The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of June 22 to June 29, 2023
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Friday, June 23
4:00 - 9:00 p.m.
2nd Annual Food Truck Festival &
Battle of the Bands!

G.A.R. Park, Murdock Ave. & Grove St., Winchendon
Rain or Shine
(and we know it's forecast to rain. Bring a rain poncho or umbrella!
There will be a large food tent)

Battling Bands line-up:
Hit the Bus Band (4:30)
The Mighty Suicide Squirrels (5:30)
Kuusi Palaa (6:30)
Sheep Dip (7:30pm).

Food trucks expected include: Potato Potato, Birds Nest Italian Street Food, Pops Sweethearts, Sabrosa Venezuela, Mrs. Moriconi's Ice Cream, Trolley Dogs, Uncle Joey's Cannoli, Sauced and Tossed Chicken Co., Atrévete a Probar, Moesmellos, Shishkaberry's of New England, Simmy's Polish Express, MinuteMan Kettle Corn, Kona Ice of Shrewsbury, Mac Daddy, The DogFather, Easy Street Tacos, Bay State Chews and Moe's Sweet Eats.

Beverages will be served by the Harbour restaurant, Bull Spit of Winchendon and Four Phantoms Brewing of Greenfield.

Craft Vendors will be set up around the park. Kid's activities include face painting, a henna artist, and a bounce house.

Sponsored by Woo Trucks and the Winchendon Parks & Recreation Commission.

BOS Interview Three Interim Town Manager Candidates

In two special meetings this week, the Board of Selectmen interviewed three applicants for the position of Interim Town Manager, who will handle Town Manager responsibilities until a new permanent Town Manager is hired. Current Town Manager Justin Sultzbach will be leaving to become the Town Administrator in Middleton, MA as of July 7. The applicants interviewed were Bill McKinney, James White and William M. Baldwin.

On Tuesday, June 20, the Board interviewed Bill McKinney, who is a resident of Dedham, MA, and met with the Board in person in the Town Hall second floor auditorium.

Mr. McKinney stated that he is "familiar with the area" because he attended College of the Holy Cross in Worcester (earning a B.A. in Economics/Accounting according to his LinkedIn page). He earned his Masters of Business Administration from Babson College because, he said, "I liked the fact that Babson is highly regarded for entrepreneurship, and I've always been actively involved in my community. And you know, I've been a Boy Scout leader for many years. I've coached youth baseball for many years. Soon as I turned 18 I registered to vote."

Mr. McKinney's experience in state government is extensive. He began working for what was then the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) (now DCR, the Department of Conservation and Recreation) during the administration of Governor Jane Swift (2001-2003). "I was totally impressed with the government workforce. Having come from the private sector, you know, the only thing you hear about government workers was what you read in the papers. And that was not the case at all. A lot of hard working people that were dedicated to making government work more effectively for the public and for the citizens," he said. He described the MDC as "almost like running a town except without a school department." He worked with the transition to DCR under Governor Mitt Romney (2003-2007) and then was "let go" when Deval Patrick (2007-2015) was elected Governor.

Mr. McKinney was then appointed to the Finance Committee for the town of Weymouth and after six years became Weymouth's Chief Financial Officer (CFO). "I was there for four years. It's a town with about $150 million budget, community of about 50,000 people, and I really enjoyed it. And then Charlie Baker got elected Governor, they asked me to come run the Department of Labor Standards, which I've never heard of before," he said. With about 55 employees, the Department of Labor Standards "was responsible for employee health and safety for the public sector." After four years there, Mr. McKinney moved on to work with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM). "DCAMM is the agency that builds all the state buildings," he explained. Since current Governor Maura Healey came in, Mr. McKinney has been "a free agent," he said.

Mr. McKinney is a career Republican, at least to the extent that he lists that experience on his LinkedIn page. He worked on Mitt Romney's 2008 Presidential campaign and served as State Committeeman Suffolk and Norfolk for the Massachusetts Republican Party for four years, from 2016 to 2020.

Weymouth has a mayor and a town council; Dedham, which is located inside Rte 128 and has a current population of 25,364 and a median family income of $72,330, has representative Town Meeting with a Town Manager. The Board asked Mr. McKinney how he would work with Winchendon's smaller population and much more modest budget.

Mr. McKinney said, "With a smaller budget, there's a lot more challenges because it's tougher to just add a person for a particular role. So one of the things that I always love to do when managing people is, people leave, that's when I reassess the role of what they were doing, is it something where the work can be spread out to other people." He also spoke of collaborating with neighboring towns to share services, such as trash collection, which could save money.

Board Chair Audrey LaBrie said, "We are looking for an interim who is going to keep things moving forward. The last couple of years, we've had a lot of projects going on in town, paving of Central Street, the whole redesign of our Central Street, the community park, we opened up a brand new amphitheater...we definitely don't want to lose that momentum as we go through this change in the town at the high level."

