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The Independent Jan. 09, 2014 : Page 1

Vol. 1, Issue 19 Petrolia wants to return Discovery to former glory Heather Wright The Independent The Town of Petrolia wants to help Petrolia Discovery get back on track. Administrators and officials with the Heritage Committee have met with Discovery’s general manager and board president about opportunities for the town to help. Another meeting is planned this month. The oil heritage site, which is run by a foundation, has had a tough couple of years. In 2012, there was nearly a $40,000 deficit as the foundation dealt with major damage caused by Super Storm Sandy. The Fitzgerald Rig – the powerhouse for the attraction’s oil production -was out of commission for at least three months straight and then ran sporadically. It cost $75,000 to repair the rig and in 2012 alone that lead to a decrease of $10,000 in oil revenue – revenue used to run the site. General Manager Donna McIlmoyle was not able to say what effect the sporadic oil production had on the foundation’s bottom line in 2013. The number of visitors also declined in 2012 and government grants to hire summer students dropped about $43,000. Manny Baron, Petrolia’s chief John administrative officer, Councilor Liz Welsh McCharles and the chair of Petrolia Heritage recently met with Discovery officials to talk about what the town could do to help. “We want to help bring it back to …the gem that it is,” Baron says. “We have this great asset that is sitting here, we want to bring it back and make it work.” Mayor John McCharles agrees. “It is the desire of the community to have Discovery,” he says. “It’s had its trials and tribulations, maybe through no fault of its own, but it’s been on a downward slide for a number of years…unless someone catches it, it is going to slip away.” Baron and McCharles suggest there are a number of things the town could assist Discovery with, everything from selling tickets to the attraction at the Victoria Playhouse box office to helping with grounds maintenance. McCharles also hopes to help get the region’s oil men involved in the operation. That has not happened for at least a decade. “They need the oil men there to operate the oil wells,” says McCharles “and the oil men, under certain conditions, would come back. See DISCOVERY Pg 2 Free of Charge ~ Read and Enjoy! Thursday, January 9, 2014 The view from the seat of a Lambton plough Heather Wright The Independent It’s 10:30 in the morning and while children across Petrolia and Central Lambton rejoice over an extended Christmas break, Paul Dennis has already been hard at work for seven hours. For the last 24 or so years, the Enniskillen man has risen each morning while most of us are still sleeping and climbed into the cold cab of a Lambton County snow plough in some of the worst weather a Canadian winter can throw at you. This Monday morning has been “one of those days where you feel like you’re slamming your head against a wall.” Two days of heavy snow, high winds and a cold arctic blast of air is making clearing the roads challenging to say the least. The view from his seat high above the road is a canvas of white, especially as he turns south on Kimball Sideroad. The wind has blown the fresh snow into long fingers that stretch almost to the center line of the icy, snow-packed path. As the blade and the wing push back the drifts, snow covers the windshield making it hard to see the oncoming cars. What would turn most drivers’ knuckles white is just another winter day for Dennis. The conditions don’t bother him as much as the frustration of not being able to keep up with the snow during his 12-hour shift which starts at 3:30 am. “My wife and kids drive these roads, I want it good enough so they can get around,” he says. Dennis and the other snowplough operators are alternately heroes and scoundrels; people love to see them come by their home until the ploughs push snow into the freshly shoveled driveway. And sometimes, despite their Heather Wright Photo TOBOGGAN TRAIN Avery Lalonde, 12, of Petrolia holds on tight to the feet of family friend Carla McKay of North Bay as they speed down Big Bird Hill. The families decided to take advantage of Saturday’s warmer temperatures and snow to have some fun on Petrolia’s most popular hill. Paul Dennis walks around his snow plough after Monday’s big snowfall. best efforts, drivers question what is taking them so long to clear the roads. “My cousins travel my roads to work, they know my cell phone number and if it is not good, they call,” he says with a laugh. See WINTER Pg 2 -Clean Car Proof -Certified Pre-owned -30 day or 5,000 km Warranty -150 Multi-point Inspection -30 Day Exchange Program 2009 Buick Allure Super Sup per $ 4219 Oil Heritage Road, Petrolia $14,900 $ 101,000 kms 1 Feature of the week... www.macfarlaneche v. com www.facebook.com/MacFarlane1922 519-882-1090 • 1-855-864-4962 now only 11,900

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