Robbery suspect suffered hypothermia

A man alleged to have robbed a convenience store clerk with a knife suffered hypothermia while hiding from police in a wooded area, the OPP has reported. Police say a lone male armed with a knife entered the Cumberland Beach store on Highway 11 near Bayou Road on Tuesday, at about 9:30 p.m. His face was hidden behind a black mask and he was wearing a hoodie. After demanding money from the clerk, a struggle ensued and the clerk suffered a small cut to one hand. The suspect took an undisclosed quantity of cash before fleeing the store, only to be located by an emergency response team and a K-9 unit two hours later in a wooded area. He was taken to Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia before being transported to the Orillia OPP detachment. A 19-year-old Cumberland Beach man is charged with robbery with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He was to attend a bail hearing in Barrie court on Thursday.


Stolen 2010 pickup fished out of river

Police and tow truck crews pulled a brand new, Ford F-150 pickup truck from the depths of the Nottawasaga River at about 6 p.m. tonight (Thurs., April 16, 2009). The truck was found submerged in the river where it crosses the 5th Line of Essa just north of Nicolston Dam on Highway 89. It had apparently been spotted a couple of days ago by a young fisherman, but he didn’t think anything of it at the time. However, another passerby today spotted it and called police. Prior to that, high water levels from rain and spring runoff likely kept the vehicle hidden from view in the deeper, murky water. There was some initial concern that the driver might have still been inside, but it quickly became clear the vehicle was empty. The ignition had been punched out and a check by Nottawasaga OPP revealed the 2010 model, four-door pickup truck had been reported stolen from Toronto April 1. Police believe the truck has been in the river ever since. Access to the water was apparently gained by a rough driveway just north of the river used by fisherman to park. All the windows in the vehicle had been rolled down. It took two tow trucks and a Jeep with a winch to pull the soggy vehicle up the steep embankment onto dry ground.


Council flips on decision to turn off fluoride

Adding fluoride to the water system is the safest, most equitable and cost-effective way to distribute it, heard New Tecumseth council Monday night. A group of Canadian dental experts highlighted these points at a committee of the whole meeting after learning council had told town staff to take the necessary steps to end fluoridation of the water system in Tottenham. The motion to remove the fluoride was started by Tottenham Coun. Jim Stone, who said fluouride has been linked to some cancers and there is no proof of people having fewer cavities in areas where fluoride is added to the water.   Council has now decided to rescind their earlier decision and allow the fluoridation process to continue. "It was very disturbing when I read in the paper that people had voted in favour of removing fluoride from our water without knowing other information," said former Tottenham Reeve and New Tecumseth Deputy Mayor Joan Sutherland. "If fluoride was as much of a poison, I should be dead because I have been drinking tap water for 36 years, and still do." The decision to add fluoride into Tottenham’s water system was made in 1973 and was voted on by the residents during the municipal election that year. It is the only community in Simcoe County to add fluoride to the water supply. When the motion to end fluoridation was brought up this March town staff believed the only step to remove it was to apply to the Ministry of Environment to amend a certificate of approval for the fluoridation practice. A report from manager of public works Chad Horan this week said council is also required to pass a bylaw to discontinue fluoridating the water. The Fluoridation Act also says that a question may be put to the public before passing a bylaw, although it’s not required. Muskoka-Simcoe Dental Society president Gerry Ross has lived in Tottenham for 38 years and has had a dental practice in the community since 1971, before the fluoridation practice started. Ross said he was disappointed Stone, Ross’s local councillor, didn’t come to him for more information before introducing the fluoridation removal motion to council. "What I see in my practice is a tremendous difference in teeth in children in Tottenham and those from Beeton, Alliston and other surrounding areas," said Ross. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health, said the evidence supporting fluoridation and that was provided by the dental experts at the meeting is based on systematic reviews, not a selective review. He said the first involves careful research and examining all relevant articles whereas a selective review picks and chooses information to prove a point. Gardner said fluoridation reduces tooth decay 20 to 40 per cent in the population at large and that there is no consistent, strong or relevant evidence to suggest fluoride is linked to an increase in cancers, kidney disease or other diseases. It can cause mild fluorosis, which is light white marks on the teeth usually only visible to dental professionals. Oral Health in Simcoe Muskoka, a SMDHU study, shows a trend of tooth decay in children. It shows 40 per cent of five-year-olds and 60 per cent of seven-year-olds have tooth decay in the SMDHU area. Overall, the oral health of five, seven and nine-year-olds in the region ranked in the bottom 15 to 30 per cent of the health units in Ontario. "Our trend is not a positive trend, it’s of concern," said Gardner. The SMDHU recommends fluoride being available to all residents on municipally supplied drinking water. Along with the Simcoe-Muskoka Dental Society and SMDHU support of maintaining Tottenham’s fluoridation, the Ontario Dental Association, Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry, Health Canada, and the immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry were at the meeting to advocate the importance of fluoridation. "(Flouridation) has been researched to death and back and it has been guaranteed to be very safe," said Peter Cooney, chief dental officer for Health Canada. Stone said he doesn’t trust Health Canada though. "One of the reasons I don’t respect the stats of Health Canada is that I believe that they support the giant corporations (drugs, food and chemical) in this country," said Stone in a written report to council. Stone said his concerns extend beyond dental health. "Dentists always talk about teeth and they didn’t seem to talk about the holistic affects that fluoride has for you," said Stone. He believes fluoride is a deadly poison that does much harm to your body. New Tecumseth has two water systems. Alliston and Beeton get their water supply from the Collingwood-Alliston pipeline and Tottenham has its own well system. According to a town report the fluoridation question was put on the municipal ballot for Alliston and Beeton in 1976 and voted down. If the question is put to Tottenham residents about fluoridation, the report said the question could also be put to Alliston and Beeton. Adding fluoridation into Alliston and Beeton’s water supply would be more difficult than in Tottenham as there are at least seven stations that would need to have fluoridation systems installed, as well as receiving Ministry of Environment approval, according to the town report.


