'I love this town': Hometown Hero dedicates her time to rejuvenating Radville
A Radville woman has earned the title of Hometown Hero because of her efforts to rejuvenate and preserve the history of the town.
Eighty-year-old Jeannette Verhelst is spearheading multiple projects in the Radville, including helping run the CN Station Museum.
In 2004, the Radville Chamber of Commerce was discussing converting the old train station building in the centre of town into a museum.
“To tell you the truth I got a little fed up with spinning our wheels and I said I will spear head it if everybody backs me up,” Verhelst said. “The chamber really did. Everybody stepped up.”
The building was run down as it had been closed for many years. Verhelst said the basement was full of rain water and windows were broken.
She and other community members restored the building and started collecting historic items, opening the museum in 2010.
“It’s the heart of our town,” Shauna Bourassa, chief administrative officer with the Town of Radville, said. “The other side of that, it’s also our history. It’s the community of how we [became] Radville and all the information in there provides a story of who we are.”
Tourism Radville said the museum attracts people from all over the country, as well as people from local communities.
But her work at the CN Station Museum isn’t the only thing that makes Verhelst special.
Bourassa said Verhelst opened a second hand store in 2015 that donates all the funds to the community. More than $100,000 has been donated since opening day.
She added that Verhelst also came up with outdoor activities for community members during COVID-19 lockdowns to keep people active and engaged.
“Jeannette is truly an inspiration to the community and the community would definitely not have the beauty, the amenities and the services without Jeannette’s drive and enthusiasm,” Bourassa said. “She is a woman with a vision and won’t take no for an answer.”
Verhelst said she wouldn’t be able to do what she does without the support of the community where she was born and raised.