Year in Review continued – a look back at 2015

June

Brent Kittmer was appointed new CAO/Clerk for the Town. He had previously worked for the Municipality of Lambton Shores.

Suspects, believed to be animal rights activists, broke into a mink farm east of St. Marys in an attempt to release hundreds of the animals into the wild, As a result over 100 animals died.

The United Church of Canada celebrated their 90th anniversary To recognize this accomplishment, Tim Gilbert, Music Director at St. Marys United Church, rang the Carillon Bells 90 times.

An Economic Development report pegs the unemployment rate for St. Marys as 3.4%, resulting in a workforce shortage. Coupled with this, the report said there is an affordable housing crisis.

Four days of activities were held for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Induction weekend, including a very well-attended Family Street Festival. Inductees were Carlos Delgado, Cory Koskie, Matt Stairs, Felipe Alou and Bob Elliott.

The Town’s Senior Operations Manager outlined the plans for this year’s surface treatment program also known as “tar and chip”. Papple said that this surface treatment is a low cost, economical means of preserving and extending the life of the roads in town.

The OPP reported that the Skate Park was hit by graffiti vandals.

At a special public meeting held by Perth County Council, the public came out in support of farmhouse severances by a 3 to 1 margin.

As part of the Town’s plan to help beautify the buildings in the downtown, two grant programs have been set up to help store owners in façade improvements. The grant programs are “The Town’s Façade Improvement Program” and “The Heritage Grant Program”, which came in when the downtown was considered a heritage district. Proof of these grants in action was the work being done at “Village Craft & Candle”.

July

St. Marys Cement have sold majority ownership of Hutton Transport to Milton-based Bradley J Grant Investments.

A 25 year-old Zorra Township man, drew OPP attention when he was seen driving at 3 AM in St. Marys with no headlights on. He was charged with impaired driving.

Another local mink farm was the victim of a break-in. The farm owned by Kirk Rankin, had 6,800 mink released, but nearly all were recaptured.

Town Treasurer, Jim Brown, reported that the Town had just over a $1 million surplus in 2014 from what was budgeted and what was spent. Suggestions on what to do with the surplus included allocating some of the funds to the LED project, donate $300K to the Hospital Foundation, which was the amount that had been requested, and put the remainder into General Reserves.

A new By-law was proposed to make the north side of Maxwell “no parking” from James Street to Southvale Road.

The OPP reported that with the nice weather here, bicycles are a hot commodity for thieves.

A resident of Thames Valley Retirement Community reported to the OPP a break-in in which gold rings and a set of earrings were stolen.

The OPP were dispatched to the intersection of Queen and Church Streets where a bicycle with two people collided with a car. The male cyclist was charged with “red light – fail to stop”.

August

The OPP reported that the Civic Day holiday was one of the deadliest in recent history with 16 deaths province wide.

A two-vehicle collision at the intersection of Church St South and St. Maria Street resulted in a 22 year-old man being charged with impaired driving. DCVI student, Regan Mitchell, was one of the passengers aboard an Air Transat flight from Rome to Toronto, that had to make an emergency stop in Dublin.

New signs were unveiled at “Tradition Mutual Centre for Wellness” after the company donated $750,000 to the ‘Someone I know” capital campaign.

10 vehicles were damaged at AllRoads with Satanic symbols and profanity scratched into the paint. A 17 year-old was later charged with “mischief under $5,000”.

The 30th annual Teddy Bears’ Reunion was a resounding success.

The Provincial Government announced a “Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund” of $$7.03 million, out of which St. Marys Memorial Hospital will receive $117,484.

First Baptist Church was given permission to re-apply for the Heritage Grant after Rev. Margaret Smart-Wheaton, appeared at the Committee of the Whole meeting, explaining that the church misinterpreted the rules for applying for the grant. The grant stipulates that the application must be applied for before the works begins but the church applied after the work was done. The church was granted permission to re-apply with only Couns. Pope and Hainer voting against.

September

Mayor Al Strathdee called a public meeting to plan on bringing refugees to town. The Ministerial Association and the Mennonite Relief Fund committee will coordinate the effort.

The Hospital Foundation held its first “Hospital Day”, replacing the Radio Telethon which had been held previously. Organizers made the change to have a “more local” event.

OPP reported break-ins at Central School Manor on Elizabeth and St. James Church on Church Street.

A special presentation was held at the St. Marys Golf Course where a cheque for $10,000 was donated to the Hospital Foundation thanks to the Staffen Family, the Fifield family, the Courtnage family, the Ainslie family and the staff of the St. Marys Golf and Country Club.

Perth South Council have decided to not only close the Trafalgar and Avonfoot bridges, but they also decided that both bridges will be removed.

October

Perth County Paramedic Chief Linda Rockwood was honoured with the prestigious Richard J Armstrong Award for leadership.

The Kinsmen Club of St. Marys presented the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame with a cheque of $4,240 as part of the proceeds of Kin Summerfest.

The OPP reported that a house on Emily Street was broken into and a large quantity of items were stolen.

In the general election, the Liberals claim a majority government, however, the Conservatives sweep area rural ridings, including John Nater in our riding, with Stephen McCotter finishing in second place.

Andrew Atlin, Chair of the Economic Development Advisory Committee, reported to Council that there is an acute workforce shortage in St. Marys. He noted that “Job Fairs” result in workers moving from one company to another. He also noted that there is a shortage of affordable housing in town.

Presbyterian Minister Rev. Gwen Ament was to spearhead the effort for the refugee sponsorship group, in anticipation of seven Syrian refugees bound for St. Marys by the end of the year.

Steve Tucker retired after spending 28 years employed by the Town in the Public Works Department.

November

In a bombshell announcement, Kraft Heinz, announced that the St. Marys plant would close, in 2016, with the loss of 214 jobs.

Holy Name School is proposed as the site of the new home for the Daycare Centre, which could happen as soon as 2016.

Transport Action new plan for VIA was unveiled for the first time at the train station.

Stonetown Artisan Cheese held a ribbon-cutting for their grand opening.

Fire Chief Dennis Brownlee announced his retirement as of December 31st. Chief Brownlee had spent 42 years on the fire department.

Little Falls Public School received $700 from Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program.

Perth South CAO Tim Ivanshyn resigned from the municipality. A new replacement is not expected for 3 – 4 months.

Normand Belanger, made a presentation to Council urging them to commit to a clean and healthy environment.

St. Marys Memorial Hospital diagnostic imaging goes fully digital, thus becoming the envy of the Healthcare Alliance. This was made possible by the many donations that they received.

The OPP reported that damage to equipment was discovered at the Quarry on Thomas Street.

December

The Town announced that water rates are going up. The average for residential customers will amount to $4.22 per month.

New plans for Cadzow Park exclude keeping the pool open.

St. Marys Cement donation brings defibrillator and ECG to St. Marys ER.

The OPP launched comprehensive integrated mental health strategy.

7 year-old, Evan Leversage, was buried in St. George. Organizers said that “Evan’s Touch the Truck” will be continued “for many years to come”, in St. Marys.

The Dana plant is for sale, again. It is listed for $8.3 million with a London real estate company.