Category Archives: Government

The price that they pay

The following is a speech written and delivered by Bryan Legrow, a retired firefighter with the Wilkie & District Fire/Rescue Department, and delivered at a firefighters’ appreciation banquet held at Wilkie, Saskatchewan, June 2, 2017.

Good evening, everyone and distinguished guest. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Bryan Legrow. I called Wilkie home for just over 23 years. Twenty of those years I was a member of the Wilkie Fire/Rescue Department. I recently retired from the department as my wife, Wendy, and I moved to Saskatoon. It’s a little bittersweet that this is the last time I will ever be involved in a celebration like this with this fine group.

When Chief (Randy) Elder asked me a few weeks back if I would speak tonight about what it’s like to be a firefighter and what the service means to the community, I was deeply humbled and honoured to speak tonight. How do I explain to people what it’s like to be a firefighter for those who have never done it? Most people don’t really know what it is like to serve a community in this capacity and the responsibility that comes with it.

A fire department is made up of two types of capital. There is the bricks, mortar and equipment. This is the piece that is always in a state of debate at various levels of government around dollars, taxes, mill rates, budgets, etc. Then there is the human capital, the firefighters and their families. The spouses and families are a huge piece of the equation that this commitment requires from every firefighter, and that comes at a cost. This is very rarely debated at any level of government. There is no mill rate, tax or budget for this. How do you measure that human capital or attach a dollar figure? You simply can’t but trust me it does come at a cost.

A while back Kathy Heilman received the award for Wilkie & District Citizen of the year. In her speech she said, ”everyone has a price to pay for the space they occupy in their community, you just need to figure out what that price is.” I am not sure if her intent was to make those words as powerful as they were but they have stuck with me ever since.

”Everyone has a price to pay for the space they occupy in their community.” Think about that for a moment. Some people volunteer with many of the service groups in town. Some people are involved in minor sports. Some get involved with the schools or churches but the price those people pay by volunteering is no more or no less important to the people or the community.

Now look around the room at all the firefighters and their spouses that we are here to honour tonight. What do you think is the price they and their families pay?

I can’t even begin to count how many social gatherings, family functions, kids’ sporting and school events I have missed over the years, including all the members here tonight because they have missed them as well. So they can serve our community to keep it safe. That’s the price they pay.

I can’t count how many times I left the fire hall after being out all night. Went home to shower and went to work on no sleep. That’s the price they pay. That price has no dollar value but it comes at a cost to them, physically, mentally, professionally and personally.

Over my 20-year tenure as a firefighter I have seen a lot of great people come and go with the department. Some only for a few months and some with a lot of vested time in the department but, some of them I know left because that price became too high to continue to pay.

I don’t know how many people truly understand what it’s like to be a firefighter in rural Saskatchewan. It starts out for a lot of us living out a childhood dream of being a firefighter driving a big red truck. Then there is the passion for the industry, the comrade within the brotherhood as well as the adrenaline rush you get when you get a call.

Most people in our community have not had the experience of being sound asleep at 1 a.m. and by 1:15 a.m. being in full bunker gear with SCBA entering an engulfed structure. To try the best they can to save a neighbour’s home and belongings. Their children’s baby pictures, great grandma’s handmade quilt and all of their worldly processions. Then have to witness their emotional collapse when they realize everything they have ever worked for is now gone. That’s the price they pay.

Most people in our community will never know what it’s like to respond to the home of a friend, relative, neighbour and watch them pass away as CPR is being performed. All while trying to work within a chaotic scene, land a STARS chopper and not be able to do a damn thing about it as they watch them slip away. That’s the price they pay.

Most of the people in our community have never experienced what it’s like to be standing on a grid road in the middle of the night and extricate the body of a mother of two young children from a twisted wreck two days before Christmas. Then have to go home and look into the faces of their loved ones and pretend that everything is OK. That’s the price they pay.

While witnessing and working through all of this tragedy and carnage, it is generally happening under the microscope of onlookers, who you know will want to play armchair quarterback after everything is said and done and second-guess the decisions you made in a split second – to do what you believe was the right thing to do for the community and its residents. That’s the price they pay.

