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Welcome to Plywoodville


Synonymous with hurricanes, fires, accidents, or other disasters is the sight of plywood being applied to windows and doors for either the protection of property or the preventing of access. But even more so, plywood is vital for the building of boats, homes, businesses, sheds, trailers, and cabins. It is widely used for walls, floors, roofs, cupboards, and furniture.

Synonymous with hurricanes, fires, accidents, or other disasters is the sight of plywood being applied to windows and doors for either the protection of property or the preventing of access.

But even more so, plywood is vital for the building of boats, homes, businesses, sheds, trailers, and cabins. It is widely used for walls, floors, roofs, cupboards, and furniture.

Plywood is tough in its natural state, but covered up it can last indefinitely. This past summer we installed new shingles, and it was an impressive sight to see the bare plywood roof as good as the day it was installed in 1976. Plywood is good stuff.

However, the sight of plywood can be depressing. These days nowhere is that depressing scene more verified over and over than in the United States where the sub-prime mortgage fiasco caused many mortgage holders to either walk away from their homes, or have them repossessed. All across America there are abandoned homes sheeted up with plywood...a depressing sight for sure.

As for depressing sights, we in this town can give the Americans a run for their money.

It starts at our stately looking town hall that has plywood replacing a window in its front peak. Mayor Barnes once told me he would like to see a clock up there. But his time as mayor is running out. So, if you can't get us a clock Mr. Mayor, please get a new window in the peak of that heritage building.

But the replacing of a small plywood covered window in the peak in our town hall is the least of our town's problems.

Since the old Grand Falls Academy on Lincoln Road ceased to be a school a decade ago it has made the news numerous times with the the most recent being a fire. The plywood covered building is a sad, depressing sight... a dead place, no life.

Now, the nearby school on Maple Street is abandoned and covered with plywood. Will it become an eyesore as well? And then there is the covered-up Windsor Collegiate that almost got a new lease on life, but it was nipped in the bud by an inept town council.

The plywood-covered schools are not alone. Bond Street, Main Street, Columbus Drive, Lincoln Road, and High Street all have buildings, active and abandoned, partially or wholly covered with plywood.

A plywood-covered building does not always mean it's gone forever. The long abandoned railway station on Main Street has been reactivated as a new business. The new owners are to be commended for breathing new life into the old railway building.

But come March 28, when the mill closes, plywood covered buildings could soon start popping up all over the place. To prevent such a depressing looking sight from happening we need to know what specific actions will be taken to help our economy.

To date, the Williams government has yet to put as much as a nickel on the table to attract new industries, and businesses. Show us the money! Bishop's Falls got millions when the railway shut down, and its loss cannot be compared to losing 743 jobs.

What is the hang up?

Will the Williams government use some of its $1.27 billion surplus to match any funds that the Harper government is offering towns affected by industry closures?

As for stimulating the economy, St. John's and Corner Brook have their lists of what to do. But what about the rest of us? Will we get any of the federal and provincial recovery spending?

There is plenty of work to do here. The Grand Falls-Windsor sewage treatment plant needs another lagoon for full treatment, and Bishop's Falls is all raw sewage. What better time than now to work on both, to generate jobs, all the while cleaning up the river and create even more jobs in salmon fishing and tourism?

As for cleaning up the river why not put funding into salvaging all the sunken pulp logs in Red Indian Lake and its tributaries? And why not fund a clean up of the mine sights in Buchans?

Another big priority should be the replacement of the Bond bridge. Why not start a new bridge this spring? As for the High St and riverfront development what better time than now to kick start this project? As for all the abandoned buildings, why not fund their demolition and make the land ready for new uses?

But the best hope for our future economy lies with trees and hydro power. Together or separate they have phenomenal potential to attract new industries. Does the government intend to keep the use of those resources confined to this region? The hydro power alone should be a trump card to entice new industries to the area by offering them long term attractive hydro rates.

But for now, the only thing certain is the mill's closing on March 28. And the only thing matching that reality and the steam still arising from the mill is all the political hot air.

With nothing on the horizon to replace the mill, plywood covered buildings may be the way of the future.

Welcome to Plywoodville.

Andy Barker can be contacted at abdp9@hotmail.com.

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