Monday, July 4, 2016

Memorial Day --> Canada Day in Clarenville

July 1 was much anticipated this year.   The day had two very distinctive parts: Part 1, the somber remembrance of the tragedy of Beaumont Hamel and Part 2 - the joy of Canada Day.

This year - and next year are significant for each of the two parts.   This year marked the 100th anniversary of Beaumont Hamel and it brought out several hundred residents to honor the Newfoundland men and women who gave their all in WW1.   Next year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada and this year's pre year celebrations brought out many young and old alike.

Part 1: Beaumont Hamel #WW100

Video 1 - 100 for 100 - Men from this region who took part in WW1 and Beaumont Hamel

Video 2 - July 1 Commemoration

Part 2 - Canada Day #149 Celebrations with a performance by Quickdraw and fireworks in the Park

Friday, May 20, 2016

Out of the Ashes - Music for Friends: Fort McMurray Fundraiser

Out of the Ashes

Every once in a while there is a 'magic moment' where time and place come together to form a perfect bond around some memorable event.

The quickly organized and most excellently executed, Music for Friends: Fort McMurray Fundraiser that took place on the evening of Monday, May 16 in Clarenville was just such a moment - a 3 hour 'moment' that showcased some amazing talent by generous hearts.

The event was in response to the devastating Fort McMurray fires, and with all of the proceeds raised being forwarded to the Canadian Red Cross Fort McMurray Relief Fund, it was a great cause to help Newfoundland socalled "third city".  

The event was the brainchild of Todd Cole and the staff at the Clarenville Town Office with the support of the Town Council (aka: The Citizens of Clarenville) - and their efforts coupled with the staff of the Eastlink Events Centre - They brought the idea to reality by signing on the entertainers, promoting the event, selling the tickets making the experience a memorable one.

Because of all of this and the support of the greater community Monday's concert raised over $10,000. 

Thanks to the fabulous entertainers who contributed their time and talent, and a special shout out to Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers - who regretfully could not attend, the Rotary Club of Clarenville, and the Clarenville Minor Hockey Association who each made significant financial contributions.

Thanks to to our Business Community who offered great items for a silent auction! 

Here are a series of VIDEOs that capture the spirit of the evening and the awesome entertainers...

Links to media coverage:

Emcee Todd Cole introduces the evening...

Jordie Power (of Marystown) and his Dad wrote  "Driven from our Home" 
a song about the fires - he performed it for the audience 

Mayor Frazer Russell presents a cheque from the Town of Clarenville

An outstanding performance by Three Shades of Grey.  Three Shades is the talented Clarenville Trio of Gerry Organ, Rowena Avery and Harold Crewe

Great Performance by "Yard Sale"  - Christina Bishop, Ches March, Merle Rogers and Harold Crew

Owen Green, Todd Brett and Dave Piercey show their tremendous talent
The Rotary Club of Clarenville made a donation presentation at the fundraiser - here Rotarians Karen and Graham Bursey present to Todd Cole - Director of Leisure Services for the Town of Clarenville 

Touching words of two Fort McMurray based - Clarenville area natives, Krista Balsom (a communications professional who owns and Derek Carter - both have been displaced by the fires. (Raw unedited video)

A great performance by Baggs & Baggage.  B&B is Mike Baggs, Terry Baggs, Randy Baker and Owen Green

Clarenville's Sláinte (pronounced sa-LON-cha)  Slainte is Greg Harnum, Denis Sullivan, Bert Roberts, Carl Winter and subbing for Doug Fleming and Curt Blackmore, John Russell 

And finally - the Dimaggios.  The Dimaggios are a St. John's based band of Clarenvillians! Stephen Pretty, Richard Smith, & Stephen Denty entertained the audience with their great harmonies - they even brough a special guest - Phil Churchill from the Once!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Clarenville Chamber of Commerce 2015 Business Awards

On Thursday, Feb 25, the Clarenville Chamber of Commerce celebrated the achievement of small businesses in our region, and recognized the contributions of key community builders with its 9th annual Business Excellence Awards. See full coverage in THE PACKET

Here are video segments of this year's recipients:

VIDEO SEGMENT 1: Small Business: Community Vet Hospital 

VIDEO SEGMENT 2:  Medium Business: Eastlink

VIDEO SEGMENT 3: The Corwin Mills QC Community Cares: Clarenville Habitat for Humanity 

VIDEO SEGMENT 4: The 2015 Inductee to the Business Hall of Fame: Mr. Owen Blundon


Owen is the oldest son of Chesley & Effie Blundon from Shoal Hr. At a young age he showed signs of wanting to own his own business selling animal feed while still in school. He went to Horwood High in Clarenville where he met his wife Marlene Lethbridge. After high school Owen went on to Trade School to take a Carpentry course.

