News

Fire department confident 23 orders will be complied with by late-July

fire logoBy Ron Giofu

 

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has issued 23 orders to the Amherstburg Fire Department stemming from complaints filed earlier this year with the town stating work is already underway to comply.

The Ministry of Labour states it received two health and safety complaints with respect to Amherstburg Fire Department. Those complaints were originally filed Feb. 4.

Ministry spokesperson William Lin said that following an investigation, a Ministry of Labour inspector issued 23 orders to the Amherstburg Fire Department June 23.

Lin stated via e-mail that the orders include a need to update the workplace violence and harassment policies, conduct a risk assessment related to violence, post the policies and to provide appropriate information and instruction to employees in this regard; to establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) with workers selected by their peers representing at least half of the members; to maintain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), with specific reference to firefighter pants and firefighter jacket turnout coats; to provide training regarding Workplace Hazardous Materials (WHMIS training); and to provide training regarding the duties of a supervisor, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and with respect to Fire Department Operational Guidelines

The investigation is ongoing, the ministry added.

In a report to town council, acting CAO Tony DeThomasis broke down the orders with five pertaining to personal protective equipment (PPE), one pertaining to the training of workers on duties of a supervisor and knowledge of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, three pertaining to training on operational guidelines, one pertaining to WHMIS training, one order requiring the town to submit a compliance plan of how and when the town plans to comply with PPE, seven orders pertaining to Joint Health and Safety Committee in terms of establishing committees at each workplace and five orders pertaining to workplace violence and harassment in terms of reviewing the policy, risk assessment and training.

“Administration has taken all necessary steps since in receipt of the orders in an effort to mitigate further risk and liability to the volunteer firefighters, Town of Amherstburg and the surrounding community,” DeThomasis stated in the report. “Council can be assured that administration has taken a proactive and aggressive approach in bringing all three fire stations into compliance.”

DeThomasis, who is filling in for the vacationing John Miceli, said the Ministry of Labour did not impose any fines with the 23 orders. He added that administration has prioritized the purchase and replacement of bunker gear, with the operational and capital budgets being reviewed to find where the necessary costs can be absorbed.

The town has also hired consultant Rick Taggart to work with interim chief Al Reaume “to provide inspections and guidance through the process to ensure that the town is meeting or exceeding the requirements of the Ministry of Labour.”

Reaume told town council Monday night that orders with a July 9 deadline have already been completed with those with a July 29 deadline being worked on. He said he is confident all orders will be addressed by that time and council has requested a progress report from him at the July 13 meeting.

Councillor Diane Pouget sad she was grateful to the ministry for giving the orders so that the fire department could be in compliance and “the two firefighters who brought it to the ministry’s attention.” Councillor Leo Meloche asked if lessons learned through these orders could translate to other departments to ensure all of the town’s operations are running as they should.

Manager of human resources Michelle Rose noted that workplace violence and harassment policies as well as JHSC policies could be used in other areas as well.

“Definitely, the recommendations we are carrying out can be used town-wide,” she said.

Reaume added that 23 sets of bunker gear need to be replaced and the exact cost of that won’t be known until all firefighters have been measured and the equipment ordered. New bunker gear needs to be ordered with rental sets costing $85 per week. The 23 new sets are unbudgeted, he told council.

“Those quotes will be in U.S. dollars,” he added.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the town is always looking for ways to comply with health and safety regulations and the orders help clarify weaknesses and help make changes with regards to health and safety.

DiCarlo added Reaume had already been working to resolve many of the orders when he met with him last week.

“He continues to move quickly,” said DiCarlo.

The town now understands there are issues surrounding documentation and they have learned from that. Having human resources more involved and the restructuring of administration to have the chief report to the CAO helps address other issues, DiCarlo stated.

“Bring Back Sinasac” protest hits town hall

Protesters picket in front of town hall prior to the start of Monday night’s town council meeting. They were looking for the reinstatement of former fire chief Randy Sinasac, who was let go along with two firefighters last month.

Protesters picket in front of town hall prior to the start of Monday night’s town council meeting. They were looking for the reinstatement of former fire chief Randy Sinasac, who was let go earlier in June.

By Ron Giofu

 

A group of friends, retired firefighters and neighbours of former fire chief Randy Sinasac gathered in front of town hall prior to Monday night’s council meeting hoping for Sinasac’s return.

