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COUNTY OF THORHILD No.7 - Excerpts taken from the "Story of Rural Municipal 
Government in Alberta 1909 to 1983" by the Association of the Municipal 
Districts and Counties

Contributed for use in Alberta Digital Archives by Darlene Homme

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The county was organized on January 1, 1955, following an application by the 
Board of Trustees of Thorhild School Division No. 57. The total area is 
approximately 25 townships and includes 46 organized small school districts. It 
extends from township 58 in the South, to the middle of township 63 in the 
North. The east and west boundaries run approximately from the middle of range 
23 on the west side, to range 19 on the east, all west of the 4th meridian. The 
office is located in the Village of Thorhild. The county is divided into 
division, each represented by a council member who is elected for a three-year 
term on a rotation basis. The reeve, who also acts as chairman for the meetings, 
is chosen by the members at its annual organizational meeting held each year in
October.

The following is a brief history of events leading up to the County 
organization. Thorhild School Division No. 57 was organized January 1, 1947 with 
Mr. R. J. Scott as Official Trustee and Mr. Ernest Meaden as Secretary Pro. 
tern. The first board was sworn into office March 5, 1947 and consisted of 
Messrs. William J. Klufas as Chairman, Steve Radomsky as Vice-Chairman, Fred 
Malowany. A.A. Eckert, and Joseph Polanski. The Board decided to locate its 
office in a private house in the Village of Thorhild. There were 18 applications 
for the position of Secretary-Treasurer and out of these Mr. R. Baker was 
finally chosen for the position which he held until September 30, 1947. Mr. B. 
Walker was appointed Superintendent of Schools on behalf of the Department of 
Education. Besides the usual business of the Board, the Minutes show that a 
considerable amount of time and many problems involved the operation of the 
small school districts in the area and the dormitory at Radway. A resolution was 
also passed on June of 1947 "to write a letter to Alberta Government Telephones 
pointing out the urgent necessity of a telephone in the Divisional Office."

Mr. I. Goresky was appointed Superintendent of Schools as from September 1, 1947 
and he continued in this position until September 1966. Mr. John L. Wynnychuk 
was appointed Secretary-Treasurer of the Division as from September 1, 1947 and 
he continued in this position until the County organization in 1955. A new 
School Division office was built in 1949.

The Division area was in the Smoky Lake School Division prior to its formation 
in 1947, however, following the passing of the County Act in 1950, the Board was 
anxious to have the Thorhild School Division remain as a local governing area to 
provide better education and especially to improve roads, since the Division 
boundaries were in the Municipal Districts of Westlock, Sturgeon, and Smoky Lake 
and a Local Improvement District for Municipal purposes. The only alternative 
was to apply for County status.

A considerable amount of interest was generated in the county operations and the 
general business demanded by the ratepayers to be carried out by the new county 
officials early in 1955. Mr. Leo Maurice, Inspector with the Department of 
Municipal Affairs was appointed Official Administrator while Mr. J.L. Wynnychuk 
continued as Secretary-Treasurer pro tern. Mr. Sidney J. Gee was appointed 
assessor. The Organizational meeting of the new Council was held in the Thorhild 
Community Hall on March 15, 1955, as a public gathering and at which the 
following were present: the Hon. E.W. Hinman, Minister of Municipal Affairs; Mr. 
J. Judge, Deputy Minister; Mr. Peter Chaba, M.L.A.; Mr. A. Aloisio, M.L.A.; 
Returning Officer, Mr. W. Smith; Mr. Alex Myroon, as School Representative from 
Redwater; Mr. Walter Home, School Representative from Thorhild Village; and, Mr. 
Leo Maurice as Official Administrator. The following newly elected Council 
members were sworn into office:

	Division 1	-	Mike Hrynchuk, Redwater, who was sworn as Chairman

	2	-	Charles Polanski, Radway

	3	-	William Ewasiw, Egremont

	4	-	Bill Sauchuk, Weasel Creek

	5	-	Phillip Kassain, Thorhild

	6	-	Adolph A. Eckert, Newbrook

	7	-	Herbert Hissett, Newbrook

A Public Works Committee was formed, However, since 1956 this committee has not 
existed and all public works business is dealt with by the County Council at its 
regular meetings.

The school committee consists of all members of the county council plus 
representatives from the Villages of Radway and Thorhild. The agricultural 
committee consists of all council members with Mr. John Vanderleest, District 
Agriculturist, representing the department.

