Local residents behind a new community initiative called Stettler Community Builders are excited to see the project continue to take shape.
Several months back, Malcolm Fischer said he noticed that some of the local community builders of Stettler were being forgotten. So Fischer, who also serves on Town council, helped spearhead a committee to oversee the project.
Fischer said he had been thinking about the idea for awhile, and one day his friend Larry Dawson mentioned the late Clark Burlingham and his very significant contributions to the town.
Dawson had also played on provincial champion teams in hockey and in baseball under the tutelage and coaching of Burlingham.
Some kind of recognition for him seemed the natural place to start for the Stettler Community Builders project.
In the meantime, Fischer said that he and the committee have worked together to design small monuments that will eventually be set up around town to honour various individuals.
“We’ve had meetings every three or four weeks,” said Fischer of the committee, which also includes Leann Graham from the Town office; Stacey Benjamin and Donna Morris of the Stettler Board of Trade and resident Carson Ellis, who shares a fascination with local history as well.
“It’s moved along well. So we are going with (monuments) that are 18 by 24 inches, laser-engraved black granite. They will be mounted on a steel pedestal about three or four feet tall,” he explained, adding that the pedestals will be in the shape of a heart to go along with Stettler’s motto as being ‘The Heart of Alberta’.
“The idea is to build these over the years, and they will be located around town – probably embedded in the edges of sidewalks and (places) like that – at places that are relative to that person,” he said.
“The plan is also to have a map, as the project grows, and when people run their phones over that map the rest of the story about that person will pop up,” he added.
Pictures and the basics of the story will be on the actual monuments. “If people want more information about the person, it will be on the web site. Down the road, it will be an interactive walk,” he said.
“It will then encourage people to walk around town and to check out the histories of some of these people who are unfortunately somewhat forgotten.”
Fischer said the project will run through the Stettler Board of Trade.
“Once we get this narrowed down and get some costs on it, and I don’t see it being huge money, then it will go to council and we will see how many are affordable.
“We are proposing to start off with three or four to get the seeds sown – so to speak,” he said. “We’ve already come up with many names, and down the road, there will be a committee of adjudicators and people will be able to submit names along with written pieces and pictures,” he said.
“It could be that they were involved in business or public service or media – it could be anything.
“I’ve also said from the start that I don’t want the criteria to be long and involved because the people who are going to be remembered come from this great variety of backgrounds. So they have to have been a builder in some aspect within the community,” he explained.
“We will try and keep it simple and straightforward, but honouring the term ‘community builders’. That’s the key thing, and what this is all about of course.”
As for Burlingham, Fischer said he was also a great motivator.
Fischer has also described his as one of the first of his kind in Alberta and in Canada (as a recreation director), and a pioneer in so many ways.
As to the project as a whole, Fischer said it’s important to honour these fine folks who made such significant contributions.
“Some of the people who I knew who were instrumental in aspects of building the great culture we have in this town – some of those people aren’t known to the people of today,” he said. “Essentially, it’s so people can walk about the town and appreciate those ‘building blocks’ that happened over the decades to bring us to where we are today,” he said.
“Again, we are hoping that once we get the initial project done, people will see value in that and there will be a plethora of them. Hopefully, we can keep the costs at a place where it’s plausible to do (more).
“I think it will be quite the conversation starter.”