St. Bernard School

Councillor explains vote over St. Bernard School debate

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A town councillor is explaining her vote as it pertains to the issue of purchasing the former St. Bernard School.

After the in-camera portion during the April 23 town council meeting, council approved a motion to buy the former school building from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board for $550,000.

Councillor Diane Pouget opposed the motion, but it was the second part of the motion that she disagreed with. Pouget said she supports the purchase of the school, and states she wants to see a “seniors hub” developed there.

The former St. Bernard School.

Pouget also introduced a separate motion last November to pursue grant funding for a Master Aging Plan.

“I fully support the acquisition of the former St. Bernard’s School as a seniors hub,” Pouget said. “In fact, I was the councillor who initiated the motion to apply for a grant for a Seniors’ Master Plan. However, I am adamantly opposed to the remainder of the (April 23) motion, that is to ‘authorize administration to move forward with the proposed plans as identified in the confidential report.’”

Pouget said she could not elaborate further but noted she is “very concerned” about the second part of the April 23 motion.

“Unfortunately, because it was one motion, I felt compelled to vote against it,” she said. “Further to that, I am not allowed to explain my position, because it was in-camera.”

Town officially purchasing former St. Bernard School

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg is moving forward with the acquisition of the former St. Bernard School after agreeing to buy the building for $550,000.

Town council emerged from an in-camera meeting Monday night and authorized administration to remove conditions for the acquisition of the former Catholic elementary school. The purchase will be funded through the town’s parkland reserve with only Councillor Diane Pouget voting in opposition to the purchase.

CAO John Miceli said the issue never made it to arbitration as lawyers for both the town and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) were able to strike a deal. The building had been appraised by the board at $650,000.

“We came to a negotiated settlement,” said Miceli. “Both parties recognized the benefits to the community.”

The town and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board have agreed on a sale price of $550,000.

The plan for the building, located at 320 Richmond St., remains to develop it into a “seniors’ hub.” Miceli said with an aging population, the town wants “to improve the quality of life for seniors.” He pointed out the town is undertaking a seniors master plan.

“We recognize that they’re going to be a big part of our population and we need to be able to service them and we’re going to capitalize on that building and modify it to service the needs of the residents here in Amherstburg,” the chief administrative officer said.

Acquiring the building was the first step, he said, and now they can move forward with possible tenants for the building.

One possible tenant is a nurse practitioner-led clinic while space has been blocked out for other uses. Miceli said the preliminary plans can now move forward and the town can now proceed with discussions with the other potential user groups. The building would be modified according to what uses the building is put to.

“We’ve got a list of tenants that want to participate in that building,” Miceli indicated.

The town went public with its interest in the building last November, but frustrations have eased and now the matter has been resolved. The town could take ownership of building within 60 days.

St. Bernard School was closed by the WECDSB in 2016 with students transferred to Stella Maris School. The building was originally constructed in 1958 with additions being built in 1961 and 1971. The building is approximately 30,000 square feet.

Public meetings held regarding proposed nurse practitioner-led clinic

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg hosted two public meetings last week on a proposed nurse practitioner-led clinic for the community.

The first meeting was held last Wednesday evening at Amherstburg town hall while the second was held Friday morning at the Libro Centre with the bulk of the attendees being seniors. Those fielding questions included CAO John Miceli, Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic executive director Pauline Gemmell, members of Gemmell’s team and local nurse practitioner Carolyn Davies.

Miceli told residents that the aim is to have the clinic open later in 2018 or by early 2019 and the clinic would take up about 4,300 square feet of the roughly 30,000 square St. Bernard School building. The town and Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board are currently in arbitration trying to settle a dispute on the value of the building, located at 320 Richmond St., as the town wants to purchase it for a seniors’ hub.

The town is undertaking a seniors’ master plan to confirm programming and community needs “for the fastest growing sector of our town’s population,” Miceli said, adding that plan should be completed this year.

AO John Miceli and members of the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic make a presentation at a public meeting held last Friday morning at the Libro Centre.

While nurse practitioners may consult with a physician, they would provide primary care to residents themselves. People of all ages can use a nurse practitioner-led clinic and such clinics can offer a variety of services from chiropractors, physiotherapists, diabetes care, nutrition and cooking, women’s health and social work.

It was also learned at the public meetings that those enrolled in a nurse practitioner-led clinic may also be eligible for home visits from staff.

“It’s very exciting,” said Michael Lavoie, president of the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic’s board of directors. “It’s something new, something innovative.”

Lavoie quoted statistics from a recent survey the clinic had done which showed those enrolled at the clinic were overwhelmingly satisfied with the care they received with 98 per cent of people stating they would recommend it to family and friends.

“I’m excited for the future of health care not just for our clinic, but for our region,” said Lavoie.

Whether or not such a clinic comes to Amherstburg depends on funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care but Miceli said it would have a major positive impact if approved.

“If we get the funding for this, it’s going to increase the quality of life for many of our residents,” said Miceli. “I truly believe that.”

Tina Heeren said she looks after some friends and believed “there are a lot of health issues in this town.” Heeren said there are many who need help “and they are not getting it” as many have difficulty leaving their homes.

Local nurse practitioner Carolyn Davies fields a question at a March 2 public meeting at the Libro Centre.

John McDonald called a nurse practitioner-led clinic an “intriguing” option and suggested outreach into churches to gain further access and knowledge of who needs assistance. Kathy Hay said she hopes it does come, as people of all ages could use the clinic.

Gemmell said services at a nurse practitioner-led clinic are funded by OHIP and emphasized that people would receive primary care from a nurse practitioner.