Owen & Marlene married in 1976 and had their first child in 1977.

After building his own home Owen decided carpentry wasn’t for him. In 1977 Owen bought a business from his uncle, Wallace Hutchings. It was a small grocery store on Marine Drive. In the store they started selling flowers. This became popular with the customers so they moved on to a flower shop Pine Grove Florist in Shoal Hr. It got so busy they bought land in Clarenville and built a bigger store. This was the first flower shop in Clarenville. 

In 1979 Owen went to work with Rex Clarke using the backhoe. Rex told him he was selling so Owen said he wanted to buy it. At 23 years old, in 1980 Owen started M&M Sand & Gravel. While his wife worked in the store, he worked on the equipment, working from daylight to dark. With a small child, Melissa, it was a challenge.

With Marlene in the shop and Owen working construction, he then also decided to start trucking fish for Conpak Seafoods to the Clarenville Plant. He went from owning one truck to six in a short period of time while also trying to keep the construction going. With all of this and another child, Stephanie, it became too much so the decision was made to sell the flower shop in 1983 and for Marlene to work at home keeping the trucks moving. When the seal plant opened in Clarenville, Owen approached them about trucking for them. Later when the plant changed to shrimp he became very busy and increased his trucks to 10. Owen was hauling 25 to 30 million pounds of product annually.

Owen also purchased land in Shoal Hr. This later became Taverner Place. He then developed it and sold lots over the years.

Owen always wanted to open a truck parts shop, so in 2000 he opened OMB Parts & Industrial Ltd. It was a 1250 sq ft space on Manitoba Drive. The store very quickly outgrew that and moved to 2500 sq ft. In 2004 he bought land on Blackmore Avenue from Town of Clarenville. Then started to build a 6000 sq ft building to move his parts shop into. Before the building was finished, Owen added more space for Adventure Recreation & Marine selling recreation vehicles. OMB kept growing so he built on another 4000 sq ft to do repairs on his own tractor trailers as he still had trucks on the road. Later he started doing repairs on passenger vehicles so he added more space for a repair garage.

In 2006 Owen became an OK Tire Dealer. He wanted to sell tires from the start of OMB. They approached him to warehouse tires for them and distribute tires to dealers on the island. Not one to hide from work he took it on and up goes another building to use. In 2008 Owen started an OK Tire Store in Mount Pearl.

With the ongoing growth of OMB, Owen decided to give up trucking and put all his effort into OMB. 

In 2015 Owen further developed the land he purchased in Shoal Hr. to lots on Glenview Ext.

Over the years Marlene has stood by him and now both his daughters, Melissa and Stephanie, work in the business with Owen. It’s a family run business that the family is all part of, Melissa’s husband Shawn and Owen’s sister Sherrie also work there. 

With everything Owen has done and accomplished he is still not showing any signs of slowing down.

Here are video segments from the awards:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Boonie's Story - The Fantastic response to Mr. Lethbridge's Challenge to ALS

Ralph Lethbridge is not your typical 71 year old  Entrepreneur, Husband, Dad and Grandfather.  

He's what we call in Newfoundland & Labrador - a "Character".   He is Boonie.

Boonie Lethbridge is one of those characters that you will find throughout small town Canada.   Boonie (as he is affectionately known) has been the go-to person to buy real, local Christmas trees in the Clarenville area since 1984.   EVERYONE knows him and kids in particular love him because he bears a striking resemblance to Santa!! That's not the only resemblance - his heart is as big as Santa's too!   His trade-mark white beard is the reason, and very few people remember seeing him without it. 

