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News - Jan. 22 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 16:02
Whether it’s a snowman, a snow fort, or just a great big hill to slide down, winter provides some of the best natural building blocks for recess fun, a lesson well-learned by students at Hullett Central Public School. Shown hauling pieces for an upcoming snow-fabrication are, from left: Jake Cullen, Connor Dale and Caden Mason.   (Denny Scott photo)
Whether it’s a snowman, a snow fort, or just a great big hill to slide down, winter provides some of the best natural building blocks for recess fun, a lesson well-learned by students at Hullett Central Public School. Shown hauling pieces for an upcoming snow-fabrication are, from left: Jake Cullen, Connor Dale and Caden Mason.   (Denny Scott photo)
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:44
 
Thompson Honours Local Citizens - Jan. 22 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 16:01
Three local individuals were among 17 Outstanding Citizen Award nominees recognized by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson at her annual New Year’s Levee at Teeswater’s Town Hall on Jan. 14.
During a special awards ceremony held in Teeswater, Thompson recognized Patrick Armstrong for his work with the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund (DMMF), OPP Sergeant Russ Nesbitt for his work with both emergency and community services and Jim Lee for his work bringing live local music to Huron County.
Nesbitt, who lives in Blyth, is a very active member of his community. He serves as a captain with the Fire Department of North Huron and  has served as the Huron County OPP Torch Run co-ordinator for several years.
Nesbitt was unable to attend the event as he was out of the country at the time, however, he said he was honoured to be considered for and to receive the award.
“It’s amazing, just wonderful to be recognized,” he said. “I’m sad that I wasn’t able to make the awards.”
Nesbitt said he wanted to thank Thompson for hosting and presenting the awards and he was honoured to be amongst the group of recipients for the honour.
He also said this marked the end of a great year for him and he was looking forward to 2015. During 2014, Nesbitt was promoted both in the OPP and the Fire Department of North Huron. He also celebrated his 20th anniversary with his wife Kerry last year.
Lee, better known as Cinnamon Jim in his home village of Brussels, was recognized for bringing local music to the village.
“It was nice to know I got nominated, but being there, seeing the other people who got the award and receiving it myself was great,” he said.
Lee said he received the award for bringing local live music to the county, specifically though the Brussels Farmers’ Market and trying to bring a successful fiddle jamboree to Brussels.
“We are trying to get the jamboree to continue in Brussels on an annual basis,” he said. “I’m going to try and convince the [Brussels Lions Club] we should support it for the next few years.”
The Jamboree, which will always be held on the fourth Sunday in July, is something that’s making its mark in the county, according to Lee, and will make a difference.
For Lee, he said getting the award was a great honour, but the two high points of the night were finding out his nomination didn’t come from Brussels as well as meeting an old friend at the ceremony.
“I was nominated by someone from Exeter,” he said. “It’s kind of nice to be recognized like that by someone outside of the community.”
Lee ran into pianist Mark Willms who has played for Lulu’s Band and also acted and provided music for the Oscar-winning movie Lost in Translation.
“Mark provided the entertainment for the night and it was great,” Lee said. “It was amazing to see someone I knew when they were good, now that they are great.”
Armstrong said he was honoured to receive the award for his work for the DMMF.
“I was humbled by those around me,” he said in an e-mail to The Citizen.  “To hear the community dedication that the awardees have, the day to day involvement and commitment to their communities made me appreciate all of them that much more.”
While he was honoured for the recognition, he said the work for the Fund wasn’t something he could take credit for.
“My work with the Mounsey Fund is that of a team – a dedicated board of volunteers who are the real drive behind the Fund and I cannot thank them enough for that,” he said.
Russell Nesbitt, left, and "Cinnamon" Jim Lee, right, were two of nearly 20 people to be recognized with the Outstanding Citizen awards presented by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson at her New Year’s Levee in
Teeswater on Jan. 14. Lee was recognized for bringing live music to the county, while in 2014 OPP Sergeant Russell Nesbitt was named the top police officer in Huron County and received promotions both in his OPP career and his volunteer service at the Fire Department of North Huron in 2014. (Denny Scott photo)
Three local individuals were among 17 Outstanding Citizen Award nominees recognized by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson at her annual New Year’s Levee at Teeswater’s Town Hall on Jan. 14.
