Often we take our leaders for granted. We are quick to complain in bad times, slow to praise in good times.
Most of the time we pay no attention, ignoring the behind-the-scenes effort that goes daily into making a community like Barrhead succeed.
Two events last weekend put the spotlight on those who are prepared to step up to the plate, sometimes making great personal sacrifices, sometimes putting a strain on their families.
One event was the Barrhead and District Chamber of Commerce second annual gala on Friday; the other was the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on Saturday.
The gala was a chance for the town’s business people to get together, to network and learn about ways to attract new talent to the town and boost the economy. It was also seen as a way of showing local businesses how much they are appreciated.
At the outset of the gala at the Seniors Drop-in Centre, chamber executives were invited to stand at the front and take the applause.
It is worth reminding ourselves of the chamber’s involvement in our community. It hosts a number of activities, including the Christmas Festival of Trees and Santa Claus Parade, the Christmas Decorating and Gingerbread House contests and is a mayor sponsor of the Barrhead Street Festival.
As Barrhead Mayor Brian Schulz put it, the town’s business people are the backbone of the community.
He went on to praise the dedication of people like Cheryle Morris who have made The Festival of Trees so successful.
Such dedication and entrepreneurship will be at a premium as Barrhead looks to capitalize on future opportunities.
The gala got a tantalizing glimpse of what lies ahead when guest speaker Doug Bertsch, vice president of Regulatory Affairs of North West Upgrading, outlined plans for a world-class bitumen refinery in Alberta’s heartlands.
The North West Redwater Partnership, a 50:50 link-up between North West Upgrading and Canadian Natural Resources Limited, is an exciting venture for the province; it is set to finally proceed following the recent financial turmoil in world stock markets.
Bertsch said about 50 percent of the product from the proposed Redwater refinery would be diesel fuel meeting low-carbon standards.
Significantly for communities throughout the province, the project will provide contract and employment opportunities. Bertsch pledged the refinery would use a “buy locally” mentality when it came to parts and equipment.
The message was clear: Barrhead companies could have a chance to bid on project contracts or entice people to live in the community and travel to Redwater, effectively serving as a bedroom community.
Bertsch cited the old saying “a rising tide lifts all ships” and said even those places that did not win contracts could receive indirect economic stimulus from a ripple effect.
The next morning at the drop-in centre, local leadership was again the focal point. This time it went beyond the business community.
The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast was a chance for people to pray for leaders throughout Barrhead, from new Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec to Town and County councillors.
Mayor Schulz had no doubt about the value of prayer.
“Life is much easier when God is in our hearts,” he said.
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