“It’s a different kind of care,” she said.

Kate Bolohan, a nurse practitioner and clinical lead at the Essex County clinic, said appointments are roughly 15-30 minutes in length and can involve other health professionals to help treat the needs of the specific patient.

Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic executive director Pauline Gemmell and board chair Michael Lavoie listen to a question during a March 2 public meeting.

“We all work together,” said Bolohan. “It’s a great collaborative effort from all angles.”

Gemmell pointed out she has received letters of support from a wide range of people in the community and provided letters of support that were left at town hall that people can sign, if interested. Those letters will be given to Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, who will bring them to the Ministry of Health.

No timelines were given for when a funding announcement could be made, but Gemmell indicated there are rumours that something could be announced before March 31.

Amherstburg police investigating two separate thefts of tools

 

 

The Amherstburg Police Service was called twice over the past week to investigate the theft of tools from a pair of job sites.

Amherstburg police state they were called to a home under construction for a theft of tools from a job site. The theft, at the new street, saw a number of items taken with the total value of the items stolen being approximately $3,300.

The second theft was from the 300 block of Welsh St. It was reported that drywall in the interior of the home being constructed was also damaged. There was no known value as of press time of the items stolen.

Both thefts were reported Sunday.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Amherstburg Police Service at 519-736-2252 or Crime Stoppers at 519-258-TIPS (8477).

 

Other thefts   A theft of a cell phone was reported from a home in the 100 block of Richmond St. last Wednesday around 11 a.m. A person was selling the phone only to have a prospective customer leave the scene with it. The person left in a black Jeep Cherokee with an unknown plate, say police, with a second person being in the vehicle. The male was approximately 5’5” in height.

Anyone with information is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers.

  • A theft of a tailgate was reported from a Chevy S10 pickup truck parked on Renaud St. last week. It was reported last Wednesday around 9:15 a.m. but reportedly happened over the previous night. There are currently no suspects.
  • A 911 sign was stolen from out front of a residence on Texas Road. It was reported Sunday morning, though the theft occurred overnight in the 400 block. There are no suspects.

Accidents   A 57-year-old Amherstburg man was charged with failing to yield to traffic after a two-vehicle accident at County Road 20 and Lowes Side Road last Friday around 4:30 p.m. Amherstburg police say there were minor injuries.

  • A two-vehicle crash on County Road 8 and Concession 5 North resulted in a 20-year-old McGregor man charged with following too close. The intersection was closed for a brief period but reopened shortly after. There were no injuries.

 

Trespassing   Amherstburg police were called to the former St. Bernard School last Sunday around 4 p.m. for a report of youths trying to gain access to the building. The youths were gone upon the arrival of officers. Police advise that people can be charged with trespassing or possibly break-and-enter if they try to enter such empty buildings so people are encouraged to stay off the property.

 

Stats   Amherstburg police laid 28 traffic-related charges last week. They also responded to six alarm calls and three 911 hang-up calls.

 

—All information courtesy of the Amherstburg Police Service

Town looks to arbitration to settle dispute with WECDSB over St. Bernard School

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Frustrated over talks to buy the former St. Bernard School, the town of Amherstburg is looking to have the matter settled by an arbitrator.

As the result of an in-camera session Monday night, town council agreed to have CAO John Miceli pursue the matter as the town and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board have been unable to finalize what the fair market value for the former school building, located at 320 Richmond St., should be

The town has been looking to purchase the school building after it was declared surplus by the Catholic school board, said Miceli, with the intention of using it as a “community hub” centred around senior citizens.

Miceli said the WECDSB’s counteroffer to the town was $100,000 more than the $650,000 that the board had it appraised at. A subsequent offer came in at $25,000 higher than the appraisal.

“It’s been extremely exhausting working with the Catholic school board. When you look at bargaining in good faith between public entities, I find this very difficult especially when there’s a community use and a community benefit,” Miceli stated.

The town is interested in purchasing the former St. Bernard School but are locked in a dispute with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board on what the fair market value is.

The CAO believes there is “a total disregard for the town of Amherstburg and its residents.”

A master seniors plan has been included in the 2018 budget, Miceli noted, and the community hub proposed for the site would help to address seniors needs and issues.

“All of the plans we have for the property are supported by our community strategic plan,” said Miceli.

The town is trying to protect the ratepayers of Amherstburg through this process, he added, with both he and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo pointing out the property has been public for years with public tax dollars maintaining it. Miceli added the town is taking “a very strategic approach” to acquiring the land and has followed the process “to a T.”

There is a plan on how to fund its purchase, should it occur, he added but couldn’t release it at the present time as there are other issues in play that can’t be disclosed publicly at this point. He did state there are “synergies” between the proposal for the St. Bernard School site and the possibility of a new public high school being built next door at Centennial Park.

“As soon as the school became available, we came up with a plan to benefit the community,” said DiCarlo. “We found a way to re-purpose (the school building) so it can continue to be beneficial to the community.”

DiCarlo said it has been a “frustrating” process in working with the Catholic board and trying to realize the town’s vision for the property.

Stephen Fields, communications co-ordinator with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, said the Education Act calls for property matters to be discussed by the committee of the whole board and stay confidential.

“As a rule, we do not discuss property matters in public,” said Fields. “Those are the guidelines we operate by.”

Asked for reaction on the town’s stance on the matter, Fields reiterated the board does not comment on property matters.

“There’s a process for all negotiations and we followed the process,” said Fields. “Part of the process is maintaining confidentiality.”