Amherstburg resident joining area Rotarians for humanitarian trip to Ghana


By Ron Giofu


An Amherstburg man is joining a group of Essex Rotarians for an upcoming trip to Ghana.

Bert McLellan said he heard about the trip on television and decided he wanted to get involved. They leave Nov. 14 for just over two weeks on a humanitarian mission and McLellan is currently fundraising for the trip, with proceeds going towards the people of Ghana.

“This opportunity came up, they accepted me and I’m going,” he said. “I put my money where my mouth is. I’m looking forward to it. The nervous part is (fundraising). I’m not the type of guy who likes being noticed too much.”

Projects in Ghana will include renovating a dilapidated school in the village of Wurakase and purchasing new books, uniforms and desks for the students as well as distributing school supplies and toys. Three water wells will be drilled and the hope is to also build a sanitation facility featuring 12 flushing toilets, sinks and showers.

Amherstburg resident Bert McLellan is fundraising for his upcoming trip with Essex Rotarians to Ghana.

Amherstburg resident Bert McLellan is fundraising for his upcoming trip with Essex Rotarians to Ghana.

Medical professionals will treat people as McLellan points out they rarely get to see a doctor in Ghana. The team will bring 400 pounds of medicines to the African nation. Mosquito nets will also be put up and reading glasses distributed to those who need them.

“All the money I’m trying to raise goes to the projects,” he said.

McLellan has to pay his own way, meaning he has to shell out over $4,000. However, giving back is something he does regularly as he is a board member of the Park House Museum, an usher at St. John the Baptist Church and a retired Amherstburg firefighter.

For information or to donate, contact McLellan at 519-736-6707 or e-mail

Police, local service clubs promote safety at bike rodeo


By Jolene Perron


New sponsor and partner, Families First, hosted Amherstburg’s annual Bike Rodeo at their location Sunday where an estimated 300 – 400 people came out to learn about bike safety.

“We put this event on every year with some of our co-sponsors,” said Shawn McCurdy, senior constable and media relations officer for Amherstburg Police Services. “This year we got Families First involved, they’ve really jumped on board with us and made this event turn into something bigger than what it normally is and we’re really happy for that.”

Paige Amicone navigates through the obstacle course, learning about bike safety at the annual Bike Rodeo at Families First Sunday.

Paige Amicone navigates through the obstacle course, learning about bike safety at the annual Bike Rodeo at Families First Sunday.

McCurdy explained the community event is centered around bike safety and learning the rules of the road. Kids are able to interact with police officers, which McCurdy said is very important. The goal is to ensure children feel as though they can approach police officers and feel comfortable talking with them.

Vice President of family services Jennifer Wells said when they partnered with Amherstburg Police Services, they explained the event needed a home, which Families First was excited to provide. They also donated six bikes to be raffled off.

“The event is an awesome event because it’s a community partnership,” said Wells. “We’re new to Amherstburg and we’re so blessed to be a part of this community and to be a part of an event where everybody comes out. There is support from most of the organizations in Amherstburg and we’re so lucky to be a part of that. We have done bike safety in the past for other parts of our community and when we knew that this great event was already happening we thought how can we help out, how can we get involved?”

Wells explained prior to the event, they invited people to pre-register their children so they could determine how many helmets and things they needed. They had more than 100 children pre-register, and more than 50 additional children at the event register.

Ty Crawford shows off his new bike with his sister Rayah and mother Stephanie at the annual Bike Rodeo at Families First Sunday.

Ty Crawford shows off his new bike with his sister Rayah and mother Stephanie at the annual Bike Rodeo at Families First Sunday.

Mother of three and Amherstburg local, Tammy Danelon said when she put her daughter on a bike, she was weaving around obstacles and wasn’t certain of the rules of the road which is why they decided to attend the event. Her son also won one of the bikes.

“This is so important because you want them to be fit, but they need to be safe,” said Danelon. “We taught them how to ride their bikes last year and we wanted them to learn the safe way, because they want to ride around the town so we thought this would be great with the police officers showing them the proper way to be safe.”
Amherstburg Police Services would like to thank all of their sponsors who helped put on another successful event, and they look forward to continuing with the event next year.

“It’s so awesome to be part of an event that celebrates being in Amherstburg, summer, fun and safety because these little kids need to know how to be safe out there,” said Wells. “To be a part of something that promotes a safe environment is awesome.”

Outgoing Rotary president reflects on term, hopes club grows in future



By Ron Giofu


It started with a visit to a local tea room almost nine years ago and led to four terms as president of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg.

Now, Lena Lazanja is moving out of that role thankful she took it on in the first place.

“It’s been quite the ride,” she said.

Lazanja admits she didn’t know the scope of what Rotary accomplishes both locally and internationally, the latter seeing projects done in third-world countries to improve the quality of life there.

“I’m proud of that,” said Lazanja. “I think that’s the one thing that encourages me to carry on.”

Lazanja originally became president in 2011-12 and remained in that position in the 2012-13 year. She stepped back for one year but the president’s job was hers again in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 years.

Rotary terms start July 1 each year.

“It’s nice to belong to this family,” she said.

Being involved with the Rotary Club of Amherstburg has assisted Lazanja in many ways, Lazanja continued. She was new to town when she joined and it has helped her get to know the community, learn leadership skills and build relationships.


“Rotary has helped me meet new people, it has helped me with employment,” she said. “We’re all volunteers. It’s a wonderful way to come into Amherstburg and become part of the community. I encourage anyone that is new to the community or anyone who wants to give to the community to come to the Ribfest or come to a meeting and see what it’s all about.”

The local Rotary Club has 14 members, she said, and they are always looking for more. She said the Rotary-sponsored Interact Club at General Amherst High School is growing and that could lead to a boost in Rotary membership down the line.