Mr. McKinney said that one of things that attracted him to the position, despite the three-hour round trip commute, was "it seemed like there were a lot of positive things happening. And I didn't want to just come in and be a seat filler. I think there's a lot of things that can drive a lot of improvements." He went on to talk about his work in Weymouth on establishing an OPEB* Trust Fund and meeting the 100 percent net school spending requirement. (*Other Post Employment Benefits for retired employees, which Winchendon's Finance Committee established a maintenance program for just this past year.)

Asked what challenges he saw on Winchendon's website, Mr. McKinney immediately named the town's bond rating, which he said was the lowest in Worcester County at A+. (The highest bond rating is AAA.) He also cited the town's recent rejection of the Community Preservation Act. "The finances are going to be constrained," he said. "And so it's going to take some creativity to try to figure out, how can we get these things done or are there grants available for some of the things that, some of the capital needs that the town would have because, obviously grants only go so far." He admitted that he has not written any grants, but he has managed grants.

His top priority when he started working, Mr. McKinney said, would be to get to know all of the Board and get to know what people in Winchendon really wanted--more business? More industry? How did people like their interactions with Town Hall? He agreed with the Board that keeping a tight handle on town finances was extremely important.

"Just a year before I got to Weymouth, they had layoffs, which is one thing I made sure that we did not have going forward because that's devastating to a whole range of things," Mr. McKinney said. "It's devastating to the people that got let go, it's devastating to the people that are still there. And then it's tough to recruit employees if they're afraid that they could lose their job at some point." He described helping the firefighters get an extension on a grant so they could keep five jobs in the department.

Board member Barbara Anderson said, "I think finances in all aspects could really benefit from a fresh set of eyes to look at. And it would really be helpful to the residents. Also, somebody who's willing to listen to the residents, that they're important and we work for them. And to always remember that is always my priority, that a lot of times they don't feel welcome, coming to Town Hall with their issues, and I would like it to be more welcoming to them."

Mr. McKinney gave examples of times when he had gone out to talk to members of the public, or listened to employees' feedback, and made changes in response to things they said. Sometimes small changes that make a big difference to people are easy to implement.

Mr. McKinney stated that even though he has no job experience as a town manager or town administrator, supervising various departments such as the police and fire department, he works closely with all the town departments in Weymouth in financial matters, and he has "a great working relationship with them."

He added, "For a lot of people that have worked for me, I want to know, what are the roadblocks, like what is it that's preventing you from doing the best job you can, is it technology, is it the hours that you work, whatever it is, I want to remove those so that everyone comes to work every day excited to be there. That's the kind of enthusiasm, I love coming to work with a smile and it's kind of contagious. So I want to find out okay, how can we make things better for you, what are some of the simple fixes that we can do to make it a better experience?"

With the interview concluded, Ms. LaBrie explained that the Board had at least one more interview and they would get back to Mr. McKinney by "the end of next week at the latest" with their decision.

On Thursday, June 22, three members of the Board of Selectmen--Chair Audrey LaBrie, Danielle LaPointe and Melissa Blanchard--interviewed two more candidates via a Zoom meeting which was open to the public. Several members of the public joined the meeting but did not ask questions of the candidates.

James White was interviewed at 5:30 p.m. A resident of Marshfield, MA (on the South Shore near Plymouth), Mr. White explained that he had left his position as Controller at the Boston Medical Center to care for his wife, who was going through a lengthy recuperation period following surgery. He is teaching in the evenings and seeking part time work, easing back to full time.

According to Mr. White's LinkedIn page, he has extensive experience in high-level financial management for wealthy private institutions of higher learning, including Berklee College of Music, Suffolk University, MIT and Harvard. He does not have as much experience with town government. He has taught Governmental Non-profit Accounting for 25 years. In his courses, he said, they "really do a deeper dive on the municipal piece of financing...we do a lot of work on taking a sample nonprofit organization...kind of do a deeper dive so as you get a deeper dive on the financials, you also get into areas in terms of strategy and planning, and we would sort of pick a town or a city to work with throughout the course, and we've done that for many, many years. So you got a sense or a flavor a little bit of, not just the financial piece but also some of the operational pieces in terms of core services, in terms of education, fire, police, those kinds of things going forward."

Mr. White said the first thing he would want to do is look at the town's audit and financials and budget. Asked if he had questions for the Board, Mr. White said, "I was curious if we could just have a conversation about how you handled the pandemic and the funding you received and where you are now coming out of the pandemic, in 2023, and I don't want to say this, but it's kind of like you're on your own now because the pandemic money's gone now. You're kind of dealing with just where you are financially."

Mr. White asked more questions about the town's funding and pending capital projects, and the Board talked more answering his questions than he did himself. Asked how he would manage the very long commute and the situation at home, Mr. White said the family had support, and that he was probably not interested in the permanent position, just the short-term. "I'm probably going to stay in the nonprofit [field]. I don't really know, I've never really been a town manager," he said.

Mr. White asked more questions, including why the current Town Manager was leaving, what financial software platform the town uses (it's MUNIS), whether there were open positions, what the town manager's schedule would be, and how the town manager worked with the school department.

