One of the most popular – and tastiest - annual events in the Kingston area begins Saturday, March 9, as the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority presents Maple Madness at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area. Take a tractor-drawn wagon back to the sugar bush to see how maple syrup was made by the early settlers of the region and how it’s made today. Enjoy delicious pancakes with maple syrup and even purchase some maple syrup or maple sugar to take home.

Check out some of the special activities taking place during Maple Madness, including all-new puppet shows for 2019, tree tapping demonstrations, self-guided Sugar Bush Tours, First Nations Display, the annual Conservation Foundation bake sale and ‘Old Tyme Sugar Bush Chores.’ With so much to do, you will want to visit the sugar bush more than once. A new activity this year is Face Painting, which will take place each Sunday throughout Maple Madness.

Back by popular demand is our photo contest. There will be ‘frames’ set up throughout the sugar bush. Take some fun, family photos in some of the frames, and post them to social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the hashtags #MapleMadness and be eligible for maple-oriented prizes as well as a CRCA annual pass.

Maple Madness runs over the March Break, March 9 to 17, and the weekends of March 23 and 24 and March 30 and 31, with the sugar bush open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Check our Maple Madness page for the schedule of special events at www.crca.ca/events/maple-madness.

Help us reduce our waste. Planning on having pancakes or a hot drink during your visit? Bring your own reusable plate, cutlery or mug and you will be entered into a draw for a CRCA Annual Pass ($85 value).

Admission to Maple Madness is $15 per vehicle – fill your car or carpool!

The Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area is located on Division Street just two km north of Highway 401.

Published in General Interest
Wednesday, 20 February 2019 12:32

School made a difference

As I sit and reflect about my oldest child graduating from elementary school, I thought I would share may family's story and our experience at St. James Major Catholic School.  A school full of children should be surrounded by positivity and love, and that's what St. James Major has done for my children.

Our story at St. James began in 2014 when their father and I decided to keep our children in a smaller school. After visiting the school with our children, it was an easy decision. St. James was a perfect fit for our family.

St. James is a family in a way I have never seen before. The staff are fully invested in the kids at St. James. At recess, the staff can be found playing soccer, basketball or other games with the students outside, eating their lunch with the students, or giving extra academic help if required. There is still bickering and disagreements on the school yard amongst the students, like any school, but they are still a family and all look out for each other. Many of the staff members would take their own time and go watch the kids’ sporting events in the evenings or on weekends to cheer them on. Every staff member attended the 1st Communion of my boys, which was not on school time. The staff was proud of them and just having them there shows what kind of support system this school has. Parents and family members of the teaching staff can be seen at fundraising events, Christmas concert and graduation.

They do this for all their students, not just my children. It is a whole-hearted family in this building. Small school – huge heart.

Unfortunately, during their first year at the school, our family faced a couple of tragedies. First, we lost their poppa and then 3 months later we suddenly lost their father. The day this happened, my children were in school and we sat on the steps outside as I held them and broke their hearts. My oldest decided to stay at school and finish the day, trying to keep his life normal. Along with our amazing community, the whole school (staff, parents, and students) wrapped their arms around my family in the upcoming weeks.

As a mom, I had many fears about sending them back to school after this tragedy. Am I making them go back too soon? Am I putting too much on the teachers? What if someone says something to make them cry? How do I even let them out of my sight? And my everyday question: how am I ever going to get them through this?

The staff were very patient and understanding with all the behaviour changes that come with a traumatic event. Teachers play many different roles and this is one they are not trained for. If one of their students are hurting, they are also hurting. We have worked through several challenging issues like separation anxiety, control issues, suicidal ideation, anger and extreme sadness and grief.

At the end of that school year we learned that Vice Principal Anna Coe and Kaden’s teacher Dave Rooney were leaving. Secretly, I feared how my kids would react with what felt like another loss after Kaden had bonded with his teacher. Enter a new school year and a new teacher. Little did I know at that time that the young teacher with the crazy hair and a love for basketball would be such a difference maker and play such a huge role in Kaden’s life. Mr. Mike Veryzer kindly tucked Kaden under his wing and has gone above and beyond for him, and is always there if he needs him.