$2 bag tag fee appears likely

Meaford residents can expect to be paying $2 per bag of garbage beginning in May. Meaford council at a budget meeting held last Thursday evening appeared to be leaning towards supporting the implementation of a $2 per bag fee. As part of a new list of potential budget cuts and new revenues presented at the meeting municipal staff suggested the municipality adopt a garbage bag tag fee of $2 per bag. Staff estimated that if the new fee is implemented beginning in May it will raise approximately $370,000 in new revenue for the rest of 2009 and more than $500,000 over the course of an entire year. The issue will still require debate and formal approval from council, but at Thursday’s meeting several councillors indicated they would support such a new fee. Deputy Mayor Mike Traynor said he preferred a bag tag fee to some of the proposed budget cuts that would eliminate downtown flower planting, gravel maintenance on rural roads and the reduction of core services like the library, sidewalk plowing, dust suppression and fire department rescue services. "Some of this stuff is just demoralizing. Charging $2 a bag – I don’t think that hurts as much as some of these other things," said Traynor. Councillor Harley Greenfield said Meaford has to face the reality in waste disposal. He noted that bag tags are common in other areas. "I think the time has come for bag tags. It’s not a statement I like to make," he said. Councillors Gerald Shortt and Jim McPherson said bag tags are a tax increase with a fancy name. "It’s still a tax increase. It’s still being collected from our ratepayers," said Shortt. McPherson said he was worried residents would resort to compressing their trash more leading to fewer bags, but a higher volume of garbage being thrown out. "This is a tax grab," said McPherson. Council did not make a decision about bag tags at Thursday’s meeting. Council did set a budget target of an overall 5% tax increase (11% on the local municipal portion of the tax bill) for the 2009 budget. At council’s next budget meeting to be held on March 30 municipal staff will present a budget at the 5% target. If staff presents council with a budget that includes bag tags, council will have to debate and approve or turn down that option at the meeting.


Students travel for Habitat for Humanity

A bruising round of dodge ball at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School kicked off a campaign to build a new life for residents of an impoverished country scarred by civil war. Travis Frampton and Mady Harber, both 18, leave April 24 for a two-week stay in rural Tajikistan, an earthquake-prone region with a battered infrastructure and inadequate housing. There they will join a dozen members of Habitat for Humanity Global Village to build a home for a family in the town of Nurek. “They need attention on the world stage,” Frampton said moments before students at his alma mater plunked down a toonie each to spend the afternoon drilling one another with rubber balls. All proceeds went toward the $5,000 in travel expenses and building materials each participant in the upcoming build are expected to raise. “The support is just amazing,” Harber added. Both graduates of the local separate school, the two met in a Grade 12 philosophy class. “We realized we shared a lot of the same interests,” Frampton recalled. When her like-minded friend decided to leave Orillia to help build a house for a single mother of eight in El Suyate, Guatemala last year, it was Harber who organized a fundraising coffee house event at the school. The resulting experience was life changing for Frampton. “It is not something I ever want to stop doing,” he added of the labour intensive but satisfying work. “It made me realize how ridiculous it is the things we complain about here.” Neither is Harber a stranger to the spirit of volunteerism. Proceeds from a locally produced CD and concert she organized last year raised more than $3,600 for the local Habitat chapter. The upcoming trip, “is going to be the first of many,” she added. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Harber plans to study international development with the aim of improving living conditions for residents of Third World countries. “When I set my mind to something, I try my best to make it happen,” she added. Anyone wishing to contribute to the upcoming trip can do so online at www.Canadahelps.org


