Veridian crew turning on hydro after Hurricane Irma

Veridian Connections Hurricane Irma Power Restoration Team. Supervisor Joe Lonsberry, fifth from the right, September 2017 (Photo: Submitted)

A Veridian Connections crew, including some members from Belleville, is working hard to restore hydro service to residents of Florida, hard-hit by Hurricane Irma.

Mary Thomas spoke with supervisor Joe Lonsberry of Belleville, on the ground in Homestead, Florida.

Lonsberry said the residents were really pleased to see the Canadian crew and have electricity back on, especially having their air conditioning working again during the high temperatures.


Lonsberry says the crew will probably be on the job in Florida for another two weeks.

You can catch host Mary Thomas’ full interview with Joe Lonsberry, about the crew’s experience in Florida, on Newsmaker Sunday this Sunday at the noon hour on  800 CJBQ.

Concerns about Quinte area labour supply

Belleville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jill Raycroft, September 19, 2017 (Photo: Mary Thomas/Quinte News)

The low labour supply in the Quinte area, particularly for manufacturing, is causing some concern to the Quinte Economic Development Commssion and the Belleville Chamber of Commerce.

At a meeting this week, various members questioned whether schools or parents were “on track” regarding advice to students about their employment futures.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jill Raycroft said many employers such, as call centres, are looking for people.

She says parents should realize that a college diploma for instance can lead to a variety of jobs, leading to advancement.

Raycroft says it’s a matter of highlighting what happens beyond the front door.

QEDC Chair Ross Rae said he didn’t know “if education is doing a good job” in this area, and member Ted Reid questioned whether or not “the (employment) system was flexible enough to train people at mid-level.”

Facelift for St. Michael’s tower

Restoration is underway on the tower of St. Michael Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Belleville, September 19, 2017 (Photo: Tim Durkin/Quinte News)

It will be a couple more months before the public gets to see the refurbished tower on St. Michael Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Belleville.

St. Michael’s church tower has dominated Belleville’s landscape on Church Street for the past 130 years.

This year the  parish undertook a restoration project of that part of the building.

Parish priest Reverend Richard Whalen.


He says it has been 25 years since the last time work was done on the structure.


The work wraps up in November.

Whalen says the parish has not received any grants, and the people of the parish are paying the more than $600,000 cost.

He says it is worth it since the tower “reminds people to look up to the heavens.”

Surveying labour supply in Quinte area


From left: Chair of Quinte Economic Development Commission Ross Rae and Executive Director Chris King, September 19, 2017 (Photo: Mary Thomas/Quinte News)

A new program to address the shortage of labour supply in the Quinte area may come out of a study that is now underway.

Officials of the Quinte Economic Development Commission told its board meeting in Quinte West Tuesday it has received a $47,000 grant from the provincial government to undertake the survey.

It will involve about 60 local manufacturers and businesses forecasting labour requirements, helping the province redevelop some of its programs or develop new ones.

For instance, they would include how to encourage more people to consider manufacturing as a career.

Executive Director Chris King.

He says the study is focused on how to rapidly respond to employers’ hiring and training needs in rural Ontario.

King says there might be some follow up dollars for implementation of some of the recommendations, allowing his team to come up with some strategies locally. He says when it comes to business expanding or businesses locating to the area, having an available workforce is extremely important.

They will look at the needs of the present work force as well.

The Economic Development commission survey will be completed by mid-November.

Cannons to be installed at Glenwood

It will be a special day for Glenwood Cemetery in downtown Picton on Saturday.

The Cemetery will mark Veterans’ Day with a ceremony involving the ribbon cutting on two special military cannons, called the Boulter Cannons.

Glenwood Cemetery’s Chair Sandy Latchford says Wellington Boulter, who developed canning factories in the county, brought them to Picton in the 1890s.

One was forged in 1807 and one in 1812. They had been placed in front of his store and at one time at the high school.

Latchford says Boulter was very supportive of the cemetery.


She says it’s appropriate that the cannons be situated at the cemetery.


The Veterans Day ceremony begins at 10 a.m. followed by the ribbon cutting for the cannons.

Clearing former fairgrounds site

Ben Bleecker building at former fairgrounds (File photo: John Spitters/Quinte News)

Steps are underway to clear up the former Quinte Exhibition and Raceway grounds in Belleville’s west end.

Demolition of a number of buildings on city land on the east side of Sidney Street near the Ben Bleecker building is beginning.

City council has hired Parkside Landscaping to demolish the old barns, sheds, and pavilions at a cost of $42,000.

This clears 6.6 acres of land for the city.

No decision has yet been made on how that land should be used.

There is still the question of the Lawn Bowling Club.

The city is looking for an alternate site for that facility.

Meanwhile, Belleville’s Fairgrounds Negotiating Committee is still working with the Agricultural Society regarding its lease for the site on the west side of Sidney, another 22 acres of land.

Chair Councillor Jack Miller says the negotiations are working to find another location for the Belleville Fairgrounds.

Also this week, council awarded a contract to a Kingston company, Environmental Contracting Services, to demolish old deteriorating city-owned buildings on Atkins Road , Point Anne Road and Yeomans Street.

They’re back with West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have shown up once again in the Belleville area.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health found evidence of the virus as part of its regular surveillance.

Traps were set at 17 locations, including Bancroft, Belleville, Bloomfield, Stirling and Quinte West. The first positive mosquitoes were found in Belleville in late July.

To date there has been a total of 13 positive pools of mosquitoes identified, which include traps that presented positive multiple times.

