Kim Rathbone

Three-way race for local Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board seat

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Frank DiTomasso wants to keep his spot on the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) but has some competition.

DiTomasso is the incumbent trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle but faces two challengers in the Oct. 22 election as Francis Ducharme and Kim Rathbone have also filed their nomination papers and are running.

DiTomasso said he wants to continue to see the students be “top notch” and pointed out the academies that exist in the Catholic system’s secondary level, including at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

“The kids are more important than everything else,” stated DiTomasso.

DiTomasso touted the importance of the STEM program, noting he comes from a trade background. He said he wants “to see the trades come back” and also believed in the importance of robotics programs within the schools.

“A child should be well rounded,” he said.

Noting the additions of day cares to Catholic elementary schools, DiTomasso believed it will bring in more students as parents will have another option for their children.

Over the next four years, DiTomasso would like to ensure the board doesn’t overspend but also has the proper equipment for teachers and children. He also would like to make sure there is enough funding for autistic children and others who have different learning needs.

There is a tremendous team environment currently with the WECDSB, he added, and that the trustees vote with their heads and their hearts with the students always the main priority.

“When it comes to voting, I will ask all kinds of questions,” said DiTomasso. “I will ask the questions I need to in order to understand a situation.”

DiTomasso added that he hopes the voters will give him a chance to return, adding he has tried to attend as many school events as possible and answer whatever questions he is asked.

Rathbone, who is an Amherstburg police officer, said it was “a combination of variables” that led her to run.

“I think the timing is right for me,” she said, adding her children are older now and her work schedule allows her the opportunity to run.

Rathbone said she worked in the high school system in Windsor for a number of years and “I saw where there were gaps and I saw the successes.” She said she wants to bridge the gaps and celebrate the successes.

Rathbone also has a desire to “make positive change” and build further positive relationships. She said it is sometimes difficult for the average person to navigate through a system, in this case the school system, and she believes she can help people do that.

As a police officer, she has organized such community events as the “Not My Kid” community forum on opioids that was held in Amherstburg late last year and believes she can broaden community connections for schools. She believes the board currently has a good handle on that but she believes she can add to it.

“What I bring to the table is a strong voice,” said Rathbone. “If constituents have any issues, they can rely on me to be their strong voice.”

She added she can also be a strong voice for the board as well and that her goals will be the goals that the community wants to see. She said that, if elected, she wants to see what the board wants and the communities want.

Ducharme said he feels the system “needs a little bit of new life” and that it has become “a little complacent.” Ducharme believes that people picked a Catholic school for a reason so the Christianity and Catholicism should stay strong.

“It seems (the province) is trying to eliminate Christian values,” he said. “That needs to stay. The silent majority needs to speak up. That’s something I’d like to protect.”

Knowing there has been talk over the years of merging the public and Catholic boards, Ducharme questioned how that would happen. He said there are two unions representing workers so he wondered how it would work in terms of who has their job cut.

“If someone has any sort of action plan, I’d like to see it,” said Ducharme. “Show me a solution.”

The Catholic school board is “top heavy” with a lot of administration, he believes, and that while he doesn’t dispute people making a fair wage, he wants to ensure that teachers and in-school staff get the resources they need instead of “people at the top getting more and more.”

“There’s got to be some more accountability there,” said Ducharme.

Ducharme added that while he doesn’t have all the answers, he’d like to bring some new ideas to the board, if elected.

All three candidates live in LaSalle.

Amherstburg Police Service hosting open forum on opioids

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Police Service is hosting an open forum this Thursday to help spread awareness and advice regarding opioids.

The free community forum, entitled “Not My Kid”, runs Nov. 9 at the Libro Centre from 6-8 p.m. Const. Kim Rathbone said their vision is to have information available in the foyer of the Libro Centre featuring youth diversion, New Beginnings, the Teen Health Centre, the Canadian Mental Health Association among others.

“These places are typically in Windsor but they are going to be at your fingertips,” said Rathbone.

Once the program starts, Rathbone said they will have a real life story from someone who battled addiction and received treatment. The Windsor police drugs and guns unit will also be on hand to make a presentation.

“They are going to talk to parents about typical signs to look for in your child and what to look for in your child’s room,” she said.

Rathbone added that local Shoppers Drug Mart owner Josie Piruzza is scheduled to speak on keeping prescription drugs safe and proper disposal of drugs. There will be school nurses from around Windsor-Essex County on hand, Rathbone continued, with Sharmaine Tanario-Battagello from Withdrawal Management also scheduled to speak.

Tanario-Battagello has 27 years of program development and clinical experience and holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology and clinical social work. She has worked in the fields of mental health and addictions throughout her career and has been part of the medical systems in both Canada and the United States.

Crime Stoppers Windsor-Essex County is also scheduled to attend with free naloxone training also being provided. Naloxone is used on someone who has overdosed and buys time for the person to be treated by medical professionals.

Rathbone pointed out that there have already been open forums on opioids in Kingsville and LaSalle and organizers have learned from those events on what information people are seeking. Amherstburg police hope to prevent opioid addiction and limit it from becoming a major issue locally.

“The whole point of this is to get ahead of it,” said Rathbone. “It’s not a giant issue in Amherstburg. There’s no epidemic here.”

Another open forum is scheduled to be in Windsor in early 2018, she added.

The “Not My Kid” community forum will run from 6-8 p.m. The Libro Centre is located at 3295 Meloche Road in Amherstburg.

For more information, contact Rathbone at 519-736-8559.