The warm winds of spring made for a colourful day on Kempenfelt Bay Tuesday, as kite skiers took to the frozen lake for some high-speed riding. Spring-like temperatures have put an end to ice sports on the bay but it won’t be long now until the kiters will be riding waves. Police remind the public the ice is no longer safe.
There are two possible fatalities in a house fire in the northwest reaches of Adjala-Tosorontio that firefighters are battling at this hour (3 p.m., Mon., March 16, 2009) Just before 2 p.m. a neighbour of the home located at 996380 the Tosorontio/Mulmur Townline north of Rosemont, called 911 to report heavy smoke coming from the home. Another neighbour at the scene said an elderly couple lives in the home and may not have made it out. The couple seldom left home. The husband was confined to a wheelchair. The house is fully involved and firefighters from Rosemont and both Adjala-Tosorontio fire stations are currently on the scene battling the blaze, but the damage is already extensive. There’s little left of the home except the foundation now. Flames were visible initially. Now only smoke is coming from the ruins of the home. Reporter Kurtis Elsner is on the scene. More details, photos and video as they become available.
Volunteers for the Canadian Cancer Society will be out and about in the coming weeks as they gear up for Daffodil Month. Phyllis Clapp and Donna Burton, co-conveners for the Midland/Penetanguishene fundraiser, have been living, breathing and sometimes even sleeping the campaign for the past few months. Although they agreed it has been a challenge, heading up the campaign for the first time will be worth it in the end. “I think Phyllis has been living it 24 hours a day,” said Burton. “It seems to be our topic of conversation no matter if we are at a card game or bowling. It stays with us.” While money from most cancer-related fundraisers goes to research, proceeds from this campaign will go half toward research and half toward administration, drivers and support groups, noted Burton, who has been a cancer society volunteer for 18 years. “Everything raised here goes to our people,” she emphasized. Last year, the local branch’s volunteer drivers drove 344 clients to cancer-related appointments, covering 275,023 kilometres at a cost of more than $96,000. Clapp, a volunteer for two years, said knowing the money raised stays in the community is what makes this fundraiser so important. “About four years ago, I had to take my husband to Princess Margaret (Hospital in Toronto),” she recalled. “I didn’t know anything about the fact that there were drivers available.” While their reasons for volunteering may be different, both women have found themselves drawn to the cancer society. “Right from the time I was a child … my dad helped with cancer here in Midland,” said Burton. “It was embedded in my being.” “I lost my dad to cancer,” added Clapp. “I wanted to help raise money so that we can help in some way.” Daffodil sales brought in almost $3 million for the Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario in 2008 – with the local campaign raising $23,000. Burton and Clapp are hoping to increase that to $30,000 this year. Volunteers have fanned out in the community taking orders for the flowers. They sell for $7 a bunch or $12 for two bunches, with delivery scheduled for April 3. Daffodil sales will also be taking place in local stores, banks and malls on April 3 and 4. firstname.lastname@example.org
A briefcase-sized paper shredder will do the job, but it can be time-consuming. For people with a whole lot of paper to dispose of, a truck-sized shredder will pay a visit to Penetanguishene on May 2. The community shredding day is also a fundraiser for the Midland Area Reading Council and Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe. The truck holds 4.6 tonnes of shredded paper, all of which will be recycled, which organizers say will save about 55 trees. The truck will be at the Village Square Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations for the two community organizations will be accepted.
Hayden Burkitt, three, takes charge of Thomas the Tank Engine under the watchful eye of conductor David Janelle at the Thomas Depot at the Queen Street station in Tottenham. The depot offered playday for youngsters Saturday to come in and try out the selection of toy trains. Some of the proceeds from sales are going to help the local Tottenham Food Bank.
