Town of Wendell, Massachusetts

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Selectboard Report 2017

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The Selectboard was unchanged in 2017, as Dan Keller was reelected to work alongside Christine Heard and Jeoffrey Pooser. The Board is very fortunate to continue to work with Nancy Aldrich as Town Coordinator, Joy Gorzocoski who handles clerical duties and Larry and Laurie Ramsdell, town custodians. Laurel Brenneman who had been our Selectboard Clerk for many years chose not to be reappointed in July. We thank Laurel for all the years she provided clear, concise and correct minutes for our meetings. Many different, complex issues are covered; Laurel was excellent at reporting them with precision and clarity. Amy Palmer took on the task of attending meetings and providing minutes for us in September; she is a fast learner and a careful recorder. The combined years of experience for these elected and appointed officials allows the Selectboard's work to move forward smoothly. Again in 2017 the Wendell Selectboard focused its attention on the broadband initiative, but also took up such issues as flags at the Veterans' Memorial and a proposed community solar project on town owned land.

The Selectboard is responsible for the upkeep of town buildings. Because of continued problems with the grinder pump for the septic system at the Wendell Free Library, the pump was replaced in March by Facilities Engineer Jim Slavas who monitors and corrects problems with various systems in town buildings. Jim also acquired and installed three high efficiency, intelligent circulator pumps for the Town Offices and the Library heating systems, using funds from the Green Communities grant.

In the Town Hall the on-demand hot water heater for the bathrooms was replaced. Work to close up the crawl space under the building and strengthen supports was put out to bid. The first two parts of the job were awarded to TriCounty Construction in late fall; work will be completed in the spring.

The Selectboard hired TriCounty to demolish two structures: the old carriage shed behind the Wendell Meetinghouse and a small addition in the rear of the house at 97 Wendell Depot Road.

All three Selectboard members participated in the joint Broadband Committees meetings during the year, facilitating close cooperation between both departments. As the year ended, the town has engaged Westfield Gas & Electric to design a broadband system. State funding has been clarified, and a grant from the Commonwealth was signed in June providing $730,000 towards design and construction. Pole attachment agreements and surety bond applications for Verizon and National Grid were signed by the Selectboard. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed with Wired West for future cooperation with that organization to possibly provide services once the system is built. See the Broadband Committees annual report for more information.

The Building Inspector and the Conservation Committee both issued orders to a Locks Village Road homeowner to bring his property into compliance with, respectively, the new zoning bylaw about junk materials and state and town wetland laws. The homeowner appealed the orders to the court; he then failed to provide required information to the court in time for a December hearing. Town Counsel has asked the court to dismiss the case.

The Board received complaints about the number of unregistered vehicles at a home on Locks Village Road and one on New Salem Road. The owners of both homes brought their property into compliance with the town bylaw, which limits the number of unregistered vehicles to two unless a permit is granted. The owner of another property on Wickett Pond Road also completed compliance after several years. Finally a complaint for a home on Locks Village Road remains open, as the homeowner refuses to cooperate.

A new zoning bylaw was passed at a Special Town Meeting in the fall that allows a historic building on a non-compliant lot to be improved. This was the final piece to prepare for transferring ownership of the Wendell Meetinghouse to the Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse. The Selectboard is working on a Request for Proposals to facilitate this transfer.

In response to a request from a citizen to install a solar light at the top of the flagpole at the veterans monument on the Town Common, several meetings were held with interested parties. Because of citizens' concerns about light pollution, Melissa Grader generously offered to form a team of people willing to put up and take down the flag at sunrise and sunset daily for the 2017 season. Thanks to many volunteers, this effort was very successful. In the fall, Ms. Grader recommended a solar light be installed for the next season. This topic will be discussed in 2018.

During 2017 the Massachusetts Department of Dam Safety instructed the owners of the McAvoy Dam to do remedial work to the dam, which is on the east side of Locks Village Road near West Street. Because the road is part of the dam and because a number of trees growing on the dam within the road right-of-way must be removed, the town accepted partial ownership of the dam in an informal agreement and worked with an engineer and the owners to form a plan to remediate dam safety.

In May the Energy Committee brought a proposal to the Selectboard to create a community solar project at 97 Wendell Depot Road, a property now owned by the town due to a tax taking process. This project continued to be discussed throughout the remainder of the year including such issues as a Payment in Lieu of Taxes or lease payments to the town which would maintain ownership of the property, disposal of the house on the property, size and positioning of the solar field, etc. Citizens will vote on allowing this project to proceed at a special town meeting in spring.

