hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

July 4, 2013

The Lamp Post

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — Never too soon to plan for Santa: We’re in July, but already some locals are talking about Santa coming to town. Organizers of the annual VFW Santa Parade have announced the theme of the event, which will be in late November. The theme is “Santa Claus is Coming to Town’’ and organizers are releasing it early so participants can plan floats that reflect it. But there is one catch — no one can put a Santa Claus on their float. The only float allowed to carry St. Nick is the last one in the parade, the officials Santa Claus float.

Will it ever be fixed? A rough spot on Summer Street continues to be a problem for drivers, and the Lamplighter wonders when it will be repaired. The spot, two blocks from Mill Street, was dug up weeks ago and has traffic cones around it, forcing all drivers into the westbound lane. It is particularly dangerous at night.

An unusual sight: Anyone driving by the far side of Plug Pond along Mill Street one day last week must have wondered what all the scuba gear was all about. After all, there’s no swimming on that side of the pond and seldom more than one or two people are tossing fishing lines into the water there. The answer: State police divers were scouring that part of the pond looking for a gun that had been used in a crime in Haverhill. Police are being tight-lipped about the case, but the gun was not found.

Getting the message across: Now that school is out for the summer, the city is using the electronic sign near Walnut Square School to display a variety of messages. Typically, the sign warns drivers of a low speed limit in the school zone, but now it gives other words of wisdom. They include “Vote today’ which was shown on the day of the special U.S. Senate election and “Click it or ticket’’ — a warning to drivers that they face fines if they fail to buckle up.

Remembering where he came from: Although local author Andre Dubus has hit the big time, with two movies based on his works, he still takes time to come home to Haverhill and vicinity— and not to make a buck. Dubus readily agrees to speak at places like local libraries. Last week, he spoke to members of a Haverhill book club. His work most recently being discussed is his memoir “Townie’’ about growing up in Haverhill in the 1970s and facing tough times on the city’s streets.

What’s the holdup? Mayor James Fiorentini has been pressed by reporters lately about the quietly discussed project being eyed for Merrimack Street, involving the Newman’s Furniture building and possibly the long-vacant Woolworth building. It seems everyone downtown has been chatting about the possibility of a big residential and possibly commercial project there, but the mayor is mum. A little while back he said something would be announced soon, but so far nothing has been said.

Local woman honored: Several members of the Northern Essex Community College staff were honored at the recent Haverhill YWCA Tribute to Women, an annual event, but let’s not overlook another NECC staffer who received a similar honor out of town. Math professor Liliana Brand of Andover was one of 22 women honored during the YWCA of Lawrence Tribute to Women event.

All quiet: Does anyone remember all the ruckus that was raised a few years ago when the Whittier Rehabilitation Network wanted to convert its longtime rehab hospital on Summer Street to a psychiatric hospital? Neighbors said they feared the effect on the area — in terms of property values and even safety concerns. But drive by the hospital these days and you’ll notice nothing unusual. It’s quiet, as it always was in previous years, and city leaders have heard no complaints from neighbors.