John Miceli

ACS, town co-host town hall meeting for seniors



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and the Town of Amherstburg reached out to the senior community in an effort to try and hear what they want and need.

A town hall meeting was held at the Libro Centre with about 40 people in attendance. Attendees were asked what they required in terms of medical care, recreational amenities and accessibility among other topics.

“This started in late 2017,” explained Rick Daly, the town’s manager of recreation services.

Daly said there was a stakeholder information meeting in which the town and ACS tried to find out what is being offered to seniors and what services are still needed. How the gaps in services get eliminated is part of the process, he added.

“We need to find opportunities for all of our residents,” he said.

Kathy DiBartolomeo, executive director with ACS, said the agency is often approached about what they can do for seniors. ACS offers such programming as lunches, transportation and programs where seniors are called and visited along with programs such as Meals on Wheels. They will continue to work with the town on additional programming, she indicated, and that consultations with the community will continue.

Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo fields a question from a resident as part of the seniors town hall meeting ACS held in conjunction with the Town of Amherstburg Aug. 16.

“These talks will be ongoing,” she said. “It’s not a one-off meeting.”

Ideas ranges from bringing in medical specialists, having exercise classes, educational sessions for singles and couples on such topics as cooking, alternative medicine, year-round pickleball, and having a community garden. Stephanie Thomson commented that she moved to Amherstburg from Toronto and was lucky to find someone to help her get acclimated to the town.

Thomson suggested a service where people could socialize and introduce new residents to the town.

“Social isolation will kill you,” she said.
John Miceli, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said he saw a greeter service manned by volunteers when he visited Chicago. He believes something similar could work in Amherstburg.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the town,” said Miceli.

Miceli added that the town is planning on erecting electronic signage at the north and south ends of town and that will help advertise additional town programs. He believes those signs will be erected by late fall.

Questions over the seniors hub at the former St. Bernard School site were raised, with Miceli stating “we’ve got some major partners” that are coming. However, he said he can’t share a lot of details at the moment.

Local naturalist Greg Nemeth speaks about his hobby at the Aug. 16 town hall session for seniors at the Libro Centre.

Miceli added that a partnership with the Greater Essex County District School Board will allow for “a tremendous amount of opportunities for seniors programming” at the new public high school that will be erected on 15 acres of Centennial Park.

Greg Nemeth, a local naturalist, spoke on how he took up that hobby when he retired and was diagnosed with epilepsy. He suggested a boardwalk on lands within the Big Creek watershed would be useful, as he regularly walks and photographs wildlife in the area between Thomas Road and Concession 3 North.

“When you are walking with nature, it’s a different experience,” said Nemeth. “It’s calm. It’s relaxing. Put a boardwalk in for seniors. They’ll really enjoy it.”

ACS and the town hosted seniors expo earlier this year, DiBartolomeo pointed out, adding they hope it gets “bigger and better” every year.

“Every year, we hope to expand it,” she said.

Daly added he would like to see an advisory committee for seniors established, one that would report to town council. He said an advisory committee would have “the ear of council.”

Town orders another $146,000 in LED light fixtures



By Ron Giofu


Due to a shortfall in LED lights, the Town of Amherstburg has ordered 210 more in order to complete the project.

Town council authorized the purchase and installation of 210 more fixtures to complete the LED light conversion project “in an amount not to exceed $145,800 plus HST.” The town states the total contract value is not to exceed $1,332,556 plus HST.

The town accepted a proposal for the completion of the 2018 LED streetlight conversion program, reported manager of engineering Todd Hewitt in his report to council. The contract was awarded to Anchor Hydro Feb. 28 and the project began in April.

“Anchor Hydro has completed a field verification of the light fixtures required to complete the conversion of the Town’s streetlights to LED fixtures. Through that process it has been determined that the Town requires a further 210 cobrahead streetlights to complete the conversion, over and above the estimated 1,443 identified in for the project for a total of 1,653 fixtures.”

The Town of Amherstburg has authorized the purchase and installation of 210 more LED light fixtures at an amount not to exceed $145,800 plus HST. Pictured are the lights that are on Murray St. Many of the new LED lights have been installed but the new lights will bring the total up to 1,653 total fixtures.

