Egg-cellent Easter Events

Beaver Valley Outreach’s annual Easter Eggstavaganza once again drew crowds this year featuring an egg hunt in a mound of shredded paper, face painting, music, raffles and a petting zoo, organized by the Beaver Valley Agricultural Society. The event took place at the Beaver Valley Community Centre on Saturday, April 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This was the eighth consecutive year that BVO organized the event. Among scavenger hunts and egg dying crafts, BVO music director Jay Stiles started a drum circle for the children to participate in. BVO’s Treasure Shop brought along some items for sale, which, according to BVO executive director Carolyn Letourneau, helped raise the profile of BVO with families in the community and reinforce the importance of recycling gently used treasures to BVO. The Beaver Valley Agricultural Society, local Girl Guides, Kinettes and L.E. Shore Memorial library also organized events for the day. Letourneau offered thanks for the Rocklyn Academy girls and support staff, The Blue Mountains, Beaver Valley Preschool, Apple Valley Juice Co. and all of the volunteers. "Without your support this would not have been possible," she said. For more information on BVO programs and services, visit


Injured soldier returns home to warm welcome

Wayne Burkholder stood curbside early Thursday afternoon, a small Canadian flag gripped in one hand and both eyes fixed on the procession of vehicles that inched past groups of like-minded well wishers. An OPP cruiser led the slow-moving convoy through Orillia’s downtown, followed closely by fire trucks and an ambulance. In the rear of the ambulance, on a bed, was Warrant Officer Tim Aleman – man of the hour. The 43-year-old Joyland Beach resident was returning to his community two weeks after being injured in a bomb blast while serving in Afghanistan. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know him,” remarked Burkholder. “We should stand behind our Canadian Forces.” Yellow ribbons donated by a local flower shop adorned lampposts and store fronts, a symbol of support for Aleman, a member of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment. “We have handed out over 700 (ribbons) already,” shop owner June Morgan told a reporter the previous day. “It is really nice to see the community rally behind this family and all servicemen in Orillia.” Standing next to Burkholder was Rama resident John St. Germain, who wore a camouflage-print ball cap dressed with tiny metal pins, including two bearing red poppies with the words “We remember.” “They are heroes,” St. Germain said moments before the procession arrived at the foot of Mississaga Street. “I have lost family members in (wars).” St. Germain then spoke of his own son, who at 22 is preparing to join the military. “It is his life,” he added. “I can’t change it. But I told him, you belong to them once you join.” Friends Patti Ivey and Carrie Vardy dressed in red and brought three Canadian flags, waving them encouragingly as the procession passed. They had come simply “to thank him,” Ivey said. “To say we appreciate what he is doing for us and our freedom. It makes you proud. “If we can’t take a couple of minutes to do that, then what is wrong with us?” she added. Vardy concurred. “We are here living our lives and enjoying ourselves, and they are not,” she added. Event organizer Barb Shakell-Barkey said she was “overwhelmed” by the turnout.


