The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of August 19 to August 26, 2021
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Winchendon Community Park Amphitheater Gets Go-Ahead with Approvals by ConComm, Planning Board and ZBA

The Winchendon Community Park amphitheater project cleared three major hurdles within the space of a week, as hearings before the Conservation Commission, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, all of them having been continued repeatedly from prior meetings, were all closed and followed by votes of approval by the three boards. Various concerns including (but not excluded to) water runoff, impact on wetlands, site design, use of the facility, parking and traffic were addressed satisfactorily by the engineers and architects, or by conditions attached to the boards' approvals.

The first egg to get through the snake was delivered by the Conservation Commission at their meeting on Thursday, August 12. Julia Patten from Abacus Architects + Planners and David LaPointe from engineering firm Beals + Thomas appeared before the Commission to present details about work they had done in response to questions raised at previous ConComm meetings. Beals + Thomas had, as requested, brought in an environmental specialist to walk the property and identify wetland areas that may not have been accurately delineated in the previous plans.

"After we had met with this Commission a few weeks ago, we then met with the Planning Board, as well as the Zoning Board of Appeals," Mr. LaPointe recapped. "Some questions came up at those meetings, where the original delineation of the wetlands was somewhat questioned, as far as how it was conducted and who conducted it. So we were then asked to do an independent review of the wetlands on the property." With diagrams displayed, he explained that the final review was only completed the previous day, and the "sketches" shown had been marked using GPS. He stated that one wetland area had been flagged which was not on the previous map, as well as some possible vernal pools which could not be positively identified at this time of year. "Those areas are within the wetland area, so they're not actually creating any additional buffers or anything like that. They're well to the east of the existing house. So our proposed project is well away from any of those areas, as it is from the wetlands itself that are on the eastern side of the property," Mr. LaPointe said.

He also stated, "Our wetlands scientists actually identified a couple of other locations to the west, or to the left of the existing driveway, as is shown on the plan. Again, the GPS locations may not be entirely accurate, but at this point we are noticing that they may come in conflict a little bit with the proposed sidewalk that we had shown. So we are looking to somehow work around those areas, once we have the flags depicted more accurately on this plan."

Mr. LaPointe also described in detail the "more traditional storm water system" that would be installed, with a large catch basin to hold treated runoff from the parking lot, to the southwest of the lot. He added that a destructive invasive plant, glossy buckthorn, has infested the area where the catch basin will be placed and removing the buckthorn will be beneficial to the park environment. The plans have worked around an existing pollinator garden near the basin's location so as to leave it undisturbed.

The Commission had no questions for Mr. LaPointe following his lengthy presentation.

Town Manager Justin Sultzbach said, "For the sake of the folks watching at home, as everyone knows this is a town project, and it's something that we're very committed as a community to moving forward. But as part of that, and being realistic, we understand that part of that process is coming before these boards and commissions and making sure that we're checking all the boxes and crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is." He thanked Beals + Thomas for their efforts to address all the questions that had been raised, to the extent of coming to the site on a Sunday.

Resident and abutter Rick Lucier rose to make some comments. Mr. Lucier stated that there are other wetlands areas in the park "which have never been flagged or marked" and offered to take Commission members out to show them these areas. Saying he hadn't been able to review the new plans from Beals + Thomas, Mr. Lucier said, "I would respectfully ask that this [hearing] be continued until I at least get a chance to look at the stuff and determine what else might be out there."

Mr. Sultzbach responded, "To be honest, this is a fifty-acre parcel. The scope of this work, the bulk of it, is the addition of a fifty-spot paved parking area and the amphitheater. The area being described is nowhere near the scope of this work, in fact most of the structures on this site are existing, and the work that's going to be done at the site is an improvement in terms of the existing drainage."

Mr. Lucier then argued that the Conservation Commission could not make a decision on the plan until the Planning Board had approved the site plan. Conservation Commission Chair Lionel Cloutier explained that the Planning Board was waiting for the Conservation Commission's approval in order to approve the site plan.

"I know it's a town project and you want to fast-track it," Mr. Lucier said, "but it should not be fast-tracked without everything being resolved and disclosed."

Mr. Sultzbach responded, "This project has been going on for years. If this is the fast track, I would hate to see the slow track. I think we're certainly doing our best to do our due diligence, we're not looking to hammer anything through here. That's not what this is about, it's a community project, and it's widely supported. The architect and the engineers have come before this Commission and received feedback, and they're doing their best to provide valuable data so you can make an informed decision." He added, "I encourage residents, should they have concerns, to come forward in advance, so we have an opportunity to reply, and respond, and do fact-finding, rather than wait for a meeting to kind of drop a last-second bomb. That's not what we like to do, and it's not productive."

