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The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of May 19 to May 26, 2022
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Town Meeting Voters Approve Water and Sewer Budgets, Shoot Down Signage Bylaw

114 voters braved an approaching squall line to attend the 2022 Annual and Special Town Meeting on Monday night, May 16 in the Murdock Middle High School auditorium. With most of the questions and discussion focused on the ever-vexing issue of the Water and Wastewater rates, voters passed all but one of the motions made. The evening's big upset was the failure of the proposed new Zoning Bylaw regarding signs, which required a two-thirds majority to pass and lost by three percentage points.

Town Moderator Coral Grout, fresh from re-election for a second term, began by opening Special Town Meeting. Voters approved a motion to pass over Article 1, to hear reports of committees, as Annual Town Meeting begins with the identical article. Article 2, to pay bills left over from prior fiscal years in the amount of $8,412.93 from Free Cash, passed with the required nine-tenths majority vote: 97 percent in favor, 3 percent opposed.

Article 3, to use $35,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to cover inflation-related expenses in the Wastewater Enterprise Fund for the current fiscal year, elicited a question about how long the Water and Wastewater Enterprise Fund shortfalls have been an issue. The motion passed with 85 percent in favor, 15 percent opposed.

Moderator Grout then opened Annual Town Meeting. (Traditionally, a Special Town Meeting takes place twice each year and mostly concerns business, often of a "housekeeping" nature such as unpaid bills, for the current fiscal year. Annual Town Meeting concerns business for the coming fiscal year. The fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.) Article 1 asked voters to hear the report of the Finance Committee (and any other committees, although other reports are rare). FinCom Chair Thomas Kane rose to give his report, which focused on the Water and Wastewater Enterprise Fund deficits, how they evolved over time and why rate increases are necessary to rein them in.

This led to the longest period of discussion during Town Meeting, as voters rose to ask questions about the Water and Wastewater budgets and rates. It was 27 minutes before Town Meeting could continue to Article 2. Voters asked numerous questions about the water and sewer rates and the ongoing shortfall. Voter Tina Santos rose to argue that all town residents, including those with private wells and septic, benefited in various ways from town water service, not just the rate payers. Another voter leaped up to respond to speakers without being recognized twice, leading to some disorder on Town Meeting floor. The general questions--of the fairness of rate increases and whether residents not on town water and/or sewer should contribute in some way--had been wrangled over in numerous hearings and Board of Selectmen's meetings over the past several months. (For a recap, see "BOS Choke Up Over Water/Sewer Rate Increases, Defer Vote to April 11" in the April 7-14 2022 edition of The Winchendon Courier) and "BOS Hold Their Noses and Vote on a Compromise Water/Sewer Rate Increase" in the April 14-21 2022 edition of The Winchendon Courier)

Moderator Grout stopped the discussion and prompted voters to move on. A motion was made to pass over Article 2, to authorize forming or dissolving committees, as no changes were anticipated. Voters approved 97 percent in favor, 3 percent opposed.

Article 3, to set spending limits on various revolving accounts, was approved with 98 percent in favor, 2 percent opposed.

Article 4, to appropriate $8,800 for the Senior Tax Workoff Program, in which senior citizens can work part time for the town in exchange for an offset on their property taxes, was approved with 94 percent in favor, 6 percent opposed. Article 5, to appropriate $25,000 in support of the Winchendon Community Action Committee, which assists low-income residents of the town, was approved with 93 percent in favor, 7 percent opposed.

Article 6 asked voters to approve the town budget for Fiscal Year 2023, beginning July 1, 2022. The total amount, not including the Winchendon Public School District or Montachusett Regional Vocational School Technical Assessment amounts, was $16,001,424. Moderator Grout read each category item in the budget, after instructing voters to call out "hold" if they wanted to ask a question about any category. No "holds" were called. The town's FY23 budget was approved with 90 percent in favor, 10 percent opposed.

Article 7 asked voters to approve funding for the Water Enterprise Fund in a total of $1,111,532 for FY23, of which $29,827 would come from ARPA funds, filling in a gap left by a water rate increase of 10 percent for FY23. Discussion of the topic had largely been exhausted in the debate for Article 1, although voter David Watkin did ask if the town was ever going to catch up with these deficits. The article was approved with 81 percent in favor, 19 percent opposed.

