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New principal at Iroquois Public

“This school has fantastic energy. I am deeply impressed with the staff keenness and relationships with the students,” said Kelty Grant, who has assumed her duties as the new principal of Iroquois Public School. “The children are really friendly. I go out in the yard and the kids are happy to see me and to talk to me. That stands out in my mind.”

For Grant, who grew up in Ingleside and attended Rothwell-Osnabruck, coming to Iroquois was a little bit like coming home. She is familiar with the area and with the Upper Canada District School Board for whom she has worked in teaching and administrative capacities since 1992.

Principal Grant received her B.A. at Queen’s University in Kingston, and took her teacher training at McGill University in Montreal. She began her career as an elementary/primary teacher. 

“My first five years in education were spent teaching at the Kanatakoa School, which is part of Awkwesasne, affiliated with UCDSB,” Grant said. “I taught kindergarten, grade three and grade five there and loved the experience. From there I went to Memorial Park, then to Morrisburg Public School where I taught part time.”

Later, Grant split her time between Vincent Massey and Viscount Alexander serving as a vice principal and an acting principal. She brings extensive classroom and administrative experience to her position at Iroquois.

Grant has a family with two children and two step-children and makes her home in Ingleside. 

Although she has only been principal since the late summer, Kelty Grant is delighted with the enthusiasm for teaching and for learning that she sees among teachers, students and parents.

She also praises the support of the custodial and secretarial staffs at the school. She laughed that custodians have already had to cope with wasps in the primary playground.

“IPS teachers have a deep focus on the curriculum,” she said. “They’re willing to experiment and to try different approaches to learning. I find that very progressive. I find they also have a lot of interesting ideas which they are very willing to share. That helps to move a school ahead.”

Grant is already looking forward to the first professional learning community at the school where the staff will examine EQAO results (out soon) and analyze on-going strategies for improvement. She is hoping that the school has succeeded in getting a PRO (Parents Reaching Out) grant  which will help set up a new program designed to help parents develop family literacy, to work with their children at home.

“I’m still getting to know the needs of the school, still discovering what teachers are seeing in their classrooms,” she said. “Then I will have a better idea in what directions to move.”

Grant is aware of some of the priorities at IPS, such as Take Home Reading Programs, the acquisition of more SmartBoards and the need for new playground equipment. Traditions like monthly assemblies, concerts and special events will continue. 

“The most important thing I believe is that every child can learn,” she said. “It’s my job to create an environment where that can happen. All subjects are important. You must develop the whole child.”

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Have your say!

Do you have something to say to council or something you’d like to ask council about? Well, if you do, it looks like your opportunity has arrived.

Members of the South Dundas council will be making themselves available to the public on Monday, October 17th at 7 p.m. at the Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners.

At the October 4th council meeting, mayor Steven Byvelds announced the upcoming “round table” where there will be an opportunity for “discussion between council and members of the public.”

The meeting falls during the fourth annual Local Government Week, October 16th to 22nd.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing states: “Local Government Week is an opportunity for Ontario students, educators and municipalities to engage one another on  how their communities work.”

Byvelds told the Leader that as of October 6th no schools had contacted him to speak or meet with their students to talk about municipal politics. He commented that the idea “certainly would be a fit for their Civics class.”

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Morrisburg Legion News

The general meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Fraser Hall. Please put this on your to-do list for this week. There are some very important decisions to be made. 

Keith Johnston will entertain in the pub on Friday, October 14, making a good ending to T.G.I.F. day. 

Sunday euchre will begin on October 16 at 1 p.m. Bingo on October 6 saw our regulars once again with players in the 70s. 

Our meat draw on the 9th was for a fresh turkey and was won by our own Lee Kelley. 

Memberships for 2012 are available at the bar. The early-bird draw will take place up to November 30, with prizes of $35, $20 and $15, possibly the price of your membership.

On October 3, D. Dillabough, M. Praine and G. Houze attended a seminar at the Rideau-Perley Veterans’ Home in Ottawa. Branch #48 has supported them with donations for several years. We were presented with a wish list for the veterans who reside there, and we are considering several items. This will come before the general meeting on Wednesday night. 

