EDITORIAL:Stats prove COVID is far from over and a King remembered

“COVID is over.”

That was the announcement from a Picton grocery store owner to a concerned shopper recently when the would-be-buyer noted the store had reverted to its pre-covid standard of unsterilized shopping carts and not requiring staff members to wear masks.

How comforting and reassuring a Komissar of the local checkout lines can make such public health declarations.

Sandra Stanley and her husband James, a retired Kingston Firefighter who is living with Parkinson’s Disease, settled in Prince Edward County 21 years ago and have enjoyed one of those dream-like post-worklife existences in a small, tight-knit community.

But COVID isn’t over. According to data amplified by former Ontario Science Table member and epidemiologist David Fisman, COVID positivity reached the 30 per cent level among Ontario teens this weekend and that mirrors the current absence rate at PECI. With the asymptomatic nature of Omicron in some people, that number could be as high as 50 per cent.

Take a look around the grocery store next time you’re there. A lot of kids working meat and produce sections, stocking shelves and calling into account your selected wares. And now, with the mandates apparently a thing of the past and some Ontarians ready to get back to norms, mask wearing has dropped precipitously.

Your humble scribe, who pledged at the outset he would be willing to lead a conga line down Main Street when the pandemic was over, tossed his mask in the console of the vehicle to be forgotten and was ready to great the world with an uncovered smile again. But not anymore.

If not for our own health, Prince Edward County residents should put back on the masks for the sake of people like Sandra and James and all immunocompromised folks who can’t fight the battle against COVID on their own.

Local businesses should ask their employees do the same.

REMEMBERING A KING IN OUR COMMUNITY This corner and so many others that spent any amount of time at either PECI or a softball diamond in the last 40 years will be saddened to learn of the passing of Jim King. King was a positive fixture in so many lives of young people in Prince Edward County.

This corner was blessed to have Mr. King as an enviromental science teacher at PECI in the 1990’s and his instruction was always equal parts informative and entertaining.

Mr. King connected with his students and cared about their future- not just whether they could comprehend how Chlorofluorocarbons were destroying the ozone layer or the dangers of the transhipment of petroleum products- he wanted to know what your plans were after school.

How were you approaching the end of your secondary school studies? How could you improve your chances at succeeding in a post-secondary career or finding local employment after graduation? Mr. King connected with kids by talking to them, finding out their interests and gearing the curriculum around those parameters. At graduation, there were always line ups to grab a photo with everyone’s favourite science teacher.

On the diamond, Mr. King got plenty of respect because most of the players in the old slo-pitch and Church League fastball circuits either had him as teacher or attended worship services with him. He and his late and beloved Heather sang in the Cherry Valley United choir. Even the most hardnosed softballer wasn’t going to start cussing out Mr. King because he missed a call at first base. He was like everyone’s kind and gentle grandfather.

Mr. King the ump would catch me framing pitches on the corner of the plate back in the day and he’d say quietly so no one else could hear “Com’on Jase, you’re better than that.” and I’d giggle and remember not to make him look bad by holding a border line pitch a little longer than I should have.

Recollections of that gentle voice and ever-present smile is in a lot of hearts in Prince Edward County. As one PECI grad put it when they learned of Mr. King’s passing “He should have gave teachers lessons on teaching.” We would agree. More than one PECI grad was mourning the loss of thier favourite teacher on social media when news broke of his passing Monday.

It’s our hope before he passed at Peterborough Hospice April 4 Mr. King realized the length and breadth of his legacy in this community.

-Jason Parks


Firefighters Association backs the build again The Picton Firefighters Association have once again shown their commitment to the health and well being of our community by making another gift in support of the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s (PECMHF) new hospital campaign. The Picton Firefighters Association turned up the heat on Tuesday evening when their members presented the PECMHF with a $7,000 gift to Back the Build. This gift brings the Picton Firefighters cumulative giving to $10,000 over three years in support of the campaign. “We’re proud and honoured to help our community by continuing to raise funds that will Back the Build for our new County hospital. Firefighters are known traditionally for giving back to their communities so we’re keeping that tradition alive and well in Prince Edward County,” said Brendan Bellchamber, president of the Picton Firefighters Association. (PECMHF Photo by Briar Boyce)