County of Essex

McNamara new Essex County warden, Santos acclaimed as deputy warden

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County council held its inaugural meeting for the 2018-22 term last week and selected a new warden to lead them.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara was chosen as the warden, which is the head of county council, for this term. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos also sought the position, but he didn’t leave without a new title either, as Santos would be acclaimed as deputy warden.

“I’m honoured,” said McNamara. “It’s always a privilege to be recognized by your peers around the table.”

McNamara said he first joined Essex County council about 20 years ago and served as deputy warden from 2000-03 and 2010-14. It was his third time seeking the warden’s position.

“I would say the third time is a charm,” he remarked.

Newly-elected Essex County Warden Gary McNamara (right) accepts the gavel from former warden Tom Bain. Bain served as warden from 2010-18 with McNamara being elected by his colleagues to be the new head of county council at the inaugural meeting Dec. 12.

McNamara said he hopes to continue the work done by his predecessors, two of which remain on county council. Santos was warden from 2006-10 and Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain was warden from 2010-18.

“The county is in a tremendous place. It’s because of the leadership we’ve had in the past,” he said.

With questions hanging overhead about how the Progressive Conservative government will deal with the province’s debt, McNamara said the county and lower-tier municipalities have to work collectively and deal with any potential impacts.

“We are going to have to be vigilant that they don’t balance the books on the backs of municipalities,” he said.

Working with all seven Essex County municipalities is important, McNamara indicated, but so too is working with the City of Windsor. He added that they have to continue to promote the fact that Essex County “is a great place to do business and raise a family.”

Investing into infrastructure was cited as a priority, including dealing with busy roads in Tecumseh, LaSalle and Lakeshore as well as roads in the southern half of the county as well. Continuing to work on the County Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) is important, he added, as is completion of a roads needs study.

Members of Essex County council for the 2018-22 term were sworn in last Wednesday night. Top row (from left): Essex Mayor Larry Snively, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche, Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti, LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy, Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche, Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen and Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain. Bottom row (from left): LaSalle Deputy Mayor Crystal Meloche, Deputy Warden and Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, Warden and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara, Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Tracey Bailey, Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald and Leamington Deputy Mayor Larry Verbeke. Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was absent.

The mega-hospital that the County of Essex is committing about $100 million towards has to be completed, with the site for that being the corner of Concession 9 and County Road 42, near Windsor Airport.

“It has to come to fruition,” added McNamara.

McNamara, recently retired from Hiram Walker, is also a former president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). He hopes those contacts will help him in his new role as warden.

“It’s given me an opportunity to connect with the upper levels of government,” he said.

Santos said “it’s great to start a new term of Essex County council” and that “I’m really excited to be a part of the team.”

The Kingsville mayor stated continuing to reduce EMS wait times at hospitals is another priority, noting that while they have gotten better, there is still room for improvement. Santos also noted there is a strategic plan for Essex County being developed and that will “lay out a game plan” for the future. He added that will map out what the county can strengthen.

Santos said that “it will be a good one-two punch” with McNamara as the warden and himself as deputy warden, noting they both have a lot of experience and can help the new members.

“I think it’s a positive for the region,” he said.

County council decided also decided its striking committee that will help determine which members sit on what committees. Bain, Santos, Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald and LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy were elected to that committee.

Essex County council is comprised of the seven mayors and seven deputy mayors from around the county.

Essex-Windsor EMS launches new public survey

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

Essex-Windsor EMS wants to know what the public thinks about its services and priorities as it prepares a ten-year Master Plan designed to optimize patient care in Windsor and Essex County.

“Our residents know better than anyone what works well and what needs improvement and we want to hear from them,” said Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter. “The public’s input will help steer this Master Plan and provide a solid foundation for the continuation of high-quality pre-hospital emergency care in a growing community.”

Essex-Windsor EMS is asking residents to spare a few minutes and fill out a short, online survey about current programs, practices and priorities.

The survey can be found at www.countyofessex.on.ca/emssurvey.

Essex-Windsor EMS will also be promoting the survey and seeking public input on social media using the hashtag #helpYOURems. Phone surveys and door-to-door canvassing will also play a role in the public engagement process.

“We want to ensure the public has ample opportunity to fill out this survey and share their experiences so we can develop a Master Plan with a solid set of guiding principles designed to optimize patient care,” said Krauter.

Essex-Windsor EMS provides land ambulance services to Essex County, Windsor and the Township of Pelee. It has 13 ambulance bases and a staff of about 175 full-time and 100 part-time paramedics.

Essex-Windsor EMS recognizing Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Essex-Windsor EMS is doing its part to help people during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

As part of its support, Essex-Windsor EMS is flying yellow and purple flags outside its bases this September in recognition of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Essex-Windsor EMS chief Bruce Krauter said they are a strong supporter of this awareness campaign being spearheaded by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Windsor-Essex County Branch, in partnership with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. He noted they are flying the flags at all EMS stations and have been active in the campaign for the last three years.

“We are a strong supporter of suicide prevention,” said Krauter.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadians under 25. In 2011, more than 40 residents from Windsor and Essex County died by suicide and there was a nine-year high for self-harm emergency department visits in 2015, according to the CMHA.