Simcoe County councillors opted not to give employers a tax break this year for fear of the impact on homeowners. Instead, county councillors will contemplate how to reduce the tax burden for business and industry at a strategic planning session Tuesday. And they’ll have a year to consider how to implement any ideas that may emerge as the county sets tax ratios – how to allocate the tax levy among the various property classes, such as residential, commercial, farm, pipeline and industrial. Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier urged the mayors and deputy mayors of the county’s 16 member municipalities to give business extra care this year, as the recession stresses companies. He said the county has room to move to make its tax ratios more fair, as businesses bear more than their fair share of not only the municipal tax, but even six to 10 times more than a residential taxpayer in education taxes. "We have significant employers looking toward all levels of government to offer stimulus and be more fair," he said Tuesday. "We’re a long, long way from the (provincially recommended) range of fairness. What I’m asking is the moving forward of the bylaw (setting taxes) be held off, until we collectively discuss this." His motion, however, failed, and county councillors set the new taxes, effective March 24. "I’m not opposed to what Coun. Carrier is suggesting (but) we really need to see the actual effect on a number of municipalities. My community is 95-per-cent residential," said Tiny Township Mayor Peggy Breckenridge. "It’s probably not too bad, but without the numbers, how can we move forward?" Switching the ratio slightly would mean a few dollars more for residents, while sparing companies with higher assessments much more. It would impact municipalities differently, depending on their make up. Collingwood, with its diverse employment and industrial base, would benefit, while Tiny, which is largely residential, would see its support to the county rise. Two weeks ago, Essa Township Mayor David Guergis highlighted a Barrie company that was poised to build two plants in Essa, but which went to the United States instead, where taxes were lower and municipal regulations fewer.
Nate Mills had his tongue planted firmly in cheek when he penned the now infamous “Orillia Song,” a backhanded homage to his quirky hometown. The tune would serve as the soundtrack to an accompanying film-short produced in collaboration with childhood friend Tyler Grace. Set to rollicking country music, the song highlights a variety of local landmarks, among them the Stephen Leacock Museum, the Champlain Monument and the Atherley Arms – all of it seen through the eyes of two visiting hillbillies. Over the past two years, the piece garnered 135,000 hits on the video-sharing site YouTube. “People are self deprecating,” Mills, 27, said of the local response. “People like to be made fun of, to an extent, and laugh at themselves. No one had really done anything about Orillia, aside from Stephen Leacock a long time ago.” No surprise, then, that when Mills hits the opera house stage on the Friday of this weekend’s comedy festival with his Toronto-based band Run With the Kittens, the satirical song will be on the set list. “I’ll have to,” says Mills, the group’s vocalist and songwriter. For the past five years the band has enjoyed a regular Tuesday evening gig at Toronto’s Cameron House, a corner bar brimming with character. And characters. It was there that Mills and company honed their chops before small but discerning audiences with a thirst for fresh material and new approaches. “There is no greater way to tighten a band,” he says. “Every process, it speeds it up tenfold.” Their music ranges from folk and funk to hard-driving punk and even strays into the oh-so-soothing sounds of “lounge.” “It’s all over the place,” he adds. Mills inevitably injected his well-known wit into much of the writing, further broadening the band’s appeal. “I enjoy comedy, and have a sense of humour about things, so that spilled into the band,” he adds. You don’t want to get written off as a novelty band or a joke, but at the same time, that is the spot where I am most comfortable.” In 2007, the energetic foursome produced two records under the guidance of Blue Rodeo and Rush producer Terry Brown, and a year later released Cad Gold Jr. The band has toured Canada twice in an old school bus, and last November brought its wide-ranging repertoire to Holland. “It was fantastic,” Mills says. “We went for 10 days and we played every other night. European audiences are a lot more enthusiastic and open minded, from my short time there.” Other venues included biker festivals and a stint at the Huronia Regional Centre. “My uncle was in charge of entertainment,” he recalls. “He said (the residents) were really into Ghostbusters, so if you could learn the Ghostbusters song they would love it.” The band did just that. “Everyone went crazy,” he adds. “It was really well received.” In between gigs and recording, Mills supplements his income writing jingles for television commercials. “The majority of the stuff is background for a Swiss Chalet commercial or something when the food is being shown,” he says. He looks forward to his band’s first appearance at the local opera house with more than a touch of awe. “I remember being very little and going to see Mr. Dressup there and thinking ‘This place is huge,’” he adds. “It is kind of surreal. I feel really privileged.” Run With the Kittens plays the Orillia Opera House on April 17 at 8 p.m. For ticket information, call 326-8011.
