Picton pay and display parking stations approved

Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff (Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

Prince Edward County has denied a request by the Picton Business Improvement Area to offer two-hour free parking and is going ahead with installing new pay and display stations in the downtown core.

On Tuesday night, council approved putting in 11 pay stations on Main Street, eight on Walton, Elizabeth, Ross and King Streets and three on Market Lane. Free parking will only be offered to those requiring municipally designated accessible parking spaces but will have a maximum two hour limit.

The original meters were removed when construction began in the core and now that it’s complete the County will install pay stations at a 2017 budget approved price of $225,000.

After completing a member survey, the Picton BIA had requested offering two hours free and asked that the County enforce it by increasing parking fines from $7 to $35 so that the discount isn’t abused by merchants, staff or the general public.  The BIA also asked if council were to install pay and display machines that parking be free for two hours in the winter months.

A letter to council from BIA chair Robyn Molyneaux indicated there was no clear “winner” and that members are split between supporting
two hour free parking and pay and display.

Councillor Kevin Gale was quick to voice his concerns on providing free parking.

Kevin Gale

However, Councillor Gale was in favour of installing parking meters instead to keep with the heritage design of the downtown area.

Mayor Robert Quaiff has long said he is opposed to bringing back parking meters.

Mayor Robert Quaiff

The new King Street parking lot will remain free parking at this time.

Controlled parking on Picton’s main streets will cost $1 an hour and controlled Market Lane public parking from Ross to Paul Streets will be offered at $0.50 an hour.

The project will go out to tender soon.

Teacher given 2 years for sex crimes against students

Jaclyn McLaren (L) uses a black umbrella to shield herself from the media as she enters the Quinte Consolidated courthouse on Tuesday March 7, 2017. (Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

“Not once did it cross my mind that I would be delivering my son to a predator,” a mother of one of Jaclyn McLaren’s eight young victims revealed to the court Friday.

The mother who cannot be named entered a victim impact statement at the 36-year-old former Tweed Elementary Public School teacher’s sentencing hearing, telling the full gallery how McLaren’s actions against her now 17-year-old son have left her sickened, disgusted and walking on egg shells.

Upon handing down his consecutive two-year term, Judge Stephen Hunter said the impact of McLaren’s crimes are ‘significant and troublesome to a small community.’ McLaren pleaded guilty to seven of the 42 charges against her which Hunter gave the former French teacher credit for by saving the victims having to testify. However, like the author of McLaren’s pre-sentencing report, Hunter admitted he too was concerned that she didn’t comprehend the impact of her involvement with young students.

McLaren wearing a hot pink blouse with a black dress shirt over top and black pants sat staring straight ahead, often sipping from a water bottle. She turned around once to give a questioning smirk and shrug to her family when Assistant Crown Attorney Lynn Ross asked the judge to impose an order restricting her from attending the homes and schools of her victims. After hearing her fate, she took one last sip of her water bottle, emptied the contents of her purse and put on some lip gloss. She and a family member exchanged ‘I love yous.’ She was handcuffed and escorted out of the room by police.

During the mother’s impact statement she admitted she had trouble coming to terms with McLaren only receiving a two-year prison term. She said she felt that it was a double standard and a male teacher would have received a harsher penalty.

“The sentence will never seem to reach what most victims want,” said Judge Hunter during his ruling. “Someone like McLaren in particular, without a criminal record, any amount of time in a federal penitentiary is significant for a first offender.”

Ross also stood by the agreed two-year jail term that she and defence counsel Pieter Kort had presented during closing remarks, stating it was on the high end of the sentencing scale.

Lynn Ross

Ross echoed it was the pre-sentencing report that proved McLaren has yet to understand the impact of her actions on vulnerable young students.

Lynn Ross 2

Court heard how when the mother first learned of what was going on in February 2016 – “the reality hit home hard and fast.”

“It was like a blur,” she said.

She explained how her son no longer had an interest in sports and started racking up suspensions.

Court documents previously entered, detailed how when McLaren was a teacher for Grades 6 to 8 students from 2001 to 2015 she was exchanging sexually explicit images and videos with the boys through social media. She bought two of the youths alcohol before having sexual encounters with them in her car. She also had sexual intercourse with one of the students after he reached the age of 18. She started sending him photos and videos when he was 15. McLaren engaged in sex acts on three different occasions with two of the boys while they were both under the age of 16.

Six of the eight victims were students of hers during that time period. Four were under the age of 18 and four were under the age of 16.

On February 14, 2016, Central Hastings OPP launched an investigation into reports of sexual offences that led to the 42 charges. On March 7, McLaren pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation, possessing child pornography, sexual interference, two counts of child luring and two counts of making explicit material available to a person under 16.

