Merrimack Valley Newsmakers

WHAV Staff

Thought-provoking words from the Merrimack Valley's most influential voices in education, politics, environment and more, as heard exclusively over 97.9 WHAV FM. read less
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Essex County Habitat for Humanity Invites Applications for New Haverhill Duplexes
Jul 4 2024
Essex County Habitat for Humanity Invites Applications for New Haverhill Duplexes
Essex County Habitat for Humanity is at work developing a duplex with affordable three-bedroom units in Haverhill’s Mount Washington neighborhood, but has hope for another local project as well.Habitat for Humanity’s Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hudson appeared Monday on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program to discuss plans for the 41-43 Curtis St., Haverhill site.“We will start excavation over the summer and get the foundation in and, once we do that, we’ll start building the home and volunteers can help us frame,” he says.Both units, valued at $245,000 each, have approximately 1,200 square feet with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a single-car garage. Those interested in getting one of the sets of keys must be first-time homebuyers, have a qualifying household income and be willing to contribute 240-360 hours of “sweat equity.” Applications are due by Friday, Aug. 16, at noon. There will be both an in-person and a remote information session for those interested and wish to learn about the Habitat Homebuyer program process. The in-person session takes place Thursday, July 18, 6 p.m., at Haverhill Public Library’s Johnson Auditorium 99 Main St. A remote session takes place Saturday, July 20, 10 a.m., via Microsoft Teams. More information is available at essexcountyhabitat.org/applying.Hudson adds the search is on for more land in Haverhill.“We are currently looking at a couple of properties in the Mount Washington-area. Stay tuned. The site is secured for one of them, and we are just trying to figure out if it’s monetarily feasible and if we can afford it.”Habitat for Humanity relies on donations. Stepping up for the Haverhill project is Reworld, formerly Covanta. Area Asset Manager Mark Van Weelden says, “The Essex County Habitat for Humanity has many home projects planned in and around Haverhill this year. These underfunded projects deliver positive results in our community and are most worthy of our participation and financial support. I encourage others to work alongside a future homeowner and to financially support these projects.”Hudson says volunteers are also critical for success. He credits students from Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.“Absolutely, you have to be 16 to be on the job site and then you have to be over 18 to use any of the power tools, but we definitely welcome them. There’s plenty of other stuff to do.”Hudson finds he doesn’t have to start from the beginning when he talks about his organization.“I think the Habitat for Humanity name is well known. A lot of people associate it with (former U.S. President) Jimmy Carter. Our vision is that someday everyone will have a safe place to live. It had been around, but Jimmy Carter really put it front and center. He was a volunteer up until about two years ago.”Support the Show.
Clean River Project Makes Pitch for More Money to Keep Merrimack River Clean
Jul 1 2024
Clean River Project Makes Pitch for More Money to Keep Merrimack River Clean
Clean River Project founder Rocky Morrison seeks to redouble his organization’s efforts to keep the Merrimack River free of discarded mattresses, syringes, cars and mountains of trash.Appearing last week on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, Morrison says his group is the only one undertaking this kind of work below the water’s surface and communities should help pay for it.“We started 20 years ago cleaning up the Merrimack River, back in Methuen, as a scavenger hunt and it grew into a nonprofit. Here we are 20 years later. We pull about 100 tons a year. We have 86 vehicles pulled from the Merrimack River so far—our goal is 100. We’ve been in Haverhill waterways for several years and we are hoping to get a contract back with the City of Haverhill,” he tells listeners.Morrison says the Clean River Project had a contract with Haverhill in the past, but was unable to reach a renewal agreement. Morrison points to a federal government settlement with pharmaceutical companies that gives communities a source of money to attack the job.“Lawrence, Haverhill and Lowell and the cities and towns that are receiving this opioid money settlement, and it’s supposed to be going towards cleaning up the hypodermic needles, parts, stuff like that. I know Lawrence is using it to clean up the Merrimack River. Methuen is looking at it. Haverhill received over $400,000 for the past four years, combined. So, they could actually use some of this money to clean up the Merrimack River, and Haverhill really needs it.”Besides government grants, Morrison gets volunteer help from small civic groups as well as large corporations such as Watts Water Technologies of North Andover, 3M and Keurig Coffee. Morrison says Haverhill is at the receiving end of items put into the Merrimack from upriver. Longtime sponsor Reworld, formerly known as Covanta, recently pledged continuing support.“Rocky Morrison and his crew are relentless each year in their commitment to keep our Merrimack River watershed free from trash. We look forward in expanding our partnership and participation in the river clean ups each year,” said Reworld Area Asset Manager Mark Van Weelden.“Basically anything that comes out of Lawrence, like the Spicket River in Lawrence, they throw everything down there—tires, TVs, mattresses, and it washes to Haverhill. It goes onto the shoreline and sits there. We had the booms out there and were collecting all that. Then, we had the boat with the hydraulic arm that would grab the mattresses off the bottom. They weigh 1,000 pounds when they are on the bottom of the river. You have to have the right equipment, and that’s what we are doing out here. We are putting the booms in and collecting the stuff,” Morrison says.There’s more information about Clean River Project online at CleanRiverProject.org.Support the Show.
