How Winchester treats its volunteers is disgraceful.
If you volunteer to serve on a town board, you had better be ready to support the agenda pushed by special interests in the town or your service will be deemed lesser-than, or worse, you will be seen as an impediment to their plans. I found this out when I sat as an alternate on the planning board. I even had to fight to be allowed to volunteer for this position because the then-chairman tried to block me!
Instead of fixing the historic districts ordinance so that it can work for the town, a warrant article has been inserted by a special interest group’s petition to eliminate the historic districts. Judging by the non-verbal communication exhibited between a couple of historic district commission board members and the land use officer and the now chairman of the planning board during the public hearings, the due diligence attempted by the commission board will be rendered a waste of time, because there are already two members who’ll vote the way the special interest group desires.
The Winchester Historical Society is not the historic district commission and has nothing to do with the management of the historic districts. The society runs entirely on volunteers and what money is raised through membership dues. The board of selectmen and the budget committee voted to not recommend the society’s warrant article asking the town for $5,000. That’s shameful as the society is the caretaker of the town’s history, plus, it houses the town’s antique fire equipment at no charge to the town.
During the past year, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who worked hard to fulfill their charge to investigate the consolidation of the town’s two libraries. Judging by the remarks made by certain selectmen, the commission’s report was not what they wanted to hear. Actually, it isn’t clear what the selectmen wanted this commission to do, because they now claim it was never their intention to close the Thayer Library — even though that’s what “consolidation” would mean in probate court.
And, why would a Thayer Library trustee run again for a trustee spot when he didn’t fulfill his obligations as a current trustee? Not only has he not attended a trustee meeting for the last two years (since March 2012), or ever once volunteered at the library, but he sat on the budget committee and voted against funding the library. The Thayer Library is another entity that runs entirely on unpaid volunteers. None of us receives the rent-free house plus half of our oil bill paid for by the town as this trustee’s nephew did as the prior librarian.
Of course, you can say that nobody is forcing me to volunteer and that I am foolish for doing so. But, are you saying then that all of those other wonderful Winchester volunteers, often the same people time and time again because no one else volunteers, are also foolish for trying to make Winchester a better place to live?
If you are, then that is the biggest disgrace of all.
Jennifer Marie Bellan
P.O. Box 3
P.O. Box 3