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Portage La Prairie

Service Above Self

We meet Tuesdays at 12:00 PM
Canad Inns
2401 Saskatchewan Avenue W
Portage La Prairie, MB  R1N 3L5
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Valentine gIft box of 16 brigadeiros (photos by Mike Blume)

Brazilian exchange student Victor Pinto Matias is helping you get ready for Valentine's Day while he raises funds for shelter boxes and his western Canadian Rotary trip.

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Matias offering his gift boxes of brigadeiros for Valentine's Day"I'm doing some fundraising for the Shelter Box and my western trip," says Matias. "The Shelter Box is a Rotary project to help provide shelter boxes that contain basic supplies for families and people in emerging countries who experience a natural disaster."

He's selling brigadeiros, a Brazilian delicacy consisting of chocolate balls with various sprinkles. Matias says you can give your loved ones some love from Brazil.

His western trip, for which he's also raising funds, takes him and other Rotary exchange students across western Canada to see all the sights our country has to offer.

Matias' western trip takes him and other Rotary exchange students across western Canada to see all the sights our country has to offer.

You can get a gift box of 16 brigadeiros for $10.00 until this Friday, February 10. Send Matias an email to this address: victor.guri@hotmail.com.

Paul Legris presenting at Rotary luncheon today (photos by Mike Blume)

The Portage Rotary Club had a taste of the arts today at its weekly luncheon. Portage and District Arts Centre executive director Paul Legris was the speaker.

PAUL LEGRIS FEB072017Paul Legris"I just spoke to Rotary giving an outline of what the Portage and District Arts Centre has to offer the community: Our arts programming, our lessons, our classes, our dance program, our gala events, our Reel Event -- everything that we offer -- just in about 10 to 15 minutes. It's just was a high-level overview and it was fun."

Legris says his words about the Reel Event caught the Rotarians attention the most, noting it's due to everyone's enjoyment of movies. The Reel Event is held at the Glesby Centre's 400-seat venue and is a first-run of motion picture films.

Bob Durston

Rotary International has been voted the No. 1 charity in the world this year. That's from District 5550 Rotary Foundation chair Bob Durston, who spoke today at the local club's luncheon in Portage la Prairie.

"Rotary started its charity foundation 100 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia, after our international conference there," says Durston. "And it's grown now to over a billion dollars in our endowment funds. We encourage Rotarians to look at the foundation as charity of choice for doing good in the world. That's really what we want to do."

Durston informed the Portage club members they can now get money back from international endowment funds. He says funds are matched for local projects such as scholarships, making it easier for said projects to move forward.

The Rotary Club's been in the top ten of all international charities in the world on a regular basis.

"This speaks a lot of the Rotarians who volunteer their time to do a lot of this work," Durston adds. "Without the volunteer-time your administrative expenses go up. We put back out into the community worldwide about 92% of what we raise. We talk about Rotarians, but non-Rotarians who believe in what we're doing can also donate to our foundation and receive a charitable tax receipt. The only thing is they have to go through the Rotary club. If there are people in Portage that believe what Rotary is doing and want to donate to the Foundation, you only need to talk to the Foundation chair here to funnel your money through to the foundation."

(L-R) Guy Moffat, Ann Marie MacIntyre & Steve Hildebrand (photos by Mike Blume)

The Portage Rotary Club held its luncheon Tuesday and presented two cheques to local services. Guy Moffat, chair of community services, says it's been a long time coming.

"It was nice to finally get the money where it belongs," Moffat explains. "Quite a number of years ago we partnered with Portage Community Revitalization Corporation, and we've done two different Jail-And-Bail fundraisers. The first fundraiser was specifically raised for Active Transportation, and the second was split between Active Transportation and (Portage) Parks (Committee)."

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(L-R) Ann Marie MacIntyre & Heather BruceSteve Hildebrand, chair of Portage Parks Committee, says he received $2,788.32 to go toward their continued work on parks. Active Transportation was the second recipient, and chair Ann Marie MacIntyre and retired teacher Heather Bruce said the amount they received, totalling almost $14,000 dollars, will be used for their programming.

If you have a project suggestion for our Rotary Club to complete in 2017, we would appreciate that you complete the attached document.  This document can either be emailed or given to me or any of our club's executive members.  We will discussing these projects at our Feb 9th meeting and bringing forward a short listing to club members at the Feb 14th business meeting for discussion and decisions on implementing.
All club members are encouraged to submit their ideas.


The Portage Rotary Club luncheon today heard from Southern Health-Santé Sud Regional Director of Recruitment and Indigenous Employment Holly Leost. Leost spoke about employment for aboriginal young people.

people holly leost lorraine daniels jan172017

(L-R) Lorraine Daniels & Holly Leost

"We're trying to form partnerships with the businesses that we have within Portage la Prairie," Leost explains. "We have a growing indigenous workforce. These young people are looking for opportunities to get employed. We need the businesses to come and work with us and sort out how can we advise our young people about what opportunities are there for them, and what education they need as well as what training the businesses want them to have."

Long Plain Employment Training Program Manager Lorraine Daniels also spoke, and explained how their efforts are working. Her grand-daughter took an aboriginal health care internship program, moved into health care aid training and is now a certified health care aid. Daniels says she was a casual call-in for over a year and was just hired full-time.

Leost says an I.A.N.E. (Interprovincial Aboriginal Native Employment) planning meeting is taking place February 16th, from 9:00 a.m. until Noon at the Arrowhead Corp. building on the west end of Crescent Avenue with refreshments served, and businesses are invited. 


A previous year's book sale

The Portage Rotary Club's annual used book sale is coming up and they're asking you to donate gently used books for their sale.

Book sale co-chair Derek R McCutcheon explains where you can drop of books you wish to donate.

"We have bins around the community, such as the ones at Portage Supermarket, Shoppers Drug Mart, Off The Top, MIG, Panko's, Sobeys and the Portage CO-OP, and we collect used books then we take those books to the Portage Mall and we're selling them November 3rd, 4th, and 5th."

McCutcheon says it's important they collect a lot of books, especially kids books, because everyone under twelve gets a free book. He adds they aren't asking people for textbooks as those don't typically sell.

All proceeds from the sale go toward the Rotary's community projects.

The book sale takes place Thursday, November 3rd and Friday, November 4th from 1:00 to 8:00 as well as Saturday, November 5th from 10:00 until 6:00 at the Portage Mall.

The Southport Rec-Plex is almost ready.

people colby orchard oct182016sm2Colby OrchardManager of Recreation Colby Orchard spoke yesterday at the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, and shares its highlights.

"I was talking about the new open concept, a fully accessible fitness facility that we're opening up in Southport. It's a state-of-the-art facility with a lot of new features such as a climbing wall, 110-metre walking track with rubberized flooring, and food kiosk. At the same time keeping a lot of the old features that people liked about what we had. So, there's a lot of our fitness equipment, and adding new fitness equipment at the same time, and our fully rentable gymnasium."

IMG 20161008 090527Climbing wall

Orchard outlines their scheduled opening.

"Our opening will be at the end of the month. That's not set in stone. But our grand opening event will be November 15th. So, we do count on being open for then. Our hours of operation right now for members 5:00 a.m. til 10:00 p.m. during the week, and then 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the weekend. It'd be an 8:30 a.m. opening for just public non-members, and 11:00 a.m. on the weekends."

He notes a highlight's the new rock wall. All ages can come and climb with three different types of climbing, including top-rope belay climbing, auto belay, and bouldering.

He explains they overhauled the former pool location.

"It's in our old pool area where our old Southport pool was located. We're using that space. It was a lot of work changing that over and making it new. The climbing wall, as I mentioned earlier, is based in the pit of our deep end of the pool. So, ten feet down and then 30 feet up."

Website: http://centralplainsrecplex.com/


Amy Cyr and Lee-Anne Carmichael

Yesterday's Portage la Prairie Rotary Club luncheon saw a presentation from Amy Cyr and Lee-Anne Carmichael from Training and Employment Services in Portage la Prairie.

They're career development consultants, and discussed the programs available for clients, and the business community.

Cyr talks about their work with job seekers.

