The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of September 30 to October 7, 2021
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Winchendon Receives $150K Brownfields Grant, Bull Spit Brewing Project Advancing

In what is a necessary and positive development for both the Bull Spit Brewing Company and Town of Winchendon, Massachusetts Development, based on an extensive application from Winchendon's Planning and Development Department in conjunction with professionally contracted site core sample testing, has granted an award of $150,200 from its Brownfields Development Fund, allowing the cleanup of any hazardous materials at 4 Summer Drive and paving the way for the future Bullspit Tap Room with outdoor seating, live entertainment, and more.

The building and site at 4 Summer Drive, formerly used as a foundry, and more recently a trucking company over a decade ago, is currently still owned by the town and was taken by tax title. It has been a source of some confusion locally. The future Bull Spit Brewing Taproom is not the former Goodspeed structure--as some have incorrectly spoken about on social media, resulting in considerable confusion--but the red brick building located to the right of the currently closed bowling alley. The building, which borders the Tannery Pond section of the Millers River, also has a large open section of yard and parking area, crucial for future expansion and outdoor events, such as those Bull Spit is currently running on weekends at the temporary popup Bull Yard on Central Street next to Walgreens. Once the 4 Summer Drive site has been legally cleaned up and certified free of any hazardous materials, the town can then officially sell the property to Bull Spit who has agreed to purchase it, with money realized from the sale designated to pay back the funding provided by Mass Development which paved the way to legally proceed.

The former Goodspeed property was also purchased by Bull Spit, and is currently also under rehab. That building will eventually become the company site for production, canning, and storage. A quick view of the property on the Town of Winchendon Assessors Database, currently incorrectly lists the former Goodspeed and 11 Summer Drive site as owned by Justin P. Gelinas, Trustee. Town Manager Justin Sultzbach confirmed that Bull Spit Brewing Company does own it at this time. However, it can take up to a year to record ownership online with the Worcester County Registry of Deeds, in addition to delays due to the still ongoing pandemic.

Sultzbach explained, "Such an important piece to all of this is the Town of Winchendon had to have ownership of the building, for the funds to be made available by Mass Development. Their charge is to assist municipalities in taking difficult to develop parcels, and assist in making them more appetizing for private investment. Being able to use those funds from Mass Development allows the town to clean up the site, to clean up the structure, and remove hazardous materials of the old former foundry such as asbestos, mercury, and other byproducts, to make it more attractive for private investment. However to also get those funds you need to have a private investor lined up, and in this case it was Bull Spit Brewing Company. We put out an RFP (Request for Proposal) and at the end of the day, Bull Spit was the only one willing to come forward with interest and the financial backing making them ready to go."

Discussing positive aspects of the project Sultzbach went on to say, "From an environmental perspective we are cleaning up land at the site along the river. From a financial perspective, we are going to be creating jobs and creating long term tax revenue. From a community development perspective, we are removing a large piece of blight from our town center. In reality we are knocking off three things in one shot and that is a pretty big undertaking. We are not adding another bar to town as some have said, this is completely different. We are adding a brewing facility, a production facility, a formal Tap Room, and don't forget at the same time we are in the long term getting jobs and tax revenue both crucial to our town. At the same time we get a social outlet, get rid of blight, gain reinvestment in out community, and save an old building all at the same time. People need to know all of this, because it is much bigger than just adding a bar. This is going to be a strong anchor for the future development of our downtown."

Sultzbach also wanted to give credit where it was due. "If it wasn't for the hard work of the town such as the Planning and Development office of Tracy Murphy with Mass Department, we couldn't go out and get that grant from Mass Development, and this extensive project wouldn't have been able to happen. There wouldn't have been any private entity willing to invest millions of dollars, and we wouldn't be able to bring this site back on line and clean it up and save it." Sultzbach also said, "I also need to give more credit as our former manager before myself, Town Manager Keith Hickey worked on getting this project going, so let's give credit where credit is due. His office worked on lining up the funding. I am more following through with the execution of the project."

