The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of February 20 to February 27, 2020
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Accident Knocks Out Power for Lake Monomonac Residents

A lake resident returning home on Saturday, February 15 lost control of his 2008 GMC Envoy and collided with a utility pole near 600 Lakeview Drive at about 1:30 p.m., breaking the utility pole in half and doing severe damage to the vehicle. No one was injured.

The Envoy's driver told the Courier that he came around a curve to find another car "in the middle of the road." The Envoy's driver attempted to veer around the vehicle, fishtailed onto ice and snow at the road's edge, and skidded across the road into the utility pole. The pole fell onto the Envoy. The other vehicle left the scene without saying anything to the driver of the Envoy.

Multiple National Grid trucks responded quickly. The Winchendon Police Department closed Lakeview Drive and posted an alert to residents on Facebook. Brooks Automotive sent a flatbed truck, which was compelled to back all the way down Lakeview from the intersection with Beachview Drive due to the blocked road and snowbanks. The temperature at that time was about 22 degrees with a brisk wind.

National Grid replaced the utility pole. Power was restored to lake residents at 5:38 p.m.

February 15, 2020
Driver escaped injury despite the pole falling onto the vehicle
(Photo: Inanna Arthen)
February 15, 2020
National Grid raised the utility pole with their cherry-picker so the vehicle could be moved onto the flatbed truck
(Photo: Inanna Arthen)

Conditions Assessment Report on Old Murdock Senior Center Describes Urgent Problems

At the February 10 Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Keith Hickey told the Selectmen that he was "looking for some direction" in making decisions about repair work needed for the Old Murdock High School building which now houses the Winchendon Senior Center at 52 Murdock Avenue. The engineering report from Tighe and Bond includes cost estimates for three phases of work which Mr. Hickey said "caught him in left field" with the amount of repair needed and the cost.

The full report may be read on the town's website: Winchendon Senior Center Conditions Assessment.

With the assistance of Structures North Consulting Engineers, Tighe and Bond conducted a full survey of the building's interior and exterior. They identify three phases of repairs. Phase I comprises critical repairs that should be undertaken as soon as possible for safety reasons, including work on the clock tower and roof. Phase II includes recommended repairs to the roof and exterior masonry to be completed within two to five years to prevent further deterioration of the building. Phase III covers long term additional repairs to be completed within six to ten years, including windows and a lightning protection system.

The estimated cost for Phase I is $1,560,000. Phase II is estimated to cost $1,950,000. Phase III is projected to cost $1,720,000.

Mr. Hickey said that he has spoken with Senior Center Director Sheila Bettro and some of the seniors who use the center about possible options which might be less costly than investing $3,510,000 in Old Murdock over the next three years. Groton and Westminster both built new senior centers within the last seven years. Groton constructed an 11,000 square foot building at a cost of $5.8 million. The Westminster senior center is 7,500 square feet and cost $2.75 million plus $250,000 in labor from Monty Tech and the state prison outwork program. These totals do not include "soft costs" such as architectural plans.

Mr. Hickey stated that in cost terms, either the town will be repairing the Old Murdock building at a cost of $5.23 million, or building a new senior center for approximately the same amount.

The Capital Planning Committee suggested presenting a non-binding referendum question to the town at Town Meeting asking whether residents wanted to repair Old Murdock or build a new facility.

Complicating the issue is the fact that Winchendon received funding in 1997 through the Massachusetts Preservation Project Fund for repairs to the Senior Center. As a condition of that funding, the Massachusetts Historical Commission holds a Preservation Restriction on the building in perpetuity.

Mr. Hickey stated that he asked Tighe and Bond if the building was safe to use, and was told the building is safe as long as the barriers around the clock tower are kept in place. The interior of the building is in good condition.

Mr. Hickey stated that he can ask the engineers about the possibility of using a different roofing material than slate, and whether combining Phase I and Phase II would reduce the cost of doing them separately. Phase I could be paid for from the town's Stabilization Fund. Mr. Hickey stated that the town will be looking into possible grants, and other funding decisions would be made down the road.

Board of Selectmen Chair Audrey LaBrie noted that if the town puts a non-binding referendum question on the Town Meeting warrant in May, and then brings construction plans to the town at the 2020 Fall Town Meeting, it will take almost a year before repair work starts. The report indicates that Phase I work should not be delayed that long.

Selectman Barbara Anderson noted that Old Murdock also serves as the town's polling place. She suggested that the seniors who use the Senior Center be canvassed to see whether they'd like a new building or would prefer the familiar location. Many people in town have a strong affection for the building, and some of the seniors attended high school there. Ms. Bettro stated that the building works very well for the Senior Center and the seniors would like to stay there.

Mr. Hickey will be discussing options further with the engineers.

Winchendon Public Schools Submit Statement of Interest for MSBA Accelerated Repair Program Funding

Winchendon Public Schools Superintendent Joan Landers came before the Board of Selectmen on Monday, February 10 to request permission to submit a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, saying that Winchendon would like to be considered for the Accelerated Repair Program through the MSBA. This is a first step in a long process which does not bind the town in any way; expenditures will be brought to Town Meeting for a vote. The school department is seeking repairs to the roof of Murdock Middle High School. The Capital Planning Committee and Finance Committee have been discussing this issue for the past 18 months. A study of the roofs has been completed by Russo Barr Associates. A systems study, evaluating the boilers, heating, hot water systems and ventilation has also been done.

