The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of September 9 to September 16, 2021
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Beech Street Property Study and Potential Costs Due Any Day

Beech street property
A potential cleanup cost for the former Four C's Garage located at the corner of Beech and Spring Streets will be highlighted in a cost analysis report soon to be delivered to the town.
Photo by Keith Kent
Beech street property
A nearly ten foot section of the rear wall of the building is seen soaked in oil leaking into the ground.
Photo by Keith Kent

A long-ongoing neglected eyesore and hazardous property site visible to traffic entering Winchendon's business district, the former Four C's Garage located at 3 Beech Street, bordering both the Millers River and Spring Street Bridge, is nearing its study completion. The town will soon know what it could be on the hook for if it were to accept the property with any potential associated cleanup costs.

The study, which was funded with an End of Year $26,200 transfer from the Finance Committee's Special Reserve Fund Account on June 28 just before the beginning of the 2021-2022 fiscal year at the request of Town Manager Justin Sultzbach, freed up necessary funds for an Engineering and Hazmat study by BETA Group Inc, which to date has completed ground core drilling samples, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), particulate contamination examinations and assessments, potential total of cleanup costs based on findings, and much more.

Under the same current ownership and undergoing a site study for possible contamination is 11 Beech Street, a heavily dilapidated duplex adjacent to the former 3 Beech Street garage, which has been condemned by the town. Both properties were formerly co-owned by Michael and Bonnie Therrien of Waterboro, Maine, who purchased them in 1989, and are now technically owned by Bonnie Therrien as her husband has since passed. Therrien, who reported to the Town of Wincendon she has insufficient funds to maintain any level of upkeep on either of the properties, previously offered the sites for a purchase price of $1.00 for transfer of ownership. The town declined due to lack of information as to what was in the ground and potentially leaking into the Millers River, until the BETA Group Inc study would potentially yield in its findings.

In its original Limited Subsurface Investigation (LSI), BETA Group Inc discovered the following at the 3 Beech Street 0.223 acre lot.

  1. The presence of hydraulic lifts with underground oil cylinders, one of which is inoperable and may be leaking;
  2. Numerous drums, tires, and other potentially hazardous materials, associated with the tenant's business;
  3. Floor drains which had been filled with concrete but may have been re-activated by the tenant;
  4. Observed oil emanating from the rear of the building's foundation near the pond. Extent of leakage/staining couldn't be determined due to heavy vegetation of the area;
  5. Tenant reported the Winchendon DPW encountered "Contamination" for the excavation of a drain line;
  6. Historic use as an auto repair shop;
  7. Age of the site buildings indicates possibilities of hazardous building materials;
  8. Possibility of underground storage tanks, though no evidence (fill or vent pipes) was observed and the tenant said he was not aware of any tanks;
  9. Tires forming the bank of the pond.
Other additional tests have been performed including testing for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), mercury components, other oils and hazardous materials, which would be done by BETA Group Inc., along with ground water monitoring and sampling, and testing for asbestos, lead, and other contaminants.

At this time, a small private company has been and continues to operate out of the former Four C's Garage site who, according Town Hall sources, has not paid rent to Therrian in quite some time and has been squatting at the premises. As Therrien informed the town she has not been paid rent and has no money for legal fees the party using the garage premises remains there at this time. The adjacent duplex Therrien also owns was legally condemned and its tenants evicted, and has since remained empty after being boarded up by the town.

In a meeting with the Courier, Sultzbach, as he has many times before, confirmed his belief that the revitalization of Winchendon's business district is extremely important to attract new business and long term tax revenue growth. On Tuesday, September 7, Sultzbach provided the Courier with a tour of the property, conducted with a special temporary license which grants the town permission to enter the premises.

During the tour of the property, it was easily seen just how dire the condition of the building truly is. Elongated stress cracks some twelve feet or more in length, fractures, a large rear section of wall bowed and separating over two inches out, holes in the roof, cement blocks holding down many sections of the old rubber roof, a rear wall drain illegal by today's standards and in decades past, and even a nearly ten foot long section of the back of building where the wall meets the floor slick with oil from many years of leakage.

Along the river bank, as anticipated, tires and large stones form the property edge along the water, hidden by tall grass and bushes where years of soil buildup provided the opportunity for overgrowth. Along all three sides of the building except for the sidewalk side abutting Spring Street, what appeared to be over 100 tires lying above ground lay on the property along with a long disabled ATV and much more. In several spots located to the building's rear, small diameter core test wells are drilled in to the ground to monitor any fluids leaching out to the river. Sultzbach said, "Thankfully BETA Group has informed us that to this point, oils and other chemicals do not seem to be reaching the river yet at this time."