Article 8 asked voters to approve a total of $1,555,315 to fund the Wastewater Enterprise Fund, of which $414,495 would come from Betterment Revenue and $1,140,820 would come from Wastewater Receipts, with a rate increase of 10 percent for FY23. There was no discussion, and the article was approved with 78 percent in favor, 22 percent opposed.

Article 9 asked voters to approve $195,297 from Transfer Station Receipts to fund the Transfer Station Enterprise Fund for FY23. There was no discussion and the article was approved with 92 percent in favor, 8 percent opposed.

Article 10 asked voters to approve the Winchendon Public School District budget for FY23, with a total amount of $15,604,992.02. There was no discussion, and the article was approved with 83 percent in favor, 17 percent opposed.

Article 11 was the second article to elicit a fairly lengthy debate on the floor. It asked voters to approve $702,108 to fund Winchendon's assessment for the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School ("Monty Tech") for FY23.

School Committee Chair Lawrence Murphy provided a detailed explanation of how the Monty Tech assessment is calculated and why the town is locked into the proportional amounts that it pays. Selectman Danielle LaPointe brought up a question raised by town resident Rick Lucier about the Prop 2-1/2 override amount in the public schools budget, arguing that the money should stay in the school budget to help fund programs to keep students in the district. A voter asked what the difference is between the per-student cost to the district for Monty Tech and the per-student cost for school choice students. Mr. Murphy explained that it costs $60,000 for a Monty Tech student and about $5,000 for school choice. Voters were told that there are 354 students on the waiting list for Monty Tech now. Chair of the Board of Selectmen Audrey LaBrie described speaking to the mayor of Gardner about the Monty Tech contract, which is 50 years old and needs to be reviewed.

Article 11 was approved with 70 percent in favor, 30 percent opposed.

Articles 12, 13, 14 and 15 asked voters to approve various capital expenditures for FY23, grouped by funding source. All of these articles passed. The Beals Memorial Library had prepared for questions about their request for $314,500 from Free Cash to continue Phase 2 repairs to the library building, which was included in Article 12, and had handed out information sheets to voters as they arrived. But there was no debate at all about Article 12, which was approved with 91 percent in favor, 9 percent opposed. Article 13 included items to be purchased by borrowing and required a two-thirds majority; it was approved with 89 percent in favor, 11 percent opposed.

Voter Tina Santos rose to question Article 14, which asked voters to approve the purchase of a vehicle for the transfer station from the Transfer Station Enterprise Fund (which has never been in deficit and is self-sustaining). She asked what the vehicle would be used for, and why other town vehicles couldn't be used by the transfer station. Department of Public Works Director Brian Croteau rose to explain that the vehicle would be used to service the transfer station, take recyclable materials to recycling centers and perform tasks during the winter when other vehicles were in use. The Article was approved with 88 percent in favor, 12 percent opposed.

Article 15 included items to be funded from grants and ARPA funds. $406,134 in ARPA funds was requested for the purchase of vehicles for the Department of Public Works, and another $40,000 for the Planning Department to fund project designs needed for grant applications. With no discussion, Article 15 was approved with 95 percent in favor, 5 percent opposed.

A motion was made to pass over Article 16, which asked voters to approve paying off the $60,405 debt service on a 2016 ambulance purchase a year early. The motion to pass over was approved with 93 percent in favor, 7 percent opposed.

Articles 17 and 18, which asked voters to approve changes to the Town Charter and the Town Bylaws respectively, were passed over. No explanation was requested or given on Town Meeting floor. The Town Manager told the Courier that these changes are tied to amendments to the Charter and Bylaws made by Town Meeting in 2021 that had never gone to the required ballot vote, so those changes need to be voted on again. All the changes will be brought before voters as a package at the Fall 2022 Special Town Meeting, and, if they pass at Town Meeting, the required ballot vote will be scheduled in 2023.

