Community Council chair, Don Marr, extended a Happy New Year to fellow community councillors, Ward 19 Aberdeenshire Councillors, George Carr and Bill Howatson and four members of the public when he opened meeting 380 of the Benholm and Johnshaven Community Council in the Village Hall on Wednesday night.
Councillors were delighted to hear that work has begun on clearing the ground behind the Masonic Hall in preparation for the launch of Johnshaven’s first allotment scheme. The ground in question was originally known as the “Dykies” and was owned by the Scotts of Brotherton Castle.
In 1887 one part was acquired by the members of Lodge St John 119 as a site for the present Masonic Hall and in 1933 Kincardine County Council purchased a much larger section for what is now 27-30 Main Street, with the “left-over” section now soon to be split up into individual gardening plots.
It is now around two years since a suggestion was first made at a community ccouncil meeting that, as part of a healthy living initiative, the ground, highly productive as it happens, and which was cultivated until relatively recently, would be ideal for allotments.
It has, therefore, taken a wee while to get the diggers in but patience has paid off, a 15-year lease concluded with Brotherton Estate, a grant of £6535 obtained from Awards For All Scotland and, last Tuesday, the Stonehaven landscaping and drainage firm of W.G. Meston, Jnr, got busy.
The initial aim was to create four or six units and once the clearing and levelling has been completed representatives of the community council will visit the site to decide the optimum number and put a plan in place.
More applicants than places? Well, that is a dilemma still to be resolved, as are the charging and administrative arrangements..
Still, once these issues have been settled, it could be as early as this spring that the first seeds are sown and the allotments begin to flourish.
Anyone interested in applying for a plot should contact Community Council secretary, Michael Bennett on 01561 361225.
Hopefully, it will not be too long either before the bus shelter in the square is replaced.
Damaged, it would seem, by a reversing bus a few weeks ago it was expected to be a simple matter of erecting another one.
However, members were told on Wednesday that, in fact, a new shelter has to be specially built, although when that will be, remains to be seen. The same state of affairs applies at the top of Station Brae where the missing section of the hand rail will, at some time, be replaced.
Meanwhile, up at Benholm moves are afoot to improve the entrance to the historic kirkyard. Following a visit from Aberdeenshire Council’s environmental conservation officers, the wrought iron gates will be removed and “restored to their former glory” and the gate posts stabilised.
There is, councillors were informed, a budget for this, although not yet one for suggested improved signage for the kirk and Kirkton in general and perhaps also an information board illustrating the history of the hamlet of Benholm.
At every Community Council meeting there are bits and pieces of good housekeeping to be tidied up.
On Wednesday it was reported that the lights on the signs at the entrance to the village on the A92 were still defective and that, although the recent storms had not caused any real damage, tarmacadam had once again been ripped up near the navigation light and that an eye was being kept on the condition of the road to the Narrows.
The next meeting of the Community Council will be held in the Village Hall (small) on Wednesday, February 12 at 7 pm.
Latest news from the first responders is that progress is steadily being made towards providing Johnshaven and Benholm with a first response unit.
In December, seven volunteers completed and passed a training course at Lathallan School under the instruction of the Scottish Ambulance Service.
A second course, with nine attendees, took place at the week-end, again at Lathallan School where the group have had the use of an overhead projector and desks as well as a training room and a third room for the assessments to be carried out.
However, it will be a few weeks yet before the official id badges are received and some work still remains to be done on communications and mapping and ensuring that everything is in place before the unit is fully operational.
A little out of season, the five-end, Christmas Pairs competition, took place last Tuesday night.
In one of the semi-finals Mary Brebner and Pat Wisbey had a comfortable victory by seven shots to two over Ina Calder and Isabell Inglis while, in the other, Bill Inglis and Roy Mowatt required an extra end before they got the better of Gordon McCombie and Jim Brebner, 6-3.
In the seven-end final Bill and Roy won two shots at the first and Mary and Pat a single at the second and the contest had all the hallmarks of being a close run thing but then Bill and Roy won singles at each of the next four ends, until with only one left, they were 6-1 up.
In an impossible position with only pride to play for Mary and Pat lay the shot only for Pat to give it away with her last bowl. Sod’s Law if ever it was.
So it was Bill Inglis and Roy Mowatt who went home with the Christmas Goblets, worthy victors by seven shots to one although the substantial margin does not really reflect the closeness of the final in which each end was very closely contested.
Also on Tuesday night the trophies for season 2012/13 were presented as follows: Open Singles, Bett Beedie, RU, Clark Simpson.
Ladies Singles, Bett Beedie, RU, Jenny Beedie. Pairs, Isabell Inglis/Roy Mowatt, RsU, Jean Stephen/Jim Brebner. Points, Joint Pat Wisbey, Bett Beedie, Christmas Pairs, Mary Brebner/Ina Calder, RsU, Bett Beedie/Roy Mowatt.
The trophies were presented by club member, Pat Wisbey, who is shortly to be leaving the district.
Mearns Coastal Parish Church
Sunday morning’s service was conducted by the minister, the Rev Colin Dempster, in the rather more informal setting of the Church Hall.
Mr Dempster began a study of the Book of Romans and in this, “The Year of Hope”, prayed that the many conflicts in the world would be resolved and that peace would prevail.
The praise was led by Mrs Helen Doig.
This Sunday’s services will be held at the usual times of 10 am in St Cyrus Church and 11.30 am in Johnshaven Church.
Mearns Coastal Guild
The Guild’ s first meeting of 2014 will be held in the Church Hall on Monday, January 20, at noon and will take the form of a soup and sweet lunch..
January. Never the most inspiring of months. The days still short and the nights long. The exhilaration of the festive season expended, pockets light and New Year resolutions already broken.
And what of February? Still cold and often wet and miserable with summer still only a distant dream.
What better an antidote to all this gloom and doom could there be, then, than Johnshaven’s Firework Spectacular, which this year is scheduled to take place on Sunday, January 26.
This will be the 14th year that the Firework Spectacular has been held and, although originally intended to celebrate Hogmanay, unfavourable weather conditions later persuaded the organisers to change the date to the last Sunday in January.
This proved to be an inspired decision and the event has continued to attract large crowds from near and far to the harbour area.
Arrangements will follow the pattern of former years. Proceedings start at 6.30 pm with the fire dancers performing their astonishing skills to the hypnotic beat of the drums from 7 pm and continuing until the first firework reaches for the sky at 7.30 pm.
A real family occasion and an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, soup, hot drinks, burgers and hot dogs are readily available and there is plenty of on-street parking nearby.
Although the Firework Spectacular is presented by a professional company it should be remembered that it is organised by volunteers and is entirely self-financing, largely through a collection taken on the night and from fund-raising efforts during the year.
Here then is the perfect opportunity to move into the last month of winter and restore that festive smile to your face by making your way to the Firework Spectacular at the harbour on Sunday, January 26.
A Mirror on the Past
As reported above, the community council was a grateful beneficiary of a grant of £6,535 from Awards For All Scotland towards the cost of progressing an allotment scheme. Twenty five years ago roles were reversed with members giving money away. They agreed to distribute the bulk of their Special Project Grant of £500 from Kincardine and Deeside District Council between the Village Hall Association, the Rising Fives and the Mother and Toddler Group. The balance would be spent on general village improvements. They had considered spending part of the annual grant on a firework display on bonfire night but were advised that the District Council was unlikely to approve such expenditure.
That same week the members of the OAP Association were treated to a two hour non-stop dancing performance by the Sandra Galbraith Dancers from Inverbervie.