Mr. Cloutier said he felt the project had been "creeping" but he felt good about the plan now being presented.

The Commission approved the plan with the standard conditions plus submittal of the final plan to the Conservation Agent before work begins.

On Tuesday, August 17, David LaPointe and Julia Patten appeared before the Planning Board for a hearing on the site plan application for the amphitheater, parking and site work at the Winchendon Community Park.

Before the discussion began, Planning Board member Burton Gould said, "Ingleside has become a point of discussion amongst the people in town the last few weeks. I think there's a lot of questions, I think there may be misunderstandings." He suggested that the hearing be postponed for a couple of weeks while people "sit down as citizens of the town, as adults, and see if we can find out what they want, what we need to have, and see if we can't get this thing moving." He stated that this should be a public meeting, not a hearing, "the proponents, as well as the opponents" talking together.

Planning Board Chair Guy Corbosiero responded that it was an interesting idea, but they were already in the middle of a continued hearing. Mr. Gould made a motion to continue the current hearing to a later date, but no other Planning Board member seconded the motion.

Mr. LaPointe described revised plans for the storm water runoff system for the parking, as presented to the ConComm the week before. He also explained that the proposal for a permeable surface on the parking area had been abandoned due to the Department of Public Works feeling they would not be able to maintain the surface. "Since the prior meeting with the Planning Board, we did meet with the Conservation Commission, last week, who closed their hearing and approved the project," Mr. LaPointe said. "They have not issued their Order of Conditions yet but we do expect that to be coming soon. We would hope that the Planning Board would be willing to do a similar type, where they would close the hearing, and anything that they see as outstanding, could be included as a condition as part of the decision, which then would be incorporated into a final set of plans that we will submit to you prior to getting a building permit and being able to start construction."

Mr. Corbosiero asked if there was a maintenance plan for the infiltration basin. Mr. LaPointe assured him there would be full documentation on maintaining the system. Asked if consideration of the effect of the dam on water levels had been made, Mr. LaPointe stated that they had used the 100-year and 500-year flood plain maps provided by FEMA for their calculations.

In response to questions, Mr. LaPointe explained that the storm water basin is about 200 feet from Whitney Pond and at a higher elevation, so the water infiltrating from it will have a ways to travel through the ground before it gets to the pond. The amphitheater itself has some concrete steps and walkways. The stage has a roof, and there will be riprap along the bank behind the stage to control erosion.

Mr. Sultzbach stated that, "It has been verified that that stretch of road, heading from Central Street up to the community park is a town-owned road, and that's even further verified by the grant that our Community Development team just received, that will install sidewalks down Maple Street from Central Street, up to the second mouth of the Community Park...should detail be needed, even if it were a state road, you could still have local P.D. do detail for large scale events, should they occur on site."

In response to a question about ongoing maintenance of the park when it was finished, Mr. Sultzbach said, "That's a shared concern. I think the town is very grateful for this gift, I think the community is very excited about the prospect of this going in here, down on the side road. The long-term maintenance from where I sit is a concern because at the end of the day it's my responsibilty to build and develop a balanced budget. And so with that in mind, I have been actively sitting down with the different members of our community, members of the Rec Commission, to try to identify opportunities in terms of long-term maintenance for this's a multi-million dollar gift, but once it's put in, upkeep pretty much starts immediately. We have had buy-in from our DPW in terms of day-to-day maintenance, that's the easier piece. In terms of larger scale issues, it is something that we will be building into a revamp of our five, ten, fifteen year capital plan."

Resident and abutter Rick Lucier rose to express some concerns. He stated that he felt that the amphitheatre proposal should go back to Town Meeting to be approved, since the park itself was purchased by a vote of Town Meeting, and numerous ideas had been proposed for it which had not been implemented, such as a picnic area, splash park or skate park. He stated that he believed most people in town were unaware of the existence of the park and had no idea that an amphitheater was being built there, and that the town should do more outreach to inform citizens of this project. Mr. Lucier also questioned whether people could be charged to use a municipal park, which he assumed was meant by the term "commercial parking lot."

Mr. Sultzbach responded that there would be many opportunities for the public to give input on the project, stating that people can always come talk to him.

Mr. Corbosiero suggested making a formal agenda item for a future board meeting, to have a public meeting and invite the public to hear information and make comments. Mr. Lucier registered objections to cutting down trees to make way for the project, saying some of the very large trees on the site were part of the town's legacy.