Some may think multiple grades in one class is a disadvantage, but not in our case. This has allowed to Kaden to have Mr. V for a couple of years now. Kaden knows the expectations and requirements, Mike knows Kaden’s learning style, how to motivate him when needed, when to push him or when he needs a few minutes to be alone and because of this, he is soaring.

My little Kale also found comfort under the wing of Mr. Angelo DiCintio. Kale would come home from school telling me how he got to help Mr. D and proudly show me his new little work boots and work gloves. These were passed down from Mr. D's boys, along with a few other treasures. Kale found a new love and outlet with hockey. We were surprised one game when Mr. D and his wife walked in, there to cheer him on (and almost as loud as mom). He could be called support staff, custodian, caretaker or janitor. Realistically, he is the foundation of the school. Never changing year after year, students are welcomed each day to school with his smile and a cheerful greeting.

To add to the family-feel of the school, Mike’s wife Colleen Veryzer joined the teaching staff 2 years ago. Now, they are sharing their family with their school family; their new daughter is the roots of empathy baby for the school. Colleen has also been a difference maker for my family. Her bubbly personality added some fun and sparked an interest in learning for Kale. She actually tutored him on her own time. Kale struggles academically with dyslexia. After working with Colleen and Lori Bryden; we developed an education plan for Kale and his confidence has improved. He continues to work hard and has shown great improvement this year with Mrs. Lindsay Curran. Not sure how but she has this kid engaged and motivated this year. My fridge is now covered with assignments and tests that show 100%. This is the first year this boy has ever seen an “A” on his report cards.

Besides the teachers mentioned; Angela Stuper, Betsy Filion, Michelle McNichols, Debra Robinson, Mary Wringe, Kasey Mattice and Diane LaFortune have all played a huge positive role in my children's lives. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for my children and others.

Published in Editorials
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 16:13

Outstanding People in our Community

Is there anyone out there that has not heard of the Golden Girls or the Old Pharts? On the slight chance that there may be, please let me introduce them. I’ll shorten their names to GG and OP for future reference.

I have had the privilege of forming and coordinating these two groups of outstanding people for the past seven years. One “gentleman” in the community, Cliff Barton, would call me often and ask, “what are we going to do for the men in this community?” and we would talk. The social worker from the clinic called me to inquire about programs for men, so action was taken. The men’s group formed quickly, from that small beginning, great camaraderie and friendships were formed. Just as quickly word spread, and the women in the community wanted a group too, so the GG began.

The GG and OP have been a wonderful asset to our community. With both groups, a meeting date was set, we discussed and outlined a program. I had two criteria; first they must meet in my office monthly, learn about the programs and become ambassadors spreading the word. Secondly, they visit with the residents at Pine Meadow Nursing Home on a monthly basis.

Volunteer they did, and so much more! It is safe to say they are valued programs at PMNH, that the residents always look forward to. The groups organize special events, like high teas, complete with fine china, lace tablecloths and home-made hair fascinators. The OP’s have BBQ’s with “near beer”, play lawn games and shoot the breeze. On beautiful days, they make mock cocktails in the garden area. Picture the drone of blenders, busily making your drink of choice, the fancy plates of sandwiches being served to the residents, everyone chatting, makes for a meaningful afternoon of food, drink and friendship.

As much as the residents enjoy these special events, they report enjoying as much or more the conversations and the sense of community that happen at visits.

I can’t say enough great things about these two groups. I do know that the residents, families, staff at PMNH, and the Alzheimer Society of KFL&A appreciate all of their support and efforts.

Last, but not least, these groups volunteer in other ways as well. For many years they have entered floats for the GG and OP in the Lions Club Santa Claus parade, with both groups winning prizes. Just this past year they helped with two Alzheimer coffee breaks bringing in dollars to this area. Another large part of what they do is support local business and frequent restaurants in the KFL&A area.

You will recognize them in the community, the GG will be adorned with bright yellow and white gold scarves and the OP have forest green golf shirts with an Old Pharts emblem on the chest. If you are interested in joining either one of these remarkable groups, call Pam Lemke 1-800-266-7516 ext 701 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., better yet ask a GG or an OP. They are always willing to talk about the things they do for this community.