"Everyone's eligible for certain services, such as job search assistance. There is sometimes financial assistance, but it's very dependent on someone's personal situation. They don't always necessarily have to go to school, or get that on-the-job training. It may just be a fresh resume cover letter, so letting them realize what skills they actually have, and how transferable they are."

Carmichael outlines what skills are need in this area.

"Truck driving and nursing. The medical field is always looking for people. So, those right now are the ones that we recognize as being higher demand."

Cyr adds trades are also looking for employees, and their office does some apprenticeship work as well.


(L-R) Anita Janzen Gemmell with Alison Loewen & Jessica Stewart

Chartered Professional Accounts of Canada are putting on financial literacy presentations. BDO Canada Portage office partner Anita Janzen-Gemmell says it's a free presentation for any group wanting one.

"As a CPA I volunteered. There are about 20 presentations for any age level, basically from grade four all the way to seniors."

She outlines topics they cover.

"Understanding balance sheets, or even understanding how credit cards work, or for grade four even understanding the difference between needs versus wants."

Janzen-Gemmell explains what the volunteers offer.

"CPA's can come in and give for about 45 minutes to an hour, just to kind of explain some of that. We are doing that because we feel that as CPA's we have some information that we can share to try and increase the financial knowledge of Canadians across the board. So, any CPA in any province can sign up to be a volunteer and give these presentations to folks who are looking for it."

She says non-profits groups, seniors groups, entrepreneurs, and school classes can apply. A question and answer period is involved, all to help everyone understanding finances better and help folks make stronger financial decisions in life. Janzen-Gemmell says she knows from expeirence that young people need ot be informed. She notes she has two children, aged 12 and 8, and each has their own personality. Janzen-Gemmell says while one likes to burn a hole in her pocket, the other banks her funds. With the credit card and debit card world we live in, she explains communication with the youth is much needed.

Janzen-Gemmell explains youth need to learn that we can go to an ATM and pull out money, but it requires money in the bank beforehand. Credit cards can only work if we have are able to access money to pay the bill off later on. 

She adds it's never too early to talk about money and how it works in our lives. Janzen-Gemmell adds she's been involved a couple of months ago, and it's a great idea to help people with their finances.

(L-R) Karen Lambert & Maria Matthews

The Portage Rotary Club received a presentation about the upcoming Minds In Motion program coming to Portage la Prairie this fall. Minds In Motion program manager Maria Matthews gives an outline.

"It's a program for people and their families who are experiencing the early to mid stages symptoms of dementia. They will be able to come out to the community and enjoy a weekly program for two hours once a week for eight weeks, with either their spousal partner, adult child or community friend. Our program consists of basically three components. It's about 45 minutes of fitness or physical activity."

She shares their schedule for Portage.

"This program actually rolls October 17th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. It'll go for eight consecutive weeks. We'll be bringing it back for early January for a winter session, and we'll see one more session in the spring. And then we'll take a look at how it went. We know in Winnipeg we're experiencing over 52% of our registration return for a second session, and over 25% of the registration will return for at least three sessions."

The program costs $58, and Matthews says they're committed to keeping it at that affordable rate.

Matthews adds, "We're seeing a high level of need in communities. Families are recognizing the significance of really focusing on doing things together -- things that we used to do together and have fun, and not worrying about what doesn't go right. But focusing on what still does go right. And those are the types of connections that we look to foster in the room at the program."

Sherilyn Knox and Preston Meier making the draw

The Portage Rotary Club and Portage Plains United Way's Home and Away Draw took place today. Rotary representative Preston Meier says it was incredible.

"It was great partnering with United Way again this year. It's our second year that we've done it. And it's really neat when you start to bring groups together, right? Many hands make light work, and I think it was one of the most successful draws that we had. We were maybe a little but behind last year, but of course the timeframe I think was about half, as well. So, it certainly was great to be part of that organization."

He adds, "Certainly we want to thank all of the community. I don't want to steal anything away from the United Way, but we want to thank certainly our sponsorships in Rona, Travel Quest and of course Century 21 Fox Realty for the gracious support for the $1,000 cash prize. Of course we want to congratulate the winners. And the Rotary club is really thankful for, first of all the partnership, one; and secondly all of the people that supported the event and bought tickets on it."

Meier explains where Rotary's half of the proceeds go.

"We do add it into a number of the projects that we have ongoing. And of course one of the biggest projects that we have right now is the Rotary Republic Park. And all of the money does stay in the community."

United Way executive director Mandy Dubois says the support was great this year

"I'm really pleased to see the support again for this draw. This is our second year in a row doing this, and this year once again we had great community support. We had a number of people buy tickets, a number of people volunteered to help sell the tickets, and a number of businesses that helped us out, as well as local media. So, it's great to see the support. It's just really important that organizations like ours are able to work together in the future. And the more times you can kind of partner with organizations such as the United Way, the better it is for everybody, and of course the better it is for the community.""

She's excited how it all came together.

"I'm really pleased to see the support again for this draw. This is our second year in a row doing this, and this year once again we had great community support. We had a number of people buy tickets, a number of people volunteered to help sell the tickets, and a number of businesses that helped us out, as well as local media. So, it's great to see the support for both the Rotary Club and United Way."

Dubois shares what happens to the United Way's proceeds.

"Our portion is going to help us continue to do the good work that we do in the community in our catchment area. The money all stays here locally to help us fund our member agencies, our community response fund, and just ensure that the programs and services that are vital for our community stay intact."

Prizes were awarded to the following:

  • The $5,000 Rona gift card went to Diana Aune.
  • The $2,500 Travel Quest voucher went to Stephanie Verhoeven.
  • $1,000 cash went to Vic Giesbrecht.
  • Both organizations gained more than $5,000 each for their local efforts.


Stacy Turner

"We're looking for volunteers." That's from 5th Portage Scouts cub leader Stacy Turner.

Turner presented at the Portage Rotary Club luncheon today and explained their need.

"We talked a little bit about what scouting is all about, and what we do in our community. Basically, we're looking for volunteers. If anyone wants to come help, and if anyone's interested in learning about scouting, there'll be registration coming up soon. So, watch for it."

She shares some highlights from last year.

"We did lots of really unique things last year. We did lots of hiking, and walking, and boat safety, and things like that. We did some camping trips. We went to Rushing River (Provincial Park near Kenora Ontario) -- fun things like that. The kids get to learn lots of neat things about canoes and hiking."

Turner says exchange student Daniel Garcia was involved with them during his stay in Portage last year, on his visit from Colombia. He's a scout in his home country, and went on several trips with the Portage group.


Guy Moffat speaks to Rotary on behalf of Portage Campus of the Red River College

The Portage Rotary Club received a presentation from the Portage Campus of the Red River College this afternoon.

Portage Regional Campus Manager for Red River College Guy Moffat shares some highlights.

red river college portage 100

College building now 100 years old"I gave an overview of what Red River College does as a whole. I gave some history on Red River College in Portage la Prairie. We've been around since 1985. And we were the very first regional campus of what is now five different regional campuses. We were first located on the Avenue and then relocated to Southport, and then in 2011 moved back onto Saskatchewan into the old Victoria School. Our building's 100 years old this year, which is kind of exciting."

Moffat shares some of the programs the college offers the community.

"So, if there's a business or a company in town that wants to deliver something very specific to their employees, that they don't have the ability to do or the know-how to do -- if they were wanting to do a training session on emotional intelligence, or critical thinking, for their staff -- they could contract us to develop a program to their specifications. And then we would either give it to them to deliver, or deliver it on their behalf to their employees."

He notes there are the regular courses offered that everyone knows about, including full-time programming and part-time programming: Health unit clerk, health care aid, business administration, early childhood education, paramedicine, as well as evening and weekend courses for safe food handling, first aid, general interests like photography and do-it-yourself. He says there's also availability for people to rent space if they're doing a meeting or conference, and office space for long term lease, with three currently in place.

He says, "We also do different projects. So, if someone has a project on putting together a training program to learn how to make French fries, that's something we'd be able to do for them, as well as applied research. If someone has something they're wanting to further develop, they can contract Red River college in order to help them with the research aspect of that."

