hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 8, 2014

The week's news in review

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — Girl, 9, sets goal to help fellow hospital patients

Until last fall, 9-year-old Noelle Gregoire was not allowed to swim, ride a bike or participate in other activities that most kids enjoy.

She was diagnosed at age 5 with a rare congenital spine condition that resulted in her having to wear a rigid brace around the clock and avoid activities that could cause paralysis if she were to fall.

Things will be different this summer when she attempts to swim a mile across Province Lake in East Wakefield, N.H.

Noelle, a third-grader at Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School, said she is taking on this challenge as a way to do some good for other children who, like her, receive treatments at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston.

“Now that I can swim, I want to do something great,” Noelle said about her “Laps for Backs” money-raising effort.

— Mike LaBella

KidsFEST moves to Kimball Farm

A popular local tradition is about to undergo a major change.

But organizers of this year’s KidsFEST said that by moving the event out of the downtown to a local farm, they can offer different activities than in past versions of the family festival, while bringing people of all ages closer to nature.

KidsFEST is moving to Kimball Farm, located in a rural and pastoral area at the eastern part of the city.

Children and families are encouraged to attend this event, which traditionally draws thousands of people.

The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Downtown Haverhill Committee, working with Trinity EMS., Merrimack Valley Hospital and Holy Family Hospital, will present KidsFEST on May 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kimball Farm, 791 East Broadway.

Admission is free, however, a fee of $2 per car to park at the farm will defray staffing costs, while additional parking proceeds will be donated to a local charity, organizers said.

In an effort to expand this growing event, as well as provide a rural escape for inner-city residents, the committee will host the event along the river on the grassy fields of one of the oldest farms in the area.

— Mike LaBella

City eyes 6 sites for medical pot zone

The city is looking at six locations for a highly debated regional medical marijuana dispensary which will eventually open in Haverhill.

They are:

The Computer Drive commercial park off Route 97 that includes the Target and former Lowe’s stores

A busy retail area on Route 125 lined with stores and other businesses near the Plaistow, N.H., line and a new methadone clinic

An industrial area on the upper end of Hilldale Avenue near the Atkinson, N.H., line

Route 110 just off Interstate 495’s Exit 52, near Northern Essex Community College

The Neck Road end of the Ward Hill Business Park, near the Covanta waste-to-energy plant

The Hale Street industrial area near Lafayette Square, which is where a company has already proposed a medical marijuana dispensary in an old furniture building

The council’s Administration and Finance Committee has asked city Planning Director William Pillsbury to analyze the locations and report back to the committee at its next meeting, May 15 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

— Shawn Regan

Police: Man used butcher knife in liquor store holdup

Police said a liquor store in Bradford was robbed for the second time this year, and that in both cases it was by men wielding knives.

Police have released store camera surveillance photos of the man in the latest robbery, and are asking the public’s help identifying him.

According to a police report, about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday officer Kevin Lynch was dispatched to Quality Liquor Mart at 185 S. Elm St. on a report of a robbery. The store is near the train trestle near the Bradford side of the Comeau Bridge.

A store clerk told Lynch that a man who is about 5-feet 5-inches tall, with a medium build and wearing a black Celtics jacket with “Boston’’ on the back entered the store, jumped over the counter and pointed a large butcher knife at him.

According to the clerk, the man said, “Give me the money or I will kill you.’’

The man also wore a black hoodie and white T-shirt, baseball cap, light blue jeans and white sneakers, police said.

Police estimated the man to be about 18 years old.

The report said the man took an undisclosed amount of cash from the register then left the store, running in the direction of Bradford Avenue.

Police searched the area, but did not find the man.

— Mike LaBella

Firefighting Museum unveils new children’s corner

This time, it’s all about the kids.

The Haverhill Firefighting Museum was looking to create more excitement for children who visit. After six months of planning and effort, the museum will unveil its enhanced children’s corner during a celebration tomorrow.

The children’s corner features a wooden replica of a fire engine that children can play in, along with fire reels and kid-sized hoses children can pull, and an area where children can try on firefighter gear such as boots, pants, jackets and helmets — all sized for kids.

“There’s always been a children’s corner, but the idea of enhancing it to make it more appealing to children was the impetus behind this,” said Albert Henderson, a member of the museum’s board of directors. “There are lots of displays that are more oriented to adults, so this corner gives children a place to play while adults are looking at some of the other exhibits. Plus, museums should appeal to all ages.”

“Hands-on stuff is always more appealing and exciting to children,” he said.

The museum, in the historic Armory Building at 75 Kenoza Ave., is home to one of the largest collections of historic New England firefighting equipment and information in New England.

— Mike LaBella

Work starts to revive inner-city playground

People who want to give inner-city kids a clean, safe place to play are rallying the community for support.

Their efforts will begin Saturday, when renovations to the old Portland Street Playground begin.

The citywide Earth Day cleanup on Saturday will also see the launch of the playground project.

Organizers said work on the playground will continue through mid-summer. The project is a partnership between the city, which has committed $25,000 to the renovation, and the volunteer organization Team Haverhill, which has pledged to match the city’s cash investment at the site.

Team Haverhill members and other volunteers will gather at 9 a.m. at the playground, which is on a stretch of Portland Street between 4th and 5th avenues. The playground was the site of a public school until the building was demolished decades ago.

Volunteers can help by bringing rakes, shovels, garden trowels and sturdy gloves. They will help clean and weed the playground.

Also on Saturday, a team of volunteers will begin adjustments to the front wall of the site, as requested by neighbors, to provide a better view from the street and improve security.

At 11 a.m., Team Haverhill will conduct an informal community meeting at the playground and provide information to neighbors and others interested in the project. Bright green hats, with the logo “Our Positive Place,” will be available for a donation to help to pay for new playground equipment. Hats are also available at Positive Images Gallery, 53 Wingate St.

Following additional site work in May, new playground equipment will be installed during a “Community Build” event on June 7. To volunteer for that event, please email your name, address, and phone number to info@teamhaverhill.org. No construction experience is necessary.

— Mike LaBella