Sunbathers: A great evening for sunbathing and no nosy neighbours gawking at you here on this section of old Welland Canal in Welland. Stand-up paddleboarders are in the distance. The view is from the Woodlawn Bridge./Photo by Joe Barkovich
As students of all ages return to the classroom in September, one of the most significant increases in campus activity will occur at Niagara College, where thousands of students will return to in-class learning.
Understanding that an influx of students from around the province is returning to Welland to live, study, and engage in the community, Niagara College and the City of Welland is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the community by sharing pertinent news and information relating to COVID-19.
On August 16, Niagara College announced that it requires students, employees, visitors, and contractors who are learning or working on campus in September to be vaccinated against COVID-19; this in addition to students living in residence and all student-athletes.
Everyone visiting a Niagara College campus for college business is required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received the first dose of a Health Canada or World Health Organization-approved vaccine by September 7, and a second dose/full vaccination by October 18.
The policy comes after close monitoring of COVID trends and consultation with public health authorities. With the recent rise in cases, including variants of concern, vaccination rates, and increased access to vaccines, requiring vaccination for on-campus study and work is a significant step in ensuring the safety of the Niagara College community. It also brings the college closer to an eventual full return to campus.
All on-campus activities will comply with public health measures and directives for the fall term. Niagara College plans for physical distancing, health screenings and PPE requirements will remain in place in September.
Since last fall, Niagara College has had students and staff on-campus without incident of transmission. Access controls, comprehensive safety measures, and adherence to public health guidelines have allowed for this successful track record and remain in place as students return to campus in September.
For regular updates on Niagara College operations, please visit www.niagaracollege.ca/covid19.
As a responsible and staunch community partner, the City of Welland looks forward to welcoming Niagara College students back to the community and encourages all students and staff to practice public health-recommended guidelines to limit the transmission of COVID-19.
Welland City Hall is planning to reopen in the fall, and information about the health and safety measures and guidelines will be available in the coming weeks.
(Source: City of Welland news release)
(Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog. The focus is on randomly selected or recommended garden spaces in the city. Do any sights or sites come to mind as photo suggestions? Contact Gadabout Gardener at: email@example.com.)
A stand up paddleboarder about to go under the Woodlawn bridge over the old Welland canal this beautiful, late summer Friday morning./Photo by Joe Barkovich
(Please support/visit these works of art in the Welland Bell box murals project)
By Wayne Redshaw
The sports world lost another valued member last weekend with the passing of Bill “Skip” Johns. Skip wasn’t an Olympian or a professional athlete or anything like that. But he was involved in sports as a journalist and an excellent one spanning more than six decades.
He started his career at the Niagara Falls Review in the spring of 1957 fresh out of Stamford Collegiate as a “copy boy” writing obituaries and various odds and ends. He eventually moved into the sports department at the Review covering hockey at the junior B, intermediate and senior levels. He also covered men’s fastball, golf and other sports.
It was his high school sports coverage where Skip really excelled. In the 1960s he introduced a column at the Review titled “Skip’s Picks” in which he predicted the outcome of football and basketball games. It was an instant success and extremely popular. It was designed to bring a higher profile to high school athletics and it did just that.
In 1972 Skip left the Niagara Falls Review to join the sports department of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record where he continued to report on high school athletics, his true priority in sports journalism. It was on a much higher scale with 15 high schools in the region where his column “Skip’s Picks” became a must read every week.
Skip also covered golf. As with high school sports, he had a passion for golf. It was very rare if I didn’t see him at a Canadian Open or covering some other golfing event around the province. He also loved to play the game. I’d hate to guess how many pairs of golf shoes he went through over the years. Skip loved to play. He played anywhere, anytime, rain or shine. He was quite proud of the fact that he played well over 1,000 different golf courses over the years. I also recall only a few years ago he played 100 courses in one summer which included two courses in Niagara in the same day.
I played a lot of golf with Skip not only in Niagara but throughout the province as we both served on a ranking panel and got to play some of the finest courses in Ontario. He also came south twice with his good buddy Jim to join me in sunny Florida during the winter for golf in the Fort Lauderdale, Sun City Centre and Tampa Bay areas.