The role of the firefighter in Wilkie has changed dramatically in the last 20 years and will continue to change. They have gone from a perceived service club that some residents felt did nothing more than chase grass fires and save basements, to proving time and time again that they are a highly skilled, professional grade, well-oiled fire service machine who are able to respond and execute virtually flawlessly anything that is thrown at them. I know I have seen them do it. From an elderly lady who has accidentally set off her fire alarm, wildland fires, MVAs, train derailments, search and rescue, chemical spills, body recovery and the list goes on. They execute every time professionally and proficiently. I know; I’ve seen them do it.

The fire service industry itself is in a constant state of change not only for the professionals but also the volunteers. Equipment, apparatus, SOPs, communications, NFPA regulations and the list goes on and on. This is something our firefighters need to stay on top of because, when the time arises to exercise their skill sets, they are held to the same standard as the professionals. This is a piece that almost everyone outside the service doesn’t realize. Regardless who responds and how many members respond, the expectation of the community is that they know what they are doing and can perform any task and operate any piece of equipment to the same standard as the professionals.

This is a service the residents of this community and the area they serve should be very proud of as this group rivals the skills of any professional service in the province and I would say in some instances the pros could learn a lot from this group sitting here tonight. Let’s remember these people have full-time jobs and obligations. This is not their chosen profession. They are farmers, railroaders, tradesmen, business owners, facility managers and even the retired. Yet they serve the community like pros. Why? Because it is their passion and they believe it is their obligation to their community; and the commitment in keeping up with that change is their self-imposed duty for their friends, neighbours and relatives. That’s the price they pay.

This group of firefighters we are here to honour tonight are some of the finest committed individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and serving with. I consider them friends. I would trust them with my life. I can say that with the utmost confidence because I have done it. These people put themselves selflessly in situations a normal person wouldn’t, only because they know that their brothers are competent enough to have their backs. When things go sideways or terribly wrong in the community, this is the group you want to have on scene and take charge.

When the community centre caught fire it was all hands on deck. No one hesitated or said I don’t want to do that. They all know what this facility means to the community. After the fire was extinguished, firefighters were huddled together next to one of the vehicles. Most physically spent, on their knees after doing several entries, dragging hoses, herding onlookers and trying to recoup. Do you know what they were talking about? Not how tired they were, how hungry or how thirsty they were. They weren’t talking about themselves. They were talking about the community and how are the kids, seniors and service clubs of the community going to cope with the loss of the facility. That speaks volumes to the type of people they are and their level of commitment to this community.

Ponder this and share with others in the community if you would like, when people begin to talk about how much it costs to have this service and why do they need all of this fancy equipment and training when that money should go into sidewalks, grading or culverts. What would happen if the community did not have this service? What if your son or daughter was involved in a MVA? Who would save them? Who would help you or your neighbours when a wildfire threatens their home, crop and livestock? If this service didn’t exist anymore in Wilkie, where would the help come from if it is not from here?

When most people who serve their community settle in for the evening and close their eyes, I am sure they see the smiles on the faces of people they helped and in their minds they are recounting those pleasant events of the day. When a firefighter finally lies down for the evening and closes their eyes after being out on a call, what do you think they see? It’s generally not smiles. It’s the faces of the distraught, injured, maimed and deceased. Some of which they will never forget for the rest of their lives.

The residents of the community and service area should take comfort in knowing that the Wilkie Fire/Rescue Department represents a group of individuals from all walks of life, age and backgrounds. But with one commonality. It’s a sense of community. They choose to pay for the space they occupy in their community by spending countless hours training, practicing and being on weekend call so that, when the situation arises, they are able to protect their neighbours, friends and relatives in this community.

So, what does it really mean to be a firefighter in Wilkie serving our community? It means commitment, sacrifice and adversity. No one does this for the accolades; they do it because it’s the right thing to do for the community. What dollar figure do you attach to that?

