'The Citizen' looks back on 2015
Reports of someone with a weapon resulted in the lockdown of Central Huron Secondary School for several hours on Jan. 12.
The reports, however, turned out to be false, as an individual was placed under “investigative detention” by police, but was then later released.
As a precaution, nearby St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School was also placed under lockdown for a short time, but it was soon lifted as well.
North Huron Fire Chief David Sparling spoke to Huron County Council, making his case for a county grant to help the Emergency Services Training Centre, just south of Blyth, for the next three years.
Sparling told councillors that the grant would help the centre by addressing a number of its needs and help to make it self-sufficient going forward.
Walton’s Matt and Julie Shortreed were parents of Stratford’s New Year’s baby, when Brayden arrived just after 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 1.
The couple was at a New Year’s party when Julie began experiencing contractions six weeks ahead of her due date.
In addition to he and his wife’s second child, Matt would also have his hands full after being elected president of the Huron County Beef Producers for the next two years.
The election was made at the group’s annual meeting, held at the Brussels Legion on Jan. 7.
Walton farmer Wayne Cantelon was named Innovative Farmer of the Year by a number of organizations, due to his work with zone tillage, which began in the late 1990s.
A potential partnership between the 2017 International Plowing Match (IPM) in Walton and the Brussels Fall Fair was first discussed at the Brussels Agricultural Society’s annual meeting.
IPM Chair Jacquie Bishop spoke to the group and said she hoped to be able to host an authentic rural fair at the match to showcase all that’s good about Huron County and that fair being the Brussels fair made the most sense, she said, for a number of reasons.
Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt detailed his slate of directors for the 2015 season, who were all artistic directors in their own right.
He said this was important to him, as Blyth has had a reputation as a “closed shop” over the years, and he wanted to open the Festival to some new faces.
The Wingham Police Services Board was set to look into the expansion of the Wingham Police into the rest of North Huron.
The recommendation came from North Huron Councillor Bill Knott who opined that perhaps expansion of the Wingham force would be a more cost-effective option than the Ontario Provincial Police and its consistently-rising costs.
A Family Day event held at the Courtney farm just west of Blyth raised nearly $10,000 for the Plunkett family after Kenny Plunkett died in an ATV accident.
Teresa Dykstra, Plunkett’s partner, and Austin Plunkett, their son, were the recipients of the generous donation, which came from local businesses, those in attendance and the Blyth Lions Club.
The Blyth Brussels Midget AE Crusaders were marching towards the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) final, with wins over Tweed.
The team would have to defeat Tweed to advance to the next round of the OMHA playoffs.
Discussion officially began surrounding the potential of hosting the 2017 Brussels Fall Fair at the International Plowing Match in Walton.
In the first meeting of the Brussels Agricultural Society since its annual meeting when the partnership was proposed, members of the society began discussing the logistics of a partnership and which parts of the fair could and couldn’t be hosted at the IPM.
The majority of those voting spoke in favour of closing the historic Duff’s United Church in Walton after decades of service in the community.
The group set a final service date of Sept. 27 for Duff’s.
The Midget AE Crusaders won their first OMHA final game against Lambton Shores by a score of 4-2 on their way to a sweep to the title.
The team would win its next two games at home at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre to take the title of provincial champions, as well as the Eric Wesslby Memorial Trophy, over the Lambton Shores Predators.
Huron County began discussions regarding the potential merging of the Health Units and Emergency Medical Services of Huron and Perth Counties.
A group consisting of senior administrators and councillors from both counties was to be formed soon to explore the feasibility of a merger.
The Citizen was honoured nationally with a silver medal at the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards in three categories, including Best Overall Newspaper. The local, community-owned news organization was bested only by The Osoyoos Times.
The Blyth Brussels Atom Local League Burgundy Crusaders finished an impressive season with being crowned Western Ontario Local League (WOAA) champions.
Mike and Amy Cronin of the Bluevale area were named Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2015, meaning they would move on and compete for the national title later in the year.
On the first day of sales for the season, the Blyth Festival doubled sales of the previous season’s opening day. Garratt said that after crunching the numbers, the Festival sold one ticket per minute, all day.
At the annual meeting of the Blyth Horticultural Society, it was decided that the society would disband and perhaps seek new life as a gardening club or similar organization.
After a second Central Huron Council meeting in less than five years was reported as being illegal, the Ombudsman deemed Central Huron’s meeting to be legal.