Sultzbach clarified, "We were previously told by BETA Group Inc that report would ready for us in early September, so we are anticipating it any day now. Our goal is once we have the findings, to examine various financial methods and ways the properties could be cleaned up or torn down, and if purchased and cleaned up, the town would have the final say as to what goes in its place, such as a smaller 'pocket style' river front park both on the Lake Street side of Spring Street, and where the garage currently resides. We need to have people understand we need to re-frame the view of entering downtown. You can leave it like it is, or you can agree we need to finally make it better. You can't apply for any kind of project funding unless you know what is in the ground, so this upcoming report is a huge step."

He went on to say, "The important piece from an economic development standpoint, if you want to invest in bringing a business downtown, would you want to see this, or new street lights, granite curbing, hedges and benches, and have a beautiful piece of land people can enjoy and say oh wow, that's downtown Winchendon!, instead of seeing what you see here now and saying, Oh. I guess that's downtown Winchendon."

In closing, Sultzbach said, "The town has heard the call for improvements in the downtown gateways in their Master Plan. As part of that initiative we are looking to partner with the current owner of this parcel to greatly improve the appearance of Winchendon, with the longer term hope and goal that it will provide a path for necessary economic development downtown. There are two important pieces here we are nearing actual numbers on. BETA Group will be telling us the cost of the potential cleanup, and our DPW Director is pricing out what it would cost to raze the current structure and remove it. We are hoping to take these properties by either a gift or PILOT 'Payment in Lieu of Taxes' program, because it would be far more timely than taking the properties by Tax Title which can take years in housing court. If we receive numbers we can potentially work with in the upcoming report, than we could as a town accept the properties in the upcoming November Special Town Meeting by a vote and take a big step forward for the appearance of our town!"

Beech street property
Seen in this photo, one of several test core drill monitor stations allows BETA Group engineers to keep an eye on any fluids which could potentially making their way into the Millers River.
Photo by Keith Kent
Beech street property
In this rear storage room of the garage, both empty and partially filled used waste oil drums are exposed under a leaking section of a partially collapsed roof.
Photo by Keith Kent
Beech street property
Piles and piles of used tires and more, can be seen around three of the four walls of the former garage, and some can even be seen forming a wall in the edge of the ground along the banks of the Millers River and Whitney Pond creating yet another hazmat issue.
Photo by Keith Kent

Winchendon Realizes Significant COVID Viral Increase, Spike to 6.4 Percent Positivity Rate

COVID positivity map

In what has been significant two-week COVID-19 roller coaster ride which quite possibly has not yet reached its summit, our Town of Winchendon has skyrocketed from 3.89 percent, to 5.23 percent, and now as of the newest Massachusetts Department of Public Health data available as of 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 9, reached a 14-day positivity rate of 6.4 percent, calculated from an 860 person testing pool.

With Winchendon hovering at a consistent 50 percent vaccination rate, the number of the unvaccinated persons becoming infected is likely going to trend higher, as upcoming colder fall and winter months will yield less family gatherings outdoors, and more moving inside to close proximity in small quarters.

Locally, the largest north Worcester County Town of Athol, a comparable measuring stick versus Winchendon in population, which had dropped from 3.45 to 2.86 percent last week, this week has risen to 4.4 percent. Percentage-wise this is a large spike for Athol though still comparably lower than Winchendon.

Surrounding the Town of Winchendon to its south and southwest, Templeton rose from 3.26 to 4.27 percent, with its fellow Narragansett School District town of Phillipston dropping from 2.91 to 2.40 percent. To Winchendon's west, the Town of Royalston, which shares public schooling with Athol, also dropped from 1.39 to 1.06 percent. To Winchendon's east, the town of Ashburnham rise slightly from 2.82 to 3.11 percent, with its neighboring and fellow school district member town of Westminster realizing yet another heavy increase, jumping from 6.27 to 7.07 percent, the highest around the area. Finally, the City of Gardner rose from 4.80 to 5.28 percent. The highest positivity test rate of any current municipality within a six town radius is Lunenburg, MA with a 7.15 percent positivity rate, just slightly higher than Westminster.

As of September 4, 2021, Mass DPH documented 4,522,279 persons fully vaccinated in Massachusetts out of its 6.9 million residents. The Mass DPH records 23,858 positive cases to date among those vaccinated people, with 762 cases resulting in hospitalizations, and 162 resulting in deaths. This means, of all who are currently vaccinated, only .005 percent became ill, proving you are far better off being vaccinated. To date, well over 95 percent of all new cases are among those not vaccinated, filling up both hospital beds and emergency room units, as hospitalizations among the fully vaccinated are listed at .002 percent, and cases resulting in deaths among the fully vaccinated are even far lower at 0.004 percent.

