GRASSLAND — It's the little things people do for each other in their communities that really add up, as the residents of the Grassland area demonstrated last week.
On Oct. 15, Grassland School held its annual Turkey Trot/Terry Fox Run, the first since the pandemic began, and the call went out for some help to ensure the students would remain safe and three RCMP members, a sheriff, the Athabasca County peace officer, the Grassland Fire Department, and others turned up to show support and lend a hand.
“There were almost more cars than kids” said Grassland fire chief Ken Kearney Oct. 16.
The next day, the community came together once again to help Grassland School Parent Advisory Council (PAC) members replace unsafe puck boards around the outdoor arena and clean up the change room in preparation for winter.
“Ken and I were talking and Ken really wanted to do something with the rink, as well as the fire department, so, they have offered to donate their time to hang up brand new puck board, which was donated by the Chatiland Company,” said PAC president Kelly Chamzuk Oct. 15.
White Swan Environmental donated $2,000, the Boyle Co-op Food Mart donated refreshments and lunch for the group, Athabasca Home Hardware covered the delivery fee of the puck board and threw in the screws needed, Donnie Kravontka helped unload everything when he happened to be driving by on his way to another project with a skid steer, Nellie Cholach dropped off treats for the work party, Curtis Chamzuk brought doughnuts, Cherisse Bigelow brought coffee and 25 others showed up ready to work.
They also had donations from North Corridor Co-op and North Country Co-op and the PAC is putting $12,000 toward the rink as well.
“Our rink, it was in terrible disrepair, like to the point where some safety things were becoming way too big to ignore and it was the eyesore of the school community,” Chamzuk said. “So, the Parent Advisory (Council) put a huge chunk of money into the community to bring some pride back.”
The rink was originally built over 20 years ago and has deep emotional ties for many members of the community who grew up dreaming of being the next Gretzky or Messier and during the past winter it was a safe place for children and community members to get some exercise during the pandemic.
“They’re skating, playing hockey; a little bit of shinny, and not getting into trouble,” Chamzuk said. “We've had RCMP members stopping by because of course it’s right by the highway. Truckers would blow their horns because they were happy to see the kids out there.”
It took a few hours, but the bulk of the work was completed Oct. 16 with 10 of the 15 members of the fire department showing their community pride beside 15 other volunteers of all ages.
“Community. Community pride, We're all part of the Grassland Fire Department; we take care of our community and this is part of it, and we don't want anybody getting hurt in a rink that’s falling apart,” Kearney said, explaining why the department chose to take part in the work party.
There is still some work to be done on the change room which needs new lighting and some fresh paint if anyone can help but otherwise, the quintessential Canadian outdoor rink in Grassland is ready again and the PAC will hire a rink manager to keep the ice flooded and cleaned with the old Zamboni.
“Grassland is so very community-orientated; it really is an amazing community to come from,” said Chamzuk.