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SHIRLEY — Shirley Public Access Corporation (SPACO) is writing its own success story, one strategic move at a time.

Funded by ComCast with four-percent of Cable TV subscribers’ fees, the nonprofit group has broadened its viewer base by offering expanded programming. In addition to meetings, school activities and local news, it includes events around town such as the First Parish Meetinghouse concerts and creative offerings such as a cooking show.

SPACO’s mission includes educational as well as cultural and public service goals. For example, the group worked with an enrichment class at Shirley Middle School to help students create their own movie.

The kids did it all, said SPACO program director Lou Carreras: writing, acting, filming and editing. The 10-minute horror flick aired at Walmart for Halloween, he said.

The variety is paying off. Folks in town have told him they watch Channel 8 regularly, Carreras said. “We’re in approximately 2,600 households,” he said, adding that viewers’ interests go beyond the town budget.

SPACO plans to keep up the good work and improve on it, starting with a move from cramped quarters at the Town Offices to a “bona fide” TV studio at Phoenix Park. Here, it can conduct every aspect of business, from film-editing to broadcasting shows on site.

During an open house last week, Carreras showed off the 1,940-square-foot space.

Eventually, with more investment in equipment, SPACO could open up all three cable channels available for its use, he said, those being channels 8, 9 and 10.

Carreras envisions talk shows, round-table discussions, performances.

Call for volunteers

As SPACO seeks to grow its coverage, there’s no shortage of ideas.

But more volunteers would be welcomed, said trustee Jackie Esielionis.

With “underwriters” lined up to fund programs, the shows won’t include ads, but a business or individual can imprint a name and slogan. It would be done by the book, Carreras said, similar to the way Public Television stations fund programming.

The increased cash flow should help pay studio rent, Esielionis said.

Phoenix Park is the perfect place. Now a thriving business complex with 40 tenants, the renovated 19th century mill buildings overlooking Phoenix Pond echo with history. Once the home of Sampson Cordage Works, which closed in the 1980’s, Eric Shapiro bought the enclave 10 years ago and started fixing up the vacant, dilapidated old buildings.

Now in fine shape, the factory’s storied past is shown in pictures that line the vast hallways, depicting the mill era and summoning memories for many residents of Shirley.

“Whole families worked at Sampsons, or knew someone who did,” said videographer Meredith Marcincewicz.

SPACO has staked a tentative claim on studio space in the building where the open house was held Oct. 30.

The purpose of the event was to present “things we’ve done and that are ongoing,” Esielionis said. She promised a “big surprise at the end.”

The surprise was a visit to the studio-to-be. With blue tape on the concrete floor to indicate walls and rooms, the studio is the heart of the layout. It borders common space where Shapiro said he plans to create a central gathering spot for tenants.

Trustee Dave Stewart said the board is “conservative” about its undertakings and wants a sufficient nest egg before signing a lease. Shapiro is offering a sweet deal on rent, he added.

Esielionis said $20,000 should do it. Underwriters are still being sought and donations are gratefully accepted, she said.