News

Eleven charges laid as a result of Sept. 6, 2014 fatal crash

 

Amherstburg police investigated a fatal crash Sept. 6 on Concession 2 North. Eighteen-year-old Emily Bernauer of LaSalle was killed in the crash.

Amherstburg police investigated a fatal crash Sept. 6 on Concession 2 North. Eighteen-year-old Emily Bernauer of LaSalle was killed in the crash.

The Amherstburg Police Services states that the investigation into the accident that took the life of 18-year-old Emily Bernauer of LaSalle Sept. 6, 2014 has revealed through post-mortem toxicology results that alcohol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were in the victim’s system at the time of the collision.

According to Amherstburg police, these were determined to be contributing factors to the collision, along with distracted driving (texting) as police previously reported.

However, the law firm representing the Bernauer family is disputing at least a portion of those allegations by police.

As result of a lengthy investigation into the collision, Amherstburg police state “a total of 11 charges have been laid under the Liquor License Act of Ontario to several members of the Shores of Erie Wine Festival and Sobeys Amherstburg.”

Amherstburg police add that no further information is being released at this time as the matter is now before the courts.

The lawyers representing Christian and Kimberley Bernauer, Emily’s parents, issued their own media release a few hours after the release issued by Amherstburg police. The release, signed by lawyer Gino Paciocco, stated: “Post-mortem toxicology results identified the presence of alcohol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Emily system at the time of the crash. The Coroner’s Investigation lists alcohol use as a contributing factor to the accident It does not reference the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a contributing factor. In this respect, the media release of the Amherstburg Police Service was inaccurate. The Amherstburg Police Service had access to the Coroner’s investigation file prior to their media release of March 4, 2015.”

The statement further claims: “Investigations to date have revealed that Emily was provided with and consumed alcohol at the Shores of Erie Wine Festival while working at a booth operated by Sobeys Amherstburg.”

The law firm’s press release added that the family awaits the outcome of the charges laid under the Liquor License Act and that the family asks for privacy.

 

Frustration voiced at second PARC meeting

 

Superintendent of education Todd Awender speaks at the second public meeting to discuss the Greater Essex County District’s 2015 Program and Accommodation Review Committee at Harrow District High School Monday night.

Superintendent of education Todd Awender speaks at the second public meeting to discuss the Greater Essex County District’s 2015 Program and Accommodation Review Committee at Harrow District High School Monday night. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Emotions ran high at Harrow District High School on Monday night as Essex County residents continued to voice their concerns about the 2015 Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC).

The second of four public meetings was held in the school’s gymnasium to discuss the Greater Essex County District School Board’s decision to move forward with accommodation reviews of General Amherst High School, Western Secondary School, Kingsville District High School, Harrow District High School and Harrow Public School. Superintendent of education Todd Awender presented attendees with a number of reasons why these schools have been chosen for review, including low utilization rates, significant renewal needs and projected low enrolment rates for the next 20 years.

“What really stuck out when looking at the numbers here was that the four secondary schools account for nearly 25 per cent of the empty space in the 71 buildings that are acting as schools across our system,” said Awender. “The current situation we have, it’s just not sustainable at this point in time.”

Awender also noted that a new top-up funding model has resulted in less money for each school, penalizing them for having more empty spaces. He said deciding how to approach the problems facing the schools has been extremely difficult.

“We know that all of our schools are great, we know that. We know that there are phenomenal parents and students across our system. That has not surprised any of us,” said Awender. “We’re trying now to enhance so that we can provide the programs and opportunities for all of our students and it has to fit into what is actually sustainable.”

After Awender’s presentation a handful of delegates were able to speak on the matter. One of them was Town of Essex Ward 4 Coun. Sherry Bondy who said closing schools in smaller communities will disrupt family routines, particularly with regards to students who choose to participate in after-school activities.

“I know if I had a son or daughter in Amherstburg or Kingsville it’s almost an hour trip there and back,” said Bondy. “That takes away from my family dinner, that takes away from my time and it adds to my costs for gas and mileage to put my children in extracurricular activities.”

Bondy added that the threat of closing schools can have economic ramifications on communities by affecting property values, discouraging developers from investing in the area and deterring young families from moving into smaller towns.

“I know last time we went through the PARC process we had 10 families I know who didn’t send their kids here because they’ll be here for grades 9 and 10, but we don’t know about grades 11 and 12.”

Parc Meeting - Photo 2

Town of Essex Ward 4 Coun. Sherry Bondy speaks at the second public meeting to discuss the Greater Essex County District’s 2015 Program and Accommodation Review Committee at Harrow District High School on Monday. (Photo by: Adam D’Andrea.)

