The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of November 17 to November 24, 2022
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

BOS Votes on ARPA Premium Pay Amounts for First Responders and Town Staff

At their meeting on Monday, November 14, three members of the Board of Selectmen (Vice Chair Rick Ward and Selectman Barbara Anderson were not present) went into Executive Session to determine the amounts of one-time premium pay bonuses to be offered to some town employees out of the town's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allotment. After convening for approximately twenty minutes, the Board returned from Executive Session. Board Chair Audrey LaBrie announced that the Board had agreed to offer $750 to Town Hall, Beals Memorial Library and Council on Aging staff, $1,000 to Department of Public Works staff and $2,000 to dispatcher, Fire and Police staff. "The Town Manager will be reaching out to all of the unions and individuals through their departments," Ms. LaBrie said.

There was no Board discussion in the public part of the meeting, and no response or questions from the public in attendance. The Executive Session, which, as is customary, was placed at the very end of the agenda, was taken out of order, and was held about 14 minutes after the regular meeting opened. Following the Board's return from Executive Session, the regular meeting continued, although with an unusual number of motions to take various agenda items out of order, for reasons left unexplained.

Town Manager Justin Sultzbach gave the Courier some more details about the decision. He explained that the Board created "a tiered system where basically they created three categories. So there's Town Hall employees, Council on Aging employees and library employees are in the first tier at $750. The second tier is DPW at $1,000. And the third tier is anyone who would fall within the first responder category, so Police, Fire, dispatch at $2,000."

The eligibility of other town staff besides first responders was a new addition to the discussion which was first brought before the Board of Selectmen on April 25, 2022 by Dr. Maureen Ward. (See "BOS Hears Appeal for Winchendon First Responders to Receive Pandemic Premium Pay from ARPA Funds" in the May 12-19 2022 edition of The Winchendon Courier.)

"Part of the argument, I think, was the added workload [for all these employees] that came on through the pandemic, which I don't dispute," Mr. Sultzbach said. "Obviously anybody that's within the first responder category was probably a little closer to it, especially during the peak days." To qualify for the payments, the staff person would need to have been employed before June 15, 2021 when Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker lifted the emergency declaration for the pandemic, and be currently employed by the town. "So it's basically employees that, not that it hasn't been any less serious in the past year, but it's a different animal than the days when people were hoarding toilet paper."

Mr. Sultzbach said they had to consider "the added workload that came from that in terms of everybody in town, just doing their standard job, but then also the work on top of [that]. Even things like Don O'Neil having to get everybody set up to work remotely. Folks in our accounting department, how to process CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act] and ARPA funds and things like that, that was stacked on top of their normal day to day activity. So that's how we're justifying that. So it ended up coming out to 21 employees in that first category, 12 employees in the second being DPW, and 53 in the first responder category. The total not-to-exceed figure for that is $133,750."

Some town employees have voluntarily waived their payments, Mr. Sultzbach said. "While the gesture from the town is appreciated, I have waived the payment for myself. As has our Police Chief [Daniel Wolski], Fire Chief [Tom Smith], DPW Director [Brian Croteau], [Beals Memorial] Library Director [Manuel King] and Council on Aging Director [Sheila Bettro]." Mr. Sultzbach said all of them "felt that we had an obligation as community leaders to acknowledge that while it was serious, it was a big burden on our employees, that we had an obligation as leaders of the community to rise to that occasion that we don't expect additional payment for that."

It's taken a few months to reach a decision on Dr. Ward's proposal. Mr. Sultzbach explained, "The other important piece to highlight is, what changed between April and now? And the big question was in April, we have about a million dollars left in ARPA funding, what are some of our other needs before we started doling this out? A big one was trying to back into the number that we would want to set aside for the replacement of that water pipe.* Now that we've gone through Special Town Meeting, we've kind of softly committed to setting aside half a million for that purpose from ARPA funds. We knew comfortably that the remainder, we had a little more flexibility on."