The Selectboard has been involved for a number of years with another solar project, one for which the town serves as a host. Originally proposed by Seaboard Solar, the project is now owned by C2Energy and went on line recently. The Board came to an agreement with C2Energy in September about the payments due to the town through the Net Metering Credit program; the amount is 65% less than originally proposed, but does represent income for the town based on the amount of electricity generated by the project annually.

An auction was held in the fall which earned $2342 for the town. An old police cruiser, a highway pickup truck, cordwood, shop equipment,and abandoned property from 97 Wendell Depot Road were among the items sold. A surplus sander/plow truck was sold to the Town of Orange soon afterwards for $5000.

Massachusetts Audubon continued to fund one campership to their Camp Wildwood, which was awarded to the sole applicant, August Maeiwski. This campership will continue to be offered every year by Mass Audubon.

The new Technology Supervisor, Peter Golrick, met with the Board several times to provide updates on his work which included creating a comprehensive plan for replacing aging technology and assisting town departments with technology issues. The Board accepted a new Public Records Compliance Policy to comply with recent, open meeting, state regulations.

The Board was delighted to award Citizen of the Year at Old Home Day to Asa de Roode for his many years of service on the Fire Department. Asa is an EMT and also Captain, a leadership role he has held for a long time. He was instrumental in a smooth transition to our new Fire Chief and has provided CPR education to many in town. Thank you, Asa, for your dedicated service and your kind, thoughtful care to citizens during emergencies!

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito came to Wendell in December to meet with various members of town government. She presented a Green Communities award to Nan Riebschlaeger and the Energy Committee for their efforts to help homeowners tighten up their homes for energy conservation. Congratulations, Nan and the Energy Committee!

The Selectboard again thanks the many citizens of Wendell whose generous commitment contributes to town government. The intelligence and dedication of our elected and appointed town officials and our numerous volunteers are truly remarkable!

Check out the Wendell town website at www.wendellmass.us. Information about town government including meeting times, agendas and minutes are all available along with much other useful information.

Respectfully submitted,
Christine Heard, Chair
Dan Keller
Jeoffrey Pooser

 

Open Positions In Town Government

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The following positions are open in town government. Please contact the Town Coordinator if you are interested in serving at 978-544-3395, ext 100 or via email at .

  • Planning Board - 1 year
  • Cemetery Commission - 1 year
  • Cemetery Commission - 3 years
  • Tree Warden - 1 year
  • Finance Committee - 3 years
 

Wendell Energy Program Will Save Ratepayers

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Nancy Aldrich

December 1, 2016 978-544-3395 x100

Mark Cappadona

508-485-5858

WENDELL ENERGY PROGRAM WILL SAVE RATEPAYERS

$14,700 IN ELECTRICITY COSTS OVER SIX MONTHS

 

WENDELL, MA – Wendell residents and business owners will achieve more than $14,700 in savings in the first half of 2017, thanks to the newly created Wendell Community Choice Power Supply program.

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2014 Annual Wendell Selectboard report

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The Selectboard was unchanged in 2014, as Dan Keller was reelected to his fifth term to work alongside Jeoffrey Pooser and Christine Heard. The Board is very fortunate to continue to work with Nancy Aldrich as Town Coordinator, Laurel Brenneman as Selectboard Clerk, Joy Gorzocoski who handles clerical duties and Larry and Laurie Ramsdell, town custodians. These town employees have each worked for a good number of years at their jobs, and the Selectboard is extremely grateful for their competence and dependability.

Read more...
 

An Open Letter to the U.S. Postal Service

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From the Selectboard, Town of Wendell, MA

June 26, 2014

To The U.S. Postal Service:

The Wendell Post Office is currently facing possible reduced hours or elimination by the U.S. Postal Service.

The USPS has scheduled a public forum on the future of the Wendell Post Office on Tuesday, July 8 at 1:00pm at the Wendell Town Hall.

We request that the USPS reschedule this planned public forum to an evening time that will be more accessible to local residents.

In addition, we request that the hours of the Wendell Post Office be retained in full. We also request that the position of a full-time postmaster be retained in Wendell.

The Wendell Post Office is central to our local economy and helps to keep the hub of our rural town center alive. When people come to the Wendell Post Office, they spend money in Wendell at our local country store, restaurant and weekly farmer´s market, which are all located next door. After stopping at the Post Office, they often go on to visit the Wendell Public Library, Senior Center/Community Center, Town Offices and recycling center.

The central location of the Wendell Post Office means for many people it's "on the way" to work, to school, to shop, and to visit friends and family. In addition, it's very easy to access with good parking on a main road.

