It was a busy year in Napanee and surrounding areas over the past 12 month. Here is the first of a two-part review of the stories that made headlines in this newspaper.
– Napanee OPP detachment commander Insp. Pat Finnegan announced he’d be leaving the force after 30 years of policing to start a teaching career at Loyalist College. Finnegan said he’d still volunteer to help the municipality with a community safety and wellbeing plan as well as chairing the situation table collective that brought police and community agencies together.
– A blackened frame was all that remained of a barn that sheltered a dozen animals the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre after an early January blaze. Firefighters from Greater Napanee, Stone Mills, and Deseronto were able to limit the damage and just one pig and one rabbit lost their lives. Volunteers and community members rallied for Sandy Pines, contributing hay and straw to replace the feed that burned and vowing to support an effort to rebuild the barn.
– Beverly Street residents successfully convinced Greater Napanee council to use alpha-numeric numbering for a new development on their street. Previously, staff had suggested the residents of about 70 existing housing units would have to add 100 to their mailing addresses.
– A familiar face was poised to jump into the much-publicized Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race. Todd Smith, whose riding included Deseronto and Tyendinaga Township, contemplated stepping forward to replace ousted leader Patrick Brown.
– Napanee’s Meighen Hodgen was in the top 15 of 33 contestants at the Miss Ontario World beauty pageant, earning her the Miss Greater Napanee crown and allowing her to compete in the Miss World Canada national competition.
– Lennox and Addington County purchased the Denbigh ambulance base for $70,000, assuring services would continue from that northern station. Emergency services manager Mark Schjerning also confirmed the County had a conditional offer on land in Centreville for a new base to support 12-hour service in Stone Mills and it continued to seek a property for a permanent base near Amherstview.
n Stone Mills Township completed the purchase of the Tamworth Medical Centre for $290,000. Chief administrative officer Bryan Brooks said the support would help the township attract doctors to take over for physicians in Tamworth who intended to retire.
– Lennox and Addington County officials met with Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli to seek provincial support to upgrade an aging concrete surface on County Rd. 4. Estimates pegged the work at $12 million.
– The investigation into a suspicious early morning fire Jan. 2 at the Palace Village led police to arrest two men in connection with a rash of arsons around the Napanee area and in Prince Edward County dating back to October.
– Town staff juggled its fleet requests to fit within budget. Though 11 vehicles fit the formula for replacement in 2018, staff chose seven vehicles — four pick-up trucks, a dump truck, a sedan, and a passenger van — with a combined cost of $333,000 to take into the budget process.
– MP Mike Bossio announced a $325,000 federal investment that would help FireRein take its groundbreaking fire-suppression product Eco-Gel to global markets.
– After receiving a request to give $328,000 annually to support redevelopment at Kingston hospitals, County council voted 4-3 in a recorded vote to make a one-year contribution of $60,000. The County arrived at the number by reviewing contribution levels from neighbouring counties. Ultimately, councillors decided the newly elected council in the fall should be deciding what levels it wishes to support the hospitals.
– Newburgh celebrated the 25th anniversary of Canal Bash with perfect weather for hockey and skating on the canal, a bonfire, pancake breakfast and other activities.
n Deputy mayor Marg Isbester asked to a revised code of conduct formulated and passed by April that would take into account the changing landscape for councillors since the advent of social media.
– Dr. Mark de Wolde, a veterinarian with clinics in Napanee, Bath, and Kingston, was recognized as the sole recipient of the Ontario Veterinary Medicine Association’s Award of Merit. He received the high honour from his peers for his work in professional associations and within his community.
– The Napanee Raiders set division and franchise records for points, finishing the year with a 37-2-1 record, good for 75 points and first place. Leading scorer Ryan Casselman also completed a season to remember, winning the PJHL scoring title with 48 goals and 69 assists for 117 points.
– Longtime Napanee Legion volunteer Jack Magilton was recognized with the Meritorious Service Medal, arguably the highest honour the Royal Canadian Legion can bestow. A life member of Branch 137, Magilton has held nearly every role in the Napanee branch since his retirement from the military in 2004.
– Downtown business mainstay Doris Lucas was presented the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteering by Bossio at Greater Napanee’s mayor’s levee. Over a 70-year period, Lucas served as a mentor to countless entrepreneurs and played a key role in reviving Dundas Street as a vibrant business hub.
