Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted - when we
tolerate what we know to be wrong - when we close our eyes and ears to the
corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened - when we fail to speak up
and speak out - we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.
May I start this out by saying that this website is the sole property of Patty Swinimer of Eaglesham, AB. Any and all editorial opinions expressed here are mine, and mine alone - unless of course, you want to email me with whatever it is you want to say. Just make sure you include your name and address, and whether or not you want your comments made public. Thanks!
September 20, 2012
Can you believe how time flies?!?!?!? Last time I looked, it was spring, and now it's fall, and another summer has passed by...sheesh.
February 3, 2012
A belated Happy New Year to the readers of this page! We have a bit of an issue looming here in the County which really needs to be addressed, so I thought I'd put my own two cents' worth in here. The issue is a proposed Unsightly Premises By-Law that is the subject of a public discussion form at the County offices on February 14th - is the fact that it's Valentine's Day somehow auspicious?? Anyways, it's available for your viewing pleasure on the County website here, and you'll need your own version of Adobe Reader in order to view it - but it's free for download here. AND, if you're interested, I sent off a 4-page letter with some comments and suggestions to the County, which you can view here. Now there's something I want to make perfectly clear here, and that is that my letter is not just full of ideas why this by-law won't or can't fly in its present form, but contains a few suggestions - positive, too! - that the County could possibly consider. I still think that it's everyone's civic duty to take part in the legislative process, and if you don't inform yourself beforehand, you'll live to regret it after it's been passed. Please, PLEASE, take a few minutes to read it. A meeting is scheduled at the County office, as I've noted above, and if you can't make it because (like me) you can't make those bloody stairs to the second-floor council chambers, WRITE A LETTER. Call the County office!! Let them know what you think!! I've spoken to Doug Plamping, the interim CAO, very very recently on this issue and he said they've had surprisingly little response on this issue. So please don't let apathy consume you - participate in the process!
December 30, 2011
Look, it's the close of yet another year! Still not too much to say because nothing much happens in Eaglesham except the passage of time. Many people have passed away this year, and there have been some tragic moments but how can anybody explain those things? Not me, that's for sure. To balance that out, of course, babies have been born and other good things have happened to but because this isn't a gossip site, I won't go there. The town itself, physically, is unchanged. Now wait a sec, maybe not totally unchanged. The Senior Centre got their new siding up, but the sign never got replaced, so unless you know it's there, it's just another blank building. The hall, on the other hand, got some new stairs and a spiffy paint job on the doors, so you know it's where the Royal Purple hang their hats for sure. The Skogen Family made tremendous headway in getting the store (now renamed The NightNGale Cafe) repoened so yay! We still have a coffee shop! Lots of changes at the municipal government level but they're not talking about them much, but suffice to say we have a "temporary" CAO by the name of Doug Plamping who was instrumental in the recent Corporate Review (available for your viewing here, on the Birch Hills County website) and is now commuting here a few times a month to oversee how we run this our ship, the S.S. Birch Hills. You can read the official statement on the "Leadership Change" here. You can also take a look at the Corporate Review at the same time, if you have a strong stomach and lots of coffee handy.
October 1, 2011
It's fall again! Still not too much to say!!! Actually, it's quite spectacular, although very short-lived. The colours are fantastic and will be that way until a strong wind comes along and blows 'em all down. According to the Weather Network, that's likely to be today or tonight - and it's calling for snow! You will find lots of information about the weather by talking to your neighbour (that's usually the first topic that comes up), so I won't belabour the point here. An overhaul is long overdue here at the website so expect some changes over the next while.
April 24, 2011
I don't know for the life of me how time goes by like a heartbeat. Believe me, it's not because a lot of exciting things happen; in this case, I believe I just haven't got anything particularly interesting to say. In any case, it's creeping towards springtime again, time to get rid of the snow (virtual and otherwise). I can see the grass in my yard for the first time, and the geese are back. I will not hold my breath that this is the last of the snow; last year it snowed the first week of June. Right after my garden was in, of course.
November 19, 2010
Well!! Here it is, nearly a year later, and what a surprise - it's winter again. Snowing. Down to -21C right now and forecast to get even lower.
I haven't updated things around here for a while; actually, that's not exactly true. I did change the page around, but after months and months of thinking about it, I decided that I liked the old format, so I have returned to my roots. I also know there's a huge debate out there in the internet community regarding the use of CSS, etc., but I'm tryin' to keep it simple. I don't do a lot of bells 'n' whistles, and if you'll notice, there's NO advertising on this site, because I don't take advertising. It helps keep me freeeeeee!!
So when I was taking a look through past posts, I ended up thinking, sheesh, the more things change, the more they stay the same. There's a new county council in place, and all I can channel is The Who - "Meet the new boss - same as the old boss". Main Street still looks the same, except for the Seniors Centre, which got new siding this summer. The same dogs are a-barking. The same wind blows from the north. There's a certain comfort to be drawn from all these things, and I am positive that one day, it will all become abundantly clear to me what that comfort is.
I did get an interesting email from a gentleman named (get this!) Jack Eaglesham!!! I've copied his message verbatim here:
Pretty amazing, isn't it? It looks like only minor cosmetic changes have occurred; the porch has been added, but the same transoms are above the windows, and it looks like even the same flagpole is on the roof! I wish I had better eyes so I could try and identify who that lady is that's standing in the doorway, in Jack's picture - maybe somebody out there will know.
