Ron McDermott

Cypher Systems Greenway officially open

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Although people have been trying it out for a few months now, the Cypher Systems Greenway is now officially open.

The 22-kilometre trail that links Amherstburg with Essex celebrated its grand opening last Thursday morning in McGregor. The trail, an abandoned rail line that was donated to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) in 2003, intersects in McGregor with the existing Chrysler Canada Greenway.

Claire Wales, ERCF vice president, credited the partnerships with donors, volunteers and contributors for making the trail a reality.

The town of Amherstburg officially made its $100,000 contribution to the Cyper Systems Greenway last Thursday morning in McGregor. The donation went to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) and came from the town’s 2016 surplus. From left: ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Councillor Leo Meloche, CAO John Miceli, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Councillor and Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) chair Rick Fryer.

The town of Amherstburg officially made its $100,000 contribution to the Cyper Systems Greenway last Thursday morning in McGregor. The donation went to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) and came from the town’s 2016 surplus. From left: ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Councillor Leo Meloche, CAO John Miceli, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Councillor and Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) chair Rick Fryer.

“We are so grateful to the Government of Canada, Cypher Systems Group, and the hundreds of corporate and individual donors who raised $1 million through our TrailON! campaign to develop this trail,” said Wales.

According to the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), whom the ERCF raises funds on behalf of, Caesars Windsor made an initial contribution of $25,000 to kick off the campaign.  ERCA stated that contributions of $250,000 from Cypher Systems Group, $100,000 from the Town of Essex and many other corporate and individual donations enabled the Essex Region Conservation Foundation to be approved for up to $500,000 in funding through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150) for the trail renovation.

The Town of Amherstburg added $100,000 more by officially presenting a cheque at the grand opening. That money was part of a surplus from the town’s 2016 operations.

Brian Schwab, president of Cypher Systems Group, said the company made the investment not just as a way to give back.

The new sign for the Cypher Systems Group Greenway was also unveiled April 27.

The new sign for the Cypher Systems Group Greenway was also unveiled April 27.

“It’s an attempt to make our community better,” said Schwab. “We can go for walks, jogs, runs and really start to explore this area and appreciate all it has to offer.  We can accomplish much and build upon the value of this area by helping to provide these types of recreational places.  It really is an investment, for everyone to use and enjoy today and for future generations to come.”

Elected officials from both Amherstburg and Essex attended the grand opening with Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale bringing greetings from Amherstburg. DiPasquale hoped people have positive experiences and stated it’s been a long time in the making.

ERCA chair Rick Fryer, also an Amherstburg councillor, said credit for trails dates back to the late Herb Gray, whose vision saw CN and CP donated old rail lines. He said trails are helping to make the Essex region a place to come to.

“We’ve become the region to come and live in,” said Fryer, adding he also met several people on the trail while on a recent bicycle ride with one of his daughters.

Fryer added that “green spaces, trails and a healthy environment directly contribute to our region being recognized as the place for life, where people choose to live, work, visit, and invest.”

The official ribbon cutting for the Cypher Systems Greenway occurred last Thursday morning in McGregor. From left: ERCA chair and Amherstburg councillor Rick Fryer, ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Cypher Systems Group president Brian Schwab, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Stephen Savage of Cypher Systems Group, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and ERCA general manager Richard Wyma.

The official ribbon cutting for the Cypher Systems Greenway occurred last Thursday morning in McGregor. From left: ERCA chair and Amherstburg councillor Rick Fryer, ERCF vice president Claire Wales, Cypher Systems Group president Brian Schwab, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Stephen Savage of Cypher Systems Group, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and ERCA general manager Richard Wyma.

Fryer noted that “we can hop on our bikes and visit our good friends in the town of Essex,” with Essex Mayor Ron McDermott making similar remarks.

“It’s nice to know we are hooked up to Amherstburg and the rest of the region,” said McDermott.

In a press release, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario Navdeep Bains stated: “Recreational activities and facilities form an essential part of every community. The Government of Canada recognizes that investments in projects like the Cypher Systems Group Greenway allow us to celebrate our heritage, improve the health of Canadians, and allow families to enjoy moments of sport, leisure and contemplation for years to come.”

 

Essex County council votes down proposed EWSWA budget

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The proposed Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) budget has been rejected by Essex County council.

County council unanimously rejected the budget last Wednesday night. The EWSWA budget calls for a zero percent increase in 2017 as well as 2018. The budget was arrived at by the authority Nov. 29 but county representatives slammed the budget that was approved due to Windsor having a majority of members on the board.

A 4.11 per cent increase had been recommended but by passing it with a zero per cent increase, it meant a dip into the EWSWA’s rate stabilization reserve thus bringing it down from $13.2 million to $12.2 million.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said the zero per cent budget is “ludicrous” and that operating the landfill with a rate freeze is not realistic.