Following settlement of Assets and liabilities with the surrounding 
municipalities in 1955 the county proceeded with its own administration and has 
gone a long way in building and improving roads in the area. Further 
centralization of small schools became an important order of business and a 
responsibility of the School Committee. Each school closing generally preceded a 
considerable amount of opposition for reasons of local pride and continuation of 
existing community life. In fact the closing of Egremont four-rooms was opposed 
to an extent whereby a short lived R.C. Separate School District was operated 
and the ratepayers opposing the closing "sparked" a petition to vote against the 
county system of government. The County Act was set up that, following four 
years of operation, the ratepayers could demand a vote on the question, "Do you 
favour the continuation of the county form of Government?" The plebiscite was 
held on March 21,1959 and resulted in 809 voting "yes" and 142 voting "no". This 
was the first test in the province and a good indication for the Government that 
the County system should be encouraged.

1983 UPDATE

Comparison of the assessments, mill rate and tax levy:

	YEAR	ASSESSMENT	MILL RATE	TAX LEVY
	1977	23,015,260.	86	1,822,518.
	1978	8,826,700.	96	726,100.
	1979	9,068,450.	100	797,839.
	1980	9,151,010.	121	963,896.
	1981	9,532,100.	135	1,081,566.

The need for remodelling the existing office, originally built as a school 
division office in 1949, was discussed by the council from time to time but no 
changes were made. However, following a major fire in the office on Boxing Day, 
1962, and a second smaller fire almost a year later, a complete renovation and 
alteration of the building was carried out and a large addition constructed. 
While the present office is not of the "gilt-edged" variety, all departments of 
the county administration including the Sturgeon Health Unit office, the 
district agriculturists' offices, Alberta Hail & Crop Insurance office and 
Alberta Agriculture loans officers' office, are now housed in the one building. 
At the present time schools for grades 1 to 12 are operated at Thorhild, 
Newbrook and Radway with a total enrollment of 844.

Special mention is made of Charlie Croswell who passed away on August 11, 1981 
after serving for the county during the years of 1970-76. Present council:

Division -	1 - John Small, Radway, Alberta

	2 - Kathleen Clarke, Thorhild, Alberta

	3- Steve Shwetz, Waskatenau, Alberta

	4- Davie Barnes, Thorhild, Alberta

	5- Nick Lazowski, Newbrook, Alberta

	6- Ted Bencharski, Thorhild, Alberta

School Representatives:

Radway Village - Rosemary Mahalingham

Thorhild Village - Julia Wohland

Mr. Steve Shwetz is reeve of the county while Mr. John Small is chairman of the school committee and Mr. Ted Bencharski is chairman of the agricultural service board. 

General administration and office: 

Superintendent of Schools - Roman A. Wiznura

Coordinator of Special Services - John S. Clarke

Assessor - C. Doucet of Doucet Appraisals

Agricultural Fieldman - Jim Horricks

District Agriculturist - John Vanderleest

Secretary to District Agriculturist - Carol Sauchuk

Supervisor of School Maintenance - Mike Prodaniuk

Secretary-Treasurer - David C. Petroski

Assistant Secretary-Treasurer - Leo Larose

Payroll Clerk - Shelly Rettman

Accounts payable Clerk- Karen Short

School Superintendent's Secretary - Linda Horyn

Gas Steno - Judy Toronchuk

Steno - Anne Woytenko

Steno - Doris Clarke

Public Works Shop steno - Carol Rusinko

Utilities Officer - Mike Dukewich

Gas Serviceman - Bob Bencharski

Recreation Director - James Warner

Recreation Secretary - Joan Golonowski

By-Law Enforcement Officer - Russ Rosenthal - appointed in 1977

In 1974 the County of Thorhild No. 7, plowed in a county owned gas system. To 
date we have approximately 1179 customers, most of whom were on the system by 
1976. Our franchise area extends to areas in the County of Athabasca and 
Municipal District of Sturgeon.

In 1977, the Municipal District of Sturgeon annexed Division One (Redwater Area) 
from the County of Thorhild No.7. This annexation resulted in a 14.2 million 
decrease in our assessment.

The County of Thorhild constructed a new public works shop in 1977. It is 
located directly east of the Village of Thorhild on a quarter section of land 
which the county purchased for this purpose.

Construction of water and sewer system began in 1977 for the Hamlet of Newbrook 
and sewer system in 1981 for the Hamlet of Egremont.

In 1980 the County of Thorhild built a fire hall in the Hamlet of Newbrook. They 
purchased three fire trucks; one to be house in the Newbrook fire hall, one in 
the Thorhild fire hall and one in the Radway fire hall.

Landowners along the Namepi - Kennedy Creek have always experienced severe 
flooding problems. In l977, the county council initiated through Alberta 
Environment, a dredging and channel clearing project thus improving the 
productivity of the affected areas.

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