Haverhill Receives Benefits Update from Methuen Festival of Trees; Event Opens Friday

The Methuen Festival of Trees is getting underway beginning Friday and once again the City of Haverhill is one of the beneficiaries of this annual event. Thomas Lussier, president of the Festival, spoke before the city council on Tuesday where he explained the organization has been able to provide the city with nearly $137 thousand dollars in historic preservation grants over the past four years. “We’re very excited about the projects that we have with your city. We’re very grateful for all the support we get from you. And, before I sit down, the shameless commercial is that the festival opens on Friday, runs for two weeks.

Haverhill Home Property Taxes Up Slightly; Effort to Add $3 Million Spending Stalls

Average home property taxes are set to increase slightly as Haverhill city councilors last night approved tax rates with little debate. Councilors left in place last year’s formula—shifting more of the tax burden on to commercial, industrial and personal property. That means average single-family property taxes will rise $118 for the budget year, while average business property taxes will drop $37. Assessor Christine M. Webb explains the change is the result of the city’s rising home values. “This year—fiscal year 2020—Haverhill’s residential class has increased in value at a greater rather than the commercial, industrial and personal property class,” she said.

Jamie Bernstein Discusses Famous Father, Conductor Dec. 8 in Haverhill

Jamie Bernstein will discuss her book “Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein,” Sunday morning, Dec. 8, at Temple Emanu-El in Haverhill. Bernstein is the eldest daughter of Lawrence-born Leonard Bernstein—a composer, conductor, television star and humanitarian. In “Famous Father Girl,” Jamie, invites the reader into her family’s private world. The morning begins with a continental breakfast at 9:30, with the presentation following at 10.

Vargas Cosponsored ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ Bill Before House Wednesday

A measure co-sponsored by state Rep. Andy X. Vargas, is scheduled to be taken up by the House tomorrow, and if passed, it would require some schools to provide breakfast to all students after the school day has begun. The State House News Service reports the so-called “Breakfast After the Bell” bill was added Monday to the House’s schedule for tomorrow’s formal session, the last of 2019, according to Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office. Under the bill, all public K-12 schools at which at least 60 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals would be required to offer breakfast to all students after the instructional day begins. The Rise and Shine Coalition, led by The Greater Boston Food Bank, said the legislation “would require more than 600 high-poverty public schools to offer breakfast after the start of the school day, reducing hunger during morning classes.”
The group said that “while most students in these schools eat lunch, unfortunately, less than half regularly eat breakfast.”

Haverhill Chamber President Dives into Issues Possibly Hindering Downtown Success

Coming off announcements of two new Merrimack Street restaurants, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce President Dougan Sherwood decided to dive in to issues hindering the success of downtown eateries. And dive in, he did… literally. Sherwood donned gear and dove into the Merrimack River this past weekend. In an interview with WHAV’s Win Damon, he explained the connection. “There is not enough boat traffic coming up river from the Newburyport area to enjoy the environment we’re creating in Haverhill or that’s been here for a while.

DiZoglio Bill Aims to Prevent Disasters, Hold Gas Utilities Accountable

In light of last year’s natural gas-fueled fires and explosions in the Valley, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio wants a tough new law to hold utilities accountable and prevent future incidents. She has sponsored legislation designed to increase reporting requirements of gas companies when they learn of gas leaks to local fire and law enforcement agencies and to make information about gas leaks public, both on the gas company’s and the Department of Public Utilities’ websites. “Last fall’s Columbia Gas explosions turned my constituents’ lives upside down, as restoration of service not only proved slow but communication to those affected was unreliable,” said DiZoglio. She added, “With lackluster assistance from Columbia, residents turned to social media for help and called daily for assistance from my office as they went from adjuster to adjuster getting less than they were promised – and far less than they deserved.”

DiZoglio said September’s gas leak in the City of Lawrence shows the need for “key tools in our efforts to avert future disasters and ensure gas companies are held responsible for their actions.”

The legislation, which was recently heard before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, mandates that all three entities—the gas company, local law enforcement and the local fire department— record the location of the leak and any mitigation done to resolve the issue. The bill also requires that gas companies remain responsible for any significant project on a public way and authorizes financial penalties for failure to comply with any provision.

Sunday’s 55th Annual VFW Santa Parade Brings Downtown Parking Restrictions

In preparation for Sunday’s 55th Annual VFW Santa Parade, downtown residents and visitors are being informed of parking restrictions. The parade, “Santa Celebrates Haverhill’s Heroes,” begins at Hunking School on South Main Street at 1 p.m., continues down 125 over the Basiliere bridge and takes a left onto Merrimack Street. It will march downtown to Washington Square and take a right onto Emerson Street, ending at the Boys and Girls Club. Although the parade runs from 1-4 p.m., Merrimack Street, from 125 to Emerson Street; Emerson Street to Bailey Boulevard; and all of Bailey Boulevard will be closed from noon-4:30 p.m. There will be no parking on any of these downtown streets, and vehicles not moved by noon will be towed at the vehicle owner’s expense. Cars also will not be allowed to leave any parking lot located the closed area.

Bevilacqua Cries Foul Over Reports Colleagues Won’t Elect Him Haverhill Council President

Although he was the top vote-getter, Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua at this point doesn’t have the support of his colleagues to become president of the Haverhill City Council in January. Instead, the majority of councilors say they are leaning toward naming former Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett as president and Colin F. LePage as vice president on inauguration day. Bevilacqua told WHAV Sunday councilors should honor a 50-year tradition where most times, but not always, the highest vote-getter gets the nod. He said he first learned election night of trouble ahead when he congratulated a fellow member on his win. “And he said to me, ‘we have to talk.’ The minute he said that to me, I knew there was a problem.