Some Good News To Begin The Weekend

I realize that this story may not interest everyone, but I love it.

This is a picture of Falk’s Market in Plainville, MA.

During the 1980’s, it was a place where the children in the town bought penny candy from Mr. Falk. It was the preferred destination of young children on bicycles.

Over the years, Falk’s Market began to deteriorate. By the turn of the century, it was becoming an eyesore. Everyone in the town had fond memories of Falk’s Market, but no one seemed to have the knowledge or the money to know what to do with it.

In 2013 it was torn down by its new owner–‘Wimpy Kid’ author, Jerry Kinney. Mr. Kinney had hoped to restore the building, but the foundation was beyond repair. The new building is currently under construction.

This is a picture of the new building:

It is wonderful to see the new building going up, but there is something even more wonderful in store for Plainville.

The Sun Chronicle reported today that Mr. Kinney intends to use the lower level of the building to open a bookstore.

The Sun Chronicle reports:

They have said they want the new Falk’s Market to be a gathering place for the community and have set aside space in it for public meetings.

“When Julie and I bought the building we wanted to make sure it served to bring the community together,” Kinney said.

“An independent bookstore that sells gifts seemed like the perfect fit. With the function space we’ll have on the second floor, it’s our hope that we can create events for the community that are enriching and fun.”

Although rumors have been floating for months that the new building would house a bookstore, Kinney did not confirm it until he made a presentation at a conference in New York.

He provided more details to The Sun Chronicle this afternoon.

“We think that a bookstore will capture the spirit of what made Falk’s Market special and give people who live in Plainville and the surrounding towns a chance to come together,” he said.

Thank you, Jeff Kinney. You are definitely an asset to the community.

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The Twists And Turns Of Bringing Slot Machines To Plainville

On September 10, voters in Plainville, Massachusetts, will go to the polls and vote to determine whether or not to bring approximately 1200 slot machines into Plainridge Raceway. As you drive around Plainville, you see a lot of lawn signs. The majority of the ones I have seen support the slot machines, but I haven’t driven through all parts of the town. On Thursday there will be an information meeting for the voters held at the Wood School in Plainville, and on Sunday there will be a meeting held by the opponents of the slot machines at the Senior Center in Plainville. I plan to attend both meetings.

The Sun Chronicle featured two stories about the slot machines on its website today. The first story, titled “Gaming commission wants to hear from Plainville residents on transfer of slots agreement,” states that the Gaming Commission is holding off a decision on whether or not to approve the sale of Plainridge to Penn National Gaming until it has a chance to hear from the residents of the town. I assume that means that members of the Gaming Commission will be present at Thursday’s meeting.

The second story in the Sun Chronicle is titled, “Penn National has track record on race tracks, gambling venues.” That story deals with the reputation and past performance of the Penn National Gaming company.

That article reports:

This much is known: Penn National is one of the largest gambling concerns in the country. It owns 28 facilities that include casinos, race tracks with slot machines and stand-alone race tracks.

Michael Perpall, president of the Harness Horsemen’s Association of New England, said Penn National has a good reputation among horsemen and he is optimistic it would do a good job at Plainridge.

Clyde Barrows, who studies gambling at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, also said the firm is a well-respected operator in the gaming industry.

“Penn is a publicly-traded company on NASDAQ with a recent share price above $53 and 2012 net income of $211.9 million,” he said.

The opposition group in Plainville is lead by Mary-Ann Greanier. Generally speaking, she has objected to everything said and done by the town and by Plainridge in this process. Her current complaint is that voters do not have enough information on Penn National. It seems to me that their reputation with both horsemen and the gambling industry is an indication that they are reputable people we can do business with. It would be nice if Ms.Greanier would simply admit that she doesn’t want the track and that she will oppose it on any grounds possible.

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One Man’s Actions Result In A Major Loss For A Town

The Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported today that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has removed Plainridge Race Track, Plainville, Massachusetts, from consideration from Massachusetts’ one slot machine license.

The article reports:

It voted unanimously that the owners of the harness track had failed to demonstrate they could properly run a gambling establishment after admitting they did not realize former President Gary Piontkowski had been taking money from the track for years.

The track is now out of the running for the state’s sole slot machine license that had had five suitors.

The actions of one man will cost the Town of Plainville a projected income of $2 million a year.

The article further reports:

“But it has always been our commitment to establish that the integrity of this process is our single highest priority. No other considerations will compromise that commitment. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the tremendous work by the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau as well as our many partners in their ongoing efforts on these important matters.”

The bureau had uncovered the Piontkowski practice of taking money from the track, while the track reported the actions as disbursements.

When the bureau began asking questions, Piontkowski was replaced in April, although he and track officials claimed it was for health reasons.