Some have asked the question, "What will happen to the parking lot owned by Tighe Mathieu where the current Bull Yard hosts live musical entertainment and sales?" Sultzbach replied, "That current lot once vacated is going to be the site of a newly constructed Walgreens store. The company leases the building at its current location off to the side and out behind the Bull Yard. They want their own building, and are going with new construction at that site. This is going to happen as engineers are finalizing it and going though the permitting process."

The Winchendon office of Planning and Development has been deeply involved with helping make this project happen from the very beginning. Tracy Murphy, Director of Planning and Development explained, "We have probably been into this project for at least one year now. I first went to the MRPC and applied for a Brownfields Assessment Grant, and got approval for a Phase 1 at 4 Summer Drive, which typically recommends further assessment which would be a Phase 2 for which I then got approval. Once Phase 1 and Phase 2 were completed I went back the committee and requested to obtain additional funds for a remediation plan for which we were awarded that. Once we were able to obtain a projected remediation cost, I was than able to apply for the Mass Development Brownfields Grant to clean up the site, which the town was awarded $150,200 on April 27 of this year. We were just asked not to announce it until Mass Development announced it in a press release."

Murphy also pointed out, "Former Town Manager Keith Hickey actually pulled and cancelled the auction of this property when we realized the town could find a way to improve the property though the proper process." Murphy was pleased to say the hazardous materials portion of the project has been completed, and the town is now waiting on final soil testing numbers to determine the level of soil remediation needed. "Again, we couldn't have gotten to this point if the town didn't own the building, which we needed to get the funding from Mass Development."

Continuing with the removal of hazardous contaminants next to Tannery Pond and the Millers River, Murphy was pleased to say, "Our Licensed Site Professional 'LSP' had found during the investigation that contamination found at the 4 Summer Drive location consisted of arsenic, lead, PAHs, chlorinated solvents, and petroleum from urban fill and historic use of the property as a foundry. Again with these contaminants being removed due to this project, those hazardous materials will no longer be there upon project completion next to or in the ground abutting the river."

As Sultzbach had earlier pointed out, Murphy echoed, "This grant is a recoverable grant. If we sell the property to Bull Spit Brewing as we are going to be doing, any proceeds or money obtained from the sale, goes back to reimbursing Mass Development up to the value of the grant, however it's not dollar for dollar. If we sell it for less, then we pay back less. Also, our agreement with Bull Spit is they were only interested in the property if it was cleaned, so we are doing all this to make sure that part of the process happens."

In closing Murphy said, "I think this has been very rewarding. It's a great project for Winchendon. It's going to anchor our downtown, and it's going to help with revitalization. We are getting the building and grounds cleaned up, creating jobs and tax growth. Reusing older buildings is something we should really try to do. It's not always feasible but when it is, we need to do it, and we are really happy with how far this project for the town has come along."

For more about the grant on the internet please visit

To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
This building located at 4 Summer Drive, currently owned by the Town of Winchendon, is the future site of the Bull Spit Brewery Tap Room facility. Once all legal brownfields projects have been completed and all hazardous materials have been removed, Bull Spit in an agreement with the town will purchase the building from the town, and immediately begin all renovations and conversions to complete the facility.
Photo by Keith Kent
To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
Seen in this photo, the property and grounds of 4 Summer Drive, will also be renovated and converted to host outdoor seating, live musical entertainment, games, and more along the Tannery Pond portion of the Millers River scenic water front property, just off the bike and walking path.
Photo by Keith Kent
To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
The old Goodspeed Machine Company property and buildings at located at 11 Summer Drive, were purchased and are currently owned by Bull Spit Brewing Company demonstrating its financial project commitment to the Town of Winchendon. This complex of buildings, is currently being repaired and modified for future company product canning operations, along with storage, distribution, and what ever else deemed necessary by the business for its expansion and relocation to Winchendon.
Photo by Keith Kent

