The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of January 19 to January 26, 2023
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Fire Station Debt Exclusion Passes At the Polls

By an unofficial count provided to the Courier, the debt exclusion ballot vote on Thursday, January 19 to approve the town borrowing $618,750 for "shovel ready" plans for the new Fire Station passed, with 143 votes in favor, 92 votes opposed. The debt exclusion was approved at Fall Special Town Meeting by an 88 percent majority but required a ballot vote to be finalized.

Voter turnout was light at the Old Murdock Senior Center, possibly because of the weather. It began sleeting around 2:00 p.m. and was snowing by 4:00 p.m. Thanks to everyone who came out to exercise their right and responsibility as citizens and vote!

Winchendon Police Chief Daniel Wolski Officially Sworn In

Chief Wolski Swearing In
Police Chief Daniel Wolski is sworn in by Town Clerk Wendy Stevens
Photo by Rick Ward

At the beginning of the Quad-Board meeting (a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, School Committee and Audit Committee) on Tuesday, January 16, Winchendon Chief of Police Daniel Wolski was officially sworn in for duties by Town Clerk Wendy Stevens. Many members of the Police Department and members of Chief Wolski's family were in attendance along with other well-wishers. A solemn silence fell as the official words were spoken by Ms. Stevens and Chief Wolski:

"Do you, Daniel Curtis Wolski, solemnly swear and affirm that you will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform the duties incumbent upon you as the Chief of Police in the town of Winchendon in good faith, and to the best of your ability."

"Yes, I do."

"Do you, Daniel Curtis Wolski, promise to impart your professional standards of quality and integrity so that the conduct of affairs of your office shall be above reproach in their public confidence in the position of the Chief of Police."

"Yes, I do."

Do, you, Daniel Curtis Wolski, promise to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the bylaws of the Town of Winchendon, so help you God."

"Yes, I do."

At Chief Wolski's final affirmation, the crowded room broke into hearty applause.

Promising to be brief, Chief Wolski then said a few words.

"I know you have a lot of important things to attend to this evening, and me talking is not one of them. But I want to thank the Board of Selectmen. I want to thank the Town Manager specifically for elevating me to this position. And in trusting me to be my community's Chief of Police.

"I grew up in this town. And it's really an unbelievable opportunity to reach this level and be able to have the impact that I will be able to have as a Chief.

"A leader is only as good as his team. And there's many members of the Winchendon police department here tonight. And I have to say that they're among the finest group of people that you could have working for you. And I really thank them for showing up tonight and showing their support. It means a lot to me.

"My family is also here, my wife and my kids and my in-laws and my brother, and I appreciate them attending as well and showing their support. I look forward to embarking upon the goals and ambitions that I have. I'm energetic, I am ambitious. And there's a lot of great things happening in this community. And I'm looking forward to being a part of that. So thank you very much."

Winchendon PD Arrests Armed and Wanted Individual

In the wee hours (1:10 a.m.) of Monday, January 16, Winchendon Police Sgt. Joseph Champney and Ptl. Brandon Lucier stopped a suspicious vehicle leaving the Cumberland Farms parking lot by the Central Street exit. The vehicle had New York plates. The driver was eventually identified as Nathan Couture, age 25, of Webster, MA, who initially gave a fake name and claimed to have no driver's license.

Mr. Couture also lacked a license to carry for the loaded 9mm handgun found in his possession. A search of Mr. Couture's person and vehicle by Sgt. Champney further turned up suspected crack cocaine, fentanyl and crystal methamphetamine. There were two outstanding warrants for his arrest.

According to the police log record, Mr. Couture was arrested on charges of carrying a loaded firearm without a license, possession of a large capacity feeding device, possession of Class A drug, possession of Class B drug, motor vehicle operator refuse to identify self (two charges), felony failure to appear upon recognizance (three charges), operating a motor vehicle with suspended license-subsequent offence, and possession of ammunition without FID card.

Mr. Couture seems to be known to Webster Police. On June 4, 2020, the Webster Police Department reported arresting a Webster resident aged 22 of the same name after stopping him for driving with a suspended license. He was found to be in possession of 25 Gabapentin pills, Suboxone Strips, 30 Morphine pills, 2 bags of what was believed to be Crack Cocaine, 3 pills of what was believed to be Ecstasy, and $703. He was charged with Three Counts of Possession of a Class B substance with the intent to Distribute, Possession of a Class A Substance with the Intent to Distribute, Possession of a Class E Substance with the Intent to Distribute, Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substance Law, Possessing a Class B Substance - to wit a Subsequent Offense and Operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.

