor truck traffic on lower Homestead between 8PM and 6AM:
We are waiting for our legal department to determine if a camera can be placed at the 202/Homestead intersection in order to monitor the truck traffic during prohibited hours.

Of note, Target had proposed to build a very large distribution center on 45 acres of land in Westfield near the Holyoke line. I provided information at the public hearing in Westfield about the traffic issues & concerns and the additional light that will be added on Rt 202 here in Holyoke. Just this week I learned that a high level of opposition in the Westfield neighborhood, including concerns about the aquifer led to a decision by Target representatives to withdraw the request for a special permit at this time.

4) McMahon School and traffic flow:
I received a request for a crosswalk to be installed at Knollwood and Kane due to safety concerns expressed by the crossing guard, school employees and the School Committee member.
The order I filed was sent to the Public Safety Committee and our City Engineer. The area will be evaluated for a crosswalk.

5) HG&E Update:
Holyoke Gas and Electric has received support for the 5th tank to be added a Mueller Road from Mayor Garcia. I have received no concerns regarding the installation following outreach in the neighborhood by HG&E staff. The process to add the tank will take 2-3 years to complete. A flyer with more details is posted on my website at [email protected] This project will allow HG&E to lift the gas moratorium.

LNG Infrastructure & Resiliency Project Overview

6) Ward 5 Citizens Forum:
I am happy to announce that I will be resuming in person meetings here in Ward 5! The next meeting will be held on Sunday October 16th at 1PM at Dino’s on Homestead Ave. I hope to see you there. Feel free to bring a neighbor if they would like to attend!

Please contact me with any questions, concerns or suggestions! Please check out my website for other city updates.
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
C: 210-6077
[email protected]
www.lindavacon.org

Finished reading

At the Ride to Remember - September 3, 2022, remembering those who gave their all and thanking our police officers who serve and protect
Mayor Garcia, Police Chief Pratt, Councilor Vacon at the podium:

Organizer, retired Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney with Chief Pratt
Related article from MassLive.com

Traffic lines to be repainted on Rt. 202 in Holyoke following fatal accident
Lines are now painted as of October, 2022

(Click above to play video)

Veterans Tax Work Off Program

Download Application [PDF]

Mayor Garcia Appoints Chairs of Advisory Councils

Residents can apply for Advisory Council positions through either the English or Spanish landing pages. Additional information on Advisory Councils can on the "Mayor’s Office page" at www.holyoke.org.

(HOLYOKE) — Mayor Joshua A. Garcia has appointed seven Holyoke residents to act as Chairs for each of the Mayor’s Advisory Councils. The appointments and their respective Advisory Councils are as follows:
Community Collaborations & Communications - Cynthia Espinosa; Executive Director, Nueva Esperanza
Government Restructure - Devin Sheehan; Fmr. Holyoke School Committee Member & Senior Analyst, Springfield Public Schools
Green Holyoke - Corrin Meise-Munns; Assistant Town Manager & Town Planner, Town of Longmeadow
Housing - William (Billy) Glidden; Freelance Writer & Housing Advocate
Infrastructure & Economic Development - Michael Sullivan; Fmr. City Councilor & Business Owner
Public Safety & Public Health - Gloria Caballero-Roca; Academic & Educator
Youth Development - Scott Garcia; Educator, Holyoke Public Schools

Click here to continue reading ...

Each Chair will coordinate the scheduling and agendas for each of the Mayor’s meetings with that specific Advisory Council. Chairs were selected based on their background and area of interest. The frequency of which each Council will meet is determined by Council members. Chairs will be replaced on an ad hoc basis.

In November 2021, Mayor Garcia announced the formation of his Transition Team–comprised of 14 community leaders–to oversee the creation of the Mayor's Advisory Councils. Each of the seven Advisory Councils are meant to focus on a set of issues–as determined by the Transition Team–and provide the community a seat at the table during the Mayor’s deliberations. The Transition Team officially dissolved earlier this month.

The window during which residents can apply for a position on an Advisory Council ends at 4:00pm on January 31, 2022. Residents can apply through either the English or Spanish landing pages. Additional information regarding the Advisory Councils can be found by going to the Mayor’s Office page at www.holyoke.org.

If you have any questions, contact the Mayor’s Office at (413) 561-1600.
John Dolan
Aide to the Mayor
413.564.9946
Finished reading

Feeling Grateful!

Thank you to my wonderful volunteers who supported me by participating in the recount called for by my opponent.

To my husband John
To my skilled Counsel Attorney Kevin Jourdain
To my loyal volunteers:
Howie Greaney
Joan Kirschner
Rich Berrena
Keith Davis
Jim Rossmeisl

   
Daily Hampshire Gazette, Springfield Republican
Thank you to our City Clerk Brenna McGee and our clerks today.
My confidence in our system and the new machines was validated by an orderly recount that resulted in No Change to the posted unofficial results.

And finally: Thanks again to my loyal voters and my new voters for returning me as Your Ward 5 City Councilor!


Veterans Day Ceremony
November 11, 2021

War Memorial Building
310 Appleton Street
10:00 a.m.

Hosted by: United Veterans of Holyoke
for more information: 413-322-5631

November 11, 2021
News article: Holyoke honors city’s veterans at annual service [PDF]

View/print Flyer [PDF]

Campaign Update

October 30, 2021

As we approach Tuesday, November 2nd, please be sure to vote!

I am running on 10+ years of dedicated service as your Ward 5 City Councilor, recognized by many for my constituent service and for doing my homework on city-wide issues. My campaign has always been and continues to be positive; based on issues important to all.

Recently, constituents contacted me after receiving a negative flyer and gave me a copy.
Some things to note about this flyer: It is
  • Written by an anonymous person or group
  • Funded by an anonymous person or group
  • Attacking me for something that has nothing to do with our local election
  • Endorsing my opponent who states in a mailer “I’ve spent a lot of my career on the outside fighting against dark money in politics.”
I ask all individuals being promoted in this negative, divisive flyer to call for an end to these destructive tactics. My opponent’s silence on this matter contradicts his statement. This group promotes Josh Garcia and others who appear to be like-minded.
Rather than divide and conquer, let’s work instead to “Build Holyoke Together”!


We may not always agree on every issue---but you know me. I will listen, learn and then share information and decisions with you. The most important endorsement I seek is Your Vote! I continue to work hard and hope to earn your vote this year.


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

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

View/Print
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) 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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