Aldo DiCarlo

Questions and tempers raised as fundraising expenditure discussed

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A question over an accounts payable to the Crown Park Corporation that was labelled for Belle Vue fundraising sparked a contentious debate Monday night.

Town council allowed Michael Prue, treasurer of the Belle Vue Conservancy, to speak and Prue questioned a few Belle Vue related expenses, with most of them being connected to the ongoing roof construction. When he got to the line about the Crown Park Corporation, he expressed curiosity and told council “we don’t pay for any fundraising.”

CAO John Miceli, after conferring with treasurer Justin Rousseau, said it was not actually for the Belle Vue fundraising but rather a planning study for the Amherstburg Community Foundation for fundraising efforts for all town initiatives.

Miceli said the study looks at raising money for town endeavors without having to rely on going to the taxpayers. A $6,000 payment was listed under the accounts payable section but the CAO indicated it was a $12,000 report.

“There are two payments of $6,000 to tell us how to fundraise?” asked Councillor Jason Lavigne, who also wanted to know who is on the foundation, when they meet and whether council can see minutes of their meetings.

Rousseau indicated the Amherstburg Community Foundation is a “holding account” and that money is reimbursed by the foundation for any cheques the town cuts. He said taxpayer money wasn’t used on the study.

“Who supported the $12,000 is the question,” Lavigne pressed. “Who paid the $12,000 for the study? I think we all want to know.”

Miceli said there are efforts being made to “accelerate” fundraising and that now “we have a study that will help us.” He said that funds raised by the foundation may be used for Belle Vue but research has shown that not all donors want to donate to Belle Vue and those donors may want to give funds to other projects.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said both himself and Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale sit on the foundation.

Councillor Diane Pouget wondered if Crown Park Corporation had been hired by the foundation and Miceli said the foundation hadn’t hired anyone. The study was done in order to raise more money for the foundation, with the CAO adding the Belle Vue Conservancy has done a “great job raising money” but other avenues wanted to be explored by the foundation.

Prue emphasized he spoke up because he didn’t understand the fundraising expenditure.

“We’re fundraising for nothing,” he said.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he recalled getting updates when the Libro Centre was being built on the fundraising process.

Pouget said she called earlier Monday and was told by Rousseau it was for Belle Vue, and was upset with the responses she was getting at the meeting.

“I expect the treasurer to tell us the truth,” she said. “I am asking on behalf of the constituents.”
Rousseau said he had yet to review the document, and gave Pouget the most accurate information he had when she called.

“I gave you the best information I had this morning,” he said during Monday’s meeting. “If that has fallen short, I apologize.”

Administration is expected to give council more details on the matter at an upcoming meeting.

Amherstburg Community Services thanks volunteers at annual appreciation dinner

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) thanked their volunteers and did so with a western flare.

ACS held its annual volunteer appreciation dinner last Wednesday evening at the AMA Sportsmen Association with the event featuring everything from a barbecue meal to people dressed in western attire. There were also horse and carriage rides as well.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo noted the non-profit agency is in its 45th year, with providing meals being one of the early focuses.

Staff from Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) hold up letters spelling the words “Thank You” at last Wednesday night’s volunteer appreciation dinner at the AMA Sportsmen Association. ACS honoured their 132 volunteers with a dinner that had a western theme this year.

“Without the volunteers and original acts of kindness, we wouldn’t be here today,” said DiBartolomeo.

Meals on Wheels is now just one of the current services, with another 21 services also provided out of their Victoria St. S. office. ACS also provides services to Harrow, McGregor and LaSalle, she added.

ACS has 132 volunteers, DiBartolomeo noted, and she said all volunteers and every community play an important role.

“Volunteers not only play an important role in communities large and small, they are a necessity,” she said.

DiBartolomeo added that volunteers are “a special breed of people” and that ACS has developed a number of partnerships with other groups and organizations in the area. She said the agency can look back proudly on what it has accomplished.

“We are looking to the future with excitement,” she stated.

Terri Barrette, president of ACS’ board of directors, offered gratitude for the work of the volunteers. She referenced “Wanted” posters given the evening’s western theme when she pointed out there are so many wants and needs in the community.

Jim Cryowski was one of the ACS volunteers that helped barbecue the dinner at last Wednesday’s volunteer appreciation night at the AMA Sportsmen Association.

