Merrimack Valley Planning Commission’s Park to Leave for MassDevelopment Under Rivera

Theresa Park, who has served as executive director of Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Planning Commission for little more than a year, is leaving to join her former boss at MassDevelopment in Boston. Park joins the quasi-public finance agency in March as deputy director and senior executive vice president under former Lawrence Mayor and MassDevelopment President and CEO Daniel Rivera. Park becomes second in command at MassDevelopment and will focus on program effectiveness and development. She has 25 years of regional and municipal planning experience. Besides the Planning Commission, she served as director of the office of planning and development for the City of Lawrence, overseeing the operations of planning, economic development, community development and inspectional services.

DiZoglio Wants Answers to How State Chose Vaccine Vendors and Sites or Will Seek Audit

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio wants answers to questions about the state’s troubled COVID-19 vaccine rollout and is prepared to ask the state auditor to investigate if necessary. DiZoglio said one question is how certain vendors were selected to help distribute the vaccine. She said she wants answers from Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration or will push state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump to conduct an audit. In a letter last week to Bump, DiZoglio said she has heard concerns from residents around transparency and accountability in the rollout process. DiZoglio said her office asked the state Department of Public Health whether the state formally solicited proposals, but was told that “since vaccination distribution is a federal process, (the state does) not have a role in that.”

“All of the vendors appear to be private companies.

Haverhill Man Faces Drunken Driving Charge After Allegedly Sideswiping N.H. Cruiser

A 26-year-old Haverhill man was arrested and charged with drunken driving after allegedly sideswiping a New Hampshire State Police cruiser early this morning on I-93 in Salem, N.H.

Alex Alvarez was driving a Maserati SUV about 1:45 a.m. when Trooper Robert Bifsha said he saw Alvarez nearly crash into the rear of another vehicle, swerve left and right and then sideswipe his fully marked cruiser. There were no injuries.

Clean River Project’s Morrison Says River Law Doesn’t Go Far Enough; Officials Say It Was Only First Step

The man largely taking on the job of cleaning the Merrimack River says a new sewer discharge notification law doesn’t go nearly far enough, and the targets of his frustration agree with him. Rocky Morrison, whose Clean River Project has been clearing debris from the river for 16 years, told WHAV News yesterday that wastewater treatment plants must be forced to pay penalties. He said legislators don’t see what he does. “They don’t see the condoms. They don’t see the applicators. They don’t see the hypodermic needles, the microplastics, the black foam that comes out of the sewerage pipes, the stench.

Failure of State Vaccination Website Brings Renewed Calls for Changes, Pre-Registration System

The failure of the state’s vaccine appointment website yesterday brought renewed criticism of Massachusetts’ vaccine rollout. Even Gov. Charlie Baker told “Boston Public Radio,” “My hair’s on fire about the whole thing. I can’t even begin to tell you how pissed off I am,” when asked about the website debacle just after noon. He later added, “This is not satisfactory...it’s awful. It’s going to get fixed and I’m going to work very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Sen. Diana DiZoglio this week filed a bill, calling for a COVID-19 vaccination pre-registration system.

Plaistow, N.H. Town Clerk’s Office Adds Monday Time and Cuts Friday Hours Starting in March

The Plaistow, N.H. town clerk’s office is adjusting its hours in March to cope with reduced availability of trained staff and safety concerns. Town Clerk Martha Fowler said this week the new hours are Mondays from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; and closed Fridays. In a statement, the clerk’s office said, “We understand that change can be inconvenient. We hope that offering the earlier hours on Mondays will mitigate the loss of hours in the evening.”

The office noted, however, that those with special circumstances may contact the office directly for possible alternatives.

Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence To Receive Extra State Help as Being Disproportionately Impacted by COVID-19

Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence are among 20 communities in line to receive extra state help since they are said to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and historically underserved. The Department of Public Health said Tuesday it will help the cities build awareness of vaccine safety and efficacy and reduce barriers to immunization. The DPH plans to support tailored efforts based on each community’s needs and is offering supports including providing vaccine ambassadors to share information and materials, disseminating culturally appropriate vaccine information in multiple languages, hiring local residents for outreach efforts like door-knocking campaigns and coordinating groups including community health centers, local boards of health, and community and faith-based organizations. Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration also said it has invested $1 million in the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to support centers’ efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccination rates for hard-hit individuals and communities.

Gov. Baker and Local Legislators Laud New Law Notifying Residents of Sewer Discharges

A long-awaited bill aimed at ensuring residents are notified of sewage discharges into the Merrimack River and other waterways was ceremonially signed into law yesterday with cheers from local legislators. Sen. Diana DiZoglio, a senate co-sponsor of the legislation, appeared online live with Gov. Charlie Baker’s for the signing of “An Act promoting awareness of sewage pollution in public waters.” She called the law “a step in the right direction.”

“Resident are asking, for a start, just to simply be able to get notifications about it. That’s really behind why our region stepped up to the plate so much so on this issue,” she said. The new, statewide sewage discharge notification system alerts residents when storm waters overload combined sewer overflows, or CSOs, causing raw sewage to make rivers and beaches unsafe. Besides the notifications, DiZoglio said communities need more money to resolve problems. She cited work at a local sewage treatment plant as an example.