Year in Review, Part 2: National events, political changes late in 2018

Members of the Napanee AFW Construction Express celebrate after defeating Chepstow in the gold medal game of the U19 Men's Fast Pitch Canadians. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

The following is the second installment of a two-part series looking back on the past year…

August

– High temperatures didn’t put a damper on the fun at the Napanee Fair as about 8,500 people were on the grounds over the Civic Weekend. While attractions like the midway and demolition derby drew crowds, the fair still had a strong agricultural focus — even if some animal shows were cancelled due to the heat. The Lennox and Addington County 4-H Association celebrated 100 years with a wide breadth of exhibits.

– MP Mike Bossio announced the federal government was entering into a $36-million partnership with Xplornet Communications Inc. to improve wireless infrastructure in Greater Napanee, Stone Mills, Deseronto, and surrounding areas. Xplornet would invest $25.2 million in a 480-km fibre optics network, while the government would kick in an additional $10.8 million.

The model would connect 38 institutions in 21 communities through smart cell technology at existing tower locations.

– Willowdale MPP Stan Cho reintroduced Todd Smith’s Garrett’s Legacy Act at Queen’s Park to bipartisan support. Politicians of all stripes pledged to support the introduction penalties for not anchoring portable soccer goals as they paid tribute to Napanee’s Garrett Mills. Mills’ parents Dave and Gwen were in the gallery as the bill passed second reading.

– The Bath business community was collecting money to help feed and rehome a population of feral cats on Main Street. For The Love of Ferals rescue founder Heather Patterson said feral cats are a problem in many communities and one that overwhelms the support available. She advocated for a trap-neuter-vaccinate-and-return strategy to decrease populations.

– Napanee’s Liam Swart swept nine sub-junior categories at the Provincial Trapshooting Association Championship. The Napanee and District Rod and Gun Club member earned the high all-around and high overall championships despite only shooting for five months prior to competing.

Risto Prii, left, had a chance to visit Kenn Morrison. The Estonian visitor had his bicycle stolen in Winnipeg on Canada Day and Morrison donated a new bicycle to help him continue traveling the world. (Adam Bramburger, staff)

  Local man Kenn Morrison displayed kindness to a cycling visitor from Estonia. After hearing that Risto Prii had his bicycle stolen in Winnipeg, Morrison arranged for the man to receive another one to continue on his trek around the world. The two developed a friendship and Prii came to visit Napanee.

Chris Craig-Walker of the Greater Napanee Emergency Services fire department hits the target as part of the FireFit course. The event, known as the toughest two minutes in sports, took place in August in Napanee. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

  Firefighters from across Canada and the United States competed in sweltering heat at the 2018 Regional FireFit Championships at the Napanee Fairgrounds. The timed course required competitors to raise up 60 stairs in full gear, pull a rope up a tower, run down stairs, hammer a Keiser, drag a hose, shoot a target with water and drag a 175-lb dummy 100 feet.

Australia’s Ashleigh Stebbeings placed second in the preliminaries with distance of 69 feet. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

– International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation president Jose Antonio Perez Priego called the 2018 world barefoot waterskiing championships on Dream Lake, east of Selby, “the best the worlds have ever been.” Five new world records were set on the man-made lake on Dwight Williams’ property.

Becky Moynes Meyer, of Belleville, represented Canada well by using a personal best jump of 13.7 metres to capture a bronze medal. (Adam Bramburger/staff)

It was also a banner competition for Canada as Belleville’s Becky Moynes Meyer reached the podium with a bronze medal in open jumps.

Perez Priego said he’d like to see more world-class events at the venue.

– The Napanee and Area Multicultural Association stepped forward to champion an affordable transit system that could partner with Deseronto Transit to cover the Belleville-Kingston corridor.  Founder Cortwright Christian said he hoped the association could convince council and other groups to start the organization that would run between Napanee and Kingston.

– More than 1,000 adventure seekers took part in Lennox and Addington’s sixth annual Mega Geocaching Event as they took to area roads to explore some of the 1,400 caches hidden locally.  Lead organizer Joe Tisdale said geocaching is responsible for a number of repeat visits to the region.

– Parishioners of Christ Church, Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory celebrated the 175th anniversary of the historic church as the 65th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation by completing renovations that were ongoing since 1998 at a cost of over $1.5 million.

– A Napanee mom used her nightmare situation to encourage fellow parents to be vigilant and educate their children about the dangers of discarded syringe needles. Amanda VanOrder’s daughter fell on a discarded needle at Rotary Park. The Napanee OPP was quick to offer support to VanOrder. It also offered public education about the proper use of the park and about safe needle disposal.

