Terry Jones

Jones Cookoff raises thousands for Essex County Heroes

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 6th annual Jones Cookoff was held Sunday and the Essex County Heroes will benefit big time.

The cookoff, held at the home of Terry and Lisa Jones, raised thousands for the Heroes, an athletic club that started in Amherstburg 14 years ago for people with intellectual disabilities. A final total was not known as of press time, but it is expected to far exceed the $30,000 raised last year.

The Heroes are a partnership between Community Living Essex County and the Amherstburg Police Service with Michelle Jones-Rousseau and Mike Cox being co-founders. Jones-Rousseau said she wanted her son Kyle to be able to play basketball and the idea grew from there.

The cookoff began as a way to celebrate the birthday of Terry and Lisa’s daughter Mackie and it now raises thousands annually.

“We have amazing support,” said Jones-Rousseau. “From my perspective, I am so appreciative of all the friends that have gone along with this and helped out.”

Heros co-founder Mike Cox (below) dressed as Superman while co-founder Michelle Jones-Rousseau (with brother Terry, above), was also in superhero attire at last Sunday’s cookoff.

The cookoff sees friends, family and business associates of the Jones family gather, cook over an open fire and serve it to the hundreds that attend. Everything from chili, soup, crepes, perogies, “Heroes Gyros” and more were served Sunday.

People dressed in costume and got into the spirit of the event.

“They jumped in and supported the event. They went along with it,” said Jones-Rousseau.

The Essex County Heroes have had an “amazing year,” she added, as not only do they have basketball weekly at both General Amherst High School and Essex District High School, but they also have teamed with Group Hug Apparel to offer hip hop classes in Kingsville and swimming in Leamington.

“This is all from the donations from the Jones annual cookoff,” said Jones-Rousseau. “Everyone is very enthusiastic to make plans on how to get our club even bigger.

The Heroes have over 160 members, she added.

“We’re growing all the time,” she said.

Terry Jones added that he and Lisa are pleased to help and noted they have a lot of fun doing it.

“It’s for a great cause,” he said. “There is a lot of great friends and family. You can’t ask for a better deal.”

Numerous businesses and companies helped sponsor the event and make donations, something he said they are very grateful for.

Jones, who is Jones-Rousseau’s brother, also noted that everyone gets into the fun of it, with some dressing up in costumes. He called the volunteers with the Heroes “angels” and said they go above and beyond to help out.

“It’s all about helping to support them,” he said.

For more information on the Heroes, visit the group’s Facebook page.

Demolition resumes at Duffy’s site after delays

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Delays have occurred in the demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn but the town’s chief administrative officer states the goal is still to be able to use the site during the Canuck It Up Festival.

Crews could be seen at points last week working at the site as demolition appears to have resumed.

CAO John Miceli said there were issues that caused the demolition to be delayed. One of the issues was a motorcycle crash that injured Jones Group owner Terry Jones.

A Jones Group excavator was seen working at the site of the former Duffy’s Motor Inn Monday morning. Demolition had been delayed at the site but has now resumed.

A Jones Group excavator was seen working at the site of the former Duffy’s Motor Inn Monday morning. Demolition had been delayed at the site but has now resumed.

“We are working with the Jones Group to provide us with a revised schedule as there was a couple of things that did delay the project,” said Miceli. “The first was Terry’s untimely accident and the second was an order that was issued to the Jones Group by the Ministry (of Labour) which has subsequently been lifted.”

Miceli pointed out the Ministry of Labour “has some overarching powers and on this project was seeking written protocols on the demolition process. Unfortunately this  was complicated from a timing perspective with Terry’s untimely accident and has caused some delays.”

The CAO added: “I have been advised by the Jones Group that they will be working diligently to make up time so that we can have access to the site in time for Canuck it Up. I know that the Jones Group knows how important this festival is for the Town and they want to deliver for us.”

The Canuck It Up Festival is Aug. 5-6.