Over the past few years several prominent citizens of Clarenville have died from ALS, including Corwin Mills, Dolores Balsom & Pat Cole . This fall after the death of Mr. Mill's, Dolores' husband Alex and Boonie were chatting.  Boonie suggested he'd like to help the cause and together they contacted Pat's husband Cal who is now the face of ALS awareness and fundraising in Clarenville.  Boonie pitched the idea of shaving off his beard as a fund raiser for ALS.  The goal - to raise $5000

So on January 24, in front of over 1300 at the Clarenville Caribous hockey game, Boonie 'showed his face' by shaving his beard.  What was exceptional was the buzz - the spirit and the buy-in into this nobel cause. 

As of this writing over $60,000 has been raised.....

Video of the event

This story captured the attention of the media....

Media Story
Toronto Star-3 hours ago
When he decided to shave his beard after 40 years without picking up a razor, Clarenville “legend” Ralph “Boonie” Lethbridge only wanted to ...

A MUST listen....Awesome story by an awesome storyteller....
"Now she's going up, I say $60,000," Boonie tells @cbcasithappens "Over a damn bit of hair!"

Well it's the day after the big $51,000 shave and Boonie's beard is well on its way to growing back. This morning I had the opportunity to talk to and share video with CTV Morning Live's Cyril Lunney about the big shave! Watch it here... - ‎Jan 25, 2016‎
Ralph "Boonie" Lethbridge doesn't like his face without his 40-year-old beard, but said he'd shave it all off again in a heartbeat if it would help raise money. The now-infamous Clarenville man shaved his legendary beard in front of a cheering crowd ...

The Telegram-Jan 24, 2016
The Clarenville Ford Caribous inched ahead of the Gander Flyers ... regular season and will also see local legend Boonie Lethbridge shave his - ‎Jan 24, 2016‎
Ralph "Boonie" Lethbridge is a staple of the Clarenville area, best known for selling Christmas trees. He's been growing his facial hair since he was around 16, but decided this year to hack it off after his close friend, Larry Boyd, was diagnosed with ...

VOCM - ‎Jan 25, 2016‎
Clarenville man has raised more than $50,000 for ALS research by doing something he hasn't done for more than 40 years. Ralph Lethbridge, who is know by most as Boonie, said he would shave his beard at a senior hockey game if people donated ... 25, 2016
Un homme de Clarenville, à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador qui arborait fièrement sa barbe ... Ralph « Boonie » Lethbridge vend des sapins de Noël.

Western Star - ‎Jan 24, 2016‎
Boonie was joined at centre ice of the EEC by his wife, Jenny, and their two granddaughters for the barbershop session. What had begun as a fundraising goal of $5,000 had gained momentum on social media and around Clarenville during January.

Friday morning in my biweekly chat with CTV Morning Live's Cyril Lunney, I introduced Cyril and the audience to Clarenville's Boonie (Ralph) Lethbridge, his trademark beard and his quest to raise research funds and raise interest in ALS. Here's our conversation... 8, 2016
He's been growing a beard for 39 years, but now Ralph "Boonie" ... A very Boonie Christmas: Getting a tree from Clarenville seller a local ...

The Telegram-Jan 7, 2016

Clarenville Packet-Jan 6, 2016
Boonie Lethbridge is well known in the Clarenville area and on Jan. 24, he will shave his trademark beard off for ALS. 25, 2015
If you live in the Clarenville area and you celebrate Christmas, chances are you've picked up a tree from Ralph "Boonie" Lethbridge.

Here's a sample of the generosity and support of our business community and organizations in the Town who contributed to this cause

Clarenville Area Co-op donation of over $8200 to the Boonie Project for ALS.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Clarenville's Budget 2016

Clarenville's Budget 2016

In her first budget as Chair of Finance, Deputy Mayor Ashling Avery presented Council’s 2016 planned revenues and planned spending for the Town of Clarenville for the 2016 year ahead. 

The preparation of the 2016 budget was challenging.   Council has committed to significant renewal – new skilled staff as many long-time town employees retire, upgraded infrastructure to meet the needs of a modern growing town, and stronger commitment to community development to foster livability, growth and sustainability. At the same time, these commitments are met with significant challenges. The 2016 budget is a well-considered balance between the Town’s needs and the ability of taxpayers to pay. 


