South Algonquin bids farewell to long serving employee

WHITNEY – One of South Algonquin Township’s longest serving employees is stepping down from his leadership position and into retirement.
On December 13, municipal staff held a retirement party for Works Superintendent/Chief Building Official Gerry Dunn, a township employee for 33 years and three months. 
Born January 10, 1949, Dunn grew up in Whitney. Throughout high school, he spent his summers working in Algonquin Park doing general park maintenance and working in the park campgrounds. 
After graduation, he left Whitney for around a year to pursue other interests but soon returned to his hometown. 
“There wasn’t really anything out there that excited me,” Dunn explained.
He continued working in Algonquin park’s interior.
“There is nothing like it, everyone should do it,” he said. “I did learn a lot of the interior of Algonquin Park. We used to do 10 day trips and stay in the bush.”
But, as the ministry began slashing jobs, Dunn wanted some security and decided to apply for the works superintendent position that had opened up with the village of Whitney in the 1980s. 
He was hired on and has remained in that position ever since. 
The job became particularly challenging upon amalgamation in 1998. 
“Amalgamation made a job out of it,” he admitted.
It meant more roads to cover and more people to serve. The zone he was responsible for spans from the border of Renfrew County to the east gate of Algonquin Park to county line at Lake St. Peters in Hastings.
South Algonquin Mayor Jane Dumas said the township has 127 kilometres of roads and has a geographical area of 875 square kilometres.  
“Gerry has a domain that’s larger than some countries,” she said. “It’s a huge area that he has been responsible for and he did an excellent job during that time.”
With such a vast coverage area, the township presents its own unique set of challenges, particularly in the roads department, Dunn explained.
“I think the most challenging thing is to make the proper determinations in the wintertime about when to start your winter maintenance operations and when to call guys out,” he said. “Even in the village of Madawaska – you can have sunshine down there and come up the big hill in Madawaska and you’ve got four inches of snow up there.”
Dunn was often responsible for up to 10 employees. 
Read more in the December 18, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.