* To review the discussion around the water main, see "Voters Will Face Tough Questions at Fall STM on October 24", under Article 6, in the October 13-20 2022 edition of The Winchendon Courier.

Town Boards Hear Initial Pitch for 1,400-Acre Solar Campus in East Winchendon

On Monday, November 14, Evan Turner of Aries Power Systems LLC appeared before the Board of Selectmen to give a presentation on a proposed solar installation in East Winchendon which will occupy some 1,400 acres of privately owned, currently forested land. As proposed, the solar "campus" will include multiple large arrays built wherever the land is not wetland, spread over the entire area, and comprising approximately 900 acres. Mr. Turner gave the same presentation to a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, November 16. Although Mr. Turner has met informally with the Chairs of all three Boards and the Town Manager, Justin Sultzbach, Mr. Sultzbach told the Courier that there have been no official communications from Mr. Turner's company.

Mr. Turner explained that "big projects like this, and hopefully most projects but especially something of this potential scale, is not something I want people to hear about through the grapevine." There are still "two big question marks" which will impact the final dimensions of the solar campus: the exact delineation of wetlands and wetlands buffer zones, which still needs to be done, and the interconnection to the utility grid. The project will take as much as five years to complete. "Solar does not move fast at this scale," Mr. Turner said.

Displaying a schematic of the proposed campus on a Google satellite map of the town (see below), Mr. Turner said that the property is currently held by Conservation Forestry LLC, a private equity firm and subdivision of Conservation Resources. (Both are registered in Delaware with an office at 8 Center Street, Exeter, New Hampshire.) Most of the campus area is in Winchendon but there is an area across the town line in Ashburnham, near Sunset Lake. The property will be sold to another owner in the future.

"I am a one trick pony, Evan Turner, one guy and I focus on early stage development," Mr. Turner said. "What I like to do is bring in a heavyweight owner/operator/partner to do the development with me, who will, instead of me selling a property and a project to them later, as typical in solar development, I'd have someone start, someone else does the development, someone constructs, someone owns it, it might get sold a couple times, flipped, I like to bring in the permanent owner/operator up front. I tend to find that has a more consistent product because they'll be at my hip the whole time. When we make promises the people who own it are going to be the ones making those promises. You may have seen in the solar industry at the scale Massachusetts typically works, that a lot of times those promises get lost in the mail, lost in the wash between owners, and that's not an ideal circumstance. So the partner is not determined, finalized, yet but I think in a month it will be and I'll be excited to introduce them to you, but otherwise the plan will be the same thing."

As far as the scale of the project, Mr. Turner said that the completed campus will be larger than all the existing solar arrays in town combined. "That is a more natural size for solar," he said. "The 25 to 50 acre projects you've seen are very much a creation of Massachusetts's solar incentive program." Solar projects work to fill up the capacity of the power lines as a group. This project would include upgrading the power substation in East Winchendon or possibly building their own new substation.

In response to a question, Mr. Turner explained that on the schematic, the orange areas are estimated wetlands area which would be left treed, as is. The blue area will be the solar arrays. It's very unlikely that less wetlands will be identified than shown on the map; usually a lot more are found. North Ashburnham Road, which is where the new water main from Ashburnham will run, is along the boundary of the property and will probably be upgraded, as it is currently a gravel and dirt road, "basically a logging road," although it's a public way. This would be one example of this project and the town's interests overlapping for mutual benefit.

"Hopefully we've got an engaged partnership where the things that are important to you, I can consider as I make the plan, and I don't have the plan finalized yet because I'd like some of your input over time," Mr. Turner said. "Whether that's using potentially some town properties to help orchestrate power line runs, because it may be very much worth it if I could lease that from the town and of course, you would decide how I could and would cross it, and if so, all the way to, do you leave your corridors for wildlife and mixed use, leave trails for X, Y and Z."

