Haverhill Police: Main Street Lights ‘Dim,’ Out at Time of Burrill Hit-and-Run

Two weeks after the hit-and-run death of Haverhill pedestrian
Charles Burrill, police say city streetlights were either “dim” or out at the
time of the 5:14 a.m. accident on Friday, Jan. 25. A just-released police report obtained by WHAV confirms Burrill was walking west across Main Street in the crosswalk when he was hit by a driver behind the wheel of a silver or light gray Chrysler PT Cruiser driving north up Main Street. The sole witness to be interviewed by police said he walked past Burrill in the crosswalk, “then heard a loud thump and observed Burrill on the ground” as the Cruiser drove further up Route 125. Fifty-nine-year-old Burrill, a longtime janitorial employee at Anna Jaques Hospital who lived on Groveland Street, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Methuen City Council Returns $1.2M to Budget to Avoid Police Layoffs

The City of Methuen plans to rescind the 50 pink slips
issued to police department personnel last month now that the City Council has
voted to return $1.2 million to the police budget. As a result of the last-minute Council vote, widespread
layoffs expected to begin in March will now be avoided. Thursday’s meeting took
place less than a week after the Massachusetts Inspector General’s office
released a statement that said former mayor Stephen Zanni’s administration
likely violated state laws while negotiating the superior officers’ union
contract. In
doing so, the city contingent “neglected their obligations as public officials
to exercise care and due diligence on behalf of Methuen’s residents,” the
report said. The
Inspector General said the contracts—that would boost the average salary for a
police captain more than 180 percent from the prior contract, for
example—should be voided.

Haverhill Firefighters Extinguish Blaze at KFC, Taco Bell: ‘Your Chicken Is Now Safe’

Lunchtime crisis averted! A group of the city’s firefighters headed to upper Main Street early Friday morning for a call that the neon sign at the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell restaurant had caught fire. Luckily for Haverhill’s hungry, the blaze was quickly extinguished and shortly before 7 a.m., the department confirmed the restaurants would be back up and running in time for the lunch rush. “Not to worry, your fried chicken and __os are now safe,” a witty social media post after the call read, referring to the sign’s letters ‘T,’ ‘A,’ and ‘C’ that had gone dark as a result.

City Mourns Loss of Dale Rogers, Farmer, Entrepreneur; Died at 74

The community is mourning the loss of Dale F. Rogers, a local farmer and entrepreneur who was active in many local civic groups. He died Tuesday at age 74. In 1964, Rogers joined his father and brother in the family business at Spring Hill Farm Dairy. During the early 1980s, he became a local pioneer in the bottled water business, founding Spring Hill Pure Natural Spring Water, which distributed spring water to major supermarkets in the northeast. In 1987, he further launched Rogers–Associates, a company supplying milk and cream to large dairy firms.

A lifelong resident of Ward Hill, he was a more than 40-year member of the Haverhill Rotary Club with perfect attendance and a two-time Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.

Fiorentini on Haverhill Plastic Bag Ban: ‘Day One Went Well’

Day one down. The City of Haverhill formally implemented the
long-awaited ban on single-use plastic bags Thursday, and despite an 11th
hour back-and-forth, the effort nearly a year in the making got off to a good
start. To mark the occasion, Mayor James J. Fiorentini visited a
Market Basket supermarket to greet shoppers and distribute reusable cloth bags
to seniors. “Day
one went well,” Fiorentini summed up after chatting with constituents Thursday
morning. Though
some users on community-based Facebook pages bemoaned broken eggs at placed at
the bottom of paper bags, initial ire appears to have tempered.

Basiliere on Ratka’s Legacy: ‘Haverhill Has Become a Hub for Veterans’ Housing’

Less than one month after the unexpected passing of Haverhill veterans’ advocate John E. Ratka, those close to the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center are touting the lasting impact he made on the city. During Monday night’s Open Mic Show, Ratka’s friend and colleague Ralph Basiliere said the former Naval officer made Haverhill a destination for veterans in need in the Merrimack Valley and beyond. “Because of John Ratka had the team he led, Haverhill has become a hub for veterans’ housing. When guys are not on a winning streak, let’s say, Haverhill has become a place to come—and that’s because of John Ratka,” Basiliere said. In Ratka’s absence, the team at the Outreach Center affectionate dubbed VNOC is forging ahead with plans to renovate the former Gerson’s furniture store on Washington Street into 44 apartments for veterans and families.

Trahan Appearing at MVCC Congressional Breakfast Forum Monday

Rep. Lori Trahan takes the oath of office administered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 3 in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy file photograph)

Newly elected Third Congressional District Rep. Lori Trahan delivers an update from Washington, D.C., during a visit to the area on Monday, Feb. 11 for the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual congressional breakfast forum. Held from 7:30-9:30 a.m. at the Andover DoubleTree by Hilton, 123 Old River Road, the event also features remarks from Congressman Seth Moulton. Tickets are $50—with a discount available for Chamber members—and can be reserved by calling 978-686-0900.

Vargas Co-Sponsors Bill Supporting Creation of Commission to Examine Local Journalism

A new bill filed by Rep. Lori Ehrlich and co-sponsored by Rep. Andy Vargas aims to create a government commission to study “communities underserved by local journalism." (File photograph)

At a time when acquisitions of local papers by international chains and waves of mass layoffs mean the news industry itself is often making headlines, a state lawmaker has offered up a plan she hopes will “sound the alarm.”

Rep. Lori Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat, filed a bill that would create a 17-member commission to study “communities underserved by local journalism," including “the adequacy of press coverage,” effects of social media, print and digital business models, and “public policy solutions to improve the sustainability of local press business models and private and nonprofit solutions.”

The State House News Service reports Ehrlich's bill is co-sponsored by Haverhill state Rep. Andy Vargas. As proposed, the bill would give the commission a year to report its findings. The panel would include lawmakers, gubernatorial appointees, and representatives of journalism schools, news industry groups and the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Ehrlich said there is a “strong local media market” around her district, but some other parts of the state “could be classified as a media desert.”

Though consolidations and downsizing are national trends affecting an industry in the private sector, Ehrlich said she believes state government could still have a role to play in convening experts to address the issue.