Moffat notes some other plans.

"I also talked about where we are going. I want to see Portage la Prairie a college town as a result of our campus. I know a few people in Portage la Prairie and their extra-curricular interests, the things that they do in their day-to-day lives, are really interesting. I don't know that people in Portage typically know there is an opportunity to share their knowledge, to share their hobbies, their passions, and dreams with others. I am hoping to have an evening course very soon where they can get some accreditation in some adult education, and delivering adult education programs. And then if there's a course that they're interested in delivering, and there's people interested in taking it, we'd love to facilitate that and offer that course. This will do a few things. Number one, it's increasing our product offering to individuals who are interested in learning about something, as an example, like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles -- how to fly them, and the regulations -- if there's someone in town who knows a lot about that. And it also will give the availability to a part-time job, if you will. If somebody's wanting to pad their winter getaway fund, they would be able to potentially deliver a program and evening class at Red River College, and make a few dollars during four to six evenings out of a week. If the program's two to three hours each evening everybody wins, and we're able to grow as a community."

Moffat adds the Portage campus is statistically doing better than the other Red River College campuses.  

"Our employability for our students is very, very high. It's in the top 90's -- around 98%. For the last couple of practicums that we've had from our administrative assistant program, as well as health care aid, it's around 98% of those students who complete that program who are hired on before they're actually done. Two of our business administration graduates who just finished up last month had job offers before they were done our program. Our students are highly sought after. And it's really interesting. Our practicum placements, the businesses in the community that allow these people to come into practice their education, end up hiring them on the spot."

Jordan Friesen

The Canadian Mental Health Association's Central Region's Executive Director gave a presentation at this weeks Portage la Prairie Rotary Lunch.

Jordan Friesen explains he wanted to open up about the brand and image of CMHA.

"The perception of the community that CMHA serves individuals that might be marginalized, or might have substance use issues, or might be homeless, but what I really want to say is that there are a lot of people in Portage la Prairie that have mental health issues and the CMHA can provide services to all of those people. Not just to those that might be considered marginalized, but our aim is to promote mentally healthy lives for every body."

Friesen discusses how they deal with that struggle.

"Well it's certainly our biggest challenge that we don't want to be boxed into a niche. We've been doing what we've been doing for a long time, and now that mental health is something that people are more willing to talk about I think it's time to expand who we're able to provide services to as seeking mental health services becomes more acceptable."

He discusses some of the questions brought forth during the lunch.

"We had some questions around our housing, and in particular questions about housing and substance use. My answer around those issues is that we know that housing is the key to recovering from a lot of different issues, specifically related to mental health. Our goal is to provide good, quality, affordable housing to every body that needs it, regardless of what issues they're dealing with."

He adds there's a lot of people in Portage la Prairie suffering from mental health issues, and they'll continue to help as many people as they can.

Rotary Club President Shannon Moffat and 3CFFTS multi-engine instructor, Captain Michael Houle. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic/Postmedia Network)

Rotary Club President Shannon Moffat and 3CFFTS multi-engine instructor, Captain Michael Houle. 


The Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie (RCPP), in partnership with 3 Canadian Forces Flight Training School (3CFFTS), will be hosting the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Gala April 23 in Hanger 1 at Southport Airport.

“It’s a really good partnership, the military has a very big presence in our community,” said RCPP President Shannon Moffat. “The military wanted to bring that presence to Portage to show their traditions and give people the experience they may not have had the opportunity to have before.”

The gala, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of flight training in Southport, will feature the jazz quintet from the RCF command band to serenade attendees fraternizing amongst the many aircrafts on display in the hanger.

As well as keynote speaker retired general Raymond Henault, the last base commander at Southport before it became a training facility.  
“You can expect a traditional military-style dinner,” said Captain Michael Houle, multi-engine instructor at 3CFFTS. “We’re trying to keep as many traditions as we normally have at one of our (military) dinners.”

The gala’s venue moved from the Canad Inns to the hanger in Southport to accommodate all those wishing to attend, as the new location allows for the addition of 100 more people.

“It was brought to our attention that there was an opportunity where we were able to do it (at Southport) and we jumped on board,” said Moffat. “The ambiance of (the hanger) is very different than just being in a ball room.”

Tickets are selling quickly, and are expected to be sold out in the coming weeks, those interested in attending may purchase a ticket for $120 or a table — which seats eight — for $800. Tickets are available at Irwin Flooring, MIG Insurance, Remax, Southport Admin office or from any Rotarian.

Roberta Christianson

The Portage Rotary club highlighted a presentation today about public art, and it's value to our city. Chair of the Portage Public Art Committee Roberta Christianson says it's not what people think.

"I think public art is one of those things that people automatically think about as the murals which are all over the place right now, and they are wonderful. They're a great way to decorate. But there's so much more than just murals. And sometimes public art can just be an occasion, and it can be something that only lasts for the time that you're actually creating it."

Christianson outlines other forms of public art that just might fit your likes.

"It's opportunity for community to get together and create something that may have no ability to last beyond that 24 hour space, or whatever. Public art is sometimes a way of celebrating heritage. Sometimes it's a way of just bringing people together. Sometimes it's just a way of learning about another culture. There are so many ways that public art can be used, and we just have to open up our imagination about what we want to achieve and how we're going to do it."

She adds, "Number one, for a lot of people, they may never see statues and everything. So, this is an opportunity to go out and have that feeling of relating to something without having to get dressed up, or buying a ticket, or do all the formal things around art; whether it's just sitting at a concert on the island or going to a powwow."

Christianson says art comes in many diverse forms.

"There's lots of things that happen that are art. You can enjoy them and just relate to some part of yourself and another part of another culture, or our landscape. There's just so many ways the public benefits. It's a reflection sometimes of the values and the makeup of our community. So, it needs to be diverse and interesting."

Lucia DeVito

Lucia DeVito's been in Portage la Prairie as a Rotary exchange student from Italy since the start of the school year, and has been enjoying a lot of Western Canada. She's now with her second house family for her stay.

"As part of the program I'm staying with three different families in the year. And so now I'm living with my second house family. We have done so many things. We've been in British Columbia for the Christmas holiday. And then we went to Elkhorn. I tried cross-country skiing for the first time here. I went to the hot springs for the first time. I could lie down on the snow while I was in my swim suit. I saw the cars racing on the ice. A friend's grandparents have a farm, so I visited the farm and saw some baby goats born. It was interesting and disgusting at the same time. Monster Jam trucks were very cool in Winnipeg."

DeVito says she's looking forward to an upcoming ten-day bus trip.

"I'm going with the other exchange students who are staying in this district like me, from all over the world. They're staying in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. In May we're going for ten days on a trip. It's going to be the Western Trip. We're going to be on the bus and we're going to sleep almost every night in different places, and travel together."

She describes her presentation she's preparing for a Rotary luncheon in two weeks.

"I'm going to speak in two weeks. I'm going to do a presentation about my town in Italy, because one day I was in Winnipeg with my counsellor's husband, and we were speaking about how old are the churches here. We searched on the Internet and we figured out what Canadians mean by 'old' is nothing for us, because our buildings are very, very old. So, I thought that would be interesting for a presentation."

Get your tickets!!!!

Travis Foster, Rotary Pond Hockey Chair, announces Jan. 19 during the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, its Pond Hockey event this year will be more of a family event. While keeping competitive teams at the centre of the mix, non-competitive and even kids' teams being included will help grow the event this year. (Mickey Dumont/Postmedia Network/Herald Leader)

Travis Foster, Rotary Pond Hockey Chair, announces Jan. 19 during the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, its Pond Hockey event this year will be more of a family event. While keeping competitive teams at the centre of the mix, non-competitive and even kids' teams being included will help grow the event this year.


Portage la Prairie's annual outdoor pond hockey tournament is expanding.

The 11th annual EF Moon Western Canadian Pond Hockey Championships will feature multiple divisions for the first time. Alongside the traditional competitive division, a non-competitive division and youth division (ages 12-17) will be added in hopes of attracting a wider variety of age and skill levels to the event.