At the conclusion of the interview, Mr. White said that he would need to talk to his family before he could be sure when he could start work.

After taking a recess, the Board members and citizen guests reconvened at 6:15 p.m. to meet with applicant William M. Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin lives in Atkinson, NH (population 7,087, on the Massachusetts border in Rockingham County) where he has been a member of the Board of Selectmen for many years. Mr. Baldwin explained that he is retired from two jobs, the military and his first career, and is "a big advocate of local government." He has also served on the School Committee. Atkinson has a Town Administrator, but Mr. Baldwin said, "As you well know the Board of Selectmen, we do the hiring and firing, but we give a lot of latitude to our Town Administrator, he is almost like a town manager in a sense, without the title."

Asked about his experience with finance, Mr. Baldwin said, "So, I have worked with budget committees. Obviously, our own budget committee which has been quite interesting, from year to year, but I gotta tell you that I've worked with budget committees even prior to me being involved in the School Board or Selectmen. As a municipal employee, I've worked with the budget pretty closely for emergency management budgets and law enforcement budget. So I have an extensive amount of experience with it" including managing budget line items and warrant articles.

Mr. Baldwin spoke of how interesting Winchendon's history is, and was impressed at the "466,800 something dollars" in grant money the town recently was awarded to expand the rail trail, something Atkinson is also doing. He also said the amphitheater opening is "phenomenal."

Asked about his experience with capital projects, Mr. Baldwin spoke at length. "I helped build a police station," he said, going to Florida to learn how to build police stations, fire stations and emergency management centers. "Also, looking to forecast the future, we put committees together to do a Master Plan, which we're currently doing now for the future, for current and the future of the town. And then the big one that we're working on also is, I'm sure you're all aware, is the housing, student housing projects." He stated that Atkinson is a rural community and has very few apartments or affordable housing. "What we're looking at is other ways to bring some affordable housing, without ruining the character of our rural community," he said.

Other things Atkinson was working on was incentivizing accessory dwelling units and repurposing historical buildings as possible affordable housing. "You just really got to evaluate your facilities and really assess them from a maintenance perspective, and how to maintain them," Mr. Baldwin said. "Because oftentimes in municipalities we get lost on maintenance, we don't budget enough for maintenance. And that is one of the two things that you have to look at for each facility, if you want to maintain it. You let them go for so long, that price tag becomes now a larger price tag. And then now you're asking the taxpayers to foot a big bill when you could have been more proactive and prevented it through the budget process."

Mr. Baldwin also described his experience overseeing town budgets and working with the town financial director. As a member of the Board of Selectmen, he sees budget reports every month.

Asked about collaborating with the school department, Mr. Baldwin said, "You just said a key word that is phenomenal, and that is part of my teamwork concept, and that is collaboration. And I think that's so key in this day and age, and how leaders can get together and work together." When he served on the School Board in Atkinson, it was a four-town district with a $68 million budget. "I think working with the other leaders and other department heads is so crucial in this position, and having an understanding of what the overall goal is, and frankly, at the end of the day, we all answer to the taxpayer. So we want to do right by the taxpayers," he said.

Asked what his availability would be (Atkinson is also a long commute), Mr. Baldwin said, "I will tell you this as a town manager in that position. You know, I hate to use the word 24/7. But in reality, you know, it's just not a nine to five job. And you have to understand that going into it. There's a commitment here. And it's a commitment to the Board. And it's a commitment to the community. So I'm not a clock puncher. So I don't just punch in and punch out. I mean, I do until the job is done. If it takes 12 hours to do it, it takes 12 hours. If it takes 60 hours a week to do it, then it takes 60 hours...I would personally make it a point to have my cell phone on 24/7. Because you know things happen, and you need to be apprised of them so I can apprise the Board."

Mr. Baldwin said he would be interested in the position long-term, and that he will educate himself on the specifics of Massachusetts municipal governance and laws. He's passionate about this work, he said. "I'm a proven leader with a great work ethic."

At the conclusion of both interviews, Ms. LaBrie told each candidate that the Board would be meeting next Monday, and they expected to get back to the candidates next week with their decision.

BOS Appoint Community Members to Search Committee

At a special meeting on Tuesday, June 20, the Board of Selectmen interviewed five of the six applicants for a citizen seat on the Town Manager Search Committee, which will review applications for the permanent Town Manager position and make final recommendations to the Board. Current Town Manager Justin Sultzbach will be leaving to become the Town Administrator in Middleton, MA as of July 7. The Search Committee will also include Karen Kast as representative from the School Committee and a member of the Finance Committee (to be decided). After hearing each applicant, the Board voted to appoint Jane LaPointe, Thomas Liao, Guy Corbosiero, Cindy Landanno and Thom Schotanus to the Committee.

