/Dorset columnist passes her pen
Melissa Alfano left is retiring as columnist of the Dorset News after 16 years. Lee Ross right is taking over from her starting in next week's Minden Times. JENN WATT Staff

Dorset columnist passes her pen

By Jenn Watt

Published March 16 2017

Sixteen years ago Melissa Alfano was tapped by then-Dorset columnist Phyllis Briscoe to take over her space in the Minden Times.

Briscoe was in her 90s and looking to put away her typewriter but didn’t want to see the opportunity lost.
“She didn’t want to retire without having somebody in place” says Alfano. “I thought I’d do it on a trial basis and here I am 16 years later.”

Now it’s time for Alfano to do the same.

She says the decision has been a difficult one; as the recreation programming supervisor for Algonquin Highlands she is passionate about Dorset and getting the word out about what’s happening. At the same time she says she felt it was time for someone to take over the column.

Like Briscoe before her Alfano found her replacement to ensure there was no break in coverage from Dorset.

Starting in next week’s Minden Times Lee Ross will be reporting from the hamlet in the northern reaches of Haliburton County.

Ross moved to Dorset from Hamilton when she was 19.

“I was going to stay in Hamilton but I decided at the last second to come here” says Ross who works at Coldwell Banker in Dorset. “I had these plans to go back to Hamilton every weekend when I moved up here and then I got here and I never did.”
Alfano coincidentally is also from Hamilton.
“We had a seasonal cabin that we moved into and renovated. We’re still renovating it and it’s been since 1993” she said.
“Things just worked out really well. I got a part-time job here at the rec centre in the evenings as a way to get out to meet people and it evolved from that. Never looked back.”

The women say the small town atmosphere is part of the charm of living in Dorset. That and the celebrity sightings.
Over the 12 years she’s been living up here Ross has met an Olympic volleyball player former premier Dalton McGuinty and – ready for it? – actor Channing Tatum.

“He came into the restaurant when it was the Fiery Grill and my friend and I were in shock” said Ross. She worked there at the time so didn’t think it’d be professional to take a photo but the excitement of the encounter still hasn’t worn off.
“That was pretty much the highlight of my life” she laughs.

Ross can sometimes be found on the outdoor rink playing hockey and stretching it out on the yoga mat.
She’s helps run the DorsetCanada.com website and manages the Dorset Ontario Facebook page – so she’s on top of what’s happening in Dorset.
To say hello or get your event listed in her weekly column give her a shout at burgesslt@me.com.