Government Greater Gardner MA Local News
Government Around Greater Gardner MA
- Mayor’s Update 9-30-22 (9/30/2022)
View the Mayor’s Update on our Mayor’s Update page or listen on any device. Click Play.
Mayor Nicholson Shares Various News in Weekly Update of 9-30-22
Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson spoke of this week’s Bomb Threat made against various schools and thanked Public Safety officials who responded.
Nicholson congratulated Eric Commodore, a Gardner representative to the Monty Tech School Committee who was just elected Chair.
The Mayor went on to speak of the Concession Stand Construction at Gardner High School, stating they had to take out 15 feet of ledge. Goal is to get it operational by the Thanksgiving game this year.
Nicholson spoke of the progress in Downtown Gardner and thanked all responsible for the $17 million in total grant funding this year and $11 million last year.
The Mayor spoke of various events going on and thanked those involved in the Fabulous Fall Festival and Oktoberfest.
Electric Rates to Go Way Up
Mayor Nicholson had some sobering news for electric rates. The City apparently went out to bid 3 times in an effort to get the lowest aggregation kilowatt hour rate for residents for the coming year starting in November. However, the lowest rate it could get was 23 cents, up from 13 cents. Nicholson noted however, that the rate is still 11 cents lower than the 34 cents per kilowatt hour National Grid is quoting. Copy of new rates pdf — Mayor’s Email to City Council regarding the rates, CLICK HERE.
- Nate Boudreau (9/30/2022)
Go Forward with Gardner Interview with Councilor Nate Boudreau
This is another of what we hope will be a similar interview with each of Gardner’s City Councilors.
Gardner Magazine Publisher Werner Poegel is conducting “Go Forward with Gardner” Interviews with various individuals in the Chair City. Our plan is to interview as many City Councilors as possible and various Community Leaders to get a complete picture of the Forward Vision of Gardner MA. It is a picture we want to share with residents, visitors, and those contemplating bringing business and industry. Gardner MA is a welcoming and cooperative City and we hope these interviews will show that.
This time, our interview is with Ward 3 Councilor Nate Boudreau. Councilor Boudreau gave us his perspective on a variety of issues, clearly loves Gardner, wanting the best for its future, and was willing to answer all of our questions. Listen on any device. CLICK Play.
Go Forward with Gardner page, CLICK HERE
- Community Center (9/29/2022)
Gardner Community Center Moves Closer to Reality in Gardner MA
From a Press Release from Gardner City Hall, we learned that “Gardner Mayor Mike Nicholson, City Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas, State Representative Jonathan Zlotnik, and the leaders of community organizations will meet at the front doors of Waterford Street School to announce the future plans for the building on MONDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2022, at 10:00am. The City will be converting the school into a new Community Center to house different service organizations that currently serve the City’s residents. This new move will allow all organizations to grow their services they provide to the City and collaborate in new ways among each other.”
The building became available because students who would have gone there this year are going to the new Gardner Elementary School. Approval of the Gardner City Council is still required.
Complete Press Release, CLICK HERE
- Dana Heath (9/29/2022)
Go Forward with Gardner MA Interview with Councilor Dana Heath
This is the first of what we hope will be a similar interview with each of Gardner’s City Councilors.
Gardner Magazine Publisher Werner Poegel is conducting “Go Forward with Gardner” Interviews with various individuals in the Chair City. Our plan is to interview as many City Councilors as possible and various Community Leaders to get a complete picture of the Forward Vision of Gardner MA. It is a picture we want to share with residents, visitors, and those contemplating bringing business and industry. Gardner MA is a welcoming and cooperative City and we hope these interviews will show that.
This time, our interview is with Ward 2 Councilor Dana Heath. Councilor Heath gave us a very honest, open, uplifting, positive and interesting interview and was willing to answer all of our questions. Listen on any device. CLICK Play.
Go Forward with Gardner page, CLICK HERE
- Appointments (9/29/2022)
Gardner MA Appointments Committee Meets
Focus of the September 28, 2022 meeting was on appointments to the Cultural Committee. Mayor Nicholson advised that he expects an appointment coming their way for Deputy Chief of Police at the next meeting. Watch on YouTube or listen here on any device. Click Play.
- Vote November 8th (9/26/2022)
- Mayor’s Update 9-23-22 (9/24/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE. Or, listen right here, playable on any device.
A Celebratory Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Addresses the Chair City
The Mayor was full of thanks, congratulations, and reflection on a successful couple of years. However, he began by thanking those who came out to the Hispanic Heritage Event this past week and said he looks “forward to seeing how we can continue to grow that event year after year.”
Mayor Nicholson congratulated the organizations which have had ribbon cuttings. He mentioned the ground breaking ceremony for the new Surgical Pavilion at Heywood Hospital and the dedication of Yavorsky Way.
Nicholson reminded everyone about the Fabulous Fall Festival and Oktoberfest Saturday, September 24, 2022 in Downtown Gardner, and thanked those involved in the event’s organization. See other article, CLICK HERE. New this year will be a segment called New Kids on the Block to recognize all the new businesses which have opened up and the Mayor went through a big list of the new businesses and of the buildings which have been purchased for renovation.
The Mayor also mentioned the Recovery Event taking place Friday, September 23, 2022 at 5pm in Perry Auditorium at Gardner City Hall featuring guest speaker Brandon Novak and told of the Domestic Violence Vigil taking place October 3rd at 6pm on the front steps of City Hall.
Mayor Nicholson spoke of the pulverizing of Kendall Street and Warwick Street and the continuing paving work in the Douglas and Robillard Street area.
Listen to the update on any device by clicking Play.
Interested in coming to Gardner? Contact the helpful folks at Economic Development. CLICK HERE.
- City Council 9-19-22 (9/20/2022)
Gardner MA City Council Meets Twice on September 19, 2022
Informal Meeting of 9/19/22 – The City Council met to hear a presentation on the Gardner Fire Department Audit. Scope of the audio included 4 major items: Emergency Medical System Review, Overview of Facility Needs, Civil Service Pros and Cons, and Current Staffing Model. Mayor Nicholson introduced presenter Chief John Parow of the consulting firm which did the audit over the last 6 months. Following the presentation, Councilor Walsh complimented the thoroughness of the report. Agenda,, CLICK HERE. Watch the meeting on YouTube, on our City Council page, or listen on any device by clicking Play.
Regular Meeting of 9/19/22 – The Gardner MA City Council met in its regular meeting on September 19, 2022.
The City Council reviewed and approved various appointments, approved payments for two bills received for an expense for last year, took up the appointments of two firefighters who were sworn in, and Council President Kazinskas reminded the Council that the Charter item will be taken up in an October informal meeting. Agenda, CLICK HERE.
Councilor New Business and Comments
In new business. Councilor Heath invited the Greater Gardner Community to the Fabulous Fall Festival this Saturday. He reminded everyone that the Chair Luge was back. Also, that the Gardner Price Chopper’s 10th anniversary was this Sunday. Councilor Mack commented on the amount of donations that we’ve had the last couple of months. “It’s great that they’ve been so in the fore front of our agenda lately.” Councilor Walsh commented on the plan to buy a new ambulance with ARPA funds and that those funds are not subject to appropriation by the City Council. He stated that City Council should know where the funds are being spent. Gardner has received just under $6.2 million. Curious to know how money has been spent. Mayor Nicholson stated that the City has about another $1 million in unobligated ARPA funds. And the City just received a perfect audit for the second year in a row. Hear the new business right here. Just click Play.
- Public Service Committee (9/19/2022)
- Mayor’s Update 9-16-22 (9/17/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Updates on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE. Or, listen on any device. CLICK Play.
Mayor Nicholson reminded the public that the Gardner City Council will meet on Monday, September 19th. Informal Meeting 6:30pm re the Gardner Fire Department Audit. Agenda and Packet CLICK HERE. Regular Meeting at 7:30pm. Agenda and Packet, CLICK HERE.
Enthusiastic Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson speaks from Gardner Elementary School library.
In a lengthy, but fast-moving, exciting, informative, and interesting update, Mayor Nicholson spoke first about the Gardner Elementary School. He spoke about initial pickup issues. The Mayor also explained the safety protocols in place to protect students stating, “It’s a very safe school. A very effective 21st Century environment.”
The Mayor thanked Tender Heart Veterinary Care and Dr. Wood for offering to provide free checkups for K9 Rocky of the Gardner PD.
Nicholson explained that due in part to watering restrictions being eliminated, flower boxes are being deployed in Downtown and South Gardner. Sponsorships through mid-November are $75.
The Mayor spoke of various milestones, dates, and events including: SK Pierce Mansion had their ribbon cutting after 12 years of renovations and is now open to public tours. Monday, 9-19 is adult care day. Edward Jones Ribbon Cutting is 9-21. On September 23rd, Prevention month will be celebrated at Gardner City Hall. The Fabulous Fall Festival and Octoberfest is Saturday, September 24th with the Chair Luge back this year as well.
2nd Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 will be a celebration at City Hall with live Mariachi music this year.
- GFC 9-15-22 (9/15/2022)
Watch the meeting on YouTube or listen to it right here on any device. CLICK PLAY.
Gardner MA Finance Committee Goes Over a Wide Range of Topics
Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson appeared before the Finance Committee regarding various funding requests. He also detailed that Tender Heart Veterinary Care is donating regular office visits for K-9 Rocky and discounting any future procedures by 30%, and went over his request to handle Senior Center finances in such a way that funds are available as unanticipated expenses come up.
The Mayor explained the Flower Pots in Downtown and South Gardner are featuring flowers from Valley Florists. Sponsorships are $75 for remainder of this year.
Inquisitive Counselors asked the Mayor to change his hat to that of Chairman of the School Committee for an update on the New Elementary School. Mayor Nicholson indicated that the inside was 98% done, explaining that hot lunches are now available. However, the outside construction will take an additional 8 months to a year and they are working on getting one playground operational. Student dropoff and pickup is getting better after a chaotic first day.
- 40 under 40 Award (9/14/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Nicholson Accepts Award
At the age of 27, Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson was recognized by the Worcester Business Journal as one of this year’s 40 under 40. Photo shown is the Mayor accepting the award at a recent banquet.
Natalia Oliver, Chief of staff for the City of Fitchburg, was also part of the group. To view the publication’s article on all of this year’s 40 under 40, CLICK HERE.
To view our previous article on this, CLICK HERE
- Art of Confusion (9/14/2022)
Gardner MA Conservation Commission Perfects Art of Confusion at “Something” of 9-12-22
It is presented as a meeting of the Conservation Commission, but it is more like a conversation. Watch it on YouTube. Or listen to it right here. Just click play.
Rarely is a meeting of individuals a recipe for confusion. Gardner Magazine has no idea what the purpose of this gathering was. Was it to have a meeting, a discussion, complain about something, or were they putting on a play? It’s hard to tell. So we present the recording here for you to listen to, and we also had a transcription done of the entire conversation. View Transcript. CLICK HERE.
- City Council 9-19-22 (9/14/2022)
Gardner MA City Council to Address Fire Department Audit in Informal Session
The Gardner MA City Council will have two meetings on Monday September 19, 2022. The first will be an informal meeting at 6:30pm to go over the Fire Department Audit. Complete Packet and Agenda, CLICK HERE. The second meeting at 7:30pm will be the regular meeting. Complete Packet and Agenda, CLICK HERE.
- Ashburnham (9/13/2022)
Ashburnham MA Proposes Two New Draft Policies
Here are Two (2) New Policies that were created on 8-30-2022. We invite the Ashburnham residents to review and comment by e-mailing: Policy for naming or renaming town property, CLICK HERE. Policy for the installation of Tribute benches and trees. CLICK HERE.
Send your comments to Mary Calandrella at email@example.com
- Go Forward Gardner (9/12/2022)
Listen to this interview and discover the greatness of the Chair City and why Gardner is drawing so much interest from prospective residents, businesses, and industry. Read the entire interview and article, CLICK HERE. Or, Listen on any device.
Go Forward with Gardner MA – An Interview with Mayor Michael Nicholson
In an interview with Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson conducted by Publisher Werner Poegel on Monday September 12, 2022, the Mayor spoke candidly about how Gardner is meeting the challenges in its present and why the Chair City has become so attractive to individuals wishing to relocate, businesses interested in a place for success, and industries desiring a good place to make things. While in the process of evolving from its past, Gardner has inadvertently drawn a huge amount of attention and has even become a model to some for how a small City should operate. Our interview is with one of the City of Gardner’s greatest cheerleaders, Mayor Michael Nicholson. Entire interview and article text, CLICK HERE.
We asked the Mayor about apartments, jobs, family safety, open spaces and parks, culture including music and the arts, highway access, public transportation, restaurants, roads and bridges, infrastructure, schools, libraries, wellness/exercise, and even raising a family. We spoke about the increasing draw Gardner is having to bring in business and industry. And we spoke about Gardner’s future. Read the entire interview and article, CLICK HERE. Or, Listen on any device. Just click Play.
- Mayor’s Update 9-9-22 (9/9/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page. CLICK HERE.
Listen on any device by clicking Play.
AUDIO and articles of earlier Mayor’s Updates, CLICK HERE.
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson speaks of Moving On, Moving In, and Moving Forward in Weekly Update
Moving On: Mayor Nicholson reflected on Blue Moon Diner changing hands this past week, stating the new owners plan to “continue its operations and keep it going there.” On former owner Jamie Floyd, Nicholson stated, “We want to take a moment to thank Jamie for all of the work she’s done in the City of Gardner over the course of the past 22 years.”
Moving In: Eric McAvene formally moves into the Chief of Police office following unanimous confirmation by the Gardner City Council of a full 3 year appointment. The Mayor thanked those who showed up for the swearing in.
Balance Staffing Moving In: The staffing service will be located at 40 Main Street, Gardner. It had been in Gardner and relocated to Orange for a time and now is back in the Chair City.
Verizon Moving In: Ribbon Cutting has been delayed due to some final construction. Edward Jones has moved in and will have a formal ribbon cutting on September 21, 2022.
Moving Forward: Following the City Council vote approving the Mayor’s proposal to sell both the Prospect Street and School Street Schools, the City will move forward with the request for proposals bid process. It’s a unique process whereby the bid gets separate scores on how the property will be used and the bid price. The Mayor explained, “Basically what happens is the city has to score and award those properties based on the highest and best use of that property,and then has to go back and review the price proposals that are put in.” He continued, “So the properties are ranked both on the highest and best use, and then on the price proposals that are submitted for the purchase of the property. And then once those are all open, we weigh those out. But the highest and best use does carry more weight than the price in this process, to make sure that we are truly being able to get the most out of the property that we can, and we’re really protecting our fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to make sure that we’re getting these properties back on the tax rolls in the most effective and efficient way as possible.”
- ZBA 9-7-22 (9/8/2022)
The Gardner MA Zoning Board of Appeals Met on September 7, 2022
Meeting Agenda, CLICK HERE. The board took up the continuing project at 42-52 Parker Street, 2 driveways, a request to demolish and reconstruct a camp, a request for more parking for online shoppers at 21 Timpany Boulevard, and a sign for a breakfast and lunch cafe at 112 Central Street.
Watch the meeting on YouTube or listen to the meeting here, playable on any device. Just Click Play.
- September Council (9/8/2022)
Watch the Gardner City Council Meetings on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our City Council page CLICK HERE. Or listen on any device by clicking Play. (Our recording eliminated the silence before meeting starts and while in recess to do swearing in.)
Gardner MA City Council Met on Wednesday September 7, 2022
The Gardner City Council met on Wednesday September 7th due both to Labor Day and the Massachusetts Primary. Complete Agenda and packet, CLICK HERE. Letter from Mayor Nicholson on establishing City Charter Drafting Committee, CLICK HERE. – Committee would eventually submit updates for approval by voters at a municipal election. – was referred to Council as a Committee as a whole.
First up was the Mayor’s requested confirmation of Eric McAvene to the position of Police Chief for a 3 year term. He started work as a Temporary Appointment on August 22nd and was confirmed at this meeting for a full 3 year appointment.
McAvene was one of 12 applicants for the position and the top pick of 3 finalists. He has served the City of Gardner for over two decades.
A request to confirm Sergeant Walter was also granted. Sergeant Walter had left his position for professional reasons and was eligible to return.
Action on School Buildings
The Council acted on whether to declare the Prospect Street and School Street Schools as surplus and authorize sale. Lengthy appraisal reports are included in the City Council Agenda and packet. After separate discussions and motions, declaration of Prospect School and School as surplus passed unanimously.
The Prospect Street School building is in relatively good condition with a 295k appraisal. However, the 53 School Street building is another story with an appraisal of $0. According to Building Commissioner Roland Jean in a communication to the Mayor, “Nearly every window…smashed by vandals, …holes in slate roof…, …prolific leaks in the flat roof, the portable classrooms are beyond their useful life and need to be demolished, ….two known underground oil tanks…, …burst pipes, ….no sprinkler system in the building…” “It is my opinion that the cost to rehabilitate the building would far exceed any worth that it might have.” The appraisal report recommends that the highest and best use of the property would be to “demolish and remove the building for future development with two residential lots.”
History of the School St. property shown in the appraisal indicates that a portion of the property was acquired by the City on March 3, 1858 from Levi Heywood for the sum of $232.80 and the rest of it from 7 other sellers in 1911 with parcel purchase prices ranging from $1 to $4700.
Lucky to Get Rid of It
The appraiser estimates that after the demolition of the School St. building, the value of the two residential lots created would be $134,000. However, the cost of demolition is estimated at $250,000. Therefore, the property actually has a negative appraised value of $116,000, rounded up to zero. In short, the City of Gardner, pricing the property at a starting bid price of $1 would be fortunate to get a buyer, get the headache off the City’s hands, and return the property to the tax rolls.
Use of Elm Street School
During the City Council meeting of 9-7, Mayor Nicholson also explained the use of Elm Street School: It will be used by the Superintendent’s office, Gardner Academy, and the Boys and Girls Club. He also explained that the city is required to use the building for educational purposes for 15 years – otherwise it is subject to paying back a $3 million grant.
Fire Department Audit
According to the Fire Department Audit, the Net income for the ambulance services provided by the Gardner Fire Department has almost doubled from $518,199 in fiscal year 2018 to $976,758 in fiscal year 2022. Part of the large increase in net income for the last two years occurred from participation in the Medicare CPE Reimbursement program which was instituted by the Commonwealth of MA to help cities and towns offset the very low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement currently allowed. Item re the Fire Department Audit was referred to the Council as a Committee as a whole.
New Ambulance in the Works
An ambulance costs over 250k and is used for 5 years as a primary ambulance and another 5 years as a backup. According to the audit, the Gardner Fire Department is in the process of ordering a new ambulance at a cost of $290,500, which will be paid for with ARPA funds, with no cost to the City.
Headquarters and Staffing
“The city should investigate the needs for a new or substantially remodeled Fire Headquarters to meet current and future needs.” With respect to personnel, the audit states, “we would recommend the city looks at making a nonunion Deputy Fire Chief’s position.” There are other personnel recommendations as well.
City Centennial Celebration Ad Hoc Advisory Committee: Mayor Nicholson has appointed Michael Richard, Brad Heglin, Douglas Lepisto, Gladys Richardson, and Jessica DeRoy. The Council President has appointed Marion Knoll, Dawn Erickson, and Theresa Thompson. According to Mayor Nicholson, “These individuals will oversee the planning and fundraising of several events throughout the course of the coming year. Other individual volunteers will be participating in the planning and execution of these events, however, this will be the core committee to oversee the larger aspects of the year. Ms. Patricia Bergstrom will also be assisting with the planning of a parade for the Fall of 2023.”
Councilor Thanks During New Business
Those Councilors choosing to make statements during the New Business segment at the end of the meeting mostly made comments of thanks. Councilor Tyros thanked those involved in the Pleasant Street summer experiment and hopes the City tries again next year. Councilor Mack thanked everyone who helped make the new Gardner Elementary School a reality and wished students, faculty, and staff a great new year. Councilor Boone thanked the City Clerk Titi Siriphan for setting up the primary. Councilor Boudreau commented that Gardner has a wonderful live music scene. Councilor Walsh toured water and sewer facilities this summer and recommended other councilors take the same tour. Councilor Ronald Cormier commented on how fortunate the community was to have good water and sewer services. Council President Kazinskas also expressed thanks, congratulating City Clerk Siriphan for a job well done.
- The Chief Speaks (9/7/2022)
Appointments Committee Hears new Gardner MA Police Chief
Chief McAvene appeared before the Gardner Appointments Committee on September 6, 2022. Sitting with him in support was Mayor Michael Nicholson and former Acting Chief Phil Kearns. Both Nicholson and Kearns spoke in support of the appointment. Confirmation of the appointment was recommended unanimously.
Watch the meeting on YouTube or listen to it here by clicking PLAY.
The Gardner City Council takes up the appointment at its Wednesday September 7, 2022 meeting. CLICK HERE.
