State House’s Annual Gold Star Families Tree Dedication Salutes Fallen Heroes

Music, carolers, a visit from Santa and a holiday tree decorated with photos and memories of fallen heroes greeted families this week during the State House’s Annual Gold Star Families Tree Dedication. State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell joined government officials, veterans organization and families for the Wednesday ceremony, organized by the nonprofit Military Friends Foundation. The event pays tribute to Massachusetts service members who gave their lives in service to our nation and the families who carry their legacies forward. Campbell told attendees, “You are the reason that people all over the world pray every day that our experiment in democracy continues, messy as it is; that our country remains the strongest and most generous force in the world for freedom and basic human rights; and that we do not shy away from world leadership.”

As House chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, Campbell’s remarks were among those offered by Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard Major General Gary Keefe, Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Urena, and Sen.Walter Timilty. More than 100 military families from across the Commonwealth were in attendance.

Today’s Obituaries—Dec. 5: Fenlon, Greaney, Moll

John L. Fenlon Jr., 78, of Salem, N.H., and formerly of Haverhill, died Dec. 2, urrounded by his family. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and was honorably discharged as a disabled veteran in 1969. He was a supervisor for the United States Post Office until his retirement. Calling hours are Friday, Dec.

Methuen Police Department Hosts its Annual Toy Drive; Receives 1,000 Children’s Wishes

Methuen Police Department is hosting its annual toy drive to benefit children in need this holiday season. Police are working with Debbie’s Treasure Chest, which provides aid and support to families in need during the holidays. This year Debbie’s Treasure Chest has received close to 1,000 wishes. A “giving tree,” decorated with snowball-shaped tags holding one child’s wish for a toy, is set up in the roll call room at the Methuen Police Department. Toys can be for boys and girls of all ages, but no food can be accepted.

Haverhill’s Last Leaf Pickup of the Year Rescheduled From This Saturday to Next

Although it may be difficult to finish raking leaves with all of the snow on the ground, Haverhill’s Department of Public Works is pretty sure you won’t be ready by Saturday. Either way, the city’s trash contractor, Capitol Waste, is not able to pick up leaves that day due to storm-related collection delays. It has rescheduled the year’s final collection to Saturday, Dec. 14. Leaves must be placed in biodegradable paper bags or open-top containers that do not exceed 50 pounds by 6 a.m. in order to be picked up.

Merrimack Valley Chamber Plans Holiday Mixer at Lanam Club Dec. 17

The Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce is having its “Annual Holiday Season Mixer” Tuesday, Dec. 17, in Andover. Appetizers, cash bar, door prizes and business networking takes place in a festive atmosphere. Chamber members and guests meet between 5 and 7 p.m., at the Lanam Club, 260 N. Main St., Andover. Admission is $10 for members and $20 for non-members.

Today’s Obituaries—Dec. 4: Habashian

Irene Habashian, 81, of Haverhill, died Sunday, Dec. 1, at Penacook Place Nursing Home, Haverhill. Educated in the Haverhill school system, Irene helped out at her father’s Store, George’s Cleaners, formerly on Washington Street, Haverhill. Visitation is Thursday morning, Dec. 5, from 9:30-10:45, at H.L. Farmer and Sons Funeral Home, 106 Summer St., Haverhill, followed by a funeral service at 11 at the Funeral Home.

Rep. Andy Vargas Says Anti-Vax Effort Fueled by Pseudo-Science, Digital Misinformation and Profit

Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas was among those testifying yesterday in favor of removing a religious exemption against vaccinating children. Vargas spoke before the Public Health Committee in favor of his bill that would eliminate the current religious exemption from vaccinations, allowing only medical exemptions. He said the majority of parents using religious exemptions are “good-hearted people.”

“Unfortunately, figuring out what’s best for your kids is increasingly difficult in the era of pseudo-science, digital misinformation campaign and people who profit from the anti-vax movement,” he testified. Vargas told the committee to be wary of anyone who claims to be an expert and questions the effectiveness of vaccines. He said the hearing should not be about the science of vaccination, but instead about “the use of a quote ‘religious’ exemption to childhood vaccines ...