The Chatham Voice, Jan. 6, 2022

Page 1

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It’s all downhill from here

COVID forces Ford to step up restrictions

By Pam Wright Local Journalism Initiative

In an effort to deal with an emerging tsunami of COVID-19 omicron cases, Ontario has again tightened pandemic restrictions. Premier Doug Ford announced Monday the province is moving back to a modified version of Step 2 in the Roadmap to Recovery in order to “blunt” the effects of the wave with the number one goal of preserving hospital capacity. This was to take effect Jan. 5. Ford said Ontario needs to “brace for impact” as cases are expected reach into the hundreds of thousands, and even if only one per cent of those people require hospitalization, it will exceed the system’s capacity. Closing indoor spaces and putting off the start of in-person learning for another two weeks will allow Ontario to “blunt the latest wave,” Ford explained, easing pressure on the hospital system allowing further time to roll out booster shots and immunizations. Ford said the wildly transmissible omicron variant can only be slowed; it can’t be stopped. The rise of the variant is

being seen in every corner, and Chatham-Kent is no exception. As of Monday, a total of 29 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, 21 of whom are not vaccinated. Three more deaths from COVID-19 also occurred since the last official report was released Dec. 30, bringing the death toll to 30. Public Health officials said two men, one in his 60s and the other in his 70s, and a woman in her 80s passed away. Monday saw the hospital’s ICU capacity running at 90 per cent, with eight covid positive patients. Seven ventilators were in use. Six of them were COVID-19 patients. The medical surge bed critical care department is full at 100 per cent, and 38 staff were off due to having the virus or being exposed to it. The average age of COVID-19 patients at CKHA on Monday was 68.5 years and there were three patients in hospital who reside outside Chatham-Kent. Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said he is not considering any additional measures for the municipality. Continued on page 3

Sarah Schofield/Special to The Chatham Voice

Nine-year-old Gavin Hopson spent Sunday afternoon with his family on Kingston Park’s hill in Chatham. With the first snow of the new year, Hopson enjoyed sliding down the hill at the park amongst other children and their families.



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It’s tree time in Chatham



trees that talk to each other. There are part of a fun interactive activity that includes Light-Up Downtown and Light-Up CK. According to a press release, delivery of the trees was delayed in part to COVID-19 and other shipping issues. The display is being funded by the Government of Ontario through the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario.

The Chatham Voice

The timing might be off slightly but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of new Christmas trees gracing Chatham’s King Street. Put up by the Historic Downtown Chatham BIA, the first tree was officially lit Dec. 30 on the Capitol Theatre balcony. Organizers say the display will see the addition of two 12-foot

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Repeat Customers Return

Peter Zubyk/The Chatham Voice

The Historic Downtown Chatham BIA lights up the first of three trees for display in the downtown. This one came to life Dec. 30 on the balcony at the Chatham Capitol Theatre.

Karyn and Mike Burneel of Goderich are seen with Luce Cools picking up their brand new 2021 Grand Cherokee Limited L. As returning buyers, this is the Burneel’s 6th vehicle they have purchased from Luce. Enjoy your new Jeep this winter season and safe travels!


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Evening beauty

Jake Trudell/Special to The Chatham Voice

A recent dusting of snow enhances the beauty of the landscape on Merritt Avenue in Chatham.

A COVID Q&A with Dr. Colby

By Pam Wright Local Journalism Initiative

COVID-19’s omicron variant is sweeping across the province, shattering previous records and changing the way testing is being carried out. We at The Chatham Voice have found that recent messaging from the Ministry of Health has been confusing so we decided to ask Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby a few questions about where we stand. The Voice: Now that the government is no longer tracking the number of cases of COVID-19, what is your best advice to area residents regarding managing the virus? Colby: The number of confirmed cases is still

being tabulated, but with the demand for testing outstripping the supply, the case numbers become increasingly remote from the true count. People can manage the virus by getting vaccinated and avoiding the three C’s: crowded places, closed spaces and close contact settings. At this point will everyone become infected? Colby: Probably not everyone, but omicron is very contagious. When do you think this Omicron wave will crest? Colby: My best estimate is mid to late January. In your opinion, is the COVID-19 vaccine working and if so, how? Colby: It depends on outcome measure...infection prevention versus prevention of severe

Merry Christmas

outcomes. Two shots are quite good at protecting against severe outcomes, but not good at preventing infection with omicron. Three shots are four times better than two, protecting against infection and excellent against severe outcomes. Do you think COVID-19 will be declared endemic and how will that be managed? When will that happen in your opinion? Colby: Impossible to say. There’s been some talk about rapid tests not being made available cheaply, and that wealthier people are the only ones able to access the tests. What are your thoughts? Colby: We cannot test ourselves out of this surge. I see this as less of an equity issue and more of a logistical problem.