Article 19 asked voters to approve amending Chapter 9 of the Zoning Bylaw, regulating the use of signs in Winchendon. Like all Zoning Bylaw amendments, this required a two-thirds majority to pass. The Board of Selectmen had voted not to recommend the Article, which was the end result of a long process, part of an ongoing audit of the Zoning Bylaws with a professional consultant, and public hearings. (See "Residents Voice Questions, Concerns at Public Hearing for Revised Signage Bylaw" in the April 7-14 2022 edition of The Winchendon Courier)

Selectman LaPointe explained that she felt the new Bylaw was "far too restrictive" for small businesses in town. Selectman Rick Ward argued that the proposed bylaw was much clearer, allowed things like electronic signs, and could be revised further in the future. He added that existing signs are all grandfathered in and would not have to be changed--only new signs would fall under the new bylaw. Voter Tina Santos rose to question the authority the bylaws give to one person, the Building Commissioner, to make determinations about signs. Some voters apparently were seeing the proposed new bylaw for the first time, and asked questions about how it would impact them personally. Ted Brovitz, the consultant who worked on the Zoning Bylaws audit, rose to reply to some of the questions.

Voters were 64 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed to the Article. It would have needed at least 67 percent in favor in order to pass, so the motion failed. (Planning Board Chair Guy Corbosiero did not respond to a request from the Courier for comment by press time.)

Article 20 asked voters to approve funding, some of which is reimbursable, for the Winchendon Drinking Water and Sewer Asset Management Project. Voter Karen Kast asked if the funding was for "a study" or if "they're actually doing something." It was explained that the project will set up a system for tracking water and sewer assets and anticipating expenses for repair and replacement. The Article was approved with 95 percent in favor, 5 percent opposed.

Article 21 asked voters to approve the transfer of a parcel of land on Webster Street, running northwest from the back of the Walgreens building, to the Winchendon Redevelopment Authority. There was no discussion, and the Article was approved with 93 percent in favor, 7 percent opposed.

Moderator Grout called for a motion to dissolve the meeting at 8:56 p.m. which was resoundingly approved.

The official results for Town Meeting may be read here: www.townofwinchendon.com/home/news/annual-town-meeting-results

The recording of Town Meeting may be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3SCwPWq3Hw

Second Annual Taste of Winchendon Celebrates Diversity in Toy Town

Taste of Winchendon 2022
Enjoying the tastes of a Taste of Winchendon!
Up to 25 people at a time were easily counted in line waiting for the bountiful selections of foods to be enjoyed at the Saturday, May 14, Taste of Winchendon celebration.
Photo by Keith Kent
Taste of Winchendon 2022
A Perfect Day.
Taste of Winchendon supporters were treated to temps in the high 80s and blue skies, as they packed the many tables enjoying great food and great live entertainment as part of the festivities.
Photo by Keith Kent

The town couldn't have asked for better weather on Saturday, May 14, as A Taste of Winchendon attendees enjoyed blue skies, temperatures in the mid-80s, foods originating from around the globe, music, dance and performing arts, and booths hosted by town organizations from the Winchendon Garden Club to the Beals Memorial Library.

There were activities for the young at heart, such as face painting, to games for those of any age such as Cornhole. Contests and raffles offered prized from jars of candy for offering public service, to children enjoying a bouncy house. How about a "Language Swap" for those wanting to exercise their brain and learn something new, or a free new reusable tote bag courtesy of the GFA Credit Union Winchendon branch just for showing up! These and many more treats, such as tasting foods from around the world, were just some of the many exciting things offered at the 2022 celebration of A Taste of Winchendon.

Everywhere you looked, students from the Murdock High School Sociology Class and The Winchendon School's Student Leadership students proudly wore their bright blue HEAL Winchendon t-shirts, to the count of nearly 40 strong, working jointly as a school project assisting with the event. From station to station and booth to booth, assisting wherever needed, doing what they do best, they contributed to positive change with positive energy. Whether helping serve food or seen multiple times on the dance floor or forming a dance line, HEAL Winchendon members worked hard representing A Taste of Winchendon and Toy Town at the event. Halfway through the event, MHS Sociology student Camille Hart said, "We have a really good turnout so far, and it's also really nice outside, There is a lot to do here and everybody seems pretty happy so yes, everything is going great. We have a lot of help here today, and it's all coming together so we are glad people are enjoying themselves."

