Renfrew council members recognized

Renfrew – As members of town council drew close to the end of their final council meeting last Tuesday night, there appeared to be a bit of confusion between town clerk Victoria Charbonneau and Mayor Don Eady over one of the last items.

As Mayor Eady pointed to one item and was set to address the chambers, Ms. Charbonneau whispered softly, “no Mayor, your item is here and we inserted an additional item before that,” she said. “We are making a special presentation.”

Looking very confused, Mayor Eady looked around and said “I haven’t a clue what you are talking about.”

It was hard for Ms. Charbonneau to contain her laughter and CAO Robert Tremblay, also chuckling, interrupted them by announcing that town staff wanted to express their thanks and appreciation to him and all of council for their leadership and service.

“It is not easy being an elected official in a small town or a big town and it is a lot of work so the staff wants to recognize all your efforts and each of you will be presented with a token of appreciation,” he said.

It seemed fitting with all the senior leadership changes that have taken place over the last year, including the retirement of longtime clerk Kim Bulmer, that he was asked to make the presentations. Each member received a glass frame with a photo from the inaugural meeting of council in 2018 along with an individualized photo of some aspect of Renfrew that is held in high regard by each member.

Mr. Bulmer presented Mayor Eady with his plaque that included a photo of the McDougall Mill Museum, a building built in 1855 and is home to more than 3,000 artifacts detailing the history of the town and surrounding area. Mayor Eady has been one of the strongest supporters of the volunteer organization during his time on council.

Reeve Peter Emon received a plaque featuring a photo of the water tower at sunset. Mr. Tremblay said Reeve Emon is only one of two returning members and his expertise at the provincial level has been beneficial for all of Renfrew County.

Councillor Mike Coulas’ plaque included a photo of the Bluegrass Festival grounds. Both he and fellow Councillor Arlene Jamieson were instrumental in establishing the successful event when it began in 2018.

Councillor Andrew Evans, who chose not to run in this year’s election after three consecutive terms of council dating back to 2010, was presented with a plaque that included a photo of downtown Renfrew. He has been a constant presence in the downtown core with his storefront location where he is a licensed mortgage agent.

Councillor Sandi Heins, who served close to 30 years in various roles on council, including mayor, was presented with a plaque featuring a photo of the CP Caboose located at Haramis Park. The caboose was close to being sent to the scrapyard during this term of council and Ms. Heins successfully lobbied her fellow council members to save it by partnering with a grassroots volunteer group in order to perform upgrades.

Similar to Coun. Coulas, Arlene Jamieson was also presented with a photo of the Bluegrass Festival grounds as both she and Coun. Coulas devoted hundreds of hours in order to not only help launch the event but guide its growth in the post-COVID world of outdoor musical festivals.

The final plaque was presented to Mayor-elect Tom Sidney and it featured an aerial photo of Ma-te-Way Park during its current expansion. Coun. Sidney has been the chair of the recreation committee since 2014, has been a strong advocate of accessibility for persons with disabilities and worked to ensure the new centre is accessible for all.

Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader