News

Grassroots campaign hosts free skating at Libro Centre

 

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Local families were invited to enjoy an afternoon of free skating on Family Day, while being encouraged to learn more about the privatization of public services.

The public skate at the Libro Centre was hosted by We Own It, an international organization dedicated to maintaining public services and preventing them from going private. The local group is one of 30 in Ontario, with organizer Rob Wilson saying the non-partisan movement is looking to have privatization removed from the agenda during the 2018 Ontario general election.

“Our parents and grandparents built that public sector and now we see it slowly getting chipped away. We want it to stay in public hands,” said Wilson. “It’s just going to go to precarious work. If it’s going to get privatized you know it’s only for profit. Pay is going to go down for those jobs, pay is going to go up for the executives and benefits are going to go.”

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak take a break from skating at the Libro Centre on Feb. 20. The event, which was organized through the We Own It campaign, was meant to bring attention to the privatization of public services. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak take a break from skating at the Libro Centre on Feb. 20. The event, which was organized through the We Own It campaign, was meant to bring attention to the privatization of public services. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

Wilson pointed to a number of local examples of privatization including the Gordie Howe International Bridge, the South West Detention Centre and Huron Lodge. He also mentioned the new initiative to sell beer and liquor in grocery stores as opposed to solely through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. According to Wilson, the LCBO creates $2-3 billion in revenue each year.

“That’s $2-3 billion per year that goes back into the province to pay for roads, buildings, bridges and all the services we need as a province to strive,” Wilson said. “If we sell that off to Loblaws for a quick dollar, like Kathleen Wynne is doing with Hydro One, we’re just going to lose out.”

Wilson was pleased with the afternoon’s turnout and was certain they’d have to turn away at least a few people to keep crowds in accordance with the rink’s 175-skater capacity. There were a few local politicians in attendance such as Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

“Whether it’s Service Ontario centers, our hydro system, our education or health care system, these are vital public services that provide a tremendous amount of value at good taxpayer costs,” said Natyshak. “It’s something we need to protect because once it’s gone, once we eliminate those public services from communities, it’s very hard to get them back out of the private realm.”

While he was there to support the We Own It campaign, Natyshak said the event was also a good chance to have some fun and skate with members of the community.

“It’s a great opportunity to connect on Family Day, hear some concerns, see some smiles and get a little bit of exercise too. We all know we could use that,” said Natyshak, laughing.

DiCarlo said he takes privatization issues seriously because of his time as a public servant. Being in higher levels of administration at the University of Windsor taught him that privatized services simply cost more money, he said.

“It just doesn’t make any sense. You get better service through public workers and it’s something we have to maintain,” said DiCarlo. “For your average person on the street, you will get the most value for your money when it comes to public services.”

For more information about the international We Own It campaign, visit www.weownit.ca.

Library patrons happy to be able to return

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was nearly an eight-month interruption in services but library patrons were happy to be back getting their books.

All 14 libraries within the Essex County system re-opened last Thursday with those coming back through the doors in Amherstburg glad to be able to do so.

“It’s great to see everyone back to work,” said Patrick Coyle. “It shouldn’t have had to take this long with the county (library) board.”

Coyle said he was able to do much of his reading electronically and said he was in Thursday morning to get his new library card.

“The biggest thing was trying to find a parking spot to get in,” said Coyle.

“Yay!” was the reaction of Kathy Hanes to the re-opened library.

Hanes dropped in with flowers for the library workers and said she was “very happy” to have library services back.

“It’s good for the community,” said Hanes. “It’s good for kids. It’s good for people who don’t have their own computer.”

Hanes added she kept up on the news of the strike and worried they wouldn’t open again.

“I don’t ever want to see our libraries gone,” she said.

Lara Klymko returns a book to a shelf last Thursday. That was the first day that the Amherstburg library was open in nearly eight months due to the Essex County library strike.

Lara Klymko returns a book to a shelf last Thursday. That was the first day that the Amherstburg library was open in nearly eight months due to the Essex County library strike.

Lisa Beneteau was also thrilled with the fact the libraries are open once again.

“I love it,” said Beneteau. “We always came with the kids. We’re excited we can come back.”

