The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of September 23 to September 30, 2021
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Finance Committee Creates Multiple Proposed Warrant Articles for Upcoming Fall Town Meeting

Winchendon's Finance Committee discussed the town's future Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) expenses at its regularly scheduled September 14 meeting. What the town is expected to financially support falls woefully short compared to what it currently has placed aside.

Chair Tom Kane informed the Committee that the Town of Winchendon currently pays about $1.4 million annually for current town employees' insurance, and nearly a half million dollars annually for retirees' post employment health insurance, with a long term OPEB need projected by the state for $32 million, to be placed in the appropriate trust account. Vice Chair Dr. Maureen Ward replied to an inquiry from Kane, "We have an OPEB Trust Account amount saved up of $12,762.48 as of today." Ward added the fund was created with an initial deposit of $10,000 at some point nearly ten years ago, with nothing added to it since.

Speaking to the future, Kane said,"One thing we can particularly count on is health insurance is probably going to get more expensive, not less. The government expects us as a town to set up a fund and make contributions to build up a reserve account, and to help mitigate expenses for future insurance expenses."

The Committee discussed whether the annual contribution should be a policy of guidance or a bylaw. Issues such as Town Manager available flexibility, methods, and standards to obtain the goal of an annual town contribution, how to make the town understand the importance of the need for adequate contributions, and the future impact of not meeting such necessary goals were discussed, as well as pension stabilization funds. With people living longer, resulting in municipal expense ratios increasing, trust accounts such as OPEB falling behind could have powerful potential troubling impacts on future municipal budgetary processes and decisions.

A possible warrant article for OPEB was discussed for the upcoming Special Fall Town Meeting, scheduled for November 12, in which the town would potentially set a designated contribution aside to be paid into the fund every year. Kane said, "With OPEP we have talked about a policy where a certain percentage of what the town is paying for health insurance built in to the budget every year so that in addition to today's cost for health insurance, there is also money being set aside for future cost of health insurance. The town currently has a policy that says it's supposed to put between five and ten percent of its budget into a stabilization fund, and it's not at five percent, it's under that also. But if we can set up a formula that says every year, if you have some free cash, a piece of that needs to go into your saving bank, and that is just good practice."

Ward made a motion to present an article for the Fall Town Meeting warrant to see if the town will vote to transfer from free cash the sum of $50,000 to the OBEP Trust Account that was established to mitigate the town's liability for other post employment benefits OPEB or act in relations thereto: (With a majority vote required)." The motion was seconded by FinCom member Charles Corts.

During pre-vote discussion, FinCom member Doug Delay said, "It's the low end of what we should be asking for. I would think on at least this or the Reserve Account, we should be asking for $75K to 100K. We are not spending it, we're saving it which is an important distinction." Kane stated it would at least provide a future bench mark if passed, how much money could be contributed from the operating budget. "It's easy to take one time money, but harder to build it into the operating budget as there is a lot of competition for that," Kane added. All five attending FinCom members voted yes, committing the article to be reviewed by Town Counsel for the warrant.

Next addressed was the continuing issue of retiring town employees being paid money due for time earned per contract at the end of their employment in large sums, with the town continuing to take the money out of the general fund, and not having a specific fund put aside to pay for said expenses. The two main contractual sources of benefits from older, more generous contracts are unused sick time that can be bought back, and unused vacation time. Kane informed the committee the two groups still covered under the sick time accrual are the police department and their dispatchers, and several long-term town employees remaining, with the vacation accrual being something all town employees are eligible for. Kane clarified the total vacation benefits for all 81 town employees equaled $129,427 while the total for the sick day buy-back that the employees covered under the older contracts were still eligible for equaled $195,513 at this time. "The town's exposure is about $325,000 so if everybody walked out the door at the same time, that is what the town would be legally liable for to meet their contractual separation obligations," Kane quantified.

Both Kane and Ward informed the committee that at this time, there is one town employee due over $20,000 and ten additional employees due between $10,000 and $20,000 with thirteen people in total due about two thirds of the total amount of money the town is liable for at this time. One employee is due nearly $40,000 in buy-back upon retirement, while six police department employees now have twenty years of service to consider for upcoming potential buy-backs. Kane said, "Those are the ones we as a town would want to create a Reserve Account to mitigate the impact on any given year. I propose we set up a fund that would be contributed into over a period of years, to fund the town for its exposure to that top tier of people the money is contractually owed to." Adding to this, the committee discussed the implementation of a policy, where the town would put $50,000 aside every year to help create a source that would cover the future liabilities that must be contractually paid out, and once the account reached where it needed to be would no longer have money placed into it.

