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COMMENTARY: Mark Stevens closing is retail calamity

October 20, 2010

By Roger Bouchard

Woonsocket
A retail calamity is about to fall on thrifty Northern Rhode Island shoppers. The Mark Stevens (CVS) outlet store will close its doors in January. The Diamond Hill Road store, popular with bargain hunters for over twenty years, employs 40 people. Economic Development Director Matt Wojcik confirmed the company will close the discount operation during Monday’s council meeting. The company is, however, moving ahead on two local projects including a new pharmacy store on Mendon Road. City lawyer Joseph Carroll says legal obstacles are still being heard before Judge Michael Silverstein before construction can begin. The company is also constructing a 301,000 square foot office building at Highland Corporate Park (it will be the biggest building in Cumberland) to give additional room to expanding operations at the nearby 500,000 square foot corporate headquarters across the street. The new office building will open in the first quarter of 2011. Another multi-million dollar investment locally, CVS moved hundreds of employees into its new call center in Highland Park when that building was completed last November.

Lakeville, Ma.
In this poor economy, why would a town turn away 800 jobs and a $1,000,000 a year in property tax revenue? Residents of this small 4,000 population town put an end to Sysco Food Systems plans to develop a 650,000-square-foot distribution center at the former Lakeville Hospital on Monday night. The zoning change was defeated by a margin of 727-704 at a town meeting. The company, a food services provider, will either stay in Norton or move to neighboring Middleboro,Mass. Opponents, headed by the Lakeville Residents for Responsible Growth, say the site should be used for retail development. The town of Norton has offered Sysco a vacant 440,000-square-foot General Motors facility and hopes the company will consider expanding the building.

Richmond, Va.
Thanks to Frank Caprio, Lincoln Chafee, David Cicilline and the AFL-CIO, WJAR-TV NBC 10 and another TV station in Ohio owned by parent company Media General, reported profits of $4.4 million in the third quarter, up from $2.5 million year-over-year boosted by strong political and national revenue. Total revenue increased 19 percent. Political revenue, from the gubernatorial and congressional races in Ohio and the gubernatorial race in Rhode Island, grew to $2.1 million in 2010 from $518,000 a year earlier. If I see another Cicilline social security ad on Channel 10, I may have to listen to a John Dionne radio program!

Woonsocket
Giovanni Cicione, the chairman of the Rhode Island Republican party, visited Woonsocket yesterday to promote their slate of candidates. Cicione chided David Cicilline for using a desperate political scare tactic as his major issue. Using social security as a campaign issue is a regular theme when Democrats need an emotional issue claimed Cicione. He predicted voters will see right through the Cicilline tactic and elect his opponent John Loughlin. Cicione also said Loughlin has caught the attention of the National Republican Party and have decided to pump money into the race to compete with the Cicilline war chest. On the race for governor, the Republican chair says John Robitaille is gaining ground. While Frank Caprio and Lincoln Chafee bloody each other with personal attacks, Robitaille is positioning himself a non-career politician growing up with humble roots in a Central Falls tenement house and has a personal success story to tell.

Woonsocket
The scanner at WNRI Tuesday was non-stop with police talk as Woonsocket Police juggled two major incidents. As reported yesterday, an unarmed man showed a note to a teller at Sovereign Bank on Social Street at 9:45am and then fled on foot. Earl Nightingale of East School Street boarded a bus to Providence and made his getaway. Police finally traced him to a Woonsocket bound bus at Park Square at 6:30pm as Nightingale tried to slip back into town. Yes, you read correctly. He actually eluded police, went to Providence and then came back to Woonsocket. Of course, for the benefit of the ACLU, this is an alleged incident even though it he was seen (allegedly) leaving the bank about :14 seconds after the incident. No one was injured. Law enforcement resources were further stretched when another call came in from Fairmont in the morning. While the cops were looking for Nightingale, they were also working a domestic incident on 7th Ave where a man tried to run down police. Police stopped the man on Farm Street in Blackstone and 5 hour stand-off took place before the man was finally arrested. He told a judge yesterday at his arraignment that he was “as high a kite and don’t remember nothin’ your honor.” He was also accused of attacking his girlfriend earlier in the day with a blowtorch, allegedly, of course.

Lincoln
Will it work this time? Can a write-in candidate defeat a printed ballot opponent? Mary Ann Shallcross Smith continues her fight to keep her 46th representative district seat. On her website she says “I am running as a write-in for one very important reason- to represent the voters. My opponent was selected by the NEA to run for my General Assembly seat, to represent one single interest only, the members of the NEA. I have always supported the RI taxpayers, and will continue to support everyone; whether they are seniors, union or non union members, children and families”. She then asks for support to represent the people. Her opponent is Jeremiah “Jay” O’Grady who once served as President of the Lincoln Town Council. and helped the janitors of SEIU Local 615 fight back against Twin River that was trying to pay “sub-minimum wages,” and he helped workers at Twin River during an organizing union drive. We will see if voters have a change of heart!

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