Proof we can put aside our differences

Never has the Canadian flag looked so resplendent as it did on this brilliant late-autumn afternoon. Dozens upon dozens of them flapping vigorously in the stiff breeze, reaching out to welcome home for the final time John Gallagher, killed Nov. 4 while volunteering with Kurdish forces to fight against ISIS in Syria.
Several hundred people stood along the Col. Talbot Road


St. Thomas firefighters

overpass Friday — some for hours — patiently waiting to pay tribute to the former Wheatley resident.
Dozens and dozens of young people, several St. Thomas air cadets and numerous vets, individuals in wheel chairs and seniors gingerly hiking up the embankment to pay their respects, accompanied by a large contingent of city fire, police and EMS personnel.
All of them standing resolutely together to thank this young man — indeed all Canadians who have served and fallen — and in the process remind us we can put aside our differences and be proud of who we are.

William and Jo-Anne Pronger of London — the current owners of the former Alma Street Presbyterian Church — approached city council in August to demolish the structure at 40 Alma St., based on an engineer’s report from DC Buck Engineering of London.
The report concludes, “The building in its current condition is unsafe and not suitable for occupancy. We recommend repairs or demolition to the existing structure. If repair option is to be completed they should be addressed in a timely manner.”


Alma Presbyterian Church plaque

The required work would include new structural steel and repairs to the faux exterior facade in order to expose the underlying original brick for required restoration.
The Prongers note “Two different masonry contractors agree that removing the existing facade is likely to damage the underlying brick to the point it will loose its integrity to support the existing structure.”
While the church — dating back to 1891, with the cornerstone being laid in April of that year — sits forlornly awaiting its fate, scavengers are circling the structure, quite literally picking it to the bone.
In a conversation with Jo-Anne on Friday, she advised individuals have broken into the church and stripped the basement of its copper wiring and heating rads.
But that is minor in nature to the theft of a bronze exterior plaque that was to have been donated to the congregation of Knox Presbyterian Church in St. Thomas.
The plaque reads, “To the glory of God in celebration of 100th anniversary of first worship Alma St. Presbyterian Church relaid May 26 1991.”
Jo-Anne is urging whoever removed the item from the church to please return it to officials at Knox Presbyterian and no questions will be asked. The plaque was promised to the sister church and Jo-Anne would like to see that wish fulfilled.

Related post: Another heritage casualty

The city will soon have a protocol in place and we can only hope the Nov. 11 flag foul-up will never be repeated.  Forgetting to lower the flags at city hall to half-mast proved an embarrassment on a day of remembrance.JoanRymal    To add insult to injury, Coun. Joan Rymal admonished those who took to social media to register their concern and disgust at the lack of respect for the men and women who have served this country.
Rymal bemoaned the fact she did not find out about the incident until early afternoon and, instead of posting on Facebook, people should have picked up the phone.
Perhaps on any other day Joan, but city hall was closed, the mayor out of the country and who exactly were concerned residents to call?
You can only marvel at how the lowering of the flags pre-2015 was accomplished in timely and efficient fashion with no need of a protocol.
As Jennifer Bieman observes elsewhere in today’s T-J, she hasn’t officially been sworn in yet and already MP-elect Karen Vecchio has been appointed to the Conservative shadow cabinet as critic for Families, Children and Social Development portfolio.Vecchio
“There’s 99 members of parliament that can do these jobs and there’s 29 portfolios to cover,” Vecchio pointed out Friday.         “There are some fantastic veteran MPs that have some different roles as well and I’ll be working with them. I didn’t see myself in shadow cabinet, but I’m really ecstatic.”
Quite frankly this corner is surprised as well. Not with her appointment to the shadow cabinet . . . certainly well deserved and she is more than qualified.
No, we would have guessed the post would have been more as a critic for sport and athletics, what with her extensive and colourful background in soccer.

 Jim Kaplanis of St. Thomas is siding with Ray Galloway, who earlier this month in a letter to the editor chided St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell for moving his family to London.


St. Thomas historian Ray Galloway.

If you recall last week in this corner, we took Galloway to task for his insistence Pinnell’s decision to reside outside St. Thomas was “irresponsible and a disservice to the citizens of our community.”
Kaplanis writes, “The Chief  of the St. Thomas Police force earns his salary in St. Thomas and lives in London. The CEO of The city of St. Thomas, Mr. (Wendell) Graves, lives in Aylmer. Others with positions in city hall earn a salary but do not live in the city.”
Kaplanis asserts you should be living in the city in which your paycheck originated.
He continues, “What about the fire department?  Are firemen required to live in the city?”
Jim, the days when Catholics became firefighters and Protestants walked the beat are long behind us.
“Spend your money and live in the same place where you earn it,” Kaplanis concludes.
And who, Jim, in these various departments — all unionized — is going to re-write the collective agreements to incorporate that provision?

Related post: You don’t live around here

 “I’m dealing with things that I work with all the time so I’m really familiar with them at the level where they impact constituents. It’s your everyday things … that actually affect so many Canadians. So that’s what I’m really excited about.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MP-elect Karen Vecchio
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to

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