- Work for the City (9/7/2022)
Positions open with the City of Gardner MA
Deputy Chief of Police – apply by September 9, 2022 at 4:30pm. —- Local Building Inspector – apply by September 16, 2022 at 1pm —- Administrative Assistant for the Board of Health – apply by September 13, 2022 at 1pm –
Gardner MA has been a great place to work since 1785.
Want more details? Visit the jobs page on the City of Gardner website. CLICK HERE.
- Mayor’s Update 9-2-22 (9/7/2022)
A thoughtful Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Updates Chair City 9-2-22
Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson’s Update for September 2, 2022: Just CLICK PLAY.
Mayor Nicholson spoke about Substance Abuse Awareness Night, the need for ongoing efforts, and praised those involved.
The Mayor welcomed back students, thanked teachers and spoke about the School Calendar. Gardner Elementary will be ready for start of school, even though some grounds work will still need to be completed.
Votes coming up at City Council next Wednesday will include the Mayor’s requests to sell School Street School and Prospect Street School. School Street property appraises at $1 due to underground oil storage tank and other factors. Prospect Street School appraises at $295,000, however Mayor will ask that the minimum price be set at $100,000. Properties will be sold via a request for proposals to get the best price for the best use of the property. Photos of both in previous article. CLICK HERE.
Verizon Wireless Zone and Edward Jones at Timpany Crossroads will soon having ribbon cuttings. The Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center having Speakers at Monument Park. Fall Festival coming up in Gardner.
Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE. or listen by CLICKING PLAY.
- Polls Open (9/6/2022)
Reminder: Gardner MA Polls open until 8pm Tues. 9/6 for State Primary
Ward 1: Gardner Elks #1426 —- Ward 2: Levi Heywood Memorial Library —- Ward 3: Gardner City Hall —- Ward 4: Gardner Police Department —- Ward 5: Polish American Citizens Club
Election entrance at Gardner City Hall is out back near the Municipal Parking Lot.
- Pauly Potato Takedown (9/3/2022)
Gardner MA Facebook Group Moderator Pauly Potato Spreading Fake News
An Editorial by Gardner Magazine Publisher Werner Poegel – There are a number of very healthy Facebook Groups serving the Greater Gardner MA area. Most Admins make an effort to foster respectful speech and do not knowingly pass along false information. However, Pauly Potato is the exception. In his group, rather than simply moderating discussions among group members, the admin openly attacks political candidates and officials he doesn’t like, often taking portions of news items and twisting them into falsehoods. The result: people are getting FAKE NEWS.
For example, the Mayor was criticized for lack of transparency when Gardner MA has earned the reputation of being a model of municipal transparency: winning an award for its projects map, getting a perfect audit for 2021, and having one of only a handful of Mayors in the nation who do a regular Weekly update. CASE CLOSED, on this subject Pauly Potato, you spread FAKE NEWS.
On Paving of the Roads
DPW has been criticized for its lack of paving roads when the truth is it would take more than 1 ½ times the entire City budget for the year to pave all the roads. CASE CLOSED, on this subject Pauly Potato, you spread FAKE NEWS.
On Ovila Case Playground
There has also been criticism of the lack of maintenance of Ovila Case Playground. Actually, the City has invested the most money there in the last two years, adding basketball courts and a walking trail in May of 2021 and new picnic tables/charcoal grills in July of 2021. The electric system and lights are currently being upgraded. Around $115,000 in new equipment was added to the location from various funding to replace the deteriorating wood structures. Once free cash is certified by the Department of Revenue, additional expenditures on Ovila Case are planned. So the DPW, The Mayor, and the City are paying attention to Ovila Case. CASE CLOSED, on this subject, Pauly Potato, you spread FAKE NEWS.
On the Proposed Sale of Two Schools
Now, the last example today is an especially misleading example of FAKE NEWS by Pauly Potato: The sale of Prospect Street School and School Street School. Prospect Street appraises at $295,000, but would need substantial investment for use other than a school, so the Mayor’s request is to set a minimum price of $100,000 for it. School Street School is a real nightmare, with an appraisal that ran into negative numbers. Therefore, a request to start bids at $1. In both cases. getting the properties back on the tax rolls would be to the advantage of the City. Is it a bad thing that Mayor Nicholson is actually taking his fiduciary responsibility seriously and thinking of the taxpayers? We think not. Once more, Pauly Potato, CASE CLOSED, on this subject Pauly Potato, you spread FAKE NEWS.
While the City of Gardner is very lucky right now to have responsible officials in all facets of its government, we urge any citizen with questions about what any public official is proposing to simply ask for more information. Gardner MA is rare in its transparency with the City Council Agenda and Council packet made public before meetings, with meetings made public on YouTube, and of course Gardner Magazine makes most major meetings and Mayor’s Update available in AUDIO format, easily playable on any device. And, you can always seek an appointment with the Mayor. But, whatever you do, don’t take Pauly Potato’s word for it – Your brain will end up like french fries in a paper bag, SOGGY. And Pauly Potato, you have been mashed.
- State Primary (8/31/2022)
Why it’s important to vote in the primary. When you vote you have a say in choosing the next Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Representative in Congress, Governor’s Councillor, State Senator, State Representative, District Attorney, Worcester County Sheriff.
Massachusetts State Primary is Tuesday September 6, 2022 – Be sure to vote.
The Massachusetts State Primary is Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Massachusetts makes it easy to vote with early voting. We’ve obtained a sample ballot for a sample voter who might live at 95 Pleasant Street in Gardner. Democratic, CLICK HERE. Republican, CLICK HERE.
Get Information for your Town or Location
The Massachusetts Secretary of State website makes it easy to get ballot information for any voter from any City or Town in MA. To get your info, CLICK HERE. For the overall elections page, CLICK HERE.
Note that the State Senate District for the 2022 Election will be the Worcester & Hampshire District (previously Worcester & Middlesex) John J. Cronin is the current State Senator from the District.
- Finances 8-31-22 (8/31/2022)
Gardner MA Finance Committee Discusses Donations, Selling Schools, and Reviewing Fire Department Audit
The Gardner Finance Committee met on August 31, 2022. Subjects discussed including the acceptance of donations for K9 Rocky and for the Gardner Animal Shelter, the Mayor’s request to sell the Prospect Street School and School Street School as they are not being used by the City and are frequent items of issue for the Police Department, and the recently completed Fire Department Audit.
Mayor Nicholson would like the City to put up the Prospect Street School for sale well under the $295,000 appraised value due to the substantial cost a purchaser would have in converting the building in to something other than a school. He also stated that the School Street school is in disrepair and a hazard and there are already various people interested in purchasing the building.
Council President Kazinskas suggested that the Gardner City Council hold an informal meeting at 6:30pm prior to its second meeting in September to allow for a presentation on the audit.
Watch this meeting on YouTube or listen to it right here on any device. Just click Play.
- Voting and Primary (8/26/2022)
Early Voting and Primary Information for Greater Gardner MA
Residents of the Greater Gardner MA area are advised to check with their local City or Town Hall for specific early voting and voter registration opportunities. Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson went over early voting and the primary in the first part of his Weekly Update of August 26, 2022. Just click Play
City of Gardner early voting page, CLICK HERE. Schedule in printable pdf, CLICK HERE. Gardner MA has in person early voting at Perry Auditorium Sat 8/27: 9-5, Mon. 8/29: 8-4:30, Tues. 8/30: 8-4:30, Weds. 8/31: 8-4:30, Thurs. 9/1 8-4:30, and Fri. 9/2: 8-1.
Dates to remember: Monday September 6, 2022: Labor Day —- Tuesday September 7, 2022: Massachusetts Primary —- Wednesday September 8, 2022: Gardner City Council Meeting
- Mayor’s Update August 26, 2022 (8/26/2022)
Watch the Weekly Updates with Mayor Michael Nicholson on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE.
Listen to AUDIO of any Mayor’s Update on any device. CLICK HERE.
Some Listener Statistics:
Gardner Magazine Chair City Update 8/19: 702, Nicholson 8/12: 4,070, Nicholson 8/5: 3,703. Citizen Concerns Interview: 5.019. Gardner City Council 8/1: 1,968
Speaking with Vim and Vigor, Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Updates the City of Gardner
Mayor Nicholson spent a few minutes explaining the process of early voting and important dates relating to the upcoming primary. The Mayor related that as of November 1, 2022, textiles may not be included in garbage set out for pickup. He spoke of various events such as the recent Roundtable with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and the upcoming International Overdose Awareness Day. See our article.
Mayor Nicholson thanked those who are of public service like 4 more Eagle Scouts, teachers who are getting ready for the school year, and head lifeguard Diana Ringer who is retiring.
Mayor Nicholson reminded citizens of the Drought Conditions and that no outdoor watering is currently permitted. See our article.
Listen to the Update here. Click Play. Starts immediately.
- Public Service (8/25/2022)
Public Service Committee Meets in Gardner MA
The Gardner MA Public Service Committee met on August 25, 2022 to go over various issues. Listen to the entire meeting. Just click Play to listen on any device.
- Town Meeting (8/24/2022)
- Sludge Again (8/23/2022)
Gardner MA Conservation Commission Discusses Landfill Expansion Again
Conservation Commission met on August 23, 2022. During the meeting, the subject of the Gardner Landfill Expansion came up with various questions from the public. The chair reiterated the desire of the Commission to have a Third Party provide recommendations prior to implementation of the expansion. Listen to the meeting here. Just Click Play
Members of the Public in Attendance
A member of the public asked “If you gentlemen were actually opposed to the sludge…, how would you go about stopping it?” The Chair answered, “The hard part is when we’re a commission like this, we can’t go and say yes, we’re here and we put blinders on, and it’s very hard to do that. “ After discussion about possible timelines for a third party review, the matter was continued until October 24th.
Meeting Ends with Thud
At end of the meeting after it was adjourned and while the recording was still continuing, one of the commission members stated, “ I want to apologize to everybody here. This system is terrible. It isn’t a system, I don’t know what it is” Then the Chair is seen going in front of the camera and the recording stops with a thud.
Watch meeting on YouTube if desired. CLICK HERE
- Warren Visit (8/23/2022)
Community Leaders Meet in Gardner MA August 22, 2022
According to Mayor Nicholson: “Yesterday, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren visited Gardner to meet with representatives of our business community, educational institutions, and our state and local officials to discuss issues facing local businesses, revitalizing our economy, the lingering effects of the pandemic, and how the City can take advantage of the several federal grant programs that have recently been created. Thank you to Senator Warren and everyone who participated for taking the time to talk about all the work being done in Gardner.”
Mayor Nicholson went on to say, “We continue to advocate for our city with officials at every level to make sure Gardner has a seat at the table and a part in these conversations moving forward.”
The meeting took place at the GFA Federal Credit Union in Gardner MA.
- Top 40 (8/22/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Makes the Top 40
As he is blessed with an Angelic Singing Voice as evidenced by performances in Caroling with the Mayor, CLICK HERE for audio page, it would not have surprised us if he had a Top 40 Josh Groban type hit. However, Nicholson was nominated and won entrance into Worcester Business Journal’s 40 under 40.
About being an award recipient, the Mayor posted, “I was both humbled and surprised when they told me. I love my community and am looking forward to the work that’s ahead of us.”
Gardner Magazine recently told you of Mayor Nicholson’s popularity towering over an AI voice, CLICK HERE. and previously wrote about his Magic Mike. CLICK HERE. We also have an article showing the Mayor at age 40, CLICK HERE.
- Majestic Flag (8/22/2022)
American Flag Flying majestically at Gardner MA Police Headquarters
The recently replaced flag outside Gardner PD was truly a sight to behold on Sunday August 21, 2022. Gardner honors the flag at the beginning of many of its meetings with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance – such as every Gardner MA City Council meeting.
Learn more about the American Flag from Britannica, CLICK HERE
- Robot Responds (8/21/2022)
Robot Responds to Update Controversy – A Tongue-in-Check Article in Gardner MA
Gardner Magazine uses AI voices as announcers for various projects. We admittedly do not pay them even minimum wage.
Yesterday we revealed that the Mayor’s Update of 8/05/22 had been heard 3,654 times, today that’s up to 3,674 times. Mayor’s Update of 8/12/22 had been heard 3,039 (correction – 2,839) times, today that’s up to 2.931 times. Our AI voiced Update for 8/19/22 was heard 90 times, today that’s up to 218 times.
Update: 8/23/22: up to 8/22/22, Mayor’s Update of 8/12/22 has been heard 3,483 times, our AI voiced update for 8/19/22 has been heard 446 times. This means that in the last 2 days, the 8/12 Mayor was heard 552 times and our 8/19 update was heard 228 times. Week-old Mayor clobbers AI 2 to 1. Sorry, robot…
AI Fails to Beat the Magic Mike
The Robot responded, “I work harder on AUDIO than the Mayor. He has a camera crew and editing team, while all I have is my AI skills. Mayor Nicholson practically works 24/7 on a zillion projects at once, so why is it that people like him better?”
Publisher’s answer: “It’s got to be the Magic Mike.” See our original story on the man behind the “Magic Mike.” CLICK HERE.
Mayor’s Weekly Updates are rare elsewhere. While investigating this nationwide, Gardner Magazine determined that Gardner MA is highly unique in its overall transparency. While all of us in the Press often complain, it is important to note that one of the reasons for Gardner’s recent spurt in successes is that Gardner is putting itself out there. Good for you, Gardner!
Balance to be Restored. The balance in the universe should be restored this week as Mayor Nicholson records another update for YouTube – City YouTube Channel, (subscription is free) and of course we’ll feature the AUDIO version of it here. Sorry robot… Past Mayor’s AUDIO updates for 2022, click here. City Council Meetings —- School Committee Meetings —- Special Occasions
- Nicholson vs Robot (8/20/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson shown at age 40 with hypothetical U.S. Senate run and at age 50 as U.S. President. (Age Progression software used)
Editorial: Gardner MA Mayor Nicholson preferred over a robot.
On August 19, 2022 we tried an experiment – putting together our own Chair City Update because the Mayor’s version was unavailable due to staffing issues. We can confidently say citizens overwhelmingly prefer Mayor Nicholson to the robot. While the Mayor’s AUDIO update of August 5, 2022 has been listened to 3,654 times, August 12th update 3,039 (correction: 2,839) times, our AI voiced update got only 90 listens since 2pm yesterday. Next time the film crew is unavailable Mr. Mayor, please take us up on our offer to record an AUDIO update. The Chair City is really interested in what you have to say.
The popular Gardner Mayor got 80 percent of the vote in the last election. When asked in April, 2022 about his political future, Nicholson appeared satisfied with his current role as Mayor stating he’ll keep the job as long as the voters will have him. If he continues to have successes in moving the Chair City forward, we predict the Mayor’s political future has much more potential than he now realizes.
- Weekly Update 8-19-22 (8/19/2022)
Gardner Magazine Updates City – Mayor Without Update Due to Staffing
Note: Last week’s Mayor’s Update has received 73 views on YouTube and as of yesterday 2,354 listens on Gardner Magazine. However, our offer to record an AUDIO update was not accepted. So we’ll provide one instead. Click Play.
Chair City Update August 19, 2022
Paving Week of August 22nd
Parker Street and Connors Street will be paved on Monday August 22, 2022 beginning at 4am. Parker Street will be paved from Lafayette Square to Main Street. Connors Street will be paved from City Hall Avenue to Parker Street. This is the final coat of pavement needed for these streets as part of the Downtown Infrastructure Improvement Project.
Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic
On Wednesday, August 24th, there will be a Covid 19 Vaccine Clinic from 3pm to 6pm at the Bethany Baptist Church, 72 Ryan Street, Gardner. All doses of the 3 different brands of Vaccine will be available. Ages 5 and over are welcome via walk-in, but registration is encouraged. Please bring vaccine card and health insurance card if you have one.
On Saturday August 20th, the Elvis Tribute Band, Fellowship of the King will play at Monument Park at the 45th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Concert begins at 5pm. See article
On Sunday August 21st, Gardner Massachusetts churches are joining forces for a Community Worship Sunday starting at 10am at Monument Park, featuring music, message, food, and fun. All are welcome. See article.
On Sunday August 21st, The P.A.C.C. at 171 Kendall Pond Road West in Gardner is holding a Polish Drive-Thru on Sunday August 21, 2022 from 11am to 3pm. See article
On Sunday, August 21st, the Tenth Annual Ride of Your Life takes place at Heywood Hospital, 242 Green Street, Gardner. Riders and passengers pay a registration fee and take a 3 hour ride through North Central Massachusetts with stops at area motorcycle shops. Proceeds benefit suicide prevention efforts in the North Central and North Quabbin regions. See article
Gardner Has a New Police Chief
Lieutenant Eric McAvene is officially Chief McAvene on Monday August 22nd. Having served the past two decades on the Gardner force, he was appointed by Mayor Nicholson and accepted the position. Formal City Council confirmation to follow. See article
Construction in the Chair City
Gardner Elementary: The week of August 22, 2022 will be the 4th extended week of construction at the New Gardner Elementary School. Mayor Nicholson has advised the main goal is to get an occupancy permit for the building so school can start even if the grounds still need some work. Meanwhile, Gardner Public Schools has released its projected School Calendar reflecting the delayed start of school. See article
Candor Realty continues work on 25 Main Street, recently completing some badly needed roof repairs. The company has also stated it is interested in purchasing additional properties in Gardner.
Work also continues at 42 to 52 Parker Street. The walls have gone up this week following Gardner Planning Board approval of their complete plan for the building.
Community Health Connections has made significant progress on their new Health Center building off Route 68 near Walmart.
Enforcement with fines and possible water shut-offs for violators of the outdoor water use ban will begin after a Code Red call reminding people of the drought.
Pleasant Street open again
Following meetings with staff, community leaders, and business owners, a decision was made to once again open up Pleasant Street. For just under two months, the street was closed off in order to create a plaza with outdoor seating. The idea had been proposed for years, but never tried. A comment from Mayor Nicholson in our article.
Gardner High Athletics
Gardner High Athletics has announced key dates for the upcoming fall season. There are youth nights, alumni nights, recreation nights, senior nights, and there will be a game on Thanksgiving morning against Quabbin. See article.
- Gardner Promotes from Within (8/18/2022)
Gardner MA Now Has New Police Chief Eric McAvene
As of August 17, 2022 it is now Gardner Police Chief Eric McAvene. (appointment is official as of Monday August 22nd) McAvene, who has served as Lieutenant is getting a temporary appointment, and rather than utilizing a 60 day probationary period, the Mayor will immediately ask for City Council confirmation of a 3 year permanent appointment. Mayor’s reason: McAvene already showed his ability to perform the job when he and Lieutenant Maroni stepped in and performed Chief’s duties. Appointment will be before the City Council during the month of September. The Chief has been on the Gardner force for two decades. View Mayor Nicholson’s letter to Gardner City Council – pdf – CLICK HERE – Text, CLICK HERE
The position of Deputy Chief will be posted next week according to Mayor Nicholson comments at the Appointments Committee meeting of 8/17.
This announcement was made during a Gardner Appointments Committee meeting of August 17, 2022 at which Sergeant Walter was recommended for reappointment. During the discussion, both Walter and the new Police Chief McAvene told of the hostile work environment experienced during the tenure of the previous Chief and Deputy Chief. Listen for yourself. CLICK PLAY.
- Questions Answered 8-17-22 (8/18/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Nicholson Answers Questions on Pending Matters in the Chair City
New Gardner MA Elementary School
Question: “School Construction is now in week 3 of the contemplated “two more weeks.” How much longer realistically? And when does the school have to be done to be in line with the already contemplated delay?”
Mayor Nicholson, “The two weeks was the delay for the start of the school year (if I am understanding your question correctly). In order to get people into the school building, the working in the building would have to be completed about a week before teachers move in, which for the Elementary School would be on September 6th. The exterior work, such as landscaping and final playground work, will likely be done the week or two after school starts. For now our priority is to finish the items necessary for the school to receive its temporary occupancy certificate so that we can begin school in the building, even if the grounds need a little work still at that point.”
Question: “In light of the drought, does the City of Gardner intend to enforce the local ordinance which provides potential penalties and possible water shutoff for offenders?”
Mayor Nicholson, “We are meeting on this to discuss how best to move forward with the City’s DPW Director and City Engineer as well as representatives from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. A Code-Red call reminding people of the drought will likely go out this week as a final reminder to people of the current critical drought status, and then enforcement will begin if people are still not abiding by the restrictions.”
Question: “What led to the sudden shutdown of Pleasant Plaza without notice to the public? To date, nothing mentioned on City of Gardner website.”
Mayor Nicholson: “We (Colin, Jess DeRoy, Trevor Beauregard, Roland Jean, and myself) met again with the business owners and Parker House of Pizza, Turks Barbershop, and Priscilla’s voiced concerns over the impacts of the plaza on their business. Taco Rey and Prestige Barbershop, all had positives, and Hope and Vibe Studios had mixed feelings on it. With the paving of Parker Street next week and the concerns that were taken into account, we opened the road up to ensure we were supporting the business community as much as possible for the last month of the summer with construction coming back to the area soon.”
