Students receive scholarships

The Pentucket Kiwanis Club of Haverhill recently awarded three $1,000 scholarships to Haverhill area graduating high school seniors.

The recipients are:

Hope Shellene, a Haverhill High School graduate who will attend Massachusetts College of Art and Design to major in industrial design. She is the daughter of Richard and Monica Shellene of Haverhill.

Cameron Dennis, a graduate of Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School who will attend the University of New England to major in design and visual communications. He is the son of Daniel and Cynthia Dennis of Haverhill.

David Colby Hill, a graduate of Pentucket Regional High School who will attend Westfield State University to major in criminal justice. He is the son of David and Tina Hill of West Newbury.

The scholarship recipients also received gift cards to the 5 Guys restaurant.

Graduating seniors from Haverhill High School, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School or Pentucket Regional High School are eligible to apply for the scholarships, as are home-schooled students. Awards are based on scholastic ability, character, activities and community service and financial need.

Pentucket Kiwanis events, such as the club's annual "Are You Smarter Than A Kiwanian?" trivia night are used to pay for programs such as the scholarships.

— Mike LaBella


Governor praises Valley company after tour

It took New Balance just four days to switch from making footwear to protective masks. Now, 10 weeks later, the company has manufactured 1 million protective masks for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

Gov. Charlie Baker lauded New Balance's swift production pivot and lifesaving manufacturing effort after touring the Lawrence factory last week with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Mayor Daniel Rivera and company, local and state officials.

During the press conference, Polito wore one of the blue and gray masks New Balance has produced.

New Balance exemplifies "so many Massachusetts manufacturers who have stepped up and will be there to meet the demands," Baker said.

He said the company's ability to shift from making footwear to masks after just four days "obviously is extraordinary."

In addition to producing a million masks, New Balance workers also fixed 50,000 defective straps on N95 masks for Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, officials said.

Baker, who held his daily, televised COVID-19 update from the Lawrence New Balance factory, thanked the company for diversifying it's product line "so you could become part of the answer."

Companies willing to produce Personal Protective Equipment, including masks and hospital gowns, worked with the Massachusetts Emergency Response Team to coordinate production, Baker said.

The New Balance factory and outlet store closed in March due to concerns over COVID-19. About 50 workers were recalled to the Lawrence factory for mask production, officials said previously.

David Wheeler, New Balance's chief operating officer, explained last week how the company started discussing making masks on a Friday and by Monday had developed a prototype.

"We know how to make great footwear and we had to transition into the technology around masks," Wheeler said.

The company is now working on the production of a surgical mask, he said.

COVID-19 testing is available daily for Lawrence residents at an outdoor testing site at 1 Canal St. No appointment is necessary but a doctor's referral for testing is needed.

During last week's New Balance visit, Baker also touched upon a new data-collection proposal he hopes will "put a finer point" on tracking the coronavirus' impact.

The proposal would allow state health officials to fine parties that don't comply with COVID-19 testing.

A law Baker signed last week requires elder care facilities — including elderly housing as well as nursing homes, state-run soldiers' homes and assisted living facilities — to submit facing reports to local health departments compiling COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents and staff.

The law also requires the state Department of Public Health to publish detailed information about the impact of the virus on Massachusetts and creates a task force to study and report on how to support vulnerable populations, particularly the elderly and communities of color, that have been hit hard by the outbreak.

Restaurants in many communities in Massachusetts reopened with outdoor dining and many restrictions last week. Still, Baker said COVID-19 remains an issue and health experts have stressed the recirculation of air is a factor for infection.

Diners sitting outside, even under a tent, "still have the benefit of a free flow of fresh air," he said.

Mask and face coverings, hand washing and social distancing are still necessary.

"No one should take their foot off the pedal," Baker said. "This is still a very legitimate and dangerous coronavirus."

— Jill Harmacinski


COVID-19 closures claim restaurant

With restaurants across the region getting the green light to reopen months after the coronavirus forced their doors closed back in March, Andiamo restaurant in Newburyport is not among them.