Six bursaries have been awarded this year, each for $500, to students furthering their education. The Poppy Campaign will be starting shortly and as usual, at this busy time, help is always needed. Please leave your name at the bar if you can spare a few hours. 

Many thank yous were read, among them ones from the SD&G Highlanders, the Children’s Treatment Centre, Scott Robertson for the Terry Fox committee, the Old Home Week committee and the Cornwall Hospice. Yes, this is where the money goes, as well as for repairs to this great building that we are so fortunate to have.  Others before us worked hard to accomplish this and we have to work hard to keep it in good repair. 

On the fun side, a pub crawl is being planned for October 22 and there will be a sign up sheet in the pub. 

Our next steak night is on the 28th with John Mason providing the entertainment, so yes, we do have fun too. 

Live well, love much, laugh often.

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Quality of South Dundas water

Since the August 19th boil water advisory, Mayor Steven Byvelds has been working to discover what caused the initial reading.

He explained, at the September 6th South Dundas council meeting, that there were two issues to be dealt with in this situation. 

First, council needed expert reports on what actually happened. 

Secondly, council would need to review the reports to determine what, if anything, needed to be done to update emergency procedures should a similar situation occur in the future.

At that time, Byvelds had received two reports on the situation. One, unfortunately, hadn’t arrived until late on September 6th so there hadn’t been time to review and report to council.

At the September 20th meeting, Byvelds stated: “I apologize. I do not have that report today.”

He said that he’d “finally had time to put all involved in a meeting yesterday (September 19th). We had a really good discussion and we’re working on a report that should be ready within the week.”

Byvelds stated that upon completion of this report, work would begin on development of a protocol for future emergency situations.

On September 29th the Leader received two press releases concerning the boil water advisory: one from Mayor Byvelds and one from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).

Byvelds: “As promised on August 19th, 2011, I have had discussions with the Medical Officer of Health, representatives of the Ministry of Environment Safe Drinking Water Branch, Caneau Water and Sewage Operations Inc., and Township staff regarding the events leading up to the issuance of the boil water advisory.”

EOHU: “On August 17, 2011, the (EOHU) issued a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory for those served by the South Dundas Regional Drinking Water System treatment plant.”

“The decision to issue the advisory came after receiving an initial report of “overgrown” results from the laboratory. “Overgrown” is a situation where the test may have been contaminated with bacteria found in the environment.”

“Although all other routine water testing results that day were normal, this condition may have interfered with the detection of coliforms or E. coli that may have been present in the sample. In this instance, further testing was required in order to rule out the presence of harmful bacteria.”

EOHU continued: “One day following the advisory, subsequent results fell within acceptable parameters.”

“When there is an “overgrown” situation, as a precaution, the public will be asked to boil water. This is in fact a usual course of action taken by public health officials, even if there is no obvious cause for the adverse results.”

EOHU concluded, explaining that “it is important to note that the (EOHU) and the Ministry of Environment oversee and inspect hundreds of water systems, including municipal water treatment plants. At times, it is not unusual to see inexplicable adverse results. This type of situation does occur and does not mean that a system is unsafe.”

Mayor Byvelds stated: “I am satisfied that all proper protocols were followed and that the quality assurance and quality control procedures in place are acceptable.”

He continued, saying, “The plant’s quality control parameters that measure chlorine residual and turbidity continuously displayed that the water quality leaving the plant was as good as it has been since the day that the South Dundas water plant was first put into operation.”

He emphasized the main point of EOHU’s findings: “It can only be concluded that external factors, such as contamination or inadequate sterilization of the sample bottle caused the overgrown result.”

“While the precautionary boil water advisory caused angst and inconvenience it is comforting to know that there never was an issue with the quality of the water produced by the South Dundas Regional Drinking Water System.”

Now that the first issue  in the boil water advisory situation has been addressed, Mayor Byvelds has, as promised, taken up the second issue: “Staff has now been tasked with drafting a protocol detailing how we would deal with a similar situation in the future. Once complete we will share this with you.”

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High School development leaves Helping Hand mission ‘homeless’

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.