First to speak, Jane Lapointe said, "We're far beyond the stage where we want what we used to have as a traditional town manager, who just came in and managed stuff. We want someone who can come in and lead with a vision, and who is out there listening to people, being proactive in what's going on." Ms. LaPointe said that she "graduated from Murdock before many people in this room were born." She worked on the Robinson Broadhurst Enhancement Committee which was created in 2013, helped write the Master Plan, and has been involved with many town committees.

"Through the Community Park Committee, I've gotten to really know the DPW department really well," Ms. LaPointe said. "And also the Recreation Department and with the Local Food Works to HEAL Winchendon, the Community Heart & Soul. I've actually heard a lot of things from people now, I've been helping with the story gathering, all the data collection about what's important to people in the town." She added, "I'll bring to [the Committee] what I have from my experiences and talent, what I use in working and helping organizations and businesses continue to thrive or turn themselves around."

Next up was Thomas Liao, who admitted that he doesn't know as much about the town manager's job as some. "I have some interviewing experience, both as a manager interviewing new employees as well as a person from a team who is interviewing a manager to take on that team. So that is the kind of perspective that I would want to bring to this particular search," he explained. "I'm a firm believer that a manager is only as successful as he can make his team successful, the way that he works with them to accomplish everything that he's setting out to accomplish. One of the factors that is going to be important for me to understand, that is of interest to me, is things like how does he plan to leverage institutional knowledge, because let's face it, the people who are on the team know a great deal about how the job is done right now and what things work and what things don't work. Obviously, you want to leverage the valuable institutional knowledge, but that doesn't mean that you have to be stuck with the way things are if you discover a better way to do things."

Mr. Liao added that he is retired from a career in software development and has lived in Winchendon for 20 years.

Following Mr. Liao was Guy Corbosiero, who has long experience with many town boards and committees and is a lifelong resident of Winchendon. He has served on the Board of Selectmen and is currently Chair of the Planning Committee. "I'm chairman of the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission for another week and a half," he said. "So I will have plenty of time to deal with this. And I think, as I said, I have a good perspective on what the town needs, what the role of a town manager is. And I understand that as a committee we'll have to vet a lot of the applicants. I know it's a confidential position where you can't let anybody know the applicants."

Cindy Landanno spoke next. She began by saying she spent summers in Winchendon as a child, and her child grew up here and attended the Winchendon Public Schools. She's had experience with administration, teaching, and hiring. "But more than that, I think I bring kind of a passion for the community," she said. "I think that this is such a unique community. I've been here through many of the ups and downs. And I think we're poised in such a good spot right now as a town. It's encouraging that so many positive things are going on, including one of the things I think you brought up, in terms of the town and the school working together. It's such a key part...Those are the kinds of things we're going to need for a town manager. We're gonna need them to be part of that team that wants to work together on that piece."

The last speaker was Thom Schotanus, who described his extensive experience working in African countries. After years in the construction industry, in 2001 he went to Cameroon in west Africa with the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board. He worked in Cameroon and then Liberia helping to build infrastructure. "I realized that [Cameroon] has resources, human resources, natural resources, but it was still a wreck. And so I began to wonder, what is the real problem? So through my job over there, I get to meet a lot of government people, get to experience a lot of corruption, and begin to realize that the lack of development in these countries has nothing to do with money. And it has everything to do with the way people behave, how they work in government and how they work together, cooperation, how people are honest and faithful."

Mr. Schotanus wrote and published a book, Solving the Puzzle of Development: Transforming Hearts and Minds to Change the World, based on his experiences and will be returning to Cameroon, Liberia, the Congo, Kenya and Uganda this summer. "We came back here and we're seeing all the issues that they're going on here in the United States now. And I see a lot of people complaining about the state of government, the way things function. I follow the elections that have happened here in town. The last presidential elections that were like 50-100 people came out to vote, the last school board, and I think there was some Selectmen, it was about 500. So I saw the apathy." He added, "I really have a passion for this. I want to be an active citizen. I want to be involved."

Mr. Schotanus was asked the only question by Board members: whether his travels would interfere with meeting with the Committee. Mr. Schotanus said he will only be away a couple of weeks, and otherwise works remotely.

The sixth applicant was not present at the meeting.

Board member Barbara Anderson said, "I love that we have our experienced voices and people who are very familiar with being on committees, but I'm just so thrilled that new people have stepped up. I can't even express that. Because I think we need new fresh eyes to look at solving some of the problems that we have in town, as well as the expertise of people who've been here for quite some time."

The Board voted unanimously to appoint the five interviewees to the Town Manager Search Committee.

Ms. LaBrie stated that the Board is putting out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consulting company to run the initial application process and pass on candidates to the Search Committee. They hope to have a firm signed by mid-July.

