DeLarosa guilty of murdering girlfriend
Emilio DeLarosa of Lawrence was convicted in early 2023 of the first degree murder of his girlfriend in front of their then four-year-old son.
Jurors agreed DeLarosa killed Wanda Rosa, 29, with “extreme atrocity and cruelty” and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Rosa, DeLarosa and their son, Ethan, then age 4, had been sleeping in bed together on Sept. 12, 2016 at their Tudor Street apartment in Methuen.
DeLarosa attacked Rosa, choking and killing her after she got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Ethan Rosa, now age 11, testified during the trial that his father killed his mother. He also said he he tried to get this father to stop.
Chief Vasque retires, Castro names acting chief
The Lawrence Police Department had three leaders in 2023, ending with the appointment of William Castro, a retired corrections officer, as acting chief in October.
Castro, who was serving as Mayor Brian DePena’s chief of staff at City Hall, succeeds Lawrence Police Capt. Michael McCarthy, who has been acting chief since January 2023.
DePena said Castro as “an accomplished public safety professional with over 25 years of law enforcement experience.”
In January 2023, DePena placed then-Police Chief Roy Vasque on paid leave amid an investigation by an outside consultant. McCarthy was named acting chief.
Vasque then retired on June 30 and reached a $784,000 settlement with the city.
DePena also provided Vasque with a letter stating he was not taking any action against him, following the investigation and per the settlement.
Fallen Lawrence officer finally recognized in D.C, Boston
Lawrence Police Officer Jacob Eyssi died in 1993 from injuries he suffered when he was attacked on the job.
His widow, Elaine, and five daughters, marked bittersweet milestones in 2023 when Eyssi’s name was finally added to fallen officers’ memorials in Washington, D.C., and Boston.
The family worked for decades to have his passing designated as a Line Of Duty death. They wanted Eyssi memorialized at law enforcement memorials but they did not want money.
In addition to his wife, Eyssi is survived by five daughters; Sheila Robichaud, Donna Eyssi, Stefanie Ahearn, Sharon McDowell and Jackie Laporte.
His daughters were between the ages of 15 and 24 when he was attacked on Sept. 21, 1986. He died seven years later as a result of the injuries suffered.
Jury deadlocks in cold case murder case
Some 35 years after Melissa Ann Tremblay, 11, was found stabbed, beaten and killed in a South Lawrence rail yard, Marvin “Skip” McClendon went on trial for her murder in December 2023.
Prosecutors said DNA found under the girl’s fingernails belonged to McClendon, who most recently lived in Alabama.
But McClendon’s defense attorney said McClendon was linked to the case through false assumptions and he had no reason to kill the Salem, N.H., girl.
On Dec. 27, after 29 hours of deliberation, the jurors said they were deadlocked and a mistrial was declared. District Attorney Paul Tucker said McClendon would face another trial.
Attorneys are now expected to meet early in 2024 to discuss potential trial dates.
Andrea Ganley, a childhood friend of Tremblay’s, attended portions of the trial. After hearing the jury was deadlocked, Ganley said she was “devastated.”
“So many people loved Melissa. This really opened up a lot of old wounds, stirred up old feelings and emotions her friends and family have been dealing with for 35 years. I know I am not alone in saying that all of us wanted to see justice served for Melissa,” she said.
A feast for the ages
The festival of a lifetime came and went in 2023 — the 100th Feast of the Three Saints.
For the centennial celebration, the St. Alfio Society, which plans, organizes and presents the feasts, recruited a lengthy list of vendors, booked entertainers for two large stages and hosted a cultural corner under the marquee tent at Common and Union streets.
The society brought in the 33-member Three Saints Sicilian (Tre Santi Siciliani) Orchestra.
Fittingly, they came here from the Trecastagni region, from which Italian immigrants first carried the Saints’ tradition to Lawrence a century ago.
St. Alfio Society President Tony Palmisano declared the 2023 Labor Day weekend festival an absolute success, everything he had hoped it would be.
