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Health officials warn against the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID –

Dr. Josh Denson is the Tulane Medical Director of Critical Care and Pulmonology. He is doing COVID research and caring for ICU patients. He agrees with Dr. Kemmerly.

NEW ORLEANS It's a pandemic controversy being argued on social media.

It's over the drug for people and animals called Ivermectin. Some doctors are prescribing it to treat COVID, while others say it's dangerous. Still, veterinary doses are selling out at feed stores.

In March, Edward Lucarini caught the coronavirus.

I started to feel symptomatic, feverish started and fatigue. I was a little concerned because I'm diabetic, said Edward Lucarini, 60, of Long Island.

His brother-in-law, emergency medicine physician Dr. Paul Harch, prescribed Ivermectin.

Within three hours, the fever broke and I had the energy to get up and shave and shower, Lucarini said.

Ivermectin has long been around to treat parasites on your skin and internally. Veterinarians often use it. Dogs take it to prevent heartworms. Dr. Harch believes studies show it can act as an antiviral against COVID and prescribed an exact dose off label for his relative.

I see overwhelming evidence that it can affect patients in a beneficial way and their outcome, An international coalition of doctors has assembled this information from many, many randomized trials, Dr. Harch said.

But other doctors don't recommend it. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Brobson Lutz says it's for bedbugs and scabies, not COVID.

Ochsner infectious disease physician Dr. Sandy Kemmerly says studies that went viral on the internet were done in test tubes, where 250 times a normal human dose was used and they were later considered fraudulent.

Newer meta-analysis, so that looked at a number of studies which has been recently peer-reviewed and published, shows there's absolutely no data to support its use to treat COVID, Dr. Kemmerly said.

Dr. Josh Denson is the Tulane Medical Director of Critical Care and Pulmonology. He is doing COVID research and caring for ICU patients. He agrees with Dr. Kemmerly.

Today, I was talking to someone who was prescribed Ivermectin in another state and now is in the ICU on a ventilator. I would not recommend it for me, myself or my family. I wouldn't recommend anybody else taking it right now for COVID-19, Dr. Denson said.

Doctors say it delays being treated with medications shown to help, such as Regeneron infusions. And they say Ivermectin can be dangerous.

In Mississippi, where 70% of their calls to poison control were from citizens taking the horse and the cow, the veterinary preparations, of Ivermectin, Dr. Kemmerly said.

But all the doctors agree, don't ever just pick a dose and medicate yourself with anything, without your doctor's trained advice.

The Louisiana Department of Health, The Infectious Disease Society of America, FDA, CDC, and WHO, have all come out against the use of Ivermectin for COVID-19.

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5 Things Hospitality Industry Needs to Know About the Bed Bug Threat

With the relaxation of covid-19 limitations, the holiday season has arrived here, and with it comes one of the busiest travel periods of the year after being in town for so long. When it comes to serving their guests, hospitality companies have a lot on their plates; and with the regular turnover of beds and new passengers, unpleasant bugs can sneak by unnoticed.

Bed bugs may be found almost anywhere and are one of the most difficult pests to eradicate. Because there are so many potential hiding spaces and areas like under mattress toppers, mattresses, under the bed, hotels comfy all seasons duvet, sometimes pillows for bed bugs to grow, hotel pest control presents its own set of issues. These pests are not only dangerous to your guests' and employees' health, but they may also affect your hotel's reputation. They can, however, be removed with early discovery and a deliberate strategy.

Here are some helpful hints for dealing with pests:

1.      Educate Your Employees

Your strongest line of defense against bed bugs on your property is your employees. The first and most important step is to educate your staff on how to spot bed bugs and the best measures to follow in order to keep these persistent pests out of your hotel. The crew must remain alert at all times and watch for the following warning signs:

On mattresses or bed linens, there are reddish or rust-colored stains that resemble dried blood. These happen when bed bugs are crushed while feeding or have just finished feasting.

Skins shed by the nymphs as they grow, as well as small eggshells or eggs in the bedding.

The eggs are about 1 millimeter in diameter, and the nymphs' skins are typically tan or pale yellow in hue.

When you wipe a moist rag over a group of tiny black spots, they smear. It's bed bug faces, which is usually dark brown or black in appearance.

