HAVERHILL — City officials are trying to help the more than 30 people who lost jobs when Rogers Spring Hill Farm halted its spring water bottling operation last week.
On Monday, the city reached out to the owners of Spring Hill to offer whatever help it can after the company's recent announcement that it was closing.
Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury said one of his staff members visited with Spring Hill owner Harold Rogers on Monday morning as part of an outreach effort.
"Anytime you have a long-term business that has been successful in the city, it's difficult to see it close," Pillsbury said in reference to Friday's announcement that Spring Hill was closing. "We want to make sure we're available to assist them as they go through this."
He said the types of assistance the city is prepared to offer include connecting Spring Hill employees with employment networks and with area businesses looking to hire people with the types of skills they possess.
"We have other companies in the city in need of employees and we can make those connections," Pillsbury said. "It's simply an offer and they can decide if they have a need or not."
The decision to close Spring Hill was made Friday afternoon by Rogers, whose family has owned and operated the business for 117 years.
State health officials said recently that tests of some spring water bottled by the farm and sold at a variety of businesses showed the presence of chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, which could be harmful to the health of pregnant women.
Spring Hill had voluntarily spent more than $100,000 on a filtration system that eliminated the chemical from the water, according to Rogers.
Tests by Eaton Analytical showed the water to be free of PFAS after the new system was installed, according to an email sent Friday afternoon by Avigail Kosowsky, public relations assistant for Spring Hill.
"Despite these excellent test results, which were expected, this whole ordeal has been too much for a small, fourth-generation family business and the owners are steadfast in their decision to close it,” Kosowsky wrote.
In a letter to customers, Rogers, fourth-generation owner of the Spring Hill Dairy Farm, wrote that "the deluge of unwarranted attention on our company, when PFAS is clearly a national problem with thousands of contributors, has made it impossible for us to keep operating. Sensational, fear-inducing headlines relative to an advisory that impacts an estimated 6 to 7% of the population of Massachusetts (pregnant and lactating women and bottle-fed infants) have created an untenable environment."
Rogers pointed out that as soon as the company learned about the problem, it took action.