Solstice Fair Fun Defies the Weather on Saturday, June 17

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Solstice Fair Saturday June 17
HEAL members staffed the Community Heart & Soul table at the Clark, collecting residents' opinions of the evolving statements of our town's values and hopes.
Photo by Inanna Arthen
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Solstice Fair Saturday June 17
Melinda Bowler (left) and Deb Kane staffed the joint HEAL/CAC table at the Clark, which raffled off a handmade quilt.
Photo by Inanna Arthen

It wasn't the Solstice Festival we were all hoping for, post-COVID; the traditional parade, which last marched down Central Street in 2019, will have to wait another year. But attendees at the Clark Memorial YMCA's Solstice Festival, the UU Church of Winchendon's Lawn (and indoor) Fair and Immaculate Heart of Mary church's Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 17 still had good food and fun, even with damp feet and more umbrellas in use than a gray day in London.

The Clark decided to cancel the parade early on, as the weather was forecast to be rainy right at its scheduled time of 11:00 a.m. The Morin Real Estate 5K Road Run for adults went on as planned, but the kids' "Fun Run" at 12:30 p.m. was cancelled. The Clark moved all of its vendors and activities--including a whole row of inflatable "bounce houses"--inside the big Robinson Broadhurst Memorial Field House, which has an amazing capacity. The only exceptions were the food trucks and the Kiwanis' famous food tent, which had many canopies and marquees over them, with a covered walkway to the field house entrance.

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Solstice Fair Saturday June 17
No stage? No problem! BodegaDog played high above the Field House floor over the entranceway, which was...pretty cool, actually!
Photo by Inanna Arthen
The Unitarian Universalist Church gave its vendors the option to move inside the parish hall, where vendor fairs are held in colder weather. Most did; a few vendors chose to stay outside, and so did the church's hot dog concession stand. The IHM church's Strawberry Festival was "covered," as it traditionally sets up under an enormous marquee tent, which held the auction, food concessions, vendor and raffle tables, and tables to sit and enjoy the food and strawberry-themed treats.

Just as in a usual year, attendees circulated among all three events, although in smaller numbers than normally seen. One attendee observed that they had not seen Solstice Fair rained out in 16 years of participating. Call this year's "rained on" rather than "rained out!" The outright tropical downpours that drenched Central Street--multiple inches of rain--failed to force a complete cancellation at any of the locations.

Even without the parade, activity peaked between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with all three venues bustling with visitors. Kids played games and did gymnastics on the Field House astroturf, while adults filled out surveys, collected informational brochures and bought food, raffle tickets, books and crafts.

People at the UU Church remarked at how good-natured everyone was about the rain and lower attendance--they just took it in stride. After all--this is New England! We never know what kind of weather we'll get next, we just roll along with it.

Some scheduled vendors chose not to stay for the event given the weather, but most of them will be back for Fall Fest in October. We can look forward to next year's Solstice Fair when our beloved parade is sure to finally return.

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Solstice Fair Saturday June 17
The Kiwanis Food Tent, Mike and Ants Ice Cream and Atrévete a Probar Mexican food trucks all had long lines later on.
Photo by Inanna Arthen
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Solstice Fair Saturday June 17
Bounce houses lined up in the Field House.
Photo by Inanna Arthen

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Solstice Fair Saturday June 17Photo by Inanna Arthen
Click image to see larger view
Solstice Fair Saturday June 17Photo by Inanna Arthen

Still early in the day, a double row of vendor and organization tables can be seen running the length of the Clark Field House, including Murdock cheerleaders, the Sunshine Café, the Democratic Town Committee, prolific local author Kevin Flanders, Fidelity Bank, the Winchendon CAC and many more.

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Solstice Fair Saturday June 17Photo by Inanna Arthen
Click image to see larger view
Solstice Fair Saturday June 17Photo by Inanna Arthen

Vendors and organizations filled the center and sides of the UU Church of Winchendon's Parish Hall, including the Winchendon Garden Club with their beautiful raffle baskets and the Winchendon Cultural Council, offering free candy to everyone who filled out their survey.

Family History Runs Deep

Monique Connor, a long time member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 193 in Winchendon has taken the high ranking position of Department of Massachusetts American Legion Auxiliary President Title on June 11, 2023.

Monique comes from a long line of military in her family starting from the beginning with her Great Grandfather, Chester Mann who was drafted in 1917 to WWI at the age of 24 and in 1942 drafted again for WWII at age 49. He was one of the original charter members that formed the American Legion Post 193 in Winchendon.

Her Grandfather, Harold LaDeau was drafted in 1942 for WWII at the age of 19 and was involved with the American Legion Post 193. Just one of many groups he was involved in like working with the Army Corp of Engineering and was instrumental in the development of the Birch Hill Area.

Her father Ronald King served during the Vietnam Era stateside and was an Ashburnham and Winchendon Firefighter for many years.

John, her husband served in the Air Force during Granada and was a Winchendon Firefighter / EMT.

But, it wasn't until her oldest son joined the National Guard in 2009 and received his orders for Afghanistan in 2010 that she felt the calling to really get involved more deeply with the American Legion Family.

Monique's plans for the coming year are Love of our Veterans, Life of our Country, Liberty for all is going to be her moto for her 2023 - 2024 year term. She will be going back to the basics on "why we are here and how" we can "Be the One" in the campaign the American Legion started in 2022 is making a difference in so many ways. You can follow her on her Facebook page where she will be sharing a lot of information, even how and why you should be a member of the American Legion Auxiliary no matter where you are, as well as programs and events for you to check out.