Along with the two year sentence, McLaren was also given two years probation. She is on the sex offender registry for life, cannot attend public places or work where children under 16 frequent. A DNA order was put in place. McLaren is prohibited from using the internet for 10 years and banned from communicating with minors on the internet.

More parents blindsided by French immersion cap

Bayside Public School. (Submitted photo)

Parents continue to speak out in opposition to the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board’s decision to cap the French immersion program at Bayside Public School.

In recent weeks, the board has said it capped the program because there were only enough applications from students within the Bayside catchment area for two classes instead of the usual three. Also the board has to reduce the new grade four class because of space restrictions.

Bayside parents of a soon to be Grade 4 student, Adam and Tanya Burr said the information nights were well advertised however there was no indication they had to attend to register Liam or they would have been there. They explained when they were presented with details on the information night, there was no indication there were signups and it was ‘first come first serve.’

Burr said his 11-year-old daughter Chloe has been in the program for three years and the plan has always been for Liam to be enrolled too. Liam now sits on a waiting list with roughly 15 of his peers. Burr said six of them are already enrolled in Bayside programming and are being denied access.

“It’s ridiculous that kids that are already going to Bayside aren’t eligible for the program because of the cap,” said Burr.

Adam Burr 2

“We like Bayside for our children,” said Burr. “Its programming and location works for our children and us as a family.”

He explained if they transfer their son to Prince Charles in Trenton or Harry J. Clarke School in Belleville for Grade 4 French immersion as the board is encouraging, it will create a scheduling nightmare.

Adam Burr

Burr said they aren’t buying the board’s claim there is a lack of space. He said the school has an empty computer lab that can easily be used for an extra French class.

Ideally, Adam and Tanya Burr said they would like to see the board find room within the school for another class creating three classes of 25 instead of two with 60 students.

Traffic stop leads to cocaine trafficking charges

(Quinte News File Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber)

A pair of Belleville men have been charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking following a traffic stop in the north end of the city Wednesday night.

At 9:54 p.m. members of the Belleville Police Service Intel/Street Crime Unit, uniform patrol and the OPP Community Street Crime Unit conducted a traffic stop as part of an ongoing controlled drug and substance act investigation.

A search of the vehicle revealed over five ounces of cocaine.

A 49-year-old Belleville man and a 38-year-old Belleville man were arrested and charged.

They are being held in custody pending a show cause hearing set for Thursday afternoon. Names in this case will not be released prior to bail hearing proceedings.

Anyone with information on this or any other investigation is asked to contact the Belleville Police Service at 613-966-0882 or Crime Stoppers Quinte at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Local police heroes recognized

Police Association of Ontario Hero Awards ceremony in London on May 17, 2017. Pictured L-R: Police Association of Ontario President Bruce Chapman, Windsor Police Constable Cealia Gagnon, Belleville Sargent Pat Kellar, MP Marie-France Lalonde, Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Belleville Constable Todd Bennett. (Submitted photo)

The Police Association of Ontario has selected two winners and recognized four other officers including two from Belleville for their exemplary service and commitment to policing.

The second annual Police Services Hero of the Year awards were awarded at the PAO Annual General Meeting in London Wednesday night.

Belleville Sergeant Pat Kellar took home runner up in the ‘On Duty Difference Maker’ category and Constable Todd Bennett received the runner up nod in the ‘Community Role Model’ class. Sudbury Detective Constable Ryan Johnson and Windsor Constable Cealia Gagnon received the top hero awards. Port Hope Constable Christopher Anderson (on duty difference maker) and Chatham Constable Amy Finn (community role model) were also recognized. The award is given to members of the Association of Ontario who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and best exemplify the qualities of policing professionals in Ontario. This year there were 310 members nominated across the province with eight from the Quinte area.

Sergeant Kellar’s nominator was a childhood abuse survivor on the brink of suicide. Sgt. Kellar was recognized for guiding and protecting her as she sought justice against her perpetrator. She said she believes she wouldn’t have made it through without Sgt. Kellar’s guidance through his genuine and compassionate nature.

Constable Bennett received two nominations. One for reuniting a mother and son on Christmas who were experiencing guardianship issues. He showed up Christmas day with presents and cooked breakfast so the family could spend the holiday together. His second nomination came from a local mom who expressed how Constable Bennett has left a lasting impression on her young daughter for going out of his way to give her a friendly wave and teddy bear named Finn who is now a treasured companion.

