The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of February 27 to March 5, 2020
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

MVOC Awarded Bid to Rehab Former Poland and Streeter Schools for Veterans' Housing

MVOC architectural rendering
Architectural rendering of Veterans Housing site proposed by MVOC

Two groups, the Massachusetts Veterans Outreach Center and Cougar Capital, submitted bids to buy the Poland and Streeter school buildings and convert them into housing for veterans in response to the Town Manager's Request For Proposals, which was approved at Fall Town Meeting last October. Both bidders came before the Board of Selectmen on February 25.

Town Manager Keith Hickey explained the process and gave an overview of the two proposals. The bid was published locally and on state procurement websites with a deadline in early February. Both bidders had an opportunity to do a walk-through of the Streeter School building; the Poland School building was deemed unsafe to walk through. Mr. Hickey, Winchendon Planning Agent Tracy Murphy and Selectman Rick Ward interviewed representatives from each group. Both bidders put down a $5000 deposit and both understand that the buildings are to be dedicated housing for veterans.

Cougar Capital proposes to renovate the two buildings while leaving their footprint unchanged, without constructing any additions. A total of about twenty-four one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments would be created. If accessible apartments are needed, ADA-compliant units can be modified on the ground floors of the buildings. No elevators will be added and access to the upper floors will be via stairs. The budget for the project is $2,500,000, to be raised from grants and owners' equity. The timeline to completion is approximately two years.

Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center (MVOC) provided architectural renderings of both the finished buildings and the landscaping proposed for the property. MVOC proposes renovating both buildings and constructing an addition connecting them, forming a single U-shaped facility. A total of forty-four one-bedroom units would be created. Both buildings would have elevators, and all three floors would be accessible and ADA-compliant. The new connecting section includes common areas. The budget for the project is just over $21,000,000. Funding will be through federal grants, including historical preservation grants. Time to completion is approximately three years.

Mr. Hickey stated that he, Mr. Ward and Ms. Murphy agreed to recommend MVOC's proposal to the Board of Selectmen. He explained that MVOC's proposal to manage the property on an ongoing basis, providing transportation services and other programs to the residents, "was more in the spirit of the Town Meeting vote last fall."

Ryan Fleming, Dan Botwinik from Cougar Capital and Robert Batchelder came forward to answer questions from the Board of Selectmen. Mr. Botwinik told the Board that "attractive" landscaping of green space would be designed for the property. He clarified that they propose to have habitable units in one year, not two.

Board of Selectmen Chair Audrey LaBrie asked how the proposed rental fees included with Cougar Capital's bid conformed to desigated low income rents. Mr. Hickey replied that Cougar Capital planned to have a mix of low income and market-rate rents for their units. Mr. Batchelder stated that Cougar Capital was in the planning stages with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to lease the properties when they are completed, keeping them at 100 percent occupancy for the foreseeable future. Mr. Fleming explained that the facility would be a continuation of Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation in Gardner. DAV has acquired Veteran Homestead which runs that program. NVTRC offers veterans and their families rental fees based on their income. The current program runs for two years in Gardner while veterans go to school at Mount Wachusett Community College. Once the program finishes, veterans have no peer support or services going forward. The proposed DAV housing in Winchendon would provide housing, peer support and programs for veterans who had completed the two-year training. Mr. Batchelder owns a sprinkler company with an apprenticeship program for veterans.

Charlie Murphy, Executive Director of MVOC, and Dorrie Brooks of Jones Whitsett Architects in Greenfield came forward to answer questions about their proposal. Mr. Murphy explained that the major demand they see is for one bedroom apartments. "A lot of the Vietnam veteran age veterans we see quite a few of, a lot of those folks are single and like to be by themselves in an apartment," Mr. Murphy said.

Asked for their success rate in obtaining grants, Ms. Brooks said, "We have done hundreds of units utilizing low income tax credit financing and also historic tax credit equity which is included in the capital stack which we included in our presentation. We've always had an excellent track record of obtaining those funds. We have assembled a team of designers and historic consultants to ensure that the design meets the standard of those funders."