ALL students working on garden
ALL students working on garden

Murdock High School students from Mrs. Ellis' ALL class helped the Unitarian Universalist Church of Winchendon clean out and replant some badly overgrown garden plots on the north side of the church on Friday, May 19. They worked very hard and accomplished a transformation to the gardens. UUCW looks forward to collaborating with the students again in the future! Any business or organization interested in working with the ALL students can contact Mrs. Ellis at
Photos by Joe Sackett

Lions Club Gives MLERF Award to Bud Fletcher

Lions Club awards Bud Fletcher
from left, Vice President Mark Desmarais and Ernest "Bud" Fletcher
Photo by Dee Holt

The Winchendon Lions Club was proud to award Ernest "Bud" Fletcher one of our high awards. He is the first member to receive this award, MLERF (MA Lions Eye Research Fund). Both Bud and the club will be celebrating their 60th Anniversary in September.

The Award was presented at our Installation Dinner on June 14 at the Harbour Restaurant. The Award was presented by Vice President Mark Desmarais, and pinned by President Joni LaPlante.

Sign up for the Summer Season of Dek Hockey!

The summer season of Dek Hockey begins June 28 at 6:00 p.m. at Mylec Rinks for ages 4 to 16. The Rink is located at 37 Commercial Drive (off of Rte 140/Gardner Road), Winchendon.

You can call 978-297-0089 to sign up now, or you can sign up in person on June 28. Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions! We hope to see you there.

Subway November 2022 Catering deals

Troy Laundromat

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

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Lemonade Stand
Young Entrepreneurs! These three young hard working individuals cleaned up pretty good for their ages on Sunday, June 11, for setting up shop the far end of Front Street in Winchendon operating a "Lemonade Stand." With mostly sunny skies and warmer temps, sales were reportedly up to $40 with plenty of daylight to go at just $1.00 per large red disposable cup. A father joked, "I had to take $10 of their earnings to go to the store to buy more cups because they were running out of cups!" Seen in the photo left to right are Kamerin Bridges of Henniker, NH, with Alexis Putvain and Lucas Putvain of Winchendon.
Photo by Keith Kent
Robin with worm
Early Bird gets the worm! Temporarily resting along a barbwire fence near the entrance to the bike path paralleling the YMCA track, this Robin displays a worm "Or at least part of it" it may be taking back to a nest as it is the time of year the eggs of their young begin to hatch.
Photo by Keith Kent

Central Mass Tree

Templeton Concerts on the Common

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

Senior Shuttle Service to Summer Events

If you are a senior (over 55) and need a ride to some of the events this summer at the Winchendon Community Park Performing Arts Amphitheater, contact Sheila at the Senior Center, 978-297-3155, to reserve a seat. Rides are available for the following scheduled events (all these events are free of charge to the public):

July 1: 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. All-American Community Day with Winchendon Winds Concert Band playing on the stage.
August 18: 6:00-8:00 p.m. Winchendon Music Festival with Andrew Arceci playing on the stage.
August 27: 2:00-4:00 p.m. Winchendon Music Festival sponsoring the Worcester Jazz Orchestra playing on the stage.

Ingleside Woods Disc Golf Course Now Open!

The Ingleside Woods Disc Golf Course at the Winchendon Community Park (86 Ingleside Drive) is now open to the public. This friendly 3-hole course, which is situated in the woods of the Winchendon Community Park, is meant to be fun and challenging for players of all types. The entrance to the course can be found across from the parking lot, and is marked with a sign. We hope you and everyone that you bring enjoy.

Without this small community of people, this volunteer project would not have made it to this point. With that, this is just the beginning of our disc golf adventure, as we are working to finalize a design for 18 holes. The hope being we will have another half dozen completed by the end of the year. Additionally, we will be working with the Beals Memorial Library and Disc Golf 978 to establish a "disc rental" program so new players can try the sport without having to buy discs. More info to come in the coming weeks.

As you enjoy this course and the property as a whole, remember the general rules of disc golf: respect each other, respect the environment, teach one another and above all else, have fun!

Upcoming School Committee Vacancy

The Winchendon Board of Selectmen and the Winchendon School Committee are seeking qualified candidates to fill an August 1, 2023 vacancy on the Winchendon School Committee. The term is through Town elections in May 2024. Applicants interested must be registered voters of the Town of Winchendon. Letters/resumes, including the candidate's background information, are due to be received by the end of day Thursday, June 22, 2023 to the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, 109 Front Street via email to Audrey LaBrie, and/or to the School Committee Chairman Ryan Forsythe, Said position will be jointly appointed by the members of the Board of Selectmen and School Committee at a jointly held meeting tentatively scheduled for Monday, June 26, 2023.