40th reunion for GBSS being planned

Meaford resident Garry McEachern is looking for about 8,000 people. McEachern is busy these days working with a special committee planning the 40th reunion celebration for Georgian Bay Secondary School to be held this July. The reunion is taking place from July 3-5. McEachern and a special committee have been meeting for the past few months preparing the event. "Reunion weekend is beginning to take shape," he said in an interview last week. "We’re looking for everybody who went to GBSS from 1968 and on," he said. Several events for that weekend are being planned. The committee plans to have two tents set up in the Market Square on Saturday morning for breakfasts prepared by local service clubs. In addition, a number of local bands will be playing at the Market Square throughout the day. "Most of (members of the bands) are people that graduated from the High School. We also hope to have the top three finishers from GBSS Idol playing that weekend," he said. Saturday night of reunion weekend will feature a dance at the arena. McEachern said the entire weekend will be very family friendly. "We’re hoping to have lots of things for graduates with young families to do," he said. Events and plans about the reunion weekend are being listed online at www.meaford.com McEachern said the toughest part of organizing the reunion is finding all the people that attended school in Meaford. "If we graduated 200 kids every year since 1968 that’s about 8,000 people. We’re slowing getting the names together. We hope to send a letter (about the reunion) out on April first," he said. The TD Bank in Thornbury and Fotos and Flowers by Joanne in Meaford have reunion information slips available at each location. If local residents know the address or email address of an out of town GBSS graduate they are encouraged to fill out a slip at one of those two locations. "We have close to 50% of the graduates on the lists we’ve sent out. We’re hoping that 2-3,000 people come back for that weekend," said McEachern. The idea to plan a reunion began to percolate with McEachern last year as Meaford United Church celebrated its 100th anniversary. He said Grey Highlands Secondary School in Flesherton recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and felt that Meaford should do the same. Those thoughts led to a booth at the fall fairs in Meaford and Thornbury and from that a reunion committee formed. Costs of the reunion will be $25 per person and $40 per family.


Going green: Nursery turns to bugs

A Wyevale nursery is being infested with bugs in an attempt to go green. Robert and Laura Moon, owners of Wye Nursery, are reducing their greenhouse practice of pesticide spraying, choosing instead to use a biological approach that introduces one insect into the greenhouse that will prey on other insects known for eating or destroying plants. “We’ve been buying bugs that are predators to other bugs – for instance (one type we bring in) are microscopic bugs that live in bran and will stay in there for up to five weeks,” said Robert Moon, adding the alternative to this “green” way of ridding plants of known pests would be using sprays, chemicals and pesticides, which aren’t good for people’s health or the health of the plant. “It’s bad for us and it’s bad for the customer. The pesticides are left on the leaf, and (most) people don’t know that.” Added Laura Moon, “With all the recalls of fruits and vegetables, you don’t know if a tomato is from Mexico, what they’re spraying on them, where they’re growing them or how they’re growing them.” The nursery started using the new method last year with its fall mums, noted Robert Moon, adding the bugs – which come as both mature bugs and eggs – live in sacks providing them with enough food for a several number of weeks.  “The more you use a spray, the more a plant becomes immune to it. They weren’t being effective,” he said. “It’s just like cough medicine,” added Laura. “The more you take, the more you (don’t respond).”  With 90 per cent of the plants sold at the nursery being grown there from seed, using this new “greener” process can also be a bit time consuming, they noted.  “We’re still at the early stages, and you definitely have to keep on top of it,” said Laura Moon. “You’ve got to get it managed. If you just sense that there are some, and you find a few, you’ve got to get right on top of it because, if you just let it go and they’re everywhere, then these aren’t going to work. You have to bring these in early and stay on top of it,” added Robert Moon. The couple said even though the bugs cost approximately 50 per cent more than what they were previously paying for chemical sprays, the benefits are priceless. “It’s just a better way of doing things,” she said. “Never mind what the sprays and chemicals are doing to us – obviously, they’re not good for us to breathe them in, for our kids (or) the environment – but it’s the greener way to go. For us, doing what we’re doing, and moving to the next level, it just seems like the logical thing to do… like it’s the right next step.”


