Rainy River mayor set for fourth term

Sam Odrowski

Rainy River Mayor Debbie Ewald is set to serve her fourth-straight term at the helm but says it could be her last.
Mayor Ewald, who ran unopposed, said she put her name forward again to ensure the completion of a lot of infrastructure projects that were started during her previous term.
“We’re still working on infrastructure renewal for water and sewer lines,” she explained. “Our water and sewer lines in the ground, for the most part, are 115 years old and it’s a health and safety issue.
“It’s something that needed to be done . . . sooner than later,” she stressed.
Another key infrastructure project is fixing up Rainy River’s recreation centre.
“It’s having some issues,” Mayor Ewald noted. “It’s an old building and there needs to be some work done with that.”
As well, construction of a new international bridge linking Rainy River and Baudette, Mn. is underway, with completion expected while Mayor Ewald is still in office.
“That will be completed in this term, too, so we’re hoping that [the bridge] will help to get more people coming through here . . . to help with businesses.”
During her time as mayor, she has seen many “little victories” for the town, including the THM program at the water treatment plant and provincial/federal grant funding for various projects.
“When you only have to pay 10-cent dollars, it helps a lot for the municipality, for sure,” she reasoned.
“We’ve been really fortunate with those kinds of grants and loans.”
Rainy River, for instance, recently received a grant in partnership with Lake of the Woods and Dawson that will allow the municipality to hire an economic development officer for three years.
Mayor Ewald is hopeful the new position will help create more economic opportunities in the west end of the district.
She also is thankful to have had such great co-workers for her past three terms, and is looking forward to working with the new council that was elected Monday.
The newly-elected council features four newcomers: Martin Kreger with 212 votes, Neil Ivall (181), R. Brent Helgeson (179), and Andrew Hartnell (127).
Two incumbent councillors were re-elected in Pat White (154) and Larry Armstrong (129).
The other candidates who ran for council were Gerry Pasloski (87), Susan Carpenter (85), Paul Caruso (65), and Gord Prost (57).
Elsewhere in the district, Rilla Race was elected reeve of Chapple. She garnered 86 votes to beat out Gary Judson (66), Robert Barron (39), and Stefan Szeder (10).
James Gibson, Rick Neilson, Philip Schram, and Ken Wilson all were acclaimed as councillors there.
In Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, Mathew Rydberg was elected Ward 1 councillor, beating Suzanne Bouvier 154-143, while Philip Hudson was elected Ward 2 councillor, garnering 68 votes to Wayne Helliar’s 61.
Norbert Dufresne was acclaimed as mayor.
Mayor Ewald said she’s looking forward to working with the new councils right across the district.
“I looked at the results across the district and there’s definitely some change,” she noted.
“A lot of new faces on councils and stuff, and I think that bodes well.
“I would just like to congratulate everyone that was elected and I hope they have a good term,” she added.
While Mayor Ewald said this isn’t for sure going to be her last term as mayor, it very well could be.
“Nothing’s written in stone but . . . that will be four-consecutive terms as mayor and sometimes you need new people and new blood,” she remarked.
“So I’m not saying no but right now I’m just looking to get through this term,” she noted.
“Who knows what four years down the road is going to hold?”

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