Groveland COA’s EngAGEment Celebration and Symposium Saturday; More to Come
Jun 25 2024
Groveland COA’s EngAGEment Celebration and Symposium Saturday; More to Come
The Groveland Council on Aging’s “EngAGEment Celebration and Symposium” this Saturday, features an address by Dr. Katharine Esty, author of “Eightysomethings,” workshops and connections to community resources.Groveland Council on Aging Director Alyssa Lee visited WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” show recently to welcome attendance at the free event and explain its purpose.“That is an opportunity to celebrate and promote community engagement and well being among older adults. It’s an opportunity for the community to connect with local organizations as well as community members and just have general resources of the wealth of information that is around in our community to support our older adults in our community as well as care partners,” she said.Lee emphasizes the event is not just open to seniors and Groveland residents, but also to caregivers and those in surrounding communities.Esty talks about finding unexpected happiness in aging. Conversations and interactive workshops also center on aspects of aging, including community living, caregiver support, understanding Alzheimer’s and dementia and exercise.The EngAGEment Celebration and Symposium takes place Saturday, June 29, from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Pentucket Regional High School, 24 Main St., West Newbury. Lunch will be provided.After the event, Groveland’s Council on Aging won’t be slowing down this summer. Lee encourages everyone to read its newsletter online.“So in July and August, our newsletter comes out next month, which is on the town of Groveland website, there are lots of great trips, we have a van trip going out, we have lots of educational programs, including a transportation seminar where there’s an opportunity to learn about all of the free, and paid for, services to make sure older adults can stay connected to their community.”Staying active is another important aspect to aging. She said there is a yoga program held outdoors on days when the weather is nice. There is also an exercise program that is a little more active, in addition to some social activities.“We do have cornhole and ping pong and we will have those as drop in opportunities starting in July, I think 11 a.m. to  1 p.m.”Before becoming Groveland’s Council on Aging Director, Lee was involved on the arts. “Before that my professional career was focused on arts administration in the classical arts world. I had spent my career in Boston, most recently as executive director of Project Step, located in Symphony Hall, which was an amazing experience. Also, there is a big overlap between the classical music constituents and older adults, and I’m really glad to be where I am now.”Those interested in attending Saturday’s EngAGEment Celebration and Symposium are advised to register by calling 978-372-1101 or visiting here.Support the Show.
Spurr Relates Finally Donning Graduation Cap and Gown After 65-Year Wait
Jun 10 2024
Spurr Relates Finally Donning Graduation Cap and Gown After 65-Year Wait
School graduation season offers a time for reflection, planning and often some heartwarming stories, but it was considerably more for 82-year-old Jean Spurr of Groveland.Spurr was awarded an honorary diploma June 1 from Georgetown High School where she was a member of the class of 1959 at graduation ceremonies on Saturday morning. She recently told WHAV listeners the unusual and heartfelt experience of how she came to finally don cap and gown and participate in high school graduation.Spurr and her companion, Steven D. Sardella of Haverhill, were guests on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program. Earlier this year, Sardella had an idea about a special birthday gift for Spurr. He asked the Georgetown School Committee to grant her an honorary diploma based on her life experience. The School Committee unanimously agreed and everything fell into place.“They gave me a cap and gown and a flower. The superintendent, everyone, was just so nice to me there. They treated me with so much respect. They were just awesome,” she said. “(The ceremony was) in back at the Perley High School—the Perley Elementary now, but it was the Perley High School where I went to school.”Spurr explained how she had an excellent attendance record, but fell just a few credits short of graduating. Instead of attending an extra year of school, as was the case back then, she married and moved to Groveland where she raised a family, waitressed for 30 years and eventually came to own the Groveland Square Diner. She also drove a school bus for nearly 20 years, worked for the Groveland Highway Department and currently volunteers at the town clerk’s office.Spurr earlier considered attempts at earning her diploma earlier. “I had all my books for the GED, and I tried at different times during my years to try it. For some reason, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it!”She said the diploma will have a special spot in her home.“Yes I do, I have it home. I’m going to put it right in my living room where everybody can see it and I can look at it every day. It’s beautiful. I can’t describe how I feel! It’s just mind boggling to me how nice everyone was. My family was there. I’m very grateful.”Spurr was joined by family as School Committee Chairman Michael Hinchliffe presented her with a diploma during this year’s Georgetown graduation ceremonies. Spurr strode across the stage to accept her diploma, share hugs with School Committee members and administrators and briefly thanked all those in attendance.“Jean your journey is one of unwavering spirit and love for your community. You have served with grace, faced life’s challenges head on, and now you come before us a graduate,” Hinchliffe said in remarks during the ceremony. “This diploma is a symbol of your life long journey of learning and service.”Support the Show.