Happy Belated New Year! And for any Asian readers out there, Gung Hay Fat Choy as well! I haven't posted anything here in a while, hey...probably because, uncharacteristically, I haven't had much to say. I'm learning to sit back and observe more, without getting my blood pressure too high, over things that maybe don't matter as much as they used to. Don't get me wrong - things still happen, things still get my dander going, but I have to sit back and think about it in the long run - and having a near-death experience will always make you think twice (maybe even three times!) about what's important, and what's not. A friend of mine has an expression that says it all for me..."You have to decide if it's a hill to die on..." So, I've been revisiting some of my former hills, and taking down some of my big guns, and regrouping.
One thing that was brought to my attention today (and made me laugh out loud, really!) was this article from the Calgary Herald about urban chickens, and the looming chicken wars in our neighbour to the south. All power to the chickens, I say!!! Go have a read and a good chuckle.
It's another flippin' frosty week here in Eaglesham - forecast is for lows down to -34C by Saturday - yes, that's MINUS 34 CELSIUS!!!!!! The chickadees have given up on my bird feeders - it's too cold for them. My poor cat takes one step outside and decides that it's too cold to use the outdoor facilities, so the litterbox is back in its usual spot. If I could get outside to get some good pictures, it would show nothing but wintry gray - the sky is the same colour as the ground, and it's easy to imagine how ungodly life must have been up here when the original settlers first arrived. If it stays that cold, the kids will likely have a few days off - the school buses are cancelled if it's -40C or colder - you can imagine there are a lot of kids hoping we tip into the deep freeze.
The first of my seed catalogues have arrived, but it's dang hard thinking about gardens when you're freezing. We were so dry here last summer that most of the stuff in my garden managed to peek their respective heads above the dirt, but took one look around at the parched earth, and gave up the ghost with nary a whimper. It took me a while to get the hang of temperature control in my greenhouse, and let me tell ya, temps of +140F can really fry your tomato seedlings. I HATE it when that happens.
So, it's a good day to stay inside, drink hot chocolate, and do some Christmas baking. Ho ho ho!
Look who made it all the way to the Provincials!!! You can visit the official site and see ALL the results (and some great pictures) just by clicking here. These boys worked sooooo hard for this - congratulations, and endless thanks to Dave Squires for his coaching skills and patience. Thanks must also go to all the parents who support their kids in extra-curricular activities. This is the little team that could!
Left to Right, Back Row:
Tannon Emerson, Jersey No. 2 (Power); Carl Janzen, Jersey No. 7 (Middle); Mark Fontaine, Jersey No. 13 (Off Side); George Barnhardt, Jersey No. 8 (Power); Dylan Squires, Jersey No. 12 (Setter); Dave Squires, Coach
Left to Right, Front Row:
Tyler Bogdanek, Jersey No. 11 (Middle); Brandon Bogdanek, Jersey No. 14 (Libero)
Biiiiig things are happening on the streets of Eaglesham...well, I wish I could say ALL of the streets in Eaglesham, but it's just a select few patches that are getting a bit of a facelift. We're getting new sidewalks!! Yes, I know, sit down and take a deep breath - easy now, easy...here's the story:
Sometime in the far distant past, there was a boatload of provincial and/or federal money available, and somebody got the bright idea that Eaglesham should put lovely brick pavers down over the original cement slab sidewalks, and it was made so. They looked great for a while, and then the County forgot about them, and the weeds came back, and the frost heaved and shoved and twisted everything to bits. I wish I had some pictures of them when they were brand new. I do, however, have some pictures after a few really good Eaglesham winters, , and they tell quite a story.
Sorry-lookin', aren't they? Overgrown, underweeded, curbs tossed willy-nilly, bricks heaved - it's just neglect, really, like that old shed in the backyard that could be something really nifty, if only somebody put a little bit of elbow grease into it. To your left is the sidewalk on the south side of the street that faces our Eaglesham school here in town. The picture below is of the sidewalk from the corner of Main Street and that very same road that leads to the school, but this is looking south. You can see how the curbs have been beat up by the snowplows all these years; not much left of the original structure, but look at all those bricks! Lots of the sidewalk has degraded to just plain rubble.
Here's another view, of another sidewalk, with another story. This is the view looking north, from the corner of Railway Avenue, up Main Street. My house is directly to the left of the picture (that's my paddock fencing to the left, right there). You can't see it from the picture, but this is the sidewalk that runs right in front of the Seniors Centre. Last year, this sidewalk had those very same pavers as are elsewhere in town on it, but somebody tripped on the heaved bricks and really banged their leg up, and rumours of lawsuits began swirling around town. Lawsuits!!! Good heavens!!!!! So Birch Hills County, in the good persons of our council members, voted to pull up the pavers (in their reactive, rather than pro-active habit) and replace them with concrete sidewalks. So where was I? Oh yes. The pavers came up and out, and gravel went in, and stayed that way, until earlier this week. I'd like you to pay particular attention to that big ol' poplar tree, behind the school zone speed sign. See how far it is from the sidewalk? More on that in a little bit.