Mr. Turner explained more about the benefits of a larger installation--for example, the availability of clean economical power might be attractive to "energy centric" businesses who would then want to locate in Winchendon. "There are businesses that are very energy hungry, that are financially advantaged by being near solar arrays where I can sell them energy straight out of the array instead of going through a network," Mr. Turner said, although he did not give any specific examples of what sorts of businesses these might be.

Mr. Turner clarified that the town would not be responsible for any costs of determining where the wetlands are located. He said there should be "a very large delineation effort this upcoming summer." He admitted that some of the sketched out areas might not be used because there wouldn't be a way to avoid disturbing wetland buffer zones, but in New England, this is inevitable. It is "rare to impossible," he said, to end up with more than 55 or 60 percent of a property buildable.

Asked why he picked this area, Mr. Turner said, "large isolated tracts of land with interconnection to the grid capability." With small scale solar, he said, to get them close enough to power lines you end up near houses "right across someone's back yard."

Everywhere in New England is trees, Mr. Turner said. "If it's not a farm that's conserved or where you were born working, it's houses, roads, water, buildings, there's no magical open fields that are just unused but not conserved. But it's about visibility. You don't want to change the nature of the day to day of an area of town. We've got to go find isolated tracts of land that are dry enough, correct slopes, that kind of stuff."

Department of Public Works Director Brian Croteau rose to say that the current electrical substation on 140 is undersized, and that was one reason for the power "blips" that plagued residents this past summer. "So this would be working to correct that, if that substation was upgraded, and that's where this project on the map in the blue, that's where this would plug in. So this would fix an ongoing issue that we currently have now."

Mr. Turner explained at some length how the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities designed connection capacity for solar into the system. Winchendon has significant available capacity, another reason for choosing this area for a big project. If a large project isn't built, small installations will continue to connect to the local grid until the capacity is filled. The town also has the potential to realize revenue. "The solar industry is very good at providing diverse and diffuse benefits. You build the array here and then everyone gets a little cleaner power. You guys get some tax money, but it's not a ton," he said. "So when I look at this big kind of stuff, I'm trying to find ways to make it better for the host community in addition to other folks, so you're keeping the revenue here when possible, is a priority for me. Because I think it's great if customers all across Massachusetts can buy this power, but I mean, I've got to offer them a discount to buy clean solar power. And that's kind of how the SMART program [Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target] works for community solar. I'd rather try to keep that revenue here."

Mr. Turner said that in other towns he's worked with, such as Sandwich and Falmouth, he's worked closely with the local town manager who served as a "point person" for the Select Board in those towns. The Board agreed with this model, and that Mr. Sultzbach should be the main "point person" for the project going forward.

Mr. Turner's entire presentation may be viewed on YouTube at, beginning at 51:45 on the video.

Some of the parcels the project will utilize are designated in the Assessor's database as owned by Winchendon Forest LLC, evidently an entity associated with Conservation Forestry LLC as it has the same Exeter, NH post office box. The parcels were sold by Winch Timberlands LLC in 2012.

Click on image to see larger view
Graphic map of proposed solar campus
Schematic of the proposed solar "campus" in East Winchendon
Image copright Aries Power Systems LLC

Click on image to see larger view
Graphic map of proposed solar campus
Schematic with more detailed town map overlaid to show locations of town landmarks
Image copright Aries Power Systems LLC

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

Winchendon Recreation Department News

If you are a senior resident of Winchendon (age 60+), please fill out the survey about the kind of recreational events you'd like to see at the Winchendon Community Park and the brand new performing arts amphitheater opening next spring. Just clink this link to fill out the short Google form: Recreation Department Senior Survey.

Sign up for the Holiday Wreath Making workshop with Four Fawns Custon Designs on Friday, November 25 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. $50 per person includes all materials and refreshments. There will be raffles held all afternoon. The workshop will be in Town Hall, second floor auditorium, 109 Front St., Winchendon. To purchase tickets, use this Eventbrite link: Holiday Wreath Workshop Tickets, or see the Recreation Coordinator at Town Hall. Call 978-297-5410 with questions.