To Each His Own Design Celebrates 30 Years of Success

To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
Friends and patrons of To Each His Own Design gather in support and celebration with owner Michele Comeau on Saturday, September 25, enjoying friendship, food, laughter, and live musical entertainment.
Photo by Keith Kent
To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
Members of the musical group "Deacon Express" provided live entertainment all event long to the enjoyment of all attending under blue skies in front of many happy attendees.
Photo by Keith Kent
To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
Don Comeau, along with Steve Rocheleau and Dave Zbikowski work the grills feeding many happy customers and friends free hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hotdogs, soda, and water.
Photo by Keith Kent

Friends, family, customers, and patrons were treated to a 30th Anniversary Celebration under sunny blue skies, with comfortable temperatures, free food, live music, hugs, handshakes and more on Saturday, September 25 at To Each His Own Design on Central Street. Winchendon business owner Michele Comeau welcomed dozens of people all afternoon to celebrate not only the history and growth of her business, but the many memories shared over the decades, on a beautiful day fitting of a pearl of a celebration.

As a continuous flow of people came and went throughout the celebratory event, many deserving congratulations offered by attendees and well received by the Comeaus could be heard, followed by many smiles with comments ranging from "We can't believe it's been 30 years already," to "Thank you for all you have done over the years for our community." The stories were many, the support was strong, with hugs and congrats seen and spoken, all day long.

Michele Comeau was asked, "What kind of thoughts come to mind when thinking about all the memories, developments and growth of To Each His Own Design?" Comeau happily replied with a smile, "Today isn't about selling anything, anything at all, it's about celebrating thirty years with all our friends and customers. Many know this and some don't, but I have mentioned many times in the past that 'I opened on a dare.' I started the business at 28 Front Street in a factory building, back on September 28 of 1991, and at the time the old Winchendon Courier was down there with me as well as we were beside each other."

She went on to say, "For me that is the biggest standout. I was there for many years. I never really thought about how long I would stay in business, but now it's all led to this point and thirty years later, here we are. We take each day as it comes, both my husband and I, as we both own separate businesses. We both as business owners have the service mentality. Each event we are involved in is special, because of what you are doing for the person who you are dealing with at the time. There has just been so many different things."

When asked to pick what her favorite floral arrangement is, Comeau fittingly replied, "I do not have a favorite, because with a name like 'To Each His Own' how can you have a favorite. I started flower arranging when I was just fourteen years old, and honestly I can't imagine at this point doing anything any different. We have grown and changed over the years. We bought this current building and location in November of 2019. We closed at 68 Central Street on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, and we opened here at our building at 172 Central Street on Small Business Saturday. We shut down on a Wednesday, and reopened just three days later on Small Business Saturday!"

Comeau pointed out that "putting in the time" was one of the biggest necessities in maintaining and growing any business. When asked about time during the pandemic, Comeau pointed out, "We were lucky, as we did not shut down during the pandemic as flower shops were considered an 'essential business'." Having just moved into their newly purchased location in November of 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Governor Baker's mandated shutdown hitting just months later in March of 2020 created an unexpected and unprecedented situation. Comeau explained, "I have to tell you, it wasn't funerals that we mostly did work for. It was people missing each other, missing connecting with that special someone, and we were the connector. I would deliver flowers by ringing a door bell, step off the porch, sanitize every time you deliver, and make sure we performed all the proper protocols. But by doing those things, and being allowed to stay open, we were the connector, and I will tell you that is something special!"

Walking around To Each His Own Design, there is no shortage of unique gift ideas expanding far beyond just colorful flowers and floral arrangements. Many food products, compliments of Stonewall Kitchen, such as jams and jelly, specialty cards, scarfs, ear rings, holiday craft items, scented candles, signs, seasonal wreaths, plants, artisan chocolates, and much more adorn the shelves waiting for your picking. From boxes of bar mix to jars of Ghost Pepper Salsa and Queso, additional jars of Pesto and Aioli, dipping oils, and other culinary delights, whether you're looking for just flowers or combining them with gift baskets, Comeau and To Each His Own Design now have thirty years' experience to help you fulfill your most special of gift shopping needs.

