EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 29, 2013

Firefighters get OK for Labor Day boot drive

Facing opponents, City Council gives up on traffic concerns

HAVERHILL — At their May 13 meeting, city councilors complained that the firefighters’ annual Labor Day collection for the Muscular Dystrophy Association has clogged streets and inconvenienced drivers.

The event has created unsafe traffic conditions caused by firefighters standing in the road, the councilors said.

Councilors said they would not approve firefighters taking to the streets for this year’s collection unless they were able to come to an agreement on rules for collecting donations at busy intersections.

That was until a dozen firefighters, representatives from the statewide Muscular Dystrophy Association and a 10-year-old boy in a wheelchair showed up to confront the councilors, however.

Barely two minutes into last night’s meeting and just after Councilor William Ryan arrived late with a group of firefighters trailing him, Council President Robert Scatamacchia brought approval of the fund-raising drive up for consideration. It quickly and unanimously passed without discussion, leaving those preparing to address the council unsure of what had happened. Just before the meeting, Ryan, the chief complainer about the traffic problems, was spotted talking to a group of firefighters for several minutes at the side entrance to City Hall.

Eric Miller of Haverhill, who brought his 10-year-son Joseph to the meeting, said he was disappointed he and others were not allowed to address the council. Joseph suffers from muscular dystrophy and came to the meeting in his wheelchair.

“We wanted to say our piece on this so we don’t have to come back next year when they try it again,” Eric Miller said. “We came here tonight because we wanted to speak. But because it’s become a blown-up political issue, they just wanted to get it over as fast as possible.”

Dena Miller said her son Joseph is the statewide goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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