Andrew Tucker of the Napanee AFW Express. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

– The underdog AFW Construction Under-19 Express got a little revenge on their home diamond, defeating Chepstow Lang Farms 9-2 to clinch gold at the Softball Canada Under-19 Men’s Fast Pitch Championships.  The win came nearly a year to the day Chepstow beat Napanee at the 2017 event on Prince Edward Island.

The Express went 7-1 through the round robin, then swept through the playoffs undefeated.  Manion went 8-1 from the pitcher’s circle with just a 1.72 ERA over 56.2 innings. He struck out 102 batters. Hagerman led the team with a 19 hits, followed by Connor Brooks with 17. Manion was named the tournament’s playoff most valuable player and the round robin’s top pitcher. Hagerman and Brooks were also tournament all-stars.

– The Calderwood Napanee Mite Express finished second in the province. They found their way to the final in Ponsonby, but couldn’t catch top-seeded Chatsworth.

– Local rugby players Charlotte Elliott, Madelyn Marlow and Jasmine Dennis helped Eastern Ontario to win gold at the Eastern Canadian championship in Wolfville, N.S. Elliott, a team captain, would head to Carleton University in the fall, while her teammates would return to the NDSS Hawks.

September

– Enterprise photographer Samantha Fenwick, 17, was selected from about 52,000 entrants who submitted photos for inclusion on a Jones Soda Company bottle. The Ernestown Secondary School student’s winning photo depicted a Ferris wheel.

– Amherst Island woman Deborah Barrett filed an official complaint pursuant to the Municipal Act regarding the way Loyalist Township conducts its closed-door meetings. Barrett requested that an external investigator review whether council complied with the Act.  Mayor Bill Lowry said council reworked its procedural bylaw and said it was continuing to strive for greater transparency in its activities.

– Lennox and Addington County General Hospital chief of staff Dr. Kim Morrison said she believed productive talks had taken place in an effort to recruit new family physicians. She said she was hopeful that within a couple of months, there might be some announcements. Staffing was at a premium as Dr. Valli Hota retired from her practice, greatly increasing the number of patients without a family doctor.

The hospital did announce the recruitment of Dr. Jessica Andrews, a general community surgeon, who would replace the retiring Dr. Venketa Hota.

– Greater Napanee councillors took time to talk about Premier Doug Ford’s decision to use the notwithstanding clause, if necessary, to force the reduction in the size of Toronto council. Though some members of council were concerned with the precedent, council did not take any formal action.

– Greater Napanee’s arts and culture advisory committee handed out the 2018 Municipal Arts and Culture Awards. Jim Wood earned a lifetime achievement award for his efforts at the Lennox Community Theatre over a 20-year period.

The late Ernie Doughty also earned a lifetime achievement award. Noelle Maracle earned the first student artists award, while Martin Barstow was arts educator of the year. Barry Lovegrove earned an award for an established artist, while LACGH was given an award as a leading patron of the arts for the space it generously offers for local artists to showcase their work. Newburgh’s Dave Anderson, Viola Kalinowski, and Stacey Anderson were recognized for their outstanding event Art Among The Ruins.

-Donovan Near, a member of Napanee’s 224 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps was selected for a week-long trip of a lifetime aboard the historic HMCS Oriole from Kingston to Trois-Rivieres, Que.

– Lennox and Addington County council partnered with the United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington in the development of a youth services hub at the County Memorial Building. The United Way would commit to $45,000 in funding over two years, while PELASS would offer $10,000 to lease the former public health space in the building. Some 14 service agencies committed to offer support in the centre, while the Kingston Community Health Centre would fund a dedicated co-ordinator for the space.

– Lennox and Addington County won a pair of national marketing awards at the Economic Developers Association of Canada convention. One was for the Kidpreneur series, which helped Grade 6-8 students at area schools develop and present business ideas. The other was for the new Naturally L&A tourism branding.

– Loyalist Township accepted a staff recommendation that it not allocate any further water or sewer capacity within Amherstview, Odessa, or Bath. The decision came as staff believed sewage capacity could be an impediment to approvals in Amherstview and Odessa and water capacity an impediment in Bath.

From left, Dr. Andrei Garcia Popov, Dr. Heather Khey Beldman, and Dr. Nathaniel Hart have signed on work at the hospital and open a practice serving Napanee, Deseronto, and Tyendinaga Township. Photo by Adam Bramburger.

– Hastings County and Greater Napanee were successful in luring three new family doctors to the area through an incentive program offering $20,000 per year over a five year period to cover schooling costs.