When thinking of what it means to be a small family business, Comeau was happy to explain, "We are not just lucky to have our friends and customers, but helping take part in the event today are actual family members. My sister-in-law Dodie Ducharme, who is retired, comes in and helps me out. She is here today. Also here today is my brother-in-law Mark Carrier, who is performing outside singing with the band here today, Deacon Express. As for my husband Don, he is outside somewhere helping out doing whatever is needed. We really are a small family business, a local business, and we care about our community." That caring goes well beyond the brick walls of To Each His Own Design. The Comeaus have been quietly serving their community in many ways over the years, never looking for credit. One example of many would be years of beautification planting flowers at the several Blair Square traffic islands at the intersection of Central and Front Streets. Again not looking for any credit, Michele simply said, "We believe in serving, we just don't think we should talk about any good deeds."

In closing Comeau was asked what she would like to say to all attending in celebration, and those who celebrate but couldn't make it. Comeau again with a smile said, "That is just what today is about, just simply thanking everyone for their support. The community is just fantastic. We just wanted to give back. That is why we have the band, food, and more. We are not here to celebrate about us, we are here to celebrate the community."

To Each His Own Design is located at 172 Central Street, Winchendon, MA and is open Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. It can be reached by phone at (978) 297-3959, visited on the internet at and viewed on Facebook at

To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
With a wide variety of items for almost any occasion, customers enjoyed shopping in the store all celebration long where a once former spartan bank building now glistens wall to wall with items providing a kaleidoscope of eye catching colors.
Photo by Keith Kent
To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
Photo by Keith Kent
To Each His Own Design 30th Anniversary
This display of tasty artisan chocolates is just one of many unique attractions for sale adding yet more diversification at To Each His Own Design.
Photo by Keith Kent

Discussion of Signage Bylaw Heats Up BOS Meeting

A series of recent disputes over Winchendon's Zoning Bylaw regulating signs contributed to a lengthy and sometimes fervent discussion at the Monday, September 27 Board of Selectmen's meeting.

Town Manager Justin Sultzbach introduced agenda item 7.3 by saying, "I just wanted to provide an opportunity to kind of kick off this discussion, I know there have been a couple of different instances, some predating my arrival, and some since I've been here, that have sprung forth from the fact that our zoning bylaws are a little at times conflicting and out of date. And so I wanted to provide a platform so that we can acknowledge that, and kind of talk about some of the steps we're intending to make as a community to rectify that."

Mr. Sultzbach went on to say that the regulations "are slightly imperfect and I just want to commend my staff for doing the best that they can do with an imperfect system, and with that aside, it's easy to just dismiss something and say, oh it's imperfect, and then not do anything about it." He went on, "we're really trying to make a big push to be business-friendly here in Winchendon, make it as easy as possible for people to do business, and sometimes we have an overly restrictive sign bylaw, it creates needlessly extra hoops for these businesses in terms of trying to advertise themself. And so we'd like to address that. That would traditionally go through the Planning Board and Zoning Board, so that's something we're going to be working on over this next year, and hopefully they'll be able to produce something in time with enough public input by this upcoming Annual Town Meeting in May." He asked if the Board had any questions.

Selectman Danielle LaPointe began, "I get worked up about this issue for a few reasons...I want to warn us to be very very very careful about infringing on our citizens' rights to express themselves. We've had candidates running for elections be turned away from putting perfectly constitutional signs up, and we are so lucky they didn't decide to try to sue the town, because we would have lost. We have to make sure we are protecting our citizens' rights, our residents' rights and do this the right way. The zoning bylaw as it is written gives the residents those rights."

Selectman Barbara Anderson stated that she felt the Bylaw was "very very clear. We have four different categories regarding signs. We have temporary signs, we have permanent signs, we have signs that are allowed and signs that are not allowed. They're very clear with very clear headings. I think what we are not properly doing is, A, treating everybody the same, when we're enforcing the sign bylaws, which is problematic, B, not distinguishing between permanent and temporary." Ms. Anderson talked about flags such as the "OPEN" flags businesses put out, and how New Englanders are accustomed to looking for them. She also brought up several instances of temporary signs she had seen which had no clear dates attached, such as the Scouting signs currently around town, or temporary signs put up by HEAL Winchendon which were left up for weeks after the event they promoted.

