Monthly Archives: December 2018

Wind Warning For Our Area

1:05 PM EST Monday 31 December 2018
Wind warning in effect for:
Niagara Falls – Welland – Southern Niagara Region
Strong winds that may cause damage are expected or occurring. Southwest wind gusts of 90 km/h overnight.

A deepening low pressure system will move rapidly eastward just north of the regions overnight. Southwest wind gusts of 90 km/h are expected for a period between about 1:00 AM and 6:00 AM early New Years morning. Winds will shift to northwest and rapidly diminish after daybreak.Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur. Loose objects may be tossed by the wind and cause injury or damage.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada. To report severe weather, send an email to or tweet reports using #ONStorm.

Q&A: Irreverent Santa

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large, with input from Bill Vigars

I tracked down a Santa from the past for this interview. He’s not what you would expect.
7 Questions

(Ho, ho, ho Bureau photo)

Q: Be honest with me: Do you ever get tired of this gig?
A: Come on paperboy, who would get tired of this. I work one day a year, get enough cookies to keep me the sweetie pie people think I am, and to top it off, unpaid non-union help by a bunch of elves that eat little and are always happy. That last part by the way, the happy, happy crap, sometimes gets on my nerves, but I digress.
Q: OK, so what gets you through the night: Rudolph’s uncanny sense of direction, or GPS?
A: Silly question young fellow. No disrespect to the leader of the pack – Gosh I loved that song, do you remember the Shangri-Las? – but Rudolph has quietly been put on the back burner. No not literally, but he’s come close. His lingonberry ‘habit’ has landed him in rehab more than once over the last 800 years. Yes, lingonberry, not Crystal Beach loganberry which is hard to find up here. That red nose does not come naturally. As far as a GPS, I’m not sure what that is exactly. The sleigh was updated with electronics a few years ago and I do enjoy a good game of Donkey Kong on it, a game that is much further advanced than my other favorite Ping Pong. So, to answer your question, what gets me through the night, Jamieson’s. 48 oz. From the Duty Free.
Q: Everyone knows how much you do for others this time of year. So what’s in it for you?
A: Silverware. Cutlery. You would be absolutely amazed at how much people have in their homes. I collect spoons because I play the spoons in the Santa’s Workshop Quartet and the North Pole Symphony. There is so much silverware folks don’t miss a few spoons, even a tea service now and then, ho ho ho! The sleigh is loaded down big time on the way back home. Oh, and of course I do all this nighttime travel to bring happiness to children and make Mrs. Claus’s dreams come true. Of course!
Q: Do thoughts about succession dance in your head – like selling out to maybe?
A: I tried to do a deal with some folks near the Amazon a couple of years ago, but had to turn tail what with the rain of arrows that greeted me from the beach. I do have several things dancing in my head most of the time but have to think fast when Mrs. Claus says to me, “What are you thinking about, honey?” Milk and cookies, she falls for that every time. If I hung up the old sack, shaved this itchy beard and headed south, what would I do? I hate golf. I have no friends to hang with (I’ve had too much quality time with the elves) and Mrs. Claus would be sending me to the store for another package of This and That. No, I’m in this for the long run, not that 947 years hasn’t been a good run.
Q: I’m just being nosy and you don’t have to answer this – did you get a letter from President Trump?
A: Don’t get me started about Orange Face. Oops, sorry, Santa is supposed to be jolly, but that little kid has walked into too many door frames. His letters to Santa are illegible, he does not play well with others and every time he says he is going to leave me milk and cookies.. zilch! Not only that, but he leaves a bill expecting me to pay for a wall to keep the elves out that I send down to check whether he has been good or bad! Can you imagine? On the upside, the lumps of coal I have given him over the years have kept 200 Pennsylvania miners employed for the past 30 years.
Q: Leafs or Habs? Or is there someone else?
A: Is there someone else, you sound like my wife. Of course there is someone else. The Buffalo Bills. Bills-Leafs-Leafs-Bills. Sure, I know it’s football but they need all the fans they can get. They’ve provided more disappointment than the remake of the “The Fly”. Come on, Jeff Goldblum is no Vincent Price. As far as the Habs go, they’ve never recovered from Guy Lafleur’s retirement.
Q: How do you chill when your long night is over?
A: Jamieson’s. The one I stash in the barn. After the deer have been fed…I like to mess with them. They return stuffed with crappy carrots and healthy goodies (yuck) and I lay out this meal of deer food. They loathe it. They stare at it and silently swear at me in deer, a language I have never been able to master, but I get their message, usually on the stable floor. Oh dear! After that it’s into the house where Mrs. Claus has the new spoons out for rehearsal and some fresh-baked cookies. I smile at her, grit my teeth and silently sit down. Of course she asks, wait for it…wait for it: “What are you thinking about, dear?” She never disappoints me, what a gal!
Gotta go paperboy. Make sure you are in bed early and feel free to leave a pizza this year. Merry Christmas to all and to all, whatever.

