Haverhill Honors 10-Year-Old Committed to Keeping the Merrimack River Clean

Rocky Morrison, Ava Valianti and City Councilor Colin F. LePage in 2019. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A 10-year-old with obvious business acumen in support of keeping the Merrimack River clean won city praise Tuesday night.

Ava Valianti of Newbury, who created the nonprofit Domino of Good Deeds three years ago, has set a goal of donating $7,000 to Rocky Morrison’s Clean River Project. She explained her mission before Haverhill city councilors.

“People can inform us if anything is going on, and we can try to do our part to help. I started this when I was seven years old because I really wanted to help people for a while,” she said.

She presented Morrison with a $281 check, bringing to $764.50 her donations to the Clean River Project. She raises the money selling framed photographs at various events.

Council President John A. Michitson noted her entrepreneurial spirit, jokingly asking what took her so long to start a business. She responded with a demonstration of her savvy.

“There’s a list of pricing usually. We take cash, credit card, debit card and PayPal money,” she explained to a roar of applause. Valianti went on to collect more about $100 from city councilors.

Councilor Colin F. LePage introduced Morrison and Valianti, reading aloud a City Council citation. “In recognition of your extraordinary efforts to provide education on our preservation of our oceans and, locally, the Merrimack River, from water pollution, Oct. 8, 2019, signed by President John Michitson on behalf of the entire City Council.”

Allison Heartquist, Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s chief of staff, also presented a citation to Valianti, recognizing the nonprofit’s efforts.

Morrison, who began river cleaning 15 years ago as a volunteer, this year received $20,000 from the city to continue his efforts. He explained, between April and now, the project has removed 16 tons of debris, including a mattress, two sets of stairs, two hot water tanks, numerous bicycles, a tractor trailer tire, a piano frame and 60 hypodermic needles from the river and shore.

Going forward, Morrison said he hopes to address trash near Buttonwoods Museum that is being collected from street drains. He plans to meet with Public Works Director Michael K. Stankovich to review environmental impacts of those drains.

Morrison invited everyone to participate in a planned Oct. 20 cleanup sponsored by Jaffarian Automotive Group.

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