MAC'S MUSINGS: 'Silly season' has begun here in Fun City

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Claude McIntosh

The 'Silly Season', this time around, got a jump on the official start of the summer season, which was ushered in on June 21.

Unlike the summer solstice, the 'Silly Season' comes but every four years, which is a good thing, and stretches into October.

The start of the 'Silly Season' can't be found on a calendar, there is no fixed starting date.

It sort of creeps onto the political landscape like early-morning fog.

There are, however, tell-tale signs to alert the unwashed that the 'Silly Season' has arrived.

In our case, it was city council's dumb decision to get a legal opinion on a court injunction, something that would cost thousands of dollars, to try and stop Cornwall Community Hospital from moving its laboratory's histology services to a regional set-up in Ottawa, one that serves all 16 hospitals in our region.

Council had invited the hospital representatives to appear before open council to explain/justify the transfer. The hospital board, which doesn't answer to the snap of a city council's finger, said no thanks. Perhaps at a later date.

This riled some members of city council. One called it an insult. This led to the hare-brained idea of a possibly court injunction to stop the move. First step was to get a legal opinion.

For the record, something some councillors seemed unaware of is that hospital CEO Jeanette Despatie didn't make the decision to say no to council. It was a board decision. Just as mindboggling is the fact not a single member of council contacted the CEO or any board member after the transfer was announced in April.

Incredibly, not a single member of council contacted the CEO or the board after the transfer was made public in April. Not one! Instead, they ran with second-hand information on an issue that hardly showed up on the public concern radar and doesn't put patients in any danger. Folks are more concerned about wait times and not being able to find a family doctor.

Just for the record, the board that council is upset with is made up of outstanding citizens, including four doctors - one of whom is the president of the medical staff - and a lawyer. They do a commendable job trying to juggle rising health care costs and budget freezes by the provincial government. They can't raise taxes to fund pet projects.

Interesting that over the years none of the slew of crippling cutbacks forced upon the local hospital(s) by provincial governments has drawn any kind of response from city council. But for some reason, this one did.

This was all about political grandstanding in front of the television cameras in an election year.

Oh, and the bill for that legal opinion by an Ottawa law firm? For some reason, council felt it had to go outside the city for this no brainer. The report that told council it didn't have a chance in hades of securing an injunction and that a hospital board doesn't have to kowtow to a city council came with an invoice for $4,644.30 (HST included) . (Ed. note - forget about medical school, get your kid in law school.

Some councillors will fluff off the $4,644.30 as chump change ... chump change is when it is not coming out of their pockets.

Welcome to the 'Silly Season'.

* * *

The death of a young driver at Cornwall Motor Speedway brought back memories of a Cornwall stock car driver who lost his life on June 19, 1969. Bob Dickenson, who operated a Gulf gas station at Pitt and Sixth streets, was killed in a crash at the Maxville Fairgrounds. Dickenson was just 29.

Dickenson's wife, Jean, witnessed the horrific crash from the stands.

This week she recalled the incident as if it were yesterday.

"Bob tried to cut in on the fourth corner and hit the embankment, flew in the air and his car came down on another. He died instantly when he crushed his chest on the steering wheel and ruptured his pulmonary artery.

"I was devastated."

Dickenson was a fierce competitor, who, along with his brother Lawrence, was among the top broomball players of the day, when the game was as big as hockey on the local sports landscape.

A nice touch by the owners of Cornwall Speedway might be to create a Bob Dickenson Memorial Trophy in memory of the only Cornwall stock car driver to lose his life in a crash.

* * *

Once upon a time one of the most prized high school track and field trophies in the region was the Meikel Cup competed for by several schools in Cornwall and area, among them CCVS, SLHS, Aultsville, Morrisburg and Iroquois. This was a time when the Athletic Grounds had one of the best 400-yard tracks in the province. The track was ripped up to make room for the Bob Turner Memorial Centre. The Meikel Cup competition petered out around the time the the St. Lawrence Seaway project uprooted villages along the St. Lawrence between Cornwall and Iroquois. But where did the coveted cup end up? If you know of the trophy's whereabouts, contact Judy Bobka, 613-932-2720.

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR When July 1 was called Dominion Day and the Union Jack was displayed in glorious fashion in downtown shop windows. When school kids sang God Save the Queen and recited the Pledge of Allegiance, with their right hand over their heart, to start the school day and chances were that the male principal was a war veteran. When schools displayed a portrait of the Queen in the foyer.

TRIVIA ANSWER In 1956 fire heavily damaged The Royal Hotel at McConnell Avenue and Montreal Road. It was rebuilt but closed in 2004. It is now the home to Masse Furniture.

TRIVIA This flower shop was part of the Hotel Cornwallis building.

Organizations: Cornwall Community Hospital, Cornwall Motor Speedway, Union Jack Royal Hotel

Geographic location: Ottawa, Fun, Cornwall St. Lawrence Seaway McConnell Avenue Montreal Road

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