Feaster Five Road Race Back on Track This Thanksgiving with Becca Pizzi as Grand Marshal

The Feaster Five Road Race, a Thanksgiving Day tradition that annually attracts thousands of runners and walkers of all levels, is back to a full in-person race with World Marathon Challenge finisher Becca Pizzi of Belmont serving as the 2021 grand marshal. The 34th annual race day takes place Thursday with a kids’ fun run at 7:45 a.m., at the track at Balmoral Park, Andover, and the 5K/5-Mile run beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Pizzi has run more than 80 marathons and, in 2016, was the first American woman to run the World Marathon Challenge—seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. She did the challenge again in 2018. “It is my honor to serve as 2021 grand marshal for this race,” Pizzi said. “I first ran the Feaster Five when I was 12 years old, and it has since become my favorite way to kick off Thanksgiving,” she said.

Haverhill Chamber Dodgeball Tournament Dec. 1 Supports YMCA Giving Tree

The Haverhill Chamber of Commerce is daring residents to dodge during its business after hours dodgeball tournament Dec. 1 to help benefit the YMCA Giving Tree. The Chamber invites members and non-members alike to grab or join a team, play or cheer for others. The tournament takes place Wednesday, Dec 1., from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Plaistow YMCA, 175 Plaistow Road, Plaistow, N.H. Admission is free to those who bring a new and unwrapped toy to support YMCA families or $10 for everyone else. Register online at haverhillchamber.com.

Civil Service Rules in Favor of Methuen Firefighter Blanchette who was Bypassed for Promotion

The state Civil Service Commission ruled late last week that Methuen must grant Firefighter Tracy Blanchette a promotion to captain or an equivalent supervisory post with back pay to 2019. The Commission said Blanchette, a nearly 30-year veteran of the department and one of only three female firefighters, was improperly bypassed for promotion to captain by then-Mayor James P. Jajuga because of favoritism. Commissioners said Blanchette was next up for promotion based on an outside assessment center’s evaluation. They said that process was derailed by, what they called, a “mutual back-scratching employment culture available to the male but not the female firefighters.”

Commissioner Cynthia A. Ittleman wrote “…her employer relied on a deeply flawed, inherently biased second interview, led by the Fire Chief (Tim Sheehy), to bypass Firefighter Blanchette in favor of a male candidate who had for years previously employed the fire chief in his private side business and who enjoyed close relations with several other high-ranking officials who were looking out for his interests.”

News of the Civil Service Commission ruling was first broken by Tom Duggan of the Valley Patriot Friday. The highest-ranking candidate on the 2017 assessment center list was Michael Fluet, who was promoted to captain that year.

Plaistow, N.H. Police Conduct Firearms Training for Officers Tuesday

Plaistow, N.H., Police Department is letting residents know they may hear “gun shots or loud noises” while it conducts firearms training tomorrow night. Training takes place Tuesday, Nov. 23, from 2-8 p.m., at its Old County Road firing range. Those with questions or concerns may call the dispatch center at 603-382-1200.

Whittier Tech Students Pool Talents and Collect Nearly 7,000 Food Items for Pantries

Students at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School collected a record-breaking amount of food—6,973 canned goods and non-perishable items in total—during this year’s collection. Superintendent Maureen Lynch said Whittier Tech’s Skills USA chapter spearheaded the drive, pooling talents of students in various programs. They increased their efforts after learning food insecurity increased in Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Skills USA members began planning the drive with advisors Jane Moskevitz, Bruce Boiselle, and Jonathan Warne in September. Chapter President Jaidyn Craig, a junior in Medical Assisting from Haverhill, used morning announcements to share facts about food insecurity with fellow students. Maddy Dawkins, a CAD junior from Haverhill, became the student organizer, collecting student donations and shopping for additional food items.

Design and Visual Communications students led by teacher Cate Cashman designed and created the posters placed in every classroom and hallway, with the support of CAD Drafting.

State Awards Groveland $75,000 for Master Plan and Lawrence $100,000 for Resident Needs

Groveland plans to use a $75,000 state grant to develop a comprehensive master plan, while Lawrence CommunityWorks will use $100,000 to address food security, affordable housing and resident health. Groveland and Lawrence are among 26 communities sharing in $2.5 million under the state’s Urban Agenda Grant Program. Groveland’s master plan will build on town priorities in the areas of housing, open space and recreation, town center commercial revitalization, environment and transportation. Lawrence CommunityWorks’ DyeWorks/East Island project “will create a hub for healthy living in north Lawrence, improving neighborhood conditions, adding amenities and creating an ecosystem that prioritizes physical and financial health for its residents.”

According to the state, “the Urban Agenda Grant Program is designed to support community development that is grounded in collaboration and focused on economic opportunities with local significance.”

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy announced the two grants during a stop yesterday in Fall River.

Methuen Santa Parade Saturday From Pelham Street Park and Ride to Nicholson Stadium

Methuen’s Santa Parade takes place tomorrow afternoon with dozens of youth organizations, businesses and area marching bands. The parade, led by Methuen Mayor Neil Perry, begins at 1 p.m., from the Pelham Street Park and Ride, 144 Pelham St. The route continues left on Pelham Street, left on Lowell Street, right on Hampshire Street, cross Broadway onto Charles Street, continue on Pleasant Street, right onto Pleasant Street, right onto Pleasant View Street and ending at Nicholson Stadium.

State Awards Area Communities Recycling Grants; Haverhill to Raise Awareness of Textile Disposal Ban

Haverhill plans to use a $49,000 state environmental grant to research and conduct a pilot to improve food waste separation and make the public aware of next year’s statewide ban on clothing disposal. Besides Haverhill, Lawrence was awarded $35,000; Methuen, $30,000; North Andover, $11,700; and Andover, $10,400. The Sustainable Materials Recovery Program Municipal Grant is awarded by the state Department of Environmental Protection. According to the state, it is given to communities that have policies and programs proven to increase the reuse and recycling of materials, as well as waste reduction. Communities are required to put the “Recycling Dividends” money back in recycling programs for things such as new recycling bins or carts, public education and outreach campaigns, collection of hard-to-recycle items and establishment of recycling programs in schools, municipal buildings and other public spaces.