Fort Fun Centre should be fully operational later this year

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Fort Family Fun Centre’s plans should come to fruition by the fall, according to its owners.

The official groundbreaking for the facility was Friday morning with owners Terry Jones and Brad Hearn, their family, business associates and town officials on hand for the event.

“We’re converting something old into something new,” said Hearn, as part of the ceremony outside the facility that once housed the Verdi Club. “We think we’ve got something new for the town of Amherstburg.”

The proposed new look of what the Fort Family Fun Centre is shown above. (Special to the RTT)

The proposed new look of what the Fort Family Fun Centre is shown above. (Special to the RTT)

To symbolize the change in ownership, Hearn covered the Verdi Club logo that was on the lectern with a logo for the Fort Family Fun Centre.

The Fort Family Fun Centre currently has 40 employees and Hearn said they plan to more than double that number.

“It should be close to 100 when we are done,” he said. “We think it’s good for the town.”

The restaurant portion of the building – known as “The Barracks” – is complete as are renovations to the pavilion with other interior work to include a bowling alley, arcade, party room and laser tag arena. Hearn said the bowling alley should see work done in the next four to six weeks or so.

Other exterior work includes a go-kart track, a new façade to the building and about 200 campsites. Hearn said they plan on getting the façade work underway in the coming weeks with the overall timeline for completion of most of the work in roughly three months.

The Fort Fun Centre, formerly the Verdi Club, will have various uses. (Special to the RTT)

The Fort Fun Centre, formerly the Verdi Club, will have various uses. (Special to the RTT)

The campground may have to wait until next year, he added. Sand volleyball courts are now available.

People from Amherstburg have been loyal and are supporting their new venture, said Hearn, but added they want to be a regional attraction.

“We want to pull from all over Essex County,” said Hearn.

Hearn and Jones have long discussed creating a family fun project in Amherstburg and were presented the option of the Verdi Club property when it came up for sale.

“It’s all coming together,” said Hearn. “We just keep adding things. Hopefully we don’t run out of room.”

Jones said they’ve been talking about a bowling alley or some sort of venture for years and everything came to fruition when the Verdi Club came up for sale.

“Brad’s the best partner you could ever have,” said Jones. “He’s good with people. He likes to have fun and we like to have fun together.”

They are trying to create jobs as well as an attraction, he added, also stating they want to bring in people from around Windsor-Essex County. He said they have an “aggressive” construction schedule but that is by design.

“We’ve got to keep moving in order to keep the excitement building,” he said.

Owners Brad Hearn and Terry Jones (left) and their staff held an official groundbreaking ceremony last Friday morning.

Owners Brad Hearn and Terry Jones (left) and their staff held an official groundbreaking ceremony last Friday morning.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the location is special due to its history.

“This location means a lot to me and many other people in town,” said DiCarlo, calling it an “Italian cultural hub” for Amherstburg.

However, he praised Hearn and Jones for their vision and said it will be not only a boost for Amherstburg, but for Windsor-Essex County as well.

“We are very grateful they are creating another attraction,” the mayor stated.

DiCarlo said Hearn and Jones as well as their businesses have shown a commitment to Amherstburg through their investments and their charitable support of local causes.

“This is another example,” said DiCarlo.

The Fort Family Fun Centre is located at 689 Texas Road. Their website is www.thefortfuncentre.com.

Verdi Club to transform into family entertainment complex

 

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

After more than 50 years as an Amherstburg institution, the Verdi Club will be undergoing a complete facelift and opening as a family-friendly entertainment centre.

The club was purchased by the Jones Group and Don Hearn and Sons Inc. and will be renamed The Fort. According to Brad Hearn, he and Jones Group president Terry Jones have been kicking around the idea of opening a family entertainment complex for over a decade.