One week earlier, this same person had been arrested by Webster police on three counts of Possession of a Class B Substance, as well as two counts Wanton Destruction of Property under $1200, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and an outstanding warrant.

Winchendon BOH Scores 1,000 New COVID Test Kits to Distribute Free to the Public

Chair of the Winchendon Board of Health Keith Kent told the Courier, "the Board of Health is happy to be able to announce to the public that as the existing test kits we have are FDA extended to expire at the end of January, working with the Massachusetts Department Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Health Agent James Abare just worked on this existing round of tests, and we just received an additional 1,000 tests of iHealth Labs home COVID-19 antigen test kits."

The new tests are rated to expire June 28, and will be distributed beginning February 1. There are two tests in each kit. "We will have [them] available for all Winchendon residents at the town Board of Health office during normal hours of business operation," Mr. Kent said. "We will also make these available to the Winchendon public school nurses' office also as available and needed just as we did with the large block tests of kits we got, again, from the Mass Office of Health and Human Services. We perform this for the town for all public health purposes, to promote public health and to ease the financial burden on our local residents during these challenging times."

The previous batch of test kits has been almost entirely distributed. Mr. Kent told the Courier that test kits were made available to voters at the polls in Old Murdock on Thursday, January 19, and some 90 test kits, an entire case, were taken by voters.

Winchendon's COVID numbers are still high, running around 11.5 percent for the last eight weeks. "It just goes to show that with the virus substrates continuing to mutate. It just goes to show why having people being able to test and differentiate between the flu and COVID-19 is so important, because we have people who have family members or elderly relatives who are either immunocompromised or have pre-existing conditions, being able to differentiate between the flu and COVID-19 is more important than ever. So we protect those groups of people who cannot protect themselves."

The Board of Health office is located in Town Hall, 109 Front Street, Winchendon, and is open during Town Hall business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Town Hall is closed on Friday. The BOH phone number is 978-297-3537.

BOS Concludes Lengthy Debate on Special Municipal Employee Designation

In their meeting on January 9, the Board of Selectmen once again took up the question of Special Municipal Employees, which they had previously debated at length in their meetings on September 12, September 26, and December 19, 2022. The question initially came up in response to specific citizens who were members of town boards but also had been employed part-time by the town. The example discussed was Glenn LaRochelle who serves on the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission, and had been hired as an employee at the transfer station. There were other persons alluded to but not named. The December 19 discussion ended with a tied vote, as the full Board was not present.

(See "BOS Vote to Classify Conservation, BOH members as Special Municipal Employees" in the October 20-27 2022 edition of The Winchendon Courier and "Discussion of Special Municipal Employees Sparks Fierce BOS Debate" in the December 19-January 5 edition of The Winchendon Courier)

The Special Municipal Employee designation applies equally to all present and future members of the boards it applies to, and not just to given individuals serving in those roles. It is defined in Mass. General Laws Chapter 268A ("Conduct of Public Officials and Employees") Section 1 (n). Appointed or elected members of town boards may be designated Special Municipal Employees and therefore subject to the state conflict of interest laws.

Town Manager Justin Sultzbach began the January 9 discussion by introducing his revised memo from the December 19 meeting, listing Special Municipal Employees in Winchendon, which was based on lists approved by unanimous vote in 1963 and 1984 by the Boards of Selectmen sitting at those times. His proposed list was essentially the same as the 1984 list. "One thing that did come up that I also wanted to address, was ... the question of what if there's a scenario where a teacher or a school employee got elected to the School Committee," Mr. Sultzbach said. "That's actually already not allowed by law under Mass General Law. And so I amended the recommended motion just to quell those concerns, and put that in there."

Mr. Sultzbach reiterated that the designation did not exempt anyone from disclosing any conflict of interest, and specifically would not allow anyone to serve on a board or committee which controlled their salary or compensation for any other town position they held. He went on, "So a lot of what I heard I've heard in the community ... is the thought that the Board is is trying to implement something new or put something new in place. And that belief, unfortunately, is an error. This is something that had been in place when when JFK was in office. It's pretty much a reaffirmation of the existence of those lists, in the same way that they reaffirmed [the 1963 list] in 1984."