Man arrested in home invasion

Several OPP officers suffered minor injuries during the arrest of a man in connection with an afternoon home invasion in Orillia. Police say officers responded to a home invasion in progress at a residence near the intersection of Coldwater Road and Peter Street at about 2:45 on Wednesday. A male suspect was apprehended, with several officers receiving minor injuries during the arrest. The suspect was taken into custody and was to appear for a bail hearing on April 16. A 49-year-old Orillia man is charged with several Criminal Code offenses, including robbery, break and enter, assault, assaulting police, and uttering threats.


Foundation to honour top philanthropists

Individuals, businesses and groups that make this community a better place to live will be honoured May 30 by the Huronia Communities Foundation (HCF). The annual Circle of Honour philanthropic awards will be handed out during a gala at the Brooklea Golf and Country Club. The 2009 honorees are: • Individual: David and Michelle Mink • Business: Franke Kindred Canada Ltd. • Groups: Port McNicoll Lions Club, Friends of the Penetanguishene Youth • Youth or Youth Group: Penetanguishene Secondary School Positive Students for Students. For the third year in a row, the event is a sellout, with every last $85 ticket snatched up two months in advance. Thirty dollars from each ticket goes to an HCF fund to be distributed to local charities. One goal of the Circle of Honour program is to inspire leadership in giving and service to the community.


A dream come true

Like many of his childhood friends in the tiny Northern Ireland community of Omagh, Martin Monteith left school early to pursue an apprenticeship and soon married the woman who is still by his side today. Unlike many of his childhood friends, he had dreams beyond a life of employment in the local auto-body shop. He wanted to use his automotive experience to propel me to business ownership. “I wanted to provide a bigger and better life for my family. Barely 20 years ago, we brought our young family to Canada and, in 1992, I opened my first 2,500-square-foot accident-repair shop on Barrie’s Hart Drive,” Monteith recalls. “At the time, I employed one part-time technician, but I knew it was just the beginning.” After several expansions, he outgrew the space entirely. Zenetec Collision Centre, built in 2000, is the result of his business ambitions to date. It is a state-of-the-art 22,500-square-foot facility on Barrie’s Tiffin Street. “The new centre was built to accommodate growth and, as anticipated, sales have doubled since we opened,” he reports. “I attribute our massive recent growth to exceptional customer service, quality workmanship and a corporate culture of courtesy.” Like many of those childhood friends, his own children (for the most part) haven’t strayed too far from home. Son William now oversees most of the daily operations of Zenetec, while daughter Diane tends the front-line as the key customer-service representative. Meanwhile, Monteith’s younger son William spends his working hours in the paint department on the shop floor. Daughter Alison, who recently completed her schooling, is currently travelling and working in Australia. “I am blessed to have my wife and children working alongside me,” says the soft-spoken Irishman. “I now have 35 employees who correct small dents and perform large repairs to restore nearly 200 vehicles per month.” Although he spends most of his time these days in the front offices, he’s been known to put on a pair of coveralls when work requires extra hands. His background plays well among the other tradespeople in the shop and has led to an environment of camaraderie. Several members of his staff have been with Zenetec for more than 10 years – with three crossing that threshold last year alone. One, prepper Rob Diedenhofen, who is the workers’ representative on the company health and safety committee, celebrated his 15-year anniversary with Monteith in September. The complement of staff is expected to continue to grow to keep up with ever-expanded sales. “Over 90 per cent of our business comes from insurance claims,” he says. “The rest are mostly return customers with minor damage they’d rather not claim.” He credits customer service and the strong team environment in the centre. “We do really look after our customers – it’s a top priority,” he says. “We’ve always treated customers with respect, even difficult ones.” The new centre was built to accommodate growth, but it’s already working at near capacity. Monteith continues to look ahead. “As the centre evolves, I continue to consider my options as I lead my team through further growth,” he considers. “I’d hoped I’d grow to a decent-sized shop,” he recalls. “I don’t intend to just finish with it here.”