The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of October 14 to October 21, 2021
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better
2021 Fall Fest
Event Coordinators Tracy Murphy and Nicole Roberts take a hard earned and well deserved moment to "Clown around"
Photo by Keith Kent
2021 Fall Fest
Fall Festival participants enjoy a ride up and down Central Street on a trackless train taking in the event scenery.
Photo by Keith Kent

Winchendon Celebrates Highly Successful 2021 Fall Festival

Winchendon residents and many more from other communities joined together celebrating a highly successful 2021 Fall Festival, with an estimated 2,000 or more attending the six hour event, enjoying time with friends and family and filling up the grounds of Central Street in a way not seen since the last event in October, 2019.

Gathering for the first time in two years due to the pandemic shutdown through 2020, many participants starting setting up at 7:00 a.m. or earlier, with vendor popup tents, food tents and trucks, and much more quickly filling the downtown Central Street business district at a feverish pace. At the beginning of the event's opening, several hundred attendees could already be seen walking the closed street, a strong sign of what was soon to come.

The event, which ran during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., hosted nearly 190 individual vendors, area businesses, food trucks, charitable organization, multiple live music locations, Shriner's Clowns making balloon animals for children, raffles, toys, and much more. From sports memorabilia to hand-made jewelry, from painted rocks to Halloween socks, from jars of honey to a chance to win scratch tickets worth lots of money, there was something for people of all ages both young and old alike. Even little children got to ride a trackless train while still too small for their own first trike.

If you were looking for something to eat either during or after all the walking around, no less than 19 area businesses and vendors combined to serve any hunger needs. Police K-9 command and action demonstrations took place between the hours of 12:00 and 1:00 p.m., with the Winchendon Fire Department providing cooking safety demonstrations of how quickly turkey frying can go critically wrong under incorrect conditions, with potentially deadly explosive fire and splatter. If your ears were looking for a treat, live music was played at the UU Church, the Clark YMCA and Bull Spit Brewery's Bull Yard, all along Central Street. Many charitable organizations also got in on the action, ranging from the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, to the Winchendon History and Cultural Center, Senior Center, and multiple others.

2021 Fall Fest
The WFD provides a demonstration of how quickly under the wrong conditions a turkey frying can go catastrophically wrong, causing either serious injury, death, and/or structure fires.
Photo by Keith Kent
2021 Fall Fest
WPD K-9 Officer Wironen demonstrates Officer Clyde's ability to take commands and focus on his target.
Photo by Keith Kent
2021 Fall Fest
DPW Superintendent and volunteer Brian Croteau finds himself on the receiving end of an "Air Clyde" attack as he comes in for his landing latching on to his directed target!
Photo by Keith Kent

Town Land Use Coordinator Nicole Roberts worked diligently with Tracy Murphy, Director of Planning and Development, organizing for over a year in the hopes the event could return since its last 2019 happening. Roberts explained, "It was really gratifying to see all the people and all the smiling faces. Seeing all the vendors doing well. Tracy and I made it a point to walk around and talk to all of the vendors, and everybody had positive feedback, and also everywhere you looked you could see people with bags buying merchandise from vendors. You saw kids painting pumpkins and the bands all having a good time. As far as the vendors went, as examples, Uncle Joey's Cannoli's sold 400 Cannoli's, the WCAC did really well with their baked potatoes, and Not Just Produced sold out of its pulled pork sandwiches in just a few hours selling I believe 110 of them. Over at the Bull [Yard] people were having a lot of fun. We had face painters for children donating their time, and we had great entertainment for people of all ages. The merchandise vendors and food vendors all did well. We had great event social media feedback on Facebook, as just about everybody was very positive."

Roberts went on to say thanks with, "We couldn't have done it without both the town's support and everybody behind the scenes. Making sure we had enough power. The DPW and Police making sure the roads were safe and closed, and the Fire Department for all they do along with their live fire demonstrations. Then there were people like John Goan making sure the utility polls were all turned on for power, Salvador's for donating the use of their golf carts, and Andy Brooks at Brooks Automotive for picking them up and transporting them back, and so many others as these are just a few examples of who just helped make it work behinds the scene, we couldn't do it without everybody. We also got help from the Murdock High School Football Team who helped set up all the tables and chairs at the YMCA parking lot and for vendors. Michelle Comeau from To Each His Own Design placed all the bows on the utility poles. Tina Santos helped attaching the corn stalks to all the utility poles, and Jared Scortico donated all the corn stalks for the poles. As Fall Fest moves on, more and more we become like that well oiled machine, and everybody just loves to help make it work."

In closing Roberts wanted everybody to know, "The event is really an all year long effort. The map goes up on the wall early on, and we already have everything reserved for next year with the bounce house, tables, chairs, portable potties, and mostly everything else already reserved. We are really looking forward to the event growing more and more, and we are looking forward to next year as this is a wonderful community event!"

