• Rob Hornberger

Kingsville mayor appointed executive director of Jack Miner foundation

Nelson Santos aims to raise the sanctuary's profile as a tourism destination, educational centre

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, hired to lead the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary Foundation, faces a "huge undertaking," says board member Sheri Lowrie.

KINGSVILLE — Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos has been appointed the new executive director of the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary Foundation.

The announcement was made Monday, which coincides with Jack Miner’s birthday and the start of Canada’s National Wildlife Week.

“What the sanctuary needs right now is a strong leader and someone who is passionate about the town, the history of Jack Miner's and where it’s going in the future,” foundation board member Sheri Lowrie said.

Lowrie said Santos’s appearance before the hiring committee stood out and it became clear to the foundation he was the obvious choice given his community connections.

Santos said his job as mayor is a part-time job and that he has been looking for full-time employment since losing his position as editor of the Kingsville Reporter.

In April 2020, PostMedia announced it was closing five Essex County community newspapers, including the Reporter.

“I’ve been looking for a way to restore my full-time work status … so really I’m getting back to the ways things have been,” he said.

The mayor’s salary is $50,000 a year, Santos said. Neither Santos nor Lowrie would reveal his compensation as executive director but Lowrie said the salary was fair.

“I wish we could pay him more; he has a huge undertaking ahead of him.”

The executive director job was advertised in the Southpoint Sun and on social media. There were more than 30 applicants.

The sanctuary has received grants from the town in the past. Santos said he will declare a conflict of interest when grant requests from the sanctuary come before council.

He said that was his standard practice while he was a realtor and also editor of the Reporter.

“It’s definitely a responsibility I take seriously,” he said.

Santos said one of the main goals of his new job is to bring back some of the sanctuary’s lustre as a tourist attraction.

In the 1960s, the sanctuary was a major Canadian tourist destination ranking behind only Niagara Falls in popularity.

Santos said the foundation is looking to “shine a star” on the Road 3 sanctuary and make it an events-based location attractive to families.

Planned this year are concerts by Leamington musician Jody Raffoul and local band Leave the Kids Alone.

A Mother’s Day tea is also planned for May. Bringing baseball games back to the Ty Cobb field is being considered

With an end to restrictions on large gatherings, Santos said he will be contacting local school boards about resuming student nature trips.

He said his job will also involve managing the sanctuary, fundraising, marketing and the promotion of conservation and educational programming.

Santos said nearby Kennedy Woods has six kilometres of walking trails through dense Carolinian forest and will be promoted as a spot for children and adults to learn more about the environment.

Dr. Amanda Everaert, a Kingsville chiropractor, has been the interim acting executive director the last two years.

The foundation is a charitable organization that operates solely on grants and private and corporate donations.

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