Monthly Archives: March 2011

New Hamburg’s Juvenile Huskies raise OMHA champions’ trophy

The Huskies were top dogs again on March 26 when the Juvenile Reps beat Walkerton 3-1 at home to win their Ontario Minor Hockey Association finals.

This third win gives New Hamburg a hat trick of championships. The Novice Reps and Peewee AEs triumphed earlier this month.

The team showed a fighting spirit through the playoffs, as they consistently lost the first game of every series. Against Walkerton, they lost the first two games before roaring back with three straight wins.

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Students in Grandview picture identified UPDATE

Two local residents called the Independent this week to help identify the class and some of the students in a photograph of Grandview School that appeared in the March 30 edition.

The 1958 Grade 1 class of teacher Ms. Blanche, pictured above, consists of, from left in back, Gary Steffler, Dale Keller, Stephen Scherer, Rodger Steiner, Bobby Cleary, Ms. Blanche, Rodger Baechler, Tommy Pearson, Leonard Roth, Bernd Fohry and Doug Schwartzentruber.

In front, from right is Len Ziegler, Pat Eichler, Sandy Cavanaugh, Judy Roth, Linda Roth, Alberta Weicker, Carol Doering, Judy Haffner, Dennis Hofstetter and Larry Niebergall.

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New Hamburg volunteer wins award for Big Brothers Big Sisters work

New Hamburg resident Heather McKercher has won an Ontario Volunteer Service Award to recognize her work with the Stratford and District Big Brothers and Big Sisters Foundation.

The awards were handed out at a March 23 ceremony in Stratford by Ontario’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

McKercher joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors in 2002 and served as the group’s treasurer. She was instrumental in moving the foundation to financial security, said Altiera Essensa, the group’s interim executive director.

“She is a great asset to us,” said Essensa, who nominated McKercher. “And [she] definitely had a big role in making sure that our association is in the financial situation we are.”

“She’s always willing to help out with anything we needed.”

Besides balancing the books, McKercher has volunteered at events for the group that matches older mentors with youth who need role models.

Since the birth of a son, McKercher has resigned her position, but is still an excellent support, Essensa said.

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New book by former Forest Glen vice principal

Two years ago, former Forest Glen vice principal Jan Hansen was looking for a story to read to his students to illustrate the reasons behind a school fundraiser.

At the time, Forest Glen was taking part in a penny drive for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, an organization that supports community based programs and organizations helping families affected by AIDS in Africa.

Knowing how young children better understand the need to help when they hear about other children dealing with loss, Hansen, already a published children’s book author, decided to focus on the African AIDS pandemic for his next book.

“I had trouble finding a book to help turn the activity into a learning experience, so I wrote one,” Hansen said while back in New Hamburg recently.

His new book, the third in a series of picture books that explore tough issues with children, was recently published by Gooseneck Press.

The story isn’t about AIDS, it’s about what happens to those who are left behind, he says.

Going on a Lion Hunt is about a group of children in Africa whose lives are similar to children in Canada despite the difficulties some of them face, particularly those whose parents are sick with AIDS.

Hansen hopes the story gets children thinking about what they can do to help other children whose parents are sick.

“As we work to make global citizens of our children, we need to empower them to realize they don’t need to wait to be leaders of tomorrow. They can make a difference right now,” Hansen said.

Hansen teamed up with Bracelet of Hope for his latest work. The non-profit organization supports efforts to combat AIDS and its effects in Lesotho, one of the hardest hit countries in Africa.

Hansen is the vice principal at Queensmount Senior Public School in Kitchener.

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Enough already! Winter roars back into the region


Evan Valenta, 14, didn't mind shoveling the driveway at his New Hamburg home this morning after learning he had a snow day. The Plattsville Christian School student was already enjoying his day off.

Up to 15 centimetres of snow and freezing rain fell across the region overnight after a spring storm blew into Ontario from the US midwest.

People across the region awoke to the miserable task of clearing snow from their cars, driveways and sidewalks before heading into work. Some kids welcomed the snow day on their third day back from March Break. Local schools that rely on buses, including Waterloo-Oxford, and Sir Adam Beck were closed for the day. Other schools remained open for business.

Wilmot public works director Gary Charbonneau said the township’s fleet of snowplows was out clearing priority streets and laying down a layer of salt to cut through thick ice on many streets.

Some roads remain treacherous and police are warning motorists to use caution. Reported accidents were few and far between as many drivers either stayed home or took it slowly. Traffic along Highway 7/8 was moving around 70 km/hour this morning.

Environment Canada warns snow will be heavy at times throughout the day today, ending around midnight. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for sun and a high of -1C. Sun is expected to continue well into next week, hopefully melting this unwelcome return to winter.

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Optimists cook up a win at New Hamburg Iron Chef contest

Stock photo

After the stoves had cooled and the food judged, the New Hamburg Optimist Club stood alone as champions of the Iron Chef contest sponsored by Puddicombe House.