Pam Lemke, Education and Family Support “Alzheimer Society KFL&A”

Published in ADDINGTON HIGHLANDS

For 10 years now, the Granite Ridge Education Centre (part of which it was Sharbot Lake High School) has been participating in the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).

“We’ve been doing this since 2007 and had 10 different charities benefit,” said Randy McVety, the teacher who oversees the project at GREC. “This year marks $50,000 and across Canada, 20,000 students have participated and more than $500,000 has been presented to charities.”

The process is rather straightforward. Interested Grade 10 students research a local charity, put together a presentation on it and a group of judges from the school decide who gets the money based on those presentations.

Four charities were represented by students this year including Kingston 4 Paws, Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Kingston and Addiction and Mental Health Services Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

Addiction and Mental Health Services will receive $5,000, thanks to the winning presentation of their advocates Mairina Jackson and Annika Putnam.

“They service a wide area and offer lots of services,” said Putnam.

“We were both interested in what they do,” said Jackson.

This year, three of the four charities focus on mental health (and it could be argued that so does Big Brothers/Big Sisters) and that fact wasn’t lost on Putnam and Jackson.

“Young people are becoming more aware of how mental health is going to impact just about everything you do,” said Putnam.

Published in ADDINGTON HIGHLANDS
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 12:30

LARC Opens Daycare at NAEC for Little Vikings

If you have an infant or preschool child, then you understand the trials and tribulations of finding reliable, affordable, safe care for your child when you return to work. Many families in our communities, and in communities across Ontario and Canada struggle with access to childcare.

On January 7, Lennox and Addington Resources for Children (LARC) opened a new daycare centre in Cloyne at North Addington Education Centre (NAEC). The centre provides licensed daycare services for children from the ages of 0-6.  Additionally, LARC offers before and after school programs for school-age kids.

The daycare offers care from 7am to 6pm. It has three rooms. The infant room is for children up to 18 months, the toddler room for children ranging from 18-30 months and finally, the pre-school room is for children from 30 months until school age.

Supervisor, Hannah Lough, says that a typical day includes indoor and outdoor play such as science investigations.

NAEC is proud to welcome Lydia Keller and Dallas Arney, NAEC alumni, who will be joining Hannah Lough and Krystle Keller, who have been running the afterschool program, as staff educating the Little Vikings.

Darlene Armer, Executive Director of LARC, explains that the program is for all children. Subsidies are available for families to offset the costs associated with childcare.  LARC daycare is licensed by the Ministry of Education. The program follows these guidelines, such as providing nutritional lunches and snacks and giving receipts to parents to use at income tax time.

If you would like to have more information about how to register for LARC or how to apply for subsidized payments, please contact Hannah at 613-336-6825 or Darlene at 613-354-6318.

Mary Hasler, age 3, was the first student to arrive at LARC on January 7. She enthusiastically picked out her cubby and got ready to go to preschool.

Published in ADDINGTON HIGHLANDS
Wednesday, 09 January 2019 12:17

Remembering Ann Goodfellow

Last year when the word came out through the grapevine that Ann Goodfellow was not well, and this was followed by a difficult diagnosis and prognosis, it shook a lot of people in the Parham area and beyond. By the time she died last week (January 5th). It was not a surprise, but it was still difficult news for all of those who knew her.

Ann was a force in the community for many years. Many people knew Ann well, and she touched their lives. I knew her as an advertiser in the paper through the funeral home and Goodfellow’s Flowers shop that she used to run, but mostly I knew her in her role as a school board trustee.

She became involved with the school board by serving on the Parent Council at Hinchinbrooke Public School. Somewhere along the way, that involvement led her to run for the position of trustee, and she was elected or acclaimed every time she ran.

I saw a lot of her during the elections in 2006 and 2010. Because of the size of the territory she represented, she was invited to appear at all-candidates meetings in Central and North Frontenac and Addington Highlands, nine evenings over a three week period.