Do you agree omicron is milder than delta? Is delta still out there? Colby: There is still some delta circulating. Although omicron seems milder on average (preliminary analysis), the

high transmissibility of omicron will still result in enough cases to overload our hospitals. Is contract tracing still being done? Colby: It is being done in high-risk settings such

as long-term care and congregate living, but not in community settings. There are too many cases to trace like before with available resources. Better to concentrate on immunization.

Continued from page 1 He believes getting the shot is still the best defense. “I continue to beat the drum that the vaccines are excellent at preventing serious illness and death,” Colby said, “even if they are not so good a preventing infection per se. The main focus now is on harm reduction.” Ontario restrictions include: • Limiting indoor gath-

erings to five people, outdoor gatherings to 10. • Students to return to online learning for the next two weeks. • Work remotely if possible. • No indoor dining and theatres, cinemas and museums will close. • Gyms are closed. • Retail stores and malls operate at 50 capacity. • Personal care allowed to operate at 50 per cent. • Public libraries operate

at 50 per cent. • Reduced capacity at indoor services such as weddings, funerals and religious matters limited to 50 per cent of a particular room. • All non-emergent surgeries are paused across Ontario. The government has stated some of the measures will last for a minimum of 21 days. For a full list visit, news. online.

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Families want replacement for Tilbury Manor By Pam Wright Local Journalism Initiative

Donna Benoit wants her 95-yearold mother Loretta to stay put in Tilbury. That means attracting a new longterm care facility to the West Kent community as Tilbury Manor Nursing Home – where her mother lives – is closing with its 75 beds to be reallocated to a new home in Belle River some 30 kilometres away. “We need to have something in Tilbury,” Benoit said. “I’m pretty sure it could be supported, probably something larger than what we have.” Afflicted by dementia, Loretta has been a resident at Manor for the past five years, continuing to live in the community where she has spent most of her life. It’s where her family and friends are, Benoit explained, adding the central location is ideal for family and friends. And while COVID-19 threw a wrench into visiting, having her mother in the small town nursing home was very reassuring to Benoit and her siblings. Benoit is among the thousands joining the chorus of the Ontario Health Coalition speaking out against the province’s privatization of long-term care. A new campaign titled “Public Money, Private Profit: The Ford Government & the Pri-

vatization of the Next Generation of Ontario’s Long-Term Care” takes aim at the government for spending taxpayer’s money on for-profit homes for aging seniors. It was launched in December online allowing chapters throughout Ontario to raise their concerns. Shirley Roebuck, chair on the Chatham-Kent chapter of the OHC, said the organization is trying to stop the government from “granting licenses to bad actors.” The OHC has championed many efforts in the past, but Roebuck said this one is different. “We are on a timeline,” she pointed out at a recent province-wide press conference. “The government is pushing through these licenses and they last for a 30-year period.” Roebuck said many of the large corporations getting the new deals have “ghastly” records. Some of their for-profit nursing homes are where hundreds of elderly residents died during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Army was called in to help with the crisis in Ontario and Quebec, Roebuck said, that saw many elderly perish in terrible conditions. According to the retired registered nurse, most people don’t want public money funnelled to policies with bad safety records – conditions exacerbated by companies that keep staffing levels low to increase profits. Continued on page 5

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Stocking the shelves

Bruce Corcoran/The Chatham Voice

The Chatham Voice’s Peter Zubyk, right, hands over a cheque for $450 to Jami Vandevenne of the Salvation Army, part of the proceeds from the newspaper’s Deck the Shelves program. The Voice, along with Hinnigan-Peseski Funeral Home, Chatham Nissan, Chatham Chrysler, Lally Kia, Titan Forklifts, Sundowner Truck Accessories, Maple City Homes and Family Lending, donated to help stock the shelves at Outreach for Hunger and the Salvation Army just before Christmas. Below, Zubyk delivers a cheque for $450 to Cindy Parry of Outreach for Hunger, again, part of the proceeds from the newspaper’s Deck the Shelves program.

