Verner volunteers beautifying their town


Isabel Mosseler


The Verner Beautifcation committee (Comité d’embellissement de Verner) has been keeping the town neat and trim and pleasant since its inception in 1999; that’s 24 years of planting gardens, cleaning beds, adding features to the town and instilling community pride. This year is no exception. Alicia Giroux, current president, had the crew of volunteers out on Saturday, May 27, to do some much-needed overhaul work. “We’re a committee of three [regulars] currently. Pretty much everyone in the picture are the volunteers we have. Yes, we are looking for more volunteers,” she invites.

“This committee has been in existence and active for about 25 years. As people aged it did dwindle down in numbers. They (the older members) were the ones that created some of the local parks that we have in Verner. (…) The corner with the clock, that was all due to fundraising a long time ago. They were able to create that green space, along with two others,” explains Giroux. She is referring to the square with the town clock in front of Michel Law office. “They did the fundraising for the clock, made the purchase, made the garden, and had it installed. I guess with amalgamation the town kind of took over, but they’ve always had volunteers that worked away at keeping the gardens clean, putting in flowers. And this year it was that specific corner that needed quite a bit of attention. That’s why the group of us came out and cleaned it up.”

It was a lot of work but the group of volunteers are happy with the results, and with keeping the tradition of community care alive. “We were there for 4 hours, just the weeding and cleaning up.” They also posted that they culled and separated plants for anyone who wanted to pick them up. “We had so many hostas and we just felt we don’t like to throw things away, especially living plants. So just give back to the people in town and let them have the opportunity.”

The group also accepts gifts directed at beautification. “In the past, I’ve put out a call when I needed some perennial flowers. We haven’t been overly active in the last year in asking for donations, but we have done requests like that in the past. The flags, the banners that are up within Verner, those were all done through our committee and purchased by the committee,” says Giroux.

She feels the beautification committee is an important adjunct to the community. “It’s important to me. I feel when you can give back to a community, you can bring a community together. And having some nice green spaces within our community, even though we’re surrounded by it, it puts pride back into the community.” Verner has always had a reputation as a well-kept community with tidy streets, and although the occasional reports come out of some marauding youth creating a little havoc here and there, generally the people of Verner show great pride in their community. All of West Nipissing saw that in 2019 with the hosting of the International Plowing Match; Alicia Giroux was very much involved in that. “When that happens [vandalism] like last year, our community members were right out there, cleaning up, repairing what we could. Verner does have a lot of great pride for its town, and when we can show the community, as a committee, that we’re out there and we’re taking pride, we hope that other people in the community might want to engage a little bit more and help. The more people that are out there doing that, the more the community comes together.”

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