hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

January 17, 2013

The Lamp Post

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — :Sweet competition: Erin Erler of the city’s Cakes by Erin company made her second appearance on the Food Network on Sunday as a competitor in the cake competition show “Sugar Dome.” Kelly Mackin, co-owner of Cakes by Erin, said Erler did very well in this latest competition. Each week on Sugar Dome, three teams of cake designers, sugar artists and top specialty craftspeople battle it out in a series of challenges to create the a sugared showpiece worthy of $15,000 in winnings. On Sunday’s episode, “The 80s,” competitors created displays that captured that decade. Cakes by Erin, which specializes in custom cake designs, made a cake last summer for Adam Sandler and a few other celebrities, Mackin said.

Potholes here, potholes there ...: Potholes are showing up on city streets which had water main breaks earlier this month. The holes are in the area of gates or shutoffs that were opened up while repairs to the pipes were made. The holes need attention before they get worse and cause a tire blowout. And speaking of potholes, state crews were out in force last week at night on the Interstate 495 bridge over the Merrimack River — yet again. It has been a recurring situation on the bridge for months, as potholes continue to show up.

Remembering those childhood days: The death of TV celebrity Rex Trailer last week had locals remembering “Boomtown,’’ his old popular children’s show. Some even talked about being on the show as a child when it was in Greater Boston.

Dangerous practice: The Lamplighter learned that trash collection trucks have been driving on Merrimack, River and Washington streets in the early-morning hours, sometimes on the wrong side of the street. Instead of driving down one side and then turning around for a return trip on the other side, the trucks have been seen crossing from one side to the other while travelling in the same direction.

No more poles in sidewalks: At a recent City Council meeting, a hearing was held on a request by Verizon and National Grid for several utility poles, including one on Main Street in front of the new Wadleigh House, a home for low-income men. Councilors said they did not want to see poles located in the middle of the sidewalk, like what has happened along a stretch of South Main Street as part of the state’s Route 125 reconstruction project. The Lamplighter drove by the Wadleigh House, which isn’t finished yet, and noticed the new utility pole was placed at the edge of the curb, and in line with other poles, just as councilors asked.

Keeping insurance costs down: Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Mayor James Fiorentini, state Rep. Brian Dempsey and other local officials recently toured the downtown floodwall, which has been flagged by the Army Corps of Engineers for non-compliance because it has not passed its last several inspections. Last year, Tsongas and representatives from her office joined with Fiorentini, Dempsey and city officials to develop a plan for repairs. Tsongas’ office supported the city’s application for a federal grant to repair the floodwall, which is currently in the competitive review process. Last year, Dempsey secured a $4 million MassWorks grant for infrastructure improvements in the Merrimack Street corridor. Tsongas said this state and federal partnership will help secure the money needed for repairs, keeping flood insurance costs for downtown businesses from skyrocketing.

A sign of change: The Lamplighter was in the Westgate Plaza area recently and, while driving down River Street, noticed a sign for the Hampton Inn. The Lamplighter called the hotel and the front desk manager said the property, formerly Comfort Suites at 106 Bank Road, underwent eight months of renovations and reopened Dec. 20 as the Hampton Inn Haverhill, a Hilton Worldwide business.

Lottery, but no booze — yet: The Lamplighter drove past the Q-Mart at the intersection of Main and Primrose streets recently, expecting to see signs in the windows advertising beer. The store recently purchased a liquor licence from the owner of the former Bradford Shell station. Instead, there was a sign in the window noting the Q-Mart had sold a $250,000 Mega Millions winning lottery ticket. The Lamplighter does not know when the Q-Mart will begin selling alcoholic beverages.