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By: Joyce Westner

Winchester News Public Meeting a Success 

The Winchester News Group (WNG) hosted a public meeting at the library and via Zoom to discuss plans for a new town news outlet. WNG President Tara Hughes told the attendees that WNG has incorporated and is ready to fundraise. Calling Winchester a “news desert,” Hughes described the newly named Winchester News a “local, independent non-profit covering government and local activities.” Founded by several members of last year’s town meeting appointed Communications Study Committee who realized their findings pertained only to government information, the group realized residents are hungry for a trusted source for other categories of news. Retired writer and former journalist Joyce Westner got in touch with Ellen Clegg, a former Boston Globe editorial page editor, who with Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy, has been writing a blog called, “What Works,” about the future of local news.

“Ellen was so helpful,” Westner said. “And she and a group similar to WNG are starting a local news outlet in Brookline.”

Attending the meeting were several residents who offered to help, including the former WBZ radio news editor Peter Casey, two former journalists, as well as an attorney, and business and marketing experts. With a website already in place (https://www.winchesternews.org/) and a fiscal sponsor ready to collect funds, WNG members will be at Town Day on Saturday. For a list of all Town Day events, please visit http://townday.org/wtd/events.

Town to Lower Use of Eagle-Killing Poisons 

After a local bald eagle died from eating rodents that had been poisoned with anti-coagulants, a group of residents got together to try to save other birds of prey. MK, as the eagle was called, was rescued and taken to a wildlife rehab center on Cape Cod but succumbed to the poison in early March, and a group of Arlington residents held a vigil at their Town Hall. An advocate for regulating the poisons, called SGARs (second generation anti-coagulants), Laura Kiesel told Winchester residents Joyce Westner, Alison Swallow, Ali Lowell, and Prassede Calabi that Arlington has banned the use of SGARs on public land, and is petitioning the state for a home rule change that would allow them to regulate it. Winchester’s health director told Winchester group members that she’s been in contact with the town manager and the Select Board and is working to lower the use of SGARs on public property. The group organized a mail campaign to state legislators to encourage them to pass two bills to protect residents, pets, and wildlife from the poisons. The group is also considering asking local businesses to pledge not to use them.

Green Burials Discussed at Cemetery Meetings 

The Wildwood Cemetery Advisory Committee is planning to investigate allowing “green burials.” The committee advises the Select Board members, who are the cemetery trustees, on issues pertaining to this historic property, which according to Wikipedia, “was founded in 1851 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989….It was one of the first public spaces laid out after Winchester was incorporated.” Committee member Eric DiMare said at the May meeting that his generation “wants this.” Resident Marianne DiBlasi said the Unitarian Church had a speaker explaining green burials, defined as no embalming, no metal casket, and no burial liner or vault. The speaker also said that cremating one body releases more than 500 pounds of carbon dioxide and is the equivalent of driving a car more than 400 miles.

Committee chair Allan Eyden suggested they draft a report by the fall to determine how the cemetery can accommodate this type of burial. DiMare also said they might have to ask the town to do an engineering study to make sure the water table at the cemetery would not be affected.

Winchester News to be Discussed at LWV Meeting 

After several League of Women Voters members heard about plans to start a local news outlet, Winchester News Group president Tara Hughes has been invited to speak at the League’s June 21st meeting at 7:30pm via Zoom. 

Legacy Winchester Wants Residents’ Info 

A local digital archive is seeking residents’ videos, audio files, and digital photographs to be preserved indefinitely in an online archive. Under the aegis of the Winchester Historical Society, Legacy Winchester (www.legacywinchester.org), current and former residents can submit files that will be available for future historians to see what life was like in Winchester since the start of digital media. Peter Engeldrum and Shukong Ou created the website and will be at Town Day to show attendees what they’ve been up to, and how to upload files.

Historical Society to Offer Trolley Tours on Town Day 

Always a popular attraction, Winchester Historical Society will be running tours of local historic sites on Town Day, June 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are free but sell out fast from the society’s table on the Winchester Common.

Memorial Day Parade Features Home Town Heroes 

The Winchester Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsored the annual Memorial Day parade. It started at the High School where veterans were joined by the school’s marching band; and proceeded around the downtown, pausing to place a wreath at the WWI Memorial, and concluded at the Edward F. O’Connell Memorial Plaza.

Residents to Paint Utility Boxes 

The Winchester Cultural Council is awarding grants to artists willing to paint downtown utility boxes. Open to all residents 18 years old and up, the program is accepting applications which are due on June 3. See https://www.winchesterculturalcouncil.org/utilitybox/about for more information.

Film Makers Want You to Taste the Water 

The third in a series called “This Is Winchester,” a video currently under development will be called “Water, Water,” and will document where residents get their water, and how it tastes. Part of the town has water supplied by the town reservoirs located in the Middlesex Fells Reservation, and part gets it from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. But many residents buy bottled water, or filter it from their taps, and film producers Peter Engeldrum and Joyce Westner will be offering a blind taste test at the Winchester Farmers Market on Saturday July 1st to see which water residents prefer. The two previously produced a national prize-winning film, “This Is Winchester: Town Meeting,” and also “This is Winchester: The Transfer Station is Not a Dump.”

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