Almost 20 people picketed along Sandwich St. S. with the hope of raising awareness to what they believe are financial concerns that were brought upon by Sinasac’s termination in early June. Larry Amlin, a concerned citizen and one of the protest organizers, said they were simply looking for answers.

“What it is all about is getting some answers,” said Amlin. “Council has shied away from giving us answers.”

Amlin said he put forth a delegation request to speak on the matter but was denied due to legal concerns. Adding he is not against Mayor Aldo DiCarlo or town council, Amlin stated there are economical concerns that were also behind the protest.

“Randy wants his job back,” said Amlin, adding that legal fees and severance pay goes away if the former chief is reinstated. He also stated that both Sinasac and his predecessor Rick Murray were known for being fiscally responsible.

Town council is micromanaging the town, he believed, and that has created a “poisonous” working environment. He added that equipment purchases were not able to be fulfilled due to funding not being available under previous councils.

“The mayor should say ‘let’s put a stop to this, let’s reinstate Randy and get back on track’,” said Amlin.

Sinasac was a firefighter for 25 years, Amlin added, and questioned the message that was sent to the town when he was fired.

“What does that say to the rest of the employees of the Town of Amherstburg?” he said. “Is this the way to treat your employees?”

Amlin said the firefighters want to keep fighting fires and “they just want their chief back.”

DiCarlo said he had no issue with the protest.

“I can only speak as mayor and, coming from a labour background, I respect their right to organize and petition,” he said.

The mayor said he wasn’t at liberty to discuss specifics of Sinasac’s case due to possible legal matters.

“We have to be very careful not to put the town in a position to incur legal costs,” he said.

As for claims Sinasac was terminated without cause, DiCarlo emphasized he could not speak specifically on the matter as it is a personnel matter. With respect to the municipal Freedom of Information Act and other legislation, the town will comply and provide the information they are legally able to, he added.

New Rotarian urges more people to become involved

Rotary Club of Amherstburg president Lena Lazanja (left) presents a certificate of membership to Susan Monaghan. Monaghan was recently inducted into the local Rotary Club. (Submitted photo)

Rotary Club of Amherstburg president Lena Lazanja (left) presents a certificate of membership to Susan Monaghan. Monaghan was recently inducted into the local Rotary Club. (Submitted photo)

By Ron Giofu

 

The newest member of the Amherstburg Rotary Club is hoping more people become involved like she has.
Susan Monaghan has been inducted into the local Rotary Club after going to some Rotary meetings and functions and finding the club was a good fit for her.

“I wanted to do some volunteer work,” said Monaghan, who moved to Amherstburg from Vancouver Island last December.

Monaghan said she met a woman while working at a political function in Kingsville recently and the woman suggested she look into Rotary. Monaghan had never been in a service club before, but had volunteered at a hospital in British Columbia visiting elderly patients.

“I was really impressed with the things (the Rotary Club) funded,” said Monaghan, adding she finds being a Rotarian “very interesting.”

Monaghan said she looks forward to meeting the Rotary district governor in Harrow July 30. She said the Amherstburg Rotarians are a group of good people and she is also enjoying being in town.

“The Rotary Club is open to new members,” she pointed out. “They really could use additional members.”
Monaghan added that people can go to Rotary meetings, held every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157, to check it out.

“It’s a great way of looking at the organization and seeing if it’s a good fit for you,” she said.

“I just really like the town,” she said. “It’s really friendly and it’s been a really good experience.”

Monaghan hopes to take on more volunteer jobs, and is expressing an interest in getting involved with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).

Monaghan and members of the Amherstburg Rotary Club will be busy this weekend as the sixth annual Ribfest returns to Centennial Park. Ribbers and other food vendors will be on hand from 12-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12-7 p.m. Sunday with entertainment running from 6-11 p.m. Friday with Liverpool Echo and British Beat, Saturday from 2-11 p.m. with Stanly Brown Blues Band, Uptown Dixie Land, Chuck and the Crawdaddies and Destroyer and Sunday from 2-5 p.m. featuring Exit 31.

Ribfest will also feature vendors, carnival rides for kids and has free admission. The event will run rain or shine.

General Amherst High School celebrates Class of 2015

 

General Amherst High School’s class of 2015 valedictorian Trent Sparling  delivers his speech at the school’s 93rd annual commencement ceremony at the Libro Centre last Thursday evening.

General Amherst High School’s class of 2015 valedictorian Trent Sparling
delivers his speech at the school’s 93rd annual commencement ceremony at the Libro Centre last Thursday evening.