“Up until this year we've always had just one division. The calibre of players was kind of all over the map and we'd been asked to divide it up,” said tournament co-ordinator Travis Foster. “We're hoping (it) will bring in some new blood and attract people that just want to have a fun weekend.”

Preparations are already underway outside the PCU Centre. Construction of the playing surfaces has begun and ice-surfacing by zambonis will be starting this week, according to Foster. The Portage Rotary Multi-Purpose room in the PCU Centre will once again serve as the indoor home base for the event, where hot food will be available for registered players. 

Added to the lineup of festivities surrounding the pond hockey tournament is the 3rd annual Cabin Fever Reliever social, presented in partnership with the Portage Potato Festival. The social will take place on Feb. 13 and feature live bands, a 50/50 draw and a raffle. Registered players in the pond hockey tournament get free admission. Tickets are $10 to the general public. Proceeds go to both Portage Pond Hockey and the Potato Festival.

“For the past 10 years pond hockey has been ran in Portage, we've been able to distribute over $50k to initiatives in (the community),” Foster said.

In the competitive and non-competitive divisions, the cost is $300 per team to register. The youth division is $100 per team. Individuals who wish to play but don't have a full team are asked to contact Foster via email at Travis.Foster@freedom55financial.com to be accommodated

The tournament is scheduled to run from Friday, Feb. 12 until Sunday, Feb. 14. The full schedule for the tournament will be released on http://www.portagepondhockey.com as the start date nears.

There are currently 12 teams across all divisions confirmed and Foster is hoping to have that number up to 20.

One uncontrollable factor: the weather. Hopefully polar vortexes, Alberta clippers and other formidable forms of cold fronts time their arrivals February arrivals appropriately.

“We're hoping for a nice weekend that's a little warmer than last year,” said Foster. “Cause last year was pretty cold.”

Rotary President Shannon Moffat

2016 promises to be a busy year for local Rotarians. Portage la Prairie Rotary Club President Shannon Moffat notes this year will see the annual events such as the Peace Ride and Pond Hockey tournament take place, as well as the return of the Royal Canadian Air Force Ball in the spring.

However, on top of their annual fundraising work, Moffat explains they're hoping to take on a more active role in the community. She says they're discussing the option of getting involved with a local event or organization, to provide more than just proceeds.

"The club does a lot of fundraisers. We're approached by a number of different people and organizations to help with different projects. What we want to look at is to look for a project that we want to put not only proceeds into, but our time and effort as well. We want to get our hands in there and start working on stuff."

Moffat indicates membership will continue to be a focus in 2016, noting they've seen several applications come in this this year. She says while they have a great group, they're always looking for diversify the Rotary Club's members.

"We have a very good mix right now, in terms of age range and gender. What we'd like to see is more younger members getting involved."

She notes they'll put a real focus on memberships in February, which is their membership month. Moffat encourages community members to take the time to learn more about the club online, or by attending their Tuesday meetings, adding there's no pressure to join and you can take your time making the decision

Shannon Moffatt ~ President of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie

2015 is all but wrapped up for the Portage la Prairie Rotary Club, and their president says it was an active twelve months.

Shannon Moffatt's been at the helm for six months, noting Rotary's year started July 1st, with the Canada Day breakfast, and continued from there.

"We also had the veggie sale, the book sale. Recently, we've had a couple of casino nights that we do for different businesss for their Christmas parties. And then to end off the year, has been the parade. It was our first year taking over the parade (Portage Rotary Santa Parade of Lights), and it was a huge success. There were a lot of new floats, as well as the Rotary float -- we re-did that as well."

Moffatt's been part of Rotary for three years, and since taking over as president, has seen the commitment of Rotary members.

"Being president, I've been able to witness more closely the amount of work that these individuals put in, and how much time give because everybody is busy, if you're part of a service club or not. It's amazing the amount of time and commitment that they will put in, and the dedication they put into the fundraisers, and to community events."

Moffatt's also impressed with exchange student Lucia DeVito from Italy, who's been fun to work with, and seems to be enjoying getting to know new people, and having new adventures in Canada.

Lynne Parker, Recreation Supervisor of Recreation Opportunities for Children

Portage la Prairie's Recreation Opportunities for Children presented today at the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, highlighting some programs currently running in the city. Recreation supervisor Lynne Parker shares a summary.

people lynne parker dec152105smLynne Parker"I just brought them up to speed on everything we're doing right now. What programs ROC is running right now. We're doing the LVS hockey programs; we're doing the skating with North Memorial; we have our POW, the Aboriginal Dance Program; we just finished off an art program at North Memorial; and we have lacrosse going on also."

She notes the questions posed from the club.

"You know, the club members were wondering how long the programs have been running in Portage. I think that more than questions, there was just a lot of, 'Wow, that's great that these are the things that are happening,' and in the areas that really need it. The programs are all no charge to the families. And there's always a healthy snack for the kids. Those are two big drawing cards, right? And they're in their area, so they don't need the transportation to go anywhere else."

The warmer winter weather lead to great conditions for the annual Portage Rotary Club Santa Parade of Lights. Jakob Lautenschlaeger of Century 21 Foxx Realty outlines his experience in the parade.

"Awesome. It's going faster than usual but it's good. It's jut fun to see the community involved here and to be able to distribute a few small things to the kids. Just to see the kids smile is fun."

Mayor Irvine Ferris also took part in the holiday festivities and says the turnout was outstanding.

"It's fantastic! It's just packed down the avenue. Great weather, lots of people and great floats. It's a perfect parade."

As per usual the parade ended with an appearance from Santa Claus and his eight reindeer on the final float.

(Left to right) Jim Brands & Derek McCutcheon (co-chairs of Rotary Club book sale fundraiser)

The totals are in for this year's Portage Rotary Club book sale fundraiser. Fundraiser co-chair Jim Brands shares how it went.

"The Rotary Club's been having a book sale now for four or or five years. We missed last year. Derek and myself decided this year was a great event and we had a lot of fun if nothing else. It wasn't one of our biggest fundraisers, but we had a lot of fun. We had great participation. The mall donated some space for us and some tables. They looked after us very well. It's always nice to see a business like that jump on board and help us out. We picked up a couple of thousand dollars for the club. "

He says they gave a free book away to every child under twelve.

"We gave away a lot of books. Anybody under twelve came in, and parents were bringing their kids in. I was quite surprised at some of the books they actually picked. It was a great event. We give away so much money we have to make it somehow. This is one of the ones that I have the most fun with."

Co-chair Derek McCutcheon adds, "We had a different crowd again this year. We had a lot of action. We gave out free books to kids under twelve. I think that went really well. And there was lots of interaction with the community. It was good."

(Left to right) Jasmine, (second year Guide), Lena (first year Pathfinder) & Kim Houle (District Commissioner of Portage Girl Guides)

This week's Rotary luncheon in Portage la Prairie included a presentation from the Portage Girl Guides. District Commissioner Kim Houle outlines what she presented.

people kim houle nov172015d
"The Girl Guide program as an organization nationwide. And then I talked about what's happening in Portage la Prairie for Girl Guides. We have a lot going on. Sparks, for ages five and six. Brownies for ages seven and eight. Guides is ages nine to eleven, and Pathfinders from twelve to fourteen."

Houle explains why many have to be turned away.

"We always find that there's a lot of girls interested in the program and they want to join. Unfortunately we have to turn some people away because we don't have enough leaders to lead the girls through the program. So, if we have more adults that are willing to volunteer for the program then we can have more girls join it."

Houle notes she had a couple of girls involved in her presentation.

"We've got Jasmine and we've got Lena. Jasmine is a second year guide, and she talked about her experience in guiding, and she talked about camping at Bird's Hill, and how she likes to work on badges."

Jasmine shares some goals she's currently working on.

"I'm working on the Lady Baden Powell badge. I was helping out with Habitat for Humanity, to get the community service badge which is a part of the Lady Baden Powell badge."

people kim houle nov172015c
Houle adds, "The Lady Baden Powell badge is the highest award in guiding and it takes about two years to complete. Things that she has to do include participating in community service projects and helping other people. And Lena is a first year Pathfinder. She talked about how her mom encouraged her to join the program, and she keeps coming back every week. It's a new activity for her. She likes meeting the other girls in the group and she's participated in a variety of activities, one of which was the Remembrance Day ceremony. She carried one of the flags on behalf of the Girl Guides, which is a really important job for us to remember that day in our community. And she did a great job of holding that flag for a very long time."