"So we're not uniformly enforcing the bylaws, and I think we're not reading the bylaws correctly," Ms. Anderson concluded. "There's a business in town that was asked to take down their signs, but they were temporary signs. They went out when they're open and back in when they're closed. And that according to the bylaws is permissable."

Mr. Sultzbach explained that the Scouts had come to the Town Manager's office asking permission to post their signs around town and received authorization to do so. "That's the way the system is supposed to work. But where there're instances of, 'we sell or we buy ugly houses' and it's typically fifteen feet up on a telephone pole, they obviously don't come to me. So those are taken down," he said. He emphasized that town employees "are not omnipresent" and have many other duties besides taking down signs, which can create the illusion that the rules are being selectively enforced. He added, "there have been instances where folks in town have approached me and said, 'here's the sign bylaw, this is how I'm reading it,' [and I said] 'that's interesting because here's how I'm reading it.' If there's room for interpretation in these zoning bylaws, they're flawed. By definition. There should not be room for interpretation in the language of these documents. So that's the issue that I'm trying to address."

Mr. Sultzbach emphasized that he wants people to be able to promote their events and businesses, but the rules need to be respected. "There has to be an ounce of empathy there, an understanding that these things aren't always easy to enforce, and oftentimes in that position you are put in the spot of being the bad guy. A lot of people don't like code enforcement, and oftentimes when you have to go up and tell somebody to do something, it's typically not well-received. I think that's a component, too, it's a very difficult job, it's not unique to this town."

Building Commissioner and Zoning Enforcement Officer Geoff Newton rose to respond to the concerns. He urged concerned citizens to "get in here and give us ideas, because [the sign regulations] are written up a long time ago. Things have changed, and the signage, the way they look has changed. But right now when you look at the current wording, I can't help but say it's my interpretation, and I try and do the best I can, and if somebody is displeasured by my interpretation, they have recourse, the Zoning Board of Appeals. So, go and file a case, and that's okay. And if the Zoning Board of Appeals says I'm wrong, so be it. But if I'm right, so be it to the person raising the complaint. You've got to follow the rules, and that's the way it's basically written."

Mr. Newton emphasized that his first priority must be his duties as Building Commissioner. "When I'm doing other inspections, that's my priority. I'm going out there to check out the foundations, the footings, the framing, the insulation, all the stuff that's going on in the building, those are more important as well. So I have to take care of the contractors and the homeowners that are waiting for me, they're not worried about me taking signs down."

He went on to describe stacks of signs piled in his car ("nobody wants them") and how he has an assistant who has to use a special tool to pull down signs attached high up on telephone poles by people who stand on top of their trucks. Ms. Anderson demanded to know--repeating the question three times--how the assistant got this special tool. A nonplussed Mr. Newton replied that the assistant "made it up, and he's got a big claw on it" and a long handle for reaching signs high off the ground.

Ms. LaPointe said, "every time we do this, we are messing with people's freedom of speech, because if you read, we're telling everybody to read [the bylaws], they're reading them. A lot of these [signs] are appropriate and approved as written by our bylaws and we are restricting their freedom of speech. And somebody is not going to be so gracious as one of our recent candidates, and we are going to be in trouble. That's my point."

Mr. Sultzbach said, "I just ask that when it comes to the staff, that the conversation go through me."

"I fail to see how, when a resident is having a problem, or a dispute, where we as a community, when we're only meeting every two weeks and the Zoning Board only meets once a month, that we as a community are going to help these people," Ms. Anderson said.

"So as designed, there is a board in place to address those issues as a recourse, and that's the Zoning Board of Appeals. So it's not my office, and respectfully, it's not this Board, either," Mr. Sultzbach responded. "That's the purpose of the Zoning Board of Appeals, so let's say in the interim there is an opportunity for recourse, I as always am more than happy to help anybody in town with any issue if they would come to me. I haven't turned away a single person in town, since I've been here, and I never will. But they need to come to me. I can't fix problems that aren't brought to my attention."

