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depending on who was the secretary-treasurer. The office was perma nently moved to Altona after Gretna became incorporated in 1896.
Relations between the municipal council and the Reinlaender Gebietsamt smoothed out over the next decade as both allowed the other to operate within its own sphere. While the municipality still had disputes with a number of villages over the building of dams, it commu nicated on an official level with the individual village governments. While the village Vorsteher or mayor had no legal power, the municipal council realized they needed the cooperation of the village govern ment. 54
The most important new activity of the municipal council in the 1890's was the attempt to secure better drainage in the northern part of the municipality. Persistent flooding in the 1880's and early 1890's resulted in petitions to the municipality to have a ditch dug near Plum Coulee to aid in handling the heavy spring run-off. 55
In March of 1894 Reeve Jacob Heppner went to Winnipeg to try to get some financial aid to dig a ditch from Plum Coulee to Rosenfeld and from there to the Red River near St. Jean. This scheme, the council believed, would open another seven sections of land for farming. 56 Receiving a promise of $1 ,000 from the Manitoba Department of Public Works, surveyors were dispatched to layout the ditch and a contract was signed by July of 1894. Little is known about the particulars of this ditch but in 1896 run-off and heavy rains flooded much of the area.
By this time it had become evident that piecemeal drainage and dredging was not going to alleviate the problem and in 1899 the R.M. of Rhineland Council petitioned the government to bring three townships under the Drainage Act. This initiated long term drainage projects that would allow such farmers as the Pokrants, Recksiedlers, Schroeders, Knopfs and Jankes to farm the land north of Rosenfeld.
Mennonite participation in municipal politics was quite low in the first years but increased in the 1890's. In 1891 only twenty-six voted to elect Jacob Heppner as reeve of the newly created R.M. of Rhineland and all councillors were elected by acclamation. By 1894, however, over 500 voted in an election that featured a three way contest for reeve between Jacob Heppner, Gerhard Klassen, and Jacob Toews.
A few years later one newspaper correspondent commented that most farmers were voting enthusiastically and that some congregations were holding pre-votes to nominate men for council. 57 Reinlaender villages, however, persisted in maintaining their own colony admin istration and boycotted municipal elections. Even in 1899 Ward three, which contained many of the remaining Old Colony villages, only eight residents voted. 58