The vendor and information tables were many, including the Winchendon Cultural Council, Two Foxes Farm Pizza, GFA Credit Union of Winchendon, Town of Winchendon Recreation Commission, Beals Memorial Library, Winchendon Heart & Soul, and Winchendon Garden Club just to name a few. There was a booth for a "Language Swap" for those with a desire to learn or asking a question, and a face painting booth for both children and adults. The Garden Club had an educational soil and seed planting display. Recreation Commission member Deb Bradley brought some creative thinking to their booth with a candy jar raffle. Tickets to win the jars of candy could be had based on volunteerism. One hour of service got you three tickets or chances, one entire event netted you five tickets! Stepping up and showing strong community pride, local business Simply Grounded Yoga & Pilates of Winchendon, supporting the Recreation Commission, also offered a match of one class of yoga for one hour of volunteer service.

Taste of Winchendon 2022
The Taste of Winchendon Team gathers for a group photo.
Photo by Inanna Arthen
Taste of Winchendon 2022
Line Dancing, HEAL Winchendon Style!
A dozen HEAL Winchendon members and supporters perform line dancing to the popular song, Macarena, one of several performances the crowd enjoyed with total enthusiasm.
Photo by Keith Kent
A Taste of Winchendon provided tastes from around the world. People could enjoy Puerto Rican Pulled Pork and Rice. One student brought Ireland to the table, with Irish Soda Bread. Simply Grounded provided a taste of Mexico, bringing a Mexican Quinoa dish for people to enjoy. Local businesses also joined in on the tasty action, with Not Just Produced adding a southern pulled pork dish to the table option list, and Gabby's Pizza providing a tasty Egyptian Pasta dish, bringing flavorful options from several continents.

There was no shortage of types of entertainment to watch while filling up on all those above-mentioned tasty treats. Members of HEAL Winchenodon performed several dances such as the Macarena and others. Rajuli Fahey of Magnolia Studio of Winchendon provided a unique and artistic "Belly Dancing" performance for the second year running. In a different physical version of the performing arts, Master Dennis Britt of Britt's Tae Kwon Do of Gardner, MA provided some easier to understand entry level drills and forms performances of martial arts, along with thinner board breaking. Master Britt then upped his game with his well-known performance routine. While he lay on a bed of nails, a cement block was broken on his chest by a large hammer applied by a fellow student, hardly leaving a mark, to the crowd's enthuasiastic applause.

Lastly, in a truly artistic performance of Native American and Indigenous Peoples' history, Chali' Naru Dones, a Native American Indian of Boriken Taino Indian heritage, performed a breathtaking and captivating rendition of an "Owl Honor Dance." Dones' performance, while clearly captivating the audience, made her talents look all to easy to the naked eye. Her rhythmic movements, arms and wing-work, in conjunction with footwork and musical timing, took the audience a step back in American history to a time centuries past, when the creatures of the woodlands and Nature itself were held in much higher respect. Countless photos and videos were taken, and selfies with Dones after the performance were requested. Clearly the performance struck a chord with many who watched.

Dones, whose performance evoked total silence and total respect from the crowd, was followed with another captivating performance by another very talented member of America's Indigenous People, a young boy by the name of Tata' Niki Iraheta. Iraheta, according to Dones, already has National Recognition and top placement in Native American dance performance competitions to his early credit, and his followup performance here left little wonder as to why.

Iraheta provided two performance dances, the first called the "Makana Dance" and the second, the "Sneakup Dance." During his performances, Iraheta reenacted the ground level searching for animal signs, tracks, and clues, while incorporating footwork with dance, balance, and grace in a way that almost mystically became as one with the music. Audiences again took constant photos and videos during the dances.

After both Indigenous Peoples' performances were completed, the Courier met with Chali' Naru Dones to ask what inspires her desire to provide such a performance. Dones replied, "It's so many things for me personally. A lot of people don't know we even ever existed, or don't believe we even existed or exist today. They believe Indigenous people just don't exist. Because of this reason, we push forward to teach, and educate everyone, that Indigenous People lived, are still alive, and we still live here today and we are not going anywhere!"