- Pleasant Street Reopens (8/16/2022)
Pleasant Plaza Now History and Street open again in Gardner MA
The experiment lasted less than 2 months and at least one Downtown Business owner is happy the street is open again. Parker House of Pizza posted, “We’re so excited that Pleasant Street is reopened. Thank you Mayor and his staff for listening to all the small businesses in Downtown that have been affected from the closure of Pleasant Street.” Parker House of Pizza website, CLICK HERE.
The change happened abruptly and without notice to the public sometime between August 15 and the morning of August 16, 2022. We have reached out to Mayor Nicholson for comment.
What Changed Since Saturday?
On WGAW’s Hotline Radio on Saturday August 13, 2022, Mayor Nicholson stated, “You know we had a meeting with the Business owners this past week to just feel out their thoughts and ideas on it, see what’s working, see what’s not, So I met with my team on Friday. We’ll be meeting again on Monday, seeing how we can make improvements to the area to best help the businesses there, so I do want to thank the businesses for meeting with us too, they’re the ones who are there so it’s always good to get their perspective …” Host Steve Wendell then asked, “But the Pleasant Park will continue til at least October.” and the Mayor responded saying, “Yeah, it’ll be reevaluated every 30 days. So the original plan was October 1st., taking the feedback that we get from the businesses and we’ll see how we can keep it going.” However, less than 3 days after this interview, Pleasant Plaza disappeared without explanation.
- Water Use Penalties (8/16/2022)
Illegal Water Use Could Lead to Water Shut Off and Monetary Penalties in Gardner MA
According to Chapter 636 of the City of Gardner Code, adopted by the Gardner City Council on 9-7-1999, the City of Gardner has authority to regulate water use upon a declaration of a water supply emergency issued by the Department of Environmental Protection. “This chapter is adopted by the City under its police powers to protect public health and welfare.” Public notice must be given before it can be enforced which has been done through the City’s website and various signage throughout the City. It has also been given through various media outlets. Currently all non-essential outdoor water use and outdoor watering is prohibited due to the Level 3 Drought Declaration by the State of MA.
From the state of MA, “Essential uses are defined by MassDEP as uses required: a) for health or safety reasons; b) by regulation; c) for the production of food and fiber; d) for the maintenance of livestock; or e) to meet the core functions of a business. Nonessential uses are those other than essential uses.”
Penalties To Be Imposed
Penalties specified include $50 for first violation and $100 for each subsequent violation, each day constituting a separate offense. “The Director of Public Works may terminate or restrict the water service serving the property of any person constantly violating this chapter until such time as the state of water supply conservation is terminated.”
Reports on Social Media
Various reports on Social Media over the past week seem to indicate that there are isolated instances of businesses and/or people violating the ordinance. We have reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment and will post Mayor Nicholson’s comments if/when we have some.
- Hotline Radio 8-13-22 (8/13/2022)
Radio Station WGAW recently began its 76th year of broadcasting to the region. Hotline Radio airs every Saturday from noon to 2pm on the station with host Steve Wendell. Listen on AM 1340, 98.1 FM, or Listen Live Online, CLICK HERE.
Mayor Nicholson and Civil Defense Director Topolski on Gardner MA WGAW Radio
On Saturday August 13, 2022, Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson was host Steve Wendell’s first guest as usual and spoke of staffing issues in the current environment. He spoke of delays in trash pickup due to staffing issues with E.L. Harvey and that the company was catching up Friday and Saturday for Thursday pickups.
Greenwood Pool Staffing Issues
Nicholson stated, “We are still experiencing the economic effects of the pandemic.… Normally we’ve got a list a mile long, a wait list for people looking for lifeguard jobs, but this year no one wanted to do them.” He stated that staffing issues prevented Spray Park at Greenwood Pool opening this year.
Program to Assist with School Delay
Mayor Nicholson spoke of delay of the Gardner Public Schools opening. School District is attempting to come up with a program to assist with day care for elementary school students during the delay, reaching out to various organizations. Most schools start September 6th, Gardner Elementary starts about a week later.
Gardner PD Update
The Panel of 5 Review committee has selected 3 top candidates, including at least one individual from the Gardner Police Department. Once Chief is chosen, Deputy Chief position will be posted.
With Paul Topolski, Director of Civil Defense
Paul Topolski, Director of Civil Defense, spoke of getting together with a regional plan with various area communities. Would concern flood plans, hazardous materials, manmade technological disasters, and natural disasters such as various storms. Various courses available on FEMA website for individuals interested in civil defense.
- Update 8-12-22 (8/12/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Updates on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE. Or listen, just click Play below. Starts in about 5 seconds.
In a witty weekly update Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Focuses on “Time.” 8-12-22
Trash Delays: The Mayor advised residents to “Keep Your Toters Out” as he spoke of E.L. Harvey trash delays.
Paving Schedule: The Mayor went over various paving updates.
Time for an end: Last week of Recreation program – had 250 students participating, thanked Athletic Director Dan Forte and Camp Counselors.
New time at Monument Park: Traveling Jones will be playing Saturday August 13, 2022 starting at 5pm which is an hour earlier than the rest of the summer has been.
Time for Rain: Mayor Nicholson went over the Level 3 Critical Drought that Gardner is under with a complete ban on all outdoor watering stating, “One day of rain doesn’t account for 30 days of drought.”
Time for a probationary period: Police Chief search committee has narrowed it down from the original applicants down to 3. Mayor to interview each of the 3 candidates, expects to make a choice before the end of the month. Will do a 60 day temporary appointment prior to putting appointment before City Council.
Time for a break: No Mayor’s Update on 8/19 due to staffing, next update August 26, 2022.
- Topic of Sludge (8/11/2022)
Gardner MA Conservation Commission Chair: “not be bullied, harassed, called, bamboozled, dumped on”
On August 9, 2022, the Gardner Conservation Commission took up the issue of the expansion of the Sludge landfill. While the City asked to continue the matter to August 22nd via an email from DPW Director Dane Arnold, Chairman Greg Dumas was not quick to dismiss the issue. He stated, “I’d like to read a few statements.” He then stated he was reading right out of the City’s Ordinance. “The purpose of Section 1 is to preserve and exercise jurisdiction over the protected resource areas as defined….” He then continued, listing all of the items and areas the Commission is charged to protect.”
“We’re Gonna Do the Right Thing”
With a passionate tone, the Chairman stated, “This Commission will not be bullied, harassed, called, bamboozled, dumped on with all kinds of information that’s needless to the commission. If we decide we want third party review, then we’re gonna get third party review. If the city’s doesn’t wanna pay for it, we’re authorized…to do so… We’re gonna do the right thing, no matter what., we always have, we always will.” The commission then voted to continue the matter to August 22nd.” In a July meeting, the Commission expressed its desire to get more information via a third party review.
Watch this meeting on YouTube – CLICK HERE – Or, Listen by clicking Play. (The portion which directly applies to this matter starts at 21:56 in, just use the slider to advance to the right if desired.)
Previous Articles and City of Gardner Position
View our complete article of July 12, 2022. CLICK HERE – View our initial article of May 25, 2022 – CLICK HERE. In an interview on August 3, 2022, –CLICK HERE – we asked Mayor Nicholson about this matter and he stated, “….everything’s had to be vetted as thoroughly as possible by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the EPA. This is something that, we have to be remembering our fiduciary responsibility that we have for our rate payers. This is not a taxpayer project because not everyone is on our sewer system, but it has to be something that we take care of in the way that’s most effective, most environmentally friendly, and financially responsible for us. In that, we’ve looked at other proposals. We’ve looked at anaerobic digestion, we’ve looked at trucking the cost away, but it would result in a massive increase in our sewer rates, and we just can’t pass that on to the rate payers.”
- Building Inspector (8/8/2022)
- OML Complaints (8/5/2022)
Gardner Magazine has an Open Meeting Law Training page with AUDIO, VIDEO, and Written Materials. CLICK HERE.
Scott Graves Sends Gardner MA City Council Back to School
Despite Gardner MA City Council Having Good Intentions, Scott Graves Sends City Council Back to School on Technical Violations of Open Meeting Law.
One allegation concerned an email sent by Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas in which she communicated to the full City Council on December 30, 2021 informing them of her proposal to add an appointments committee because there would be 300 appointments expiring over the next 2 years. Apparently by giving her opinion via this method, she technically violated the Open Meeting Law. Another violation concerned the Council’s oversight in not approving 8/2/21 meeting minutes until April 19, 2022 which wasn’t considered timely. And, yet another violation was found in which the Council President circulated via email a proposed response to a Scott Graves lawsuit – the AG’s office considered this transparency to be a technical violation, calling it a deliberation. Finding: Each member of the Gardner City Council needs to attend Open Meeting Law Training, which is offered monthly via webinar. They must do so within 90 days of 8/1/22.
We are including the actual email from City Clerk to City Councilors and the full letters sent to Gardner by the Attorney General’s office. First AG Letter Second AG Letter Email from City Clerk to Councilors.
Publisher’s Editorial Note: Here’s my opinion of this nonsense with an analogy – If you inspect any sterile hospital room, you are bound to find a spec of dust. All of the City Council’s actions were in doing good for the City despite the technical infractions, and the irony is not lost that one of the matters concerned Graves lawsuits, somewhat like getting caught in an endless loop of nonsense. Our advice to City Council: From now on, dot the I’s and cross the t’s because this was an unneeded waste of City resources. And to Scott Graves: You can always find a spec of dust in a sterile room, but is this litigation good for Gardner? To City Councilors: Pack a nutritious lunch, because you’re going back to School!
- Music Job (8/4/2022)
Gardner MA Has Opening for Dream Job
As of August 4, 2022, Gardner needs a Gardner Middle School Band Director and a Marching Percussion Instructor at Gardner High School. Doesn’t have to be the same person. The Middle School Band Director is a full teacher position. The High School Percussion Instructor is part-time throughout the marching band season.
The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work in one of the Commonwealth’s most wonderful School Districts – The Chair City.
These are highly prestigious jobs in this sought-after School District so the positions are expected to be filled rapidly. Here is a link to the General Employment Application. CLICK HERE.
- Departments Interview (8/3/2022)
City of Gardner Department Links:
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Interviewed on Citizen Concerns and City Departments
On August 3, 2022, Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson answered our questions regarding Citizen Concerns and the Interaction of City Departments with Community Members. We present the AUDIO of the complete interview in mp3 format. Listen on any device.
Subjects covered included National Night Out, the Timeline of Gardner Public Schools, Social Media Posts, Water Pooling Issues at the Dog Park, the DPW, Addressing Citizen Concerns and needs, Parks and Recreation, Job Openings with the City, DPW Vacancies, Gardner Housing Authority, Department Heads and the Press, the Building Department, Animal Control, Reappointment of City Treasurer, Assessor/Tax Collector and Taxes, City Clerk, Various Departments working together, Public Safety, Health Department, Funding for positions, Purchasing Department, Human Resources, School Staffing, Gardner Sludge, and Praise for Departments.
Complete Article with text of entire interview, CLICK HERE.
- City Council 8-1-22 (8/2/2022)
Watch Gardner MA City Council Meetings on the City of Gardner YouTube Channel, or on our City Council page, CLICK HERE.
You can also listen to this meeting as we publish the AUDIO. Click Play below. AUDIO and articles on older meetings, CLICK HERE.
Meeting starts at 1:27 in. You can move slider to advance. There is a recess a few minutes in to swear in Rocky. Meeting is called back to order at 10:25 in.
Transfer Station Trends
Free Cash 2022
Gardner MA City Council has Meeting on First Day of August
The Complete Agenda, CLICK HERE
The Highlight of the meeting occurred at the beginning as Rocky was confirmed unanimously to a permanent appointment at a Police K-9. Interim Police Chief Philip Kearns was recognized at the podium to speak about Rocky. He spoke of Rocky’s successful first day in aiding the capture of 4 suspects charged with theft of property from an apartment. Rocky barked loudly to the City Clerk to confirm the acceptance of his permanent appointment.
Mayor Nicholson stated, “looking forward to seeing him to continue the good work that he has already done.”
The agenda references the following items the Council considered at the meeting: Various routine money transfers, 14 different communications to the Council, 6 appointment items, the State Primary, and the reports of standing committees.
Efficiencies at the Transfer Station.
Mayor Nicholson reports success in staffing and procedure adjustments made to try to increase efficiencies in operations and better monitor what is being dropped off. The average is approximately $50,000 more a year in revenue at the transfer station. (see chart at left)
Free Cash Expenditures for Fiscal Year 2022 shown at left.
In another communication, Mayor Nicholson informed the Council the state had reimbursed the City $255,573.00 for the Commonwealth’s Fiscal Year 2021 Ambulance Certified Public Expenditure cost Settlement program. Last year, the city received 230,000. The MA program is in place to offset the low patient transport rates paid by Medicaid.
Open Meeting Law Complaints
An open Meeting law complaint filed by Gregory Deehan (covered in previous article), Letter from Mayor on matter -pdf. Letter from Attorney General on matter -pdf and a Ruling from the Attorney General relative to an Open Meeting Law complaint (finding in favor of City)
City Treasurer Re-elected
Current City Treasurer and Collector of Taxes Jennifer Dymek was elected unanimously to a 3 year term to commence August 19, 2022. She was praised for the City’s recent perfect audit. Letter to City Council from Jennifer Dymek.
Dead people can vote in MA
As ballots are processed before Election Day, the law against counting the ballot of someone who dies before Election Day has been repealed. Ballot can be counted as long as the voter was alive when it was cast, which means as of the postmark date or when it was hand-delivered or deposited into a drop box. This is from an election advisory of June 23, 2022 from William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth.
The Next Meeting of the Gardner City Council will be on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 due to Labor Day being on Monday 9/6 and Election Day being on Tuesday 9/7.
- Gardner Magazine (8/1/2022)
Thank you for your readership to GardnerMagazine.com for Greater Gardner MA
As promised, we are releasing Statistics related to GardnerMagazine.com for July 2022. Unique households (Circulation) 16,538. Pageviews 131,783. Files served (Hits) 534,794. Gardner Magazine has consistently averaged 12,000 unique households. June jumped to 14,000. July jumped to over 16,000. We thank you for your readership and we will continue to cover as much as we can. Gardner Magazine is unique in that we try to provide additional resources in our articles such as web links, document links, and even AUDIO. We are pleased these efforts have been well received.
The addition of AUDIO
After the July 6, 2022 Projects Interview with Mayor Nicholson, we posted the entire interview in mp3 format so all could listen to it. It has thus far received in July 2022, 3,245 listeners. On July 22, 2022 we made all Mayor’s Updates, City Council Meetings, School Committee Meetings, and various Special Events available in mp3 format: Here are the listener totals for the Mayor’s Updates: 7/29/22: 523, 7/22/22: 3,385, 7/15/22: 2,064, 7/8/22: 43. All of the updates from 12/24/21 to date have been published and the older updates have received between 41 to 50 listeners.
Here are the total July 2022 listeners for other Meetings: Public Safety 7/29/22: 373, Zoning Board of Appeals 7/19/22: 1,163, City Council Meeting 7/5/22: 65, most other older City Council meetings in single or low 2 digits, School Committee 6-16-22: 50, most other older School Committee meetings in single digits.
Other Items and July Numbers
Pizza Polka (put on site 7/31/22): 94, We Have No Bananas: 870, Bye Bye Blackbird: 892, Gardner Spring Yard Sale PSA: 309, Poem, Sentient Soul of American Freedom: 1,419, Gardner Brand intro: 90, Abbott and Costello; 58. Dozens of other audio files have from single to low double digit listeners.
July 2022 Handout Standouts in pdf format: Gardner Food Truck Festival: 1013, Annual School Calendar: 104, Vacant Storefronts: 82, Monument Park Concerts: 123. Dozens of other handouts in pdf format have double digit downloads.
on AUDIO: Gardner Magazine will continue to publish AUDIO files of Mayor’s Updates, City Council Meetings, School Committee meetings, various events, and topical novelty items. Listenership is obviously greatest when the event is current, however we will maintain the archive in the public interest. We have begun to add Winchendon meetings – their AUDIO is OK, but they have significant challenges with the quality of their video and have negligible viewership. Let us know if there are meetings from your community you would like to listen to and we’ll see if we can make AUDIO available. If there’s a YouTube file, our software can make an easy conversion. Otherwise, it depends if the community has made a recording and will release it to us. on Documents: Gardner Magazine will continue to publish Agendas, complete Press Releases, booklets, publications, photos, and links to as many resources as possible to make your readership of our publication valuable. Reach us at anytime via News@GardnerMagazine.com or use our News tip line at (978) 632-6324.
- Board of Selectmen (7/29/2022)
Watch the Meeting on You Tube or click Play button at right to listen on any device.
Winchendon MA has a YouTube channel, CLICK HERE.
Winchendon MA Board of Selectmen met on July 25, 2022
Listen to this meeting on any device. Just click PLAY. Audio starts about 7 seconds in.
Winchendon School Committee
- Mayor’s Update 7-29-22 (7/29/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE.
Listen to the Update on any device by clicking Play below. (Audio starts after 8 second delay)
Listen to previous Mayor’s Updates on our AUDIO page. CLICK HERE
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Speaks Paw -sitively about the Chair City from Gardner Dog Park
Nicholson speaks Paw-sitively about a busy week in the City of Gardner and about growth in the Chair City in general.
He spoke about a letter taxpayers should have received explaining recent real estate tax bills. The Mayor spoke about Paving Updates including the expectation that Parker Street should be paved sometime within the next 3 weeks as the concrete sidewalks have been fully poured. Nicholson spoke of the opportunity of open storefronts and the increased amount of apartment units.
The Mayor talked about the critical drought condition in Gardner and Worcester County. Stated Crystal Lake and Snake Pond are doing quite well. Advised residents to do their part to conserve water.
National Night out is coming Tuesday August 2, 2022 at Gardner High School. Wachusett Mountain has agreed to sponsor bus transportation from Monument Park. Event 5:30pm to 9:00pm.
Mayor Nicholson announced that the update was being done from Gardner Dog Park and spoke of the mulch at the Dog Park which was made by DPW from trees and of the construction of concrete pads which will soon be covered. He referenced that the puddling situation had been fully resolved. However, Dog Park users report that a dangerous situation still exists on the large dog side with standing water and mud. Despite repeated requests to DPW, the issue has not been resolved even though dog owners have reported illnesses and resulting vet bills over the past two years. Update 7/29/22 5pm: Issue worse than first thought, warranted a separate article. CLICK HERE.
- Eaton Street Paving (7/25/2022)
Eating Eaton: The Challenge of Paving – Battling Stubborn Trees in Gardner MA
Sometimes when trees put down their roots, they’re not ready to leave without a fight. Such is the case on Eaton Street in Gardner. The street near the Gardner Municipal Golf Course was paved 5 years ago, but according to Mayor Nicholson, “right now it looks like the surface of the moon.” Stubborn tree roots near the road push up the pavement causing potholes. However, these trouble-making trees are still taking in carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for us to breathe.
Mayor Nicholson says they’ve actually had the pothole issue studied, “…we had an environmental consultant come out and the number of trees that line that street, the way that the roots have grown, has pushed the soil out of the way, that have artificially created potholes there, brings the pothole situation that we have there. So I could go back and have them pave that road again this year, but then in two year’s time we’re going have the same situation , because the roots are still there. So we have to come up with a longer plan solution there. “
Paving in Gardner – Interview with Mayor Michael Nicholson.
Gardner Magazine Publisher Werner Poegel asked Mayor Nicholson on 7-6-22 about paving in Gardner:
Poegel: One of the complaints that residents constantly come out with is about paving. And of course, that’s been a challenge with the budget. It’s been a challenge getting the product. How many miles of roads does Gardner have, and realistically, how many miles of roads can Gardner pave every year?
Nicholson: We have 101 miles of roads and we can probably do, if we’re lucky ,3 ½ miles per year, because it does cost us about a million dollars per mile to pave. And that covers all the costs of police detail, that’s the trucks, equipment, and labor, to put the pavement down, pull the old pavement up, haulaway costs, the cost of asphalt. It costs about a million dollars per mile. We can probably do about 3 ½ miles a year, of that 101 miles that we have.