This sidewalk has been replaced this week. Here's what it looks like today:
No more tree. That's the carcass laying there to the right of the picture. Wanna know what happened to it?It was in the way. And on MY property. So as the contracting crew is out there chopping away at the roots of the tree, I wandered out from my house across the street and asked what they were doing. They said they were trimming the roots of the tree so the sidewalk would lay flat. One of them helpfully volunteered that the tree was going to die now anyways, because so much of the roots had been trimmed away. In fact, they had chopped most of the roots off on the west side of the tree (which faces the prevailing winds here in Eaglesham) about a foot down into the ground. So, now it was going to die, thanks to only having roots on one side. I thought about that for a while, decided I wasn't terribly in love with the tree, and said to them, "Well, as the landowner, you've cut the roots without my permission or knowledge, but you know what? You might as well get rid of the tree now before it blows over in a big wind and knocks out a building, a vehicle, or a person." The foreman agreed with me and said he could push it over with his Bobcat. I went on my way to cut some grass...and an hour or two later, when I put-putted home on my John Deere lawn tractor, this is the sigh that greeted me!! Those Bobcats sure work fast!!! The County has agreed to buck the wood up in firewood-sized chunks and pile 'em up, and I guess I'll put up a "Free Firewood" sign. I won't miss raking the leaves up from that ol' tree, but I might miss the shade it provided, because as you can see, it really was the only shade tree on that side of the road, in that block. The playground sign (how come they're different in each picture? Did somebody put up a new one while I was asleep or something??) is REALLY visible now, so that means the truckers, etc., don't have any excuse for speeding through town like they usually do - that may help the kids' safety situation on the road.
Who says nothing happens in small towns?
Woooohoooo!! It's been nearly half a year since I posted anything here. Funnily enough, in that six months, we've been through all 3 of our other seasons - spring, summer and now it's the end of fall, and we've already had frost warnings here. The chickens never materialized, although that's a plan to keep me occupied all winter. Lots of things have been happening, and I'm just now getting into updating things (like how this site looks) so little by little, you'll notice some tweaks. Later!
I love living in the country. I like living in this little town in the country. What would make me LOVE living in this little town in this little corner in the country? Some chickens. Yes, chickens. As birds, they don't soothe you with a lovely song. Visually, there's something really, really eerie about the way they peck at things. But fresh eggs?? Mmmmmmmm. And what a great way to recycle your organic kitchen garbage!! Chickens like all that stuff that humans won't touch - brown lettuce, questionable cabbage leaves, potato and carrot peelings, you name it. Garbage justifies the existence of chickens, from where I sit.
Here's the only problem I have with the love/like curve. We aren't allowed chickens in our town. Our town has cows and/or crops at all four turns of the compass, but we can't have chickens in town. Heck, even New York allows chickens in town - if you don't believe me, take a look at this article from National Geographic...yes! yes!! Believe your eyes!! Chickens are alive and well and living in the Bronx, but not in Eaglesham (or Tangent, or Peoria...or Watino, or Wanham), not legally anyways. I wonder, are there any criminal chicken keepers in Birch Hills County? And what defect of character must one have to keep chickens where chickens are verboten?? Is it correct to refer to a person as "chicken-minded" without incurring a cuff to the head?
I digress here a bit with the chicken philosophy. What I really wanted to say was, I believe small towns should have chickens. I believe that, given the current state of affairs in most of the world, there are other things we could perhaps worry about besides chickens in a back yard. I should pass on what I know (which is not the entire story, by any means) about the ban on animals in town; as I have been told, it started with goats in Tangent. At one time, there were no bylaws against animals in town (one brave soul actually had ostriches here at one time, but that's another story), and somebody took a good thing and ran with it. By that, I mean that the final straw was the Tangent goat keeper who let their goats run wild, and one of the good townsfolk got a bit upset at the goats standing atop their vehicles time after time. Sort of a pre-electronic car alarm, I guess you could say, but most people didn't look at it that way. Because nobody felt very friendly towards these goats who stood on car roofs, they decided that animals in general were not a good thing to have in town. Now, nobody wanted to actually come out and SAY that animals weren't allowed in town, so the good council at the time made up a rule that if you wanted to keep livestock (and that included goats, chicken, sheep, pigs, cows, and fowl in general) in town, you had to have a minimum amount of land - in our case, it was 10 acres. Now, most of the town lots are in the neighbourhood of 50' X 100' or so, which we all know is not NEAR enough to 10 acres, so the goats and chickens were summarily thrown out of town, never to show their beaks and beards again. In town, anyways.
Out of town, you can keep anything you darn well please in your yard, or on your porch, or anywhere else. We have factory hog farms about a mile from town (the politically correct term is CFO, or "Confined Feeding Operations"), and those self-same big pink hogs ride the hog liners to their final reward right through the middle of town (and past my front window). Do those porkers observe the niceties and avoid pooping as they go through town so as not to annoy or offend anybody? Not yet, they haven't, but pigs are pretty darned smart. They'll figure it out in their own time. Does anybody have any figures on the amount of manure generated by a bunch of confined pigs versus a couple of hens in your yard? Smell is a very important thing here in town. We don't want to smell anything bad. Chicken manure, despite the fact that it's really, REALLY good for your garden, and completely organic, doesn't smell particularly good. I wish I was smart enough to invent an odourless chicken, but I digress again - that's another science experiment all together, and one which I am not prepared to undertake.
BUT by golly, let's talk about TOWN chickens. They're apparently a lot different from their country cousins. You never know what a town chicken might do if it runs amok, what sort of havoc and panic may result from a chicken who doesn't have the sense to stay put. I would like to think of any chickens that I might have as sensible, home-loving, coop-staying, bug-pecking contributors to my organic-leaning lifestyle. Smell? There's no restriction against getting a truckload of manure - chicken, pig, cow, whatever beast you want - to put on your garden or your lawn...perhaps a little aroma therapy would be a good way to start, here in town! Oh wait. There's already the smell of unbridled pork perfume in town, when the wind blows the right way. Nobody would notice the smell of a truckload of chicken manure on my garden. And in the sorry event that one of my chickens, if I HAD any chickens, would stand on top of your car, in the middle of town, well, what the heck. I'd come and get 'her. And I'd probably give you a dozen free eggs. Maybe 2 dozen.