(Q&A is a new feature on the blog, this is the third. Previous: Q&A: Food Drive Afterthoughts (November 6); Q&A: Paul Turner, Trustee-Elect (November 28)

Sunday Morning Visitors

A sacred host in the pyx. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

We are Sunday morning visitors.

Our work is not well known.

It is not like the food pantry, or Harvest Kitchen, or St. Vincent de Paul at our busy parish, St. Kevin. Our work is not so high profile.

We call upon the homebound and the elderly. We come bearing a gift.

Recently, explaining what it is we do to a friend who drove me on my rounds that particular Sunday, I made a secular comparison.

“Think of it as a meals on wheels program,” I said to my friend, who is not Catholic but who is a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. “Think of the nourishment that we bring in a spiritual context.”

He got the picture.

I was back on the route yesterday, the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

I look forward to meeting the folks on the list. Yesterday there were six stops to make. Some Sundays there are fewer, some there are more.

The visits are informal. We talk about things like: faith, how they are feeling, what’s new in their lives, what’s going on in town, what’s ahead for the rest of their day, memories and more. But yesterday was special being so close to Christmas. Where will they spend the holidays, with whom and what’s for dinner, will be some of the things that will come up.

Dorothy, who still lives in her own home, told me about a health issue that required a visit to the emergency room two weeks prior. She says she is better now, but a little leery about walking distances without support. She was festive in a holiday-theme sweater with a cheerful decoration. She’s looking forward to Christmas dinner with her son and his family. They will be together Monday.

We say the Lord’s Prayer. She closes her eyes and clasps her hands, fingers pointed heavenward, devoutly. She says the words slowly and with feeling. After she consumes the sacred host, she clasps her hands again and says a silent prayer. There is peace on her face.

Jeanette is seated in the living room of the always neat and tidy second floor apartment that is home. Because of health issues, she rarely leaves the apartment.

She wears her faith on her sleeve, with religious symbols and images on display in the apartment. She is proud of her faith.

Her daughter is with her, but her son has stepped out.

They will have a “low-key” Christmas, her daughter has a busy work schedule ahead, they said.

She is pre-occupied this Sunday morning. Her daughter says she has a cataract and some blurred vision and it weighs on her mind.

Jeanette is one to always remember others in her prayers. She has special prayer intentions that are important to her.

We say the Confiteor, both mother and daughter know the words by memory. They say them solemnly. Jeanette receives Holy Communion, her daughter does not.

I don’t get away without Jeanette reminding me my family is always in her prayers.

God bless you, I say silently.

Marcel and Heather are a long-married couple. She is getting mobile again after a fall earlier in the year and a bad break that necessitated a lengthy rehabilitation in a specialized care facility.

He comes from a francophone background. She is Scottish. I love the traces of their respective heritages in their speech. Hers is more pronounced.

We share some light-hearted banter. They will have Christmas dinner with their son and his family. Turkey will be the main course. There will be gravy and mashed potatoes and other trimmings. Heather says she’s not partial to mashed, she prefers small roasted potatoes. Marcel assures me he’s not fussy, he comes from a family of 12 and one could not be fussy in those circumstances and he isn’t to this day.

They always stand during prayers. The words come easily to them, even to Heather who told me she had a stroke some years ago and struggles with speech from time to time.

They have said on occasion these Sunday morning visits are the highlight of their day. They look forward to welcoming Jesus into their home and their hearts. ‘Come, Lord Jesus,’ I pray silently.