At this point, twenty-two minutes into the discussion, Board of Selectman Vice Chair Rick Ward suggested, "I think we've covered this issue enough," but Ms. Anderson said, "No, I'm not done. I'm so not done with this." She went on to say that it was "crystal clear" that no signs were allowed to be posted on utility poles. "But let's go back to these temporary signs, because at this point, we have a business that's having a problem, and people aren't aware that this business is open, because the business can't fly their flag. They've been told not to. So are we going to support business, or are we not? Until the next meeting, when the Zoning Board meets, which is at the end of October, by the way."

Mr. Sultzbach replied, "that's an excellent point, and in instances such as that, and this is what did occur, our code enforcement officer will offer to work with any individual in town. That offer has been extended, my office will work with any individual in town. That offer has been extended, no one has shown up in my office yet. And so our goal, above and beyond time and time again, and so will my staff, but you can lead a horse to water, you can't make it drink. And it hits a certain point where we have other obligations in town, we have a lot of important business to do in town, I also would love to spend my days chasing signs in town, I have a lot of things to work on, my staff has a lot of things to work on. And we will offer time and time again, and the offer's still on the table, and we'll reach out again tomorrow. And I'll reach out again on Wednesday and Thursday and I'll do it again on Monday. But if the individual doesn't come forward to me, I can't help them."

The signage debate has been simmering since last year, and is made murkier by the fact that several different types of signs have come into contention. During the election season last fall, a candidate was told to remove campaign signs from town property, raising enough concerns in some quarters about impartiality that the candidate addressed a Board of Selectmen's meeting to formally express them. While there are rules about campaign materials not being displayed or disseminated within a certain distance of a polling location, the general regulation about signs on town property requiring permission is not limited to political or campaign signs.

More recently, several businesses in town were told to take down a type of free-standing, tall narrow banner known in the signage trade as "feather flags." Feather flags are a new type of sign and have become very popular. As Mr. Newton pointed out, they did not exist when the sign bylaws were written. Feather flags exceed the size limit (six square feet) for "temporary signs," and may stand as tall as 15 feet. The Courier found prices from approximately $120 and up for a feather flag from budget printing services, so they are not inexpensive. No maximum size limit for flags of any kind is specified in the zoning bylaw. Whether feather flags should be categorized as "flags" or as "temporary signs" is currently a matter of interpretation.

The current version of the Zoning Bylaws is dated October 28, 2019 and may be read online at Winchendon, Massachusetts Zoning Bylaw (PDF). Article 9, "Signs," begins on page 87.

However, Article 9 has not been amended since January 29, 2007. Changes to the zoning bylaws must be voted on in Town Meeting and require a 2/3 majority to pass.

In the meantime, businesses, organizations and individuals who wish to put up signs should check with the Town Manager's office before they expend the funds to purchase their signage. If they need a permit or recommendations for their signage, the Town Manager will assist them.

Town Manager Introduces Draft Warrant Articles to BOS

At the September 27 Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Justin Sultzbach made the first presentation of seventeen draft articles for the Fall Special Town Meeting Warrant. The Warrant is not yet final. The articles will be reviewed by the Finance Committee, discussed and voted on by the Board of Selectmen, and the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen will make recommendations on each article. Fall Special Town Meeting is scheduled to convene on Monday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. in the Murdock Middle High School.

The draft articles as presented by Mr. Sultzbach are:
1. Committee reports
2. Payment of prior year bills, $1,621.25 from Free Cash
3. Central Street Municipal Lot Construction, $65,000 from Free Cash
4. DPW Replacement Truck Purchase $66,735.27 from Free Cash
5. Fund FY21 Water Budget Deficit, $81,562.65 from Free Cash
6. Fund FY21 Wastewater Budget Deficit, $154,131.98 from Free Cash
7. Fund FY22 Water Budget Deficit, $97,500 from Free Cash
8. Fund FY22 Wastewater Budget Deficit, $30,000 from Free Cash
9. Fund FY22 Veterans Service Director Personnel Account Deficit, $1,553.30 from Free Cash
10. Fund OPEB Trust Account, $50,000 from Free Cash
11. Fund Contractual Separation Pay-outs, $50,000 from Free Cash
12. Fund Stablization Account, $130,000 from Free Cash
13. Cracksealer Authorization
14. Accept Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure - Beech Street
15. Transfer Beech Street to Winchendon Redevelopment Authority
16. Transfer Parcel 153 to Bull Spit Brewing
17. Street Acceptance - Madison Avenue

