The Hubbardston Report

October 2019

This report provides information to town officials and about their local government. All departments and participating boards and committees provide information about their activities monthly. For more information about Hubbardston, visit the Town Web site.
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Tons of great events this month in Hubbardston! First we started off with Harvest Breakfast on October 20th at the Hubbardston Rod & Gun. This event is put on by the Hubbardston Scholarship Committee and is one of their annual fundraisers to give away $1000 scholarships to Hubbardston residents. The food was great as was the worthy cause!

The Hubbardston Haunted Hayride kicked off on October 25th & 26th at Rietta Ranch. This year's event was a huge success. The Lions Club always does a great job with these spooky nights and this year's event had everything from haunted graveyards and nuclear disasters, to kidnapped children, crazy clowns and even KISS. The walk had a haunted trailer, maze, dinosaurs, and a wide variety scary creatures to make your heart race.

November Events

Family S’mores Night!

Saturday November 9th 6:30-8:30

Come on down and enjoy some hot cocoa, s’mores, coffee and tea at the new Hubbardston Coffee Garden that is in the works for next year! Located on Route 68 at the sand lot next to the pallet factory (Go Green Mfg). This is a FREE event but donations are appreciated and will go towards Hubbardston Girl Scout Troop 11809 for their help with this event.

December Events

Brunch with Santa!

December 7th 10-noon at HCS cafeteria.

Come join us for photo opportunity with Santa! Bring your kids or grandchildren and your camera and take as many pictures as you’d like with Santa. All are welcome from Hubbardston and any surrounding community. Brunch will consist of different kinds of kid friendly breakfast items. Muffins, doughnuts, bagels, fruit, and juice. Plenty of coffee! We will also have a Chinese Auction and crafts for kids. New this year we will also having a Gingerbread House Competition! $10 donation per family for entrance.

Click here for more information

Hubbardston Light Fight!

Two weekends only! December 6th, 7th & 8th December 13th, 14th, & 15th 5-8pm

Come to Hubbardston and see all the entries for the 3rd annual Hubbardston Light Fight! Follow the road listing to see all the entries and vote online for your favorite light display!

New this year we have 2 categories to choose from for entry displays:

1. Traditional-Classic

2. Go Big or Stay Home

Also voting will be done completely by the public via an email survey link.

Entry forms, official rules and prizes can be found here.

Entries due by December 1st. Don’t miss out on this festive competition!

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Capital projects and planning were a major focus in October with the Town Administrator assisting the departments and the Capital Improvement Planning Committee (CIPC) with FY21 requests. The CIPC is charged by the Board of Selectmen with updating the town's five year capital plan. This plan helps shape investment decisions for the coming year and beyond. Town departments and boards submitted their requests for consideration in September. The final plan will be presented to the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee in December. The Town Administrator also worked with school officials this month to oversee the Hubbardston Center School Roof feasibility study and assisted the Fire Department with continuing to procure an exhaust mitigation system for Station 1 and 2.

The Town Administrator continues to update all town computers to get ahead of next year's Windows 7 end of life deadline. Approved at town meeting, this focus on updating hardware will finalize a five year plan for maintaining town systems. This replacement cycle couples with recent efforts to update department software, allowing town staff to more efficiently budget, process permits and track legal compliance.

Town officials received this month a first quarter report of town financial activities. To see a copy of the report, click here. The Town Adminstrator informed officials that the transition from Softright to Vadar is now complete. The FY20 budget, now approved, does not contain any unknown budget deficits and revenue projections are on pace with predictions.

The Town Administrator joined members of the Economic Development Committee this month on a tour of Hubbardston restaurants. The group first had breakfast and coffee at the Hubb Town Diner followed by a tasting of gingerbread cookies at Giacomos Gourmet Foods. Next the group traveled up Route 68 to the Pizza Palace for lunch. The tour provided town officials with a better understanding of what businesses, new and old, face with current town bylaws and climates. The Economic Development Committee is hoping to use these visits in order to inform coming decisions about business supports and economic development recommendations in the Hubbardston Master Plan.

The Town Administrator recognized Taylor Wilkinson and Jeremy Goscila from the Fire Department for their fire safety efforts at the Hubbardston Center School this month. The duo led a fire safety competition, seeing dozens of children submit paper and 3D fire safety plans for their homes. Winners by grade won a very special ride to school on Engine 1. These types of efforts, common in our public safety departments, help teach residents young and old about what town staff does to support our residents.

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The Library submitted the State Financial report to the MBLC in October. This report is a requirement for the Library to receive state aid and is one step that provides an opportunity for us to apply for grants from the state.