Under the program, which was 70-per-cent funded by Hastings, the doctors would see the majority of their patients from southeast Hastings County.  Dr. Nathaniel Hart and Dr. Heather Khey Beldman would establish a clinic in Napanee by early November and each doctor was expected to take on 500 patients in the first year.

Dr. Andrei Garcia Popov is set to join the practice next year after receiving more emergency-related training.  The doctors and local politicians credited Dr. Kim Morrison for her recruitment efforts.  All three doctors plan to practice in LACGH as well as within the community.

October

– A pair of intersections — County Rd. 2/Deseronto Road and Bridge Street/Centre Street- were the major topics of discussion at Greater Napanee council in early October.

Chris Wagar, manager of roads, bridges for Lennox and Addington County, and Vanessa Skelton of GHD Pty LTD engineering were on hand to address concerns around those intersections-the first regarding safety, the other a lack of a left turn phase.

On the issues around County Rd. 2 and Deseronto Road, which has garnered a reputation as a high collision intersection, Wagar says they hope to have the funding to turn the two-way stop into a roundabout in place by January.

As for Bridge and Centre, council heard that there are no plans to install a left-turn lane phase to the existing traffic lights. That has been a common request among motorists, who have complained they are often unable to turn from Centre on Bridge due to heavy traffic heading north and south.

NDSS’ Braden Hart fired up after a big stop during a game with the NDSS Golden Hawks. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

– A strong showing for Team Ontario at the Football Canada Cup in July earned Napanee’s Braden Hart a spot on Canada’s U18 national team.

Hart was the Ontario’s lone linebacker named to Canada’s 40 man roster, which will take on the United States in the 2019 International Bowl in January.

“I was just going through social media actually and saw it was there,” Hart said of the roster. “I was like, ‘I wonder who they chose for linebacker?’ so I was just swiping through. I had to double check to make sure it was me.”

Sure enough Hart had indeed been named to the national team. Though he has experience playing at a high level will representing Ontario, this will mark his first time suiting up for entire country.

– Paul Bernardo made a brief video link appearance in Napanee’s Ontario Court of Justice in October to answer to a weapons possession charge.

The trial was short however as the Crown opened by informing judge Geoff Griffin that they would be withdrawing the charge, citing they didn’t have sufficient grounds to seek a conviction.

– Community Living celebrated its 50th anniversary in October.

The non-profit agency, which advocates for people living with intellectual disabilities to be included in all aspects of society, celebrated its golden anniversary with a special banquet held at the Strathcona Paper Centre.

They highlighted their many accomplishments and looked back at how far they’ve come from their humble beginnings.

In that time the agency has been guided by three executive directors, Bill Pollard, Don Neilson and Barb Fabius — who continues to hold the title today.

Greater Napanee mayor Marg Isbester. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

  Marg Isbester was elected mayor of Greater Napanee-the first female to ever hold the position, while  Max Kaiser was elected as the town’s deputy mayor.

Isbester, who previously served as deputy mayor, won the top seat with 2,325 votes, beating Brian Calver’s 2,119. A. Sam Salam had 882 votes while Gavin Cross had 377 and Gerry Haggerty 336.

Kaiser, won the deputy mayor’s seat deputy mayor after defeating former Ward 4 councillor Carol Harvey by a count of 4,343 votes to 1,655.

John McCormack, Terry Richardson, Dave Pinnell Jr. Bob Norrie and Ellen Johnson were successful in claiming council seats.

– Deseronto voters rounded out their council with Amber Dale Hudson, Norm Clark, and Kevin Smith. Hudson got 267 votes, Clark 210, and Smith 203. Brian Cherry was 61 votes out of a seat with 142. Clarence Zieman, who dropped out of the race, collected 55 votes.

Mayor-elect Dan Johnston and deputy mayor-elect Steven Everhardus were acclaimed.

n Ric Bresee would begin his sixth term on council as mayor of Loyalist Township.

The Amherstview native and former deputy mayor staked claim to the municipality’s top job with 55 per cent of the 4,342 votes cast in a three-way race with Lorna Willis and Joy Silver. Bresee had 2,389 votes to Willis’s 1,370. Silver claimed 583. After describing himself as the closest thing to an incumbent with Mayor Bill Lowry’s retirement, Bresee said the result shows confidence in the current council.

Councillors Penny Porter and Ron Gordon retained their Ernestown seats, joined by Mike Budarick. Carol Parks won in Bath, while Nathan Townend was acclaimed on Amherst Island, replacing Duncan Ashley, the island’s lone councillor since amalgamation.

– It was a late night in Centreville as the polls were counted for Stone Mills’ municipal election, but when the results trickled out voters had sent a clear message — most were content with council.

