Monthly Archives: March 2014

SPCA Pizza Fundraiser in Gull Lake Rasies $1,447.80

Pictured here is Mark Syer from Gull Lake. Mark had a pizza fundraiser at the Gull Lake community hall on March 8th to raise money for the Swift Current SPCA, and came in donating a whopping $1447.80 just from pizza sales!! Thank you so much for putting this together out of the kindness of your own heart Mark!

Gull Lake and District Cemetery needs more local support

By Tim Kalinowski
Twitter: GLATimKal
It’s a sad fact that those long buried are forgotten after a few generations —especially if there are no living relatives around to maintain the graves. Names on the headstones lose their meaning. And the lives those names once signified are swept away in the onrush of history. That’s why most community and local cemeteries have a cemetery committee to ensure, at least, the final resting place of the long departed is maintained in a neat and orderly manner and that the names, which are often the only things which survive, are recorded and kept and the headstones cleaned of algae and moss to mark who lies there in eternal silence.
For the Gull Lake Cemetery Committee volunteers it is a constant struggle to keep the Gull Lake and District Cemetery neat and orderly and accessible to visiting relatives. It requires a significant investment in time and effort by local volunteers which is not always appreciated. Like many volunteer bodies the cemetery committee is struggling to attract younger volunteers to do the often challenging landscape and yard work required to allow the living to have a beautiful and peaceful resting place for their loved ones.
Jim Helyar, chairman of the Gull Lake Cemetery Committee, and his wife Mary do not originally come from Gull Lake, and they have no relatives in the local cemetery. They got involved with the Cemetery Committee through St. John the Baptist Anglican Church. And thus Helyar, who spends weeks at a time away from town working as an electrician in mines in the northern part of the province, uses his own scant free time to help maintain the Gull Lake Community Cemetery.
“When Mary and I were approached about it, we went out and took a look at the gravesites and the graveyard and that there was grass about two feet high that hadn’t been looked after for a long time,” explains Helyar. “We don’t volunteer for many things. So we looked at that and said let’s go for it.”
In the two years the Helyars have been involved with the cemetery committee a lot has gotten done. The committee bought new signs to mark out grave blocks and list the names of those buried in the blocks to make it easier for visitors to find relatives. They have new highway signs to mark the cemetery which is difficult to see from the road. They have begun pressure washing all the headstones to get rid of growths on the stone, and have bought new garbage cans and new benches.  This year they have ambitious plans to cut back the wild tangle of bushes which surround the cemetery and those growing out of control over some of the graves.
“And it all costs money,” says Helyar. “You can’t expect to get it all done for free… No one thinks about passing away until that time comes. We can’t go canvassing because we are tied in with the town itself. So we kind of depend on the generosity of the community.”
In the next few years Helyar says a new need will have to be met as burial practices change and funeral costs get more expensive. More and more people are getting cremated, and their relatives would like to have a final resting place for the ashes. The Gull Lake Cemetery Committee is hoping to purchase a new 64 chamber columbarium to meet this need.
“A lot of people seem to be going for cremation more than burial these days. The maintenance is cut down to almost nothing for the relatives, and with the cost of funerals these days most are trying to go with cremation than trying to dig a hole and all that. Like anything that’s fairly new, it’s a little bit pricey. We’re looking at $24,000 for a 64 cubicle columbarium.”
Helyar is hopeful that Gull Lake and surrounding area citizens will help bring this much needed item to the cemetery and give funds to help pay for the new signage and all the other work which can’t be done by local volunteers.
“We’d like to fundraise for the columbarium as well as get donations for the cemetery committee itself to do the work at the cemetery with the signs for the blocks.”
Those wishing to make donations to the Gull Lake Cemetery Committee and the new columbarium can drop off those donations at the Gull Lake Town Office.
Gull Lake and District Cemetery needs more local support GULL LAKE SouthWest Saskatchewan
M. Kate Winquist

Publisher / Editor
“Your Southwest Community Newspaper”

Open House Kick Starts CiB Season

Andrew Exelby spoke about how to prune trees without harming them.

