Writing this column every other week has its limitations, as on the off week I’ve got a lot to share but can’t. So, this is a catch-up column for topics that have been floating around the atmosphere here at the home office.

An orchid to Payton Shubrick

Many congratulations to Payton Shubrick on her multiple wins at the recent New England Cannabis Convention. Shubrick beat the odds as an independent dispensary operator by coming home with both Best Massachusetts Recreational Dispensary and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, honors bestowed upon her by customers and her peers.

Shubrick operates 6 Bricks, the dispensary on the ground floor of The Republican building on Main Street in Springfield. 6 Bricks is a rarity in the commonwealth: a Black woman-owned and family-run recreational dispensary.

In a business field increasingly dominated by chains operating in several states, supporting a local dispensary such as 6 Bricks is essential.

She said, “It was an honor to be nominated in both categories with so many other competitors across the state. I am grateful to have won both awards but find that winning Best MA Recreational Dispensary is especially and extremely humbling as it showcases the importance of independent operators as well as Mom and Pop shops in the state. All too often the focus is on multi-state, corporate-owned operators. Achieving these honors is not only exciting for me but for all independent operators that are serving communities of disproportion impact.”

An onion to the management of the Mardi Gras

I’ve been following the anticipated sale of the Mardi Gras block and the potential closing of the gentlemen’s club for more than a year and was frankly skeptical that the current transaction was going to fall apart, as two other such attempts have done.

The story was significant as it involves the redevelopment of an entire city block with a parking lot that can accommodate more than 138 cars.

I was wrong, though, and the deal went through. I certainly couldn’t predict the alleged theft of thousands of dollars by an employee would spur management to abruptly close the club.
Although employees had been told of a closing on April 8, they did not get any sort of proper notice for the closing on March 29.

You can wag your finger and tsk-tsk me all you want, but the employees of the club — bartenders, bar backs, doormen and entertainers — are now scurrying to find work and how they were treated was not fair.

Would you want your employment to evaporate over night? Would you want to turn up at your job only to be told there is no longer any job?

I know the critics of the club are doing a happy dance about its demise, but perhaps they can stop a moment to consider the impact on the lives of the employees.

A worried look at the state of media in Western Massachusetts

The news that New England Public Media — the merging of WFRC radio and WGBY television — had recently laid off 17 people, its television production crew, was terrible news.

I have great admiration for the crew that has made “Connecting Point” and other local shows.
Reports have indicated the TV side had been running in a significant deficit and eliminating the local shows, which draw underwriting dollars, might only make that loss greater.

So, the trouble is that NEPM’s TV side was proving solid local programming that certainly augmented what local programming the commercial stations provide.

I’m hoping NEPM can quickly find a way to gain the stability it needs to resume local production.

A puzzled what-the-heck to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

According to the report by the State House News Service, horse racing is the newest head-scratcher problem for the Gaming Commission.

From the story: “The Mass. Gaming Commission unanimously agreed [last week] that it cannot include horse racing in the sports wagering events catalog it approved earlier this year, though betting on horse races — even via mobile devices — remains legal and available in Massachusetts. The commission’s regulations list horse racing among events specifically off limits for sports betting companies.

“Betting on horse racing is authorized under its own discrete law and is allowed on live races (held only at Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville) and on races held elsewhere and simulcast at the track and former horse or dog tracks. The law also allowed advanced deposit wagering, in which bettors pre-fund accounts and can place wagers over the phone or online. But that same set of laws also ‘expressly criminalizes’ managing, wagering or betting on dog and horse racing except as it specifically provides for, the commission’s top lawyer said.”

Do other states with sport gaming do this? Again, are we being competitive? The only reason to have state-sanctioned sports betting is to keep Massachusetts gaming dollars here. Such confusion doesn’t help.

G. Michael Dobbs has worked for Reminder Publishing for 22 years of his nearly 50-year-career in the Western Mass. media scene, and previously served as the executive editor. He has spent his time with the publisher covering local politics, interesting people and events. The opinions expressed within the article are that of the author’s and do not represent the opinions and beliefs of the paper.

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