Alhambra helps those with disabilities have a Merry Christmas



By Ron Giofu


Alhambra, an organization that assists those with disabilities, got into the Christmas spirit last Saturday.

The McGregor-based chapter – Alhambra Garcia Caravan #230 – held its annual Christmas party at the Columbian Club Hall on Walker Road with about 207 people attending. That includes 138 people with disabilities plus their workers as well as volunteers.

Ray and Beth Renaud visit with Santa Claus at Alhambra Garcia Caravan’s Christmas party Dec. 9.

“This is an annual event,” explained Therese Barichello, grand commander of Alhambra Garcia Caravan #230. “It’s one of the most rewarding, joyful day for the holidays. These people don’t always have an opportunity to get out. They love parties. They love dancing. It’s a very worthwhile event.”

The Christmas event drew people mostly from around Essex County but some from Windsor also attended, Barichello stated. She added the gifts for those with disabilities came from the Tim Hortons in LaSalle and “they did a great job.”

Grant Leahy shares his Christmas wish list with Santa and receives a gift as well.

“Everyone likes coming forward and volunteering to help,” said Barichello. “I can’t explain how much I enjoy doing this. It gives me great joy and happiness. It’s better to give than to receive.”

Alhambra Garcia Caravan #230 helps various families in the county with accessibility aids and also hold various events and fundraisers throughout the year. Other than the annual Christmas party in McGregor, they hold an annual picnic at Co-An Park, a boating outing and a golf tournament, the latter being their largest fundraiser.

The organization have been holding Christmas parties in McGregor for the last 35 years.

For more information on Alhambra Garcia Caravan #230, visit or call 519-726-6494. More information on the Alhambra organization can also be found at

St. Clement Parish fundraising concert raises over $10,000


By Jolene Perron


To preserve St. Clement Church’s crumbling mortar, the choir took upon themselves to raise money through a one-time concert.

Since 1880, the parish in McGregor has offered Holy Mass for its parishioners. As the congregation grew, the construction of the present church took place in 1903. According to the dioceses of London website, St. Clement’s exterior walls are constructed of stone blocks which they said are likely from the local quarry.

“The mortar itself is crumbling so we need to have it replaced and that’s costing us quite a bit of money so we’re doing everything we can to fundraise through different events,” explained choir leader Annette Barron.

Barron explained that she suggested a concert last spring after many inquiries from parishioners about the choir recording a CD. Due to copyright, a CD wasn’t doable, however a concert was the next best option. She took the songs they normally do, and added harmonies and “rejigged” the songs to create a repertoire for the choir to entertain the parishioners.

“We took it five steps further than they are normally used to, and they hated me for it at the beginning but they got whipped into shape and they sound awesome now,” said Barron.

A group of choir singers from St. Clements Parish performed a concert recently to raise money for repairs to the mortar, which is currently crumbling away.

Barron has been in the choir since 1990. She explained they sing every week at mass all year-round, as well as at special masses for holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Typically they only hold formal practices as needed, as they are all volunteers.

The response and support from the parish Barron said, has been overwhelming. From parishioners volunteering their time to help sell tickets, put up flyers, promote the concert and actually work the event taking ticket money and donations, Barron said they “responded like gang busters,” ready to help. A crew of them even came out the evening prior to set up a platform on the altar to accommodate the choir.

With corporate sponsors, the choir raised $10,000 and counting with people still coming in with donations. They are continuing to raise money through the Columbian Hall in McGregor, which also had a sold out dinner over that same weekend with an attendance of more than 300 people.

For those wishing to make further donations, they should contact St. Clement Church at during office hours, Tuesday to Thursday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or at 519-726-5127.

“I’m extremely happy that I can do something to actually help contribute to the continuity of our church,” said Barron. “A lot of churches, parishes kind of die out but this one, it’s a small parish but we seem to remain vibrant and strong and viable, that makes it hard to close it up. We always seem to pull through no matter what comes out way with the building.”




Farm Credit Canada assists WETRA in acquiring new tractor



By Ron Giofu


The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) now has the funding for the acquisition of a new tractor.

WETRA was approved for one of 78 grants from Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) AgriSpirit Fund and received $25,000 to help fund the purchase of a new tractor for the McGregor facility. An official presentation was made last week.

Becky Mills, executive director at WETRA, thanked the two FCC officials that attended the announcement for the contribution to the tractor fund.

Sina Naebkhil from WETRA, Debra Wadia and Anne Baldo from Farm Credit Canada, and WETRA executive director conduct a cheque presentation in front of the old tractor WETRA is replacing. Farm Credit Canada’s AgriSpirit grant program is funding a new tractor to the tune of $25,000.

“As you know, no farm is complete without a tractor, the workhorse of the agricultural and maintenance aspects of running a rural operation,” said Mills. “Here at WETRA, horses are the modality for which our therapy services take place and it brings a whole other aspect of running our programs when caring for the therapy horses. Maintaining pastures, stalls, manure piles and riding areas as well as fertilizing, cutting and harvesting our 22 acres of hay is essential to sustaining optimal health within our herd and it becomes a full-time job in and of itself.”

Mills added that the tractor “will not side idle for more than a few hours a week” and noted that it is absolutely necessary for WETRA’s operation.

“We simply cannot survive without a fully functional, updated tractor,” said Mills.

