Reid honoured to be top citizen

Always on the go with a full calendar to match, Patti-Jo Reid actually took a rare moment to pause two weeks ago when she found out she’d been chosen as the 2005 “Citizen of the Year” for Fort Frances.
“I was surprised when I found out. When Mark [Kowalchuk] and Bill [Gushulak] came to me to tell me, I said I was almost speechless,” Reid recalled during an interview Monday.
“And Mark said, ‘I don’t think so. I’ve never seen you speechless before!’” she laughed.
“It’s an honour, for sure,” Reid added. “You’re in great company, and it makes your heart feel good to be appreciated.”
During the town’s annual appreciation dinner held Friday night at La Place Rendez-Vous, Reid noted her mother, Agnes McEvoy, was a role model when it came to being an active community member.
“[She] set the volunteer standard in my childhood home,” Reid said. “She found the time, while raising six children, much of the time on her own as my father’s occupation keep him away a great deal, to be involved in the Catholic Women’s League, the hospital auxiliary [a founding member of both those groups], the Royal Purple, and also to be an occasional short-term foster parent with all six of us in the house.
“And her favourite pastime and role was as matriarch of our large and extended family,” she added. “Twelve brothers and sisters on her side and 11 on my father’s.
“She did it all with style and grace—my mother, my role model.”
Reid noted her mother got her involved in volunteering when she was in grade school.
“I was one of the elves at the hospital because she was on the women’s auxiliary there,” Reid recounted. “George Miner played Santa Claus there for years and years and years, and he needed elves. So there I was.
“It’s been a long, long time.”
On Friday night, Reid also thanked the people who nominated her, the “Citizen of the Year” selection committee, the community of Fort Frances, her fellow committee members on all the boards she’s involved with, and her family.
“To all the individuals I’ve worked with for the betterment of Fort Frances, it is always a pleasure to work with like-minded people, to travel towards a positive result.
“And we do do positive things for this community. Many of them,” she stressed.
“Teamwork and group dynamics—those are the bywords to get things done. Working together,” she added.
Reid stressed her family always has been her “cheerleading squad.”
“They were always supportive of my involvement. [They] never once complained about missed sporting events, school activities, or missed and/or hurried dinners.
“On the contrary, they encouraged my participation,” Reid said.
“It’s been my pleasure to serve this community and I will continue to do so as long as I’m mentally and physically able to do so,” Reid pledged. “A big heartfelt thanks to all of you for this honour. It’s so great to be appreciated. I thank you so much.”
“When people decide to step forward and get involved to make their communities better, they don’t do it for the awards that may or may not come their way,” noted 1994 “Citizen of the Year” Mark Kowalchuk, who also sits on the selection committee.
“This is true of Patti-Jo Reid,” he added.
“Patti, in the past years, has made a cumulative contribution of over 150 years worth of effort in making our lives better in Fort Frances. And like a fine wine or a fine cheese, improves with age,” he remarked.
Kowalchuk noted Reid has worked on numerous committees and initiatives over the years, including the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Kidney Foundation, the public and separate school boards, Business Improvement Association, police services board, the Border Figure Skating Club, and Fort Frances Aquanauts.
She’s also been involved with the School Violence Prevention Team, Economic Development Advisory Committee, Riverside Foundation for Health Care’s special events committee, and Victim Services steering committee.
She also helped organize three high school reunions, helped plan the World Health Organization’s “Safe Communities” conference here, and been heavily-involved in promoting organ transplants.
And along with other local residents whose lives have been changed by organ transplants, she spearheaded the “Garden of Life” project at La Verendrye Hospital here.
And, of course, she’s helped run Kettles Restaurant, the Voyageur Inn, and Fort Duty-Free, and, prior to those, The Trading Post.
Reid received a “Citizen of the Year” plaque, and her photo will hang in the Civic Centre along with all the previous honourees.
Also at Friday night’s dinner, the town recognized its retirees and employees who have reached 25 years of service. The lone retiree this year was local firefighter Hugh McKinnon.
The 11 employees who have achieved 25 years of service with the town were Linda Hyatt, George Supinski, Graham Matheson, Randy White, Gerry Hawley, Jill Coran, Stancey Ogden, John Morrin, Brian Mueller, David Egan, and Mark McCaig.
Past retirees and employees who previously reached 25 years of service also were noted.
The program also included recognition of spouses of deceased employees, councillors, management, media, and the 30-plus town boards and committees, which include town staff and councillors as well as citizens among their membership.
And a moment of silence was observed to note the deaths of former fire chief Ralph Fulford and Coun. Struchan Gilson, both of whom passed away in the last year.
Brian Hagarty, the town’s interim human resource manager, was emcee for the evening. Mayor Dan Onichuk, Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft, and McCaig also participated in the program.