Basiliere on Ratka’s Legacy: ‘Haverhill Has Become a Hub for Veterans’ Housing’

Less than one month after the unexpected passing of Haverhill veterans’ advocate John E. Ratka, those close to the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center are touting the lasting impact he made on the city. During Monday night’s Open Mic Show, Ratka’s friend and colleague Ralph Basiliere said the former Naval officer made Haverhill a destination for veterans in need in the Merrimack Valley and beyond. “Because of John Ratka had the team he led, Haverhill has become a hub for veterans’ housing. When guys are not on a winning streak, let’s say, Haverhill has become a place to come—and that’s because of John Ratka,” Basiliere said. In Ratka’s absence, the team at the Outreach Center affectionate dubbed VNOC is forging ahead with plans to renovate the former Gerson’s furniture store on Washington Street into 44 apartments for veterans and families.

What You Missed on Monday’s Open Mic Show: Marijuana, Schools and More














On the eve of the Haverhill City Council’s Jan. 15 vote to confirm retail marijuana zones, WHAV Open Mic Show host Bill Macek invited his Council colleagues Colin F. LePage and Melinda E. Barrett in studio to discuss the months-long process that preceded the vote. The trio also raises structural concerns over several Haverhill schools on this week’s Open Mic Show, heard only on 97.9 WHAV FM. WATCH THE SEGMENT IN THE VIDEO BELOW!

Why Haverhill’s Mill Brook Park Was Chosen as the New Vietnam Memorial Site

Two months after relocating the city’s war memorial from Water Street to Mill Street’s Mill Brook Park, members of Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ad Hoc Commission tell WHAV the choice to settle the statue near Plug Pond was a no brainer. Convened at the request of Mayor James J. Fiorentini in September, the commission includes Ralph Basiliere and Linda Gambino-Baxter, who appeared on Monday’s Open Mic Show to update listeners on the progress since the Veterans’ Day dedication. According to Basiliere, it was fellow commission member Louis T. Fossarelli, a local businessman and veteran, who spoke up early and often about the merits of Mill Brook. “We had discussed the extension of the Rail Trail and Winnekenni Park—and Lou spoke up and talked about Mill Brook Park,” Basiliere recalled. “Instantly in the room, you could feel that everyone knew that was the right place.”

Calling Fossarelli “the right voice at the right time,” Basiliere said neighbors in the Highlands area near the park have embraced the new landmark.

Highlands Neighbors Praise Community Policing Efforts of Haverhill Force

Highlands neighbors (from left) Lynda Brown, Mike Valvo (center), Jason Jussif and Marianne Seitz appeared on WHAV’s Open Mic Show on Dec. 3, 2018. (Chris Porter photograph for WHAV News)

For the residents of Haverhill’s historic Highlands neighborhood, it’s all about “see something, say something.” In fact, those four simple words have been a proven method to deter crime in the area, locals tell WHAV. During a Dec. 3 appearance on WHAV’s Open Mic Show, four members of the Highlands Neighborhood Association joined Bill Macek to praise the community policing efforts of Haverhill’s force.

Salvation Army in Need of Holiday Gifts for Haverhill Kids: Here’s How to Donate

Haverhill’s Walter and Lynnann Rivers are out to make sure no city child goes without a gift under the tree this Christmas. The couple—both majors at the Salvation Army—are hard at work on the 2018 “Angel Tree” program, and Walter Rivers joined WHAV’s Open Mic Show Monday night to share how area residents can lend a hand this holiday. Rivers told WHAV’s Bill Macek and Bill Ellis the couple plans to set up a tree at the Plaistow, N.H. Wal-Mart store, with patrons able to take gift tags from the tree that specify gift requests from area children. Those gifts—and others of donors’ choosing—are gratefully accepted at the Salvation Army’s Main Street office in Haverhill. As the outreach worker explains, families in need often have to decide whether to pay rent or purchase groceries instead of grabbing gifts for loved ones.

WHAV Asks Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line How to Microwave a Turkey

Bill Macek and Bill Ellis asked Butterball how to microwave a turkey during the Nov. 19 Open Mic Show on WHAV. (File photograph)

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day and ahead of the holiday that’s all about food and family, WHAV’s Open Mic Show hosts Bill Macek and Bill Ellis couldn’t help but talk turkey on their Monday night broadcast. Joining them for the holiday show this week was none other than Butterball Turkey Talk Line expert Beth Somers, who played along as Macek and Ellis asked the question that’s been plaguing social media users this season: Just how do you microwave a turkey? “Here at Butterball, our big focus is helping people host Thanksgiving like a boss.