Two of the regulars on the route are not at home when I call. Maria is elderly – in her mid-80s – and Italian. She says little until we come to the Lord’s Prayer and she hears the opening words, “Pater Noster” (Latin) some mornings, or “Nostro Padre” (Italian) on others. She takes the cue and joins in, saying the prayer so joyfully. Barbara, the other absentee, has told me on many occasions that she loves the faith. When she says the prayers she does so loudly and with great feeling, no shrinking violet here!

Barbara is blessed when it comes to spontaneous prayer.

She makes it a point to send visitors on their way with something like: “Lord, bless my brothers and sisters that come to visit us.They bring Christian fellowship and Holy Communion to those of us who cannot join in at the church. Bless them and their extended families. Keep them safe on the roads. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”

A miniature, artificial tree stands tall on the coffee table in Helga’s living room. Though it’s mid-morning, the lights already are on adding a gentle seasonal glow to the surroundings.

Helga will have dinner with one of her sons and his family on Christmas day, and with the other son and his family the next day. She thinks turkey and ham will be on the Christmas dinner table.

Last year she spent several weeks in hospital leading up to Christmas and was discharged shortly before the holy day. This year, she says, she is healthy and happy and nothing is going to get in the way. Nothing. She is resolute. She is 85.

Her eyes light up when I ask what the celebrations will be like. Helga takes great delight telling me she likes to sing and does so after Christmas dinner, a granddaughter accompanying her on piano. She says she sings Silent Night in English and in the German, Stille Nacht. She also sings other German carols.

I give her the sacred host and after consuming, Helga takes a few moments to say a silent prayer. We close with short blessings and I get up to leave. But then she stops me and asks me to linger for a few moments.

She breaks into song. It is Stille Nacht. It is beautifully done.

I am overwhelmed. I came with the gift of Jesus for her and leave with the gift of his holy birth in song. We Sunday morning visitors are so blessed.

Note to readers: Names of parishioners visited are pseudonyms.
Our St. Kevin Sunday morning visiting team – Philomena Presti, Randy Lallouet, Sandra Gaudet, Nancy Riou (home visits), Maria Maletta and Juan Hrepic (Seasons Welland) and Teresa Havran. Bonnie Vaddacchino is a hospital visitor though not necessarily Sunday mornings.

City Shorts, Try ’em On For Size

CITY SHORTS ART: Mayor Frank Campion & Charity Event Committee, along with representatives from Niagara Community Foundation: Welland Mayor’s Children & Youth Fund, Niagara Nutrition Partners, YMCA Pro Kids, and Family and Children Services. See ‘Mayor’s Charity Event’, below. (Supplied photo)

Compilation by Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

City Shorts

City Shorts is a compilation, from various sources (government websites, news announcements, press releases, church bulletins, advertisements, community service information and events, bulletin boards, requests, telephone requests, web postings, email requests etc.) of short items (in most cases) about matters of local interest in Welland. Want to submit an item for consideration? Please send to:

WELLAND – The city is recruiting for a variety of committees. If you’re ready to make a difference and want to help improve your community, this just might be the opportunity for you. Follow the link & click on NOTICE TO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC for more info and apply online. (link:

ST. CATHARINES – Tune in to Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, the 86th annual broadcast. Live coverage on Newstalk 610 CKTB, St. Catharines. Christmas music by the Cathedral Choir conducted by Lucas Chorosinski begins at 11:30pm Christmas Eve, followed by Midnight Mass celebrated by Bishop Gerard Bergie.

WELLAND – Don’t miss Christmas at the market, Saturday, December 22, 9am to 11am at the Welland Farmers’ Market, 70 Young Street, Welland. Join in for festive fun and a visit with Santa. Enjoy some holiday crafts, free face painting, colouring and winter activities.

WELLAND – On January 15, 2019, Welland city council will consider a report to opt-in or opt-out of hosting retail cannabis stores in Welland. The City is seeking feedback from residents on the sale of cannabis in licensed retail outlets in Welland. Share your thoughts!
More info is available at:

WELLAND – Want to know City of Welland holiday season hours? Easy peasy: just click on the link:

WELLAND – The holidays are coming soon, so here are the hours for Christmas and New Year’s at each library branch. Regular hours resume on January 2nd.

