WORCESTER – The Worcester Police Department [WPD] is among 30 finalists for the 2018 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award and is the only employer in Massachusetts remaining in the running for the award.

The Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the Dept. of Defense to employers that support their employees that are National Guard and Reserve members.

The WPD was selected among 2,000 employers across the country by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve [ESGR] to the narrowed down field of 30. The ESGR National Selection Board will select and announce the 15 recipients of the 2018 Secretary of Defense Freedom Award by mid-June.

The finalists were nominated by more than 2,350 Guard and Reserve employees. The Freedom Award recognizes those employers who provide the most outstanding support for these citizen warriors. Up to 15 employers are selected each year for the award and honored at the Pentagon in an official ceremony in August.

The Freedom Award began in 1996 by ESGR to draw attention to support from the employer community. To date, only 250 employers have received the award.

WORCESTER – A 65-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday afternoon for the attempted robbery of Harrahy’s Liquor Store on Ward St. in Worcester.

According to the Worcester Police Department [WPD], officers were dispatched to the store just after 4 PM. Upon arrival, the officers found three men — all store employees — trying to hold down the suspect, Manuel Rivera of Worcester, on the floor of the store.

The employees told the police that Rivera came into the store wearing a mask with black paint all over his face and told an employee behind the counter  “Give me all the money in the register.” Rivera then revealed what appeared to be a handgun and threatened to kill the employees.

One employee grabbed Rivera’s wrist to control the weapon and the other employees were able to subdue Rivera and call 9-1-1.

WPD officers determined that the handgun was a realistic-looking BB gun replica. Rivera was placed under arrest for Armed Assault to Rob. Officers confirmed that he had black paint all over his face. He will be arraigned in Worcester District Court. No one was seriously injured during the struggle.

WORCESTER – The Massachusetts State Police [MSP] have announced that there will be a sobriety checkpoint this weekend in Worcester County from Friday evening, April 27, into Saturday morning, April 28.  According to MSP, the purpose of the sobriety checkpoint is to “educate the motoring public and strengthen the public’s awareness to the need of detecting and removing those motorists who operate under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs from our roadways.”

The checkpoint will be operated during random hours. The State Police assures that officers will select vehicles at random and that safety will be a priority.

The sobriety checkpoint is possible thanks to a grant from the Highway Safety Division of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

WORCESTER – In recognition of being named “Player of the Game” the most times of any Worcester Railers player, ThisWeekinWorcester.com selects forward Barry Almeida as the ThisWeekinWorcester.com Railers Player of the Year.

Almeida, who led the Railers in goals, assists, and points, was named ““Player of the Game” ten times during the regular season, outpacing both goaltender Eamon McAdam and forward Chris Langkow, who each earned the “Player of the Game” nod seven times.

The ThisWeekinWorcester.com “Player of the Game” is selected by the writer covering the game, and is generally chosen from the remaining players after the game’s first two stars are announced.

WORCESTER – Worcester Bravehearts fans have another reason to cheer for the long ball during the upcoming season.  Southbridge Credit Union (SCU) has partnered with the Worcester Bravehearts to support the Center of Hope Foundation.  For each home run hit by the Bravehearts in their 56-game regular season and potential playoff matchups, SCU will donate $100 to the Center of Hope Foundation.

Since 1956, the Center of Hope has provided people with disabilities and their families the resources, services, and opportunities to be contributing members of their communities, and to achieve the most fulfilling and meaningful lives possible

“The Center of Hope Foundation is very grateful for the support that SCU has shown us all through our 62 years, as well as through this endeavor. ” said Erika Travinski, Assistant COO of Center of Hope Foundation said in a statement. “Bravehearts General Manager, Dave Peterson, has been a friend and volunteer for our agency for many years and his continued support along with the whole Bravehearts’ team is spectacular.  We could not do the work we do with people with disabilities without the generosity of organizations like SCU and the Bravehearts.”

The Bravehearts are widely known for their community work throughout Central Massachusetts, this endeavor will culminate a special season for the organization as it will celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2018.  An on-field check presentation is planned at the end of the season so that both Southbridge Credit Union and the Center of Hope can be honored.