Chief Financial Officer Timothy Peterson then resigned and did not appear at a commission hearing on the matter.

Principals Stanley Fulton and Alfred Ross said they were unaware of the situation and were passive investors.

Plainridge Race Track has been losing money for years. The slot machines were considered something that would save the track and save harness racing in Massachusetts. It is unfortunate that the actions of one man may result in the death of harness racing in the state.

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When Government Actually Works

This is the link to the website for the Town of Plainville, Massachusetts. The town is run by a Board of Selectmen with an annual budget voted for by the voters in the town at an annual Town Meeting.

The issue before the Town right now is whether or not to allow Plainridge, a harness race track with simulcast racing in Plainville, to add 1200 slot machines to its facility. According to an internet directory of harness racing, there are only thirty-two harness racing tracks in North America.

There is a process that has to be followed to bring slot machines into a venue in Massachusetts. That process is controlled by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and the Town of Plainville is in the midst of that process.

Tonight I attended a Board of Selectmen’s meeting where the agreement that has been reached between the Town and the owners of Plainridge was discussed and voted on by the Selectmen. The agreement was unanimously approved by the Selectmen, and the voters in the Town of Plainville will vote on whether or not they approve the slot machines on September 10th (after they have had a chance to review the agreement).

The agreement will be posted on the Town’s website, along with a summary of the agreement (for those who prefer Cliff Notes). There have been numerous hearings dealing with the impact of the slot machines on the small town, and there will be more hearings before the vote.

Plainridge race track has existed in the Town since 1998. Plainridge has been a very good neighbor to the town–exceeding public safety and security requirements at the track and giving generously to charities within the Town. I don’t gamble and am not interested in going there to gamble, but I believe they should be allowed to put in the slot machines simply because of the way they have conducted themselves in the Town in the past. As an observation, I don’t drink, but I’m not interested in closing down every establishment in Plainville that serves alcoholic beverages.

At any rate, I wrote this article to say how impressed I am with the way the government of Plainville is working through this process. The process has been transparent from the beginning, and the Selectmen have gone out of their way to make sure that the public is informed of the impact the slot machines will have on our little Town.

On September 10, I will be voting for the agreement–I am impressed with the management of Plainridge, and I am impressed with the leadership of the Town of Plainville.


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The Discussion Continues

Last night I attended a hearing to discuss bringing 1,250 slot machines into the racetrack at Plainridge in Plainville, Massachusetts. I am a resident of Plainville and live less than five miles from the location of the track. Although I was opposed to the idea of bringing a casino into Foxboro, I support the idea of bringing the slot machines into Plainridge. I am not a gambler, but I am enough of a realist to know that there are people around me who genuinely enjoy gambling as a form of recreation. I don’t have a problem with that, assuming that they are not ruining their finances with that activity. Those who are ruining their financial situation by gambling are going to find a way to do it whether Plainridge introduces slot machines or not. I strongly suspect we will see internet gambling legalized within the next two years, and a lot of people who are addicted to gambling will turn to that rather than leaving their homes to gamble.

Gambling is already at Plainridge–there is sulky racing and simulcast racing. The town also has Keno in some of the local restaurants and lottery tickets at the local convenience stores. It seems a little odd that with those things in place there would be opposition to the slot machines.

One objection voiced last night was the idea that putting slot machines in Plainridge would negatively impact our elementary schools. I definitely need someone to explain to me how that would work–are the first graders going to be playing the slots?

The addition of slot machines will bring people to Plainridge. However, if you look on a map, you will see that Plainridge is on the edge of town, adjacent to a major highway–I suspect that the majority of the people who will frequent Plainridge because of the slot machines will never see the town! Those people will come and lose their money (the house wins on slot machines), the profits at Plainvridge will be taxed, some part of those taxes will go to the Town of Plainville, and everyone will live happily ever after.

One of the things mentioned last night was the social problems that can be associated with gambling. Guess what–those social problems are already here–even without the slot machines.

This whole discussion reminds me a a song from the Music Man:

Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital “T”
That rhymes with “P”
And that stands for Pool,
That stands for pool.
We’ve surely got trouble!
Right here in River City,
Right here!
Gotta figger out a way
To keep the young ones moral after school!
Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble…

We don’t have trouble here in Plainville–we have a business man who has been an asset to the community asking the town to help him keep his business alive. That is why I support the slot machines.

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Respecting The Past

Tonight I attended a Board of Selectmen meeting in Plainville, Massachusetts. I attended the meeting to hear an update on a building in Plainville that has many wonderful memories for the people of the town. Falk’s Market, with the address of 2 East Bacon Street, has been neglected for many years. The building was bought by Jeff Kinney, a resident of the town, and the author of the Wimpy Kid book series.

