Mayor Hallikas thanks outgoing mayor Caul, councillors

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

The newest mayor of Fort Frances used a portion of his inaugural address to thank the outgoing mayor and council members for the hard work and dedication they have brought to their roles over the past four years, and beyond.

At the inaugural meeting of the 2022-2026 Town of Fort Frances Council on Monday, November 21, 2022, newly appointed mayor Andrew Hallikas delivered his inaugural address to the assembled councillors, town staff and members of the public who attended in person at the Fort Frances Civic Centre, or by teleconference. While the mayor thanked all those who helped to make the ceremony a meaningful and moving event, he also recognized the tireless efforts of former mayor June Caul. Hallikas noted that Caul served the town “admirably” over her tenure as mayor, helping to lead the town through four unprecedented years that saw challenge after challenge emerge to stymie the municipality.

Mayor Andrew Hallikas
Mayor Andrew Hallikas

“Mayor Caul broke new ground with her election as the first female mayor of Fort Frances,” Hallikas said.

“And she raised the bar for all of us who follow. There is no doubt that she always put her community first and spent countless hours attending local events. There is also no doubt that June presided over a council that had to deal with many situations and challenges that most councils do not normally face. Mayor Caul and her council ably and safely led us through a pandemic. She along with her council, the emergency management group and our dedicated town employees, ensured the safety of our residents during the flood of the century, and ensured there was minimal damage to town infrastructure. In fact, during the flood, June set an example for all of us with her continuous sandbagging efforts at the Shevlin woodyard.”

Hallikas note Caul was a “hands-on mayor” who worked to make Fort Frances’ presence known on wider provincial and federal levels, as well as volunteering her time to community events, even as she faced “a seemingly endless number of anonymous complaints” to the town’s Integrity Commissioner.

The new council, mayor, senior staff and spectators were in attendance at the inaugural meeting of the 2022 Fort Frances Town Council, on November 21. Mayor and council all recited their oath of office and signed the official documents before a brief meeting to finalize the appointment of councillors to their committee positions. The inaugural meeting also featured a Grand Entry led by local #908 Rainy Lake Air Cadets and bagpiper Dr. Bruce Lidkea, the singing of O Canada by Adrianna McCoy, a smudging and invocation by elder Doris Caribou and a drum song from the Treaty Three Police Drum. The first full meeting of the new council will take place on Monday, November 28, 2022. – Ken Kellar photo

“June was truly a mayor of all the people,” Hallikas said. 

“Knowing June, I’m sure that we will continue to see her out volunteering, giving generously of her time and talent, and helping people as she always had. Thank you for your leadership, your hard work, your large contribution towards improving our community. You have set an example for all of us. You will be missed. Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The mayor also extended his thanks to Rick Wiedenhoeft and Douglas Judson, two councillors from the previous term who chose not to seek reelection in this year’s municipal race. Hallikas noted that Wiedenhoeft, with whom he had served alongside as councillor for several years, brought a dedicated passion for serving the community with him to the council chambers, and always went the extra mile to see tasks, projects or goals completed.

“He did his homework and was fully prepared for every meeting that he attended,” Hallikas said.

“Rick brought dedication, passion, practicality and conscientiousness to the role of councillor and mentored many incoming councillors during his tenure. Rick was a hardworking and enthusiastic member of every council that he served on, and was always good humoured and dependable.”

The mayor also highlighted the wealth of knowledge that Douglas Judson brought with him to the council chambers during his time as a councillor, noting that his expertise as a lawyer helped the town to navigate some of the challenges the previous council faced, and celebrated his drive to see two big-ticket changes to improve the town come to pass.

“Councillor Douglas Judson brought his formidable intelligence and articulate manner of communication to bear on many initiatives,” Hallikas said.

“He was instrumental in Fort Frances being one of the first communities in the province to ban the use of non-recyclable plastic bags. He also spearheaded the drive to successfully change the name of Colonization Road. Doug provided us with pertinent legal advice during all manner of negotiations, and brought a fresh perspective to many issues, and new ideas to council. Thank you for your service, Doug.”

Taking an additional moment to issue a more personal thank you, Hallikas acknowledged the support he has received from his wife over the course of his time on council and campaigning for mayor.

“Finally, heartfelt thanks to my wife Debbie, who was my most enthusiastic and strongest supporter throughout the campaign and electoral process,” Hallikas said.

“I couldn’t have done it without her.”

The first full meeting of the new sitting council of the town of Fort Frances is scheduled for Monday, November 28, 2022, at the Fort Frances Civic Centre.