Manor moving to Belle River

Continued from page 4 The majority are not in favour of the creation of more for-profit longterm care beds, Roebuck stressed. The licence for Arch Long-Term Care, the parent company that owns the aging Tilbury facility, as well as other homes including one in Leamington, was granted earlier this year. The new contract covers the creation of 85 new spaces, along with the redevelopment of 75 beds – the number currently located in Tilbury. All of these will be moved to a new 160-bed site to be built in Belle River. Roebuck said the loss of Tilbury Manor is a loss for the entire West Kent com-

munity. While the loss of the Tilbury landmark is a done deal, Roebuck said area residents have banded together under the Tilbury Area Action Team to try and attract another longterm care facility to the town. As long as it’s not a for-profit home, Roebuck added, noting the OHC would like to see the Municipality of Chatham-Kent get more involved in the process. “Municipal councils have a lot of power,” Roe-

buck noted. “They represent voters.” Funding for the new home in Belle River was announced by Chatham-Kent—Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls late in 2020. Following the decision, South Kent Coun. Clare Latimer put forward a motion to administration to advocate for keeping long-term care beds in Chatham-Kent. However, it was too late for the manor as the province had already granted approval.

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Gas venting in Wheatley

Major and Minor Repairs

The Chatham Voice

Plans are moving forward to safely vent dangerous hydrogen sulphide gas at the site of the Wheatley blast. According to a municipal press release, officials have completed necessary preparations to divert the gas, and a flame of the release may be visible to nearby residents. Recent excavation efforts uncovered a second well, which has been connected to a test separator. The device will divert any water from the well to a holding tank for safe disposal and send gas to a flare stack.

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Our holiday tree will only be displayed for a short while December 29 - January 8 This is just preview of what is to come for next year’s light up ck event We personally thank the Government of Canada’s support through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, the Capitol Theatre and Blitzen Pro Lighting for helping to make it happen.


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A return to Stage 2 Yes, we’re back under tighter restrictions than what we enjoyed leading up to Christmas, but can you blame the provincial government? We all have to collectively try to persevere for another three weeks as provincial health experts seek to slow down the explosion of the omicron variant of COVID-19. The bad: this variant is highly contagious and appears to largely ignore vaccines as a defence against contracting it. The good: the variant is not as vicious as its predecessors. More people are catching this version of COVID-19, but the percentage of people getting dangerously ill from it and requiring hospitalization as a result, seems much lower. The good: being fully vaccinated and boosted helps to greatly reduce the severity of COVID-19 The problem: so many people are catching omicron that even with greatly reduced chances of severity, the overall huge numbers are threatening to overwhelm our health-care system. Public health officials at local, provincial and national levels have long stated the worry is the pressures placed on our hospitals. That, to them, is the danger indicator. If intensive care units are overloaded and there aren’t enough ventilators for the number of patients in need, doctors are going to have to start to “play God” in determining who gets access to a ventilator and lives. If you get the omicron version of COVID, chances are you’ll just have to stay home for a bit, isolate and move on. But they key is to isolate. Ignoring symptoms and not isolating is what is causing a great deal of the strife we are seeing these days. It’s past time to know the symptoms. Fever, cough, fatigue and loss of sense of taste or smell are key indicators you might have contracted the virus. Less common symptoms can include sore throat, headache, and aches and pains. Some of those symptoms are also tied to the flu or the common cold, but at this stage of COVID-19 – well, any stage, really – it is better to be safe than sorry. The province is not in lockdown at this point, so let’s all try to do our part to prevent that from happening. Social distance, mask up, wash your hands repeatedly and follow the guidelines.

Letters to the editor policy The Chatham Voice welcomes letters to the editor. Our preferred method to receive letters is via e-mail to (use “Letter” in the subject line). The Chatham Voice reserves the right to edit letters to the editor for brevity and clarity. All letters need to be signed.

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The publisher of this newspaper, CK Media Inc., reserves the right to clarify or refuse any advertisement based on its sole discretion. The publisher reserves the right to reject, discontinue or omit any advertisement without notice or penalty to either party. Liability for errors or non-insertion is limited to the amount paid for the cost of space occupied by the error. Claims of errors must be made prior to the next publication date.