About Article 3, Mr. Sultzbach explained that the town is planning to construct a municipal parking lot with a capacity of about thirty spaces to help compensate for the parking spaces lost on Central Street, as well as the traffic congestion during construction. "We know that the community had some reservations in terms of the design and removing some of the parking," Mr. Sultzbach said. "I've been working with DPW Director Croteau to put out a design that will go out to bid for a Central Street municipal lot, and that is between kind of diagonally where the library is and where the police station is. So we're anticipating that would cover about 30 or so spots. That is going to go through the Capital Committee upcoming on Wednesday the 29th, so we'll discuss that at length."

Articles 5,6,7 and 8, Mr. Sultzbach said, addressed the ongoing issue of deficits in the water and wastewater accounts. When the Fiscal Year 2022 budget was put together, it did not adequately allow for projected deficits. "The Department of Revenue, when you run into instances like that, where we should have projected that loss, we have two options," Mr. Sultzbach said. "One of them is to find in our current budget, which the money isn't quite there, and the other option is to try to pay for it through Town Meeting appropriation, in this instance using Free Cash."

Article 9 will cover additional hours being put in by the new Veterans Service Director, Steve Bassett, who has been catching up with a backlog in services from when the position was left unexpectedly empty, and with reconciling some discrepancies he discovered. "Frankly we've really put that program under a microscope to make sure that we're doing everything by the book," Mr. Sultzbach said. "In the past I think there were some things that didn't quite meet muster, and so Steve Bassett our Veterans Director has been logging some extra hours to try to ensure that those payments get out for the Veterans."

Articles 10, 11 and 12 were submitted by the Finance Committee (see "Finance Committee Creates Multiple Proposed Warrant Articles for Upcoming Fall Town Meeting" in the September 23-30 edition of the Courier). "These three are items that as a community we should have been funding historically, and haven't been. It's one of those things that you don't really see the immediate result of it, so it takes real discipline to get into the habit of paying into those stabilization accounts. It's a fiscal best practice. It's something that we should be doing," Mr. Sultzbach said. "I know it's the right thing to do to start funding these items, because they're not going to go away."

Articles 14 and 15 continue with the process of reclaiming and rehabilitating the properties at the corner of Beech Street and Front Street. The eventual plan is to renovate the two-family home and use the revenue from that to fund the clean-up of the former garage. "Ideally, there would be zero costs to the Winchendon taxpayer" in the final analysis, Mr. Sultzbach said. Ms. Anderson mentioned that Representative Jon Zlotnik helped the town get some funding to assist in the demolition of the property at Lincoln Avenue Extension. Mr. Sultzbach said he will reach out to Rep. Zlotnik.

The proposed articles will next be reviewed by the Finance Committee. The Board of Selectmen will vote to finalize the Warrant on October 12, and will vote on their recommendations for each article on October 18.

Winchendon Sees Slight COVID Viral Uptick of 0.10 Percent

COVID positivity map

The town of Winchendon has realized a slight uptick in COVID positivity rates, from from 4.99 percent on Thursday, September 23, to 5.09 percent as of Thursday, September 30, per the most recent Massachusetts Department of Public Health viral update. The numbers were calculated from data collected by 1,119 molecular tests over the past 14 consecutive days after several weeks in the high 5 to mid 6 percent range.

