For Osage resident Garry Kreutzer, the local recreation centre’s annual winter fundraiser is more than just a way to support the community. It is an opportunity to reflect on his 44 years as village mayor.

This year’s event was held Saturday and included a curling bonspiel, snowmobile poker derby, casino games and a ham supper.

“I was eight years old when I moved here and have been here ever since” recounts Kreutzer. “Being mayor in a village like this is more like being a caretaker. You don’t just sit there and oversee things. You’ve got to do the work.”

The Osage Recreation Centre is just one example of where Kreutzer has done that work.

“The curling rink was built in 1978 and we added on the hall in 1984,” he said. “This place is really the only thing we have in the community so it really does mean a lot to the people here. This space allows us to host events and give people a place for funerals. This is quite close to my heart.”

With only 25 people living in the community, according to Kreutzer, he reflected on the changes he has seen and the new challenges he faces.

“I have seen that steady decline in population. It’s hard to witness,” he said. “It would be nice to see more support for these communities but it seems to just be the way things are going. We have people in town here that just live here and work elsewhere, they don’t really take part in the community. When I first started everyone was involved and had a tie to this building whether they worked here or not. It just isn’t that way anymore, which makes events like this even harder.”

The winter fundraiser is an event that has taken place in Osage for over 30 years to support the local recreation center and as Kreutzer explains the support is greatly needed.

“The last two years have been hard on us with all the COVID restrictions, we haven’t been able to fundraise or host events. Our main thing right now is just trying to keep the doors open, things like keeping power and heat in the place. It costs a lot of money. We added the post office a few years ago, but honestly, we really don’t get enough revenue from it to offset the power and heat costs.”

Aside from the recreation centre, Kreutzer is also working to get a boil water advisory lifted that has been in place for over a year.

“We put in a water plant years ago, but then regulations changed and the quality of water got stagnant and we’ve been on a boil water advisory since,” he said. “We are planning on installing a UV light which will allow us to go back to normal, but being in a small community it is tough to get the revenue to support things like that.

We had a meeting last summer in the community about it and everyone was in favor of having drinking water in the community. I am hoping in a couple of months we will have it fixed. That is one thing that I am very proud of too. The quality of water is important to me.”

It seems that Kreutzer will have time to address all these issues, as his position as mayor may be the only thing that isn’t changing any time soon.

“Nobody else wants the job,” Kreutzer said with a laugh. “If there was anyone to take my spot I would step aside but no one has put their name up yet.”