90-Year-Old Cousin of U.S. Navy Pilot Who Died in 1944 Haverhill Crash Lays Wreath at Memorial

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U.S. Navy Ensign Robert E. McLaughlin, who was killed 79 years ago this month protecting residents in the very Haverhill neighborhood where his family lived, was formally honored Wednesday for his sacrifice. McLaughlin, then 22 years old, made a “farewell salute” to his mother and father as he was flying over his family’s Lafayette Square home en route to a training mission on Nov. 4, 1944. Haverhill Veterans Services Director Jeffrey C. Hollett detailed how McLaughlin’s F4U-1D Corsair suddenly became crippled and how the pilot stayed with the plane to avoid hitting homes and children. McLaughlin’s 90-year-old cousin, Cecile “Minna” (Comeau) Rajotte, was among those who took part in Wednesday’s ceremony.

Haverhill Council on Aging Seeks Gifts for Nursing Home Seniors

The Haverhill Council on Aging is looking for donations of gifts for seniors in nursing homes that may not have visitors at Christmas. Those interested in helping are invited to pick up a gift tag from the Council on Aging’s Christmas tree at the Haverhill Citizen Center, 10 Welcome St., Haverhill. Suggested items include blankets, towels, toiletries, word puzzles, puzzles and word search books. Gifts must be wrapped, labeled and returned by Monday, Dec. 18, to the Citizen Center, room 4.

Bowen Discusses Conflict and Difficult Conversations at Haverhill Chamber Leads Lunch

Hannah Bowen, conflict mediation specialist and executive director of The Resolution Center, addresses members of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce during next Wednesday’s free Leads Lunch. Bowen discusses “Managing Conflict and Difficult Conversations” during the workshop guiding participants through active listening, negotiation skills and de-escalation techniques to create positive interactions even through difficult situations. Leads lunches take place the first Wednesday of every month, offering opportunities to exchange fresh ideas and network. It takes place Wednesday, Dec. 6, from noon to 1 p.m., at UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, 2 Merrimack St., Haverhill.

Feds Charge Former Whittier Tech Employee with June Cyberattack on School Systems

A former employee of Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School agreed to plead guilty Wednesday to a federal charge of a cyberattack on the school this past summer. According to court documents, 30-year-old Conor LaHiff was employed as a desktop and network manager at Whittier Tech until he was fired in June. After his termination, LaHiff allegedly used his administrative privileges to deactivate and delete thousands of Apple IDs from the school’s Apple School Manager account—software used to manage student, faculty and staff information technology resources. LaHiff also allegedly deactivated more than 1,400 other Apple accounts and other IT administrative accounts and disabled the school’s private branch phone system, which knocked out the school’s telephone service for about 24 hours. LaHiff, of Ayer, was charged directly by the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy with unauthorized damage to protected computers.

Council Approves Special Permit to Replace Abandoned Salon with Three Townhouses

Haverhill City Councilors were beside themselves with praise for a plan, presented at Tuesday’s meeting, to construct three affordable townhouses at the corner of Washington and Ayer Streets in Haverhill. That property, at 462 Washington St., contains an abandoned hair salon once known as “Mr. Wayne Hairstylists” as well a large paved parking area. Attorney Donald F. Borenstein, representing property owner Richard P. Early Jr, began by telling councilors the planned building will be an excellent fit in the neighborhood. “Basically, in the immediate area of that building, we have approximately one-third of the buildings are two family homes and two-thirds of the buildings are either three family or four plus, so we believe the density of this as a three unit project is very appropriate for that neighborhood, a good use of that corner,” he said. Borenstein said the three townhouses will be side by side, each featuring three bedrooms and, at least, one parking garage per unit beneath the building as well as substantial off-street parking.

Haverhill Names Police Detective Orsillo Police Officer of the Year; Also Honors Graham, Zefta Family

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The Haverhill Police Department honored its outstanding officers and community leaders during its Annual Policeman’s Ball earlier this month. Haverhill Detective John Orsillo was named the 2023 Police Officer of the Year, while Officer Justin Graham was presented with the 2023 Life Saving Award and the Zefta Family, owners of Maria’s Restaurant were awarded the 2023 Citizen of the Year during the event hosted by the Haverhill Police Relief Association. Orsillo was commended for his outstanding efforts in community policing, addressing quality of life issues for the citizens of Haverhill and his proactive work as a Criminal Investigations Division detective responsible for the closure of hundreds of cases. Graham was honored for his swift and courageous actions in rescuing a woman from drowning last February in the Merrimack River. The Zefta Family was recognized for their numerous donations of both food and time to the Haverhill Police Department.

Whittier Tech, Veterans Northeast Outreach Center Partner to Help Veterans with Needs

Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and Veterans Northeast Outreach Center are developing a partnership to assist area veterans. Whittier Superintendent Maureen Lynch said a recent school visit was coordinated by Vocational Coordinator Paul Moskevitz and involved Veterans Northeast Outreach Center Outreach Coordinator Jim Behen and various Whittier Tech instructors, including HVAC Instructor Scott Marchand, Auto Body Instructors Paul Debenedictis and Steve Polidoro, Auto Tech Instructor Gene Thomas, Marine Tech Instructor Mike Murray, Advanced Manufacturing Instructor Bruce Boisselle and Plumbing Instructor Eli Roy. “Anything we can do to help veterans, we would love to help out,” said Debenedictis. As a result of the visit, Veterans Northeast found a match with Whittier’s Auto Body, Auto Tech, Marine Tech and Plumbing programs, among others, with a goal to assist local veterans—some of which are retired, living with disabilities and/or are on social security—with services to help ease the financial burden. Behen’s background in vocational education inspired the idea for this partnership.

Pentucket Bank Reports Reaching Milestone of Topping $1 Billion in Assets

Pentucket Bank Tuesday reported it has reached the milestone of topping $1 billion in assets, making it one of the largest mutual banks in Massachusetts and New Hampshire by asset size. Pentucket Bank CEO Jonathan H. Dowst and President Eric G. Leuteritz issued a joint statement noting the accomplishment for a bank that began in 1891 by being open only one day a week. “This achievement is a testament to the dedication, hard work and unwavering commitment of each and every one of our employees. It is a testament to everyone embracing the vision of providing exceptional service and providing heartfelt support to our customers, communities, and each other. Reaching $1 billion in assets is not just about the numbers, it is about the trust our customers and our community have placed in us.