Town council moving forward with LED lighting program



By Ron Giofu


The town’s street lights in the public right-of-ways are changing over to LED fixtures with the project to begin this year.

Town council awarded a tender valued at over $1.18 million to Anchor Hydro, an Amherstburg-based company with the amount to be budgeted over seven years. Administration hopes that the savings produced from the LED lights will also help pay for the project even quicker.

“Hallelujah. To get the LED program going for the town is fantastic,” said Councillor Rick Fryer, who had long championed the conversion of the street lights to LED fixtures.

“It’s gratifying to see the town is saving money, saving energy and looking for future generations,” he added after Monday night’s meeting.

Town council also will see what the cost will be to complete the lighting of Front Road North as an RFP will be put out to see what the cost will be to illuminate the stretch between Ranta Marina and Malden Road. Fryer called that unlighted stretch “dangerous” and that putting lights on that remaining stretch would mean the highway would have street lights from Amherstburg to Windsor.

LED lights will be installed this year all over Amherstburg, many similar to the LED lights currently on Meloche Road (pictured).

Councillor Leo Meloche didn’t oppose the LED lighting program, but had questions as it pertained to cost. He said $450,000 was earmarked in the 2018 budget for the project but said after the meeting he accepted administration’s explanation, though, added he wished the explanation would have come sooner.

Meloche stated during the meeting that he wondered how the Front Road North was “slid into” the proposal, believing it was a separate project.

“I think it should have been split up,” he said.

Meloche added after the meeting he was satistifed with the explanation there as well, as it could be discussed in future budget sessions.

CAO John Miceli said the motion was to issue an RFP and that would give council a better gauge on what the project would cost.

“What we are doing is fact-finding to see how much it would cost,” added Miceli.

Miceli stated the town projects that the savings from the LED program would help pay for the entire project.

“We confidently believe the operational savings we are going to have through the LED program will fund the LED program,” the chief administrative officer stated.

According to a report from manager of engineering Todd Hewitt, Amherstburg paid $228,573.69 in streetlight utility costs

“Converting the Town’s streetlights to LED will reduce this cost significantly,” Hewitt stated in his report.

Hewitt told town council he believes it is a “win-win” for the town to convert, noting they are saving energy and money in the long run by doing so.

“The new cobrahead lights will be manufactured by LED Roadway Lighting (LRL) and come with a 20 year limited replacement warranty. All components are covered for full replacement for the first 10 years with a pro-rated replacement on some components in years 11 to 20,” Hewitt added in his report. “The decorative fixtures will be manufactured by King Luminaire and come with a 10-year full replacement warranty. Anchor Hydro has included a five-year warranty to cover all labour involved with the replacement of faulty fixtures.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said the town will increase safety for the residents and achieve a cost savings with the LED program.

“As Todd said, it’s a win-win situation,” she stated.

As for the illumination of the stretch of Front Road North, she added “if the RFP comes back too high, we can reject it. It’s a request.”

Councillor Joan Courtney indicated she is hopeful that the Front Road North stretch will be lit up.

“I have travelled there at night when it is raining. You can’t see the lines,” she said. “It’s a liability. It’s a wonder there haven’t been more accidents.”

Town to use share of library surplus funds on repairs to building



By Ron Giofu


The County of Essex has released some of the surplus funding accumulated during the library strike.

For Amherstburg, it means getting the full share as allotted by the county.

There was roughly $790,000 saved by the county during the Essex County Library strike of 2016-17 with Amherstburg’s share being calculated at $92,396. The calculation was based on Amherstburg having 11.7 per cent of the county levy.

Library CEO/chief librarian Robin Greenall said that the surplus funding was originally kept in the county’s rate stabilization reserve.

Essex County council decided last summer to place the surplus funding in a reserve with the funding to be distributed in the form of grants to the lower tier municipalities “who apply to use their proportionate share of the $790,000 towards capital improvements or enhancements to libraries located within their municipality.”

Five municipalities, including Amherstburg, applied to the Essex County Library Board for funding with the board making their recommendations to county council.

