Community Living Essex County presents annual awards



By Ron Giofu


As part of the organization’s 57th annual general meeting, Community Living Essex County (CLEC) presented awards to people it supports and those who support them.

The annual general meeting was held recently at the Ciociaro Club with people across Essex County, including several from Amherstburg, among the list of award winners.

Director of Community Living Supports for the west area Anne Garrod presents an Outstanding Achievement Award to Joshua Fex.

Mike Lefaive was this year’s recipient of the Bruce Crozier Memorial Award. The award recognized Lefaive’s accomplishments, including Lefaive’s work with ACCESS Community Gardens and the partnership he helped develop between the two agencies.

“The Bruce Crozier Inspiring Possibilities Memorial Award, presented annually, was created to recognize people who have made tremendous strides in their life while overcoming many obstacles.  This award recognizes dedication and ability to keep moving forward and inspiring others, despite sometimes facing many obstacles,” said CLEC board 1st vice president Sue Desjarlais. “It also serves as a legacy to the memory of the late Bruce Crozier – whose dedicated service as Member of Provincial Parliament for Essex was an inspiration to everyone in our community.”

The Jeremy Hart Memorial Bursary was presented this year to Benjamin Baillargeon.

“Benjamin’s goal for the future is to complete his CICE education with his elective in culinary management, in order to work towards becoming a chef,” said CLEC manager of supports Derek Roy. “Beyond his great love of food, he is really interested in what goes into preparing food and creating meals.  During his placement Benjamin was able to work as a team member in the kitchen at Heron Terrace Long Term Care Center. He really enjoyed working as part of a team. Going to school and securing a job is important to Benjamin as it will help provide independence.  Being independent also means that he will be contributing to the community rather than being supported by the community.”

The Bruce Crozier Inspiring Possibilities Memorial Award was presented to Mike Lefaive. Making the presentation is Barry Keith, manager of Community Living Supports.

Diane Neves, a director on the CLEC board, said the award is named for Hart, who “had dreams and aspirations; one of them was to continue his education to assist him with finding meaningful employment and furthering his independence. Unfortunately, his dreams and goals were not all realized given his sudden death in 2012. As a lasting tribute to his memory, Community Living Essex County, with the support of the Hart family, has established the Jeremy Hart Memorial Bursary Award.”

Four outstanding achievement awards were presented to people in the four geographies that CLEC operates in. The Outstanding Achievement Award for the west area, which includes Amherstburg and LaSalle, saw Joshua Fex be named the recipient.

Director of Community Living Supports for the west area Anne Garrod said Fex’s goals include to finish high school, live independently and get a job. He is accomplishing his goals and Garrod said he is a valued employee at Mac’s Milk and assists at ACCESS Community Gardens.

David Golden was the Outstanding Achievement Award Winner for the north area, with Steven Boal and Elly Taylor receiving awards for the south and central areas respectively.

Fiona Klein won the Kevin McMullan Award with other staff being recognized including Cynthia Castellucci, Ann Laramie, Erin Lettner and Shaylene Lev for their 20 years of service. Unable to attend were Tara Dufour, Michelle Hoare, Terri Cameron, Cheryl Moffat, Carol Young, Donna Rocheleau, Susan LaRue and Lana Quinn.

Heather Hannigan (left) and Michelle Jones-Rousseau were honoured for 25 years of service at Community Living Essex County’s recent annual general meeting (AGM).

Heather Hannigan and Michelle Jones-Rousseau were honoured for 25 years of service while staff members recognized for 30 years of service included Elizabeth Beaudoin and Margherita Vachon. Deneane Mineau and Janice Bondy also are celebrating 30 years of service but they were also unable to attend.

Newly-inducted CLEC board president Robert Tomek congratulated the award winners and praised them for their involvement and passion.

Admirals hand out awards at annual banquet



By Ron Giofu


The 2017-18 Amherstburg Admirals reassembled Saturday night and celebrated the season, though admitting it wasn’t the result they were looking for.

The local Jr. C hockey team held its annual awards banquet in the Libro Centre’s community room with high hopes for next year and gratitude for the players, coaches, parents and volunteers that helped with this past season. The Admirals season ended in the first round of the PJHL Stobbs Division playoffs after they lost 1-0 in Game 7 to the Mooretown Flags Feb. 18.

“There are a lot of positives going forward,” said co-owner Wes Ewer. “(Co-owners) Matt (Fox), Gaspare (Spada) and I are excited for the future of this team.”