During a special awards ceremony held in Teeswater, Thompson recognized Patrick Armstrong for his work with the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund (DMMF), OPP Sergeant Russ Nesbitt for his work with both emergency and community services and Jim Lee for his work bringing live local music to Huron County.
Nesbitt, who lives in Blyth, is a very active member of his community. He serves as a captain with the Fire Department of North Huron and  has served as the Huron County OPP Torch Run co-ordinator for several years.
Nesbitt was unable to attend the event as he was out of the country at the time, however, he said he was honoured to be considered for and to receive the award.
“It’s amazing, just wonderful to be recognized,” he said. “I’m sad that I wasn’t able to make the awards.”
Nesbitt said he wanted to thank Thompson for hosting and presenting the awards and he was honoured to be amongst the group of recipients for the honour.
He also said this marked the end of a great year for him and he was looking forward to 2015. During 2014, Nesbitt was promoted both in the OPP and the Fire Department of North Huron. He also celebrated his 20th anniversary with his wife Kerry last year.
Lee, better known as Cinnamon Jim in his home village of Brussels, was recognized for bringing local music to the village.
“It was nice to know I got nominated, but being there, seeing the other people who got the award and receiving it myself was great,” he said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:45
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Shortreeds' Early Delivery is Stratford's New Year's Baby - Jan. 22 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:59
For The Shortreed family, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s  Day played out a little differently than anticipated and resulted in them having the first baby of 2015 at Stratford General Hospital.
Matt and Julie welcomed their second son, Brayden Matthew, to the world after having to make a quick exit from a Buck and Doe in Belmore when Julie started having contractions.
Julie thought that the contractions were false labour since Brayden wasn’t due until mid-February, but, after the contractions continued, the two made for their vehicle.
After an hour-and-a-half long drive that included a lot of bad weather, the Shortreeds made it to the hospital and, at 4:32 a.m. on Jan. 1, welcomed their second son, Brayden Matthew, into the world, six weeks early. Brayden weighted in at six pounds, two ounces.
The family spent 10 days at the hospital, which is where Brayden’s three-year-old brother Connor was born as well.
Over the course of the stay, Matt returned to the family farm on County Road 25 just outside of Walton to make sure everything was running smoothly often over that period.
Now that the family is all home, Julie said things are settling down.
“Everything is good and we’re all settling in, even if we’re not getting much sleep at night yet,” she said with a laugh.
Matt explained that Brayden decides he’s hungry several times throughout the night, but that things should continue to settle down.
He also said that both his mother, Val, who lives across the road from the couple, and Julie’s parents in Wingham have been a big help, as were family and friends through the 10-day stay at the hospital.
“Our friends really stepped up and helped out with the chores,” he said. “They were here doing the work and helping me while I was running back and forth to the hospital.”
This isn’t the Shortreeds’ first surprise as their first son Connor, was also delivered about a month early.
As far as being the parents of the first baby at Stratford General Hospital in 2015, both agreed that they weren’t really aware of it until some time after the delivery.
“It didn’t even dawn on us that we were having the New Year’s baby,” Julie said.
“The news went through the hospital like wildfire,” he said. “After we had told our parents, word got out to friends and family and to the reporter from the Stratford Beacon Herald. Our phone was ringing off the hook and it was pretty exciting.”
Aside from the excitement, the Shortreeds also received gifts from businesses serviced by Stratford General Hospital.
“There were just a lot of gifts,” Julie said. “It was very generous and not expected at all.”
The Shortreeds say they aren’t sure whether or not Brayden will be the last child in the family or not.
“That’s not something we’ve really looked at yet,” Julie said.
While the early delivery wasn’t something they planned for, the couple said that, in hindsight, it did solve an upcoming problem.