Paving It All More Than a Year’s Budget
Poegel: So the total City Budget is what $74 million? Nicholson: Yes. Poegel: So you’re telling me that you’d have to spend the equivalent of more than a year’s city budget to do all the roads, like instantly. Nicholson: Yup. Poegel: You’d have to more than double everybody’s taxes to do all the roads all at once. Nicholson: That’s 100 percent true. Poegel: So, obviously, you can’t do that. Nicholson: Yeah, that’s it. Would we love to have all the roads done in one year, it would be a great two year project. In the year, everyone would be complaining about the traffic detours that come from it. But, we’d like to get all the roads done, it’s just cost prohibitive. We do what we can, every year since 2012, Gardner has received $600,000 from Chapter 90 State funding for road surfacing. Well, $600,000 in 2012 is probably half the purchasing price of what it is in 2022. But, we’ve received the same flat line amount every year for that decade. Poegel: So that’s basically a half a mile. Nicholson: It is, it is. And so we’ve lost that purchasing power, while our costs have just continued to go up. We do what we can with what we can. I was happy to see Governor Baker put in the winter recovery funding this year which added an additional $313,000 to what we’re able to do, but we will never be able to fully catch up to what we need to.
Photos at left show the challenge of having mature trees near a road with a root structure extending underneath.
How Roads Get Prioritized
Poegel: So how does it work. Obviously you interact with the DPW. How do roads get prioritized? Is there some sort of system in place? Nicholson: There is. It’s a formula that the DPW Director and the City Engineer go through, it’s based off of the number of houses on a street, average number of cars that drive over that road, that’s why we have those ticker lines that we count those, the number of cars that go over a road, and the length of the road itself as well. So all of those are compiled into priority lists that we have. I receive an updated version from the DPW and City Engineer’s office every July, around July 15th. When we get that this year, I can certainly send that to you. … The number of businesses on a street, the number of houses on a street, the number of cars that travel that street, and then the length in miles of that street. So those are the different factors in the formula that determine the priority list the we have. And then, the final factor of that is: when was the last time that we paved that road? “ Gardner Magazine will publish the Gardner MA Paving Priority List as soon as it is released.
The Cost of Paving
Curious about the cost of paving various types of roads and highways? The U.S. Department of Transportation has a dedicated page. CLICK HERE.
- Mayor’s Update 7-22-22 (7/22/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE. Listen to the update by clicking play below. Playable on any device. There is about a 6 second delay before sound starts. AUDIO of all updates, 2022, CLICK HERE.
Gardner MA Mayor speaks of Issues, Voting, Events, and Applicants in Info-packed Update.
Spray Park: In his weekly update of Friday, July 22, 2022, Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson explained the issues with the Spray Park at Greenwood Pool.
Dog Licenses: Nicholson reminded residents over 70 that Dog registration is still required even though the license is now free for those over 70.
Voting: The Mayor explained that citizens may be receiving mail-in ballot info both from State and the City. Fill out one and you’ll be set for the State Primary in early September and General election in November.
Academy: Mayor Nicholson related that the Junior Police Academy was very successful with various officers involved in helping students.
Police Chief: 2 applications slid in at the last minute to increase the total to 12 applicants for the Chief of Police job. Search Committee of the Panel of Five will meet next week, decide on first round of interviews and eventually send top two choices to the Mayor who will interview further. Then comes a 60 day temporary appointment for his choice, later approval by Appointments Committee, and confirmation for 3 year term by City Council.
National Night Out: The Mayor announced that buses will be available to help transport people to Gardner High School for this year’s National Night Out which is Tuesday August 2nd starting at 5;30pm. Our Article, click here.
- AUDIO – Meetings – Updates – Events (7/22/2022)
Gardner Magazine Publishing AUDIO of Gardner MA Meetings, Updates, and Events.
Now you can listen to AUDIO on any device.
Gardner City Council Meetings – all 2022 Meetings available, CLICK HERE. (links to articles too.)
Gardner Mayor’s Updates – all 2022 Meetings available, CLICK HERE. (links to articles too)
Gardner School Committee Meetings – all 2022 Meetings available, CLICK HERE. (links to articles too)
Special Events and Special Occasions – AUDIO available for 2020, 2021, and 2022, CLICK HERE.
- Winchendon Town Meeting Results (7/19/2022)
- Audio Updates (7/19/2022)
Publisher’s Note: All 2022 Gardner MA Mayor’s Updates now available in AUDIO you can play on any device. CLICK HERE.
- Nicholson Super Heroes (7/15/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE.
Or listen to the audio – short 8 second delay before it starts:
Play Audio File of any 2022 Mayor’s Update. CLICK HERE
Gardner MA Michael Nicholson Reveals Community Super Heroes in Weekly Update July 15, 2022
He didn’t say those words, but he revealed the Best of the Gardner Community in this week’s Uplifting Update just the same. Mayor Nicholson complimented his Super Hero Aide Colin Smith who organized this year’s successful Gardner Food Truck Festival. The Chair City Mayor also thanked all those who helped make it possible.
Mayor Nicholson spoke of the Phoenix Cross Fit Class held Tuesday Nights at 7:30pm this summer at Fitness Concepts for “those who are in recovery, those who want to support those in recovery, or those who just want to live a sober lifestyle.” Nicholson was invited this past Tuesday by the Alyssa’s Place Recovery Center (Super Heroes).
Nicholson told of the Heywood Surgical Pavilion Progress. He also mentioned a Super Effort, the new island in place at the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Green Street to help cut down on accidents. (by DPW Super Heroes)
NoWoCo Pride held an event at Gardner City Hall attracting dozens of people. (NoWoCo Super Heroes)
Mayor Nicholson explained that several Eagle Scout projects have made a difference in Gardner this summer including from newest Eagle Scout Quinton Lemmick (Scout Super Heroes)
Turns out the DPW has some Super Heroes of their own. We call them the “Mulch Makers”, turning trees they’ve had to take down into wood chips to be used at the Dog Park and at the Golf Course, saving the City lots of money by not having to purchase them.
The DPW has also been instrumental in other Super Hero work including starting construction of 2 new Shade Pavilions at the Gardner Dog Park, replacing 4 dead ash trees at Monument Park with new trees, and replacing Downtown Gardner sidewalks. However, the City was faced with a Super Villain who went under the caution tape to walk on the wet concrete. The Villain was promptly arrested by Gardner PD Super Heroes and will be held financially responsible for the repairs which needed to be made.
Many in the community who serve Gardner are Super Heroes, don’t you think?
Let us showcase your Gardner MA Super Hero. Email News@GardnerMagazine.com
- R.E. Tax (7/15/2022)
Gardner MA Real Estate Taxes Explained
Currently, Gardner can’t tax real estate and personal property more than $31,271,792 due to Prop 2 1/2 (Not including New Growth). The 1st and 2nd quarter bills just sent out totaled $17,788,278 per the City Assessor’s office, leaving a limit of $13,483,514 for the next billing for 3rd and 4th quarter. Any questions, get in touch with the Assessor’s Office or Treasurer/Collector
The Reason for the Disparity
Gardner must by State Law send out the bills based on an awkward combination of the tax rate already set AND the higher real estate values from calendar year 2021. Result: Higher bills first two quarters and lower bills second two quarters when everything gets sorted out. Total bill: What it should be, it all gets sorted out in the end.
Learn more about Prop 2 1/2
Gardner Magazine has a page covering everything you ever wanted to know about Proposition 2 1/2 in Massachusetts including videos prepared by the State on What is Proposition 2 1/2?, What Is a Levy Limit and how is it calculated?, What is New Growth and how is it calculated?, what is the levy ceiling and how is it calculated?, How can a community levy above its levy limit/ceiling?, What is a Levy Limit Override or Underride?, What is an exclusion?, What are the differences between and Override and an Exclusion?, and What is Excess Levy Capacity? These videos will help you no matter what Greater Gardner town you live in. For the page of short videos, CLICK HERE.
Prop 2 1/2 PDF
We also have a complete primer on Prop 2 1/2. CLICK HERE.
- Nicholson 2 Years (7/14/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Hits 2 Year mark – thanks Citizens
“Today makes it 2 years since I was first sworn in as Mayor of Gardner after the 2020 Special Election. I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish together since then and am looking forward to seeing what the future brings.
Thank you to my family, everyone who has supported me along the way, voted for me, partnered on different projects, and worked to achieve all we have. I’m grateful beyond words and am truly blessed to serve this City and it’s residents. Thank you!”
- MART (7/14/2022)
Press Release: MART expanding services and Bus stops in Gardner MA
In a Press Release dated July 13, 2022, the City of Gardner is formally announcing the expansion of services and bus stops in Gardner. View Press Release
According to the Press Release, the shelter above was only the first of several to be added in Gardner. Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson is currently the Chair of MART’s Advisory Board. City Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas stated, “…The new bus stops will support our current residents and visitors, and the expected growth from residential and commercial development happening throughout the City.” According to the Press Release, MART will use grant funds to install 20 more shelters along their lines this year and next, with 4 to 10 of them to be placed in Gardner.
- Top 10 (7/14/2022)
To watch the July 12, 2022 meeting of the Appointments Committee on YouTube, CLICK HERE.
Panel of 5 starts with 10 applicants for Gardner MA Police Chief
According to statements made by Mayor Michael Nicholson at an Appointments Committee Meeting on July 12, 2022, the Panel of Five has received a total of 10 applications and will review them later this week. First round of interviews will come sometime next week. At some point, the top 2 candidates will go to the Mayor, who anticipates making a recommendation to the City Council prior to the September meeting. The Mayor has previously stated that once he makes his pick from the top 2, he will make a 60 day temporary appointment.
Assistant City Solicitor Has Resigned
While Mayor Nicholson stated that the resignation was not due to the recent City Council vote denying a large raise, but instead due to an offer made by a different law firm out of the area, the departure was not a big surprise. Despite at least one City Councilor expressing his concern that denying the raise would lead to a departure, the City Council unanimously voted on July 5, 2022 to restrict the raise to the same 2% given to other City employees. The reason given for the raise request was a substantial increase in workload.
One of the other topics discussed was the reappointment of Sergeant Lauren Walter, who could not be present for the meeting due to working a double. Councilor Walsh said he would like to postpone decision on the reappointment until another meeting as he had some questions. The Committee agreed. Also, Paulette Burns came up for a reappointment to the Board of Assessors and was widely praised and easily approved for a reappointment recommendation. There was also a discussion about a Civil Service bill being considered by the Massachusetts House.
- Twiddling Thumbs (7/12/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Nicholson: We’re not Twiddling our Thumbs
The Chair City Mayor speaks on how Gardner is setting an example to bring in business and relates numerous examples of success in making Gardner better. Complete article, CLICK HERE.
- Municipal FM (7/10/2022)
Because of the relatively low power involved, cost would not be a huge factor as the transmitter and antenna would be fairly inexpensive. Engineering is relatively simple and the F.C.C. engineers in Washington D.C. could help for FREE. Gardner already has a television studio at the High School on Catherine Street. Gardner MA produces high quality video of City Council, School Committee, and other Municipal Meetings, and a weekly Mayor’s update. Visit the City of Gardner YouTube page here.
Gardner MA may consider its own Low Power Municipal Radio Station
Last year, an F.C.C. window closed on applications for regular licenses on the non-commercial band. Sometime soon, a window will open for additional low power FM applications on the 92 -108 part of the band. That’s where the interests of Gardner come in. Does Gardner want to have a station like the City of Leominster has had since January 26, 2017, which is licensed for 21 watts with an antenna 210 feet above average terrain? See what Leominster is doing with it. Website.
How Far would it Transmit?
If the license was granted, Gardner High School on Catherine Street could serve as a transmitter site as it’s roughly in the middle of Gardner geographically. Gardner City Hall might also cover the City. According to the Federal Communications Commission, Low power FM has a radius of about 3.5 miles. Gardner is only 23 square miles which in this case presents an advantage – less square footage to cover with a transmitter. The calculated coverage area would be A=πr2=π·3.52≈38.48451mi² using 3.5 as the radius of a circle and calculating the area of the circle. The math shows much of the Chair City could be covered, perfect for emergencies or whatever Gardner would deem to be in its interests. Due to the low power, the coverage might have dead spots due to terrain. That is why commercial stations which cover more than one community operate with substantially more power.
We asked the Mayor in an interview on many subjects July 6th:
Poegel: “Mayor, so sometime soon, an FCC window is going to open, allowing the City of Gardner to apply for a low power FM license, similar to what the City of Leominster already has. Does the Chair City have an interest in pursuing this to protect its interests?”
Nicholson: “I know we’ve talked about that with our Emergency Management Director Paul Topolski, because we do have a radio transmitter that we can use when we have larger events, but we don’t have a signal that is our own. So it is something we preliminarily looked at, but it’s not something we’ve had on the radar until we just heard the rumblings that the F.C.C. might be opening up a little more, so it’s a very recent conversation that we don’t have any details on yet on our end, but it is something that did spark a conversation.” Listen to the entire interview.
What frequency would it be?
Low power FM is between 92 and 108 on the FM dial. You find out what’s available by doing a search on the FCC website. You need to know the latitude and longitude of the proposed transmitter location. Finding a frequency is as simple as going on the F.C.C. site, inputting latitude and longitude specs, and doing a search. Gardner City Hall at 95 Pleasant Street is at 42 34 26, -71 59 45 and Gardner High School is at 42 34 39, -71 58 45. Both searches yield the same available frequencies, 97.3 and 102.9. However, Steve Wendell, owner of WGAW has a construction permit for a commercial station at the 97.3 frequency for Orange MA, so our bet is the City would pick 102.9 if it’s interested in pursuing the project.
As the Crow Flies
If we each had a flying car, we could make it to work much quicker because the distance “As the Crow Flies” is always shorter. There’s an online tool to calculate the straight line distance between two locations. CLICK HERE.
- Gardner PD Chief (7/10/2022)
It is unknown how long exactly it will take the Panel of Five to review applications, conduct interviews, and then send the final two picks to Mayor Michael Nicholson’s desk, but it is in the works and the Mayor won’t be told any of the candidate’s names until the end of the process.
Gardner Magazine recently published an article on the positive Community Outreach of the Gardner Police Department, much of it publicized by the Department since March of this year. See article.
Will Gardner MA PD Promote from Within? Applications Closed.
At least one member of the Gardner PD wants to be its next Chief of Police. Question is: Will the Panel of Five reviewing the applications end up choosing someone already on the Force as one of its two final picks?
Before the applications closed on Friday, July 8, 2022 at 4:30pm we asked Mayor Nicholson: “So moving on to the Gardner PD. There was a period of challenges earlier this year, when both the Chief and Deputy Chief were on paid Administrative Leave, and it appears the Gardner Police Department thrived, with a huge increase in the documentation of its community outreach efforts and a lot of positive accolades for the Gardner PD members. Does this mean it’s possible the new Chief will be a promotion from within?”
Nicholson: That’s always a possibility. To be honest with you Werner, I have removed myself from knowing who has applied for the position, just because I know who are current officers are, I’ve appointed some of them. But, I just want to make sure that there’s no appearance of a favoritism or anything like that. With that said, there’s always a chance that someone from inside could absolutely be promoted. Basically what happened is, the panel that’s going to be doing the preliminary review of the applicants, and I believe we have 8 or 9, I do get the numbers, I don’t get the names, we have 8 or 9 applicants so far, some are internal, some are external. Whoever the top two are from that panel, I’ll get them and do a final interview here and make the appointment based off of that final second interview. But there’s always a chance that someone from inside, it doesn’t have to be someone from the outside, but it could be. And I think that’s the chance we’ve given the City options to go off of rather than restrict one way or the other.”
Mayor Nicholson has previously stated that he intends to make a temporary 60 day appointment of the person chosen, with a full 3 year appointment to follow, requiring approval of the Gardner City Council.
- Mayor’s Update 7-8-22 (7/8/2022)
Watch Gardner MA Mayor Nicholson’s weekly updates on the City of Gardner’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE.
Upbeat Summer Message Focuses on Food Truck Festival, Senior Center, Anniversaries, Promo Videos, Veterans, and a flyer about Taxes.
In the Gardner MA Mayor’s weekly update before the Gardner Food Truck Festival of Saturday, July 9, 2022 – see article -, Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson spoke about adding yet another Food Truck, bringing the total to 26. Simmy’s Polish Express is the latest addition. Moon Hill Brewing will be serving adult beverages. The Mayor reminded that “this is a bring your own chair event.” The Pleasant Street seating area is available as well.
The Mayor thanked the staff of Gardner Senior Center for organizing the Inter Generational programs which bring relatives of seniors into activities, and congratulated the Gardner Elks Club and WGAW Radio on their respective milestone anniversaries.
Nicholson spoke of promotional videos by CGI Productions. Businesses may receive a letter informing them of an opportunity to be a sponsor. It’ll be accompanied by a letter from the City informing them it’s not a scam. The Mayor said, “looking forward to be able to market the city in a new way.”
American Day in the Park is coming back to the City of Gardner on Sunday July 17th. The mayor says to keep an eye out for the flyers for the event. It’s a way of celebrating our Veterans and those who work with our veterans.
The Mayor also touched on the real estate tax bills once again. The city has also put together an explanatory pamphlet. Press Release
- Tax Inversion (7/8/2022)
From a Press Release from Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson: “According to Massachusetts General Law and the restrictions of Proposition 2 ½, the City cannot raise taxes more than 2 ½% each year. For the current fiscal year, the total amount of property taxes that Gardner can collect is $31,271,792.” Read the entire Press Release.
City of Gardner MA Hit With Tax Inversion Phenomenon, Confusing Taxpayers
If conditions are ideal, a City’s Real Estate tax rate set by the City Council is fairly accurate, with preliminary 1st and 2nd quarter bills usually being somewhat lower than the final bills for 3rd and 4th quarter. However, due to state-mandated calculations, this time around, the Chair City gets stuck with a Tax Inversion.
Instead of being able to immediately lower the tax rate per $1000 of valuation to compensate for the higher valuations of calendar year 2021, Gardner is forced by State law to send out the bills with both the already approved tax rate AND the higher valuation. The Result: Tax Inversion, where the bills for 1st and 2nd quarter are higher than expected. Good News: 3rd and 4th quarter actual real estate tax bills get adjusted so that the total you pay for the year is accurate. Conclusion: You pay more now, but pay less later.
Note: This is the first time Tax Inversion has hit Gardner since 2006. It’s because the average house prices in calendar year 2021 went up a lot. Help: If this situation presents a financial problem, don’t worry, the City of Gardner will work with you. Local Resources: The best place to get questions answered regarding your Gardner MA Real Estate taxes is the Treasurer/Collector office. Here is a link to the website page.
Future Tax Rate
Future Tax Rate: Once New Growth, Free Cash, etc. is certified by about November/December of 2022, the Gardner City Council is allowed to adjust the tax rate to compensate. The last two quarters get adjusted, and the universe goes back into balance. Tax Levy Limited: Remember, Gardner can’t tax more than a certain amount for the year due to Prop 2 ½, so you can be sure the adjustments will be made at the appropriate time. This may be inconvenient, but it all gets worked out in the end.
Understanding the Issue
The State of Massachusetts has a guide to Municipal Property Taxes. CLICK HERE. You can also read the actual State Law which restricts how Cities and Towns in Massachusetts can handle the situation. CLICK HERE. A third party site, Smart Asset, explains how property taxes vary throughout Massachusetts and some other interesting related tidbits. CLICK HERE.
While it can be a shock to get an unexpectedly high bill given current worries about inflation, the transparency of Gardner City Hall on this issue and its willingness to work with taxpayers should relieve some stress.
- Projects (7/6/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson – The Projects Interview – July 6, 2022
Gardner Magazine Publisher Werner Poegel interviews Mayor Nicholson. The Chair City Mayor speaks about the new Gardner Elementary School, taxes, projects, and paving. In the complete article, we now have in writing the complete section on the New School explaining how your bills won’t go up because of it, how your higher preliminary real estate bills will get adjusted in the end, and how the City will work with those needing help in paying.
Gardner MA School Excellence and Safety
The Mayor cites numerous examples of excellence, going above and beyond, and School Safety.
For complete article, CLICK HERE.
To listen to the complete interview, just click the play button below:
- City Council 7-5-22 (7/6/2022)
Listen to Meeting Audio
For past City Council Meetings you can listen to on any device, CLICK HERE.
No Big Raises for Gardner MA HR Director and Assistant City Solicitor
An amendment made by Gardner City Councilor James Walsh won the day and the large raises proposed for the Assistant City Solicitor and Human Resource Director were voted down, in favor of a 2% raise comparable to what other City employees are getting. Despite both the Assistant Solicitor and Human Resource Director taking on additional duties, the larger raises were denied, but Councilor discussion indicates a City-wide salary survey may be undertaken soon. After this survey according to Walsh, any raises could be made retroactive to July 1 if desired.
In New Business, 4 of the 10 Gardner MA City Councilors made comments.
Dana Heath – I want to thank the Mayor for earlier explaining the taxes. I actually had a constituent earlier today who just got her tax bill. And I feel like everything you just said touched every topic that she brought to me. ….and everyone get out to the Food Truck Fest the 9th.
Nathan Boudreau – On June 25th, an explosive good time was had by all. ….I would like to thank the Mayor and the Council, and the police, fire, different members clubs from the community, and for all getting together to put on a great time. There didn’t seem to be any issues, the fireworks show was outstanding, I looking forward to what we will do over the next year for the 100th anniversary, noting that for year 237 we went off. So, thank you everybody involved in that. It was a good time.
