MEXICO – Selectmen unanimously approved use of the town gazebo for the local Police Explorers club to sell Christmas trees this year.

Two businessmen and one resident objected to the move.

At issue is whether allowing the nonprofit Mexico Police Department young people’s club to use a town site to sell Christmas trees when at least one local businessman also sells Christmas trees.

“I’m a taxpayer of Mexico and I started in 1980. I have a business and I give donations. My money goes for everything, including the Police Department,” said Todd Wardwell, owner of a shop on Route 17 that sells plants, gifts and seasonal items, including Christmas trees.

He said he lost $12,000 to $15,000 last year because not only did his sales of Christmas trees decline, but also other sales often made by people who buy items at his shop when they come in to buy Christmas trees.

Police Chief Jim Theriault said the Police Explorers club sold about 100 trees last year and questioned whether such a small number could cause such a decline in Wardwell’s business.

Fellow businessman Andy Dupuis agreed with Wardwell.

“He’s a taxpayer. They should find another fundraiser,” he said.

Resident Betty Barrett suggested that trees be sold at the police station, and that next year the Explorers sell something else, such as pumpkins.

Others questioned whether Girl Scouts selling cookies and Boy Scouts selling popcorn put them in competition with private businesses that sell similar items.

Selectman Richie Philbrick, a Boy Scout leader, asked what would happen if a troop wanted to raise money by selling Christmas trees.

“Would we get thrashed?” he said.

Town Manager John Madigan said the young people in the club live in Mexico and are the children of the community.

“This is not a competition. There’s a huge difference there,” he said.

Christmas tree sales will begin on Nov. 28 and run through Dec. 22 at the gazebo at the rear of the town office.

In other matters, selectmen set a special workshop session for 4 p.m. Oct. 6 with the Recreation Committee, Generations manager Carla Blackman, and Dawson Walton, a personal trainer, and Nick Graham, a judo instructor

The session will be an attempt to work out the most beneficial way to operate the fitness center in the town recreation building, and to discuss potential new programs.

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