HomeWeekend Wrap-UpUnique New Restaurant, Trail Stewardship, Community Wellness: Weekend Wrap-Up

Unique New Restaurant, Trail Stewardship, Community Wellness: Weekend Wrap-Up

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WESTFORD — Welcome to the Aug. 7 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford.

Unique restaurant concept to open doors in Westford

A new restaurant concept will be opening its doors in Westford. Stir, a new martini bar, will be hosting its soft opening on Monday evening.

The restaurant is co-owned by two Merrimack Valley restaurant veterans — Randy Richards and Caitlin Hannagan, two locals each with over a decade of experience in the area.

“We know what this area was lacking,” Richards told WestfordCAT. “There’s nothing really like it in this area, I believe the closest one to us is in Nashua.”

The restaurant will feature a specialty cocktail menu and wine, as well as house-made flatbreads, appetizers and entrées.

Richards and Hannagan plan to host an official ribbon-cutting at the end of August. No date has been set at this time.

“We’ve told people that we’re going to open on Monday, but we’re not going to throw a grand opening ‘party’ until the end of the month, since we will want to invite the people who have helped us tremendously in Town Hall,” said Richards.

Westford Conservation Trust talks trail accessibility and stewardship

Did you know that Westford has a network of over 75 miles of maintained trails?

The Conservation Trust is a volunteer-run organization which works to protect Westford’s natural areas, preserve the town’s history and educate the public on Westford’s lands and invasive species. They are separate from the the Conservation Commission, which is a government entity charged with protecting the town’s lands and enforcing its bylaws.

The Trust is also responsible for maintaining Westford’s network of trails, which extend through most of Westford’s public lands.

“We’re pretty much the NGO version of the Conservation Commission,” Rich Strazdas, clerk of the Trust told WestfordCAT.

Westford ranked among ‘safest places’ in Massachusetts

Westford has been ranked as one of the safest towns in Massachusetts. In a report from SafeWise, Westford ranks sixth among the top 10 safest towns in Massachusetts.

The report was based on crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as population and demographic data to rank cities and towns. Cities and towns with less than 2,500 residents are excluded.

The report found Massachusetts residents enjoy the lowest property crime in New England. Property crime dropped 11% from last year, with 10.5 property crimes per 1,000 residents.

Statewide violent crime rates continue to drop year over year, with violent crime rates in Massachusetts at approximately 3.1 crimes per 1,000 residents.

New Community Wellness Coordinator aims to streamline communication, outreach

With the help of American Rescue Plan Act funding, the Town of Westford has hired a new Community Wellness Coordinator – a new position to coordinate the town’s mental health resources.

Nicole Laviolette, with over 20 years of non-profit social service and family and youth services experience, was hired as Westford’s new Community Wellness Coordinator in June.

“I was very excited to be offered this position,” Laviolette told WestfordCAT. “This position has a focus on education and outreach.”

Laviolette’s position serves Westford exclusively, and falls under the purview of the Town Manager’s office. So far, Laviolette has been assessing the needs of each town department as she begins to curate her programming and outreach.

“I’ve met with almost every department and asked what they see as a void or a need, what things need to be brought to the community or is it an education of what is already here,” she said.

One of her main goals, she says, is to increase communication to residents. She notes that her first step has been to create a web-based resource where residents would have access to services and emergency resources.

“Westford has an amazing abundance of people wanting to support one another. I think it’s just tapping into that and streamlining communication,” she said.

UPDATE: Officials urge heat safety amid little rainfall and continued drought conditions

Officials are once again urging heat safety amid “oppressive” heat peaks later this week.

The cities of Lowell and Lawrence are predicted to have a high of 105 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday. Bedford will remain slightly cooler, with a predicted high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures are expected to remain above 90 degrees over the weekend.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency urges residents to stay hydrated and to limit strenuous outdoor activities if possible. The agency urges people to monitor for symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke.

Those without air conditioning are urged to stay on their lowest floor if necessary, as well as utilize air conditioned public spaces, such as schools and libraries.

The Town of Westford has not announced additional cooling stations at the time of reporting. However, the J.V. Fletcher Library is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

PHOTOS: Westford Police hosts National Night Out 2022

National Night Out returned to Westford On Tuesday evening, complete with bounce houses, food trucks and a petting zoo.

Established in 1984, the National Night Out campaign was created as a partnership between law enforcement and communities to promote neighborhood camaraderie to build community and reduce crime. As of 2022, 38 million community members within 16,000 communities participate in the program each year.

This year, Westford Rotary, Good Pickin’ Farm and The Twisted Pickle were in attendance, along with the Westford Police Department and Westford Fire Department. View the photo gallery here.

Local journalism is vital to our communities. As other publications shift focus toward regional journalism, WestfordCAT continues to provide high-quality hyperlocal reporting to our town, free for everyone to read. So  we have a small favor to ask. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, helps us sustain our journalism and keep our community informed. Please consider supporting WestfordCAT for as little as $1 on PayPal.

Ben Domaingue, Managing Editor
Ben Domaingue, Managing Editorhttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.