Taste of Winchendon 2022
Taste of Winchendon 2022

Chali' Naru Dones, a Boriken Taino Indian, performs live with a brilliant and talented "Owl honor dance" before many spectators with many taking both video and photos of her inspiring performance.
Photos by Keith Kent

After the event, HEAL Winchendon Program Manager Miranda Jennings happily summed it up with, "Not only did was our town able to experience the event, A Taste of Winchendon, but students from both MHS and the Winchendon School were able to experience working together on a school project, and also have fun while doing so at the same time. For our second year with this event, we were able to serve roughly three times the amount of food, and still ran out faster than last year as we clearly had more attendance and more engagement. Also importantly, student management for the project was heavily involved as there was almost forty students there at the event, and I would like to thank all the student for all their work on this event over the last year to plan it and run it, and I am very proud of all of them."

Murdock Music Caps Off School Year with Pops Concert

Winchendon Winds Joins Murdock Music as Guest Artists

Murdock Middle High School in Winchendon wraps up its academic year with its annual Pops Concert this Wednesday, May 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. The Pops Concert will feature a variety of short popular works and showcases students in solo and small ensemble performances. After a year of hard work and rapid growth, music teacher Emma Erwin and her students are excited to show off their progress.

Wrapping up her first year at Murdock, Emma has recruited new music students and developed five different performing ensembles. All five groups will perform on Wednesday.

The first half of the program features choral performances. Emma speaks with admiration of her singers, stating "The choir has worked this year to overcome obstacles and handle very high-level repertoire. For this concert, the world language piece the choir prepared is Shule Aroon, a piece partially in Gaelic. The students have successfully tackled the tuning and diction in the type of harmonies uncommon in the music they would typically listen to. The Select Choir will be performing again on the 30th, singing the National Anthem for the Memorial Day service in Winchendon."

The second half of the program features instrumental performances. Emma has been instructing a small number of dedicated players who have taken initiative to improve their playing and bring in fellow students. She observes "Like so many music programs throughout the country, COVID really caused difficulty for the music students in Winchendon. However, they are coming back strong and working hard to recruit; we are looking at a big increase in numbers next year to reflect their efforts. They are a great group and they sound like a group at least twice their size."

An added highlight this year has been the school's collaboration with the professional concert band Winchendon Winds, thanks to a generous grant from the David Greenewalt Charitable Trust. The collaboration included private instruction workshops between students and Win Winds musicians, followed by a combined rehearsal with Win Winds. Win Winds will perform as guest artists during the Pops Concert, and the concert will culminate in the performance of two combined numbers featuring the student and professional musicians playing together.

Emma recognizes this rare opportunity, noting "The kids and I are extremely excited to get to collaborate with Winchendon Winds for our upcoming concert, and to play in a 'normal-sized' band for the first time since COVID began."

Massachusetts COVID Numbers Statewide Rise 19 Percent in One Week as Toy Town Holds the Line

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 14 day average, over the last 7 days, has increased by 20 percent, going from 6.53 percent on Thursday, May 12, to 8.11 percent as of Thursday, May 19, as of the newest Massachusetts Department of Public Health released data.

Winchendon, after increasing for five consecutive weeks from 1.23 percent, to 8.81 percent positivity testing, managed the slightest of decreases, registering a 7 day average of 8.53 percent positivity based on 633 molecular tests taken over the last 14 day reporting period. Like the Commonwealth, Winchendon's local ten-town area also saw a 20 percent increase over the last 7 days on its 14 day rolling positivity average, increasing from 6.62 to 8.22 percent positivity.

Ashburnham went down from 10.84 to 7.45 percent, and its school district partner Westminster increased from 6.90 to 9.34 percent. Templeton increased slightly from 7.43 to 7.48 percent and school district partner Phillipston increased from 7.29 percent to 9.28 percent. Athol increased from 4.76 to 5.50 percent, and school district partner Royalston surged from 9.09 percent to 12.79 percent positivity. Ashby, like Winchendon, decreased slightly from 5.84 to 5.45 percent. Gardner increased by 30 percent, moving upward from 4.53 percent to 6.42 percent, while neighboring Hubbardston went down slightly from a very high 11.57 percent to a still high 10.00 percent positivity.

Of Massachusetts' three largest cities, Boston tests at 7.25 percent positivity, Worcester yields 3.62 percent, and Springfield tests at 7.53 percent. 6000 additional Massachusetts residents have been vaccinated in the last 7 days, with 5,376,129 of the state's 6.9 million residents fully vaccinated, and 56 percent of its residents having received a booster vaccination.