The bar and restaurant area of the former Verdi Club receives some renovations prior to re-opening as The Fort. The restaurant will be open by the end of January. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

The bar and restaurant area of the former Verdi Club receives some renovations prior to re-opening as The Fort. The restaurant will be open by the end of January. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

“I’ve always wanted to open something that had family fun,” Hearn said. “My kids are growing up and it was always a pain driving to the other end of town or out of town. We felt there was a need for something more local.”

In addition to a bar and restaurant with “different, more pub-style food,” The Fort will also eventually include bowling lanes, go-karts, laser tag, outdoor volleyball and an arcade. Hearn and Jones have invested several million dollars into renovations, as the building itself required several upgrades as well.

“The more we think about it, the more land we think we might need,” said Hearn. He added that the bar and restaurant would be open by the end of January and have a casual, sports-bar feel to it. Reservations for Super Bowl Sunday are already flying, with only around 30 available spots left.

The six bowling lanes, which will be installed within the next few months, will be located in the former bocce ball courts and extend out to the hall area. The hall will essentially be eliminated, aside from a small party room that will hold around 100 people.

According to Hearn, former Verdi Club members have been dropping in to see progress on the renovations and have warmly received the new look. He’s hoping the members continue to drop in with their grandchildren once The Fort is officially open, stressing that the whole family can participate in the activities being offered.

“The arcade games aren’t just for kids. I’m 46 years old and I love playing pinball,” he said.

The bocce ball courts of the former Verdi Club will be replaced by six bowling lanes as part of its transformation into The Fort family entertainment centre. The lanes, along with an arcade, laser tag and go-karts, are expected to officially open in the next two-to-three months. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

The bocce ball courts of the former Verdi Club will be replaced by six bowling lanes as part of its transformation into The Fort family entertainment centre. The lanes, along with an arcade, laser tag and go-karts, are expected to officially open in the next two-to-three months. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

Hearn isn’t a first-time investor in Amherstburg, and The Fort likely won’t be his last investment in town. He said one of the main reasons he continues to put money into Amherstburg is because it’s proven to be very “development friendly” over the years.

“There’s probably a little bit less red tape than if you wanted to open up in a big city. They seem to make decisions a little quicker because they want the jobs,” Hearn said. “It doesn’t take months to ask for things and get answers on them.”

The Fort is expected to have its grand opening within the next two-to-three months.

Jones Family cookoff raises $30,000 for Essex County Heroes

 

 

An invitation-only cookoff has once again raised big bucks for the Essex County Heroes athletic club.

The Jones Family cookoff, held at the home of Terry and Lisa Jones, raised $30,000 for the Heroes Saturday night. It featured teams creating their own menus with the the food cooked on an open fire then served to the crowd of well over 100 at the dinner.

The friendly competition was judged by those in attendance with the winner getting bragging rights among Jones friends and business associates.

The event is done in conjunction with celebrating Mackie Jones’ birthday, with Mackie being the 19-year-old daughter of Terry and Lisa.

Lana Cremasco, Rae Ann Copat, Mary Pacanins and Lisa Hearn get into the spirit of things at last Saturday’s Jones cookoff.

Lana Cremasco, Rae Ann Copat, Mary Pacanins and Lisa Hearn get into the spirit of things at last Saturday’s Jones cookoff.

“Every year I share my birthday. We bring the community together to raise money,” said Mackie.

Mackie added friends and family get together and have fun cooking for a good cause.

Mark Vanderbeck said he is one of the many who enjoy getting involved.

“The kids deserve everything they get,” said Vanderbeck.

Vanderbeck and John Vitella helped build a homemade pizza oven specifically for the event. Others hired belly dancers, made banners and dressed in costume to make the event more enjoyable.

“It’s so much fun. We think about it all year long. It’s a year-long process,” said Vanderbeck.

Michelle Jones-Rousseau, co-founder of the Heroes, said her brother and sister-in-law’s event supports what they do and people look forward to it.

The Essex County Heroes is supported by the Amherstburg Police Service and Community Living Essex County.