Local Service Club acknowledges 60th year

The Preeceville and District Lions Club acknowledged its 60 years of providing service to the Town of Preeceville, local area and national charities.

The first meeting to discuss the formation of a Lion's Club in Preeceville was held at the Legion Hall on February 28, 1960, stated the Town of Preeceville history book Lines of the Past.

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“There were 37 persons present in attendance at this meeting overseen by Doctor Reg Forshner where everyone agreed to form a Lions Club. The first president was Forshner, Peter Predy, secretary and Reg Roberts was treasurer. The first meeting of the newly formed club was held a week later with the balance of the executive elected: Dave Slinn, first vice-president; Russel Long, second vice-president; Orval Jones, third vice-president; Myron Swiderski, Lion tamer and Stewart Butler as tail twister. The club was named the Preeceville and District Lion's Club.

“The first charter night was held March 31, 1960 with 49 charter members installed.

The first project as a club was a children's park and playground with a paddling pool which was erected on the east side of the Town of Preeceville. Washroom facilities were added to complete the park.

“Another project for the club over the first year was the purchase of land two miles east of the town on Highway No. 9 and No. 49 and additional land was donated by Premier Producers Ltd. The land was cleared which was the beginning of a roadside park. Later it was turned over to the department of natural resources for completion and maintenance.

The first sport's day was organized and sponsored on July 10, 1960. The first Christmas party was organized that same year with a movie and Santa Claus and gave away free bags of candy, nuts and oranges.

“In 1961, the club assisted with the installation of heating and flooding equipment in the skating rink. With funds from the annual winter carnival, the club was able to take on another project, the building of a senior's citizens home.

“In 1965, the practice of selling Christmas cakes was started to raise funds. In 1967, the club donated 12 street garbage containers to help keep the streets clean. In 1970, a new sound system was installed in the skating rink. The club also donated $40,000 towards the building of a new rink. They also donated monies towards renovations at the Legion Hall, repairing the curling rink roof, established new playgrounds and a tennis court and contributed towards artificial ice in the curling rink. In 1982, they made a donation towards a level three nursing home.”

"Today, the club has continued its tradition of helping and providing funds for Town of Preeceville residents and its facilities," said Agnes Murrin, president of the club. " We currently have 14 members who joined at separate times. Lawrence Maksymiw (1975), Howard Bilan (1976), John Masko (1984), Brian Yates (1991), James Bodnar (1995), Laurie Meberg (1999), Darin Newton (2000), Ralph Ager and Phil and Agnes Murrin (2012), Sharon Draper and Bill Lesko (2016), Florian Balawyder and Reece Gulka (2019).

The latest updated projects that the club has taken on are creating cross country ski trails around the outskirts of the Town of Preeceville. A special groomer was purchased to help in this process and the trails are approximately one-third done with more trails to be created to add the project. The club is responsible for the maintaining the sports grounds track. The trails will also have benches along the trail in memory of deceased members.

The Chase the Ace fundraiser is in its second term and Western Weekend dates have moved from the July 13, 14 weekend to August 21. The move for the weekend was a suggestion from the Eastern Chariot and Chuckwagon Association.

"The club that was a traditional all male club has now moved to encourage and allow females to join," said Murrin. “We also sponsor two high school scholarships, rent out three tents for any occasion and participate in the annual Remembrance Day Service.”

"Times have changed since I was first installed as a member," said Lawrence Maksymiw, member since 1975. “We have contributed a lot to the community and the community support has been great. We are no longer a large group and we don't have a lot of newer younger members joining. Times have changed with some changes for the better and some for the worse. We are no longer a gender based club and we are encouraging individuals to join up to help keep the club a viable active club," he concluded.

Other activities the club has been involved in over the years were a kiddies Christmas party, winter carnival (1960-1996), selling Christmas fruit cakes and chocolate Easter bunnies, Shrine Circus, trade shows (1995-2014), bingos (1960-2014), tent rentals and Western Weekend from 1995 to present.