Mayor Gord Schermerhorn reflected on 20 years of amalgamation at the levee. He was joined by Greater Napanee’s first mayor, Bud Calver, and played a video from his predecessor Dave Remington. Schermerhorn hoped the community would continue to stay united as it builds on its successes from those first 20 years.
– Two local municipalities benefitted from gas tax funding through the Investing In Canada infrastructure plan. Bossio announced Loyalist Township received $1.64 million and Deseronto, $281,000. The MP was particularly excited about Deseronto Transit as he said the small town was receiving money larger municipalities weren’t due to its ability to innovate and connect its residents to jobs, medical appointments and other out-of-town services.
– Landowners along the proposed transmission line of the 54-megawatt Loyalist Solar Project in Stone Mills petitioned council to bury all transmission lines associated with the project due to their concerns with sightlines, trees cover, and wildlife. Developer BluEarth Renewables Inc. balked at the price of that change, but offered a compromise to move an additional 2.75 km of line underground.
– Greater Napanee council was split on how to deal with property concerns in the town. After a deputation from Gloria Alcock and Cathy Conrad requesting a citizen-led property standards committee, council asked staff to provide direction for a later meeting.
– The Raiders’ promising season drew to an abrupt end as the Amherstview Jets capped a seven-game upset. The Jets received stellar goaltending from Alexei Masanko and played a grinding, physical brand of hockey. The deciding game was a 4-3 Jets win at the SPC. Tied 1-1, the Jets got two goals six minutes apart in the second period to take control.
– The Napanee Peewee BB Stars earned an Ontario Minor Hockey Association provincial championship. The Stars swept Stirling and Prince Edward County, beat Collingwood 3-0-1, and downed St. Mary’s 3-1 in the final. The win marked Napanee’s first peewee championship since 1984-1985. The peewees were also efficient in their regular season, posting a 22-0-0 mark.
– Police charged 42-year-old Andrew Slapkauskas, of Belleville, with four charges including first-degree murder, attempted murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and flight from police after he led the OPP on a high-speed chase through town and crashed into another vehicle on County Rd. 2 between Switzerville Rd. and Old Hamburg Rd. A female motorist was killed in the crash.
– Ground was broken on a 66-room Comfort Inn Hotel on Community Rd, north of Hwy 401 in Napanee. The hotel was expected to open toward the end of the year. Choice Hotels director of franchise development Graham Marsh said the company’s research showed Napanee is a growing destination market.
– Napanee residents joined with people across Canada and elsewhere in the world to pay tribute to the 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team killed in a tragic bus accident and the other 13 survivors on that bus. Local hockey organizations provided tribute books for people to sign, councillors donated $700 from their own pockets to the cause, and many took part in rituals like leaving hockey sticks outside their doors or wearing hockey sweaters to work or school as a nation grieved the tragedy.
– The Community Foundation for Lennox and Addington handed out $10,000 in grants on behalf of the town. Some $5,500 was given to Morningstar Mission, $3,500 to Habitat for Humanity, and $500 each to St. Alan’s Anglican Church and the United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park.
– Reeve Eric Smith cast the deciding vote as Stone Mills council turned down a zoning change for a temporary seasonal campground at Carroll Road, proposed by Freedom Fields Naturist Ranch owners Yvonne Gibson and Hector Gravelle. The vote went against the recommendation of the township’s planning consultant, IBI Group’s Mark Tour, setting up the potential for Local Planning Appeal Tribunal challenge. Touw said the planning process wasn’t designed to address the issue of public nudity, which appeared to be a central aspect of a dispute between the property owners and their neighbours who opposed the application.
– The team responsible for the redevelopment of the Gibbard Furniture Shops property — Doornekamp Construction, SilverCreek Communities, and Studio JCI — unveiled plans for the Gibbard District condominium development. The project would feature two towers five- and six-storeys tall with every unit having a view of the water. There would also be shopping and restaurants as well as a large outdoor, public event square. The team hoped to proceed with the 143-unit development within two years. SilverCreek vice-president Don Jackson suggested the development would be “the single biggest investment in Napanee in the next 10 years.’
– Napanee’s Britt Benn competed for Canada in rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games. Benn contributed a try in the team’s opening game. The squad fell just shy of the podium with a fourth-place finish.
– The Napanee OPP charged a 62-year-old Stone Mills woman under the Criminal Code for cruelty to animals after being called to a Moscow home that allegedly contained over 50 living cats and several dead ones. A dog was also found locked inside a crate. The OPP and Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) investigated the findings.