Public health officials say West Nile Virus is an infection found in birds, and carried by mosquitoes which feed on infected birds. It is spread to humans and animals through bites by infected mosquitoes.

Early symptoms can include fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, severe headache, sudden sensitivity to light, tremors, numbness, or vision loss.

The majority of people infected have mild symptoms but a severe case can cause inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis.


Helping business for 30 years

From left: Quinte West Councillor Sally Freeman, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison, Trenval Business Development Corporation Executive Director Glenn Kozak, and Trenval Board Chair Lieutenant Colonel David Alexander, September 12, 2017 (Photo: submitted)

The Trenval Business Development Corporation, located in Belleville, has just celebrated creating thousands of  jobs in the region.

About 100 people attended the ceremony this week as Trenval celebrated 30 years of supporting local businesses.

Trenval is a federally supported not-for-profit corporation that provides counselling and investment to small business.

Executive Director Glenn Kozak says it has been assisting small businesses in the Belleville, Quinte West, Stirling-Rawdon, Tyendinaga and Deseronto region since 1987.


Kozak says in the last three years Trenval has provided 111 loans for a total of $6.6 million.

He says “it’s a bit of a Dragon’s Den” the applicant has to meet the qualifications and have some security.

Trenval Board Chair Lieutenant Colonel David Alexander said, “Being privileged to lead the organization, Trenval’s 30th Anniversary generates multiple emotions but likely the big one is our activities creating and maintaining more than 7,000 jobs through lending, advisory services and program delivery. At Trenval, We Grow JOBS.”

Teachers supporting conservation

From left: Kathryn Crawford with Maya Navrot of Quinte Conservation, at Stream of Dreams program, September 12, 2017 (Photo: submitted)

Local teachers are boosting the education programs at Quinte Conservation.

The conservation agency has recognized the “generous donations” from the chapter of ADK Labda – International Honorary Organization for Women Educators.

Quinte Conservation education and stewardship coordinator Maya Navrot says the group supports the programs all year round.

It includes sponsoring the Wild About Wildlife events attended by about 400 chidren this summer, to learn about water drainage and talk to experts while observing native snakes and birds of prey.

The rest of the donation from ADK Lambda will support Quinte Conservation’s other educational programs including Stream of Dreams and Yellow Fish Road.

Navrot tells Quinte News the group’s donation amount would not be released.

Marching against violence

(File photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

Belleville’s annual Take Back the Night is set for Thursday evening.

Take Back the Night is a rally and march with a goal to end sexual violence against women.

It is based on the premise that women should be able to go out at night and feel safe in their community without risk of violence.

Ellen Carlisle of the Sexual Assault Centre for Quinte and District says, this year, nine women will speak during the ceremony at Market Square.


Carlisle says she’s seeing a “positive  change” in public perception of sexual violence.


The event starts at 6 p.m. at Market Square followed by a march through the downtown.

Carlisle says the 2017 Take Back the Night committee wants to use this year’s event to elevate the voices of women in the community. She says everyone is invited to attend the rally.

In the Square there will be a display featuring the Red Dress Project, which is a visual exhibit representing the missing and murdered indigenous women across Canada

Millions $$$ for the homeless

Hastings County CAO Jim Pine (File photo: Mary Thomas/Quinte News)

The provincial government has put more than $5 million into a program to build 40 supportive housing units in Hastings-Quinte.

This announcement came at the Community and Human Services committee meeting Tuesday in Belleville.

The government has also committed another $1.4 million in operating funding over the next three years.

CAO Jim Pine says Hastings County worked with a number of agencies that provide services to the homeless, such as mental health and addictions, and made a joint application to the province’s Home for Good program.

He says the money will be used for a single building.


He says there is a great need for the housing.


Warden Rodney Cooney said, “We recognize that there is significant need for this kind of housing across in the County including our partner cities of Belleville and Quinte West.”

“I believe that we have been successful in securing these funds because of the way in which the County, the cities and the agencies that provide specialized support services to vulnerable individuals came together in our application”, stated Garnet Thompson, Chair of the Community & Human Services Committee.

Pine tells Quinte News it will go before County Council later this month and a request for proposals for the construction would then go out.

No decision has been made yet regarding the location. “There is no question there is a problem in every community and we have to start somewhere,” he said.

Pine expects construction to start in the spring of 2018.



This announcement came at the Community and Human Services committee meeting Tuesday in Belleville.

The government also committed another $1.4 million in operating funding over the next three years.

The plan is to build 40 new supportive housing units under the Good Housing initiative.

Hastings County CAO Jim Pine tells Quinte News that the request for proposals will go out once county council approves the plan later this month.

He expects construction could start in the spring of 2018.

More to come………

Vacancy tax rebate may end in 2 years

Belleville Councillor Paul Carr, September 11, 2017 (Photo: Mary Thomas/Quinte News)

Belleville city council has taken a two-step move toward any changes to property tax rebates for vacant commercial or industrial property.

Council had before it Monday night a staff report with four options on whether to continue, eliminate, or phase out the vacant property tax rebates.

Currently, property owners are eligible for a 30% tax rebate on vacant commercial space or 35% on industrial vacancies.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Raycroft told council that commercial taxes for the city amount to $23 million while the rebate stood at $345,000.

Councillor Paul Carr presented a motion calling for elimination of the rebate over the next two years.

Carr said many owners are not “aggressively marketing ” their properties.

Councillor Mitch Panciuk said the businesses are being subsidized on the backs of residential taxpayers.

In the end, council called for a report from the city treasurer before having a final vote on the issue.