BROCKVILLE-With plans for the 2007 Leeds Grenville International Plowing Match and Country Festival well underway, IPM Chair Steve Clark says the progress made so far in organizing the match is not so much the result of his efforts as the willingness of individuals to work together towards a common goal.
Clark started building that team over couple of years ago following an invitation from Ontario Plowmen’s Association representative for Leeds County Howard French. "I laughed and said you're crazy. It’s such a huge event and I’m just a guy from Brockville," Clark jokingly replied to French’s suggestion.
Although Clark lacked agricultural experience, his background of experience made him an obvious choice for the job. Elected Mayor of the City of Brockville for nine years from early 1983 to 1991, he has been involved in hundreds of local committees and causes through community involvement. Having turned 22 the day before the election, Clark won the confidence of the city’s electorate and became the youngest mayor in Canada. After his term as mayor, he chaired Riverfest and became president of the Brockville Braves Hockey Club, and during that time, he organized the Fred Page Cup for the Eastern Canadian Championship for Junior Hockey.
Clark chairs the fundraising campaign for a $1 million stadium and track complex at 1000 Islands Secondary School and is a member of the 1000 Islands Rotary Club. He is past president of the Brockville Braves and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Other responsibilities include past governor of St. Lawrence College and the Central Junior Hockey League. He is also a past Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce director.
In addition to his position as Circulation Manager of The Recorder & Times Ltd, Clark teaches part-time at St. Lawrence College. His introductory courses have included Navigating the Internet, creating web pages and a variety of Windows courses in the continuing education program. He has also taught fulltime students in courses that have included Marketing and Canadian Politics.
Discussions with volunteers from Rideau Lakes Township ended in a meeting January 2004 with French and Mickey Alguire, the OPA representative for Grenville County.
Clark agreed to chair the IPM and in Feb. 2004, the committee bid for the 2007 match and got it. He started to coordinate the volunteers and put a board together who hired Jan Bonhomme to act as IPM coordinator, or "the glue to hold the match together."
In the early days, he chaired public meetings at various parts in Leeds Grenville that were organized to looking for volunteers and his schedule became busier ever since. "As a board, we set the goals, objectives and mission statement for the match. As IPM chair, my job was to chair the executive meetings, work with the team and be sure tasks are done on time and proceed on schedule with the OPA. I feel the team we’ve organized is really exceptional. The strength of Leeds Grenville is the people who have become involved. We’re fortunate to have a number of people who’ve given huge amounts of time in organizing committees to make the IPM work."
Clark said he believed the match would bring people together in the two counties to put on an event of a scale that had never been seen before in Leeds Grenville. "It will kickstart the future forward if we all work together, whether urban or rural, from the south or north end, old and young. We want to kickstart the process where all the communities work together."
"If I can focus on anything as chair, it’s the fact we’re working as a team. Our success to date is a great example of what happens when you get people from different backgrounds working together to put on the largest event in Leeds Grenville history that showcases the rural living in our communities," he concluded.
Although Clark will soon be starting a position as assistant to MPP Bob Runciman, he is leaving time to be involved in the match, while still devoting as much time and effort to work for his new job.
He attended the official kick-off in Lombardy on Sept. 2.