Local author holds book signing at Amherstburg library



By Ron Giofu


While going through a bout of insomnia, Steven F. Deslippe had an idea in his head for a book series.

Now, three of the books are written and more are on the way.

“It’s a continuing series,” said Deslippe.

Deslippe was at the Amherstburg Library recently for a book signing with the public able to purchase copies of his three novels – Inception, Follow The Path and Staying the Course. He explains the premise as being a fictional story about mobsters in Detroit battling with police.

“I had no idea how to write a book,” he said. “It was trial and error.”

Steven Deslippe shows three of his books that he had for sale during a recent book signing at the Amherstburg library.

Deslippe would send portions of his drafts to his aunt Tina Rosekrans in Iowa and she acted as his editor.

“We both learned as we went,” he said.

Detroit was chosen as the setting for his novels due to its close proximity, Deslippe said. He pointed out he is originally from Amherstburg but now lives in Windsor.

“The intent is for it to be a ten-book series,” he said, adding there are also short stories coming as well.

Deslippe added he has five drafts written for his next five books.

The three novels are available through or through the Chapters’ website and have been published over the last 18 months. Deslippe added people can also contact him via Facebook if they are interested in purchasing a copy or obtaining more information.

“I have no problem driving anywhere in the county to deliver a book,” said Deslippe.

County’s response to town’s library fund request doesn’t impress local officials



By Ron Giofu


The Town of Amherstburg continues to press the County of Essex for its share of funds that accrued during the 251-day Essex County Library strike and the town isn’t happy with the latest development.

The town has asked for its share of the money back but a letter received from county CAO Brian Gregg dated Aug. 25 was one that “totally offended” the town’s CAO. John Miceli told town council that he was frustrated that the Essex County Library Board is managing the file on behalf of Essex County council.

“At its meeting of August 9, 2017, County Council passed a resolution directing that grant funding requests to support capital improvements and renovations at library branches be forwarded to the Essex County Library Board for review and support. Once approved, the Library Board will advise county administration that it is in order to release the appropriate grant amount. Council also endorsed the principle that, to qualify for grant funding, the improvements are to be carried out prospectively, effective August 9, 2017,” Gregg’s letter stated. “Council directed administration to develop, for its consideration, a process to be codified to administer the grant requests put forward by local municipalities. It is anticipated a draft process, along with the total amount of eligible grant funds allocated to each local municipality, will be presented to County Council at either its September 6, 2017 meeting or its September 20, 2017 meeting.”

Amherstburg council is still asking for its share of library funds that accrued during the 251-day strike. (RTT File Photo)

Councillor Diane Pouget said Amherstburg council asked “in good faith” about getting the town’s share back.

“They’re tying our hands, no matter what we do,” she said.

Miceli said measures have been taken by the town to improve the library building. He noted there is “only one taxpayer in the Town of Amherstburg” and that no services were provided to those taxpayers from June 25, 2016 to Feb. 10, 2017.

The town can make its own decisions what it uses its share for, Miceli stated, and that roughly $75,000 to $85,000 in work has been done to improve parking at the library and to make other repairs, some of which were safety related.

The Aug. 9 date was also questioned by the CAO, who added he is willing to attend the Sept. 20 county council meeting to further address the town’s concerns. Miceli also plans to raise the issue with his administrative colleagues this week.

“What does Aug. 9 have to do with it?” he asked. “It should be retroactive to June 25, 2016.”


Essex County to hold onto library strike savings, pledge to use it for library purposes



By Ron Giofu


The $790,000 that was saved during the 230-day Essex County library strike will not be coming back to municipalities.

Instead, Essex County council will set that money aside in a reserve that municipalities and the county itself can tap into for issues specifically related to libraries.

County CAO Brian Gregg noted the $790,000 in savings was due to the money not being spent due to the strike and said it was not administration’s intent to “bury it and have it go away.” The money was temporarily placed in a reserve, he said, with the intent to bring it back to county council for discussion on what to do with it.

“The county doesn’t have a way to rebate this to the ratepayers,” said Gregg.

Gregg suggested there were “a number of ways” the money could be used, suggesting it could be used to support the library system.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned how much the library system didn’t receive in government funding due to the strike. DiCarlo, who had asked for that figure at prior meetings, was told that it was “coming soon.” Gregg said a review of the figures shows that total is roughly $140,000.

Library workers picket outside of Amherstburg town hall last year. Approximately one year after this photo was taken, Essex County council decided to put $790,000 saved during the library strike into a reserve with the plan of using the money for library-related purposes.

Library workers picket outside of Amherstburg town hall last year. Approximately one year after this photo was taken, Essex County council decided to put $790,000 saved during the library strike into a reserve with the plan of using the money for library-related purposes.

DiCarlo was one of five county council members who opposed the motion.

Amherstburg council was one of the municipalities that asked for the money to be refunded.

Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti liked the idea of using the funds for library services with Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos making the motion to set the money aside and allowing municipalities to tap into it should their library buildings need capital improvements.

Santos compared it to when Windsor-Essex Economic Development Commission (WEEDC) funding was returned, with the condition that money be used for economic development.

Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald stated the $790,000 was generated because the ratepayers did not get the library services and believed “it absolutely needs to go back to the people” who paid the money to begin with. Leamington Mayor John Paterson believed others on county council were saying local municipalities could not be trusted and believed the county did not need more reserve funds, as it already has $120 million in reserves.

Santos said it wasn’t a matter of trust and said the money will be set aside for when municipalities are ready to put a shovel in the ground for projects.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said he has been hearing from a lot of people wondering what is going on with the money and hopes they can regain trust from those who lost it during the strike.