She adds, "I really enjoying leading the groups in Portage la Prairie. Guiding is a really great program for the girls. It helps build good citizens for our community, and that's what it's all about. And if anyone wants to get more information about registering girls or how they can volunteer or help out, then they can contact me."

You can call Houle at (204) 240-6841 or by email at guider_kim@yahoo.ca.

The mayor of Portage la Prairie made a presentation at this week's Rotary luncheon in the Canad Inns. Mayor Irvine Ferris describes what it means to share his thoughts on his first year in office to the club.

"I was very excited to be invited to present to Rotary today. Rotary has a good cross section of citizens and business people from our community. Rotary is also involved in a lot of projects that move Portage ahead. You know, everything from the fountain to active transportation paths. So, this is an influential group, and it's a great group to talk to about this."

Ferris notes his presentation focused on not only the past year, but also what he'd like to see in the future.

"Certainly highlights of the past year -- there's so many, it's hard to touch on all of them. But I gave them a general idea of what's happened in the last year and also looking ahead both to the projects we'll be doing in 2016-2017, and also challenges that we face at the same time. So, it's to give them an idea of what we're facing as a city."

people irvine ferris nov022015a

Austin Morrison-Prieur and Rayden Desjarlais receive a cheque from Guy Moffat

A Portage la Prairie School Division run out of La Verendrye School has received a boost from the Portage Rotary Club. Members of the 'Positive Atmosphere for Learning Social Skills' (PALS) presented to the club at Tuesday's luncheon, focusing on their recycling program. The program aids to provide lessons of social skills for youth who may struggle in other areas of education for various reasons.

After showing a video outlining the program, Rotary member Guy Moffat presented them with a cheque for $850. Linda Meier says with the ongoing growth of this recycling program, the funding provided will go a long way.

"It's really expanded from where we first started with the recycling program. We're now looking at different things that can be recycled beyond what our local recycling place can take. We've done a lot through TerraCycle, so we're looking at various bins that will accommodate the different things that can be collected."

Meanwhile Christine Davidson who also presented noted the funding could also be used to improve their sorting capabilities, while also creating storage for items commonly needed by teachers.

"Perhaps we'll do sort of a station in our recycling room, where the sorting process will be a little easier. We're going to start storing things that teachers need on a regular basis, shoe boxes, sour cream containers, and things like that."

The youth are in charge of much of the work in the program, providing them with valuable lessons in cooperation, responsibility, and environmental consideration. Rayden Desjarlais was one of the students to present to the club, and notes there's no shortage of work to be done.

"We do washing, cardboard boxes, clean out chocolate milk containers, take the tabs of cans, and lots of stuff."

Meanwhile Austin Morrison-Prieur says being involved in the program is an excellent way to help the environment, while having fun.

"We help the environment, we help our school. The best part is it sounds like a boring job, but we usually find some fun things and play with them. We get to keep them, if we can re-use it, I can bring it home to re-use."

Ken Krebs, Rotary International District 5550 Governor, & Shannon Moffat, President of Portage Rotary Club, aside the banner with all Club Presidents' signatures

An official with Rotary International spoke at this week's Portage Rotary Club luncheon. Rotary International District 5550 Governor Ken Krebs summarizes the presentation he made regarding Rotary.

"We are called to use the gifts that each of us have -- the varied gifts, because no one has the two same gifts -- to join together, use those and be a gift to the world through service in Rotary."

Krebs shares his thoughts on the local club.

people ken krebs sep152015Ken Krebs"You've got a great group here. It's a fairly large club, as Rotary clubs go. It's a reasonably well-balanced club. You do have younger members. They're very enthusiastic, they're community-minded, and they're one of the clubs that never ceases to amaze me with wonderful things that they're doing for their community."

He notes some interesting efforts being made globally. "The polio campaign started back in 1985 when Rotary was a little bit innocent about how you go about eradicating a disease, and thought it could be done in a matter of a few years. We started in the Philippines. A couple of years into the project it was realized that we needed help. So, we teamed with the World Health Organization and UNSECO, and got different international governments online. We have been working hard at getting those two drops on the tongue of every child in the world ever since, to eradicate the disease. We're very close because the wild polio virus hasn't been seen now in a month. Occasionally a case will pop up that's derived from the vaccine. The oral vaccine is a live virus, just weakened. It lives in the gut of the child receiving it, multiplies, and it does change genetically slightly. Polio is spread by feces. So when this child goes to the bathroom, and if there's not good sanitation around, another child who has not been immunized may contact that, and contract a form of polio -- not as devastating as the full wild polio virus, but they can catch it. So, to eliminate that, we're now going to the injected vaccine which is made from the dead virus. That way it cannot mutate in the gut. It just causes the body to form the proper antibodies to fend off polio. And that will hopefully stop the cycle within the three years that we're projecting."

Krebs says the club's seeking to appeal to a younger generation. "Like many other service clubs, we're facing changing times, and we're working very hard at making our meetings more acceptable to the younger generation who, compared to some of us we think are impatient, really want to get on with life. They want to do their fellowships, and to do some business networking, but, like most people, they want also to give back to the community. So, we are trying to shift our meeting styles and our membership styles to suit the newer lifestyle of today's young professionals."

He adds there's exciting news in China. "China has sort of opened the thin edge of the wedge, in that they're allowing Rotary clubs to be formed in China now. There are limitations on who can be a Rotarian, but we're growing rapidly, and I was advised yesterday that we now have ten active clubs in China."

Mandy Dubois, executive director of Portage Plains United Way

The Portage Plains United Way gave this week's featured presentation at the Portage Rotary club luncheon. Executive Director Mandy Dubois says she related some personal history of her association with the United Way.

"I came to Rotary and I wanted to just give them kind of a brief history of myself, where I cam from and my connection with the United Way long before I became the executive director. That was important to me. I wanted to talk about how we've added two new agencies this year to receive funding from the Portage Plains United Way, which is something that hasn't happened in at least ten years from what I've looked back at."

Dubois says she also shared their list of upcoming events.

"I wanted to talk about our upcoming events because, other than corporate workplace and individual donations, that's where we raise a lot of our money for our campaign. I just want to encourage people to support the Portage Plains United Way in any way they possibly can. I know that we all aren't financially able to donate. But, you know, it might be just supporting one of our special events, and bringing your family out to that, or it could be volunteering your time with us to help us at special events or in the office. So, I just encourage everybody to get involved with our community, invest their time or their money with the Portage Plains United Way, and make a difference."

Visiting Rotary exchange student Lucia De Vito, left, from Fabriano, italy, recently returned students Quinn Ferris who visited Mexico and Kristi Perrin who did her exchange in Belgium, attended the Tuesday regular Rotary meeting where Ferris gave a presentation.

Sharing cultural experience, broadening one’s mind and learning are cornerstones of student exchanges. Quinn Ferris told the Portage la Prairie Rotarians during their luncheon Aug. 25, the exchange they sponsored him on, hit that in spades.

Rotary International, of which there is a vibrant club in Portage has been sending youth on international exchanges since 1929. Each year the service club sponsors approximately 9,000 students internationally to travel and learn a new culture.
Ferris and Kristi Perrin were fortunate students from here in late 2014, to embark on an exchange. Visiting here this year is 17-year-old Lucia De Vito of Fabriano, Italy.

Ferris visited Cozumel, Mexico and Perrin traveled Belgium in Europe.

The young Portager now preparing to leave for university could not praise the exchange program enough for how it has helped him personally. ‘Mi casa, tu casa’ a famous Spanish saying meaning my home is your home, is now a part of his heart.

Bowled over by the shear beauty of Cozumel, home to the world’s second largest reef, Ferris emphasized what he really brought home was a sense of family. He boarded with three Mexican families, each he said are his families he left behind.

“One of the things I was luckiest to have down there was how I felt a part of a family down there,” said Ferris. “I can truly say that I have three families that are in Mexico with parents and other siblings. I didn’t feel that with one family, with all three of my families.

