The good, the bad, the curious
The year that is about to end, like most every year before it, had its share of ups and downs. Here is a list of some of the good, bad and curious news items from 2018.
Honesty the best polic y
In June, some area residents received unexpected payouts from the Knights of Columbus after their lottery tickets went missing in the mail almost a year ago.
The payments were refunds for tickets people had purchased for a 2017 Knights of Columbus Ontario Charities Foundation raffle.
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, your tickets were lost by Canada Post and did not make it into the draw held on July 13, 2017,” read a letter from the Ontario K of C treasurer Marcel Lemmen and deputy Dan Heffernan. A council had returned its lottery ticket stubs to the Ontario State Office by registered mail well before the draw date. Canada Post lost the package and was unable to trace it. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which issues lottery licences, was informed of the situation by the Knights of Columbus State Office.
“We were told to treat these tickets in the same way we would treat lost or stolen tickets,” the letter continued. “We opened an investigation with Canada Post. The draw proceeded as scheduled.” Canada Post found the tickets four months after the draw. On the instruction of the gaming commission, the organization has returned the ticket money to each ticket buyer.
A farmer’s nightmare
Every farmer’s nightmare became a horrible reality for aMaxville family early August 28. About 80 dairy cows were among the livestock that perished in a barn fire at the Mylyn Farm operated by Tammy and Charlie Jack. The blaze that began at 2:30 a.m. caused losses of between $3 million and $4 million. Fortunately, nobody was injured. Anyone who has ever been a victim of fire knows that it is impossible to ever accurately assess damages and losses, and also knows that a life’s work can be so quickly erased. When the sun rose on the sad scene, the sense of devastation was palpable. The air was acrid and humid as a strong wind sporadically whipped through the smouldering debris. The Jack family members huddled together as they spoke to investigators. But, like so many farmers before them, soon they would be thinking of the clean-up and rebuilding.
Wrath of Mother Nature
Few things are as humbling, and frightening, as a tornado. “Wild” and “scary” were just some of the words that described an August 29 wallop from Mother Nature.
Amazingly, nobody was injured but there were some close calls and many frazzled nerves as high winds and rain tore through the region, battering buildings and destroying trees. Thousands of residents were without power for most of the day and night of August 29. At least one barn was toppled in North Glengarry while Bainsville residents reported torrential rains that forced many motorists to pull over to the side of the road.
As usual, there were many milestones. Green Valley turned 140; Maxville Manor turned 50; in January, the 20th anniversary of the Ice Storm was remembered; La journée de la femme organizing committee celebrated its 10th birthday. Another momentous occasion occurred this year when South Glengarry agreed to become a testing site for autonomous vehicles following a request from the Ontario Good Roads Association which asked the united counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry to seek out suitable test zones. Most of the roads in the three counties were found to be suitable for self-driving cars to use.
Light in the darkness
October 24, about 200 people assembled at the Grotto in Alexandria at a vigil to remember murder victim Émilie Maheu. A few days earlier, her former partner, the father of her 22-monthold daughter, had admitted to killing the 26-year-old Green Valley woman. “I did the crime, I will do the time,” Brandon Smeltzer had declared in a Cornwall courtroom.
When she learned of this “senseless act of violence,” vigil co-organizer Natalie St-Denis said, “It broke my heart.” She and psychologist Dr. Suzanne Filion held the ceremony to remember the victim, to comfort her family, and to try to raise awareness of domestic violence. People sang, prayed, huddled together, cradled candles and struggled to understand.
“Uniting tonight is a concrete gesture that helps us all to slowly digest the reality of this situation,” said Dr. Filion.
“When we shed light on something, the darkness and fear go away,” said Ms. St-Denis.
Many people in attendance had never met Émilie Maheu but they felt it was important to be there, to share the grief and anger. They were urged to keep Ms. Maheu’s memory alive by brightening the lives of others. They were also told that their gestures of love and solidarity “rekindled a sense of confidence in humanity.” Those words helped but the reality was still difficult to digest.
An unintended contender
The democratic process has its glitches. Take Nevada, where in the US midterm elections, a dead man was elected to the State Assembly during the US midterm elections. In Ontario, the municipal council and school board elections in October had some anomalies. Some people got two voter registration cards, some received none, some were barred from voting. But all in all, the exercise went off with relatively few problems. However, there was a glaring example of voters being uninformed. In the race for the Upper Canada District School Board trustee seat, Jim Bancroft, who was no longer a candidate, got 1,825 votes. He received less than the winner John Danaher, who got 4,086, and Marshall Wilson, who finished with 2,178. Mr. Bancroft received a sizeable number of votes despite the fact that back on October 1, more than two weeks before online voting could begin, he was withdrawing from the contest. One would think that with all the sophisticated gadgets we have at our disposal, deleting one name from the electronic ballots would be a piece of cake. But every system has its limits.
Feel-good stor y
Josh MacDonald resembled a character from a science fiction movie when he was watching TV, wearing high-tech glasses and operating a hand-held control. The 39-year-old Alexandria man was demonstrating a gift he got from the community -- a pair of eSight electronic glasses that has dramatically improved his vision that has been impaired since birth. Until now, if he wanted to watch a television show, he would have to almost press his face up against the set. “The e-glasses are working wonders for me,” said Mr. MacDonald. The $12,500 device was acquired thanks to a fund-raising drive organized by the Alexandria and District Lions Club. “The community has been fantastic,” stated club president Michel Depratto. When the club learned that no government assistance was available, the organization decided to reach out to the public. “We knew we were taking a gamble,” recalled Mr. Depratto, noting that the $12,500 was an ambitious goal. “But we decided to give it a try. The community came through,” said Mr. Depratto.
That upbeat note is a good way to end 2018 and look ahead to the new year.