“The buck and doe that we were at was for a wedding that I’m standing up at in February,” Matt said.
Julie explained that, with the delivery date, she was worried that Matt might not make the wedding, however with Brayden already being born, that’s no longer an issue.
Julie and Matt Shortreed were happy to welcome their new son, Brayden Matthew into the world on Jan. 1. The couple was completely unaware of the fact that they were the proud parents of the New Year’s baby for Stratford General Hospital until nurses told them. Brayden’s older brother Connor recently turned three and is excited to show his little brother the ropes.   (Denny Scott photo)
For The Shortreed family, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s  Day played out a little differently than anticipated and resulted in them having the first baby of 2015 at Stratford General Hospital.
Matt and Julie welcomed their second son, Brayden Matthew, to the world after having to make a quick exit from a Buck and Doe in Belmore when Julie started having contractions.
Julie thought that the contractions were false labour since Brayden wasn’t due until mid-February, but, after the contractions continued, the two made for their vehicle.
After an hour-and-a-half long drive that included a lot of bad weather, the Shortreeds made it to the hospital and, at 4:32 a.m. on Jan. 1, welcomed their second son, Brayden Matthew, into the world, six weeks early. Brayden weighted in at six pounds, two ounces.
The family spent 10 days at the hospital, which is where Brayden’s three-year-old brother Connor was born as well.
Over the course of the stay, Matt returned to the family farm on County Road 25 just outside of Walton to make sure everything was running smoothly often over that period.
Now that the family is all home, Julie said things are settling down.
“Everything is good and we’re all settling in, even if we’re not getting much sleep at night yet,” she said with a laugh.
Matt explained that Brayden decides he’s hungry several times throughout the night, but that things should continue to settle down.
He also said that both his mother, Val, who lives across the road from the couple, and Julie’s parents in Wingham have been a big help, as were family and friends through the 10-day stay at the hospital.
“Our friends really stepped up and helped out with the chores,” he said. “They were here doing the work and helping me while I was running back and forth to the hospital.”
This isn’t the Shortreeds’ first surprise as their first son Connor, was also delivered about a month early.
As far as being the parents of the first baby at Stratford General Hospital in 2015, both agreed that they weren’t really aware of it until some time after the delivery.
“It didn’t even dawn on us that we were having the New Year’s baby,” Julie said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:47
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Huron County Proposes 5.47 per cent Tax Increase - Jan. 22 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:47
In the face of another tough budget year, Huron County Treasurer Michael Blumhagen has proposed a 5.47 per cent tax increase at the county level as a starting point for the 2015 budget, which would increase the budget by $1.95 million.
Because of the rise in assessment, Blumhagen said, a 5.47 per cent increase wouldn’t look like an increase to ratepayers. On $100,000 of assessment in Huron County, however, he said taxes would rise $22.50, just from the county portion of the taxes with the municipal portion still yet to be factored in.
Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek said he was immediately concerned with the proposed increase.
With the average Huron County home assessed at approximately $250,000, the county portion of taxes will likely result in about a $50 increase in 2015. With similar increases likely to come from lower-tier municipalities, he said, the average Huron County resident could be  facing taxes $100 higher than they were last year, he said.
Any conversation about the budget, Blumhagen said, would have to begin with the county’s loss of Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) money, which will be over $700,000 this year. To cover that loss alone, he said, taxes would have to rise two per cent.
He also told council to expect similar cuts in the coming years. It was Blumhagen’s estimation that the OMPF funding would be completely gone in five years, so it would be wise for council to plan for that possibility.
Most departments, he said, are proposing a slight increase in their year-over-year budgets. Under current proposals, Blumhagen said, Huron County Emergency Medical Services is proposing a 1.72 per cent increase in its budget, administration’s budget is expected to rise 1.3 per cent and the public works budget is proposed to rise by 0.79 per cent.