A statement released by Goderich-to-Guelph (G2G) Inc. said that the proposed rail trail was scheduled to open on July 1.
The two-time Western Ontario Athletic Association (WOAA) champion Senior A Crusaders (1987/1988 and 1989/1990) held a reunion 25 years after their final victory. Most of the members of the team and coaching staff were able to attend.
In response to the G2G Inc. claim that the rail trail would be ready to open July 1, North Huron disputed the trail’s readiness, commenting specifically on a portion of the trail to which North Huron held a lease through Blyth.
An ambitious garden project was in the early stages at the former Blyth Public School, starting with a “comet garden” where the school’s yard had previously been.
Doug Scrimgeour of Blyth launched a project that would put discarded fire and emergency medical equipment in the hands of underprivileged Mexican departments and the positive results were already starting to show.
Scrimgeour had begun the project over a year and a half earlier and as of May, Huron County equipment was being used in 16 different Mexican departments to great effect.
After months of debate, the 2017 International Plowing Match and Brussels Fall Fair had decided to partner. A secret vote solidified the partnership with 83 per cent of those voting speaking in favour of the union.
Fare on 4, the ambitious Campaign 14/19 project that fed 1,419 people on Blyth’s main street in 2014, was honoured by the Huron Arts and Heritage Network as the year’s best cultural event in 2014.
Blyth artist Kelly Stevenson was also honoured by the organization as the county’s top artist over the course of the year.
Grant Sparling, founder of Sparling’s Propane, passed away at the age of 91. Sparling’s funeral was held at Blyth United Church.
The Brussels Farmers’ Market officially opened its season with a special opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting.
Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire was in Clinton, speaking to students at St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School.
North Huron approved a new cross-border servicing agreement, which would dictate certain policies pertaining to providing services to neighbouring municipalities like Central Huron and Morris-Turnberry.
North Huron Chief Administrative Officer Sharon Chambers labelled the township’s previous policy as “one size fits all” and said the new policy would do better to serve individual developments.
Huron East Council decided that it would support an ambitious project in Brussels that hopes to see an L-shaped barn transported to Brussels to house a number of things, from the farmers’ market year-round to a restaurant to weddings and special events.
Grey farmer Bryan Morton said he hopes to give back to Brussels through the project.
Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan wrote a letter to local media outlets discussing issues addressed in a closed-to-the-public council meeting. At the following council meeting, councillors were furious and saw MacLellan’s letter as a breach of trust.
Just months before it was schedule to close, Duff’s United Church celebrated its 150th anniversary with a special service at the Walton church.
Seeds opened the Blyth Festival season to much fanfare. The Wilberforce Hotel, Fury and Mary’s Wedding would follow on the Memorial Hall stage.
A number of adjacent landowners and farm organizations continued to protest the G2G Rail Trail, saying that they had a number of concerns from privacy to biosecurity to trespassing.
The groups had made their voices heard at a number of local municipal council and Huron County Council meetings.
A cycling team composed of several local residents, including a number of North Huron firefighters, raised over $37,000 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto through the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
Jeff Josling, the captain of the team, said it was one of the most memorable experiences of his life, as he chose to assemble the team in honour of his father Paul, who captained the Blyth Fire Department for decades.
Ron and Bev Walker, long-time Blyth-area residents and founders of the Blyth Festival Art Gallery, were honoured with a retrospective exhibit at the gallery to help mark the gallery’s 40th anniversary.
The Blyth Lions Club celebrated its 70th anniversary with a special event at Lions Park.
Several Lions Club dignitaries were there, as well as many members of the community the club has served for seven decades.
Wingham author Alice Munro was to be honoured with a stamp, which featured Munro’s image, her handwriting and vintage photographs from Wingham.
The third annual Blyth Streetfest was deemed a success by organizers who said the weather couldn’t have been better and that attendance was great.
Brussels-area teen Tiffany Deitner was crowned Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador, following in the footsteps of her sister, who was given the honour a handful of years earlier.
Deitner triumphed over Johanna Blake, Natalie Fear and Chelsey Terpstra to take the crown.
Julie Sawchuk, a 41-year-old resident of the Blyth area, was struck by a motorist while cycling, paralyzing her from the chest down.
Sawchuk had planned to write a letter to The Citizen regarding motorists sharing the road with cyclists, but her efforts were cut down when she was hit.
The Walton TransCan was again a success in 2015, continuing its year-over-year growth, which has been its trend in recent years.
Luke McCutcheon, a Brussels native, began his career with the London Lakers, a Junior A hockey team within the Greater Metro league.