Ward then made a motion to propose an article for the Special Fall Town Meeting warrant, "To see if the town will vote from free cash the sum of $50,000 to a reserve account established to mitigate the town's liability for contractual separation payouts, or act in relationship thereto: (Majority vote required)." The motion again was seconded by Corts.

During discussion, Delay suggested increasing the number to $75K as the town has in the last few years realized multiple expensive contractual separation buy-backs. FinCom member Phi Levine added, "I think we are running a temperature check ultimately to see where the town stands about setting money aside for bills that we agree just haven't arrived in the mail yet." Ward and Corts both said they felt a higher amount would be a gamble getting people to pay for it at Town Meeting, while Delay added no matter if they voted for it or not, the amounts will still come due and the Town and people will still have to pay it. With discussion ended, a vote was taken, With all five FinCom members present voting yes on the original motion.

The last subject considered was the Stabilization Account which currently holds $1,166,075. The account, according to the Finance Committee, is currently running about $360,000 short of what it should currently hold at a minimum. Kane discussed the option of a policy where the town would take 10 percent of each year's new free cash, and place it in the Stabilization Account until it reaches the minimum 5 percent, then in future years drop the donation from each new year's free cash from 10 percent to 5 percent to maintain the account once it reaches the 10 percent maximum it was originally designed to hold. "We need a plan that doesn't look at stabilization savings as an afterthought, but as something that is always as a policy part of the discussion in terms of town finances. $130,000 would be 10 percent of the estimated new free cash this year." Kane stated.

Kane then read a proposed article for the Special Fall Town Meeting warrant as, "To see if the town would transfer from free cash the sum of $130,000 to the Stabilization Fund or act in relation thereto." For the proposed article, a 2/3 majority vote would be required. Ward made the motion to accept the proposed article, with Delay seconding the motion. All five attending Fincom members voted yes.

Strike Up the Band! - Winchendon Winds Returns for Fall Concert Series

It's been a two-year wait. At long last, Winchendon Winds resumes its performances this fall with a full five-concert series.

"Win Winds," our town's very own concert band, is a 40-piece, professional level band featuring the full gamut of band instrumentation including brass, woodwinds, and percussion. Founded by the late Winchendon resident and music educator Jon Nicholson in 2015, the band's reputation for exemplary performances and ability to play a broad range of music have drawn over 100 attendees to its weekend concerts.

Any concerns about the long hiatus were quickly dispelled when the group reformed for its first rehearsal on September 12. Conductor Jim Chesebrough observed "It's obvious they are a high caliber ensemble and we jumped right in where we left off two years ago." Accordingly, Dr. Chesebrough and Assistant Conductor Rick Anderson have selected an ambitious and varied lineup for the concert series, with Jim noting "We front-loaded the season with some very challenging works."

Win Winds' opening concert is on Sunday, September 26 at 2:00 p.m. This concert will feature classic works such as the rollicking William Tell Overture and the Irish Reel Molly on the Shore. The ensemble will then kick off the Winchendon Fall Festival on Saturday, October 9 at 10:00 a.m. with entertaining works from film, ballet and stage. They'll continue with two more Sunday concerts on October 17 and 24 at 2:00 p.m. The series will wrap up on Sunday November 14 at 2:00 p.m. with a special Veteran's tribute concert featuring patriotic favorites.

Win Winds concerts are once again hosted in the lovely sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Winchendon, 126 Central Street. Programs are family-friendly and free of charge. The church will be selling refreshments before and midway through the concert.

The church and Win Winds will be following the State's current COVID advisories. All unvaccinated or vulnerable attendees are expected to wear masks. All Win Winds players have been vaccinated. The audience will be seated a full 12 feet away from the nearest player. The church features cathedral ceilings and natural air flow. An intermission will be held mid-way through the performance to allow further air exchange. New this season, the concert will be broadcast out to the church's front lawn, where attendees may choose to bring their own chairs or blankets and listen outside.