“This is a partnership with some special meaning behind it,” said Bravehearts General Manager Dave Peterson. “It reiterates the philosophy we’ve had since our inception that 1+1 = 3.  Here you have two local small businesses working together for each other and for the benefit of a third organization; one that does so much to provide individuals with disabilities the training and work opportunities that help them fulfill their lives.”

The Bravehearts have historically hit between 26 and 37 total home runs in their 56-game Futures League season. Last year the team smacked 36 home runs on the way to the championship series.  The team hit 37 home runs in 2016. SCU will donate $100 for each Bravehearts’ home run hit either at home or on the road.

“Southbridge Credit Union has proudly been servicing this community for 80 years. We are thrilled to partner with the Bravehearts on this endeavor that supports the Center of Hope Foundation. We look forward to seeing you at the ballpark and let’s hope for many home runs,” President and CEO of SCU, Kate Alexander, said.

The Worcester Bravehearts begin play on Wednesday, May 30 at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. Single-game tickets are now on sale at worcesterbravehearts.com, or by phone at 508-438-3773.

WORCESTER – The Summit Private Lounge, a marijuana social club on Water St. in Worcester, got a shout out on Monday in Rolling Stone Magazine’s The Rolling Stone Guide to Legal Pot: Massachusetts.

The private club, which opened in February at 116 Water St., is owned and operated by Kyle Moon of Northbridge. ThisWeekinWorcester.com was the first news outlet in Worcester to report the opening of the lounge. 

The Rolling Stone feature focuses on the how and where to enjoy marijuana legally across the state of Massachusetts. The article, written by , notes the Summit Lounge’s schedule of cannabis friendly activities.

From the article:

“The central part of the state offers up its own cannabis activities. The Summit Private Lounge, which offers weekly cannabis-friendly events for adults 21-plus in Worcester. They have painting classes, card games and yoga workshops, all accompanied with a cannabis twist. After all, a joint or two might just make that canvas painting into a true masterpiece…”

The hours of operation at The Summit Lounge are 5 PM to 11 Monday-Thursday,  12 PM to 12 AM Friday, 10 AM to 1 AM Saturday and closed on Sundays. Cost of membership is $15 per month and the Lounge has more than 120 members to date.

WORCESTER – The newest restaurant in Worcester’s Canal District will open its doors next week.

View from Entrance of Buck’s/Photo: Patrick Sargent

Buck’s Whiskey & Burger Bar, located at 62 Green St, will host its Grand Opening on Monday at 4 PM following several months of renovation, menu building and future customer engagement that included a “Build-a-Burger” contest in February.

Nick Panarelli, the manager and owner of the new establishment, told ThisWeekinWorcester.com in an interview at Buck’s on Tuesday, April 24, that the length of time it took to completely overhaul the restaurant space has been “completely worth it” and that the 100s of patrons he anticipates to serve throughout Monday will be thoroughly impressed.  

“It’s been a lot of work, and it took a little longer than we had expected, but when you look around at what we’ve been able to do with the space, we’re really proud of it and happy with it,” Panarelli said, who had originally hoped for a February open.

Panarelli, 30, of Shrewsbury, had to do a full of renovation of the former G Bar — including adding a kitchen area, putting in new bathrooms, and adding barnboard wood along the walls. The bar at Buck’s remains the original bar that stood when the location was occupied by long-time establishment Tara Pub — but Panarelli added a granite countertop to add to Buck’s modern look.

View of Bar at Buck’s/Photo: Patrick Sargent

The menu at Buck’s is chock full with nearly 30 items  with appetizers, soups and salads, burgers and entrees ranging anywhere from $6 to $16 — highlighted by a selection of seven burgers, including the Build-a-Burger winner “Spicy Cougar” – a burger topped with aged cheddar cheese, black pepper crushed bacon, arugula, guacamole spread, and the soon-to-be famous Buck’s hot sauce.

In addition to the burgers, appetizers include fried pickles, wings, nachos, potato skins, and the “Cowboy Platter” — a combination of wings, skins, onion rings and jalapeno poppers. Entrees include steak tips, an open steak sandwich and fish and chips.

Above the Kitchen window at Buck’s/Photo: Patrick Sargent

According to Panarelli, at the Grand Opening there will be giveaways including tshirts, beer glasses and more.  