MPP spreads misinformation Editor: In the past, in this space, I have supported the right of Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP, Rick Nicholls, to defend his anti-vaccination position – as a private citizen. I still do. Unfortunately, he continues to promote his views publicly as a member of the Ontario Legislature, in opposition to the stated position of the party he was elected to serve, and as a representative of the people of Chatham-Kent–Leamington. Most recently, he ap-

peared on a nationally syndicated, American radio show out of Las Vegas, hosted by the extreme right wing conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root. To begin with, Nicholls is a backbencher in the Ontario Legislature where he sits as an independent, and yet he was introduced by the host as a “high level politician in Canada.” Continuing, during the course of the interview rife with misinformation, he made inflammatory,

irresponsible, and unsubstantiated claims, stating that Prime Minister Trudeau had “paid off” the media to not report the “facts” on the pandemic and claiming that doctors were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs and not being able to pay off their student loans. In my view, it’s unfortunate that Mr. Nicholls has chosen to take the positions he has on the current pandemic crisis we are all facing. For

him to appear on an American radio show, that presumably reaches millions of people, to tacitly set himself up as a spokesman for the people of Ontario is unconscionable. Mr. Nicholls should be reminded that he was elected to represent the people of Chatham-Kent–Leamington, who through their actions, have indicated a majority support for vaccination.

Editor: I read an interesting letter to the editor in the Nov. 18 Chatham Voice by Merle Knutson. “What happened to freedom of choice” was the header. Obviously a lot

was lost to COVID, and some still is, and will be for a long time in my opinion. But I’m sure it’s not because a lot of people are unvac-

cinated. Even people who are vaccinated think they are so immune that they aren’t following the rules as they should. Plus, they are not

bothering to get a COVID test. When I was visiting in a long-care home, I had a test three or sometimes four a week, I felt quite safe with that. Continued on page 9

Dennis Makowetsky Chatham

No immunity with vaccines now

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A month to remember

We “Thank You” for your business in 2021 and look forward to 2022. It has been our pleasure dealing with you, and your Real Estate needs.

Editor: In December, we named a dozen inanimate snowplows. It is a cute idea but - at the end of the day it means nothing to the plows. On the other hand we hear reports that the closure of the Third Street Bridge has not negatively impacted emergency response times. Really? Unless they grow wings, fire trucks exiting Station No.1 to attend at Grand

DAN GAGNER Broker of Record

Office: 519-436-6161 Cell: 519-401-1333

Avenue and St. Clair Street via the Fifth Street Bridge will – obviously – take longer than traversing the Third Street Bridge. On the other hand boaters, will be pleased to know, navigational clearance under the bridge will be maintained throughout the winter. That’s reassuring. I would like some assurance that there is some accountability for this “unexpected”

delay caused by the onset of winter (an annual event). The time and fuel costs incurred by motorists would be impossible to determine but our community does NOT need another “shortfall” as was the case when the Fifth Street Bridge reconstruction was completed. It was approximately seven digits. Reg DeNure Chatham

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Dave Epp positioned to aid food banks Editor: The recent appointment of David Epp, our Member of Parliament, to the shadow cabinet position of Deputy Minister of Agriculture must have come as welcome news to the editors

of The Chatham Voice, the Salvation Army Food Bank and Outreach for Hunger. “Food banks face uphill battle” headlined an article in the Nov. 25 paper, and the editorial

We all need to get vaccinated at this point Continued from page 6 Now I have had my vaccination because that’s the only way I will be able to get the freedom I need. But if I need a COVID test to feel more secure it will cost me $40 at one drug store I know. If only once a week, that could mount up to quite a bit if I would like one until COVID is beaten. In regard to the comments on MPP Rick

was titled, “Food banks Need Our Support.” With his local, federal and international involvement in farming, agri-business and the like, as well as his new portfolio covering agriculture, agri-food and food security, this is a golden opportunity for Mr. Epp to tap into

his grocery chain contacts, food processing associates and farming organizations. Contributing his expertise and influence would surely alleviate the pressures felt by those in his constituency that either work tirelessly collecting food and/or those that require regular assistance in providing

healthy food for their families. It would be grand if the readers of The Chatham Voice picked up a future issue of the newspaper that ran glowing headlines and meaningful articles reporting that our own Member of Parliament assisted in acquiring pallets of food items and tons of groceries for the people living in Cha-

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Dan Kelly Chatham

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Nicholls refusing to get the vaccination, that is definitely his choice, but if it’s mandated for work places, especially hospitals and long-term care homes, then it should be. But eh Mr. Nicholls is the one to be loosing about $200,000 a year job over it. Not out of your pocket Merle, his choice. Ruth Draper Chatham

tham-Kent-Leamington. As the newly minted Deputy Minister of Agriculture in a Conservative shadow cabinet, this is an opportunity for Mr. Epp to step up and join the countless people of this constituency that battle to better our community every day.

