Times Past

Published: 1/15/2019 9:00:15 PM


Athol and Royalston schools were closed due to a bomb threat received by acting district superintendent Alan Hodgdon’s office. Grade school children were transported home first. High school and middle school students walked to the uptown fire station until buses that were transporting the lower grade students were freed up. Another bomb threat the next afternoon was received at the middle school. The school was evacuated and all extra-curricular activities were canceled.

Concerned that the proposed staffing for the Athol/Orange Solid Waste District is too high, the Athol Finance Committee recommended cutting the first operating budget by $12,000 to $805,072. The proposed budget calls for a manager, assistant manager, operator, gate keeper and a secretary/bookkeeper, all full time positions, as well as a part time treasurer, accountant and two part time yard helpers, bringing the salary and wages account to $180,772. The area that caused the most concern was the benefits line item, at $47,000.

Can downtown Orange be revitalized, or is it destined to enter the next century in its neglected state? There are plenty of people who believe the downtown deterioration can be turned around, and Deborah Becker, coordinator of the Orange Revitalization Program, was hired recently to help them. The ORP, a state-funded program through the Community Development Office and Ready Resource Fund, is designed to assist local communities in taking a look at their downtown areas and determine what, if anything, can be done to make them vital again. The program is a grass roots effort, involving people who work in downtown or have a vested interest in seeing it grow. Becker’s job is to coordinate the efforts of a volunteer 22-member board, which determines the strengths and weaknesses of the town, and ultimately takes action to attract businesses.

The Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust has completed the acquisition of 34 acres in Warwick from Clinton and Geraldine Savoury to become part of the Arthur Iversen Conservation Area (AICA). This acquisition brings the total acreage of the Conservation Area to 135. The Savoury property contains significant wetland habitat with open wet meadow land along Rum Brook and frontage for the AICA along Gale Road.


Thanks to an 11-year-old Athol girl, Mrs. Alice Burnham of Petersham has repossessed two letters written by her son, the late Neil Burnham, who was killed in Vietnam, Dec. 17, 1968. The letters were in a purse Mrs. Burnham reported stolen from the front seat of her car when the car was parked in the uptown business district. Miss Rita Bombard found the pocketbook and turned it over to police who returned it with the letters it contained to Mrs. Burnham.

Dominey J. Smith, Jr., 35, of Athol, was buried over his head in a 12-foot-deep trench on South Street while searching for a water main near the now-demolished Lithuanian Club. Within minutes fellow workers and his foreman rescued him by scooping away the dirt with their hands and shovels. He suffered a dislocated shoulder and bruises. Smith is a laborer for Joseph A. Mallet and Son, local contractors.

Duall Plastics, Inc., 764 South Athol Rd., has been merged into the Whittaker Corp. of San Francisco, Cal. Operation, according to Edward Boyer, plant manager. The plant, established locally in the late 1950s under management of Raymond Jasionowski, lists among its custom-made items, a round wire guard used by electrical companies, nylon bars used to form leading edges of airplane wings, radar gaskets for submarines, clear tubing for hospital use and tubing for aerosol cans.

Parents of Orange pre-school children will be given the opportunity to challenge a recent school committee edict stating children must attain age 6 on or before Sept. 1 to be eligible for school entrance, in a change from Dec. 1. An estimated 35 children, according to Walter Fields, elementary school superintendent, are affected by the new age requirement. He said the decision was reached to eliminate five-year-old children from the system. “Early entrance to school is responsible for a number of repeaters,” he said, “The new ruling is a good, sound plan.”

Phillipston voters turned down a proposal for $5,600 to be spent on architect’s fees on plans for a four-room addition to Phillipston Memorial School. The vote was 47-40. It was estimated that the addition would cost the taxpayers $100,000. The voters present engaged in a heated debate on the school problem which has become acute since the fifth grade classroom in the town hall was abandoned after a state building inspector considered the facility unfit for classroom purposes. The problem of classrooms was temporarily solved by renovation of the Memorial School cafeteria, which now houses two grades and resulted in loss of the school lunch program.


Winter again stretched out his icy fingers over the Athol-Orange area sending temperatures well below the zero mark. Orange reported temperatures of 15 to 20 below. In Athol temperatures were reported as around 9 and 10 below.

The clock atop Athol’s Memorial Building, which has been blacked out for months in keeping with air raid precautions, is now aglow again nights for the town fathers believe that danger of Nazi air raids is past. Once more residents will be able to tell the time at night.

Alexander P. Johnstone, general secretary of the Athol YMCA and member of the Athol Selective Service Board, was named draft board chairman to succeed George W. Grant who was appointed to the Worcester Selective Service Appeal Board.

Lyman Woodward, Jr., 21, a fireman first class in the U.S. Navy, was killed in the explosion on Jan. 3 of the destroyer U.S.S. Turner off New York Harbor, according to word received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Woodward of Athol, from the Navy Department. His body has not been recovered. Sailor Woodward was graduated from Athol High School in 1940 and in December of that year enlisted. He was at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack.

Joseph H. Benton, assistant manager of the Municipal Department of the First National Bank of Boston, speaking before the joint meeting of the Orange Kiwanis Club in the Orange Chamber of Commerce on “Municipal Finance in the Post-war Period,” pointed out a number of assets the town of Orange has at the beginning of the new year of 1944 and highlighted his address with comparisons showing the unusually good financial condition of the town now compared with a few years ago.

Pfc. Charles Underwood of Orange was surprised when he jumped into a foxhole at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, to find there ahead of him a fellow townsman, Pvt. Robert Pelletier. Neither knew the other was in North Africa. Both had jumped into the same place for protection from a German dive bomber. Underwood recently completed a furlough in Orange after being hospitalized since last June.

Leavitt Machine Company, East River Street, Orange, advertises help wanted for night work, five nights per week — 65 hours, with a 10 percent bonus.



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