News Local

Year In Review: From a fire at the MDF plant to a moose on the loose, June was a busy month

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Members of the Pembroke Fire Department keep an eye on a 30-foot boat ablaze in the Ottawa River on June 10. The emergency call came in at 2:30 p.m., with bystanders reporting flames and smoke in the middle of the river across from Riverside Park in Pembroke. By an hour later, the boat was still aflame, but had drifted well past the Pembroke Marina. The lone occupant of the boat at the time of the fire jumped into the river and safely swam to shore. Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the fire, but early reports say that it began in the engine compartment, and due to the amount of fuel on board at the time (400 litres) the Ministry of the Environment was informed of the incident.

Members of the Pembroke Fire Department keep an eye on a 30-foot boat ablaze in the Ottawa River on June 10. The emergency call came in at 2:30 p.m., with bystanders reporting flames and smoke in the middle of the river across from Riverside Park in Pembroke. By an hour later, the boat was still aflame, but had drifted well past the Pembroke Marina. The lone occupant of the boat at the time of the fire jumped into the river and safely swam to shore. Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the fire, but early reports say that it began in the engine compartment, and due to the amount of fuel on board at the time (400 litres) the Ministry of the Environment was informed of the incident.

FIRE AT MDF PLANT : An early morning fire on Friday, June 3 has caused untold delays and cost an untold amount in damages at the MDF plant in the township.

At approximately 2:30 a.m. the fire broke out and members of the Laurentian Valley Fire Department responded to battle the blaze. Help was called in from the Pembroke Fire Department in the form of their aerial truck to attack the fire from above, and after several hours of intense work, the fire was under control.

It had been contained to just one section of the facility, the heat plant, but the damage was reported to have been extensive enough to mandate a call to the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, who was on site later in the day to conduct an investigation.

MOOSE ON THE LOOSE: Pembroke had a special visitor on Thursday, June 16 - one that was four-legged, furry and may have answered to the name Elliot or Bullwinkle.

A moose was reported by many residents, wandering around the west-end of Pembroke.

The first reports of the large mammal came in Wednesday evening, in the Bruham Avenue area west of the city. Later on, it was spotted along Isabella Street. As the day dawned on Thursday, the moose was still meandering around in the yards of Isabella Street homeowners. Later in the day the moose was reported down near Pembroke Street West, in the area just east of Trafalgar Road. With police still keeping a careful eye on the creature, it made its way safely across the road and was last seen headed towards the Ottawa River.

HYDRO MEETING AT ALLUMETTE ISLAND: Allumette Island held a special council meeting at the Harrington Community Centre in Chapeau on June 14 to give residents the opportunity to make public the damages sustained by power surges and outages over the past weeks and years, but particularly on June 5, 8, and 12, where thousands of instances of either too much or too little power were reported on the island.

As Mayor Winston Sunstrum called the meeting to order and explained the procedures of an official meeting of council to the 150-strong crowd that turned up, he also gave a brief rundown on who was invited to the meeting and attended, including a representative of the UPA, Quebec's agricultural union, the warden of the region and other local stakeholders.

Notably absent from the meeting, however, was anyone representing Hydro Quebec, the Crown corporation responsible for maintaining the electricity delivery service in the province.

The primary focus of the meeting was the open-floor 'question period', when residents were invited to come up and state for the record what damages were sustained in their homes as a result of surges.

BIG STORM LASHES PEMBROKE: It may have lasted less than half an hour, but the severe storm that raged through Pembroke early on the evening of June 20 certainly left its mark.

"We probably had seven or eight different roads closed," reported city operations manager Doug Sitland, including Mackay, Trafalgar, McGee and others, some of which were closed well into the night.

In addition to city operations workers, the Pembroke Fire Department was also kept busy, responding to 13 calls related to trees leaning on or pulling down power lines (and one false alarm), but despite the number of lines affected, none had any more than a few sparks or the occasional tiny flare-up.

TASK FORCE TOMAHAWK STOOD UP: As it embarks on the road to high readiness once more, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group announced June 21 the creation of a new task force that honours the warrior culture of Canada’s First Nations.

More than 700 troops gathered in a large circle on Simmonds Parade Square to mark the standing-up of Task Force Tomahawk, the name of the Canadian Army's next high readiness task force.