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The Corcoran clan contracts COVID The Chatham Voice

How did you spend your Christmas break? The Corcorans, like a growing number of Chatham-Kent residents, spent it in COVID-19 isolation. That’s right, we got The Vid, to steal the term from comedian Kevin Hart. Three days before Christmas, our daughter hung out with a friend who she had not seen in months as both were away at school. It turns out, the friend was at the time asymptomatic with COVID. This is what happens. People do pretty much everything right, yet the virus can slip past. So, my wife and I, just a handful of days after getting our booster shots, wound up with COVID.

Bruce Corcoran We felt like crap for days. I’m still hacking up lung gunk as I type this. For us, the symptoms began on Dec. 27, two days after our daughter found out a friend had tested positive, and her own symptoms began. For Brenna, it was a matter of having a fever, feeling lightheaded and suffering through some nausea to begin with. She, double vaxxed, transitioned quickly to general fatigue, wet cough and stuffed up sinuses.

Mary Beth wound up with nasty body aches to begin with, and waves of fever. Even after the fever, a short walk around the neighbourhood block required stopping for a rest. As for myself, it went to my lungs, throat and sinuses. I had a fever come and go as well, but not to the same extent as Mary. But it felt like even moving my eyeballs hurt

sometimes. In other words, each of us felt like we were going through a bout with the flu. It’s the exhaustion that lingers. You wake up and think, “Man, I feel pretty good, better than a couple of days ago.” Then you try to perform a few mundane tasks, and find out you have to take a break.

The naysayers will pipe up and say the vaccines didn’t work; we got COVID. But I am very thankful I was double vaxxed and boosted when the illness got to me. As omicron is spiking around the globe, having the improved defenses coursing through us limited the damage. I am asthmatic and overweight; my wife had dia-

betes, so we are immunocompromised. As soon as Brenna’s friend got a positive result on a rapid test, we tested ourselves on Christmas Day. That’s when Brenna had a positive. We got her in for a PCR test on Boxing Day, and she got the news just a day later she was positive on the more accurate test. Continued on page 13

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Bruce Corcoran gets tested for COVID-19. Like a growing number of Chatham-Kent residents, it came back positive.

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Thursday, January 6, 2022: • Come join us for lunch from 11:00am to 1:30pm at the Chatham Moose Lodge, 850 Richmond St. Daily specials available. Everyone welcome. Friday, January 7, 2022: Come join us at The Chatham Legion, corner of William & Colborne St. Chatham is open for take-out meals only from 4:00 -6:00 p.m. Supper will be served from 4:00 – 6:00. No orders after 5:30 p.m. Tonight’s specials are Cabbage Rolls or Fish & Chips $12.00 tax included. Please call 519-351-8733 or 519-351-5639. After 11:00 on Friday. We apologize for the inconvenience. • Friday night supper at the Chatham Moose Lodge, 850 Richmond St will be a honey garlic chicken dinner with rice, vegetable, caesar salad and a bread roll for $12. Please call daily from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at 519352-8291 to place your order. Join us for lunch from 11:00am to 1:30pm. Everyone welcome. Saturday, January 8, 2022: • Morning Breakfast Program at First Presbyterian Church (corner of Fifth St. and Wellington). A delicious nutritious breakfast served free of charge from 9:30am-11:30am. This will be a TAKE OUT only. Sunday, January 9, 2022: • Come join us for breakfast at the Chatham Moose Lodge, 850 Richmond St. from 9:00am to Noon. All breakfasts are cooked to order. Everyone welcome. Friday, January 14, 2022: • Come join us at The Chatham Legion, corner of William & Colborne St. Chatham is open for take-out meals only from 4:00 -6:00 p.m. Supper will be served from 4:00 – 6:00. No orders after 5:30 p.m. Tonight’s specials are Cheeseburger with fries or Fish & Chips $12.00 tax included. Please call 519-351-8733 or 519351-5639. After 11:00 on Friday. We apologize for the inconvenience. Wednesday, January 19, 2022: • Kent Coin Club meeting from 7:00pm-8:00pm. Boardroom at Memorial arena, (80 Tweedsmuir Ave Chatham). Fully Vaccinated and masking required. For more info contact President Paul Robb (probb1@ Friday, January 21, 2022: • Come join us at The Chatham Legion, corner of William & Colborne St. Chatham is open for take-out meals only from 4:00 -6:00 p.m. Supper will be served from 4:00 – 6:00. No orders after 5:30 p.m. Tonight’s specials are Meat Loaf Dinner or Fish & Chips $12.00 tax included. Please call 519-351-8733 or 519-3515639. After 11:00 on Friday. We apologize for the inconvenience. Are you affected by someone else’s drinking? Al-anon can help! Call - leave message - 519-350-3462 Submit your coming events to bruce@chatham­ or


