The final notice has been received and the Helping Hand, a mission of the Pentecostal Church, has until October 17th to vacate its location in the old Morrisburg High School, where it has been a source of clothing for those in need for the past 11 years.
Unfortunate, but true, the Helping Hand used clothing depot, answers a very big need in South Dundas and the surrounding area with an average of 2000-2,500 visitors benefiting from it each year.
The fact that the Helping Hand has to vacate is not a surprise as they were put on notice way back in 2009, that they were in their location on a monthly basis. With the upcoming renovation to the historic high school building to house an expansion to the St. Lawrence Medical and the South Dundas Municipal offices, the monthly basis has ended and the Helping Hand is closing.
The problem is that since they were put on notice of the eventual loss of their location they have been unable to find a new location that would be rent-free, or at the very least, very cheap.
“We have a lot of people not happy about it,” says Pentecostal minister, Rev. Duncan Perry. “But we can’t afford to go somewhere else. We have a couple thousand dollars (donations) a year coming in, but that is not enough to rent.”
“We don’t want to locate in the mall, and the only other building in town is the former St. Lawrence Parks building.”
According to Rev. Perry, that building is in such poor shape it is no longer an option, and he understands the Food Bank will replace the County Library in its lower level arena location should the library move to the high school, once renovated.
“I was really hoping they (municipality) would give us half of the bottom of the arena,” says Rev. Perry. “But I understand that it is going to the arena staff for a workshop/storage. It would have been a perfect fit for us.”
“We’ve been open for 11 years, and we are averaging 2,000 to 2,500 people a year. The $2,000 we receive in donations (goodwill donations from those who benefit from the Helping Hand, and donations from the community) is put back into the community.”
Recently, money was donated to the Breakfast Programs at Seaway High and Morrisburg Public Schools. “We’ve also given a lot to the Food Bank over the years.”
“People have come to us and told us that if we weren’t (Helping Hand) here, they didn’t know what they would do. The clothing donated to us is top notch and we made a decision at the start, that if we wouldn’t wear it, it wouldn’t be used.”
“One lady has been using it over and over through the years to clothe her children.”
“Those are the kind of stories we hear every week.”
“It is really amazing what we have done locally, and we’ve sent truckloads of clothes overseas when we couldn’t handle it all.”
The Helping Hand is run by volunteers and there is no charge for the clothing, although visitors can make goodwill donations.
“We have helped people from all over. We wish we could keep it open, we really do. It’s too bad, and I understand the town doesn’t have the money for a building.”
“I do believe the number of working poor is getting larger. It’s unfortunate we need a place like this but we do. If there was a place found, we wouldn’t even think about shutting it down. If they would reconsider letting us share with the Food Bank that would be ideal.”
That, however, according to Rev. Perry, is not an option at this time, and the Helping Hand is preparing to close by the October 17 deadline. Arrangements have been made for representatives from Agape in Cornwall to visit the facility, with the hope that they will be able to take the clothing.
Located at 40, Fifth Street West in Cornwall, the Agape Centre runs a Food Bank, Soup Kitchen and Thrift Shoppe.
South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds says he is appreciative of the service the Helping Hand provides to the community. “It’s unfortunate, but hopefully they will find somewhere in the community.”
Byvelds confirmed that the long-term plan is for removal of the former Parks building. “That building is done, and we are only spending what we have to, to keep it going.”
He says there has been some discussion of moving the Food Bank to the arena location, but the discussions are very preliminary and nothing is decided and nothing can or will be decided until the final plans are in place for the high school.
Those plans, are for the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic to occupy the first floor (ground level) and the municipal offices to occupy some or all (if necessary) of the second floor. Once these two entities are accommodated then the remaining space, including the third floor, will be considered.
Brian Lynch was re- elected as President of both the SDSG provincial and federal NDP riding associations when the Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry Provincial and Federal NDP riding associations elected their executive members for 2015 at their joint annual general meetings on March 11 at the Navy Veterans Association in Cornwall.