Haverhill Church Group Leads Mission to Moldova, Bringing Supplies and Hope to Orphans
Jun 6 2024
Haverhill Church Group Leads Mission to Moldova, Bringing Supplies and Hope to Orphans
When it comes to reaching out with a helping hand, a Haverhill church is reaching out halfway across the world to help orphaned children.West Church is sending 15 people today on a mission trip to Moldova, a small country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. Leading the group is church Director of Outreach Mark Cottrell. Speaking recently on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, he explains how the 767 Broadway church became involved.“For a number of years we’ve supported a ministry in Moldova, a gentleman named Oleg Reutki—he’s a pastor over there—and he runs a number of orphanages. They call them transition homes, mostly young girls being ministered to them.”Cottrell adds Oleg runs an organization called New Hope Eurasia. “He has invited us to come over and serve in the orphanages. We’ll actually be staying right in the transition homes. We’ll be bringing all sorts of different supplies. We’ll be bringing clothing and shoes, and all sorts of needed things that he would like to have us bring to the orphans. We will be running a Bible school for them in two different locations.”Cottrell also says the West Church group will be doing some outreach, and serving Ukrainian refugees in the country. When asked about the safety of making the trip to Moldova, Cottrell had these words.“We’re warned, but we are relying on our host Oleg to know the lay of the land and, if anything was bad, I trust him to say ‘please don’t come.’ But, there have been rumors and rumors of war for Moldova since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine two years ago, and really the news hasn’t changed too much.”To help with the trip, Cottrell says they received a generous donation from Reworld, formally known as Covanta. Reworld Haverhill’s Area Asset Manager Mark Van Weelden told WHAV the company is “pleased to be able to support the activities of these dedicated volunteers.  Hopefully, the kids impacted by these acts of kindness can see a world reimagined.”West Church also received help with supplies, including from a dentist who donated 200 toothbrushes and toothpaste. West Church normally runs missions every year, mostly to Latin America for construction projects, but the trip to Moldova, working with orphans and refugees, is bringing in people who wouldn’t normally make a missionary trip.Support the Show.
Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen Opens Haverhill Storefront Location
May 31 2024
Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen Opens Haverhill Storefront Location
If you are looking to show off your creativity in the kitchen, you may be interested in using a “secret weapon” to make it easier.This Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen hosts an open house at the new storefront location. Owner Carolyn Grieco was a guest this past Wednesday on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, where she announced she will be opening a location at 800 Broadway in Haverhill.“A lot of my customers know me for baking at the market, as well as the products, but it is not a bakery. I used to own a bakery many years ago in Middleton. It was great, we ended up selling it. It was a lot. I was at a point where either I had to move into a larger space and grow, and at that time we decided to sell it. That was probably 25 years ago we sold it. So, as I get a little bit older, being in the food business beats you up physically, for sure, and I’m finding that. I feel that this next phase is really sustainable for myself,” she explains.Over the years, Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen has been a mainstay at the Haverhill Farmer’s Market and other markets in the area. Though she is known for her baked goods, Grieco says her passion is making the mixes that make it easier for people to make their own baked goods.“These are all original tried and true recipes I’ve developed over the years, over my career. I went to culinary school well over 30 years ago. These are all my babies! They are all original recipes, all tried and true, and I really designed them for simplicity. My tag line, if I had one, would be ‘simple seasonal scratch baking’ and that’s it. They are meant to be simple, one bowl assembly. You add a few additional ingredients, especially local farm fruit you can get at the farmers market or one of the local farms here in Haverhill, and they are package to oven in five minutes.”There’s more at CarolynsFarmKitchen.com and on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.Support the Show.
More to Building Haverhill-Based Mason & Hamlin Pianos Than Meets the Ear
May 28 2024
More to Building Haverhill-Based Mason & Hamlin Pianos Than Meets the Ear
The next time you have a chance to hear someone play the piano, just remember that instrument had its beginnings years earlier in a factory that could put it all together, piece by piece. It comes as a surprise to many people that such a place exists in Haverhill—the Mason & Hamlin Piano Co.The company’s creative director, Nathan Mabanglo-Burgett, whose family owns the on Duncan Street business, was a recent guest on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program“Yeah, we are kind of a hidden gem in Haverhill—not many people know that there is a piano factory located in Haverhill. We started in 1854 in Boston, Massachusetts, had a couple of different homes, but in 1980 we relocated to Haverhill, Massachusetts.”When it comes to making a piano, he says many steps must be taken.“One part is woodworking. Other parts are you need to be able to make a plate, you need people to press a lot of different parts of the piano into different forms. There’s a lot that goes into the piano making process, and it takes over one year to make one piano,” he explains.And then to make it look as good as it sounds“We do all the finishing in Haverhill. We have a whole floor dedicated to polishing, spraying, sanding the finishes”Inside the piano are the strings, that Mabanglo-Burgett says are purchased from the Mapes Piano String Company in Elizabethton, Tenn. To make those strings “sing” they are struck by a hammer, covered with felt.It’s quite interesting. They take a long roll of felt and they need to condense down to the size of those inch, or two inch, hammers that strike the strings, and that really controls the tone of the piano, in many ways. We don’t make them in Haverhill. There are many specialties, that one, I forget the exact name of the company, but we have a specialty blend, a special recipe for our hammers. A lot of R & D went into making them, a special order just for making Hamlin pianos.”And talking about research and development, Mason & Hamlin Pianos are created first in the mind of a designer.“There aren’t many piano designers left in the world but our piano designer has been with the company for over 40 years. His name is Bruce Clark. He’s very skilled and he really understood what Mason Hamlin pianos were in the 1920s and took all of those features and started incorporating into every single piano we have.”With the amount of thought, time and craftsmanship going into each piano, Mabanglo-Burgett says pricing can vary widely.“Usually pianos are kind of broken into three different categories. One is more in the beginner area, that might be around $10,000-$20,000; then you kind of a mid-grade between $20,000 and$60,000; and then you have the premier pianos of the world, and that ranges from $80,000 to $200,000 depending on the piano maker. Our pianos range in that premier piano area.”Mabanglo-Burgett says tours of the Mason & Hamlin Piano Company on Duncan Street in Haverhill are available, and information may be found at MasonHamlin.com.Support the Show.