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Enduring COVID-19

Contributed image

The Driftscape tourism app is now connected to the Buxton Historic Site and Museum.

Buxton teams up with Driftscape The Chatham Voice

The story of the Buxton Historic Site and Museum has a new platform. Organizers recently opted to join Driftscape – one of Ontario’s premier tourism apps – in an effort to make the Chatham-Kent landmark more accessible. “We map their stories and show off Ontario’s hidden gems,” said Pooja Chitnis, Driftscape’s director of marketing and customer success. Leveraging 360-degree

technology, Chitnis said the app allows users to explore places virtually, creating an “immersive experience.” People can use the app to explore sites in real life or from home, Chitnis explained. The app features the narration of some stories and also highlights points of interest that might otherwise go undiscovered. Chitnis said app developers are planning on creating a Buxton Historic Site scavenger hunt people can do at their leisure.

think of them if they test positive for COVID. Some ignore symptoms and continue on with their lives. But that is terrible, and potentially tragic. Omicron is highly contagious. It got into our household from a simple gathering of friends, which followed provincial guidelines. If you have any of the signs of COVID, get tested as soon as possible. More importantly, self-isolate to be safe.

Continued from page 11 I immediately went to book Mary and I in for PCR tests at the testing centre. I went online on Dec. 27. The first open date was Jan. 1. That’s how we “enjoyed” New Year’s morning, getting swabs up our nostrils. Through it all, we isolated and notified close contacts from just prior to Christmas. As soon as we saw Brenna’s rapid antigen test result, we contacted everyone we had been with Christmas Eve. We were at a family dinner of 10 people. Fortunately, it appears Brenna was not shedding the virus at that point. As for the people at The Chatham Voice, I have stayed away. Thankfully, we were closed a few extra days over the holidays, so there was no contact through me. Even with the shorter isolation period for most, I am staying away this week as well. Being immunocompromised means I could be shedding the virus for a longer period of time than most. As I type this, all of us are feeling better in our house, but we are still coughing. And the fatigue lingers. Better safe than sorry. This column is not an effort to make any reader feel sorry for us, but rather to share how easily this virus can transmit in its omicron variant form. There are reports some folks are afraid of what other people might

Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year

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For others, don’t judge people on potential or actual COVID exposure. That could only make contact tracing more difficult, as people shield their symptoms and ultimately spread the virus. To my coworkers, friends and family, I must express my thanks, for holding down the office while I’m off ill, for delivering medication and groceries to our doorstep, and for being so supportive as we had to deal with the virus.

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Nicholls belongs to Ontario Party By Pam Wright Local Journalism Initiative

There may be a silver lining for Rick Nicholls following his ejection from Ontario’s Progressive Conservative caucus. Ousted by Premier Doug Ford in August 2021 for refusing to get the

COVID-19 vaccine, the Chatham-Kent–Leamington MPP now finds himself laying the groundwork for the emerging Ontario Party. Nicholls, who announced he was joining the right wing party just before Christmas, said that for him, making the move all boils down to

choice. “We want to be the conservative party of choice for Ontario,” Nicholls said recently, adding the vaccine has become Canada’s hot-button issue. “We’re doing this in the name of health,” he said, noting he does not agree with government forcing people to take what he

calls an “experimental drug.” However, Nicholls has been heavily criticized for his anti-vaccine beliefs. Ontario’s NDP health critic France Gelinas went so far as to say Nicholls is abusing his power and contributing to the spread of COVID-19. The Ontario Party was founded in 2018 but it barely got off the ground. Now it has a new leader in Derek Sloan, the former Conservative MP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington. Sloan ran for the Conservative leadership in 2020 but was expelled after taking a donation from an alleged white supremacist. Sloan has also been criticized for opinions on same-sex mar-