Volunteers give of their time and brighten the lives of people they help but Barrette added they are often another person’s “saving grace” and an inspiration to others.

“We tip our hats to all of you,” said Barrette.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo brought greetings, saying the thanks he was giving was miniscule compared to the volunteer time that people give.

“Know that your service does not go unnoticed or unappreciated,” said DiCarlo. “Amherstburg’s success is defined by you and for that we are eternally grateful.”

DiCarlo stated the Amherstburg is known for its volunteers.

“This is one of the few opportunities I have to let them know what difference they make in our community,” he said.

Sarah Parks from Sarah Parks Horsemanship (left) and Michelle Stein from Firehorse Leadership Organization (right) helped give Amherstburg Community Services’ volunteer appreciation dinner a western flare by bringing their horses. Gerald Lemire was one of the volunteers who stopped by to say hello.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya said ACS’ volunteer appreciation dinner is an “annual event I love coming to.” Antaya has been a volunteer himself, often as a Meals on Wheels driver.

“The service you provide is incredible,” said Antaya. “You are assuring people they haven’t been forgotten.”

Antaya added he has been proud to be a Meals on Wheels driver and said they often are the only people some clients may see in an average day.

For more information about ACS and the services the agency provides, visit their office at 179 Victoria St. S. or call 519-736-5471. Their website is www.amherstburg-cs.com.

DiCarlo seeking a second term as Amherstburg mayor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Four years ago, Aldo DiCarlo didn’t enter the mayor’s race until late in the nomination period.

Now, he hopes doing the opposite will bring him similar results.

DiCarlo is running for a second term as mayor of Amherstburg and filed his paperwork shortly after the nomination period opened last Tuesday morning. He acknowledged he was doing the “opposite of last time, (and) being the first one in the door was my goal.”

Noting there are a number of initiatives “on the go,” DiCarlo said he wants to see them through to conclusion.

“I would like to see the positive momentum the town has had lately continue,” he said. “There are some new projects coming on line that I would like to be a part of.”

A pair of the projects DiCarlo cited as being excited about include the new public high school going into Centennial Park and the seniors’ hub in the former St. Bernard School.

“I think the town is definitely in need of more services for the growing seniors population,” DiCarlo stated.

When he first filed in 2014, the town’s finances were far and away the focal point of residents.

“The only way we could get in the media was for negative reasons, it seemed,” he recalled.

DiCarlo said while the town isn’t out of the woods yet, he believes things have improved and pointed out the town is able to pay cash for projects “which would have been unheard of back then.”

Town council is a more respectful place and there is a more positive atmosphere in the council chambers.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo is seeking a second term as Mayor of Amherstburg.

Goals for the future include ensuring that a hotel, perhaps even two, come to Amherstburg. That ties into another goal of bringing more people to town. Aside from the bed and breakfasts, DiCarlo said “the issue is that there are no places to stay.”

If there are opportunities for visitors to stay overnight, that will lead to more money for local businesses, he believed.

Attracting new development is another goal, noting the new apartment building on Pickering Dr. as an example of local development. More development will assist with another goal, which is keeping taxes at a reasonable level.

“The more people paying taxes lessens the burden for everybody,” said DiCarlo.

Expanding local festivals is another objective, pointing out the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival is coming this August.

DiCarlo acknowledged his controversial vote to contract out policing to the Windsor Police Service is still not popular with some residents. He defended it by saying the town will not see a reduction in police services and that most of the people he spoke with either supported the switch or were at least OK with it. He said he wants to stick around to ensure service levels stay where they are and that he has a good relationship with officials in Windsor.

“That affords me the opportunity to make sure Amherstburg residents are taken care of,” he said.

A number of services are already shared, he pointed out, including IT, ambulance and waste services.

“We already share quite a bit with the rest of the region,” he said.

DiCarlo said he believes in being held accountable for the decisions he was a part of.

“My simple message is if you like what you’ve seen the last three-and-a-half years, expect more of the same,” he said. “If not, don’t vote for me because plan to continue with what I’ve been doing.”

Town approves $50,000 to fund implementation of staff accommodation review

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg has addressed a “staffing resources shortage” during the 2017 and 2018 budget deliberations and now are having difficulty finding places for them to work.

Town council authorized an amount not exceed $50,000 for implantation of a staff accommodation review. The results of that will see the lower level of the Amherstburg Municipal Building reconfigured to provide for additional work spaces. A report authored by treasurer Justin Rousseau stated that plan will “accommodate the current staff accommodation needs at the municipal offices potentially for the next few years, subject to growth in the town and administrative demands.”