Anyways, the upshot of the whole kerfuffle is that we can't have animals in town because their manure might smell. Well, it WILL smell, actually, so "might smell" is technically not correct. I would be perfectly prepared to entertain a small olfactory sacrifice in order to sit, on a sunny day, in the shade, listening to my chickens cluck, while dreaming of a fresh-egg omelet....a lemony pound cake....some crispy drumsticks...and if any of my chickens were so stupid as to leave a perfectly good coop, well, I would have to remind them that their lives depend of the charity of their humans.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to youse all, Irish or not! I only claim my 1/4 Irish heritage once a year, and that's it, basically. I'm just in the process of giving the place a little facelift, so things will be changing a bit over the next few days. I'm so ever-lovin' sick of winter that I refused to do another winter-based theme; I'm thinking of my garden now. My seed orders are here, my trays are waiting, my gloves are out...what's the hold up here??
Here we are, still in the throes of winter, but it's changing fast. It's still daylight by 6:00pm-woot woot!! - and today, after a brief snowfall this morning, there's water on the street again. I think, more often than I should, that those people who don't believe in global warming should come up here and spend a week or so.
I found an interesting article today, from Oregon, about the decline of the family farm and the rapidly-aging farm population. The Capital Press bills itself as "The West's Ag Website", and of COURSE it's American. but try to ignore that part, and read what it has to say, and consider what part of the U.S. West it represents (California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State). The editorial in question (just click the "article" link above) makes the audacious suggestion that instead of bailing out automakers and the film industry, the U.S. government should put some of their trillion-dollar bailout towards making it possible for young farmers to get into the game. What a revolutionary idea!!! Also interesting, in the same vein, is Friends of Family Farmers, another organization dedicated to promoting the continuation of the family farm.
We have similar statistics, here in Canada, and you can see them in all their glory at Stats Can Agriculture. They are updated to include all the data from the latest census of 2006. Here's what strikes me as a bit scary, being a fan of the family farmer - take a look at this page. Number of farms is 1986? 293,089. Number of farms in 2006? 229,373. So over a 20-year period, we're down, as a country, by over 60,000 farms. Where'd they all go? Then look at the next set of numbers - this one is number of hectares under cultivation: in 1986, the figure was 67,825,757 and as of 2006, that number is now 67,586,739. That means that the number of hectares has remained relatively steady over 20 years - we've lost about 300,000 hectares (you can do the math converting that to acres at the official Government of Canada exchange rate of 1 hectare equalling 2.47105413 acres. Shall we call it even steven at 1 hectare equalling about 2-1/2 acres? So what's the significance of that, you say? Well, it shows that (relatively speaking, remember), the number of acres under cultivation have remained the same, but the number of actual farms has dropped by 60,000 over 20 years - does the term "factory farming" mean anything to anybody? Sixty-seven million hectares is now being worked over by fewer and fewer people. Remember that set of numbers applies to the entire country. All these numbers speak to me, saying, "We haven't gone anywhere!! The same amount of ground is being worked, but now we're amalgamated, and colonized, and consolidated - bigger is better!!" Yaaaaay!!! Two legs bad, four legs good!
Take a look at our Alberta figures.
I'll start off with, surprise surprise, the weather - it's raining and +5C outside! This has been one wild weather roller coaster this year, and it's noteworthy because mostly everything around here depends on the weather. The school has stayed open, but the school buses aren't running because of the treacherous roads, so the teaching staff STILL has to report for work, to empty classrooms, and then they go home again. So we're doing fractions at home and learning about the history of the world, and a little Shakespeare to boot.
I keep checking the guestbook anxiously, day by day, hoping to find something in there - it's sort of liking checking the fridge for something good to eat when you know there's nothing in there! Finally, an entry, which reads in part:
I do not believe it is nice to trash a small town like this....if you hate the town so much why are you still there???
Wayaaaaaallll that made me think for a bit. Only a bit. I really want to make it clear that I don't hate this town, I don't hate my environment or my surroundings. My hubby and I uprooted our family from a comfortable urban existence in the Lower Mainland, with its balmy winter weather, great schools, great shopping, etc., and moved up here just over 3 years ago. I get asked all the time: "Why on earth would you DO that???" It was a very very tough decision to make, but I loved the country when I was up here the first time, and I still love the country, despite the seesaw temperatures, and the snow, and the bugs in the summer. If anybody out there is misinterpreting my views as "hateful" or "trashing the small town where I live", let me say this: I am a tax-paying, land-owning, free-minded Canadian citizen. I have the right to disagree and I have the right to express my disagreement as long as I do not injure myself, others, or other peoples' property. I have participated in the democratic process here, and I encourage that same democratic process to unfold on a daily basis. My philosophy is summed up, in part, by the Robert Kennedy quote as shown right at the beginning of this site - let me repeat it here, just in case you missed it:
Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted - when we tolerate what we know to be wrong - when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened - when we fail to speak up and speak out - we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.
Think about what this means, if you appreciate freedom - independent thought - your rights and obligations as a human being. Would you rather be nice, or free? And while I'm at it, I'm still not sure where the idea originated that I "hate this town".