The job of the police is to solve crimes, but even the most skilled officer can use a little help from time to time. In the month of March, 208 callers to Crime Stoppers of Simcoe-Dufferin-Muskoka lent a hand, offering tips that led to the clearing of 17 cases. The investigations resulted in 15 arrests and 24 charges for drug possession, possession of stolen property and other criminal code offences. Since it began in 1987, Crime Stoppers has facilitated 3,300 arrests and the recovery of nearly $9.9 million in stolen property. Anyone with information about a crime that has occurred can call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
A 28-year-old Springwater man has been charged with stunt driving, impaired driving and having an excess amount of alcohol in his system after being clocked doing 208 km-h on Hwy. 400 in Innisfil early last Sunday (March 29) morning. An OPP constable on radar patrol observed the man’s vehicle travelling northbound at a high rate of speed and began following. The vehicle then crossed three lanes of road to exit at Mapleview Drive and drove through a red light. The officer pulled over the vehicle. A quick chat with the driver resulted in impaired charges being laid and the man was taken to the Barrie OPP detachment for a breath test, which he failed. The man’s vehicle was impounded and the driver issued a 90-day license suspension. The man was also given a May 4 court date.
The truck from Glen Huron Farms rolls up early in the morning to the front door of the Innisfil Lions Hall in Alcona. The monthly delivery is eagerly awaited by a dozen volunteers from Good Food Simcoe who will soon sort a variety of fresh produce onto tables inside the hall. Bob Billinger is one of those volunteers. The Crossroads resident is out this Thursday morning with his wife, Maureen. “We joined Good Food Simcoe last August,” Billinger says. “We like helping the community by making fresh fruit and vegetables available to them for better health.” The program was started by a small group of volunteers with guidance from the Barrie Community Health Centre. Since its inception, momentum has been gradually building to the point where the group now serves an average of 70 families a month who purchase either a small bag for $10, or a large bag for $15, on the third Thursday of each month. This month’s offerings include premium quality red peppers,zucchini. mushrooms, lettuce, potatoes, cabbage, apples, carrots, plums and onions. “We’re both retired and we wanted to help out and do our best to get the best quality produce, for the best price, to people,” Billinger says. “We buy in bulk and get produce at about 50 per cent off the retail cost. Members of our board of directors visit different supermarkets to price items.” Good Food Simcoe is a not-for-profit organization, he says. “Anything we make on the bags goes back into buying the product,” Billinger says. “It’s open to everyone. We’ve been approaching different organizations for donations to help us out. Our goal somewhere down the line is to buy some bags we can give to people who can’t afford it. We don’t want to know who gets it. We know the Lions Club distributes a couple of bags to people they know can use it.” On a typical packing day, between 11 to 15 volunteers show up and work with great precision to fill the bags. It takes less than an hour for them to complete the task. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., purchasers can come to pick up their bags. Every effort is made to source products either locally, from Ontario, or Canadian growers. “We want to support our farmers,” Billinger says. “We always have a little joke whenever we get oranges.” Sharon Wozniak of the Barrie Community Health Centre is impressed with the Innisfil contingent. “We have a wonderful group here, plus our board of directors,” she says. “It’s a real credit to the community. It truly is a local effort.” For volunteer co-ordinator Cathy Richardson, “It’s a great job. I love it. Some of our volunteers come every month to pack.” Orders for food can be made, cash only, through Adam & Eve Tanning at 1070 Innisfil Beach Rd., Innisfil Denture Clinic, 980 Innisfil Beach Rd., or Second Time Around, 7328 Yonge St., just south of Innisfil Beach Road. On June 25 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the group is hosting a showcase for local growers and health-related organziations at the Innisfil Lions Hall. There will be a guest speaker, bake sale and volunteer recognition as well. For more information, call Richardson at 436-3178.