Winchendon's school age population's vaccination rate remains unchanged with children ages 5-11 registering at 22 percent fully vaccinated and 25 percent partially vaccinated, children ages 12-15 registering at 42 and 46 percent fully and partially vaccinated, and those ages 16-19 registering 47 percent fully vaccinated and 55 percent partially vaccinated.

At the Monday, May 16, Winchendon Annual Town Meeting, the Board of Health handed out optional masks and/or COVID-19 I-Health home test kits to any person who wished to take them. The Winchendon Board of Health would like to thank Heywood Hospital and Heywood Health Care for their large donation of face masks to help the Town of Winchendon provide a safer Town Meeting after receiving a request for assistance. The Board of Health continues to recommend vaccination, only if healthy enough to do so, especially if one has a pre-existing condition, or is immunocompromised.

Keith Kent
Board Of Health
Town of Winchendon

Beals Con Coming to the Winchendon Public Library

Who's the heroic dragon in the mask and cape, saving your favorite books from peril? It's Hardcover, the Beals Memorial Library's dragon mascot! Hardcover is a huge fan of comic books and all things geek. If you are, too, then he's inviting you to Beals Con, the Winchendon library's first ever mini comic and fan convention, on Saturday, June 4, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.

Beals Con is a fun, family-friendly celebration of Winchendon and neighboring communities' passion and love for comics and geek culture. It's also a fundraising event to raise money for the library's future Children's Room. There will be guests, booths, games, costumes, crafts, food, and fun for people of all ages. Special guests and performers at the event will include:

Charlotte Anne Dore, who will be performing "The Sea Story" Marionette Show from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. "The Sea Story" tells a fairytale adventure under the sea, featuring pirates, mermaids, and sea creatures. It's a fun show for kids and families. Ms. Dore is a professional actor and puppeteer bringing interactive theater experiences to communities all around New England.

Sometimes Heroes, the Beals Teen Dungeons & Dragons Club, will be presenting their D&D panel, "How to be (Kind of) a Hero!" from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The club members will be sharing stories of their adventures, offering a crash course in gameplay, and serving butterbeer as refreshments. They'll also be giving away gaming dice to a few lucky participants!

Calvin and Nile Hennick, Father and Son Comic Creators, will be presenting an author panel from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Calvin and Nile are the co-creators of the comic, "Jerald's Alphabet Book," written by Calvin and illustrated by Nile. During their panel, they'll be sharing their comic and their experience working creatively together as a father-son duo as well as Nile's experience as a kid making art in the comic book industry. Calvin is also a published author, known for his memoir, Once More to the Rodeo.

Lastly, The Story School will be presenting a Historical Swordsmanship Demonstration from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Story School promotes story-based education through special events, workshops, summer camps, and other outreach activities. Learn about the history of swordplay through this fun, interactive, live demonstration!

In addition to the special guests, there will also be fun activities including wand decorating, superhero mask decorating, a cosplay contest where guests ages 13 and over can compete to be awarded for Best Costume and kids ages 12 and under can show theirs off in our Cosplay Showcase, and we will also be playing a game of Fandom Jeopardy, where guests can put their memory of fandom facts to the test!

During Beals Con, the library will also be holding a raffle to win some cool prizes! Some of the prize bundles up for raffle include a Dungeons & Dragons bundle, a Pirates & Mermaids themed kids' bundle, a Harry Potter bundle, a relaxation-themed bundle, a Pokemon bundle, a Playstation 4 game bundle, and several themed book bundles! Participation in the raffles costs $5 for a sheet of ten tickets. All of the proceeds from the raffle will go towards the library's future Children's Room.

Additionally, Beals Con will be hosting booths for local organizations and vendors on the library lawn, so be sure to browse the booths to see what's going on and what's for sale. Further, there will be a food truck where guests can buy lunch. The Friends of the Library will also be running their Used Book & Media Sale in the library basement throughout the event and all of the raffles will be located there as well.

Beals Con is free to attend and open to people of all ages! This event is funded in part by the Friends of the Beals Memorial Library and by the Winchendon, Athol, Gardner, and Royalston Cultural Councils.