Six of the seven officials who sat on a council rejigged in 2016 after the death of reeve Clarence Kennedy were returned to their positions by just over 45 per cent of eligible voters in the township. The lone incumbent who will not be back is Martha Embury, who lost the deputy reeve race to incumbent John Wise, 1,886-1,099.

Eric Smith, who assumed the reeve’s chair in April 2016, took 50.25 per cent of the vote this time around as his 1,500 votes outpaced newcomer Ted Darby’s 940 and former reeve Doug Bearance’s 512.

Councillors Doug Davison, Wenda Lalonde, Kevin Richmond, and Deb Thompson were re-elected. Shari Milligan would become the lone new face on council.

– Laurie French withstood a challenge from Roberta Lamb to continue to represent Greater Napanee on the Limestone District School Board.  In Loyalist and Stone Mills, newcomer Robin Hutcheon defeated incumbent Wess Garrod to become one of six new faces on the nine-member board.

Meanwhile, Gregory Speagle would continue to represent English Catholic voters in the region on the Algonquin-Lakeshore District School Board. He was acclaimed.

Shylah Hart said she was looking forward to sharing the views of her fellow students in her new role as rural student trustee at the Limestone District School Board. Photo by Adam Bramburger.

– NDSS Grade 12 student Shylah Hart was selected as the Limestone District School Board’s rural student trustee, taking a seat left vacant by fellow Hawk Ayrison Haynes, who moved to Alberta. Hart said she was looking forward to sharing the student voice with the board’s trustees.

– Lennox and Addington County staff expressed confidence the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s $213-million public-private partnership to improve cellular service would still move forward despite the change in the provincial government.

Chief administrative officer Brenda Orchard said the argument could be made the  project is “shelf ready” and the region has already proven it can deliver on widespread broadband infrastructure projects.

November

-A 16-year-old Loyalist Township youth was arrested early November in connection to the ongoing investigation of prescription drugs being trafficked inside the halls of NDSS

Charges were laid after officers with the OPP Community Street Crime Unit (CSCU) executed a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrant at a residence in Loyalist Township.

The youth was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of a prohibited weapon, which OPP say was a knife.

The search warrant was conducted following an investigation into incidents reported to police where it was alleged that prescription medication was being trafficked at NDSS. The Limestone District School Board had earlier confirmed there had been instances of “students having serious reactions/and of overdosing (non-fatal) on counterfeit Xanax” at NDSS.

– Stone Mills Township vowed to be proactive in maintaining in-person banking services in its municipality — and suggested it may even put its own $8 million in accounts in play to help achieve that goal.

Councillors reacted to notices posted at the Tamworth branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and related correspondence that the bank would close its doors July 11, 2019.

“It’s a pretty sad thing,” said councillor Doug Davison, who recalled the CIBC also tried to reduce services at the branch in 1996. He said through public outcry and the business generated by the eventual amalgamation of Sheffield, Camden and Newburgh into Stone Mills helped keep the branch open.

– Early in 2018 Cathy Seymour was surprised to receive a call from Rideau Hall.

The Bath resident picked up her receiver and listened to a voice on the other end of the line mention she was calling on behalf of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

“The first thought through my head was ‘What did I do wrong now,’ she joked.

Nothing wrong, it turns out. Instead, Seymour was being recognized for doing a lot of things right for her community with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. Once a year, Canada’s Chancellery of Honours takes nominations, researches and reviews individuals and makes recommendations for the governor general’s consideration.

The winners at the Greater Napanee and Area Art Association’s 2018 juried show were, from left: Paul Langevin (juror’s choice), Diane Phaneuf (honourable mention), Merle Mossey (honourable mention), Gerry Hogaboam (honourable mention), Richard Campbell (juror’s choice), and Lois Sexsmith (juror’s choice). (Adam Bramburger/Staff)

– The Greater Napanee and Area Arts Association staged its second annual juried art show at the Waterfront River Pub with Susan Holland serving as curator and juror.

She selected 33 of 44 submitted pieces to hang. Richard Campbell, Lois    Sexsmith, and Paul Langevin earned juror’s awards for their work. Merle Mossey, Gerry Hogaboam and Diane Phaneuf earned honourable mentions.

– The York University Lions football program added some Hart to its defensive line in November.

Representatives from the Toronto-based university were in Napanee to announce Braden Hart had accepted a scholarship and would join the team next fall. Crammed into People Place at NDSS and surrounded by family, teammates, coaches and classmates while sitting at a table with his No. 91 Golden Hawks jersey affixed to the front, Hart officially put pen to paper to complete the signing.

– Greater Napanee mayor Gord Schermerhorn presided over his final council meeting as the outgoing council met for the final time of their term.

