Libro Centre

Town assisting Rotary Club to move Ribfest to the Libro Centre



By Ron Giofu


The town will be assisting the Rotary Club of Amherstburg move its signature event to the Libro Centre.

The Rotary Club’s tenth annual Ribfest will be at its new location the first weekend of July and town council agreed to waive equipment and rental fees to use the facility with the town also assisting with site preparation. Ribfest committee members Lena Lazanja and Steve Butcher appeared before town council seeking assistance with Lazanja pointing out the club’s many accomplishments over the years, including the steady growth of Ribfest. Lazanja stated that Ribfest has exceeded their expectations.

“We want to make the tenth year our best year for Ribfest,” she said.

Butcher, who is co-chairing the committee with Ann Marie Favot, said their aim is to “amp it up and make it bigger and better.” The move to the Libro Centre means they need an extra 2,500 linear feet of fencing, repairs to the grounds and removal of berms and piles of dirt.

The new site, according to Butcher, will allow the Ribfest to grow and bring in more vendors.

“Centennial Park was excellent but (the Libro Centre site) is an acre-and-a-half more,” said Butcher.

The tenth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest is planned for July 5-7 at the Libro Centre.

Butcher added that by upgrading the site at the Libro Centre, it could prove beneficial to more than just the Ribfest.

“Moving forward with this could attract other event to the area,” he believed.

Councillor Peter Courtney noted the Greater Essex County District School Board is allowing the town to use the 15 acres the board bought for another year. He questioned whether the Ribfest should go back to Centennial Park for one more year and plan to be at the Libro Centre for 2020. Lazanja believed it would be too late to switch back with Butcher calling this “an ideal time to expand.”

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche said he would have liked to have seen the request several weeks earlier, prior to the town’s budget deliberations, but Butcher indicated plans started falling into place only recently. Butcher reiterated his belief that the improvements at the site would “benefit the town and future events at the site.”

CAO John Miceli said council approved developing a master plan for the Libro Centre as part of the 2019 budget. He added that some of the costs that the town would incur in preparing the site and waiving the fees could amount to about $15,000 but believed that total could be brought down if town staff does some of the work necessary at the site.

Other expenses could be a one-time cost, the CAO believed, with items such as fencing being able to be used at other sites as well.

Councillor Marc Renaud said he was supportive of the initiative, noting it was the Ribfest’s tenth anniversary. Councillor Michael Prue said he wanted a report on where the upwards of $15,000 in costs would come from, as the money is not budgeted, with Miceli indicating such figures would be contained in variance reports.

The Ribfest also launched a new Twitter account. People can follow it by going to @aburgribfest1.

Town council divides $35,000 between seven community groups



By Ron Giofu


Seven community groups within Amherstburg came to town council looking for help and council, in some fashion, agreed.

As part of the town’s 2019 budget deliberations, the groups came to council looking for community grants that totalled just over $42,000. Not all groups got the amount they wanted as council approved just over $35,000 worth of funding.

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) sought $10,000 in total as they asked for a $5,000 grant towards their programming and an additional $5,000 towards their vehicle replacement fund. The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission requested $3,500, up $2,000 over 2018.

Town council deliberates the 2019 budget Feb. 13.

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum requested $8,000 to help with its operations, an increase of $1,500 over last year. The Amherstburg Historic Sites Association, the organization the runs the Park House Museum, asked for the same amount as 2018, which was $8,500.

The Amherstburg Fort Malden Golden Age Club requested $3,136.50, which was a new request. That request wasn’t so much for cash donation as it was for a waiver of the Libro Centre user surcharge. An $8,250 request from Skate Amherstburg was to help them stage a Skate Ontario Synchro Series event at the Libro Centre March 23 that over 800 skaters from around the province are expected to attend.

Christ Anglican Church asked for $750 to help maintain its historic cemetery as the church celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.

Town council would give fund ACS to the tune of $7,000 – $3,000 and $4,000 per respective grant request – while the mission received $2,500. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum received $6,500 while the Amherstburg Historic Sites Association received the full $8,500 for the Park House Museum. The Golden Age Club’s fees were waived amounting to the $3,136.50 they had wanted while Skate Amherstburg received $6,613.50. Christ Church received the $750 they had asked for.

Town to keep some ice at the Libro Centre in May



By Ron Giofu


Thanks to an impassioned plea from a representative of the user groups, town council has agreed to keep at least one ice pad operational at the Libro Centre in May.

Wes Ewer represented the Amherstburg Admirals Jr. C hockey team as well as the Big Creek Hockey League, Skate Amherstburg and the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) at Wednesday’s budget deliberations. Keeping ice at the Libro Centre in May is “extremely paramount” to the organizations, Ewer noted, as it impacts tryouts and other activities and events the organizations run.

Registration to the various sports organizations could also be negatively impacted if there is no ice in May, said Ewer, noting the organizations he was involved with are willing to pay the higher winter ice rates in order to keep ice at the arena during that month.

“May ice removal will not work for our user groups,” said Ewer.

There is talk of a merger between Amherstburg and LaSalle minor hockey associations, he added, and that could lead to a future increase in demand down the road, Ewer noted. He added they could also have camps at the Libro Centre to further use the ice.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” said Councillor Peter Courtney. “I know Wes will come through.”

CAO John Miceli apologized for not communicating better with the user groups and indicated a willingness to work with them. However, Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche voiced concern with the facility losing money though welcomed the opportunity to try and “turn it around.”

“For the last four years, we keep seeing declining revenue,” said Meloche.

Councillor Marc Renaud, also the president of AMHA, said they are losing players and that the potential partnership with LaSalle’s travel program could lead to more usage in Amherstburg.

“I think there is future growth coming,” said Renaud.

Having ice completely out of the Libro Centre in May, June and July would save approximately $85,000 but keeping some ice in at the facility would trim those savings to $63,000. Council also voiced interest in waiting until the middle of August before ice returned in order to save on utility costs.

Mixed results for Bulldogs hockey team last week



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Bulldogs boys hockey team had mixed results in two games last week.

The Bulldogs were at home to the St. Joseph Lasers last Tuesday afternoon but had to play the game with a shortened bench as they only had about ten players available. A number of players weren’t able to play due to having other games with travel teams they play on while some missed the game due to injury or doctor’s appointments.

The lack of players showed over the course of the game as the Bulldogs ended up on the short end of an 8-2 decision at the Libro Centre. Sebastian Tronchin and Tyler Fraser scored the Bulldogs.

“We were definitely shorthanded,” said Bulldogs head coach Pat Garrett. “That’s a team we can beat if we have a full squad.”

General Amherst’s Cassidy Atkinson (67, black jersey) looks for a scoring chance in front of the Holy Names goal last Wednesday.

Garrett said he was proud of the players that took part in the game but it was tough to stay in the game with six forwards, three defencemen and one goalie.

The fight for better playoff positioning resumed for the Bulldogs last Thursday afternoon in LaSalle as General Amherst battled the Sandwich Sabres to a 5-5 tie at the Vollmer Complex.

Fraser had a pair of goals in that game for General Amherst while Max Jones, Jake Peddie and Jacob Howson also scored for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs enter the WECSSAA boys hockey playoffs following the exam break.