On October 5th the Library, with a grant from the Hubbardston Cultural Council, hosted Greg the Wizard. During his performance Greg taught the audience some magic tricks and they all went home with their own wand. The attendees had a great time, and Greg was entertaining.

We also started the “Family Book Club”. Families can borrow multiple copies of the chosen book, and they are provided a list of questions to ask after they all read the book. They can do this in their own home, which in today’s fast-paced life gives them the opportunity to hang out with each other at home for an afternoon or evening. We chose “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio for the October selection. For the month of November we have selected “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.

This month, the Library and the Hubbardston Center School are going back to their roots. There are town residents who remember their classes walking over to the Library with their book bag so they could borrow a book. The third grade teachers and the Library Director are trying out a pilot program to start that program up again. Mrs. Medeiros’ class visited the Library at the end of October. The students were able to learn about the Dewey Decimal system and borrow a book of their choice. We are all very excited for this program to succeed.

The Library Trustees will once again handed out candy for trick or treaters on the steps of the Library on Halloween!

Next month the Senior Center and the Library will team up to start a Senior Book Club. The club will meet at the Senior Center on Wednesday November 6th at 2 p.m. The first book will be chosen at that time, and the group will meet the first Wednesday of each month to discuss the book. Chris will lead the meeting. Claudia and Chris are very excited about this new program and they expect it to be very popular among the seniors

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DPW crews replaced five culverts on Flagg Road and replaced a collapsed 30 inch culvert pipe at 176 Gardner Road. Both efforts help protect roads by providing proper drainage. Workers also added materials to Flagg Road to better support the area.

Additional efforts this month included:

  • Graded and added material to Halfrey Road
  • Finishing up the the Bridge Grant Project on Ragged Hill and Williamsville Roads
  • Oversaw the advertisement of the Route 62 culvert replacement (STIP)
  • Restored five trucks to ready them for winter operations
  • Oversaw students from Monty Tech, replacing the two sections and railings to the Slade Building ramp entrance

Next Month

DPW workers will continue to get the equipment ready for winter operations.

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Working closely with our accounting department, we were able to close out Fiscal Year 2019 in a more timely fashion this year. Our auditors spent several days reviewing the Town’s Fiscal Year 2019 financial records mid-October, and found our finances in good shape.

Our staff attended a meeting at Wachusett Country Club hosted by our software company to learn about software updates and new software being offered for Treasurers, Collectors, and Accountants.

Outstanding taxes for FY18 were finally advertised on October 30th after many notices had been sent to those whose taxes were unpaid. Only nine properties were advertised for tax taking in the Gardner News. We will complete this process next month with the date of taking on November 13th. Instruments of Taking will be prepared and recorded at the Worcester Registry of Deeds on any properties still unpaid after that date.

We’ve been collecting Real Estate taxes for the second quarter of FY2020, due Nov. 4th.

Next Month

In November, besides processing the FY18 tax takings, we will prepare for the actual Real Estate tax bills that will be issued late December. The loan on the fire truck will be refinanced and work will continue to convert all our tax title accounts to our new software.

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Your Finance Committee has been hyperactive during the summer and early fall months, assisting our Board of Selectmen and our Town Administrator in formulating our Town’s FY2020 operating budget. The budget process this year was our most challenging in some time, due to the surprisingly large increase in our QRSD assessment (as you’ll recall from our May 2019 report) and the reactions of the other District member towns to their own assessments. This process resulted in not one but three Town Meetings (June, August, and October 2019) before we arrived at a final 2020 operating budget.

And now that 2020 is behind us, we will start on the FY2021 budget process in November, working first with the Board of Selectmen to identify budget goals to guide our Town departments in preparing their own budgets for a June 2020 Town Meeting.

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Training has been an ongoing focus during the month of October. Trainings have included Record Retention, Open Meeting Law Training and Voter Registration Information System Training. A successful Special Town Meeting was held on October 21st with 50 registered voters in attendance. Voters were checked in by Election workers Marcia Howlett and Shonna Larson.

The implementation of a new voting machine for the 2020 Elections has been a top priority. A demonstration was held mid-month with ES&S and another demonstration has been scheduled with LHS for the end of the month. Both the Town Clerk and Election workers will be present for the demonstrations and are encouraged to ask questions and give feedback before a final decision is made.

Projects and year end will be a main focus for the month of November.

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The Board of Health recycling center was open for its last day on October 12th. The recycling center was upgraded with new electrical service this fall, so that next year we can make additional improvements to the town's recycling efforts. The recycling center is "in the black." Thank you to everyone for supporting this 'green' effort.

