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Prima buys former Wausau Carriers building

August 04, 2010
NORTHUMBERLAND — A sign that things may be looking up for the town of Northumberland occurred last Friday morning as the sale of the former Wausau Carriers building was finally closed.

Rainbow Connnection LLC sold the 7.4 acre property on 248 State Street to the Prima America Corporation (PAC) for $1,365,000. Town selectmen and employees had suspected that the sale would happen soon, but did not know the exact date.

The secrecy of the sale was important due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations, noted local liaison for PAC, Benoit Lamontagne of Colebrook. "Three or four times the sale almost didn't go through," he said.

PAC has been eyeing the building for a while to convert into a bio-fuel pilot plant, a plan that they still have in mind said Mr. Benoit. PAC had Rainbow Connection apply and receive a zoning variance on their behalf last September to be allowed to build a 70-75 foot high smoke stack that would be needed for the facility.

"Once the building is purchased at least you know they are serious about it," said Mr. Benoit. "This is a good sign."

While the bio-fuel plant may still be far off in the town's future, the sale provides Northumberland with some extra rope to pull themselves further out of the hole of unpaid taxes they have found themselves in.

Yesterday Rainbow Connection was all paid up with the town sending in the $106,500 owed over the past couple years and even the $625 for their July water bill, said town clerk Min Kennett.

Even so the town's financial shortfall has steadily declined since the possibility of bankruptcy was announced. According to Mrs. Kennett the warrant for the first issue of property taxes in 2009 was $1,615,214.28 and the amount outstanding after the due date was $569,000. However the warrant this year was $1,592,774.85 and the amount outstanding after the due date was $274,000. The recent payment by Rainbow Connection reduces this amount by $18,000.

"It means a lot more folks have paid up throughout the year," said Selectman Rob Gauthier. "It's interesting since we haven't seen any new jobs coming into town. People tighten their belts when they realize they could lose their home."

This alone puts Northumberland back in the shortfall spectrum they were in years past. In 2007 the tax warrant was $1,998,926.22 with $280,000 owed and in 2007 the tax warrant was $1,699,473.40. with $209,000 owed.

According to Selectman Jim Tierney everything checked out with Crane and Bell, the town's accountants recently, but the town still faces a significant shortfall.

Other major businesses contributing to the town's shortfall include the Dupuis Country Store ($39,500), Pinetree Motel ($28,000), David Spencer: apartment building on Old Village Road ($18,360), David Hutchins: apartment building on Main Street ($18,780), Currier Sales and Service ($16,000), Nelson Farm ($12,400), CAR Trust ($10,000) and Perras Lumber ($6,962).

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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