Morning Coffee – By Aaron Hall

Native plant sale

The Sydenham Field Naturalists are holding their ‘Garden in Harmony with Nature’ native plant sale on Saturday, May 20.

The sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Peers Wetland, located at 29644 Kimball Side Rd.

Organizers say anyone interested should come early, as the plants sell fast.

People will be able to tour the Peers Wetland while they are there and discover its biodiversity.

Call Larry Cornelis at 519-626-9591 or Tom Chatterton at 519-627-2986 for more information.

Purple Ribbon Campaign

The Lambton Drug Awareness Action Committee will launch its annual Purple Ribbon Campaign this Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 at 10:00am to bring attention and awareness to impaired driving; especially collisions that are caused by impaired drivers.

This year the committee will be placing 2 Purple Ribbons at the intersection of Modeland Road and Michigan Avenue starting at 10:00am and a third Purple Ribbon will be placed at the intersection of Mitton Street and George Street at 11:00am. This year’s Purple Ribbons will symbolize a respectful remembrance of the 10 and 20 year anniversaries of two (amongst many) local fatal collisions tragically caused by impaired drivers.

On November 7, 1997, Michael Parkes along with his friend and co-worker Gary Abbey were killed in a drunk driving collision at the intersection of Modeland Road and Michigan Avenue. On January 4th, 2007, Roberta MacIntosh was also killed by a drunk driver near the intersection of Mitton Street and George Street.

Impaired Driving is still an ongoing issue in our community. In 2016, the Sarnia Police Service experienced an increase of seven ‘impaired by alcohol’ charges with 46 in total compared to 39 in 2015. Additionally, three drivers refused to provide breath samples in 2015 compared to nine drivers in 2016. In these cases the drivers were charged accordingly with Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample which carries the same penalties as Impaired Driving upon conviction. Also, three drivers in 2015 along with three drivers in 2016 were charged with Impaired Operation of a Motor Vehicle by Drug. Furthermore, 29 alcohol related driving suspensions were issued in 2015 compared to 22 suspensions in 2016.

The Sarnia Police Service would like to remind motorists this holiday weekend to think before you drink. Please plan ahead and be a responsible driver. Remember that the offence of Impaired Driving applies to any motorized vehicle, vessel or aircraft and that “impairment” can be by alcohol or drug including prescription drugs. Always exercise caution.

If you have a suggestion, story idea, column idea, or if you want to say hello… drop me an e-mail at aaron@sydenhamcurrent.ca.

Photo of the day

Representatives of the local Habitat for Humanity group and the municipality of Chatham-Kent celebrated a national award received as the result of a joint project to reuse computers. Left to right area Jordan Labonte (HFHC-K IT committee volunteer), Richard Drouillard (HFHC-K IT Chair and Board President), Nancy McDowell (HFHC-K Executive Director), Polly Smith, Program Manager of Employment and Social Services for the municipality Dave Demers Learning Coordinator with CKESS and Anne Taylor (HFHC-K Volunteer Coordinator) (Submitted photo)

A collaboration between the municipality of Chatham-Kent and the local Habitat for Humanity group has earned that organization a national award.

Habitat for Humanity Chatham-Kent recently received its parent organization’s national Sustainable Funding Award for its efforts in providing used computers to low-income families.

During the last year, Habitat for Humanity has distributed 80 computers and has signed an agreement to continue the service for the next two years.

Nancy McDowell, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said the computers can be a life changing event for those who receive them.

“Our staff has been hugged and thanked by people receiving the computers,” she said. “A lack of income can be isolating. Often job applications have to be filled in online, or students’ homework requires online work. For a family that can’t afford a computer, this presents real challenges.”

Due to the constant use of municipal computers, it was found that those over four-years-old required costly maintenance so a lifecycle replacement program was instituted through the Information Technology Services Department.

Computers due to be replaced are cleared of data and shipped to Habitat where volunteers install basic operating systems and prepare them for use. While not suitable for commercial use, the units are fine for personal use.

The program is overseen by the municipality’s CKESS (Chatham-Kent Employment and Social Services) department.

Polly Smith program manager of employment and social services for the municipality, said Habitat for Humanity is an excellent partner for the initiative since it has the ability to determine eligibility of recipients.

She noted that although the partnership with Habitat is only a year old, the municipality has been working with various organizations since 2003.

“We have distributed about 1,000 computers over the years,” she said.

Smith pointed out that the United Nations declared access to the internet a human right in a 2011 report.

“Access to the internet allows for the free flow of information, low cost or free education opportunities, and online job searching. Increasingly, for people with transportation barriers (often of lower incomes), it also allows them to access many services they need online. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada cites computer use as one of the nine “Essential Skills” for workers today,” she said.

Internet use numbers from Statistics Canada shows a digital divide between higher income and lower income households. Only 62% of Canadian households with an income under $30,000 use the Internet.

“Having a computer has allowed low income families use for school work, job searching, social inclusion activities and to find needed information on services or apply for things online alleviating transportation barriers,” she said. “Reusing the computers means less waste going into landfills, so it’s a win for everyone.”

Weather forecast from Friday, May 19, 2017 to Monday, May 22, 2017

Today – Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this morning. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming northeast 20 this morning. High 16. UV index 9 or very high.

Tonight – Partly cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers this evening and after midnight. Wind becoming east 30 km/h gusting to 50 overnight. Low 11.
Saturday , May 20 – Increasing cloudiness. 40 percent chance of showers in the afternoon. Wind east 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 16.

Saturday night – Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. Low 16.

Sunday, May 21 – Cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers. High 20.

Sunday night – Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. Low 11.

Monday, May 22 – A mix of sun and cloud. High 21.

Monday night – Cloudy periods. Low 10.

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