The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of October 20 to October 27, 2022
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Town Meeting and Election Information

Voter Registation Deadlines

Saturday, October 29: To vote in the State Election (November 8, 2022)

The Town Clerk's office will be open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for voter registration. You can register during the regular office hours prior to those days.

Fall Special Town Meeting

Monday, October 24, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. in the Murdock Middle High School Auditorium (3 Memorial Drive, Winchendon).

Final Warrant with recommendations (PDF)
Proposed Town Charter Changes (PDF)

Early Voting Hours for the State Election

Early voting will be held in the Town Hall Second Floor Auditorium, 109 Front St., Winchendon during the hours below. The auditorium is accessible via elevator.

Saturday, October 22, 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
Monday, October 24, 8:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 25, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 26, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 27, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 29, 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
Monday, October 31, 8:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 1, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 2, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 3, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

6th Annual Fall Fest Will Be Held on Central Street This Saturday

The 6th Annual Winchendon Fall Fest will be held on Central Street between Blair Square and Maple Street on Saturday, October 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The street will be closed to vehicle traffic for the day, as both sides of Central Street will be lined with booths, tables, pop-up tents and food trucks. (Parking on Central Street will be banned starting at 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, October 21 to allow for marking spaces and set-up.)

174 vendors have signed up for the event, ranging from non-profit organizations and town groups to crafters, authors, small business people, churches, and musicians. Family-friendly activities include raffles, bouncy houses and face painting.

The Fest will feature a number of performances and demonstrations. Schedules and locations will be posted in various places.

  • The Animal Craze traveling Petting Zoo will have live animals for children (and grown-ups) to enjoy.
  • Magnolia Studio will host the Nagasri Dancers' debut belly-dance performance in their tent in front of the Clark from 12:15-12:30 p.m.
  • The Winchendon Police Department will hold K-9 demos with their newest "officer," K-9 Blitz, and his handler, Officer Wironen, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
  • The Winchendon Fire Department will be doing fire safety and firefighting demos at 12:00 and 1:30 p.m.
  • Music will be provided through the day by the duo Two for the Road from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Winchendon's favorite rock 'n' roll cover band, The BIG RanDom from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m., DJ Kayden Gordon spinning country-western tunes from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and solo performer Ron Morrey from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The BIG RanDom will be collecting non-perishable food for the Winchendon CAC.
All this entertainment and walking will make families hungry! There will be plenty of food options to try, from one end of the street to the other. Along with these, eateries up and down Central Street will be open and eager to serve you, including (starting at the bottom and working up) Dunkin Donuts, Cumberland Farms, Subway, Friends Garden, Christo's Place, C&S Pizza, Gabby's Pizza and PJ's Slush Stop.

The Winchendon Recreation Department will be set up by the Clark Memorial YMCA and will be running several activities, free to all, including the following:

Pie Baking Contest
Check-in and drop off your pie between 9:00 a.m. and noon (no pre-registration, just bring the pie). Judging will take place at 12:15 p.m. and awards will be announced at 1:00 p.m. Pies will be judged in three categories: Best Tasting, Best Presentation and Most Creative, with 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.

Pie Eating Contest
Ages 7-12 will start snarfing at 11:30 a.m.
Ages 13-18 begin at 12:30 p.m.
Adults age 19 and up begin at 1:30 p.m.

Pumpkin painting will go on throughout the day.

Fall Fest was bumped ahead this year from its traditional Indigenous Peoples' Day/Columbus Day weekend date, due to the Central Street Reconstruction Project. It looks like the weather will be excellent, sunny with temperatures in the 60s. Come on down, see the all new and improved Central Street, and join Winchendon's biggest event of the year!

BOS Vote to Classify Conservation, BOH members as Special Municipal Employees

A debate about classifying members of the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission as Special Municipal Employees according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Ethics Commission rules took two meetings to resolve but finally was approved in a 3-2 vote.