[…]

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Celebrating nature and wildlife

Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary’s Nature & Wildlife Day on October 2nd.

The yearly event, hosted by the Friends of the Sanctuary, offered an array of informative, educational and entertaining  options.

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo brought a few residents from their home in Ottawa. The lucky reptiles and amphibians in attendance were able to enjoy the warmth of being inside the Interpretive Centre.

Outside, despite the cold and mist, everyone seemed to enjoy the various exhibits.

“The Roasting Man” filled the autumn air with the delicious smell of summertime barbecue.

Under the shelter of tents, visitors could browse the tables filled with various items for the silent auction, arts and crafts, baking, and used books. They could also try their luck with some raffles. 

Visitors were given the opportunity to build a birdhouse or sift through samples of water for various bugs and other living things.

The Raisin Region Conservation Authority and the South Nation Conservation (SNC) were in attendance to answer questions. 

In fact, the SNC was also hoping for some votes. They were recently “awarded $10,000 in funding from the SHELL Environmental Fund.” By voting online for SNC, the $10,000 could turn into $25,000. Shell will choose the top eight programs. If interested in voting, the link is http://fuellingchange.com/#org-list where South Nation is listed in the project profiles.

The Canadian Carp Club was also available with their freshly caught carp. For those who were curious, “petting” the carp or more precisely “toughing” the carp was also possible. The club was there to bring awareness to the “sport” of carp fishing. It was pointed out that the majority of all carp caught are again returned to their habitats, including the visitors to Nature & Wildlife Day.

For those looking to pet wildlife with fur, there were a number of opportunities. The Monalea Petting Zoo’s llamas and goats were more than eager to say hello. Also there were rabbits and ducks.

The Muskoka Wildlife Centre’s demonstration included an introduction to a skunk, a grey fox, an opposum, a porcupine, and a groundhog. For those who wished, the groundhog welcomed a friendly pat.

Falcon Environmental Services provided the airborne wildlife who couldn’t be touched, but could definitely be admired and appreciated.  Among the guests present were the Harris Hawk, the Peregrine Falcon, the  American Kestral, the Barn Owl, and the Great Horned Owl.

The proceeds from the event will “assist in the promotion of educational, resource management, recreational and interpretive programs at the Sanctuary.”

The free-to-use walking trails are open year round.

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Settlement area boundary study

A Comprehensive Settlement Area Boundary Study, which envelops all of the urban and rural areas within the county, was prepared by the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Planning Department.

The study is now available for public consumption and examination on the County website: www.sdgcounties.ca. The public is encouraged to give feedback on the study.

After reading the report, it appears that there are no changes proposed for Morrisburg’s urban settlement area.

The study does recommend minor changes for both Iroquois and Williamsburg.

According to the study summary, “no change to the boundaries is proposed for the Rural Settlement Areas of Ault Island, Dixon Corners, Glen Becker, Hainesville or Riverside Heights.”

“The area east of Elma is proposed to be added to the Rural Settlement Area.”

“Mariatown is recommended to be recognized as a Rural Settlement Area.”

Minor changes are suggested for Dunbar, Dundela, Irena, Winchester Springs, Glen Stewart, and Stampville.

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Strike Averted

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced early Monday (October 3) that it had reached a tentative collective agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers which represents the Corporation’s 475 unionized employees.

The agreement, which was reached following bargaining which extended through the weekend, is subject to ratification by the union membership.

Details of the agreement will not be released pending ratification.

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, indicated that the conclusion of the bargaining process would allow ships to continue transiting the waterway without interruption.

The Corporation was served with a 72-hour strike notice by the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) at noon on Friday, September 30, of its intent to begin strike action on Monday, October 3, at noon.

If the tentative agreement had not been reached and the unionized workers had proceeded with strike action, The St. Lawrence Seaway would have been closed to all traffic.

According to a SLSMC press release, a contingency plan was in place to provide for the orderly shutdown of the system in the event of the labour interruption. 

Negotiations continued with a federally appointed mediator over the weekend in an effort to reach an agreement. The mediator had been working with the parties throughout the latest round of negotiations, which began on September 19.