DiPasquale said after the meeting that the use of the money has been “pretty transparent” thus far. He agreed with the motion.

“It is fairness,” he said. “I hope the public understands that. I thought it was fair.”

Warden Tom Bain said the money was collected through the county levy and believed the big factor is that it will be earmarked specifically for library needs. He indicated the funds could also be used to lower increases brought to county council by the library board at budget time.

Returning the money to ratepayers wouldn’t be worth it, Bain believed, as it would amount to about $4 per resident.

Library workers rally to support daughter of union leader who has lymphoma



By Ron Giofu


Members of CUPE 2974.0 – otherwise known as the “library warriors” – rallied behind Lori Wightman during the eight-month strike.

Now, they are rallying behind her daughter.

Wightman, who works at the Amherstburg library branch and is the unit chair for CUPE 2974.0, along with her family are supporting her daughter Kati as Kati battles Hodgkins Lymphoma. Lori’s co-workers attended three blood drives in Windsor last week in support of Kati, with Lori stating the union also plans on sponsoring similar drives in Amherstburg later this year.

“She was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma March 9,” said Lori. “It has a good cure rate. It’s about 80 per cent, which is good unless it’s your kid.”

Kati’s first round of chemotherapy resulted in an infection and a hospital stay, but she is now on her fourth round of chemotherapy and things are improving.

Library workers have been rallying to support Lori WIghtman's daughter Kati, who has hodkin's lymphoma. Wightman is unit chair of CUPE 2974 and works at the Amherstburg library.

Library workers have been rallying to support Lori WIghtman’s daughter Kati, who has hodkin’s lymphoma. Wightman is unit chair of CUPE 2974 and works at the Amherstburg library.

“She’s tolerating it better,” said Lori. “We’re pretty optimistic.”

Kati undergoes chemotherapy for one week per month with weekly blood tests also required. If need be, she also has to have blood transfusions. Thus far, she has had ten transfusions.

“My CUPE co-workers have put together blood drives in Kati’s name for the last two weeks,” Lori said.

Lori said 60 per cent of Canadians are eligible to give blood but only four per cent do. She said it is something you don’t think about until it is necessary but added it is important that blood is ready for when it is needed.

“It sounds cliché, but it’s life saving,” said Wightman.

Kati, 21, works at the Amherstburg Walmart but Lori said she has been off on medical leave due to her illness.

“She is looking forward to going back,” she said.

The family is dealing with the illness well, Lori said, using a sense of humour to try and get through the difficult period.

“We just prop each other up when someone needs it,” she said.

Blood donor clinics are planned for July 8 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Aug. 16 from 2-7 p.m. and Sept. 9 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Libro Centre. Lori points out it takes less than an hour most times to donate blood.

“Where else can you save a life and have cookies?” she quipped.

Amherstburg Public School receives $70,000 literacy grant from Indigo



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Public School is looking to update its library and has received a giant boost from a national book-selling chain.

Amherstburg Public School received a $70,000 literacy grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, with the local elementary school being one of 30 schools nationwide to get funding under the program.

Principal Mark Campbell said Amherstburg Public School is “incredibly honored and grateful to have been selected” and added “this support could not have come at a better time.”

Campbell told the RTT Friday morning that the school applied earlier this year.

“Our library is in desperate need of an upgrade,” said Campbell.

Campbell said the school has limited resources but needs to upgrade the library due to the age of the books, the number of books they have and the fact the school now has a French Immersion program.

Amherstburg Public School received a $70,000 grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. From left: Nya Meloche, Kendra Lowe, Austin Sumner, principal Mark Campbell.

Amherstburg Public School received a $70,000 grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. From left: Nya Meloche, Kendra Lowe, Austin Sumner, principal Mark Campbell.

“Having just started our French Immersion program this school year, we want to ensure that our students have access to appropriate French materials and books that will support their learning,” said Campbell.

The school learned just over a week ago they would be getting the grant, with Campbell stating they had a positive 10-15 minute interview as part of the process.

The hope, Campbell added, is that students will not only be able to learn and obtain new books, but that the library will become “the hub of the school.” He pointed out the grant is spread over three years with equal installments paid over the three years totaling $70,000. The money can be used on anything Indigo/Chapters sells, including technology, with Campbell stating he will be asking if they can use some of the funds on furniture for the library as well.

Some funds may be used towards technology or books in classrooms, but Campbell said the bulk of the money will be used to upgrade the library.

Amherstburg Public School is affiliated with the Indigo store in Lakeshore. The school has a “wish wall” where students are putting titles they would like to see with Campbell adding a committee is being put together with the aim of making their first purchases soon.

“We want to make our first purchase at Indigo by the end of the year,” he said.

According to a press release sent out by the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, Amherstburg Public School currently has 436 students who regularly use the library.

“The average age of the books in the library is 16-years-old,” said Campbell. “It’s not the oldest in the board but it’s old.”

The library is used now and also serves as a place where students can congregate during recess.

“The more things I have in there, the better it is and the more occupied they are,” said Campbell.

Campbell credited the staff and students for their involvement with the grant application, saying staff showed a real team effort to get the grant application in.

The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation commits $1.5 million annually to “high-needs elementary schools across Canada in an effort to bolster literacy and give all children equal access to books.”

To date, the foundation has committed over $19.5 million dollars to over 245 high-needs elementary schools since 2004 through its literacy fund grant, and an additional $5.5 million through its other programs.

“Over the past 13 years, we have seen the positive impact of these grants in communities across Canada. They have been hugely beneficial in cultivating literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading in kids from coast-to-coast,” said Heather Reisman, chair of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation in a press release.