The Board discussed several conditions for the approval, as well as the standard conditions that always apply. These included: final construction documents would be submitted for review; the Board can bring the applicant back for any concerns at any time; if there's any additional work added to the project, applicants need to come back to the Planning Board; any future phases should come back to the Board for amendment; individual events that depart from agreed-upon conditions would be permitted through whatever Town Manager specifies; approval is contingent upon ZBA approval and whatever conditions the ZBA places on their approval; the project will be revisited in a year or at the Board's discretion.

The Planning Board voted to approve the site plan 4-1, with Mr. Gould voting no. Mr. Corbosiero stated that anyone may file an appeal of their approval with the Town Clerk within the next 20 days.

Finally, on Wednesday, August 18, a slightly weary-looking Mr. LaPointe and Ms. Patten appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals to continue the public hearing for Special Permits to allow for "operation of a commercial parking lot" and "non-profit recreational use."

For the most part, the ZBA felt that all questions that had previously been raised, concerning noise, traffic patterns, and other issues, had been adequately clarified or answered through the site visit on July 27. The Board discussed means of informing the public of major events at the park. After some discussion about placing maximum attendance levels on the park, the Board agreed to limit the number of vehicles parked on site, rather than individual persons in attendance. For some occasional events, many visitors could walk into the park to attend. The proposed "overflow parking" in the soccer field is estimated to accomodate a maximum of 128 vehicles.

The Board discussed possible ways to re-angle or reposition the exit road from the park in order to remediate the problem of car headlights shining into abuttors' homes as they leave the park at night. Resident and abutter Rick Lucier rose to state that changing the exit would require permission from Mass. Department of Transportation as the state controls the road. He also described problems with traffic cutting through from Elmwood Road to Maple Street on Woodlawn, which connects with Maple Street directly across from the park exit.

Mr. Lucier and Mr. Sultzbach disagreed on whether the road belongs to the town or the state. The sign designating the end of the state highway on Maple Street is next to the main entrance to the park, while the exit is east of the sign, leaving it uncertain whether the street by the exit is state highway or belongs to the town.

Mr. Lucier asked for confirmation that there would be no fees for parking. Mr. Sultzbach said there would be no charge for parking, but private groups might hold events for which they charged for tickets.

Mr. Sultzbach said, "I do just want to reiterate that the town is very much committed to being a good neighbor. We do want to work with you, Mr. Lucier, and anybody else in the neighborhood. This is a community asset, it really is, and it's supposed to be a resource for everybody. So my door is always open, and at any time if you have any questions or concerns, we'll be more than happy to accomodate."

The Board discussed the possibility of gating the entrance and exits for security.

The Board agreed to add four conditions to the Special Permits:
The Recreation Department will develop a plan that permitted events will not exceed the capacity of the parking areas; there will be no parking on the neighborhood streets or state highway; larger events will have attendees walk in or be shuttled.
There will be a visual notification (i.e. a sign by the front entrance) of large events for residents, as well as an event calendar posted on the Town Hall website
Some form of mitigation for headlights leaving the facility will be worked out
Events will be coordinated through the Town Manager's office or their designee.

The ZBA voted unanimously to approve the Special Permits for the Winchendon Community Park amphitheater project.

Winchendon and surrounding towns still realize high positivity rate

With the newly released numbers by the Mass Department of Public Health on Thursday, August 19, the Town of Winchendon, while still in the four percent column, dropped slightly from 4.47 percent the previous week, to 4.35 percent in the latest report. Overall the number of Winchendon vaccinated residents has remained virtually unchanged.

The bordering town of Ashburnham increased from 2.96 to 4.08 percent and Westminster increased to 4.79 percent. Ashburnham and Westminster share the Oakmont Regional School District. Templeton dropped from 6.77 to 5.00 percent in a strong decrease but remaining very high, and neighboring Phillipston, which shares the Narragansett Regional School District with Templeton, increased from 4.55 to 5.26 percent. The City of Gardner increased from 2.99 to 3.53 percent, nearly a full percentage point below Winchendon with twice the population density and a higher vaccination rate. Neighboring Royalston again registered at 0.00 percent. Athol to the west, with a population just shy of 1,000 more residents than Winchendon, registered slightly lower at 4.21 percent. Athol and Winchendon are the largest and second largest towns in North Worcester County.

As of this most recent August 19 report, Winchendon has remained slightly below 4.5 percent for the second week in a row. With the former color-coded mapping no long in effect, the "red zone" started at 5.00 percent or above. This would put Winchendon well into the former yellow mapping zone. Additionally, any person who is fully vaccinated is no longer counted as a "Close Contact" if exposed to a person who has tested COVID positive by the Mass DPH, per our Town Health Agent.

