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Moving And Shaking: Jeanne Pepin-Budnick

Business woman rallies local businesses, volunteers to aid city.

 

If you're paying attention to events in Woonsocket it's hard not to notice Jeanne Pepin-Budnick, an owner of , life-long resident, frequent sight at meetings, popular local business activist and willing volunteer.

"She really stepped up to the plate with the monument," said Mayor Leo Fontaine, referring to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's demand that the cross atop the Place Jolicoeur monument be removed.

Jeanne took notice of the memorial's deteriorating condition, and led the organization of Woonsocket War Memorial Committee to arrange for its care. Lorraine Corey, publisher of MyWoonsocket.com, said she first heard about the Committee from Jeanne, who is demure on the topic. "I think it was the group's idea," she said.

Jeanne, also chair of the Blackstone Valley Independent Business Alliance, helped organize the April 17 cash mob at Kay's Restaurant and Vose Hardware. 

She's a founding member of the Woonsocket Taxpayer's Coalition. "She's been with us since May 2009," said Sharon Geving, a member of the Coalition's executive committee.

Geving said Jeanne regularly volunteers as a greeter during the WTC's meetings and is routinely helping behind the scenes. "She's not always looking for the limelight," Geving said, "I've never heard her say, 'No.' "

Jeanne was not always so involved in city events. In 2007, "They had something going on in the city called the Med Zone," Jeanne said. The name is short for Municipal Economic Zone, an area encompassing 18 acres in Woonsocket and 122 acres in North Smithfield where sales tax would have be cut in half, giving the big box stores located there an unfair advantage over local businesses, she said.

The Valley Alliance For Smart Growth opposed the Med Zone. "I joined them," Jeanne said. She rallied local businesses, spoke at public hearings and drew attention to the unfair advantage the Med Zone would give large stores. "You see it on the tax days," Jeanne said, "They go crazy."

"That's when I first met her," said Geving. She had her car parked in front of city hall with signs all over it, she said, "She's just a great person."

The Med Zone project was unanimously passed by the City Council in 2005 but was ultimately blocked by the state. "They put a moratorium on Med Zones," Jeanne said.

"It seemed like I became more outgoing after the Med Zone thing," Jeanne said. She started attending city meetings and staying on top of local events. She said she realized that the Med Zone issue had been brewing for years before she became involved. "It was something that I probably should have known about," Jeanne said.

She said she's learned people can make a difference by speaking their conscience, but, "You've got to be respectful, you have to agree to disagree."

Jeanne grew up attending St. Joseph's Parish. She still volunteers there, cooking for the two priests once a month. "Priests need to eat, too, right?" she said.

She went to Greater Woonsocket Catholic Regional School (Now Good Shepherd) for 10 years before attending Woonsocket High School, and grew up playing in Pepin Lumber's lumber yard with her brother and sisters. Now she lives in east Woonsocket with her husband, Kenneth Budnick. They've got two children, Rachel, 21, and Steven, 23.

Jeanne said the city has its challenges, "But there's a lot of good positive people in this city," she said.

