hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

March 28, 2013

The Lamp Post

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — :Campaign season looms: Look for candidates for city office to begin to emerge, as we inch closer to this year’s election. There is talk in political circles about challengers stepping up for the nine City Council seats and three available School Committee positions. The biggest question seems to be whether anyone will challenge James Fiorentini for mayor. He has served a record number of terms for a Haverhill mayor and made it clear he wants to stay on the job.

Speaking of the election: Mayor Fiorentini is already gearing up for this year’s run, as he organizes supporters for one his biggest annual money-raising events — his birthday fundraiser. He recently did a mass emailing to supporters, asking them to stop by his home to stuff envelopes and help plan the event. The bash is April 11 (his real birthday is April 14) from 5 to 7 p.m. at 90 Washington St., next to the Tap restaurant and lounge. It seems clear to the Lamplighter that Fiorentini is taking nothing for granted this election season.

A touch of nostalgia: Walk by the parking deck on Merrimack Street on a day in early May, and you might think your eyes are deceiving you. You’ll think you are in the land of Oz. Dorothy, Toto, the Cowardly Lion and all the characters from “The Wizard of Oz’’ will be there. The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce plans a “Wizard of Oz” theme for the annual KidsFEST celebration May 5. Kids are encouraged to come to the top level of the parking deck dressed as their favorite Oz character. The deck will be decked out for the Oz theme, with a yellow brick road and other amenities. The chamber has had great success using the deck for past children’s festivals.

Feeling left out: When Mayor James Fiorentini visited the elderly housing complex at 25 Washington Square recently, he got an earful. He stopped in to hear concerns and questions regarding living conditions downtown. Residents talked to him about topics like late-night noise, the lack of entertainment for older people, the need for better maintenance outside of stores and on streets, and a desire for park benches and another supermarket. The mayor said he will consider all their concerns. Late-night noise when busy bars let out has been an ongoing complaint from older residents living downtown.

It seems never ending: Just when the snow was all but gone from yards and sidewalks, it snowed again recently ... and again ... and again. The warmer days of spring and occasional rain promise to wipe out the new snow we’ve gotten, but it will be a while before those big piles in parking lots of businesses and schools are gone. The Lamplighter predicts that long into spring, those monuments to this snowy winter will continue to exist.

An encore of sorts: Last year, Carmen Ortiz impressed the crowd at the Girls Incorporated dinner and money-raising event. As keynote speaker, she talked about growing up with big dreams and seeing them realized when she was named the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts. It was an inspiration to girls in the Girls Incorporated organization and their leaders, who work with the youngsters to develop their confidence. Ortiz is returning to Haverhill, this time in a bigger venue. She will be the main speaker at Northern Essex Community College’s 51st graduation ceremony on May 18.