Federal Health Minister in Owen Sound

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq believes doctor recruitment and retention across the country is improving and will only get better. Aglukkaq was in Owen Sound last Thursday afternoon for a special public luncheon/reception organized by MP Larry Miller. Tickets were sold for the event with proceeds going towards local efforts to recruit doctors to the area. Aglukkaq, the first person of Inuit descent ever to be a member of the federal cabinet, was the guest of honour and speaker at the event. Aglukkaq is the Member of Parliament for Nunavut and she has first hand knowledge of the challenges in health care across the country. "I come from an outpost camp. We had no doctors, no nurses and no hospital. I understand the challenges rural communities face in delivering health care," she told reporters at the meeting. She stressed that health care solutions have to involve partnerships between all levels of government and said she is confident that recent investments in health care are making a difference. "I believe measurable improvements have been made. We have steadily increased medical school enrolments," she said. Aglukkaq said in 2007 there were 7,500 more practicing physicians across the country than a decade earlier. She also noted that the number of registered nurses in Canada has increased 12% over the same period. Aglukkaq said the recruitment and retention of health care professionals remains a challenge for jurisdictions across the country. She said the federal government is willing to participate in that process wherever it can. "Every jurisdiction is challenged with recruitment. What we’re looking at is: how can we improve the system so it’s easier for nurses to go back and forth between provinces? How can we make it easier for doctors to return to our country? Those challenges are still there, but we are improving," she said. During her speech Aglukkaq emphasized long-term planning in health care, cooperation between governments, promotion of healthy lifestyles to advance the cause of prevention and the use of emerging technology to link the health care network across the country. "Technology is the great equalizer for our health care system," she said. Aglukkaq has one of the most interesting career biographies of any current federal cabinet minister. Prior to entering federal politics she represented the district of Nattilik in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. She served as territorial Minister of Finance and House Leader. She also held the post of Minister of Health and Social Services. She has a wide range of experience across the political spectrum. "In Nunavut we spent $50 million transporting patients before we treated them," she noted, explaining that every community in the north is connected to Tele Health to allow medical records to be accessed instantly. She advocates getting Tele Health in place across Canada. "E-health is not the way of the future, it’s the way of today. We must complete the construction of the system. The federal government is listening to the concerns that are out there and based on what we’re hearing we’re acting," she said. The Minister enjoyed a lunch prepared by the Green Door Café in Wiarton. Local growers and producers donated the majority of the food served at the reception. The meeting, which included attendance from several area Mayors and the wardens of Grey and Bruce counties, was Aglukkaq’s first opportunity to visit the local area. "There is a great natural beauty to this area and you have relatively mild winters – at least compared to my riding," she joked. Following the luncheon Minister Aglukkaq was scheduled to sit down with local doctors in a round table discussion to hear their concerns. MP Larry Miller said he invited the Minister to visit the riding to speak about health care issues some months ago and he was thrilled when she agreed. "I feel very honoured that she accepted my invitation. We wanted to keep her busy the entire day she is here," he said. The visit from Aglukkaq is the third visit to Miller’s riding by a high profile cabinet minister during the past several weeks.


Fire razes cottage

Fire crews from Tiny Township and Penetanguishene, along with Southern Georgian Bay OPP officers, spent nearly 12 hours on the scene of a late-night weekend blaze. Emergency crews were called to a Champlain Road structure fire just before midnight on March 28. Once they arrived, crews found the second storey of the seasonal cottage to be fully engulfed by flames. “The fire had already breached the second-floor balcony and windows, with the fire beginning to spread to the first floor,” Tiny fire Chief Randy Smith stated in a news release. “Witnesses indicated that the fire had breached the second-storey windows prior to calling 911.” All township tankers were called in to assist, as was a tanker from the Penetanguishene Fire Department. Fire apparatus from Stations 4 and 5 were staged at Wyevale and Lafontaine to ensure coverage to the remainder of the municipality in the event of another emergency. Fire crews were on the scene until 1 p.m. March 29. No injuries were sustained as no one was in the cottage at the time of the fire. The cause is still undetermined.


Islay Park project begins this summer

A revitalization plan for Duntroon’s Islay Park was presented to Clearview Township council last Monday night. Jim Campbell, a member of the Nottawasaga Community Hall board, presented the plan. Board members are spearheading the project because the park is located next to the hall, on County Road 91, west of County Road 124. Board members, other volunteers in the community and municipal staff started planning for the revitalization project last year. The first phase will go ahead sometime this summer. According to a map of what the new park will look like, parking will be moved off County Road 91, to the northern part of the park, allowing for a total of 48 spaces. Campbell says the new location will be safer for park and hall users, who at the moment must park their vehicles along the southern portion of the county road and then walk along the road to access the park or the hall. The ball diamond in the park will be shifted to the south in order to accommodate the new parking lot. The diamond’s outfield will also be usable for soccer. New playground equipment will replace the old and out of date equipment that currently exists. The plan is to place the equipment just west of the hall, near where the existing equipment is located. A picnic area, including tables, will also be located just west of the hall. The plan calls for an outdoor stage to be added to the west side of the hall. As well, hiking and biking trails will be erected through a forested section at the south and west perimeter of the almost five-acre park. Officials also plan to move the entrance to the hall, from the east side of the building to the west side of the building, to better incorporate it and the parking lot. The work might also involve the installation of ground source heating loops beneath the playing field. The system, Campbell said, would be used to heat the hall. He said at the moment that component, however, is still up in the air as volunteers are trying to determine the cost and feasibility.   The revitalization work will be paid for from several sources and conducted in three phases. Phase one, which officials say will start sometime this summer and hopefully be completed by the fall, will cost approximately $105,000. The first phase involves building the new parking lot, constructing sidewalks, moving the backstop for the ball diamond and the installation of new playground equipment and lighting. A berm will be constructed between the parking lot and the ball diamond. The township will contribute approximately $97,000 toward the first phase. Clearview’s portion was earmarked in the 2009 municipal budget. Officials also hope to generate $1,000 for the project by selling a shed that’s on the property. Campbell says they have also applied for a $25,000 grant through Ontario Hydro, which awards money for park upgrading projects. If the grant application is approved that money would offset Clearview’s contribution. Another $5,000 will come from fundraising. To generate the money, Campbell says a door-to-door canvassing campaign will be done sometime this year. Some fundraising events are also planned for this year and he said some corporations, including Walker Industries, which runs the quarry further to the west on County Road 91, have expressed interest in helping with the project. Phase two will involve extending the playing field and tree planting. A third phase consists of building the trails and the stage. Phase two and three haven’t been costed yet. The timeline for the second and third phase work isn’t known yet either and Campbell said it’s possible some of the work could be incorporated into the first phase.   Members of council said they were impressed with the plan and the hard work that has gone into the project. “Parking there has been one of my pet peeves,” Mayor Ken Ferguson said. “I’m glad to see this going ahead.” Ward 5 councillor Robert Walker, a volunteer with Clearview Community Theatre, which uses the hall to present shows, said he too is looking forward to better parking. He said the parking that exists is hazardous. Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage commended the volunteers working on the project. “I hope to see more of this kind of thing coming forward,” she said. The park has a long history in the community. It was once farmland owned by P.T. McDermid. Information on a plaque at the park indicates that McDermid donated the land in 1936 to the Duntroon Women’s Institute. He gave the land in memory of his father, Peter McDermid, a native of Islay, Scotland. The Women’s Institute, when it disbanded a couple years ago, donated the land to the municipality.


