$10,000 from Essex Power! Strawberry Festival honoured by FEO with Top 100 Award

By Devan Mighton – Originally published in the LaSalle Post on Apr. 7, 2017

Photo: Peyton, Annette and Blair help Mayor Ken Antaya accept a $10,000 cheque from Essex Powerlines general manager Joe Barile.  DEVAN MIGHTON / LASALLE POST

(LASALLE, ON) – Essex Powerlines Corporation general manager Joe Barile gave a report to LaSalle Town Council last week on the status of their electricity services.

Barile outlined the services provided by Essex Power and their efforts to maintain it at a high level while keeping prices as low as possible.

In fact, Barile showed in his presentation that Essex Power has maintained prices near the level of inflation, in comparison to provincial rates, which have ballooned since 2007.

“I think it has to do with being smaller,” opined Antaya.

“I think you are more accountable when you’re smaller. You are able to keep your finger on the pulse a little bit better and they’ve become more efficient – there’s not a lot of wasted cost.”

Unfortunately, Essex Power is only responsible for 19 per cent of a taxpayer’s electric bill as the provincial portion of the average bill has gone up by almost $50 to just over $111 from 2005 to 2016.

Barile also reported that Essex Powerlines was one of 32 power distributors in Ontario to reach their 2011-2014 targets, that they are on pace to meet their conservation targets for their 2015-2020 framework, and are on track to spend $8.4 million in that time frame in an effort to lower electricity bills and improve energy conservation for their customers.

In addition, every year, Essex Power donates $10,000 back into the communities of LaSalle, Leamington, Amherstburg, and Tecumseh as part of the Youth In Community Fund.

In LaSalle, this money goes towards programs like Skatefest, recreational swims and public skating, Breakfast With Santa, and the Kids DJ Dance Party.

“They don’t forget their roots,” stated Antaya.

“It’s a corporate approach, but it’s also a recognition to the communities that are partners with them.”

Five-year deal with Transit Windsor

Council voted on and approved a five-year partnership with Transit Windsor to allow bus routes into LaSalle.

“A service like this demonstrates that we are serious about our progress,” said Antaya.

“That we are maturing as a community; that we are providing a service beyond the norm.”

The Mayor touted the agreement as good for both people and businesses looking to join their community.

However, he acknowledges that it may take some time for the citizens of LaSalle to incorporate the bus service, which will begin in September, into their daily lives.

To augment this, there will be no fares on the LaSalle route for the first four months.

“We’re probably not going to see a whole pile of ridership at the beginning of the program,” Antaya said. “It’s going to be something that has to grow. You have to make sure that you establish some type of reliability that the residents can trust.”

The 45-minute route will start at St. Clair College, work its way to the Vollmer Centre, before taking a run to Front Rd.

The route will have two buses running during peak time on weekdays and a single bus on Saturdays.

Council authorized, as part of the deal with Transit Windsor, to purchase two buses, bus shelters, and signage for the route.

Strawberry Festival honoured

Darren Winger, a past board member of Festivals and Events Ontario, was on hand to present a plaque to Council in honour of the LaSalle Strawberry Festival being named one of the Top 100 in Ontario.

“The Strawberry Festival has a longstanding tradition in the LaSalle community,” said Winger, who is currently a regional advisor for the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sport.

“When you talk to people in LaSalle, a lot of them have volunteered in one capacity or another.”

“Over the past couple of years, [the Strawberry Festival] has strengthened in its organization and the volunteer base and presenting a more unified festival to their community,” he added.

“It’s well deserved,” added Antaya. “It’s really a community event.”

“I always take a look at the parade … [it’s] always well attended and it’s all residents [from] the community – and they all just sort of get together. It’s a real type of happening.”

The Strawberry Festival is celebrating its 30th year in 2017.

Running June 8-11, the event will provide a variety of activities at Gil Maure Park, including carnival rides, games, fireworks, a parade, musical acts and entertainment, and, of course, strawberries.

“I am glad they are receiving recognition because the people involved in organizing it and operating it deserve that kind of recognition,” explained Antaya.

Happy retirement!

LaSalle Town Council bid a fond farewell to Cheryl Sokolowski, who provided 31 years of service to the community and retired as administrative assistant to CAO Kevin Miller and Council.

Mayor Antaya called Sokolowski “one of a kind … always upbeat, co-operative and friendly.”

“We do wish her the best and that retirement is everything she wants it to be.”

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