Each time she gave a 3-minute speech, and sat through a two hour meeting, rarely being asked any questions. In my recollection she never missed a meeting. Although it would not be true to say that she never complained about driving around the countryside after working all day, only to be ignored for two hours, but she always kept a sense of humour about it all. She ran four times, and served 14 years. The last four were the hardest but it was also the term where she made a lasting mark on the board and the community.

Ann was nervous during the 2010 election, much more so than in 2006. The PARC (Program and Accommodation Review Committee) that resulted in the construction of Granite Ridge Education Centre in Sharbot Lake, was underway. Ann was committed to seeing it through before stepping away from the board, and that's why she felt it really mattered that she get re-elected.

She won the election and spent the next two years playing a pretty delicate role. She had to stand by the board at public meetings, as parents learned their community schools were destined for closure and blamed her for it, while advocating for the interests of those same families behind the scenes. And all within the confines of a prescribed, bureaucratic process. It was clear early on that her own Hinchinbrooke School in Parham, where her kids had attended and where she got involved with the board in the first place, was destined to close. It also became clear early in the process that the new school was going to be built in Sharbot Lake, and not in Parham. Whatever she felt about that reality, Ann never let on, ever the realist.

However, when all was said and done, not only was Clarendon Central in Plevna maintained, which was not a surprise because of the distances involved, but Land O’Lakes Public School in Mountain Grove stayed open as well. And the Granite Ridge build was funded.

The Frontenac News article about the final PARC report that confirmed all of this, revealed a bit of the pressure Ann had been facing.

The final paragraph of the article reads like this: “... a relieved Ann Goodfellow made reference to the stress this has caused for her as a community member and a school board trustee as the prospect of multiple school closings was being considered. She said, “This is good. Now I don't have to move.”

Ann was convinced, even before the whole process got underway, that the only way to secure the future of education in what the Limestone Board calls “the North”, was to have a new school built. She knew it would cost more than the board could really afford or could easily justify to the Ministry of Education, which was fixated on a cost per pupil ratio for all of their expenditures.

She took a lot of pride in the role she played in getting Granite Ridge built. She played that role with a combination of discretion and commitment, patience and good will, and it took a toll. When I phoned her in January of 2014, a week after Granite Ridge had opened, to ask if she was going to run for Trustee again, she laughed pretty hard and long before getting one word out. NO!

She was certainly ready to return to working with her husband David at Goodfellows Funeral Home and enjoying the rural life that she loved, a future that only lasted four years instead of the twenty or thirty 30 that she had been hoping for.

Published in CENTRAL FRONTENAC

Suzanne Ruttan has been the South Frontenac Township trustee to the Limestone District School Board since 2010. She has served as the Board Vice Chair for the past three years, and when the new Board was sworn to office last night in Kingston, she assumed the role of Chair of the Board of Trustees for 2019.

“We held elections for officers and committee appointments at a working meeting last week,” she said when interviewed on Tuesday, and I put my name forward and ended up being the only candidate. There was an election for Vice-Chair and the position ended up going to Laurie French, another veteran trustee who represents Napanee.

Ruttan and French are two of only three returning members on the 9-member board, the third being Karen McGregor from Central and North Frontenac and Addington Highlands.

“We have a lot of new trustees,” said Ruttan, “and my goal is to make sure that they have the best start that they can.

There were orientation sessions for the new board of trustees in November, and one aspect of the training was to clarify for the trustees that we function as a governance board, and as such do not have a direct role in the day to day functioning of the board and its schools.

“As a governance board, we are totally focussed on the big picture of the whole board, making sure we are following our strategic directions at all times. As a Board, we have one employee to oversee, the Director of Education.”

As board Chair, Ruttan is responsible, with help from the director, for setting meeting agendas and ensuring the smooth running of the board. She will also be called upon to speak on behalf of the board from time to time. However, she pointed out, only under explicit instructions from the board. The position also includes ceremonial responsibilities, representing the Limestone Board at meetings and public events.

She said that new board could be dealing with some major issues in its first year. Community consultations are underway for changes to the health curriculum, which should be coming out early in early 2019.