Also released this week by the Mass DPH, "Breakthrough Cases," which is a person who has been fully vaccinated but still contracted COVID, are shown to be extremely low, with 12,641 cases in the Commonwealth to date, out of 4,477,428 residents fullly vaccinated. Vaccinated persons are currently listed by the DPH as representing only 0.01% of people hosptalized, and .0003 percent of individuals suffering death, of which most had underlying preexisting conditions according to DPH officials. Also to date, Massachusetts individuals receiving at least their first or one vaccination dose, is now up to 5,115,413 of the Commonwealth's 6.9 million residents.

In Worcester County, individuals with at least one dose of a vaccine has risen from 65 to 66 percent, and individuals ages 12 and up receiving at least 1 dose has risen from 75 to 76 percent. Adults fully vaccinated has risen from 58 to 59 percent, and individuals ages 12 and up fully vaccinated has risen from 67 to 68 percent.

Keith Kent
Town of Winchendon
Board of Health

Winchenstock Rocks to Success Raising Crucial Funds for Winchendon CAC

Winchenstock Event

Photo by Keith Kent
Winchenstock Event

Photo by Keith Kent

Local musical favorite The BIG RanDom plays before a joyous crowd of all ages from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., setting the way for main event band THE FOOLS who later rocked the stage into the night.

With sunny summer weather that rocked, and the musical bands of Winchenstock rocking even more, people of all ages celebrated in a bustling, family-friendly environment, raising highly needed funds to answer calls for help and hope for assistance by the Winchendon Community Action Committee on Saturday, August 14 at the Winchendon Rod & Gun Club.

In just its second year, have been cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020, Winchenstock 2021 was a total success right from the start with strong support. As an excited Winchendon CAC Director Jennifer Sibley said, "Oh, this is wonderful. There are so many people here even in this heat. Everybody is having a great time, kids, adults, everybody!"

The live musical event and fundraiser began at noontime. It was opened by the band KILROY at 12:30 p.m., followed by POINT THE FINGER at 2:00 p.m. They set the tone for local and highly popular band the BIG RanDom playing from 4:00-6:30 p.m., and finally the main musical attraction, THE FOOLS from 7:00 through 9:00 p.m. In between the bands' performances, acoustic acts by Kevin Shields, Doug MacArthur and Mark Fisher entertained the audience.

With admission for the charitable fundraiser at $25 per person, children 16 and under entering for free, Sibley estimated that some 300 people had already come through the gate by 3:30 p.m. Asked how much charitable revenue might already have been raised, Sibley explained that many on-line ticket purchases were made. Those fundraising duty efforts were being handled for the event by BIG RanDom drummer and local attorney, Dave LaPointe, so it would be some time before total revenue could be added up to calculate just how successful the WCAC fundraising event was. If early attendance was any indicator, that calculation will yield some very positive and much needed results.

Adding an additional positive for the family friendly event for all ages, host Winchendon Rod & Gun Club was selling adult beverages to legal adults only. Sibley noted all attendees upon entering were given color coded wrist bands, with those age 21 and over receiving blue, and 20 and under receiving green. Measures such as these made sure the event went off with out any hint of a problem, adding to its family friendly legitimacy and professionalism.

Winchenstock Event
Dozens and dozens of people enjoy company and friendship under Rod & Gun Pavilion shade while enjoying a chicken barbecue and more.
Photo by Keith Kent
Winchenstock Event
Just part of the entire crowd enjoying the benefits of front row seating under pop-up shade while getting down on the grounds with Winchenstock sound.
Photo by Keith Kent
Sibley went on to say, "The CAC has ten people here helping out with the event, eight volunteer members and two board members. Due to the turnout, I haven't even been able to get down in the field yet, but almost every person coming through the entrance has been telling how much they are wicked excited to be able to come today. There are a lot of THE FOOLS fans from many years ago here today, and they are really happy to be here."

When asked how long event planning takes, Sibley explained, "For the first event [in 2019] it took most of a full year to plan and put together. Even though we couldn't hold the event last year, this year's event came right together as many already knew what to do. We basically have the same bands as the first year besides THE FOOLS, and we are also getting more and more vendors now that want to be here. The whole child portion of the event and activities have been a great addition allowing families to all come together, a totally family friendly event."

You can't have a large event without a proper large hosting site. When asked about the host, the Winchendon Rod & Gun Club, Sibley was quick to add, "They are amazing, they have done so much! They have gone above and beyond to support us and what we provided for our community. We can't thank them enough."

Walking around the bustling field under sunny skies, attendees could enjoy food vendors, various merchandise sales vendors, and a chicken barbecue from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. There was a long line for the entire duration of the barbeque, feeding hungry attendees who also got corn on the cob and more along with a dessert. A packed pavilion under a large roof provided much-needed shade for eating, and plenty of friendly mutual enjoyment. Pop-up tents, blankets, and chairs filled a good portion of the event grounds with supporting spectators and families. Out on the distant club range, campers and recreational vehicles were set up for those spending the night. It was a perfect spot for everybody attending the popular charitable endeavor.