The discussion was prompted because of a specific individual's circumstances with respect to the town, but the classification is a general one and applies to any person holding the positions classified, not just a given individual. In this instance, Winchendon resident Glenn LaRochelle, who serves on both the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission, had been hired as a paid part-time employee for the Department of Public Works, potentially raising questions of conflicts of interest. The Special Municipal Employee designation is intended to address this by relaxing some of the strict conflict-of-interest rules.

In the September 12 meeting, Town Manager Justin Sultzbach began by explaining that "a situation that happens in small towns pretty frequently because there's a lot of overlap, you're drawing from a smaller population. And so you see a lot of double coverage on different boards or committees, but also people that work for a municipality that also volunteer their time as a resident on a board or committee. So in this instance, for Mr. LaRochelle, he works with Department of Public Works, but he also volunteers on the Board of Health. He volunteers on the Conservation Commission, he does not receive a salary for those two. And so it'd be typical in this situation if the board is agreeable to voting the role, but not the individual to be a Special Municipal Employee." The Board of Selectmen can decree this designation as they see fit.

Mr. Sultzbach proposed that the roles, or positions of member of the Conservation Commission and member of the Board of Health carry Special Municipal Employee status.

Selectman Barbara Anderson said, "[The] problem with that form is it gets filled out, it gets filed in the Town Clerk's office and forgotten about, and I don't think that excuses him from voting and not recusing, when he should recuse under those circumstances. He told me when we appointed him to Conservation that he would recuse if it were necessary, if there was a conflict, and I would expect him to do the same on Board of Health regardless of the form, just because the appearance of impropriety is more important, that we don't want people at home to say, 'well, he voted that way because he worked for DPW' ."

Mr. Sultzbach said, "I can stress that to him on the employee side of things, as a request that he do in instances where there may be that perception, that he takes the time to just quickly recuse himself or to at least call it out and make reference to it."

Board Vice Chair Rick Ward said, "This is the conflict of interest law. Even though we may get irritated at it at times, and I know some of us has crossed the line. I'd be one of them and had to be corrected. But the guidelines are good. And I really have a problem because what this does is the conflict law is less restrictive for people designated Special. So now it gives them, they can hold multiple jobs, they can have business interests, and it starts pushing that envelope wider." Unless there was a demonstrated problem with the town losing people because they were not Special Municipal Employees, Mr. Ward said, he didn't see it as something the Board had to address.

Mr. Sultzbach said that with Mr. LaRochelle's employment by the DPW, "he is technically in conflict unless this vote goes through." It wasn't a simple matter of a member of a board or committee agreeing to recuse themselves from certain issues, he said. "Mr. [Lionel] Cloutier, by example, is on the Conservation Commission and the Board of Health. He covers both. So same thing down the road, if he held a paid position in town that exceeded that amount of hours, he too would be in violation. So it's kind of a weird dynamic and like I said, you don't really run into it a lot...the reason that the state Ethics Commission has a ruling on this and a maneuver that you can do to make sure it's legally covered is because it happens."

Department of Public Works Director Brian Croteau rose to clarify that neither the BOH nor the Conservation Commission have any oversight of the DPW, including the transfer station. There would be no financial or jurisdictional conflicts.

Mr. Sultzbach agreed with the perception of impropriety being a concern even if it doesn't reflect reality. "What I'm trying to highlight is that it literally could never be the reality by design, the way our organization is designed, it could never be the reality," he said. "Perception we can't really do much about, but the things that we can do, among them is voting something like this in place and having them fill out a disclosure form so that it's on record, so that at least helps with the appearance. I hear around town all sorts of things about the way certain things look, believe me, and there's not much you can do about it beyond trying to do the right things and put these type of procedures in place."

The Board discussed whether Mr. LaRochelle should come before the Board and specifically agree to recuse himself from anything which would involve a conflict of interest, and whether every member of the BOH and Conservation would have to do the same since the Special Municipal Employee designation automatically applies to the role/position of every member of those bodies, not individuals. Mr. Sultzbach said that the Special Municipal Employee designation is standard practice and is basically "just paperwork."

