You make Fernie proud August 26, 2012Posted by admin in : News , trackback
Early this month I received a call from local resident Mike Delich asking me to assist in the planning of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Medal presentation. This was something I wanted to do since I was notified that the person Council had nominated as well as the one that I had personally nominated had been chosen for this prestigious honour. I had thought of organizing something at City Hall but Mike had a better idea. ‘How about the lawn of the Court House, we could go into the court room if the weather turns”, he suggested. Mike is the consummate planner. His attention to detail is superb. He envisioned something formal with the Three Sisters Mountains as the backdrop for photos. Mike and I and the Cam, the City director of Leisure Services, head to the Court House to scope out the best spot. Plans are made for linen covered tables, flowers, cake and refreshments. “We must have singing of Oh Canada, and one verse of God Save the Queen, and there is not to be any parking of vehicles on this side of the driveway,” Mike states as we look around. I’m used to planning in detail; I haven’t worked with a man before who has an even greater eye for minutia. This was going to be fun.
The weather is hot every day for the week but during the night of the coming event I awake to rain beating down. I’m dismayed but by six thirty that morning the ground had dried and by ten thirty the grass was dry and sun was shining brightly. Chairs for a 110 ten people were fanned out in front of the podium. A side table held medals and certificates. Four flags, two Canadian, a BC and City one fly in the breeze providing formality and ambiance. Special seating for presenters delivering citation for each recipient was in place. Seating fills up and many more people are standing. Family and friends of the recipients have gathered to witness the honour about to be bestowed on them. As MP David Wilks circulates Mike positions the two RCMP officers looking handsome in Red serge. Fire Chief Shawn Ivany and Fireman Brendan Morgan are also present. Mike dons his suit jacket and goes over to the podium to formally greet everyone and give a short presentation as to the reason why we are gathered. The lovely Morgan sisters stand ready to assist with the presentation. Young Emma Fyfe sings the national anthem beautifully and receives a resounding round of applause. Mike calls on Chalice Walker to deliver a greeting in French. As she is finishing the church bells begin to peal. I introduce Mr. David Wilks who provides information on the medals and also reads a statement from the Queen. “This medal has been created to mark the 60th anniversary of her Majesty’s accession to the throne. The medal serves to honour the contribution and achievements made by Canadians from all sections of our society and community.”
Special pins are presented to eight individuals from the community and new flags are presented to the Hosmer Fire department, RDEK, Fernie Legion, Fernie Search and Rescue, Elk Valley Hospital, City of Fernie, Fernie Fire department, Fernie Chamber of Commerce, and Tourism Fernie. The medal presentation now begins. First is Bernie Pulsifer who is introduced by Mike as someone who has also contributed to the community and who was voted “Miner of the Year” by his peers a few years ago. Bernie reads the citation for Mr. Fred Gietz who is a highly respected educator, volunteer and responsible for Judo classes being held in Fernie for decades providing youth with this valuable service. He presents Fred to MP Wilks who shakes his hand and pins the medal to his lapel. I get to present flowers to Mrs. Gietz who is standing next to him. The photographers take photos and as they sit down and presentations are in alphabetical order Councillor Phil Iddon is next. Mike speaks of Phil’s record of volunteerism in the community especially the many years of heading the Ghostriders Hockey team. Phil reads the citation for Frank Lento who was born and raised in Fernie, he is one of those people who shuns publicity for what he does. Frank has volunteered on a local, provincial, national and international level in hockey. He is responsible for the amazing playgrounds at the elementary schools in the valley; his interests are varied and wide. He is a retired educator but is still involved as chair of the School Board of our district. Frank comes up holding his wife’s arm. Mr. Wilks pins his medal and I give Maureen the flowers. Next is Keith Liggett, Keith is the person who initially brought the writer’s conference to Fernie. He is still heavily involved with the arts as a volunteer and participant. He reads the citation for Fernie native Mary Menduk. Keith is visibly moved as he reads about Mary who is an educator, writer, artist extraordinaire, poet, and advocate for health care. Mary has her medal pinned by Mr. Wilks and I get to give her a big hug as I place the flowers in her arms. Local lawyer Gordon Leffler reads the last citation. Gordon is also one of those volunteers who like to keep in the background. He is involved with the Golf and Country Club and most recently with the fundraiser for the STARS service. He reads the citation for Heiko Socher, mentioning the interest in skiing and his accomplishments with the ski hill and also his philanthropy. He and wife Linda donate their own money to help people achieve dreams they otherwise couldn’t. One young woman was able to compete in three Olympic because of the financial assistance they contributed for many years. They donated money to complete the Chamber of Commerce building; they have assisted others in business projects. Heiko has created many mountain hiking trails.
These four individuals Fred Gietz, Frank Lento, Mary Menduk and Heiko Socher have contributed so much to our community and the people over the years that it would take much more than one article to list their activities. Suffice to say that Fernie is very fortunate to have this calibre of people living and contributing to our community. What needs to be mentioned is that for each one that allows recognition there are numerous unsung heroes that work and give of themselves to help others without us even knowing, and to those I salute you and thank you because you and our four recipients are what makes Fernie such a great place to live.
As Mayor I want to express my gratitude and thanks to the City of Fernie employees for setting up, Cam Mertz and Sharon Switzer for their assistance, Emma Fyffe, the Morgan sisters for doing a great job, Chalice Walker, RCMP members, Fire Chief and Fire Department, Butch Coultry for ringing the church bells, Bernie Pulsifer, Phil Iddon, Keith Ligget, Gord Leffler, Raven Eye Photography’s Todd and Martina, Wilma Crossdale and MP David Wilks and all the people that attended and helped in any way to make the day such a special one. And also a special thanks to Mike Delich main organizer of the event, it was a pleasure working with you. Sincere Congratulations to Fred, Frank, Mary and Heiko. You make Fernie proud.