Gravenhurst and Muskoka Lakes Chamber execs promote local business at provincial conference

Two Muskoka Chamber of Commerce executives were representing Muskoka business this week at the Chamber Executives of Ontario conference in Kingston.

As new Chamber executives, Sandy Lockhart, Executive Director of the Gravenhurst Chamber, and Norah Fountain, General Manager of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, were both awarded bursaries to attend the event.

The twice-a-year meeting of Chamber minds offers way to increase value to member businesses while sharpening the skill set of the executives attending.

“Being at this conference helps make our Chamber part of a bigger network of knowledge to draw on,” Lockhart tells Muskoka News Watch. “It was a great learning opportunity, as we got to hear from other new Chamber executives and from some who have been in their positions for decades.”

Strive Presentation

It also gave the Muskoka executives an opportunity to showcase business in Muskoka.

“Now it would be wonderful if Muskoka could host one of these provincial Chamber events,” reports Fountain, “as it would also act as a familiarization tour of Muskoka for people running visitor centres across Ontario. Certainly the connections made for our Chamber are invaluable.”

Inset Photo: Joe Shuker of Strive giving presentation on healthy organizations.

Top Photo: Norah Fountain and Sandy Lockhart with Chamber Executives of Ontario Chair Greg Webb

Municipal election: Muskoka Lakes heats up with full race in Ward A

Currie, French and Kruckel each seeking to win one of only two Muskoka Lakes Ward A positions

Published August 21, 4;15pm: Now it’s a race. Yesterday two more political hopefuls filed their intentions to become Township Councillor in Muskoka Lakes Ward A.

Only two candidates will be successful as there are only two Township Councillor spots and now we have three contenders. Sandy Currie, president of the Moon River Property Owner’s Association, filed his nomination papers yesterday morning. This will be Currie’s second attempt to be elected in Ward A.

Featured photo: Matt French, Candidate for Muskoka Lakes Ward A Township Council

Later the same day, Matt French, vice president of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Bala Cranberry Festival, also filed his papers. His filing means there are now three people competing for the two positions (French, Currie and Donelda Kruckel, who was appointed to the Township Councillor position following the resignation of Bob McTavish). Kruckel also stood for election in 2010 but was unsuccessful. And while there has been no official confirmation of his plans, incumbent Ward A Councillor Brad Burgess has told people in Bala and Township staff that he will not seek re-election.

Contacted by email yesterday, French said he’s looking forward to doing even more public service in the community.

“2014 marks my second term both as Vice President of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and Chair of the Bala Cranberry Festival. I’m always at work in the three areas of Business, Community, or the Environment in Muskoka Lakes,” said French. “What’s more, I’m always listening and learning from feedback, so at this point, I’m simply looking forward to receiving input from the community, and the opportunity to working with even more people [in the Township].”

French also provided this brief biography:

“I started out as my family’s third generation of seasonal residents in Bala, and am the first generation of full time residents. I have worked year round at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh & Muskoka Lakes Winery since 2007, as Winemaker and Sales Manager. In that time, I’ve developed several award winning wines from local fruit, begun exporting our wine internationally, and helped develop Johnston’s as an iconic Muskoka attraction.”

French earned his degree at Queen’s University in Biology, Evolution and Ecology.

There are also two people seeking the single Township and District Councillor position in Ward A: Ruth-Ellen Nishikawa and Greg Knight.

Note: An email requesting biographical information and a picture was sent to candidate Sandy Currie shortly after he filed his papers yesterday, but so far there has been no response. MNW looks forward to updating this post with information from Currie to provide him equal space to that of French, and readers can look forward to full information from all candidates who provide it once they are certified in September.