The budget was presented in light of the fact that growth has slowed and natural revenue growth has not been able to keep up with the demands of operating the town.  The balanced budget laid out plans for the projected collection and expenditure of $10,675,716 in 2016.  

Planned Investments in 2016

·                     A commitment to a further $600,000 in municipal contribution for road improvements – this will add to the approximately $1.7m of municipal dollars spent on road upgrades over the past 2 years.     
·                     A 5% increase in budgeted spending for fire protection.  This includes some new equipment, higher honorariums and higher on-call rates for the volunteers that make up the Clarenville volunteer fire department
·                     A commitment to establishing Municipal Ticketing authority for the Town’s Enforcement officer. 
·                     A 7% increase in commitment to Transportation Services to meet the needs of snow and ice control.
·                     A 23% increase in spending on Environmental Services – solid waste management, Water plant coverage and waste water management
·                     A 34% increase in Planning.  This includes upgraded town signage, town entrance improvements, Canada150 planning, and the introduction of community telephone communications system – Synrevoice.
·                      A 7% increase in parks and recreation for ongoing rehabilitation and maintenance of community playgrounds & public areas.
·                     A commitment to partner with the Clarenville Shopping Centre Association to renovate and resurface the town owed Shopping Centre lot in 2016.
·                     Animal control - $6000 to SPCA for their work in animal control in Clarenville

Clarenville’s 2016 Planned Revenues and Spending

Source: Town of Clarenville Budgets 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Key Challenges

Three specific challenges had to be addressed in the 2016 budget: slowed growth, higher assessed property values, and a new provincially instituted solid waste management program coupled with necessary preparations for upcoming Federal regulations regarding waste water.   

Slowed Growth

The largest contributor to Clarenville’s budget revenue is property taxation at the residential level and that the commercial level.  The growth that we have witnessed over the past decade has contributed significantly to the natural growth in taxation revenue for the Town of Clarenville.    The past two years have seen this growth slow significantly - as have the corresponding growth in tax revenue. This has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the Town’s finances.

The Assessment Challenge

Clarenville, and towns like it, get the vast majority of operating revenues from property taxation. Your municipal tax bill is largely a function of how much your property is deemed to be worth.   Because this was a property reassessment year for the Municipal Assessment Agency (a Provincial body whose purpose it is to valuate private properties in municipalities every three years), and because the economy has been in a period of growth for the three years hence, the assessed values of properties in Clarenville have risen, and in the case of residential properties has risen quite a bit since the last assessment.   

In 2015, Clarenville charged property tax at a rate of $675 per $100,000 worth of residential property (6.75 mils) – without a reduction in the mil rate to compensate for the higher assessed property values, taxpayers would have seen a significant jump their municipal tax burden.  Council would not allow this to happen, and put a tremendous amount of time, effort and consultation into determining what mil rate would be sufficient to strike the balance between managing the tax burden and covering the needs of the Town - without sacrificing services.  After considerable analysis, the Town’s mil rate has been reduced from 6.75 to 5.9 – considerably lessening the impact of the assessment increase on most taxpayers.

The Waste Management Challenge

Most everyone will agree that reducing our environmental footprint is necessary if we are going to sustain ourselves in the future.   The initiatives that work towards this however come at a cost that is largely borne by the citizenry.  In the case of solid waste, the provincial government has been working to reduce the number of dumps across the province and has consolidated waste disposal on the east coast to Robin Hood Bay in St. John’s.  This means that garbage will now have to be shipped further and that comes at a cost.  Clarenville will become part of this process in 2016, and although the implementation should be relatively seamless to the homeowner, the Town will bear a significantly higher cost for waste management - $180 per household.   There are benefits to be sure – the implementation of curbside recycling and four bulk collections per year, along with the knowledge that our environment will be better off.

In 2020 new Federal regulations will affect how we handle waste water (sewage) disposal.   This will end the dumping of untreated sewage.   To determine what we as a community need to do to prepare for this the Town has to do a considerable amount of testing on our current outflows, and this cost is borne by the Town.  As we move towards 2020 we’ll have a better idea of what we’ll need to do to comply with the new regulations, but assuredly that compliance will cost.    

The combined effect of these challenges ensured that careful and well thought out decisions had to be made for 2016.  Let the new year begin...