John McDonald

ACRG hosts the candidates, public asks their questions



By Ron Giofu


The group known as the Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG) hosted an all-candidates event last Thursday night at the AMA Sportsmen Club and the public got to ask their questions.

The 20 candidates vying for spots in the 2018 municipal election met with voters and voters seemed to like the opportunity.

“I think it’s OK,” said Jean Allen. “It’s hard to get to talk to some of them. I learned a few things about a few people that I didn’t know so it’s good.”

“I thought it was good,” added Wayne Marenger. “I got to meet a lot of people didn’t know and got to ask questions.”
Marenger said he found it more personable than the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce “Meet the Candidates” nights as there was more of an opportunity to discuss issues with the candidates.

“You get to meet the people,” he said.

Mayoral candidates Aldo DiCarlo (above) and Glenn Swinton (below) chat with voters at an all-candidates event put on by the Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG). That event was held Oct. 11 at the AMA Sportsmen’s Association.

For Tiffany Cote and Sandra Fox, it was a chance to see where candidates stood on whether or not to build a new pool locally.

“It’s been very good. I got to ask all of my questions,” said Fox. “They answered them pretty well. We’re trying to keep a pool if it’s not at the same location.”

Cote agreed that they were looking for a replacement for the Lions Pool, which is expected to have a new public high school built on that part of Centennial Park. Cote said they were able to get some answers and talk to the candidates face-to-face.

“It’s going well,” said ACRG member John McDonald. “It’s interesting to see the candidates speak to the crowd. I thing people are getting their questions answered.”

McDonald said that the event gave people a chance to speak with candidates that they’ve been following and get answers. He hoped the event would return in four years and thanked fellow ACRG members Beth Hobbs, Jennie Lajoie, Marcie Graham, Jim Broderick and Tim Brown.

“Hopefully, we’ll find a way to keep this going,” McDonald stated.

Election season ramping up, time to get to know the candidates



By Ron Giofu


Election season is ramping up and a pair of organizations are gathering the candidates in one place so that voters can hear what they have to say.

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) is hosting a pair of “Meet the Candidate” nights, both to be held at Western Secondary School. Both will have a similar format, with the 14 councillor candidates to be the focus of the Oct. 3 evening while the four deputy mayor candidates and two mayoral candidates will be the focus Oct. 4.

There will be a meet and greet with the candidates starting at 6 p.m. with introductions to follow at 6:30 p.m. A question and answer period will come after introductions with closing statements to follow. The evenings are scheduled to conclude at 10 p.m. with the same format both nights.

According to ACOC treasurer Chris Gibb, the councillor candidates will each get five questions while deputy mayor candidates will face 5-10 questions. Candidates for mayor will receive 10-15 questions.

A pair of AM800 reporters will moderate the evenings. Teresinha Medeiros will moderate the Oct. 3 evening with the councillor candidates while Patty Handysides will moderate the Oct. 4 evening with the deputy mayor and mayor candidates.

Gibb said it is an “added plus” to be holding the event outside of the core of Amherstburg noting that it “helps remind people and candidates that Amherstburg is a very big township and sometimes the people in the core and our politicians need to be reminded of that. Also, it is good to remember Amherstburg has two high schools, we can sometimes forget about that.” Gibb added: “The location is fully accessible, has plenty of parking, and is a great facility that many residents have never been in.”
It is important for the ACOC to hold such “Meet the Candidate” events, Gibb noted, as decisions made around the council table impact chamber members and the public at large.

“The people who get elected make many decisions that affect the livelihood of our members and an event like this is the best way for our members and the public to get to know their candidates,” said Gibb.

Western Secondary School is located at 5791 North Town Line (County Road 8), but the entrances are off of Concession 6 North.

The Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG) is also bringing back its own version of a candidates night, with that returning to the AMA Sportsmen Club. That will be held Oct. 11 from 7-10 p.m. with ACRG representatives John McDonald and Beth Hobbs describing it as an informal way to get to know the candidates.

McDonald noted that candidates will be set up in alphabetical order, not in order of the office they are seeking.

“We had an all candidates night at the very same location four years ago,” McDonald stated. “It was very successful. We were very encouraged by that.”

The evening will be apolitical, said McDonald.

“We’re not backing any potential candidate or a political issue,” he stated.

The event, he continued, will be a chance to meet face-to-face with candidates and address the issues and concerns they have. While it will be an informal event, the ACRG is asking that “hometown courtesy” be exercised.

“The idea is to have a free flow of ideas,” McDonald stated, adding the candidates will be able to go “eyeball to eyeball” with people to talk about their issues.

Hobbs added that candidates will be invited to distribute their own literature that night. McDonald pointed out that the “vast majority” of candidates have agreed to come out.

