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The Independent October 3, 2013 : Page 1

Vol. 1, Issue 5 Petrolia councilors getting health benefit Heather Wright The Independent Petrolia Councilors will get taxpayers’ help to pay for medical expenses. Council passed a bylaw Monday which included a new health care benefit for the mayor and councilors. The bylaw says the members will be entitled to receive a health care spending account at the beginning of each year of $2,000. The money can be used to cover expenses for councilors, spouses and dependent children still living at home. If councilors don’t spend it all in one year, they can hold up to $1,000 over until the next year. Councilors’ health care expenses will be paid when they submit the paid original receipt and the town’s top administrator Thursday, October 3, 2013 Havlik Holding the seat for Lambton in turbines path Veteran councilor 37 turbines headed for Bayfield over next eight months Heather Wright The Independent Expect a lot of traffic slowdowns on Highway 21 as wind turbines wind their way through the countryside to Huron County. NextEra Energy will begin construction on the 37 industrial wind turbines for the Bluewater Energy Centre south east of Bayfield in late November, according to NextEra spokesperson Josie Hernandez. The project just recently received approval from the Ministry of the Environment to proceed. And it will have an impact on Petrolia and Central Lambton County. The transportation route for the 80-meter towers winds its way from Windsor, along Oil Heritage Road, turning east on Petrolia Line. Recently, a transport with one piece of a tower stopped traffic at that corner for five minutes as it attempted to make the turn without damaging the traffic light standards. Hernandez says the components of the 500,000 pound towers are brought to the site in pieces. In all, nine trucks are needed to carry one tower, including three for the 120-meter long blades. With 37 towers being erected in the countryside around Bayfield, Hensall and Zurich, that means there will be 333 transports traveling from Windsor, through Lambton County to Huron over the next six to eight months. “Generally construction lasts 4 to 6 months,” says Hernandez. “We anticipate the project to be fully operational by July 2014.” Heather Wright photo A transport with part of a wind turbine headed for the Bluewater Wind Energy Centre near Bayfield tries twice to make the turn at the corner of Petrolia Line and Oil Heritage Road recently. NextEra Energy’s project will have 37 wind turbines requiring over 330 trucks to carry the turbines to the site from Windsor. approves it. The councilors won’t get the full amount of the health benefit this year, with each person receiving $666.67 for expenses incurred during September until the end of this year. Chief Administrative Officer Manny Baron says the town is part of a best practices group for municipal government and found other municipalities were offering health benefits for elected politicians. “We found our councilors were behind the eight-ball when it came to health benefits,” he says. The bylaw also shows the mayor and councilor’s pay will increase in 2014. The mayor’s annual pay will increase by $1,800 to $21,000 and councilors will see a $950 increase to $11,000. Councilors can also claim up to $3,000 per year for expenses and per diems related to conventions and conferences. absent due to recent stroke Heather Wright The Independent Whenever she’s ready to come back, her seat will be waiting. Petrolia Town Council has decided to “hold the chair” for Councilor Helen Havlik. The councilor has not attended a council meeting since Aug. 14 after having a stroke. Mayor John McCharles says Havlik is now at home and doing much better. Councilors Tim Brown and Mary-Pat Gleeson have visited the councilor who is in her 80s and say her progress is “amazing” and she is wondering how things are going at town hall. Havlik and her family have yet to make a decision about her return and Petrolia council wants to make sure she has the time she needs to make the right decision. Under the Municipal Act, a councilor can only be absent from three council meetings before the balance of the council has to consider whether the seat should be declared vacant. But town council has decided to give the Helen Havlik veteran councilor plenty of time to make a decision. Minutes from the Sept. 16 in-camera meeting show council has authorized a paid absences for Havlik “for personal reasons.” Council also authorized Havlik to “continue to receive her salary until the end of 2013.” “We want to give her all the opportunity she needs to come back,” says Mayor John McCharles. During Havlik’s absence, Councilor Tim Brown will be the town’s representative on the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority. 4219 Oil Heritage Road, Petrolia 519-882-1090 1-855-864-4962

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