Hewitt added: “Administration has reviewed the data used for the project scoping and procurement process, and have determined that the majority of the variance relates to streetlights being incorrectly listed in the Town’s Tangible Capital Asset (TCA) inventory as ‘County owned.’ It is believed the data error may have arisen because the majority of those streetlights were located along County roads. As only Town owned assets were identified for replacement, the lights marked as County owned were excluded from the TCA inventory list provided for the RFP; however it has since been determined that that the Town owns the fixtures. The balance of the discrepancy appears to have resulted from incorrect TCA inventory data captured when the asset inventory was initialized in 2008. Administration will continue to review and refine the Town’s TCA inventory and Asset Management Plan to capture complete and accurate data.”

CAO John Miceli states they are continuing to update its asset management plan and acknowledged “there are some gaps” and the town is trying to correct things in the future.

Miceli added that residents are happy with the new LED lights.

“We made the decision to add the lights and extend the scope of the contract,” Miceli said of the new 210 fixtures. Though they were ordered after the initial number of lights, installation isn’t expected to be delayed.


Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic AGM features CAO as guest speaker

By Jonathan Martin


The Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic presented its annual report June 20, where Amherstburg CAO John Miceli stepped up as the night’s guest speaker.

Miceli lauded the clinic’s “notable success,” but also provided a little bit more insight into Amherstburg’s own plans to adopt the clinic’s programming.

Miceli brought the listeners back to Aug. 21, 2017, when Amherstburg Councillor Diane Pouget put forward a unanimously supported motion that “administration should be directed to investigate the number of family physicians and the availability of current and future services to residents of Amherstburg.”

Miceli then brought a report before council on Oct. 23, 2017 outlining provincial funding to expand primary care services for $15.5 million.

He was given a resolution that “the CAO be directed to work with Pauline Gemmell, executive director of Essex County nurse practitioner-led clinic, to develop a business case and apply for grant funding for the expansion and enhancing of interprofessional primary care for the Town of Amherstburg.”

Amherstburg CAO John Miceli speaks at the Essex County Nurse
Practitioner-led Clinic AGM June 20 in Essex.

Council voted in favour.

It supported the initiative for two reasons, according to Miceli.  First, he says it was an opportunity to broaden the Amherstburg health care network and provide Amherstburg residents with access to additional front-line medical professionals.  Secondly, it allowed the town to partner with the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic.  Miceli said the clinic has a “proven, success model” and that the program’s success is “known in (Amherstburg).”

Miceli said the clinic is doing an “exceptional job, which makes me grateful, because it makes my job easy.”

Miceli confirms that the new clinic will be located at the old St. Bernard School at 320 Richmond St., which he described as a “great location.”  He reiterated that the clinic will be part of the town’s planned seniors’ hub, but that it would be open to residents of any age.  In fact, he emphasized that the town’s new high school will be located just across the street at the southern 15 acres of Centennial Park.

“Acquiring St. Bernard’s was strategic,” he said.  “We knew we wanted to have programming with the new high school and knew that we wanted intergenerational programming.”

The CAO did recognize that Amherstburg’s senior population is growing quickly, though.  At present, seniors make up around 20 per cent of the town’s residents.  Within the next three to four years, that number is expected to leap up five percentage points.

Miceli said he expects the clinic to be open by the end of 2018 or in early 2019, which he expects will allow the town to meet the increased medical demand.

Council gives administration spending authority in “lame duck” period, but not without debate



By Ron Giofu


The Town of Amherstburg has authorized administration to have the ability make unbudgeted expenditures over $50,000 and dispose of property valued at over $50,000 during the “lame duck” period.

While many stated this is a common motion passed by municipalities across the province, one member of council voiced concerns over the motion. During debate of the motion at the June 11 meeting, Councillor Diane Pouget believed it would be “foolish” of council to pass it without some sort of safety assurances built in. She said the motion as recommended gave administration “carte blanche” to sell town property or make unbudgeted purchases and wanted to ensure additional safeguards were in place.

“It’s absolutely necessary and the responsible thing to do,” said Pouget. “I’m not speaking against anyone here. I’m trying to protect council and our residents.”

Pouget and Councillor Joan Courtney voted against the motion, with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Jason Lavigne and Rick Fryer voting in favour. Councillor Leo Meloche did not attend the meeting as his wife passed away only a few days earlier.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – The original version of this article had Councillor Joan Courtney voting in favour. She voted against the motion and the story has now been corrected to reflect that.)