“I was so lucky with the people I got meet and with the local experiences.”.

It may be the summer holiday, but the Portage la Prairie School Division continues to focus on student success. Trustee Murray McLenehan was the presenter at this week's Portage Rotary Club luncheon. McLenehan outlined some of the work the board has been doing over the past year, but also focused on the support they receive from others. He notes the presentation was a great opportunity to thank all those who help them achieve their goal of student success.

"It's important because it truly is a team effort, and I described the five team members. There's the expectation of the students, the families, staff, the community is instrumental, and of course, government."

McLenehan also took time to share some of the highlights of their 2015/2016 budget. He explains while their budget continues to support a number of initiatives, they wouldn't be able to provide all that they do without the help of stakeholders.

"The interesting thing is that we meet with everyone from parent councils to the teachers to determine what we need. They tell us what they need, ad we try our best to accommodate that. Quite often we can't do everything, but when they come to us they know we have restraints, and they try and make the nickel go as far as they possibly can."

He also highlighted some of the accomplishments of the division's students during his presentation, starting with Hayley Bedard's attendance at the Manitoba School Board's Association meeting.

"The accomplishments just go from Hayley representing district two in the province. When we go to those nights, it's very humbling to hear the accomplishments of our students. I know Oakville kids game and they spoke and their programs, they're making food hampers and reading to seniors."

He adds they don't take enough time to thank the students and the staff for all their hard work and contributions to the community.

Kristi Perrin, exchange student

A Portage exchange student to Belgium just returned home, and shared her experiences at the Portage Rotary Club this week. Kristi Perrin explains why she chose Belgium.

"I originally wanted to go to France. That was definitely my first choice. I had been wanting to go to France since the 9th grade. That was a really strong desire for me. For me, I really wanted to learn French, which was my first objective of going on exchange. And I went to apply in grade 12, and I was too old to go to France to get a student visa. They don't want anybody over the age of 18 as of August of the year you're going, and I was turning 18 in May. So I was about five months too old. And Belgium takes older students. Belgium was my second choice."

Perrin shares her perspective of the biggest differences she found between Belgium's culture and our own.

"The biggest difference was probably the way that people act. I think the people are a lot more closed at the beginning. But they open up a lot easier once you win their trust -- once you really prove to them that you're a friend -- they'll be willing to do anything for you. I think that's the biggest difference -- the way they act."

She adds her highlights included traveling around the region.

"Definitely visiting all the surrounding countries -- that was a big highlight for me. I really wanted to travel. I really wanted to see different cultures. I went to nine other countries other than Belgium. Another highlight was meeting all the exchange students that I got to meet -- three hundred other exchange students from all over the world. If I ever decide to travel again, I'll have houses to stay in and friends to visit all over the world. I got to see Belgium, I got to see what the culture was like  in Belgium -- all the different monuments, all the different cities. I got to have a relationship with my host families. My host families became my real family. For me it was a great bond I had with them, my host siblings as well -- going to school, living a normal life as a Belgian."

Past president Craig Bennet presents newly inducted president Shannon Moffat with her Rotary pin. The Rotary Club executive formally changed over at the club's meeting on June 30, 2015. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)

The Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie has a new president as Shannon Moffat took over the duty from outgoing president Craig Bennet at the club's meeting on June 30.

Moffat joined the club three years ago after taking almost a year to decide is she wanted to sign on.

I did a lot of research and came to a lot of meetings and spoke to a lot of the people and just looked into what they did internationally, what they did in the community, what they stood for, and I wanted to make sure that that fit with what I believed in,” Moffat said. “I didn't want to join a club just to say I was part of a club.”

She said Rotary is an amazing group of individuals and Moffat has enjoyed her time in the club and on the executive, of which she's been on almost the entire time she's been part of the club.

I've learned a lot and there's still a lot of learning and growing and I'm really confident that this group of people, the executive, will help me to lead them and lead our club into a great year.”

With new leadership comes new ideas, and Moffat has several ideas she wants to put into motion.

Rotary does a lot on the community, and it's not going to change. This year what I would like to do is really focus on the club as a whole,” she said.

She wants to not only focus on increasing their membership, but also the diversity of the membership.

Different age categories, different job categories, there's a perception that you have to be in the business world in order to be a part of Rotary and we want to change that, because that's not true,” Moffat said. “That perception is not a fact – anyone can be a part of Rotary.”

That ties in with another focus of Moffat's, which is to bring the club more into the community.

Rotary is here and we are a club, we're made up of a lot of really unique individuals that are going towards the same goal, but my goal is to bring all of that forward to the community, let people know who the people are behind the Rotary symbol, so to speak,” she said.

While Rotary has been fantastic over the past few years at fundraising for different projects, Moffat would like to see more hands-on work as well.

We want to get more hands-on, not that we haven't been, but we've done a lot of fundraising, we've done a lot in the community as far as helping to fund projects. One of the goals we want to look at this year is to actually get out there more and to help with the hands-on type of thing.”

The Home and Away Draw held by the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie and the Portage Plains United Way took place at Canad Inns.
Matthew Newham is president of the board for the United Way, and says the fundraiser was a great success.
"We're very grateful and we're very excited at the results here -- $6,000 on each side that will go toward helping our community, along with our ten agencies as well. We just want to say a very big thank-you to Portage Rotary for partnering with us. And we had a lot of fun with it. You know, the funds are going to stay in our community, which is absolutely huge."
Jeff Dubois is co-chair of the Home and Away Draw, and names the winners.
"I'm very excited that we just had the final two prizes of our Home and Away Draw. We gave away a $2,500.00 Total Travel gift certificate, and I want to thank Total Travel for being a sponsor and working with both of us on this draw. And the winner of that was Sheldon Verspeek. And he has $2,500.00 to get away somewhere. And then we drew for a $5,000.00 Rona gift certificate here in Portage. And the winner was Roger Jackson."
Dubois adds, "I just want to thank Rona and Total Travel for partnering with us, and we're very excited that we partnered with United Way. And the money that we raised -- there was just over 1,100 tickets sold. And the proceeds will be split between Rotary and United Way. And Rotary will use those to the projects they are putting toward like the Disc Golf and Rotary Republic Park."

people nancy neufeld jun022015Nancy Neufeld, F.A.S.D. diagnostic coordinator for Southern Health-Santé Sud

Research and information about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder was the theme at this week's Rotary luncheon in Portage la Prairie.

Nancy Neufeld is F.A.S.D. diagnostic coordinator for Southern Health-Santé Sud, and was one of the presenters. She notes she shared the complexity of the process of referral assessment.

"I think what I was trying to summarize is that it's really a complicated process to go through the whole referral assessment, and trying to ensure that the youth or child who does receive an F.A.S.D. diagnosis is accessing appropriate help and appropriate resources. And just understanding that the diagnosis is really not a label, it's to help us understand the child better."

people nancy neufeld2 jun022015

Neufeld says the Rotarians were very interested.

"I just really appreciate that there's an interest and that they're willing to listen. Really, help is only going to come from understanding. If people have an understanding of what the diagnosis is about, they're more able to offer the best assistance or the best help, and what will really help that child and that youth. It requires patience, it requires understanding, it requires trying different things. There's likely going to be a lot of trial and error in supporting that child or youth into really being as successful as possible."

