town of Amherstburg

New public high school location revealed

By Ron Giofu

 

The location of the new public high school has finally been revealed.

The town will sell 15 acres of the southern portion of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board for $2,457,000 with the town putting the proceeds into a parkland reserve. The town will retain 12 acres on the northern end of the park.

The new 819-student high school will house both General Amherst High School students and Western Secondary School students with the estimated opening date being Sept. 2020.

“Amherstburg is getting a single location, dual high school that will be state of the art,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We’re ecstatic.”

Greater Essex County District School Board and town officials were pleased with the announcement that Centennial Park will house the new school to replace the current General Amherst and Western. From left: board chair Kim McKinley, CAO John Miceli, GECDSB director of education Erin Kelly, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair.

DiCarlo said the location is close to the downtown area and keeps students close to downtown businesses. It also enables many students to continue to walk to school, he noted.

The mayor called it “incredible” news and gave his thanks to the school board officials.

(UPDATE – As for the fate of the pool, tennis courts and baseball diamonds, DiCarlo told the RTT Wednesday afternoon: “All of these amenities are being considered in the context of the parks master plan and where they will be located.”)

Erin Kelly, director of education with the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the board has selected an architect and will be moving forward with the design process. She believed they would be able to combine the two schools and meet the needs of all the students.

Kelly said they will try and get a shovel in the ground as soon as possible.

“There’s a lot of decisions to be made,” she noted.

CAO John Miceli said the town is “really excited” because of the fact the new school will provide additional opportunities for the municipality. Additional community use could arise with the new school and programming could be developed for after-school hours.

The Ontario government has already put $24.3-million towards the new public high school. As for the current building, Miceli indicated the town has its eyes on it and the board has its ears open for those plans.

“It’s in a strategic location in the Town of Amherstburg,” said Miceli. “The board is willing to listen.”

The CAO added: “There’s more to come.”

Miceli also thanked the public board’s administration for working with the town to arrive at the agreement.

Ron LeClair, trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle, indicated there are opportunities for co-operative education that will be within walking distance for students.

“This is wonderful news for the board and the Town of Amherstburg,” he said. “This is a win-win for the board and the town.”

While admitting “I can’t wait to get a shovel in the ground,” LeClair also said they have to complete the design phase first.

Councillor Leo Meloche noted the importance of the school to the community, and said parents and students alike appreciate the effort. Councillor Diane Pouget also offered praise to the public board for working with the town.

“It’s a special spot for many of us,” she said.

Pouget added there is work being done that would eventually allow for over 1,700 building lots to be created in town, but Kelly noted they have to build based on the students they currently have. If an addition were needed in the future, the board could seek further funding from the province, she suggested.

Councillor Rick Fryer said the new school’s inclusion of skilled trades for students is important and called it “an excellent idea.”

The announcement to sell 15 of the 27 acres in Centennial Park to the public board was met with applause by those in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.

CAO defends family members on town’s payroll, says he wasn’t part of hiring process

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

With knowledge being gained by members of the public that CAO John Miceli has family members working for the town, he is defending the hiring process.

Miceli acknowledged that his brother is now an electrician for the town and that he has a nephew working as a part-time general labourer but he cited town policies and his involvement in the hiring process, or lack thereof, as reasons why he views both hires as being proper. The CAO pointed out there is a town anti-nepotism policy, enacted Dec. 13, 2004, that prohibits against the hiring of qualified persons “whether or not they have immediate relatives employed in the town or whether or not they have immediate relatives as a member of town council, provided that no applicant shall be hired for employment except with the approval of town council to occupy a position in the same immediate working area, under the same immediate supervisor or where one or more of his/her family supervises another.”

The policy, Miceli pointed out, is written to where it says it should “neither be a hindrance nor advantage to employment in the Town of Amherstburg” and that the town “will not discriminate in its hiring practices on the basis that the person is related to a current employee or member of town council.” The policy states that the employer may grant or withhold employment or advancement in employment to a person who is a spouse, child or parent of the employer or an employee.

“Our overall intent remains that vacated positions may be staffed by qualified candidates selected on the basis of education, experience, knowledge, ability and suitability within the framework of legislation, collective agreements, equal opportunity, budgetary limitations and corporate needs,” the policy reads.

CAO John Miceli.

Miceli stated allegations against him that something improper was done “doesn’t meet the test of nepotism under town policies.” He said the town is “committed to hiring the most qualified individuals” and said he was not part of any hiring panels to fill the positions his brother and nephew both got.

His brother “is a qualified electrician and he holds a master’s license,” said Miceli. The hiring panel consisted of the manager of facilities, manager of roads and fleet and the human resources manager. His nephew was interviewed by the manager of facilities and the human resources manager and was one of four applicants.

“I was not involved in the hiring process,” he said. “I’ve been in (municipal government) for 27 years and I respect policies and procedures. You will not see me hire a unionized position and these are unionized positions. I do not supervise these people.”

Miceli believed a lot of people who complain are “anti-change” and said there are a lot of people who are related to each other working for the town.

“We are not going to discriminate against family if they are the most qualified,” said Miceli. “Why would we?”