Mr. Murphy said that MVOC will manage the facility, and will have case managers on site working with the veterans, as well as transportation to off-site services. The housing will accommodate both male and female veterans, with the smaller building currently planned to house women. MVOC's plan includes fewer parking spaces because they've found that many of the veterans they work with do not own vehicles. The facility is designed for long-term residency, so that the veterans can "age in place" and stay in their homes as long as possible.

Selectman Barbara Anderson raised a concern about lack of units for younger veterans with families, and asked whether some two-bedroom units might be added to the plan. Mr. Murphy stated that MVOC has some apartments in other locations which accommodate families, and the biggest need they're seeing is housing for single people. Ms. Brooks explained that because the two school buildings are old, they don't allow as much flexiblity in utilizing space. There would be more potential for larger units in the connecting addition, if they seem needed as the project develops.

Winchendon resident Tina Santos rose to ask if the MVOC proposal would allow use of the ball field adjacent to the buildings. Ms. Brooks explained that the ball field was outside the boundaries specified in the RFP and would be available for use. She added that their landscaping plan included paths for town residents to pass through the property to the park.

Two residents rose to speak in support of the programs offered by MVOC and by DAV and affirm that either program will benefit from the new housing.

The Board of Selectmen voted to approve sale of the former Poland and Streeter Schools to the MVOC, by a vote of 4-1.

Chapel Downtown Presents Christian-Themed Drug Awareness Workshop

The Chapel Downtown was filled to capacity with over fifty attendees, presenters and Chapel members for their Drug Awareness Workshop on Saturday, February 22. The two-hour workshop was a blend of information and evangelizing, with speakers cramming a great deal of material into two hours.

Elizabeth Haddad, Central Massachusetts Opioid Task Force Coordinator from District Attorney Joseph Early's Worcester County office, had a display of household objects teens might use to conceal drugs or paraphernalia, titled "Hidden in Plain Sight," along with many brochures with information about drugs and addiction. Several other large tables were filled with displays and literature from AIDS Project Worcester and other organizations, including GAAMHA Inc., Alyssa's Place and Learn to Cope. The Chapel Downtown had a table of literature focusing on its Celebrate Recovery program, which offers faith-based ways of overcoming life issues such as addiction, financial problems, or "same sex attraction."

The workshop opened with a Christian prayer. Ms. Haddad then gave her "Hidden in Plain Sight" presentation, showing and describing ingenious ways teenagers can hide drugs and how easy these are to make or buy. Hiding places include ordinary product containers and objects with false bottoms or hidden compartments, stuffed animals, water bottles, box springs, candy tins and hollowed out books. Ms. Haddad primarily spoke about vaping and marijuana use among teens, suggesting that it leads to "harder" drug use.

Chris Gallant of the POST Overdose Team (part of AIDS Project Worcester) spoke about his work doing outreach to persons who have overdosed. An alcohol and drug counselor, Mr. Gallant visits persons who have recently overdosed in Winchendon, Gardner and Worcester, offering them counseling, assistance with services, and Narcan dispensers. Since October, the POST team has attempted outreach to 22 people in Winchendon, which resulted in eight engagements with survivors and ten engagements with survivors' networks. Addicts often resist offers of help.

Deb Rivera, Celebrate Recovery Coordinator for The Chapel Downtown, spoke emotionally about her personal faith journey and how she accepted Jesus as her personal saviour through AA meetings. She spoke of the pain she felt seeing young people dying from overdoses.

During a short break between speakers, The Chapel Downtown screened a five-minute video about accepting Jesus into your life.

Keith Barnaby from AIDS Project Worcester presented training in the use of Narcan as the workshop's final segment. He reported that approximately five people per day die of overdosing in Massachusetts, and he has personally lost 18 friends to addiction. Mr. Barnaby covered a lot of concentrated information very quickly, explaining how opioid overdoses cause death and how Narcan works, and discussing possible overdose scenarios, first steps to take (call 911, look closely at the person and immediate area for clues to what's going on, check the person for responsiveness), how to check if the person is breathing, how to give rescue breaths, how to turn the person onto their side in the "rescue position," and how to administer the Narcan itself.