The parties have been negotiating since May with the key issues being wages, healthcare (co-payment) and contracting.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is a private, not-for-profit corporation, created pursuant to the Canada Marine Act, to operate and maintain the Canadian Seaway. 

Since its inception in 1959, over 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued in excess of $375 billion has been transported via the waterway. 

Today, over 60,000 Canadian jobs are directly or indirectly dependent upon cargo transiting the Seaway.

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More meetings planned for Brinston Wind Farm

The Prowind Public Meeting at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners on September 29th is no longer “the final public meeting” for the proposed South Branch Wind Farm in  Brinston. 

Cathy Weston, Managing Director of Prowind Canada, told the Leader that there will be a few more meetings. Prowind, who has a strong “commitment to the community” feels it’s necessary to slow down and give the community more time to process.

Weston, who has “been friends with some of these landowners” feels very strongly about moving forward at a pace that is comfortable for residents of South Dundas.

According to Prowind Canada information, “the South Branch Wind Farm is proposed as a 30 megawatt (MW) renewable energy generation facility. Once constructed, the facility will be able to produce enough renewable electricity to power approximately 7,500 homes per year.”

“South Branch Wind Farm will use wind turbines  to harness kinetic energy from the wind and, by means of an electrical generator, convert to electricity.”

“The commercial scale turbines proposed for the South Branch Wind Farm will consist of three main components: foundation, tower, and nacelle/rotor. Modern turbines self-regulate, optimize, and monitor output parameters using a variety of sophisticated instrumentation.”

The turbines haven’t been decided upon or purchased as of yet because, Weston pointed out, “(we are) trying to leave our options open (in an) economic sense (due to) domestic content rules (that say a product) needs to be 50 per cent Ontario based.”

Aside from the creation of jobs and the expected renewable energy, in terms of benefits to the community, Weston refers to the estimated $70,000 per year tax benefit. She also mentioned that Prowind would be donating $25,000 for a community fund, “provided each year following commissioning of the project, and through to the end of the 20 year contract.”

The Prowind project officially got underway in South Dundas in early 2008. Weston, who has a background in project management, joined Prowind in 2008 after learning about a similar initiative in her neighbourhood in the southwest of Ottawa.

“It’s a transparent company,” said Weston. They don’t hide information, they’re honest and open with the public. She went on to say that “what I want to do, we do.” It’s “a push for green energy.”

According to opposition group, Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), green doesn’t always equal good.

WCO state that they’re “a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of the people of Ontario from industrial wind turbines.”

The group’s main concerns seem to revolve around the mass production of wind farms without adequate consultation with local landowners. With the great number of public meetings and the open door policy of information sharing, Prowind Canada doesn’t appear to fall into this category.

In addition, WCO voice concern about the effects of wind farms on property values, public health, wildlife health and habitat, as well as noise and esthetic issues.

When questioned about WCO’s concerns, Weston pointed to the vast studies and experts that Prowind has brought in to help determine what, if any, issues exist or may arise from the project.

Prowind’s experts are chosen based on their accreditation and references. For example, the archaeology expert is “accredited by the Archaeological Society of Ontario.”

She referred to the “scientific evidence” where there was “nothing to show link” between wind farms and ill health, saying that the Chief Medical Officer for Ontario found “no link.”

Weston went on to say that Ontario has the “strictest laws” set up and that Prowind does “follow all the guidelines.”

Information, documentation, related studies, plans and so forth were in abundance at the meeting. Questions, suggestions, opinions and discussion were all welcome.

One such available study, “The Health Impact of Wind Turbines: A Review of the Current White, Grey, and Published Literature” for Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit in June 2008 had the following statement by Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Acting Medical Officer of Health at the time: “In summary, as long as the Ministry of Environment Guidelines for location criteria of wind farms are followed, it is my opinion that there will be negligible adverse health impacts on Chatham-Kent citizens. Although opposition to wind farms on aesthetic grounds is a legitimate point of view, opposition to wind farms on the basis of potential adverse health consequences is not justified by the evidence.”

A report on the “Impacts of Windmill Visibility on Property Values in Madison County, New York” by Ben Hoen suggested “the possibility that effects are more myth than reality.”