Fire comments taken out of context say mayors

Hot comments made by Innisfil council towards Essa Township and its fire department might have been taken out of context, said Essa Mayor David Guergis. He said he has heard from Innisfil Mayor Brian Jackson and apparently comments made at an Innisfil council meeting were blown out of proportion. The two mayors, along with township staff members, are meeting March 4 to discuss the incident. The spat started in mid-February when Innisfil Coun. Lynn Dollin criticized Essa Township for not paying Innisfil for fire coverage in the Cookstown area. Essa firefighters from Thornton station provide coverage to the area of Essa Township northwest of Cookstown. Dollin said the Cookstown fire station is closer, and Innisfil firefighters should be covering that area. Essa would then be responsible for paying Innisfil whenever Cookstown firefighters are called. Essa CAO Greg Murphy said there are typically three to four calls per year in that area of the township.


Pavilion will be free for Farmer’s Market

The Meaford Municipal Farmer’s Market will get to use the harbour pavilion free of charge for the upcoming summer. Meaford councillors at their regular meeting on February 23 agreed to waive the pavilion fees for the Farmer’s Market for one more season. Councillors did say that in the future the Market might be asked to pay rental fees to use the pavilion. Farmer’s Market representative Jan Chappelle made a presentation at council’s last Committee of the Whole meeting on February 9. The Farmer’s Market made a successful return to Meaford Harbour two years ago. Chappelle said the market has grown bigger during the two years and is looking forward to its third year. On February 23 Meaford council agreed to honour an earlier verbal agreement to waive pavilion fees for the first three years of the Farmer’s Market. Members of council were concerned that a written agreement for the use of the pavilion does not exist. In addition, some members of council said the Market should expect to pay rental fees in the future. "The vendors must be making a profit. Next year (the Market) will be looking at paying the fee. It’s not an outrageous amount. It’s $100," said councillor Jim McPherson. Several members of council said they remember verbally committing to three years of no rental fees. "I would expect us to honour that. We don’t have those details in writing and that has to change," said councillor Lynda Stephens. Councillor Cynthia Lemon said council made a promise and can’t go back on it now. "You don’t stunt something’s growth in mid-term," said Lemon. Deputy Mayor Mike Traynor said the Farmer’s Market is an important part of summer in Meaford. "It showcases our agri-businesses. It’s a tourist attraction. It has spin offs for our downtown. We know we have something here that is worthy of our support," said Traynor.


