Vargas Testifies in Support of Housing Reform; Calls Demand, Prices ‘Unacceptable’

State Rep. Andy Vargas this week testified before the Joint Committee on Housing in his latest quest to bring additional affordable units of housing to the City of Haverhill. Co-filing legislation with Housing Committee chairman Kevin Honan, Vargas asked his colleagues to allow local governments to revise zoning laws through a simple majority vote. According to Vargas, Massachusetts is one of the few U.S. states to require a legislative supermajority to enact zoning reforms. As a result, local governing bodies often have the power to terminate development projects in communities that need the building boost. “The housing crisis is our reality, but if we pass this bill, people across the Commonwealth will have greater access to affordable and stable homes, exclusionary zoning will be less prevalent and the American dream more possible,” Vargas tells WHAV in a statement. Calling the current high demand for housing across the Merrimack Valley—and the steep price tags that come with it—“unacceptable,” Vargas said a minimum wage worker has to work “an unrealistic 84 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom rental at fair market value.”

This week’s testimony from Vargas came just days after Gov. Charlie Baker visited Haverhill to praise city leaders and Beacon Hill decision makers for their commitment to boost housing production as part of a new Housing Choice Community designation.

Haverhill Violence Prevention Group Unveiling Winnekenni Monument Saturday

Preventing violence in the City of Haverhill is truly a community effort and after 20 years, the team at the Violence Prevention Coalition is preparing to pass the torch. This weekend, organizers Susan Kane and Patty Gleason are getting ready to unveil a Dale Rogers-created sculpture at Winnekenni Park as a gift to the city during a Saturday morning event at 10 a.m. on May 18. “This is our Haverhill Community Violence Prevention Coalition last hurrah before groups like UTEC and Kat and Dennis Everett’s POSE stepping up and taking a lead. This is our final event,” Gleason told Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night. The event, organized with the help of Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, is free and open to all.

Haverhill Democrats to Caucus on Monday to Elect State Convention Delegates

Members of the Haverhill Democratic City Committee are coming together on Monday, May 20 to elect delegates and alternates for the upcoming Massachusetts Democratic State Convention, Committee Chairman Bill Cox tells WHAV. Haverhill plans to send 28 delegates and 28 alternates to Springfield to attend the Sept. 14 event at the MassMutual Center, Cox said. Monday’s caucus, held at the Haverhill Public Library, 99 Main St., begins at 7 p.m. and is open to all registered democrats in Haverhill. A meeting to discuss general party business precedes the caucus at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

PHOTOS: Haverhill Police Seek Public’s Help to ID Alleged Credit Card Thieves

Haverhill Police seek the public’s assistance to solve two separate incidents of alleged credit card fraud in the city. One incident took place after a purse was stolen from a car on Woodcock Avenue near Pinebrook Place and used at the Westgate Plaza Market Basket on April 27, police said. A second, separate incident happened when a Haverhill resident’s credit card was used to make allegedly fraudulent purchases. The persons of interest sought in that incident are believed to live locally, as police say that card was stolen from the Haverhill-Plaistow, N.H. area. Anyone with information on either incident is asked to contact Det.

N.H. Man With Haverhill Ties to Serve Four Months in Prison for Running Prostitution Ring

An Exeter, N.H. man police say used a Haverhill residence to carry out activities related to an illegal prostitution ring across the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire has been sentenced to serve four months in prison for the crime. According to United States Attorney Scott W. Murray, 60-year-old Ken Duc Ma owned and managed several businesses in Plaistow, Exeter and Salem, N.H. said to provide massage services that actually offered sexual services in exchange for money from March 2015 until Nov. 2017. A November 2017 search warrant executed at a Haverhill property owned by Ma found that the location was “used to receive packages and store supplies for his businesses,” officials said. During the search, officials seized 11 boxes of white sheets used to cover massage tables, and plastic bags containing 1,092 condoms, in addition to large amounts of cash wrapped in newspaper and concealed behind a wall.

Nike Colon’s Mom Issues Plea for Peace Ahead of First Anniversary of Son’s Murder

On the eve of the first anniversary of the shooting death of Haverhill’s Nike Colon, the 20-year-old’s mother Michelee Geronimo tells WHAV she’s choosing to stay busy and positive as she remembers the “goofy” kid she says was “always laughing” and loved to cook. Planning a graveside remembrance Friday afternoon with friends and family, Geronimo hopes the anniversary of his drive-by shooting death will be a non-violent one. After all, retaliation fails to serve a purpose, she tells WHAV. “Guns are not the way, violence is not the way, gangs are not the way. If retaliation really was the way to bring him back, believe me I would be leading that pack, but there’s no point in it,” Geronimo said.

Haverhill High’s Steinberg Leaving for Leominster Middle School Principal Gig

Haverhill High’s seniors aren’t the only ones getting ready to move on at this month’s graduation. Matt Steinberg, the school’s grade nine assistant principal, is preparing to leave the district after seven years for a role in Leominster, he tells WHAV. A Lowell native, Steinberg has accepted a job as the principal of Samoset Middle School, he said. He’ll continue in his current role through June, and calls leaving his brown and gold years behind “bittersweet.”

“Haverhill High is my home. I’ve really grown close to a lot of people here in the community and in the city and it’s going to be a hard transition, that’s for sure,” says the educator.

Haverhill Teen Gregoire’s Annual ‘Laps 4 Backs’ Fundraiser Is Sunday

Haverhill teen Noelle Gregoire is continuing her mission to fill pediatric hospital wings with toys for sick children and at Sunday’s Laps 4 Backs charity fundraiser, she’ll hold raffles and other events from 2-5 p.m. to raise money to fund her latest toy donation. Admission is $5 or a new, unwrapped toy and the event is held at the Amvets, 576 Primrose St. Since Gregoire’s first toy delivery, Laps 4 Backs has donated 30,000 toys to kids in need at Tufts, Boston Children’s and Elliot Hospital in Manchester, N.H.