Top stories of 2019

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Top stories of 2019
Festive multicolored sparkling 2019 New Year date with fiery trails lighting up the night sky with copy space for your seasonal holiday greeting

We are at the last edition of Cornwall Seaway News for 2019.

For this final editorial column of the year, I would like to share with our readers my top picks for our most important stories we covered this year.

  1. January’s CCVS lockdown

This year started off with a bit of excitement at Cornwall’s oldest public high school, CCVS. At around 8:50 a.m. on Jan. 8 the Cornwall Police Service locked down the school after reports came in of a suspicious male carrying what appeared to be a firearm walking through the neighbourhood.

The lockdown eventually grew to include every school in the City, and residents living from Ninth St. to Second St. and Nick Kaneb Dr. to Cumberland St. were told to stay indoors and the hospital was eventually placed on lockdown as well. All buses were cancelled and parents were told to come and pick up their kids.

While no arrests were ever made in this case, by the end of the day, the lockdown was lifted and the police concluded that the individual was in fact carrying a BB gun.

  1. Ron the Racoon Whisperer

On the lighter side of the news, we wrote a story this year talking about our friend Ron Graham, the Executive Director of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters Cornwall. While Ron has done amazing work in the community in his professional role, we wanted to talk a little bit about the man’s unique hobby.

For many years, Ron has welcomed and enjoyed the company of families of racoons at his rural home. Anyone who has Ron on social media will have seen pictures and videos of him feeding and caring for his furry friends.

We got a lot of positive reaction to this story, and Ron was even featured on CTV Ottawa news.

  1. Mayoral spending scrutiny

Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement’s finances in the 2018 municipal election came under scrutiny in April, when she herself announced that she had over contributed to her campaign.

The mayor was never issued a certificate from the Clerk specifying her personal contribution limit. The mayor’s campaign however, did not exceed her spending limit under the Municipal Act.

A committee was formed to review the infraction and found the mayor acted in good faith and that the lion’s share of the blame did not rest with her. Also they found that the over contribution did not impact the election results.

  1. Police called to MPP’s office

In March during the height of the controversy over Doug Ford’s proposed changes to the Autism Funding Program, mothers of young children with autism came to Progressive Conservative MPP Jim McDonell’s office for a peaceful sit-in protest.

McDonell was not there however, a confrontation began between one mother and a staff member.

The mother’s four-year-old was playing with the blinds in the office and the staff member had said the child had to stop. When the child didn’t and after a heated argument with the mother, the police were called.

No one was arrested and the incident was quickly diffused, but our story on the subject was shared province wide, many commenting that it highlighted the difficulties parents of autistic children faced and why provincial funding was needed.

  1. The Freakin Fire Ban

Sometimes the smallest light burns the brightest, and a little incident can create a lot of smoke. By these puns I feel you can guess my feelings on the proposed burn ban that rocked Cornwall in the dying days of the summer. It is our top story of 2019 due to the rage and anger that burned across social media in reaction to this news.

In September, Fire Chief Pierre Voisine proposed that open air wood fires be banned within city limits. As it is, only 260 homes per year get a burn permit anyway, and Voisine felt that the by-law was resulting in a strain on his department’s resources.

He pointed to how often complaints over open air fires boiled down to disputes between neighbours, something he did not want to continue to put his firefighters in the middle of.

The move however ignited a burning outrage in far more than 260 people in the city, with residents feeling like a fundamental right was being deprived from them. On the other hand, there were those who supported the Chief, namely neighbours with breathing issues who were tired of having to shut themselves in their homes every time someone beside their property had a bonfire.

As 2019 comes to a close, this issue is still up in the air, with a few public consultations held, but no new by-law yet to be passed.

What do you think readers? What was your most memorable story of 2019? Email me a Letter to the Editor at

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