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The elephant is getting the boot


College offerings expanding at Conference Center



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US Congressman Richard Neal, with a Westfield State College sign as a backdrop, announces a $600,000 grant to the school, which will establish a criminal justice program in Southbridge. Quinsigamond Community College President Gail Carberry listens, at left. QCC will be a partner with Westfield State in the program. Dean Coots. (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — It has been called the town's white elephant, a colossal failure that never lived up to expectations.

To those who fought hard to make the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center a reality, that perception belies reality. There is, in fact, a lot more going on than meets the eye.

The problem, of course, is the public was promised so much more.

"Has it taken longer to get to the point where it's more of a public access project? Yes," said Charles "Chip" Norton, managing director of Franklin Realty Advisors Inc. "Is it a white elephant? No."

Norton was standing in the conference room lobby at the hotel yesterday morning, where more than three dozen education leaders and local and state officials gathered for news that a four-year criminal justice program is coming to the area by way of a $600,000 federal grant.

The effort is part of a partnership between Quinsigamond Community College, the Worcester-based two-year college, which already has a campus based at the former AO park, and Westfield State College, through whom the funding will be channeled.

Stay tuned for more on this story and be sure to pick up your Southbridge Evening News on Friday for an in-depth story.

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