The Board of health issued three certificates of compliance for new/repaired septic systems. Additionally, The 2nd mowing of the capped landfill was completed for the year by Robert Meagher.

New Land Use Assistant Mallory Seamon began on the 28th of this month. Her duties include assisting the Board of Health, Conservation Commission, the Building Department and the Zoning Board of appeals. Her early charge is coordinating all permitting activities in town and assisting departments with transitions to automated processes.

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The Hubbardston Police Department this month used radar patrols as well as DUI patrols to insure the safety of the motoring public. These additional patrols were funded within our provided budget. They included school zone enforcement both in the morning and afternoon. We have seen a major improvement in speed compliance in these zones as a result of the patrols.

The Pink Patch Project continued to sell patches through October. We should have a final number in the November report.

On October 17th the town sustained heavy damage and an extended power outage. With coordination with HFD and Emergency Management we were able to insure the safety of elderly residents and kept the town informed of the duration of the outage.

In October, officers made 8 arrests, issued 33 citations, handled 7 accidents and investigated 27 incidents.

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The Commission received a RDA (Request for Determination of Applicability) from the BSC Group. The Group is looking to place new electrical poles on Bemis and New Westminster Rd. This hearing will be held at the December meeting.

New Land Use Assistant Mallory Seamon began on the 28th of this month. Her duties include assisting the Board of Health, Conservation Commission, the Building Department and the Zoning Board of appeals. Her early charge is coordinating all permitting activities in town and assisting departments with transitions to automated processes.

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This Month

Our new Administrative Assistant, Iris Rivera has been doing great! While entering during the time of transition between buildings, Iris has been a fast learner, and is a huge asset to the assessor’s office.

Staff from Regional Resource Group will continue to provide training and assistance for Iris, and will always be available in the future for any issues and/or concerns that may arise.

All Chapter Land applications have been received by the October 1 deadline and are being reviewed and processed.

The process of revaluation certification, overseen by the Mass Department of Revenue continues, however is nearly complete. The annual Tax Classification Hearing will be announced shortly.

Ongoing assessor’s activities include:

· Building permit inspections

· Sales ratio review

· Motor vehicle excise

· Assisting with efforts for Department of Revenue revaluation certification

· Periodic/Cyclical property inspections.

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The monthly report of the Planning Board is as follows:

  • There were two meetings in the month of October. To see those video please go here.

  • Using the Gravel Pit List compiled in September, sent out letters to all possible former gravel pit operations encouraging information on future intents of those properties

  • Completed checklists for Scenic Road Application and Gravel Pit Reclamation Processes

  • Compiled Benchmarking data from Planning Board to be presented at the Nov. 6th meeting.

  • Continued work on Planning Board Operational Procedures (estimated time of completion – Jan / Feb).

  • Solicited quotes from IT for Chromebooks to move more of the paperwork used by the Planning Board into electronic format

  • Completed the project (in conjunction with the TA and Planning Board Chair) to identify all town-owned land.

  • Continued work on Special Permits Project to determine which Special Permits issued in Hubbardston are active / inactive and how the Planning Board can follow up on adherence to permit specifications (estimated time of completion – Feb/March)

  • Continued with move of files from previous location to Planning Board’s new office in the former Assessor’s Office (NOTE: Assessor’s Office is now located in the Slade Building).

  • In addition to these items, the Planning Board Office worked on the other documentation to support Planning Board meetings.

Next Month - October

The Planning Board Office will continue to work on:

  • Begin checklist for Special Permits Process.

  • Continue creating new process work sheets / checklists / operational procedures for applications / processes typically handled by the Planning Board.

  • Continue special permits project (possibly with assistance from Senior Work Program) to identify open permits and ensure adherence to permit specifications.

  • Continue moving of all Planning Board-related documentation into the new office location.

Building Department

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New Land Use Assistant Mallory Seamon began on the 28th of this month. Her duties include assisting the Board of Health, Conservation Commission, the Building Department and the Zoning Board of appeals. Her early charge is coordinating all permitting activities in town and assisting departments with transitions to automated processes.

The Building Department issued a total of 16 Building permits. 15 permits were issued for renovations and one for a foundation only. Total value of the permits came to $212,412 with a total of $1,784 collected in fees.

8 electrical permits were issued with a total of $938.00 in permit fees collected.

7 Gas/Plumbing permits were issued with a total of $864 collected in permit fees.

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Hubbardston Emergency Management and Hubbardston Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) assisted Hubbardston Police Department with traffic control in the center of town for Halloween evening.

About Us

The Hubbardston Report is compiled monthly by Town of Hubbardston staff, boards and committees. For additional information, official meeting minutes or public records, please visit our Web site.