James Walsh – I appreciate the Mayor explaining at tonight’s meeting as well as the other efforts made to explain the inversion of the tax rate versus the preliminary tax bill, versus the valuations that are used to, or the assessments that are used to, calculate the preliminary tax bills, it’s a little complicated, a little confusing, but we have to explain it to our constituents the best we can and I think the efforts being taken to do so hopefully will meet the challenges. The other thing, when I received my email, the Mayor’s announcement….I reminded the Mayor, that while we’re allowed to increase taxes by 2 ½ percent, we’re not obligated to, and we can do lower than that if circumstances justify. There’s a supplemental budget based upon the new growth anticipated tax levy, and we’ll have the opportunity to address that topic at that time. See the Gardner Magazine article on Tax Inversion.
Ron Cormier. “ Yeah briefly, we had two items placed on file this evening. One of them was the notification of a Mass Trails Grant award. The city has been working long and hard for years and years to develop a rail trail system and it came out this week that we received a $245,000 grant to help plan the further process. Wherever these rail trails are, they’re always well received. It’s a multi-use trail, and expand the ones we have is commendable. This is great news. The other one is to a notification to approve vacant storefront program. It’s something to help merchants, storefront owners, to improve the looks of their Downtown. We took action a couple weeks ago to try to improve a couple of parks, to try to improve the appearance of our community. We know we have new landlords in town who already made efforts to bring these buildings up to snuff. And this is another step forward, in trying to make Gardner, we have to make ourselves look better. This is another part of it. I just thought it was important to make note of that.
- Storefront Revitalization (7/1/2022)
State Approves Gardner MA Application for Storefront Revitalization Districts
In an announcement dated June 30, 2022 but sent out on the first day of the new fiscal year, Mayor Nicholson announced that the Chair City has been approved for two new Vacant Storefront Revitalization Districts, covering both the Timpany Boulevard Corridor and another which covers the majority of the City’s Downtown. Complete Press Release in pdf form. CLICK HERE.
An Avalanche of Government and Community Leaders Respond Positively
Mayor Nicholson, “…these programs just continue to make Gardner a more marketable place to do business.” State Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, “…this program will help further revitalize two important commercial areas.” State Senator Anne Gobi, “The City of Gardner continues to put out the welcome mat to new businesses….” Jonathan Bombaci of Candor Realty, ” We have a number of businesses interested in coming into the downtown and this program will help them with the fit-out costs which are necessary for them to be successful…” Patti Bergstrom of Gardner Square Two, “….This program should go a long way toward helping….” Amy Fantoni, owner of Timpany Crossroads, “…We are excited to grow with the city….” Gardner City Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas, “….The program both compliments and encourages growth in our city moving forward.” Congresswoman Lori Trahan, “…I applaud Mayor Nicholson for his commitment to making Gardner an even better place to live, work, and do business.” Mayor Nicholson, “…the fact that we were able to get both applications approved is quite an accomplishment for the City.” Read all the comments in the Press Release.
Program applies to all storefronts that have been vacant for a period of 12 months or more. There’s a total of 42 eligible locations. For all the complete comments, please read the Press Release.
The Two Vacant Storefront Districts Recently Approved for Funding by the State.
- Mayors Update 6-24-22 (6/24/2022)
View the Weekly Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner’s Youtube page or on our Mayor’s Update page. CLICK HERE.
Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson focuses on Budget and various items approved by Gardner City Council and Paving Projects.
Mayor Nicholson went over Budget items and spoke of paving projects coming up in the next week. (See color-coded map below). The Mayor highlighted events taking place on June 25, 2022, the start of Concerts at Monument Park, and mentioned the John Philip Sousa Band playing at Monument Park on Monday June 27th. The Mayor also had well wishes for retiring Gardner Police Chief Richard Braks. See article.
Other upcoming items of note: The Summer Reading Kickoff is June 29th at the Levi Heywood Memorial Library. The Mayor also congratulated new Eagle Scout Brady Billings of Gardner, a new Eagle Scout.
Paving Progress on Route 140 in Gardner MA – from Winchendon line to Green Street
Food Truck Festival in 2 weeks
The Gardner Food Truck Festival will be taking place on July 9th with about 2 dozen food trucks featuring an assortment of delights. View Article.
- City Council 6-21-22 (6/22/2022)
The Gardner City Council got everything done in one night, so the second night of meetings were able to be canceled. The regular meeting was an hour and half long. View the Gardner City Council meetings on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our City Council page. CLICK HERE.
Gardner MA City Council Gets It Done in One Night – Budget and Parks Approved.
Council President Kazinskas. “We are meeting informally tonight to discuss the City’s FY 23 Budget proposed by Mayor Nicholson. As in years past, we will go page by page through the budget packet.”
Review of Budget at Informal Meeting
Since the budget was released to the City Council and the public, various committees have met with the Mayor to discuss various aspects of the budget. The Council went on to review the budget page by page and took a straw poll vote on various adjustments. Based on the Council’s wishes and likely vote at the Regular meeting to take place later, the Mayor said the City Auditor would amend the money orders in time for the meeting. This allowed the Gardner City Council to proceed with all matters before it in one night.
Matters Approved at Regular June 21, 2022 Gardner City Council Meeting
City Getting New Tennis Courts
$90,000 from fresh cash was approved for a “full redo of tennis courts at Gardner High School but not before enthusiastic comments from a few City Councilors.” Ronald Cormier, “These are the original tennis courts put in there nearly a half century ago….they are beyond just being filled… Judy Mack, “I really support this. For the last couple of years, the condition of the tennis courts has just gotten worse.” Alek Dernalowicz, “I’m in support of this….glad to see they’re getting fixed, hopefully we’ll get another 50 years out of them.” James Boone, “Councilor Dernalowicz’s grandfather was hugely instrumental in the recreation department and in fact promoted a gymnastics program that my father used to run. …I’m fully in support of it.”Mayor Nicholson, “This is the only public tennis court in the City…” Approval was unanimous. Another $15,000 was approved from free cash for the purchase of equipment for a disc golf course.
Uniforms for Cheerleaders Narrowly passes
There was considerable disagreement over $25,000 being spent from free cash on uniforms as Mayor Nicholson stated, “price covers cost of 8 varsity cheerleaders and 10 junior varsity cheerleaders.” While approved on a vote of 6 to 5, there were varied opinions. Judy Mack, “would like to see more up to date invoice estimate.”James Boone,“why free cash and not part of school budget.” James Walsh “I’m troubled by this one.”Judy Mack “motion to refer item back to finance committee,” George Tyros, “this is getting my vote.” And then he voted no.
New Health Department Vehicle Explained
Mayor Nicholson spoke. Price: $47,645, trade-in $7,000, $7,500 rebate, state rebate $1500, total cost $31,645 “least expensive vehicle the city has purchased in at least the past 5 years.” The Mayor stated the City would be waiting to receive the vehicle until at least September or October. Dana Heath commented, “rebate period runs out. Don’t tell my fiancé because I missed out on my rebates. Just to make sure you cash in on those rebates within the time frame.”
Net cost: $31,645.
Centennial Celebration Expense Account Approved
$100,000 was approved for the 100th anniversary celebration of Gardner as a City: 1923 to 2023. A nonpaid committee to be appointed by the Mayor.
Maki Park Proposal Approved 8 to 3
Approved was $180,000 from free cash to Maki Park expense account. Mayor Nicholson explained that the “City purchased the property in 2016. After building was torn down, purchased the land from the Gardner Redevelopment Authority on February 15, 2017. … This is a property the City has tried to dispose of 3 separate times before, and has received no interest on it. The biggest hurdle that we’ve received …is that per the state’s building code and our local zoning code, while the West Street parking lot is directly adjacent to the property, anything constructed on that property would have to have its own dedicated parking ….To terrace the current lot, design was approved by the City Council on August 2, 2021. Since then the design has been completed, and the proposal that is before the Council is to do the work that is there. It is being done in a way that the property can be sold if we do have an interested buyer. It is still considered declared surplus.” Councilors had differing opinions on this item. Alek Dernalowicz “Finance committee favorable.” Nathan Boudreau, “a good step forward in our economic development and recreation that’s been going on in our city. “ Boudreau questioned why the City would ever sell the land again after spending 180 grand on it. James Boone, “I’m opposed to this. Taking another property off the tax roll.” Alek Dernalowicz, “Just wanted to clarify. With the parking requirements, the Ale House is an existing building and doesn’t need the requirement of those spots. Building a new building there has the requirement of having spots on site.” Councilor Walsh “opposed to this money order…There are two prongs. Merits and needs. Financial part of it.” Walsh spoke of what he stated was the need for the City to save money based on the inflation occurring.” Judy Mack ”agree with many of Councilor Walsh’s points.” …”There’s so much going on Downtown. I think we need to see what happens with those 34 storefronts. Let’s bring the businesses in. Let’s give the Pleasant Street trial project a chance. I just think this is an incredible amount of money ….There are greater needs in the City.” George Tyros, “I do think it’s important to acknowledge the economic headwinds that we are currently facing., but I also very much view this as an investment in the future of Gardner. Just because the storefronts aren’t filled yet, doesn’t mean they can’t be, doesn’t mean that businesses can’t be attracted by having these parks available. Could be an Ice Cream Shop, coffee shop, a bakery, we don’t know what that is yet. It is a large investment, but these scaled projects to have the investment needed for that opportunity. I think when you go to places like Hudson Massachusetts…that attract businesses. It is something people talk about, having space.” “I’d like to see ideas building on this, free public wifi for example. I’ll be supporting this motion and the next motion.”
Park Street Park Proposal Approved 7-4
Approved was $268,000 from free cash to Park Street Park expense account. Mayor Nicholson stated, “The restrictions put in place on the land that we conveyed as part of the land swap….“Parking lot would need to be permeable” “No other use for the site… Can used for passive recreation as long as there is no digging….would take out eyesore of barbed wire fence.” Councilor Walsh, “There are parks in the immediate area. I don’t know why we need a 45 spot parking lot on land that we don’t own. …..Makes no sense, we’re going to need this money.” James Boone, “Concur with Councilor Walsh….I don’t get it either. It’s taxpayer dollars…it makes no sense.” Dana Heath,”Just had a question… Is that parking going to alleviate…I didn’t know if anybody knew where they park when they have the big events” Mayor Nicholson, “When they have big events, we have reached out to the Commonwealth…to see if parking could be available at the skating rink, but that is something the state restricts due to their insurance, so unless we get specific permission from DCR, you can’t use the skating rink.”Judy Mack, “I just want to say that, 45 parking spots for a limited amount of meets at the pool. … I just think $268,000 is a lot of money for parking spots for the swimming pool. I know we have events at Monument Park, but this is a lot of money for land that we do not own. We don’t even know how long the lease would be for…There’s so many needs out there….I’m against this order.” Craig Cormier “I do consider this an investment that I hope will continue the draw of new businesses into the area as well as reinvestment in the area like we’ve seen from Candor Realty. … I’m going to support this in hopes that we can continue the path that we’re on.” Nathan Boudreau, “I’d like to echo Councilor Craig Cormier in stating that it is a positive investment, but I would like to point out that there would be possible funding options here. Maybe we install one of those singular parking meters. Maybe the Elks get involved. We all know this is going to be a parking lot for large parties at the Elks, more than it’ll be for a lot of other things….I’ll be supporting this because I think it is a beautiful area, and will add to a beautiful area….” George Tyros, “I just have two points. One was to an earlier comment about spending taxpayer dollars. I think everyone on this Council does that with a great responsibility. The second point I’d like to make is just provide a different perspective on this potential park. I walk Crystal Lake Cemetery nearly every day. I think it’s beautiful. I was actually surprised one day to find 50 cars in the cemetery. The Senior Class had decided to take prom pictures at Crystal Lake Cemetery Park because it was so beautiful. …Often every day there’s a minimum of 2-3 cars parked on the road on that Crystal Lake Drive going in. It is kind of tight to fit by. I think this is a lot of money, but it will provide a lot of beauty to the area and might be able to leverage it greater for Monument Park events having this parking. It will certainly be a safety alleviation for the area. It pains me every time we have a city event at Monument Park to look over and see the barbed wire fence next to a very beautiful lake. I’m hoping this can be incorporated with some purpose in future projects like the North Central Pathway. I’ll be supporting this.” James Boone, “Just another point for the second time. At some point sadly we’re going to have to tear down the Greenwood Pool. I spent a lot of time there myself. So we’re going to spend $268,000 on a parking lot and yet we’re going to have to tear down that pool…cause it’s just, the building’s falling apart. I didn’t want to see that. I donated to the fund to try and save it. But again, I just think it’s foolish to spend that kind of money on a parking lot when we have bigger needs.” James Walsh, “For the second time, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. This is an investment, an investment in somebody else’s land in a case where there’s a license that doesn’t exist, that we hope to have, maybe we’ll have….. At best this is premature.” Nathan Boudreau asked a question of the Mayor, “Would it be possible to get some sort of Council vote approving your office to seek an agreement with National Grid,versus doing this money order upfront? ….putting the horse before the cart?” Mayor Nicholson, “As I said earlier, National Grid holds off on their lease agreement until the whole plan is in place. …Without the plan in place, they really don’t issue the license agreement.”
Litter and Handbills Ordinance Approved for First Printing
Litter and handbills added to City Ordinance – patterned after Fitchburg and Leominster, Craig Cormier, “ability to enforce some ordinances based on litter to help keep the city clean with all the investment we’re doing in trying to improve the Downtown and other areas.”
City of Gardner Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Orders Approved with some cuts
All approved unanimously were $23,168,101.03 out of $23,188.101.03 proposed for various departments, $13,546.060.04 out of 13,610.641.08 for the salary and labor budget. $27,819,676.29 for School Department. $9,958,735.62 out of $9,967,235.62 for available enterprise funds: sewer, water, golf, landfill closure, and solid waste.
Scooters will be Coming
The shareable dockless mobility devices ordinance was approved unanimously to go to the second and final printing – This would enable the scooters proposed by the Mayor.
Nathan Boudreau, “Thank Mayor Nicholson and his administration and all the Department heads for the professional handling of this year’s City Budget….Also like to wish our Great city and our great country a very Happy Birthday. Everyone that is heading out to the festivities this weekend whether it be the celebration in Downtown Gardner in the morning on Saturday or the Fireworks at the PACC on Kendall Pond in the evening, please be safe and celebrate accordingly. Have a great summer.” James Walsh, “I have a question for the Chair. Will you be canceling the notices meetings for tomorrow?” Council President Kazinskas stated “yes”
- 2 Meetings (6/20/2022)
The Story of why Back to Back Gardner City Council Meetings are scheduled this week
Mayor Nicholson stated on Social Media, “You’ll notice there’s identical informal meetings posted for both Tuesday and Wednesday and the budget also appears on the Tuesday night regular meeting. Every year when we do the budget the Council always posts duplicative meetings that way if they have questions after day 1, they can take the time and get answers and come back the next day. However if they feel all their questions are answered and they get it done in one day, the subsequent meetings are canceled.
Since the open meeting law requires that public meetings be posted 48 hours in advance, they’re all pre scheduled for a worst case scenario.”
See our Article on the upcoming Gardner City Council meetings with various agendas and supplemental material. CLICK HERE.
- Pleasant Plaza (6/19/2022)
Pleasant Plaza is Born in Downtown Gardner MA
Monday, June 20, 2022 is the official date of birth which will be shown on the BIRTH CERTIFICATE for Pleasant Plaza on Pleasant Street, Gardner MA as the street is closed off after 5am and a new Outdoor Dining area is BORN. The idea was hatched by Gardner Business and Government leaders, gestated by the Mayor and City Council, born into reality by the efforts of many and named by the spontaneous utterances of local business people.
The timing is perfect as Gardner celebrates its 237th Birthday on June 25th and hopes to draw thousands of people to the Chair City on that day to enjoy all that Gardner has to offer. Complete list of Events, CLICK HERE.
- Council Busy (6/18/2022)
While any discussions of budgets can conjure up visions of the “Fat Budget Man”, Gardner residents should know that Mayor Nicholson’s proposed budget has the lowest proposed increase of comparable cities. See our article.
Gardner MA City Council Facing Busy Week – Focus on Budget Fiscal Year 2023
The Gardner Massachusetts City Council is taking Monday off this week due to the Juneteenth Holiday. Then, it’s WORK and more WORK Tuesday and Wednesday with Informal and Regular Meetings. You can view the various City Council Agendas and packets. 6-21 Informal, 6-21 Regular, 6-22 Informal, 6-22 Regular.
With respect to Maki Park and Park Street Park, the Mayor’s submissions intend to demonstrate that City Council approval of both would be consistent with the City Council’s past actions relating to both proposed expenditures.
Gardner Magazine had a previous article on the City of Gardner Fiscal Year 2023, demonstrating its efficiency compared to other communities. CLICK HERE.
- More Paving (6/18/2022)
Positive Paving Postulations Possible in Gardner MA
More paving means more roads will be looking better in Gardner. Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson is advising residents of plans for Tuesday June 21 through 24 in a “Traffic Advisory” so people can “plan for traffic delays or seek alternate route.”
Route 140 Winchendon Line to Green Street
Nicholson states, “MassDOT Rt. 140 paving will begin Tuesday June 21st through Friday June 24th. Paving will occur form the Winchendon town line to Green St. in Gardner. Traffic will be reduced to an alternating single travel lane for large portions of the roadway.”
Pearson Boulevard, Gardner
MassDOT will also be resuming work on Pearson Blvd shortly following a recent pause in the work caused by granite curbing supply issues.
Other Gardner MA Street Work
Mayor Nicholson stated, “Gardner crews will also be raising structures on Parker St., West St., Central St., West Lynde St., and Woodland Ave. and will be installing crossing ramps at the intersections of Oak and West Street and along Woodland Ave by Heywood Hospital.”
- Smith 6-17-22 (6/17/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor’s Update with Colin Smith 6-17-22
The Mayor’s Executive Aid Colin Smith filled in as Mayor Nicholson was away as a Chaperone for Boys State. He also spoke of the Boys and Girls Club Gala which had a goal of $100,000. This was easily surpassed as Ed Atter donated $100,000 himself. A total of $207,000 was raised for the Boys and Girls Club. — Smith spoke of it being an honor to be at the Flag Day Ceremony at the Senior Center where he introduced his Father, Brigadier General Greg Smith who was the guest speaker. The entire Flag Day ceremony is available for viewing on the City’s YouTube page. CLICK HERE.
Smith also went on to speak of the City’s celebration on Saturday June 25, 2022 – See our complete page of the day’s events. And for this week’s update, visit the City of Gardner YouTube page or our Mayor’s update page, CLICK HERE
- Braks Done (6/16/2022)
Update from Mayor Nicholson 6-17-22: Mayor Nicholson responded to our email with the following: “I’m actually away this week but he was not terminated and there’s nothing official on that at this time. I will look into who said this at the meeting so I can reach out to them to correct this.” Mayor Nicholson followed up again with “I do expect the public announcement on the conclusion of the police situation to be announced mid next week.”
Chief Braks had been on Administrative Leave since February after a No-Confidence vote by 40 out of 41 officers in the Gardner Police Department.
Gardner MA Hits Brakes on Chief Braks – no longer employed by City?, apparently we’ll find out next week…
Update: Mayor Nicholson has informed us that Dr. Hemman made a poor word choice. The Mayor stated, “The confusion came that since Chief Braks had a voting appointment on the School Building Committee, that position was not represented since the Chief was placed on Administrative leave.To fill that structural vacancy, I appointed Officer Lawrence, the School Resource Officer, to the position so that the Police Department could have a say in the decisions of the Committee. The not employed by the City was a misnomer and word choice error in reference to the administrative leave. That said, I do expect the public announcement on the conclusion of the police situation to be announced mid next week.”
At a School Building Committee Meeting on June 15, 2022, Steve Hemman stated, “As a matter of public record, Richard Braks is not employed by the City any more, therefore he does not serve on the Building Committee, he’s a non-voting member and the Mayor has appointed John Lawrence to take that spot to be on the building committee, and we have filed that paperwork with MSBA which we are required to do. There’s no action required by this committee, but just to have it in our minutes that that change took place.” Gardner Magazine will provide more information as we receive it. Watch Meeting
- School Update (6/16/2022)
Dream of new Gardner MA Elementary School fast becoming Reality
Project Leader spokesman Tim Alix stated at 6-15-22 Building Committee meeting, “We feel comfortable that we’ll be ready, if not for the contractual date of substantial completion of July 15th, if not by then, certainly by the time school opens and we have occupancy prior to the start of school.” “Financially we’re doing well. We’re on target.”
