News Local

Hearst has plans if Hockeyville proves a windfall

By Emma Meldrum

 HEARST - The community of Hearst is throwing its hat into the ring for Kraft Hockeyville.



Julie Roy, development officer with Hearst's Economic Development Corporation, said they're going to need community support if they want to win the grand prize – an NHL pre-season game and $250,000 in arena upgrades.


Hearst's community rally page currently features 17 stories, 19 notes and 72 pictures and videos. Roy wants to triple that.


“We need the community to hop in with us and participate, go onto the Kraft Hockeyville website and add their stories, post their pictures, share on Twitter,” she said.


“It's super easy, it takes a few minutes, and it gives us many points. We need that rally meter to rev and get some more stories out there so that we can go on to the next phase of the contest.”


Phase one, which ends Feb. 11, leads into a month's worth of judging, after which the top four finalists are announced on March 17. Canadians have two days to vote before the grand prize winner is announced on March 31.


The three runners-up receive $25,000 in arena upgrades.


Roy said there's a big need for the funds at the Claude Larose Arena. The scoreboard needs replacing, she said.


“We have one right now but it's aged, and it's not energy-efficient. It's expensive to operate, and even to change a bulb, it's expensive. We are looking to replace that.”


There's also the issue of new glass. Roy said they'd like to install eight-foot glass around the rink, as the current height isn't tall enough. Benches could use upgrading, too.


Roy explained that these are the main projects they have in mind, but they're open to hearing from changes citizens would like to see.


Several people have shared their thoughts already.


“Why are we Hockeyville? Because we work hard as a community to have the best rink, the best hockey programs and the best crowd at the game,” wrote one commenter.


“In Hearst, we have camping season and hockey season!!! Both seasons create lifelong memories and friendships,” added another.


“No community deserves this title more than our community,” said another of the 19 notes.


Roy said a win – and the cash that would come with it – is also about pride.


“Everything is about hockey,” she said. “A lot of us, we plan our schedule around the hockey season, travelling for hockey.”


Hearst acquired a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League team last year, the Lumberjacks. They're currently ranked fourth in the East division.


One commenter on the Kraft Hockeyville noted, “One has to attend a jam-packed Hearst Lumberjack game to feel the passion of this community.”


Other communities who've entered their name into the contest include Lafleche, Sask., High River, Alta., Minto, N.B. and Angus, Ont.