FRIDAY, Jan. 8/10

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AYLMER TODAY:

Spits Hockey, host Paris 7:30 pm

-Special Meeting on ‘Estherville Cemetery Issues’ at Straffordville Municipal Office, 12 pm

“BAYHAM ESTHERVILLE CEMETERY DISPUTE NOT BURIED YET!”

(The ongoing ‘Estherville’ issue concerns the recent erection of a building by adjacent property owner Tony Csinos on land some residents, the ‘Pilgrims’, believe is an extended part of the existing cemetery, located just north of Port Burwell at the corner of the Glen Erie line and Highway 19)

Straffordville –  It appears that the Estherville Cemetery dispute will haunt Bayham Council for several months yet.

A public meeting  in the Bayham Council room here today, organized by MPP Steve Peters to help settle matters, revealed that there are several unresolved issues still lurking.  The two-hour meeting, attended by about 20 interested persons,  featured Michael D’Mello, Registrar of Cemeteries for Ontario as MPP Peters wanted all to be aware of what information  the Cemeteries branch had about the matter. The Registrar noted that their file on Estherville was brief. An Inspector was dispatched to the site in 1959 when  local resident Frederick Ashbaugh complained the cemetery wasn’t being looked after and wondered what should be done. The Cemetery Regulation Unit (CRU) then suggested to Bayham that they set up trustees to oversee the cemetery and three, including Ashbaugh, were appointed. In August, 1967 a meeting was held to attempt cemetery restoration and it was decided at the time to set up a  cairn and have the preserved stones fenced within. (The practice of ‘cairning’ has since been discontinued as localities didn’t always include the whole burial site within the restored area)

And that’s part of Bayham’s problem apparently. The Registrar said they only control what they are told is a ‘cemetery’ by the municipality and so only the ‘cairned’portion is recorded. The Pilgrims maintain however there are many more graves still outside the fence. Spokesperson Wanda Hoshal addressed the meeting and said that although there are 225 plus burials believed inside the fence, there may be as many as 400 outside (burials ceased in 1925). Hoshal said there hadn’t been any problems here since the 1967 restoration with the grounds  maintained and cut by the municipality.  However when Csinos began excavating for his building in 2008 just outside the fence locals were concerned. And even though bodies were not found in a brief archaeological investigation at the time, the Pilgrims maintain they are there. The Pilgrims also didn’t realize until the digging that the church grounds, as they believed existed there, had actually been sold to Csinos.

There are other issues: How could the grounds be sold if the Baptist Church, which  had been given the 3.2 acres in the l830s for their church and cemetery, had never sold them?; Have taxes been paid on the property as if they were privately owned?;  Is Highway 19 here accurate as the Pilgrims believe it also actually encroaches on the 3.2 acre site and has  since its construction in the 1930s; Has the Baptist Church actually forfeited ownership by not maintaining the property as a “40 year usage rule”  may apply;  And who is going to pay for this to be sorted out? The Registrar indicated his office had never dealt with an issue with these kind of complexities but suggested that it should be the responsibility of the township to now sort this out.  MPP Peters said he would try to get some provincial funding to finance further investigations. He also suggested another meeting may be in order once other parties do further groundwork.

"This photo shows the Estherville cemetery in the background and the storage building in front on disputed land. A meeting yesterday in Straffordville organized by MPP Steve Peters to help resolve the issue revealed there are still many 'underlying' issues.(see yesterdays story)."

“CORE OF LOCAL APPLE CROP WAS GOOD THIS PAST FALL”

Aylmer – The local apple crop was good but a little lighter than normal reports apple grower Dick Saarloos of BerryHill Farms, north of Aylmer. Key factors in the lighter production, which Mr. Saarloos felt was the same for all local growers,  were a late spring frost and a wet spring which resulted in considerable scabbing. Mr. Saarloos said his other fruit crops were good but consumers noted the berries didn’t taste as sweet – the reduction in sugar content also due to the wet spring and cool summer.

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