Winchendon Winds is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is supported by generous grants from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, and the Winchendon, Gardner, Ashby, Ashburnham and Templeton Cultural Councils, as well as several local businesses and individuals. You can follow their news on their Facebook page: Donations are gratefully accepted at their website:

Winchendon Winds performing in UUCW sanctuary
Assistant Conductor Rick Anderson runs the band through its paces
Photo by Joe Sackett
Winchendon Winds performing in UUCW sanctuary
The lower brass section provides a rich "bottom" for the William Tell Overture
Photo by Joe Sackett
Winchendon Winds performing in UUCW sanctuary
Real sandpaper is "played" during the Sandpaper Ballet
Photo by Joe Sackett

Fire & Iron Station 857 Donates to Wreaths Across America in Memory of "Uncle Pete"

Wreath donation in honor of Peter Ashley
Fire & Iron donate $1,000 to Wreaths Across America!
Seen in this photo, members of Fire & Iron MC Station 857 present Bridget Marinelli, Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Volunteer Location Coordinator, a Check for $1,000 on Thursday, September 23, to help fund the placing of wreaths at the local State Veterans Cemetery located in Winchendon. Seen in front row of photo left to right, member Jason Boutelle, and both Past Station 857 President and Past National President, Ricci Ruschioni. Second row left to right, Stephanie Cormier, Phyllis Ashley, and holding the donation check, Bridget Marinelli. Back row, left to right, Sergeant-at-Arms Dan Carter, Vice President John LeBlanc, Station 857 President Tony Basso, and Secretary, Richard Creamer.
Photo by Keith Kent

Losing a husband or wife is never easy. There is no playbook, or manual on how to either handle, adjust to it, or move on. It's what you did in this world that defines us all, and did you leave it better than you found it. While never a concern for one, that question was put to rest as local Fire & Iron MC Station 857 honored recently deceased member Peter "Uncle Pete" Ashley on Thursday, September 23, by donation of a check for $1,000 in his very honor, to Wreaths Across America to help assist and pay for no less than 105 wreaths on Veterans' headstones at the Winchendon State Veterans Cemetery guaranteeing Uncle Pete left this world better than he found it.

Losing member Uncle Pete was tough on the MC. It was obviously even much tougher on his wife, Phyllis Ashley. When asked what her late husband would have thought of $1,000 gesture and donation in his memory Phyllis said, "It means so much to both myself and the whole entire family. It's what he loved. It represents who he was as a veteran, and the outpouring of love for him from everybody."

When asked how Station 857 has been supporting her during such a painful transition in her life after losing her husband Pete of 14 years Ashley replied, "Nothing less than awesome, I couldn't have done and continue doing it without them." Ashley was asked, "What do you think your late husband would have said about tonight's donation in his honor"? Ashley replied, "My husband would have been speechless! That is something Pete would never be. But seeing this tonight, I know he is speechless. This is a charity he truly loved. He would be speechless."

Past Fire & Iron National President Ricci Ruschioni, presenting the donation to Bridget Marinelli, said, "Obviously we all know we lost Uncle Pete. We can think of no greater way to honor him and his memory that presenting you with this check to Wreaths Across American for $1,000." Fighting back tears, Marinelli replied, "I told myself I would try not to cry. You guys always have my back with this fundraiser for veterans. You always have my back. This means so much to us, it's crazy how you're always here for the cause." Ruschioni also gave Marinelli a brief hug, with members and members' wives standing silently honoring past member Uncle Pete as Marinelli accepted the donation funding 105 wreaths for veterans in his very name.

Speaking about Wreaths Across America, Marinelli explained, "The Wreaths cause is off to a great start, but we need promotion. We need people to know it's all done by donation. It's not provided by the state, it doesn't provide those wreaths. The only way we get the wreaths there is by donations by people, donations by businesses, buy motorcycle clubs like Fire & Iron, Knights of the Inferno, the Patriot Riders, and others. I think the biggest thing is people just think it happens and it's just done by somebody else." Marinelli explained the need for Wreaths Across America is getting bigger and bigger, and is going to need corporate sponsors. Additionally, as the war in the Middle East has now included two decades of veterans, more State Veteran Cemeteries will need to be built in the future, generating the need for even more wreaths for the worthy cause.

Marinelli also added, "Tonight again just shows me that there are a lot of good people out there. People that truly care. They care about their veterans if they are active in the American Legion, active in a club, they are the people who are still looking out for their veterans, and making sure they are never, ever forgotten. They are still part of our community, still part of us. That is important!"

When asked how many wreaths are placed annually during the holidays at the local State Veterans Cemetery in Winchendon, Marinelli replied, "Last year we placed just shy of 2,900 wreaths. We are told on average you can add the need for about one per day, so with 365 days in a year we will now be over 3,000 wreaths needed to honor our veterans." Marinelli added, "The wreaths are $15 each, but if you donate to an organization like the Winchendon Wreath Fund, for every two that we buy, Wreaths Across America kicks one in and pays for it. So it's important people donate to fundraising groups like the Winchendon Wreath Fund, because we get three of them for the price of two!"

