The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of August 26 to September 2, 2021
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Smith's Significantly Expanding Its Product Line, Rebranding

Smith's Cheese Rebrands and Expands
This new building is the future site of bottled non-homogenized milk from Smith's own dairy herd, along with other products mentioned in this story.
Photo by Keith Kent
Smith's Cheese Rebrands and Expands
Rebranding as Smith's!
Smith's Country Cheese, sold in November 2016 to the Catlin family, originally founded by David and Carol Smith, is currently in the process of rebranding its business as it expands its product line to continue the company theme of growing with product diversity.
Photo by Keith Kent

Smith's owners Jake and Allie Catlin, along with co owners Mike and Leah Catlin, who purchased the business and took over operations in November 2016, are now happy to announce they are expanding their line of quality dairy specialty products and want you to know they will soon be selling their own bottled milk and much more!

During the early days of the pandemic, there were many people who didn't feel comfortable going to large heavily populated supermarkets. Smith's began receiving customers who were not just looking for cheese and hamburger, but milk, eggs, butter, and even yogurt, as they were more comfortable shopping in smaller less crowded settings. The Catlins began looking into options to better serve their community and their customers. It would take responsible planning, pricing, cost estimates, and much more to achieve their goal: healthy nutritious food options at a business where people could come see the cows, see the staff processing the milk and making the products, and know exactly not only where the food came from but just as importantly, what was actually in it.

When the Catlin family verified that the town of Winchendon is technically considered a "food desert" due to its population, size in square miles, lack of a supermarket in town and the distance to supermarkets outside of town, the number of food insecure residents, and other factors, the challenge was on and just like Arthur Conan Doyle said, the game was afoot! The Catlins were off to the grant application races with several primary targets in mind: acquire a grant to assist with a building and machinery, better serve their community through product diversification, and most importantly, better serve Winchendon by bringing healthy food options within its town borders.

Potential assistance included a "Food Security Infrastructure Grant" (FSIG) announced by the Baker/Polito administration on February 16, 2021. In a press release, the administration said, "The final rounds of the grant program include funds critical to investments in technology, equipment, capacity, and other assistance to help local food producers, especially in the distribution of food insecure communities." The announcement went on to quote Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides as saying, "By announcing these grants at a local Commonwealth farm today, I want to highlight the critical work Massachusetts farmers, fishers and food producers are doing to connect their nutritious products with the residents who need it most, even as these businesses have faced challenges during the pandemic."

In an online summary from The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, farm producers such as Smith's were heavily under-represented during the grant award process. A quote taken from their documents states, "Producer applicants were significantly under-represented in the final grants, with farms and fisheries receiving just 11% and 18% of the funds they had requested, respectively, while distributors, food banks/pantries, and schools were awarded 31%, 33%, and 32% of the amounts they had applied for, respectively." The document also went on to state that of 599 applying farms, only 121 were funded. At just a 20 percent chance of success, Smith's was in for a battle, and needed all the facts it could muster to win the competitive grant in their professional farming and dairy production field.

The Catlins, after all their due diligence, received the confirmation letter they were truly hoping for and were excited to be notified that against the odds, their business was one of the winners for the coveted FSIG award! With the grant award successfully received, obtaining the physical structures such a building to provide the space needed, and installation of all its necessary supporting equipment, including new dairy machinery, was the next big step.

Jake Catlin said, "This process is always something we have thought about from the beginning. When we took over from the Smiths we knew as they did selling milk at wholesale is a losing effort, so you have to diversify your product. You have to have something special which as they call it is value-added products. The easier thing to do instead of selling your milk to the co-ops is to bottle it and sell it. But what we also noticed there are a lack of dairy farms that actually make their own butter. There are plenty of them that make farmstead cheese, ice cream and more, but there weren't many making their own butters, particularly their own flavored butters. While we sell others flavored butters here at the home store in Winchendon and at the Worcester Public Market down in Kelley Squre along with farmers markets we attend, they are often very hard to get and sell out quickly. We realized there is a market here for them, and we said if we have the milk, there is another way to get in to other value added products."