An open mic session was also held so residents could discuss their ideas and concerns surrounding the PARC process. Peggy Thompson, who has one child at General Amherst and another son to enrol next year, questioned whether the GECDSB had done everything they could to spend and budget effectively before confronting communities with a PARC. She also criticized the process of receiving public input, saying it continuously changes without notification.

“I’m totally frustrated with the lack of open discussion and I’m frustrated with the whole process,” said Thompson. “The format keeps changing, none of us are told what is going to change or how it’s going to change. We are here and then are surprised when we find out how it’s going to happen.”

Susan Cote, who has one child enrolled at Western Secondary, said she was concerned with the potential scenario of merging Western with General Amherst and potentially other schools. She pointed to the merging of Century Secondary School and J.L. Forster Secondary School into Westview Freedom Academy last year as an example.

“What studies have been done, or are being done, so we have empirical data that shows whether there was a success or not to doing that?” asked Cote. “Particularly for the kids at Century. Is their attendance the same? Are their marks the same, or has their academic performance decreased? Have they lost time at school due to mental health issues because they’re not functioning as well now that you’ve put them into this mega-school?”

Awender responded by saying their special education department could be consulted on the issue.

“I know it’s an ongoing thing, looking to see how our students are doing in all of our schools across the system. But those questions have been noted and we can get the answers to you,” Awender said.

GECDSB trustee Ron LeClair, who represents Amherstburg and LaSalle, attended the meeting and said he would like to see an innovative response to the issues surrounding the five schools facing accommodation reviews.

“It’s always good to get public input and there were several good ideas this evening,” LeClair said. “I think the process will play itself out and hopefully we’ll come up with some creative solutions that will address all of the community needs.”

The third public meeting regarding the PARC will be held at Western Secondary School April 13 at 6 p.m.

Lyme disease sufferer aims to raise money for treatment

 

Flavio Celsi is heading for Florida to have his Lyme disease treated. Fatigue is one of the many symptons Celsi has been suffering from. (Submitted photo)

Flavio Celsi is heading for Florida to have his Lyme disease treated. Fatigue is one of the many symptons Celsi has been suffering from. (Submitted photo)

By Ron Giofu

 

Life hasn’t been easy for Flavio Celsi for the last 21 years.

Celsi, 38, has been suffering from Lyme disease with the official diagnosis only coming within the last two years. The Amherstburg resident is hoping to head to Florida for treatment and is fundraising to do so, but Celsi is also hoping to bring awareness of the disease to the public.

“I’ve been sick since I was 17,” he said.

Celsi suffered with fatigue and headaches, which were originally chalked up to stress, but evolved into feeling pressure in his head.

“It felt like I was drunk or spaced out,” he said.

Throughout the end of his high school days and into college, he had a difficult time concentrating but his condition kept getting diagnosed as stress-related. His headaches worsened and, at age 21, he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, a tumour that was removed in Toronto.

“From then on, all symptoms were attributed to the brain tumour,” said Celsi.

Visits to various doctors to try and find a cause of his issues occurred and Celsi would visit a naturopathic doctor in the late 1990’s who first had an inkling of what Celsi might have.

“He looked at me and said ‘I think you have Lyme disease’,” said Celsi.

Blood tests kept coming back negative and throughout his 20’s, Celsi said he continued to see multiple doctors and psychiatrists attempting to resolve the issue. He continued to take anti-depressants and when he entered his 30’s, he began to have burning feelings in his legs and feet and also started breaking out in painful boils.

In 2013, Celsi did further research into Lyme disease and sent his blood to a clinic in Palo Alto, California that specializes in the ailment. The test came back positive. Celsi believed if he didn’t send his blood there, he would still be on anti-depressants.  The cost was $550 but Celsi said it was “well worth it” as he found out what was wrong with him.

Flavio Celsi shows the boils on his back which he said is caused by Lyme disease. (Submitted photo)

Flavio Celsi shows the boils on his back which he said is caused by Lyme disease. (Submitted photo)

“It’s actually an epidemic,” he said of Lyme disease. “No one knows about it.”

Celsi is now fundraising for a trip to a clinic in Florida that handles cases of Lyme disease, a disease Celsi said his research stated could come from bites from just about any insect.

The cost to attend the clinic is almost $67,000 with the treatments lasting 10-12 weeks. In the meantime, his efforts to find relief have had limited, if any, positive results. Some treatments, he stated, actually made him feel worse.

“I’m still always tired,” he said, noting mood problems are another of his symptoms. “I can take four or five espressos and I’m still tired.”