When asked if Marinelli had a message for Fire & Iron MC Station 857 for their support she happily replied, "Since this cause started nine years ago, the local Fire & Iron MC has gone out of their way to always make this a priority for them as one of their fundraisers. They are easily at over $12,000 in support for this cause that they have donated, because at the soul of their group what is important to them is their veterans, and the U.S. Military, as much as it is even for me. Every year I can count on them to put wreaths out, I can count on them for anything I need. I just call Tony or Ricci or anybody in this club and they always step up as a group."

If you are interested in donating to support the Wreaths Across America Cause, donations can be made locally at the following.

Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Winchendon
14 Winter Place
Winchendon, MA 01475

You can also regarding sponsorship contact Bridget Marinelli locally by phone at 978-895-0133, or email Marinelli at

You can also donate locally for wreaths at any D'Ambrosio Eye Care Center which has locations in Gardner, Leominster, Lancaster, Worcester, and Acton. To donate at the national website for our local State Veterans Cemetery on the internet you can visit and in the middle of the page in small white type click on, "Local Sponsorship Group" which will take you to a page where you can choose your group to support by typing in "Winchendon Wreath Fund" and clicking on it in the drop down menu.

Winchendon Realizes COVID Viral Drop After Several Weeks' increase

After spiking the last several weeks from a viral infection rate of 5.38 percent to 6.40 and then down slightly to 6.24, Winchendon as a town is listed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as having an infection rate of 4.99 percent, dipping below the 5.00 percent mark for the first time in nearly a month, as of the most recent results released on Thursday, September 23, 2021.

Locally, to Winchendon's west, the member towns of the Athol Royalston Regional School District increased, going up to 7.04 percent in Royalson, and 6.73 percent in Athol, with Athol's data coming from 1,560 tests, and Royalston's results coming from 142. To our east in the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District, both Ashburnham and Westminster realized considerable drops with Ashburnham dropping from 2.35 to 1.59 percent based on 1,447 tests, and Westminster reducing from 6.74 to 5.34 percent based on data taken from 712 tests. To the south, the member towns of the Narragansett Regional School District Templeton dropped from 6.03 to 5.50, and Phillipston increased slightly from 3.92 to 4.05 percent based on 945 and 148 tests respectively.

The city of Gardner dropped from 4.36 to 3.67 percent based on 2,615 molecular tests. In the Twin Cities of Fitchburg and Leominster, with four times the population of Winchendon, Fitchburg, which last week registered at 3.54 percent, realized a dramatic increase to 5.10 percent. Leominster, previously at 3.49 percent, checked in this week down slightly at 3.31 percent positivity. Fitchburg's results came from 4,938 tests, and Leominster's from 5,082 tests.

In the Commonwealth's two largest cities with high population density, Boston and Worcester, the numbers have continued to decrease, while infection rates have remained high among the non-vaccinated. Both cities have a high vaccination rate. Boston with 1.5 million residents during active college and university academic terms, again dropped from 1.24 to 1.19 percent. Worcester, also with many colleges and students from around the nation, also dropped 2.12 to 1.59 percent while hosting over 180,000 full time regular residents plus college students.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also has noted that while deaths among the fully vaccinated are still very low, deaths in the last few months have increased from 16,000 to 32,000 persons who suffered a loss of life. With some 4.6 million vaccinated, this means that to date .007 percent despite being vaccinated lost their lives due to the virus, while .993 percent vaccinated are still alive among us. Please know, every single life lost is that of a person who is loved by others who must now live on without them.

With the season of Fall now having begun, and winter heating season around the next corner, many gatherings of family and/or friends will soon be moving indoors. COVID-19 and its variants, including the virulant Delta variant, thrive upon close human proximity, and weak or weakened immune systems. If you are not vaccinated, and attending groups or gatherings, please wear a mask for not only your protection but that of others. The Commonwealth is seeing a large increase in young adults not only getting sick, but sicker than they used to be in the first wave of viral infections. This should be taken seriously.