By Craig Baird

The hall was packed, the treats were served, the coffee was hot, and the questions were frequent at the official kick-off to the Communities in Bloom season for Gull Lake. The CiB Open House, organized by the Town of Gull Lake and the Communities in Bloom Committee, offered residents the chance to not only learn more about what CiB was all about, but to learn about what you should and shouldn’t do when pruning a tree as well.

On hand was  CiB Co-ordinator Andrew Exelby, who is also the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Consultant for Parks and Open Spaces.

The presentation began with an explanation of why CiB was such an important undertaking for a community.

“It is about community involvement,” Exelby said. “Communities in Bloom assists in building a tight-knit community through partnerships and public involvement.”

Exelby also had high praise for Gull Lake.

“It is encouraging to see the work you are doing.”

Gull Lake took part in Communities in Bloom for the first time last year as an Evaluated Friend. This was not a competitive category, but it allowed Gull Lake to get its feet wet for the competition. This year, Gull Lake is competing against similar-sized communities for top honours in the province.

According to the presentation, benefits include increased tourism, increased pride in the community, more participation from residents in community matters, an information exchange with other communities, media promotion, national recognition, and year-round projects that benefit the community.

Gull Lake scored Two Blooms last year, which meant a score of 55 to 63 points. One more point and Gull Lake would have finished with Three Blooms, which is for a score between 64 to 72. In order to reach Five Blooms, a community needs a score of 82 or higher. Once a community hits Five Blooms, it can compete on the national stage where the competition is much tougher.

“A Five-Bloom provincial community can expect to go down to Three Blooms their first year in the national competition,” Exelby said.

Exelby also brought up how participating in Communities in Bloom can help a variety of areas in a community. Using Gull Lake as an example, he brought up the judge’s recommendation regarding the highway going through town.

“Having the highway going through a residential area instead of commercial is not a good idea,” Exelby said. “Recommendations can be good ideas. They are observations by people who are not regularly visiting your community.”

Importance of Trees

Andrew Exelby demonstrates how to properly remove an unwanted branch.

Exelby spoke of the various areas that communities are judged, which include tidiness, environmental action, urban forestry, floral displays, and landscape. Of all the categories, floral gets the most attention but is counted with the least amount of points. Exelby also pointed out the importance of trees in the community and how methods can be used to save them.

“A 60-year-old spruce tree can be a heritage property,” Exelby said.

New for this year in the Provincial level of Communities in Bloom is an updating of population categories, less paperwork and the opportunity for communities and judges being presented with a mock evaluation itinerary. Communities in Bloom, on the national level, will also be promoting a CiB week this year, sometime in May or June.

Finishing off his CiB presentation, Exelby, once again, brought up the importance of CiB for a community.

“The evaluation is a health check-up for your community.”

Exelby then spoke on caring for trees in the community and stated that most of the trees in southern Saskatchewan are planted trees, and many of those are reaching their life expectancy.

“Trees are assets, they should be valued as one,” Exelby said.

Exelby, who has a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Management, went through the benefits of trees in a community, including as wildlife habitats, wind shelters, and more.

He also brought up how topping, lifting and improper pruning can damage a tree’s health down the road.

“What you do today could cause the death of a tree five years later,” Exelby said.

Following his presentation, Exelby took those who attended around to various trees in the area to show how to properly care for them.

CiB Initiatives

Lea Stevenson took a moment to talk about some of the projects being planned for Gull Lake this year.

In addition, Lea Stevenson with the Town of Gull Lake showcased some of the things that are being done this year. One project is the painting of the north side of the Elks Hall, which will feature a mural of a history picture painted by local students. A historic colour will also be chosen for the building along with black trim, a common theme throughout the town this year.

There is also the banner project, in which 17 poles will have banners painted by local residents hung on them. The community garden and xeroscaping project will also continue.

Residents can adopt an area to care for and/ or sign up for the Odd Job Squad, giving whatever time they can. Sign-up is available at the town office.

The block competition will be per yard this year, with four categories including curb, floral, and backyard.

During the week of April 21, the week of Earth Day, there will also be a cemetery cleanup and a backyard cleanup for all residents.

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