The numbers don't lie. Those who are vaccinated are not the ones filling up doctors' offices, hospital beds, and extremely important emergency room beds. There is almost no legitimate excuse at this point not to get vaccinated, if you are not immunocomprimised due to a preexisting condition. Public Health should not be political. This should not be a Republican vs Democrat, or Democrat vs Republican issue. I continue to see nearly endless amounts of false information on multiple social media platforms which all too many sadly find so easy to believe. If vaccinations were responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people as some smothered in ignorance would have you believe, please get real as there would be no way to hide it. This is not being theatrical, it's telling the numerical cold hard truth, and Winchendon's numbers are unacceptable.

In closing, speaking as the Chair of the Board of Health and not for the board, I ask if you are healthy enough to help break this vicious cycle of ignorance, falsehoods, and fake facts, that you please get vaccinated. Nobody wants to have to go back to wearing masks, especially those of us who stepped up and did what needed to be done. We as a community can't keep throwing gas on the fire, and expect it to burn out. The current vaccinations are our public health emergency extinguishers, and if you already haven't, it's time to get up and pick one up.

Keith Kent
Board of Health
Town of Winchedon

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

Immediate Vacancy on Finance Committee - Volunteer Needed

This is a volunteer position, with meetings typically held once a month with more frequent meetings as we approach the Spring Town Meeting. The Finance Committee is charged with the following:

It shall be the duty of the Committee to investigate the financial affairs of the town, including receipts of and expenditures by the different departments, or any Town Officer; the methods in which the town business is conducted; the general conduct of the town affairs; and all the articles in town warrants for town meetings referred to it; and, in the discharge of its duties, shall have free access to all books of accounts, books of record and all accounts, bills, and vouchers on which money has been or may be paid from the town treasury.

This position is appointed by the Town Moderator, Coral Grout. Apply in writing to Coral at

Murdock Boosters Discount card
Find out how to support Murdock High School sports by purchasing a discount card to 27 area businesses on the Schools Page!

Subway August 2021 Fresh Refresh

Central Mass Tree

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Take Part in Winchendon's First Annual Family Bike Tour: the "Tour de Winchendon" on September 18

On Saturday, September 18, starting at 10:00 a.m., the Winchendon Recreation Commission in partnership with HEAL Winchendon and the Winchendon Community Park, invite you to participate in the first annual "Tour de Winchendon," a family bike tour around the heart of Winchendon.

Bikers will start at the Winchendon Community Park at 10 a.m., where everyone will receive their official Tour de Winchendon Map and an event backpack.

Locations along the way will stamp each map, and "Tourists" will get samples of food, drinks and/or prizes to stuff in their backpacks. The Tour will finish at the Winchendon Community Park's Picnic in the Park with free ice cream for participants who have collected at least five stamps on their map.

There is a registration fee of $25.00 per individual or $40 per family of two or more. (Persons with questions about the registration fees should contact Register at

Exlore what Winchendon has to offer and support local businesses!

Templeton Goes Back to the 1960s with
Sept 19 Concert on the Common

TEMPLETON - The Templeton Cultural Council will present a concert by "Throwback to the '60s" on Templeton Common at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 19.

The concert will feature sounds from that great musical era -- and the audience is invited to wear tie-dye T-shirts, bell bottom jeans, sandals or go-go boots (and don't forget the flowers in your hair!) for this fun event. Admission to the two-hour concert is free.

There's plenty of room to space out on the Common for this outdoor event; to enjoy the show, it's a good idea to bring a blanket or lawn chair.

The "Throwback to the '60s" band has performed at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut; Plainridge Park Casino; the Hampton Beach Seashell Series; the Woodstock Fair; and the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E), among other venues. The show includes non-stop medleys that "fire the '60s hits so intertwined you'll never know where one stops and the other begins." The concert promises to offer "true to life memories of all those great jangly/psychedelic '60s bands."

The Templeton Cultural Council is part of a network of 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) across the state, representing every city and town in the Commonwealth. Other upcoming events funded by the Council include a storytelling program at the Templeton Farmers' Market at 4 pm on Thursday, September 16, and the Narragansett Historical Society's Motorpalooza on September 26.

Clark Memorial YMCA

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

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

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 August 30, 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 - 11 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
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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