Many hospitals around the Commonwealth are reported to be "Running out of or have run out of Emergency Room beds!" This is due to the mostly unvaccinated portion of our population, with people from local towns, including the Athol area, recently having to be transported all the way to Connecticut just to find a bed for treatment. This is clearly a huge problem, and most likely at this rate will require the reconstruction of temporary field hospitals. Please take this problem seriously, as many innocent people are being severely negatively affected by this rapidly growing issue.

Lastly, for over one month now, and especially the last several weeks, the Town of Winchendon has been closely watching our public numbers regarding the possibility of mandated masking in all public buildings, as we are quickly approaching colder weather with many more indoor gatherings versus the more enjoyable summer months. The Town Manager and the Board of Health have been in constant contact regarding such developments. While our numbers have recently dropped, I believe due to the changing weather this may prove to be short lived success. Thus, "Public Buildings" mandated masking conversations have again been in the works for some time. As we also have an upcoming Special Fall Town Meeting on November 8 at Murdock Middle High School, all should know that as it will be held in a Public School, those attending must wear a mask inside the premises, and the Board of Health has additionally recommended Social Distancing protocols for seating for said meeting.

Please know that your Board Of Health must consider all legal options and potential legal ramifications. We are doing our best to make the most of what is an extremely difficult situation for all. If you have any questions you can always call your Public Health Agent, James Abare at 978-297-3537, or email him at

Keith Kent
Board of Health
Town of Winchendon

To schedule a free COVID-19 vaccination at any time, go to

Fall Special Town Meeting will be held on Monday, November 8, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at Murdock Middle High School.

Be sure to check out our Classified and Employment Ads on the Events Page!

Beals Memorial Library to Celebrate its 108th Birthday

On Saturday, October 2nd, The Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon will be celebrating the 108th anniversary of the library's historic 1913 opening with a special Beals Birthday Bash. Come join the party, grab a cupcake, and wish the library a happy birthday!

The festivities kick off at 10:00 AM with the dedication of the library's new park bench in honor of long-time library supporter and advocate, Barbara Lafrennie. Barbara was a former assistant librarian and an integral part of the Beals family as a Trustee, patron and member of the Friends of the Library.

Following the bench dedication, there will be several fun activities for all ages until 12:30 PM. Throughout the course of the event, party-goers can play Beals Birthday Bingo, a fun and self-guided way to learn more about the library, its history, and its resources. The game will take participants inside and outside the building in search of the objects depicted on their bingo cards. Cards can be picked up at the side entrance of the library, and dropped off on the way out. A drawing will be held at the end of the day for a Family Activity Bag, filled with things every member of the family will enjoy.

In the children's room, kids will have the chance to make a birthday card for the Beals, and to tell the staff what they wish for the library in the future. In the Director's Office there will be a slideshow on the history of the library created by former Trustee and current Select Person, Rick Ward.

In the auditorium, patrons can get information about current ongoing library programs and upcoming events, as well as an opportunity to sign-up for a "Library Walk-about" with the trustees. The Walk-abouts are designed as a way for participants to think through the possibilities and improvements for each room in the library, so that we can better serve and connect with our community.

Also in the auditorium at 11:00 AM, the library will take a moment to honor its 108 years of service to the community with a symbolic cutting of the cake. Ethan Stone will be on hand to mark the event by tickling the ivories of the library's historic 1860's Chickering grand piano, and a special Beals Birthday Bash Cupcake, courtesy of Slutty Muffins, will be given to each guest to take home.

Finally, at 12:30 there will be a "Teen Building" team building game for teenage guests to wrap up the day. Prizes will be awarded to the winners of the event.

The Beals Memorial Library is located at 50 Pleasant Street in Winchendon. All guests who attend the party must wear masks when entering the building. For more information, call the library at 978-297-0300 or visit the library's website at

Beals Library birthday bash
The Trustees and Friends of the Library invite patrons to join them for the Beals Birthday Bash on Saturday, October 2nd!
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

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

Subway August 2021 Fresh Refresh

Central Mass Tree

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Clark Memorial YMCA

Winchendon Man Hospitalized with Stab Wound Following Assault

On September 21, Lieutenant Kevin Wolski of the Winchendon Police Department issued the following press release:

"On September 19th at approximately 1:53 a.m. Winchendon Police responded to 45 Prospect Street for a report that someone had been stabbed. On arrival Officers found 36-year-old Brett Norcross lying in the road with an abdominal stab wound. The female perpetrator who was not well known to Mr. Norcross had fled the scene. Mr. Norcross was transported to U/Mass Hospital in Worcester and is reported to be in stable condition with unspecified injuries.