“Suicide isn’t the answer,” said Krauter.

Essex-Windsor EMS is flying flags for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month at all of its bases during the month of September (County of Essex photo)

Krauter noted that it is hard on first responders to go out on such calls and that even EMS members can suffer from mental health problems.

“As is the case with any first responder, we’re human too,” he said. “They may be suffering too.”

The key message of this year’s campaign is “You Are Not Alone” and the CMHA stresses that connecting and openly communicating with those who have had suicidal thoughts or those who have lost loved ones to suicide “is essential in the effort towards suicide prevention.”

Krauter said people are encouraged to reach out and talk if they are going through any difficulties. He said Essex-Windsor EMS has methods in place to support each other.

“We have an active peer support system within Essex-Windsor EMS,” said Krauter.

The County of Essex alerts people that there are events happening as part of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, including an event this Sunday at 9 a.m. at the St. Clair College Sportsplex. There is a 5km or 2km Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk. For more information on seminars and events, check out the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month calendar on the CMHA’s website, found at https://windsoressex.cmha.ca.

There is help available 24-hours a day and there are caring professionals ready to listen. The Community Crisis Centre (Ages 16+) has a 24-Hour Crisis Line that can be reached by calling 519-973-4435 with the Windsor Distress Centre (all ages) being available noon to midnight by calling 519-256-5000.

“It’s OK to ask for help and it’s OK to get help,” said Krauter.

Projected operations results for county look favourable

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The County of Essex has projected its results of operations for 2018 and the results are looking favourable.

However, its treasurer notes there is some work to be done to keep everything on course.

Essex County council received a report from director of financial services/treasurer Sandra Zwiers with Zwiers informing county council that corporate operations are projected to be in a surplus position of $625,000 by the end of 2018.

“This report is based on activity as of the end of June,” she told county council last Wednesday night.

In her report to county council, Zwiers said the projections are “predicated on a number of significant assumptions.” Those include favourable resolutions to various outstanding wage-related matters within collective bargaining groups, winter control activities returning to the five-year average level for the early fall and early winter period of 2018, social service caseloads and social housing costs remaining favourable, no significant tax write-offs and improved returns on investments within Essex County’s investment portfolio.

“There are no deficits,” she said. “All departments are performing well.”

The community services department is forecast to have no surplus or deficit, with Zwiers’ report noting county council approved an increase in the per diem rate for Housing with Supports’ contracted service providers.

“This recommendation matched the approval made by the City of Windsor, effective April 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019,” the report stated. “Subsequent to these council approvals, the Corporation (of the County of Essex) and the City of Windsor have been working to confirm the flow of funds and revised funding levels. The Corporation is currently awaiting confirmation of those details from the City in order to better ascertain the impacts these funding changes will have on our operations.”

The Sun Parlor Home in Leamington is projected to carry a $60,000 positive variance with that being attributed to additional subsidies being passed after the passing of the 2018 budget.

“The largest contributor to increased subsidy levels relates to funding our internal behavioral supports program (approximately $40,000),” Zwiers stated in her report to county council. “Savings in life enrichment and food and nutritional programs have also been identified as marginal factors contributing to the projected surplus in long-term care services.”

There are no surpluses or deficits forecast for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS), library services, general government or infrastructure services. Regarding the latter, Zwiers reported that department was originally projected to be in a surplus position of $650,000 but county council was presented a report to address an emergency culvert repair on County Road 23, near Essex.

The external commitments department is projected to have a surplus position of $565,000 at the end of the calendar year.

“Estimates by the City of Windsor indicate a savings in social assistance of $495,000,” she wrote, adding Ontario Works caseloads are trending lower than budget. There are also savings in social housing of $70,000, Zwiers added, due to a reduction in subsidy payments.

“The Corporation’s projected financial position is based on six months of activity with significant uncertainty regarding budget performance for social services, social housing, Emergency Medical Services, transportation services, investment earnings and outstanding contract/wage settlements and pay/internal equity adjustments,” Zwiers concluded. “Variance from projections in anyone of these operations could have a significant impact on the Corporation’s financial position for 2018. Financial services, with the assistance of all departments, continue to look for opportunities for reductions and cost savings and will carefully monitor operations and report accordingly.”

County Road 20 facing road closure this week, another starting next week

 

The town is advising that County Road 20 will be closed between Front Road South and Concession 3 South to through traffic starting next Monday.

The closure is to facilitate the removal and replacement of a road crossing culvert. The town says this closure is expected to last approximately three days, weather permitting. Detour routes will be posted.

During this time, the town states that no access will be permitted through the construction zone. County Road 20 will remain open to local traffic only up to the road closure for eastbound and westbound motorists, but will not be permitted through the construction zone.

One road closure on County Road 20 east of Malden Centre has started while another County Road 20 road closure starts next week. (Photo from County of Essex Twitter page)

The town reminds residents that during construction, traffic disruptions will occur and some delays may be experienced. Please slow down, obey all traffic signage, and follow all posted detour routes.

The County of Essex has advised that another stretch of County Road 20 is now closed. The stretch of road between County Road 9 (Howard Ave.) and County Road 50 is now closed and will remain that way until Aug. 20. A culvert is being replaced in that area.