Bed bugs are wingless, flat, oval-shaped animals with no wings. They are normally brown in color, but if they have recently fed, they may seem reddish. The nymphs are darker and smaller, with adults about 4 to 5 millimeters in length.

2.      Documentation should be done properly.

The value of proper recordkeeping cannot be overstated. Customer complaints, inspections, and treatment reports assist the responsible department in effectively combating a bed bug infestation. Just as early detection is critical, so is proper documentation. You may keep track of previous infestations, as well as the frequency with which they occur and the locations that are commonly contaminated. This will assist you in developing a clear bed bug elimination strategy.

3.      Take the necessary precautions.

Planned prevention is the next stage.Because of their ability to hide in hard-to-reach spots and how fast they breed and spread, ignoring a bed bug infestation for a long time makes it more difficult to eradicate these pests. It is critical to seal places that are prone to infestation. Use sealed mattress and pillow casements, for example. If your hotel is susceptible to bed insect infestations, professional bed bug exterminators should be considered.

4.      Use Effective Elimination Techniques

Vacuuming, freezing, and steam heat are some of the most efficient treatments for bed bug removal. Vacuum all of the headboards, seams, and other locations where dust could hide. Bed bugs prefer to hide in dark places.

After that, check all of the vacuum brushes to make sure no pests are caught in the roller, then dispose of the vacuum bag in a tightly sealed container. These pests can be eliminated by freezing the linen, pillow, and bed coverings in extreme cold for 48 to 72 hours. To kill bed bugs and their eggs, professional bed bug exterminators utilize carbon dioxide under pressure. Another successful option is steam heating.

Remove all affected bedding and covers and put them through a steam cleaning. This not only helps you get rid of bed bugs, but it also kills their larvae, pupa, and other little bugs.

5.      How Can You Reduce Your Risk?

Many business owners are unaware of the difficulty of containing and controlling a bed bug infestation after it has occurred. When it comes to these pests, the key to minimizing your risk is to act quickly and aggressively. Failure to act quickly exposes your company to a higher risk of property damage and lawsuits.

If the infection spreads, you'll need to get rid of everything. If the afflicted area is not successfully contained, these expenses can soon mount.

When it comes to reducing your risks and expenditures, education and prevention techniques are your best friends.

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The French chef who makes the food of the future with crunchy insects and worms: Its still a luxu… – Market Research Telecast

In a city of Paris revolutionized by the arrival of Lionel Messi at PSG, it is another revolution that the chef prepares over low heat Laurent veyet in his small restaurant in the typical Les Halles district: the one for the food of the future, the insects.

The entomophagy -as the human consumption of insects is called- is not a new practice: it is part of the millenary culture of several peoples, mainly in Asia, Africa and in some Latin American countries. It is estimated that at least 2 billion people they supplement their diet with insects in the world.

At first, nothing seemed predestined for 50-year-old Veyet to cook critters. In Europe it is not something that we know well because for climatic reasons we did not have to resort to these types of resources, he said in dialogue with

In fact, he acknowledges that like the vast majority of people, at first I had rejection. His position changed when he was commissioned, about six years ago, to create some recipes with insects. The first thing he tried was some ant eggs and they did not leave a very pleasant memory. But they aroused his curiosity and little by little he conquered his prejudices. The more he read about its properties, the more he got excited: Insects are great for health and the environment. They are ecological, with low carbon emissions, and very easy to produce in a short time , he stressed.

In May, the European Food Safety Agency approved the sale on the market of an insect for human consumption: the mealworm. It is the larva of a small beetle, the tenebrio MOLLITOR. He is an old acquaintance of Veyet: he has been using it in his restaurant for five years, Inoveat. And it is his favorite. It has an elegant, subtle flavor. Visually it is nice, he said.

The mealworm, he says, has an almond and hazelnut flavor although some of its guests speak of a taste to cereals or to prawns.

It is estimated that there are about 2,000 edible species in the world, but in France only two are mainly found: the mealworm and the domestic cricket (Acheta domesticus).

In most countries where insects are eaten, they are cooked in a basic way, to the frying pan . For this reason, Veyet tries to promote its consumption through the restaurants dishes, in a playful way, having the audacity to include insects in a gastronomic menu, to say that they can also be part of a refined cuisine.