In a recent Facebook post Thursday morning, the owner of the restaurant wrote it will be closing the Newburyport location and focusing on its other restaurant in Chelmsford.

“We are very sad to announce that we will not be reopening our Newburyport location,'' the post reads. "We want to thank everyone in Newburyport, as well as the surrounding communities, for your support and friendship. The COVID-19 continues to have a devastating impact on the restaurant industry and small businesses... we are thankful that our Chelmsford location will remain open. This is not a goodbye to our Andiamo Newburyport guests... this is simply we look forward to welcoming you in Chelmsford.''

The Italian restaurant owned by Jim Rogers has been a favorite in Newburyport for years. In addition to its food, Andiamo was known for weekly jazz performances and other live music during the week.

Mark Iannuccillo, vice president of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry, called the news “really sad,” adding that he met his wife at the restaurant.

“It’s definitely a huge hit for our Newburyport restaurant scene, but we wish them well for sure,” Iannuccillo said of the closing.

— Dave Rogers


Seabrook plant shut down after 'unplanned event'

The Seabrook Station nuclear power plant had to be manually shut down by plant operators recently after an unplanned insertion of control rods.

Peter Robbins, director of nuclear communications for NextEra Energy, Inc., the owner of the plant, said in a prepared statement "our operators followed their procedures and training and initiated a manual shutdown of Seabrook’s reactor after an issue with a piece of equipment. All systems responded normally and the equipment issue has been addressed. Seabrook Station is in the process of returning to full power."

In a notification to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the company said the plant was running at 100 percent power when "the reactor was manually tripped" when a group of control rods "unexpectedly inserted" into the reactor.

David A. Lochbaum, a member of the advisory board of the nuclear watchdog group C-10 Research & Education Foundation, Inc. and a former director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, studied the report and said, "The key takeaway is that the plant operated as it was supposed to, and this was more of an economic event than a safety event. The control rods being inserted caused the plant to power down."

Natalie Hildt Treat, executive director of the Amesbury-based C-10, said in a prepared statement, "While it was disconcerting to learn that Seabrook Station had an unplanned event that resulted in the reactor being manually shut down, it sounds like safety mechanisms worked as they were supposed to work."

She cited Lochbaum's report to C-10 about the shutdown, in which he wrote "there were little to no safety implications," and she added, "That is certainly a relief."

Lochbaum said an unplanned insertion of control rods at a U.S. pressurized water reactor like Seabrook "occurs about once a year to once every other year."

Seabrook Station, with 1,244 megawatts of electrical output, was recently granted a 20-year license extension by the NRC through 2050.

Coincidentally, the NRC staff discussed the 2019 safety performance of the nuclear power plant during a virtual meeting June 3.

NRC staff responsible for plant inspection and oversight participated in the meeting. They included the resident inspectors based full time at the site.

Seabrook operated safely in 2019.

— Richard K. Lodge


Temple serving region celebrates centennial

In 1979, men from Temple Emanuel carried Torahs seven miles to their new house of worship in Andover, handing the holy scrolls from shoulder to shoulder.

At roadsides along the way, families sang, celebrating the watershed moment. The synagogue was moving from Lawrence's Tower Hill where 59 years earlier 30 members founded the temple in a humble farmhouse and barn.

They were mostly immigrants, or the children of immigrants, having arrived to Lawrence from Europe decades earlier seeking a better life on a new continent.

The move in 1979 from the city to a tranquil rural setting reflected great strides the congregation had made through education and community — both nurtured by the temple, say its members.

Now, in 2020, with a congregation of about 520 members from across the region, Temple Emanuel celebrates a century of Jewish religious and social life, a tradition of welcoming newcomers and a willingness to adapt.

Changes this year have been many at the Haggetts Pond Road temple. Services, events and schooling have gone virtual during the coronavirus crisis.

As always, the reform congregation adjusts.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, hundreds of people will turn online to Zoom to celebrate Temple Emanuel's centennial.

Among the speakers will be Margery Russem, 91. In an interview, she talked of her temple experiences big and small, momentous and mundane – bar and bat mitzvahs, bake sales and games of bridge.

