UPDATED: Valley-Centered Raid Nets 24 Kilos of Fentanyl, Heroin, $100K Cash: AG’s Office

The largest opioid takedown in the history of Attorney General Maura Healey’s office centered in Methuen and Lawrence took millions of dollars of the deadly drugs fentanyl and heroin off Merrimack Valley streets, Healey confirmed Thursday. More than 100 members of local, state, federal agencies worked in tandem Wednesday to execute warrants at 14 locations across the region to arrest 12 people and seize weapons, cash and drugs. Methuen Police Department Capt. James P. Jajuga Jr. was among those to lend a hand with the two-year investigation that involved law enforcement partners as far away as New Jersey. “This underground economy has a direct and detrimental impact on countless lives, and knows no boundaries, economic, geographic, or otherwise,” Jajuga told WHAV. “We, as a police department, pledge to continue to work in conjunction with fellow law enforcement, and the public, to battle this epidemic.”

Four guns, nearly $100,000 in cash and more than 24 kilograms of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine were seized as a result of the raid, Healey said.

Today’s Obituaries—June 20: Donovan

Retired Haverhill firefighter David B. Donovan, 75, died peacefully on Tuesday, June 18 at the Gosnell Hospice House in Scarborough, Maine, surrounded by his family. A Haverhill native, Donovan was a football and track star and the class president of the Haverhill Trade School’s class of 1962. A U.S. Army veteran and EMT for Shanahan Ambulance and AMR, he worked for several of Haverhill’s fire stations, retiring from the alarm room. Calling hours are Friday, June 21 in the Driscoll Funeral Home, 309 South Main St., Haverhill from 4-7 p.m. Services begin Saturday in the funeral home at 10:30 a.m. Burial with Haverhill Fire Department and U.S. Army Honors follows in Linwood Cemetery. Click here to submit an obituary or memorial notice.

Jennings on Pineau Marijuana Permit: ‘City Made a Mistake’ in Not Protecting Haverhill Kids

Lloyd Jennings is doing it for the children in the City of Haverhill. On Tuesday night, Jennings begged city councilors to deny Caroline Pineau’s special permit for the Stem marijuana shop for the sake of Haverhill’s littlest Hillies. As the contractor explained before the Council and a packed room of Haverhill neighbors, downtown business owners and Pineau supporters, he and opponents J. Bradford Brooks and Stavros Dimakis say safety is being ignored when it comes to 124 Washington St. “I feel that our children’s safety should be first and foremost—not the profit that marijuana could bring to an individual to a city,” Jennings said. As WHAV reported ahead of Tuesday’s special permit hearing, Jennings joined Brooks and Dimakis in an effort to contest the validity of the zoning for Pineau’s storefront, which the men say was too close to where children congregate, making a case in land court.

Haverhill High Grad Pfifferling Named Schools’ New Assistant Superintendent

One of Haverhill’s Hillies is coming home to the public schools’ system starting this fall to assume the role of the district’s new assistant superintendent of finance and operations. On Tuesday, the School Committee voted unanimously to select Michael J. Pfifferling as a finalist to enter into negotiations for the role one month after contract talks broke down with Greater Lawrence Technical School’s Maria Silva. A city native now living in Groveland, Pfifferling comes to the district after six-and-a-half years as the business manager in Wakefield, where he oversaw construction of a middle school building and assisted in the opening of the Early Childhood Center at Doyle School and the Purposeful Opportunities for Successful Transitions Academy in Wakefield for older special education students. During an interview with School Committee members June 13, Pfifferling—who beat out Ian P. Gosselin for the position—was praised for his grasp on the challenges facing Haverhill’s students, said member Paul A. Magliocchetti. “I appreciate you making the distinction between equality and equity, because that’s something that we grapple with here in Haverhill a lot,” Magliocchetti said.

Pineau Wins City Approval to Move Forward With Downtown Haverhill Marijuana Shop Stem

Caroline Pineau’s retail marijuana shop Stem is officially coming to 124 Washington St., in Haverhill’s downtown district after city councilors voted Tuesday night to grant the entrepreneur a special permit to do business. The vote followed a three week legal battle for the 32-year-old Haverhill resident, who first expressed interest in opening a marijuana location downtown in fall 2018. As she told councilors Tuesday, Pineau is one of 120 economic empowerment applicants given priority status by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, and will now receive front-of-the-line privileges when Haverhill’s first marijuana location opens for business later this year. Of the nine-member Council, seven voted in favor of the special permit, with Joseph J. Bevilacqua voting against and Michael S. McGonagle abstaining, given his conflict of interest as the landlord for another potential marijuana shop on Amesbury Road eyed by the Mellow Fellows. According to Pineau, the faith the CCC has in her—along with her commitment to the Haverhill community—leaves her with a strong desire to do the right thing when bringing cannabis to the city.

PHOTO: Exchange Club Honors Haverhill Police, Fire, EMS First Responders

Haverhill’s Exchange Club said a big ‘Thank you’ to the city’s first responders last week during the 2019 presentation of awards for police officer, firefighter and emergency medical person of the year over lunch at Maria’s Restaurant downtown. Receiving awards and accolades for their service to the Haverhill Police Department were Detective Dana Burrill Jr., Detective Taylor Anderson and Officer Albert Betances, all honored as police officers of the year. Trinity EMS paramedics Benjamin Schmitz and Harry Ellis accepted emergency medical person of the year awards, while colleagues Rodney Nutter, Michael D’Angelo and Michael Clohisy from the Haverhill Fire Department were celebrated as firefighters of the year. “The stories of their bravery, hard work and dedication were truly heartwarming,” Exchange Club representatives said after the June 13 lunch. “It was wonderful recognizing those who work so hard, risking their lives, sacrificing time with loved ones to do the work they love doing to keep our community safe.”

Daytime Lane Closures Planned on I-495 North This Week, Says MassDOT

Here we go again, Haverhill. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced another round of lane closures planned for Wednesday, June 19 and Thursday, June 20 as the bridge replacement project progresses on Interstate 495. Single left lane closures are expected between exit 48 and 49 during the hours of 6 a.m.-1 p.m., impacting northbound travel to allow for the installation of new roadway material along the highway median. Work is weather dependent and drivers are asked to look for signage and reduce speed through the construction area.

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley Receives $437K Fall-Prevention Grant

Area seniors are set to receive safety and sustainability care lessons through a new three-year grant awarded to the Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley aimed at minimizing falls in older adults. The $437,000 purse extended by the Administration on Community Living allows Elder Services’ Healthy Living Center of Excellence to disseminate program materials to local councils on aging, the Massachusetts Alliance of YMCAs, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and other agencies to improve access to older adults and adults with disabilities at risk for falls. Elder Services’ CEO Joan Hatem Roy is hopeful education through the grant will help decrease the number of hospitalizations due fall-related injuries. Currently, older adults in Massachusetts account for 84 percent of all fall-related deaths and 68 percent of all fall-related hospital stays annual, Hatem Roy said. “Unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury related hospitalizations, observation stays, and emergency department visits across the Commonwealth” she said.