25 years ago, Veyet began his career with the creation of Chefs domicile (chefs at home), a proposal that was novel at the time: to cook at the home of his clients. I didnt want to work in a restaurant, it was a real decision on my part. But the insects made me change my mind and I decided to open a restaurant in 2017, He counted.

However, Veyet kept some aspects of his first venture: very few covers a maximum of 12 and an open kitchen that allows you to exchange with the chef. It is a human-sized place, it maintains the spirit of a chef at home. Youre in the middle of the kitchen, its a bit like being at home .

The chef serves a tasting menu composed of six plates by just under 60 euros. Its star dish is a sand of mealworms and Comt cheese, hummus, vegetables, herbs and flowers from the garden and crispy grills. The concept is to bring the garden to the plate, he said.

The menu also offers other delicacies such as a Buffalo worm burger with its fresh vegetables from the market, crunchy insects and mashed sweet potato with spices or a bao bread made with larvae flour.

About his clients he said that they are mainly curious who come on purpose, with an open mind and are generally very surprised because they find it richer than they expected . It is an experience original and interesting, he claimed. In the place he also gives cooking classes with insects and according to he told, children are generally the ones who are more willing to try the dishes and are very creative with the combinations.

Eating insects in France It is still a luxury, like caviarVeyet said. They are quite expensive because there are still few farms in France and Europe, explained the cook who supplies himself with about nine European Union hatcheries, five of them French. It is a niche product that it costs between 600 and 800 euros per kiloHe said, so beef still seems to have long years ahead of it.

Mealworms, and insects in general, are a sustainable, low-carbon food source. They also have a high content of proteins, vitamins and high quality amino acids, as emphasized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which promotes its consumption to fight famines but also to reduce meat consumption of a growing global population.

In 2030 we will have to feed more than 9,000 million people, in addition to the billions of animals that are raised annually for food or recreational purposes and as pets, said FAO.

The environmental impact It is something that Veyet stressed a lot in his talk with If we eat insects, we can eat less meat. It is beef and intensive agriculture that destroy the environment, generate deforestation. To produce a kilo of meat, thousands of liters of water are needed, some say that in 20 years there will be no more fish in the sea the production of insects needs almost nothing .

The talk with Veyet took place just days after the UN published a lapidary report on climate change and its consequences, such as heat waves, melting ice and rising sea levels. We see climate change with fires right now in Greece, California, Algeria Its the apocalypse. This has to make us reflect. Eating insects or algae is going to be more and more necessary, Veyet said.

In a report, FAO stressed that a number of 15,000 liters of water to generate a kilo of beef. On the other hand, an insect farm is going to consume a hundred times less water than one of traditional animals, they told the channel. France 24 from the French company Agronutris, one of the leaders of the sector in Gallic land.

Livestock also represents the 60% of greenhouse gases of the agricultural sector And according to some experts, if cows formed a country, it would be the third in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, livestock occupies the 30% of the earths surface of the planet and 33% of all arable surface, destined to produce forage. The logging to create grasslands is one of the main causes of deforestation, especially in Latin America, where 70% of the forests that disappeared in the Amazon were dedicated to livestock, highlights the UN.

That is why the international body asked in 2019 to reduce the consumption of beef to reduce the environmental impact of the sector. Our use of the lands [] it is not sustainable and contributes to climate change , said then the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change of the United Nations, Valrie Masson-Delmotte.

As reported by FAO, the insect production is very efficient. On average insects can convert 2 kg of feed into 1 kg of insect mass, while cattle require 8 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of body weight gain. In addition, it generates significantly less emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases. Among other positive aspects, the insects can be raised using various waste streams, such as food waste and facilitate the composting process.

Experts also speak of a safe consumption, at a time when zoonosis. According to the entomologist Philippe Le Gall from the French Research and Development Institute, evolutionarily they are very different from us and this remoteness means that they have very little risk of transmitting their infectious agents to us, either virus or bacteria .

Veyet also considers that coronavirus pandemic, of possible animal origin, can help change eating habits. With the pandemic, we gain time, the reflections are made more quickly, people are more predisposed to change their behavior, is increasingly aware, he said.

However, Veyet is under no illusions. I dont think the French will one day eat insects like they eat meat, he said. In his opinion, the consumption of insects does have a good chance of growing as protein supplement, noodles and various snacks.