His nephew has established a page on the website www.gofundme.com entitled “Flavio’s Lyme Fund” and people can contribute there if they wish. People can contact him via Facebook or by mailing a cheque to him at 396 Fryer St, Amherstburg, ON, N9V 2M1.

Celsi said the disease is a “bunch of infections and viruses put together” but the immune system can’t detect it.

“I believe in God and I’m hoping to get treated this year and become a huge Lyme advocate in the community,” said Celsi.

Town commits nearly $50,000 in 2015 budget to battle Fraserville mosquitoes

 

A mosquito, with sack full of blood, sits on a door screen belonging to Fraserville resident Brenda Kokko, who took the photo. Kokko is one of many residents aiming for a nuisance program to be put in place along with the current West Nile Virus program to combat the annual mosquito problem in that area of Amherstburg.

A mosquito, with sack full of blood, sits on a door screen belonging to Fraserville resident Brenda Kokko, who took the photo. 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council is going on the offensive against mosquitoes in the Fraserville area.

Council members agreed to commit $49,972 in the 2015 budget on a nuisance control program to help combat the ongoing mosquito problem in the Fraserville neighbourhood. The nuisance program is over and above the larviciding program offered in conjunction with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Brenda Kokko, a Fraserville resident, told town council it is a quality of life issue for residents there and that residents are “held hostage” by the insects.

“I love our neighbourhood except for the infestation and overpopulation of mosquitoes,” she told town council.

Residents in that area have been known to suffer three bites per minute, said Kokko, and stated students at Stella Maris School have “mosquito days” where they stay inside at recess. Mosquito repellents offer little relief, she said.

“Our health and safety is affected as is our quality of life,” said Kokko.

The nuisance program offers an 80 per cent kill rate.

Kokko added she has received support from Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and reminded council of the “overwhelming support” she received during last fall’s municipal election campaign.

“I trust I will receive this support now,” she said.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she was “literally attacked” when campaigning in that area last year. The money should be committed now as opposed to waiting until the budget is passed in order that the nuisance mosquito program can be carried out in a timely fashion, she added.

“I think it’s a health and safety issue, especially in your area,” Pouget told Kokko. “My main concern is  that if we wait until budget, it could be too late.”
Councillor Joan Courtney said when quality of life is being negatively impacted, it is her duty as a councillor to do something about it.

“That’s my obligation as a councillor,” she said.

Engaging a firm now to conduct a nuisance mosquito program was also something Councillor Rick Fryer believed in, with Fryer adding the 80 per cent kill rate can be better adhered to if the program can start without delay.

“If we start now, we can hold the company’s feet to the fire and say we want to see the numbers,” said Fryer.

“Soup-er Wednesday Luncheon” produces better than expected results

 

Armando’s was named “People’s Choice” winner at Amherstburg Community Services’ first “Soup-er Wednesday Luncheon” with Gianni Rigotti accepting the plaque from ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Armando’s was named “People’s Choice” winner at Amherstburg Community Services’ first “Soup-er Wednesday Luncheon” with Gianni Rigotti accepting the plaque from ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Meals on Wheels had one of the entrants with Darlene Menard and Sue Laprade serving it up.

Meals on Wheels had one of the entrants with Darlene Menard and Sue Laprade serving it up.

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg Community Services’ first-ever “Soup-er Wednesday Luncheon” is being branded as a success.

Over 200 people came to the Knights of Columbus Hall on Richmond St. last Wednesday for the event, which featured ten competitors vying for the “People’s Choice” Award. Restaurants included Artisan Grill, Kin Folks, Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering, Gilligan’s, Armando’s, Lord Amherst, Maria’s, Rosa’s and the Dalhousie Bistro with ACS’ Meals on Wheels kitchen also participating.

Armando’s spicy shrimp corn chowder, prepared by chef Leanne Copeland, was crowned the winner.

“Our turnout was better than expected,” said ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo. “We have gotten very positive feedback. People are looking forward to attending next year.”

Austin Tyrell, communications co-ordinator with ACS, called the feedback “phenomenal” and that the soups offered went over well.

“I haven’t heard a bad thing about the soups,” he said. “Everyone enjoyed them.”

DiBartolomeo said the Soup-er Wednesday Luncheon was a chance to let the community sample what local restaurants have to offer all the while learning what ACS is all about. She said the agency is thankful for those who helped serve the soup, the volunteers that helped run the event, the restaurants for participating and the people who attended.

The success of the event was attributed to not just the soups offered, but the generosity of Amherstburg.

“I think it comes down to Amherstburg being a very giving community,” said Tyrell.