A dedicated crowd defied some rainy weather on Saturday to celebrate concurrent events, the ribbon cutting of a newly constructed rest stop in Ompah and the unveiling of 5 murals painted by North Frontenac artists Fred Fowler, Marlene Leeson, Cathy Owen, Linda Rush and Katie Ohlke.
North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins, flanked by Council and resident members of the township economic development task force, welcomed everyone and presided over a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of a modern, aluminum enclosure that is one of the key elements to the rest stop, which also includes a porta-potty and a gravel parking lot.
The lot where the rest stop is located steeped in recent North Frontenac history as it was purchased by the township several years ago as the preferred location for a new township fire hall/Frontenac County ambulance base.
That project went to tender, but the projected price for the fire hall portion was higher than North Frontenac Council were prepared to go. The ambulance base was built at Robertsville, and a set of upgrades were done to the existing Ompah fire hall across the road. The towsnhip did have to invest more into what is now the rest stop lot because of soil contamination from a former gas station on the site.
As part of the ceremony, committee member Darwyn Sproule recalled the history of site, which was originally the location of a primary grade school which burned down, then a store and service station, which also burned.
“It’s a good thing the structure we put up here is made of metal,” Sproule said.
The project was completed with support from a number of groups, organizations, and businesses, including; Hydro One, the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation, Francis Manion Construction, and West Palmerston Cottages, the Easter Ontario Trails Association, and the Ottawa Valley ATV club among others.
“Providing a welcome place to stop while driving along one of our scenic roads is part pf our economic development strategy,” said Higgins. “You can see how much community involvement it takes to make things happen.”
The second part of the ceremony was certainly more colourful, as the five murals, which were leaning against pickup turcks in the lot, were unveiled one by one by the artists who took up the challenge to crate them. Sgt. Sharron Brown, detachment commander of the Frontenac OPP supervised a lottery of sorts, as the location where each of the murals are being installed was determined by each artists pulling the name of a township hall out of a hat.
The results were as follows. The Fred Fowler mural is going to Snow Road, Marlene Leeson’s is already installed at the Ompah hall, Cathy Owen’s will go down the road to the Clar-Mill hall in Plevna, the Linda Rush’s is bound for the Barrie Hall, and the Harlow hall will be the home of the Katie Ohlke mural.
The murals will be installed on outside walls of the halls for maximum exposure to the viewing public.
The project was inspired by Arlene Uens of Mountain Grove who initiated and completed her own mural project, putting hers up on private property throughout Mountain Grove.
Uens was on hand at the unveiling and said is nice to see how North Frontenac Township has supported the local project.
With the work all done, the crowd headed over the hall for a free BBQ courtesy of the fire department, and cake and coffee in the hall.