John Olfert, COO of the Winnipeg Jets, was the main speaker at the Rotary Club and the Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce quarterly joint meeting at the Canad Inns on May 19, 2015. Olfert spoke about the journey of bringing the Winnipeg Jets brand back to Winnipeg. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
John Olfert, COO of the Winnipeg Jets, was the main speaker at the Rotary Club and the Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce quarterly joint meeting at the Canad Inns on May 19, 2015. Olfert spoke about the journey of bringing the Winnipeg Jets brand back to Winnipeg. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
The Rotary Club and the Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce teamed up once again for a combined luncheon meeting at the Canad Inns on May 19.
First up was Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen, who highlighted business-friendly measures from the federal budget released in April.
“Obviously the chamber of commerce here in Portage, together with the Rotary, provide strong leadership in much of the community, so I wanted to be able to speak to the members who are creating jobs here in the Portage la Prairie area,” Bergen said.
“I wanted to highlight some of the top points, especially the way that we're cutting taxes, obviously for families, for individuals, for seniors, but for businesses, because businesses create jobs and it's frustrating for businesses, small businesses, when their taxes are going up and they're trying to hire people and reinvest in the business and look at new ways to do what they do.”
She said the federal government is committed to cutting taxes, and she hopes the province will keep taxes low as well so they're not raising them at the other end.
She also spoke about flood compensation and mitigation programs the federal government has, which are issues the chamber has been looking at since July 2014 and recently brought to the Manitoba Chambers.
“(The chamber is) also driving some really important issues like making sure that flood mitigation is happening and making sure it's top of mind for the province,” Bergen said.
There are four main components where the federal government helps with help flooding under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.
“We have to date paid the province $335 million for the 2011 flood. The province has to initiate receiving that money though, they pay out the costs, they send the federal government the receipts under DFAA and we pay up to 90 cents on every dollar.”
There are three other main programs, two under the Building Canada Fund and a stand alone flood mitigation program.
“Again, whereby the province and/or municipalities can apply for funding for things like types of infrastructure for flood mitigation, mapping, and a couple of other categories to help mitigate flooding which we know can happen in Manitoba and has happened,” Bergen said. ”We have these programs that are I think tangible, the province does need to apply and I'm sure they're looking at all of them right now and hopefully are getting those in.”
The main speaker of the lunch was John Olfert, COO of the Winnipeg Jets, who spoke about the efforts of bringing the Jets' brand back to Winnipeg. It was important for Olfert to speak in Portage as the area is a part of their community.
“The MTS Centre was built as a community facility, it's not a Winnipeg facility only, we value all our customers coming from across Manitoba and hence you'll see a lot of marketing material we make reference on a regular basis to community-based and Manitoba wide participation,” Olfert said.
The presentation Olfert gave was initially intended to communicate the elements of change, but he later realized it's a relationship based presentation.
“Whether it was relationships with lenders or with the league or with sponsors, it's a relationship based business and again I give a lot of credit to our full and part time staff who invest their lives into this building and into the operation,” Olfert said. “Its unique hours in the fact that when people go home and they come and have fun, that's when we start working again, so I give a lot of credit to our full and part time staff.”
There was no single element that helped bring the NHL back to Manitoba.
“There's certainly the elements or the transition that's happened over the course of the economics of the NHL and the collective bargaining agreement, but I would argue that the building of the MTS Centre, the embracing of the brand by our community, at all levels, from ticket buyers to sponsors, to lenders, to owners, its been a community-wide ownership of the team, and as a result there's been a fair amount of success and we're grateful for that.”
mickey cuthbert2 may262015Mickey Cuthbert, treasurer of board of directors

The Glesby Centre's history and current needs were presented at yesterday's Rotary luncheon in Portage la Prairie. Mickey Cuthbert is treasurer of the board of directors and shares the presentation.

"I just wanted the Rotary to get a little history of where we were, where we are now, what kind of events we put on, and how we are always in financial difficulties as with any other arts organization. And I was hoping they would see it as a community support, to support the Glesby Centre."

Cuthbert notes the Centre's history.

mickey cuthbert1 may262015

"It really started in 1992 when Bill Glesby donated his bowling alley to us. In 1998 we built the theatre addition and opened our first show in December. The city took over the building in 2005, and now we have managerial rights to it. So, we manage the building and everything that goes with the building."

She adds one of the Rotary members shared how Portagers are unaware of what we actually have in our city.

"Tom McCartney was mentioning that so many people in Portage do not know what a jewel we have in the William Glesby Centre. And I would love to urge everybody to get out and check it out, because we're lucky. Not every town in Manitoba has such a good place to go. And the William Glesby Centre is a local community place for entertainment, music and theatre. Rather than go to Winnipeg, spend your money at home."

Cuthbert notes there would not be such a financial difficulty if more tickets were sold to their events. She says ticket prices include $32 for one main stage show, and one coffee house show is $18. You can receive big savings by buying a season ticket package for five main stage shows for $130, and four coffee house shows for an additional $55. That's $185 for nine shows.  Cuthbert encourages you to come on down and check them out.

people rebecca ulrich joyce schroeder apr212015(Pictured left to right) Rebecca Ulrich, Joyce Schroeder

The Red Cross is joining forces with the Portage Family Abuse Prevention Centre to combat abuse.

Rebecca Ulrich is provincial education manager for the Red Cross. She explains the purpose of the partnership.

"The Red Cross partnered in Portage with the Family Abuse Prevention Centre on the Harmony project. We work together to bring training to community leaders to prepare them and give them the resources to educate children, youth, and adults in the community about creating healthy relationships."

Ulrich notes how Harmony found out about their national program.

"While they were exploring their different options, or whether they would develop their own program, they learned about the national program with the Canadian Red Cross. So, that's where the partnership started. The program I focus on is called Respect Education. It looks at violence and abuse prevention in areas like child abuse prevention, dating and domestic violence prevention, as well as bullying prevention."

Joyce Schroeder is Portage Family Abuse Prevention Centre executive director, and notes how she heard about the national program.

"On my original Harmony steering committee, I had some teachers from the high school who, when we realized what we were going to be doing as one of our activities, referred me to Rebecca at Red Cross. She, right from the get-go, was just so eager. And she has been instrumental in making that activity very successful for us in this community in helping us reach youth."

Craig Bennet, president of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie. (Submitted photo)

Craig Bennet, president of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie. (Submitted photo)


20 questions with Craig Bennet, president of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie.

1. It's Sunday morning, what are you having for breakfast?

Coffee, more coffee and waffles. Something I make with my son.

2. If you didn't do what you do for a living, what would you be?

Air traffic controller.

3. Who's your hero?

Has to be my parents, an inspiration to me always.

4. Last book you couldn't put down?

The Wealthy Barber Returns (David Chilton).

5. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Bo Derek.

6. What's playing in you iPod (CD, cassette or eight track) right now?

70’s/80’s classics. What else is there?

7. If you could see one concert, what would it be?

Zach Brown band.

8. What's the best thing about Portage la Prairie?

The people. Whenever a service club has something going on, the community always supports them.

9. What's your weirdest habit?

My night ends at 9 p.m. Don’t ask me to do a job after 9 p.m. My wife knows this and thinks it is weird.

10. What's your biggest pet peeve?

Empty boxes of food (crackers, cookies, etc.) put back in the cupboard. Our family likes to call it ‘pulling a Modesto.’ Ask us why sometime.

11. What's your fast-food guilty pleasure?

Donuts at Tim’s.

12. What was your most embarrassing moment?

Having to improvise for five minutes on stage when the next actor did not come in on his cue. He was still changing.

13. Which person, alive or dead, would you like to have dinner with?

A dinner to remember with my Grandfather Bennet. He passed away when I was eight.

14. What's your favourite vacation destination?

Depends on the season: winter – any place warm. Summer – has to be the east coast.

15. What is your favourite TV show?

Criminal minds or MASH.

16. What's your dream car?

Just happy to have one that is paid off in full.

17. If you could have one super power, what would it be?

The ability to mark students papers in a matter of minutes. (Super Marking Ability – SMA).

18. What's the one thing you haven't done that you'd love to do?

I love golfing, so to be able to play a round at Augusta or to see The Masters.

19. If we're buying, you're having?

Chicken Parmigiana but it has to be from The Olive Garden.

20. What are your words to live by?

One day at a time!

people judy sauder mar032015Judy Sauder, executive director of Central Plains Cancer Care Services

Central Plains Cancer Care Services made their presentation today at the Portage la Prairie Rotary luncheon.

Judy Sauder is executive director, and outlines the services they offer.

"I presented a lot in the programs and services that Central Plains Cancer Care Services offer. Our two main programs are the transportation program and the education program with in our schools. We also have community health programs, a resource library, and we offer head-coverings to women who've lost their hair from chemo."

Sauder showed artificial tools they use to teach cancer awareness.