“Constable Bennett and Sergeant Kellar were quite humble last night as they were congratulated by many of those in attendance at the PAO AGM celebratory awards dinner,” said local PAO president and Belleville Sergeant Mike Doucette. “I was particularly proud as I spoke with Minister Lalonde as she kindly expressed to my members her thanks for their service to the community. Having two officers in the finalist list of six from 310 nominations across the province speaks to the caliber of all the police and civilian staff that we have here in Belleville.”

Judge orders assessment for robber

Quinte Consolidated Courthouse in Belleville. (Quinte News File Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber)

A judge has ordered a 19-year-old Belleville man who pleaded guilty to several charges including robbery with a weapon to undergo a full psychological assessment prior to sentencing.

On Wednesday, Tyler Drake pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon, robbery with a weapon, assaulting a police officer/resisting arrest, failing to appear in court and two counts of failing to comply with a recognizance.

The charges stem from an October 4, 2016 incident where police were contacted after four youths were seen wearing masks and carrying knives. Court heard how Drake was found with an eight inch knife and was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon.

In December 2016,  Drake was charged again in connection with an armed robbery at a Bridge Street convenience store.  It was revealed Drake entered the store wearing a clown mask and carrying a knife. He demanded money and fled on foot empty-handed.  A foot chase ended with police tasering Drake who is said to have grabbed at the body of the arresting officers.

An investigation revealed that Drake had been involved in an incident earlier in the day where youths were threatened with a knife by a man wearing a clown mask.

Following Drake’s guilty plea on Wednesday, Justice Madame Elaine Deluzio ordered a full psychological assessment to be included in his pre-sentencing report.

A sentencing hearing is set for July 6.


Man sentenced to 5 years for sex crimes against young girls

The Quinte Regional Courthouse in Belleville. (Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

A 44-year-old Belleville man has been sentenced to serve five years in a federal penitentiary after being convicted of sex crimes against two young girls.

In February 2017, Michael Tregunna pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual assault, sexual interference and production of child pornography.

On Wednesday, Justice Elaine Deluzio imposed the five-year sentence that was a joint submission by assistant Crown Attorney Michael Lunski and defence lawyer Jason Easton.  Given credit for time already served Tregunna will spend four years in custody.

Calling his crimes serious and grievous, Deluzio said she felt the sentence balanced the mitigating and aggravating factors in the case.  While Tregunna pleaded guilty saving the victims from having to testify, she said he violated the girls’ trust.  Court heard how Tregunna sexually assaulted and took pictures of the girls on multiple occasions over a period of time.  A publication ban was put in place protecting the identities of the victims.

“They were your prey,” Deluzio said to Tregunna while handing down her sentence aimed as a deterrent and denunciation of crimes against children.  “You not only sexually abused the girls but you violated them emotionally and physically by taking photos of them.  You exposed them to an evil they can barely understand and will have to come to grips with as they move through adolescence with the help of their mother.”

Three victim impact statements were filed with the court along with a pre-sentence report that included a sexual-behaviour assessment by Dr. Eccles.  The assessment concluded Tregunna posed a moderate to high risk of re-offending but a low to moderate risk of re-offending sexually.

“There is no easy way to say I have sinned and I am guilty,” said Tregunna when he addressed the court.  “I have shattered the lives and trust of my victims.  There is nothing I can say to defend myself or excuse my behaviour.  I wish I could go back and change the past.  I’m not the only one who has to live with the hurt and shame of my actions.  I want to extend my deepest and most sincerest apology to those those who have suffered because of what I have done.”

Deluzio also ordered a lifetime DNA order and a 10-year weapons ban.  Tregunna is not to contact or go within 200 metres of his victims.  He is not to attend public places or work where children under the age of 16 frequent. All of the electronic devices including cell phones, a laptop computer, a hard drive and thumb drive  seized in the case were ordered destroyed.

Two of Belleville’s finest finalists for hero awards

Belleville Police Sergeant Pat Kellar. (Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

A pair of Belleville Police Service members have made the shortlist of province-wide finalists for the Police Association of Ontario Hero of the Year Awards.

Belleville Police Sergeant Pat Kellar is one of three finalists in the ‘making a difference on duty’ category and Constable Todd Bennett is one of three finalists for ‘ making a difference off duty.’

Every year the award provides the public with an opportunity to nominate and recognize a police officer for going above and beyond the call of duty.  One winner in each category will be announced May 17 at a special award ceremony in London.

This year the PAO received 310 nominations across the province.  Eight officers within the Quinte region were hailed heroes by community members in March: Belleville Detective Sargeant Ian Jarvis, Detective Constables Mark Abrams and Ann Dempsey, Sgt. Pat Kellar, Constables Bennett and Terri Smith along with Stirling-Rawdon Constable Scott Burke and Centre Hastings OPP constable Alana Deubel.

