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In this week's Times:

Reaching for the stars

United Players to stage ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

By Peter Spotts
Turley Publications Staff Writer

WILBRAHAM – The upcoming production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” is going to be wrapping up the 61st season for the Wilbraham United Players and promises to be a funny and creative ride for the audience.
Running from Friday, April 28 through Sunday, May 7, Director Deb Trimble says “Peter and the Starcatcher” is a play she has been looking forward to doing since she saw it on Broadway four years ago because its creativity, its story, and its high overall level of fun.
“If you want to have a really great night out at the theater and laugh and have a good time and enjoy a great story, you should come see Peter and the Starcatcher. It is funny, it is a wonderful story and experience,” Trimble said.
Adding, “I saw this show about four years ago on Broadway and fell in love with it. As soon as this was available we must do this piece because it was so inventive and different from a lot of productions you'll where there's a lot of hyped up effects, scenery, costumes , and props. This kind of show uses the actors to invent as they go along. It's been a lot of fun to do it. The actors are having a truly joyful time working on the piece.”
The play is based on the 2006 novel by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson that serves as a prequel to Peter and Wendy, giving more backstory to Peter Pan's origin. More than 25 people are working in the cast or behind the scenes helping with props, scenery, and more including Stephanie Bauduccio of Ludlow, Tyler Nowakowski of Ludlow, WUP President Paul Nesbit of Springfield, Joe Van Allen of Springfield, Don Clements of Wilbraham, Kevin Bechard of Holyoke, Kevin Kary of Wilbraham, Joe Lessard of Enfield, Connecticut, Jim Martin of Wilbraham, Dylan Pereira of East Longmeadow, Casey Dion of Holyoke and Jonathan Hebert of Wilbraham. Benjamin Mabrey is directing the music with Dina Del Buono doing choreography.
The Wilbraham United Players were founded back in 1956. Back then they performed a lot of works by Gilbert & Sullivan including the “H.M.S Pinafore,” “The Mikado,” and the “Pirates of Penzance.” Overtime they added a variety of plays and productions to their repertoire like “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Great Gatsby,” and “Camelot.” To celebrate their 60th anniversary last year with a fond throwback, the group performed “Pirates of Penzance” as a homage to the origins of the troupe.
Trimble has been directing the group since 1994. While she has no formal training, she studied music during her undergraduate studies and was a member of the Wilbraham United Players as an actor until 1985 and left to start her own family before returning as director in 1994.
“I've been doing it for a long time. I'm not formally trained, [but] I go by my gut, I have a vision and I go for that and I'm able to get people to do what they need to do to create that vision. It is truly a passion [of mine],” Trimble said.
Peter and the Starcatcher will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on April 28, 29 and May 4,5,6 as well as at 2:30 p.m. on April 30 and May 7 at the Fellowship Hall stage in the Wilbraham United Church located at 500 Main St. in Wilbraham. Tickets are $25 for premium seating, $20 for general admission, and $15 for seniors and students under 18. More information on show times, ordering tickets, and the group in general is available at
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Library hosts annual ‘Bagshare’ event

HAMPDEN – In an effort to reduce waste, the Hampden Free Public Library will host its fourth annual Bagshare on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 19 at 1 p.m. The Bagshare project is an event where volunteers sew and donate reusable cloth bags for users to borrow when they forget their bag.
For more information, call 566-3047.
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In this week's Times:

HDTV in the future for WPA

Town renews license with Charter

By Tyler S. Witkop
Turley Publications Staff Writer

WILBRAHAM – At first glance, the new license agreement with Charter Communications is about the same as the last. But, buried in the details is a future of high definition clarity.
For Wilbraham Public Access Executive Director Anthony Aube, the new language paves a future of infrastructure improvements and holds Charter accountable in their federal license as long as the town meets specific criteria.
“All of our equipment has been HD capable for decades,” Aube told The Times. One major impediment has been the dated delivery infrastructure of copper coaxial cables that are “so antiquated is has mono audio.”
According to the new 10-year agreement, approved by the Board of Selectmen April 3, once the total number of activated video channels on Charter’s system is 85 percent or higher and uses switched digital video in town, on or after Jan. 1, 2018 upon written request, Charter must provide one HD channel for WPA.
Additionally, if those criteria are met, Charter must also provide a fiber optic video return line from the studio in the Little Red Schoolhouse to Charter’s headend at no charge to the town.
Within 60 days of the execution date of the agreement, Charter must provide $25,000 to procure an Internet protocol encoder/decoder and associated equipment, enabling WPA to cablecast from any location in Wilbraham experiencing a service drop.
By March 31, 2018, Charter must, at no charge, construct and activate a fiber connection between the Town Office Building and the Little Red Schoolhouse.
“By having an inter-connect at Town Hall, it allows me to have a robust and reliable signal,” he said.
Aube used the example of a broadcast from a Planning Board hearing. He said with high definition and infrastructure that supports it, viewers at home or on their computer could read a document or see a map rather than an indistinguishable smudge.
To reach that agreement, Aube conducted numerous records requests from all area communities. He explained he sought everything from licenses to addendums and attached letters to see what types of services public access stations received from their cable providers. Most that receive high definition service or fiber optic connection he said were buried in side agreements not part of the original license agreement.
Interestingly, when Aube and the Cable TV Advisory Committee approached Charter, in almost every instance they agreed to include the provision in the new contract.
Capital funding for public access represents an increase of an amount up to $200,000, with $100,000 paid within 90 days of the effective date and the last payment of up to $100,000 within 60 days of a written request after the fifth anniversary. Additionally, for the first five years, Charter will provide quarterly grants of 4 percent of gross cable TV revenues. In years six through 10, Charter will make quarterly payments of 4.5 percent of gross cable TV revenues.
Aube said he would have like to get 4 percent of all cable and cable Internet revenues, but at least for now, there is no means to do so.
“There was a lot of work in Congress to move licensing for PEG access to cable Internet,” he explained, but with a new presidential administration, it is uncertain whether the movement will continue.
He noted, based on cable TV revenue only, Charter made $5 million in Wilbraham last year.
During the meeting, Selectman Robert Boilard raised concern that WPA broadcasts into Hampden but Hampden residents do not pay for any of the service.
“All we cover for Hampden is the [school] district through school functions,” Aube said. “That’s where we draw the line.”
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