Also elected to serve on the 16 member local NDP riding associations’ executives were Carilyne Hebert as vice president; Paul Aubin, recording secretary; Elaine MacDonald, chief financial officer; Madeleine Lebrun, women’s representative; Marc Benoit, youth representative; Trevor Tolley, Darlene Jalbert, Marion Adams, Jack St. Thomas, Patricia Sylvia, David Mcilveen, Ken Smith, Diane Marshall, Jean Patenaude, and Patrick Burger as members-at-large.
Brian Lynch and Elaine MacDonald were also elected as the local NDP provincial councillors.
Lynch told the meeting that the SDSG federal riding association’s candidate search committee has done an extensive candidate search in preparation for the federal election set for this October 19.
Lynch said, “Once prospective candidates have been approved by the National NDP Nominations Committee, we will seek approval of the Federal NDP to hold our nomination meeting this spring.”
Lynch praised Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair for putting forward progressive policies to make life better and fairer for everyday Canadians such as a universal child care program, a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, greater support for seniors and veterans, generous transfers for healthcare, initiatives to create good paying jobs in manufacturing and the small business sector, and higher corporate taxes.
Lynch said, “When the federal election comes, people will see that the Federal NDP under the thoughtful, experienced leadership of Thomas Mulcair is the real, progressive alternative to the heavy-handed, anti-democratic Harper Conservatives and the arrogant, unprincipled Trudeau Liberals with their lack of policies and record of broken promises.”
At the provincial level, Lynch indicated that the Ontario NDP was working hard at Queen’s Park to hold the scandal-plagued Liberal Government to account, to protect public services that people depend on, and to help create jobs.
After two full days of deliberations, March 5th and March 12th, the South Dundas 2012 budget is now complete.
At the first meeting on March 5th, Mayor Steven Byvelds began by reminding council that “it’s still tough times out there.”
Chief Administrative Officer Stephen McDonald said, “our budget process is evolving every year. The municipality is in a good financial position with a healthy reserve.”
As for the 2012 budget, “it’s really a no-frills budget. There’s really nothing in this budget that’s not needed. The capital budget is up. That’s where most of the increase is located.”
According to Treasurer Shannon Geraghty, there is a 3.5 per cent increase, dollar for dollar, over last year’s budget. This year’s budget is $4,886,565 whereas last year, in 2011, the budget was $4,721,453.
In terms of money allocated for capital projects, last year council spent $1,190,214 on capital projects. This year, the budget for capital projects has increased to $1,657,113 with the bulk being taken up by the roads department ($1,532,361) and the fire department ($225,855).
The tax rate for South Dundas has gone down by 3.24 per cent.
This doesn’t mean that South Dundas resident’s taxes are going down by 3.24 per cent, however. Each home’s taxes are based on the MPAC (Municipal Propertay Assessment Corporation) as well as the combination of tax rates from three sources: South Dundas township; United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and the school board.
Geraghty explained that “right now we’re looking at tax rates decreasing, but people will be paying more because their assessments (MPAC) are increasing.”
There is a 5.06 per cent average increase on assessments due to MPAC’s four-year phase in. If an individual’s assessment is over that percentage, they could see an increase. If their assessment is below that percentage, they could see a decrease.
According to Geraghty, last year’s average assessment was $149,090, which equated to $739.90 in taxes for the municipal portion of the tax bill.
Following the same format this year, adding in the 5.06 per cent assessment increase, the average assessment for 2012 could be $156,634, which would equate to $752.15 in municipal taxes.
The Counties of SD&G council will meet for budget discussions again on March 19th.
The South Dundas budget will be officially passed at the upcoming March 20th council meeting.
Sometimes the audience attending Cathy Jones’ hilarious one woman show, Stranger to Hard Work, didn’t quite know what had hit them. The vibrant, quick-witted actor threw characters and improvisations out at a non-stop pace […]