Mr. Kinney and his wife, Julie, made the following statement at the meeting:

Good evening, and thanks for giving us a forum to discuss the status of the development of 2 East Bacon Street in downtown Plainville.

It’s been several months since we last appeared before the Board of Selectmen, and although outward appearances suggest little is happening with the property, we’ve been actively working on the project since we last met.

Earlier this year we hired a development manager, Bob Nicodemus, who has 30 years of experience as an architect, and attorney Dave Simmons, who has worked on several key development projects in the area, including the Lowes on Route One and the Plainville Commons shopping area. We’ve also been working with local architects and engineers to study the property and have made significant progress.

We recently conducted a pro forma evaluation of the property to see what a business would require to thrive at 2 East Bacon. It became evident early on that for the site to host a sustainable business, it would need more parking capacity. This summer we made an offer to acquire 8 East Bacon, the lot adjacent to Falk’s Market, and we’re happy to report that earlier today, we closed on that property. Having additional parking will give the business that occupies 2 East Bacon a chance to succeed.

As we previously reported, we had the existing Falk’s Market structure analyzed by two engineers in the spring. Their shared opinion was that the building has serious and widespread structural problems, and demolition was recommended. This summer we had a formal architectural study conducted on the property, and the result was the same. The major components of the building–the floors, ceilings, structural support, foundation, and the entire outer envelope all need to be replaced. After months of studies and analysis we feel certain that the building, in its current state, cannot reasonably be saved.

Therefore, we’ve made the difficult decision to take Falk’s Market down. This decision was not made lightly. Over the course of the past year, we’ve spoken with dozens of people who have great memories of the building and its proprietor, Merrill Falk. We don’t relish the idea of taking down Falk’s Market, but we feel that it’s the only practical option given the state of the building. We’d like to ask everyone in Plainville to support and encourage us in our goal to construct a new building where town residents can come together and make memories for generations to come.

As we’ve stated from the beginning, our hope is to create an iconic symbol of the downtown that all Plainville residents can be proud of. We recently started working with local architects to draw up plans for a building that fits downtown Plainville’s character. We have several preliminary concepts completed but we want to continue exploring different options before sharing them with the community at large.

The timetable for taking the building down has not yet been set, but when we do begin the process, we’ll take great care to preserve those parts of Falk’s Market that can be reused or repurposed.

This month, we’ll be filing applications with the Board of Health, the Redevelopment Authority and the Zoning Board to accelerate the development of 2 East Bacon. We look forward to working with the town to bring this project to fruition.

Thanks for your time, and we’d be happy to answer any questions.

What a wonderful attitude this statement represents. There will be many tears because the building cannot be saved, but the respect in their statement for the history of the building and the history of Plainville is fantastic. It is my hope that every resident of Plainville will support the Kinneys as they move forward with their plans for Falk Market, and that even though we are losing a part of our past, we can be excited about our future. Thank you Jeff and Julie Kinney for your commitment to Plainville. We are blessed to have you as part of our town.

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An Ordinary Man

Looking South on Route 1A, Plainville, Massach...

Image via Wikipedia

I live in Plainville, Massachusetts. I have lived here for thirty-three years. When we moved here, our children were young and the town had a population of about 6,000 people. The town has now grown to a population of about 8,000, but it still has that small-town, family-oriented feeling.

Today I went to a funeral in Plainville. The funeral was for Frank Sorrento, who died last Saturday. The Sun Chronicle published his obituary on Wednesday. When you read the obituary, it really doesn’t seem very different than the other obituaries on the page–it’s kind of a nice summary of some of the things Frank was involved in. But that is not anywhere near the whole story.

The obituary says that Frank grew up in Quincy and graduated from North Quincy High School. It doesn’t mention any further education. The obituary mentions his wife, his children, and other family members, but that really doesn’t tell you anything either.

There were so many people at the graveside today that the cemetery was almost totally full with the cars of the people who came to pay their respects. The reception after the funeral filled both floors of the senior center.

This was not really an ordinary man, although his obituary may have given that impression. Frank was a vital part of the town of Plainville. At various times in his life he was involved in the Jaycees, Little League and Cub Scouts. He was also part of the North Attleboro Sons of Italy. But even that list does not tell the whole story. Frank was one of those people who willingly provides the foundation that allows others to build. He and his wife Rosie (who has driven the Senior Citizens van since the mid 1980’s) have always worked to make Plainville a great place to live and raise children. They never sought the spotlight, they both simply continued to improve their part of the world. Frank will be missed. He showed how one person living his life and simply doing things to help the community and the people around him can truly make a difference. He really was not an ordinary man.




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