Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce reviews 2018, elects new 2019 president at AGM



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) held its annual general meeting last Thursday night and elected a new president as well.

Nika Laurin, the branch manager at the local Libro Credit Union was elected the ACOC’s new president while local realtor/businessman Dan Gemus became the new vice president, However, Bondy House Bed & Breakfast co-owner Carolyn Davies, who moved from president to past president as a result of elections at the meeting, reviewed the previous year’s accomplishments before she vacated the chair.

“This year has put the ACOC on a new direction,” said Davies, stating she was thankful for the board for their “diligent work” and “excellent working environment” that allowed them to accomplish their many projects.

“With a review of our mission and vision statements, the board has emerged on a new path,” said Davies. “The last several years took the board on a direction focusing much of its resources on large event commitments. This helped stabilize our unique, independent businesses in the downtown core.”
Davies said it is time to reprioritize the ACOC’s commitment to “our wider business members” and the focus will be directed towards strengthening, enhancing and securing the success of business members through “enhanced commercial education, services, support, advocacy and networking.”

The Chamber board was “very busy” over the last year, Davies added, noting they facilitated “Meet the Candidate” nights leading up to the 2018 municipal election. She said she met with the mayor quarterly to bring issues of importance to the local business community to the town’s attention. Davies added she also met with then Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce president Matt Marchand to discuss partnerships as well as shared programs and services between the two organizations.

“As a result, the board met with a representative of the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce in regards to networking, shared programming and services,” said Davies, noting that Laurin has been managing that file. “Members will now see networking meetings that will be both in Amherstburg for local connections and in other parts of Essex to bring together like-minded businesses to share and learn from each other.”

Davies added that the ACOC board also met with HackForge lead Rebecca Wellbourne, noting that HackForge’s main mission “is to provide a place where creative minds can come together to share ideas, learn together, find support and make friends.” Davies noted that Laurin has been managing that file as well.

Dan Gemus (left) and Nika Laurin (right) are the new Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) vice president and president respectively. They were elected to their new positions March 14.

“As part of our commitment to provide education to our members, the Chamber has been reaching out to members, at no cost, to take advantage of the very knowledgeable presenters to provide useful IT skills development for business owners,” she said. “I remind members to keep an eye on the website for future events.”

Davies also pointed out the ACOC board had a series of meetings with town administration to negotiate the terms of transferring the Chamber’s signature event – the River Lights Winter Festival – to the town’s stewardship. The festival is now managed by the tourism and parks departments.

“The transfer of inventory and financials were successfully completed,” reported Davies. “Over $50,000 was transferred from our account to the town and over $100,000 in inventory and equipment was reallocated.”

A delegation of ACOC board members also met with town administration to discuss the progress of the electronic signage planned for the north and south entrances to urban portion of town.

“An update was given by the CAO of its progress,” said Davies. “At this time, no action needs to be taken by the ACOC. The CAO will keep the board updated on any progress requiring Chamber involvement with this file.”

Davies also pointed out that a delegation of board members attended the town’s open house on a proposal to create a Business Improvement Association (BIA). Several members of the Amherstburg business community were in attendance, she noted, and that the Chamber is looking to hear from its members on the proposition of a BIA.

“The Chamber participated in another successful Black Friday Sales Event for 2018,” she continued. “There was a growing number of businesses that participated, and feedback was positive of the event.”

The ACOC continues to provide packages of services to enhance members’ businesses and to save costs, Davies said, with those coming through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce and other providers.

Carolyn Davies delivers her president’s address during the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting March 14. Nika Laurin took over as president later in the meeting.

Davies said the 13th annual Business Excellence Awards were successful with this year’s award night being proposed for May 9.

The board continues to grow, with Davies pointing out such recent additions as Laurin, Business Development Bank commercial account manager Michael Slipchuk, Sintas Corporation general manager Jeremie Jones and TD Canada Trust branch manager Sarah MacDonald.

“The board wants to help our members be the best they can be,” said Davies. “We will continue to be there to act as a resource and ensure not only the success of our members and their businesses, but the success of the Town of Amherstburg.”