– NDSS gymnasts Kylie Mosgrove, Taylor Thompson, Trinity Herrington, Brenna Duncan and Bailey Duncan earned a Level 5 team gold at the OFSAA provincial championship. Thompson also earned an individual gold on beam. Herrington earned silver in the same competition.
– The Napanee BIA introduced Tiffany Lloyd as its now office manager. Vice-chair Sondra Elliott said the board of directors came away impressed by her personable attitude, initiative, and background in communications.
– After an at-times heated public debate, Stone Mills Township welcomed the Hyperborea arts event back to the municipality with stipulations.
The township would host the event on its property on Doyle Road so long as organizers made it an age-of-majority event and worked out an appropriate sublease with the farmer who had been working the land. In 2017, the Burning Man-style event was held at Freedom Fields on Carroll Road. Neighbours there expressed their opposition to the festival returning.
– Greater Napanee councillors questioned the Ministry of Transportation’s plans to reroute Hwy 401 exit ramps to Palace Road. The proposed changes could have resulted in six households being expropriated and other properties being devalued. Councillors suggested there was no statistical problem with the interchange. Ultimately, council voted to have staff meet with the MTO to discuss its concerns.
– Greater Napanee continued its phase-in process to equalize taxes in urban and rural areas. Councillors passed a budget that would offer urban residents an average decrease of $43.06 in 2018, while rural ratepayers would see an average increase of $52.21.
– Trustees at the Old Hay Bay Church announced they’d raised over $117,000 toward their $300,000 goal to renovate the historic site. The money would allow the first phase of work to begin, including replacement of the clapboard siding and windows of the circa-1792 building and repointing of the foundation. It was thought the last time the siding was replaced was in the 1970s.
– Loyalist Township councillors voted against listing 57 properties, mostly in Bath, on a municipal register of cultural significance. While the list would simply give the municipality 60 days notice of intent to demolish property, councillors did not wish to limit property owners’ freedom to use their properties as they wish.
– Local Albert College student Aidan Mundle earned a bronze medal at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa for his project to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from engines. That placed Mundle in the top 70 projects in his age group across Canada. He earned scholarship offers from the University of Ottawa, Carleton, and Western. Mundle’s younger brother, Elliot, and Isabella Isbester also exhibited at the fair.
– Casselman was selected as the recipient of the Ontario Hockey Association’s Donald Sanderson Memorial Award for his desire, discipline, dedication, and deportment in the sport. The award, named after a former Raider who died due to an on-ice accident, was presented to just one player across all categories of junior hockey in Ontario and came with a $1,000 bursary.
– County council approved the expenditure of up-to-$567,517 toward the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s proposed $213-million public-private partnership to improve cellular communications across the region. The project was identified as a propriety for public safety and economic development. Council also approved spending $40,000 to study the technical requirements for improved upload and download speeds.
– NDSS students Logan Williams and Liam Alford showcased their auto body repair talents at the Skills Ontario Competition in Toronto and they walked away with gold and silver medals respectively.
– A pair of veteran deputy mayors were among the first to file nomination papers to run in the fall municipal election. In Greater Napanee, Marg Isbester filed to run for mayor the first day nominations opened, while in Loyalist Ric Bresee wasn’t much later to announce he was seeking the top job in that municipality.
– The Napanee OPP charged a 70-year-old Tyendinaga Township woman with mischief after horses were allowed to roam from their owner’s property in the area of Blessington and Weese roads. Police determined there was inadequate fencing at the property. The OSPCA was also called in to investigate animal welfare issues. The horses would be temporarily removed from the property until the fence could be upgraded.
– Despite hearing new concerns raised by Camden East residents about the Hyperborea arts festival moving to their community for the May long weekend, Stone Mills councillors defended their decision to let the festival go ahead.
– The Napanee and District Chamber of Commerce was pleased with the first incarnation of the Take Over, a one-day festival showcasing local food and beverages. Business manager Megan Smith said plans were already in the works for a repeat in 2019.
– Mary Beth DuChene’s Grade 3 class from Southview Public School moved into the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives for a week of classes about local history. The venture was supported by a Kingston-based charity called Beyond Classrooms, which strives to connect students with their communities.
– A small group of protesters gathered in front of Bossio’s Richmond Avenue constituency office to voice their opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion on environmental grounds. The 980-km expansion would more than double the number of barrels of bitumen leaving Alberta’s tar sands daily.
– Following an independent investigation of 20 allegations of workplace harassment, Loyalist Township council sanctioned Amherst Island representative Duncan Ashley under its code of conduct and workplace harassment policy.
