A little good news on the Alma College front


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Over the past decade, there has been precious little in the way of positive news emanating from the rubble that is Alma College.
That is until last week when employees of R. Good Concrete of Aylmer uncovered the McLachlin Hall cornerstone that dates back to 1888.
How did the crew clearing the 11-acre site of debris hit paydirt with the discovery?
Credit goes to St. Thomas native Ryan Belanger, who has kept in touch with fellow history buff Steve Peters in an attempt to locate the stone, assumed to contain a time capsule.
Belanger contacted London developer Gino Reale to alert him as to the possibility the object in question was likely buried amid tons of yellow bricks and other building materials.

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Yes, the insurance was indeed paid


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Tony Hofstee sure lit up the T-J Facebook page with his letter to the editor documenting the efforts of volunteers and committee members associated over the years with the Holiday Fantasy of Lights.
His long list of items and services paid for by the Fantasy of Lights will come as a revelation to many, including mayor and members of council
These include electrical work and supplies, upgrades to the washrooms, trees and plants for Pinafore Park, donations to other worthy organizations and the list goes on.
Tony closed his letter with the hope “the mayor and parks director Catharine Spratley apologize to the volunteers who ran the Fantasy. Yes mayor, we did pay our own insurance!”
His letter elicited dozens of responses, including this sampling:
Lori Calvert posted, “Well done Tony. I am glad someone put into print all that we (all previous and current members) did that went unnoticed. But sadly this will fall on deaf ears … if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say ‘why didn’t they ask for volunteers?’ The bottom line is always missed. FOL didn’t ask for hand-outs and money just stop putting up road blocks and charging fees when it is for the betterment of the entire city!!!” Continue reading

Rescoping? Beats me, insists former MPP Steve Peters


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Watch for the matter of a new home for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health to heat up dramatically in the coming days.
The health unit has been out of the public spotlight of late and that’s not a bad thing after the drama and controversy that dogged the previous board of directors.
The new board, including Elgin Warden Bill Walters and St. Thomas Ald. Dave Warden, has got the organization focused on moving forward.
However, will it withstand the fallout from a forthcoming announcement on a move from its current digs at 99 Edward St. to a two-acre site that is not the west Talbot Street property owned by Shmuel Farhi?
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Do city officials have the maturity to move forward?


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Monday’s announcement this corner of the province is in line to benefit from an $80-million job-generation fund had the City Scope research department scurrying to dust off the archives.
Before delving into those findings, we must note one of the drivers that led to the creation of the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund by Premier Dalton McGuinty was the Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA).
Launched in 2006, SWEA is an advocacy body encompassing partners from municipalities, counties, educational institutions and businesses in the region.
Today, under the presidency of St. Thomas resident Serge Lavoie, SWEA is comprised of 10 counties, including Elgin, and four independent cities, none of which is St. Thomas.
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Ma Ferguson offered equal justice to the little people


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A last-minute addition to the City Scope lineup this week, predicated by the death Tuesday of Edra Sanders Ferguson in her 105th year of “an overflowing life.”

The Times-Journal, and this corner in particular, championed “Ma Ferguson” as she was known for many years by Toronto lawyers.

The photo on the front page of Friday’s T-J offers a tantalizing taste of the individual who served as the first woman alderman in St. Thomas; to initiate a Red Cross Clinic in Guelph; and to be appointed the first Division Court judge in Ontario (later to become the Small Claims Court).

St. Thomas native and Order of Canada recepient Edra Ferguson, left, and Tara Muzumdar, the Belmont House Nursing Home employee who nominated her.


We will forever cherish the personal note from Edra’s nephew, St. Thomas lawyer John Sanders, sent this past June after the announcement she was to receive the Order of Canada for her contributions in the fields of law and women’s rights — the oldest person ever to receive the Order of Canada.

Better yet, today’s (Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011) Bygones photo on page 2, sent along by Gina Coady at Elgin County Archives, transports us back to 1926 and a striking Edra as a member of the Alma College debating team.
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So, Steve Peters decides to retire and look what happens


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Without knowing it, Steve Peters altered the shape of Ontario politics Thursday.

Had he not announced his retirement some time back, he would easily have retained Elgin-Middlesex-London for the Libs and handed Dalton McGuinty his 54th seat and a majority government.

Instead, the baton was handed over to Lori Baldwin-Sands who was thoroughly thumped by Jeff Yurek, who rode an 8,700-vote lead all the way to Queen’s Park.

You knew it was going to be a long night for area Libs when Baldwin-Sands’ celebration HQ at the Knights of Columbus hall at one time was mainly populated by firefighters enjoying the Leafs’ game.
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Glorious morning sheds light on closed-door council voting


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The June 30 ground-breaking ceremony at the Elgin County Courthouse thrust MPP Steve Peters into the MC spotlight – not unfamiliar territory for the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
It was an opportunity to savour the fruits of nearly three decades of personal lobbying.
“There was a period where I was concerned, but I think today just alleviates any of those concerns. It’s been a long time to get to this point, but it’s very gratifying to see that there’s going to be a future,” he observed.
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