WELLAND – Curious about Regional Niagara’s services over the holidays? This link will help you find what you want/need to know:

WELLAND – Welland Public Library welcomes Welland musicians Jessica Wilson, Ryan Guay of Street Pharmacy, and – for the first time – Bridge 13! They will perform in the main branch of Welland Public Library on Thursday, Jan. 3, starting at 6:30 p.m. The event is called Loud in the Library and it’s ‘all ages’.
Admission is free with free pizza and snacks but attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food items to help local food banks, or new hats, mittens, scarves or gloves for the in-library winter warmth table.
Connect with the library on Twitter at @wellandlib for details and updates and use the hashtags #loudatWPL2019 #notyourparentslibrary the day of the event.

WELLAND – Mayor Frank Campion’s annual charity event raised many smiles and necessary funds for a handful of charities on Nov. 9, 2018. The event, Hometown Culture: An evening with Mayor Campion, brought nearly 100 guests to the Croatian Hall to celebrate the city’s multiculturalism while supporting local charities.
This year’s raised a total of $16,960 in support of the Niagara Community Foundation: Welland Mayor’s Children & Youth Fund, Niagara Nutrition Partners, YMCA Pro Kids, and Family and Children Services.
The annual event also attracted an inspiring list of generous sponsors. Welland Hydro Electric System Corp. came forward as the presenting sponsor. Wayne Armstrong represented the company during the ceremony and graciously accepted the presenting sponsor honour of the evening.
Other benevolent and community-minded businesses who donated to the evening included: Ashton Homes, PenFinancial Credit Union, Walker Industries, BCM Insurance Company, Emterra Environmental, Laurent Viger construction, L. J. Walters Insurance Brokers Ltd., Youngs Insurance Brokers Inc., Travelodge Fallsview Hotel, Welded Tube of Canada, and Rankin Construction Inc.,
The Mayor’s Charity has been celebrating community compassion for more than a decade. For more information on City of Welland of events visit, or for more information on the Mayor’s Charity Event contact Theresa Ettorre at 905 735-1700 Ext. 2101.

WELLAND – Wednesday, Jan. 30 2019, at the Croatian National Home in Welland. Tickets are $95 each or $760 for a table of 8. Ticket price includes dinner, wine at your table, and your chance to win a share of prize money. All proceeds will support our Gifts of Extraordinary Care fund, for the purchase of urgent equipment needs such as defibrillators at Niagara Health’s Welland Site. Tickets are limited so buy now. Or call the Foundation at 905-323-3863.

WELLAND – Two locations, twice the fun. Celebrate the New Year with the family at the Welland Community Wellness Complex and the Welland Main Arena, Monday, December 31 2018. There are plenty of activities at both locations and fireworks along the canal at 5:50pm. Donations of non-perishable food items are appreciated. Time: 4-6pm. This is a FREE family-friendly event

WELLAND – Welland’s Harvest Kitchen program started its 23rd season on Thursday, November 1 at Hope Centre, 570 King Street.
The weekly schedule is:
Sundays: Central United Church, 12 Young St., 5pm; Mondays: Eglise du Sacre-Coeur, 72 Empire St., 5:30pm; Tuesdays: Hope Centre, 570 King St., 5:30pm; Wednesdays: St. Kevin Roman Catholic Church, 307 Niagara St., 5pm; Thursdays 5pm for all: first Thursday of the month, Hope Centre, second Thursday, Southridge Community Church, 414 River Rd., third Thursday, Holy Trinity Anglican Church (use the market square door at the back), fourth and fifth Thursdays, Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, 300 Chaffey St. and new this season, third and fourth Fridays, 5pm: Southridge Community Church.
For emergency shelter please call 905-714-5007.

WELLAND – Put your best foot forward! Meet Mayor Campion at the Merritt Island parking lot Monday mornings at 7:30 a.m. for a 40-minute walk on Merritt Island. Note: The next scheduled walk is Monday, January 7.

(City Shorts is a weekly feature on the blog appearing most often on weekends.)