The question becomes, after all the anniversary singing and cheering and praying and offerings and eating and dancing, what do you do in 2024?
How can you follow a festival that was years in the making?
The answer is: you host the 101st in keeping with the feast’s guiding lights — faith, fellowship and philanthropy.
“The principles (the Society) was founded on are the same principles today,” Palmisano said earlier. “Keeping the traditions alive — of our Italian culture and our faith in the martyred saints.”
More riders, more drivers, more buses
The Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority’s ridership climbed in 2023, eclipsing pre-pandemic numbers.
In November 2023 ridership was 236,788. That’s 54% greater than the pre-COVID ridership in November 2020 of 153,925. November 2023 paratransit ridership was 8,662. That’s 19% greater than the pre-COVID ridership for November 2020.
All MeVa rides are free.
In addition, the transit authority more than met its bus driver staffing goal in 2023.
MeVa has 87 fixed-route bus drivers and 31 paratransit van drivers. In both cases, the largest workforce in its history.
Meanwhile, MeVa has expanded bus service on Saturday and will return Sunday service starting Jan. 2.
Sunday rides will be on the hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on seven, high demand routes: Lawrence-Haverhill via The Loop/Pleasant Valley Street; Andover via South Broadway; Woodridge via Colonial Heights/ North Andover Mall; Methuen Square via Broadway; Plaistow via Main Street and North Avenue; Haverhill-Salisbury Beach via Amesbury; and Lawrence-Lowell.
MeVa also announced a new service for transporting veterans and families to the Bedford Veterans Hospital on Wednesdays and Fridays, by reservation. The MeVa mini van will depart in the morning and return in the afternoon on a flexible schedule based on appointment times.
On our feet in 2023
Creaky bones and couch-softened derrieres rose to their feet in 2023 and danced like it was 2019, 1999 or any year before the pandemic’s fearful descent in 2020.
Three years later, emboldened Merrimack Valley studios have survived the social distancing, six feet of separation and silent rooms.
Dance schools, community centers and troupes have regained their rightful place on the floor and through the air in classes and performances.
Look around in grocery store aisles and elevators, at bus stops, restaurants and banks and, on occasion, see people do a little two-step or twirl or, if you are lucky, a tap and slide.
The Eagle-Tribune celebrated the return to movement in 2023 with its 10-part series Valley Dance.
Its reporter and photographers explored, discovered and shared the region’s rich and enduring dance heritage as well as its venturing into new forms and means of expression.
The stories celebrated Bachata, Street, Square, Indian, Tap, Swing, Team, Rhythmic and Ballet dancing as well as a dancer’s entrepreneurial vision to support the art in heels.
In the year ahead we hope to continue the exploration by profiling other styles in the world of dance underfoot in the Valley.
Hydro review continues
The past year marked the start of the license renewal application for a Lawrence hydro-power operation with implications for the city’s future.
The license holder is the Essex Company, a subsidiary of Patriot Hydro, owned by LS Power.
Earlier this year Essex announced plans to re-license its 16 MW hydro-electric plant, powered by the Merrimack River at the Great Dam.
The current license, issued in 1978, was granted for 50 years. The renewal would be for 30-50 years.
Essex also owns the 900-foot Great Dam and two historic canals in Lawrence.
In September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission toured the hydro-plant, historic structures on the property and the two canals.
Also, the Washington, D.C.-based FERC hosted two public hearings and took comments from those whose interests include safeguarding fish, water quality and the canals’ condition.
Among them were history minded residents, elected officials, health and environmental advocates and fish and wildlife biologists.
The Essex Company submitted a proposed studies plan for reviewing its final application, due in 2026.
Meanwhile, the pre-application review provides for public questions and comments.
The next opportunities are Jan. 4 and 5, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 652 Andover St., Lawrence, to comment on Essex’s proposed studies.
For more information contact Kevin Webb at (978) 935-6039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.