Not to be forgotten, against the back of the field was a children's section. A bouncy house, games, and even children's face painting were all operated by the ever-dedicated younger HEAL Winchendon members, who also sold coffee and iced coffee from their Mobile Café to many looking for other beverage options. Their mission, as stated, is to provide a community movement for long lasting, "up-stream" change to improve the health and quality of life of Winchendon's residents, working hand in hand, building on shared strengths and knowledge to address the daily struggles and needs of community residents.

Winchenstock Event
HEAL Winchendon members take a moment to strike a pose for the camera during their many duties in the children's section of the family friendly event, while raising money for their charitable causes.
Photo by Keith Kent
Winchenstock Event
HEAL Winchendon member Miranda Jennings shows her artistic abilities as she helps a young lady with creative face painting!
Photo by Keith Kent
When asked for a closing message, a dedicated and joyous Sibley said, "Our community action centers are all funded by donations, grants, and fundraisers. Without big events like this and our ever-increasing demand, we wouldn't be able to continue to stay open. So when you plan a big one, you want it to be really big. I want to thank everybody who had a part in this, and thank everybody for coming. It's just been a great day, and thank you all."

Winchenstock Event
Celebrating their "Weekiversary" one week to the day, newlyweds and Winchendon Residents Glen and Sharon LaRochelle enjoy their first concert together as husband and wife at Winchenstock.
Photo by Keith Kent
Winchenstock Event
One very happy Director! WCAC Director Jennifer Sibley spent the entire fund raiser with the music stage to her back, as she represented the agency with nothing but professionalism and smiles while taking tickets and distributing age-specific colored wrist bands.
Photo by Keith Kent

WFD Examines Amubulance Fee Hikes Due to Rising Associated Costs

Winchendon Fire Chief Thomas Smith met with the Winchendon Board of Selectmen on Monday, August 9, to discuss current ambulance fees, insurance reimbursement issues, and the fact that several categories of fees needed to be increased to keep all ambulance services financially sustained and viable.

"We put out at a number of area departments to look at what their billing rates were, and we were significantly lower in a number of categories. I sat down with the Town Manager, and we discussed how we would go about doing an increase in four categories, the BLS emergency base rate, ALS emergency base rate 1, ALS emergency base rate 2, and mileage were the four we were significantly lacking in," Smith explained.

Smith went on to detail that a very high percentage of billing currently comes from insurance companies, while only 7 percent at this time comes from "Self-Pay." Smith also stated both the insurance companies and Medicare pay set amounts. While the town can't control what it gets from Medicare, midway through the year the department can apply for additional reimbursements. Smith said, "Due to the amount of Medicare patients we have, that process brought in an additional $54,000."

Board of Selectmen Chair Audrey LaBrie commented, "I was looking at the fees and calculating numbers from the sixteen to eighteen communities we are compared to, and looking at the BLS emergency base rate we are currently the fifth highest, third highest in mileage, and in ALS 1 we are fourth, and ALS 2 we are fifth." LaBrie went on, "Winchendon by the numbers was in the upper third, and while not wanting to be adverse, I want to be in the middle of the pack, and some of your recommendations would have to come down."

Smith then elaborated that going forward this year, the costs of ambulance supplies will significantly increase. Those supplies come from Heywood Hospital, and the increased cost for said supplies will following soon. "It's going to cost more, and we are trying to get ahead of these potential upcoming cost increases. It is an income, and while our goal is to provide the best patient care, there is a business aspect to it also and unfortunately that is just part of it, and all our costs are constantly going up and there is no way around it at this point," Smith said.

Selectman Rick Ward asked, "Of the 93 percent you say are paid for my insurance, does that pay 100 percent for those folks?" Smith replied, "They only pay a set fee. We can't then go after the patients and bill them for the balance, we are not allowed to double bill". Ward then asked, of the 7 percent that pay in person and not through insurance, do they all pay up? Smith replied, "We review it every 12 months, and of those that haven't paid, they go to a collection agency by policy if the difference is over $100." In response to Ward's question, Smith stated that last year the department had 1,325 transports, of which 89 were self-pay. Smith also said that depending on the situation, a person who was transported and later got a check from their insurance company may not always pay the department back with that check, but keep it, causing other collection issues.

Ward told Smith he was concerned by the requests for an ALS 1 increase of 11 percent, ALS 2 increase of 9 percent, mileage a 17 percent increase, and the BLS emergency base rate of 34 percent, of which Ward said, "That one just seems high to me." Smith responded, "BLS is our most common transport rate, and on that one we were drastically lower in the study, so going forward with purchasing future supplies, that is going to be our greatest hit when it comes to replacing with the rates. I am trying to stay ethically fair, while being able to bring it what it will cost to help sustain the department."

