The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of September 12 to September 19, 2019

Candidates reception includes variety of elected...and hopeful...officials

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce will host its Legislative and Candidates Reception Thursday, September 19 from 5-7 p.m. at the Chocksett Inn on 59 Laurelwood Road in Sterling. The event is intended to offer the region with an upscale networking event that connects business and community leaders with the region's elected officials, as well as those seeking public office.

"This is a great opportunity for our business and community leaders, as well as our public officials to gather for an evening of networking and collegial discussion," said Roy Nascimento, president and CEO of the NCMCC. "We look forward to joining our legislators at a unique venue like the Chocksett Inn."

The Legislative and Candidates Reception is one of the Chamber's premier events of the season, with more than 125 federal, state, and local elected officials invited. Mount Wachusett Community College is the premier sponsor for the event.

"At Mount Wachusett Community College, we understand the importance of engaging with the region's business and legislative communities. These connections and insights help guide the college in various areas such as programming and outreach," said MWCC President James Vander Hooven. "It is vital for our region's business leaders, legislators, and policy-makers to meet and network so that they can engage and learn from each other. I am happy to support this important event."

"Gaining access to legislators and those who seek public office is just as important for small business owners as it is for CEOs in the region," said Ken Gurge, Esquire, Chamber board member and chair of the Government Affairs Committee. "This will be a tremendous opportunity for anyone with passion for north central Massachusetts."

Government affairs and public policy advocacy is a key component to the Chamber's efforts to promote a healthy and active business climate throughout the region. Recognizing that the business community and legislators are partners in economic vitality and growth, events like these align well with the Chamber's mission.

The event will feature an open bar and gourmet appetizers and hors d'oeuvres. Cost for members is $35 and non-members is $45. Registration is available online at Contact the Chamber at 978.353.7600 or chamber@northcentralmass.comfor more details.

As of September 5th, the following legislators and candidates have confirmed their attendance:

Confirmed legislators:
Senator Dean Tran, Worcester and Middlesex District
Senator Anne Gobi, Worcester, Hamden, Hampshire and Middlesex District
Representative Kim Ferguson, 1st Worcester District
Representative Stephan Hay, 3rdWorcester District
Representative Natalie Higgins, 4thWorcester District
Representative Jon Zlotnik, 2nd Worcester District
District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Worcester County
Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, Worcester County
Mayor Steven DiNatale, City of Fitchburg
Mayor Dean Mazzarella, City of Leominster
Mayor Mark Hawke, City of Gardner
Councilor Thomas E. Donnelly, City of Fitchburg
Councilor Marisa Fleming, City of Fitchburg
Councilor Amy Green, City of Fitchburg
Councilor Michael Kushmerek, City of Fitchburg
Councilor Samantha Squalia, City of Fitchburg
Councilor Thomas Ardinger, City of Leominster
Councilor Pauline Cormier, City of Leominster
Councilor David Cormier, City of Leominster
Councilor Claire Freda, City of Leominster
Councilor Gail Feckley, City of Leominster
Selectwoman Rosemarie Meissner, Town of Ashburnham
Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco, Town of Lancaster
Selectman Robert Ebersole, Town of Lunenburg
Selectwoman Maureen Cranson, Town of Sterling
Selectwoman Arden Sonnenberg, Town of Sterling
Town Administrator Ross Perry, Town of Sterling
Selectman Wayne Walker, Town of Westminster
Selectman James DesLisle, Town of Westminster

Auditor finds transportation a barrier for benefits

State auditor Suzanne Bump says the biggest obstacle for people who want to apply for federal food assistance is transportation.

Citing a five-percent drop in participation in the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants, and Children since 2016, Bump opined it's hard for some people to get to offices where they can apply for help.

31 WIC providers run 120 locations across the state but many are 20 miles or more away from where a lot of prospective applicants live. The closest full-time site to Winchendon is the DTA office in Fitchburg.

The state Department of Public Health isn't buying Bump's analysis, saying it has a 2017 survey of WIC participants in which 96-percent of respondents agreed locations "are easy to get to."

There are 14 mobile service centers scattered throughout the state. Locally, as Community Action Committee Executive Director Jen Sibley pointed out, WIC representatives do hold office hours in a satellite office in Winchendon in the new building at the Clark Memorial YMCA.

Bump's audit also listed language barriers as an impediment for some people.

While participants can apply for benefits online, in-person visits to a service center are required and for children up to 18 months, quarterly visits are mandated.

Fall town meeting planned

Free cash should be certified in early October according to Town Manager Keith Hickey. He told the Board of Selectmen Monday night that if all goes as planned, the reports and fiscal ending seem to be well in hand.

“We seem to follow what has been consistent in past years. We are more prepared now in an earlier fashion,” he said.

With that in mind, and with free cash available as well as several pieces of physical year end business to complete, he asked the board to approve a fall town meeting. The plan is to open the warrant next Monday, Sept. 16 at 8 a.m., close it the following Monday, Sept. 23 at noon. The town will publish the final warrant on Oct. 18th and have the meeting on the 28th at 7 p.m. at Murdock High School.

Five properties will be auctioned Oct. 23. The accompanying graphic describes the properties. The collector’s office can be reached for more information.

Hickey did end his manager’s report by saying that closing the fiscal year was going well and “we will have a free cash balance. No surprises are expected.”

Stone-Ladeau Funeral Home

Winchendon Fall Festival October 12