Selectman Barbara Anderson argued strongly against the proposal. "Let me let me go one step further and explain to you that our former town government has changed substantially since 1963, where there was no Town Manager at all," she said. "The Board of the town was literally run by the people and the Board of Selectmen made those determinations as they needed." She argued that "everything is changed" and it was "nonsensical" to "affirm" the older lists. "I think that it really is not in the power of the Board of Selectmen to choose to do this. And I would put that on the Special Town Meeting warrant, let the people choose their form of governments, not ours, that we don't determine who's a special employee and who's not."

Board Chair Audrey LaBrie pointed out that the Town Charter (click here to view the 2021 revised Charter), in its list of appointed committees (page 7), states, "A person shall not serve concurrently as a member of more than 1 of the following multiple member bodies: Planning Board, Board of Appeals, or the Conservation Commission." Mr. Sultzbach explained that the Town Charter could have stricter rules than the state and the town's rules would prevail. If there were any questions about a situation, it would be decided by the Inspector General's office.

Ms. Anderson raised the issue of poll workers being special employees and whether that could cause trouble, saying she wanted to "call Bill Galvin's office" (referring to Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin, whose office oversees elections) and ask. Mr. Sultzbach said he would encourage her or anyone else to do that. "I would encourage anybody if they feel at any time there's something improper going on in our town government, please, please report it," he said.

Board Vice Chair Rick Ward said, "What we're looking at tonight is an administrative action no matter how you want to look at it. In 1963 and in 1984, two Boards of Selectmen unanimously approved these lists. They are both effective now. And all these people on the list are currently Special Municipal Employees. That has not changed. The legal counsel has told us it has not changed. Common sense tells you it has not changed."

Mr. Ward went on, "The fact that we voted one several weeks ago was a mistake. We should not have voted that because they were already [Special] Municipal Employees...It was after that fact that the Town Manager found in the files that we already had this. They were already Special Municipal Employees. So we didn't have to do that vote. We're not doing anything new...So now does it have everybody in here? No, doesn't have the Recreation Commission. Maybe that will have to be added down the road. It doesn't have the committee that's going to come out of the CPA if that gets approved by the town, maybe that will have to be added down the road. This is just bringing together the two forms that two votes have already taken."

Mr. Ward made a motion "that the Board vote to designate those listed above as Special Municipal Employees as permitted in MGL Chapter 268A, the Massachusetts Conflict of Interest Law. With the understanding school employees are already not permitted to serve on the School Committee by law, superseding previous lists submitted in 1963 and 1984 and further directs the Town Manager to notify the town clerk of this updated list."

The Board approved the motion 4-1, with Ms. Anderson casting the nay vote.

The 1984 list of designated Special Municipal Employees includes the following boards and committees (elected and appointed): Board of Health, Planning Board, Board of Assessors, Board of Library Trustees, Registrars of Voters, Zoning Board of Appeals, Council on Aging, Industrial Development Finance Authority, Personnel Board, Historic Commmission, Finance Committee, Arts Lottery Council, Wiring Inspector, Sealer of Weights and Measures, Keeper of Lockup, Civil Defense Director, Fence Viewers, Library Custodian, Moderator

Winchendon Dive Team Assists in Jaffrey NH Rescue

On Sunday, January 15, at 12:40 p.m., the Winchendon Civil Defense Dive Team received a call for assistance from the Jaffrey NH Fire Department. Two persons who had gone through the ice on Lake Contoocook (which belongs to Jaffrey although it extends into Rindge, NH) were successfully rescued.

As reported by the Keene Sentinel and Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, the incident began at 12:22 p.m. when a person ice windsurfing on the lake ice fell into open water. A bystander who was ice fishing moved his ice fishing sled to support the windsurfer until rescue crews arrived, but as crews attempted to pull the windsurfer from the water, the sled tipped, ditching its owner into the lake water as well.

Both individuals were pulled from the water by Jaffrey Firefighters with assistance from bystanders, who helped pull ropes for the rescue sled and provided information on the condition of the ice. The ice surfboarder was in the water for approximately 40 to 50 minutes and was taken by ambulance to Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, NH to be treated for hypothermia. The second person was assessed on scene by EMTs and declined further treatment.

The air temperature at that time was approximately 37 degrees, with a water temperature around the freezing mark.