Greenall said Amherstburg will use its $92,396 to help fund a capital project to help repair damage to the lower level of the branch. The lower level of the Amherstburg library has experienced damage due to water seepage but Greenall’s report to county council states that the estimated cost, pending an RFP/RFQ process, is expected to exceed $93,000.

Julie Feher, a resource assistant at the Amherstburg library, stands at a recent “pop up” library at the Libro Centre. As construction will close the library for five weeks starting Feb. 20, the Essex County Library will provide a ‘pop-up’ library at the Libro Centre (3295 Meloche Rd.), where library staff will be available for limited hours, with a selection of books and resources to check out, beginning Feb. 17. A detailed schedule of the ‘pop-up’ hours and service details will be available by visiting

The Municipality of Leamington will receive its full allocation of $98,951 and will use its funding towards a full renovation project at its John St. branch. Greenall’s report indicates the cost of that renovation is projected to be between $750,000 and $1 million.

Essex will be receiving its full share of the funding – $75,013 – to help support capital projects at its Gosfield Townline branch. The funds will be put towards a new roof that is estimated at $100,000, a new canopy roof at the library entrance estimated at $7,000 and the installation of three new HVAC units, estimated at $23,000.

The Town of Kingsville will receive $40,000 of its allocated $94,150 for work at two of the branches. The branch on Main St. West will have three accessible door operators installed at a cost of $6,000. The remaining $34,000 will be put towards replacement of all windows and doors at the Ruthven branch.

Lakeshore will receive $32,000 of its $186,266 share for work at two branches. A concrete walkway at its Toldo Branch, located within the Atlas Tube Centre, estimated at $27,000 will be installed to reduce a tripping hazard and vandalism while the remainder will be used on another concrete walkway at its Stoney Point branch.

The remaining shares of the $790,000 in funding sees LaSalle in line to receive $123,385 and Tecumseh allocated $119,839. Those two municipalities have yet to request their shares of the surplus.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said it was “positive to see the response from member municipalities” in terms of wanting to enhance their branches. He suggested that the member municipalities follow up with a letter upon the completion of the works to show that the money was used and what it was used for.

(UPDATE: After the publication of the Feb. 14 print edition, the Essex County Library issued the following press release:

“The Essex County Library (ECL)’s Amherstburg Branch (232 Sandwich St. South) will be closed to the public as of Tuesday, February 20, 2018. The closure is anticipated to last approximately five weeks, in order to repair the water-damaged lower level of the library.

During the construction period, the Essex County Library will provide a ‘pop-up’ library at the Libro Credit Union Centre (3295 Meloche Rd.), where library staff will be available for limited hours, with a selection of books and resources to check out, beginning on Saturday, February 17. A detailed schedule of the ‘pop-up’ hours and service details will be available by visiting Updates will also be provided via ECL’s social channels at and @EssexCountyLib on Twitter.

In addition, home mail delivery service will be available for Amherstburg residents who would like to continue to receive their requested/reserved items. Residents are also welcome to visit any other ECL branch location. Residents requesting more information are encouraged to ECL Administration at (519) 776 5241.”)

WETRA receives $10,000 for specialized equipment from Caesars Windsor Cares



By Ron Giofu


Those who are involved with Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association’s (WETRA) programming will be seeing more benefits soon.

Thanks to $10,000 from Caesars Windsor Cares, WETRA will be purchasing specialized equipment for their tack room. The equipment will then be available to help those with disabilities who participate in their various programs.

“It will benefit our programs greatly,” said Becky Mills, executive director at WETRA.

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) received a $10,000 grant from Caesars Windsor Cares last Wednesday morning. WETRA will use the funding for specialized equipment for the people they support.

Jhoan Baluyot, manager of public relations and communications with Caesars Windsor, said they were impressed with a recent tour of WETRA as the grant request was being reviewed.

“The first time we came to see the facility and the operation, we were awestruck,” stated Baluyot.

Mills said all the new equipment will be kept in the tack room and that a plaque will be installed on the door to recognize the donation.