Residents Invited to Serve on "Destination Winchendon" Project Committee

The Town is seeking residents to serve on a new committee/project - "Destination Winchendon." You can see a presentation on the vast possibilities that will be discussed at (PDF). We are seeking forward thinkers to envision what Winchendon can be in the next five, ten and twenty years from now. Considerations include Encouraging Community Involvement and Ownership, Preserving & Enhancing Downtown Character, Ensuring Economic Vitality, Promoting Downtown Assets, Getting Into and Around Downtown, Living Downtown and Keeping Downtown Safe.

If you'd like to serve on the committee, please send in a letter of interest to Mary Calandrella -

Winchendon Farmer's Market is Open for the Season!

Undaunted by looming rain showers, the Winchendon Farmer's Market opened on schedule last Saturday, May 20. It will be open every Thursday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., barring truly dismal weather. The Market sets up at the corner of Pleasant Street and Front Street, right across from the Winchendon Town Hall.

Vendors this year include 7 Acre Farm, Haley Farm, High Springs Farm, Rosehawk Farm, Shelly's She Shed (jams, preserved food and baked goods), Spinning Ginny (hand knitted goods and hand-spun yarn), and Olde Soul Jewelry. Right now, the Market is selling plants customers can set out in their own gardens, including all kinds of vegetables and some herbs. There are some unusual varieties available to try your hand at growing.

Co-managed by Sherry Haley and Janet Lee, the Market has been running for 14 years. It will be open until the end of October or as late as weather allows. SNAP and HIP payments are accepted. For more details, see

Parks & Rec Department Needs Volunteers!

Sign-ups are now open for volunteer opportunities with Parks & Recreation. Stop by the office in Town Hall, email, or call if you are interesting in helping out with events. Jobs include ticket taking, entry attendant, parking attendant, table help, set up, clean up, general help and others (depending on the event). Volunteer for an amphitheater concert and get free admission to that concert! Call 978-297-5410, email or visit Town Hall, 109 Front Street, Winchendon (in the Planning office).

Love 'N Local Farm Stand

Don't forget to check out the Love 'N Local Farm Stand located at the Winchendon CAC. We're open to the public 11am-4pm Tuesday and Wednesday and 9am-2pm Thursday and Friday. We accept SNAP, HIP, cash, credit and debit!

Use this form to order produce:

Need a Ride to a Medical Appointment, but You're Not a Senior? The CAC Can Help!

In partnership with the Winchendon Senior Center the Winchendon CAC will provide Winchendon Residents under 55 medical rides! Rides will be available Monday - Thursday between 8:30am and 4:00pm. We need you to provide us with a minimum of a one week notice in order for us to facilitate this ride! Appointments need to be located in the North Central Mass area. Reminder, you will be responsible to provide a car or booster seat for any babies or toddlers required to use them. Use this form to request a ride:

Tell the Winchendon CAC What You'd Like From the Love 'n Local Farmstand!

Please let us know if you are interested is getting produce from the CAC Love 'n Local Farmstand and how often! All produce is from local farmers and all proceeds go to benefit the Winchendon CAC as well as local farmers.

The Winchendon CAC has been offering seasonal produce at the Love 'n Local Farm Stand since 2022. The winter weather has moved the farm stand operation indoors but fresh seasonal produce has continued to be available! We often have produce like potatoes, squash, onions, apples, carrots and beets. Greens have been available occasionally due to local greenhouse and tower garden operations.

Click here to fill out the Google Form

Volunteers Needed for the Sunshine Café!

The Youth Changemakers Sunshine Café is seeking youth (age 14-18) volunteers to help staff and run the Café, and adults to help supervise during open hours. All adults must be CORI checked by the CAC prior to volunteering. ServSafe® certification for adults is not necessary but a huge plus! Also needed are volunteers who can help cook and bake pastries for the Café to sell (all food preparation takes place in a certified commercial kitchen with ServSafe® supervision).

The Café is open on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.. It is located in the Winchendon CAC upper level, 273 Central Street.

If you'd like to help the Café prosper and grow, fill out the volunteer signup form below.

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 May 24, 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 - 2 vacancies
Cultural Council - 12 vacancies
Fence Viewer and Field Driver - 1 vacancy
Recreation Commission - 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!

An LGBT-Clue Mystery Party at the Beals Memorial Library

Grab your magnifying glass and hunt for clues at the Beals Memorial Lbrary's LGBT-Clue Mystery Party on June 24!
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

Whodunnit? Find out at the Beals Memorial Library's LGBT-Clue Mystery Party! The library invites teens to celebrate Pride Month in style this June with a fun, campy murder mystery scavenger hunt.

Come to the Winchendon library on Saturday, June 24, at 1:00 p.m. for a Clue-style murder mystery scavenger hunt. Play as one of a variety of colorful characters, search the library for clues, and figure out whodunnit! Team up with other players or double-cross them with unique actions to spice up the game as you race to be the first player to solve the mystery. Sign up now to get your character and come to the party dressed up in their colors.