The Ledger-Transcript quoted Jaffrey Fire Chief David Chamberlain as saying, "Ice is unpredictable, especially on a body of water like Contoocook, which has varying depths. Just because it's safe on one part of the lake doesn't mean the whole thing is safe." The ice on lakes and ponds in the area are untrustworthy with the wide variations in temperature and the many above-freezing days and nights in this unusually mild winter so far. Last winter, an ATV went through ice on Lake Monomonac which had been solid enough to drive on just hours before.

Besides the Winchendon team, Jaffrey FD was also assisted by N.H. Fish and Game, Jaffrey Rindge Memorial Ambulance, Peterborough Ambulance, the Water Rescue Task Force, Jaffrey Police, Rindge Police, and several bystanders.

Beals Young Adult Prize for Poetry Call for Entries

WINCHENDON, MA, January 18 -The Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon, Massachusetts seeks entries into its first Beals Young Adult Prize for Poetry. The competition is open to teens in grades 9 through 12 who live or go to school in Winchendon. Ten finalists will be chosen by the judges to read their work at the awards presentation on Thursday, April 20, 2023. Prize money of $100, $50 and $25 will be awarded to the top three competition finalists. Submissions for the contest are now being accepted through Friday, March 31.

Entrants may submit only one, original and unpublished poem. Submissions must be emailed to (Word docs preferred). Notification of receipt of entry will be via return email, and competition finalists will be notified on or before Friday, April 14.

The Beals Young Adult Prize for Poetry is brought to you with federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Call the Library at 978-297-0300 or go to for more information.

Town Manager Reviews 2023 Robinson-Broadhurst Requests for BOS

At the Board of Selectmen's meeting on January 9, Town Manager Justin Sultzbach reviewed the requests made for funding 2023 from the Robinson Broadhurst Foundation.

  • Five self contained breathing apparatus replacements. "That's actually something that's in our capital plan that we're trying to get off of it, if we can get it funded from a different source," Mr. Sultzbach said. "It's a pretty big expense, that project has been vetted extensively and almost landed last year, and Chief Smith agreed to push it back one more year. But I would say anything after that we're kind of pushing it."
  • A 2023 Volvo backhoe for the Department of Public Works.
  • Dual enrollment enrichment activities for the schools. "Which is pretty typical. I think last year, it may have been laptops," Mr. Sultzbach clarified.
  • Beals Memorial Library. "Just a little bit of extra contingency for Phase Two for the sprinkler system, and that was basically the expense to move things downstairs into the basement. That was unforeseen," Mr. Sultzbach said.
  • Recreation Department, ~$15,000 for holiday decorations for the streetlight poles. Mr. Sultzbach explained, "We've seen a lot on that on social media, people hoping for something to get up there in the holiday season once that project is complete."
  • Recreation Department, $20,000 to help supplement the Grand Opening and fireworks.
  • The Council on Aging, $35,000 for a new transportation van for Meals on Wheels. "Their current van is usable but starting to get to that tipping point where you're kind of better served not continually maintaining or replacing something," Mr. Sultzbach said.
  • Granite benches for Grout Park.
  • Department of Public Works, LED electronic message board for the entrance of the Community Park.
  • Department of Public Works, funds for enhanced security systems at the amphitheater in the Community Park. Mr. Sultzbach explained, "The reason being that such a large investment is being made. Robinson Broadhurst did build some of that into the budget but just something about that area that attracts... So it's a good investment. It'll help us hold people accountable."
  • Planning and Land Use, $10,000 for Fall Fest
  • Town Manager's office, $100,000 for the Gateway Park on Beech Street. "We wanted to do something substantial down there. And that would be all through a public input process in terms of the final design of of that," Mr. Sultzbach promised.
  • Blair Square Infrastructure Design. "So from soup to nuts, the total cost to design what's left, and we have made an investment to this point, but the remainder it'd be about $270,000. There is precedent through the Robinson Broadhurst Foundation with Central Street, where they did help pick up some of the design costs. And that goes right back to wanting to have a shovel ready project. So we'll see how that goes."

    Board Chair Audrey LaBrie put in, "I just want to make sure that as we're getting these pieces in place to actually accomplish something there, that we have public input, public hearings. We make sure that it's out there, and plenty of time for people [to give input]."

