Marking a Milestone

Jamie Heap
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River Hebert Co-Op celebrates 70 years

Longtime former River Hebert Co-Op employee Marion Shipley (left) enjoys the first piece of the 70th anniversary cake that was cut for her by her former longtime colleague Shirley Fullerton. Shipley and Fullerton were joined by other former Co-Op employees and board members Wednesday on the occasion of the store's 70th anniversary cake cutting ceremony. More cake will be available on Saturday at the Co-Op.

RIVER HEBERT-Seventy years. That’s a long time to be in business, a milestone achievement that the River Hebert Co-Op realized on Wednesday, November 20.

Incorporated in 1943 as a farmers’ feed and fertilizer co-operative, the River Hebert Co-Op first sold groceries in 1946, the same year it hired Joseph Ward as its first manager. After Ward came the store’s longest serving manager Arnold Cox. Cox succeeded Ward in 1948. Cox’s wife Margaret Mary Cox, who recently passed on, was the River Hebert Co-op’s bookkeeper and accountant for 40 years.

As for the current building in which it resides, the present River Hebert Co-op has been at the same location since 1968; it was previously situated in the driveway.

On Wednesday, past and present River Hebert Co-Op employees, board members and the general public enjoyed complimentary coffee, tea and anniversary cake. Past Co-Op board presidents Edna Boon, Bill McAloney and Lola Melanson were in attendance, as were such former employees as Reg Daborn, Shirley Fullerton, Judy Jollymore, Reade Maxwell, Todd Murphy, Marion Shipley and meat cutter Burton Wood. “We sure shared a lot of laughs here together,” recalled Maxwell.

Presently, the River Hebert Co-op employs nine people, seven of whom are women. Its current manager Cindy White, who first started working at the Co-Op when she was just 15, has worked for 23 years straight at the Co-Op, nine of them as manager. All totalled, White has over 30 years of work experience at the Co-Op.

“If Cindy wasn’t as dedicated as she was, I don’t think that the store would still be here today,” stated board president Jenna Boon. “We’re very lucky to have her.”

“It’s my passion,” stated White. “Working for the Co-Op gets into your blood.”

The Co-op is actively involved in the community, supporting such outreach programs as the food bank, school breakfasts and school bursaries, notwithstanding local grocery deliveries to the community’s older population who can’t get around.

“We will be expanding our services for older people who can’t get out for a fee,” stated Boon. “A lot of people in the community aren’t all that mobile,” added Boon. “It’s the lifeblood of the community; it goes hand-in-hand with the schools.”

One-hundred and twenty-five copies of the River Hebert Co-Op’s 70th anniversary cookbook were sold on Friday, November 15, the day that is first was launched. To date, 200 copies have been sold, leaving approximately 100 left for the buying.

As for the Co-Op’s 70th Anniversary open mic celebration held Saturday, November 16 at the River Hebert Masonic Lodge, a number of prizes were awarded. Fruit baskets were won by birthday girl Cathy Arseneau, Isabel Miller and Buddy Belliveau while $10.00 gift certificates were won by Susan Belliveau, Shelly Brown, Bill Kahout, Marilyn Kahout, Brenda Melanson, Lola Melanson and Merrill White. Proceeds from the Co-Op’s open mic celebration and 70th anniversary cookbook sales benefit the Co-op’s Store Improvement Committee.

The River Hebert Co-Op’s week-long 70th anniversary party concludes November 23. A number of indoor specials, gift certificate draws and more cake will be available. “I’m really pleased with the turnout here today,” concluded White.

Organizations: River Hebert Co-Op, Co-Op board, Store Improvement Committee

Geographic location: RIVER HEBERT

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