Season of Giving

Thursday, December 30, 2010
By Transcript Staff

Local businessman chips in for town programs

Winthrop resident and businessman James Mazzone has taken the spirit of the season to a whole new level this year, making $1,000 donations to each of five different organizations with connections to town government, in an effort he said is aimed at setting an example for his fellow local businessman, while also helping the town through a tough financial time.

“This whole story started when I went into the building department to get a permit, and I was told that they couldn’t print out the permit for me,” explained Mazzone, who currently operates Highland Trust, a real estate firm, and Highland Construction, through which he focuses on local real estate development projects.

As he went through the process of obtaining his permit, he found that the town’s financial condition was indeed more severe than he’d thought.

“As I went through the process working with the Building Inspector, James Soper, I decided that I wanted to do something to help them out, but he (Soper) said they couldn’t take a financial donation to the department, because it was a conflict of interest and people might think that I was trying to bribe or pay off the department.”

Instead, Soper scheduled a meeting for Mazzone with Town Manager James McKenna, at which time Mazzone renewed his offer to help.

“We had a very nice conversation, the Town Manager is a very nice guy, and at that point the told me that if I wanted to help, he could give me the names of several local organizations that work locally to manage programs and could use the help,” said Mazzone of his conversation with McKenna.

Ultimately, Mazzone contacted five of those organizations – Winthrop Charities, The Viking Pride Foundation; Friends of the Council on Aging; The Winthrop Police Charities; and the Winthrop Fire Building Fund – and made separate $1,000 donations to each of them.

“I kind of view this as setting a precedent for my fellow businessman in the community to follow,” said Mazzone. “A lot of local businesses here have been successful for a lot of year, making money in the community and growing our businesses and I see this as my chance to give back to the community that has given me so much over the years.”

Mazzone clarifying, said that he doesn’t view his donations as a ‘challenge’ to the business community, rather he is hoping that his giving would set an example for others to follow, that could help the town pull itself out of its current economic malaise.

“I just hope that people see that it isn’t just Winthrop that is hurting right now, every city and town in the country is in tough shape these days and it is time for the business community to do its part to help stop that,” he said.

Mazzone also said that he wanted to credit Soper and McKenna, for their work in the town and for their professionalism in working with him.

“The funny thing is that I started out wanting to help Jim Soper and the Building Department, because of the way they helped me through the process, but they’re the group that didn’t get anything from this” said Mazzone. “I really want to thank Jim Soper and (Town Manager) McKenna, because they helped me get this thing off the ground.”

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