MacDougall-Tattan Signing Copies of Her Book ‘Biz’s Journey Home’ at Firefighting Museum
May 27 2024
MacDougall-Tattan Signing Copies of Her Book ‘Biz’s Journey Home’ at Firefighting Museum
A blend of historic firefighting equipment and the love of horses, comes together this Saturday at the Haverhill Firefighting Museum.Local author Jean MacDougall-Tattan, a former member of the museum’s board of directors, will be reading aloud and signing copies of her new book “Biz’s Journey Home,” a story she says is for people who love horses and wonder what they are saying. MacDougall-Tattan was a recent guest on WHAV’s Win for Breakfast program, and says it took a time to find a publisher.“When the book was first written, and rejected so many times by publishers, it was all written from the horses’ perspective, to give people an understanding of how horses might think about us and the way we treat them. Back in those days, which was about 19 years ago, I couldn’t get any publishers who wanted talking horses in a book,” she explains.MacDougall-Tattan says the story revolves around a real-life situation.“I was a horse massage therapist, and I would be in and out of barns massaging horses. I just started to notice that people were not treating their horses as kindly as I do, treating them more like they were possessions than they were living creatures. That kind of goes against the grain of me. So, the novel, it’s fiction, but then there are some real life events that are woven into it.”She said she was saved by a horse that she, herself, saved.“When we took our horse in, he was about 15 years old, and he wasn’t in the best of shape. He was under weight. He was completely unfit. It didn’t seem like he had anybody in his life for a very long time. So, we took him into our home and made him a part of our family, and he protected me.”MacDougall-Tattan’s book, “Biz’s Journey Home,” was originally around 100 pages. However, after working with the publisher, All Things That Matter press in Maine, the book grew to over 500 pages. It is being turned into a trilogy with the second book to be released this fall.The book will be available, Saturday, June 1, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Haverhill Firefighting Museum, 75 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill, for $17 with 20% of the proceeds going to the museum.Support the Show.
Groveland’s Langley-Adams Library to Host Mystery Book Con Saturday
May 14 2024
Groveland’s Langley-Adams Library to Host Mystery Book Con Saturday
For those who love a good mystery, the Langley-Adams Library in Groveland is co-hosting a Mystery Book Con this Saturday.The library will be joined by Kensington Publishing, an independent, family-owned book publisher based in New York City that is celebrating its’ 50th anniversary. Langley Adams Senior Library Assistant Lauren Towler, a recent guest on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, said Kensington Publishing features a number of mystery writers, but “They do other things as well. We’ve hosted their non-fiction authors and even some of the people coming here. One of the authors is a toxicologist; she teaches at Tufts. One of them is a neurologist, so it’s not necessarily who would think of writing mysteries.”The Mystery Book Con is a free event, but “swag bags” are limited. She said the day’s events are well planned and cover all types of mysteries.“There is going to be a meet and greet with the authors, initially, and then we have a Thriller panel. We have a Cozy panel and we have a Wicked authors panel and then an Art of Cozy panel. There are different authors participating in each one, and you can do any, or all—it’s the same registration. We are asking people to register just so we have an idea of who is coming in, so we can get the right number of swag bags packaged up.”Mystery writers are coming from near and far.“Several of the authors are local. Vincent Donovan is going to moderate one of the panels even though he is not a Kensington author, so he will be there as well. But, we’ve already hosted a lot of these people, some in person but mostly through Zoom. We have Terri Parlato who is coming from Georgia. We have a couple of people coming from Canada, Michael Falco, who I think we hosted last month, is coming from New York, so we have people coming from a distance,” Towler said.The Mystery Book Con takes place Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the library and next door at the Groveland Town Hall, at 185 Main St., Groveland. The event includes breaks between panel discussions when raffle prizes will be drawn. The Fat Belly Food Truck will be available for people looking to buy lunch, and the Jabberwocky Bookshop, of Newburyport, will be on location, selling copies of the authors’ books. To register for the free Mystery Book Con at the Langley Adams Library in Groveland you may visit the LangleyAdamsLib.org and click on the calendar of events.Support the Show.