“It’s very informal,” added Hobbs. “It was very successful in 2014 and we’re hoping for the same thing this year.”

The AMA Sportsmen Club is located at 468 Lowes Side Road.

Also, a reminder that the River Town Times will be publishing a special section with the candidates in the Sept. 26 issue. Candidates were sent the same five questions with all five to be published in the Sept. 26 paper for mayor and deputy mayor candidates.

Due to space limitations, three of the five answers for the councillor candidates will be published in the print edition while all five answers will be online at

Town council OK’s new “Music off the Porch” event


By Ron Giofu


Another music-themed event is coming to the Navy Yard Park.

Town council has given the green light to the Park House Museum to hold its “Music off the Porch” event the evening of July 8 and has also waived any fees it would have cost them. John McDonald represented the Park House Museum and estimated it would draw no more than 60-65 people to the rear of the museum.

The Park House Museum is located at 214 Dalhousie St. but backs onto Navy Yard Park.

McDonald said there may be a “minimal amount” of amplification and it would mainly be acoustic instruments with solo artists and duets.

“This is an alcohol-free event,” he added, noting they plan on selling soft drinks and pre-packaged snacks.

Park House

McDonald said it may become a monthly event, depending on how things go July 8. It would last no more than two hours, he added, and that it would take place while there is still enough daylight. The museum would also try to promote other events at the museum during the show. They also are aiming not to compete with any other event in town.

“It’s an exciting thing for us,” said McDonald. “We are trying to do a little outreach.”

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale believed the ambiance in the Navy Yard Park would add to the event.

“It sounds like a wonderful idea,” he said.

Councillor Diane Pouget said the parks committee was fine with the event.

“We definitely support it,” she said. “It’s a good fundraising opportunity for the Park House.”

“It’s nice to see a diverse type of event,” added Councillor Leo Meloche. “I like to see the park being used.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he looks forward to more events in the area while Councillor Joan Courtney thanked the Park House for its focus on arts and music.

Three Amherstburg volunteers among those honored by Families First



By Ron Giofu


Three Amherstburg residents were among the 30 volunteers from around Windsor-Essex County recognized by Families First Funeral Home last Wednesday.

The mid-day ceremony recognized those who give back to their communities with the event being part of the funeral home company’s 20th anniversary celebration. Beryl Rogers Perz, John McDonald and Karen Usher were the three Amherstburg residents recognized during the ceremony.

Families First Funeral Homes recognized volunteers from Windsor-Essex County May 4 as part of its 20th anniversary. Three volunteers that were recognized came from Amherstburg - Karen Usher, Beryl Rogers Perz and John McDonald.

Families First Funeral Homes recognized volunteers from Windsor-Essex County May 4 as part of its 20th anniversary. Three volunteers that were recognized came from Amherstburg – Karen Usher, Beryl Rogers Perz and John McDonald.

Perz helps improve the lives of the residents of Seasons Amherstburg during her volunteer visits there. She volunteers three times per week and has done so for the last four years. She was nominated by Seasons Amherstburg leasing manager Heather Vandenham.

“I’m just so happy to be here with so many other volunteers,” said Perz. “It’s an honour to be part of this. I never expected this.”

McDonald was honoured for his volunteer service with the Park House Museum, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, heritage committee, committee on the environment, recreation and culture and 1812. McDonald, who was nominated by Phil Kasurak, said he had no idea the award was coming.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” he said.

The representation from Amherstburg wasn’t lost on McDonald either.

“We have a strong volunteer tradition in town and that gives us a great quality of life,” he added.

Usher was recognized for her work with the River Lights Winter Festival, which includes the gingerbread warming house, the gingerbread house building contest and the many other efforts she puts forth.

“It was a humbling experience,” said Usher, who was nominated by River Lights administrator Sarah Van Grinsven. “I’m just very proud to be part of Amherstburg and the River Lights festival.”

Usher added there are “so many deserving people” and thanked Families First for presenting the awards.

Families First recognized about 30 volunteers from Windsor-Essex County May 4.

Families First recognized about 30 volunteers from Windsor-Essex County May 4.

Usher’s husband Mark also received an award recently, as he earned a Certificate of Recognition from Festival and Events Ontario for his volunteerism.

“They truly are a dynamic couple,” said Van Grinsven “On any given night of the festival they love to go out an walk and see how much the visitors enjoy the lights. That is all the payment they need and it makes all the work worthwhile for them.”

Brian and Mary-Lynn Parent, founders and owners of Families First, said people helping them voluntarily led to the funeral home chain getting off the ground 20 years ago. The first Families First was in south Windsor with east Windsor, LaSalle and Amherstburg eventually seeing Families First locations.

“Volunteers became a very important part of our lives,” said Brian. “Volunteers are the backbone of our community and we are very proud to be here today.”