It's still snowing. And that's the weather.
Apropos of the snow, I have received a very very helpful map from the County officeoutling exactly what part of the county is under Ledcor's contract, and which is under LaPrairie's contract - both for road maintenance, I might add. Thank you, D! Here it is:
So as you can see, Ledcor (the green line) is responsible for Eaglesham corner and west, and also Eaglesham corner and north through town and all the way up to the correction line. LaPrairie is responsible for Eaglesham corner east to Watino and up 'n' over the bridge, and also for the Tangent Highway all the way north to the ferry. I can only say that Ledcor has been working pretty furiously to keep up with all this snow (I can only vouch for Ledcor, because they go past my front window) The county announced a "blitz" of roadclearning this past week (Jan. 22) and there were a few backhoes, etc., evident in town that day.
I think we should start calling Eaglesham Palm Springs. After about 3 solid weeks of -30C or more weather, we have been in the plusses all week, and things are melting like crazy! While I wouldn't go so far to say that Main Street is now a pleasant promenade, things are in the works to keep it cleaned up & passable. I got an update call from Warren Smith, our Councilman, this morning with some great ideas for a safe walkway for kids (with an actual school crossing!!)and hopefully some good news on getting ATCO to get out here and replace some of the streetlights. More on this in the weeks to come. I know, I know; this isn't flood or famine, but still - these are small-town problems, and we'll get 'em worked out sooner or later.
A couple of new things - I really, strongly advise you to click on the link for Eaglesham school, over yonder there to your right. The site has been considerably revamped, and if your child goes to school in Eaglesham, it's well worth your time to explore a little bit. The newsletters will now be available online (thanks, Mr. McKay!) and I even discovered a school bus update where you can check your bus route daily to see if the school buses are running! Thank you to the bus garage!!
Also new to Eaglesham is Fr. Maurice Marion - he's officially our new priest for the Catholic Church in Eaglesham, Tangent and Girouxville. He is based out of Girouxville and comes to Eaglesham and Tangent on alternating Sundays. We will get a Mass schedule and church info up here as soon as he's finished settling in. Welcome to the Peace Country, Fr. Maurice! And for you history buffs, here's what the original Church looked like:
While we're still on a history note (aren't we?), Mrs. Peggy Ulland penned a little item entitled A Brief History of Eaglesham" which may interest you. Another interesting read, which I mentioned last year, is a piece written by Al Powers a few years ago...go have a look.
Well! Things are hopping on the streets of Eaglesham today! From my vantage point, I noticed a Ledcor snowplow across the street, in front of the Senior Social Center, so I took my trusty camera and went outside to have a snap and a chat.
First off - notice this is one o'them new-fangled 2-blade snowplows? Notice the blade in the front is down, and the blade on the side is...uh....UP??? Those "up" blades move a lot of snow, I'll tell ya. It must have been broken or something. I'm sure that's why it was up. Anyways, I flagged the driver down and had a very pleasant chat with him about snow plowing (believe me, we didn't discuss world politics...). He told me that Ledcor had said that clearing this road through town today was a priority - I was very very happy to hear that because I'm hoping that means that somebody is listening. I'm sure I'll have some lovely pictures later this afternoon to show how the day has progressed! Ledcor is in fact all over town today so I am expecting wonderful things.
Anyways! The Ledcor truck was plowing the east side of the road in front of the Senior Center. I think there's a bit of history between the Senior Social center and snowplows: while LaPrairie had the contract for road maintenance, I think it was a bit of an "unsung favour" that they kept the road right in front of the Senior Center plowed right up to the curb, so our seniors wouldn't encounter any hazards whilst using or accessing the building. It looks something like this:
So the snow plows get right up there, snug to the curb, and plow it, well, just like you see it here. The road is plowed to the curb past the building (with the steel doorstep), which is privately owned and not associated with the Senior Social center in any way. Here's another front view - that's a little bit of the Senior Center showing on the left, and the privately-owned building on the right:
I always thought that was very considerate. (SAY!!! as an aside, you'd think that our kids would have the same priority in getting safely to school!!!) Can I give you a little closeup of what it looks like at the point where the snow plow lifts up his blade and leaves:
Hmmm. I'd say that looks like one honkin' big pile of snow. And it's piled up right over the sidewalk, too. Okay, okay, you say, enough blather - what's your point?
Here's my point. First of all, the unfortunate owner responsible for moving the honkin' pile of snow is me. Well, me and my hubby Tony who is the official equipment operator of the household. We have, in the way of snow removal equipment, the following: (1) a snowblower attached to the front of our li'l John Deere lawn tractor; (2) a snow blade that attaches to the front of the pick up truck, which is presently broken; and (3) Tony's back and a hand shovel. Did I mention that the snow mountain you see above there is HEAVY, COMPACTED snow? Awwwwwwww, poor Tony and his spinal column... I/We are not shirking our responsibility as property owners to keep the sidewalks fronting our own property clear of snow, but we are looking at private operators, and government-contracted operators, pushing all that HEAVY snow where it becomes our responsibility to do something about it. To add to the burn, that self-same government-contracted and government-paid contractor is doing specialized plowing for 2 private enterprises, ON OUR TAXPAYER NICKEL, and leaving us to clean up their messes. Not fair, I say, not fair! There's also a private individual in town who I have personally witnessed doing the same thing - and if he's doing it for free, I say, God love him and his backhoe, but I understand that he charges $150.00 per hour for anybody else who needs some snow removed.
