Warranties safe: Chrysler dealer

Trevor Connor has had some explaining to do since word of Chrysler’s financial woes trickled down to the owners and would-be buyers of vehicles produced by the troubled auto giant. Connor, a sales person at Simcoe County Chrysler in Orillia, readily acknowledged that Chrysler’s slide into bankruptcy protection south of the border has prompted concern among customers unsure of the company’s future. “Consumers are a little intimidated,” he said this week, stressing that, “the warranties and everything else that goes along with it are intact.” Even as the U.S.-based Chrysler undergoes a restructuring that includes billions in loans from Ottawa and Queen’s Park, it is business as usual at franchises across Canada, Connor said. “We are solid as we have ever been, we are not going away,” he said. While sales of new cars are down 50 per cent at the local dealership, sales of used models are on the rise as buyers seek to lower their costs. Growing interest in used cars is further driven by Chrysler’s inability to offer leasing, he said. “Any of the sales people in Orillia will tell you a lot of new-car sales are hedged around leasing,” he added. Customers are also holding onto their vehicles longer, and are increasingly willing to spend more on repairs, he said. “People are spending $3,000 or $4,000 (on repairs),” he added. Operating with a relatively lean staff of 10 – including sales and service – the dealership is well positioned to succeed in future, Connor said. “I think being small and nimble is a tremendous advantage,” he added. “We observed this coming. We were fully prepared for this and were taking steps in August of last year (to become more efficient). “We are not trying to be the biggest store in North America,” he added. “We know our customers’ needs. They want to deal with a smaller location.” Connor is confident Chrysler will emerge from its restructuring in a stronger position, citing past successes such as the mini-van as evidence of its innovative approach. “Absolutely,” he said. “We tend to be on the forefront of innovation.”


Leave the car at home for a day

Some people in Midland may show up for work a little sweaty one day next month. May 15 will mark the inaugural Dock-to-Dock Ride as part of Bike to Work Week, scheduled to take place May 11-17. Riders will meet in the parking lot of radio station 104.1 The Dock (335 Cranston Cres.) at 8 a.m. From there, the cyclists will ride down King Street to the town docks before continuing on to work. Greg Brewer, event organizer and Midland CTS Bike Club captain, said there are a number of events taking place nationwide. "It (is) our attempt to create awareness … in our community for cycling and a healthy lifestyle," he said. Brewer said the goal is to attract avid cyclists and beginners alike. "We want to raise awareness and, possibly, change the mentality for people in the community that could bike to work. I know not everyone can, but some people can," he said, adding there are a number of benefits to biking to work. "(There are) the economic benefits of saving gas, but there are also the health benefits if you do it enough." Brewer said he is expecting between 40 and 100 participants for the Dock-to-Dock ride. People can register online on either Facebook or on the CTS Bike Club website ( "It should be really interesting to see a group of riders (going) down the main street," he said. "If you have a bike and a heartbeat, you’re welcome to come at 8 a.m. and join us."


Garbage tops county residents’ bad list

Lakes and beaches are what most Simcoe County residents identify as local icons and landmarks, but when it comes to challenges, garbage tops their list. An Ipsos Reid survey conducted last fall revealed the good and bad in Simcoe County, from the perspective of 1,601 residents. "Satisfaction with the County of Simcoe as a place to live is very high and the percentage of residents rating their satisfaction as very satisfied … has increased from 79 per cent to 81 per cent," said county clerk Glen Knox. Residents "like it here," the Ipsos Reid key findings indicated. Growth is shaping opinion, as more and more people surveyed are more-recent arrivals; fewer people surveyed grew up here. As a result, previously accepted landmarks, such as the Martyrs’ Shrine, are listed as the top icons; the percentage of people citing that fell to six per cent, from eight three years ago. Lakes are tops with 21 per cent, followed by beaches (at 14 per cent). Both are up significantly over 2005. Nearly twice as many residents – 12 per cent, up from six per cent three years ago – said they didn’t know what the recognizable landmarks in the county are. One-third of residents couldn’t name one. In terms of challenges, however, 20 per cent of residents said waste management was tops, followed by taxes, at 10 per cent, and land use planning at 10 per cent. Significantly fewer mentioned road repair – 11 per cent, down from 21 per cent three years ago – as a concern. In its investigation, Ipsos Reid found the Site 41 controversy played a key role. Mentions of the site rose to 15 per cent, up from six per cent three years ago. In 2008, three times as many residents called the county regarding garbage – 15 per cent, up from five per cent – three years before.


Inquest to probe 2008 death at HDH

An inquest will examine the death of a patient at Huronia District Hospital following a transfer from the Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene. Dr. Dirk Huyer, regional supervising coroner for central region, announced the inquest on Tuesday into the death of Gerald Michael Vaughan. Vaughan, 57, died May 5, 2008, at the Midland hospital after a transfer from the Oak Ridge division of the Mental Health Centre. Under the Coroners Act, an inquest is mandatory when a person dies while in custody. The inquest will review the events surrounding Vaughan’s death. The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths. The inquest, which is expected to last two days, will hear from approximately four witnesses. It will begin at 9:30 a.m. on May 19 at the Midland courthouse. Dr. Gail Churchill will preside as inquest coroner, and David Russell will be counsel to the coroner.