Congratulations to the 2008 Recipients of the Lanark County Awards of Excellence: Neil Fennell, Gerald Tennant, the Lanark County Museums Network and Dr. Paul Keddy.
On behalf of Council I would like to thank everyone for coming to our 5th annual Lanark County Awards of Excellence presentations, and I extend a warm welcome to our Awards recipients, their families, friends and members of the public.
The County of Lanark developed these Awards in 2005 to recognize those people and organizations that make extraordinary contributions to our community and, as a result, make Lanark County a better place for all of us. Often these individuals and groups go about their business quietly, never looking for recognition, but they manage to touch the lives of many. Tonight, though, we want to recognize them. Their names are placed on a plaque of honour in the Lanark County Administration Building, as well as on our website and in the local papers.
This year we had many excellent candidates for the awards, and a selection committee narrowed it down to three individuals and one group for their outstanding efforts in various categories. Tonight we will honour Neil Fennell, Gerald Tennant, the Lanark County Museums Network and Dr. Paul Keddy.
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There are few people in Lanark County who don’t know the name Neil Fennell. As the long-time community services/media officer for the OPP, Senior Constable Fennell, of Perth, has been a positive connection to the police. Over the span of his 36-year career he has spoken to countless students, adults and groups on a range of safety-related topics. His work allowed him to undertake numerous charitable initiatives over the years, but generosity is simply part of his nature, and his community was the beneficiary. Constable Fennell spearheaded the OPP Angel Tree Program in 1986. The program continues to this day in partnership with the local Children’s Aid Society and municipal offices and it has provided thousands of gifts for area children. He was also involved with the OPP Community Christmas Party and with the establishment of local Neighbourhood Watch programs. He was the founder and chairperson of the Perth Invitational Fastpitch Shootout, which brought world-class fastball to Lanark County from 1990 to 2001. This affordable, alcohol-free family event attracted scores of visitors to the community and raised thousand of dollars for local charities. Constable Fennell was inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame in 2002 for his contributions to the sport. He was nominated for the Lanark County Awards of Excellence by his daughter Melissa, with support from Suzanne Geoffrion, who is the executive director for the Children’s Aid Society of Lanark County and the Town of Smiths Falls. The nomination was also supported by 2008 Award of Excellence recipient Carole Fuller, who volunteered with Constable Fennell on the fastpitch tournament, and by OPP Commander Gerry Salisbury. As Constable Fennell heads into retirement, we want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank him for his generosity by presenting him with a 2009 Lanark County Award of Excellence for Volunteerism, Community Service and youth. Congratulations and thank you, Neil.
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For Gerald Tennant of Almonte volunteering is a way of life. He has been described as “a dedicated volunteer” and an “everyday hero.” His passion is the area’s history and heritage, and he shows it through his tremendous commitment to taking care of the community’s resources, be they structures, stories or elderly people. In terms of structures, he is a caretaker who looks after Union Hall, Guthrie Church in Clayton and the Old Methodist Cemetery on Tatlock Road, and for more than 40 years he has held many volunteer roles at Guthrie United Church. His work with other volunteers to clear and restore the neglected Old Methodist Cemetery in Clayton inspired community pride and a provided a connection with ancestors and a place for remembrance. In terms of history, he is known to be a valued resource person who readily shares his vast knowledge of family and area history. He has a particular expertise in the history of the former Ramsay Township area of Mississippi Mills. He takes care of people, too. He frequently helps his elderly neighbours with errands and is a welcome visitor at Lanark Lodge in Perth and Country Haven Nursing Home in Almonte, where he also volunteers. His supporters say he “knows the value of a familiar face or a thoughtful gesture” and that he eases loneliness and anxiety for those who have moved to a care facility. He gives freely of his time and asks for nothing in return. Mr. Tennant was nominated by Donna King and Sheila Stanfield, with support from Brian Rodger; the Union Hall Community Centre Committee; Allan McIntosh of the Guthrie Board of Trustees; and Angie Acheson, the life enrichment coordinator at Almonte Country Haven. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Tennant as I present him with a 2009 Lanark County Award of Excellence for Volunteerism, Community Service and Youth.
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Since 1991 about a dozen organizations have been working together to promote the region and support each other while aiming to increase tourism and encourage visitors to discover local and family histories. The Lanark County Museums Network strives to make museums inviting and exciting places to visit and they are dedicated to preserving the county’s collective history. The network’s strength has been in breaking down barriers to allow small local museums to promote themselves collectively, apply for grants and organize communications and special events. This is especially important considering many of these museums do not operate year round, rely on dedicated volunteers because they have no paid staff and, in some cases, lack communications infrastructure. The network’s efforts have resulted in thousands of tourists, researchers and others continuing to visit and use these facilities every year. The Lanark County Museums Network was nominated by Gregory Garland. It was supported by Susan Hreljac of the provincial Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration, Culture and Health Promotion, as well as by Pamela Brooks, coordinator of Eastern Ontario Museum Sites for the Ontario Heritage Trust. Member organizations include the Lanark and District Museum, Middleville and District Museum, Naismith Museum, Mill of Kintail, Heritage House Museum, Rideau Canal Museum, Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, North Lanark Regional Museum, Archives Lanark, Matheson House, Victoria School Museum and the Legion Hall of Remembrance Museum. The network’s efforts were recognized in 2004 with the Ontario Museum Association’s Award of Merit for its work to prepare for the International Plowing Match held in Lanark County in 2003. Recently the group received $175,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to revamp its image and continue to increase awareness for Lanark County’s museums in 2009. Now we would like to add another honour to the list. Please join me in congratulating the Lanark County Museums Network as I present a 2009 Lanark County Award of Excellence for Heritage and Ecology to representatives from the museums.
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When he was growing up in Lanark County, Paul Keddy explored the area by foot, canoe and car. Following his training as a biology professor and outdoor educator and writer, this Drummond/North Elmsley Township resident decided to write a comprehensive guide that would describe how our local landscape was formed, along with the importance of the habitats found here and the names of common species. Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County was first published in 1999 and proceeds from sales were donated to the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists to support their natural area conservation programs. Dr. Keddy’s work has made a remarkable contribution toward the conservation of the county’s natural heritage. His very readable, 74-page guide is widely used. It is a reference book for students, an entertaining read for residents, a background document for planners and conservationists and a resource for families and tourists looking for outings. It contains historical research, geology maps and scientific and government data covering geology, the Champlain Sea, forests, wetlands and special places, and includes 19 maps prepared by Dr. Keddy. It encourages a sustainable economy by promoting the area’s wild places to visitors. His philanthropic efforts have been commended, and he received the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Champion of Nature Award in 2008. The book was updated last year and is available in local book stores in Perth, Lanark Village, Carleton Place and Almonte. Dr. Keddy was nominated by Joyce Clinton, president of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, and supported by University of Toronto Professor J. F. Bendell and Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist volunteer Cliff Bennett. I extend congratulations to Dr. Paul Keddy as we honour his outstanding achievements with a 2009 Lanark County Award of Excellence in Heritage and Ecology.
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Our 2009 recipients, and those who came before them, have touched the lives of Lanark County residents in many different ways, but they share a common trait: These role models, through their positive actions, leave a legacy of generosity to us. The Awards of Excellence provide us with an opportunity to thank them for their efforts. Let’s join together and do so now with a round of applause for the 2009 recipients of the Lanark County Awards of Excellence: Neil Fennell, Gerald Tennant, the Lanark County Museums Network and Dr. Paul Keddy.