    Mr. Sultzbach said, "The main goal there is to try to redesign that area in a way that works for the businesses there, and it works for the citizens that walk there, and I think that's kind of an important piece. So I agree wholeheartedly."
  • Public buildings elevator safety, $19,000. Mr. Sultzbach said, "Basically, elevator code had changed. And unfortunately, for a lot of the municipal elevators we have, they are now out of code because of that. As well as there's chip boards in the panels of the elevator that apparently create an issue for a firefighter call and could automatically close the door and effectively trap somebody in there...the state has given us an extension because I had reached out to them explain that this is a large cost. It's not typical for our community of our size to have as many elevators as we have, just by the nature of the way this town was built originally and the way it ended up evolving. So they did accommodate us, our elevators have been inspected and passed and we did get an extension. So it's my hope that the Robinson Broadhurst Foundation funds that but I'm also gonna build it into the capital plan just in case."
  • Community Preservation Act match for five years, $90,000 a year.
  • Full-time Recreation Coordinator. Mr. Sultzbach said, "Originally we had talked about part time, which we presently have, and then slowly growing that, but feedback we received from Robinson Broadhurst Foundation is that they really want to support that amphitheater and they want to see it succeed, and so they're willing to fund a full time role there...this is for one year, but in the conversations we've had they agreed that they would do it for several years. My only ask is to give us an opportunity to get on our feet here. I do agree it should be self ask to them basically is can you do what you can to set us up for success here rather than failure and they've been accommodating."
  • Exterior renovation of the barn in the Community Park.
  • Water main transmission line, $1,020,000 for a three year committment. "That's something that we're actively working on," Mr. Sultzbach said. "That transmission line went down last week. So it's very much a real problem. And we're really kind of scrambling to come together for that. So it's also worth worth mentioning that Mr. Croteau and I met with Congresswoman [Lori] Trahan's staff at our local office several weeks ago, in an effort to try to line up additional funds for that as well, and they seemed pretty open to it. So we'll see where that goes."
The total of all requests was about $2,300,000. Board Vice Chair Rick Ward asked if the requests are prioritized when they're sent in. Mr. Sultzbach said that the grants depend on what the Robinson Broadhurst committee feel are important causes in town. Typically, the committee comes back to the Town Manager's office after a couple of months, around March, with more questions.

Mr. Ward said, "The reason I'm asking is because when we went to the meeting in April for the Robinson Broadhurst folks, they were pretty open about this is not a good year for them financially as far as a good return on their investments. And from what I'm hearing, we're not going to get all this, it's not gonna happen. So my concern is that we get the things that we really feel a critical need, that really we want." He added that outside of Town Hall's requests, other entities in the town had requested items totaling $1.3 million.

Mr. Sultzbach said that was an excellent point. His number one top priority would be the main water pipe. "But if there are any other ones on this list, if you want to communicate through the chair or right now in this moment, please let me know and I'll bring that forward to them as well," he said. "But I think there's a few on here that stand out as more immediate and pressing needs and some that are kind of nice to haves. The nice to have ones are unique because we typically don't build that into our capital plan because we just can't afford it."

The Robinson Broadhurst Foundation announces its grant awards in late May of each year.

Community Park Amphitheater Rapidly Taking Shape

Thanks to the unseasonably snow-free and mild weather, the amphitheater in the Winchendon Community Park is progressing at a rapid pace. The stadium seating has been set in place, grass sod has been installed, concrete steps and walks have been poured, and the stage and roof framing are rising to the sky. These photos taken on Thursday, January 19 show how much has already been done. The amphitheater is on track for its Grand Opening Day on June 10!

Click image to see larger view
Winchendon Community Park amphitheater
The stage as seen from the top of the seating area.
Photo by Keith Kent
Click image to see larger view
Winchendon Community Park amphitheater
Seating tiers as seen from the stage.
Photo by Keith Kent
Click image to see larger view
Winchendon Community Park amphitheater
The steps leading down to the stage.
Photo by Keith Kent
Click image to see larger view
Winchendon Community Park amphitheater
Close-up of the stage with the steel frame for the two-section roof.
Photo by Keith Kent

Bull Spit Brewing Closes Maynard, MA Location in Anticipation of Move to Winchendon

Bull Spit Brewing has closed its brewhouse, restaurant, and taproom in Maynard, MA after 11 months. The outlet at Mill & Main, 20 Sudbury Street, opened last February. Bull Spit's original location in Lancaster remains open and focused on production and retail sales.