Beneteau said her family were regulars on weekends and hope to be once again.

“We always brought the kids to do activities on the weekends,” she said. “Hopefully they bring them back soon.”

Beneteau said she wasn’t too concerned about the length of the strike.

“Eventually, it was going to come back. Nothing lasts forever,” she said, but added, “it took a lot longer than we thought.”

“I’m sure there were a lot of people excited to get back,” Beneteau added.

Lara Klymko, a branch resource assistant, said people were dropping off other gifts including Timbits and other treats.

“This is so amazing,” she said of the reaction.

Klymko said she was “thrilled to be back” and while there was some work to do to get the Amherstburg library back in shape after such a long strike, she didn’t find it to be overwhelming.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” said Klymko.

Getting back inside and seeing and smelling familiar things made her feel good to be back at work.

“It’s nice to be back.”

Chili cookoff helps charities for 24th straight year

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A tasty tradition that also assists charities returned to the K of C Hall in Amherstburg Saturday night.

The 24th annual Charity Chili Cookoff brought an estimated crowd of 175 people out with eight teams vying for not only bragging rights, but some cash for their charities. A final total of what was raised was not available as of press time, but Brad Bondy’s Re/Max team took home top spot with their share going to the Miracle League of Amherstburg.

The 2017 Charity Chili Cookoff crowned its champs Saturday night at the K of C Hall in Amherstburg. From left: Diane Schultz, Betty Bondy, Heather Harber, Brad Bondy, Luisa Bondy, Tim McAllister, Winston McAllister, Brian Bondy and Gisele Sutton.

The 2017 Charity Chili Cookoff crowned its champs Saturday night at the K of C Hall in Amherstburg. From left: Diane Schultz, Betty Bondy, Heather Harber, Brad Bondy, Luisa Bondy, Tim McAllister, Winston McAllister, Brian Bondy and Gisele Sutton.

The Royal LePage team finished second with Gisele Sutton representing them Saturday night. Their proceeds will go to the House Youth Centre. Coming in third was the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission.

Other teams this year included the Catholic Women’s League, Maria’s Restaurant, the St. John’s Building Corporation (K of C), Legion Br. 157 and Carol Charette of Carol’s Unisex Hair Salon. A ninth team dropped out at the last minute.

Organizer and “chili captain” Ron Fryer said 175 people was a good number and pointed out all proceeds are reinvested back into the Amherstburg community.

“We don’t keep a thing,” said Fryer.

Fryer pointed out there were many new teams this year, with familiar entrants like Cindy London and the K of C Ladies Auxiliary retiring from competition. The band “Back to Back” was also on hand to provide entertainment after the meal.

The new teams helped bring people into the K of C and find out what the organization is all about, said Fryer. He said the K of C “is a good club” and that volunteering there is enjoyable. Fryer underlined the importance of giving back to the community.

Jessica Field and Kelsey Kciuk from the St. John Building Corporation (K of C Hall) were just one of the teams serving up chili Saturday night.

Jessica Field and Kelsey Kciuk from the St. John Building Corporation (K of C Hall) were just one of the teams serving up chili Saturday night.

“I think by volunteering your time, it keeps you young and healthy. It feels good to help out,” said Fryer.

The reason the event has lasted 24 years was because it is an enjoyable one, Fryer believed.

“You make it fun,” he said. “People like to cook. People like to compete.”

Bondy said he brought roughly 30 people to the cookoff and said he enjoys giving back to the community as well.

“(The town) has been so good to me,” said Bondy.

New craft brewery officially opens at Wolfhead Distillery

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Craft beer and spirits have officially come together at Wolfhead Distillery.

Lonsbery Farms Brewing Co. has opened at the Howard Ave. distillery and restaurant under the direction of Karl Lonsbery. He is part of the distillery team at Wolfhead and teamed with Wolfhead co-owner Tom Manherz to also create a craft brewery at the site.

Wolfhead Distillery co-owner Tom Manherz (left) and Lonsbery Farms Brewing Company owner Karl Lonsbery celebrate the grand opening of the latter last Friday morning. Lonsbery Farms Brewing Company is based out of Wolfhead Distillery.