Once during his Florida visit, he fell while at my place hitting his head on the concrete walkway. He was rushed to a trauma centre by ambulance but a few hours later was discharged and the next day he was back on the course playing as if nothing had happened.
Besides being an excellent sports writer he was good at telling stories and he had many. One I always remember pertains to Doug Austin, who was sports editor of the Review when Skip worked there. Apparently, Austin received a Christmas present from Niagara Falls Flyers’ owner Hap Emms of a washer and dryer while Skip was on the receiving end of a pair of socks. According to Skip “Doug told me I could bring the socks over any time to wash and dry them.” The way Skip told it still stands out.
He won many awards for his writing, the most notable being in 1962 when he and co-reporter Louis Grigoroff won a Ontario newspaper award for spot news reporting for their article detailing the plunge of Nathan Boya over the falls in a rubber ball.
In 1986 Skip won a media award presented by the Ontario Physical Health Association for the work he had done to make amateur sports at high school level a positive activity.
He was inducted into the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame as a builder in 2002 and a year later was honoured by the KW Basketball Officials’ Association in recognition of his contribution towards the game of basketball in the Kitchener- Waterloo Cambridge area.
The Ontario Golf Hall of Fame also honoured Skip along with the 2016 inductees with the Lorne Rubinstein Media Award.
Skip was not only a good friend but a gentleman. To his wife Mary and his family I express my sincere condolences.
(Note: Wayne Redshaw has covered sports in Niagara for over 50 years, 33 and a half at the Welland Tribune. He was publisher of FORE! Golfers Only for 12 years and also wrote for many national newspapers and magazines in Canada and the United States.
With a significant increase in on-campus learning, services and activity planned for the Fall 2021 term, Niagara College announced that it will require students, employees and contractors who are learning or working on campus in September to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Students, employees, contractors and those visiting a Niagara College campus for college business will be required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a first dose of a Health Canada or World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine by September 7, and a second dose/full vaccination by October 18.
The policy comes after close monitoring of COVID trends and consultation with public health authorities. With the recent rise in cases, including variants of concern, vaccination rates and increased access to vaccines, requiring vaccination for on-campus study and work is a significant step in ensuring the safety of the Niagara College community, and it helps to bring the college closer to an eventual full return to campus.
The vaccine requirement policy is intended to add an additional layer of protection to the comprehensive health and safety measures that are already in place – including screening, physical distancing, mask requirements and enhanced cleaning. These ongoing measures have kept the Niagara College community safe since the onset of the pandemic – including three terms of hybrid programming that have seen almost half of Niagara College students experience some on-campus classes or labs – with no incidents of on-campus transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
A full policy and process will be released by Monday, August 23 and will include an accommodation process for those who are not vaccinated due to medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Niagara College’s on-campus businesses, including the Wine Visitor + Education Centre and Greenhouse will continue to operate within existing provincial COVID measures and requirements for businesses.
Niagara College had previously announced a mandatory vaccination requirement for on-campus residences and is also implementing a mandatory vaccine requirement for all student athletes. Details will be available on the Niagara College Athletics & Recreation website.
Studies continue to show that vaccines are safe, and the most effective tool in reducing the risk of serious illness and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Currently, people 12 years of age and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For further information, including updates on eligibility, how to book vaccination appointments, and frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Niagara Region Public Health vaccine page and the government of Ontario’s vaccine page.
(Source: Niagara College news release)
Niagara Region Public Health is informing residents that Niagara has received its first confirmation of West Nile Virus (WNV) in mosquitoes in 2021. To date, in the Niagara region, no human cases have been reported to Public Health.
While the mosquitoes that tested positive were found in Lincoln, all Niagara residents should take the necessary precautions to prevent WNV. To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes and potentially exposed to WNV, residents are reminded to:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when outdoors
- Whenever you use mosquito repellent, apply a product containing DEET or Icaridin, and carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s directions
- Drain any areas of standing or stagnant water on your property on a regular basis, including bird baths, old tires, pails, toys and wheelbarrows
- Make sure all windows and doors in your home have screens that are in good condition
Residents with inquiries about WNV can call 905-688-8248, ext. 7590, or 1-888-505-6074. Further information about WNV and updates can be found on our website.
