Former Public Works head Jim Flaherty made his final visit to his old office last week, with an escort. He cleaned out his desk and picked up his personal belongings from the office over which he presided before being suspended and then handing in his retirement, after the start of a state investigation into the department. Grand jury meetings are still going on, in Boston and in Salem, Mass.

For many years, members of the Barrett family were in the men's clothing business on Merrimack Street. There they took care of the outsides of people. Now they take care of the insides, with Melinda Barrett running a successful eating establishment, in the former family business block. Her brother David is running Kelley's Grille on the Bradford side of the river.

When Calvary Baptist Church, celebrating its 135th anniversary, holds a community prayer breakfast May 5 at the Citizens Center, it will coincide with the 200th anniversary of John Greenleaf Whittier's birth. The Quaker poet was a strong foe of slavery, due in part to his religious background.

The reference to Whittier is a reminder that a new Barefoot Boy look-alike (the third) will be judged Saturday April 28 at the Haverhill Public Library, near the statue of the subject of a famous Whittier poem. The winner of the contest will take part in many activities during the year, including Kidsfest on May 5.

In an informal interview before his "Dancing with the Stars" show last week, Haverhill's Tom Bergeron predicted a part of his future. He said the show should last about four more years as a television network fixture.

Who would have thought? An ice cream truck, the kind that cruises through neighborhoods, surprised the Lamplighter with a sign indicating it now also sells pizza. Or has this been going on for a while and just escaped attention from this source?

What would you expect is being carried on a truck with the New Hampshire registration "Outhous?" You would be right if you said "rental toilets." (It was seen on Main Street in Haverhill last week.)

The Lamplighter wonders if police Chief Alan DeNaro has used his power to influence decisions regarding construction of a new bank being built on Emerson Street. The chief has been given approval power over new buildings so he can insist they be made crime-proof.

Ever hear of a "ghost ride"? It was the term given by police Officer Craig Lambert to an incident at Ford and Prospect streets where three teenagers jumped out of a moving car that was still in gear, as it crossed Ford Street and slammed into a house. A few residents saw the car moving along with no one in it.

For several years now, the Haverhill-based FM radio station WXRV has called itself "The River." Now there is a series of television commercials that keep repeating "Take me to the River." That, however, refers to the new name for Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island, where gambling is being promoted.

There was a bit of a surprise for the Lamplighter last week, when he saw Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce President Sally Cerasuolo-O'Rorke, who is also a candidate for mayor, chatting on her television show with a women's fashion expert from Hampton, N.H. It might be because there are no women's fashion stores in Greater Haverhill.

Can't Wait Department: Someone was setting off firecrackers on Brandy Brow Road last Thursday night at about 9 and there was a similar report on Hilldale Avenue Sunday.

Rebuilding Together, the nonprofit group dedicated to repairing and improving the homes of low-income residents, is losing its office space, but hopes to stay in the city. For five years it has operated in space donated by United Way Merrimack Valley. But that agency recently merged with United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and as a result, the Merrimack Valley offices are moving out of Haverhill.

It's election time! Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. the city clerk's office was ready, willing and able to hand out nomination papers for anyone contemplating a run for mayor, city council or school committee. Papers must be returned with a minimum of 50 signatures from Haverhill-registered voters for candidates to qualify.

Calling all workers! City Clerk Peg Toomey is gearing up for elections, many within three months counting the special election to fill the congressional seat to be vacated by Marty Meehan when he becomes chancellor of UMass Lowell (no date for that election has been set yet). Toomey is looking for people to work at polling places. For more information, call her at 978 374-2312.

The stars must have aligned just perfectly as three generations of Haverhill Gazette employees were coincidentally in the same room at the same time last Wednesday afternoon. Robert Gablosky, a Gazette reporter and editor for 28 years until retiring in 1982 was in the mayor's office where his artwork is on display as April's Artist of the Month. Gablosky was once the boss of 40-year Gazette veteran Tom Vartabedian. Vartabedian had arrived at the mayor's office for an Armenian Martyr Day event. Meanwhile, the newest Gazette reporter, Jonathan L'Ecuyer, who took over Vartabedian's position after his retirement in January, was also at the mayor's office covering Gablosky's achievement.

"I finally made it to Harvard," said Mayor James J. Fiorentini on the eve of his speaking engagement at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government last Thursday. "I'm honored that I was chosen to represent the City of Haverhill." The mayor spoke about management and leadership of a dynamic city to graduate students of urban planning and urban design.

City council candidate Diane Boulanger-Prescott reports that her three children are adapting well to her campaign activities. As her youngest, Nicholas Argeo, was looking through the collection of political items for the week, he found a bumper sticker for the mayoral race (not his mother's) and said to her, "Look, Mommy! I just found my winning ticket to the Willy Wonka chocolate factory!"

A member of local historical societies was angered by the mayor's recent letter to the editor in the Eagle-Tribune stating that no historic buildings have been demolished during his administration. He said the Amos T. Johnson House and the home next to it were taken down, as well as the home of the president of Bradford College, the old school house on West Lowell Avenue and the barn beside it, and the gas station in Monument Square, for a total of six, and all registered as historic.

At the rate Haverhill is closing its schools, The Lamplighter wonders if any buildings will be left occupied in 15 or 20 years. One by one they have fallen to the budget ax: the Smiley, the Knipe, the Wood, Fox, Bartlett, Cogswell and now maybe even the Burnham. Will the Crowell, Tilton and Walnut Square be next? Then what? Silver Hill, Golden Hill, and the rest? Maybe the city can pare the staff down to one teacher, and have all 8,000 students pack into the stadium every day for class.

It was a challenge to get around areas affected by last week's flood, partly due to the water, but also because of all the spectators riding around to see the damage.

Speaking of the flood: The work of the Merrimack Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has not stopped simply because the water is receding. Workers are helping people find housing, and are advising those who want to return home on how to document damage for insurance claims and on the steps to take to remain safe when they return.

The Haverhill Coldwell Banker office will sponsor the KidsArt section for this year's Kidsfest. Aisles of drawing tables will be set up so children can draw to their hearts' content. The office will also hold a Historic Haverhill art contest. People can enter by drawing a historic building or scene of the city. For information, call Dave Shultz at 978-994-4305.

Early last week, police scanner chatter seemed to be telling us of yet another robbery downtown. A man had swiped money right out of a woman's hand at the Bank of America building, just next door to The Haverhill Gazette's office on Merrimack Street. As the story unfolded, it became clear it was more of a domestic crime as the woman was the suspect's ex-girlfriend. The amount of money stolen was unknown.

The Council on Aging held its first annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon last Tuesday to honor those who volunteer their time at the Citizens Center. Volunteers from Groveland, Bethany Homes and Northern Essex Community College also attended the event, which started on time at 11:15 a.m. despite many road closures because of flooding from the Patriot's Day storm.

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