Symbolic of the new name that 2 Brigade will use moving forward when it deploys on domestic or international operations, Chief Kirby Whiteduck, of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, presented 2CMBG commander Col. Conrad Mialkowski with a 5,000-year-old stone tomahawk. The ceremony was held to coincide with National Aboriginal Day.

“This is a significant act. It is both symbolic and real,” said Col. Mialkowski.

SYMBOLIC SIGNING: It was the end of the beginning of establishing a major trail network through Eastern Ontario.

Earlier this year, representatives from the County of Renfrew, the County of Lanark and the Township of Papineau-Cameron got together to sign a Lease and Asset Donation Agreement, an important step to acquiring the CP Rail corridor lands which will act as the backbone of the trail system.

On June 22 at Renfrew County’s administration building, the different parties assembled once more to reenact that historic moment, the outcome of seven to eight years hard work.

Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, chairman of the county’s development and property committee, said it has taken a lot of effort to get where they are today – the proud owners of 296 km of Canadian Pacific railway lands from Smiths Falls to Mattawa – and there is still a long way to go before they realize the dream of converting it into a four season recreation trail.

JUDGE RETIRES: Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Justice Grant Radley-Walters, a man fondly known as the “Gentleman of all judges,” bid farewell to a remarkable 40-year law career on May 31.

A literal “who’s who” of the Pembroke legal community, as well as justices from across the province, gathered at the Normandy Mess to mark the final hours of Radley-Walters tenure as a full-time judge in Renfrew County.

It was an emotional and poignant night as those closest to him reflected on the outstanding contributions Radley-Walters has made to the community as a devoted litigator resoundingly respected by those lawyers and Crown attorneys who appeared before him, as well as those who received his ultimate judgement.

KI CANADA IN PEMBROKE WINS PLANT OF THE YEAR AGAIN: The KI Canada plant in Pembroke continued to set a standard of excellence within its parent company. For the fourth time in the last six years, the office furniture maker was chosen as the plant of the year within the KI Corporation, which also operates several factories in the United States.

The plants are evaluated on quality, on-time shipping, safety and financial health.

“Consistently winning this award is an attestation to the dedication and pride of our employees,” said Dan Mellen, Pembroke’s general manager. “Their commitment to teamwork and helping the company achieve its greater goal of delivering high-quality products to our customers, is the reason our plant has won this award again.”

REACTOR CONTRACTS TO BENEFIT OTTAWA VALLEY: A massive project to refurbish the Darlington nuclear generating station will benefit the Ottawa Valley.

Overall, Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Darlington refurbishment project is boosting Ontario's GDP by $15 billion. OPG and Renfrew County based companies are working together on this which will have significant impacts on the local economy for the next decade and beyond, as Darlington continues to operate into the mid 2050s.

On June 3, business and political leaders from across the Upper Ottawa Valley spoke about the economic and social benefits of the project during a round table discussion held at the Best Western Pembroke Inn and Conference Centre. The Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce (UOVCC) and Ontario Chamber of Commerce jointly hosted the event.

Those gathered in the audience learned the multi-billion dollar project has already provided Renfrew County businesses with 17 contracts, which are collectively worth $3 million, with more likely coming down the pipe. They are providing everything from research and technology-based services to laboratory testing equipment.

REV. DAVID METZGER MARKS 60 YEARS IN MINISTRY - When Rev. David Metzger was ordained on June 6, 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower was still president of the United States. Louis St. Laurent was our prime minister. Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry were topping the music charts. Ed Sullivan ruled the airwaves. It was a remarkable six decades of ministry that the parishioners of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church reflected upon as they held a service celebrating the 60th anniversary of Rev. Metzger’s ordination.

VIGIL FOR ORLANDO NIGHTCLUB VICTIMS: They had little in common except the way their lives were terribly cut short.

On June 20, Pembroke’s Wesley United Church hosted a memorial service in honour of the 49 people murdered in Orlando June 12 by a lone gunman, who also wounded 53 others when he shot up the Pulse nightclub. The victims were all members of the LGBTQ community.

A dozen people were in attendance as Rev. Linda Fuller conducted the service, a simple and poignant one in which candles were lit at different points throughout the vigil, punctuated by verses of the song Kumbaya.

SUhler@postmedia.com 



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