St. Walburg community well dedicated to Frenchman Butte councillor


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July 14, 2015 8:15 AM

George Petch wore a lot of hats during his time, many of which he wore all at once. From owning a towing business, being a small ranch owner, buying and selling horses to operating a septic service, running a dry cleaner and overseeing a car wash, it seemed Petch had no trouble keeping busy.

But perhaps the most notable positions were his consecutive seats on council, divisions 1 and 2 respectively, for the RM of Frenchman Butte.

“Yeah, he had a variety of jobs,” said Ronald Gory, who laughed as he recounted his friend and council-mate’s work history, “all kind of at the same time. He was on council and he also spent time, when we were short of a foreman on council, being a foreman as well as a councillor. Lots of irons in the fire.”

Petch served for Division 1 from 2003 until 2008, then as councillor for Division 2 from 2009 until November 2014, when he passed away suddenly from medical complications. One of the projects he had worked on near the time of his passing was the St. Walburg Community Well, which on July 9 was formally dedicated to his memory.

At a small gathering held at the well, just behind the St. Walburg cemetery where Petch now rests, Gory explained to family and friends how he requested the project be dedicated to his friend’s memory, as well as the importance of having community wells.

“I went to council and asked if we could dedicate the well project to him in his name,” said Gory. “This is our second community well in our municipality and I hope other municipalities, where they don’t have community wells, will take a lead and do something like this because it’s very beneficial to the agriculture community.”

Petch spearheaded many projects in Frenchman Butte and the community wells were ones he was particularly proud of. In agricultural communities the projects serve as convenient ways to get water for things like spraying and for watering cattle and Gory says they are quick when it come to filling tanks in a hurry. As of July 9, there is now a plaque on the new well’s door, memorializing Petch and his devotion to the RM.

His many other accomplishments while serving include being one of the founding councillors on the municipality’s health board and Gory says some of the policies they set up are still in use. Petch was also on the Paradise Hill Care Home’s board and worked with Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM) on a road project that was seen as environmentally sensitive. Many miles of road built in divisions 1 and 2 can also be attributed to Petch as well as the newest fire hall in St. Walburg.

Gory fondly describes Petch as a man with a great heart who was good with children and had a sharp mind for business, joking that he could go to town with $5 in his pocket and come back with a hundred. He was also a straight shooter who spoke his mind and didn’t bother much in beating around the bush.

“He always told you what he thought of you,” said Gory. “You always knew where you stood with him and he had a real big heart for kids.”

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