“The minister spoke to our provincial group last weekend, and I believe her message was that the group ‘will be pleased when we see what comes out’ of that process. We also know that when the government is looking for budget savings, they are going to look at education, so that may have an impact on our board. 2019 is also a bargaining year for education,” she said.

There is a one-year term for the position of Chair of the Limestone Board of Trustees. Ruttan can run again for 2020 if she chooses to, as can any of the 8 other board members.

Published in FRONTENAC COUNTY

The Frontenac County trustees are set to become part of the old guard on the board of trustees for the Limestone District School Board come December 12th.

Suzanne Ruttan easily held off the challenge from Roger Curtis, receiving 3659 votes to 1672 for Curtis, to return to the board for a third term representing the schools in South Frontenac (Harrowsmith, Prince Charles, Loughborough, Perth Road and Sydenham High School). In Central and North Frontenac Karen McGregor was acclaimed to a second term representing the students at Land O’Lakes, Clarendon Central, North Addington EC and Granite Ridge EC.

Roger Curtis was part of a connected group of candidates who campaigned under the banner of #TRUSTee. While he lost out to Ruttan, the group did well in the City of Kingston, elected 5 members to the 9 member board. They ran on a campaign of greater transparency and consultation before the board makes decisions.

The rift that could develop on the board as the result of the election may also have a geographical component. The trustee from Napanee, Laurie French, was re-elected, leaving three of the non-Kingston districts in the hands of the ‘old guard’.

The fourth rural district was the only one that saw the defeat of an incumbent. Wes Garrod was defeated by Robin Hutcheon in Loyalist -Stone Mills, by almost 1,000 votes.

In addition to Hutcheon, #TRUSTee members include: Bob Godkin, Judith Brown and Joy Morning, who were all elected; and Tom Gingrich, who was acclaimed.

One newly elected Trustee, Garrett Elliott, refused to join #TRUSTee when approached. He told Global News that he only “ran to try and make a positive difference to try to help out. I’ve always been involved in school council.”

The new Board of Trustees will take office on December 12.

Published in FRONTENAC COUNTY

Last Friday, (July 27) the Limestone District School Board joined with other boards in Ontario who are urging the new Ford government to reconsider its decision to pull the health and physical education curriculum that was instituted in 2015 from Ontario schools.

In a letter to Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, , Board Chair Paula Murray and Director of Education Debra Rantz ask for clarity around recent direction to revert to the what they called an “antiquated 1998 curriculum which does not support today’s students or families.”

The Board is asking the Ministry to “maintain the 2015 documents so educators may continue to support our students on important topics such as gay marriage, gender identity, sexting and sexual consent.”

In their letter, Murray and Rantz referred to the Ontario Equity Action Plan (2017) to illustrate the role that the curriculum plays in the healthy development of the students in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington region who attend Limestone schools. The Act says that the “the success of our graduates necessitates building their confidence in who they are and their resilience in the face of adversity and ensuring they feel accepted and included … Students must also experience teaching and learning that is reflective of their needs and of who they are.”

In the Limestone context, the letter says “in Limestone, we know firsthand the importance of this work. We know that our students must see themselves reflected in our curriculum, in our buildings, in our culture, to feel safe and supported, and to ensure their well-being. Our staff has used this curriculum to help empower our students to reach their full potential while supporting their emotional, mental and physical needs. Reverting to an outdated curriculum flies in the face of this progressive work and the Board does not support such a move.”

Within the City of Kingston there was a 53% increase in reports of sexual assault in 2017. Rantz and Murray say the increase may by in part due to the #MeToo movement giving confidence and support to Kingston residents to come forward.

“Our students need to learn about the concept of consent and the vocabulary of body parts so that they can speak clearly to police, and we can all work together as a community to prevent sexual abuse and ensure the safety and well-being of all of our students. This partnership is well supported by dedicated and experienced educators who have been professionally trained on how to respond and support students in need,” they wrote.

Finally, they referred to the “three pillars of Wellness, Innovation, and Collaboration” that the board adopted as core priorities several years ago.