The workshop concluded with a Christian prayer led by the Rev. Tom Clinkscale and an invitation from The Chapel Downtown to join their worship service that evening. Mr. Barnaby distributed two Narcan dispensers to any attendee who requested them.

Wendell P. Clark Memorial YMCA Receives $5,000 Grant From Newman’s Own Foundation

Funding will support the YMCA’s Membership for All Program

Winchendon, MA – The Wendell P. Clark Memorial YMCA has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Newsman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The award to Clark YMCA was made by Newman’s Own Foundation as part of its commitment to enhancing the lives of children with life-limiting conditions.

The grant to the Clark YMCA will be used to support the YMCA’s Membership for All program. “The Clark Memorial YMCA is committed to helping everyone achieve their potential, with a mission to serve all people in our community. That’s why we offer income-based membership, which is funded by donations from local individuals and organizations… Income-based membership gives kids, families, and adults the opportunity to pay the monthly membership fee that best aligns to their household income.”

“We are grateful for the support of Newman’s Own Foundation and its belief in the mission of the Clark YMCA,” stated Michael Quinn, executive director of the Clark YMCA. “It gives us great pride to provide quality programs and services to the community and to make these programs accessible to all families regardless of their financial means. This is made possible only through the many generous volunteers and contributors such as Newman’s Own Foundation, who make the Clark YMCA everything it is to so many.”

The Wendell P. Clark Memorial YMCA is a nonprofit community service organization made possible because of charitable donations, member support, and dedicated employees and volunteers. The Wendell P. Clark Memorial YMCA is devoted to the education, physical health, mental wellbeing, and the moral development of children, families, and their community. It seeks to be a welcoming center serving individuals of any age, race, religion, heritage, economic circumstance, or physical ability. The Wendell P. Clark Memorial YMCA strives to incorporate the core values of honesty, caring, respect, and responsibility into everything they do.

Town of Winchendon
Office of the Town Clerk
Nomination Papers for Annual Town Election
May 4, 2020

There is still time to take out nomination papers for the town elections!
Nomination papers must be obtained and turned in on or before Monday, March 16, 2020 by 6:00 p.m.
Available terms:
ONE 3-year term for the Board of Selectmen
TWO 3-year terms for the School Committee
ONE 2-year unexpired term for the School Committee
TWO 2-year terms for the Board of Health.

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Toy Town FYIs

Be sure to complete, sign, and return your Town Census form in the enclosed envelope to the Town Clerk's office as soon as possible. Keeping your census up-to-date ensures your voter status remains active. If you don't receive a census form, you may request a form from the Town Clerk's office, located in Town Hall at 109 Front St.

Outdoor burning season begins on January 15 and runs until May 1. A permit for outdoor burning is required; you can purchase your permit online following the instructions in the link below:
2020 Burn Permit Application Made Easy (Google Doc)

2020 dog licenses are now available in the Town Clerk's office (in Town Hall, 109 Front Street), online (click here), or by mail. You must provide a valid, up-to-date rabies certificate.

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 Chief’s 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.

CENSUS 2020 is coming, we need your participation!

CENSUS 2020 is coming! Your participation is important because your answers make a vital difference. When you respond to a survey or census, you are helping your community and the nation. Your answers, combined with others, become the statistics that businesses, governments and people like you use to make informed decisions about education, emergency preparedness, employment, international trade, health, housing, and other important topics.

More information can be found at:

The US Census Bureau is hiring thousands of people for the 2020 Survey. For more information go to:

Narcan Training at the Winchendon CAC

Beginning in January, the first Tuesday of the month the Winchendon CAC will be offering Narcan Training in affiliation with the Worcester Aids Project. You will learn to administer Narcan and receive a Narcan dispenser. Class space is limited--pre-registration is required. Please come into the office or call 978-297-1667 to register. The first class will be held on Tuesday, January 7. The Winchendon CAC is located at 273 Central St., Winchendon.

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!

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!