The Wendell Post Office is a regional "rural hub" post office serving residents beyond the town of Wendell. Residents from sections of adjacent towns of New Salem, Warwick, Montague, Shutesbury and Orange (where there is no post office, or where post offices have greatly reduced hours and service, or where people live geographically closer to the center of Wendell) frequent the Wendell Post Office.

Our small businesses in town rely on the post office for the operation of their businesses. We have a large number of people in Wendell who do not have rural mail delivery available and depend on the post office to conduct business. The Post Office sees significant traffic during all the hours it is open.

One small business owner reports, " Personally, I require a safe, reliable way to send and receive packages and I must be able to do this every day in order to conduct certain aspects of my business. Leaving postal items at a mailbox on the main road, a half-mile from my house won't do. The Wendell Post Office is very important to the economic and social life of our town."

The lack of high-speed internet broadband availability in rural towns like Wendell means people rely more on the post office. One resident reports that she buys presents for grandchildren then mails them, because she cannot order on-line and have them delivered.

A decrease in the hours or potential closure of the Wendell Post Office will have a harmful effect on our local economy. Not only will it have a direct impact in bringing in less money to the Wendell economy, it will force local residents to drive longer distances, and therefore cost our residents more for similar services and economic activities outside of our community.

We were shocked to learn that that U.S. Postal Service has already made plans to eliminate the position of a full-time postmaster in Wendell in advance of a scheduled USPS public forum on July 8 on the future of the Wendell Post Office. This action by the USPS flies in the face of democratic public input into this matter.

We request that Charlie O´Dowd remain as postmaster and that his hours and benefits be retained in full. Wendell Postmaster Charlie O´Dowd is a beloved part of our community that he has served for nearly 25 years, during which time he has received over 20 awards from the USPS.

Charlie has gone above and beyond his job description to serve the residents of Wendell and surrounding communities. When Wendell was struck by a tornado several years ago, and the postal mail truck couldn't get through, Charlie delivered the mail in his own car to make sure the mail went out.

Charlie provides custom service to local residents by calling them up to let them know when they have packages awaiting their pick up at the post office. Our local farmers depend on Charlie´s custom handling and knowledge about the fragile nature of poultry chicks, turkeys, racing pigeons, and bees. One local farmer reports that before switching to the Wendell Post Office, one-third of their chicks died because of lack of proper handling and quick attention.

During his tenure as postmaster, Charlie also introduced numerous popular services (which increased the revenues of the Wendell Post Office) to address latent demand - services that were not being met in the community, including offering passport photos, copying and fax services, bulk mailing services and advanced deposit accounts for small businesses, and Fed Ex and UPS drop-off and pick up services. (It should be noted that most of these services, (excluding the Fed Ex and UPS drop-off/pickups), have been eliminated by regional USPS policies, which have had a negative financial impact on the Wendell Post Office.)

Charlie O´Dowd gives the USPS a good reputation and it would be a severe personal loss to our community if he were unable to continue as our postmaster due to changes in USPS policies.

We respectfully look forward to your assistance on this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

The Wendell Selectboard
Christine Heard, Chair
Daniel Keller
Jeoffrey Pooser


Note: Similar letters were also sent to:

US Representative Jim McGovern -
US Senator Elizabeth Warren -
US Senator Ed Markey -
State Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg -
State Representative Denise Andrews -
David Mastroianni, District Manager, Connecticut Valley District, United States Postal Service -
Joe Conti, Post Office Operations Manager, United States Postal Service -

A copy of this letter can downloaded as a PDF file at the URL http://www.wendellmass.us/index.php/home/remository/other-tow/WendellSelectboardOpenLettertoUSPS-WendellPOFuture6.26.14.pdf/.

 
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Coming Events

Board of Health
Mon Dec 10 @07:00PM -
Broadband/MLP/Selectboard Meeting
Tue Dec 11 @06:30PM -
Mahar Committee
Tue Dec 11 @07:00PM -
Selectboard
Wed Dec 12 @07:00PM -
AA Open Meeting
Sat Dec 15 @06:00PM - 07:00PM
The Green Sisters bring bluegrass and beyond to the Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse
Sat Dec 15 @07:30PM -
Wendell Meditation Group
Sun Dec 16 @08:30AM - 09:30AM
Mostly Yoga
Sun Dec 16 @10:00AM -
AA Open Meeting
Sun Dec 16 @06:00PM - 07:00PM
Fire Department Committee
Mon Dec 17 @08:00PM -

Old Home Day

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