By Adam D’Andrea

Families and friends packed into the Libro Centre last Thursday night to congratulate the General Amherst High School Class of 2015.

The school’s 93rd annual commencement ceremony saw nearly 200 graduating bulldogs receiving their diplomas, tossing their caps in the air and receiving some final words of wisdom and encouragement before moving on to the next phases of their lives. Principal Hazel Keefner discussed some of the other “three r’s” the graduates have learned about during their time at General Amherst: resilience, resourcefulness and reputation.

“This graduating class had many opportunities to develop resilience this year. There were highs and lows that would test even the strongest individuals,” said Keefner. “These grads dealt with disappointment and success in roller coaster fashion.”

Keefner went on to say the graduating class’s resourcefulness was evident through their athletic triumphs during the year, as well as highly successful can and toy drives, and stressed the importance of a good reputation in life.

“If you develop the reputation as someone who is thoughtful and considerate of others’ feelings, that will serve you well no matter which path you take after today,” said Keefner. “Keep in touch with one another and continue to support each other the way you did this year.”

After receiving their diplomas the grads were addressed by valedictorian Trent Sparling who said their Grade 9 orientation day felt like it was yesterday. It was the day the students found out that there was, in fact, no swimming pool on the third floor.

“It was also the day we were all so out of breath from climbing up and down those stairs for the first time,” Sparling said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘By the time I graduate in grade 12 I will probably lose up to 40 pounds.’ When I said that, I didn’t take into consideration that our school’s located directly across the street from Sobey’s, Maria’s, Domino’s and McDonald’s.”

Sparling said that while the grads have had some great times over the years, they’ve also learned about the twists, turns and challenges that the real world can have sometimes. He discussed General Amherst student Michael Matte, who passed away in November 2014 and was on track to graduate with the class of 2015.

“I think some of you would agree that he’s very much with us here tonight, and he’s very much a part of the class of 2015,” said Sparling. “That being said, this was a devastating blow that changed the course of our senior year. As a school though, we stood together like bulldogs do and we channelled the situation to experience solidarity.”

Sparling closed by saying when he was chosen to be valedictorian he decided he needed to do something cool and hip, and performed the remainder of his speech about General Amherst as a rap.

“As we move on with our lives, remember to stay strong. Focus on the positives and you won’t go wrong,” rapped Sparling. “Stay joyful, even when life brings you down. Smile bright, there’s no need to frown!”

Western Secondary School graduates prepare for future

The graduating class of Western Secondary School heads toward the auditorium for the June 24 graduation ceremony

The graduating class of Western Secondary School heads toward the auditorium for the June 24 graduation ceremony

By Ron Giofu

 

It’s the closing of one chapter in the lives of the graduates of Western Secondary School and the beginning of another.

Western held its graduation ceremony last Wednesday evening at the school with 43 students receiving their secondary school diplomas.

Teacher and master of ceremonies Brent Webster said the graduation marked an end to the students journey through the education system, though some returned for a fifth year and others moved on to post-secondary pursuits.

“It also marks the beginning of the rest of your lives,” he told the graduating class of 2015.

Students now will continue learning “in a new and exciting way” and the staff of Western Secondary hopes the skills the students learned will serve them well in their futures.

Superintendent of education Lynn McLaughlin thanked the parents and teachers as “you are all part of this celebration.” McLaughlin told the students they are prepared for the future thanks to their years at Western.

“You have come a long way and you are ready for whatever lies before you,” said McLaughlin.

Principal Melissa MacIntyre also thanked staff and parents for creating “a nurturing learning environment.” She stressed the concept of teamwork and told the graduates she hoped their learning experience was filled with good times.

“Your future is bright,” said MacIntyre. “You never know where life will take you.”

Valedictorian Nicolas Casagrande delivers his address to the crowd.

Valedictorian Nicolas Casagrande delivers his address to the crowd.

Valedictorian Nicolas Casagrande said students created bonds with each other over the last four years and have created many memories together. He said he transformed from a quiet student with low self-esteem to a student that made friends for life and became valedictorian.

To the staff, Casagrande said “your commitment and dedication helped us get to this point today.”

After reading the school’s motto “I Hear and I Forget, I See and I Remember, I Do and I Understand,” Casagrande said the future lies with each and every graduate.

“It is now up to each of us to use the tools we have collected,” he said.