The veteran councillor would have his remuneration suspended for 90 days, he was removed from all his committee appointments, and restricted in his communications to staff and fellow councillors.
– The Progressive Conservatives rode an appetite for change to a strong majority at Queen’s Park, taking 76 seats in the June 7 election. The NDP became the opposition with 40 and the governing Liberals dropped to just seven seats. Locally, Hastings-Lennox and Addington followed the provincial trend with PC candidate Daryl Kramp elected with just over 50 per cent of the vote. The NDP’s Nate Smelle ran second and Liberal Tim Rigby third. Green candidate Sari Watson, Trillium candidate Lonnie Herrington, and Libertarian Greg Schofield also ran.
– Stone Mills resident Jen Baker was named the new practitioner of the year by the Canadian Pharmacists Association. Not even five-years into her career, Baker was the vice-chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. She served as a casual pharmacist at Lennox and Addington County General Hospital and she worked with Whole Health Pharmacy Partners, serving independent pharmacies.
– Kingston Literacy and Skills opened a new classroom facility at 9 Advance Ave. The new fully-accessible facility was three times the size of its previous downtown literacy facility and it offered new digital technology for literacy upgrading and workforce preparation.
– LACGH was working with a new Breathe Easy Program, which allowed COPD patients to use a tablet to connect with doctors from the comfort of their own homes.
The support allowed for early intervention to reduce repeat hospitalization.
– Hospice Lennox and Addington reflected on an ever-increasing need for palliative care and bereavement services at its annual general meeting. Executive director Kim Sunstrum said there has been a 126-per-cent increase in clients supported over the past five years with a 40-per-cent increase last year alone.
The organization also announced volunteer Len Fardella was inducted into the June Callwood Circle of Outstanding Volunteers, a top honour for hospice volunteers in Ontario.
– The Greater Napanee Pool Task Force presented estimates for two pools — a $9.9-million 21,000-square-foot facility and a $14.5-million multiuser 32,300-square-foot facility — to council. They asked for, and were given with unanimous support, permission to seek out funding methods to pay for a pool and to negotiate in good faith with the YMCA as a potential facility operator. Some councillors, including Roger Cole, said they’d like to se a more affordable aquatics facility.
– Greater Napanee council denied a temporary zoning approval that would allow Scott Drader to house people in trailers on his four-acre Dairy Avenue property. Drader told council about 40 people had permanent homes there. While Schermerhorn suggested Drader apply for a permanent zoning change, Drader said he was advised that could cost about $100,000. Staff members from the town and Prince Edward-Lennox and Addington Social Services planned to work with the residents to. Find them alternative accommodations.
– Napanee’s Sarah Condon earned Canadian and Pan-American championships at the Canadian Masters Weightlifting Championship in Gaspe, Que. She won her age bracket in the 58-kg weight class by lifting 45 kg in the snatch and 52 kg in the clean-and-jerk. Condon completes with the Victory Barbell Club. The wins allowed her to qualify for world championship competition.
– NDSS distance runner Carter Free placed second provincially in the 1,500-metre race at OFSAA at York University. Free also finished 10th in the 3,000-metre race.
– Spencer Chatterton and Hayley Lambert captured the C.S. Froud Trophy as NDSS’s top senior athletes.
– NDSS educator Kate Myers was recognized with the Limestone District School Board’s J.C. McLeod Excellence in Teaching Award. Myers was recognized for her ability to adapt lessons to meet students needs in her time teaching math, physics, and science and serving as a department head and vice-principal.
– Insp. Scott Semple was introduced as the new OPP detachment commander in Napanee, but he was anything but a new face. The Amherstview native spent all but three years of his policing career at the detachment in various roles. Semple said his priorities included efficient management of resources, community engagement, traffic control and Hwy 401 safety, and reducing controlled substance and property crime.
– Deseronto investigated the possibility of disaster relief funding for its residents affected by flooding after a torrential downpour filled basements along several streets. Some residents also had sewage backed up into their homes.
– Some 160 students graduated from NDSS. Hayley Lambert was name valedictorian and she also earned a host of academic awards after graduating with a 95-per-cent average.
At the convocation ceremony, the school also announced that Britt Benn and Angela Desveaux would be inducted into the school’s Hall of Achievement.
– Napanee came close, but ultimately Taber, Alta was selected as the Coors Banquet One Horse Town and the host of a free country music concert featuring Dallas Smith, Tim Hicks, and Kira Isabella. Napanee had been one of five finalists in the Internet voting competition.