“I’m expecting a great turnout. Everyone’s just been waiting so long. The whole first week I expect people to be showing up here and willing to wait to give us a try,” Panarelli said.

Sign Hanging Outside of Buck’s/Photo: Patrick Sargent

The Buck’s staff is made up of 15 people consisting of both front and back of house employees — including Executive chef John Gremo, of Worcester, who recently told ThisWeekinWorcester.com that the Buck’s menu will be fresh, simple and will focus on its “loads of great burgers.”

“We’re relying on freshness and the utilization of local products and local farms. Simplicity is very big, but we want to bring great service and a great menu to our customers,” Gremo said. “We’re going back to basics and Buck’s is going to bring a lot of great flavors.”

Buck’s will open at 4 PM on Monday for its Grand Opening. The restaurant will be open until midnight seven days a week (Mon-Thurs 4 PM to 12 AM, Fri-Sun 11 AM to 12 AM).

A Worcester company specializing in buying and collecting on unpaid real estate tax debts is being required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pay $125,000 plus restitution to 100 homeowners in Central Massachusetts for the unlawful collection of fees in connection with the company’s purchase of property tax liens.

According to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, Stage One Investors, LLC, located at 1 Kelley Sq. in Worcester, and the AG’s Office agreed to a settlement on Tuesday that resolves allegations that Stage One required homeowners to pay excessive and unlawful fees in order to pay off the tax liens purchased by the company.

“No one should be permitted to take unfair advantage of homeowners struggling to pay their real estate taxes,” said Healey. “This settlement ensures that Stage One stops charging illegal and excessive fees and reforms its practices to be a better partner for our cities and towns.”

In addition to Stage One’s payment of $125,000, the company will change its business practices to provide clear and fair information to homeowners seeking to pay off their tax liens and avoid tax foreclosure.

The registered agent listed on company’s state filings is Edward Murphy, owner of 7 Hills Property Management.

The AG’s Office alleges that Stage One violated the law by charging excessive and unlawful legal fees to homeowners seeking to pay their tax lien debt.

The AG’s Office investigated Stage One after receiving complaints from homeowners and legal services attorneys that the company was placing unlawful restrictions on homeowners’ right to redeem their property. Today’s settlement addresses these practices and recovers full restitution for homeowners.

The matter was handled by AG Healey’s Consumer Protection Division Assistant Attorney General Lisa Dyen, Division Chief Max Weinstein, and Paralegal Gabrielle Crossnoe, with assistance from Senior Financial Investigator Shannon Roark and Investigator Marlee Greer of AG Healey’s Civil Investigation Division.

WORCESTER – The operator of a truck involved in a police chase early Tuesday morning that resulted in extensive damage to parked cars in the Shrewsbury St. area has been identified.

According to the Worcester Police Department, 31-year-old Christopher Mason of Worcester was driving a pickup truck and struck three parked cars on Chilmark St., a building on Albany St., a semi-trailer on Muskeego St. and three more vehicles on Wilson St while attempting to flee from police just before 3 AM on Tuesday.

SEE VIDEOS BELOW: Police Chase and Arrest of Christopher Mason

One of the vehicles Mason struck on Chilmark St was occupied by a 21-year-old female from Worcester who sustained back and neck injuries and was transported to the hospital.

Mason ignored police when officers attempted to stop him on Shrewsbury St. Mason drove to Casco St., continued on to Albany St., Muskeego St, and back on Shrewsbury St, before ultimately being stopped and arrested on Wilson St.

Officers found six small bags of cocaine in the vehicle after Mason was arrested.

Mason, of 16 Steward Street, Apartment 2, Worcester was charged with Assault to Murder, Disturbing the Peace, Operator Failing to Wear a Seatbelt, Leaving the Scene of Personal Injury, Leaving the Scene of Property Damage, Operating Negligently so as to Endanger, Failure to Stop for Police, Possession of Class B Substance, and Stop Sign Violation.

 

WORCESTER – The Worcester Railers hosted the Adirondack Thunder for a rare Monday night contest at the DCU Center in game six of their best of seven series hoping for a win to extend the series to a final game in Glens Falls on Wednesday

Things started off on the wrong foot for the Railers early when Paul Rodrigues collected a turnover in the neutral zone and broke in all alone on Worcester goaltender Eamon McAdam. Rodrigues threw a nice deke on McAdam, and then flipped a backhander over the netminder’s glove and in for an unassisted shorthanded goal at 8:27 of the first period.