It is expected that the Huron County Health Unit’s budget will go down one per cent, the Huron County Planning and Development budget is expected to decrease by 0.27 per cent and the Homes for the Aged budget is expected to go down by 0.22 per cent. Blumhagen said that the only reason the Homes for the Aged budget is expected to decrease is because an annual $201,000 transfer to reserves for home improvements won’t be made in 2015, as per staff decision.
Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan said he was very concerned about the proposed increase in the emergency services budget.
Blumhagen told council that the increase is largely due to the switch-over that has to occur from rapid response vehicles back to ambulances, as well as a sharp increase in sick time from paramedics.
MacLellan said he was under the impression that sick time would go down when changes were made after a consultant’s report made several recommendations within the department.
The big change, MacLellan said, was changing from 24-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts. The idea, he said, was that previously if a paramedic called in sick for a shift, he or she was then essentially having to miss three days of work (three eight-hour shifts). If a paramedic called in sick for a 12-hour shift, it would then be half that.
He said he hoped the increase in sick time being used wasn’t “retaliation” for the change from 24-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts.
Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Orchard said she couldn’t comment as to the reasons behind the increase, only that staff was in the process of looking into it.
Blumhagen also cautioned council regarding several grant requests that were not yet included in his budget presentation, since council has yet to rule on them. If they are added into the budget, he said, either taxes will have to rise or services will have to be cut.
Council has yet to decide on a grant application that would pay the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre $60,000 per year for the next four years, a request from the Coalition for Huron Injury Prevention (CHIP) for $5,000 in 2015, a request from the United Way Perth-Huron’s Social Research and Planning Council for $20,000 per year for the next three years, $135,000 annually from the Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) initiative and a request from Blyth’s Emergency Services Training Centre for $284,000 over the next three years.
He said there is currently $100,000 in the budget for unforeseen costs that could be utilized for some grant requests, but that money will only go so far.
All department heads were scheduled to make presentations on their departmental budgets at Huron County Council’s Jan. 21 committee of the whole meeting. After those presentations, council will begin official budget deliberations.
In the face of another tough budget year, Huron County Treasurer Michael Blumhagen has proposed a 5.47 per cent tax increase at the county level as a starting point for the 2015 budget, which would increase the budget by $1.95 million.
Because of the rise in assessment, Blumhagen said, a 5.47 per cent increase wouldn’t look like an increase to ratepayers. On $100,000 of assessment in Huron County, however, he said taxes would rise $22.50, just from the county portion of the taxes with the municipal portion still yet to be factored in.
Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek said he was immediately concerned with the proposed increase.
With the average Huron County home assessed at approximately $250,000, the county portion of taxes will likely result in about a $50 increase in 2015. With similar increases likely to come from lower-tier municipalities, he said, the average Huron County resident could be  facing taxes $100 higher than they were last year, he said.
Any conversation about the budget, Blumhagen said, would have to begin with the county’s loss of Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) money, which will be over $700,000 this year. To cover that loss alone, he said, taxes would have to rise two per cent.
He also told council to expect similar cuts in the coming years. It was Blumhagen’s estimation that the OMPF funding would be completely gone in five years, so it would be wise for council to plan for that possibility.
Most departments, he said, are proposing a slight increase in their year-over-year budgets. Under current proposals, Blumhagen said, Huron County Emergency Medical Services is proposing a 1.72 per cent increase in its budget, administration’s budget is expected to rise 1.3 per cent and the public works budget is proposed to rise by 0.79 per cent.
It is expected that the Huron County Health Unit’s budget will go down one per cent, the Huron County Planning and Development budget is expected to decrease by 0.27 per cent and the Homes for the Aged budget is expected to go down by 0.22 per cent. Blumhagen said that the only reason the Homes for the Aged budget is expected to decrease is because an annual $201,000 transfer to reserves for home improvements won’t be made in 2015, as per staff decision.
Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan said he was very concerned about the proposed increase in the emergency services budget.
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Blyth's Emergency Services Training Centre Makes Case for County Grant - Jan. 22 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:46
Blyth’s Emergency Services Training Centre (ESTC) is asking Huron County for nearly $300,000 in sustainable futures funding to help the centre become one of Canada’s leading sources for emergency training.
