General Amherst High School

Mayor looks back on 2017, looks ahead to 2018

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The new year is upon us and there were positives and negatives from the year that has just ended, says the town’s mayor.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said that 2017 was a good one but it had its ups and downs as well.

“I think, overall, it was a good balance of successes and challenges,” said DiCarlo. “I think we’ve done well with the waterfront development acquisitions, we had the fibre (internet) announcement and I think the budget confirmed our financial restraint and investment.”

DiCarlo believes the town did a good job of walking the “fine line of paying down debt and increasing amenities that should keep people in town.”

Regarding the Belle Vue and Duffy’s property projects, DiCarlo said he has heard positive and negative responses from residents but acknowledged, “it’s impossible to keep everyone happy” and that council is trying to work for residents and address the needs of the community. He said many people want the Duffy’s property available for public use as soon as possible and “hopefully we can make progress on that” in 2018.

The town did make progress in 2017, the mayor stated.

“We’ve definitely moved forward again,” he said. “That’s my belief. At the end of the day, it always comes down to what the residents think. As long as we can maintain the balance of moving forward, which I think we did (in 2017), we’re in good shape.”

DiCarlo said 2018 could be “another year of challenges,” and the first one on the radar is the policing issue. The town will be hosting four public meetings later this month to discuss the proposal from Windsor police, one that forecasts a $567,000 annual savings to the town.

“That is obviously going to be a big decision we have to deal with,” said DiCarlo. “I’ve definitely heard from a broad demographic of residents on this particular issue. There are people on both sides and plenty of people in the middle waiting to hear what is said at the public meetings.”

The location of the new public high school by the Greater Essex County District School Board is expected at some point, and DiCarlo said that is good news. While noting that not everyone will be happy with the new location, he believes that the new public high school will be positive for the town.

“Everyone is asking where it is going and when it will be built,” said DiCarlo, adding that timelines suggest that the announcement could come soon.

Other development is tied to the school announcement, he suggested, and that more news could be revealed shortly after the location is revealed. While much of that development hasn’t been publicly revealed as of yet, the seniors hub development proposed for the former St. Bernard School appears to be one of them. The town and Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board are headed for arbitration over the building’s value as the town wants to acquire it.

DiCarlo said the town is committed to serving the senior population and that he is hopeful the dispute over the building can be resolved.

“We’re going to go through legal channels there to mediate some sort of solution,” he said.

Much of the plans for future development is hinged on one another, he said, and that “there are a lot of synergies to projects now.” He said fewer projects are done in isolation.

“I think that’s going to translate into success in the long run,” said DiCarlo.

The town remains focused on a hotel, he added, and that the rollout of the fibre internet should occur in 2018. The town will also continue to pay down debt and continue to invest in the community, with DiCarlo stating the goal of the latter being to do so with cash the town already has.

The mayor said there is some “misconception” as it pertains to the town’s debt, which has been brought down from $44 million to approximately $38 million over the last few years. While it has come down “millions,” DiCarlo said much of the debt is locked in and can’t be paid down faster than what it already is.

This year is an election year and DiCarlo said the town could be impacted if and when the current council achieves “lame duck” status.

“While we tackle everything we have to deal with, things have to be in the perspective of what happens with the election,” he said. “If we become a lame duck council, we’ll have to put the issues on hold and we would not be able to deal with them.”

The municipal election is Oct. 22 and the nomination period opens May 1 and ends July 27 at 2 p.m.

Amherstburg stuffs fire trucks with toys for Christmas

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

For five years, Amherstburg Fire and Rescue employees have been helping families in need within their community by collecting toys for children and families for the holiday season.

Amherstburg Fire and Rescue employees went out into the community to gather toys from their multiple drop off locations Dec. 20. One of their stops was at General Amherst High School, where students came together to collect piles of toys to donate to the cause.

“It’s awesome, the generosity of the people of Amherstburg is just amazing,” said Mark Stock, firefighter with the Amherstburg Fire and Rescue and coordinator of the toy drive. “We have an abundance of toys, every year people come out and make us proud to be Amherstburg residents.”

This year, their drop off centers at Movati Fitness Club, Amherstburg Home Health, Canadian Tire, General Amherst High School and Joe Meloche Ford brought in hundreds of toys, which were them given to Goodfellows to distribute to families along with their food baskets Dec. 20.

Amherstburg Fire and Rescue employees went out into the community to gather toys from their multiple drop off locations Dec. 20. One of their stops was at General Amherst High School, where students came together to collect piles of toys to donate to the cause.

