EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 22, 2013

City fills 156 potholes thanks to resident reports in contest

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — One of the winners in the city’s first pothole contest says the one she reported was so big and so well known in her neighborhood that it was given a nickname.

“We called it Jefferson Pond because when it rained it filled with water,” Beth Bertoni said about a pothole on Jefferson Street where it meets Lincoln Avenue in the city’s Riverside area. “I reported it online and within 24 hours it was filled.”

It was fun, three people won prizes – but most importantly 156 potholes were reported to the city by hopeful contest winners and were all of the potholes were filled within two days of being reported, the mayor said.

Mayor James Fiorentini recently announced the winners of a pothole contest the city held in an effort to entice residents to report these bothersome and potentially damage-causing springtime ruts in city streets and roads by offering prizes.

Everyone that reported a pothole during the contest period was entered into a drawing, and three lucky winners will each receive a gift card. The prizes were donated to the contest by The Tap Restaurant and Hans Garden Chinese Restaurant, both on Washington Street, and Haverhill Beef on Merrimack Street. The winners were randomly selected by computer, according to the mayor’s office.

Bertoni, one of three residents who won a gift card, said the contest was a great idea and that the best part was that the potholes at the end of Jefferson Street were quickly patched. The deep holes that filled with water after springtime rains were filled in by the city, although Bertoni says that section of Jefferson Street could benefit from resurfacing.

“It got people involved and it was fun,” Bertoni said about the contest. “And I feel like my voice was heard.”

The other winners are Haverhill residents Tiffany Ghrist and Wilfredo Perez. Officials in the mayor’s office said the winners will be presented with their prizes soon.

“Our goal was to fill every reported pothole within two business days,” Fiorentini said, noting that during the duration of the contest there were 156 potholes reported and filled by the city’s Department of Public Works.

“We filled them within two business days as promised,” the mayor said.

Potholes occur when the surface of the road has a crack and water gets into the crack and freezes then warms up and freezes again due to weather conditions. This process occurs frequently in New England due to seasonal changes, the mayor said.

“I want to thank all of the residents for their participation and helping the city address the potholes quickly,” Fiorentini said. “Potholes are a big problem in the spring due to weather conditions from the winter.”

The mayor said the reports filed by residents gave the city the opportunity to have many eyes around town to identify issues of concern to drivers who are at risk of getting flat tires, bent rims or other damages that can result from driving into a pothole.

“I want to thank our DPW employees for their fast response to the calls,” the mayor said. “Cleaning up our city is one of my many priorities.”

The mayor said that this year’s contest was a success due to the participation of residents and the support of the businesses that donated the prices. He said he may bring back the contest next spring.

To report a pothole at any time of year, send e-mail to pothole@cityofhaverhill.com or call 978-374-2364.

The city is also holding a sweepstakes to encourage residents to pay their real estate, auto/boat excise or personal property tax bill online by June 6, or register for paperless billing. City officials say the prize is being offered by Cloud Inc., the vendor it hired to process online payments and won’t cost taxpayers a thing.

David Van Dam, Mayor James Fiorentini’s chief of staff, said UniBank continues to accept online payments for Water Department bills as well as for services through the City Clerk’s office such as for vital records and recycling permits.

All you have to do to enter the iPod nano sweepstakes is to go paperless, register or pay online for the first time by June 6. Do all three and get three chances to win. The maximum number of entries per account is three. The prize, a 16B iPod nano (7th generation) has an approximate retail value of $140. According to Cloud Inc.’s sweepstakes rules, the odds of winning will depend upon the total number of eligible entries received during the sweepstakes period. Taxpayers can also enter the sweepstakes by sending a 3x5 card with the hand-printed words: City of Haverhill Sweepstakes, your name, address, telephone number, and the tax bill account number for which you are entering. Mail the card to: Invoice Cloud, 35 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 100, Braintree, MA 02134. Entries must be postmarked by June 6. For more information visit the city online at www.ci.haverhill.ma.us.