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Sterilite Corporation’s unprecedented gift to the people of Townsend is the district’s leading story this holiday season.

Under Al Stone’s leadership, the company has pledged to provide a new library/senior center/community center, and a new, relocated Highway Department facility, at no cost to the town. Despite frozen earth, hard work and an expedited arrangement with the Massachusetts Highway Department allowed groundbreaking at 175 Main Street (Route 119) before winter’s first snow fall.

More good news about local initiatives: Groton won a Smart Growth/Smart Energy award from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for the Station Avenue redevelopment plan.

After a national site search, L-3 Communications chose Ayer to consolidate its ESSCO and Wolf Coach operations, leading to planned new investment of $12.5 million and 30 new, permanent, full-time jobs. Coordinated federal and state funds totaling $88,250 have been granted for study and design of a 350-car garage in Ayer. The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration and the commonwealth’s Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works have approved $150 million in improvements intended to significantly reduce transit time to Boston and improve schedule reliability on the Fitchburg commuter rail line. And Ayer benefits from an in-kind grant worth $1,400 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection toward planning and implementing recycling programs at municipal offices, schools and the library.

Municipalities carry out far more of the people’s business than state government does. The state is ending the fiscal year with revenue forecast $400 million beyond the budget, and at $2 billion the state’s rainy day fund contains more money than we could reasonably expect to need in tough times. That is why your Republican minority in the Massachusetts House proposes to return $450 million in unrestricted aid to cities and towns as a one-time local-aid payment. Specifically, the proposal would benefit the 1st Middlesex District as follows:

Ayer $432,161

Dunstable $124,714

Groton $461,006

Pepperell $765,974

Townsend $699,994

Keep March in mind for groundbreaking on a replacement for Pepperell’s covered bridge. At this happy event, expect to greet Sen. Panagiotakos, state and local officials and your state representative, Bob Hargraves.

The Broncos youth football team of Ayer and Shirley, riding their 12-0 record in regular season play, returned home from the American Youth Football National Championship in third place for Division One. Well done, players, moms and dads!

Owners of waterfront properties on the great ponds (e.g. Lost Lake) within the Squannassit and Petapawag Areas of Critical Environmental Concern have more time to respond to the licensing requirements of Chapter 91 of the Massachusetts General Laws and related regulations. For details consult Lisa Berry, coastal coordinator for the state’s ACEC Program, at (617) 626-1435.

It’s not all good news, of course. The fire in Ayer at G.V. Moore Lumber Company, and the total loss of the Fitzgerald home on Willowdale Road in Groton, give pause. The prompt and proper response by the fire departments of both communities was second to none.

To assist Valerie and David Fitzgerald in dealing with the loss of their home, you could write a check to the “Fitzgerald Fire Fund” and mail it to the Bank of America, 167 Main St., Groton, MA 01450.

Please accept the Hargraves family’s fond wishes for a joyful Christmas season and a prosperous, healthy new year. In recognition of the holiday, the family’s charity of choice is the Silent Spring Institute (www.silentspring.org), in support of their breast cancer research work.

God bless America!

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