Brandon McGavin, a native of Walton, was crowned the Canadian ploughing champion and was now setting his sights on the world match.
McGavin, who had moved to Alberta in recent years, was representing his adopted home province when he triumphed at the national level.
After months of work, the newly-renovated Brussels Sports Pad was set to open thanks to the Brussels Leo Club.
A special ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the pad just ahead of the opening of the Brussels Fall Fair, which was held at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre.
The Part II Bistro in Blyth was named the top restaurant in Ontario according to the popular travel website TripAdvisor.
The website, which allows users to vote on experiences, showed that Part II had the highest rating of nearly 30,000 restaurants in Ontario.
A number of local events, including the Brussels Fall Fair, the annual reunion of the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association and the Elementary School Fair were all affected by work-to-rule action in local schools, but organizers all said their events were a success, despite diminished attendance as a result of the job action.
Duff’s United Church in Walton closed its doors after over 150 years of history.
The church’s final service featured a number of moving musical performances and remembrances by pastors and members of the congregation both past and present.
Blyth’s Lucas Townsend continued his recent success as he won his class at the International Plowing Match.
With the federal election just a few weeks away, the Huron-Bruce ballot was set, with all four major parties represented. Incumbent Ben Lobb would again represent the Conservatives, while Allan Thompson would challenge for the Liberals, Gerard Creces would fly the NDP flag and Jutta Splettstoesser would represent the Green Party.
The 14th annual Blyth Witches Walk was not to be, after it was abruptly cancelled due to fire regulations and the timing of communcation pertaining to the regulations.
Hope Button, a member of the committee said that it wasn’t the requirements that were a problem, but the tight timeline, making the event an impossibility in 2015.
Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt was named the chair of Ontario Summer Theatre, a group of 19 summer stock theatres from around the province.
The Huron County Economic Development Board officially endorsed the Goderich-to-Guelph Rail Trail and dedicated $20,000 to it, despite Huron County Council still being undecided.
The Belgrave Community Centre Board was upset to find funding to the centre had been cut by Morris-Turnberry Council by 75 per cent.
The board penned a letter to council expressing their displeasure and reiterating the centre’s important place in the community.
Morris-Turnberry OPP officer Lincoln Dinning, who had retired earlier in the year, was named Huron County Police Officer of the Year.
Dinning was nominated for the honour by Morris-Turnberry Council, which felt he exemplified everything the award stood for.
Ben Lobb retained his Huron-Bruce seat, taking 44.6 per cent of the vote, defeating Liberal Allan Thompson 25,803 votes to 23,126.
Lobb was one of just 99 Conservative Members of Parliament who kept their seats after a Liberal wave swept across the country.
Scott Ramsay of Blyth won the top prize in Huron County’s annual art show. He was honoured for his painting called “Old Faithful”.
The Blyth Festival announced that it would be hosting four world premieres in 2016, led by a play about Matthew Dinning, a Huron County soldier slain in 2006.
As part of its service delivery review, Huron East Council was again considering dropping its ward system.
With all of the necessary paperwork completed for unleased portions of the Goderich-to-Guelph Rail Trail, work had begun grading and installing posts along the Walton portion of the trail.
The Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League were at the centre of a controversy when the team’s coaching staff was fired and the team protested the move, refusing to play.
The team, captained by Blyth native Alex Peters, soon became the centre of a large debate regarding the power held by minor league players and the coaching staff was quickly reinstated by the league.
Huron County Council threw its support behind the Goderich-to-Guelph Rail Trail, sending Warden Paul Gowing to a pair of open houses as a representative.
High costs and staffing concerns were named as barriers and, eventually, reasons why the Huron and Perth Emergency Medical Services departments would not amalgamate, as had been suggested earlier in the year.
Mike and Amy Cronin of the Bluevale area were victorious in the Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer competition, sharing the honour with the Bos family of Alberta.
Community members decided that in 2016 those in the Grey Ward of Huron East should hold a celebration to mark the 160th anniversary of Grey Township.
The Goderich-to-Guelph Rail Trail announced that it had received a Trillium Grant in the amount of $150,000. That funding, along with the matching funds that those behind G2G Inc. were now responsible for, should complete the trail from one end to the other, said Chris Lee of G2G Inc.
Huron County officially adopted a new economic development strategic plan in accordance with a presentation made by consultant Ron Gaudet. The new plan called for sweeping changes to be made to the department, including those pertaining to staffing.