The Beals Memorial Library is located at 50 Pleasant Street in Winchendon. Contact the library at 978-297-0300 or visit their website at www.bealslibrary.org/bealscon for more information or to pre-register for the event.

Beals Con Co-chairs
Beals Con Co-Chairs, Kayla Charlonne and Alexis Chanthachack, and the Winchendon Library's mascot, Hardcover the library dragon, invite everyone to come to Beals Con on Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

Please Respond by June 1 to Make Your Thoughts Heard!

The Toy Town Community Partnership (TTCP) received grant funds from the Robinson Broadhurst Foundation to explore and install public art throughout our downtown. This goes hand in hand with our effort to rebuild a family friendly and economically vibrant downtown. Known as the "Large Toy Project", this project kicked off with the installation of the large bicycle at Grout Park. The TTCP, in conjunction with the Gardner League of Artists (GALA), is looking to install more large sculptures in the future and would like input from the people of Winchendon! Please reply to the survey below to provide your thoughts on this initiative.

Help Brighten Up Winchendon! (Google Form)

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Central Mass Tree

Subway October 2021 Sub of the Day

To the Town of Winchendon from the Sibleys

Dear Neighbors,

The last month has proved to be the hardest myself, my husband, my son, my grandson, and my son-in-law had ever imagined we would go through. The loss of our only daughter Paige Caley Sibley has been horrifying and has left us with terrible grief. The Winchendon community has been beyond supportive and so generous, there are no words to express the deepest gratitude me and my husband have for you all. If every community could be like us here in Winchendon this world would be a beautiful place. You are all blessings in my life and I will never feel that I have shared enough gratitude to thank everyone. I wish I could thank each person individually but that's impossible. I remember every kind word, every supportive shoulder, every meal, the special newspaper delivery from our local delivery girl, the flowers, the plants, the monetary assistance, and every card.

As the former Director of the Winchendon Community Action Committee I have made such wonderful friends. Whether you volunteered, visited us periodically, visited every week, or just stopped in to see what we do I have a place in my heart for each of you. After the loss of Paige I was unable to finish out my last days at the CAC and say my farewells to everyone. When I am functioning a little better I look forward to visiting the CAC and socializing some. My tenure at the CAC these last four years have been truly the most fulfilling, heartwarming experience I have ever had. Moving forward I wish Miranda Jennings all the blessings, friendships, and gratitude I took away from the CAC. The Board of Directors, whom I may add are all volunteers as well have always been respectful, supportive, and encouraged my ideas. For them I will always be grateful for giving me the blessed opportunity I received working with them. Thank you to Shawn Girard, Elizabeth Heyliger, Melinda Bowler, Ann-Marie Hatch, and Deb Gariepy who were the current and amazing volunteers I had the pleasure of working beside every day. You all are forever family to me.

In closing please know that as a community advocate my world has suddenly thrown me into addiction and overdose awareness. There will be as many resources as I can find to help other addicts, their Moms, Dads, children, spouses, grandparents, or anyone else who wants to learn what's taking our children, and if you're a lucky one your child can get returned.

Jennifer Sibley
Johnathan Sibley
Brandon Sibley

Winchendon Memorial Day Weekend Schedule of Events

Saturday, May 28
10:00 a.m. Starting at Calvary Cemetery on Glenallen Street, decorate Veterans' graves with flags

Sunday, May 29
10:00 a.m. Mass service at United Parish Church, 39 Front St., veteran roll call reading the names of all Winchendon Veterans who died during war time.

2:00 p.m. Veterans' Tribute Concert performed by Winchendon Winds, with veterans' roll call and Color Guard. At UU Church of Winchendon, 126 Central St.

Monday, May 30
8:00 a.m. Honor departed Veterans beginning at Calvary cemetery on Glenallen Street, then moving to Riverside Cemetery and ending at Old Centre cemetery.

10:30 a.m. Memorial Day Parade beginning at Legion Park (Pleasant and Front Streets, next to Town Hall). All participants should arrive by 10:15 a.m. The parade will proceed to VFW Park and then to G.A.R. Park. Upon arriving there, a ceremony will be held at the gazebo at G.A.R. park, approximately 11:00 a.m.
In the event of bad weather, there will be no parade, and the ceremony will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the Winchendon American Legion Post 193, 295 School Street.