Riding with MeVa Regional Bus Regulars and Driver Larry Corcoran
Apr 22 2024
Riding with MeVa Regional Bus Regulars and Driver Larry Corcoran
The sky is still dark when Larry Corcoran, a bus driver for Merrimack Valley Transit, starts his route outbound from Haverhill at six a.m. For the few who ride this early in the morning, the transportation is essential.When MeVa leaders went before state lawmakers to request more money early this month, Chief Communications Officer Niorka Mendez said, for some of the people they serve, “This is the only way to get to food access, to get to medical care—even in the social aspect of visiting friends. On the bus, as a bus driver, I used to talk to them, and maybe we are the only people they talk to during the whole day. They don’t have a family member to talk to or vent [to].”Corcoran, the most senior MeVa driver, said his job requires multitasking. He has to be “an expert motor vehicle operator, and also a personality. Truck drivers wouldn’t have to deal with passengers. They would just drive the truck, and maybe they’d listen to a radio and just concentrate on the controls of the truck.”“Everybody on legs and everybody on wheels around you, you have to know where they are, what they’re going to do, and you have to be prepared to just deal with it, avoid a collision,” he added.Jonathan Kay, a machinist, said he takes the bus to work every day.He said, “I’ve always relied on the bus for transportation. I don’t have a vehicle, so it’s the best way to get around. It being free is an amazing help. If you have the time, you can get from Lawrence to Salisbury beach.”On the podcast, hear more of Staff Writer Jacob Posner’s conversations with Corcoran and the people who rely on buses like his.Support the Show.
Haverhill Native McGravey Releases New Album, ‘Feather in the Wind’
Apr 17 2024
Haverhill Native McGravey Releases New Album, ‘Feather in the Wind’
When it comes to making an impact in the world of music, it often takes a lot of time to become an “overnight” success, and success knows no zip code. But, when you love to play, you play!Haverhill native Brian McGravey has released his new album “Feather in the Wind.” McGravey was a recent guest on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program. McGravey has been playing in bands and composing music for the past 20 years—some of his work is in the form of production music that can be heard on dozens of TV channels including HBO, Nickelodeon and the History Channel.“It’s really kind of a dream come true, and it’s usually not that I go and listen, or I just hear it randomly, ‘cause I usually don’t know ahead of time when it’s going to be used, or where, but I use the website called TuneSat, and basically it will detect any music that’s used. I can later go in and watch the episodes, so I found out. I’m on some Netflix things. I could go through the big list of it, but it’s quite a big list,” he says.McGravey has been playing the piano since he was 10 years old when he strung together a few notes from “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” before taking lessons and eventually majoring in music at college.“I studied music business at UMass Lowell—great, great school. I learned all kinds of stuff about classical music, jazz and music theory and did a lot of writing, a lot of ensembles, jazz, big bands, orchestras.”McGravey found himself as a busy musician while he was in high school, but was able to make a few school events.“My senior year was the only time I could fit it into my schedule, but I was in the jazz band and we kind of combined with the concert band that year, part of both of those. I was always doing the talent shows every year. Funny story, my old band Paradox, two times during talent shows, I was a bass guitar player. I wasn’t even a piano player of that band. You know how back in the days those old classic rock things like Jimi Hendrix smashes his guitar. So, two different times in my high school talent shows I smashed my bass guitar. That’s a little bit of a claim to fame there.”McGravey isn’t smashing bass guitars these days. He’s a member of two busy bands and writing music. Hear the music at BrianMcGraveyMusic.com.Support the Show.
Haverhill Mayor Barrett Brings Listeners Behind the Scenes on School Decisions
Apr 12 2024
Haverhill Mayor Barrett Brings Listeners Behind the Scenes on School Decisions
In a wide-ranging interview with WHAV this week, Haverhill Mayor Melinda E. Barrett took listeners behind the scenes on recent moves affecting the futures of both the “big” and “little” Whittier schools.Barrett, in her fourth month working out of the corner office at City Hall, took some time Wednesday to appear on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program. The mayor said she spoke with Gov. Maura T. Healey recently as plans took shape to explore a shared campus for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and Northern Essex Community College.“So, the idea would be to build a Whittier Vo-Tech and align it with NECCO so they could capture some different dollars rather than just the 11 communities relying on (Massachusetts School Building Authority) and their own tax levy capacities. This would open up even more grant opportunities, some federal funding, take advantage of job training monies that might be out there from both the state and federal government to try to reduce the cost to the communities and produce a school that will produce workers for the future,” she said.During January’s vote of Whittier Tech communities, only Haverhill supported plans for a $445 million replacement school.As WHAV reported first, Barrett recently met with other communities and made clear the city’s opposition to reopening the 1967 Whittier Tech agreement.“I don’t know the motivation behind the other communities as far as how they feel. We had a meeting last week with all 11 communities and many of them want to open up the charter and basically shift the cost burden to Haverhill more than it already is. I told them I would not approve opening the charter due to that fact.  I won’t vote for that. When I did tell them that, one of the town managers from a different community said ‘Of course you wouldn’t. If I were in your shoes I wouldn’t either.’”The mayor also related the backstory about how the John C. Tilton School came to be considered as part of the replacement of the John Greenleaf Whittier School on Concord Street.“When they came to tour, I guess last year at some point, they toured the J. G. Whittier and they also looked at the Tilton. Initially, we only put in for the J. G. Whittier, and they let us know that if we wanted to consider a combined school, similar to what (Caleb Dustin) Hunking is, that we would have to put in a statement of interest for Tilton also, so that they could, in their concept, consider doing a combined school. Without our application for Tilton, they would not have considered it,” Barrett explained.She said the J.G. Whittier middle school application has already been accepted by the state, but she doesn’t have a timeline for the Tilton application.The mayor also previewed a lead hazard reduction grant the city received which she called, a “whopper.” It will, in part, benefit families in older housing.Support the Show.