Noodles are the product that can grow the most because you cant see the insect, He opined like other preparations such as energy bars or hamburgers made with cricket or worm flour. In his restaurant Veyet sells everything from chocolate bars to crackers made with these bugs. Also flavored insects ready to eat like french fries.

Veyet has already traveled to some Asian countries to see how insects are cooked, returned inspired and created a fresh mango salad cooked in the Thai way, with lobsters and mealworms. Now the chef is waiting impatiently for the pandemic to end so that he can travel to one of the main countries of the insectivorous revolution: Mexico, where about 300 species are consumed.

As a cook, Veyet affirms that insects awaken his creativity and represent a real challenge in what is the search for the flavors and ingredients to accompany them. It is only a beginning, everything is to invent with insects. Be it dishes, products, you can create a lot of things .

According to FAO, the most consumed insects are beetles (coleopterans), which represent 31% of the total, followed by caterpillars (lepidopterans, 18%) and bees, wasps and ants (hymenopterans, 14%). They are followed by grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (orthopterans, 13%), cicadas, fulgoromorphs and leafhoppers, mealybugs and bedbugs (hemipterans, 10%), termites (isopterans, 3%), dragonflies (odonates , 3%), flies (Diptera, 2%) and other orders (5%).

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It was hell: Tales of living at Northeast Properties in Worcester include mushrooms, bed bugs and birds amo –

As Marie Ramos carried boxes up to apartment 4L on the fourth floor, her new neighbors periodically stopped her.

Are you moving in? Ramos remembered them asking.

After she told them she was, they all responded the same way: Find a new place.

Ramos didnt immediately believe the warnings given to her about 87 Pleasant St., managed by Northeast Properties in Worcester. She heard the stories as she unloaded her belongings. They focused on infestation including roaches, bed bugs and mice.

Her concern, however, focused on a leak. Northeast notified her about it which delayed her move-in date to the beginning of May 2019. But they assured her, they would address the problem.

The promise of a fix offered a false sense of security that would soon evaporate.

Shortly after Ramos carried the final box up four flights of stairs, she realized her neighbors experiences were now also hers.

The first night Ramos said her cat chased two mice across the kitchen. The leak that Northeast assured her had been fixed was now replaced by four mushrooms sprouting out of the wall.

The living conditions at 87 Pleasant St. in Worcester included mushrooms growing out of the wall and damage walls.

The next morning when she called Northeast and noticed more mouse droppings.

The following day she woke up with bed bug bites on her arms, legs and near her left eye. Even at work, she couldnt escape the apartment from hell.

Her retail employer sent her home to prevent possible spread.

Ramos eventually lost her job due to the infestation. Northeast blamed her family for bringing the bed bugs with them.

Her mother, who lived with her, was hospitalized with an allergic reaction to one of the bites. To seek shelter from the bugs, her mother stayed with friends or slept in her car.

It was hell, to be completely honest, Ramos said.

Ramos apartment represents just a fraction of the residential properties owned by Felicio Lana, president of Northeast Properties, across Worcester, Uxbridge, Leominster and Garder. Lana declined to provide an exact number of properties and units he owns across Central Massachusetts.

While Lana didnt offer an exact number to MassLive, in an interview with the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in 2020, he said he more than 1,000.

He also owns prominent commercial properties in downtown Worcester such as the Midtown Mall.

We can tell you we remain committed to providing quality living spaces to all our tenants. Our goal is 100% tenant satisfaction, Lana said in a statement through his attorney. In reaching for this goal, we understand that it is important to continually seek to correct and improve our performance.

In the statement, Northeast Properties didnt reference any of the questions regarding rodent and bug infestation, electrical issues, heating problems or severe leaks.

Instead, the statement focused on the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic presented for the company.

Ramoss experience represents a common theme repeated by a half dozen tenants who spoke with MassLive about their experiences with Lanas Northeast Properties. And the issues far predate the pandemic. Many of the grievances are backed up through more than 100 complaints filed against Lana in Worcesters housing court over the last decade, well before the pandemic.

Many other complaints never reached court such as the situation experienced by Ramos. It wasnt until she and her mother threatened a lawsuit that Lana finally began to help her.

Thats when Felicio sat down with us and said well give you a better apartment, just ease out of the court issue, Ramos said. We agreed to it because at that point I didnt have the money to just up and move out.

