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Worthington Town Meeting, elections slated for Saturday

— On Saturday, voters in Worthington will be asked to consider a $3.2 million budget at their annual Town Meeting — a $174,748, or 6 percent, increase over this fiscal year’s figure, $3,082,444.

Of the proposed $3,257,192 fiscal 2014 budget, $1,018,699 is being requested for the Gateway Regional School District, $282,665 for vocational education, and $14,912 for the Worthington Library. Other proposed expenditures include borrowing $305,000 for the purchase of a 2013 pumper truck for the Fire Department, as well as $21,200 for payment on a fire rescue truck.

Voters will consider a 30-article warrant, including one article that asks if the town should leave the Gateway Regional School District.

According to Stacy Stewart, the administrative assistant to district Superintendent David Hopson, before Worthington can leave the school district, the five other member towns — Blandford, Chester, Huntington Middlefield, Montgomery and Russell — must unanimously approve the town’s withdrawal at their own town meetings.

If the amendment is approved, Worthington would pay tuition to send junior and high school students to another school district, and the R.H. Conwell Community Education Center would become a public school for children in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.

Town Meeting voters will also be asked to approve $25,000 to fund an engineering design study for renovating the former Moran home, next to Town Hall, which is being considered for future use for town offices and the police station.

According to Select Board Assistant Peggy O’Neal, the home once belonged to the late Ralph Moran, but was purchased by the town roughly seven years ago. Since then, several committees have formed to explore how best to utilize the building, and ideas have ranged from selling the property to using it as a Habitat for Humanity home to burning the structure down.

“The home will be open before, during and after the meeting if people want to get a look at it,” O’Neal said. “It would be sad if it wasn’t put to good use.”

The town elections will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the annual Town Meeting will begin at 9:30. Both will take place at the Town Hall at 160 Huntington Road.

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