Ewer offered thanks to all who were involved with the team this past season.

“Without the players and parents, we don’t have a hockey team. Thank you for being part of our family,” he said. “I love that we are a tight knit group and I hope we continue that in the future.”

Ewer said they are one of the groups bidding to operate the pro shop at the Libro Centre, saying it would add value to the hockey team.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals held its award banquets Saturday evening at the Libro Centre. Front row (from left): Ben Larder, Reid Stieler, Dylan Muzzatti, Dean Patterson, Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander and Cory Burns. Back row (from left): assistant coach Daniel Slipchuck, Cole Welsh, assistant coach Eric Shaw, Josh Talerico, head coach/GM Paul Bortignon, assistant coach Rob Bondy, Austin Jennings, equipment manager Grant Wood and co-owner Matt Fox.

Head coach/general manager Paul Bortignon agreed, telling the group in attendance at the banquet that “we couldn’t do anything without you guys.” He added they are looking forward to a better result in the 2018-19 season though admitted they would missing having Fox behind the bench. Eric Shaw and Daniel Slipchuk have been added to the coaching staff.

Bortignon said “we had a successful year points-wise” though admitted they didn’t really want a first round playoff match-up with Mooretown. He believed the Admirals will take a big step forward next season, though acknowledged they will have to do so without graduating players Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander, Dean Patterson and Dylan Muzzatti, the latter being the captain for the 2017-18 season.

“It is a precious time,” Bortignon said of the junior hockey experience. “You are going to remember this going forward. Be proud of yourselves. Be proud of what you accomplished.”

The team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was shared by Cory Burns, the PJHL Stobbs Division leading scorer, and Ben Larder, whom Bortignon believes is one of the top goalies in the league. Austin Jennings and Dean Patterson shared the Defenseman of the Year Award with Reid Stieler being named Rookie of the Year.

The John Holzel Photographer Award was shared by the four graduating players. Cole Welsh captured the Don Elvy Teammate of the Year Award while the Earl Allard Coaches’ Award went to Josh Talerico. The Spada Family Bursary was award to Jennings.

Jennings was also named the new captain of the Admirals, with Burns, Travis Campbell and Caleb Paquette being named assistant captains.

“It’s super exciting,” said Jennings, of being named captain. “It’s something I wanted to be since I was a kid.”

Jennings said he wants to help lead his teammates, with the goal being “nothing short of winning it all.” He added he wants to help the younger players as “I want to show them what it takes to be a leader.” Jennings was an assistant captain last year and becoming captain was one of his goals.

“I want to do something good for the town. They’ve been with us through the ups and downs. I want to bring something back for them,” Jennings stated.

The team also paid tribute to the late Tom Schinkelshoek, who was with the president of the team when it was known as the Kingsville Comets and stayed with the team in different roles when the franchise moved to Amherstburg. He returned to Kingsville as president of the Kingsville Kings.

The Admirals will hold summer skates in the next few months before holding their training camp in late August.

The 2018-19 season will get started in September.

Two CIBPA award winners come with an Amherstburg connection



By Ron Giofu


The Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) presented its “Awards of Excellence” last week with two of the six winners having an Amherstburg connection.

Among the winners were John Miceli, Amherstburg’s chief administrative officer (CAO), and Sobeys Amherstburg franchise owner Rennie Rota. Miceli won the community service award while Rota and Sobeys Amherstburg were named CIBPA’s business of the year.

Videos were played for each award winner with the winners themselves outlining their stories and testimonials coming from associates, colleagues, family members and friends of the winners.

Miceli noted he and his five siblings are children of Italian immigrants and their parents instilled hard work and family values into them.

“My family was the key to my success,” he said.

Miceli said he learned customer service while working in an Italian grocery store. He said public service is a career where “you are there to serve the people.”

After a 23-year career in Windsor, Miceli came to Amherstburg as CAO in 2015. He said he has been proud to work with council, including Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, to help move the town forward.

“Working with council, I was able to influence a number of changes,” he said. “Today, we are a community to watch and a community on the rise.”

CIBPA award winners included (from left): Dr. Geri Salinitri, Dr. John Francis Cappucci, John Miceli, Lina Marie Mastronardi, Olimpio Ferrara and Rennie Rota. At far right are CIBPA president Emanuele Calamita and board member Frank D’Agnillo.

One of the children of Miceli and his wife Rita is a son who is autistic and Miceli was also recognized for the work he was done fundraising for autism.