Winchendon's brand-new amphitheater is taking shape. As you may have seen on social media, we have been putting out monthly updates so everyone can see the progress. Right now, you can see the sidewalk is partially in and the seating tiers and stairs are in. The stage slab is poured, and the storage tower is mostly built. The parking lot has a base coat on, and the retention basin is also in place. Some of the grass seed have already been placed as well.

The roof for the amphitheater is set to come in in December. They are diligently working away making electrical improvements to the property and will be doing so through the winter. All finish work and grass planting will be completed in the spring of 2023 prior to the opening in June.

Winchendon Recreation has so many ways that you can give back! We are always looking for volunteers for single events. We take donations of items we are in need of depending on the time of year. We are currently seeking donations of Christmas lights and other outdoor holiday decor, specifically large plastic ornaments. If you are looking for a more involved role with us, we currently have seats available on the Recreation Commission and The Winchendon Community Park Committee.

Lastly, we are currently seeking sponsorships to help kick off the opening of our new Amphitheater. The opening is set to take place on June 10, 2023. We have a multitude of performers lined up including, dance, magic, and music. Food, raffles, bounce house and so much more! We will be ending the night with a firework show. Please reach out to us (978-297-5410) if you would like to be a sponsor for this day!

Central Mass Tree

Subway June 2022 New Steak Teriyaki Sub

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

Letter to the Editor

Winchendon realizes nearly 20 percent viral jump in one weeks report

The Town of Winchendon as of the newest released Massachusetts Department of Public Health Report, dated Thursday, November 17, 2022 registers Toy Town having increased from 7.85 to 9.62 percent SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 positivity in testing vs the immediate past report for a 19 percent viral increase, after previously experiencing two consecutive weeks below 8 percent. This places Toy Town just shy of returning to the double digit thresh-hold, only one week before many enjoy traditional large indoor Thanksgiving gatherings.

At this time, the only other 2 municipalities in our immediate Ten Town regional area of North Worcester County, traveling 2 towns in any direction of Winchendon south of the New Hampshire state border, to increase in viral positivity were the City of Gardner with its 21,000 residents, also moving closer back to double digits from last week's 9.62%, too this week at 9.66 percent viral positivity based on 414 molecular tests, and Ashburham, increasing from a low 2.10 to 5.47 percent.

All other 7 towns in our immediate area realized decreases. Locally, Ashby to the east of Ashburnham registered at 7.27%, Westminster realized a significant drop from a high 13.26 to 7.19%, Templeton lowered from 8.84 to a much more comfortable 4.70% positivity, and its Narragansett Regional School District partnering town, Phillipston, while still high lowered from 12.50 to 10.53% positivity. In the towns of the Athol Royalston Regional School District to Winchendon's west and southwest, Royalston registered down slightly at 4.55%, and Athol with it's 11,500 residents, lowered from 4.20, to just 3.74% viral positivity, based on a strong 508 molecular tests. Lastly, Hubbardston to the south of Gardner dropped from 9.09 to 6.41%.

At this time, our Ten Town Regional Average is 6.91% positivity, from Athol's 3.74% to Phillipstons 10.53%, and the Commonwealth Average is 5.78%. Others around the area in the Twin Cities show Fitchburg increasing 5.28 to 6.22% positivity based on just over 1,000 molecular tests, and its neighbor Leominster, decreasing from 6.88 to 5.43 based on 1,161 molecular tests. For those who may have children coming home from college for the Thanksgiving Holiday, others around the Commonwealth show Boston at 4.98%, Worcester at 5.46%, and Springfield at 8.65% positivity.

As the Thanksgiving Holiday falls on a Thursday, and the Mass DPH updates come out on Thursday's, there is a chance there will be no public health update for next week's edition of the Winchendon Courier unless the DPH comes out with figures a day early. Additionally, as the Holiday falls on Thursday, November 24, both the Town Hall, Board of Health Office, and Health Agent, may very well be closed the day before on Wednesday, November 23.

