Mail-in Voting Law Slams Into Dispute Over Postage Costs; Law Has Local Legislative Support

Disagreements over funding to mail ballot applications for the upcoming election cycle spilled into the public eye Tuesday after the state’s top election official and election reform advocates differed on the permissible use of federal money. Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation into law Monday that directs Secretary of State William Galvin to send mail-in voting applications by July 15 in order to give voters time to request a ballot for the Sept. 1 primary elections, fill it out and mail it back in. Crafted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates and state officials have pointed to the new law as a way to help voters participate in the upcoming election cycle without putting themselves at risk for COVID-19. “We had hoped to do it by that date.

Man Accused of Destroying Veteran’s U.S. Flag on 4th of July Faces Charges

A driver, accused of ripping an American flag from the bed of a veteran’s pickup truck on the Fourth of July, will be answering for the act in Haverhill District Court. The veteran, who asked WHAV to omit his name, said he was at a stoplight Saturday afternoon in downtown Haverhill when he felt a shudder and thought his truck had been hit. “Thinking I had been hit, I glanced to the passenger side mirror only to be greeted by an angry white male, around his mid-twenties, pulling up next to me with the stars and stripes balled up in his fist, screaming at me through my closed window before driving off,” he said in a social media post. He quoted the man as saying, “This doesn't belong to you anymore…This will never belong to you again!”

Haverhill Police Capt. Stephen J. Doherty Jr. confirmed for WHAV the man, who allegedly tore one of two flags from its pole, is being summonsed into court. Doherty did not disclose the man’s name, but said he faces charges of larceny under $1,200 value and malicious destruction of property under $1,200 value.

State Plans Roadway, Parking, Sidewalk Upgrades at Northern Essex Community College

The public has opportunities to shape policy this week as various Haverhill boards meet. In the interest of transparency in government, WHAV provides this list of upcoming meetings every week. The Commonwealth is planning roadway, sidewalk and handicapped accessibility improvements on the Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College. Members of the Haverhill Conservation Commission will hear, among other matters, plans for utility and drainage improvements and paving and accessibility at the campus, 100 Elliott St. Commissioners meet Thursday, July 9, at 7:15 p.m., via Zoom video.

DiZoglio Wins Support for $230K Methuen Playground Equipment Upgrades, Fitness Trails

Methuen will be receiving $230,000 for parks and recreation improvements if Sen. Diana DiZoglio gets her way. DiZoglio’s amendment to a bond bill was recently approved by the state Senate. The money can be used toward expenses associated with upgrades to playground equipment at Veterans Park and Forest Lake, the installation of fitness trails in city parks and other park and open space improvements across the City of Methuen. “With COVID-19 continuing to prevent community members from congregating indoors, providing well-maintained open spaces for Methuen residents is more crucial than ever,” said DiZoglio. “During and beyond this emergency, this investment will help to ensure all generations, young and old, have vibrant and safe outdoor environments to enjoy.”

Methuen Mayor Neil Perry said, “With coronavirus still preventing people from congregating freely in enclosed spaces, providing safe and well-maintained open spaces for our residents is more important than ever before.”

DiZoglio acknowledged release of the money is dependent on Gov. Charlie Baker.

Boutwell Leads Tattersall Farm Nature Walk This Saturday, July 11

Roland “Boot” Boutwell leads a nature walk at Tattersall Farm on Saturday, July 11. Participants will learn basic wildflower identification characteristics, as well as some fun and interesting natural history and lore about the plants. Boutwell is a freelance naturalist who teaches classes and leads nature walks for The Massachusetts Audubon Society, Appalachian Mountain Club, Native Plant Trust and other conservation-minded organizations. The walk takes place Saturday, July 11, from 9-11 a.m., at Tattersall Farm, 542 Broadway, Haverhill. A $10 donation is suggested.

UMass Lowell Plans Mix of In-Person, Hybrid and Virtual Instruction This Fall

UMass Lowell plans to use a mix of in-person, hybrid and virtual instruction this fall when it plans to welcome students back to campus. Following local, state and federal guidance, highlights of the reopening plan include keeping in-person classes and labs at 25 to 50 percent of previous capacity, while making larger lectures virtual; opening residence halls at reduced capacity; using enhanced protocols for physical-distancing and disease prevention; and resuming campus operations in phases over the summer and fall. Chancellor Jacquie Moloney said, “These are challenging times for our community and our society as we grapple with the uncertainties of this international pandemic and the physical, personal and economic toll it has taken on our world and our lives.”

In workspaces and classrooms, UMass Lowell will impose at least six-feet distancing and face coverings will be required when unable to physically distance. Large campus events will be replaced by smaller programs or virtual activities to encourage safe interactions. The university, however, said it plans to employ creative uses of technology and programming to “enhance and enrich the living and learning experiences of students.” It is also prepared to modify its plans should there be a need to return to all-remote learning and operations.

Working with City, Haverhill Service Clubs Donate 5,000 Medical Masks for Frontline Workers

Haverhill service clubs came together recently to donate medical masks for frontline workers serving food pantries, nursing homes and nonprofits who service large volumes of the city population. Exchange Club of Haverhill, Rotary Club of Haverhill, Kiwanis Club of Haverhill and Pentucket Kiwanis Club partnered with Deanna Milone Bonanno, owner of Scrubs Etc. Uniform Company in Methuen to donate medical masks to those in need. Working with the city, the alliance distributed 5,000 masks. “During the early weeks of the COVID emergency shutdown, Exchange Club of Haverhill and other local service clubs worked to explore ways that we could provide support to our community.

Podcast: Regional Planning Commission Brings Communities Together for Common Good

Planning offices for the cities of Haverhill and Methuen and other communities throughout the Merrimack Valley are called upon to look into the future, and work out visions for growth, the environment and transportation. Communities receive support from the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, led by Executive Director Theresa Park. She was formally appointed in January, but had served on the Commission as Lawrence’s representative. Park said the Commission offers needed help for each of the 15 communities it serves, and the result is greater than if each were alone. “For example, what we have the ability to do is to gather together these groups of municipalities so they can share lessons learned, best practices, so they, one, don’t feel like they are on their own dealing with these challenges and, two, there are times when the sum of the parts is greater than the whole , so we’re able to almost like to facilitate, or streamline, the search for, and answers to, possible solutions to the problems that they’re having,” she explains.