With that, the Catlins "let the cat out of the bag" and announced they will not only be selling their own pasteurized non-homogenized milk from their farmstead dairy herd, but also expand into selling a variety of flavored butters, and eventually even different types of yogurt! When asked for a timeline, Catlin said, "We are currently looking to have this new facility functional with everything being hooked up, installed and operational at this time by October 1, so that is currently when we expect to become fully operational and begin producing our bottled milk and butter. That is our goal. Updates will be posted on our facbook page, our Instagram page,and our website."

When asked how his wife, the mother of his children, and fellow business partner Allie felt at first about the expansion, Jake Catlin said with a smile, "She is always a little more cautious than I am, I'm more of a taking a leap first and figure it out afterwords kind of guy, so I did make her a promise that now that we have this facility and product expansion I won't be looking to create any more projects. Now we need to continue to do what we are expected and need to do which is continue at the level of performance with our products our customers expect and demand." Catlin elaborated, "We once ran into a man who came up to us like a guardian angel and said to us, 'You both just need to focus on one thing, just do dairy and do it right. Don't focus on a bunch of other things, just do dairy and do it right.' That stuck with Allie and I from the beginning, and this expansion is again the closing of that loop, and doing dairy, and doing it right. You look at all the things dairy farms make, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and it rounds out all the things a dairy farm should be."

Catlin went on, "Our family has spent the last five years perfecting the cheese making, the farming compost operation, learning how to run things efficiently as possible, and we view this as sort of rounding it all out and bringing it full circle." The family business comprises not just Jake and Allie Catlin, but also Jake's own dedicated brother and sister-in-law as co-owners, Mike and Leah Catlin. Mike and Leah work daily side by side with Jake and Allie as both family members and dedicated business partners, and also worked on what the proposal to the state for the grant application was going to be. This new generation of co-owners, just like the one before it, live the dedicated lifestyle of farm life, with their children often seen running, playing, and laughing and saying hello to customers.

"This model we as a family business have gone with, will allow us to get this next expansion off the ground, allowing local residents to purchase more healthy food options locally without having to travel out of town. We were not only surprised and super excited that we won this grant, but now we can bring these things to fruition. They accepted our proposal, and thankfully here we are today," said Catlin.

Discussing the progressing product line Catlin explained there will be multiple flavors of creme line, non-homogenized whole milk. Along with Regular, Chocolate, and Strawberry, Smith's will experiment with different limited-time-only seasonal options down the road with possibilities such as maple milk, pumpkin spice, and even blueberry milk. With the next step of butter production, Catlin explained the need for a standard sea salt, along with spicy, savory, and a sweet butter, possibly a cinnamon sugar butter for toast. The last to round out their profile template of new options for customers will be various flavored yogurt products.

In closing, Catlin was asked about why people should shop local, and why they should support local farms, and local businesses? Catlin replied, "The number one reason why people should support local dairy farm businesses is there has been a dramatic decrease in dairy farms the last two decades particularly as the last two years as milk prices for farms have plummeted. We don't survive without the support of our community, and the surrounding communities. Also, the people who work here are also the people who live around here. Since we have grown we have been able to hire four additional full time workers who are all local community members, and this new facility will add two more additional employees to our payroll when it's all said and done. Not only are you supporting a local business and local families by purchasing our products, you keep it in the area and you also put to work people from the community."

Smith's is located at 20 Otter River Road, Winchendon, MA. It can be reached by phone at 978-939-5738, and contacted via email with on line inquiries at You can also visit their company website at, visit Smith's on Facebook at, and follow them on Instagram at

Smith's Cheese Rebrands and Expands
Smith's Cheese Rebrands and Expands
Smith's Cheese Rebrands and Expands

As seen on these newly updated product labels, all cheese products formerly labeled as Smith's Country Cheese are now labeled "Smith's" as the company is currently hard at work expanding with additional products made with milk from its own farmstead dairy herd.
Photos by Keith Kent

Don't miss Keith Kent's in-depth article on the Winchendon Public Schools' plans to improve performance ratings for TTE and MMS on the Schools Page!