Beyond moving, Ramos also went on to work for Northeast Properties in August 2020 before quitting on Christmas of that year. Ramos wasnt able to discuss her time as an employee due to signing a non-disclosure agreement.

I was hesitant [to work for him] because of our past with each other, Ramos said.

After the problems she experienced on Pleasant Street and to avoid court hearings, Lana provided Ramos with a new apartment, at 82 Elm St. for a lower cost of rent beginning in July of 2019, which made her feel better about the job opportunity.

For the most part, the apartment hasnt had many issues, but Ramos said recently mice have started to appear.

The property appears in a pair of suits brought by the city against Lana for issues ranging from cross metering (where a tenants electric account includes lines from other tenants apartments) to rodent infestation. Both suits were voluntarily dismissed by the city.

The city dismisses enforcement cases when the work is done and all fines and costs have been paid, the city of Worcester said regarding the complaint, but didnt elaborate on the habitual nature of the issues from one of its most well known property owners.

Infestation is only one of the problems at Lana-owned properties that surpass the annoyance of a run-of-the-mill absentee landlord and enter more serious issues.

David and Maggie Grenier moved to Worcester from California at the end of October 2020.

David grew up in Massachusetts and returned home to be closer to his family with Maggie, who never lived in the Bay State before.

She was moving back to my home, Grenier said. This was nothing like what I was hoping for. Not even a dull situation. It was the exact opposite situation for what I wanted for my wife.

The Greniers became neighbors with Ramos on Oct. 30, 2020.

We immediately had problems, Maggie said.

Coming from California, the couple only viewed the apartment online until they arrived. They conducted a walk-through before moving in. They said everything was working great.

In the first chapter of their new life in Massachusetts, Maggie picked up dinner and the two sat on the floor to eat in their new apartment. After a few bites, the lights went out.

It sparked a two-month-long nightmare that ended with the city of Worcester forcing them to evacuate the apartment at 82 Elm St. at the end of December of 2020 due to safety issues tied to the electrical wiring in the home.

[The city inspector] told us we essentially had to grab our essentials and be out within 30 minutes because it was so dangerous, Maggie said.

The Greniers shared about 80 videos with MassLive that revealed paper-thin walls, water leaks from the ceiling but most of all comical, but dangerous, electrical issues that involved situations like kitchen light controlling the power to the oven and the refrigerator door turning off lights in other rooms.

Lights flickered or lost power when they tried to use electricity in other rooms. The apartment contained mostly outdated two-pronged outlets that dont include a grounding wire. They provided little power or at best inconsistent surges, the couple said.

Weeks after the couple moved in, Northeast installed new electrical outlets in the kitchen, David Greiner said. It forced the couple to run extension cords throughout the apartment back to the outlet in the kitchen for lamps, laptops or any other electronics.

All the while, the refrigerator and oven still affected the lights in the ceiling.

There were two times we tried to connect to the two-pronged outlets, Maggie said. One time my computer almost blew up in my face and another time a fan almost blew up in his face. It was so unsafe. We were terrified to plug in anywhere except the outlets in the kitchen.

David described the fan suddenly becoming super-charged in one of the two-pronged outlets, rotating faster and faster until he unplugged it.

While the fan became a dangerous propeller, the refrigerator didnt work consistently due to the uneven power sequences. The Greniers told MassLive Northeasts quick-fix solution was to plug the appliance into the outlet in the hallway through the front door.

He literally ripped out the ground prong of the refrigerator so it could fit into a two-prong outlet, Maggie said. We were there for that.

David continued, I saw him do it with the pliers. He ripped it out and I was like, Well thats not right.

The electrical concerns crossed over with the water leaks in the bathroom as videos show drops falling above the kitchen sink and near the only workable outlets in the home.

The never-ending issues caused literal sleepless nights for Maggie, who lived in constant fear of a fire erupting within the home.

With having all of those electrical issues and those exposed wires, I was constantly terrified of a fire. I got to a point where I wasnt sleeping, Maggie said. I developed insomnia and basically got terrified to eat because I was afraid to cook.

For the two months they lived at 82 Elm St. in Worcester, the couple ordered takeout nearly every day because of the electrical issues and the problems with the oven and refrigerator.

Amid a pandemic, David struggled to work from home as extension cords slithered across the hardwood floors of the apartment acting as his own hub for electricity.

Lana offered to charge them half the cost of rent for November and December, but never actually came through on the offer.