The centre’s principal and Fire Department of North Huron Chief David Sparling made the case for the application to Huron County Council at its Jan. 14 committee of the whole meeting.
Sparling is asking for $284,600 over the next three years, the bulk of which, $175,000, would come in the first year with $63,800 planned for the second year followed by $45,800 in the third.
The funding, Sparling said, would address a number of the centre’s needs, highlighted by software that will enable online registration and payment, a business consultant who would then prepare a formal business plan and an investment in specialized equipment that will help the centre offer more diverse programs. Several self-contained breathing apparatus to be provided to those training at the centre, would account for nearly one third of the funding at a proposed $84,000. None of the funding requested would go towards wages or remuneration.
With changing regulations regarding the training of firefighters, Sparling told councillors that the number of graduated firefighters in Ontario has dropped significantly, showing that there is a need in the sector.
The centre, he said, also aims to be the first in Ontario to offer National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) industrial fire brigade training. He also said that after several meetings and a tour of the facilities, the Ontario Fire Academy (OFA) would like to create a Huron County campus at the ESTC.
Sparling says he also hopes to re-ignite the marine emergency training program that had once been offered in Ontario, but was shut down due to environmental concerns.
The first three months of the year, Sparling said, would likely be when the centre would roll out industrial fire brigade training, a historically slow time at the centre. A whole system would have to be installed, he said, that would ensure proper water drainage to eliminate a slip and fall risk at the centre during training sessions.
“The future is now,” Sparling told council, saying that the centre will need specialized knowledge and supplemental equipment to roll out these programs in order to service a need that may get filled elsewhere if they wait too long.
“There is a need. We know there is a need,” Sparling said. “If there’s no one meeting it, someone is going to.”
He also told councillors about the definite economic development component of what the centre is trying to do, saying that the development of programs could result in millions for the Blyth and Central Huron communities, and for all of Huron County.
In the centre’s funding application, Sparling illustrates what he hopes will be a massive increase in student days at the centre.
With 881 student days recorded at the ESTC in 2014, he projected that number to grow to 1,142 in 2015, 3,108 in 2016 and to 4,022 in 2017. Based on the accepted 4:1 economic impact ratio, the increases could mean $128,550 in non-municipal course revenue in 2015 with  $514,200 in economic impact, $486,730 in course revenue and $1,946,920 in economic impact in 2016 and $679,045 in course revenue and $2,716,180 in economic impact in 2017.
As part of his presentation, Sparling also laid out the centre’s history, telling councillors that it opened in July, 2004, at a time when only the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst was offering similar fire training. The ESTC was then made a satellite campus for the college in 2005.
It also began to offer specialized propane training, becoming one of only three facilities (Texas, Massachusetts and Blyth) in North America to offer such training.
Council received Sparling’s presentation and directed county staff to prepare a report for council to be considered at a future meeting.
Blyth’s Emergency Services Training Centre (ESTC) is asking Huron County for nearly $300,000 in sustainable futures funding to help the centre become one of Canada’s leading sources for emergency training.
The centre’s principal and Fire Department of North Huron Chief David Sparling made the case for the application to Huron County Council at its Jan. 14 committee of the whole meeting.
Sparling is asking for $284,600 over the next three years, the bulk of which, $175,000, would come in the first year with $63,800 planned for the second year followed by $45,800 in the third.
The funding, Sparling said, would address a number of the centre’s needs, highlighted by software that will enable online registration and payment, a business consultant who would then prepare a formal business plan and an investment in specialized equipment that will help the centre offer more diverse programs. Several self-contained breathing apparatus to be provided to those training at the centre, would account for nearly one third of the funding at a proposed $84,000. None of the funding requested would go towards wages or remuneration.
With changing regulations regarding the training of firefighters, Sparling told councillors that the number of graduated firefighters in Ontario has dropped significantly, showing that there is a need in the sector.
