Amesbury Town Notebook
---- — Tomorrow is the last day for Amesbury residents to register to vote in the city’s upcoming preliminary elections, when the four-way field of mayoral candidates will be whittled down to two.
City Hall will be open tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to accommodate last-minute voters and those who have to work during the day, and residents who have moved recently should also stop in to make sure the city clerk’s office has the correct address on file.
The preliminary election itself will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 17, and will be contested between incumbent Thatcher Kezer and challengers Ken Gray, Jim Thivierge and Jeffrey Hoover.
The mayoral race will be the only contest on the preliminary ballot, and the top two vote-getters will advance to the citywide elections scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5. Those elections will also feature the numerous contested City Council races, along with elections for Planning Board, School Committee, Board of Library Trustees and the Housing Authority.
Last night the city conducted a second round of mosquito spraying in the northwest part of town after the state Department of Public Health announced that a mosquito captured in Merrimac tested positive for West Nile virus.
Kezer said the mosquito was found just over the border, and as a precaution the city ordered a targeted spraying of northern part of Lake Attitash and the area around both Meadowbrook Pond and Tuxbury Pond.
That area of town was also sprayed last week after the DPH reportedly found a mosquito carrying Eastern equine encephalitis in the same part of Merrimac. Both West Nile virus and EEE are serious mosquito-borne illnesses, and residents are being urged to take caution now that both have been detected in the area.
To best protect oneself from mosquito bites, residents should avoid outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, and if out during those times, they should apply mosquito repellent or wear long-sleeved clothing. Sources of standing water like buckets or fountains should be drained regularly as well.
Over the next week or so, Amesbury police will be participating in a nationwide crackdown on drunken driving to help curb the issue during the busy Labor Day weekend.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative runs from Aug. 16 to Sept. 2, and police Lt. Kevin Donovan said officers will be out aggressively looking for any impaired driver during the crackdown. Anyone found operating a vehicle while under the influence will be arrested, regardless of the person’s age, vehicle type or the time of day, he said.
“Our message is simple and unwavering, operate a vehicle impaired and we will arrest you, no exceptions,” Donovan said. “Driving impaired is simply not worth the potential consequences.”
Amesbury will be one of 126 police departments statewide participating in the federally funded initiative. Nationally, drunken driving is one of the nation’s most often committed and deadliest crimes, and according to Amesbury police, statistics show that one alcohol impaired driving-related fatality occurred every 53 minutes across the nation in 2011, with 114 dying as a result of alcohol-related crashes in Massachusetts alone.
Donovan said the number of incidents invariably rises during holiday weekends, especially during the summer, so the department’s hope is that the initiative might help prevent an otherwise enjoyable weekend from turning tragic.
“All too often that means innocent, law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences from this careless disregard for human life,” Donovan said. “We’re committed to ending the carnage, so we’re intensifying enforcement during this crackdown and will be especially vigilant during nights and weekends when impaired drivers are most likely on our roads.”
Again, the Department of Public Works will be holding a collection event where residents can dispose of prescription drugs, clean clothing, shoes, one-use disposable bags, mercury and Styrofoam, while being offered paper shredding services free of charge.
The event will take place on Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the DPW parking lot, 39 South Hunt Road, and DPW administrative assistant Laurie Pierce recommended that residents start saving up their items now so they can be recycled and not wind up in an incinerator or landfill.
The following meetings are scheduled this week and are open to the public:
Last day to register to vote, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., City Hall, City Clerk’s Office.
Retirement Board, 1:30 p.m., Cultural Center, 37 Millyard Park.
Mac Cerullo covers Amesbury for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3238 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.