PAO President and Belleville Police Sgt. Mike Doucette said having six nominations out of the City of Belleville was more than any other police agency in the province.  He said having that many nominations and having two finalists is nothing short of fantastic.

“I am very proud of the two finalists for the PAO Police Hero program,” said Sgt. Doucette.  Their specific nominations from each citizen were intense and meaningful.”

Sgt. Kellar’s genuine, compassionate and determined nature when investigating traumatic crimes against children had him being hailed a hero.  A local child abuse survivor acknowledged Sgt. Kellar for guiding and protecting her as she sought justice against her perpetrator.

Belleville Police Constable Todd Bennett. (Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

A week later, Cst. Bennett was nominated for reuniting a mother and son on Christmas.  The family was going through guardianship issues regarding their young grandson and Cst. Bennett was able to intervene on his own time to ensure the little boy could be with his mother on Christmas day.  He brought presents and even cooked the family breakfast.

“Our Belleville community has an excellent force in that there are so many individual stories of great work being done by our police officers and civilian staff. I can say based on my own 28 years of police work that there have been and continue to be many “unsung heroes” who work silently in the background to protect and serve our city,” said PAO president Doucette.

Volunteers needed to monitor Osprey

The Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan is looking for volunteer citizen scientists to help locate and monitor Ospreys’ nests around the Bay of Quinte. The goal is to establish a long-term monitoring program to ensure the Osprey population remains healthy and abundant.

This pilot project utilizes 21st century social media and geo-location technologies to help preserve their habitat. Citizen scientists are being challenged to use their smart phones to capture details about Ospreys that include: nest locations, whether the nest is active or not, the number of fledglings and departure dates for the fall migration. It’s a simple process. First ensure that “location settings” are activated on the smart phone, then using Twitter, and the hashtags #bqrap and #osprey post your photos or comments. Make sure that you complete your post from the nest site, otherwise the post will not be accurately located. Now, you are a citizen scientist!

“Social media and geo-location technologies have tremendous potential to do great things for our community and this project is one shining example. As a father with young children I find it to be a great way to spend time enjoying the outdoors with my family, while promoting a love for conservation and science in my children, and all while making a real difference in local conservation efforts,” said Matt Richardson, Volunteer Project Data Analyst.

Why monitor ospreys?

Because Ospreys eat fish almost exclusively, they are considered a sentinel species, serving as indicators of water quality health. Changes in the number of nesting pairs and number of chicks produced and fledged can reflect changes in aquatic ecosystem health.

Once, the widespread use of DDT brought these great raptors to the brink of extinction. But with a ban, in the 1970s, on this toxic pesticide and the efforts of federal and provincial governments, conservation authorities and groups, and individuals the Ospreys have made a dramatic comeback.

The Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan is in the process of changing the status of several of the fish and wildlife environmental challenges identified for the Bay, to unimpaired. One way the public can help maintain healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations and habitats is by participating as citizen scientists.

“The return of this top predator to the Bay of Quinte and their successful nesting is a sign of a healthy ecosystem. By collecting data on how the Ospreys are doing, we can ensure the Bay doesn’t return to the conditions that required a Remedial Action Plan in the first place,” said Sarah Midlane-Jones, BQRAP Communications.

Visit the nest sites throughout the season and post comments and photos of the birds for everyone to enjoy. Visit the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan web site for details www.bqrap.ca or contact: Sarah Midlane-Jones, Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan, 613-394-3915 ext. 214, smidlanejones@bqrap.ca

Ending distracted driving a priority for Quinte Traffic Coalition this week

Members of the Quinte Region Traffic Coalition kick off Canada Road Safety Week. Pictured from left to right: Belleville Deputy Chief Mike Callaghan, Centre Hastings OPP Staff Sergeant Detachment Commander Scott Semple, Coalition co-chair and public health nurse with Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health Kerri Jianopoulos, Quinte West OPP Inspector Christina Reeve and Stirling-Rawdon Constable Scott Preston. (Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

Motorists can expect an increased police presence out on local roadways starting Tuesday heading into the Victoria Day long weekend as officers target aggressive, distracted and impaired drivers along with those not wearing seat belts.

On Tuesday, the Quinte Region Traffic Coalition launched efforts in support of Canada Road Safety Week that runs from May 16 to 22.

Throughout the enforcement and education blitz local police detachments in partnership with the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit are focusing on the ‘Big 4 Killers’ – aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and improper or non-use of seat belts.

