Some municipal leaders west of Fort Frances are reflecting on the past year, as well as looking ahead to 2018.
Emo Mayor Jack Siemens told the Times via e-mail that as he looks back on 2017, he can see how fortunate he is to live and work in the community.
Highlights for him included hosting some of the OFSAA hockey games during the tournament back in March, the special celebration the town put on for Canada's 150th birthday, and the renovations to Donald Young School, upgrades to the Emo Clinic, and various road work projects.
“Each and every year, our community is proud to host stock car races, the Emo Walleye Classic, the annual fall fair, 'Spring Fever Days,' 'Holly Days,' and many sporting programs for the youth in our community,” he added.
Mayor Siemens noted Emo continues to grow and was one of the few communities in Northwestern Ontario to see an increase in population.
“With this increase, Emo has also expanded some of its services and has seen the growth of the local fire department, with new equipment and new volunteers helping to keep our community safer,” he remarked.
Looking ahead for Emo, the mayor said the village is ready for new growth and development, adding the township has been encouraging new business and the development of new commercial building lots.
“The Emo Road project will be completed in 2018 and will provide better access to parts of our community, the Emo Cemetery and the Emo Sports Field,” Mayor Siemens said.
Also underway for 2018 is the planning and development of a campground next to the Emo Sports Field, along with the new day-care facility that recently was announced.
“The new year looks promising for Emo and all its residences,” he enthused.
“As mayor, I look forward to a prosperous year and hope to see you all at some of our community events that take place throughout the year,” Mayor Siemens added.
“Emo is the place to be in 2018.”
As Mayor Deborah Ewald reflected on 2017, she concluded that Rainy River also had a good year.
“The replacement of water and sewer infrastructure on Sixth Street was a highlight of the year,” she noted in an e-mail to the Times.
Mayor Ewald said that in the past year, the town has seen new housing go up and new people move there, pointing out the New Gold mine may be benefitting the district as a whole.
“The employment opportunities are a benefit to local residents, as well as those who have moved to the area, and the spin-off benefits to local businesses is great,” she remarked.
Mayor Ewald also said she has seen the agriculture sector in the district benefitting from the numerous tile drainage projects, helping to diversify cash crops for producers.
“Looking forward to 2018, council would like to continue with the water and sewer revitalization on Fifth Street,” she noted.
“To replace the 100-plus year infrastructure in the town has been a goal which the town is working diligently to achieve,” she explained.
Construction of the new international bridge between Rainy River and Baudette will begin in 2018, with Mayor Ewald saying she's hoping it will bring more economic benefit to both the Town of Rainy River and the entire district once completed.
“Going into the new year, I feel optimistic that good things will continue to happen both in Rainy River and the district,” she enthused.
“On behalf of myself, council, and staff, I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2018,” she added.
In Alberton, Reeve Mike Hammond admitted it was a fairly quiet year for the township, with the recreation committee hosting a few events at Millennium Park for Family Day and “Canada 150.”
He noted although not much is planned for 2018 other than more hard surface road work, he thinks the district, as a whole, is in a good position to expand and grow, especially now that the New Gold mine in Barwick has started production.
“It should be another quiet year, and we wish a happy and healthy new year to all the residents of Alberton,” Reeve Hammond said.