Director of Planning and Development Tracy Murphy was also very pleased with how the event unfolded. Murphy said, "The event overall was very successful. It was certainly well attended, as people it seems are really ready to be out and about. We appreciate the Board Of Health being there to hand out masks and hand sanitizer as well as all the vendors having sanitizer per the BOH request. We got supportive kind words from members of the BOS and other boards as well. I want to thank Nicole Roberts for all her work on this, because you just can't keep track of all the hours involved in this event. We start working on the next event as soon as or even before the current one is over, as we work on it all year long."

Murphy also added, "We have a good system. Nicole is our one point of contact to reduce any confusion, and I go over all the sites, measurements, and more double- and triple-checking them. Nicole and I walked up and down the street multiple times, talking with the vendors, as you need to have that organization and communication. This was such a great event for the town. Then you had all those people and their musical groups pitching in donating their time with free performances. The Big Ran-Dom, Winchendon Winds, Ron Morey, and Kaydon Gordon as the event DJ. They all performed for free to pitch in and help out making the event even greater, so as this event doesn't have a budget, we couldn't have had them play without all of them donating their time."

2021 Fall Fest
Members of the Big Ran-Dom perform for Fall Festival participants at the upper Clark YMCA parking lot to the crowd's enjoyment.
Photo by Keith Kent
2021 Fall Fest
Town Resident Ken Labrack smiles in thanks as both the performing band at the Bull Spit Bull Pin and the crowd jointly sang him "Happy Birthday" at the 2021 Fall Fest which also fell on Labrack's 74 Birthday.
Photo by Keith Kent

In closing Murphy said, "We had a great event. We are thankful for all the help we got from all the volunteers, we've been getting thanks from vendors who attended, the town really supports this event and that is very important. We are looking forward to an even bigger and better event next year, and as some asked us to work on better weather, we will try LOL. This was such a positive event for the town, and again, we just want to thank all those who did and gave so much to help make it all come together and work!"

Town Manager Justin Sultzbach experienced his first Winchendon Fall Festival with his family. Sultzbach was pleased to say, "First and foremost I want to thank my staff for coordinating all their efforts to make this event happen. It was an excellent way to showcase what downtown Winchendon has to offer. I think it was also a great opportunity for the citizens of Winchendon to see some of the positive changes we are looking to implement downtown. This was such a family friendly event, and I am very grateful we found a way to host it especially in the times we are living in, and to be able to hold the event safely and still provide the residents of Winchendon a way to show their town off and be proud of their community."

2021 Fall Fest
Seen here at the Winchendon Fall Festival, just some of the several thousand spectators are making their rounds.
Photo by Keith Kent
2021 Fall Fest
Contestants go full on "In your face" with the 2021 Fall Festival pie eating contest
Photo by Tina Santos

Winchendon COVID Viral Rate a Parallel, Masks Mandated in All Town Owned Buildings

As the Town of Winchendon and its surrounding communities continue to be identified as a Commonwealth viral cluster, the majority of surrounding municipalities per the latest Mass Department of Public Health update as of Thursday, October 14, show no improvement with some showing only the slightest decrease, and the majority showing a gradual increase.

Winchendon, a town of 10,765 per the Mass DPH, completed a virtual 7 day parallel report, last registering a viral positivity rate on October 7, of 5.64 percent, was designated per the latest update on October 14, of 5.54 percent based on just under 1,000 molecular tests. Additionally beginning Tuesday, October 12, the Town Manager, Justin Sultzbach, per a BOH Chair recommendation based on consistently reported DPH data, mandated masks in all town owned buildings regardless of vaccination status. All entering the building must wear a mask. If the Town of Winchendon can realize 2 consecutive weeks of a viral infection rate of 4.49 percent or less, masks at that time will be allowed to come off during entry. If Winchendon as a town realizes 2 consecutive weeks of 4.50 percent viral positivity or greater, the masks must go back on to obtain entry. Town municipal employees per previous Governor and DPH temporary regulation observance, are allowed to work at their desks or stations without a mask on as long as 6 feet of social distancing can be maintained, however if needing close interaction with the public requesting assistance, the municipal employee inside the town owned building must put their mask back on until 6 feet of bodily separation can again be maintained.

To Winchendon's west, the Town of Royalston after previous recent weeks in the high percentile, experienced a significant drop, dropping from 3.17 to just 0.73 percent in the last week. Its member school district partner, Town of Athol, the largest town in north Worcester County, while still higher, dropped from 8.39 percent to 6.60 percent based on 1,410 tests.

To our south, member towns of the Narragansett Regional School District have again realized viral increases, with Templeton increasing slightly from 6.31 to 6.41 percent, and fellow member Phillipston seeing a massive surge in its infection rate, spiking from 4.32 all the way up to 11.20 percent based on 161 molecular tests, a very concerning number.

To our east, member communities of the Oakmont Regional School District, realized both a slight increase and decrease simultaneously, with Ashburnham increasing from 3.03 to 3.42, and Westminster slightly decreasing from 5.62 to 5.33, like all in our area, still high above the state infection average.

The City of Gardner also to our immediate south, also increased slightly from 5.20 to 5.44 percent viral positivity based on 2,598 molecular tests. Adding to regional cluster concern, to Gardner's immediate south, the Town of Barre realizes a 6.75 percent infection rate based on 563 tests, and Hubbardston has increased to 6.33 percent based on 458 tests, both members of the Quabbin Regional School District.

