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Wakefield Mill to host international meeting. OTTAWA CITIZEN Imprimir

Security checks, updated menus part of preparations for VIP guests

 

BY JENNIFER CAMPBELL, OTTAWA CITIZEN DECEMBER 12, 2010

It's being billed as a meeting where the three participants will roll up their sleeves and get to work, but for them to do that, locals will have been working around the clock.

By the time U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives at the Wakefield Mill Monday morning with her Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa, the Mill's snow removal team will have already put in more than five hours of work, getting the road and parking lots "down to bare cobblestone" and then rolling out a carpet lest the Mexican official comes wearing footwear that's more suited to Cancun than Canada.

Clinton and Espinosa will meet with Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, who is the MP for the Pontiac region, where the Mill is located. On the agenda are items such as the economy, security, energy and climate change.

And on the agenda for Mill owners Bob Milling and Lynne Berthiaume for the past three months, since they agreed to host the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. event, have been meeting after meeting on everything from security to menu planning, as well as a lot of sprucing up of the two buildings that will be used.

"Internally, it's been a lot of work," Milling said. "It's a big event for a modest family inn."

The Mill has 27 guest rooms, two restaurants and a spa. Milling said new light fixtures have been installed in the dining rooms and new carpeting in the meeting room and the Christmas decorations have gotten a little more elaborate in honour of the delegation.

"We asked our decorator to give us seasonal decorations that are a cut above normal," Milling said. "We want to put our best foot forward."

The preparations started in August with all employees working on Monday being screened for security purposes. Then there were the meetings to plan every last detail of how they would secure the rural location and what they would feed the 200 -- yes, 200 -- people for lunch.

Milling isn't allowed to discuss the menu, but he did allow it will feature regional foods, which are the Mill's specialty. He also noted none of the guests had put in requests or "peculiarities that are of rock-star parallel. Hillary Clinton didn't ask for red Smarties."

The Mill can't rent any rooms from Saturday on as the advance teams convert rooms to offices for communications teams and for media. In addition, the spa had to be closed for the weekend and meal service after Saturday's dinner service cancelled.

"We have no Sunday brunch, which is one of our most popular meals," Milling said, but added the cost of the required closures and lost revenue were considered in the tab for hosting the event.

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