Delay in Hometown Bank Branch could be wise  
Friday, May 11, 2012


WEBSTER ¡X Hometown Bank¡¦s plans for a new full-service branch office in Webster¡¦s East Village have been on hold for a couple of years, but things are finally starting to come around, acknowledges Matthew S. Sosik, president and CEO of the bank.

Schematics for a new building in the former Cranston Print Works Co. employee parking lot at Routes 16 and 193 were delayed when expansion became possible elsewhere. Hometown, headquartered in Oxford and with branches in downtown Webster and Sturbridge, recently merged with banks in Athol and South Lancaster, widening its Worcester County presence.

¡§We¡¦ve absorbed a merger,¡¨ Mr Sosik said.

The bank is now ready to proceed with the new full-service facility, offering easy access to across town and Webster Lake neighborhoods. Like its Oxford headquarters, the new Hometown branch will be close to Interstate 395, across the highway from a significant shopping center. Galaxy Corp. is off and running with plans to convert acreage at the former Cranston Print Works Co. yard for a retail center.

Hometown Bank officers purchased the former Cranston lot because of its central location., says Mr. Sosik. ¡§It seemed right for us to be in that section.¡¨ Current developments, meaning the Galaxy enterprise, were not anticipated when Hometown Bank delayed construction in East Village to seize the gains of expansion.

Ironically, Hometown now sees the twists and turns of business as a fortunate development, suggests Mr. Sosik. The retail neighborhood is bound to improve. The Galaxy project all but guarantees this, even as Hometown goes ahead with its corner to Cranston redevelopment.

Bertin Engineering Associates of Southbridge has filed plans with the town¡¦s Code Enforcement Office in behalf of Hometown Bank for an approximate 3,000-square-foot building.

Access will be from Thompson Road at Pond Court and from an existing curb cut on the Route 16 side of the property. Drive-through banking will be available, and cluster parking will surround the new bank property.

Established as the Webster Cooperative Bank in the 1920s, the finance house was rechristened Hometown Bank after a group headed by Robert E. Duteau took over management of the facility, reinvigorating its economic significance. Hometown elected Mr. Sosik as its chief officer after Mr. Duteau retired.

Hometown¡¦s appeal is advertised as ¡§The Way Banking Should Be.¡¨ Construction of ¡§an absolutely stone bank¡¨ is scheduled for this summer, with a planned opening early in 2013, reports Mr. Sosik. The bank¡¦s downtown Webster office will remain open after the new branch is ready for business.

Although the East Village location has served as a parking lot for several decades, it was built upon from early times in town history.

S. Slater & Sons Co., first owners of the East Village factory, had a company store in a block on the corner of the lot. It subsequently housed Webster¡¦s first post office. The original Lodge Restaurant and a package store were in the building before it was torn down for the parking lot.

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The particulars were possibly lost, written off or canceled from U.S. Navy lease records, but the cannons at Webster Town Hall were originally leased from the Navy by Nathaniel Lyon Post, Grand Army of the Republic in 1908, according to a report of the time.

It wasn¡¦t a great amount, probably a few dollars a year, but the GAR Post and its spin-off organization, E.P. Morton Camp, Sons of GAR Veterans, honored the annual lease so long as they held charters. It would seem that the Sons made its last payment in 1936. It might not work against the military, but reversionary rights, meaning time-forgotten, would seem to favor continued town possession of the war pieces.

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Dudley Chief Assessor Lisa L. Berg planted our recent piece about a 1934 meeting of Worcester County Assessors in the group¡¦s current newsletter.

Ms. Berg was president of County Assessors when the photo, taken at the one time Webster Lake Hotel, came up for discussion here. She liked the story, and I appreciate the countywide exposure.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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