School Committee member Greg Vine told the Selectmen that this concern has been brought up annually for a number of years, far predating Ms. Lander's appointment as Superintendent, and it needs to be addressed.

If the projects are accepted, the state will reimburse sixty to seventy percent of costs.

The Board of Selectmen approved the Statement of Interest unanimously.

Early Voting for Presidential Primary Scheduled in Winchendon

The Massachusetts Presidential Primary election will be held on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Early voting for Winchendon residents who wish to participate will be conducted at the Winchendon Town Hall, 109 Front Street, 4th floor conference room at the following times:

Monday, February 24 - 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 25 - 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 26 - 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 27 - 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Architects Will Meet With Capital Planning Committee on Downscaled Fire Station Plans

At the February 10 Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Keith Hickey asked that the Finance Committee be approved to appropriate $10,000 for revised plans for a new fire station. Plans for a new fire station at a cost of $11.8 million, which would have required a Proposition 2-1/2 override, were voted down at Fall Town Meeting last October. ("Winchendon voters defeat article for expanded fire station," October 31-November 7 Winchendon Courier)

Mr. Hickey explained that the Fire Station Subcommittee of the Capital Planning Committee will meet with the architects about developing new plans for a fire station which will be less costly to build.

All agreed that the town needs a new fire station, but taking on a $12 million debt is simply not feasible given the town's other long-term capital planning needs. The architects told Mr. Hickey that they could develop revised plans for lower cost options for under $10,000. Mr. Hickey also stated that "we didn't do our due diligence" in fully communicating to residents what the fire department's needs were, and holding public hearings like the one recently held for the Winchendon Community Park.

The Board of Selectmen approved the request.

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Toy Town FYIs

Be sure to complete, sign, and return your Town Census form in the enclosed envelope to the Town Clerk's office as soon as possible. Keeping your census up-to-date ensures your voter status remains active. If you don't receive a census form, you may request a form from the Town Clerk's office, located in Town Hall at 109 Front St.

Outdoor burning season begins on January 15 and runs until May 1. A permit for outdoor burning is required; you can purchase your permit online following the instructions in the link below:
2020 Burn Permit Application Made Easy (Google Doc)

Town of Winchendon
Office of the Town Clerk
Nomination Papers for Annual Town Election
May 4, 2020

Nomination papers will be available Monday, January 13 2020 at 8:00 a.m.
Nomination papers must be obtained and turned in on or before Monday, March 16, 2020 by 6:00 p.m.
Available terms:
ONE 3-year term for the Board of Selectmen
TWO 3-year terms for the School Committee
ONE 2-year unexpired term for the School Committee
TWO 2-year terms for the Board of Health.

2020 dog licenses are now available in the Town Clerk's office (in Town Hall, 109 Front Street), online (click here), or by mail. You must provide a valid, up-to-date rabies certificate.

Effective December 1

Winter Parking Ban
Town of Winchendon Bylaw
SECTION 7.18; WINTER BAN Parking is prohibited on all public ways between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., annually from December 1st through April 15th. In addition, any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, parked, day or night, on any street in the Town, so as to interfere with the work of removing or plowing snow, removing ice, or sanding the street may be removed or towed away under the authority, discretion and direction of the Chief of Police or the Chief’s designee. The registered owner of a motor vehicle which is removed pursuant to this bylaw shall be fully responsible for all charges and expenses incurred for the removal and storage of said motor vehicle.

As of Thursday, December 5, the Winchendon Fire Department will no longer be performing inspections at residences with excessive amounts of snow preventing access to the property. If a residence is found to be inaccessible the inspection will not be performed and an additional re-inspection fee will be charged.

The Winchendon Fire Department urges residents to take all safety precautions with candles and generators.

  • Generators should always be used outside, never in your home, garage or basement. Carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible and can reach lethal levels even if you don't smell exhaust or fumes. If you have a permanent emergency generator professionally installed, make sure its ventilation is clear of snow or other obstructions.
  • Candles should never be left unattended, and must always be at least a foot away from anything else flammable--including other candles.

CENSUS 2020 is coming, we need your participation!

CENSUS 2020 is coming! Your participation is important because your answers make a vital difference. When you respond to a survey or census, you are helping your community and the nation. Your answers, combined with others, become the statistics that businesses, governments and people like you use to make informed decisions about education, emergency preparedness, employment, international trade, health, housing, and other important topics.

More information can be found at:

The US Census Bureau is hiring thousands of people for the 2020 Survey. For more information go to:

Narcan Training at the Winchendon CAC

Beginning in January, the first Tuesday of the month the Winchendon CAC will be offering Narcan Training in affiliation with the Worcester Aids Project. You will learn to administer Narcan and receive a Narcan dispenser. Class space is limited--pre-registration is required. Please come into the office or call 978-297-1667 to register. The first class will be held on Tuesday, January 7. The Winchendon CAC is located at 273 Central St., Winchendon.

Clear Those Fire Hydrants!

If there's a fire hydrant near your's the fire hydrant the Fire Department will need if your house is on fire. With that in mind, help keep hydrants clear of snow and accessible this winter, for everyone's safety!

Hydrants should be completely clear of snow and ice, with an open area of three feet on all sides and clear open access from the street. It's a little extra work, but if the hydrant is needed, every second counts!

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