St. Marys 'strikes out' in TSN competition
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Jul 29, 2009  |  Vote 0    0

St. Marys 'strikes out' in TSN competition

St. Marys Journal Argus

It may be small, but Elk Lake certainly is mighty.The northeastern Ontario community of just over 400 people racked up 122,797 online votes ' effectively quashing St. Marys' respectable tally of 77,999 votes to receive a $25,000 grant from TSN/Kraft.The results were announced at 6:30 p.m. Monday on TSN; both nominations were to improve baseball fields. "I was totally surprised by the results ' and am still surprised today," says Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum president Tom Valcke, who submitted St. Marys' entry, which would have put the grant toward a much-needed irrigation system for the Ball Hall diamonds. Elk Lake's win, on the other hand, will result in fencing, bleachers, an announcer's booth and a pavilion/shelter for its two community baseball diamonds. From the moment that St. Marys was announced as a finalist on Canada Day, Valcke says that he, Scott Crawford (the Ball Hall's executive director), Mayor Jamie Hahn and CAO Rob Brindley devised a multi-pronged plan to get as many people voting as possible.This included mass emails, media coverage, postings on social networking sites such as Facebook, posters, and dedicated computers at the St. Marys Public Library and Kin Summerfest for voting.People could vote from noon on Friday, July 24 to noon on Saturday, July 25; Valcke says that when he left the Ball Hall offices at the end of Friday for the organization's Pee Wee Classic baseball tournament, he "felt great ' we got every single leg of that action plan completed."His spirits remained high all weekend as many people told him that they voted (one person reportedly voted 800 times) online over the weekend. Mayor Hahn also reports being "shocked" by the results. "That home run we hoped we would hit turned into a strikeout," he told the Journal Argus Monday night.However, he called the mayor of Elk Lake Tuesday morning to congratulate the community on its win. "They're great winners," Hahn says of the results, "yet we're all winners because it was a rare opportunity for the town and all of our supports to come together for one cause." Valcke echoes this, saying that "one of the beautiful things was the synergy and energy we created in town."Terri Pope, the library's CEO, says that the two dedicated voting computers were busy all Friday and Saturday, with many people (who don't have a computer at home) coming in to vote. "Even a blind lady came in to vote," she says. "It was good for us and I'm glad the library could help."If the St. Marys submission had won, both say it would have been great exposure to have the town featured on an episode of TSN's Sports Centre. Nevertheless, Valcke says that some good has come out of the competition; St. Marys did receive some national media attention, and perhaps through this, "maybe someone will step up to the plate" to donate the necessary funds. Valcke says that he's not daunted by the defeat. "This (the Kraft award) is one of the many grants we have applied for," he says, noting that the Ball Hall has submitted two other grant applications for the irrigation system, with announcements expected in the fall.

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