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Junior mayor for a day: Grafton students visit Alnwick/Haldimand council

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Alnwick/Haldimand Mayor John Logel congratulates Emmett Clarke for being chosen "junior mayor" by his grade 5/6 classmates from Grafton Public School where he presided over council Oct. 12 as part of Local Government activities.VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland Today

Alnwick/Haldimand Mayor John Logel congratulates Emmett Clarke for being chosen "junior mayor" by his grade 5/6 classmates from Grafton Public School where he presided over council Oct. 12 as part of Local Government activities.VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland Today

ALNWICK/HALDIMAND -- During a student-run council session in Grafton celebrating Local Government Week, questions ranged from how long it takes to build a road, to how many houses the fire chief actually saves.

Grafton Public School student Emmett Clarke was chosen by his fellow grade 5/6 students as the "junior mayor" for last Thursday's council session in the Grafton council chambers.

Coached by Mayor John Logel, he presided over the first part of the council session.

Emmett was joined at the council table by junior deputy mayor Brock Sherwin and junior councillors Hannah Atkins, Austin Galt and Michael Good.

After a moment of silence for fallen soldiers and citizens, Clarke called for a second one following Mayor Logel's expression of condolences for family and friends of the late Northumberland County Warden and Trent Hills Mayor Hector Macmillan.

Behind Macmillan's forcefulness was kindness, the mayor said.

Following several council item agendas, including fire Chief Al Mann's fire report, Logel asked students to ask any questions they wanted to of staff or councillors.

After hesitation questions came flying.

How long does it take to build a road?

About 2.5 weeks to build a 2-kilometre road, students were told.

What did the mayor and council make? Were they rich because of this? The mayor explained it was a relative small amount ($1,500 per month) compared to the work and time involved.

How many houses did the fire chief actually save from destruction?

It varies, Mann replied, but told students to ask their parents if they have changed the batteries in smoke detector as this is a good way to the number of house fires.

What causes most fires? Wood stoves?

No actually, people getting distracted while cooking, the students were told.

Asked if being mayor was fun, Logel said it was, because he likes helping people - but it was also hard sometimes when after looking into an issue, he has to tell that person something they don't want to hear.

"Trying to keep everybody happy" is the toughest part of the job, the mayor said.

Long-time Councillor Ray Benns helped get the ball rolling with the student question period and during his short address he said he couldn't remember the council chambers being so full. He also reminded students that during the upcoming municipal election, there would not be a ward system in Alnwick/Haldimand any more.

Later in the meeting councillors were to be asked to make a decision about the service provider for the municipal election on Oct. 22 of next year.

vmacdonald@postmedia.com

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