Chris Gibb, who was re-elected as the ACOC treasurer, reported the Chamber is on “solid financial footing” and hopes to see the organization invest in programming for local businesses. He said there are 99 paid members, a total that he believes is “incredible” for a town the size of Amherstburg.

Laurin said she looks forward to serving the business community as president. She said she wants to see Amherstburg continue to grow and to see economic development continue in 2019.

“I’d like to work more closely with the not-for-profit organizations,” she added.

Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission holds AGM



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission held its annual general meeting (AGM) last week and handed out some awards in the process.

The AGM was held last Wednesday night at the mission with board president Tim McAllister outlining the year that went by. He also thanked board members, volunteers and those who have supported the mission.

“We have had a good year thanks to all of you and the tremendous support from our community,” McAllister told those in attendance. “You have all made a difference through helping with donations and collecting tangible items.”

McAllister noted that the roof was recently replaced and that the hot water tank was also replaced.

“Things happen,” he said. “We trust God and He will provide.”

The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission will soon start fundraising for a new van.

“Changes are and will always be occurring here at the mission because it is a basic condition of life, necessary for growth,” McAllister stated.

Board members with the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission include (back row, from left): president Tim McAllister, secretary Shannon Dobson, Jim Ferrar, Paul Kascjak. Front row (from left): Tammy Pasceri, vice president, Anne Fox and Lana Talbot. Not pictured are Sheila Jaroszewicz, Violet McAllister and Kim Cabanaw. All are volunteers.

McAllister said the mission is in its 23rd year and that he will continue to serve as president. He said the board is made up of volunteers who live up to the motto of “people helping people.”

“I ask that you all stay tuned because the best is yet to come!” said McAllister. “We will continue to work diligently to build and pursue new partnerships and maintain our current ones. We will continue to modify programs to meet the needs of the community with the resources available.”

The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission encourages people through its Wednesday breakfasts, hot meals throughout the week, the baby food program, the emergency food bank and computer programs with McAllister stating that could only be done through monetary donations and the dedication of the volunteers and supporters.

“As we continue to partner with the Essex County court system, the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission provides a placement for young offenders,” said McAllister. “We also support school students who seek voluntary hours for academic requirements. We continue to modify our system with the Windsor-Essex Food Bank Association and have implemented procedures and requirements that satisfy our funders.”

Mission president Tim McAllister (left) presents a volunteer award to Inez Zapata-Fox.

McAllister added the mission’s reporting is transparent and assures that it is accountable in utilizing public funds appropriately.

“Our community’s needs continue to increase and change. As we focus on tailoring our services, our efforts will remain on meeting the greatest needs within our community,” he added. “People in Amherstburg and the surrounding communities are still finding it difficult to make ends meet and the number of people accessing our services for hot meals, both adults and children, continues to increase.”

The number and effectiveness of the volunteers is stable, McAllister reported, and events run smoothly.

“Our funding campaigns continue to be strong,” he said. “Once again, I am glad to report that we have successfully established annual events that continue to grow each year.”

Such events that the mission has presented include the brunch at Ducks on the Roof, a barbecue at Sobeys, a fundraiser at No Frills, having all 100 of their new chairs sponsored, the annual golf tournament and the tambola.

“We would like to put emphasis on our fundraising efforts as we continue to rely on our volunteers, their ideas, their efforts and their passion,” said McAllister. “At the same time, we continue to rely on the generosity of our community.”

Marilyne Fortune (right) receives a volunteer award from Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission president Tim McAllister.

McAllister added that “everyone contributes in their own way and that’s what makes the mission a special place.”

The mission’s board also includes vice president Shirley Hitchcock, John Drop, Paul Kascjak, Tammy Pasceri, Sheila Jaroszewicz, Lana Talbot, Shannon Dobson, Anne Fox and Jim Ferrar. The operational support team includes Violet McAllister and Kim Cabanaw.

“We all do what we can when we can,” said Hitchcock.

Hitchcock noted that so far this year, the mission had served over 10,000 hot meals this year and distributed 329 food baskets.

Mission president Tim McAllister blows out candles on his birthday cake. His 64th birthday was celebrated the same night as the mission’s annual general meeting Sept. 19.