riage, LGBTQ He’s also confirights and his dent in the supzealous oppoport he has. sition to the “I do have quite COVID-19 vaca following across cine. Canada,” NicholSloan made an ls explained, citappearance in ing the responses Chatham in May, to his various soattending an ancial media chanti-lockdown pronels, adding he Rick Nicholls test in Tecumseh has “a lot of supPark. Five people port locally.” were charged in connecHis media presence is tion with the event, but it gaining traction, he said, is unknown if Sloan was adding he recently apamong them. However, peared on a popular podhe was charged under the cast syndicated out of NeReopening Ontario Act in vada. Aylmer. Nicholl’s new beginning In the meantime, Sloan may lead him to running and Nicholls are making for re-election for a fourth history with Sloan tak- term next year – someing on the leadership role thing he didn’t think posand Nicholls as the first sible when he was forced sitting member of the to leave the PC party. Ontario Party at Queen’s But Nicholls isn’t giving Park. anything away. Nicholls said he feels When asked if he will confident in his new role. seek a fourth term in June He’s helping recruit can- 2022, the veteran politididates to the party and cian gave an open-ended is writing policy, add- reply. ing the Ontario Party is “That’s the million dolpro-family, pro-liberty lar question, isn’t it?” he and pro-freedom. said.

Classifieds Obituary

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3 piece Sklar Peppler furniture. Chair, couch, loveseat, brown. Sklar Peppler display cabinet, sliding doors with glass, drawers, brown. Heavy duty pine kitchen table with 2 chairs and 2 benches. Dark brown. Frigidaire Gallery refrigerator, 21 cu.ft., white, 2 years old, works mint. Cherry dresser, 6 drawers, cherry night table, 2 drawers. Living room lamp tables, coffee table with opening top and 2 drawers, light pine. Heavy duty entertainment center, heavy pine, very nice shape. 519-437-0634

We sincerely thank our families, friends and neighbours for food, fruit baskets, floral arrangements, donations, sympathy cards, visits and support we received. We thank the staff at C.K.H.A., Dr Rowden, Dr Beg, NP’s Shelley, Jen & Janet, the medicine and continuing care units, Karen & Ashley - Supportive Care, Catherine - Spiritual Care and Jackie - Social Worker. A very special thank you to Nicole V - RPN, your care was outstanding and very much appreciated. Special thanks to Laurie & her staff at Aristo’s Catering for the tasty meal, Father Runstedler for the touching service. Ron & Jeff at Hinnegan - Peseski for your compassion and professionalism. We shall remember all the kind acts with gratitude. Elsie, Gail, Judy, Brenda & Darlene

Truly missed, Never forgotten Love husband Robert, daughters Cathy, Bobbi, Lisa and families.

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1982 Pontiac Parisienne Coupe. 2 door, redwood, interior maple. Engine 5.0 litre, 305 4 Barrel. Power windows, tilt wheel, new headliner and original. No holes in body or floor. Price $9,800. Final, no less. Phone 519-784-3962. Silk Cemetery Saddle Arrangements. Everyday/ Holidays. Ready-to-go. Many colours available. $35. 519-354-3411

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A resident of Kent Bridge, Ken Osborne passed away at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Chatham on December 24, 2021 at the age of 83. Born in Howard Township, Ken was the son of the late Calvin and Nancy (Campbell) Osborne. Beloved husband of 58 years to Caroline (nee Smith). Dear father to Jeremy Osborne. Predeceased by his daughter Jennifer (2016). Proud grandfather to Ryli, Paetyn, Noah, Stephen and Emma. Ken will also be dearly missed by his sisters and brother in law; Kathi DesChene, Margaret and Jack Eberle as well as his sisters and brothers in law; Jean Pinch, Jim and Pat Smith, Helen Walker, Dick and Norma Smith, Diana and Gary Skidmore, Linda Tuach, Ab and Jan Smith, and many nieces and nephews. Ken will forever be remembered by his family and friends for his creativity and resourcefulness. He was proud of his airplane he built from scratch along with restoring his Corvette. His main priority in life was his family and friends and spending time with them. Family and friends were received at the Funeral Home, 459 St. Clair Street, Chatham on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. A private Funeral Service was held at the Funeral Home on Thursday, December 30, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. Donations made in memory of Ken to the Thamesville United Church or the charity of your choice would be appreciated by the family. Online condolences may be left at McKinlay Funeral Home 459 St. Clair Street, Chatham 519-351-2040

