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Lt. Governor visits Wilbraham on Western Mass. tour

Lt. Governor Timothy Murray visits the Wilbraham Fire Department where Fire Chief Fran Nothe gave him a tour of the station.Reminder Publications photo by Courtney Llewellyn
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM A visit from Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray on July 31 demonstrated once again the new administration's dedication to communicating with Western Massachusetts.

A 1994 graduate of Western New England College, Murray is no stranger to the area. This was his first visit as an official, however.

"Both Governor Patrick and I are committed to being active in all regions of the state," Murray said in a question and answer session with State Rep. Angelo Puppolo. "We're supporting your endeavors and helping you solve your problems."

Puppolo added that their strong presence in Western Massachusetts is making a difference.

Murray started his political career as a city councilor in Worcester before becoming the city's mayor. Now serving as lieutenant governor, Murray stated that it was important for those in positions of power to work their way up. "The issues that arise in Worcester are the same issues that arise in Springfield," Murray said. "And these issues don't stop at the city line. It's simply a matter of scale."

He added that his administration is giving communities across the state the things they need to solve their problems, but they are just "tools in a toolbox." It is up to the towns and cities to use those tools properly.

"We're focusing on repairing the links between Beacon Hill and the state. You can't govern from a press conference and a photo op," Murray said. "And I believe that sometimes local government is more important than state."

Before visiting Wilbraham, Murray and Puppolo had stopped in Chicopee to discuss the manufacturing industry in the region. Murray stressed how important it was to keep these kinds of jobs in the area and why more jobs need to be created.

"Students, parents and teachers need to know how important vocational training can be," Murray said. "The workers that know how to build things and how to fix things are the ones that keep Massachusetts running."

The Patrick-Murray administration has a goal of creating 100,000 jobs in the state over the next four years in an attempt to boost the economy after the loss of 150,000 jobs during the previous administration.

Murray's visit to Wilbraham included a visit to Town Hall where he met with selectmen David W. Barry, James E. Thompson and Patrick J. Brady, as well as treasurer Tom Sullivan.

From there, the group traveled to the Wilbraham Fire Department headquarters on Boston Road. One of the biggest issues in Wilbraham is the need for a new public safety complex.

"We don't just fight fires," said Fire Chief Fran Nothe. "This station provides emergency medical services, serves as a local emergency planning center and works with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the federal agency (FEMA).

"Murray's visit here will help raise awareness of the needs of the district," Nothe added. "We need to remodel and expand the Boston Road facility for it to work as well as it should."

Some of the biggest issues with the Boston Road firehouse are its size and storage capabilities. Many vehicles that are stored outside including fire trucks and a boat present problems during the winter months.

"The department needs a larger truck that would fit town needs, not just the building size," Nothe stated. "The way things are right now really hampers our ability to respond to emergencies."

Nothe added that he hoped Murray's visit will serve as an avenue for possibly earning some state assistance in the remodeling of the station.

"We really appreciate this administration's commitment to the Pioneer Valley," Puppolo said. "Their visits here and the funds they've been providing are the lifeblood for bringing back these towns and cities."