He would say, Oh thats in the finance department, Maggie said.

On the morning the inspector arrived at the Greniers apartment and told them they had 30 minutes to leave, Northeast Properties had been in the unit earlier.

Maggie said several men, who she identified as Lanas workers, pounded on the back door of the apartment. They told her they needed to grab some things from the laundry room on the enclosed porch.

Maggie returned inside the apartment to socially distance herself from the men, but she said she heard a commotion back in the kitchen.

Theyre in my kitchen and theyre ripping out all of the new wiring from the new outlets and the extension cords, Maggie said. Theyre ripping it all out, our only form of electricity. They never asked me if they could enter my home and they never told me they were going to do any of that stuff and none of them are electricians.

Northeast Properties owns 16 Windsor St. which tenants said is plagued with leaks, rodents, dilapidated exterior and problems with heat and hot water.

Liz Whynot lives at 16 Windsor St., a large Victorian beauty thats showing its early 1900s age. Plywood covers space above the windows. Holes pepper the exterior allowing rodents like mice or as large as birds to enter the residence.

Like the Greniers, Whynot experienced Northeast Properties empty promises firsthand.

Whynot reached out to Northeast on July 8, 2019 about the unit, and was approved to move into the apartment on Aug. 1. Part of the agreement between the two parties was the bathroom would be complete, Whynot said.

On Aug. 1, she moved into an apartment that didnt include working facilities. Whynot said the bathroom work didnt begin until Aug. 6 and wasnt completed until more than a month later on Sept. 10.

The bathroom when Liz Whynot moved into her apartment. Northeast Properties said it would be done when she moved in. It wasn't.

Without a bathroom, Whynot worked all day only to arrive to a bathroomless apartment at night. While she waited for the work to be completed, she showered at her friends house and stayed the night before returning to her apartment in the morning to feed and check on her cat.

It was ridiculous, Whynot said.

Northeast Properties owns 16 Windsor St. which tenants said is plagued with leaks, rodents, dilapidated exterior and problems with heat and hot water.

Bianca Rantala lives in the same building as Whynot. She has two dogs, which led her to move into a Lana-owned property last year even after having a bad living experience in the past and having worked for Northeast Properties.

I had a deadline and I moved into one of his apartments in Gardner, Rantala said. Long story short, because of the dogs. I had to pick and choose my battles. Im not giving up my dogs. I didnt want him as my landlord but my hands were completely tied. There was nothing out there.

Rantala worked for Northeast Properties for four months during the pandemic. She, like Ramos, signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding her employment.

In January of 2021, she left the apartment in Gardner where streams of water poured out of the ceiling for apartment 1R at 16 Windsor St. She left one leaky ceiling for another, but Lana, she said, promised her the leaking ceiling in Worcester would be repaired.

He said there was a ceiling leak and it has to be renovated, Rantala said. But he said Im not going to move you in until everything is all set.

At the end of December, Rantala walked through the apartment, which appeared to have a brand new dropped ceiling. She moved in on Jan. 1, 2021, the leak started the next day.

He changed the ceiling tile and got rid of the evidence of a ceiling tile, Rentala said. That was not fixed.

Northeast Properties owns 16 Windsor St. which tenants said is plagued with leaks, rodents, dilapidated exterior and problems with heat and hot water.

More than seven months later, the leak remains in the spare bedroom. The only solution Northeast provided her for the leak was removing the ceiling tile, which now exposes a large hole in the room, and a large blue bucket for the water to drip into.

Their solution was to give me a bucket for it, Rantala said. They werent answering my calls. I was calling from January to May. May was when I finally called the city.

The city, Rantala said, is in the process of bringing a suit against Lana related to the leaks.

Like others, shes also dealt with rodents. In the apartments above Rantala, the holes are so large that a bird once flew into Whynots apartments.

I woke up to a bird flying around my kitchen, Whynot said.

Whynot said its not a rarity. For the last six months, small critters have crawled into her top-floor apartment.

Whynot shared more than 70 text messages with MassLive that she sent to Northeast Properties. The texts addressed issues from the heat not working to rodents living in her apartment, including a possum stuck in her ceiling. Text messages show days passed before a response.

Texts from Whynot show she reported the issues on May 7 that a possum was stuck in her bathroom ceiling again. A month later, the texts continued with the animal problems persisting.