"Investigating Officers were able to identify the perpetrator as 32-year-old Farah Nicole Fields of Fitchburg. A warrant was sought for the arrest of Ms. Fields and she was later arrested in Fitchburg. Ms. Fields was held on $5,000 cash bail to be arraigned in Winchendon District Court on Tuesday, September 21st. She is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon with serious bodily injury. Sgt. Gerald Gagne is the investigating Officer."

New Youth Programs at the Beals Memorial Library

If you're looking to keep your kids or teens busy after school, then head over to the Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon. Beginning this October, the library will be hosting several new or returning weekday youth programs!

Starting Monday, October 4th, from 3:00 to 4:00 PM, the library is inviting teenagers in grades 6 through 12 to join the Beals Teen Advisory Board, or B-TAB. Members of B-TAB will get to help the library brainstorm ideas for future teen programs, suggest books to order for the collection, and more. If that's not enough, participation counts as community service hours! All future meetings will be held on the first Monday of every month.

On Wednesday, October 13th, from 3:30 to 5:00 PM, the first meeting of the Beals Fandom, Anime, and Manga Club, or FAM Club, will be held. This group is for teenagers in grades 6 through 12. Teens can make friends with shared interests and enjoy fun discussions and activities centered on pop culture, entertainment, and all things geek. Future meetings will be held on alternating Wednesdays.

For younger kids, the library's former Lego Club will be returning under a new name, the Fun & Games Club, starting on Monday, October 18th, from 3:30 to 4:30 PM. In addition to Lego construction, kids who attend the club can play games, do puzzles, enjoy coloring sheets, and more fun activities in the library auditorium. This program is open to children ages 4 to 8.

Finally, the library is seeking donations of board games and card games suitable for children ages 8+ for their future game club, The Middles Game Group, for kids ages 8 to 12, which they hope to begin this winter. They are also looking for games suitable for teenagers for members of the Beals FAM Club to enjoy. All donations must be in good condition and include all of their pieces.

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

Beals Library new fall programs
Library staff members, Melissa Thayer and Kayla Charlonne, are excited to invite kids and teens to join their upcoming youth programs!
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

Winchendon Lions Club Inducts New Members

At the Winchendon Lions Club's September meeting, we had two inductions of new members, and one installation for Zone Chair.

Feel free to come and join us at one of our meetings. Have fun while making a difference in your town! Membership is open to anyone over 18 years of age. Meetings are held downstairs in the back room at the Winchendon American Legion Post 193, 295 School Street, on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m., from September through June.

Winchendon Lions Club ceremonies
Rachel Atkins and Craig Ashmore were both inducted into the Winchendon Lions Club as new members this week. Congratulations to you both!
Photo courtesy of Joni LaPlante
Winchendon Lions Club ceremonies
Craig Ashmore receiving his pin from his sponsor Mark Desmarais.
Photo courtesy of Joni LaPlante
Winchendon Lions Club ceremonies
President Joni LaPlante being pinned as Zone Chair by Governor Cindy Manini (not pictured: Rachel's sponsor, Ernest (Bud) Fletcher).
Photo courtesy of Joni LaPlante

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Full Harvest Moon
Seen in this photo taken from Black Bridge along the bike path just behind the Clark Memorial YMCA at a magnification of 85 X, the night sky seemed to become alive as the Full Harvest Moon made a powerful appearance on Monday, September 20. Glowing large and dark yellow, its image could be brilliantly seen reflecting on the Whitney Pond portion of the Millers River.
Photo by Keith Kent

Celebrate Banned Books Week with the Beals Memorial Library

If you're looking for something entertaining to do this month, then join the Beals Memorial Library for a fun night celebrating the freedom to read with a game of Banned Book Bingo!

On Wednesday, September 29, at 6:00 p.m., the library will be hosting Banned Book Bingo in the library auditorium, a fun twist on the classic game that celebrates the most frequently banned and challenged books of the last decade. The winner of each round will receive a banned book as a prize! All prizes have been selected by the library staff from among the top 100 Most Frequently Banned and Challenged Books: 2010-2019, a list compiled by the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. This event is open to both teens and adults. All participants must wear masks while inside the library.

The Beals Memorial Library is located at 50 Pleasant Street in Winchendon. For more information, contact the library at 978-297-0300 or visit the library's website at

Beals Book Bingo challenge
Beals Library Director, Manuel King, is ready to celebrate Banned Books Week this September with just a few of the books that you might find on your Banned Book Bingo card!
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

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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