Here's part two of my point. How come these two entities can't plow out the road right up to the curb, and then run the blade along the sidewalk, on the block directly north, so that the kids have a clear path to walk to school???
Why are we making the distinction that the safety of our seniors is way more important than the safety of our kids?
Part of the problem lies with our mostly ineffectual County Council. We have no snow removal bylaws, as most other civilized places do, so there's no way that the Council can enforce any directive, to any property owner, to remove snow in front of their properties. I spoke to the County office about this and was advised that perhaps the County could put some sort of "gentle" reminder in the local paper. Gentle?? Come on. Put some teeth in it! We ran into this same problem last year, with people parking on the street instead of their driveways, and the snowplows had to go around them, creating one of the worst messes I've ever seen on a small-town street. Let's face it here, folks - we have winter a good 5 to 6 months of the year here!!! Let's have a winter parking policy, and a snow removal policy - with teeth!! And to the people of Eaglesham I say - it's not going to get any better unless you speak up. SPEAK UP! Really!! If somebody's kid gets squished on the way to school, we'll all feel very badly for the family - but will we have done anything to prevent such an unspeakable tragedy? My kids are on the "potentially squishable" list, and I won't wait until I have to wear black for the rest of my life to get something moving. How's about you? Email me if you have something to say - just let me know if you want your name published or not. I will publish your email content anonymously if you prefer - make sure you indicate that on your email.
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Oh dear. Here's what it looks like at 2:00pm, looking north - kids'll be on the road by about 3:30pm:
And do you see what that is running down the middle of the road? Yes, that's right - it's WATER! Not even a week ago, we were mired in the minus 30's, and today, it melts. Go figure.
Cough cough...aaaaaaah, you ARE out there!! We're digging out from about 4 feet - yes, FEET - of new snow (in addition to the snow that was already here...) over the past few days, and it's causing major headaches all around. Here's how it looked, looking north from my driveway, after the snow stopped:
Here's looking south, also from my driveway....
I like giving you the "Eaglesham Panorama" view.
My own personal bug is the conditions that exist where the town kids have to walk to school. Bear with me on this one. Tomorrow, January 16, sunrise is at 9:10am, and sunset is at 4:51pm. Great, hey? That's 7.6 hours of sunlight, plus an hour and a half of twilight, which gives us a grand total of 9.1 hours of usable light. Where do I get those numbers from, you say? Check out the sunrisesunset.com site that I linked for you above.
I've notice the snowplows don't seem to come through town at a set time - I suppose, of course, it depends on how busy they are. And another thing I've noticed is that they use, basically, two different types of plows - the ones they use on the major Highway 49 has 2 blades - a snowplow/pusher on the front, and an angled grader blade further back; the plow that comes through town only has the pusher blade on the front. The beauty of the 2-bladed truck is that not only does it first push the snow out of the way, but then WINGS it waaaaay back on the sides of the road. The pusher essentially just pushes the snow out of the way of the blade in front, that's it. How significant is that, you ask? (I know you're asking these questions right about now) Well, the significance is that on the main drag through town we now have what you could safely call a tunnel - the cleared road surface is about 16' across, which is great for traffic, and in some places, 8-10' mountains of snow on the side of the road - exactly where the sidewalks are!! We're a hamlet, you know, we don't have sidewalks on both sides of the street. So the kids who walk to school can't walk on the sidewalks, because they're buried 8' deep, so where do they walk? On the road, of course. And does a 16' wide road allow room for kids and say, a B-train hauling crude oil tankers? Uh uh. Nope, No way. Guess who loses in that scenario. The kids are forced to cower against the mountains of snow and suck their li'l bellies in...and do the truckers slow down? Heck no. Oil and grain are co-kings around here, nothing slows 'em down! This is despite a posted school-zone speed of 30kmh. I hope you're kind of getting this picture right about now. Are these your kids walking to school?
If you want to do something positive about our road conditions, the best equipment you have is right there in your house - your PHONE. Call our Council Member for Eaglesham, Warren Smith (he's in the book) or leave him a message at the Council office (number is over there to your right)...call Shirley Emerson, she's the elected Reeve of the district - once again, she's in the phone book, or leave her a message at the Council office. The road maintenance contract was split up between LaPrairie and Ledcor effective this year, and apparently Ledcor is responsible for the main road through town - the guy to contact there is Brian Paperny (who, by some sort of miracle, used to work for LaPrairie!!! imagine that...) and his phone number is (780) 933-2929...ARE YOU PHONING YET?!?!?...
Waaaaayaaaaaaaallll...it's been a bit of a dry spell - over a year!! That must mean that nothing of note has happened here in Eaglesham. I beg to differ. I've made a pre-New Year's resolution to be more diligent in keeping up with this website and on that note. let's hope there's something to talk about! There's always the weather - it's bloody cold, and there's lotsa snow.
I've thumbed through my copy of the Signal's Year End Wrap Up, and they've covered most of what I guess I could call the major issues in these parts.
It's October. A very cool, wet, windy one. Harvest is not going particularly well, from all accounts, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that it all comes off the field in good shape.
This year is a bit different from most other years - it's a civic election year as well. That means that our municipal government is reforming, getting reading to elect some new councilors. Normal term for a councilor is 3 years. I'll just mention at this point that election day is Monday, October 15th, and the voting station for Ward 6 is at the Eaglesham Community Hall. You need to be a bit more cautious this year - the ward boundaries have changed, and the east-west road to Tangent is now the dividing line in this ward. In other words, if you live on the same side of the road as the Community Hall, you're not in Ward 6 anymore. If you're not sure, please call the County office at 694-3793 to make sure which ward you ARE in....