The club has performed a number of activities, projects and events in Amherstburg over the years, perhaps the biggest of which is Ribfest. This year’s event is scheduled for July 8-10 at Centennial Park and Lazanja states “a lot of people don’t understand that it’s a Rotary event.”

Lazanja said one of her biggest accomplishments as president was a smoke alarm initiative done several years ago in conjunction with the Amherstburg Fire Department. She said she wrote the grant and it allowed for door-to-door distribution of smoke detectors in rural areas.

“It was a great accomplishment because it received, at that time, national recognition,” said Lazanja, noting the joint project was written up in a firefighter publication.

That project also received an award from Rotary District 6400, which not only encompasses clubs in this part of Ontario, but stretches into Michigan and Ohio as well.

“I got to ride on a fire truck. Who doesn’t want to ride on a fire truck?” she joked.

Lazanja has also helped with such projects as bicycle rodeos and the Amherstburg Classic golf tournament, the latter that has helped other organizations in the community. One such organization has been the AMA Sportsman’s Association, who also has programming to assist local youth.

The upcoming “Fill a Backpack” event at Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) is another project the Rotary Club has recently been involved with, as they hosted a chicken dinner at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 which attracted over 60 people.

“I was the president and I get to be the face (of the club) a lot of the time but, really, there isn’t anything I could do without the rest of the club,” she said.

In addition to thanking her fellow club members, she also thanked the volunteers that have helped with Rotary events, including the 200-250 that help out at Ribfest.

Lazanja said she will still remain as a member of the Rotary Club but she also plans to get involved with other groups and causes. She wishes incoming Rotary president Laura Jurilj the best and said she is “confident and comfortable in her following in my footsteps. She’ll do a great job, for sure.”

Rotary has enriched her life, she added.

“I’m so glad I stumbled into a tea room and eventually became president of such a wonderful group,” said Lazanja.

Erie Shores Hospice celebrates official opening



By Ron Giofu


Dignitaries and residents from around Essex County packed into a tent on the grounds of the new Erie Shores campus of the Hospice of Windsor-Essex County to officially open the new ten-bed facility.

The home is the first satellite residential campus in Canada and its opening saw greetings brought from Chatham-Ken-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls and Chatham-Kent-Leamington MP Dave Van Kesteren, but also greetings sent on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well.

The ribbon was officially cut last Wednesday afternoon for the Hospice of Windsor-Essex's new Erie Shores campus.

The ribbon was officially cut last Wednesday afternoon for the Hospice of Windsor-Essex’s new Erie Shores campus.

Essex County Warden Tom Bain thanked those who were behind the creation of the new facility as well as the team who implemented that vision. County council originally pledged $2 million towards the new Hospice back in 2014 and Bain recalled it didn’t take the council of the day very long to decide to fund it.

“It was a $2 million donation and it took about five minutes (to discuss),” said Bain. “That support is there and will continue to be there from county council.”

Leamington Mayor John Paterson, whose municipality hosts the new Erie Shores campus, pointed out that many groups and charities from around the area helped fundraise for the new building. He said the new facility will give families with terminally ill loved ones a chance to “walk, ponder, grieve and clear their minds.”

Paterson reminded the public the Hospice is for all Essex County families.

“It’s not the Leamington Hospice, it’s the Erie Shores Hospice,” he said later in the evening at county council’s meeting. “It’s there for everyone.”

Gary Switzer, CEO of the Erie-St. Clair Local Integration Network (LHIN) praised the work of executive director Carol Derbyshire and credited her for her efforts locally.

Warden Tom Bain addresses the large crowd that gathered for the Erie Shores Hospice campus opening April 6.

Warden Tom Bain addresses the large crowd that gathered for the Erie Shores Hospice campus opening April 6.

“When you talk about Hospice in Ontario, you better mention Carol’s name in the same sentence,” he said.

Switzer also pointed out the campus was built thanks to contributions from the entire region.

“It’s a gift for the entire community by the entire community,” he said.

Hospices has learned “nothing is impossible if you have the right energy and the right team of people,” added Dr. Mary Broga, chair of Hospice’s board of directors.

One of the contributors to the capital campaign were five area Rotary Clubs – Amherstburg, Harrow, Essex, Cottam and Leamington. Rotary Club of Amherstburg president Lena Lazanja stated “it makes you feel good” to be involved with a project like the Erie Shores Hospice campus.

Local Rotary Clubs pledged $50,000 towards a room at the Erie Shores Hospice, with that being spread over five years. She believed the opening shows the connection between politicians and community members across the county.

“It’s beautiful to see this dream come to fruition,” said Lazanja.

General Amherst Interact club hosts fundraiser for Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association



Special to the RTT


A group high school students from General Amherst who are part of the local Interact Club have teamed up to host a fundraiser for the Windsor Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA).

WETRA is committed to improving the quality of life of persons with physical, mental, and emotional challenges through equine related therapy. Financial donations are critical to run this facility and its programs, the keep the cost of riding sessions to a minimum for people who benefit from its programming.

These student leaders got the idea from participating in the annual Youth Leadership Conference hosted by the neighbouring Rotary Club of LaSalle Centennial, where they learned about WETRA and its commitment to improving the life of children who face obstacles. The students soon became committed to helping the centre.

Becky Mills, managing director of WETRA, said that she is extremely appreciative of the community’s support in ensuring that the centre’s programming remains available and affordable for the children who need it most.

In order to kick start the fundraising campaign, one General Amherst student – Alyssa Jones – has already raised over $350 by asking her dance group at Cat’s Meow to dedicate a holiday fundraising effort to this cause.

The chicken wing fundraiser will take place Feb. 17 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus at 190 Richmond Street in Amherstburg. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at General Amherst High School or from any Interact Club member.