On 50th Anniversary of Federal Program, Trahan Touts Local Decision-Making Benefits
Apr 8 2024
On 50th Anniversary of Federal Program, Trahan Touts Local Decision-Making Benefits
From firefighters to fresh lettuce, Congresswoman Lori Trahan discussed local advances made possible with federal dollars on the 50th anniversary of Community Development Block Grants.During a visit Wednesday to WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, she told listeners she is impressed with how the YMCA used CDBG funds to help with its Freight Farm project, saying it’s helping young students develop unexpected skills at school.“Highly interactive, experiential learning, biology, chemistry and business all in real time, and it’s just great to see this program getting support from private sector partners like Beth Israel Lahey and the city in the form of nearly $33,000 in funding from the city’s Community Development Block Grant award,”  she said.Trahan says she is a big fan of Community Development Block Grants, because of their flexibility.“So, it is a vehicle for federal funds to make their way directly to cities and towns. They don’t go through the state, so they can use those funds on local initiatives, local projects. They can help nonprofits with capacity building. It’s true that a city and town is closest to where the gaps are.”To emphasize her point, Trahan says cities and towns can make better decisions on how to dispense the money to address local needs. “Obviously a project like the Y’s Freight Farm, providing students with such a cool interactive learning experience is just a great example of those funds at work.”Trahan told listeners she was given some lettuce and kale from the Freight Farm to take home to her family.As WHAV previously reported, Trahan is the Northern Essex Community College commencement speaker Saturday, May 18.“It’s always an honor to go to speak to graduates as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. For me, it’s so motivating and energizing to see the future of our country kind of move onto the workforce with all their aspirations,” she said.Support the Show.
Merrimack Valley Chamber to Host National Small Business Week Awards Ceremony in May
Mar 28 2024
Merrimack Valley Chamber to Host National Small Business Week Awards Ceremony in May
Small business owners from around Massachusetts are making plans to attend the annual National Small Business Week Awards ceremony, which is coming this year to the Merrimack Valley.This year, Merrimack Valley Chamber member Stephanie Vanderbilt, owner of Coastal Windows and Exteriors in Beverly will receive the Massachusetts Small Business Person of the Year award, earning her an invitation to the White House with other winners from around the country. The awards breakfast is being hosted by the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Vice President Michael Bevilacqua spelled out the details this week on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program.“There will be businesses coming in from all across Massachusetts. We have the Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao will be attending as well. We’ll also have people from Washington, from the White House, from the Presidents’ Cabinet, will be at this program as well,” he said.Bevilacqua says the “Washington connection” is Marlene Cintron, appointed by the White House to be regional administrator, overseeing U.S. Small Business Administration programs in the Atlantic Region, and also currently serving as acting administrator for programs in New England. Representing the Massachusetts Small Business Administration will be District Director Robert Nelson.The breakfast takes place Friday, May 10, from 8 to 11 a.m., at DoubleTree by Hilton, 123 Old River Road, in Andover. Tickets are $45 per person, $450 per table, and may be purchased by calling the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce at 978-686-0900 or online at merrimackvalleychamber.comThe entire interview may be heard on WHAV’s Merrimack Valley Newsmakers podcasts on WHAV.net and also available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeart, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.Support the Show.
Haverhill Bank’s Temple Pruyn Offers A Word About Retirement Accounts Before Tax Day
Mar 7 2024
Haverhill Bank’s Temple Pruyn Offers A Word About Retirement Accounts Before Tax Day
Federal and state tax returns are due in a little more than a month, and for people with retirement accounts, such as a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, it also means a deadline is approaching for making contributions that count for the 2023 tax year.It also means, for some, a deadline to start taking money out. The heads up comes from Haverhill Bank Assistant Vice President and Mortgage Officer and Originator Sherry L. Temple Pruyn, who stopped by WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program. She spoke about people with a traditional Individual Retirement Account. The traditional IRA is funded with pre-tax money, unlike the Roth IRA which is funded with money already taxed, and the federal government requires taking distributions by a certain age.“Essentially the deadline to take your first required minimum distribution, which is often known as an RMD, is usually April 1 of the year after you turn 73, and then Dec. 31 each year after that, your RMD for the account balance as of the end of that prior calendar year. It is a big deal because if you don’t do this the IRS does penalize you, and the penalty is steep, it’s 25% of your balance,” she explains.Individuals have until the tax deadline to make contributions to their IRA. For people under the age of 50, they can contribute up to $6,500 and for people 50 years of age and older, the amount is $7,500.“I always advise people to either go to the IRS website, IRS.gov, take a look at the calculator to see how much they need to take for their minimum distribution. Reach out to a financial advisor because these are personal decisions based on your own balances in your 401Ks. You can’t just do carte blanche, okay I’m only going to do ‘X.’ You really do have to take in consideration the calculator based on how much money you do have,” Pruyn says.This year, the deadline for filing 2023 taxes in Massachusetts is Wednesday, April 17 because April 15 is observed as Patriots Day in Massachusetts and April 16 is observed as Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.Support the Show.