For months now, the area of North Worcester County has been identified as what the DPH calls a regional cluster. Locally in this cluster and just three towns away, the Town of Athol, with a population of 11,500 compared to Winchendon's nearly 10,800, has been on an aggressive viral increase. In the last five weeks the Town of Athol has advanced all the way from the mid 2 percentile positivity rate, to 6.73 percent last week. This week, Athol has increased, in just one week, all the way to 8.13 percent, a 13 percent increase, and an increase of over 300 percent in just five weeks. The town of Royalston, which shares the Athol-Royalston school district, temporarily dropped well over a full point from 7.04 to 5.65 percent.

In a phone call placed on Thursday, September 30, a member of the Athol Board of Health confirmed Athol observed 154 positive viral cases, its highest in a long time during this pandemic. At the same time, Winchendon records less than half of that at under 70 cases the very same day, according to Winchendon Public Health Agent James Abare. At this time, the vast majority of cases are still consistently documented by hospitals and health care centers as among the non-vaccinated.

Serving as a buffer between Athol and Winchendon, the two largest towns by population in North Worcester County, are the towns of Templeton and Phillipston, members of the Narragansett Regional School District. Templeton which in the last two weeks dropped from 6.03 to 5.50 percent, dropped slightly in this week's report to 5.35 percent, a near lateral. Phillipston realized a welcome and considerable positivity drop, from 4.05 to 2.78 percent. These rates were based on 1,010 and 144 molecular tests respectively.

To the east, the Town of Ashburnham continues to shine like a bright light in the viral darkness, logging in at just 1.73 percent, a number its neighbor Winchendon has not experienced in quite time. Fellow school district member Westminster continues to be stuck back in the 6 percentile of positivity, at 6.16 percent based on 730 tests taken over the last 14 days, realizing few weeks in the 5's for some time.

The City of Gardner to Winchendon's south, last week at 3.67 percent, this week registered back in the 4 percentile range at 4.07 percent, an increase of less than half a percentage point, based on results take from 2,753 tests. Gardner, with a population some 45 percent higher than Winchendon located in just half the square millage, continues to have a lower positivity rate than Toy Town with its higher vaccination percentage.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' most populous city, the City of Boston with 670,000 full time residents, and a combined total population of 1,500,000 residents including college and university students, mostly due to its very high vaccination rate dropped from 1.19 to 0.99 percent based on nearly a quarter million tests, dipping under the 1.00 percentile mark. Massachusetts' largest city and most densely populated region proves that with vaccinations you can make an enormous difference.

Numbers tell the story. Winchendon, contained within 44.1 square miles, has a population of 10,765 at 244 persons per square mile. Boston contained in 89.6 square miles--just over twice the geographical size of Winchendon--averages during college academic terms a staggering 16,741 people per square mile, or nearly 70 times the human population density of Winchendon, while experiencing five times less the viral positivity rate!

As Chair of the Board of Health, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of vaccination if you are healthy enough to do so. No person can deny the legitimacy of the numbers listed above. Public Health should not be political. It was former President Trump's very own program which paved the way not only for the financial and legal progress of the COVID viral vaccinations, but the former President, after experiencing the infection himself after attending large gatherings and not wearing a mask doing so, also publicly acknowledged he chose to become vaccinated. Vaccination should not be a Republican or Democrat issue, but based on the numbers above a public health consideration. If it was good enough for former President Trump, and good enough for current President Biden, no matter who you support, they both got it and equally encouraged getting vaccinated.

In closing, no matter how many times it may fall on non believing or selective ears, I ask again, if you are not vaccinated and are healthy enough to do so, please speak to your primary care physician about it. Winchendon continues to stagger along at a nearly 50/50 vaccinated/non-vaccinated percentage. With colder weather soon upon us, large gatherings are moving indoors. I am not asking as your Chair of the Board of Health for myself, I am asking for "You" to help yourself, help your family, and help your community if you are able to do so.

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!

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

You are invited to attend the
and Information Meeting on
Sunday, October 3
at the Clark Memorial YMCA,
1:00-3:00 p.m.!
Learn more and RSVP on Facebook

Central Mass Tree

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

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

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 - 2 vacancies
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
Planning Board - 1 Alternate 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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