Northeast Properties often didnt respond to the message. When they did respond, no one came to help.

I have been sending them pictures of the ceiling tiles moving. I sent them pictures of the bird coming in and they did nothing, Whynot said.


Texts show Northeast Properties ignored tenants

In February of 2021, Whynots renovated bathroom didnt have hot water. Lana responded and pointed the blame at her, she said. Lana told her to use the hot water, she had to also turn on the cold water.

The Greniers experienced a similar issue. At 82 Elm St., both the hot and cold water had to be turned on to receive warm water for a shower.

Inexplicably, the cold water would cease to work on random occasions.

The water would become scalding, Maggie said. It happened multiple times and there was one time in particular where it completely burned Daves back.

Plumbing problems extend beyond the anecdotal evidence provided by the tenants that spoke to MassLive. According to court records, since 2017, at least three properties have been cited for improper plumbing without permits by the city of Worcester.

On Oct. 3, 2017, the city responded to a complaint at 60 Chatham St. in Worcester, according to court records. The city said multiple water heaters were installed without permits. The inspector described the installation as unworkmanlike and leading to unsafe conditions.

Lana was given until Oct. 10 to fix the issues, but when the city returned on Oct. 11, nothing was done. The city eventually, dismissed its complaint after the problems were fixed and fines were paid.

But even when problems are fixed, others appear.

Headaches reemerged in Whynots bathroom last month. For the last week or so shes been without hot water and heat as she battles a cold.

Northeast Properties replaced the hot water heater last week, she said, but never activated it.

So for now, she has hot water, but shes hesitant to say for how long.

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It was hell: Tales of living at Northeast Properties in Worcester include mushrooms, bed bugs and birds amo -

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Lawmakers Seek Studies on Prison Staffing, Other Criminal Justice Issues – Oklahoma Watch

State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, has spent much of the summer sounding the alarm over Oklahomas prison understaffing problem.

On June 18 he asked Gov. Kevin Stitt to declare a state of emergency, arguing that low staffing numbers have elevated the risk of riots and violence in state prisons. Hes appeared on weekly Facebook Live broadcasts with Bobby Cleveland, director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals group, to provide updates on what hes hearing from prison workers.

Humphreys work will continue this fall when he hosts an interim study on prison staffing and other areas of improvement to the Department of Corrections. He said his goal is to bring criminal justice reform advocates, corrections department workers and other stakeholders together to brainstorm possible solutions.

Its just unbelievable, these guys are working like crazy, said Humphrey, a former Department of Corrections employee who chairs the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee. I looked at one [timesheet] and out of 96 hours this guy had worked 60 hours.

On June 21 Oklahoma Watch published an in-depth report on the states struggle to hire and retain prison workers. Two former corrections officers quoted in the article said they found their job fulfilling but excessive hours took a toll on their physical and mental wellbeing. Two others said they could handle the overtime but became frustrated with management and decided to leave.

The state paid $19.4 million in overtime wages to corrections department employees in 2020, up 46% from 2017. Corrections officials say hiring and retaining workers can be challenging due to the difficult nature of the job and because most prisons are located in sparsely populated areas. The starting hourly wage for a correctional officer recruit is $15.74 an hour.

The agency has not released an official count of corrections officers. As of mid-June, the corrections department had 314 fully-funded, vacant positions.

The Legislature approved H.B. 2908, a line-item budget item last session that mandates the Department of Corrections spend $8 million annually to improve its correctional officer to prisoner ratio.

Humphrey says hell seek answers on how the corrections department plans to spend those funds while addressing other transparency-related issues. The agency has faced criticism from several lawmakers over its decision to close the William S. Key Correctional Center without legislative input. During a June 29 Senate hearing, corrections officials said they planned to inform lawmakers of their decision but an exclusive report by the Woodward News thwarted that plan.

Seventeen other interim studies on criminal justice issues take place from August through early November. These studies, requested by members of the House and Senate and approved by chamber leadership, dont usually generate official reports or recommendations but often help guide future legislation. Official meeting times and locations will be posted on the House and Senate websites.

Here are five other studies worth tracking:

Requested by: Reps. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City and Justin Humphrey, R-Lane

This study will explore ways to improve the safety, wellbeing and treatment of prisoners and correctional officers.

