Near North school board chair praises retiring trustees

The outgoing chair of the Near North District School Board, Jay Aspin, has praised and thanked three trustees for their years of service who chose not to seek re-election in the Oct. 24 municipal and school board elections.

Aspin commended Donna Breault of North Bay and Rob Learn who represented numerous rural communities like Powassan, South River, Nipissing and South River for their dedication, contributions and support which resulted in a significant degree of change at the school board.

But Aspin saved much of his praise for Al Bottomley the long-time trustee who represented much of the Almaguin Highlands like Sundridge, Strong, Armour, Kearney and also Magnetawan.

“Al, certainly a tip of the hat to you (because) in November for the first time in 22 years you won't be a trustee,” Aspin said at the board's final meeting for this term.

“Besides being such a strong advocate in all education in your region, your legacy will obviously be Almaguin Highlands Secondary School, a school we are tremendously proud of.”

Bottomley, originally from the Oshawa area, arrived at AHSS in 1969 and for the next 31 years he taught students in different subjects including math, history, economics, geography and some political science.

Bottomley's entire teaching career was at AHSS and when he retired in 2000 he ran for a trustee position and won.

He served six terms before retiring this year and was also board chair at various times.

In total, Bottomley, who turns 78 in December, has spent 53 years in the education field as a teacher and trustee.

Aspin told Bottomley his “contributions will be missed.”

“We wish you the best in the future and look forward to hearing more about your sincere passion of which you place tremendous effort, climate change,” Aspin said.

“May you continue to succeed in your efforts for the betterment of society and our Near North future graduates.”

Earlier this year Bottomley was one of the founding members of a climate action group in Almaguin.

He visited the town councils in Almaguin and encouraged them to switch to electric vehicles when it's time to replace their combustion engine cars and trucks and later in the future to replace natural gas usage in municipally-owned buildings with electricity.

On Nov. 30 Bottomley will be at work pursuing his passion.

He and his group will hold an information meeting at the Burk's Falls, Armour and Ryerson Memorial Arena to increase public awareness about electrified transportation.

At the meeting several electric vehicles will be on display and their owners will answer the public's questions about them.

There is also a public presentation on the types of electric vehicles that are being manufactured in addition to information on new battery technologies and energy storage.

That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget