Merrimack Valley Project Launches Wheels of Hope Ride Service for Those in Treatment

Wheels of Hope, which provides free rides to treatment centers for those seeking help with substance abuse issues, is now serving area communities. In coordination with, Lowell-based, Lucos Transportation, Wheels of Hope launched last month by the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline. It gives rides to those who have a reserved bed at any treatment center in Massachusetts. “MVP listened to multiple disciplines and community partners from across the Merrimack Valley. Over and over, transportation to inpatient treatment rose to the top of the list as a top barrier to recovery.

New Report: Opioid Overdose Deaths Decline Despite Increasing Presence of Fentanyl

New data indicate Massachusetts has made some progress in beating back the tide of opioid overdose deaths with fatal overdoses declining 5% since 2016. Figures, however, show fentanyl was present in 93.2% of confirmed opioid overdose deaths in 2019, while fentanyl was present 75.6% of the time in 2016. Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said the state nonetheless continues to lose too many people to overdoses. The latest statistics, released Wednesday, show a total of 2,023 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in 2019, down from 2,031 in 2018. “Thanks to our public health interventions, we’ve flattened the death rate instead of watching it climb as fentanyl continues to increase in our communities,” Bharel said.

Michitson Calls for Mayor-Council Conference on Bringing Fiber and 5G Internet to Haverhill

It is a digital world and in order to stay competitive in the marketplace, the City of Haverhill needs to get on board the 5G, deep fiber bandwagon. That is the opinion of City Councilor John A. Michitson who made a plea for a strong broadband strategy for the city at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Michitson explained that 5G, simply put, increases bandwidth, which allows for faster delivery of more data—a must-have ability for businesses in the 21st century. But to do that, he says, we must have fiber optic cables and lots of it. He cited a study that shows that there has been a 20-fold increase in data traffic since 2011—a pace that will eventually leave our current systems in the dust.

Police Honor Trinity EMS and Haverhill Bank for Holiday Gift Program

It may be February but the holidays were top of mind at Tuesday’s Haverhill City Council meeting.  Specifically, it was on a program started by the police department three years ago, called the Holiday Gift Card Give-Away. This program provides gift cards for families that could use some help over the holidays. Deputy Police Chief Anthony Haugh says to-date more than 500 families have received these gift cards due, in no small part, to the generosity of two institutions: Trinity Ambulance and Haverhill Bank. “When the chief approaches them with this, they just say ‘What do you need?’ There are no questions asked other than that.  And two of those individuals are here tonight, Thomas Mortimer from Haverhill Bank and John Chemaly from Trinity Ambulance,” Haugh said. The two men were presented with a Community Service Award from the Haverhill Police Department.

Haverhill Retirement Board Names Assistant City Clerk Angus as Benefit Counselor

Haverhill’s Assistant City Clerk Laura Angus is moving on up—upstairs in City Hall, in fact—to become benefit counselor to the Haverhill Retirement Board. Angus, a former lawyer in private practice, has served as assistant city clerk since being appointed by Mayor James J. Fiorentini in April 2014. She assumes her new duties Monday, Feb. 24. The position calls for counseling members on retirement benefits, calculating pensions in accordance with state law, processing disability applications, providing estimated retirement benefits to members, interpreting laws and regulations and other duties.

Voter Registration for Presidential Primaries Closes Tonight at 8 p.m.

The Haverhill City Clerk’s office is staying open late tonight for voter registration in time for the state’s presidential primary election. The Massachusetts presidential primary elections are March 3 and is open to those who have registered by tonight’s 8 p.m. deadline for in-person registration and midnight for online registration. City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas encourages voting. “It’s the only power you really have. I recommend people vote.

Haverhill Police Arrest Plaistow, N.H., Man on Fentanyl Trafficking, Other Drug Charge

A 34-year-old Plaistow, N.H., man is facing a charge of trafficking in the deadly drug fentanyl, following his arrest by Haverhill Police Monday. Isael Sanchez, of 73 Forrest St., Plaistow, N.H., was arrested just before midnight at 323 Main St., and charged with fentanyl trafficking and possession of drugs with intent to distribute. He was also arrested on an unidentified warrant by Detective Sean Harrison. Arrested at the same and place was Joshua Robinson, 27, of 19 Lansing Ave., Haverhill, on a warrant.

Fiorentini Seeks Public Input on Spending $71,000 in State Grant to Combat Climate Change Effects

Haverhill is asking for resident input in how to spend $70,600 from a new state grant aimed at combatting climate change effects. Mayor James J. Fiorentini said the city will develop plans to modernize its infrastructure and enact measures to combat global warming at the local level. He said the city will hold a public listening workshop in the next few months to gather input from residents and consider potential climate change projects. “My administration is focused on being environmentally conscious and responsible, and this new grant, on top of our Green Communities grant and designation, is another important step in that direction,” Fiorentini said. “Whether its planting more trees or cleaning the Merrimack River or installing electric vehicle chargers for the public or upgrading to energy-efficient LED bulbs in our streetlights and schools, Haverhill will continue to be a ‘green’ leader.”

Haverhill is one of 38 communities to be awarded a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant this year through the state program.