The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of December 5 to December 12, 2019
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Winter Arrives Early, Blesses Winchendon with Snow and Fame

Toy Town is on the map following a two-day, two-storm weather event that buried the town in more than two feet of snow and brought news teams here to interview Town Manager Keith Hickey, DPW Director Al Gallant and numerous residents.

The slow-moving double storms surprised residents and weathercasters alike. Snow began falling in Winchendon on Sunday at around 2:00 p.m.--exactly as forecast. Despite an unusually wide range of forecast amounts, most weather services agreed that the Monadnock region would get 8-12 inches in this first storm. When the snow paused on Monday, The Courier measured 11 inches of snow outside its premises; the official NOAA report was 13 inches. The Board of Health, Toy Town Partnership and Winchendon Community Park Committee cancelled their Monday night meetings. The Winchendon Public Schools cancelled school on Monday and called a two-hour delay for Tuesday.

Then the second storm settled off the coast. Instead of the forecast 4-6 inches or so of additional snow, Toy Towners woke up to 16 inches or more on Tuesday, on top of what had just fallen the day before. The official NOAA total for both storms was 25 inches, but Winchendon residents measured 27 to 28 inches in parts of town.

Winchendon Public Schools cancelled school on Tuesday, while the Department of Public Works ran round-the-clock rotating shifts from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday night plowing the town's 134 miles of roads. This job was made more challenging with only eight of the town's twelve plows in operation; four suffered breakdowns. DPW Director Al Gallant told the Boston Globe that it takes five hours for a full crew to make one complete pass of the town's roads.

The unexpected intensity of the snowfall on Monday night gave road crews extra difficulty. "We got twelve inches in like four hours. It was ridiculous," Winchendon plow driver George Emory told Channel 5. Its just hard to keep up with that kind of amount, Mr. Gallant told the Boston Globe. Its not the season or the earliness, its the amount in such a short period of time.

"First week in December, we're hoping this isn't a sense of what might be coming for the next several months," Town Manager Keith Hickey told Channel 5. While roads and streets were cleared, sidewalks and parking lots were still snow-choked, and high snow banks everywhere created some hazards. "The downtown area, there are some dangerous intersections where site distance is a problem, once we collect ourselves, probably later this week, we'll be removing snow and making the parking areas more convenient," Mr. Hickey promised. The double storm has already cost Winchendon some $30,000 in snow removal expenses.

In a rare occurrence, Winchendon Public Schools cancelled school for a third consecutive day on Wednesday because sidewalks and parking lots were still deemed too treacherous for students, buses and parents' cars. The school district's central office was open and administrative staff returned to work. The city of Gardner also cancelled school for a third day on Wednesday.

While things are slowly returning to normal in Winchendon, an inch or two of new snow is forecast for Friday.

Winchendon residents shared some snow storm photos with the Courier.

December 2019 snow
photo credit: Dana Draeger
"We are on the roof! Storms bring families together!"
December 2019 snow
Photo credit: Jo-Ann Norcross May
"Early Monday morning."
December 2019 snow
Photo credit: Shannon Sylvia
December 2019 snow
photo credit: Shannon Wilder-Harris
"He was stuck. Had to dig him out. He's a 6-month old miniature horse colt named Stormy."
December 2019 snow
photo credit: Dana Draeger
December 2019 snow
Photo credit: Jen DeHorsey Barbaro

December 2019 snow
Photo credit: Karen Hackett
"Town Farm Rd. Tuesday afternoon."
December 2019 snow
photo credit: Collin Harris
"This is ms.Jolene. We adopted her in June shortly after moving to winchendon. Shes from Texas and had never seen snow before. She loved it!"
December 2019 snow
Photo credit: David Connor
"All clean and ready for the next storm."
December 2019 snow
photo credit: Christina Marie

Toy Town FYIs

Effective December 1

Winter Parking Ban
Town of Winchendon Bylaw
SECTION 7.18; WINTER BAN Parking is prohibited on all public ways between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., annually from December 1st through April 15th. In addition, any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, parked, day or night, on any street in the Town, so as to interfere with the work of removing or plowing snow, removing ice, or sanding the street may be removed or towed away under the authority, discretion and direction of the Chief of Police or the Chiefs designee. The registered owner of a motor vehicle which is removed pursuant to this bylaw shall be fully responsible for all charges and expenses incurred for the removal and storage of said motor vehicle.

As of Thursday, December 5, the Winchendon Fire Department will no longer be performing inspections at residences with excessive amounts of snow preventing access to the property. If a residence is found to be inaccessible the inspection will not be performed and an additional re-inspection fee will be charged.

The Winchendon Fire Department urges residents to take all safety precautions with candles and generators.

  • Generators should always be used outside, never in your home, garage or basement. Carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible and can reach lethal levels even if you don't smell exhaust or fumes. If you have a permanent emergency generator professionally installed, make sure its ventilation is clear of snow or other obstructions.
  • Candles should never be left unattended, and must always be at least a foot away from anything else flammable--including other candles.

Clear Those Fire Hydrants!

If there's a fire hydrant near your's the fire hydrant the Fire Department will need if your house is on fire. With that in mind, help keep hydrants clear of snow and accessible this winter, for everyone's safety!

Hydrants should be completely clear of snow and ice, with an open area of three feet on all sides and clear open access from the street. It's a little extra work, but if the hydrant is needed, every second counts!

Winchendon CAC Requesting Christmas Donations

Winchendon CAC Director Jennifer Sibley posted on Facebook, "I know we are working on a very, very tight schedule this year for Christmas donations, due to the late date of Thanksgiving and our extreme amount of snow. We still need your help."

The CAC distributed a total of 141 Thanksgiving baskets and there was no food left over. Only families who didn't receive baskets for Thanksgiving may receive Christmas baskets, and the list is already up to 120 families. Needed are $10 grocery store gift cards, turkeys or hams, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, desserts, canned vegetables, juice, and ginger ale. "Any amount you can offer is helpful," Ms. Sibley says. "Thank you and I have faith in this wonderful community that we will reach and surpass this goal."

The Winchendon CAC is located at 273 Central Street. For information on hours and times when donations can be accepted, call them at 978-297-1667.

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Winchendon Subway

Stone-Ladeau Funeral Home

Toy Drive
Toy Drive

UU Church of Winchendon held its annual "Spirit of Christmas Toy Drive" on November 29, the day after Thanksgiving. Santa and a crew of elves braved the gusty wind and chilly temperatures to gratefully accept donations and hand out candy canes to holiday shoppers. All toys were taken to the Winchendon Fire Department to join their ongoing holiday toy drive. UUCW wants to thank everyone who stopped by!