Sysel: Francis (Frank) Stephen A resident of Chatham, Frank Sysel passed away at home on December 21, 2021 at the age of 83. Born in Chatham, Frank was the son of Joseph and Mary Sysel. Beloved husband of 61 years to Helen (nee Kocis). Dear father to Annette Sysel (Joe Bauer), Janine Nicholson (Grant). Proud grandfather to Elly Charland, Cal Charland and Casey Charland. Dear brother to Chuck Sysel (Peggy). Predeceased by his sister Mary Ann Slovak and her late husband Joe. Frank will be forever remembered for his love of music, especially his involvement with his Barbershop Chorus & Quartets. He was a member of the St. Joseph’s Knights of Columbus and a member of the Maple City Golf and Country Club. Family and friends were received at the Funeral Home, 459 St. Clair St. Chatham on Sunday, December 26, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church, Chatham on December 27, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. Cremation followed. Donations can be made in memory of Frank to Food for Children, C-K Hospice or Charity of Choice would be appreciated by the family. Online condolences may be left at


Lisa Marie Byers 47, Thursday, December 16, 2021 Blenheim Communit Funeral Home

Frank Sysel 83, Tuesdy, December 21, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Dakota Gross 23, December, 2021 Life Transitions

Jack Rigby 86, Monday, December 20, 2021 Blenheim Community Funeral Home

James Hall 67, Wednesday, December 22, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Nancy Marriott 80, Thursday, December 16, 2021 Life Transitions

Jody Fiala 56, Friday, December 24, 2021 Blenheim Community Funeral Home

Martin Van Rooyen 87, Thursday, December 23, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Doreen Weston 86, Tuesday December 28, 2021 Life Transitions

Oliver Gerard Faubert 92, Tuesday, December 21, 2021 Hinnegan-Peseski Funeral Home

Douglas McFadden 101, Thursday, December 23, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

James Wass 41, Tuesday, December 21, 2021 Life Transitions

Phyllis Bechard 82, Saturday, December 25, 2021 Hinnegan-Peseski Funeral Home

Ken Osborne 83, Friday, December 24, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Sally VanderSluis 88, Monday, December 27, 2021 Life Transitions

Teresa Brzuskniewicz 97, Tuesday, December 28, 2021 Hinnegan-Peseski Funeral Home

Patricia Vermist 71, Saturday, December 25, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Doris Leader 86, Thursday, December 22, 2021 Life Transitions

Luisa D’Aliasi 94, Sunday, December 26, 2021 Hinnegan-Peseski Funeral Home

Barbara Williams 83, Saturday, December 25, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Scott Drury 57, Thursday, December 23, 2021 Life Transitions

Arthur “Art” Leclair 81, Tuesday, December 28, 2021 Hinnegan-Peseski Funeral Home

Joan Rice 90, Monday, December 27, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Diane Stewart Thursday, December 30, 2021 Life Transitions

Barbara Broadbent 81, Wednesday, December 29, 2021 Hinnegan-Peseski Funeral Home

Jayne Soutar Wednesday, December 29, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Clarence Wiersma 67, Thursday, December 30, 2021 Life Transitions

Shirley Morrice 82, Friday, December 31, 2021 Hinnegan-Peseski Funeral Home

Marilyn Louise Coates Friday, December 31, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Robert Billingham 82, Friday, December 31, 2021 Alexander and Houle Funeral Home

Gordon “Gordie” Waite Monday, December 20, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Paul Driscoll 66, Friday, December 31, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Garnet Thibault 96, Thursday, December 30, 2021 Nicholls Funeral Home

Terry Wayne Welch 60, Friday, December 24, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Madlin Amanda Lindsay 86, Friday, December 31, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Sietse “Cecil” Heikamp 95, Friday, December 31, 2021 Nicholls Funeral Home

Rod Nun Saturday, December 18, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Doris Stanlick 90, Sunday, December 19, 2021 Life Transitions

Donald Poole 99, Tuesday, December 21, 2021 McKinlay Funeral Home

Nancy Thomas 74, Sunday, December 19, 2021 Life Transitions

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A Part of Wallaceburg since 1943. 459 St.Clair St., Chatham • 519-351-2040 76 Main St. E., Ridgetown • 519-674-3141 141 Park St., Blenheim • 519-676-3451

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