Mills added that WETRA has been providing services to people with disabilities since 1963 and thanks to the support of funders like FCC, “we are able to continue with our mission and ensure that those in need will have the opportunity to experience life on a horse farm and feel good about the environment in which they are warmly received by such gentle animals.”

FCC was represented by senior district manager Debra Wadia and relationship manager Anne Baldo. Wadia said the AgriSpirit fund has been around since 2004. In 2016, a total of $1 million was distributed through grants across Canada with that number upped to $1.5 million in 2017 in recognition of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Wadia said FCC has a rating system of how to look at grant applications and WETRA “hit all of them.”

Awarding grants to organizations such as WETRA “is the best part of my job,” Baldo added.

The FCC AgriSpirit Fund awards between $5,000 and $25,000 for community improvement projects. There were 1,214 applications received this year with proceeds going to rural, small town Canadian projects. Over the past 14 years, the FCC AgriSpirit Fund has supported almost 1,100 projects, an investment of more than $12 million.

Public information session being held regarding basement flooding subsidy program


The Town of Amherstburg is holding a public information session regarding the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy program that was recently passed by town council Sept. 25.

The public information session will be held Thursday evening at the McGregor K of C Hall, located at 9560 Walker Road, from 6-8 p.m.

There were 34 homes in the McGregor area reportedly impacted by basement flooding from a heavy rain storm Aug. 28.

The town is offering a financial subsidy to disconnect foundation drains that are connected to the sanitary sewer; install a backwater valve on the internal plumbing system in existing homes;

and install a sump pump overflow to discharge outside to surface (applies to existing sump pumps only).

The Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program can be viewed prior to the information session at Town administration will be on hand to answer any questions that arise.

If members of the public are unable to attend the public information session and have any questions, they may contact the Public Works Department at 519-736-3664.

Town council approves basement flooding protection subsidy program



By RTT Staff


Town council has approved a new basement flooding protection subsidy program, but not all residents are impressed by it.

Under the new program, the town will provide a downspout disconnection service to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system free of charge. The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system to disconnect foundation drains from the sanitary sewer for up to 50 per cent of the cost, to a maximum of $1,000.

The town of Amherstburg has also committed to providing a financial subsidy to residents on the town’s wastewater system for installing backwater valve devices on the internal sanitary plumbing system in existing homes for up to 100 per cent of cost to a maximum of $1,000.

The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the wastewater collection system to install a sump pump overflow to discharge outside to the surface for existing sump pumps. That also can cover up to 100 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $300.

Administration was also directed to develop a program for the mandatory disconnection of downspouts and improper cross connections and report back to council.

. The program is retroactive to Aug. 28, the day McGregor was pounded as part of a heavy rain storm that hit Windsor-Essex County.

McGregor resident Tom Welsh, who has been the victim of multiple floods, didn’t believe $1,000 was enough, saying “this is a band-aid, in my opinion. You are stating you are going to help us, but we are still going to have to fork out $2-3,000.”

Welsh believed the residents should be able to apply for total funding of costs incurred.

Director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu said the town’s program is similar to a program offered in Windsor, and that comparisons were made to other local municipalities as well. The public works department also called plumbers in the area and the estimates were similar as well.

CAO John Miceli said that it’s a voluntary program and that the plan is to ask for funding requests during budget time, if needed, to ensure the flooding issues are addressed.

“Members of the community have to apply for the subsidy,” Miceli pointed out.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted more information about water coming from other municipalities and what the entire region is doing to address the flooding problems. He believed a report was necessary on what all municipalities are working towards.

Fryer also suggested better infrastructure to deal with the issue once and for all, and not yearly subsidy programs.

“We’ve got to start taking care of the hamlet of McGregor,” he said.

Giofu countered that studies into the area have shown that major issues in the McGregor area are on private property but the town is willing to work with residents.

Councillor Leo Meloche, a McGregor resident himself, said there are subdivisions in McGregor with small lots and that water is often just drained to neighbouring yards during storms.

“Planning has to address the issue of elevations before we get to the issue of disconnections,” said Meloche, who also expressed concerns about the mandatory disconnections of downspouts.

Welsh reiterated what he and fellow neighbours believe, and that is not enough money is spent in areas like McGregor as opposed to the “core” of Amherstburg.

“I see it as a band-aid. It’s frustrating,” he said of the program. “Something has to be done. I’m not going to finish my downstairs ever again.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne said money was spent by the current council to fix flooding in the urban part of Amherstburg due to a design flaw with a previous project. He said there are no design flaws in McGregor and that Mother Nature “wreaked havoc” with heavy rain.

“To suggest we are doing more for the core than the county, I blatantly disagree with that,” said Lavigne. “I don’t believe it’s neglect. All we can do is offer a subsidy program. We hear you. It might not be enough. We are doing everything we can and we’ll do more if we can.”

“My whole community thinks this way,” Welsh responded. “We get nothing. We pay more taxes than some people on Boblo.”

Miceli indicated more could be done on the infrastructure front.

“What my team is doing is trying to increase design standards for the town. We are not going to wait,” he said. “We want to make sure we have the highest standards in the region.”

The CAO added that while he won’t guarantee that will eliminate flooding, “we are going to take the highest standards to prevent it.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said after the meeting that numbers contained in the program “seem to compare with actual costs” and called it “a good starting point for the town.” He said the town wants to work with individual residents to resolve flooding issues and those requests could come immediately.

“I fully expect residents will contact public works and they will get on it as soon as they can,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor added the new program “may not fix the problems but we have to look at mitigating them as best we can.”