“I’ve been very proud to raise millions of dollars and help over 300 families in Windsor-Essex with autism,” he said.

Miceli said he was humbled to receive the award and had a number of council members and administration on hand Friday night at the Ciociaro Club to support him and his family as he received the award.

As part of the video presentation, Windsor city councillor Bill Marra called Miceli “one of the most genuine, value-based, hard working, ethical people you can meet” and “in my opinion, one of the greatest champions” of Windsor-Essex County.

John Miceli (left) was CIBPA’s community service award winner Making the presentations were CIBPA president Emanuele Calamita and board member Frank D’Agnillo.

“I’ve learned so much from John,” said Marra.

DiCarlo said the community service award is “perfect for John Miceli.”

“He cares about the community,” said DiCarlo. “He never stops working to make it a place to live, visit and work.”

“John is a man who is truly proud of his heritage,” added Miceli’s wife Rita.

Rota, who was surrounded by his family at the ceremony, also got his start with an Italian grocer with him pursuing that career as he advanced through school. He joined Miracle Food Mart and travelled with wife Anne throughout the province while with that company.

“It was a great experience for us,” he said.

They came to Amherstburg after their third daughter was born and purchased Rocco’s Fine Foods, which was located on Victoria St. S.

“We decided to put down some roots,” he said. “Rocco’s Fine Foods was for sale and the rest is history.”

Admitting they struggled for the first few years, they grew the business and started to experience success. They would eventually explore a relationship with Sobeys, who offered a format Amherstburg needed at that time, he said.

“They were looking to develop new supermarkets in Ontario,” he said.

Sobeys opened the Amherstburg store 15 years ago and the 40,000-square-foot store now employs 120 people.

Rennie Rota (left) and Sobeys Amherstburg captured the business of the year award. Making the presentations were CIBPA president Emanuele Calamita and board member Frank D’Agnillo.

Rota calls Amherstburg a “tight knit community” and thanked Tino Riccio for nominating him and the local Sobeys store. He said there are a number of great non-profit organizations in Amherstburg, citing the Rotary Club, Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission as some of them.

“These wonderful organizations have done great work,” he said.

Rota stated that “it is a real honour to be recognized” and said “this is an award our family and I will cherish for a while.”

Other award winners included Dr. Geri Salinitri as professional of the year, Dr. John Francis Cappucci as young professional of the year, Lina Marie Mastronardi as young professional of the year and community service and Ferrara Income Tax as the family business of the year.

Numerous local events, festivals and sites of for TWEPI “Best of Windsor-Essex” awards



By Ron Giofu


A number of Amherstburg sites, events and businesses have been nominated for Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) awards but they need the support of the public to win them.

The Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest has been nominated in the “Best Local Festival – Food & Drink” category but people have to vote for them online at

The Ribfest is in its ninth year and committee chair Carl Gibb said the idea originated from current Rotary Club president Dan Hunt. As many as 15,000 people have attended in some years with the hope this year being for 20,000 people.

“It feels good to be recognized,” said committee member Laura George.

George said the Ribfest is evidence that good things happen when people work together. She added the

Gibb said this year’s festival, planned for July 6-8, will see the committee “ramping up the food choices and entertainment level.” Proceeds from the Ribfest will be put towards “a major project for the town.”

Over 150 volunteers are needed annually for Ribfest. Those interested in volunteering for this year’s Ribfest can contact George at 519-982-2684.

The Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest is one of the Amherstburg-related business, festivals, sites or organizations up for a “Best of Windsor-Essex” award.

Other nominees include a former winner in the Gibson Gallery. The Gibson Gallery is nominated in the favourite art gallery or art space category. Art by the River is nominated in the Best Local Festival – Arts category. In the Best Local Festival – Community Holiday Event category, the River Lights Winter Festival is one of the nominees.

There are two Amherstburg nominees in the Best Museum/Heritage Space category. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum and Fort Malden National Historic Site are up for that award. Fort Malden is also nominated in the Best Local Attraction – Historical category and the Best Photo Op category, with Navy Yard Park also being nominated for the latter.

The Fort Family Fun Centre can be voted for the Best Family Friendly Attraction.

Nominated in the Best Cultural or Heritage District category is the Amherstburg historical district. The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce received a nomination in the Best Shopping District category.

An “Art of the Cocktail” nomination went to Wolfhead Distillery while Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery received a nomination in the Best Local Winery category. Maria’s Restaurant was nominated in the Best Breakfast category while the Best Burger section saw Gilligan’s get a nomination.