“We are fiercely committed to those priorities, which include inclusion and equity for all,” they wrote, saying that the 2015 Health and Phys Ed curriculum plays a significant role in making the “board responsive to our students’ needs and ensuring they have the learning opportunities they deserve in 2018.

“We want everyone to see themselves in Limestone and this curriculum is key to helping achieve that goal.”

As of Tuesday (July 31) 20 Ontario Boards have sent similar letters to the Minister, including the Toronto District School Board, Durham District School Board, Kawartha Pine Ridge, Thames Valley, Ottawa Carleton, Simcoe County and Lambton Kent.

Opponents of the change in curriculum point out that the old curriculum, which is slated to be re-instituted this year, had been in place since 1998, when the impact of the Internet and Social Media on students was not yet a factor.

For her part, Minister Thompson referred only to the recent past in defending the old curriculum.

“Teachers are going to be going back to what they taught in 2014, and they’re familiar with that curriculum,” she told the Toronto Star

Published in ADDINGTON HIGHLANDS
Wednesday, 13 June 2018 12:45

New Leaf Link marks it 10th anniversary

New Leaf Link (NeLL) was set up to serve a growing number of developmentally disabled young adults in South Frontenac. After graduating from Sydenham High School, where there was and still is an excellent school to community program, there was nothing in the township for the graduates.

At the time, Dr. Karin Steiner, New Leaf Link’s Executive Director, was looking to continue her work as an autism educator and to find a program to benefit her son Nicolas, who has autism.

In its initial press release, New Leaf Link set out some principles, which make interesting reading after ten years.

“We aim to steward the occupational, cultural, and social contributions of disabled participants by a) creating a model educational centre; b) linking the strengths and interests of participants with employment and volunteer opportunities in local communities; and c) sharing our model with other communities.”

To a great extent those principles have not changed at all, but Dr. Steiner has found that some of the goals are taking longer to achieve than she initially envisioned.

“It has taken a lot more time and effort than I orginally thought it would to grow and become well established,” she said, when contacted early this week, a few days after the NeLL year end celebration and fundraiser at Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church. “My goal is still to create something that is going to continue beyond my time.”

“I feel that NeLL is healthy and growing. Lots of people are coming into the fold at the board level, and we continue to grow. We have fifteen people coming to programs now, and when we started there were four. And I feel we are on the cusp of a bigger change, and perhaps we are ready to partner with another organisation, but none of that is clear just yet.”

What is clear, is the evolution of NeLL programming. There are two days of programs, incorporating the skills of teachers, such as Gabriel Deerman of Salmon River Studios in Tamworth, playwright and theatre producer Christine Harvey, and a new addition is Linda Alford who is providing workshops on Adaptive Technology. Other teachers have come in to teach dance and karate and other skills, including cooking skills. The first NeLL day each week is an arts day, with drama in the morning and visual art in the afternoon, and the second day is a healthy living day, with cooking class, as well as gym and other programming. Last year NeLL received a Community Foundation of Kingston and Area grant for a community gardening project.

At the NeLL event last week, there were many community members, including supporters of the program and people who have befriended the participants around South Frontenac and Central Frontenac. Among the presentations at the event was the presentation of an original play, written about the history of New Leaf Link. Three of the four original NeLL’ers are still coming to the program each week and they were a resource for the play writing and production.

“One other thing has been clear from the beginning is that New Leaf Link is a friendship project. It is its own community but we reach out to other communities and it’s building and maintaining healthy relationships between NeLL participants, their families, and people we all live with and interact with in the larger community. That part of it has only become stronger,” said Steiner.

As NeLL looks to the future, there is continuing concern around funding. NeLL has some project funding from different sources and receives private donations, but has no government support and depends on student fees, which are $35 a day, to pay the bills. It is also supported in a major way by the Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church, which donates the space they use. Finances are a main reason why NeLL has not been able to open up for a third day of programming, which is a goal.

Still, after 10 years NeLL is not about to close up shop and continues to grow and expand its network of friends and supporters, and its services remain as essential as they were at the start.

“There was a gap that we filled and without us, that gap would still be there, in South Frontenac, for this community of people,” said Steiner, “so we continue to grow slowly, gain strength, and carry on.”

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC
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