“At some point in time, you’ve got to pay,” said McNamara. “It makes no sense to me.”

Such factors as rising fuel costs at the landfill have to be dealt with, he continued, and that it was “foolish” to try and accommodate everything “by the skin of your teeth.

“You’ve got to find money somewhere and pay the fiddler up front,” said McNamara. “To me, this is a disservice to our taxpayers in the future. We are mortgaging our future to look good today.”

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya, one of the county representatives on the EWSWA board, said he was “surprised beyond belief” that the budget was approved at the authority level with a zero per cent increase. He also questioned whether procedures were violated by passing a motion regarding the 2018 budget.

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To reconsider that motion requires a two-thirds majority, and Antaya was resigned to the fact the county didn’t have enough votes to do so. He also shared similar concerns to McNamara.

“By not paying the bill today, we’re just delaying it for the next generation,” said Antaya.

County council members were also concerned that if a zero per cent increase proceeds for the next two years, EWSWA administration projects that the rate increase could be as high as 9.87 per cent in 2019.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos believed the freezing of rates for two years was more due to “political expediency” than anything else. He believed they would be “going down the wrong path” by approving the budget as presented.

“It doesn’t make business sense,” said Santos.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, another member of the EWSWA board, said the county representatives were “100 per cent against” the zero per cent increase. He questioned why city representatives didn’t listen to EWSWA administration as “they do the work” in preparing the budget.

“(Windsor) could care less about families, they could care less about their neighbours,” stated McDermott. “We’re going backwards at zero per cent. I can’t see us doing anything but turn this down. This is terrible that anyone could even think of this.”

There isn’t a lot of “fat” in the EWSWA budget, added Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, adding county representatives were told they have a “traditional” approach to budgeting.

“To me, this is shortsighted,” said MacDonald. “This doesn’t give a fig about 20 years from now.”

MacDonald added there is no money devoted towards the landfill for its eventual replacement and all the attention is on the debt.

“I think we are realistic,” she said of the county’s approach. “I think it’s common sense. We’re thinking down the road.”

Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen also blasted the city’s stance and that a near-10 per cent increase would “not be acceptable, period.” Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio said recommendations dropped from 5.6 per cent to 4.11 per cent before it was approved by the city at zero per cent.

“The bottom line is it’s a sham,” said Fazio.

Fazio agreed that “you pay now or you pay later,” noting that “there’s not one person that wants to pay taxes.” He also asked whether the issue of 2018 was even on the agenda.

By turning it town, an ad hoc committee featuring administration from both Essex County and Windsor will help set a new budget for both councils to consider.

Groundbreaking held for next phase of Cypher Systems Greenway

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Construction on the Cypher Systems Greenway has officially broken ground and the latest and largest stretch should be complete in two months or so.

Representatives from the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) joined elected officials from Amherstburg and Essex at the Agris Co-op in McGregor for the ceremony. The co-op is next to the trail with the Cypher Systems Greenway also intersecting with the Chrysler Canada Greenway in McGregor.

Claire Wales, vice president of ERCF’s board of directors, stated that “trails link healthy place and healthy environments” with the foundation’s “Trail On!” campaign having started in 2012.

“Thanks to a generous and significant gift of $250,000 from Cypher Systems Group, and support from the federal government, the town of Essex and many corporate and individual donations, we are so thrilled to be here to celebrate the groundbreaking of this long awaited trail,” said Wales.

Wales pointed out Cypher Systems Group made its contribution in 2015. The “Trail On!” campaign raised over $1 million to develop the 26-kilometre trail but donations are still being accepted as other amenities as community entrances need to be developed.

Ground was officially broken Sept. 29 in McGregor for the Cypher Systems Greenway, which will run from Essex to Amherstburg and intersect with the Chrysler Canada Greenway. From left: TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Essex Region Conservation Foundation board vice president Claire Wales, ERCA general manager Richard Wyma, ERCA chair Ed Sleiman and Cypher Systems Group COO Dave Dyer.

Ground was officially broken Sept. 29 in McGregor for the Cypher Systems Greenway, which will run from Essex to Amherstburg and intersect with the Chrysler Canada Greenway. From left: TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Essex Region Conservation Foundation board vice president Claire Wales, ERCA general manager Richard Wyma, ERCA chair Ed Sleiman and Cypher Systems Group COO Dave Dyer.

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman thanked all the contributors and everyone who is helping make the project happen.

“Green spaces, trails and a healthy environment directly contribute to our region being recognized as a place of choice for people to live, visit and invest,” said Sleiman. “Trails improve the communities where they are built, which is why we are so pleased to be celebrating another success with our partners.”

Dave Dyer, chief operating officer with Cypher Systems Group, brought greetings and said the company was happy to get behind the new trail.

“It’s a great event,” said Dyer. “It’s a great step in the next part of the greenway and we are proud to be part of it.”