Haverhill Chamber Readies for 26th Annual Winning Opportunities for Women Conference
Mar 1 2024
Haverhill Chamber Readies for 26th Annual Winning Opportunities for Women Conference
The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce is getting ready for its 26th annual Winning Opportunities for Women conference in April.Chamber President and CEO Alex Eberhardt said the conference—called WOW, for short—is expected to draw more than 200 people and feature speakers discussing professional and personal development. Speaking on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast,” Eberhardt said this year’s venue takes place at a woman-owned business in Lawrence.“This year it is at a new event space, owned by Wendy Estrella out of Lawrence, called The Vault. If you have not seen it yet, it is breathtaking. It’s a breathtaking new event space. It is beautiful, and we are very, very excited to host WOW there this year.”The Vault is located in the former Bay State Merchants National Bank, built in 1927.Eberhardt gave a preview of topics to be covered by the speakers. “I’ve got an international businesswoman from a Fortune 500 Company here in America, but also down in Mexico City. I’ve got a DISC-certified trainer who is going to be talking about personalities and communication, and how to build these really amazing teams, for those of us who work in the professional development, education space. DISC is a really awesome way in order to understand yourself, so that way you can connect, with no problem, in working relationships with others. I’m so excited,” she says.Eberhardt says speakers include Ilhianna Rojas-Saldana of BeLIVE Coaching and Consulting and Michelle Saunders, a certified trainer in the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance assessment, which is a global professional personality development program. Eberhardt says other speakers are expected to be added to the roster.The 26th annual Winning Opportunities for Women conference takes place Tuesday, April 26, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at The Vault, 238 Essex St., Lawrence. Early bird tickets are $179, and will increase to $199 per person as the conference nears. Admission includes a continental breakfast and full lunch. Questions, including those about sponsoring the event, may be directed to Eberhardt by calling 248-881-0487 or emailing president@GreaterHaverhillChamber.com.Support the Show.
Pentucket Bank Closes Main Office Today in Prep For Redevelopment, Reopens Riverside
Feb 21 2024
Pentucket Bank Closes Main Office Today in Prep For Redevelopment, Reopens Riverside
Pentucket Bank closes its main branch today and opens a temporary downtown office as well as a revamped Riverside branch—all in preparation for a $160 million downtown Haverhill redevelopment.The long-considered plans, first reported by WHAV more than two years ago and confirmed last year, are now taking shape following developer Salvatore N. Lupoli’s closing on city and bank land. The mixed-use housing and retail project covers White’s Corner through the entirety of what is known as the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. Pentucket Bank CEO Jonathan H. Dowst and President Eric G. Leuteritz detailed the plans Monday morning for WHAV listeners.“We’ve been planning our stadium branch renovation for quite some time. It was a little bit delay in construction but it will be opening this week. Related to that, really choreographed, we will also be also be closing our Merrimack Street, Main Street branch at One Merrimack Street and opening a temporary branch across the street at HC Media,” Dowst explained.Dowst and Leuteritz appeared live on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program. While there will be a full-service branch nearby with the reopening of the Pentucket Bank branch on Lincoln Avenue, Leuteritz says a temporary branch will hold the bank’s place at White’s Corner.“It will be a cashless branch, so you won’t be able to take cash in, but you’ll be able to do most of the transactions. You can get a new debit card, you can open an account, you can get inquiries, there will be somebody staffed there basically 40 hours a week. Then, any other type of transaction, we have a new ATM over next to Barrios. We’ve had an ATM there for awhile, but this one will take deposits as well rather than just dispense cash,” he said.Dowst noted Lupoli’s forthcoming a 600-car parking garage, food pavilion and housing., but emphasized Pentucket Bank will return to One Merrimack St., but in a new building. “So, that entire building is being demolished as part of the redevelopment. When we build it back, though, we’ll have safe deposit boxes, a vault. It will be a full-service branch and that’s probably 12 to 15 months away,” he said.Dowst went on to give a bit of history.“It’s really important to us to take a community leadership role and invest in the downtown. We’ve always done that. We did it at Harbor Place. We did it at One Merrimack Street when we bought that branch—it was originally doctors’ offices, if you go way back, part of Pentucket Medical—and we have invested in that over time, and now it’s time to give way. If you notice, the Merrimack Street intersection there narrows, and it really is a traffic choke point. The town has wanted to redevelop that and widen that intersection for years. Without our offices being sold into the development, they couldn’t do that. This allows for the redevelopment they way the town would like to redevelop it,” Dowst explained.Lupoli’s kicked off the five-acre redevelopment in December with a groundbreaking ceremony in front of the parking deck—a project former Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini described as the capstone of his career.Support the Show.