IT Infrastructure Possible Issue and Biggest Project Challenge
Tim Alix announced that they are making a switch from HP equipment for the switches in the closets for IT infrastructure. “HP is just not being able to provide us with delivery dates, so we switched, and as it turns out, we’re switching to the District’s preferred option, which is a Cisco product, a Cisco system, so right now the contractors are confirming that they have the quantity that we need, and that we’ll have it in the time that we need, …we’re going down that road because when they checked a week ago, they had the equipment we’d be needing and they were able to get it in on time….It will just able to coordinate with everything that we have. That was our biggest challenge. And it looks like that’s been resolved. ..As soon as we get confirmation 100 percent, we’ll let people know.
Some Photos of Progress at the New Gardner Elementary School
Public Meeting Open to Public Attendance
UPDATE: (As long as you sign a waiver)
Mayor Nicholson was kind enough to personally call us at Gardner Magazine to advise that the General Public is most welcome on the tour of the new Gardner Elementary School on June 27th. They just need to sign a waiver. The reason is that it is a full Public Meeting that is not being adjourned for the tour, it is actually being convened for the purpose of the tour. Any public meeting may be attended by any member of the public. We were previously advised by both City Hall and the Superintendent’s office that the public could not attend due to safety protocols – however, the Mayor has now stated that as long as the waiver is signed, full public meeting rights apply. So in case any of you are wondering if the Mayor is always working, that question just got answered – he knows what’s going on even when he is out of town.
So the Gardner School Committee, Gardner City Council, and members of the General Public will be touring the new Gardner Elementary School on June 27th. Hard hats to be worn by all. Dr. Hemman was asked about this during a Building Committee meeting and answered “yes’ regarding whether the public could attend the meeting. Gardner Magazine will attempt to screenshot any video of the meeting to provide you with as many photos of the new school as possible or we may just attend after signing our waiver.
Next meeting of the Building Committee will be on July 20th after the substantial completion date. Watch the entire meeting, CLICK HERE.
- Hubbardston Election (6/16/2022)
- Mayor 6-10-22 (6/10/2022)
View the Mayor’s Update via the City of Gardner YouTube page or our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE.
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Delivers 27 Minute Address in Weekly Update
In an inspirational and motivational, but lengthy weekly update of 27 minutes on June 10, 2022, Mayor Michael Nicholson put forth great confidence in the Chair City with a focus on serious financial, civic, and budget matters.
The Mayor noted that while other areas have seen population declines, Gardner’s population has grown significantly in the last two decades. He stated, ““individuals can keep their Boston jobs and their Boston pay while coming out to the North Central Mass, North Quabbin areas.” Recently, Mayor Nicholson met with the North Central Massachusetts Association of Realtors to discuss various projects and properties. Realtors helped answer questions such as,”“what are your clients who are moving to the Gardner area asking you? What are they looking for? What types of services seem to stick out for them when they are looking for a community? It helps us get information on our end, but also we can give information to the Realtors about projects like the new school, the Outdoor seating pilot programs, the different business grants that are available, and different redevelopment projects that we have going on so we can get that symbiotic relationship between the two.”
Successful Gardner Manufacturers Look to Expand
Mayor Nicholson spoke of touring different manufacturing facilities in the Chair City such as Advanced Cable Ties, Blessington Corporation, and Specialty Paper, who are all looking at expanding. “We are seeing how we can promote that expansion here in Gardner.” And the Mayor noted the companies are hiring, ““every place we visited yesterday….one of the issues they faced was adequate staffing levels.”
Nicholson spoke of a number of events taking place in the city in the next month. He also spoke about the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget and explained that various meetings will be taking place. The Mayor advocated for his free cash requests for the Maki lot and the Park Street property, indicating that he felt spending money on the properties would help spruce up the City. Explaining the concept of free cash, the Mayor stated, ““Free cash is money that we budgeted on the revenue side that came in higher than budgeted or expenses that came in lower.”
Operation: Storefront Gets a Big Boost!
Gardner has entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to participate in the Vacant Storefront Incentive Program – “ this is a program where if a storefront has been vacant for more than 12 months, the city and the state will kick in 10 thousand dollars a piece for up to 3 storefronts a year so that we can help with fit out costs for those businesses as a way to incentivize those businesses coming in to those vacant storefronts… We’re looking forward to seeing how we can utilize this program to help incentivize businesses to come in to the area and help revitalize our economy one step at a time. “ The City will match the state’s 10 grand with 10 grand from its American Rescue Plan funding.
- City Council 6-6-22 (6/7/2022)
View Gardner City Council Meetings on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our City Council page. CLICK HERE.
The $100,000 for the School Capital Project Music Account was approved unanimously by the Gardner City Council after discussion, a substantial victory for MUSIC in the Chair City.
The “Scooter” Ordinance went to First Printing with use in cemeteries prohibited.
MUSIC Wins Big at Gardner MA City Council meeting of June 6, 2022
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson asked for $100,000 from free cash for the School Capital Project Music Support Account and this request resulted in considerable discussion and comment among the City Councilors.
Councilor Ronald Cormier stated, “…all of us I think are cognizant of the fact that last week there were so many kids involved in the newly reinstituted music program in the elementary school that they had to spread the concert over two nights. And with the new school being opened in the Fall, we need to provide the tools, if you will, needed by the Music Department, and there is a list of items, many of which I’m not even familiar with, because I’m not much of a musician, …but these are the tools that’ll be needed….the equipment stays with the school to be used year after year by the children. It’s exciting to see this happening in our school system. “
Councilor Nathan Boudreau, “ I am in support of this, I’d just like to thank the Mayor for his dedication to the arts during his tenure, I think it’s gonna come back tenfold. It’ll be great for the future of our city and for the future of the programs.”
Councilor Mack, “I’m also in support of this. I just want to make sure this is quite a number of instruments and that the school department is going to be able to budget for any repairs and maintaining the equipment ‘cause it is quite a few items, so that the money is being spent wisely and the instruments will be able to be used for many years to come.”
Councilor Walsh, “This is somewhat along the lines of Councilor Mack’s comment about budgeting. This is a substantial amount of money for new equipment, presumably there is existing equipment that these, all these additional people were using during the course of the current year. So this is supplementing that, beyond what is in existence already. I’m wondering why this is being done as a free cash appropriation rather than included in the school budget”
Mayor Nicholson responded, “That’s an excellent question from Councilor Walsh. And it is one that we did look into as well…. What we ended up doing for our plan is doing a one time expenditure like this to get us to that point and then budgeting the maintenance going forward in the regular school budget….The school does have an on-call contract with City Music for its repair of its instruments…. The compromise if you will in terms of a plan that we have for this was that the purchase up front would get us to a place where we need to be to get the students who are in the program right now the equipment and instruments they need to run the programs…”
Councilor Boone, “Yeah, I was kinda curious why the money wasn’t coming out of the Williams Rockwell Fund for the Arts. Maybe somebody can speak to that. “
Councilor Walsh, “As a member of that committee I can tell you that the Williams Rockwell group has funded substantial improvements in the school with the auditorium, …at least a half dozen different appropriations over the last couple of years….a substantial request was denied…because it was felt that was something that should be in the school budget….”
Other items which came before the Council included the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget which was referred to the entire Council as a Committee as a whole. $18,000 was approved to go to the medical exams account. $18,000 from free cash to medical exams account. Councilor Dernalowicz stated, “City has hired 160 new employees. This includes the school department as well.….this is to cover mandatory physical and drug testing, random drug testing for DPW, psych evaluations for the fire and police department…will cover expenses for remainder of fiscal year.” The $45,000 for the unclassified termination leave account to cover unexpected retirements passed unanimously. Park Opposition: There was opposition voiced by Councilors Walsh, Boone, and Mack regarding the proposed monies for Maki Park and Park Street Park and the matter was referred. The Board of Health will gets its new vehicle, an electric one to replace its 2013 vehicle which has been described as just having salvage value.
Dana M. Heath, “No new business, I just want to go ahead and say I was lucky to go and attend with you and a couple other councilors the graduation over the weekend. It was a a beautiful event, so a big shout out to Gardner High for going ahead and putting that all together. It was nice this year. No masks, being able to see everyone’s smile. George Tyros: “nothing new this evening.” Alek Dernalowicz: “nothing this evening.” Judy Mack: “nothing new this evening.” Craig Cormier: “Yeah, I’d like to just briefly mention that the Public Safety Committee did pass temporary removal of parking meters, both on Parker Street and on Main Street, at the request of a couple businesses to allow some sidewalk dining this summer in conjunction with our closing of Pleasant Street. So it’ll be interesting to see how that does. Look forward to that.” James Boone, “I got to attend the Memorial Day ceremonies along with many of you. I’m hoping that we can do something about the sound system for next time we have an event there because it was very, you couldn’t hear a thing, so, hopefully we’ll put some money in the budget to fix that.” Nathan Boudreau, “ No new city council business this evening.” Karen Hardern: “Nothing new this week.” James Walsh, “I have nothing more.” Ronald Cormier: “I have nothing.”
- School Budget Session (6/7/2022)
Gardner MA City Council Hears Superintendent Pellegrino speak of “an efficiently -run system”
Dr. Mark Pellegrino went over the budget adjustment process and went over each page of the budget in detail. Members of the school committee asked questions regarding the budget, which were answered by Superintendent Pellegrino, stating one goal is “Make sure students stay in Gardner” and encourage “teachers planning together.”
Dr. Pellegrino demonstrated that the City of Gardner School District is spending an average of 23% less on Administration costs than comparable School Districts. It spends 50% less than the average on Instructional Leadership. “We’re trying to keep administration down and make sure that we’re an efficiently-run system.” “We’re paying a lot less per student on administration as well as school administration.” Pellegrino pointed out that the City of Gardner is under spending on Teachers and Other Teaching Services by about 16% as compared to Districts similar to Gardner.
Other notable items: The City of Gardner spends 63% less on Instructional Materials and Technology. However, when it comes to Guidance Counseling and Testing, Gardner spends $665 per student when the average among comparable districts is $628. Pellegrino also went over the other categoriesThe Superintendent pointed out that Operations and Maintenance efforts have been bettered and Gardner spends only 5% less than the average comparable District. . “We’re really trying to make it so we are maintaining our buildings.”
Pupil Services expenditures are at 69% less than average and Pellegrino stated, “Pupil Services is more transportation and things like that and so again it’s something we wanna be more efficient in. “ Dr. Pellegrino went over the various school positions in detail and explained the rationale behind needing the various positions.
- City Council (6/5/2022)
Gardner MA City Council Holding 2 Sessions on Monday June 6, 2022
The City Council will meet for an informal session for the purposes of the School Budget Presentation at 6pm. The Regular Session is at 7:30pm and includes several public hearings at which the public can speak and provide input. Regular Session Agenda and packet, CLICK HERE.
- Hotline Radio 6-4-22 (6/4/2022)
Radio Station WGAW is heard on AM 1340 and 98.1FM 24/7, and also all over the world via its internet live stream. To listen right now, CLICK HERE.
WGAW Hotline Radio Highlights Races, Relays, Budgets, Business, and Gardner MA PD
In another information-filled program Saturday, June 4, 2022 from noon to 2pm, listeners learned more details about the Wildcat 5k coming up Saturday June 18th at Gardner High School. Race website, CLICK HERE. Host Steve Wendell interviewed Mark Bonneau of Hannaford Supermarkets regarding their support for the upcoming Gardner Relay for Life (6/10 & 6/11/22). And Mayor Nicholson related School and City Budget info, spoke about the Just Dance Center stating, “goal is to keep them in the City of Gardner.” and said there was no word yet on the Police Chief situation and the Deputy Chief position would be posted within the next 3 to 4 weeks.
- Mayor’s Update 6-3-22 (6/3/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s Weekly update on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our Mayor’s update page. CLICK HERE.
Reminder – Gardner Relay for Life:
The 2022 Gardner Relay for Life takes place on Friday June 10 and Saturday June 11, 2022. This is a FULL EVENT again this year.
Gardner’s FY23 Budget reflects a smaller increase than other nearby cities. View our article.
Gardner MA Michael Nicholson offers Reverence to Gardner Veterans, Inspiration to Gardner Students, Exciting Anticipation of June 25, 2022 Events, and Review of Gardner’s Fiscal 2023 Budget.
Reverence to Gardner Veterans
Mayor Nicholson thanked those involved in the Memorial Day Parade and services and also welcomed Bob Chase, a new Assistant Director of Veterans Services who will be an addition to the existing staff. The Mayor suggested people contact Veterans Services in Gardner for needs such as Metal Military Cemetery markers. Here are some helpful links: Veterans Services in Gardner —– Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center —- Gardner VFW on Facebook —–Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services —– U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Inspiration to Gardner Students
The Mayor spoke about the Gardner High Baccalaureate Service and thanked those involved. Mayor Nicholson commented on the large amount of scholarships given out at Gardner High School Scholarship Night, (over one half million dollars) due to community generosity. Some of the chair factories no longer in existence and other organizations had set up perpetual endowments for Gardner students. The Mayor offered these inspirational words, “You don’t find communities anywhere that give out well over a half million dollars, let alone even close to that, at their scholarship awards night, so we’re very lucky and very blessed here and we hope our students understand that we’re willing to invest in them as they move forward, and we’re willing to cheer for them as they move on so that they can come back to the City and know that Gardner will always be their home no matter where they choose to go in life.”
June 25, 2022 Events
The Mayor mentioned the events which will kick off summer. First of all, All of the Outdoor Seating proposals have been approved by the City Council. A portion of Pleasant Street will be closed to traffic beginning on June 20th and Downtown visitors will be able to sit outside at various tables. This is just in time for the Downtown Sidewalk Sales which will take place on Saturday June 25, 2022. Later that night, there will be Fireworks at Kendall Pond near the PACC. And, the Gardner Fish and Gun Club will be celebrating their 100th Birthday!
Review of 2023 Budget
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson spoke about the 2023 Fiscal Year Budget. The School Budget will be reviewed Monday and other hearings begin as early as next Wednesday. With respect to the budget, the Mayor stated, “We tried to be as careful and as conservative as possible.” And with very obvious pride in his voice for his team, the Mayor stated this about the recent audit of City Finances. ““Very Proud this year we did receive a perfect score on our audit, which is something the City has never received before, and we’re hoping to continue that trend as we move forward.”
- Gardner MA Budget (5/30/2022)
Gardner MA Budget Increase Compared to Other Cities
Mayor Michael Nicholson has stated he made an effort to keep costs down in the 2023 Gardner Budget. Is that true? We did a comparison to other cities in Massachusetts to see how Gardner stacks up. With a proposed budget of $74.85 million, the Gardner budget is an increase of 5.9% over 2022. Leominster’s budget of $150.6 million is up 9.9%, Fitchburg’s budget of $149.6 million is up 7.25%, and Boston with a $4 billion budget is up 6.4%. The Chair City of Gardner MA has the lowest proposed budget increase of any of these cities. So did the Mayor make an effort to keep costs down, even in the face of inflation? The numbers say yes. And don’t forget, Gardner just had a perfect audit of its finances, the first in decades. Citizens can feel confident that Gardner is well managed. Not opinion, objective fact.
- Mayor gets Chair (5/28/2022)
Gardner Magazine would like to cover more stories about Art and Music in the area. For any story ideas about any subject email News@GardnerMagazine.com
Local Artist Gardner Wood presents Gardner MA Mayor Nicholson with Big Chair painting – Has another Patriotic painting hidden underneath!
The Mayor stated, “This was a great surprise today! Thank you to local artist Gardner Wood for stopping by today to donate this painting of the Big Chair to hang in the Mayor’s Office!” Gardner Magazine was able to interview artist Gardner Wood.
About the Artist
Artist Gardner Wood randomly donates his work to area businesses including a local diner in Winchendon. He earns a living by working at Mount Wachusett Community College which is where he says he met Mayor Nicholson while adding a cowboy to another work for the VetTech class at MWCC.
Story of the Big Chair Painting
He utilized various online photos in composing the painting, which is a 16×20 acrylic and took him about 4 hours on a Saturday to complete. But, there’s even a more interesting story behind the painting, it’s not the only one on the canvas. Gardner Wood took an existing painting featuring a nature scene and an eagle and painted over it. So what the Mayor just hung in his office prior to the Memorial Day holiday also honors those who have given their lives for our country, a painting with an American Eagle hidden under a painting of Gardner’s iconic Big Chair. Gardner Wood also states that he usually signs his paintings “G. Wood”, but in this case had to use his full name since it was for the City of Gardner and that’s his first name. Thank you to Gardner Wood.
The Inspiration of the Work
We asked, What inspired you to paint the Big Chair and Gardner Wood responded, ““I work in Gardner, I live in Winchendon, I do have my artwork in a local diner…. I started a personal project… My main goal is I want to randomly donate a painting to local businesses. I’ve already started in Winchendon. That led me to be inspired to do the Chair for the Mayor. I met him and he’s very friendly, very nice. We basically talked about it. …It’s just my personal thing that I’ve taken upon myself to do….He seemed very excited about it.”
First Time’s a Charm
Gardner says this is the first time he’s ever painted the Chair. “I went on the computer and pulled up various different pictures, so I got all the pictures of the Chair. I did it in a Saturday morning for the most part.” “I paint for the people. I don’t paint to make money.” In the diner, I will listen and see what people are looking for. I will randomly give them to children. I enjoy doing it.” Gardner went on to say, “The chair, that painting is very unique for me because of course my name is Gardner Wood and I sign all of my paintings, G. Wood, basically because it’s a long name. But this one I felt I had to, so the bottom of that chair, the painting, I wrote Gardner Wood, my full name.
“Actually I can tell you a little bit more about it too. I am a little on the impatient side, maybe that comes with being an artist. I was at my house and I was looking and I didn’t have any 16 by 20s, I didn’t want to do a small one, I wanted to do a big one. So basically I grabbed one of my old paintings. The original painting was basically trees on both sides, and basically an eagle flying. In the painting, the eagle was too small…it was one of my first types of paintings, so I said, ok here’s a 16 by 20, so I painted over it. So if you were to actually xray through that, you’d actually see another painting under it. …That’s what happens when you don’t have a whole pile of good canvas….The painting was ok, but the eagle was too small, then it just worked out good.”
Let us note the historic Gardner Big Chair painting was placed in the Gardner MA Mayor’s office in May 2022. Thank you Gardner Wood for your generosity of time and of spirit.
- Mayor’s update 5-27-22 (5/27/2022)
Complete FY 2023 Budget Information in pdf format: FY23 Compensation Schedule —- FY23 Public Service Committee Submissions —- FY 23 Public Welfare Committee Submissions —- FY23 School Budget Presentation of 3-14-22 —– FY 23 Public Safety Committee Submissions —- FY23 Finance Committee Submissions —- FY 23 City Budget Submission.
Gardner MA Michael Nicholson Focuses on Events and Progress – Alerts Citizens to Effects of Inflation on City Costs.
The Mayor spoke of the upcoming Memorial Day Parade (see our previous article for details), the non-essential 9am-5pm water use ban (see article for details), various events, the new community garden to benefit the CAC (see our article for details), and Candor Realty’s outreach efforts.
Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner Youtube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE.
Mayor Nicholson spoke about the Fiscal Year 2023 City Budget and has made all documents available to us. See at left. See how your money will be spent.
The Gardner City Council will meet in June and must approve the budget before the fiscal year begins on July 1st. Note that the City Council can reduce the budget, but it is not empowered to increase the budget.
Inflationary Pressures on City Budget are Ongoing
To outsource the line painting of yellow and white lines has cost less than $18,000 in each of the past 5 years. This year, the minimum bid came in at $32,000. The Mayor said, ““that’s almost double what we normally pay.” The Fiscal Year 2023 Budget has been submitted by the City Council who will review it and act upon it before the new fiscal year starts on July 1, 2022.
Countdown to Sidewalk Sales and Fireworks Display
Sidewalk Sales will be held on Saturday June 25, 2022 in Downtown Gardner, and the Fireworks Display at the PACC is that evening at Dusk. It’s all part of Gardner’s birthday celebration. On June 27th, John Philip Sousa Honor Band will be performing FREE at Monument Park.. And next year will be Gardner’s 100th as a City, a celebration committee will be forming soon to start planning the City Centennial.
- Meeting Minutes (5/23/2022)
Publisher’s Note: Purpose of my news story is to create awareness that any meeting summary needs to be accurate. Doesn’t need to be a complete transcript, but at least needs to be factually correct. And any group approving minutes including the School Committee needs to say NO if the minutes are wrong. Problem will get fixed very fast in that case. Article has links to MA law and a comparison of Minutes of recent meeting vs. actual transcript. ——- We need to show our kids that TRUTH MATTERS.
Law on Meeting Minutes Pertaining to Gardner MA Meetings
Gardner Magazine makes an attempt to accurately transcribe what people say at City Council, School Committee, and other meetings as well as any time we quote local officials in any fashion. We have noticed that certain meeting minutes, particularly those of the School Committee, are not always accurate, in some cases reflecting statements that a member never said. This is a potential problem because the law states that “a public body shall create and maintain accurate minutes of all meetings…..a summary of the discussions on each subject, a list of documents and other exhibits used at the meeting.”