“We love this community and are happy to partner with this organization to expand the greenway and improve upon the health and quality of life in our region,” Cypher Systems Group president Brian Schwab in a press release. “The groundbreaking of this trail has been years in the making and we are thrilled that we could contribute to such a worthy endeavor and be part of this exciting event.”

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott was joined by his deputy mayor Richard Meloche and councillor Steve Bjorkman in presenting the ERCF a cheque for $100,000. McDermott said it is a project that benefits not just Essex and Amherstburg.

“It’s good for the entire community,” said McDermott.

McDermott said the two impacted municipalities are divided by boundary lines but a project like the greenway brings them together.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said the ceremony and the trail itself was a prime example of what can happen when people work together. He echoed McDermott by stating there may be boundaries between Essex and Amherstburg but the trails are bringing communities closer together.

“I admire you all,” said DiPasquale.

Other Amherstburg council members at the groundbreaking were councillors Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche. Both Fryer and Bjorkman are also ERCA board members.

Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI), said outdoor adventure is a “pillar” for the area and called the 26-kilometre trail a “tourism enhancer.”

A portion of the trail in Essex was completed several years ago and the current work will extend the greenway into Amherstburg.

Harrow Fair celebrates 162nd year

 

By Ron Giofu

 

An annual Labour Day weekend tradition that has lasted for over a century-and-a-half continued again this year.

The 162nd annual Harrow Fair opened last Thursday night and ran through Sunday at the fairgrounds with thousands streaming through to enjoy the 4-H Club shows, carnival, entertainment, pie auction and variety of events that were part of the weekend. The parade also was popular again this year with it taking a new route Saturday morning.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Essex MP Tracey Ramsey march in the Harrow Fair parade.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Essex MP Tracey Ramsey march in the Harrow Fair parade.

Brenda Anger, president of the Harrow Fair, said during Thursday night’s opening ceremony that agriculture was “on display” at the fair. She said it brings both rural and urban neighbours together for the weekend.

A horse-and-buggy makes its way down the parade route Saturday morning.

A horse-and-buggy makes its way down the parade route Saturday morning.

There were nine 4-H Clubs involved, Anger added, and also pointed out the addition of a new shade structure that was over the bleachers near the 4-H demonstrations.

Local politicians were on hand to offer best wishes. Essex Mayor Ron McDermott thanked the organizers for keeping up the agricultural tradition, something echoed by Essex MP Tracey Ramsey.

“We are so fortunate to live in this strong agricultural area,” said Ramsey. “I’m very proud of our region.”

Jack Morris was one of the auctioneers presiding over the pie auction last Thursday night at the Harrow Fair.

Jack Morris was one of the auctioneers presiding over the pie auction last Thursday night at the Harrow Fair.

Warden Tom Bain said the Harrow Fair is a “great family event,” pointing out that a few generations of his family attended.

“There’s something for everybody here,” said Bain.

Bain, also the mayor of Lakeshore, thanked the committee as well.

“You do a great job.”

Mayor fulfills wager with colleague from Essex

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a look Mayor Aldo DiCarlo didn’t want to sport at last Wednesday night’s meeting of Essex County council.

DiCarlo donned the black home jersey of the Essex 73’s, a jersey provided by Essex Mayor Ron McDermott. DiCarlo and McDermott had a friendly wager on who would win the Great Lakes Jr. C Hockey League final with the terms being that the losing mayor had to wear the jersey of the winning team.

The Essex 73’s downed the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals in seven games, which meant DiCarlo had to wear a 73’s jersey at the first county council meeting after the series.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (right) had to wear an Essex 73's jersey during the April 6 Essex County council meeting due to the 73's beating the Amherstburg Admirals in the Great Lakes Jr. C Hockey League final.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (right) had to wear an Essex 73’s jersey during the April 6 Essex County council meeting due to the 73’s beating the Amherstburg Admirals in the Great Lakes Jr. C Hockey League final. DiCarlo had made a friendly wager with Essex Mayor Ron McDermott (left).

“Fortunately for the town of Essex, Essex came out on top,” McDermott said.

The series went seven games and because of the Admirals’ strong play in the series, McDermott said he was “tempted” to call DiCarlo and have him bring an Admirals jersey so he could wear that as well. He reconsidered, however, joking “I said, ‘nah, they lost.’”

DiCarlo picked out the jersey of Tyler Scott, whom McDermott described as “probably the smallest guy on the ice but he’s got the biggest heart.”

The Amherstburg mayor congratulated Essex but was confident there would be a different result next season.

“It was a great series,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo added the teams played “amazing” but only one team can emerge victorious.

“Someone’s got to win and someone’s got to lose,” said DiCarlo. “Congratulations to Essex but next year it’s Amherstburg.”

Warden Tom Bain liked seeing the friendly rivalry between council members.

“It’s great to have camaraderie on county council,” said Bain.