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

GAR Park concert with Neon Alley GAR Park concert with Neon Alley

The energetic and upbeat musical group Neon Alley seen played for an appreciative crowd at G.A.R. Park on Friday, August 20. Playing many rock and hard rock classics from the 1960s through the 1980s, there was something for everybody who attended. The next and last concert of the summer concert series, weather permitting, will be Friday, August 27, featuring the group, The Terryiffics, from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.. As always, there is no charge for the live entertainment and admission is free. Shortly after the Neon Alley concert ended, a bright yellow full moon rose in the eastern sky.
Photos by Keith Kent

Winchendon Realized COVID Positivity Drop for Second Consecutive Week

The Town of Winchendon after seeing six consecutive weeks of COVID-19 cases on the rise, has finally, at least for the time being, seen a bit of a break. The newest reports from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health list the Town of Winchendon with a Thursday, August 26 positivity rate of of 3.89 percent, down from the Thursday, August 19 report of 4.35 percent, which followed the previous August 12 report of 4.47 percent.

Surrounding towns both bordering Winchendon and close by yielded mixed results. The City of Gardner increased slightly from 3.53 to 3.61 percent, Templeton dropped down from 5.00 percent to 3.67 percent, and its neighbor Phillipston with which it shares the Narragansett Regional School District dropped a full point from 5.25 to 4.26 percent. Ashburnham to our east came in at 3.13 percent, but its fellow school district member town of Westminster increased significantly from 4.97 to 6.70 percent, nearly a full 2 percentage point leap. The Town of Athol which shares the Athol-Royalston Regional School District with Winchendon's neighbor Royalston, came in at 3.45 percent and Royalston as a community increased from 0.00 percent to 1.28 percent putting it back on the tracking board but at a very low percentage.

As a county, Worcester County is listed with at least 66 percent of eligible individuals over 18 having had at least one dose of vaccine, and individuals ages 12 and up fully vaccinated at 69 percent as of Tuesday, August 24 in the recently released data. Tracking individuals ages 12 plus through adulthood with at least one dose of vaccine, Worcester County comes in at a strong 76 percent.

At this time, of the DPH listed Massachusetts with a population of 6,959,046 and the Commonwealth still flirts with the 4.5 million fully COVID-19 vaccinated total to date.

Schools are reopening. Please be health conscious. Please remember to use either hand sanitizer, or wash you hands frequently. Do not rub your eyes or nasal cavities with your hands or fingers, as the fluid on your eyes is a nearly instant transmission for any virus to enter your body. Use you sleeve or a cloth when ever possible. Please remember we are all in this public health pandemic together. The majority of infections are proven by data to be of the COVID Delta Variant, and over 90 percent of all new hospital patients with Delta are those who have not been vaccinated. To date, those vaccinated who went on to catch COVID-19 as breakthrough cases represent less than 13,000 of the nearly 4.5 million fully vaccinated, as reported among those treated at Massachusetts health care centers and hospitals based on visits or admissions.

Finally, if you are not yet vaccinated, and are healthy enough to consider doing so, I ask as the Chair of the Board of Health only and not on behalf of our board, that you please strongly consider doing so. You may be lucky enough to not be affected by either COVID or even the Delta variant, but it doesn't mean those you care about will necessarily be as lucky as you.

Keith Kent
Board Of Health
Town of Winchendon

With start of Fall nearly upon us, this large combination spooky scare crow display mimicking a horse and its slender owner took top honors at the Hardwick Fair, on Saturday, August 21. Continuing with spooky, one party even entered a "COVID" scare crow. The Hardwick Fair is the oldest Agricultural Fair to run for consecutive years in the USA, first taking place in the year 1762.
Photos by Keith Kent

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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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