Selectman Amy Salter said to Smith, "Do we know what our minimum cost is, because to be fair we are a business but shouldn't be making a huge profit off the people of Winchendon with something like ambulance support." Smith replied, "The exact minimum cost on a run would vary greatly as it would depend on what was being used to help that person on that call." Supplies, time involved, length of transport, and other factors all figure into each situation's individual transport cost.

Selectman Danielle LaPointe asked Smith if he had an estimation as to where the rates sit relative to the Medicare payment side. Smith informed LaPointe that the average Medicare payment would fall on a BLS call within an average of $325 to $350 and was very low, resulting in the midyear requests to Medicare for extra reimbursements and other mitigating factors.

Selectman Barbara Anderson said she felt being in the top third of the surveyed towns for costs should not be a goal. Anderson asked how much the department was losing when an ambulance shows up to an address for transport, and then due to the costs the patient refuses the ambulance, for example, a loved one takes that person to the emergency room instead of the ambulance. How much does the department lose when that happens? Smith stated, "I don't see it as the ambulance losing money at that point because they needed to provide a service, and if they won't go with us and only go with you, it's still a win even though the E.R. doctor is going to yell at the person who drove them in because they wouldn't take the ambulance."

Ward then asked his final question, "When was the last time these four categories were increased?" Smith replied, "Four to five years ago," with Anderson clarifying, "2016." Smith added, "To stay competitive moving forward the rates should be examined pretty much yearly."

At the end of this portion of the meeting, LaBrie made the motion to increase the fees as requested by Chief Smith. Salter seconded the motion. When asked if there was any discussion, Anderson stated a concern for increased rates causing people to refuse an ambulance ride, meaning a friend or relative would have to provide the transport, and asked the Chief that if there was any push back, could he let the BOS know? Smith confirmed he would absolutely report that if it happened, and that again, there was a process in place where users could could file for bill abatements or set up payment plans with the collection agencies if needed.

The motion for the four category price increases was approved 3-2, with LaBrie, LaPointe, and Salter voting yes, and Ward and Anderson voting no.

Organic Farmers to Host Workshop: Poultry Management with Chicken Tractors

Many Hands Organic Farm will be hosting a workshop regarding Poultry Management with Chicken Tractors on September 18th from 10:00 to noon at the farm in Barre. We will discuss the benefits of a mobile house where chickens can pasture and get some hands-on experience building a new house. Egg collection, feeding and watering, and security from roaming dogs and wildlife will also be discussed. Registration is available on the Many Hands Organic Farm website at

Subway August 2021 Fresh Refresh

Central Mass Tree

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

On The Same Page Book Club

Bringing the community together through culturally diverse stories!

Our first meeting will be on Wednesday, August 25th, from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Beals Memorial Library, 50 Pleasant St, Winchendon. We will be reading How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and there are copies available to be picked up at the library (there are physical copies and an audio book available, e-books would have to be borrowed online). Email and with any questions.

Movies and Music at the Beals Library

If you're looking for a fun night out with the whole family, then head over to the Beals Memorial Library for their final Outdoor Movie and Music Night of the summer! On Friday August 20th, the library will be screening the action-packed dinosaur film, Jurassic Park!

Before the movie, Jumpin' Juba kicks off the night at 7:00 p.m. with a unique, rootsy-bluesy brand of music inspired by New Orleans swamp rock, classic boogie-woogie, folk, Memphis rock & roll, and a playful use of everything from Calypso to country.

At dark, the library will be screening the 1993 classic, Jurassic Park. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and is set on the fictional island of Isla Nublar. There, wealthy businessman John Hammond and a team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park of de-extinct dinosaurs. When industrial sabotage leads to a catastrophic shutdown of the park's power facilities and security precautions, a small group of visitors and Hammond's grandchildren struggle to survive and escape the perilous island. The film stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum.

From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Friends of the Library will be running both their book sale and a concession stand. There will be popcorn, cookies, and other treats available for purchase. Profits go to fund future library programs and events.

Summer movies at the library are held outdoors on the library lawn and are free to attend. Bring your own lawn chairs or a picnic blanket for seating. Please note that movies will start when it gets dark and in the event of rain, the movie will be held on Thursday of the following week.