“Some of them I deliver myself because some of the families aren’t able to drive to pick them up so I get to play Santa and go and deliver several of the packages on Wednesday or Thursday,” said Stock. “It’s awesome, some of the families are in tears with joy, it’s just an amazing feeling to help people out. We look forward to people helping every year and it shows how much people care about others.”

General Amherst opens its doors to prospective students at Grade 8 open house

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The buses were cancelled the day of General Amherst High School’s open house but the hallways were still busy later that night.

The school held its Grade 8 open house with the aim of showing prospective students what the school offers and why they should attend starting next September. The cancellation of buses earlier in the day had no negative impact on the event, stated principal Melissa DeBruyne.

“It’s a perfect night,” she said.

DeBruyne said those students who did attend classes during the day got help in their classes and that also paid dividends for the open house.

General Amherst teacher Jason McLean (right) talks to Grade 8 students and parents during the school’s recent Grade 8 open house.

“It was an opportunity for the kids to get extra help,” said DeBruyne. “The kids who came in for extra help also helped set up (for the Grade 8 open house). It couldn’t have been better, actually.”

DeBruyne believes there are several reasons that students should attend General Amherst. She touted the school’s location in the community, the proximity to stores and restaurants and the ability for students to walk to places for extra-curricular activities and co-op placements.

Another reason students should attend General Amherst, she added, came from alumni she hears from. DeBruyne said former students comment to her about how well they were prepared at Amherst for post-secondary education or the workplace.

“We also get a lot of students talking about our clubs,” she added.

The size of the school also plays a factor, DeBruyne believed.

Members of A-Team Robotics show what their robot can do during the Grade 8 open house at General Amherst High School.

“Because it’s a smaller school, everyone knows each other,” said DeBruyne. “We can connect to community events and we can walk to events.”

The Grade 8 open house is usually held in January, but DeBruyne explained they moved it up one month as they didn’t want to have it close to the exam break.

“It felt a little rushed after the Christmas holidays,” she said. “We wanted to do something different.”

Linden Crain, student parliament prime minister, said students should call General Amherst home for the next four years due to its easy access. He said the school is in town and parents can pick up their children easily. He also said it’s close to restaurants and businesses.

“You can connect with teachers because it’s a smaller school,” he added. “Every teacher is qualified in their subject area and the staff participates and has great spirit.”

General Amherst student council throws Christmas party for Amherstburg Public

 

By Jolene Perron

 

General Amherst student council invited kindergarten classes from Amherstburg Public elementary school to their cafeteria where they set up a number of crafts and games for the children to partake in.

Both English and French classes came out and divided into groups, rotating through stations of cookie decorating, coloring, creating their own reindeer, singing Christmas carols and more.

Amherstburg Public School JK students and General Amherst students gathered for a Christmas party in the Amherst cafeteria last Friday morning.

“It’s kind of an annual thing we do every year and it demonstrates what Amherst has to offer at a younger age so they’re able to come here and kind of see the spirit we have and how welcoming we are,” said 2017-18 prime minister Linden Crain. “It’s great, I love all of them, they’re defiantly easy to get along with and they’re always entertained.”

General Amherst leadership students hold “Kiss a Cow” fundraiser for mental health initiative

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Students at General Amherst High School raised $390 for a mental health initiative and got a teacher to kiss a cow at the same time.

Students Jordan Wingerden, Alyssa Beckstead, Alaina Dugan and Emily O’Reilly had to do a project as part of their leadership class that raised money for a charity or foundation. They came across the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Soul Focus Project and its #ShowYourSole initiative and decided that was their charity of choice.

The “Kiss the Cow” portion of the fundraiser arose when a friend – Jordan Wright – indicated she could arrange for a cow to be brought to the school and that was realized last Tuesday morning. Students pledged money towards the teacher they wanted to kiss the cow and the lucky bovine smoocher was Eric Campbell.

General Amherst teacher Eric Campbell kisses a cow as part of a recent fundraiser.

“Mental health is an important thing,” Campbell told the students. “I’m glad you guys chose this charity and you did a great job.”

Wingerden believed the fundraiser “worked out well” and that they wanted to help people suffering from mental health issues.

“I’m really pleased with how it turned out,” added Beckstead. “I’m really happy we could raise $390 for it.”

The students had a $500 goal but were still happy with the amount raised. They had been working on the project since the start of the semester.