Last fall and winter, state prisoners and their family members complained that corrections staff werent following pandemic protocols and that prisoners were receiving small, carbohydrate-heavy meals. Meanwhile, correctional officers worry that persistent understaffing could cause a spike in prisoner-on-staff violence.

Advocates have also raised concerns over conditions at the Oklahoma County Detention Center. During a February inspection, state health department investigators discovered mold, bedbugs and cockroaches in several housing units. Jail administrators who submitted a corrective action report in early June say theyve ramped up efforts to hire more staff and keep housing units clean.

Former prisoners and correctional officers will be invited to participate in the meeting, according to the study proposal.

Requested by: Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa

This study (IS-2021-13) will look at felony classification systems in other states and how sentencing reform could help reduce Oklahomas prison population.

Oklahoma is among the few states that dont group felony offenses by severity. For example, in Texas the most serious non-capital offenses are classified as first-degree felonies punishable by five years to life in prison. Each crime in Oklahoma has a unique sentencing range determined by the legislature.

Criminal justice reform advocates say implementing a statewide felony classification system could help standardize sentencing practices, eliminate antiquated laws and ultimately reduce Oklahomas incarceration rate.

In 2018 the legislature voted to create the Attorney Generals Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council, a group of 22 district attorneys, retired judges, legislators and corrections department officials tasked with analyzing the states criminal sentencing code and offering reform proposals.

In March the council released a draft of sentencing reform recommendations. FWD.US, a Washington, D.C.-based prison advocacy group, has criticized the proposal, saying it would actually increase the states prison population by 1,000 over the next decade if implemented.

Rader introduced Senate Bill 704, a measure similar to State Question 805 that would have prohibited courts from imposing sentence enhancements on defendants who have never been convicted of a violent felony, defined as any offense listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes. It passed through the Senate Public Safety Committee but stalled last session in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Requested by: Sens. Casey Murdock, R-Felt and Roger Thompson, R-Okemah

This study will examine how the Department of Corrections decides which prisons to close.

Northwest Oklahoma lawmakers were caught off guard by the agencys June 16 announcement that it would close the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply by the end of 2021. The minimum-security mens prison housed about 900 prisoners and employed 140 staff.

Prison officials admit the announcement was botched but have stood by their decision, saying it would cost more than $40 million to repair its leaking roof and antiquated heating and cooling system. Murdock questioned why the agency didnt fix those maintenance problems sooner.

While the agency doesnt need legislative or board approval to close a prison, Murdock and other lawmakers have argued they need to be more transparent when deciding whether or not to close a prison because their decisions impact rural economies. Many of Fort Supplys 330 residents worked at the prison.

More prison closures could come as Oklahomas prison population continues to drop. There were 21,641 prisoners in state custody on July 26, down from 26,544 three years ago. Experts say a combination of justice reforms taking effect and the COVID-19 pandemics impact on district courts are contributing to the decline.

Requested by: Eight Republican representatives

Lawmakers will examine the state legislatures role in funding district courts.

Oklahomas 77 district courts rely heavily on fine and fee collections to fund basic operations. In 2014, 49% of the $152 million in fines collected by district courts was used on facility maintenance and to pay court employees. From 2007 to 2019, less than a quarter of district court funding came from state appropriations.

Boosting state funding to district courts could help alleviate the burden on justice-involved people, who are often arrested and thrown in jail for failing to pay a court fine, advocates say.

Requested by: Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond

Legislators involved in IS-2021-54 will evaluate Oklahomas criminal record expungement law and analyze reforms that other states have adopted to streamline the process.

Under current state law, most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony convictions are eligible for expungement five years after the completion of a sentence if the defendant has not been charged with or convicted of a new crime. Expungement can make it easier for those with a criminal record to find housing and employment, but its typically a time-consuming and expensive process.

Lawmakers in Utah and Pennsylvania have enacted laws granting automatic record expungement to most misdemeanor defendants after a certain amount of time has passed. Researchers say these clean slate laws remove financial barriers to expungement and benefit people who are no longer a threat to public safety.

Keaton Ross is a Report for America corps member who covers prison conditions and criminal justice issues for Oklahoma Watch. Contact him at (405) 831-9753 or him on Twitter at @_KeatonRoss

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Lawmakers Seek Studies on Prison Staffing, Other Criminal Justice Issues - Oklahoma Watch

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