Here in Birch Hills County, we're divided into a ward system. Four out of our seven wards saw only 1 person willing to run for the position of councilor, and they've now got the job by default. In one ward out of our 7 wards, nobody stepped forward to run for the position. In two of our 7 wards, we're actually having an election! And in one of those two wards having an election, I'm running for the councilor's seat in Ward 6. I say that in the interests of complete disclosure.
So what, you say. Things run according to the way they've always run here. Why get involved in all those dang political things anyways?
Tangent is the ward where nobody wants to run. Nominations are now closed, and it's time for the Minister to get involved. A number of things can happen. He can tell council, "Okay, just run the County with the number of councilors you have." He can also say, "Okay, let's amalgamate Tangent with another ward - you pick, or I'll pick." He could also appoint somebody to represent Tangent. Whichever option is chosen, one thing remains the same - YOU HAVE SOMEBODY NOT OF YOUR CHOICE TELLING YOU HOW THINGS ARE GOING TO BE RUN IN TANGENT. If things start happening that you don't like, or you'd like to see something start that you would like, where does that leave you? The answer is, without a voice. Now I'm not running for the seat in Tangent, but by golly, I think it would be bordering on the tragic if somebody doesn't step up to the plate and run for that councilor's seat. By not participating in the election, you are losing the privilege of having somebody of your CHOICE represent you - and if something happens that you don't like, there won't be any room to grumble, because you couldn't have cared enough to get out there and send somebody to council to represent you. Don't let government by accident happen to you!
Sharon Hughes, a local Tangent resident, librarian, and regular contributor to the Peace Country Sun, says it all very eloquently in her column of Friday, September 28th, 2007 - you can read it here.
Hopefully we'll have an all-candidate's debate here in Eaglesham. We're trying to get one set up as we speak. I would urge EVERYBODY to get out and attend! We've got some important issues coming up that we all need to deal with - not just Eaglesham, but the entire County. Here's a few of 'em the way I see it:
CRIME - What crime, you say? This is Eaglesham! We have no crime here! We're in the country! We leave our keys in our vehicles, and our doors unlocked!! We don't need alarms on our vehicles or houses! We don't even need the police, for cryin' out loud! We know every single one of our neighbours, and we say hello or wave to everybody we see, because we know 'em. We can walk anywhere, anytime, without being afraid of anything. Does that sound familiar?
It's a lovely fairy tale, and for the most part, everything I've just said is true. The fairy tale part comes in when you think that the world is coming to Eaglesham, like it or not. We DO have crime here, and plenty of it. How many of you have had gas stolen from the tanks in your yard - or worse, right from your vehicle, in your driveway? How many times has the school been trashed? How many times has equipment been "borrowed" and taken for a joyride? Who's had to avoid underage, unlicensed kids on quads racing down main street Eaglesham? How many people are happy to buy liquor for underage kids?
Let's take a look at some of the obvious facts here. First of all, we are, literally, in the middle of nowhere, and everywhere. If you took a map of this area, stuck a pin in Eaglesham, and drew a circle with a 200 mile radius, there we would be - smack in the middle of all the action in the Central Peace! Yet it seems that we are nearly inaccessible for most services. We are supposed to be dealt with by the RCMP detachment in McLennan, not Spirit River. When you phone the number listed in the phone book (324-3061) for the McLennan detachment, it puts you through to a dispatch center in Edmonton - yes, Edmonton, not McLennan! I spoke recently with a constable at the McLennan detachment, and here's some of the information he gave me:
On paper, the detachment has 5 constables and the staff sergeant; in reality, they have 4 constables and the staff sergeant, and he's not on full-time duty until October 9. There's usually 2 constables on duty, and 2 off - one is on call out of those 2 that are off. Keep that in mind - 2 constables on duty at any given time. The McLennan detachment covers an area of nearly 10,000 square kilometres - you read that right - TEN THOUSAND SQUARE KILOMETRES. From east to west, they cover Highway 2 from 25m east of McLennan to the Little Red Church on Highway 49 nearing Codesa. From north to south, they cover to 100m south of Nampa to 6m south of the Smoky River Valley on Highway 49 towards Valleyview. Oh, and they also cover all the way down to the Shaftesbury Ferry and Tangent Park. That's approximately 105km from east to west, and 90km from north to south. Did I mention that there's normally 2 constables on duty at a time????
There's something terribly wrong with this picture. The RCMP is under federal funding. We live in the richest province in the country, and the federal government has just announced another billion or so surplus for the year. Why, for crying out loud, can't we get a few more constables up here? Who's falling down on THAT job? I'm only guessing here, but I'm gonna suppose that the average annual salary for a constable is...ah...maybe $50-60,000.00 a year. Let's put that in perspective - how much was the travel budget for the PM's office? Entertainment expenses? How much - sorry, all I heard was a deafening silence! My response to this entire problem is GIVE US MORE COPS UP HERE!!! Come on Stephen and Ed, and Hector - between the three of you, you should be able to cough up a bit here - and Chris, how come you never bring this up in your MP newsletters?? I'd really appreciate it if government on ALL levels would actually DO something for us, instead of just telling us how much they plan on doing.