The Winchendon Board of Health and Town of Winchendon, continues to offer to "Winchendon Residents", I-Health Labs COVID-19 home antigen test kits, in the Board of Health Office free of charge during normal business hours of operation. These tests while showing an expiration date of July 28, 2022 on the back of the box, are U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for use with a 6 month extension, until January 28, 2023.

In closing, the members of the Town of Winchendon Board of Health, would all like to wish those in Toy Town who chose to celebrate it, a very Safe, Healthy, and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING !

Keith Kent
Chair, Board of Health

Winchendon PD Offering R.A.D. Women's Self Defense Class

The Winchendon Police Department will be offering a RAD (rape aggression defense) class starting in November 2022. Free to all women.

No prior experience is needed as we will teach basic skills that can be applied by everyone.

Class size is limited to 20 so sign up early with a dispatcher at the Winchendon Police Department.

Wed. November 30
Thur. December 1
Wed. December 7
Thur. December 8

Time: 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Attendance to all four classes is required for successful completion. Age requirement is 14 years old accompanied by an adult/guardian with a signed permission slip.

The first class will be held at the Winchendon Police Department in the training room. The remaining classes will be held at the Memorial School in the gym.

Any questions can be directed to:
Officer Tracy Flagg
Officer Jim Wironen

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).

Would you like to be notified each week when the new Courier is online?

Send an email to and you'll be added to the email list!

Enjoying the new Winchendon Courier Online? We're just getting started! But wow, is this a lot of work. The best work in the world, but still a lot of it! Please consider supporting us with a small donation. We'd so appreciate it. Thanks!

Finance Committee Vacancy

The Winchendon Finance Committee ("FinCom") consists of seven dedicated and hardworking individuals appointed by the Moderator to serve three-year terms. A vacancy has occurred, and it is the responsibility of the Moderator to fill this vacancy. This appointment to the Finance Committee will be in effect through May 2024.

The FinCom's primary responsibility is to make recommendations to Town Meeting on all of Winchendon's financial matters. The Committee regularly interacts with Town and school officials and various other committees on fiscal items, and holds public budget hearings in January and February of each year. At Town Meeting, the FinCom is required by law to present voters with a balanced non-override budget (one that does not exceed the levels of Proposition 2 1/2) and to make recommendations on all financial articles. If, in any year, the Select Board authorizes an override budget, the Committee will make a recommendation on that proposed budget. FinCom meetings are public and are usually held on the second Tuesday of the month.

Please send in a letter of interest to the Town Manager's Office- Mary Calandrella @

Young Adults Aged 20-26 Invited to Fill Out Recreation Interest Survey

The Winchendon Recreation and Community Park Committees are asking Winchendon persons between the ages of 20 and 26 to fill out their survey on what kinds of events they would like to see at the new amphitheater in the Winchendon Community Park. The survey is open to younger people aged 10-25, but more responses from the 20-26 year old group are needed. Click on this link to fill out the simple Google form and let the town know what you want at your park!

Recreation Youth Survey.

Winchendon Community Park Committee Has Vacant Seats to Fill

The Winchendon Community Park Committee is seeking volunteers to serve on the committee. Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month for about an hour. This committee merges the former Winchendon Community Park Infrastructure committee and Winchendon Community Park Program committee, and discusses everything from ongoing projects and maintenance to program ideas and upcoming events. Anyone interested in joining should email a letter of interest to Tiffany Newton at

The Winchendon Community Park is located on Ingleside Drive, off of Maple Street, and is the location of the Winchendon Community Park Performing Arts Amphitheater now under construction and due to open in June, 2023. The park includes walking trails, a soccer field and recreational opportunities, to which a Disc Golf course will be added soon, and is open to the public at no charge.

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.