Wolfhead Distillery co-owner Tom Manherz (left) and Lonsbery Farms Brewing Company owner Karl Lonsbery celebrate the grand opening of the latter last Friday morning. Lonsbery Farms Brewing Company is based out of Wolfhead Distillery.

Manherz said they started talking about the craft brewery and he found out Lonsbery has been working on it for five years.

“He has a really good product,” said Manherz.

Lonsbery said it “made sense” to come together and offer the two products under one roof.

“It gives people the opportunity when they want spirits and beer,” said Lonsbery.

For the time being, pints will be served out of Wolfhead’s restaurant only though Lonsbery Farms hope to grow as time goes on. There are no retail sales for the time being, but 12-ounce and 16-ounce glasses are available at Wolfhead. Early results will see four to six types of beer offered at the distillery.

“There’s still a lot of space on the market,” said Lonsbery, adding the distillery side has made it into 26 LCBO locations.

Wolfhead Distillery is one of the few distilleries in southern Ontario to offer a craft brewery and a restaurant as well as a distillery.

“Hopefully we’re leading the pack,” said Manherz.

Lynnette Bain, vice president of tourism programs and development with Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI), said Wolfhead is the ninth stop on the Barrels, Bottles and Brews trail with Lonsbery being the seventh brewery.

Karl Lonsbery pours of glass of craft beer. Lonsbery Farms Brewing Co. is open at Wolfhead Distillery.

Karl Lonsbery pours of glass of craft beer. Lonsbery Farms Brewing Co. is open at Wolfhead Distillery.

“What surprises me is how people lift each other up,” said Bain. “People in this industry step up and help each other out.”

Bain said everyone collaborates well and said it is a “grassroots” industry.

“Everyone is so hard working and willing to help each other,” she said.

Getting craft beer and craft spirits in one location is “very unique,” Bain added, and pointed out that people can now find out where their beverages come from.

Bain said farmers know people in the distillery, craft brewery and restaurant industries as more and more people want to know where their food is coming from.

Wolfhead Distillery is located at 7781 Howard Ave. and their website is www.drinkwolfhead.com.

Amherstburg Public School celebrates literacy

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local elementary school used Valentine’s Day to showcase a love of reading, but the school’s efforts are branching out to more than just one day.

Amherstburg Public School is hosting “For the Love of Reading” throughout February with a “Love of Literacy” event being held last Tuesday as part of it. Vice principal Christina Pottie said Tamye Machine from Link to Literacy donated enough books to the school so that every student could have at least one for free.

There is also a book drive, Pottie said, with old books being accepted so that they may be donated to Zambia and create a library there.

“We’ve also invited parents to come in and read to the students,” said Pottie.

isa Greason reads to Jacob and Alex (left) during the “Love of Literacy” event at Amherstburg Public School last Tuesday.

isa Greason reads to Jacob and Alex (left) during the “Love of Literacy” event at Amherstburg Public School last Tuesday.

The gymnasium was full of parents and grandparents reading to children with other local dignitaries on hand to read to classes as well. Local figures included Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Sgt. Matt Capel-Cure from the Amherstburg Police Service and Capt. Rick Wismer from the Amherstburg Fire Department.

Pottie said that Amherstburg Public School has applied to Indigo for a “Love of Reading” grant as well.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo reads to a class.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo reads to a class.

“Literacy is so important,” said Pottie. “It is essential in students’ lives and families.”

Pottie organized the literacy events with special education teacher Laura Braithwaite. Braithwaite pointed out there is a contest for students and they are invited to submit a poem, book or short story to her before tomorrow for judging.

The final entries will be submitted to outside judges, she noted, with the winner receiving a gift card and the opportunity to share their writing with the school during an assembly.

Capt. Rick Wismer from the Amherstburg Fire Department reads to a class.

Capt. Rick Wismer from the Amherstburg Fire Department reads to a class.

The “Love of Literacy” event on Valentine’s Day was a way to make the day stand out even more for the students.

“I think it helps make Valentine’s Day at school a bit more meaningful,” said Braithwaite.

Braithwaite added students were excited for the day with her special needs students helping to decorate the gymnasium as well. There are also math and arts nights planned for the future, she added.