In Russell you only have to use her first name and everyone knows who you are talking about. She is our version of Cher, Sting or Elvis, no last name is needed. “Has someone called Martha?” - “Is Martha going to be coming?” – “Oh there’s Martha over there”. Every event, pen in hand, camera around her neck. Who hasn’t been asked by Martha “Excuse me, what is your child’s name?” and then finding their picture in The Villager next week, which usually results in the purchase of 10 or 12 copies that are clipped apart and sent to family members across the country. She has been a part of all of our families; where do you find out about the next trivia night? - The Villager. Where are you made aware that there is a local family in need? - The Villager. Where can you read an acerbic editorial that takes a well placed jab at a local politician? - The Villager. Martha has taken on the role of modern town crier as the editor of The Villager and has kept us all informed and entertained about the many happenings in our small village. It is comforting to know that in this age of internet news and media giants that every week we can pick up our local newspaper and read about things that happen in Russell, things that affect us directly. Maybe people from outside Russell don’t care if the local Atom “C” hockey team beat Cumberland, but we do and Martha has been the one who kept us informed.
The Russell Fire Department owes Martha a great deal of gratitude for the attention she has afforded us in helping to keep fire safety at the forefront in Russell. The fruits of this partnership are evident, our call volume is down and when we go door to door each year we are finding that our residents are better informed about fire safety matters. The Fire Marshals Office of Ontario encourages fire departments throughout Ontario to try and have a good relationship with local media outlets as it is known that they are your best way to reach the public. We often feel that our relationship with The Villager should be the example for other departments to follow and in some ways it is, as another local paper has now taken on a similar initiative as we have with The Villager. All of this began with Martha and her belief in what we do, without her support we could not have been as successful as we are.
Martha, from everyone in the Russell Fire Department, we wish you all the best in Kingston, our loss is their gain.