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Local citizens awarded diamond jubilee medal


Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, hosted a ceremony to award the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to 14 deserving citizens who have made exceptional contributions to their community.

Recipients of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal are citizens nominated by the community who have made exceptional and significant contributions to their local community, Ontario and Canada over the course of many years. 

The award is a way to recognize their service to their peers, as well as a collective token of appreciation to commemorate Her Majesty’s sixty years of loyal service to her subjects throughout the Commonwealth.

This ceremony celebrated the following recipients: Gerry Benson of the Cornwall area, Richard Herrington of Cornwall, Vera Joyce of the Cornwall area, Gail Kaneb of Cornwall, Hugh A MacDougall of Finch, Don Mitchell of the Cornwall area, Susan Rainey of Finch, Onagh Ross of Cornwall, William J. Shearing of Morrisburg, Rev. Gary Stokes of Lancaster, Lorne Strader of Brinston, Stan and Betty Vandenbosch of Chesterville, and Johnny C. Whitteker of Williamsburg.

Of the 14 recipients, three were from South Dundas.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel William J. Shearing was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for various contributions to his community both in and outside South Dundas.

Shearing served as commander of the SD&G Highlanders from 1977 to 1980. He continues to be a strong supporter of the local armed forces.

Shearing, an active member of his church and community, also served two terms on county council for Morrisburg and the United Counties.

In addition, Shearing is a tireless advocate for acknowledging the historical contributions of the local military. He was successful in having County Road 43 renamed “The Veterans Highway” as well as having several plaques and commemorative plates placed throughout the six counties within Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

He recently made strides in bringing light to the efforts and accomplishments of the role of the local militia during the War of 1812.

Most notably, Shearing was successful in having official historical data corrected concerning events of June 6, 1944, more commonly known as D-Day. The data now identifies the SD&G Highlanders as the regiment that played a pivotal role in the Normandy Raid.

Lorne Strader, another resident of South Dundas, received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for a lifetime of service to his community, getting involved in a variety of different projects.

In McDonell’s speech, he pointed out that Strader served his community as a past Reeve for the former Township of Matilda and as a representative of the township at the upper tier level.

At one time, Strader also served as chair of the Dundas Milk Committee and the South Nation Conservation board. 

He made contributions, as a board member, to the Holstein Friesian Association, Odd Fellows, the Children’s Aid Society, the Spencerville Mill Restoration, and to Helping Hands.

In addition, Strader was a member of the Matilda Winter Carnival Committee and the Matilda Recreation Board.

Strader has helped out by joining various community groups, delivering festivals, events and programming that have enriched the lives of area residents.

Some of the many volunteer activities Strader took part in include time coaching a children’s softball team in Brinston, acting as the Sunday School superintendent for the Brinston United Church, and driving for Park Villa Seniors Residence.

The third South Dundas recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal was Johnny Whitteker.

One of the longest serving municipal politicians in the history of Ontario, Whitteker served on municipal council for 52 years, from 1955 to 2006, and never missed a council meeting.

In his speech, McDonell pointed out that one of Whitteker’s proudest accomplishments was to pave 70 percent of township roads, thus fulfilling a campaign promise.

Whitteker served on County Council for 47 years and served  as Warden in 1975.

Whitteker was a member of the South Nation Conservation Authority for 41 years, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit for 26 years, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for 61 years and is a lifetime member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Williamsburg.

Showing his zest for life, Whitteker didn’t stop playing hockey until 1996 when, at the age of 70, he broke his leg while playing as part of the Old-timers Hockey Club.

Whitteker showed his commitment to his community through his many years in politics, but he continues to show his dedication and love for his family by continuing to work alongside his sons on their family farm.

“I am proud to have been given the opportunity to recognize 14 outstanding citizens,” said McDonell. 

“Their spirit and dedication are worthy of a Diamond Jubilee Medal and we are lucky to have them among us in our community.”

The ceremony was held July 19th in the St. Lawrence Ballroom of Cornwall’s Ramada Inn.


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Candlelighters lights the way for children facing cancer


On July 23, Laurie Turriff, owner of the Iroquois-based Something Old Something New, donated $800 to Candlelighters. Turriff first heard of the non-profit organization when a relative’s son was diagnosed with cancer. She pointed out that while there are many charity organizations focusing on different types of cancer for adults, there are “few that help out the children and their families.”

Candlelighters is exclusively set up for children age 18 and under, as well as their families, who are coping with the unique challenges associated with a positive diagnosis of cancer. Members of the program receive emotional as well as financial support.

Tammy Johnston and her son Nash Nesbitt-Johnston are members of Candlelighters. Diagnosed with and treated for cancer last year, Nash is now in remission.

During treatment, Johnston said that without the support of Candlelighters, she would have lost her home. The Ottawa-based organization also provided Nash with a laptop to stay on top of his studies and connected to his friends. Through his membership with Candlelighters, Nash met Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips and his wife Erin Phillips, chair of the Candlelighers board of directors. Nash was also invited to use the Candlelighters’ suite at Scotiabank Place to watch many of the Ottawa Senators games this past season.


