A calculated attack designed to undercut and disparage Norway Downtown and the Norway Chief of Police has been launched in public and on social media.

The attack is nothing more than the temper tantrum of a petulant child who isn’t getting what he wants, when he wants it. In the depressingly familiar “Trumpian” juvenile form of name calling and character assassination, this tantrum aims at destroying the character of the chief of police and decades of work done by the volunteers of Norway Downtown.

And while those two are not the only targets, the others are individuals and not as public.

Seventeen years ago Norway Downtown became an official Main Street Maine community with the Maine Downtown Center and the National Main Street Center. Currently Norway Downtown is a Maine Network Community. This program, administered by the Maine Development Foundation, was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in response to increasing threats to the health and survival of downtowns nationwide.

As a partnership-based group, Norway Downtown  forms relationships with state and local government and public and private investors. It initiates and supports projects to improve Main Street, addressing changes with a comprehensive approach aimed at protecting the historic integrity, fostering new ideas about economic development, bringing people to Main Street to support its businesses and keeping the downtown clean, attractive and conducive to business.

It has accomplished all this and continues to do so, through countless hours of volunteer work. Its board of directors and four committees – Organization, Promotion and Downtown Development & Design  – are composed of people who volunteer their time not only to meet but do the countless tasks needed to succeed. And succeed it has.

Norway Downtown has played a significant role in building on Main Street’s current assets and its cultural strengths.  In 2009, we would guess about half the storefronts on Main Street were empty. Today they are filled with vibrant and varied businesses. Working closely with the Town of Norway, Norway Downtown has brought new life to Norway’s business district as well as thousands of visitors. It has done this with hugely successful  annual events, including festivals, constant upgrades to the appearance of the downtown district, promotional materials, including a map and guide, website and newsletters to broadcast the community’s many merits and opportunities, successful advocacy leading to grants, loans, and designations and  support for existing businesses, institutions and organizations.

And as with most organizations, while some come and go, there are always a few souls who keep on giving. In the Norway Downtown organizations these include such volunteers as Andrea Burns, Kathryn Letourneau, Scott Berk, Bruce Cook, Dennis Gray and Brenda Melhus, amongst others., some of whom are being attacked on an individual basis. Fortunately, these folks have well deserved and long held stellar reputations so the name calling, hopefully, will not harm them. However the fact that it is happening at all is disgraceful and speaks more of the name caller than the targets.

Norway Police Chief Robert Federico has earned the reputation of being honest, forthright and transparent over the 22 years he has served the town of Norway. His goal has been, is and will be to protect and serve the residents and businesses of Norway. So, if he “decided to air all kinds of concerns to the Norway Select Board at … public hearing” he had good reason. He is respected by all who deal with him including his staff, his bosses – the town manager and board of selectmen – as being fair and treating all equally. If he has questions then they simply need to be answered. If he has concerns, then they need to be addressed.

What doesn’t need to happen and what should not happen is the implication that he is petty and under the influence of anyone, much less Norway Downtown.

To undermine 22 years of service to Norway and its citizenry by Chief Federico and 15 years of service to Norway by Norway Downtown is not only juvenile, petty and vindictive but harmful to the entire community.

Shame on those who do.

 

 

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