A Facebook post from Bull Spit says, "Bull Spit Brewing Company is excited to announce that the final phase of the environmental cleanup process at our Winchendon, MA project is nearing completion, allowing us to focus on the renovation and building of our new home!" The post goes on to state that Winchendon has been "a strategic part of our brewery plan" for two years, and they have decided "to focus 100% of our attention" on the new site. "Maynard was intended to be a temporary avenue for us to grow our brand while the environmental process of Winchendon was being completed. We had a lot of amazing times in 2022 in Maynard but it's time for us to come home for 2023!"

Comments to the Facebook post suggest that the closing comes as a shock to some of the Maynard customers, who express disappointment. While Winchendon will welcome all Maynard Bull Spit fans with open arms at any time, Google Maps shows a drive of 56 minutes and 44.1 miles between the two sites. Maybe Toy Town can make it worth the trip!

Winchendon FD Rescues Dog from Sticky Situation

On Wednesday, January 18 at 12:14 p.m., Winchendon Fire Department received a call from Animal Control for assistance in rescuing an errant dog from a swampy pond area about three quarters of a mile into the woods near Christmas Tree Lane. The Golden Retriever, Dixie, had been reported as a runaway earlier that morning. She was now stranded on a beaver lodge in the pond and was unable to navigate a safe route out.

Winchendon FD used its Argo and Rescue Alice sled to rescue Dixie through both water and ice. "Special thanks to Winchendon Animal Control for keeping Dixie focused on staying on the [lodge] as much as possible during the rescue," the FD posted on its Facebook page. And special thanks to Winchendon FD for this happy ending!

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Is your New Year's Resolution to get a new job? Be sure to check out our Classified and Employment Ads on the Events Page!

Clark Memorial Jan 2023

Subway November 2022 Catering deals

Central Mass Tree

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

Interested in Learning to Live Off the Land?

The Winchendon Recreation Commission is running a survey to gauge interest in classes about wilderness survival and living off the land. Fill out the survey to let them know what you'd like to see offered for classes!

Click here to take survey

Tax Classification Informational Packet

For those who watched the tax classification hearing and would like to review the informational packet about the proposed tax rates, the packet is available on the town website at this link: (PDF).

Winchendon Recreation Commission Asks You...

What musicians and bands would you like to see play at the Winchendon Community Park amphitheater in 2023? Fill out the Google Form or call the office at 978-297-5410 and let them know!

Click here for Google Form

Letter to the Editor

Toy Town 12.4 percent viral positivity for 2nd week

The Town of Winchendon for the second consecutive week registered 12.42 percent SARS-CoV-2 viral positivity, as per the newest released report provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health dated Thursday, January 19, 2023. Winchendon as a town, has now averaged 11.57 percent COVID-19 positivity, not including any store purchased or government provided tests, now dating back 8 weeks to last December 1, of 2022.

Our regional Ten Town Area of North Worcester County traveling 2 towns in any direction south of the New Hampshire State border realized some slight viral relief, with the 10 town area average lowering from last week's 16.2, to this weeks 12.23% viral positivity. At this time, the Commonwealth 351 city & town average registers at a 14 day average of 12.05 percent, and a 7 day average of 10.86 percent, down from last week's DPH reported 12.25 percent.

Locally, following Winchendon with 10,500 residents which for the 2nd week registered at 12.4%, in the towns of the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District, Ashburnham increased from 13.40% to 17.00% positivity, and its district partner, the Town of Westminster decreased from last week's 17.21% to 12.84%. Separately, Ashby to the east of Ashburnham, decreased from 14.55 to 13.04 percent. In the towns of the Narragansett Regional School District, Templeton with nearly 8,200 residents realized a very large welcome drop in relief, lowering from last week's report of 15.44%, to this weeks 7.38%, and its partnering Town of Phillipston, realized and even larger drop, lowering from 23.81% down to 11.11% viral positivity. To the east of the NRSD and south of Toy Town in the Chair City, the City of Gardner with over 21,000 residents also realized some of a drop based on 300 molecular tests, lowering in one week from 18.25 to 14.67 percent viral positivity.