Fittingly one of Schermerhorn’s final acts as mayor was to oversee the approval of the official plan amendment and zoning by-law amendment for his former place of work, the Gibbard Furniture Shops property. The approval officially re-zones 88 Dundas Street E to allow commercial and residential uses.

Benn Kerr of the Napanee Joyce’s Meat and Deli Atom Stars fires a shot against a Lindsay Muskies goalie during action at the Andy McGarvey Memorial Tournament. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

– Napanee District Minor Hockey teams had perhaps their best showing ever at the Andy McGarvey Memorial Tournament.

With nine Napanee teams entered into the various divisions, seven reached the final game with five winning gold.

– Napanee’s CUPW Local 570 postal workers held one more picket outside the town’s post office before returning to work at noon.

The site was similar across the country as postal workers voiced their displeasure right up to the final minute before legislation kicked in, ordering the workers to end six weeks of rotating strikes. Senators voted 53 to 25, with four senators abstaining, to pass Bill C-89, which forces CUPW back to work. The bill carried with it fines of $1,000 to $50,000 per day to anyone found disobeying the ruling and up to $100,000 to Canada Post or the union if they are caught disobeying its terms.

December

– Britt Benn played a starring role in Canada’s silver medal showing in the Dubai Sevens Series, earning a selection to the rugby tournament’s Dream Team in the process.

The Napanee native scored three tries in the tournament, including a key early strike in the semifinals against Australia.

– A new term of Greater Napanee council was officially sworn in, with Marg Isbester stepping into the role as mayor.

Justice Geoff Griffin was on hand to administer the oath of office to Isbester as well as incoming deputy mayor Kaiser along with councillors McCormack, Richardson, Pinnell, Norrie and Johnson.

After they took the oath and signed their legal documents —Isbester making note of doing so with a pink pen — the councillors took their seats around the horseshoe for the first official meeting of the new term.

– Loyalist Township affirmed it will  be renovating its County Rd. 6 roads garage in 2019 at a cost of $503,372 to ease overcrowding at its Odessa administrative building until a new administrative site is built.

Council made that decision at a December meeting upon the recommendation of superintendent of facility operations Anne Lindsay, who reported staff was unable to reach an agreement to lease commercial space at a Loyalist East Business Park property as council had directed earlier in 2018.

– Eric Smith was acclaimed as the 2019 warden of Lennox and Addington County, succeeding the retiring Bill Lowry who spent the past two years in the job.

A Tamworth-area farmer who was recently elected as Stone Mills Township reeve after assuming that position in 2014, Smith has represented the township on County council for two terms.

– Maddi Wheeler’s 2019 was already shaping up to be a memorable year as the Erinsville native learned she’ll open the year representing Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship Jan. 6-13 in Obihiro, Japan.

Wheeler was one of 23 players named to Canada’s roster in December. The 16-year-old NDSS student first impressed the coaching staff at a tryout camp held in Calgary in August and then sealed her spot with a strong showing with the Nepean Junior Wildcats of the PWHL.

– The Lennox and Addington County General Hospital (LACGH) and Napanee’s family physicians announced they were working together to reduce wait times for accessing care.

LAGCH chief of staff Dr. Kim Morrison said the hospital’s emergency department is trying a pilot project where the community’s doctors are helping patients six hours a day, which gives the department two physicians instead of one.

– Loyalist Township’s new council took a big step toward the realization of a sustainable community centre at the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre site in Amherstview.

After reviewing a feasibility study for the project, councillors designated the site in principle as the location for a new administrative building and expanded recreational facilities, subject to the development of an acceptable financial plan. They also authorized the formation of a committee of three council members, including Mayor Ric Bresee, to act as project steering committee to develop a detailed work plan and vision for the centre.

– Just two meetings into the term, Greater Napanee councillors were already facing a decision that would have long last effect-to opt in or not opt in to cannabis retail stores.

Council ultimately decided to defer their decision until after they get input from both the public and local agencies, which they plan to gather at a special meeting to take place Jan. 10.

Municipalities across Ontario are facing the same decision, as councils debate whether or not they want recreational marijuana dispensaries within their borders or not. They have until Jan. 22 to decide. Should they choose to opt out, they could potentially opt in at a later date, however those that opt in can’t opt out.

Hastings Lennox-Addington MP Mike Bossio looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at Thursday’s event, which launched Bossio’s 2019 re-election campaign. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

– Hastings-Lennox Addington MP Mike Bossio had some notable star power in his corner as he declared he would be seeking re-election in 2019, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help with the announcement.

The Liberal MP was joined by Trudeau as they entered a crowded banquet hall at Napanee’s Strathcona Paper Centre.

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