Huron East departments impress throughout IPM - Oct. 26, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Several Huron East departments were kept very, very busy during the weeks surrounding the International Plowing Match (IPM) in Walton late last month.
At Huron East Council’s Oct. 17 meeting, council heard from a handful of members of the senior management team about their actions leading to, during and after the IPM.
First, Chief Administrative Officer Brad Knight reported on events, aside from the IPM itself, hosted in the municipality.
Three events were held at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre. First, the volunteer orientation and training, which had to be moved from the Walton site to Brussels due to weather, then the Brussels Fall Fair 4-H show and then Celebration of Excellence banquet on the Friday night of the match.
The Seaforth and District Community Centre also played host to three events: the IPM quilt show from Aug. 18-20, the beautification banquet on Aug. 31 and the BMO Ladies Lunch on Sept. 20.
Despite the last-minute nature of many of the bookings, Knight said that staff were accommodating and received compliments for the quality of their service.
Huron East Fire Chief Marty Bedard served as the IPM’s chair of the Emergency Services Committee and said they saw an elevated level of emergency calls due to the extreme, unseasonable weather during the match.
Bedard’s committee consisted of other area firefighters, paramedics and a Girl Guides representative who was charged with looking for lost persons. He also worked with members of the Huron County Health Unit, area hospitals and the Huron East building department.
During the IPM, Bedard said there was a total of 57 medical calls, with 19 people being transported to the hospital. At the 2016 IPM in Wellington County, Bedard said only six people were transported to the hospital over five days of the match. However, with so many hospital visits during a shortened IPM, the drastic increase could be attributed to the hot, dry weather of the final three days of the match.
Bedard said the committee assisted 12 lost persons over the course of the four days and three other miscellaneous calls, one for a security guard wanting to know where he should report to, one of a minor vehicle accident where an ATV hit a pole and one for public intoxication.
In addition, Bedard said he worked with building inspectors and the Health Unit to inspect all buildings ahead of the match and ensure that all food vendors complied with their requirements. As well, the local fire department conducted daily inspections to ensure fire safety requirements were being met throughout the week.
Bedard said that even with the high volume of medical calls, some of which were happening around the grounds at the same time, the team did a “fantastic job” and “handled the demand effectively”.
Brad Dietrich, Huron East’s chief building official, said that his work in advance of the IPM went smoothly, with his biggest concern being that some tents needed more “X bracing” installed or moved, as well as some anchorage concerns.
Dietrich’s work to prepare for the IPM began in 2016, when he was invited to tag along for building inspections at the Wellington County match in order to prepare for 2017.
As for the public works department’s involvement in the match, Director Barry Mills said his employees worked to supply wood chips and help erect the fencing. They also created temporary entrances and placed directional signs.
During the match, Mills said that the department assisted with traffic control, the movement of wood chips in order to solve water issues after the Tuesday’s rain, road maintenance and on-site assistance to prepare the grounds on Wednesday to re-open on Thursday.
After the match, Mills said road maintenance has continued as a result of the heavy traffic during the match, the removal of fencing and removal of the temporary road signs.
He also said that Huron East contributed just under $30,000 over the course of the match through water supply, sanitary disposal, solid waste, recycling, labour and equipment.
Mills said he was proud of how his department handled challenges and worked to make the match great.
“Huron East’s involvement in the planning, preparation and participation in the IPM has received praise from the organizers and all involved in the 100th IPM in Walton,” Mills said in his report to council. “Our staff exhibited co-operation, professionalism and dedication. In addition, many of our staff provided volunteer hours to the event based on their own personal interests and initiative.”
Economic Development Officer Jan Hawley said that her work, which included hosting both the Huron East “barn” in the Huron County Showcase and an additional Huron East tent, has received an overwhelming response.
“The response from the public was overwhelming and the uniqueness of the entire exhibit continues to receive accolades. However, it wasn’t solely the visual aspect of the displays that won people over, but how welcoming our volunteers were to those visiting the Huron East showcase,” Hawley said in her report to council. “Everyone’s enthusiasm and dedication genuinely demonstrated just how proud we are of our community. I couldn’t be prouder of the support I received throughout the process. In the 35 years I have been a resident of Huron County and the nine and a half years I’ve been employed by Huron East, I have never experienced anything quite like this.”
Hawley’s displays utilized 37 volunteers over the course of the match, which included councillors, staff, residents and “champions of Huron East” from outside of the municipality.
She said that the display in the Huron East tent was well received and that the NHL exhibit proved to be its most popular. In fact, she said, it has inspired a Brussels resident to donate his 50-piece vintage hockey jersey collection to complement the display going forward.
Council received all five of the reports, complimenting staff on their hard work and dedication throughout the match.