Dave F June 30, 2012 at 08:49 PM
With all due respect to the great work Jeanne has been doing. I wonder where the taxes and this mess we are in right now would be if the med zone did go thru. The shock of anything new in this city always get people going and always saying NO!!!! Does anyone think they would have really lost that much business because of a 3% savings in sales tax if, that was the case then everyone would go to Mass and buy there and save but that doesnt happen. As i said back then and i will say now 40,000 people will suffer because a few busniess people did not want the med zone but i find it kind of funny those are the same people right now fighting for no tax increase's and so forth. People really need to look at the big picture when something new wants to come into this city
DR June 30, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Dave I recently suggested to councilman Jalette that the entire city of Woonsocket be placed in a med or enterprise zone.Since Woonsocket is located next to Mass the zone would help existing business and bring in new businesses.The state would have to approve the zone but in the long run it may help the state also.
Lorraine Corey July 01, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Jeanne and her family are great people who always step up to the plate. They truely love their community. So nice to see an uplifting story about a caring person.
la_mouffette July 01, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Dave, I think I am looking at the big picture, and I respectfully disagree. We couldn't have legally applied the Med zone tax break there anyway. THAT's why it got blocked-- because the planners were trying to use it illegally. The med zone was intended for use by "depressed urban areas" only, like, say, Main street or Diamond Hill, or even Providence street. (I have no idea why our admin didn't ask for one in either place.) But the planners were trying to apply it to a development that is mostly acres and acres of virgin woodland /water shed, in a town with a comfortable median income. The med zone sales tax break, in that plan, would have been given away to big box stores, 90% of which would not be in Woonsocket, and built on clear-cut virgin forest and wetland. The plan would not draw business traffic into our city, nor would it provide quality jobs for our adults. It would have hurt local business in woonsocket, and would have drawn our box stores over the border even sooner. (As for whether or not the tax break would have hurt Woonsocket business, look at what Dowling Village is doing, even without a sales tax break). It wouldn't have done much for us, and was illegal anyhow. I think a better use would have been to apply it to one of our economically depressed business zones within Woonsocket. Combined with a plan to lower business taxes modestly and gradually, that might have made us attractive and shored up our tax base, instead of eroding it.
la_mouffette July 01, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Jeanne is a really lovely lady. Thanks for shining a light on her, Rob!
Yvet H July 01, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Jeanne keep up the good work. Hope to see more Woonsocketers follow in your footsteps.
Dave F July 01, 2012 at 07:57 PM
la_mouffette, the med zone would have only been allowed on the woonsocket side of dowling village not the north smithfield side, there would have been no tax break given to the stores in north smithfield.I would not call diamond hill road a distressed area, yes you are right it would have gone to big box stores can u picture a home depot and a lowes in the city or walmart staying on diamond hill because they would have never moved if there competitor went to dowling village. you can blame the people of walnut hill area for walmart moving out no one else, if they were not against it there would be a super walmart on DHR along time ago
Russell Archambault July 01, 2012 at 08:11 PM
@DAVE i can agree with you on the walmart thing. walmart would have added where the rink was. dont know how it would have impacted anything. and the double woonsocket tax rate, oppose to n.s. sure didnt help. typical
Mew July 01, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I alos think Jeanne is a great person and is working to helpher city But, I must say I was so disappointed in her getting people out to shop. I could not believe she would pick Kay's Restaurant to visit fist. they certainly are not hurting for business. Next time Jeanne think a little harder. I sure am not going to join the cavalcade of cars tp someone who is doing just fine, like Kays!!!
Sly July 02, 2012 at 11:38 AM
It's just funny that Pepin Lumber WAS the only business in Woonsocket THAT HAD wood crosses FOR SALE.Nobody 's heard a thing since.Where did this money go that you people gave for the cross fund.There's some sick people around here.Fontaine and ward are laughing at all.They both need to go and now get out!!!! Jeane must be running for something.There's a reason why she been around for the last 4 month.Be men your both usless.Take off,take a hike,Go back to lincoln and stay there.Fontaine nice house you have, do you ever worry where your next meal will come from. Leave us homeowners alone.Budget Com.wake up your no better.
Russell Archambault July 02, 2012 at 12:07 PM
@ SLY; the wood crosses were the brainchild of the pepin family. they were custom made if you would have bought one, you would have seen that. and sold with the proceeds going to the fund. they made no profit at all on the project. just a bunch of people trying to help their community.of course your not the only one that complained, so did the pepins themselves, they couldnt get their own work done, the orders were coming in so fast.but they got it under control they started to also do them at night . others started to build crosses also, to sell. also if you have read other articles you would have known that the money has been earmarked for the repairs that are underway. now another fact. !!! who ever this jeane girl is , she has been on the scene for 4 years with the tax coalition. there must be something in in for her, right.? yea your right on that. protecting herself and all the other tax payers of the city.spending hundreds of hours working for free to try to help us all. everytime someone does something, they the blamed for running for something. i wish she would, she is one of the smartest people i know after myself.( there is always someone smarter than yourself) think about that one ,sly, bet you cant figure that one out.answer on meals, no i dont worry, there is always the food court on rathburn. great free meals, for the entire family.!!oh boy pasta today. budget commitee is doing a great job what else can they do. have a better solution sly? do tell me !! O
Russell Archambault July 02, 2012 at 12:24 PM
@ mew; if she chose kays so what. why dont you make a list of who where they should go and ill deliver it. these people are having a good time doing what they want with their money. another great brainchild of the pepins.!! what i cant stand is that all of these people are having so much fun while people like me are sitting here alone typing because we are so lonely and have nobody to talk to. I also agree with you mew that jeane should think a little harder and come up with another great idea, like go around town and find the lonely and homeless people and donate money to them " i think 20.00 apiece would be nice" so they could continue getting everything for free, except cigarettes, or boose, or drugs. or they all should go to one of the local bars and all just get drunk. im for that. all the bars are hurting !!!
English first July 02, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Even a good deed gets attacked on the Woonsocket Patch.
Louise M Sutherland July 02, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Anyone can come in and I will personally show them th checks that were sent to the city. Some of the money has been spent already to fix it. Louise M Pepin Sutherland
Russell Archambault July 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM
TO the pepin family; the only thing you have to show anybody,,,,,,,,,, is that you guys ( girls ) are a great close honorable woonsocket family. too late for me to ask that !!! youve been doing it for how many years now. about 75 years ??? god bless your whole family.
Not Leo Fontaine August 03, 2012 at 11:51 AM
I know Jeanne and she was there for me and my wife when we needed her,there's not a bad word i can say about her,a real sweetheart!
Yvette M Ayotte April 02, 2013 at 08:18 PM
It's great to see Jeanne get some attention and recognition for all that she does. She's the first one to volunteer for anything in this city and is always willing to help someone. God bless you Jeanne!!
Dick Bouchard April 03, 2013 at 11:33 AM
I'd like to say ditto to Yvette's comments, the entire Pepin family is top notch in my book! They continue to work hard and survive in this most difficult business world!
SDE April 03, 2013 at 02:52 PM
A business world made difficult and expensive by our own elected officials. It is time to simplify it so new family businesses like the Pepins can be forged.
Mew April 03, 2013 at 11:52 PM
@Russ, I agree with you Russ, It just didn't seem right that you should go to a Place that's doing very well, I thought it was about places who really are hurting. Jeanne is a wondrful person, No one can take that away from her, the whole family is so curteous when you visit their establishment.
David T April 04, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Thanks to the Pepins, buying that cross and sticking in my front yard was the best I've felt about living here in long time. It really brought us together and that cross was the tangible thing that did it for me. That and the rally at the monument were great unifyers. And, best $5 buck I ever spent! The labor alone was worth more than $5 to build one. By the way, when will the WTC meet again? Anybody know?

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