Membership, Sponsor Drive Falls Short; WHAV Buys Time with All-Christmas Format

Happy Thanksgiving! The management and staff of WHAV give thanks today to those listeners who have joined or renewed their memberships and sponsors that have begun or strengthened their commitments to local service. Their support has helped move 97.9 WHAV FM toward long-term sustainability, but more help was needed to continue a high level of original journalism and comprehensive local news coverage. WHAV will remain on the air for now, but will begin an all Christmas music format during the holiday season. With #GivingTuesday ahead and hopes for generous year-end donations and support, WHAV will do its best to restore local news.

One Construction Worker Dead, Another with ‘Serious Injuries’ After I-495 Bridge Accident

One person is dead and another has been med-flighted to a Boston hospital after an apparent accident at the site of a new I-495 bridge construction project. Massachusetts State Police said two bridge construction workers fell from a bucket truck around 10 a.m., on Bank Road, near the river’s edge close to routes 110-113, in Haverhill. “One individual is confirmed dead on the scene and another is being Med-Flighted to Boston, via ambulance to Lawrence General, with serious injuries,” said Carrie Kimball, spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett. She said State Police detectives and Crime Scene personnel are in Haverhill assisting investigation into construction accident. The victims’ names have not been released.

Haverhill Mayor, Councilors Agree to Central Fire Station Repairs; Disagree on Next Steps

The mayor and city councilors agreed last night repairs to Haverhill’s Water Street fire station will move forward, but other building work may have to wait for a reorganization of the city’s maintenance department. Mayor James J. Fiorentini and councilors largely agreed to the mayor’s plan to spend $500,000 on the central fire station. They didn’t see eye-to-eye, however, on next steps and a timetable for fixing other stations. Council President John A. Michitson said the mayor, as the city’s chief executive, is in charge of “professional management of facilities.”

“That is in your ballpark. That’s you.

Subcommittee Backs Formation of Haverhill Agricultural Commission, Defers on ‘Right-to-Farm’

Formation of a Haverhill Agricultural Commission won the endorsement of a City Council subcommittee last night. The Council’s Citizens Outreach Committee, headed by Councilor Melinda E. Barrett, will recommend the farmers’ advocacy group when the full City Council meets in two weeks. Formation of an Agricultural Commission is governed by state law and requires between three and seven members. Eva Valentine, who operates Speakeasy Farm off North Broadway where she sells eggs and other farm goods, applauded the action. “I think it is about time.

Public Meetings This Week: Conditions of Haverhill Fire Stations Subject of Rare Mayor/Council Workshop

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 condition of Haverhill’s fire stations, particularly its Water Street central station, is the subject of a rare workshop-style conference tomorrow night between Mayor James J. Fiorentini and members of the Haverhill City Council. A Mayor/Haverhill City Council Conference takes place at 6:30 p.m., in the City Council office, room 204, Haverhill City Hall. The discussion centers on repairs and improvements to the Water Street and other fire stations in the city.

Haverhill School Committee Votes 4-2 to Approve Maximum Superintendent Payraise

A majority of the Haverhill School Committee believe Superintendent Margaret Marotta has met her goals and voted to give her the maximum 4 percent bonus allowed in her contract. The one-year raise came over the objections of School Committee members Scott W. Wood Jr. and Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello. Wood argued the superintendent, hired last year, has already receive a 2% increase and knew the job’s salary range when she took the post. School Committee member Richard J. Rosa placed the item on the agenda, explaining Marotta accepted the job at the low end of the range—$190,000, even though the top end was $210,000. “Those who negotiated that contract basically said that if there was going to be any more, the superintendent was going to have to earn it and meet certain goals,” Rosa said.

Haverhill School Superintendent Salary Bonus Up for Discussion Tonight

Haverhill School Committee members may decide tonight whether to award the school superintendent a salary bonus. School Committee member Richard J. Rosa placed the matter on the agenda, along with a review of Superintendent Margaret Marotta’s goals for the current school year. The two matters go hand-in-hand as, bonuses are tied to meeting goals. According to Marotta’s contract, the superintendent receives a base salary of $194,000, but is also eligible for a 1-4% bonus annually for meeting goals set by the School Committee. The bonus does not add to the base salary for determining the value of any future increase.

Haverhill Home Property Taxes Up Slightly; Effort to Add $3 Million Spending Stalls

Average home property taxes are set to increase slightly as Haverhill city councilors last night approved tax rates with little debate. Councilors left in place last year’s formula—shifting more of the tax burden on to commercial, industrial and personal property. That means average single-family property taxes will rise $118 for the budget year, while average business property taxes will drop $37. Assessor Christine M. Webb explains the change is the result of the city’s rising home values. “This year—fiscal year 2020—Haverhill’s residential class has increased in value at a greater rather than the commercial, industrial and personal property class,” she said.