Last weekend, fire fighters were out in Iroquois with the familiar boot asking people to help in the fight against muscular dystrophy. On Friday, August 24, representatives of the South Dundas Fire Emergency crews were out collecting in Morrisburg for the national charity. Jason Denio (l) and Kent Nugent said they “hoped to raise as much as we can” for the cause. Eight to ten local firefighters took part in the “boot drive” at different locations in and around the plaza inviting people to help in the fight.
Volunteers are appreciated in South Dundas, and to demonstrate that appreciation, the municipality will host a special event for its volunteers.
South Dundas council authorized staff to proceed with plans for a volunteer appreciation evening.
A budget of $5,000 will be allocated for the evening which will include dinner, a guest speaker and some entertainment.
“The work the volunteers do in the community save us a lot more than the $5,000 we spend on this,” said South Dundas councillor Jim Graham, who supported the township using this as an opportunity to thank the volunteers for the work they do.
The mayor and deputy mayor agreed.
Staff will work out the details.
Chopper Thom, an eight-year-old Golden Retriever, who shares his home with Jimmy and Christine Thom and family, is making his hometown acting debut in Wife Begins At Forty opening August 6 at Upper Canada Playhouse.
On July 27, despite a busy rehearsal schedule, the star was graciously able to spare The Leader a few moments for an interview.
Chopper, with your debut at UCP in Wife Begins At Forty, you are following in the paw prints of such stars of stage and screen as Rin Tin Tin, Sandy, Nana and Asta. What drew you to acting?
All those dogs you mention had personal trainers and dog doubles. I prefer method acting. I do all stunts and scenes on my own. Early on in life, I recall watching Katts & Dog and the Littlest Hobo. I think that’s when I got the acting ‘bite.’
This is your first major role, starring as Chopper, the Harper family’s dog. What unique qualities do you feel you are bringing to this play?
Actually, this is NOT my first role. For the past seven years, I’ve been working as a greeter at Atel Air. As for the rest, I can pant, drool and wag my tail on cue. I am also very good at improvisation. I am, in fact, a dog: that is my unique quality.
How have rehearsals been going? Any special challenges?
Boring! The actors are mediocre, if not mundane. And the director’s a drip.
Fellow cast member Walter Learning, at an earlier press conference, described you as a… “joy. He loves everyone.” How do you react to this praise?
I wouldn’t believe anything Walter Learning says. Seriously, have you ever talked to the man?
How would you generally characterize your relationship with the other members of the cast? The crew?
I’ve only recently met the cast, but I’ve already become quite sociable with some of them. (pause) Actually, I ignore the cast! I prefer the company of the crew, especially the three lovely stage management females. Nice legs. I’m working on dinner and a date in Cornwall.
You’ve been working closely with director Richard Bauer. How have you helped him with staging and character motivation in your scenes?
In terms of motivation, well, it all comes down to treats. I’m a very active dog and I like to try new things at rehearsal. Because of that they’ve put me on a short leash. As I mentioned before, Richard is fairly clueless. I generally create my own blocking and motivation. In the end, I make him look good.
You’ll be making your acting debut in front of a home town crowd. Does this worry you at all?
No! As long as the check clears, I’m happy. Seriously though, as you probably know the people of South Dundas are the best audience anyone could play for. It will be a pleasure to tread the boards in front of them. And just to let local folks know, I’ll be signing autographs at the Dog Park at a yet to be confirmed date.
What lies ahead for you, Chopper, once you have this play under your collar?
I’m very excited. Once the show closes, my owner says he’s going to get me tutored. (He says it may calm me down). I also plan to take voice lessons. I hear they are making Lassie! The Musical!
Any final observations about life on the stage and/or the big screen, Chopper?
Alfred Hitchcock once said something like ‘Golden Retrievers are all heart and no brain’.
If that’s the case, how come I have a group of people who feed me, bring me water and walk me? I also have my own driver and trainer. So who’s the fool?
(Many thanks to Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes and Wife Begins At Forty director Richard Bauer for assisting Chopper with this interview.)
Friday was nomination day for the October 27 municipal election, and on that final day, South Dundas gained three more councillor candidates.
South Dundas voters will now have the opportunity from two mayoral candidates, three deputy mayoral candidates and nine councillor candidates.
The three new councillor candidates gained this week include Mahlon Locke, Marc St. Pierre and Robert Gillard.
“I have never been on council before, so I figured that a councillor seat would be a good place to start,” said Locke.
“My election platform is that I don’t have a platform,” he said, explaining that he is submitted his name for councillor because he is a concerned citizen.
Locke has contemplated running for council in the past, but work and other commitments had put a damper on the idea at the time. Locke retired from Bell Canada in 2012.
“I now have more time and energy to put towards things I am interested in, one of them being part of township council, if elected,” he said.
“There are events that have happened in the past that I, and others do not understand. I am hoping that be running for councillor, those answers and others will become readily available and I, in turn, will be able to pass this information on to other people,” said Locke.
“The money has already been spent. I believe we need to digest the debt we now hold and try to operate status quo.”
Locke wants to help others, and he believes being closer to the centre of activity will allow him to do just that.
Marc St. Pierre filed is nomination papers for councillor shortly after Locke.
St. Pierre has been thinking about running for South Dundas council for several years. He seriously contemplated a run in the last municipal election, but decided that then, his young daughter should be his focus. She is now 11, and St. Pierre believes that this time the position is a better fit for him and his family.
“Economic Development, fire services and waterfront planning are a few issues where I have an opinion,” said St. Pierre. “I think I can offer some expertise,” said St. Pierre, who has experience with land development and municipal infrastructure. “I have also been a firefighter for years, so I can offer some additional viewpoints there,” he said.
Although St. Pierre works in Kanata, he plans to continue to live in South Dundas, long-term. “I like living in South Dundas. It’s a good place to live. “I think there’s always room for community improvement,” said St. Pierre, who wants to be part of those improvements.
St. Pierre believes that for a newcomer to municipal politics, being elected councillor is the right place to start. “I really think there’s a learning curve,” he said, adding that while he is learning about being a councillor, he can at the same time bring something to the decision-making process.
The final name added to the list of candidates was Robert (Rowdy) Gillard, one that is not new to the local political scene.
Gillard is a 30 year, plus, veteran of municipal council, having served in every position including councillor, deputy mayor and mayor.
He sees councillor as the best fit for him in this election.
“By being at the table, I can help those out there that need help,” said Gillard. “I think I can contribute.”
Gillard would like to find a way to pursue affordable housing opportunities. “The average person can’t afford things, the way it is now,” he said.
Gillard, who had some health issues, says he is now feeling very well, and he looks forward to getting back into municipal politics.
“Councillor is a great place to do that. It’s the position where you have the most time to listen to the concerns of local people,” said Gillard. “I like when people feel like they can come to you with their issues.”
Gillard will have a limited number of election signs, instead opting to donate those funds to local charities.
Incumbent mayor Steven Byvelds and councillor Evonne Delegarde are facing off for the top spot. The deputy mayors race is a three man race between incumbent Jim Locke, former councillor Del Jones and political newcomer Carl Matthews-McIntyre. The list of nine councillor candidates vying for the three available councillor seats includes Phillip Blancher, Bill Ewing, Bert Geertsma, Robert Gillard, Jim Graham, Mahlon Locke, Archie Mellan, Jim Mills and Marc St. Pierre.
Voters in South Dundas will have the opportunity to vote by phone or internet. A paper ballot polling station will also be available.