"I did pass around some samples of what we use in the schools for our education program. So, I passed around a couple of breasts with some lumps in them, and I also passed around a testicle with lumps in it."

Among the props was a jar showing the amount of phlegm a victim of COPD coughs up in two weeks, as well as vials of fat showing amounts that exist in common foods.

cancer props sauder mar032015Tactile props used to provide cancer awareness.

Sauder explains the next big event on the services agenda.

"Our next event -- it's a third party event -- and it's going to be put on by the Lioness Club, and it's the Celebrity Auction. And it's going to be held on Saturday, March 21, at 7pm at Canad Inns. It's free to attend. Bring everyone - come one, come all. It's a really fun evening where they auction off anything that people have donated. Last year they raised around $16,000."

places pond hockey rink3 feb172015The ice is ready for the championship to begin

The 10th annual E.F. Moon Western Canadian Pond Hockey championship kicks off this Friday.

Chair Travis Foster says right now they have about eleven teams registered to play, noting they could definitely take a few more if anyone's interested in putting in a team.

Foster says you can even sign up as an individual, because they have a list they're putting together of people who want to play but don't have enough to fill a team. He notes the cut-off for registration is tomorrow morning, so if you want to participate, you can go to the website and send him an email through the link.

Foster adds the ice surface will be divided up into three rinks so they can have three games running at the same time throughout the weekend.

He says this year the new location is right outside the PCU Centre, noting they'll be using the Rotary Room inside the Centre for the supper.

people david sattler feb172015David Sattler, general manager of Portage Regional Recreation Authority

The PCU Centre continues to grow in popularity, bringing a lot of economic boost to Portage la Prairie.

David Sattler is general manager of the Portage Regional Recreation Authority and presented their statistics at the Portage la Prairie Rotary luncheon this week.

"In 2014 we saw a total of 108,000 visitors come to our two aquatic facilities. That is equivalent to five times Portage's population.  A popular destination spot in the summer is Splash Island. We have people who are driving from two hours away to come and spend the entire day there. So, what we're trying to do now is capitalize on that and try and turn it into every weekend for everybody in southern Manitoba to come to Portage."

Sattler says more ice rental times are being marketed.  

"Ice rentals. Right now we're fairly booked solid, say, October to February 4pm to 9pm Monday through Friday.  So, we are getting to a point where we have to get outside of that zone to increase our revenue generation.  So, early morning, say 6am to 8am, or late evenings after 9pm during the week.  And these are areas that we're  going to have to specifically market in the next few years, because we are reaching a saturation point."

He notes word is spreading about the PCU Centre, drawing more groups to hold events there.

"In 2014, we had 28 large events where people came to Portage for more than one day, most likely two. This included everything from hockey to ringette tournaments, provincial championships, Watchtower convention -- which is a huge event that takes place in the summer when we're a little bit slower -- and All Nations Tribal Days which brings 3,000 visitors from outside the region."

Sattler says their next big event is All Nations Tribal Days running from February 27 to March 2. Many activities will take place, not only in the PCU Centre, but the BDO Centre as well.

people dave omichinski2 jan272015Dave Omichinski, Portage Chamber of Commerce President

The Portage Chamber of Commerce has put the Assiniboine flood problem at the top of their concerns.

President Dave Omichinski says, "We've identified as priority 1 or 1a is the whole Assiniboine flood issue. That's something we've been involved with since last July. We've met with all kinds of stakeholders including the RM.  We are meeting with some federal ministers with the Manitoba chambers in early February. We are looking at taking a resolution forward to the Manitoba Chambers AGM that is going to be co-sponsored with the Brandon chamber and likely the Virden chamber. This is a really important Manitoba issue."

Omichinski lists their efforts so far.

"We have added our voice in support of all of the impacted stakeholders. Whether it's agri business, non-agri business, from a chamber perspective, they're definitely being negatively impacted. But you have cottage owners, you've got municipalities, you've got just property owners. There's negative impact all over the place. Huge uncertainty and when people are uncertain, what do they do? They keep their wallets in their pocket. "

He adds they're working with the province over the problem.


"We've added our voice and engaged with the Manitoba Chambers to help get that message out across the province. Winnipeg is an important area that we're focusing on to try and help to create some awareness within the city of Winnipeg that action needs to be taken. And even with Portage -- that this issue is not behind us."

The Portage Rotary Club thanked all the people who played heroes and villains during its Jail and Bail in 2014 during its weekly meeting at Canad Inns on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Rotary was able to raise $21,000 for its charitable causes. Rhonda Lodwick raised the most at $2,500. (Svjetlana Mlinarevic/The Graphic/QMI Agency)

The Portage Rotary Club thanked all the people who played heroes and villains during its Jail and Bail in 2014 during its weekly meeting at Canad Inns on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Rotary was able to raise $21,000 for its charitable causes. Rhonda Lodwick raised the most at $2,500. (Svjetlana Mlinarevic/The Graphic/QMI Agency)


Portage la Prairie Rotary Club thanked its many volunteers and members for all their help and support in 2014, especially during the club’s major fundraiser of the year, Jail and Bail.

“The Rotary Club has a large membership that dedicates a lot of time and effort to community projects and fundraisers, but the important thing is we love people who are non-Rotarians that are able to come out and support us and able to volunteer at some of our events, so we felt we needed the opportunity to give back to those people that have given to us as well,” said Preston Meier, public relations manager for the club.

The 2014 Jail and Bail raised more than $21,000 for the club and the Portage Community Revitalization Corporation (PCRC). Local realtor Rhonda Lodwick raised the most with a total of $2,400. PCRC executive director Mary Lynn Moffat said the money will be split between the two organizations and used to improve walkways and north end park development.

“This is one of the largest fundraisers because it’s split between the two organizations. From PCRC’s standpoint, as well as Rotary, it’s a great event and a very important event because it not only gets a handful of people involved, it gets the whole community involved,” she said, noting this wasn’t the largest sum Jail and Bail has ever raised as its first year saw more than $26,000.

Jail and Bail happens every other year as it trades off between the RCMP and the RCAF Galas so the next one won’t be until 2016.

New Member

The club also welcomed a new member into its fold. Christine Verwey received her pin from former president Jean-Marc Nadeau.

Nadeau shared his experience of being a Rotarian while working with NATO in Afghanistan in 2011-12. Working as an RCMP officer, Nadeau trained Afghani police. While travelling back-and-forth from Afghanistan, Nadeau stopped in Frankfurt, Germany, where he met a Rotarian from India and began chatting with him.

“The pin is something that’s recognizable internationally,” said Nadeau. “We got to exchange some stories and some value and it was great to have that opportunity. More over, being in Afghanistan, I had lunch with the president of the local club in Kabul. Rotary is a worldwide organization and wearing the pin you will allow you to meet people in all your travels.”

places rotary grant laverendryeschool dec302014Left to Right: Guy Moffat, Karly Friesen and Stephanie Brown

Portage's La Verendrye School's play structure project got some help from the Portage Rotary Club on December 30 at the club's luncheon.

The Rotary Club presented a $600.00 cheque to Stephanie Brown and Karly Friesen of the school, and Brown explains the project.

"It's been a process that we've been taking a part of the last -- almost -- four years now. It stemmed because our playground was falling apart. We really had a huge drive over this past summer and we were able to order up a playground and it's been installed in September."

She notes her surprise when the young students' provided their input when asked for suggestions.

"Then I said, 'Is that everything?' And they said, 'Well, we need garbage. Where are we going to put the garbage. And we need more benches. We don't have enough benches.' I personally was blown away because I hadn't foreseen that students, or children, at that age would actually think about. They were actually considering  all people. They were thinking about their parents bringing them, or being able to watch them. You know, having siblings that could sit there. They thought about themselves just hanging out. And then they actually thought. 'Well, we need to put some back in the shade.' They actually even thought about placement and where's the best spot for them."

Brown adds they could use your help.  

"As far as looking into our Phase 2, if somebody is interested, whether they have the knowledge of grant applications, or if they want to help out manually, to help with projects that we are thinking about in the near future, probably the easiest is to call La Verendrye School."

La Verendrye School's phone number is (204) 857-3478.

February 2017
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