Chapel Downtown Re-Opening!

Chapel Downtown is happy to announce it is officially re-opening its doors on June 4! After a break due to COVID-19 and construction, The Chapel is excited to see Chapel Downtown be used again as a meaningful part of this community. We love Winchendon and want to show Winchendon the love we have in Christ! On June 4, we will have our first Chapel Downtown Saturday Night Service from 5:30-7:00 p.m. We invite you to come on June 4 and every Saturday evening after from 5:30-7:00 p.m. for a meal, worship, and fellowship. It would be our joy for us to serve you and to be a part of what God is doing at Chapel Downtown!

We are located at 286 Central Street. For more information, Call the Chapel at 978-297-1493 or Email us at office@bbchapel.net

The Chapel Downtown
All bright and new, The Chapel Downtown is waiting to welcome you!
Photo by Inanna Arthen

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

Memorial students practice PAWS
Students at Memorial are encouraged to practice PAWS
Practice Safety
Accept Responsibility
Show Respect
Students that are "caught" practicing PAWS are rewarded by having lunch on Friday at the VIP Table.
Photo courtesy of Martha MacEwen, Memorial School

Winchendon Farmer's Market Opening Saturday, May 21

The Winchendon Farmer's Market is opening for the season on Saturday, May 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., on the corner of Pleasant and Front Streets across from Town Hall. The regular 2022 Market hours will be Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Thursday, 4:00-7:00 p.m. For more information, see www.winchendonfarmersmarket.org or www.facebook.com/WinchendonFarmersMarket.

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

Senior Center Seeking Food Donations

We've been so successful we need your help. We love helping our seniors, so now our Food Pantry is running low. If you can do it, we'd love your help replenishing it with such commodities as: Hormel 'Compleats' meals; Chef Boyardee ravioli, spaghetti & meatballs, etc; applesauce; canned vegetables; juice boxes; Ensure; spaghetti sauce; Cookies; Crackers; small (individual) packages of cereal, etc. And anything you think would help. Thank you very much! Bring donations to the Old Murdock Senior Center, 52 Murdock Ave., Winchendon.

Winchendon Farmers Market Accepting Applications for 2022 Vendors

The Winchendon Farmers Market is accepting applications for vendors for the 2022 season. You can download the form at Winchendon Farmers Market Application (PDF), fill it out and mail the form with the table fee to the address on the form, or drop it in the dropbox at Town Hall. The market days and times for 2022 are Thursdays from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For more information, see www.winchendonfarmersmarket.org.

Report a Pothole to the DPW

You can report potholes directly to the DPW using this form on the town website:


Winchendon Town Hall & Transfer Station Now Accepting Credit/Debit Payments

We are excited to announce that the DPW, Treasurer/Collector's Office and the Transfer Station can all now accept in-person credit and debit card payments. This means next time you need to purchase or pay for:

Trash bags
Transfer station stickers
Excise bills
Tax bills
Water & Sewer bills
And more

You can pay with a credit or debit card! (subject to a convenience fee).

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 aides, cable station operator, Bike Path clean up, painting, light outdoor work and classroom volunteers. Click here for more information and a downloadable application.

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

2022 Dog Licenses Now Available

2022 dog licenses are now available. You may purchase at the Town Clerk's office using check or cash, or you may purchase through the mail, Town Hall 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 and neutered dogs are $10.00. Non-spayed and non-neutered dogs are $20.00.

Winter Parking Ban Now in Effect

From December 1st through April 15th, it is illegal to park your motor vehicle on the streets of Winchendon between the hours of 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. This is to allow the snowplows to do their jobs in case of a snow storm. Violations may incur fees up to $50 and/or a tow.

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 May 9, 2022

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
Council on Aging - 1 vacancy
Cultural Council - 13 vacancies
Fence Viewer and Field Driver - 1 vacancy
Historical Commission/Historic District - 1 Alternate vacancy
Library Trustee - 1 vacancy
Open Space Preservation Appraisal and Survey Revolving Fund Advisory Committee - 1 vacancy
Recreation Commission - 1 middle school student vacancy

Zoning Board of Appeals - 1 pending vacancy as of June 1, 2022 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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