The Board postponed voting on the proposal until their next meeting, since the motion needed to finalized by the town's legal counsel.

The Board took up Mr. Sultzbach's proposal again at their meeting on Monday, September 26. Mr. Sultzbach began by explaining that the term "Special" does not mean any employee is getting "special privileges." The designation is in the interests of transparency.

Ms. Anderson stated that she thought it was "dangerous" to "issue a blanket statement that anybody that serves on the Board of Health or Conservation gets Special Employee status." She went on, "in the case of the gentleman that stepped forward? He's claimed he was [employed by the town] and he's stated he would recuse himself. All that needs to be said and then I trust he will. And each time state, 'because I'm an employee of the town.' I need to have that happen."

Mr. Ward said that the Special Employees do get special treatment because the rules are relaxed for them. "When you take office or you join any committee, you raise your hand and take the oath to the town of Winchendon," he said. "And in that oath you agree to follow all the conflict of interest rules. We'd have to sign statements if we're in a conflict. It's already there. Why are we picking two organizations, the Conservation Commission and Board of Health for special treatment? Will this eventually lead to everybody being relaxed?"

Selectman Danielle LaPointe said that a "blanket statement" was the only legal way to handle the situation. Mr. Sultzbach affirmed that without this, Mr. LaRochelle would have to quit his job or resign from both boards.

Mr. Sultzbach clarified that it wasn't simply an issue of a board member recusing themselves. "Functionally this is something that we should do," he said. "I have done it before in a similarly sized community with very little fanfare. It is not as freeing and liberating as I think it's been perceived to be. It's paperwork. It's just paperwork. There's no way that it could be abused and it's literally a law written by the legislature that upholds, it's from the Ethics Commission."

After some further debate, Ms. LaPointe made a motion "to designate members of the Board of Health and Conservation Commission as a Special Municipal Employee in accordance with General Laws Chapter 268." The motion passed 3 to 2, with Mr. Ward and Ms. Anderson casting the nay votes.

What's Your Story? Join the Beals Memorial Library for Generation Stories!

Norah Dooley with Generation Stories
Join storyteller and educator, Norah Dooley, for an intergenerational storytelling program at Broadview Assisted Living in Winchendon.
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

Join the Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon this November for a unique storytelling experience with their Generation Stories program! The library will be connecting Winchendon teens and elders from Broadview Assisted Living for two sessions of intergenerational storytelling, sharing, and collecting, led by storyteller and educator, Norah Dooley.

Generation Stories will take place on two consecutive Thursdays in November, beginning on November 10, and concluding on November 17, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Participants will gain a recognition of and appreciation for another generation's history, background, culture, and more!

Leading this fun experience is critically-acclaimed children's author, Norah Dooley. Norah specializes in teaching people how important their stories are and how to tell them. Through she has helped teach storytelling to thousands of high school and middle school students. Norah has been featured as an Exchange Place storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, the Clearwater Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, and several Cambridge Revels.

Generation Stories is funded through a federal Library Services Technology Act grant.

The program will be hosted at Broadview Assisted Living, located at 547 Central St. in Winchendon, MA, 01475, and is for Winchendon teens and senior citizens. Space is limited, so registration is required. Online registration is only available for teens in grades 8 - 12. Visit or contact the library at 978-297-0300 to sign up!

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

Subway June 2022 New Steak Teriyaki Sub

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Central Mass Tree

Jandris employment ad

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

Letter to the Editor

Winchendon increases from 11 to 12 percent viral positivity

The Town of Winchendon with 10,500 residents after averaging 11 percent viral positivity dating back to Thursday, September 15, through last Thursday, October 13, has now as the latest Massachusetts Department of Public Health report released Thursday, October 20, 2022 realized 12.02 percent SARS-Co-V-2 viral positivity based on 233 molecular tests. This figure does not include any positive findings from any store or online purchased home test kits, government provided test kits, or all of the current I-Health Labs home test kits currently being collected by the residents from the public at the Town Board of Health Office.