However, Rousseau cautioned that it does not provide “a comprehensive long-term solution” to address long-term growth in municipal operations nor does it address compliance with accessibility legislation.

Councillor Leo Meloche questioned why the study was not a budget item during 2018 deliberations with CAO John Miceli admitting it had been missed. He said “for full transparency, we came to council” regarding the matter.

Meloche further pressed as to whether the matter should have been put off to the 2019 town budget, but Miceli said the staff have been hired and now need a place to work out of.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo indicated that he has first-hand knowledge that there are tight quarters at town hall.

“I’m sharing my office with a new hire,” he said, “not that I’m complaining.”

The Town of Amherstburg had previously applied for grant funding to assist with town hall upgrades and the ability to move further services to the Libro Centre. That grant was unsuccessful. The building and planning departments have been based out of the Libro Centre for the last few years.

Town, WECHU launching distribution of KI pills

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Those living within 16.1 kilometres of the Fermi II nuclear power plant will soon have an opportunity to receive their potassium iodide (KI) pills.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), the Town of Amherstburg and the Amherstburg Fire Department held a joint news conference Thursday morning where it was announced that the distribution of KI pills would begin May 7.

The 16.1-kilometre zone encompasses a small portion of Amherstburg, roughly 500 homes, primarily in the Amherst Pointe area with residents in that area either having received or due to receive a letter informing them they can get the KI pills. Boblo Island is also included in the primary zone due to the logistics of getting people off of the island in case of an emergency.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo called it an “important first step,” stating that town council has been pressing for “a long time” that Amherstburg be treated on an equal basis as compared to other Ontario municipalities with a nuclear reactor nearby.

The difference between Amherstburg and the other Ontario municipalities is that Fermi II is actually located in the United States.

DiCarlo credited town staff, including fire chief Bruce Montone, deputy chief Lee Tome and clerk Paula Parker for their work on pressing the issue with the Ontario government.

“Through their persistence, we are starting to see progress,” said DiCarlo.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), shows a box of potassium iodide (KI) pills as Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and fire chief Bruce Montone look on.

Montone urged people to have a plan in case of any emergency, not just a nuclear one, including how to get out of your home, neighbourhood or town.

“Are you ready, no matter where you live?” asked Montone. “Are you ready for any emergency that may occur?”

Specific to the KI pill distribution, people who fall within the primary zone can pick them up at the Libro Centre starting May 7-8. Those who can’t attend those dates can still get their pills later this spring or early summer with Montone stating that those who get their pills will be tracked. If there are those unable to get their KI pills, Montone suggested alternative measures will be explored including door-to-door delivery.

Should an emergency occur, Montone indicated that the siren system would be activated, that messages would be sent to the media for dissemination and the town’s “Amherstburg Alert” system would be activated. He encouraged members of the public to sign up, if they haven’t already done so, at www.amherstburg.ca/alert.

If it was a nuclear emergency, how fast the town would be impacted would depend on such things such as weather, temperature, wind and other factors. Montone said there would be six to 24-hour time period before the possibility of a release and noted most nuclear incidents are relatively minor when, and if, they do happen.

“Not every single event is going to be a catastrophic event that we see in the movies,” he said.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health with the WECHU, gives a closer look at the packages Amherstburg residents can expect when they pick up their KI pills. Those in the “primary zone,” which is those within a 16.1 kilometre radius of Fermi II, can start picking up the pills May 7 at the Libro Centre.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health with the WECHU, said the KI pills are a form of salt and, when taken prior to exposure to radiation, assists the thyroid in not absorbing radioactive material.

“It’s not a magic pill,” he said. “It just protects you from thyroid cancer.”

The province will absorb the $370,000 cost of the pills, he noted, adding that adults usually take two of the pills while adolescents take one.

Those in the secondary zone, which includes the rest of Amherstburg and is a radius of 80 km from the plant, can sign up to get the KI pills as well. The pills have rare side effects such as gastrointestinal issues and a hypersensitivity reaction.

“You have to take KI pills only when directed,” noted Ahmed. “Don’t take them unless you are directed to.”

For more information, visit www.wechu.org/KI, e-mail weki@wechu.org or call 519-258-2146 ext. 4445.