Firefighters – they deserve our respect and support as they have earned it. When they speak, people should listen as they know what they are talking about. When they respond to an incident, people shouldn’t second guess their actions because they have to live with them for the rest of their lives. Each and every one of them do this because ”everyone has a price to pay for the space they occupy in their community” and they have found that price. It is protecting the community and all of the residents within their service area and we all should be proud and thankful we have them.

In closing I would like to thank all of you for attending. Chief Elder for bestowing on me this great honour, I am truly humbled. To the firefighters and their families, don’t think for a second that what you do doesn’t matter in the community because it does.

I will leave you the words of the great Edward F Croker, a former Fire Chief from New York. ”When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work.”

Stay safe and thank you.

Wilkie, Scott, Landis and TL council nominees

Local government elections will be held across Saskatchewan October 26, but there will be no polls in Wilkie.

In Wilkie, David Zeigler returns as mayor by acclamation. Councillors Carol Delainey, Kathy Heilman, Maryellen Herzog, Clarke Jackson, Alex Majewski and Jason Nissen were also all elected by acclamation. Jackson is new to council while the others were all running as incumbents.

In the Town of Scott, Mayor Eric Schell will continue to sit at the head of the table but the makeup of the council joining him remains to be determined. Five nominees – Stewart Brandt, agronomist; Norbert Gerein, farmer; Emeric Greenwald, retired; Carol Howell, housewife; and Duane Mann, farmer – are competing for four seats.

Long-time mayor of the Village of Landis, Joe Sarassin, is stepping down. He will be replaced by Don Beckett, a current councillor. Here too, five nominees – Travis Kolenosky, Dennis Rea, Wade Robinson, Andrew Scott and Kevin Yuzik – are competing for four seats.

Meanwhile, In Tramping Lake, councillors Arnold Simon and Sheila Simon are elected by acclamation but there will be a vote for mayor. Christine Lang and Joe Tuttle have both thrown their hats into the ring.

Nominations for mayor and council close next week

All council positions are up for re-election this year. Nomination forms are available at the town office and must be returned before 4 p.m. next Wednesday, September 21.

The Towns of Wilkie and Scott need people to serve their community by serving on council. (NOTE – local RMs will also be having elections and the nomination deadline there is also September 21.)

To be eligible to run for council – whether as a councillor or for mayor – you must be 18 years of age on or before election day, Oct. 26, a Canadian citizen and have lived in Unity for at least three months and in Saskatchewan for six months.

(The Town of Scott has passed a bylaw also requiring criminal record checks to be done and filed with the nomination papers.)

The most important issues councils make decisions on are core services such as roads and streets, water treatment and sewer facilities, snow and garbage removal, recreation facilities and programs, land use planning and economic development, building code regulations, crime fighting and prevention, fire fighting and prevention, animal control and emergency planning.

Council sets the policies and priorities but they don’t have to do the day-to-day work; municipal staff members are the ones who have to follow through and ensure council’s directives are implemented.

You don’t have to have education or experience in a government setting to run as a candidate. Everyone has unique skills, knowledge and experience which can help guide the decision-making process. All you need is a willingness to get involved, learn and an ability to work with others.

Volunteering and other community involvement, work experience, membership in different organizations and even managing family life can all provide relevant experience for serving on council.

Each council member brings his or her own perspective, and that of the demographic he or she belongs to, to the decision-making table. It’s best for towns when their councils reflect the demographics of the town.

As a council member, you can influence changes that benefit your community, put forward new ideas, provide a voice for your community and make a positive difference in the quality of life.

Remember, nomination forms can now be picked up at municipal offices and the deadline to submit a nomination is 4 p.m. September 21.

River cleanup prompts RCMP warnings/requests

With cleanup of the oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River ongoing, RCMP are issuing a couple of warnings.

For motorists using Highway 21, Maidstone RCMP would like to advise that the speed limit on the river hill on Highway 21 at the North Saskatchewan River (Toby Nollet Bridge) has been reduced to 60 KM/HR as a temporary site of operations for the river cleanup has been established there. The site is set up on the east side of Highway 21 at the North Saskatchewan River and there is a significant amount of vehicle traffic coming on and off the highway.