Business group honours ‘amazing women’

Business women from Midland, Penetanguishene and area gathered Wednesday to celebrate the best among them. The banquet room at Brooklea Golf and Country Club was packed for the second annual Midland and District Business Women’s Association’s Business Woman of the Year Awards. “There are so many amazing women out there, and it’s just nice to be able to give them the recognition,” president Shirley Cowdrey told The Mirror. With 18 nominees, picking a winner was more difficult than ever, she noted. “Each of them on their own (is) amazing, and to try to pick out of those would have been a hard task. We have amazing women and a great community.” After a day that included a reception and trade show, a four-course luncheon and guest speaker Sherry Lawson, the award for Business Woman of the Year went to Kelly Earle – owner of Top Dollar Bargain Centre at the Village Square Mall in Penetanguishene. “I can’t believe that all these little jobs I’ve done for the different charities I’ve worked for is appreciated,” she said, adding the award came as a pleasant – and emotional – surprise. “My mom and I were crying at the table…. It’s a wonderful award.” Awarded the first-ever Youth Entrepreneur Award was Natalie Walker, pastry chef and owner of Midland’s Sweet & Savoury. “I’m surprised, overwhelmed and (grateful) for the award. I’m going to do my best to keep working for the community and strive for the best,” she said. The Heart and Soul Award went to Carey Moran, morning host at radio station KICX-FM. “I was blown away by the award (and) blown away by the fact that I was nominated with this group of women,” she said. “It’s just a phenomenal group.” Moran has been active with the Canadian Cancer Society for a number of years, and is known in the community for her involvement with Relay For Life, the Kelly Shires Breast Cancer Snow Run, the Pink Ribbon Gala and the Rotary Club. Earle, meanwhile, bought the store 11 years ago at the age of 22, making her the youngest franchise owner in the company’s history. She spends much of her spare time working with the Tiny Township Lions Club, organizing the annual Relay for Life in conjunction with the Canadian Cancer Society, and is president of the Village Square Mall Association – to name just a few of her accomplishments. Earle said her plans for the future include working at the store until she hits 40. After that, she said, the sky is the limit. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but for sure there will be bigger and better things for me out there.”


Topping the trends

According to, Hyundai was on the February leader board of car manufacturers doing well in an otherwise slow sales month. “Amid news that auto sales in the U.S. have fallen to their lowest annual rate since December 1981 and lag 39.4 per cent behind year-to-date sales at this point last year, some models are bucking the trend,” said the report.  Both the Elantra and the Accent made it into the top five behind Audi’s A5/S5 Coupe and the BMW M3 convertible. But the counter-culture movement isn’t strictly south of the border. “We are certainly seeing that at the local level,” confirms Mike Holgate, sales manager at Barrie’s Baytowne Hyundai. “Our sales are up significantly over the number last year, which is in line with what Hyundai is experiencing across the province and across the country.” Among its competitive segment, Holgate credits a combination of aggressive warranty incentives, low interest rates and the high quality for car buyers “looking at us as a very good value,” he explains. “Of course, we are also the exclusive provider of WALKAWAY financing protection,” he adds.  Introduced in the U.S. in January, the Hyundai Assurance Program originated in Canada in 2000 as the first-ever loss-of-income insurance on new car loans. The sales stimulus has been heavily advertised since it was introduced. “A decade ago Hyundai pioneered America’s Best Warranty to show you the faith we have in our cars,” reads promotional material. “Today, in addition to our warranty, we’re introducing Hyundai Assurance, to show you the faith we have in you. Right now, buy any new Hyundai, and if in the next year you lose your income, we’ll let you return it.” Hyundai is first ever automaker to offer job-loss insurance on new car loans.” In Canada, the WALKAWAY Protection program “lets you seek relief from your payments temporarily, or return your vehicle and walk away from the financial obligation for good. In most cases, the difference between the balance owning and the residual value of your vehicle will be fully covered.” The program is offered on a complimentary basis for one year. “In this uncertain economy, we are looking for ways to reassure shoppers that Hyundai still represents the best value in the auto industry,” announced John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president. The overall strategy for credibility and competitiveness is proving to be sound.  Not only is Baytowne Hyundai the only Hyundai dealership in the region, it has grown to become the largest Hyundai dealer facility in the province since it opened for business in 1991. Larger facilities opened at 191 Mapleview Drive West in Barrie’s south end in 2005, more than tripling the size of the dealership. In addition to a much-larger indoor showroom, the new dealership also offers a local shuttle service, customer lounge and a service drive through. After years in its original bay-side location, “we needed to update and expand our facility to accommodate growth,” according to Holgate. Now the season is here that traditionally boosts auto sales across the board, Holgate invites shoppers to check out what’s making the news. “It’s a fun and easy place to get a new car,” he promises. For more information, visit