Russem will talk during the ceremony via the video technology, a means of communication that would have been hard to imagine 100 years ago.

She arrived at Temple Emanuel at age 23, a bride to Jerome Russem, whose family owned a clothing store on Essex Street.

His family joined the new synagogue a year after his birth in 1919. The Lowell Street temple would anchor the Russems for generations.

"Our friendships were there, our social lives were there, everything revolved around the temple and its activities," Margery Russem said. "It was our life."

Marjorie Andresen, 56, was welcomed to the temple 19 years ago after moving from California. She and her husband, Kevin, who is not Jewish, came to Andover for their three children to attend temple preschool and religious school and form friendships.

She has taught preschool there and served on the board. Her husband learned Hebrew with his children at Temple Emanuel.

The temple honors tradition and accepts change, "a melding of past and present," she said.

Andresen recalls a service more than a decade ago when Rabbi Robert Goldstein called her husband and other interfaith spouses to an elevated space in the synagogue – the bimah – and read from the Torah.

This kind of reading is typically reserved for high holidays and other sacred occasions, and now it honored the spouses' commitment to Judaism.

Temple Emanuel President Marc Freedman of North Andover says 50 percent of its members are from interfaith couples.

The temple is a reform synagogue and has become more accepting of change over time, Freedman said. It is rich in music programs and diversity, welcoming those of all ethnicities, races and sexual orientations.

The temple, under the longtime guidance of Rabbi Goldstein – originally slated to be retired, but who has agreed to stay on in his 31st year – will continue to celebrate its centennial in 2020 in safe and honorable ways, respecting tradition and accepting change, Freedman said.

Temple Emanuel was more male oriented in 1979 during the Running of the Torahs, when the congregation moved to Andover, said Freedman, who has talked about it with Rabbi Emeritus Harry Roth (1962 to 1990), now living in California.

He said the rabbi became emotional when he recalled how the Torahs arrived to the Andover temple and two ladies held open the doors for them to be carried in.

To the rabbi and Freedman the open doors are symbolic of open arms, of tradition and welcome, temple signatures.

— Terry Date


NH House to meet outside hall for first time since Civil War 

Last week the New Hampshire House was scheduled to meet outside of Representatives Hall for the first time since the Civil War. Next week the Senate will meet in Representatives Hall.

The historic changes allow lawmakers to adhere to social distancing recommendations to avoid coronavirus transmission.

The virus’s advance into the state disrupted the legislature’s 2020 session and compelled changes to the traditional operations of the General Court, some that may remain after the virus subsides.

The House was scheduled to meet Thursday of last week at the Whittemore Center on the University of New Hampshire’s Durham campus at 10 a.m. The Senate was scheduled to meet Tuesday of this week in Concord at a time to be determined.

Representatives were given staggered times to arrive at the center and have their temperatures taken and asked screening questions before they parked their cars.

All representatives were given a mask and plastic shield. Separate seating sections held representatives who cannot medically wear a mask, but can use a shield, and another for those who refuse to wear either. They were separated from other lawmakers by a plastic barrier and had their own bathrooms.

The calendar for the day had 37 bills, 18 on the consent calendar which is routinely approved by a single vote because of unanimous committee support, and 19 on the regular calendar, which will be voted on one bill at a time.

Most of the bills are not ones that would generate a crowd.

Probably the most controversial bill, although it was not a year ago, is Rep. Marjorie Smith’s bill to establish an independent redistricting commission to draw the state’s political boundaries in light of the 2020 census.

Last year the Durham Democrat’s bill passed the Election Law Committee unanimously, was revised by the Senate with bipartisan agreement, but was one of 53 vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu.

This session, action on the bill has fallen down partisan lines.

Another bill that will draw a lot of attention is an omnibus net metering bill that combined several different proposals to reach a compromise, but that also has a partisan tone.

Other bill topics include drones, tobacco products, the state’s 10-year highway plan, affordable housing, waste reduction, facial recognition and mushroom harvesters.

— Garry Rayno, 

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