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Feature Article - October 20, 2005

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Feature Article

October 20, 2005

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Fire Ladies want back in the loop:North FrontenacCouncil report

by Jule Koch Brison

The Clar-Mill Volunteer Ladies Fire Auxiliary, which has committed $100,000 towards the building of a new fire hall, sent a letter to council last week asking about the status of the fire hall project.

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The township has been developing plans for a new Fire Hall for over a year, and up until this past May it seemed as if the Fire Hall would be located at Buckshot Road in Plevna, at a former Ministry of Natural Resources property that the township owns. That was the recommendation of a Fire Hall Task Force that Council had set up. However, before making a final decision and setting up a Request for Proposal process, Council had second thoughts, deciding to begin exploring the possibility of building a Fire Hall where the current Fire Hall is located, at the township office site on Road 506.

The letter from the Fire Ladies asked why the swing was made and said that rumours are rampant in the community that it was made because renovations to the township offices have superseded plans for the fire hall. “It’s time we communicated,” the letter concluded.

While the possibility of renovating the township offices had been discussed earlier, it seems the architect that the township hired to look at the possibility has said it is not advisable to go that route. The architect is preparing a final report, which will include a building plan and a site plan for the fire hall.

“Essentially we are waiting for the architect’s final report,” said Mayor Ron Maguire.

Councillor Will Cybulski, apologizing in advance for possibly stepping on anyone’s toes, asked for clarification on one point in the letter. He asked if the Fire Ladies were really saying in their letter that they would contribute $100,000 - provided the fire hall was built on Buckshot Lake Road.

Mayor Maguire replied, “I don’t think that’s the case. The former fire chief assured us he didn’t care; as long as a fire hall was built, they would contribute no matter where.”

Gertie MacDonald, President of the Fire Ladies, was in attendance at the meeting, and Mayor Maguire looked over at her for confirmation. She nodded in agreement.

Councillor Bud Clayton assured Gertie MacDonald that plans for the fire hall were not being shelved so the township office could be bigger and more grandiose, and that there would be a new fire hall.

Mayor Ron Maguire said that a reply would be drafted for the next council meeting, thanking the Fire Ladies for all their help and updating them on the chronology of events so far.

In a subsequent interview, Mayor Maguire said that once the architect’s report is received, the township would move forward with the project.

“We had been hoping to break ground this fall, but that is now unlikely. We do expect to have a request for proposal process underway by the end of this year, and that construction will be under way in the spring.”

Maguire also said that renovations to the existing township office, and plans for the space that will be vacated by the fire department when they move into the new building are excluded from the project at this time.

With a municipal election coming up in November of next year, Maguire said Council is determined to be finished their own work on the contentious Clar/Mill Fire Hall long before the campaigning starts.

Special Service Medal - Councillor Clayton was presented with a Special Service Medal with NATO bar for his service with NATO in Germany from November 1957 to October 1960.

MPAC - Beverly Disney, a Municipal Relations Representative from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) gave a presentation on the changes in property assessments. She said that assessments are based on market values, and when property owners get their assessments there is only one question they should ask, namely: “Could I reasonably expect to sell my property for this amount on the open market in its present condition?” If the answer is yes, then the assessment is correct. If no, they should contact MPAC and file a request for reconsideration, and/or contact the Assessment Review Board (ARB), an office of the Attorney General that is separate from MPAC. Disney said, “We’re here to work with you; we’re here to get it right.”

The assessment increases in North Frontenac are: residential 21.87%; commercial 27.07%; industrial, 18.02%; and farmland 32.04%, for an average increase of 21.70%. The surprising increase in farmland assessments is due to higher farmer-to-farmer sale prices.

The new assessments will be used to calculate municipal taxes for 2006.

Pond dried up - Don and Carolyn Ferguson presented council with photos of damage to their pond, which they say was done by the township when it attempted to lower the water level to avoid flooding of the road. The Fergusons said it was senseless to lower the pond just as the dry weather began; that it had been done in other years without problems, but this time the pond was gone and so were the beavers. The Fergusons had an agreement allowing township workers to enter their property and lower water levels, and asked for the agreement to be torn up.

Councillor Clayton asked if it were acceptable that no work would be done on the Fergusons’ property in future unless they were in attendance and Council agreed that they wanted a cooperative relationship.

The Fergusons also brought up maintenance of the Crotch Lake Access Road, saying there is no question that it is a township road. They also said there is no Stop sign or 9-1-1 sign there. Mayor Maguire said that council would look into the issues and get back to them.

Waste Water reinspection - Council has signed a septic agreement with Mississippi Valley Conservation that officially starts the township’s waste water program. There are 30 properties to be inspected this year; 100 next year and 100 the year after.

Minimum Funding thresholds - Thirty-seven municipalities have declared their support for a resolution drafted by Mayor Maguire, that minimum capital program funding thresholds be established for the smallest rural municipalities, which are less able than larger municipalities to bear the burdens of maintaining roads and bridges, and funding social programs.

Paving deferred - The Sand Lake Road and River Road construction projects will be completed in 2006. The roads have been prepared for paving, but the public works manager recommended that some construction areas be allowed to settle through a winter before paving takes place.

New Slogan - A graphic and slogan by Wendy Higgins has been chosen to be used in marketing North Frontenac. The graphic shows symbols of each of the four seasons, with the slogan “Four seasons Four reasons, North Frontenac … anytime!”

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