The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission also honoured a pair of its volunteers. Inez Zapata-Fox and Marilyne Fortune were honoured this year for their contributions to the mission.

“It’s part of my daily routine,” said Fox, with Fortune added that she greatly enjoys working at the mission.

The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission is located at 298 Victoria St. S. and their phone number is 519-736-9140. For more information, visit or “like” them on Facebook at


ACOC reflects on the past year during recent AGM



By Ron Giofu


Board members with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) gathered at the Lord Amherst Public House restaurant for their annual general meeting and reflected back on their most recent year.

Among the board executive in attendance were president Carolyn Davies, treasurer Chris Gibb and directors Ray Bezaire, Janet Willoughby and Dan Gemus and they looked back on some of the ACOC’s more recent accomplishments.

“We got a lot of successful networking projects done,” said Davies.

The ACOC also supported local events, such as the town’s Canuck It Up! Festival.

“It’s been a very busy year,” she said.

Gibb pointed out the chamber had “successful lawsuit” regarding the 2015 Mardi Gras with organizer Ian France ordered to pay back overpayments amounting to $8,607.64, plus interest, as well as legal fees. The total amount of the reimbursement, according to ACOC officials, was $10,812.30.

“We got a settlement we worked a long time for,” said Gibb. “We’re glad to have that behind us.”

Dan Gemus, Carolyn Davies, Janet Willoughby, Ray Bezaire and Chris Gibb discuss the business of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce as part of the organization’s AGM Feb. 15.

Bezaire noted they are going to reinvest that money back into the membership, stating they are guardians of other people’s money.

Davies said plans for the future include focusing on direct support for businesses, whether that be through networking support, social media or other means at the ACOC’s disposal.

Bezaire noted the chamber wants to work with the Town of Amherstburg on business attraction and retention. Davies added they meet quarterly with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo to discuss “issues of importance” to the business community.

“We are going to be having the Business Excellence Awards,” Davies stated. “That will be happening at the end of April.”

With the municipal election being Oct. 22, the ACOC also plans on hosting all-candidates nights.

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce currently has 154 paid members, a number that they are pleased with.

“It’s huge for a town like Amherstburg,” added Gibb.

For more information on the ACOC or to join, visit, e-mail or call 519-736-2001.

ERCA holds AGM, honors Conservation Award winners



The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) held its annual general meeting (AGM) last Thursday night with a number of people from the region honoured during the evening as well.

Eight organizations and individuals were honoured with Essex Region Conservation Awards for their efforts in making the Windsor/Essex/Pelee Island region the “Place for Life.”

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) honoured its Conservation Award winners Jan. 18 in Essex. (Special to the RTT)

“It’s always inspiring to learn more about those who have made tangible contributions to our regional environment,” said ERCA chair Rick Fryer, who is also an Amherstburg town councillor.  “There are so many actions being taken to sustain our region as the Place for Life, and it is a privilege to celebrate them.”

Among the winners were Jerome Deslippe, who posthumously received the Conservation Farm Award for the use of conservation farming practices and a lifetime of dedication to agriculture in the community.

“He was very passionate about being a steward of the land,” said daughter Rochelle, who accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

Rochelle said her father was “very, very active in the community” with his biography indicating that he was past president of the Essex Soil & Crop Improvement Association and was also a director with that organization for over 30 years. He was described as “a proud supporter of his community” through many agricultural projects such as the Essex County Plowing Match, the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum and the Ontario Plowman’s Association.

Jerome was also described as being “instrumental” in the establishment of the Essex County Demonstration Farm at Holiday Beach in 1996 and was an early adopter of conservation tillage practices on his own farm and member of the Essex Conservation Club.

Jerome Deslippe was inducted into the Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1997.