Mason Expresses Thanks as Haverhill School Crossing Guards Receive $2 Raise
Feb 19 2024
Mason Expresses Thanks as Haverhill School Crossing Guards Receive $2 Raise
Crossing guards in Haverhill will receive a wage increase from $15 to $17 per hour effective Feb. 5.Thanks to the raise, crossing guard Debbie Mason told WHAV she will not have to find more hours as a lunch monitor or a similar position in the district. It would have been disruptive to work more because, on top of the 15 hours a week at an intersection near the Golden Hill and Dr. Paul C. Nettle Schools, she said she spends the bulk of her time taking care of people.“I take care of my husband all the time,” she said. “My sister-in-law doesn’t drive so I drive her where she needs to go. And, you know, you just need the money coming into the house,” she said.She added that much of her time has gone to getting her father’s affairs in order after he recently passed away. Along with a general increase in prices and property taxes in recent years, she said her father’s death meant the taxes on his house no longer receive his senior’s and veteran’s discounts.The Committee voted unanimously on the change after a guard approached Vice Chair Paul A. Magliocchetti while he was checking out at Market Basket.“He was not completely satisfied, and he was concerned because he didn’t feel we had enough crossing guards, and he informed me that part of the reason was the pay,” Magliocchetti said. “They’re among the lowest paid in the district.”The pay bump will not impact negotiations with other low-paid employees, according to Magliocchetti. Assistant Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling told the committee the $2 per hour increase will cost the district just under $31,000, money already available in the budget.While the city’s 18 crossing guard positions are currently full, Pfifferling told WHAV a new hire would receive training and join the substitute list. They could then receive a permanent posting if a slot opened up in the future.“People get ill or need time out for certain reasons, so even if your flexibility is not five days a week, get on our substitute list, and [you’ll] see different kids every day,” he said.Member Mikaela D. Lalumiere encouraged residents to take the job. “Anybody who has time in the morning, in the afternoon, you’re retired, you have any kind of flexibility in your schedule, and you want to do something really meaningful, that’s tangible, that can help our kids, this is a great way to help keep our kids safe,” she said. “It’s one of the only jobs you’re ever going to have where everyone who sees you is going to be really happy to see you.”Mason would be the first to agree. She joked she almost got a bumper sticker saying she has 500 children. Over the past 11 years she has worked this intersection, she said she has become a “fixture,” with many commuters, parents and children all waving to her as they pass in cars.“Sometimes I dance with them. Sometimes I sing with them. Friday is happy dance Friday for me and my kids,” she said, demonstrating the dance and laughing. “One kid used to come down skipping all the time, so I started trying to skip, and I almost broke my neck.”In an ideal world, Mason said she would have appreciated $20 per hour. Not only would it help with her own expenses, but she said it would allow her to buy kids sneakers, jackets and backpacks, which she has done in the past.“It’s going to help. You know, anything will help at this point,” she said. “It would’ve been nice to be more, but I’ll take what I can get when I can. Because we’ve always been one of the lowest paid, and we’re out here in the middle of the street with all of the drivers that are already aggressive.”She continued, “I love my job. I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want people to get mad at me, so I’d be happy with it, as it is, for now.”Standing at the edge of the crosswalk, commuters blow by. She often has to walk out into a steadySupport the Show.
In Advance of 50th Anniversary Celebration, ‘Spike’ Sprague Reveals Little Known Facts
Feb 5 2024
In Advance of 50th Anniversary Celebration, ‘Spike’ Sprague Reveals Little Known Facts
It won’t be long before members of Haverhill High School’s 1973-74 hockey team gather for the 50th anniversary of the program and one of the organizers is revealing decades-old details.The celebration takes place Saturday Feb. 17, at Haverhill High School’s Veterans Memorial rink with a game against Shawsheen. Richard “Spike” Sprague, who scored Haverhill High’s first varsity goal, gave away some secrets during a visit last week to WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program.“I guess you’re going to find out why I scored the goal, because he went into emergency duty because the starter was out. He was in net with a pair of pads and regular skates on. Basically, he fell down and I put it in the net. I don’t think it was the hardest goal in the world to score,” he explained.Sprague said that wasn’t the games’ only historical mark.“There’s also a first, my good friend the goaltender, Ted Vathally. He was the goalie, he got the first shutout, we won 9-0 that game.”Sprague has been working for months to get all of his teammates to the celebration.“We had 22 players, unfortunately two passed away. These five players I’m looking for, Mark Roy, Tom Lloyd, John Purcell, Rich Cook and Joe Parker. If you’re out there, I’d appreciate you getting in touch with me, we’d like to have you there,” he asked.Players who have moved to California, Texas and Florida will be coming back to town. Even though the 73-74 Haverhill High hockey team is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Sprague said there was a short-lived effort years earlier.“They did have a hockey program back in 1929, I researched it. It was more of a club team. They went on for three years and disbanded. So, it had been 40 years before Haverhill started it back up, which was our team,” Sprague noted.The Haverhill High School 50th hockey anniversary, Saturday, Feb. 17 starts at 3 p.m. with a gathering of the first varsity team in school history followed by a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. and the start of the game at 4 p.m. against Shawsheen After the game, Sprague says anyone who has been involved with the Haverhill High School hockey program over the past 50 years is invited to the American Legion Wilbur M. Comeau Post 4, at 1324 Main St., to “talk hockey.”  For more information, Sprague can be reached at 978-994-4463 or by email at richsprg@aol.com.Support the Show.