The Ayer Police Association St. Paddy’s Day Foot Pursuit kicks off its 3rd year of running on March 12 at 11 a.m. sharp at Carlin’s Tavern in Depot Square.

This race rolls into the spring running season and is all for a great cause. A percentage of the proceeds goes to Cops for Kids with Cancer. How can you NOT want to join in for such a great cause? We welcome everyone of all ages and all running abilities.

Join us for a fun day — rain, snow, hurricanes or ice. No matter the weather we will run! First 150 registrants snag a free T-shirt. Come and get your Irish on and do a little jig at the bar after the race to celebrate crossing the finish line!

Visit to register.

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What a great idea! Read more about how to make this fabulous and easy item here.

By Jon Bishop,


Ayer will be getting a new grocery store, according to David Maher, director of community and economic development.

In a press release, he wrote that Paul diGeronimo, owner of the now-vacant 22 Fitchburg Road property, has secured a new tenant. The previous one, Hanford, left at the end of January.

The tenant, Mike Szelest, runs Central Supermarket in Winchendon. The Ayer store will be under a different name, Maher said.

“It’s something that the town really wants,” Maher told The Public Spirit. “They’re going to be making it better.”

The store might not be as big as Market Basket, he said, but it will be family-owned.

Maher also said that its supplier will be Hanford.

According to the press release, the store will likely open in mid July.

By Jon Bishop

AYER — The Ayer Cultural Council has awarded $5,100 to various organizations throughout the region, according to a press release from the group.

Sheila Schwabe, the chairwoman, said that one of the criteria in selecting the 15 organizations is that they either had to be near Ayer or affordable in price. That way, the maximum number of people in the community could benefit. Each organization sent in an application requesting a certain amount of money, and in some places, like the Ayer Library, aren’t getting funding from anywhere else — and so they take that into consideration.

“In a lot of cases, if we don’t fund the program, the program won’t go on,” she said. “In most cases, we were able to fund the full amount request.”

She said that the organizations they’ve worked with are a mix of new and old.

Grant-giving is important, she said, because, when budgets are tight, “the first things that get cut are the arts.” And arts and culture are important, because exposure to them “makes us well-rounded people.”

Amy Leonard, the children’s librarian at the Ayer Library, said that “it’s nice that they support the community through the library.”

“They were very generous to us, and we appreciate the support,” she added.

The library received $640 for the summer reading “Every Hero has a Story” project.

“We’re very excited,” said Samantha Benoit, the young adult librarian.

Another local organization, the Harvard-based Fruitlands Museum, received $300 to fund its Open Gates Initiative, which was its centennial celebration.

“This is the second year that they have funded Open Gates Initiative,” said Suzanne Smith, director of development at Fruitlands. Last year, on the museum’s 100th birthday, they had a free admission day, which they will be doing again this June.

“Cultural councils support organizations that benefit their town, and even though we’re in Harvard, we still have quite a few people who come here from Ayer,” she said.

Other organizations that received grant money include ArtsNashoba ($250), the Fitchburg Art Museum ($200), and the Nashoba Valley Chorale ($350).

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By Jon Bishop

AYER — On Tuesday, at the first meeting of the new year, the Ayer Board of Selectmen had the chance to reflect on 2014 and focus on 2015.

The board heard an overview of the past year from David Maher, director of community and economic development. Taco Bell and Subway have both opened, he said, and, in the spring, Wendy’s will be redone. He also noted that the Spaulding Building will have two new businesses: UNION Coffee Roaster and Heads Up, a hair and nail salon.

Maher said he met Monday with a potential tenant for the Hannaford site, which he couldn’t yet reveal. But he did said that it’s a local grocery store chain from Western Massachusetts.

“I was very excited about that meeting,” he said.

Maher said he’s putting together a map legend that would contain information about town services and local restaurants.

“The design has been done,” he said. “We’ve basically got that whole infrastructure ready to go.”

He’s also working with the Historical Society to create a walking tour through Ayer.

The board appreciated the update.

“Good work, David,” said Chairman Chris Hillman.

“I love these reports you give,” said Vice Chairman Jannice Livingston, later adding that it was a “nice way to start off the new year.”

Alicia Hersey, the grant writer for the Office of Community and Economic Development, said that they’ve got the “regulatory agreement ready to go” for the Habitat for Humanity Local Initiative Program site at 76 Central Avenue.

Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts is also still searching for families, she said. Anyone interested can either contact her or Habitat.

Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand said that the Depot Square land transaction still remains between Phil Berry, the landowner, and the MBTA. The transaction would allow the development of a pedestrian walkway and a vehicular turnaround at the Ayer commuter rail stop.

“We will continue to make that a priority,” Pontbriand said.

He said that the fiscal ’16 budget process is underway, and he also said that the senior tax work-off program will commence. Those interested can acquire forms either online or at the town hall.

“We’re ready to go,” he said.

After giving his update on the Joint Boards of Selectmen, which decided recently to hold more public hearings on the proposed Chapter 498 zoning amendments, Selectman Gary Luca said he would like to know whether the New England Recovery Center, a proposed hospital for psychiatric and substance-abuse patients, would affect the Nashoba Valley Medical Center.

“I’m all for competition, but I’m not all for them taking the hospital,” he said.

But Carly Antonellis, the Assistant to the Town Administrator, said that, when she worked in the senate, she saw that there was a high demand for services.

The Board of Selectmen entered executive session to discuss litigation strategy for Bolduc Enterprises v. Town of Ayer, which involves an alleged breach of contract, at about 8:13 p.m.

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