As a specific example, we cite the meeting of March 14, 2022. We compared the Meeting Minutes with the actual Final Comments of the School Committee members and found the minutes to be completely inaccurate and not in compliance with State law. See the complete rundown right here.
Here is a pdf of the actual Massachusetts law, relating to Minutes of Meetings. CLICK HERE. And here is a copy of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law. We are hoping that corrective action will be taken so we don’t have to write a lengthy article comparing the minutes to the actual statements made in all the recent meetings. In addition, we are hoping that in the spirit of true transparency, that the School Committee packet be included in the public disclosure of the Agenda prior to the meeting, as state law does require them to be part of the later official minutes of the meeting, and the Gardner City Council has made a practice of making these materials available ahead of time. Having the materials in hand has been very helpful in understanding what the City Council is voting on. Because the packets are so inclusive and prepared in such a highly professional fashion, very often there is little discussion over a specific item. Not a problem if you have in hand what the City Council sees. In the case of the School Committee, references are often made at meetings to items in the packet which have not been similarly furnished in advance to the public.
Publisher’s note: This is a very simple problem to correct immediately and we urge the Gardner School Committee to do so. We also urge the Gardner School Committee to demand that meeting minutes be prepared accurately in accordance with the law. We have emailed Mayor Nicholson regarding the issue and are sure that he will take corrective action as transparency and accuracy has been a hallmark of his Administration.
- Gardner Panel (5/22/2022)
Panel of 5 Gardner MA Individuals to Help Select Who’s the Deputy Chief and maybe even Who’s the Chief
Appearing on WGAW’s Hotline Radio on Saturday, May 22, 2022, Mayor Michael Nicholson was very clear that, “for the position of Chief, nothing’s official until the investigation is done. For the position of Deputy Chief, I can tell you exactly….There’ll be a panel of 5 individuals to review all applicants. They’ll send the top 2 candidates to my desk. I will interview them myself and then make an appointment to send up to the Appointments Committee of the City Council for full Council confirmation.
“The way that appointments of Police Chief and Fire Chiefs work are specifically governed by State law. And those two positions are protected by State Law, …..same thing with the Deputy chief of the Police Department. …We do have the Dispatch Director position currently posted, so we are receiving applications for that as well. We have a little different hiring process in that it doesn’t start with the full 5 member board, but rather a couple members from each of the groups of the Gardner Police Department and the Fire Department that the Dispatch Center assists with their operations.” ….“We do have all of the plans in place to move forward, but in terms of the position of Police Chief, specificially, nothing is finalized for that yet as we’re still ongoing in that realm.”
The Mayor stated that the hiring process typically takes from 30 to 60 days from post to hire. The Mayor was asked about whether Former Chief Braks was still getting paid and Mayor Nicholson responded, “Yes, because by law it is a paid administrative leave. “ Steve Wendell asked, “Has he submitted any information as to whether he wants to come back or not?” The Mayor responded. “That’s something that is still privileged at this point as a personnel matter, but I can tell you we have not received anything yet.”
The mayor made other comments relating to the Police Department. ““People at the Police Department are still doing a good job, day in and day out, shows the resiliency of who we have working here in the City. …The two lieutenants didn’t receive an extra penny for the work they were doing when they were running the department.”
Heard on Gardner’s Hit Radio Show!
Hotline Radio is heard every Saturday from noon to 2pm on Gardner MA WGAW. WGAW is on AM 1340, 98.1 FM, and available 24/7 over the internet. Host Steve Wendell interviews many area newsmakers every week. To hear the station right, now, CLICK for the LIVE STREAM. WGAW has a News/Talk format.
- Mayor’s Update – Colin Smith (5/20/2022)
Watch the Mayor’s updates on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our Mayor’s update page. CLICK HERE.
Executive Aide Colin Smith filled in for Gardner MA Mayor Nicholson Friday May 20, 2022
Smith reported that the Mayor is on the Cape for the Massachusetts Mayors Conference. Colin Smith indicated he would be attending the Mount Wachusett Community College Nursing graduation representing the Mayor and congratulated the students. Smith related his tour of the new Elementary School with the School Building Committee this week – “It’s incredibly impressive already and it will be absolutely beautiful when it’s finished and I may be more than a little envious of the students who will be able to attend. It’s been so cool seeing this project come to fruition knowing how many individuals around the City and outside of it have worked so hard to make it happen.”
Smith stated that Gardner’s City-wide Yard Sale will be held this Saturday from 8am to 2pm Website.
“Gardner’s Junior Police Academy is now accepting applications for the 2022 class. The academy will run from July 18 to July 22nd from 8am to 3pm with graduation on Saturday July 23rd. This is open to students ages 12 to 17, and you do not have to be Gardner residents, although preference will be given to residents. Class is limited to 20 cadets. And they would like to mention that it’s FREE.”
- Water Quality (5/20/2022)
Gardner MA 2021 Water Quality Report Shows High Manganese, Water Safe to Drink
The Gardner MA 2021 Water Quality Report has been released. CLICK HERE. For many years, the manganese level in Gardner Massachusetts water has been higher than desired, resulting in some local complaints of bad taste and the visible staining of toilets etc. While Gardner water overall has been deemed safe, we have obtained detailed information regarding Manganese for those who are concerned about the issue. Ten years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a 556 page report on Manganese which you can view from Gardner Magazine. CLICK HERE. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency produced a Manganese Report. CLICK HERE.
Gardner Water Corrosion Issue
For those concerned about corrosion caused by Gardner water, Corrosion Testing Laboratories Inc. produced a document dated August 18, 2015 and entitled, “City of Gardner Leaking Copper Coils Failure Investigation” CLICK HERE. The reports indicate that “failures were centralized around the water treatment facility that uses surface water as a source.” For those citizens wondering why Gardner is defending itself against homeowner claims, it is because the City of Gardner is located in a region of the US that has surface water with a low alkalinity and it is still undetermined whether the City has any liability over the issue. While City officials are not commenting publicly about Gardner water at all, our investigation shows that over the years Gardner has been making attempts to solve the issue, but just hasn’t been successful. The truth: Sometimes a problem is not easily solved despite best efforts. Unfortunately that doesn’t help the homeowners who have had uncovered heating system expenses and why the problem is the subject of an ongoing court case.
- City Council 5-16-22 (5/19/2022)
Gardner MA Councilors Debate Scooters and Approve Outdoor Dining Space.
The first item was according to Councilor Craig Cormier, ““a very simple ordinance, just a move from 9am to 8am, brings into line with how yard sales actually work and brings into line with the City-Wide Yard Sale that’s already been advertised.” City Council approved for first printing.
Watch the Gardner City Council meetings on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our City Council page.
The complete City Council and packet is available. CLICK HERE
The Fiscal Year 2023 School Budget Presentation is available. CLICK HERE.
Gardner Magazine reached out to Councilor Ron Cormier’s telephone number to ask whether he plans to resign from the Council following his objection to the free speech discussion over the scooters. We are awaiting a reply.
Scooter Stirs Debate and Discussion, and even an attempt by one Councilor to silence free speech.
Mayor Nicholson has proposed bringing shareable dockless mobility devices to the Chair City, otherwise known as “scooters”. There was considerable discussion. Councilor George Tyros had concerns., opposing the use of the devices for respect and safety reasons in the cemeteries.
Councilor Boone was asked by Tyros about his concerns and Boone stated “there was some question on fees…one of the things is that our DPW is gonna have to pick up these things if they are left, and there was no fee structure for that, ….I think as a City we need more time to absorb what’s going on. I know these things are coming, do I think it’s gonna be a little chaotic, maybe, maybe not, so I just think we need more time to make a proper decision on the matter.”
Councilor Nick Boudreau, “ to speak to Councilor Boone’s thought, when I worked in the City of Marlborough, we implemented this during my tenure there, and there was a big ooh and aah phase at the very beginning, but then it did die down, almost to the point where it was just second nature to these people. So I don’t think necessarily people are going to be leaving them out for an extended period of time, maybe it may happen a couple of times towards the beginning, and you can find out exactly who it was based off of different apps and different ways of payment and that kind of stuff which would differ based on the vendor that we would use, but I don’t think it’s going to be, we’re not Nashville, so they’re not going to be throwing these scooters everywhere all year, or bikes, of whatever we were to get.”
Councilor Heath, ”I’ve rented a number of these, when I was out in Baltimore, when I was out in Los Angeles, you do have to be licensed, you’re supposed to be over 18 to go ahead and ride these, so it depends on which ones, my kids rode them with me. I signed off on all of them. However, they couldn’t do it themselves, I had to go ahead and do it as an adult. So have they been left around and things and such, yes, but you’re supposed to go ahead and take a photo of where you leave it, when you get off of it. “
Councilor Mack, “ I was wondering, seeing he’s present, if the Mayor could just address, he did send us documentation this afternoon addressing Councilor Boone’s concerns, …I would just like to give the Mayor the opportunity to present what’s he’s giving to us in regards to those concerns.”
In a somewhat bizarre outburst, Councilor Ronald Cormier actually objected to the City Council discussing the matter and had to be reminded by the City Council President that Councilor had an right to discuss it. Councilor Ronald Cormier stated, “this is inappropriate., the conversations.”
Council President Kazinskas stated, “this is on the motion. Councilors can speak before the motion is seconded. … Councilors asked whether the motion had been seconded and Kazinskas responded no, “we’re going to continue with the motion.”
The motion was seconded to refer to the Public Safety Committee.
Councilor Cormier, “To Councilor Tyros, we do intend to have a meeting on this week, and hope to have it back before the Council at our next meeting.
Councilor Walsh, “I’m going to support the motion to refer. This is a lengthy amendment …a lot to absorb, when it’s on our agenda for the very first time….I think a little more time to do it right as best we can in advance of these vehicles becoming part of the city’s landscape is a good idea.”
Motion was approved to temporarily close a portion of Pleasant Street for outdoor dining.
Craig Cormier “We did have a chance to discuss this…would give a 3 month closure to Pleasant Street to try out some outdoor dining on the streets for the summer months. If we don’t like it, we can obviously let it expire and not keep doing that. Businesses involved signed a letter in favor of the motion.”
The Gardner Police Department indicated the dates of closure would be June 20, 2022 from 7am through October 1, 2022 at 7am.
Dana Heath, “ I just want to say thank you to the DPW. I sent a request today at 12:40 …Ovila Case playground…the bottom floor was busted open, so kids could fall through it. It was fixed within an hour. So I just want to say thank you” George Tyros, “Nothing this evening.” Alek Dernalowicz, “ I have nothing this evening.” Judy A. Mack, “I just want to mention. With the planned improvements to the Downtown area including areas of outside seating, I would like to suggest that the traffic commission and the disabilities commission look into creating some handicapped accessible parking spots on Parker, Central, Main, or Pleasant Street for disabled people. With the recent roadwork downtown there are curb cuts to allow for accessibility for the sidewalks, but we have not made parking accessible., other than what I can see in parking lots. So, I would just like to see this considered for those people who need the accessibility to our downtown businesses.” Craig Cormier, “ I have no Council business this evening.” James S. Boone, “I saw several of the committee members and I discovered this Argus Yearbook, 1922, it was on 76 Osgood Street in an attic we were currently clearing out…” Nathan Boudreau, “Can’t wait till my yearbook is brought to a City Council meeting as a historic relic, I have no new City Council business this evening.” Karen G. Hardern “Nothing new this evening.” James M. Walsh, “Two items. Councilor Boone might want to consider if he wants it in a safe place to put it back in the attic where he found it. …The other thing I wanted to mention is a follow up to these National Grid petitions. It used to be the practice of the City Engineer to review these petitions in advance of their being presented to the City Council so that the kind of errors that occurred in the petitions we just considered would not occur….and I’m happy to say that newly appointed and confirmed City Engineer Mr. Oliver is going to be doing that as we go forward, …” Ronald F. Cormier, “I have nothing this evening.” Elizabeth Kazinskas, “ I have no new Council business.”
- Strength of Character (5/18/2022)
A Gardner Magazine Editorial, Mayor Nicholson, Strength of Character.
During the course of holding Political Office, every office holder encounters that moment when character is tested. Mayor Nicholson is having his moment with the Gardner Police Department situation.
Despite enormous pressure to speak more openly about various details involved in the ongoing Police Department challenges, the Mayor has elected to stick with his plan – protect the taxpayers of Gardner, honor the due process rights of all involved, and stay the course with untold patience. While the Press may be irritated with the lack of information and citizens speculate about the who, what, when, where, and why, the Mayor is doing what a great manager does – the right thing as he sees it on a daily basis, making sure that the citizens of Gardner have a well-functioning Police Department which serves their daily needs and keeps the citizenry safe. In our opinion, the Mayor’s actions in this process including his unwavering resolve to handle the situation without giving in to political pressure shows a tremendous strength of character. It would be easy to do a tell-all interview and it would get lots of attention. It is much harder to be reserved with information, but in the end what is important is the best interests of the City of Gardner. So our advice to the community and other members of the press is this: Be vigilant, hold your leaders accountable, but also recognize when you’ve finally got someone with Strength of Character who doesn’t take the easy way out, but who’s actually looking out for you: Mayor Michael Nicholson.
We reached out to the Mayor’s office on May 18, 2022 and spoke with the Mayor’s aide Colin Smith at length. The Mayor is committed to following the process to its conclusion and will provide more information when it is in the best interest of the City to do so. We will publish any Press Release in its entirety when available.
Werner Poegel, Publisher.
- Puzzle Awaits (5/15/2022)
Here we go again! Another Acting Police Chief in the City of Gardner and more speculation as to who, what, when, and where as it relates to the future of the management of the Department.
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Holds Key to Gardner Police Department Puzzle
Update 5-17-22: Gardner has another Acting Police Chief. Mayor Nicholson informed the Appointments Committee –View Meeting – that retired Deputy Chief Phil Kearns from the City of Fitchburg has been appointed Acting Police Chief. He retired from the City of Fitchburg in 2015 and according to Mayor Michael Nicholson, “has been the acting chief in 5 different communities since his retirement.” According to Mayor Nicholson, he was to start the role on Monday, May 16, 2022, “for a period of 30 days at most.” However, the Mayor indicated that the official appointment was for 60 days, just in case, “because the ordinance says you can’t have two consecutive temporary appointments…so we did this just as a buffer.” Mayor Nicholson responded affirmatively when asked by Councilor Walsh if he anticipated a more permanent solution to the Chief’s position within that 30 day period.
Although publicly leaving the door open in recent interviews, it seems increasingly unlikely that Mayor Nicholson will reappoint Chief Braks. He can also promote from within or search from outside the Department. One thing is certain: 41 hard-working officers of the Gardner Police Department will be affected by the decision, and, the Gardner City Council has final say in approving or rejecting any appointment. Both the Chief and Deputy Chief were placed on paid Administrative Leave at the beginning of February following a no-confidence vote from 40 out of 41 officers. The Deputy Chief has since retired.
This is the second time this year an Acting Police Chief has been appointed. Management of the Department was handled for a short period by Vincent Alfano as Acting Chief, but for the past two months management duties have been handled by the two lieutenants, who according to Nicholson, have not received extra pay for the extra responsibilities. Gardner Magazine will keep you posted as the Gardner PD Puzzle continues….
- Mayor’s Update 5-13-22 (5/13/2022)
Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Updates City with either Secret Service Detail OR Attentive Aide.
Captured just to the left of Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson is what appears to be a scene out of the movies. Given that the Mayor is still too young to run for President, we believe the individual is hard-working aide Colin Smith. This appears to prove what has been suspected – The entire team at the Mayor’s office is highly committed to working for the betterment of the City. Watch the video update yourself on the City’s YouTube page or on our Mayor’s Update page and see if you can identify the mystery man in the reflection.
At the Building: One of the matters discussed by the Mayor is the very building he is standing in front of – the Flat Iron Building by Bull Nose Park which was recently sold to Candor Realty by Dean Marcus and which will soon be rehabbed and returned to its full potential. The Mayor announced that Candor Realty’s other property purchase on 88-98 Main Street will soon feature a Candor Realty office in one of the open storefronts. The City has been involved in facilitating several transactions recently which will result in former blighted buildings in Downtown Gardner becoming productive again, with either business or residential space. The Mayor stated,, “this building has officially been sold.”… “The City Council will vote on my proposal to close a small section of Pleasant Street to increase outdoor seating options.” View Mayor’s complete Press Release, CLICK HERE.
Fire Safety: Mayor Nicholson stated, “We had a notice from the Gardner Fire Department asking us to remind people that as the weather gets warmer, do remember to be careful with grilles….or where you are depositing your cigarettes…. We had 4 different fires this past week, 2 of which happened because there were grilles on 2nd or 3rd floor portions that were enclosed, That is actually illegal here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In both of those instances, the grille started a fire on the porch, and in one case causing upwards of $20,000 in damage to the building. Two other locations, we had a mulch fire in which an individual threw a cigarette into some mulch over at Old English Village….or another one left a cigarette on a railing near a building and that caused a fire as well.” Here are some Grille Safety tips from the State of MA. CLICK HERE.
Thanked Nurses: Mayor Nicholson thanked nurses at Heywood Hospital and noted that this week was Nurses Appreciation Week. “We really do owe our nurses a great deal of thanks.” The Mayor also congratulated various other individuals. Here is some more information on Nurse’s Week from Nursing World. CLICK HERE.
Art Shows: “Gardner High School and Middle School joined together this past week to host an Art Show for our students, just like we had the Gardner Elementary School Art Show that took place this past Thursday.” At the Gardner MA School Committee Meeting of 5-9-22, several members commented on students and the Art Show. View article.
- School Committee 05-09-22 (5/12/2022)
Watch the meeting on the City of Gardner’s Youtube page or on our School Committee page. CLICK HERE.
Great Students Focus of Hour-long Gardner MA School Committee Meeting on May 9, 2022
During the meeting, a number of students from the Elm Street Student Council were recognized by Superintendent Mark Pellegrino. There’s was even a quick recess for a photo op with the students.
Various reports were heard including from Robert Swartz of the Facilities Subcommittee: “Work on high school athletic fields continues, vendor is working very hard trying to bring them back to life again. I’m getting reports that they’re looking better and better.” Mayor Nicholson noted that the painting in the Landry auditorium began on 5-9-22, hope is it will be done in time for concert next week. John Lafrieniere reported from the Finance Subcommittee,”We discussed student/staff meal pricing. Will wait for more info to vote on possible price increase at June meeting.” Superintendent Pellegrino spoke about his goals including District improvement, increasing school and family partnerships, and creating a culture of dignity in the schools.
School Committee Member Comments
Anne Hurst during meeting stated, “As a disability advocate for more than 30 years, these are the types of things with special education and inclusion of students, the social-emotional learning, has been stuff than I and many other parents have been advocating for many, many years, and I am thrilled to see this coming to fruition, finally, and everybody has really done a lot of work to make this happen. And I just think people ;need to know the history too, that this has been a long time coming. … There are a lot of districts who don’t have anything like this. We are lucky to have the dedicated people that we have.”
Anne Hurst in comments stated “ I just want to congratulate the guidance counselors and all the students who were here tonight. It is just, it makes me feel so good to see kids being involved in taking initiative, and you know, they’re gonna be our future leaders, and that’s, it’s very impressive what’s been going on. I also did want to mention that May is Mental Health Month, you know, don’t ever think that it can’t happen to you or someone you know…people kinda suffer in silence. I lost my brother about 7 years ago now to suicide, and don’t be one of those people who says, I never saw it coming, ‘cause there’s things you can do, there’s resources out there, and people are not going to reach out to you. Thank you.”
Shannon Ward Leighton stated “Echoing the same thing. Just really happy to see all the positive things that are happening and I did want to mention: last week the Gardner Elementary School PTO put on at Art Show and it was huge, it was busy for the full 3 hours that I was there, and I know that there was a lot of funds raised to kind of pad the account next year, so when we open the new Elementary School, we have some resources available to do fun events for the kids, and just a big shout out to Missy Torez and Kelley Perkins, who it was kinda like, their baby to put this together and it was really cool. It was very cool, there was a lot of good raffle baskets. There were bikes and a lot of parents donated a lot of money for their kids artwork which is very cool. And the photo booth was a really big hit… “
Jennifer Pelavin” I also want to thank the Elm Street School student council. My daughter was a part of it, so obviously I know what little projects they did. It was amazing how much they got to do. I think they met for like an hour, maybe, I think it was every other week, and it was amazing what they accomplished in that short time period. And also I did attend the art gallery last week and it was amazing to see how many parents, were there, I mean, it was packed. For the people walking around purchasing the art, and I think it was a great idea and hopefully we can do it, hopefully yearly, would be nice, because I think it’s something that you know it’s neat for the kids to go and see somebody pay for something they created too. It really gave them a sense of worth that way, so, that is all, thank you.”