Rochelle Deslippe (centre) accepts the Conservation Farm Award on behalf of her late father Jerome. Making the presentation were ERCA chair Rick Fryer (left) and vice chair Irek Kusmierczyk. (Special to the RTT)

Other winners included:

  • the Iler Family – John R. Park Homestead Award for her preservation of local agricultural history in our community.
  • Peter Berry – Education Award for educating and engaging the community to improve the health of the Detroit River and the lands that surround it.
  • Darlene Burgess – Volunteer Award for protecting, raising and releasing Monarch butterflies.  As a volunteer citizen scientist, she tracks and reports on the monarch migration.
  • Dr. Doug Haffner – Environmental Achievement Award for decades of mentoring students, teaching the next generation of scientists, and conducting significant research which continues to support the management of Canada’s Great Lakes.
  • Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) – Volunteer Organization Award to celebrate a century of service, including tree plantings, stream cleanups, global sanitation and water initiatives, support of ERCA’s outreach program and creating the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub.
  • Town of Tecumseh – Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement recognizes the Town’s leadership in protecting Fairplay Woods, tree planting efforts, creating Lakewood Park, innovative solar use and leadership in trail development.
  • Vivian Kennedy – Dennis Chase Staff Award for two decades of dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion to colleagues, customers and partners.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments of the past year, including the creation of the Place for Life policies, opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway and the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub, restoring over 92 acres of habitat and engaging over 12,000 students in outdoor education, and strengthening organizational resilience.

Fryer also highlighted the planting of “many trees” this year, with the annual report showing that number to be 92,500 trees.

“I continue to say that this is the ‘Place for Life’,” Fryer stated.

Among the other 2017 accomplishments that ERCA touted were aiding municipalities in responding to the significant rainfall event that occurred in late August, initiating steps to develop a regional climate change strategy, the opening of the new cottage at Holiday Beach, initiating a feasibility study with Ducks Unlimited to design and operate a new 70-acre controlled wetland adjacent to the Canard River and assisting five member municipalities with their Official Plan updates.

Community Living Essex County celebrates 56 years during AGM

By Jolene Perron


Community Living Essex County held their annual general meeting last week to discuss their achievements as an agency over the last year, as well as to recognize some outstanding members.

In attendance at the 56th annual AGM were a number of area mayors including Mayor Ron McDermott from Essex, Mayor Nelson Santos from Kingsville, Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti from Tecumseh, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale from Amherstburg and Mayor Tom Bain from Lakeshore. Bain, also the warden of Essex County, said it’s a huge team effort which is to what he attributes the outstanding results of the organization.

Also in attendance to show his support was Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. He said it’s is truly amazing to know that for 56 years, Community Living Essex County has existed in the community to provide support and love for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families.

“It’s something that we should be incredibly proud of, but also something that I think inspires us to the core and not simply because of the nature of the work that you do, but because of the effect that it has on our broader community,” said Natyshak. “Looking at the involvement through the slideshow, that is incredible. I don’t know that there is another organization that is so involved in our community and is so important to raising awareness and bringing people together because we are only as strong as we can be when we lift each other up and we are certainly a stronger community because of the work that you’ve done.”

Community Living Essex County said goodbye to members Jennifer Fraser, who was with the agency from June 2011 to June 2017, and Eva Penner Banman, who was with the agency from June 2015 to June 2017. They won’t be going too far however and will be helping on committees and task groups.

Celine LaBrecque (centre) of Amherstburg was this year’s recipient of the Bruce Crozier “Inspiring Possibilities” Award at the Community Living Essex County (CLEC) annual general meeting last Tuesday night. Making the presentation are Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and CLEC 2nd Vice President Sue Desjarlais.

Celine LaBrecque (centre) of Amherstburg was this year’s recipient of the Bruce Crozier “Inspiring Possibilities” Award at the Community Living Essex County (CLEC) annual general meeting last Tuesday night. Making the presentation are Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and CLEC 2nd Vice President Sue Desjarlais.

The Board Members who were inducted onto the Board of Directors for 2017/18 are as follows:


  • Ron Giofu, President
  • Robert Tomek, 1st Vice President
  • Sue Desjarlais, 2nd Vice President
  • Erika Davidson, Treasurer
  • Diane Bourbeau, Past President
  • Michelle Mastellotto, Director
  • Diane Powers, Director
  • Ray Renaud, Director
  • Mike Siblani, Director
  • Chad Sutherland, Director
  • Nancy Wallace-Gero, Executive Director and Secretary to the Board
  • Scott Pratt, Director


Amherstburg resident Eva Penner Banman (right) is recognized by CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero last Tuesday night. Penner Banman, along with Jennifer Fraser, were thanked for their service on the board of directors.