(Source: Niagara Region news release)
From preparing meals for those in need, to manufacturing face shields to help protect healthcare workers, Niagara College has gone above and beyond to assist the community over the past year —and these efforts have recently gained formal recognition from the Niagara Region.
Award of Merit certificates were recently delivered to the College as part of the Region’s Niagara Impact Awards, which recognize individuals, non-profit organizations, and private sector businesses for their efforts in improving the quality of life of those living in Niagara.
Launched during the Winter 2021 term, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute’s Feed the Community initiative aimed to address food insecurity and to support health and wellness in the community and within the College’s student population.
Each week, 300 fresh healthy meals were prepared at the CFWI and transported to different shelters on a rotating basis. Some meals were also provided to students living in on-campus residences.
The meals were prepared, cooked and packaged by participating chefs and student volunteers from the Culinary Management program who used top quality products left from the kitchen labs. The team then connected with shelters to transport all the meals each week to those who needed them.
The initiative was spearheaded by chef professor Olaf Mertens with leadership from the CFWI’s former associate dean Gary Torraville (director, International). Chefs Dan Leblanc and Tom Liu joined the effort along with four second-year Culinary Management students who volunteered to get involved. Full health and safety measures were followed, noted CFWI dean Craig Youdale.
“I am immensely proud of our team and their continued support of the Niagara community,” said Youdale. “The Niagara Impact Award of Merit is really special to our staff because it will bring some light to the important issue of food insecurity and also inspire more of our team to join the effort.”
The initiative was applauded by several recipient organizations such as Port Cares Reach Out Centre, which experienced a significant increase in demand for its food bank and meals during the pandemic while facing challenges including a reduction in food donations and staff. In a letter to the CFWI, Amanda Upper, site supervisor at Port Cares Reach Out Centre, noted that CFWI’s Feed the Community initiative helped to make a difference as it provided hundreds of beautifully packaged and artfully crafted nutritious meals for about 1,700 of the agency’s clients.
“These donations could not have come at a better time as the pressure and fatigue of the pandemic begins to set in for our small team who are working tirelessly to keep up with the rising demand,” stated Upper. “We at the Reach Out Centre are truly appreciative to have benefited from this project, and sincerely hope the project may continue to support Niagara foodbanks as they continue to perform this essential work in spite of the hardships of COVID-19.”
Duaa Hussein, food program coordinator at Start Me Up Niagara in St. Catharines, noted that the Feed the Community project provided them with more than 150 meals for individuals with life challenges on multiple occasions.
“The quality of food was excellent and highly nutritious. There were a variety of meals with suitable portions packaged in recyclable appropriate containers that made it easy to distribute to clients,” said Hussein. “Overall, this was such an incredible initiative and had a great impact on our clients as they enjoy those nutritious meals. Start Me Up is very appreciative of the service provided by CFWI Feed the Community project.”
Face Shields manufacturing
An Award of Merit recognized the College’s exemplary support for healthcare workers over the past year through the manufacturing and donation of more than 25,000 face shields.
“Your ability to pivot, design and manufacture these much-needed shields as well as your generosity in donating those to most in need is outstanding,” states the Award of Merit signed by Niagara Region chair Jim Bradley.
In 2020, research at the College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) produced 37,000 face shields, certified by Health Canada with a Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL Class 1). WAMIC distributed 17,300 face shields to the local Niagara Health System for front-line workers, and close to 20,000 shields were donated to other essential workers and community members throughout the province.
The WAMIC research team used computer-aided design to create the face shield prototype and then partnered with a local industry partner, Niagara-based Jay-Line, for its die-cutting services to accelerate the number of plastic visors pressed.
“It’s a priority for us at Niagara College to respond to the needs of our community,” said Marc Nantel, vice president, Research and External Relations. “We are proud to leverage our spirit of innovation to help support those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Niagara Health expressed its gratitude for the College’s efforts.
“The Research & Innovation division at Niagara College provided invaluable services at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when PPE inventories were running low, and the supply chains were disrupted,” said Amir Gill, director, Capital Planning, Engineering Services, and Biomedical Engineering, Niagara Health, “The Niagara College team stepped in and started to locally manufacture and supply us with face shields. They continued to send us a daily supply until the supply chains were re-established.”
The project was funded by the Niagara College-led Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) through Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) contributions.
(Source: Niagara College news release.)