As COVID-19 and its Delta variant thrive on population density, Massachusetts largest cities which mostly have higher vaccination rates continue to be much safer in the infection rate category than Winchendon. The City of Worcester with over 180,000 residents, registers at just 1.09 percent. Springfield, the commonwealth's second largest city, registered at 3.75 percent, and Boston, the largest city in Massachusetts, registers just 0.80 percent positivity and over 6 times less than Winchendon, despite having some 1.5 million residents and 69 times Winchendon's population density per square mile.

In closing, the numbers tell the story. With upcoming larger indoor gatherings, such as Halloween parties, Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, and then New Year's Eve parties less than 3 months away, numbers in our region will be hard pressed to see a significant decrease at our current vaccination rate which at this time the Mass DPH still registers at just 48 percent of our town population. Winchendon was also not long ago reported on various websites as one of the worst vaccination averages per municipality in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As Chair of the Board of Health, and not speaking for my entire board, if you have not already received a vaccination, please strongly consider doing so if you are healthy to receive such. Please speak with your physician, and do not listen to the multitude of false information on social media platforms. Also again, masks regardless of vaccination status, are now mandatory in all town owned buildings, which could have been averted if our vaccination averages were higher. Please remember to wear a mask when entering town owned public buildings.

Keith Kent
Board of Health
Town of Winchendon

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

Residential Water and Sewer Assistance Program Opens For Winchendon Residents

The Town of Winchendon is offering a one time grant of $100.00 (water user only) or $250.00 (water and sewer user) toward your current water and sewer bill. (Commercial properties are not eligible under this program.)

Eligibility: Households who are under 80% (LMI) of the FY2021 Income Limits as determined by HUD qualify for assistance. The Income limits used to determine qualification can be found here.

Proof of income is required.

Program will run from October 4, 2021 through December 30, 2021. Applications received after that date will not be accepted.

The applicant MUST live in the residence and be the/a responsible party named on the account.

All awards will be credited to current bills. Users remain responsible for any past due payments and associated fees due to the town.

All information will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by M.G.L. Chapter 66.

Applications are available here (PDF). Questions? Contact Nicole at or by calling 1-978-297-3537

Funding provided by The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) Details of this program can be found here (PDF).

Subway October 2021 Soup's On

Halloween Fun at the Beals Library!

If you're looking for some family-friendly fun the week of Halloween, then head over to the Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon for their Kids' Spooky Party. Put on your costume and join in for a fun evening of pumpkin decorating, music, and more!

The Kids' Spooky Party will be held on Thursday, October 28th, at 6:30 PM, starting off with some festive music and pumpkin painting. After the pumpkin decorating is through, there will be pizza and a movie! The Library will be showing the Disney Halloween short, Toy Story of Terror, in which Woody, Buzz, and the rest of their pals get stuck overnight at a creepy motel and things get spooky when members of their group start to disappear. Wrapping up the evening, each of the participants will be sent home with a little Halloween treat!

Due to capacity limitations, there are only fifteen spots available, so sign ups are required. All participants are required to wear masks inside the library.

The Beals Memorial Library is located at 50 Pleasant Street in Winchendon. For more information or to sign up for this event, call the library at 978-297-0300 or visit them at

Beals spooky kids' party
Library Staff member, Melissa Thayer, is ready to paint some pumpkins at the Kids' Spooky Party!
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

The last day to register to vote at Fall Special Town Meeting is Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall, 109 Front Street.

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!

First "What's Up Winchendon" Community Talk Offers Free Financial Wellness Class

On Wednesday, October 27, HEAL Winchendon, the Winchendon CAC and Three Pyramids will offer a free financial wellness class as the first of the "What's Up Winchendon" series of monthly informational sessions for Winchendon residents. The class will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Winchendon CAC, 273 Central Street.

Food, beverages, and child care will be provided. Registration is required so the organizers know how many to plan for.

Attendees will have an opportunity to learn the keys to Financial Wellness, discussing income vs expenses, eliminating debt, setting aside emergency funds and saving for retirement, among other topics.

Register through the Eventbrite page, or by calling Miranda Jennings at 978-616-7065.

Theme for 2021 Toy Town Tree Festival is "Stories in the Trees"

Registration is open for the third annual Toy Town Tree Festival at the Beals Memorial Library. This year's theme is "Stories in the Trees."

Individuals, businesses and organizations can contribute a tree decorated in any way that represents their personal message or interests--base it on your favorite story or book, or tell your own story.

Trees will be on display to the public in the Beals Memorial Auditorium between November 29 and December 11, at the following times:

Mondays-Thursdays, 1:00-8:00 p.m.
Fridays, 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 11, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Visitors will vote on their favorite tree. Trees donated for auction will be listed in a silent auction for bids. Entrants will be responsible for picking up their tree if there are no auction bids, or they choose not to auction their tree.

All proceeds will go toward funding the new Children's Room at the library.

Click here to download the Tree Festival Guidelines (PDF)

Click here to download the Sign-Up Form (PDF)

Central Mass Tree

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

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.

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

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.

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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