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Dennis Staples moves onto the next chapter, no regrets

Staples1

BY AMY HOGUE

The day after passing on the Chain of Office to Smiths Falls’ new Mayor, Dennis Staples appears as a more relaxed version of the man most people will continue to associate with Smiths Falls for quite some time. After 29 years in politics, 15 of which were in the position of Mayor, Staples said leaving his role on council will be “an adjustment.”

“Basically for last 15 years I’ve been getting up and going to town hall,” Staples said, adding he’s been mentally preparing for this transition since his announcement in January 2014. Staples said he’ll now have more time to spend on other interests, such as time with family, playing hockey, playing golf, participating in his band and in the rotary club. Despite a number of areas of interest, he stressed that “family is the priority.”

Although Staples said he is looking forward to what comes next, he is not keen on using the word ‘retirement’ to describe the next phase of his life. “I don’t like the word retirement,” Staples explained, “I call it the next phase, the next chapter, like a good book you want to read.”

As someone who admittedly thrives on challenges, change and opportunities, Staples is not one to sit idle, and is not without future prospects to choose from. He said he’s already been approached by seven or eight organizations looking to see if he’s interested in becoming involved in their group, but he’s in no rush to commit to any one organization.

During a recent radio interview, Staples said he was asked if he had any regrets about his time on council, to which he responded, “If I knew council was this much fun I would have run earlier.”

Staples likens it to playing hockey, in that you need to “put your gear on and get in the game.” And it was the decision to get in the game that was the kick starter for his council career in 1985, when Staples first ran for council.

According to Staples, the municipal world 30 years ago was far different than it is today, with today’s residents taking a more informed interest in their municipal council. Although transparency and organization has improved in the years Staples has been on council, he said at one time it was an issue.

When he first decided to run for council Staples said he asked staff for three documents: a copy of the organizational chart, monthly financial statements, and minutes from fire committee meetings. He was shocked when he was told the municipality didn’t have an organizational chart, financial statements wouldn’t be available until mid-year and the fire committee hadn’t had a meeting since 1980. He decided to make improving the organization a priority while on council.

Since his first inauguration on council, Staples said he has been working with council and staff to create “basic structure systems” in the town, including being part of the development of the first strategic plan for the town of Smiths Falls, in 2002. Staples considers the creation of a strategic plan a big step for the town, and a crucial one to make sure plans remained on track for the municipality.

“Can you imagine general motors not having a plan for where they want to be and what they want to do next?” Staples laughed, adding that Smiths Falls needed a strategic plan to maintain direction, no different than any other large corporation.

With specific economic challenges affecting Smiths Falls over the years like the Hershey, Stanley Tools, Grenville Casting, ARB Coil Tech, and the Ottawa Valley Railway closures, Staples said there were many issues that needed to be addressed at the municipal and provincial level, and these challenges affected not only Smiths Falls, but the surrounding area as well.

“Some people said it was a Smiths Falls problem, it was also an area problem,” Staples said.

This understanding is what led Staples to link up with surrounding heads of council following the closures, to work collectively to problem solve. Staples also worked with staff and council to find funding for necessary projects, including 150 million in infrastructure that funded the high school, VIA station, the new OPP building, the arena, and Rideau Regional.

“When Rideau Regional closed I said we’re going to find solutions and we have, we created corporate confidence,” Staples explained, adding that he feels “we’ve done pretty well.”

Staples’ search for solutions has paid off in results. Rideau Regional was purchased and transformed into the Gallipeau Centre, Metroland bought the Stanley Tools building, creating 180 new jobs, and then there is the Hershey plant, which has come with its own unique challenges.

Staples explained that at one point the Hershey plant owners asked the town for a demolition permit, but Staples suggested they hold off for just a little while longer. Staples’ faith paid off when a short time later Tweed approached the municipality about taking over a portion of the building.

Staples considers the new industrial business growth a sign of success. “I’m glad we got the message out there we’re open for business.”

Although Staples’ painstaking and time consuming work has paid off for the town in economic development, he is reluctant to take credit for the community’s forward momentum, claiming it’s the participation of local citizens bringing their ideas forward to create new events and energy in the town.

He credits Highland on the Rideau, Open Stage, Celebration of Lights and the Healthy Living Festival, among others, as being instrumental in many of the changes appearing in Smiths Falls.

“It’s not just me, it’s the community…if you have an idea, bring it forward and let’s make it happen, anything is possible.”

Staples’ future plans are to continue lobbying for changes to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission regulations stipulating that profits from a licensed raffle can’t be used for projects on municipal property, a project he’s been working on for the past five years.

When asked if he has any regrets with his decision to step back from local politics, Staples was quick to answer, “I have no second thoughts.”