The centre, he said, also aims to be the first in Ontario to offer National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) industrial fire brigade training. He also said that after several meetings and a tour of the facilities, the Ontario Fire Academy (OFA) would like to create a Huron County campus at the ESTC.
Sparling says he also hopes to re-ignite the marine emergency training program that had once been offered in Ontario, but was shut down due to environmental concerns.
The first three months of the year, Sparling said, would likely be when the centre would roll out industrial fire brigade training, a historically slow time at the centre. A whole system would have to be installed, he said, that would ensure proper water drainage to eliminate a slip and fall risk at the centre during training sessions.
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Brussels Snowmobile Trails Open - Jan. 22 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:45
In The Citizen’s communities, the snowmobile trails tell two very different stories, with trails in North Huron needing a lot more snow, while trails in Brussels and its surrounding area open with limited availability.
As of early this week, trails from west of Brussels to as far east as Monkton were open. Trails along that east-to-west area then continued to be open as the map stretched north through Wingham, Gorrie and even as far north as Teeswater, Walkerton and Paisley. Trails in Blyth, however, and further west were all still closed.
Adrian Salverda, president of the North Huron Trail Groomers, says the area will need at least two more feet of snow before the trails in his jurisdiction will be able to open.
Over the weekend, he said, his organization completed the vast majority of the staking process (staking and marking the trails), but going forward the only action members will be able to take will be a snow dance (in hopes of pulling snow from the heavens), since that is the final hurdle standing in their way.
He is encouraging snowmobilers in Blyth, Central Huron and further west to stay off of the trails until they’re officially open. He says it’s important to maintain a good relationship with the Trail Groomers’ partner landowners, because without them, the group has nothing.
In the Brussels and Walton areas, however, Wayne Bennewies of the Brussels and Walton Trailblazers Snowmobile Club says that staking has been done in the Huron East/Morris-Turnberry area for weeks now, which has enabled the club to be ahead of the game.
“We did a lot of preparation work in the fall before we had any snow,” Bennewies says. “We have a very good working relationship with our landowners.”
While the weather warmed slightly over the weekend, Bennewies says he’s looked at the forecast for the next two weeks and doesn’t see any reason for concern as far as the trails potentially closing.
Bennewies acknowledged that many surrounding areas are not yet able to open their trails, which he says may contain swampy areas, which then need more snow to be available to snowmobilers. The Huron East/Morris-Turnberry area, he said, is lucky in that it doesn’t have many of those requirements.
To check the status of all of Ontario’s snowmobile trails, visit the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs’ website at ofsc.on.ca and click on the interactive trail map of the whole province.
In The Citizen’s communities, the snowmobile trails tell two very different stories, with trails in North Huron needing a lot more snow, while trails in Brussels and its surrounding area open with limited availability.
As of early this week, trails from west of Brussels to as far east as Monkton were open. Trails along that east-to-west area then continued to be open as the map stretched north through Wingham, Gorrie and even as far north as Teeswater, Walkerton and Paisley. Trails in Blyth, however, and further west were all still closed.
Adrian Salverda, president of the North Huron Trail Groomers, says the area will need at least two more feet of snow before the trails in his jurisdiction will be able to open.
Over the weekend, he said, his organization completed the vast majority of the staking process (staking and marking the trails), but going forward the only action members will be able to take will be a snow dance (in hopes of pulling snow from the heavens), since that is the final hurdle standing in their way.
He is encouraging snowmobilers in Blyth, Central Huron and further west to stay off of the trails until they’re officially open. He says it’s important to maintain a good relationship with the Trail Groomers’ partner landowners, because without them, the group has nothing.
In the Brussels and Walton areas, however, Wayne Bennewies of the Brussels and Walton Trailblazers Snowmobile Club says that staking has been done in the Huron East/Morris-Turnberry area for weeks now, which has enabled the club to be ahead of the game.
“We did a lot of preparation work in the fall before we had any snow,” Bennewies says. “We have a very good working relationship with our landowners.”
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