The site has been identified as a road hazard and the speed zone has been changed accordingly by the Department of Highways. At this time, there is no end date for the speed zone change.

The Maidstone RCMP are undertaking traffic safety initiatives in the area including check stops and speed enforcement. They ask that you please obey the signs and posted speed as it may prevent a serious collision and save a life.

FYI, the average speeding ticket for somebody going 20KM/HR over the posted speed limit is $130.

Below: RCMP photo of a cruiser beside the road hazard sign on Highway 21.

RCMP cruiser - road hazard sign

For boaters: The Maidstone RCMP and Battlefords RCMP are both cautioning recreational boaters and users of the North Saskatchewan River to be mindful of the ongoing cleanup. There are several temporary operational sites being used, five of which are along the river between Maidstone and the Battlefords.

Several boats are often the water at this time from different agencies as part of the cleanup procedure. Please be respectful of those working on the river.

Local RCMP issue warning about CRA scams

The Unity/Wilkie/ Macklin RCMP Detachment has recently seen an influx of reports of scams from the CRA.

Some recent telephone scams involve threatening taxpayers or using aggressive and forceful language to scare them into paying fictitious debt to the CRA. Victims receive a phone call from a person claiming to work for the CRA and saying that taxes are owed. The caller requests immediate payment by credit card or convinces the victims to purchase a prepaid credit card and to call back immediately with the information. The taxpayer is often threatened with court charges, jail or deportation.

If you get such a call, hang up and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

These types of communication are not from the CRA. When the CRA calls you, it has established procedures in place to make sure your personal information is protected. If you want to confirm the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, call the CRA by using the numbers on its Telephone numbers page. The number for business-related calls is 1-800-959-5525. The number for calls about individual concerns is 1-800-959-8281.

To help you identify possible scams, use the following guidelines:

The CRA:

  • never requests prepaid credit cards;
  • never asks for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence;
  • never shares your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have provided the appropriate authorization; and
  • never leaves personal information on your answering machine or asks you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.

When in doubt, ask yourself the following:

  • Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
  • Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
  • Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
  • How did the requester get my email address or telephone number?
  • Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?

The CRA has strong practices to protect the confidentiality of taxpayer information. The confidence and trust that individuals and businesses have in the CRA is a cornerstone of Canada’s tax system. For more information about the security of taxpayer information and other examples of fraudulent communications, go to www.cra.gc.ca/security.

For information on scams or to report deceptive telemarketing contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501. If you believe you may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact the RCMP.

Meanwhile, Madistone RCMP released the following information about a scam in their jurisdiction:

A fraud was reported from Lashburn March 16 where a letter was received from ‘Publishers Clearing House’ stating the victim had won $600,000. Along with the letter a $16,000 cheque was provided. The intention was to have the cheque cashed by the victim and a sum of money sent back to the originator; this cheque would later be returned as fraudulent and the victim would have been out the sum of money. Please beware of these types of Scams and report any similar instances to RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm)

 

Sask Central Victim Services – local board members needed

Sask Central Victim Services – “Helping victims of crime and traumatic events through Support, Information, Referral and Advocacy” – is looking for volunteer board members.

Qualifications

  • Mature and responsible
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to commit to two years
  • Willing to complete a criminal record check
  • Experience working with a Governance Board is an asset
  • Ability to work as a team
  • Community minded
  • Willingness to learn
  • Support board decisions as well as professional staff appointed to serve the organization

If you are interested in becoming a board member, please contact Sask Central Victim Services at:

  • Phone: 306-260-0820
  • Fax: 306-975-1612
  • Email: crystal.chahley@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
  • Regular mail: Box 179, Martensville SK. S0K 2T0.

(Funding provided by the Province of Saskatchewan)

Town of Wilkie news release, Oct. 13

Full text of the news release from the Town of Wilkie, issued Oct. 13

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday, October 9, 2015, the Wilkie & District Fire Department was dispatched to what was reported as an electrical fire at the Saskcan Community Centre in Wilkie, SK. Town of Wilkie personnel safely evacuated the building before the fire department’s arrival and there were no injuries reported. The advance polls for the federal election had to be moved to the Wilkie Town Office as a result of the fire.

