Mayor Brian DePena completes first year at the helm
By mid-November, Lawrence Mayor Brian DePena had finished his first full year in office. He held a large celebration at Sal’s Riverwalk to illuminate his commitment to stabilizing taxes and bringing new business and development to the city.
DePena also announced the hiring of a new trash hauler, Capitol Waste Services of East Boston, after weeks of delays and no-show service with previous hauler, Republic Services, formerly JRM.
But not everyone was celebrating with DePena.
At year’s end, four police officers remained on unpaid leave from the force for a variety of reasons per the mayor’s order.
Disciplinary hearings were held for some of the officers. But it’s still under when Capt. Maurice Aguiler, Det. Shaun McClellan, Det. Paul MacMillan (the patrolmen’s union president) and Capt. Fabian Guerrero would be returning to work.
Miss Massachusetts was Lawrence’s own Skarlet Ramirez
The past year was a pretty amazing one for Skarlet Ramirez, a young Lawrence woman who was crowned Miss Massachusetts USA.
Ramirez was born in a poor neighborhood in the Dominican Republic and later came to the United States where she learned “anything was possible for me,” she said.
Away from the spotlight, sequined gowns and sparkling crown, Ramirez described herself as a down-to-earth person who enjoys Dominican food, helping others and volunteering at the Lazarus House thrift store in Lawrence.
“I am your neighbor that goes to the local gym and local restaurants. I am just a regular girl that wants to be part of the community,” Ramirez said.
Her reign as Miss Massachusetts ends in late January 2023. Ramirez has signed with modeling agency NYMMG and now hopes to pursue a full-time modeling career.
Lots of building and renovating underway in Lawrence
It was a big year for building projects in Lawrence with two school projects and construction of a new police station underway.
A final walk through of the 101-year-old Leahy School on Erving Avenue was held late in the year. The crumbling school is being rebuilt with a combination of state and federal monies.
Visible progress was made on the Oliver School and a groundbreaking ceremony for the new police station was held. The new station is being built on Lowell Street across from the old, sagging police station.
A community room for public gatherings is a welcome feature at the new station.
Lawrence police officer Carlos Vieira found guilty of child rape after meeting teen on Grindr
Former Lawrence Police Officer Carlos Vieira was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in state prison after a jury convicted him of child rape.
Vieira, 53, was a Lawrence police officer for 19 years. A Salem Superior Court jury handed down guilty verdicts against him for aggravated rape of child, two counts, and indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14.
The victim testified that during the summer of 2018 when he was age 13 he met Vieira on the social media app Grindr. The two agreed to meet in Mt. Vernon Park, which was near his home. He said he rode his mountain bike to the park and then engaged in sex acts with Vieira in his SUV.
Later, during the Merrimack Valley gas explosions on Sept. 13, 2018, the teen saw Vieira in police uniform directing traffic in Lawrence.
Vieira was also sentenced to five years probation after he finishes his prison sentence.
— Jill Harmacinski