The Beals Memorial Library is located at 50 Pleasant Street in Winchendon. For more information, call the library at 978-297-0300 or email at

Jumpin' Juba musicians
Jumpin' Juba, a rootsy-bluesy band, will be performing American blues inspired tunes at 7:00 p.m. before the screening of Jurassic Park.
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

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Murdock High School Class of 1971 Plans 50th Reunion Celebration

Members from the Murdock High School Class of 1971 have been planning a two-day celebration of their 50th Anniversary of their Graduation. The weekend of events is planned for September 24th and 25th. Information will be mailed to all members of the class on or about August 8. The reunion committee has mailed 95 Save the Date postcards. Classmates who did not receive a postcard can send a current mailing address and email address to

The class also posts information on a closed Facebook private group: Murdock Jr Sr High School Class of 1971.

You must already be a Facebook member to join the private group. Send a request to join to Marc Brouillette at, or request to join from the page.

The Committee is requesting help in locating several members of the Class. Anyone with information is asked to contact any member of the Committee. The following people have not been located: Roy D. Carr; Michael Connors; Mary Ann Gouslin Dunchus; John Keane; and Linda Berardi Ghize.

MHS class of '71
(Front Row, Left to Right). Bonita (Fortunato) Drew, Susan (Vaine) Martin-Scott; Susan Giardini; Coral May Grout; and Judith (Duplease) Moriarty.
(Back Row, Left to Right). Noel Veilleux; John Goan; Glenn Hunt; Marc Brouillette
Photo courtesy of Coral Grout

5th Annual Fall Festival to be held October 9, 2021

We are excited to announce that the 5th Annual Fall Festival will be held on Saturday, October 9, 2021! This will be the fifth year that the Winchendon Fall Festival has been located on Central Street. At past year's festivals, there have been over 200 crafters, vendors, and businesses set up along Central Street with over 8,000+ in attendance. Many craft vendors will be selling their handmade items. Not all vendors accept credit cards so it is best to bring cash to pay for your purchases, although there are some ATM machines along the festival route. There will be many children's activities including bouncy houses, pumpkin painting and face painting to name a few. There will be a variety of food available, a beer tent and local bands! We pride ourselves on this fun family event!

Winchendon Fall Festival will be taking place in the heart of Winchendon on Central Street from Front Street to Maple Street. If you are using a GPS mapping service, please keep in mind that there may be some road closures and detours in the immediate area of the festival; please use Central Street and Front Street for your destination.

Vendors interested in registering may find the application here (PDF).

For further information contact Nicole Roberts at 978-297-3537 or

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Applications Available for Senior Tax Work-off Program

The Senior Work-Off Abatement Program is a program allowing the Town of Winchendon the opportunity to utilize the knowledge and skills of its senior residents in exchange for credit toward the resident's property tax bill. The purpose of this program is:

  • To employ qualified senior citizens who will apply their earnings toward payment of a portion of their property taxes;
  • To increase senior citizen involvement in local government; and
  • To enhance municipal service by using the skills of resident senior citizens.
Qualified and income-eligible residents will accrue the Commonwealth's minimum wage per hour ($13.50/hr) toward a maximum credit of $1,100.00 per household during the fiscal year. The criteria for this program is:
  • You must be 60 years old or older
  • Homeowner in Winchendon and occupy property
  • Annual income below $40,150 if single; or below $45,900 if married.
Applications for the program are now available in the Town Manager's office or on the town website, and will be accepted until the eight slots are filled. There are different types of positions that are available depending on the preference and qualifications of the resident and the needs of each department. Types of past and current positions have been: Custodial services, clerical help for both School & Town, library aides, Senior Center aids, cable station operator, Bike Path clean up, painting, light outdoor work and classroom volunteers. Click here for more information and a downloadable application.

STILL Seeking Volunteers to Serve on Master Plan Implementation Committee (MPIC)

At their February 22, 2021 meeting, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to adopt the Master Plan presented to them, and to establish a Master Plan Implementation Committee (MPIC) for the purpose of overseeing the execution of the Master Plan as outlined.

The Winchendon Master Plan describes the will of the people of Winchendon. All town boards, commissions, committees, staff and citizens should use this Plan to guide their work in creating the future everyone seeks. The Master Plan Implementation Committee (MPIC) is charged with overseeing its execution and will work with the Town Manager and Responsible Leads. Members of the MPIC have a demonstrated interest in and knowledge of the Master Plan, are a Winchendon resident or have vested interest in the community, are a demonstrated team player, are reliable and have at least one of these qualifications:

  • Project management
  • Communications
  • Town history
  • Knowledge of "how things work"
MPIC specific responsibilities include:
  • Coordinate and monitor implementation
  • Collaborate with players to develop and track execution goals
  • Assist with goals that require additional resources
  • Encourage ongoing citizen engagement
  • Assess status of specific actions, evaluate priorities, and suggest new implementation techniques where appropriate
  • Identify successful strategies and barriers to progress
  • Periodically evaluate the plan
  • Create a mechanism to provide updates and progress reports to the Board of Selectmen
To see the full Master Plan, click here.