Locally to the east of Winchendon, the Town of Ashburnham increased from 7.58 to 12.07% positivity, while Ashby on its eastern side lowered from 7.14 to 4.08%. Westminster which shares its school district with Ashburnham, remained mostly unchanged lowering only slightly from from 10.00 to 9.63% positivity. In the Chair City with 21,000 residents at Winchendon's south and Westminster's west, Gardner increased from 10.20 to 10.66% positivity based on 441 molecular tests, and Hubbardston to Gardner's south, increased from 8.91 to 10.31%.

Also locally in our Ten Town Area traveling two towns in any direction south of the N.H. state line, in the towns of the Narragansett Regional School District, Templeton lowered from 10.18 to 8.81% positivity based on 159 tests, however it's school district partner, the Town of Phillipston, increased from an already high 22.58% positivity to an extremely high 37.78% positivity. While based on only 45 tests, 3 years of tracking history proves the more people who test, the number stays the same or goes up, it almost never go down. In the Athol Royalston Regional School District, Royalston to Winchendon's west increased from 3.13 to 8.70% positivity, and the Town of Athol with 11,500 residents lowered slightly from 6.74 to 5.95% viral positivity based on 555 molecular tests, yet again, the highest consistent testing pool in our area.

Over all, our local Ten Town Area increased from Thursday, October 13, to the Thursday, October 20 in SARS-Co-V-2 positivity from 9.75 to 12.0 percent, vs a Massachusetts average of 7.85 percent. Also locally and for for those commuting for work, in the Twin Cities, Fitchburg increased from 8.86 to 9.61% positivity based on 1,118 molecular tests, and Leominster lowered slightly from 9.10 to 8.45% on just under 1,100 tests, while in Massachusetts largest cities, Boston lowered from 7.39 to 6.76%, Worcester lowered from 7.03 to 6.72%, and Springfield dropped from 11.03 to 9.47%.

At the upcoming Winchendon Special Fall Town Meeting taking place on Monday, October 24, located at the Murdock High School Auditorium, the Board of Health will have a table inside the main entrance doors offering both "Free face masks and or I-Health Labs COVID-19 home tests kits" for any persons attending who may like to take them. These again are "Free to the attending public" and "Not Mandatory" for entry or attendance. They are simply being offered for any person or persons attending who may want a mask during the meeting, and to test at a later date after the meeting due to high town positivity rates if any person is not feeling well. Again, they are free and not mandatory.

In closing, the Board of Health at this time would like to thank both Heywood Hospital for the supply of disposable face masks, and the Commonwealth for the supply of I-Health Labs home testing kits.

Keith Kent
Chair, Board of Health

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.

Town Committee Vacancies
as of September 26, 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
Community Preservation Act Exploratory Committee - 2 citizen vacancies
Cultural Council - 13 vacancies
Fence Viewer and Field Driver - 1 vacancy
Library Trustee - 1 vacancy
Master Plan Implementation Committee - 1 vacancy
Open Space Preservation Appraisal and Survey Revolving Fund Advisory Committee - 1 vacancy
Zoning Board of Appeals - 2 alternate member 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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Special Town Meeting October 24, 2022

The Board of Selectmen has scheduled a Special Town Meeting for MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2022 beginning at 7:00 p.m., to be held at Murdock High School.

Please feel free to contact the Town Manager's office at 978-297-0085 with any questions you may have concerning this Special Town Meeting.

The Finance Committee will conduct a Public Hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall to review the warrant and answer any questions the public may have.

FY 23 Senior Tax Work-Off Applications Now Available!

Once again this year, we are pleased to announce the Senior Work-Off program was approved at our Annual Town Meeting. 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.

Toy Town FYIs

Transfer Station Winter Hours

The Transfer Station has returned to its regular hours:
Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.

653 River Street
Sticker price: $70
Pay-As-You-Throw bags required

2022 Street Lists Available

The 2022 Town of Winchendon Street List of Residents is now available at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall, 109 Front Street. Cost is $8.00 each, $5.00 for seniors.

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.

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.

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).

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.