– The Napanee BIA hosted a party on Dundas Street, called “This Street Cares” to celebrate the end of the first phase of Barr Construction’s Diggin’ Downtown work between Centre Street and John Street. The event allowed not-for-profit organizations to offer activities and information booths, while businesses offered sidewalk sales.
– Loyalist Township voted to spend $200,000 on a feasibility study and integrated site concept to move its administrative offices to the site of the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre in Amherstview. The existing offices in Odessa lacked space, while the recreation centre’s pool was badly in need of efficiency upgrades. The provision of additional recreation facilities and community services in a hub model would also be considered.
– Federal environment and climate change minister Catherine McKenna was in Napanee to announce the Nature Conservancy of Canada had purchased an additional 78 acres of the Napanee Plain Alvar Nature Reserve, a habitat for 19 at-risk species including the eastern loggerhead shrike. The purchase expanded the reserve’s total area to 300 acres. The price of the purchase was not disclosed.
– Ballots for the fall municipal election looked to be full as the filing deadlines passed. In Greater Napanee, five would run for mayor, two deputy mayor, and 17 candidates for five ward positions. In Stone Mills, three were running for reeve, two for deputy reeve and 11 for council. Loyalist had three running for mayor, two for deputy mayor, three for council in Bath and six for council in Ernestown. Nathan Townend was acclaimed on Amherst Island. Deseronto would see Dan Johnston and Steven Everhardus acclaimed as mayor and deputy mayor. Five candidates, including Mayor Norm Clark, were running for council seats. Also, Greater Napanee trustee Laurie French would face her first challenge in many years from Roberta Lamb.
– Napanee was well represented at the WBSC Junior Men’s World Softball Championship in Prince Albert, Sask. Pitcher Riley Manion and catcher and team captain Brendan Hagerman helped Canada to a fourth-place finish among 13 teams. Manion tossed a complete game no-hitter against the Czech Republic, while Hagerman hit .483 in 29 at-bats, driving in seven runs and scoring 11 times.
– Benn competed for Canada at the Rugby World Cup in San Francisco. The Canadians placed seventh.
– Braden Hart, 17, was set to represent his province at the 2018 Football Canada Cup. The NDSS linebacker was considered one of the top gridiron prospects in the country.
– Kramp was selected as the Progressive Conservatives’ caucus chair at Queen’s Park, a nod to years of federal government experience.
– Beaver cartoonist Tim Nimigan placed first in the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards for best local cartoon in a newspaper with a circulation of 10,000-plus.
The retired NDSS art teacher won for an “Our Town” entry that lampooned the awarding of participation trophies.
– Napanee council voted to explore the possibility of reinstating advanced-green turn signals at the corner of Centre and Bridge streets. Isbester said she heard multiple complaints from members of the public and said she had also seen numerous close calls at the intersection.
– Lennox and Addington County made changes at its highest collision intersection at the corner of County Rds. 1 and 10 (Belleville and Deseronto roads). Extra stop signs and an overhead flashing light were removed to simplify directions for drivers.
L&A County and Tyendinaga Township had discussed a joint application to install a roundabout at the location. Tyendinaga applied for Ontario Community Infrastructure Funding for 90 per cent of its half of the $1.8-million project cost. L&A would draw on reserves should Tyendinaga succeed in getting funding.
– It was a record year for the Prince Edward-Lennox and Addington Community Futures Development Corporation as it offered $1.8 million in lending to new clients. The federal agency helped create or support 312 jobs in the two counties in 2017-2018.
– French was named the new president of the Canadian School Boards Association. The five-term Greater Napanee trustee with the Limestone District School Board had previously served as president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association. She said her involvement with the organization could help lead to information sharing about best practices for rural schools.
– Napanee unveiled its own version of the Hollywood sign in the Lions Park. Kathy Medd, a member of the Greater Napanee Arts and Culture Committee, saw similar signs elsewhere and decided it could be a popular attraction. She enlisted the help of Community Living Lennox and Addington to construct the large white lettering.
– While Loyalist Township councillors wished to leave heritage matters in the hands of property owners, there was a public outcry about Bath’s Jeptha Hawley House potentially being removed from a municipal heritage register. Its owner had requested it be removed.
Built around 1785, it was believed to be the oldest continuously occupied wood-frame home in all of Ontario.
Councillors unanimously voted to leave the property on the register.
Please see next week’s Beaver to revisit top stories from August to December.