The town hiring of an electrician and a plumber and bringing the work inside instead of contracting it out is something Miceli said is his track record.

“We were spending far more on contractors to do the work rather than do it internally,” he said. “Seeing the types of bills happening in town showed for me why we need to do the work in house. The town was not getting value for money.”

Both are also facility attendants, he added, meaning that if there was not enough electrical or plumbing work in town, they have other duties to tend to.

The CAO added that hiring the best candidates often means hiring from out-of-town.

“All we’re looking for is the most qualified individuals,” Miceli contended. “Wherever they reside is no concern of mine.”

Acknowledging the public concern that many former Windsor staff members are employed in Amherstburg, Miceli said 178 city employees reside in Amherstburg.

“I just find it so interesting that people in town think you have to hire in town,” he said.

Miceli said he is willing to match his record against any other previous CAO.

“Please put my record against any of them,” he said. “Show me where I have done wrong.”

Miceli added he has an open door policy and is willing to discuss issues with residents, but noted council makes decisions based on recommendations of administration and administration executes.

“If there is a resident who has issues with the way I am running the organization, they can file a complaint,” said Miceli. “They can file a complaint against me and the hiring practices of the town.”

Town of Amherstburg asks for review of Joint Powers Agreement

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

A motion has been carried for the request from The Town of Amherstburg to review the 1994 Joint Powers Agreement, and administration will be contacting the county solicitor on how to proceed with the review.

In the 1990s, the approval of the creation and implementation of a centralized communication system, known as the 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone Reporting was created. The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commissioner approved Bell Canada as the subscriber biller. Municipalities were responsible for providing the service, which would answer and transfer those 9-1-1 calls from the Bell lines through to the correct Remote Agency, which would then dispatch the emergency personnel.

“The Joint Powers Agreement gave the county the authority to enter into an agreement on behalf of all the joint parties for this central emergency reporting bureau,” explained Mary Birch, director of council services/clerk. “The county was billed, and then each municipality was billed based on their population. That agreement was most recently reviewed with the OPP December 13, 2015, which will last to December 12, 2020, at an annual cost, of $99,824.34 based on the residential population of 177,940.”

Birch explained, in June, a report went to Town of Amherstburg Police Chief Tim Berthiaume in regards to transferring the 9-1-1 call taking from the OPP to the Windsor Police Service. At that time, the resolutions included that transfer, and the Police Chief was directed to enter discussions with the county to terminate the agreement for the provision of 9-1-1 central emergency reporting bureau between the Ontario Provincial Police and the County of Essex.

Birch stated in her report “In July, 2017, a legal opinion was sought from County Solicitor Christine Riley, regarding implications on the Joint Powers Agreement and Agreement for CERB services with the OPP, if the Town of Amherstburg opted to terminate their participation. Ms. Riley indicated that: “Article 7 provides that no party can terminate or amend the Agreement except as provided in that section. Article 7(b)(i) states that ‘the parties may, by mutual agreement, amend or terminate this Agreement.’”

The county will be looking in to how to proceed.

 

Town welcomes new chief building official

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s new chief building official is on the job and enjoying life in Amherstburg thus far.

Angelo Avolio was hired June 26 and officially took over from the retired Steve Brown last week after the latter retired June 30. Avolio, a 48-year-old married father of three, brings with him over 20 years of experience in the industry.

Avolio graduated from St. Clair College in the architectural technology and worked for engineering firms, homebuilders and was also self-employed before becoming a building inspector/plans examiner with the Town of LaSalle. He was employed by LaSalle for roughly 20 years and admitted it was tough to leave.

“After 20 years, I jumped ship and came to Amherstburg,” he said with a laugh.

Angelo Avolio is the town’s new chief building  official. He takes over for Steve Brown, who retired June 30.

Angelo Avolio is the town’s new chief building
official. He takes over for Steve Brown, who retired June 30.

Avolio said he saw a lot of changes in LaSalle over the last two decades and sees a chance for more changes in Amherstburg. The town’s heritage appeals to him and credited Brown for knowing a lot about that component.

“There’s going to be a lot of things happening here,” added Avolio. He cited the Belle Vue, the development proposed for the Duffy’s property and numerous new subdivisions that are planned as examples.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity to get in all of that,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

Believing he has “huge shoes to fill” following Brown, he said his experience so far has been positive and notes he already knows a lot of people – including contractors – from his days in LaSalle. He said deputy chief building official Dave Atwood and building clerk Michelle Lavin-Chittle are a big asset as well.

“Without those people, we can’t function here,” said Avolio.

Avolio said the staff in Amherstburg is young and energetic and “excited for the opportunities that are coming.” His job consists of administrative duties but will still do inspections as well.

The opportunity to become Amherstburg’s new chief building official worked for him and his family, Avolio pointed out. He said he would like to be customer service-oriented and to be able to educate the public on building department issues and permits as much as possible.

“They do a lot of that here, I’ve noticed,” he said. “We want to try and educate the public.”

Avolio is based out of the Libro Centre along with the other building and planning staff members.