CAO John Miceli said the motion did protect the residents, citing an example that if a fire truck was in an accident and couldn’t be used, administration has the authority to carry out measures to replace the vehicle.

“What you are suggesting is that administration would not go through with the will of council,” said Miceli.

Miceli added his concern was if unbudgeted expenditures were to come up during the lame duck period, which would start July 27 if six members of the current council don’t run in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Pouget countered that other emergency measures, such as borrowing a fire truck from a neighbouring municipality, could be used but DiCarlo pointed out an emergency road repair that is being done in River Canard would have had to wait until a new council if it occurred during a lame duck period and such a motion wasn’t in place.

“This isn’t something unique to Amherstburg,” said director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin, of the motion.

Lavigne had similar comments to Galvin, adding an example of if something happened at the water treatment plant, an expenditure couldn’t be approved until a new council was in place unless such a motion was passed.

“I understand (Pouget’s) concern, that’s why I researched it,” said Lavigne, who noted many municipalities in Ontario pass such motions in election years. “This is 100 per cent common in Ontario. Literally hundreds of municipalities in Ontario have the same motion. Why are we different here in Amherstburg?”

Pouget believed council was giving up some of their rights and while she acknowledged council would be notified of any such expenditure in the lame duck period, “we can’t do anything.”

Fryer said “it’s a matter of trust” and didn’t foresee any major issues and no sale of property, including the 12 remaining acres of Centennial Park that the Greater Essex County District School.

“To put fear in residents that they’ll spend money like drunken sailors is bullcrap,” said Fryer. “That’s not going to happen.”

Fryer’s comments prompted code of conduct concerns, and DiCarlo urged council to be respectful of

other people’s opinions.

Minor baseball concerned about immediate future with pending loss of diamonds



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association (AMBA) is wondering where their players are going to play next season and took their concerns to town council.

AMBA president Mary Lippert appeared before town council and questioned where the local players plus ones coming to town to play in the multiple tournaments that have been scheduled are going to play. With the sale of 15 acres of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB), it means the loss of four diamonds there.

While there is a recommendation to relocate the diamonds to the Libro Centre, a concern with that is the fact no construction has started on those yet.

“Our biggest concern is if something doesn’t get done soon, our kids won’t have any place to play,” said Lippert.

Lippert added there is a fear that if youth start playing elsewhere, they won’t come back to Amherstburg even when new diamonds are built. There were also questions raised over the shape of the diamond and the ability to have the AMBA work on some of the diamonds to ensure they are in good shape.

“Are we going to have input on how they are built?” she also asked.

The premier baseball diamond, already located at the Libro Centre, has seen Amherstburg players “get the leftovers” of the times that are remaining while out-of-town users have received better bookings.

Image courtesy of Amherstburg Minor Baseball’s Twitter account (@AmherstburgBall)

“We live here,” said Lippert. “That’s unacceptable.”

It all comes down to ensuring local kids have a place to play baseball, she added.

“It’s the kids I worry about,” she said. “We want to make sure they have some place to play. What about next year if we’re not starting soon? What do we do for these 400 kids?”

CAO John Miceli said the diamonds at the Libro Centre won’t be ready for next year but the town will have to spend one year working with user groups. He said this year was taken care of through an arrangement with the GECDSB to use Centennial Park but arrangements have to be made for next year.

“We do have a number of diamonds available,” he said.

Work also has to be done if the town and Amherstburg baseball players are to use Co-An Park in McGregor and River Canard Park. The latter is run by the Town of LaSalle, said Lippert, and AMBA received a bill for $8,300 to use it last year.

Councillor Rick Fryer said they are “behind the eight-ball already” with minor baseball and wanted to know why the town was “dropping the ball” in addressing their needs. Miceli said the town “does not want to build anything in haste” and wants to see a “centre of excellence” at the Libro Centre.

“I know it’s an inconvenience but we want to have the best facilities going forward,” he said.

Lippert voiced concerns over user groups at other diamonds and questioned the town over why the issue wasn’t addressed before the 15 acres of Centennial Park was sold.

“Why didn’t this get looked at before we sold this property?” said Lippert.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the sale of the Centennial Park land was an issue of timing and that the town wants to have the best facilities it can even though there will be a year where it will be tougher for local baseball players to get to their games and practices.

“We are going to have a year of inconvenience where we will work this out,” said the mayor.