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Township applies for funding for ‘old high school’ project


“There’s going to be lots of competition,” said South Dundas chief administrative officer Stephen McDonald with respect to the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund recently advertised by the federal government.

McDonald requested and received council’s endorsement of a township application for funding to assist with the rehabilitation of the old high school in Morrisburg.

Although there may be other projects in the township eligible for funding, McDonald believes the Morrisburg project is the best option to pursue.

The rehabilitation of the old high school meets several project criteria outlined in the application guidelines, increasing the township’s odds of success.

The project includes work being done on an existing building that will be open to the public. When completed, the old high school will be home to township and council offices, the clinic and the library.

As councillor Evonne Delegarde pointed out, “the building would serve everyone in our township as well as visitors and tourists.”

Guidelines for the application clearly state that priority will be given to applicants looking for only 33.3 percent coverage and, with this in mind, McDonald reported that the township has requested just one-third coverage of the project cost up to a maximum of one million dollars.

According to the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund information package, the application deadline is August 24th, following which “FedDev Ontario will review all applications.”

“It is the intention of FedDev Ontario to have contribution agreements put in place quickly and efficiently so that available funds can flow to projects as soon as possible.”


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Cruickshank shows commitment to employees’ health and safety


 In an effort to be proactive and with an eye to employee safety, Cruickshank Construction held its first ever Health and Safety Day on July 17th at the Morrisburg Arena.

The event included construction safety as well as health-related vendor displays, mini-seminars covering issues like ergonomics and sun-related safety, and demonstrations covering anything from putting out fires to inspecting a truck.

A popular indoor demonstration called Fall Arrest was provided by Acklands Grainger. Participants learned the possibilities surrounding falls and what to do or not do in the event of a fall.

The South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services provided participants with information on fire prevention, including hands-on demonstrations of how to correctly use a  fire extinguisher.

Cruickshank’s health and safety officer, Jamie Guthrie, said the idea sprung from a desire to counteract the increase in workplace accidents during the busy months of July and August. 

“It’s good to work for a company that doesn’t just talk,” said Guthrie, “they mean it. They get behind it.”

President and chief operations officer Dave Read said that not many companies would shut down operations for a full day during their busy season and host a full-day health and safety event, complete with a barbecue lunch served up by Les and Steve Cruickshank.

He pointed out that Cruickshank takes employee health and safety very seriously, making it a top priority.

In fact, the full-day company-wide event happened twice last week, on July 17th in Morrisburg and on July 19th in Kingston. 

Read pointed out that operations in the East shut down for the Morrisburg event, while operations in the West shut down for the Kingston event. 

Employees had the option of attending either event and, according to Guthrie, almost 100 percent of employees committed to attending the event. 

An added incentive for attendance was a vast selection of prizes to be given out at the end of each Health and Safety Day.

Each participating employee was given a Passport to Safety with seven boxes covering the different seminars and demonstrations. For each one attended, a stamp was given. Those with all seven stamps at the end of the day were eligible to enter their names for the  prizes.

In addition to giving out two ThinkPads and several golf-related packages, the grand prize included a Via Rail trip for two to Toronto with a two-night stay at the Royal York and dinner at the Keg.

According to Guthrie, the event organized, in large part, by health and safety program administrator Nina Gamble and summer student Kate VanDuinen, is expected to become an annual event taking place around the same time each year.


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Fire breaks out on second floor


All three stations of the South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services were dispatched to a fire at 3439 County Road 31 in the Township of South Dundas at approximately 7 p.m. on July 19.

According to chief Chris McDonough, “North Dundas also responded to the call with a full response from Winchester.”

There were no injuries to report and “dogs and cats were removed from the ground floor,” said McDonough.

The fire, which is thought to have started in one of the second floor bedrooms, was “under control” by 9 p.m. and extinguished by 9:30 p.m.

The cause, said McDonough, is under investigation and the estimated damage is approximately $180,000. Damage to the second floor, he said, was extensive.


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Road work is scheduled for Laurier Street


Residents who frequently drive along Laurier Street in Morrisburg will soon  see some improvements where Laurier meets County Road 2.

United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry engineer Ben De Haan reported that work will begin sometime in mid-August.

According to De Haan, work on the patch of Laurier Street just south of County Road 2 in Morrisburg will include the following:

• Excavation and removal of the existing culvert under the roadway

• Installation of a new culvert 

• Reconstruction of the road granulars

• Installation of sub-drains (to help keep the granular material dry)

• Repaving

“We will end up re-paving approximately 20 meters of asphalt,” said De Haan.  

“There may be some traffic delays due to construction, but  a complete road closure will not be required.” 


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Level 2 drought continues, fire ban remains in effect


While recent rainstorms have been a welcome sight, they have not been enough to officially change the drought status or lift the fire ban in South Dundas.

On July 24, Sandra Mancini of South Nation Conservation Authority (SNC) confirmed that the Level 2 Low Water Condition remains in place.

“The recent rainfall was very localized,” said Mancini. “Some areas got a lot of rain and some had nothing at all.”

“It had little impact on the watershed. The river flows at well below average for this time of year.”