Also locally, in the towns of the Athol Royalston Regional School District, the Town of Athol with 12,000 residents, lowered from 8.23 to 7.16 percent positivity based on 405 molecular tests, and it's partnering town, Royalston, which borders Winchendon to its west, realized a massive decrease, lowering from last week's 28.57%, to this reports 15.38%, which while still very high, is a significant improvement. Lastly in Hubbardston to the south of Gardner, there was a slight increase, from 10.17 to 11.29% positivity.

Around the area, Fitchburg while lowering still remains high for nearly 42,000 people lowering from 16.75 to 13.21% positivity, and Leominster in the other half of the Twin Cities lowered from 11.92 to 10.86% with slightly under 44,000 residents. To our west in some of the North Quabbin Towns, New Salem remains over 30 percent at 31.82%, Petersham to Phillipston's south increased from 23 to 26.67% positivity, while Orange, Erving, and others lowered back to the 7's and 8's. Boston registers at 12.32%, Worcester at 11.4%, and Springfield at 12.86%.

In closing, the Winchendon Board of Health continues to offer free COVID-19 antigen home test kits to residents, obtained through application with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, at its BOH Office during normal hours of operation to Winchendon Residents. These tests kits have been obtained by the BOH and town to both promote public health and help save you money, especially during these challenging times.

Keith Kent
Chair, Board of Health

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.

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 January 9, 2023

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 - 1 citizen vacancy
Cultural Council - 13 vacancies
Fence Viewer and Field Driver - 1 vacancy
Master Plan Implementation Committee - 1 vacancy
Open Space Preservation Appraisal and Survey Revolving Fund Advisory Committee - 1 vacancy
Recreation Commission - 2 vacancies
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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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!

Nomination Papers for Annual Town Election Available January 9

Nomination papers for the annual Town Election, to be held May 1, 2023, will be available at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall starting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, January 9. Nomination papers must be turned in to the Town Clerk by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 13. At least 35 signatures of registered Winchendon voters must be validated for the nomination papers to be certified. Prospective candidates are advised to get more than 35 signatures in case any signatures cannot be confirmed.

The following seats are available:

One 3-year term for the Board of Selectmen
Two 3-year terms for the School Committee
Two 3-year terms for the Board of Health
One 5-year term for the Housing Authority

Special Town Meeting, Monday, March 13, 2023
7:00 p.m.
Murdock Middle High School Auditorium, 3 Memorial Drive, Winchendon

The Special Town Meeting is being called primarily to review and act on any citizen findings on the Community Preservation Act Exploratory Committee (CPAEC).

From the CPAEC:
"The CPAEC recommends the town locally adopt the CPA at the 3% threshold, ensuring the greatest return on our investment. While the match from the state varies from year to year, this would represent a 100% match under current determining metrics and anticipated governing body decisions. We believe that the Town can greatly benefit from this resource in meeting our various community goals. If the Board would be kind enough to accommodate, we ask that the residents of Winchendon be given the opportunity to decide whether to capitalize on this resource via a Special Town Meeting in March of 2023. If the vote passes, the matter will be placed on the Spring 2023 Ballot at the Annual Elections on May 1st."

The Board of Selectmen will be presented with the draft warrant on January 23, 2023 and the Finance Committee will hold the Public Hearing on the Special Town Meeting Warrant on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

Beals Memorial Library Operations Moved to Ground Floor

Library operations at Beals Memorial Library have been moved to the ground floor for the duration of the Infrastucture Project. It's the room to the right as you enter, across from the elevator, which formerly held the Friends' Book Sale (on hiatus until the Infrastructure Project is complete). For more information, see

The library announced, "Library operations have been moved to the ground floor until further notice. We have most of our collection, a public computer, printing/copying, and comfy seating. We are open during normal library hours, and we can't wait to see everyone!"

Click here to read the Fact Sheet (PDF) about the Phase 2 Infrastructure Project.

Beals library ground floor setupPhoto copyright © Beals Memorial Library

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.

Toy Town FYIs

The final, official results of Winchendon's Midterm Election on November 8, 2022 may be viewed at: State Election 11.8.2022 OFFICIAL RESULTS.

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.

2023 Dog Licenses Now Available

2023 Dog licenses are now available on-line, in person, mail, or dropbox. Spayed and Neutered are $10, Non-spayed and Non-Neutered are $20. Please provide a valid rabies certificate with payment. If purchasing on-line, please email rabies certificate to
After May 1, a $20 late fee will be assessed.
After June 1, an additional $50 failure to license fee will be assessed.

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. Click the link below for information and sign-up.

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.