The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined and an investigation will be conducted by the Office of the Fire Commissioner. The fire department remained on scene until approximately 11:30 p.m. and conducted patrols of the building throughout the night.

The extent of the damage to the facility will take some time to be fully determined. The Saskcan Community Centre is home to the only indoor skating rink and curling rink in the community as well as a dance hall. The centre is the main source of activity for the community during the winter and any interruption of services is a devastating loss to the community.

The Town of Wilkie will keep the public and all the clubs and organizations that use the community centre informed as things move forward.

Wilkie’s Saskcan Community Centre on fire October 9

The heart of Wilkie, Saskatchewan – its hockey rink, curling rink and community hall – caught fire yesterday afternoon, October 9, 2015. The building is still standing but the full extent of the damage and how long it will take for repairs and any rebuilding is as yet unknown. It is virtually certain there will be no Outlaws skating in their home rink nor any little ones learning to skate or playing their first hockey games in Wilkie for at least a couple of months, if not longer.

Mixed with sadness at the loss is relief and gratitude that no one was injured, even though there were people working in the building, as well as a federal election 2015 advance poll in progress in the hall.

Town administration will post information on the Town of Wilkie Facebook page as they themselves learn more. This weekend’s advance polls have been moved to the town office.

Below are some photos of the scene yesterday afternoon. Additional photos will be in the local community newspaper, the Press-Herald October 19, hopefully along with more information on the extent of damages and the outlook for this winter’s skating and curling seasons.

fire and rescue truckrescue truck and hallpoilce presence

saskpower checking

group and rescue truckeast end smokebroken door glass3 firefighters and arena door2 firefigthers exit hallarena smokeFire at Wilkie Community Centrerescue truck and firefighters4 firefighters and hall doorfrom the southwest

Next week’s paper

A jam-packed 20-page Press-Herald next week. There was too much stuff going on to fit it into 16 pages! Look for:

  • a report from the all-candidates’ forum in Unity held Oct. 6;
  • a letter to the editor that outlines what you need to vote;
  • A former Wilkie girl volunteers in Peru; and
  • a suicide survivor shares her story in hopes of helping others.

Then there’s a story on local companies making the Saskatchewan top 100 list, the RCMP report, photos from the firefighters’ open house and more. You’ll even want to read the ads because there are a lot of fall specials and upcoming events, including the start of the fall supper circuit.

Federal election candidates in the Battlefords-Lloydminster riding attending the Unity Chamber sponsored all-candidates’ forum Oct. 6:

Conservative Gerry Ritz

Conservative Gerry Ritz (Incumbent)

 

Independent Doug Anguish

Independent Doug Anguish

Liberal Larry Ingram

Liberal Larry Ingram

New Democrat Glenn Tait

New Democrat Glenn Tait

CRA telephone scam calls continuing

The calls keep coming. And where for a time the caller was almost always male, now sometimes a female voice is heard on the other end of the phone.

The Saskatchewan media relations office for the RCMP quoted one of the calls in a release issued Sept. 17: “This is Officer Brandon Walters and I am working with CRA Tax Crime Division. Now if you fail to return the call…I can only wish you good luck as the situation unfolds on you.”

The release went on to say, “The voice is convincing and forceful, but the call is a fraud. Similar fraudulent calls are making their way across Saskatchewan and threatening arrest of those victims that engage in conversation.”

Locally, the Unity RCMP reported Sept. 24 that they have been receiving an recent influx of complaints regarding the same telephone scam. The caller pretends to represent the Canada Revenue Agency and tells the homeowner there are warrants out for their arrest and, if they don’t make immediate payment, the RCMP will be coming to arrest them.

In many reported incidents the caller spoke English with an accent. The calls are all believed to originate outside of Canada. The RCMP are advising callers to tell the caller they are reporting the call to the RCMP and then hang up on them.

In particular, RCMP warn residents to not share any personal information with the caller about banking, date of birth or living circumstances.

For more information about Fraud Scams involving the CRA visit the Canada Revenue Web page at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html.