Amherstburg resident Eva Penner Banman (right) is recognized by CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero last Tuesday night. Penner Banman, along with Jennifer Fraser, were thanked for their service on the board of directors.

After the business portion of the meeting wrapped up, a number of members were recognized for their efforts above and beyond.

The Bruce Crozier Inspiring Possibilities Memorial Award started off the awards portion of the evening. Presented to Celine LaBrecque, the award was created to recognize people who have made tremendous strides in their life while overcoming many obstacles. Sue Desjarlais and Natyshak presented the award to LaBrecque, explaining how active and busy she is in her Amherstburg community, and how she has overcome many barriers.
LaBrecque was born with complex challenges and experiences difficulties with speech and coordination, which she has overcome a great deal and today is an outstanding public speaker. She has given speeches on topics such as “Ending the “R” Word,” and she has spoken about the importance of inclusion. She participated in the Special Olympics as a rhythmic gymnast in 2015 where she won four gold medals and placed fourth overall in the world in Special Olympics Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics.

The Jeremy Hart Memorial Bursary was presented to Kyle Girardin, someone who knew Jeremy very well. Jeremy Hart passed away suddenly in 2012, after which time his family established the award for Community Living Essex County, to assist others in achieving their dreams and aspirations, and to continue on with their education which Jeremy strived to do. Diane Powers, who presented the award, explained how Girardin has many goals he hopes to accomplish and will be returning to school to pursue a career in landscaping.

For the first year, the Kevin McMullan Memorial Award was presented in honor of Kevin McMullan who passed away May 3, 2016. The award was presented to Jackie Burney, who was recognized for her excellence in support and services. Her leadership, professionalism, innovation, teamwork, advocating for others, resilience, initiative, dedication and courage warranted her to be recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Special Education Coordinator Lorne Rocheleau with the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board was presented with the Community Inclusion Award. Presenter Chad Sutherland explained, creating welcoming and accessible communities is a shared responsibility, and the award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution towards the development of a welcoming and accessibly community.

“Through his work with First Choice – Employment, now Career Compass, Lorne has used his passion to bring employment to the attention of his colleagues at both the Catholic and Public School Boards,” explained Sutherland. “Many years ago Lorne was employed as an in-home worker for this agency. Lorne understands our goals, mission and vision of an inclusive community and is now a champion in the education sector for inclusive employment and indeed inclusive involvement of all people in all aspects of our community.”

One person from the North, South, West and Central geographical areas was also recognized for making an outstanding contribution to their community through volunteering, employment, involvement in clubs, participation in the community and making strong connections. Those recognized are as follows:

North Area
Kelly Thibert

South Area

Amber Reekie

Alvin Matte (right) receives the Outstanding Service Award for the west area (Amherstburg/LaSalle) from the area’s director of supports Anne Garrod. Garrod was also honoured for her 35 years of service during the  meeting.

Alvin Matte (right) receives the Outstanding Service Award for the west area (Amherstburg/LaSalle) from the area’s director of supports Anne Garrod. Garrod was also honoured for her 35 years of service during the meeting.

West Area
Alvin Matte

Central Area
Paul Janisse


Community Living Essex County has more than 700 dedicated and skilled employees. To conclude the evening, those with 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service were recognized.


Celebrating 20 Years of Employment:

Martha Vukov, Support Worker, Central Area


Celebrating 25 Years of Employment:

Lori Huson, Manager, CL Supports, Central Area

John Neposlan, Support Worker, Central Area

Sandra Paisley, Manager, CL Supports, West Area

Dina Pawelec, Support Worker, Northshore

Celebrating 30 Years of Employment:

Karen Ruston, Admin Support


Celebrating 35 Years of Employment:

Lee-Anne Dupuis, Director, CL Supports, South Area.

Anne Garrod, Director, CL Supports, West Area