They narrowly defeated the New Hamburg Lionesses on March 9 by eight points, the closest cooking match-up of the four-week contest.

The winners took home a $500 prize given by Puddicombe House for a project of the Optimists’ choosing.
Both sides created beer-marinated steak for the final showdown, said Nick Cressman, Puddicombe’s restaurant manager.

For dessert, the Lionesses made a Zabaione, mixture of sugar, eggs, and sherry. The Optimists baked an apple with beer.

“They definitely stepped up their game for the finals,” Cressman said

“The gentlemen, their steak was off the charts,” agreed Puddicombe’s chef Lance Edwards.

Each week featured a secret ingredient that had to be incorporated into the meal. First came crabapples, then Baden coffee, maple syrup and, finally, beer.

The most unique creation came from the Lionesses in an earlier week, when they sprinkled roughly-ground coffee beans onto a salad for crunch and bitterness, Edwards said.

Another memorable meal came from Genevieve Epp and Gail Steele of the Wilmot Agricultural Society. They created memorable dishes like smoked cheddar and crabapple tart, local sausage with red cabbage and crabapples, finished with a crabapple compote and chocolate cake.

“I would serve them in my restaurant. I would probably be willing to pay for what they made,” Edward said. “It was restaurant food.”

The chef admitted he was a little nervous about so many new hands in his kitchen. But the amateurs survived the heat and the sharp knives each week to make some tasty dishes in only an hour.

“We were really happy with what they came up with.”

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Magic at the Baden Library

Kids and parents came to the Baden Public Library to watch Larry the Magician’s act. The entertainer earned plenty of giggles as he escaped from handcuffs and made knotted ropes unravel.

The event on March 17 was part of the Waterloo Regional Library’s March Break schedule of fun events during the kids’ holiday from school.

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World Storytelling Day Comes to Waterloo Region

This weekend will see a number of storytelling events around the Region, all part of the international celebration of World Storytelling Day.

The goal is for as many people as possible to tell and listen to stories, at as many places as possible, during the same day and night.

World Storytelling Day began in Sweden and in the last ten years has grown exponentially in countries around the world.

It is the first global celebration of storytelling of its kind, and has been important in forging links between storytellers often working far apart from each other. It has also been significant in drawing public and media attention to storytelling as an art form.

As the event has grown, the day has turned into multi-day celebrations in most locations, and Waterloo Region is no exception.

This year’s theme, Water, will be explored by The Story Barn in Baden and Waterloo Region Museum, the Latitudes Festival, and Tongues Wagging Productions.

Saturday afternoon, March 19, The Waterloo Region Museum will offer a family event which will include water games, crafts, interactive activities, and storytelling by members of the Baden Storytellers’ Guild from The Story Barn in Baden. 1:00-4:00. Regular admission rates will apply.

On the evening of March 19, storytellers Glenna Janzen and Caroleigh Wehking who comprise the Cambridge company Tongues Wagging Productions will present a dinner storytelling concert titled Grand Tales in partnership with O’Keefe Cottage Cafe, 93 Grand Avenue South in Cambridge. The time is 6:30, reservations are required. Call Jeannie at 519-624-1849. Tickets are $30.

Sunday afternoon, March 20, The Baden Storytellers’ Guild will be back at the Waterloo Region Museum with stories about ghostly ships, creatures of the deep, tales of tides and transformations. The $10 ticket price will be donated to StorySave, a program of Storytellers of Canada / Conteurs du Canada which records the voices of elder Canadian storytellers and makes these living legacies available world-wide on CDs. This concert is for adults and children over twelve. Sunday, March 20, 2011. Waterloo Region Museum. 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Tickets $10.

Rounding out the weekend will be a Sunday evening performance by CBC’s Tom Allen in a concert sponsored by the Latitudes Festival. Tom and his wife, KW Symphony harpist Lori Gemmell, will perform The Crown of Ariadne, R. Murray Schafer’s dazzling musical composition for harp, combined with Tom’s telling of the Greek myth. The story – the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur – is a riveting tale of heroism, love at first sight, and fate.

Sunday, March 20, 7:30 p.m. Trinity United Church. 74 Frederick Street. Tickets $20. 519 272-6126 or Proceeds go towards Latitudes Storytelling Festival, June 25 & 26.

Local young storytellers who want a project during March Break have one.

New Hamburg’s Upper Case Books is recognizing World Storytelling Day with a contest for kids in Grades 4 through 9. Kids are invited to write stories based on three themes — little monsters inspired by the Ugly Dolls collection, a drawing, or by expanding on the sentence, “If I hadn’t seen it come out of my nose myself, I woudn’t have believed it either.”

Stories must be a maximum of 200 words and must be submitted, dropped off or e-mailed to by Saturday, March 19.

Winners will be announced Monday and stories will be posted on Upper Case Books’ Facebook page. Book prizes will go to the winners.