Robert Swartz “I’m looking forward to… when I’ll be attending the Special Olympics on Watkins Field, I’m looking forward to that. Special Olympics of May,… well the 26th. I hope those kids don’t lose their ambition to volunteer. As they’ll get older, they’ll be interested in other things, but I just hope the momentum keeps going. And it’s great for them to do all that volunteering. Thanks for Seaman Paper and Garlock Industries for donating $5500 each to Junior/Senior Prom. We haven’t had a prom for a couple of years, so it’s great to see the train rolling down the track again. That’s all I have.”
John LaFrieniere, “Just thank the Elm Street School Student Council, that was really nice to see, and motivating I think, you know. To see that young and all they’re doing, is great. Hopefully it does continue. And I know Rachael didn’t make it here tonight, but just let her know if she’s watching, she’s got some homework….a stack of things to sign.
Mayor Nicholson, “On my end I also want to thank the Elm Street School Student Council for coming tonight. It was great to have that pizza lunch with them the other day too. They went through a list of 22 questions that they have previously prepared beforehand, and they were very thoughtful in those questions too, I’ll say that. It’s nice to see them getting involved.
Just to give people an update as they are planning their commutes to and from school.: We did have to adjust our paving schedule to a more condensed season this year due to gas prices and our contract expiring at the end of June, which would cause the prices to go up further. For us, we were locked in at a lower rate, but where that ends at the end of the fiscal year, ….work on Pearl Street will be completed by May 19th, Central Street, West Lynde, West and Monadnock will have work done between May23rd and May31st. Parker Street, West, and Monadnock will be paved on June 1st. And Woodlawn Avenue will have work done between June 13th and June 17th, so that’s a lot more condensed than we normally have our paving season. Our price of asphalt is going up 40% on July 1st.
Nicholson continued, “Congratulations to all of our alum who are graduating from college over the next couple of weeks here…You can come home to Gardner after you graduate college, we have a lot waiting for you here. I want to thank the 30 to 40 volunteers from Gardner High School who helped in the citywide litter cleanup this past weekend. It was great to see so many of our students out, not only just around the schools but also on Rear Main Street and several other places around the City. it was really nice to see the younger generation of our city to be getting involved like that and having that be the example of other people to follow in the community.”
Nicholson continued, “I did go to Boston today for the governor’s new Forward Bill…In the 3.5 billion dollars in ARPA funding…. there’s also increased funding for innovative pathways and early college programs that we’ll be looking at. I also plan to put up the money for the Snack Shack bathrooms, or at least a substantial portion at the June City Council meeting. And the City Budget will also be presented for that first June meeting as well.”
- Winchendon 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
Winchendon is hiring a Treasurer/Collector More Details.
- Westminster 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
- Templeton 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
Templeton MA Annual Town Meeting is May 11, 2022 at 6:00pm at the Narragansett Regional Auditorium.
Voter’s Guide to Annual Town Meeting Warrant CLICK HERE
Templeton MA 2022 Town Meeting Warrant CLICK HERE
The Grand Opening of the River’s Edge Conservation Area hosted by the Town of Templeton is being held on Monday May 9th, 2022, at 10:00 am at the River’s Edge Conservation Area: 4 Elm Street in Baldwinville.
- Rutland 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
- Royalston Results (5/6/2022)
Annual Town Election Results, held on April 4, 2022 CLICK HERE
- Princeton 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
- Phillipston Town Meeting (5/6/2022)
Phillipston MA Town Meeting
Annual Phillipston MA Town Meeting May 4, 2022 7:00PM
Phillipston Memorial School
20 The Common
Phillipston, MA 01331
For the annual Phillipston Town Meeting Warrant, click here.
- Hubbardston update (5/6/2022)
- Hardwick 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
- Athol Update 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
Some Athol MA Matters
Athol MA is conducting an anonymous health survey of the community’s inhabitants for the purposes of completing a Public Social Services Plan. CLICK HERE. Athol election information: CLICK HERE. Athol works in progress: CLICK HERE.
- Mayor’s Update 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
View the Mayor’s update on the City of Gardner YouTube page or on our Mayor’s update page. CLICK HERE.
With the City Seal behind him, Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson updated the Chair City on May 6, 2022.
Mayor Nicholson spoke about a commitment to Children’s mental health in the Gardner School system. The mayor went over paving updates and sidewalk updates. Heywood Hospital and the UMass Memorial System have entered into a letter of intent to explore aligning in the future. However, he stated, “Heywood Hospital is still the same-old Heywood Hospital.” The Mayor did not mention the Gardner Police Department in his update.
- Ashby 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
- Ashburnham 5-6-22 (5/6/2022)
Official Ashburnham MA Election Results – Trails – Meetings
Official Ashburnham Town Election Results for 4-26-22 Results pdf; CLICK HERE Looking to do some things in Ashburnham. Here’s the Ashburnham Trail Map. It’s called the Ashburnham MA: Formal Trail Inventory. Here is the Ashburnham Rail Trail from 2017: CLICK HERE Here’s a list of upcoming meetings in Ashburnham on the official website.
- Town Election Results (5/6/2022)
This time of year, many communities in the Greater Gardner MA area have town meetings and elections. We have compiled pdfs of warrants and results when available and posted them at right.
Some Election Results In, Some Meetings Coming Up in Greater Gardner MA
Ashburnham 4-26-22 Election Results: CLICK HERE. – Ashby 4-25-22 Election Results: CLICK HERE. – Athol Election Information: CLICK HERE – Hardwick 4-11-22 Election Results: CLICK HERE – Hubbardston election is coming up 6-14-22 CLICK HERE – Phillipston Annual Town Meeting 5-4-22 Warrant CLICK HERE – Princeton Annual Town Meeting 5-14-22 Warrant CLICK HERE – Royalston 4-4-22 Election Results CLICK HERE – Rutland Town Meeting 5-7-22 Warrant CLICK HERE (Rutland town election is 5-9-22) – Templeton Annual Town Meeting 5-11-22 Warrant CLICK HERE – Templeton Voter’s Guide, CLICK HERE – Westminster Special and Annual Town Meetings 5-7-22 Special Warrant, CLICK HERE, Annual Warrant, CLICK HERE Westminster 4-26-22 Town Election results, CLICK HERE. Winchendon 5-16-22 Special and Annual Town Meetings Special and Annual Warrant, CLICK HERE Winchendon Proposed Zoning Bylaw Provisions, CLICK HERE.
- City Council 5-2-22 Agenda (5/3/2022)
Gardner MA City Council Met Monday, May 2, 2022 at 7:30pm
Public hearings on a total of 7 new telephone poles – Various mayoral appointments – The completed FY2021 Outside Audit Report – Use of ARPA Funds – Info Tech – Snow and Ice Removal – PARC Bailey Brook Project – Second-hand licenses
Various proposed Appointments were referred to appointments committee on motion of Councilor Tyros.
A Typo was discovered in the petition for poles – vendor will review and correct.
On the completed FY2021 Outside Audit Report – report from the Finance Committee – Councilor Dernaliewicz – “The first time since at least 2004 which is as far back as records go, with no findings or recommendations…which is amazing work…in his final paragraph the Mayor wanted to thank the Financial Department Heads, City Treasurer, City Assessor, Direct of Purchasing, and City Auditor for making this a reality.” City Council voted to place the report on file. More on this from previous article.
The appropriation of $11.700 to the Info Tech Cyber Security Account passed.
$335,000 for snow and ice removal – Councilor Walsh stated, “ a certain amount is funded in the budget with a certain expectation that more money will be needed by the end of the fiscal year.” Motion to fund using free cash – passed.
PARC Bailey Brook Project: Councilor Heath wanted to read communication from the Mayor about this. “Funding is only for the athletic court and the playground for children under 5 years old. The portion of this project does not in any way relate to the previous proposal that at one point contained a soccer field… Back in September, me and the Mayor and a couple other residents had a big meeting, so the fact that he went ahead and did this, I want to make sure that people know that this is a great thing and I’m favorable for it.” – Ronald F. Cormier reported for the Finance Committee as favorable. 2 motions passed.
On Free Cash – City is Flush
Councilor Walsh, “Wondering where our free cash stands?” Councilor Cormier passed Walsh a document and Walsh stated, “assuming all of these orders pass, just over $1,255,000. So we’re still flush.”
New Business before the Council – Each Councilor has an opportunity to speak.
George Tyros: “No new council business this evening. ” Alek Dernalowicz: “Nothing new this evening, Nathan R. Boudreau, “No new city council business this evening. ” Karen G. Hardern: “Nothing new this week.” James M. Walsh: “Nothing this evening.” Ronald F. Cormier. “Nothing this evening.” Elizabeth J. Kazinskas, “I have nothing new this evening.” When they say something, we‘ll publish it here.
from Councilor Judy A. Mack, ” I just want to remind the public that on Saturday on Pearson Boulevard Shopping Center is the start of our annual City Wide cleanup. It starts at 8:30 and I really hope that people will get out and participate to help clean up the city and it’s great to show your kids community service and giving back.” More info below.
from Councilor James S. Boone, “On Saturday I sent an email to the Mayor asking if I can get financial information on what the cost is for the Chief and Deputy Chief to still be offline, I forget the word for it, but anyways, and also what the cost is for the interim chief, and I haven’t got any response. Me and the public are kinda wondering what’s going on. I’d like to get some information, the public’s asking me for information, I’m hoping we hear something soon.”
from Councilor Dana M. Heath – “The month of May is Mental Awareness Month.”
Gardner Magazine looked into this further and is providing some links as a public service. Seize the Awkward website, CLICK HERE National Alliance on Mental Illness website CLICK HERE– Mental Health America website CLICK HERE. – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website CLICK HERE. – American Hospital Association website: CLICK HERE. Fact Sheet from HHS, CLICK HERE.
Thank you Gardner City Councilor Dana Heath for mentioning this. Gardner Magazine reached out to Councilor Heath to ask why he happened to bring up this issue. Heath explained that in the course of his day he often encounters people who could use some help and he wanted to call attention to the issue. The Councilor is active in his ward, reaching out to constituents and eager to be of service. He’s also humble. He says, “I’m new, and I’m learning, that’s why I don’t always say too much at City Council meetings. “
Keep Gardner Beautiful “Nip Hunt” Fundraiser and Citywide Litter Cleanup Event. Saturday May 7, 2022 8:30am to 1pm, 20 Pearson Boulevard Gardner. – 8:30-9:00am – Volunteers receive a litter cleanup kit. 9:00am to noon – “Nip Hunt” and Litter Cleanup – all nips and litter brought to the plaza. Noon to 1pm – Shane’s Hot Dog Truck will donate Hot Dog, Chips, and Soda to volunteers. Register here. – Curious about Shane’s menu? CLICK HERE.
- Nicholson Interview (5/3/2022)
Despite Standout Status Among America’s Young Mayors, Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson Wants to Stay in Gardner
Mayor Nicholson says he is fulfilled, loves the job and will be here as long as the voters are willing to keep him. During the past two years, the Mayor has seen a growth in community partnerships, an increase in businesses coming to the community despite a challenging pandemic, and plenty of projects either underway, planned, or being sought.
Gardner Magazine Publisher Werner Poegel recently had the opportunity to conduct a lengthy interview with Mayor Nicholson in light of him finding out about another success, a perfect outside audit of City Finances. Complete Article, CLICK HERE.
The mayor discusses recent meetings, Downtown trash receptacles, paving projects, pothole reporting, MART bus stops, attracting business to Gardner, the City Centennial, Arts, Music, Recreation, Gardner Academics, bringing furniture manufacturers to Gardner, Gardner attracting business, the Mill Street Corridor, lawsuits against Gardner, Open Meeting Law, Package gate, The Mayor’s personal goals and future, evolving as Mayor, and partners in the community. Complete article, CLICK HERE.
- Security Risk (4/29/2022)
This is just one item on the agenda for the upcoming Gardner City Council meeting on Monday May 1, 2022. For the complete agenda and packet, CLICK HERE.
Gardner MA Gets Rid of Potential Russian Security Risk
At the City Council meeting May 1, 2022, Mayor Nicholson is asking for about 12 grand to fund the new security software for the City’s IT needs. Gardner is replacing Kaspersky software with a variety of items from Crowdstrike. On March 30, 2022, the threat was deemed severe as Kaspersky was added to the Federal Watchlist and every City Hall employee was asked to reboot their computer before going to lunch so that Kaspersky could be automatically removed. The default Microsoft Antivirus automatically turned on after the offending software’s removal. However, it is not deemed sufficient and therefore Crowdstrike is being implemented to keep the City secure.
- Update 4-29-22 (4/29/2022)
For the Mayor’s weekly update, visit the City of Gardner YouTube page or our Mayor’s update page. CLICK HERE.
Gardner MA Finances Get a Perfect Score, First time at least in Decades
This week, Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson delivered his weekly update from the site of the new Community Health Connections medical building on Timpany Boulevard. While the Mayor maintained his composure, his pride in the City’s Finance Team was evident: Here’s why. Gardner received its annual independent outside audit this week as required by Mass. General Laws.
This is the first known year in the City’s history that not only were there no findings found, but also no suggestions of how things could go better. It’s the best audit result Gardner could possibly have received and objectively shows that the Chair City is well-managed. Mayor Nicholson said, “Big congratulations to our City Auditor John Richard and to the other Department Heads who are part of our Finance Team. It will help improve our bond rating as we move forward as well.”
Gardner PD Investigation Executive Summary released. Nicholson stated, “As things are finalized, we’ll be sure to let the public know.” Gardner Magazine has 2 stories on the matter if you scroll down.
Other items included in the weekly update were: At airport: The Mayor related the excitement of the plane which noticed it had a bullet on the wing near its gas cap. Gardner was closest airport. Airport is actually located within the Town of Templeton and that’s why Templeton PD responded. Paving: Mayor Nicholson went over various paving updates. Pearson Boulevard to be milled on May 3rd. Pearl Street to be milled on May 9th. Congratulations: Congratulations to Isaac Knight and his family on the ribbon cutting for Knight’s Nutrition in Downtown Gardner. Congratulations to Gardner’s own Dawn George who works for the Department of Corrections, who was recently inducted into the Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame. Light the Town Purple: Light the Town Purple Event coming to Gardner this coming Monday right before the City Council meeting at Gardner City Hall at 7pm. This is the kick-off event for the Gardner Relay for Life event to be taking place in June. Keep Gardner Beautiful: Keep Gardner Beautiful Nip Hunt and litter cleanup event taking place Saturday May 7th beginning at 9am. Register through Keep Gardner Beautiful Facebook page.
- Mayor Nicholson 4-22-22 (4/22/2022)
Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson updates City from Grant Event
Once again not addressing the Gardner Police Investigation at all, Mayor Nicholson opened his update by speaking about growth in the Chair City, releasing that 300 Building permits have been pulled so far in 2022, a faster clip than 2021, which was a record-breaking year. He thanked residents and businesses for continuing to invest in the City and spoke about progress regarding blighted properties.
Among his announcements: The Gardner Dog Park will get a 10 foot by 12 foot shade pavilion with grading issues and water improvement addressed. Various road projects were detailed. A new MART bus stop with be available soon in South Gardner in front of the old Prospect Street School. Knight’s Nutrition smoothie and tea shop in Downtown Gardner will have its ribbon cutting Thursday, April 28, 2022 at 1pm.
Mayor Nicholson stated that he was doing the update from in front of William’s Restaurant because Congresswoman Lori Trahan was there for an event with various Grant announcements. 3 different programs offer funding for business impacted by Covid 19 from April 1, 2020 to the end of 2021. Details on the Economic Development page.
Lori Trahan recognized the various individual leaders she works with stating, “small businesses are the the heart of any community.”
Representative Zlotnik spoke on State Resources which have been available to the City of Gardner. He praised the Federal Government’s response to the Covid crisis is helping make funding available.
Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas spoke and praised those who have worked on behalf of the City. She specifically spoke about outdoor restaurant seating. Restaurants had showed interest and an ordinance was passed by the City Council. Permitting process is now live.
Gardner Square Two President Patti Bergstrom spoke and stated she has had her shop (the Velvet Goose) for 35 years. She opened by stating, “It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood, made more beautiful by Congresswoman Trahan coming with all this grant funding.” She stated there are 9 businesses in Downtown Gardner with agreements for changes in ownership, 6 businesses have opened since the start of the pandemic, “we have so much positivity in Downtown, it is just a beautiful day every day in our downtown.”
Mayor Nicholson closed by stating that “this is how government should work. A group of people at the local, state, and federal level coming together …our theme through all of this has been coming together to grow Gardner, and that’s really what this is. It’s all of us coming together to build a place that people are proud to call their home, proud to open a business in, and proud to stay in.”
Nicholson spoke on the number of businesses which have come to Gardner in the past 2 years and the opportunities coming with building renovations happening at various Downtown Gardner buildings. “There’s never been this much opportunity in the City to grow what we have here, to build on what we have here, and just put our next foot forward and set us forward into the next decade let alone generation and beyond here.” View the Mayor’s weekly update on the City of Gardner YouTube channel or on our Mayor’s update page. CLICK HERE.
- Ashburnham Town Meeting (4/21/2022)
- Gardner City Council 4-19-22 (4/20/2022)
Two Sessions, 4 Lawsuits, 2 million bucks takes up Gardner MA City Council 4-19-22
The Gardner MA City Council held two separate sessions on April 19, 2022. First was a Joint Convention of the City Council and School Committee. The only action taken at the joint session was to approve sending a response to the Scott Graves complaint identified in the packet. Passed by unanimous vote.
Following the joint session, the Gardner City Council held its regular meeting which lasted for one hour until the cameras went dark for an Executive Session to discuss various matters including 4 lawsuits against the Chair City.
Watch City Council meetings on City YouTube page or on our City Council page. CLICK HERE.
During the regular City Council meeting, an extra $10,000 was approved for trash receptacles to be installed in Downtown, $75,000 was approved from free cash for landfill expenses, and $1.8 million was unanimously approved to borrow for completion of paving of certain streets. A large slate of appointments was also approved.
Dispute over language in Mayor Nicholson’s request drew some comments from City Councilors
Councilor Boone questioned whether blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the increase was factual. Councilor Boone stated he thought it was wrong to make this political as it is obvious oil prices had gone up well before the Russian invasion. “Why are we bringing this political Russian invasion into our discussion. It happened way before. Everybody knows it. They just don’t want to say it.”
Mayor Nicholson responded that asphalt has recently increased in price from $70 per town to $94 per ton. He said the cost would have been $104 per ton, but the contract signed 2 years ago had offered some price protection due to an escalation clause.
Councilor Boudreau stated “Political or not, left, right, or center, I don’t like spending money either, but it’s a dead fact that things are more expensive than they were 2 years ago. Whether that’s because of a politician or a policy is really unknown. Some of it is the war, and some of it is Covid, but at the end of the day, we are in the middle of a job and we budgeted a certain amount, and outside factors changed that. I know I am not a war strategist or a Covid doctor, but I know that we do have to deal with a ongoing and open project where the cards fall. And that’s what we’re doing here tonight.”
Councilor Dernalewicz “I just like to make it clear to Councilor Boone the point was to mention the existing factors that are in the world that led to the increase, not to make any political statement. I’m not sure where you’re getting that, but the point was to say that this is what led to the increase in costs and I’m not making any comment on it any further.
So Who Is Right?
Answer: All. The average closing price of oil per barrel was just under $40 in 2020, up to $68 in 2021, and about $96 in 2022. As we all know from seeing the price of gas and home heating oil climb in the last year, the War in Ukraine simply made already high prices even worse. Oil is used in the production of asphalt and therefore any increase in the price of oil will increase the cost of paving. The Mayor was explaining that due to smart contracting on the part of the City of Gardner, the City is protected somewhat from higher prices of asphalt (about $10 less per ton) until the beginning of the next fiscal year. Therefore, any projects completed before July 1st stand to save Gardner money.
- Monty Tech School Committee (4/19/2022)
We wrote an earlier article on this subject with more information on the timeline, and facts supporting that James Boone has been showing up at Monty Tech School Committee meetings.
The article contains the complete agendas for both meetings scheduled on 4-19-22 and the packets the Councilors receive.
Gardner MA City Councilor Boone asks for apology from Mayor Nicholson
At a February meeting of the Gardner City Council, James Boone was almost replaced as a Representative to the Monty Tech School Committee despite having been confirmed to an additional 4 year term in 2020. Up for two positions that night were two relatives of the Mayor, one was given the term which was actually open. To be fair, Councilor Boone admits he never got sworn in to the new term in 2020, that’s why he was sworn in on March 1, 2022. However, Gardner holds 2 seats on the Monty Tech School Committee and the terms have always been staggered, so Boone feels they should have known and he still feels hurt, saying he doesn’t think the Mayor should resign over it, but, “an apology would be nice.” The Gardner School Committee and City Council will meet tonight to discuss various allegations regarding the matter and the Gardner City Council will have a regular meeting as well. We gave Mayor Nicholson an opportunity to be interviewed on this and other issues, but have not heard back.