The Board of Selectmen is currently accepting letters of interest to serve on this committee. If you are interested, please send your letter of interest to the Town Manager's Office, 109 Front Street, Winchendon MA 01475 or to Taylor at

HEAL Winchendon Offering Financial Coaching Workshops

HEAL Winchendon, in conjunction with the Winchendon CAC, is offering a free financial coaching program to any residents who are interested. The program runs for eight weeks with a flexible schedule and is available in both English and Spanish. Coaching will be scheduled at the Winchendon CAC, 273 Central St. To enroll, fill out the form at HEAL Financial Coaching Sign-Up (Google form) or call 978-621-4524.

Water Use Restrictions Begin May 1

Water use restrictions for users of Winchendon town water will be effective as of Saturday, May 1, 2021 and will remain in effect until October 1.

Outdoor water use is permitted for odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered days, and for even-numbered addresses on even-numbered days. Watering is permitted only overnight, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m., to minimize water loss from evaporation.

Call the Department of Public Works at 978-297-0170 if you have any questions.

According to the National Weather Service, the Monadnock region is currently experiencing "moderate drought" with below normal amounts of spring rainfall.

If You Call for Emergency Services...

...the Winchendon Fire Department asks that you let the dispatcher know if you have flu-like symptoms, are quarantined or are under self-quarantine. This will allow the first responders to take all necessary precautions to avoiding spreading COVID-19 and to protect themselves and you.

Toy Town FYIs

The 2021 Town Street List is now available at Town Hall and on the town website. You can download a PDF copy at You may purchase the hard copy of the book for $8.00 or $5.00 for seniors. Please call Town Clerk's office at 978-297-2766 to arrange pick up/payment.

The 2020 Annual Town Report is now available at Town Hall and on the town website. You can download a PDF copy at 2020 Town Report PDF. Hard copies are available, free of charge, and can be picked up at the Town Manager's Office during regular business hours (Monday 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). To request a copy, call the Town Manager's Office at 978-297-0085, extension 5, or email

2021 Dog Licenses are now overdue. All dogs were required to be licensed by March 31. You may purchase a license through the mail, drop box, or online through the Town Clerk's page. The licenses will be mailed to you. Please be sure to provide a valid rabies certificate. Spayed & Neutered dogs are $10 and Non-Spayed & Non-Neutered dogs are $20.

Sign up for Code Red Emergency Alerts
Sign up for our emergency notification program today! Receive up-to-date information before, during and after an emergency in your neighborhood. You can choose to be notified via voice, text and email notifications of emergency and inclement weather alerts.

Please Do Not Flush Sanitizing Wipes Down the Toilet
Wipes Clog Pipes!

The Department of Public Works is asking all users of the public sewer system to please be careful not to flush santizing wipes down the toilet. These wipes collect in the pumps and destroy them, causing the Town to be forced to replace two pumps just in the last month alone. If a pump at the wastewater treatment plant were to burn out from wipe accumulation, it would cost the Town $30,000 to replace it. Please throw these wipes into your rubbish instead.

Is Your House Number Clearly Visible from the Street?
The Winchendon Fire Department reminds all residents to make sure their house number is clearly visible for first responders who may need to find you. Numbers should be at least four inches high and facing the street, with lighting if possible. Put numbers on a contrasting background so they will stand out. If your driveway is long, put the number on a mailbox or pole on the street or at the end of driveway, facing in both directions. (Reflective numbers are helpful.) Check your house numbers to make sure foliage has not grown up in front of them without your being aware of it.

Town Committee Vacancies
as of June 24, 2021

If you'd like to be an active participant in decision-making and management for your community, consider joining a town committee or board. There are a number of vacancies currently open.

Communications Committee - 1 vacancy
Cultural Council - 14 vacancies
Fence Viewer and Field Driver - 1 vacancy
Historical Commission/Historic District - 1 Alternate vacancy
Master Plan Implementation Committee - 7 vacancies
Open Space Preservation Appraisal and Survey Revolving Fund Advisory Committee - 1 vacancy
Recreation Commission - 1 student vacancy
Toy Town Community Partnership - 4 vacancies
Zoning Board of Appeals - 2 Alternate vacancies

If you'd like more information about any of these positions or are interested in being considered for an appointment, contact the Town Manager's office at 978-297-0085, or send a letter to Town Manager, 109 Front Street Dept. 1, Winchendon MA 01475.

Complete description of each committee's responsibilities, updated for May 10, 2021 (PDF).

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