Further details are available in store.

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“Hockey Day in New Hamburg” brings cheering fans to Wilmot Rec Complex

Three New Hamburg teams are battling for an Ontario Minor Hockey Association title this week.

The championship games continued back-to-back-to-back on March 13. The Huskies were cheered on by a strong crowd of supporters who nearly filled the stands at the Wilmot Recreation Complex.

The Novice Reps beat Essex 3-1, then the Peewee AEs beat Port Perry 5-1 before the Juvenile Reps fell behind Walkerton in the third to lose 4-3.

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Nunavut teachers take lessons home from W-O

Two teachers traveled all the way from Nunavut to meet teachers and students at Waterloo-Oxford last week.

Lisi Kavik and David Mickiyuk visited classrooms and shadowed teachers on March 9.

The day at W-O was part of their educational tour of several schools in Waterloo Region. The two teachers are on a one-week professional development trip to find new ideas and classroom activities.

“We chose to come down here to see what they do and how differently they teach,” Kavik said. “We’re so isolated that it’s hard to see what programs are out there.”

The husband and wife team were especially interested in observing gym classes. Mickiyuk also teaches woodworking and Kavik has worked as a vice-principal.

They came from Sanikiluaq, a small community nearly 1,500 km away on the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay. The entire community has a population of only 800, far less than W-O’s student numbers.

Their school has 300 students and a much smaller gym, Kavik said. Sports equipment, like everything else, is much harder and more expensive to get in Nunavut.

Lumber for Mickiyuk’s classroom is also hard to find, she said: “A lot of time he has to go to the garbage dump with his students.”

Nunavut’s schools provide a week of professional development for all teachers. After an application process, teachers can access roughly $900 for training of their choosing.

Waterloo-Oxford math teacher Nick Hamm helped guide the two northern visitors. This was W-O’s first time hosting guests from Nunuavut, he said.

But Hamm has done the same in other schools and said students usually perk up when there’s a special visitor, so both the guest teachers and hosts can learn something new.

“That always sheds a new light for the kids,” he said. “They seem to remember those things a lot more.”

Scott Cressman, Independent staff

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New Hamburg blanketed by snow, watches Nith River rise

A storm of rain, ice, and snow made the trees beautiful and the roads slippery in Wilmot Township.

Local residents kept a close eye on the Nith River. After measuring 15-20 mm of rain on Thursday, the GRCA issued a Level 1 flood warning. Water remained high throughout Friday, as the river spilled over its banks to flood low-lying areas.

Click for full size:

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Plattsville students save their pennies for World Vision

When Plattsville Christian School held its usual French café fundraiser earlier this year, the small Grade 5 and 6 class raised $290 by serving their families French cuisine.

The 10 students then looked through World Vision’s charity catalogue to choose projects they would support. The only problem was the final tally: $375 to do everything they wanted.

To solve this quandary, the class pulled together and found an extra $85 in the next month by saving their allowances and birthday money, giving up tuck shop visits, and selling hot chocolate.

On the last day, the class pawed through their backpacks to find the last few dollars, says teacher Arlene Barr.

They’ve now sent their gift to World Vision to use on projects like planting five fruit trees in South Africa, providing warm clothes for 50 kids, restoring one child soldier, and helping sexually exploited children.

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Pancakes make sweet start for Lent at Zion United Church

Jeffrey Draper digs into his special combination of pancakes and ketchup.

New Hamburg welcomed the Lent season with the traditional pancake dinner on Tuesday. Around 140 people met at Zion United Church to eat local sausage and buttermilk pancakes made from local ingredients, covered with fresh maple syrup.

This is the fourth year the church has hosted Pancake Tuesday, said organizer Wayne Buck. The church sponsors a family in Kenya, and a donation was collected to pay for the children’s schooling.

Pancake Tuesday (also called Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras) marks the approach of the Easter season. Some Christians celebrate and feast on this last day before 40 days of sacrifice and fasting for Lent.

Jan Latimer, Annemiek Danner, and Allan Grose flip pancakes together at Zion United Church on March 8.

Paul Mackie and Pam Whiteside were some of the 140 people celebrating Pancake Tuesday, the last day before Lent.

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Air bands rock the dance floor at Forest Glen

Crazy costumes and blasting beats filled the gymnasium of New Hamburg’s Forest Glen Public School.

Students and teachers lip-synced and danced for their peers and parents Monday at the school’s air band competition.

Tights and neon headbands from the 80s were favourite costumes. Girls went crazy as “Justin Bieber” crooned on stage. Staff performed an energetic version of Footloose.

Click for larger versions.

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A wily visitor

Lisa Hagen shot this photo of a coyote on the Nith River flats behind her New Hamburg home on the weekend. Coyotes have been making regular appearances in local residential neighbourhoods and residents are advised to remove items that may attract them to their backyards, including bird seed, pet food and garbage. It’s also a good idea to keep small pets indoors at night.

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