Quinte West OPP Inspector Christina Reeve said distracted driving is a huge problem that police forces are having issues ‘making a dent in.’

Christina Reeve

Since 2009, approximately 600 deaths have been linked to distracted driving, on OPP-patrolled roads.

During the 2016 Road Safety campaign, more than 1,200 charges were laid including 1,008 for speeding, 51 for seat belt violations, 31 for distracted driving and nine for impaired driving.

Reeve said with the staggering numbers that continue to rise she finds it surprising that some still don’t seem to get the message.

Christina Reeve 2

Inspector Reeve said there will also be marine units on local waterways making sure boat operators are not impaired and everyone is using life jackets.

Centre Hastings OPP Staff Sergeant Detachment Commander Scott Semple explained warnings are completely up to each officer’s discretion, however that’s not the message they’re sending.

Scott Semple OPP

Collision Investigator Brad Stitt of the Belleville Traffic Safety Unit recommends planning ahead to avoid incidents especially with an increased amount of traffic this weekend.

Brad Stitt

Other useful tips include: putting your phone on silent or ask a passenger to answer it for you; drive sober and always use your seat belt.

Quinte West makes good on commitment to KGH Foundation

Quinte West mayor Jim Harrison presents Johanna March , Victorian Order of Nurses board member (L), and Julia Gosson, manager of Fund Development (M) with a certificate marking VON’s 100 years of operation at the council meeting on May 15, 2017. (Photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber / Quinte News)

Quinte West has made its final payment on a 10-year $500,000 commitment to the Kingston Hospital Foundation and a request to offer more could be on the horizon.

On Monday, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison presented Kingston General Hospital Foundation board members with a $50,000 cheque.

Colleen Lawrie, chair of the board of directors and Denise Cumming, president and CEO of University Hospitals Kingston Foundation told the horseshoe how much of a difference the municipality’s dedication to healthcare has made in the lives of its own residents.

“We couldn’t have done it without you, ” Lawrie beamed.  “It means fewer Quinte West residents will have to travel to larger cities like Ottawa and Toronto to receive cancer, stroke and trauma programs.”

She explained how the $500,000 commitment has gone to help three areas heavily used by Quinte West residents: the Kidd 9 Unit for medicine and oncology patients; the Cancer Centre and Intensive Care Unit.

In 2016, there were 3,545 visits to the Cancer Centre by Quinte West residents; 397 visits to the Emergency Room and 12,147 visits to outpatient clinics.

“Now we are working on our next round of investment,” Cumming told council.

She said the as phase two of the redevelopment at the KGH site gets underway, it’s expected to exceed $500 million for construction alone.

She said there are many renewal needs in the operating room including new operating suites, diagnostic labs, emergency department, birthing suites, neonatal intensive care unit and parking.

Pointing to members of OurTMH in attendance, Mayor Jim Harrison said the City is after ‘the best possible healthcare for the residents of Quinte West.’

“That’s all we want.”

Meanwhile, the city has officially recognized a local not-for-profit, charitable home and community care organization for 100 years of service within the municipality.

Monday night, Harrison presented a certificate to Victorian Order of Nurses board member Johanna March and manager of Fund Development Julia Gosson honouring the major milestone.

The VON recently made a trip to Prince Edward County revealing plans for 100-year celebrations throughout the region.

Quinte West events are yet to be announced.

Quinte West continues to monitor water levels and damage

Trent River, south of Batawa Dam and Locks.

As flood warnings continue throughout the region, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison says the city continues to monitor the situation closely.

On Monday, the Lower Trent Conservation Authority reported water levels in the northern part of the Trent River watershed have finally started dropping, but the Flood Warning between Trenton and Hastings will remain in effect for at least a few more days.

Mayor Harrison said the city is aware of some areas that need to be corrected or improved with the increased water levels over the past few weeks.

Jim Harrison

He says there are some drainage issues that they are looking at as well.

Mayor Jim Harrison

According to Lower Trent, floodplain areas along Rice Lake and the Trent River within the municipalities of Alnwick/Haldimand, Trent Hills and Quinte West should experience water levels beginning to stabilize in the next several days.

The flood warning issued for Lake Ontario and Bay of Quinte earlier this month also remains as water levels have surpassed record highs.  An update is expected Friday.

The water level measured at Cobourg is 75.77 metres above sea level which is 7 cm above the Lake Ontario 100 year flood elevation of 75.5 metres above sea level.

Residents living in flooded areas should take actions to protect themselves and their property.  Homeowners affected by flooding should be aware that electrical, well and septic systems may be compromised.  The public is urged to pay close attention to Health Unit guidelines for ensuring safe drinking water.