“We believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience horses in their own way,” said Mills. “We strive to achieve results that meet everyone’s goals.”

Dr. Erica Stevens Abbitt, whose husband Jerry participates in a WETRA program, said her husband has benefitted from it greatly.

Caesars Windsor manager of public relations and communications Jhoan Baluyot (left) makes the $10,000 cheque presentation to WETRA executive director Becky Mills.

“The people here are amazing,” said Stevens Abbitt. “The facilities are wonderful. As soon as started to get into carriage riding, he loved it.”

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” said Jerry. “It gets you in the air. It opens you up to the world around you.”

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association is located at 3323 North Malden Road in McGregor. Their phone number is 519-726-7682 and their e-mail is WETRA’s website is



Rotary Club hears from students that were sponsored for RYLA conference



By Ron Giofu


A pair of General Amherst High School students attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) recently and told the local Rotary Club about their experiences.

Hallee Kejick and Madison Sulja, members of the Rotary-sponsored Interact Club at General Amherst, went to the RYLA conference last November at Schoolcraft Community College in Livonia, Michigan. The Grade 11 students were at the Amherstburg Rotary Club’s meeting last week to recount their experiences, something Sulja said they had a lot of.

“It was a really welcoming environment,” Kejick added, of the conference.

The two students said there were a number of team building exercises at the conference and attended lectures and presentations as well about professionalism and overcoming challenges.

Members of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg gather with General Amherst students Hallee Kejick and Madison Sulja after the two students made a presentation to the club. Kejick and Sulja are Grade 11 students and Interact Club members at General Amherst High School and travelled to a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) conference late last year.

“Overall, it was a really good experience,” said Kejick.

Kejick said that they both brought in applications to attend the RYLA conference and were accepted. They believed it helped improve their leadership skills and made them understand they can accomplish big things on their own.

“I wanted to learn something new,” said Sulja.

Sulja added they even learned about how to properly shake someone’s hand and what a person’s handshake says about them.

“It was life-changing,” Kejick said of the RYLA conference.

“I’ll never forget the experience,” Sulja added.

The Interact Club at General Amherst High School has roughly 10-15 students and undertakes projects both within the school and in the community. Some of the projects have included book drives and Coats for Kids collections. The club is open for students in Grades 9-12.

Fryer’s attempt to discuss busing in bad weather with officials fails



By Ron Giofu


Councillor Rick Fryer was vocal over the past week about the decision last Wednesday to have buses run in snowy weather.

His attempt to bring student transportation officials before council for some questions, however, failed.

Fryer said the decision to run the buses “should not have been made” and that he was disappointed that his town council colleagues didn’t agree with his request.

“It’s a decision of council and I’ll have to live with it,” he said after the meeting.

Fryer also had questions over the timing of busing announcements, noting that decisions are made many times around 6:20 a.m. and that can “cause havoc” with families who may have to make alternate arrangements. He pointed out a decision was made earlier last Friday when that winter storm rolled through.

A school bus sits on its side after going in the ditch Feb. 7. Councillor Rick Fryer has questioned why the buses were allowed to run that day. (Submitted photo)

Multiple buses went into the ditch last Wednesday and Fryer believed others would be feeling differently if someone had been injured.

Councillor Joan Courtney, a former Catholic school board trustee, said there are spotters in all parts of the county. She noted that weather conditions could be different in various parts of Essex County and that parents could be upset if a decision is made based on weather conditions they may not be experiencing in their area.

“It’s a very difficult call to make,” she said.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said it wasn’t town council’s issue, noting school boards don’t have town officials at their meetings questioning town decisions.

“I’m not on the school board, I’m on town council,” said Lavigne. “I don’t feel pulling them here for an inquisition is in our best interests or theirs.”

“I agree with Councillor Lavigne,” said Councillor Leo Meloche. “It’s not our decision.”

Councillor Diane Pouget agreed with Fryer, stating safety is a concern and that the goal was to see if there was a better way to make busing decisions. She said the goal would not have been to chastise anyone, but to have a discussion on the matter.