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Dennis Staples moves onto the next chapter, no regrets

Staples1

BY AMY HOGUE

The day after passing on the Chain of Office to Smiths Falls’ new Mayor, Dennis Staples appears as a more relaxed version of the man most people will continue to associate with Smiths Falls for quite some time. After 29 years in politics, 15 of which were in the position of Mayor, Staples said leaving his role on council will be “an adjustment.”

“Basically for last 15 years I’ve been getting up and going to town hall,” Staples said, adding he’s been mentally preparing for this transition since his announcement in January 2014. Staples said he’ll now have more time to spend on other interests, such as time with family, playing hockey, playing golf, participating in his band and in the rotary club. Despite a number of areas of interest, he stressed that “family is the priority.”

Although Staples said he is looking forward to what comes next, he is not keen on using the word ‘retirement’ to describe the next phase of his life. “I don’t like the word retirement,” Staples explained, “I call it the next phase, the next chapter, like a good book you want to read.”

As someone who admittedly thrives on challenges, change and opportunities, Staples is not one to sit idle, and is not without future prospects to choose from. He said he’s already been approached by seven or eight organizations looking to see if he’s interested in becoming involved in their group, but he’s in no rush to commit to any one organization.

During a recent radio interview, Staples said he was asked if he had any regrets about his time on council, to which he responded, “If I knew council was this much fun I would have run earlier.”

Staples likens it to playing hockey, in that you need to “put your gear on and get in the game.” And it was the decision to get in the game that was the kick starter for his council career in 1985, when Staples first ran for council.

According to Staples, the municipal world 30 years ago was far different than it is today, with today’s residents taking a more informed interest in their municipal council. Although transparency and organization has improved in the years Staples has been on council, he said at one time it was an issue.

When he first decided to run for council Staples said he asked staff for three documents: a copy of the organizational chart, monthly financial statements, and minutes from fire committee meetings. He was shocked when he was told the municipality didn’t have an organizational chart, financial statements wouldn’t be available until mid-year and the fire committee hadn’t had a meeting since 1980. He decided to make improving the organization a priority while on council.

Since his first inauguration on council, Staples said he has been working with council and staff to create “basic structure systems” in the town, including being part of the development of the first strategic plan for the town of Smiths Falls, in 2002. Staples considers the creation of a strategic plan a big step for the town, and a crucial one to make sure plans remained on track for the municipality.

“Can you imagine general motors not having a plan for where they want to be and what they want to do next?” Staples laughed, adding that Smiths Falls needed a strategic plan to maintain direction, no different than any other large corporation.

With specific economic challenges affecting Smiths Falls over the years like the Hershey, Stanley Tools, Grenville Casting, ARB Coil Tech, and the Ottawa Valley Railway closures, Staples said there were many issues that needed to be addressed at the municipal and provincial level, and these challenges affected not only Smiths Falls, but the surrounding area as well.

“Some people said it was a Smiths Falls problem, it was also an area problem,” Staples said.

This understanding is what led Staples to link up with surrounding heads of council following the closures, to work collectively to problem solve. Staples also worked with staff and council to find funding for necessary projects, including 150 million in infrastructure that funded the high school, VIA station, the new OPP building, the arena, and Rideau Regional.

“When Rideau Regional closed I said we’re going to find solutions and we have, we created corporate confidence,” Staples explained, adding that he feels “we’ve done pretty well.”

Staples’ search for solutions has paid off in results. Rideau Regional was purchased and transformed into the Gallipeau Centre, Metroland bought the Stanley Tools building, creating 180 new jobs, and then there is the Hershey plant, which has come with its own unique challenges.

Staples explained that at one point the Hershey plant owners asked the town for a demolition permit, but Staples suggested they hold off for just a little while longer. Staples’ faith paid off when a short time later Tweed approached the municipality about taking over a portion of the building.

Staples considers the new industrial business growth a sign of success. “I’m glad we got the message out there we’re open for business.”

Although Staples’ painstaking and time consuming work has paid off for the town in economic development, he is reluctant to take credit for the community’s forward momentum, claiming it’s the participation of local citizens bringing their ideas forward to create new events and energy in the town.

He credits Highland on the Rideau, Open Stage, Celebration of Lights and the Healthy Living Festival, among others, as being instrumental in many of the changes appearing in Smiths Falls.

“It’s not just me, it’s the community…if you have an idea, bring it forward and let’s make it happen, anything is possible.”

Staples’ future plans are to continue lobbying for changes to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission regulations stipulating that profits from a licensed raffle can’t be used for projects on municipal property, a project he’s been working on for the past five years.

When asked if he has any regrets with his decision to step back from local politics, Staples was quick to answer, “I have no second thoughts.”

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