She reported that while Ottawa received 13 millimeters of rain on July 23, Cornwall received 17.4 millimeters and Brockville none.

Mancini further explained that it would take one full week of very steady rain of long duration and low density to make any positive impact on the current drought situation. 

She pointed out that, unfortunately, the July 23 storm was very high in density and low in duration.

The Ontario Low Water Response program, implemented in 2000, has three levels and according to Mancini, “we are really close to a Level 3 right now.”

“As of today, some of the conditions have not been met” for a Level 3 Low Water Condition,  but, she added, it’s very close. 

While only the province can officially declare a Level 3 drought, South Nation Conservation’s water response team will meet on August 2nd to review the situation. If conditions, at that time, have reached a Level 3, SNC will recommend to the province that the designation be updated.

In determining the water condition, the water response team monitors water levels within the watershed and tracks any reported water-related issues.

The team at South Nation Conservation ask that anyone experiencing water-related issues contact them at 1-877-984-2948 extension 223 or extension 227.

At this point, no dry wells in South Dundas have been reported, but Mancini pointed out, during the 2001 Level 2 Low Water Condition there were several reports of dry wells in South Dundas.

Contacting the SNC will not only give the water response team the data to support their findings, but it will also give area residents the opportunity to ask questions and find out what to do in a dry well situation.

In fact, those residents whose wells are low, but not yet dry, should also contact SNC for information. Low water levels in wells could affect the quality and safety of the water. 

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) provides free water-testing for wells. More information on this can be found by contacting SNC or by contacting EOHU directly.

South Nation Conservation continues to promote conservation. People are asked to use 20 percent less water than they would normally. Should the drought be upgraded to a Level 3, the province will determine if any restrictions are to be put in place in terms of water usage.

In related news, the fire ban in South Dundas remains in place.

South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services chief Chris McDonough was contacted on July 24, following the previous day’s rainstorm. 

“We need another full day of rain before I’ll even think about lifting it,” he said.


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Finger docks in Morrisburg courtesy of the Lions Club


The Morrisburg and District Lions Club has offered to purchase and install portable finger docks at the Morrisburg Waterfront, east of the Docksyde, and the Township of South Dundas has accepted.

Morrisburg Waterfront Committee chair Doug Grenkie made the offer in a letter written to the township on July 11th.

Several questions arose in relation to the offer, which was addressed at the July 17th South Dundas council meeting. Council inquired as to who would be responsible for acquiring permits, for instance. 

In addition, council wanted to know if the Lions Club planned to take responsibility for installing the docks and then removing them at the end of the season. They also wondered about storage of the docks during the winter months.

As there were no representatives from the Morrisburg Waterfront Committee or the Morrisburg and District Lions Club, staff agreed to look into council’s concerns following the meeting.

Realizing the importance of having some sort of dock arrangement at the Morrisburg Waterfront this season, it was agreed that staff would “reconvene council for a brief session” should the need arise.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is August 14th.


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Goodbye to the Morrisburg Dock, ‘it’s lived a good life’


If all goes well, residents of South Dundas will be able to use a new Morrisburg Dock beginning next season, in 2013.

During the July 17th council meeting, South Dundas chief executive officer Stephen McDonald recommended that council go ahead and retain Kehoe Marine of Lansdowne, Ontario to complete construction of the new dock and council agreed.

While the final report from Ottawa-based engineering company J. L. Richards was not ready at the time of the meeting, McDonald did say that, based on the draft report received in June, the entire dock would need to be replaced.

“The dock, as it is now, will not be there again,” said McDonald. “It’s lived a good life of 50 years.”

He suggested that council sole-source the project, hire Kehoe Marine immediately, and “get in the queue.” 

He pointed out that Kehoe already has several jobs lined up. If hired immediately, however, then the Morrisburg Dock would get into priority sequence permitting construction to start in September or October, depending on the time required to get the necessary permits.

Deputy-mayor Jim Locke agreed, saying that “timing is of the essence. If we don’t get at it this fall, there will be no dock there next year.”

“We look at this as a priority,” said mayor Steven Byvelds, agreeing that it would be best to have the dock reconstructed before the 2013 boating season begins. He offered apologies to residents for the loss of the dock for the current season.

According to McDonald, the dock will be reconstructed to match existing dimensions.

Thanks to last year’s surplus, it was agreed that financing for the project will come from the working reserve.


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Saying goodbye to ball diamond and tennis courts


South Dundas council approved the removal of the Morrisburg tennis courts and the Iroquois Haldane Park East ball diamond during the July 17th council meeting.

According to chief administrative officer Stephen McDonald, the recommendation was “based on the usage and the cost it would take to bring them up to standard.”

The fact that the township doesn’t own the land on which the tennis courts are located was also a major factor in the recommendation and, in turn, a major factor in council’s decision to go ahead and dismantle the structure.

The Hartford Retirement Centre and the Upper Canada District School Board each own sections of the land where the tennis courts are located.

The main Haldane Park ball diamond will remain in use. It is the East diamond that is to be removed.

Dates have not been set for the removal of either recreational structure and the cost to remove both is estimated to be between $7,500 and $10,000.