Three pizza restaurant chains with Amherstburg locations received nominations in the Best Pizza category, with those including Armando’s, Capri and Naples.

The River Canard Canoeing Company was nominated in the Best On the Water Activity category while the King’s Navy Yard Park received nominations for the Best Picnic Spot and Best Park/Garden awards.

Wildwood Golf & RV Resort and Willowood RV Resort each received nominations for Best Cottage and Best Campground with the latter also having Holiday Beach nominated.

Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering is up for Best Sandwich Shop while the Bondy House is up for Best Bed & Breakfast.

Voting is underway and runs through March 11 at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be announced by TWEPI April 17. People can only vote once per e-mail.

“Shining a Light on Compassion Celebration” comes to Amherstburg



By Ron Giofu


The Windsor-Essex Compassion Care Community (WECCC) brought its “Shining a Light on Compassion Celebration” to Amherstburg.

Amherstburg Community Church hosted the celebration with WECCC already having hosted similar celebrations in other local municipalities.

WECCC director Deborah Sattler said they wanted to come to Amherstburg to spread word of the movement throughout Windsor-Essex County. She noted the idea began three years ago and evolves around the notion of communities asking what is important about your quality of life.

Simple things make the difference in people’s lives, said Sattler, and preventing people from being isolated and them knowing people care and are there to help is important. She said in communities like Amherstburg, one in five are seniors and about 1,500 have some sort of disability.
Sattler said they want to bring together people and agencies to “fill in the gaps” so people don’t feel isolated and alone and get the help and comfort they need.

There were also several “Shining a Light on Compassion” Awards presented at the celebration with recipients including Laura Soutar-Hasulo, John McDonald, Angela Kelly, Rev. Ken Mervyn, Marita Wistuba, Melissa Piva, Mandy Theriault, Terry Noble, Dennis White and Catherine Cristofaro.
McDonald was credited as being an active church member who travels to Cuba to deliver medical supplies, a member of the Park House Museum board and a Kingsville Folk Festival and a donor of instruments to Hospice.

Kelly helped with such projects as the Miracle League, the Give Project, the John McGivney Children’s Centre and many other causes. She is also the mother of a 20-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.

Rev. Mervyn was senior pastor at Amherstburg Community Church from 1991-2006 and was credited with supporting young people and those young at heart “with openness and positive reinforcement.”

Wistuba was once the youngest foster parent in the local system when she began fostering in her early 20’s and has continued through the years. She has adopted five children and has three biological children of her own.

Piva was honoured for her new book “Rory’s Rainbow” which revolves around gender identity and acceptance. She is trying to get the book into libraries to increase acceptance.

Among those receiving “Shining a Light on Compassion” awards recently were Melissa Piva, Catherine Cristofaro, Terry Noble, Marita Wistuba, Rev. Ken Mervyn and Angela Kelly. WECCC director Debra Sattler is second from right.

Theriault is a dedicated volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society and has spent seven years supporting the cause. She is also president of the community advisory team, campaign captain, event volunteer and “someone who takes the lead when needed.”

Noble was recognized for her many hours overseeing the collection and transportation of thousands of boxes going to children around the world as part of the Christmas Shoe Box initiative.

White was honoured for creating and donating works of art for fundraisers for Brentwood and other charities over the years. He mentors young artists and offers sound advice and encouragement.

Cristofaro is described as “someone who treats others as she desires to be treated” and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer at retirement homes to assist seniors through music and movement and also makes people feel welcome in her Catz Meow dance studio by extending compassion to them.

Pastor John Bustard of Amherstburg Community Church spoke about that church’s role within WECCC and said “meaningful relationships really matter. What is life without relationships?”

Bustard said the compassionate care movement is “going to empower us to connect with people who need it the most and are the least known.”

Kathy DiBartolomeo, executive director at Amherstburg Community Services (ACS), pointed out they offer over 20 services including many to seniors. She said she was thrilled when she came across the WECCC movement and believes “community hubs are more relevant now more than ever” and that hubs “must work with community leaders to be successful.”

DiBartolomeo said more and more seniors want to stay in their own homes but also don’t want to burden anyone, so they shut themselves off from the outside world and don’t share their issues as often as they need to.

Agencies from around the area attended the celebration to share what they do, including Happy Soles, Primerica, Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario (ALSO), Canadian Blood Services, ACS, EquiConnect and Senior Chair Yoga.