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Ron Denny, 92, doesn’t need incentive to keep clearing snow from his neighbourhood fire hydrant in Corner Brook

Ron Denny is 92 and has been clearing the snow away from this fire hydrant outside his home on Aspen Road in Corner Brook for as long as it’s been there.
Ron Denny is 92 and has been clearing the snow away from this fire hydrant outside his home on Aspen Road in Corner Brook for as long as it’s been there. - Gary Kean

Ron Denny has received flak for doing what he feels is his civic duty, but it’s never deterred him.

Denny is 92 and has been living on Aspen Road since 1952.

When he moved to that area of Corner Brook West, there was nothing but fields and forest beyond his home.

There was no water and sewer service back then either.

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He’s not sure exactly when those municipal services finally reached his proverbial neck of the woods, which has been significantly developed with other homes and businesses since he began to reside on Aspen Road.

He does know that he stared shovelling out the fire hydrant right outside his home ever since it was put there.

It started out as being more of a practical thing to do since clearing his own driveway would mean burying the hydrant in if he didn’t push the snow just past it.

Of course, it was a measure of safety knowing the device was easily accessible in case of an emergency.

“I just felt it was the right thing to be doing,” Denny said. “I’ve been criticized at times by unions and other people, who ask me why I’m doing the city’s job, but it just feels like the right thing to do and I don’t mind doing it.

“The city still comes along and does it sometimes.”

There have been occasions when he couldn’t do the work because of illness, but he says he feels physically fine now and vows to keep clearing out the fire hydrant for as long as he can.

This winter, the City of Corner Brook has started a new contest designed to get residents to adopt a fire hydrant. The city used to use a private contractor to clear snow from hydrants, but gave that up and has found it hard burdening its own employees with this work on top of what they already do during the winter.

Any resident or group registering to commit to clearing out their adopted hydrant can be eligible for weekly draws for $50 gift certificates from various local businesses.

At the end of the season, everyone registered will be eligible to win a new snowblower.

Denny is aware of the contest and even has an entry form, but hasn’t decided to officially adopt the hydrant he’s already been maintaining for decades.

“I might enter, but the contest doesn’t matter much to me,” he said. “I’m 92 and it takes me 10 times as long to do it. I don’t know if I should be taking on any responsibility for it, but I’ll still do it when I can.”

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