The report, which claims there were “no effects” on property values, gives reasons for the findings: “The windmill array fits the landscape; wind farming fits this community’s ‘sense of place;’ the payments the community received ‘balanced’ any adverse impacts.”

 In terms of further opposition, the Leader questioned Weston about the current political situation. 

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to shut down the gas-fired power plant in Mississauga recently resulted in a call to Liberals by Progressive Conservative candidate for MPP of SD&SG, Jim McDonell on September 26th “to listen to families in Brinston and stop the proposed industrial wind farms in their backyard before it reaches the construction phase.”

While Weston admitted that some people are feeling a “nervousness about change” where the wind farm is concerned, she feels that the overall public feedback has been positive.

When asked what Prowind would do in the event of a political change affecting their project, she said that it would be “really disappointing to have to go back to the drawing board again.”

The South Branch Wind Farm is a “great step forward in renewable energy” and, in addition, it would “be a shame for a lot of manufacturing plants (because there are a lot of) jobs right now that would be lost.”

In any case, “we (Prowind Canada) remain committed to this project.” She added that “it’s been developed responsibly.”

The project originally called for 15 turbines, but due to some questions about impact to the location of one of the turbines, Prowind decided to drop the number.

The 14 left have all been mapped. Only two houses in the area come within 600 metres of a turbine. The rest are at least one kilometre away from residences.

According to Weston, the average wind farm project achieves completion in about “the four year range.”

In terms of project time from start to completion for the South Branch project, she estimates that it “is between five and six years all together.” The extra time is due to the fact that the government “regulations changed and the project was put on hold at one point. Also, more notably, Prowind “want(ed) to do things properly.”

While there are large wind energy companies in Canada, Prowind Canada is just one of a very few small-sized wind energy companies in Ontario.

Mayor Steven Byvelds attended the meeting. In speaking with the Leader he said the project “has its merit – as long as everything is done right.”

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South Dundas receives thanks for

South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough recently shared a copy of a thank you letter with the Leader.

The letter was addressed to South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds from Fire Chief Bill Hollett of the Chance Cove Volunteer Fire Department in Newfoundland thanking the mayor and the township for their recent donation.

“I would like to extend our most sincere thanks and appreciation to you and your Town for the generosity you have shown in donating to us a fire truck, rescue van and fire & emergency equipment.”

“We are a volunteer fire department in a small community with limited funds available for equipment and training. Up until the arrival of the fire and emergency vehicles you so graciously donated to us, the fire truck we had in use was a 1976 model which we were having great difficulty maintaining due to parts for this truck no longer being available through the manufacturer.”

In a recent email to the Leader, Mayor Byvelds explained that “the idea started with looking at the Old Williamsburg Pumper and what to do with it.  In talking to others including firefighters in Williamsburg, it was in too good a shape to scrap it.  Normally the Township takes items like this to Rideau Actions however we never get what it is worth and may only get less than $5000. “

“I was in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia last year on vacation.  I met a firefighter from the area that told me that they were getting a new to them pumper that evening to try out.  They were using a 1976 pumper and were getting a 1987 model.  The group were very happy to get the newer model.”

“It was after that (meeting) that I suggested to Council that instead of selling our old unit that we find someone who was in need.”

“Chief Chris did the research and as a result Chance Cove now have new to them equipment.  I think that it is great that we could help out a community that have a lot less resources than we do.”

The Chance Cove letter also credited Chief McDonough for the donation: “He has certainly gone over and above any call of duty in identifying our need, advocating on our behalf and ensuring we received these vehicles and equipment with as minimum a cost to us as possible.”

Chance Cove did reimburse South Dundas $400 for the “cost of batteries purchased to travel these vehicles to Newfoundland.”

This donation has given Chance Cove more than just reliable fire equipment, as Chief Hollett stated in his letter: “These vehicles will long stand as a source of inspiration to our residents and in particular, our volunteer firemen. They represent the kind and helping hands of a neighbour and of our fellow firefighters, and I am glad to say, has brought a new sense of pride and ownership to our volunteer fire department.” 

[…]