As that same Railers power play was winding down Matty Gaudreau fired a shot on goal and then headed directly for the Worcester bench to be replaced by a defenseman. The puck deflected over to Barry Almeida, who fired a laser from the right wind circle past Thunder goaltender Olivier Mantha just as the power play expired at 9:09 to knot the game 1-1. Kellen Jones had the secondary assist.

The old hockey adage says a team should never give up a goal in the first and last minute of a period, and unfortunately for Worcester they did just that in the waning seconds of the opening period when Desmond Bergin beat McAdam up high from about 30 feet out. The puck hit the crossbar and bounded almost straight down. Despite the protests of the Railers the goal stood and it was 2-1 after one period.

While the ECHL does not have video replay of goals that didn’t stop Worcester from showing the disputed goal several times on the large Daktronics board. At full speed and in slow motion it was hard to tell if the puck actually crossed the goal line. Many folks from that end of the building and those sitting in the 200 sections all were convinced the puck did indeed cross the line.

Just before the start of the second period many of those assembled on press row watched a super slow motion replay, going frame by frame of the shot and goal. The puck definitely appears to land on its edge beyond the goal line. From this writer’s perspective, it was good goal.

From that point on it was a lot of Adirondack sitting on the lead and the Railers shooting themselves in the foot as they fell into some of the bad habits the team had earlier in the season. Worcester’s last gasp came as time was winding down in the third period, but a bad pass and a bouncing puck ended up on the stick of Mike Szmatula, whose unassisted empty net goal ended the Railers season with a 3-1 loss.

RAILERS NOTES

Scratches for Worcester were Frankie DiChiara, Chris Langkow (lower body), Tommy Panico, Jake Randolph, and T.J. Syner. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.

It’s shame the Railers couldn’t extend their season into the next round as Chris Langkow, who suffered a knee injury on March 17th, had recently started skating. He likely would not have been available for a game seven, but would probably been good to go at some point in the next series. You can add that to the list of “what could have been”.

Upon further review…Saturday’s win by the Railers included some Worcester pro hockey firsts, starting with the win itself being the first time a city team has won a playoff game after being down by three goals. Nick Saracino’s hat trick was the first playoff hat trick for a city pro team, and Eamon McAdam became the first Worcester pro goaltender to win a playoff game in relief.

The loss drops Worcester pro teams to 4-14 in elimination games, and to 2-6 in game sixes. Hopefully the 2018-19 season will see improvements in those numbers.

The three stars of the game were

1) Desmond Bergin (Adirondack #37), game winning goal

2) Barry Almeida (Railers #19), goal

3) Olivier Mantha (Adirondack #31), win

The TWIW Player of the Game was Matty Gaudreau.

Even strength lines

Jones / Kubiak / Almeida

Saracino / Holmstrom / Lane

Gaudreau / Willick / Hudson

Turcotte

MacKinnon / Cornell

Doherty / Hamonic

Masella / McKenzie

BOX SCORE

Adirondack 2 0 1 – 3

Worcester 1 0 0 – 1

1st Period-1, Adirondack, Rodrigues 2 8:27 (SH). 2, Worcester, Almeida 3 (Jones, Gaudreau), 9:09. 3, Adirondack, Bergin 1 (Szmatula), 19:57. Penalties-Riley Adk (slashing), 7:08.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Henry Adk (hooking), 5:01; MacKinnon Wor (slashing), 17:58; Kubiak Wor (cross-checking), 19:49.

3rd Period-4, Adirondack, Szmatula 2 19:15 (EN). Penalties-Almeida Wor (tripping), 3:04; Riley Adk (high-sticking), 5:52; White Adk (slashing), 13:08.

Shots on Goal-Adirondack 8-10-7-25. Worcester 6-12-10-28.

Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 3; Worcester 0 / 4.

Goalies-Adirondack, Mantha (28 shots-27 saves). Worcester, McAdam (24 shots-22 saves).

A-2,523

Referees-Alex Garon (9), Jeremy Tufts (6).

Linesmen-Michael Fusani (41), Kyle Richtelle (73).