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Archive for May, 2009

Selectman Tom Creamer addresses merchants last week.

Selectman Tom Creamer addresses merchants last week.

STURBRIDGE – In a bid to reverse the town’s economic decline Selectman Thomas Creamer brought together business owners, government leaders and residents Tuesday, May 19 to rally support for the creation of a Sturbridge Merchants Co-operative.
Creamer described the Co-operative as a union between government and local business leaders to jumpstart the economy through a series of events and discount packages aimed at tourists. Another goal is to establish a town-wide “sense of place.”
At the end of his hour-long presentation, which ran the gamut from promotional ideas to making government/business relations “streamlined”, Creamer received applause from the 70 or so crammed into the Publick House ballroom.
Alongside small business owners were representatives from the town’s economic anchors such as Yankee Spirits, Old Sturbridge and the Publick House.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Creamer said. “I know that there’s a bit of skepticism of how this is going to go because some of you folks have tried this in the past. I also know however that no selectman has tried this in the past.”
He asked those in attendance to consider a handful of events the community could “coalesce” around, like the Harvest Fest or the Pan Mass Challenge.
He tempered his comments by saying not all businesses would benefit from every single event the Co-Operative would hypothetically sponsor.
“I think the way we have to look at this is there are going to be trade-offs. There are going to times when your business is going to benefit greatly…there are times when your business may benefit only marginally or not at all,” he said.

During the meeting Creamer also proposed putting together a welcome package that would be passed out to guests when they arrive at a hotel or motel.
Merchants were relieved to hear there are no membership fees to be a part of the Co-Operative except for some “sweat equity” as Creamer put it.
The theme of Creamer’s presentation – communication, cooperation, coordination – was repeated throughout the evening as he peppered the audience with hypothetical examples on how to draw tourism dollars.
Among them: Themed event packages that utilize open space; visitor coupons; and a spaghetti supper or concert on the common held the night before the Pan Mass Challenge for the benefit of participants.
Pointing to the variety of the festivities held at the end of the Pan Mass Challenge compared to Sturbridge one audience member described the disparity as “embarrassing.”
“By being a part of this co-operative by working together with us, we end up in a situation where everybody gets a bite at the apple,” Creamer said. “I believe that’s what it’s going to take to turn this town around.”
Another meeting is set for 5:45 p.m. June 2 at the main ballroom in the Publick House.

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By Matthew Bernat
Turley Publications Staff Writer

STURBRIDGE – At the May 18 Board of Selectmen’s meeting the board addressed a business owner seeking to redevelop the Basketville Building, asked residents to step forward and serve on the Town Administrator Search Committee and revoked the license of a car dealer, among other business.

From Basketville to Microbrew?

The Board has taken a step forward in the redevelopment of the Basketville building as it voted unanimously to approve a warrant article that would label the site an economic opportunity area.
Todd Sullivan, a co-owner of Pioneer Brewery, was present as the Board set a Special Town Meeting for June 8 at 7 p.m. where the article will be considered. An economic opportunity area designation would allow a company to apply for tax breaks under tax increment financing.
“The tax financing will assist them in that development,” said Town Administrator James Malloy.
A second caveat was met to move along the site’s conversion from retail space to restaurant as the Board gave a nod to increasing sewer flow there. Malloy noted a microbrew would need to be allotted more flow than the former retail building was allowed. He recommended 200,000 gallons per year and said that figure amounted to “a little bit more than two single family homes.”
“[The project] can’t go forward if we can’t increase the sewer flow,” Malloy said.
To compensate for the increase he said the board could direct him to reduce amount of flow held in reserve for commercial and industrial property. Basketville has been vacant for two and half years.

Searching for citizens

Outgoing Town Administrator James Malloy put the call out to residents to step forward and serve on the Town Administrator Search Committee. The committee will feature five members. It will be made up of two department heads and three residents.
Malloy said eight interested parties have contacted him so far. He said several “notable citizens” were on the list. He told the board he felt confident the committee would be a strong one. Malloy leaves for a Town Administrator position in Westboro at the end of June. Anyone interested in serving should contact Malloy by emailing him at: jmalloy@town.sturbrige.ma.us or by calling him at: 508-347-2500. Also, the Board formally recognized his 14 years of service to the town later in the meeting.

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By Jonathan Cook
Turley Publications Reporter

WARREN – Police have charged a substitute teacher at Quaboag Middle/High School with enticing a 15-year-old female student there.
David Anderson, 29, of 76 McGilpin Road, Sturbridge was arrested May 13 after a brief and inappropriate relationship was exposed by two of the girl’s friends, according to the police report.
Police received a call from Quaboag Principal Greg Myers May 11 after Myers called Anderson down to his office. Anderson reportedly confessed, saying “I have an inappropriate relationship with a student” and resigned on the spot.
The next day, Detective Mark Chase investigated by seizing the girl’s cell phone. He found a text dialog between Anderson and the girl that included this exchange. Andseron stated, “love ya,” and the girl responded “Love you too.”
Nevertheless, she supplied authorities with a detailed account of a relationship in which she repeatedly defended herself against his advances. According to her statement, she noticed he was interested in her when he started winking at her in school.
Soon, he gave her his name and number on a piece of paper with the instruction to “call me.”
She sent him a text and before long they went out for dinner. At one point, he took her back to his parents’ house where he lives and introduced her to his mother, according to the report. He told his mother the girl was 20. It was while there, according to the girl’s account, that he made efforts to remove her pants, but she said no, “it wasn’t happening.”
On that occasion, he drove her home, and on the way gave her a can of beer “and I drank it,” according to her statement. He also told her he wanted to “elope” or take her on a “road trip” to California for the summer. Anderson “kept talking about running away” according to the report.
According to the girl’s statement, Anderson took her aside in the school hallway to talk to her about personal plans. That’s when word started to get around about the relationship, she stated.
According to Det. Chase’s report, “it appears that Anderson did entice a minor while he was acting as a teacher at the Quaboag Regional Middle High School. Anderson made an overt act (handing the girl a note) while at the school which lead to other crimes against a minor which occurred in other towns,” namely West Brookfield, North Brookfield and Sturbridge. The report states that Det. Chase has informed the other town’s police departments that alleged crimes occurred there.
According to court records, a judge has issued a restraining order against Anderson instructing him that he may have no contact, including third party contact with the girl for one year. He may not have unsupervised contact with any female under 16 for that duration.
Det. Chase recommended the restraining order because “I feel that Anderson is an absolute threat . . . and may try to materialize his desires.”
A pretrial conference has been set for July 16.

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