Where Things Stand: Haverhill Reports 13 COVID-19 Cases; Georgetown Reports First Two

Haverhill is now reporting 13 cases total of residents with the coronavirus with one person hospitalized. The numbers are released daily by Haverhill’s Public Health nurse Mary Connolly. The city’s numbers are part of 177 cases now reported in Essex County by the state Department of Public Health. In total, Massachusetts confirmed cases rose to 1,838 yesterday afternoon with four additional deaths. There have been 15 total deaths statewide.

Update: Police Chief Advises Whittier Tech to Keep Supplies for School Reopening; Finds Supplier

Although Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School has pulled together certain supplies for the Haverhill Police Department, the city’s police chief has asked the school to keep the material for when classes resume. Whittier Tech collected the material after coming under fire from Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro for sending medical and safety supplies out of town. DeNaro said his department has since identified another supplier. “We were able to secure supplies on our own…and recommending the school keep their products on hand should school reopen May 5,” DeNaro said. DeNaro said Tuesday he was disappointed masks, gowns and other protective items were donated to a Lawrence-based, nonprofit health organization when Haverhill police and fire also have needs.

Haverhill Lifts Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban After Gov. Baker Bans Reusable Shopping Bags

A Haverhill City Council debate Tuesday night over whether the city’s single-use plastic bag ban should be lifted to curb the spread of COVID-19 became moot today after Gov. Charlie Baker ordered a ban on reusable bags. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini, claiming emergency powers, lifted the bag ban this afternoon until the coronavirus crisis is over. In a statement, the mayor’s office said, “reusable shopping bags, typically made of cloth or a similar material, … are believed to hold bacteria and possible viruses.” The statement said a Board of Health meeting, planned for tomorrow to consider the issue, has been cancelled. Haverhill city councilors sought the Health Board opinion last night. The potential danger of spreading COVID-19 by using reusable bags brought extensive debate during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Haverhill Council OKs Money for Kayak Rental Booth Downtown, 10 Police Cars

Looking forward to better days ahead, the Haverhill City Council last night approved a request by Mayor James J. Fiorentini to free up $8,900 from a reserve account to purchase a portable ticket booth for use downtown. Initially, the booth would be located along the downtown boardwalk next to Riverfront Park off of Washington Street and used this summer by Plum Island Kayak Company for kayak rentals. The mayor said if the kayak rental is successful, he hopes Plum Island Kayak will continue operations in the future from a permanent downtown storefront, similar to their location in Newburyport.  The booth could also be used for other events throughout the year such as the Christmas Stroll. The total cost for the booth is $16,000 but the city has almost $7,200 in two old grant accounts which could be used for the purchase. That price tag was a bit high in the opinion of Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua, however, who likened the unit to a popcorn or cotton candy stand.

Covanta Offers City Shining Star During Health Crisis; Other COVID-19 Developments

Covanta’s energy-from-waste facility in Ward Hill has turned on its Christmas star to provide “a symbol of hope for all” during the current coronavirus crisis. The star has appeared every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas for more than 30 years.  Market Area Manager Mark Van Weelden explains the star was created using one light for each state of the union and all 50 lights are powered by the energy from waste facility. “I am pleased to see our star shining high above our employees, our community and our Commonwealth during this time,” said Van Weelden. Facility Manager Bill Zaneski said, “At the request of the local community asking us to re-light the star during this challenging time, the star was turned back on today as a symbol of hope for all.”

Covanta Haverhill continues to operate 24/7 during this crisis and are deemed critical operating units providing electric power to the New England grid and disposal services.

American Pickers is Coming to the Area This Summer in Search of Local Antique Collections

American Pickers’ Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are coming to New England this summer and looking for local and unique collections with interesting stories to showcase. The documentary series examines the world of antique “picking” and follows two of the most skilled pickers, Wolfe and Fritz, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques while learning the stories behind them. Planning on filming episodes of the show during July, they are looking for potential contenders to film with and showcase, giving local collections a chance to feature the history of Haverhill and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know has a private collection of antiques that the two pickers can explore, email [email protected] or call 855-OLD-RUST.

Update: Haverhill Chamber Resumes Dollar-4-Dollar Gift Card Program with New Limit

Update: The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce has resumed the gift card program. The story below has been updated to reflect a new $25 match limit per customer. The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce is resuming its successful dollar-for-dollar gift card program after temporarily closing it until more donations arrived. The program was created to help local restaurants and employees maintain some income after the recent ban on indoor dining. “I am delighted, if not, overwhelmed to see the success of this program.

Following No Confidence Vote, Superintendent Places Bradford Principal on Leave; Union Approves

Bradford Elementary School Principal Louise Perry is out and is expected to be replaced in the interim by another administrator. Questions about the status of Perry—the subject of a no-confidence vote on the eve of February school vacation—came when it became apparent Assistant Principal Nicole McGrain was signing all communications from the school. Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta confirmed Perry is on leave in an email to School Committee members early this afternoon. “At this point in time, Ms. Perry is on leave and it is not anticipated that she will return to Bradford School. Ms. Cathy Giles, who has been working as an additional administrator at the school for the month of March, is expected to serve as interim principal once school resumes,” Marotta wrote.