This event is open to teens ages 13 to 18. Limited space available. Sign up today! The Beals Memorial Library is located at 50 Pleasant Street in Winchendon. For more information, contact the library at 978-297-0300 or visit their website at

Summer Reading Club Kickoff Party at the Beals Memorial Library

Beals summer reading club kickoff
Sing along with storyteller, Davis Bates, at this year's Summer Reading Club Kickoff Party at the Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon on Wednesday, June 28 at 2:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Beals Memorial Library

Make some noise at the Winchendon library's annual Summer Reading Club Kickoff Party on Wednesday, June 28, at 2:00 p.m. This year's Summer Reading Club theme is "Find Your Voice," which celebrates the many unique ways that people express themselves. Kick off the start of the program and enjoy a fun afternoon of stories, music, and games!

At 2:30 PM, Davis Bates will be entertaining participants with a fun program that gets audiences of all ages singing along and inspires them to remember and share their own stories, and to find songs and stories in books, their family, and their community. He is known for his humor, his relaxed ability to engage, and his repertoire of familiar and interesting new songs and stories.

This event is free to attend!

The Summer Reading Club Kickoff Party is sponsored by the Winchendon Cultural Council and the Friends of the Beals Memorial Library.

The Beals Memorial Library is located at 50 Pleasant Street in Winchendon. For more information, contact the library at 978-297-0300 or visit their website at

MMHS Food Pantry Seeking Food Donations

Murdock School's Food Pantry is looking for food donations. We know our students get two meals a day at school. However, with times being hard and with the cost of food, some of our students have limited food over the weekends. We make weekend food bags for some of our students in need, which covers all the kids in their family in our district.

Students access our food pantry during the day for items needed at home.

We also have all kinds of toiletries in our pantry, such as: soap, shampoo, bodywash, razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash and feminine product etc.

So next time you're shopping and would like to donate, we have listed non-perishable below.

We also accept any gift cards to Market basket or Walmart, etc.

Our pantry has been sustainable only through donations and fund raisers in our community.

Donations can be dropped off at the school's main office or I can pick up...If you have any questions or ideas, please contact Cindy Lou at: 978-297-5052.

Our Murdock Middle/High School Students Thank You!

  • Tuna white cans/Packets
  • Can Chicken
  • Mayonnaise small jars
  • MILK/ Carton shelf milk
  • Applesauce cups
  • Fruit Cups
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Raviolis/Spaghetti-O's/Beefaroni
  • Spaghetti sauce/cans
  • Pasta/macaroni
  • Mac/cheese box
  • Cereals
  • Oatmeal
  • Fruit bars/Granola bars
  • Cup soups/ Ramen noodles
  • Crackers
  • Pancake mix/with water
  • Instant Potatoes
  • Instant Rice
  • Gravy cans/packets
  • Can Corn
  • Can Green beans
All types of toiletries are always needed!

Fresh Box is Here!

Healthy Meal Kits for Local Families

The Winchendon and Gardner CACs are both recipients of the biggest coordinated local produce distribution effort our region has ever seen thanks to Growing Places. With a Local Food Purchase Assistance USDA grant administered by the MA Department of Agricultural Resources, Growing Places (GP) and regional partners have launched a year-long program distributing free boxes of produce ($40 and $50 value) weekly. GP will pack and distribute 212 boxes weekly, with 80 going to Gardner and Winchendon CACs! This equates to about 2,000 pounds of local produce JUST to Winchendon and Gardner every week! Farmers are receiving retail prices for their produce, making this a huge win for our region's food economy and our residents. To sustain this boost in the local food system, HEAL partners will work to transition box recipients to GP's SNAP/HIP-eligible home-delivered produce program. All box recipients will receive a sheet on the benefits of buying local, a recipe, SNAP/HIP information, and a CSA enrollment form.

Time to Sign Up for Youth Baseball and Softball!

Spring is around the corner, and youth baseball & softball registration is now open! Click the link below to go to the registration page.

If you have questions, contact the following:

For Baseball: Kevin Southwell, 603-209-1603 or

For Softball: Randy Tenney, 978-895-3334 or

Winchendon Farmer's Market Accepting 2023 Vendor Applications

The Winchendon Farmer's Market, which is organized by the Winchendon Agricultural Commission, is accepting applications for vendors for the 2023 season. "This is a producer only market. We know that there are many small farmers, gardeners and handcrafters who would love to show off your hard work."

The Farmer's Market sets up at the corner of Pleasant and Front Streets across from Town Hall, 109 Front Street. Hours are Thursdays, 4:00-7:00 p.m. and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.

A space is $20 for the entire season, or $5 for just one day. Vendors must supply all their own tables and set-up.

Download the application at If you have questions, contact the Winchendon Agricultural Commission.

Toy Town FYIs

Transfer Station Summer Hours

The Transfer Station has begun extended summer hours:
Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 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
2023-2024 Transfer Station sticker now on sale in Town Hall and at the Transfer Station.

2023 Street Lists Available

The 2023 Town of Winchendon Street List of Residents is now available at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall, 109 Front Street. Cost is $11.00 each, $8.00 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.