Crime isn't just a problem with accessibility to the RCMP. It's also a problem with the criminal justice system. The Youth Criminal Justice Act (formerly the Young Offenders Act ) doesn't have many teeth left. Lawyers.ca says,..."The Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908 enunciated a philosophy which required that children adjudged to have committed delinquencies (i.e. breaches of municipal, truancy, provincial, or federal law) be dealt with not as offenders, but as being in a condition of delinquency and requiring help and guidance and supervision." The new Act is a bit different: "The Young Offenders Act, unlike the Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908, focuses on the responsibility of young persons for consequences of their behaviour." For those who are interested and concerned, you can read the entire new Act here. Take a look at the section entitled "Declaration of Principle". It says, in part, that society is entitled to protection from illegal behaviour. It also says that parents are responsible for their kids' behaviour!! - the section says, in part, "...(h) parents have responsibility for the care and supervision of their children, and, for that reason, young persons should be removed from parental supervision either partly or entirely only when measures that provide for continuing parental supervision are inappropriate. Moms and Dads of the world, pay attention!! The entire Act basically says, let's see if we can rehabilitate these criminally-bent youngsters and prevent them from assuming a life-long habit of crime. It will frighten and alarm you to read the rest of this Act, when it comes down to what society can and/or can't do to protect itself, and how these kids are dealt with. Please go read it for yourself.
Having said all that, it's not just a problem with young offenders, here in Eaglesham. We have our share of adult criminals, too.
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Here's an excerpt of an e-mail I received yesterday in response to the topic of Crime - the author wishes to remain anonymous:
Another can of worms. These dang worms are all related, I think. I should maybe use the "elephant" symbolism for this, rather than liken it to a can full of worms....this is akin to the concept of an elephant sitting in your living room. It lives there, eats all your food, hogs the remote, and never picks up his own garbage - and yet nobody is willing to admit that the elephant is actually THERE. So it is with life in a small town. I'm going to cogitate on this letter for a while before I post what I think - would you care to join in the debate?
Monday October 8, 2007 - Happy Thanksgiving!
The school newsletter has arrived at home, and interestingly enough, there's a note that reads as follows: ...." Community Policing Meeting: People in the community of Eaglesham have been asking for increased policing in our community. The RCMP have suggested that we have a community policing meeting. Please contact Mike McKay (359-2712 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to suggest a date or add items to the agenda." Bravo, Mike!! I phoned in and added my name to the list of interested parties right away - have you? Can we get behind this as a community and get something accomplished here? I also hear that the RCMP is having a hiring blitz, looking to hire a bunch of new recruits to replace those members who are approaching retirement age - more good news!
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In case I forgot to mention it, Eaglesham is a very small town - a hamlet, actually. You can read about it in a lovely short piece penned by Peggy Ulland entitled "A Brief History of Eaglesham". We also have a narrative authored by Mr. Al Powers, who, with his family, was an early settler here in Eaglesham - a very very entertaining read!
Believe it or not, this was quite the busy place at one time - there was a farm equipment dealership, a gas station, stores, etc....and at one time, we were big enough to actually have a mayor!! As time went on, of course, things changed - small family farms gave way to larger corporate farms; kids moved away because there wasn't enough money or interest in farming for them to remain (the oil patch has sucked the life out of more things than the ground); farmers retired, or died; and basically, attrition ate away at a lot of the old timers. We are still mainly agricultural here; if you're the type of person that likes statistics, take a look at our general stats here. There's an interesting compilation of land use trends that show that not much has changed in a 30-year period, except for a brief spike of furious activity around 1981. Our Agricultural Real Estate Transfers show that we're still undervalued here, stacked up against the rest of the province. You would think that that statistic alone would make us a pretty attractive bet for somebody looking to invest here, wouldn't you? It has. The Hutterites now have 4 colonies here in Birch Hills Country - they are the largest, most visible examples of agricultural investment in this county at the present time.
Now we are under the care and control of Birch Hills County - the administration office is located in Wanham, which is at the far western boundary of the county. This happened by way of a mysterious and convoluted process called "amalgamation" way back in December 1996. As a small cog in the bigger wheel within an even bigger wheel, we've been keeping a very tenuous hold on the control we have over what affects us in our daily lives here in the County. Bit by bit, vote by vote, that control is being chipped away....what the heck, you say?!?!? How do you figure THAT?
Gosh, speaking of turkeys, my turkey dinner is ready - weren't we on the topic of turkeys??? I'll be back after a little while.
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9:00pm - Man, that was a LOT of turkey!
I got a call about a half hour ago from my esteemed opponent in this election, Mr. Warren Smith. Unfortunately, he's busy all week and had to decline my invitation to a candidate's debate. I'm sorry it didn't happen, because I think we had a lot of things that are debate-worthy, but I urge anybody who's reading this to call me if you want to ask any questions about this upcoming election here in Ward 6.
The Central Peace Signal has published the responses from most of the candidates in their current issue; you can read the Birch Hills responses online here or wait 'til the paper hits your mailboxes. I had a quick read through the candidate responses from all jurisdictions, and a few common threads emerge: we're all concerned about growth, or the lack of it, or how it's too fast and we can't keep up with it; we all have sometimes-fractious Council meetings and members; we argue like a bunch of little kids but we don't kiss 'n' make up as well; we want our own kids to be happy here, and to stay and raise their own families here but sometimes find it hard to come up with a good reason for them to do so; and we desperately need some new blood, new businesses, new thinking to stay alive.
What do you think? Email me or sign the guestbook below, and let me know - don't be shy!
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