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ABOUT TOWN: Teachers Plan Contract Rally, Auction Update (and More...)

Welcome to "About Town with Mark Snyder," a column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what's going on around town. If you see or hear something we could use here, let us know by sending an e-mail to pmpco@aol.com.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Chris Petrie, as well as his wife, Christine.  Petrie is the Chairman of the Board of the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce, as well as General Manager of in Stoughton. The Norfolk resident has also been the lead singer for "Insufficient Funds," and performed last night at the for the food pantries at the Portuguese National Club.

Anne Havlin of St. Anthony's Free Market, a part of Immaculate Conception Church, presented a birthday cake to Chris last night.  Petrie, and his co-worked Joel Honig, have been active volunteers for the food pantry.

Happy birthday also to Ellen Greene, co-Executive Director of the , the newest member of the Board of Directors of the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce.  And to Michelle Jackson, Senior Programs Coordinator at the Striar Old Colony YMCA.  Jackson is the one who runs the hugely successful summer camp program at the Y.

TOWN GOES ONE FOR THREE ON AUCTION: Town Manager Francis T. Crimmins, Jr. and Town Treasurer Tom Rorrie were on site for all three town auctions Friday morning. It was an attempt by Crimmins to take vacated property and put it on the tax rolls.

The town batted .333, going 1 for 3. Auctioneer Paul Talkowski, President of Daniel J. Flynn and Company auctioneers, tried to start the bidding on the Gay Street parcel at $150,000. With no takers on the 2.4 acre residential parcel at that price, he asked the bidders who had signed up to start the bidding. Local developer Scott Hersee, a member of the Redevelopment Authority, opened the bidding at $100,000. None of the other registered bidders (there were at least six) would go any higher.

The auctioneer conferred with town representatives, and the bid was accepted. Attorney Jena Caruso Munoz, representing the Town through the Town Treasurer's office, had explained previously that bidders would also pay a 10% auction fee to Flynn and Company, $1,000 in attorney's fees, current 2011 taxes, and anticipated 2012 property taxes, plus a $125 fee to record the deed. So, all in all, Hersee had to write out a rather large check for the "as is" tract.

When this reporter asked him how many lots he expected to develop there, he said, "I'm going to have my engineers look into it, and come up with a plan." Hersee is currently renovating the old Ashmont Discount/Rainbow Flea Market building on Washington Street, as well as building a residential/commercial project at the end of Morton Street, across from Whiplash nightclub, and the Rairoad Station parking lot. 

The second auction site was a 10+ acre parcel, zoned commercial, on Central Street, adjacent to Clotida Street, and across from the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery. Despite a direct abutter attending the auction of this parcel, no bidders actually signed up. Talkowski announced that the auction for this property would be "postponed indefinitely."

The third and last auction parcel, on Central Street, at the Brockton line, also drew abutters. Stanley Urban and his son Marty, owners of neighboring F.H. Peterson Machine Company, were interested in picking up the 3.6 acre parcel to help protect the company from any development next door. "We bought the neighboring 7 acres from the estate of Al Peterson," Stanley explained, "and we bought the company itself from bankrupcy court. We had tried to directly purchase this land from the Town of Stoughton three years ago, but it fell through."

Marty lives nearby on South Street in Stoughton. Talkowski tried to start the bidding at $150,000, but it started at $25,000. It stalled at $47,000, the last bid by Urban. After consulting with Crimmins and Rorrie, Talkowski announced that they would take no less than $100,000. When no one offered that amount, the auction was "postponed indefinitely."

Seeing that Urban had no plans to build on the wet property, I asked Crimmins if he thought maybe getting something for it, was better than nothing. "We're confident in the future we will get a fair price for the property. We're not in the real estate business, and we don't want to give it away." 

So, bottom line, the town still owns 2 properties, and has another $100,000 going into the General Fund. Only 600 properties to go...

STOUGHTON LOOKING FOR NEW TREASURER AND ASSESSOR: Town Treasurer Thomas Rorrie is retiring at the end of June, he told About Town yesterday during a town land Auction. Rorrie has been a wise man. For 25 years, he has avoided the muddy pit of town politics, and just done the job. As he leaves, he'll be doing over 5 million dollars in bonds, converting more expensive short-term issues into less expensive long term bonds, saving the town money.

Rorrie lost his father recently, and his mother is ill, so he's taking time off to re-assess things and spend time with family. "I need some time to myself," the soft-spoken financial expert told me. We wish him luck, as well as condolences on his loss. Also leaving town is Paula Keefe, who served as Assessor for many years, and after retiring, came back as Interim Assessor. Her last day was yesterday (April 29), and we wish her happiness and good health in the future.

STOUGHTON TEACHERS RALLY TUESDAY NIGHT FOR FAIR CONTRACT: Hundreds of Stoughton teachers are planning a rally on Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30 p.m. to support the negotiating team for the Stoughton Teachers Association. They plan to meet in front of , where they will march to the school and cheer on members of the bargaining team as they enter the building for the 7 p.m. bargaining session, "to show support and advocate for a.fair contract." 

The contract between the 341-member STA and the School Committee expired on August 31, 2010. The bargaining session on March 3 will be the 26th such session. According to the STA, the major issues remain wages and health insurance. In a prepared statement to the press, STA President Sue Cogliano wrote, “We are holding this rally to let our bargaining team members know that we fully support their efforts to secure a fair contract for Stoughton’s educators – one that shows respect for the work we do teaching the students of this community.”  

The STA has been having different schools sign a petition and having it read at school committee meetings.  The petitions have been signed by virtually every teacher at each school.  School Committee Chairman Tom Colburn has said at school committee meetings that he expected to have a new contract agreed to "sometime soon."  For the STA, it has dragged on all school year, and isn't soon enough.  

OPEN HOUSE: You're Invited to an Open House at the , 1561 Washington Street, on Rt. 138 in Stoughton.  It's happening on Sunday, May 1, from 1-4 p.m. Membership information and tours will be available.  Contact Elliot Hansen at 781-344-9633 for more information.

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