Home dream comes true for Stayner family

Thirteen-year-old Devlyn Lohnes seemed delighted Saturday that his family is one of two chosen this year from approximately 30 applicants for a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) home. The Stayner duplex is to be built by volunteers from the South Georgian Bay affiliate of HFH. "I think it’s just great that we’re going to finally have our own home with a backyard," he told The Stayner Sun on Saturday at the Collingwood ReStore, run by HFH volunteers. "It’ll have more chores and stuff but at least we’ll have our own place," Devlyn said as his four-year-old brother, Dustyn, by turns, dozed and wandered about the store. The boys’ mother, Carrie, was there to donate some of the 400 hours of "sweat equity" the family is required to contribute in addition to paying the interest-free mortgage held by the HDH. Carrie, a Stayner native, said she was acting on a suggestion from her mother when she filled out an application for HFH consideration. After three interviews and months of hoping, she got the call that meant she would finally get a home for her family. "The Habitat for Humanity logo is absolutely perfect for us," Carrie said. "It’s not a handout it’s a hand up." Stressing that she’s not looking for charity, Carrie said, "I don’t want that. That’s not me. I want to work." "We will be paying a mortgage," she said, "but it is set up to make it attainable." A conventional mortgage was something "the banks said I couldn’t have because a sole support parent is considered a high risk," she said. "I would have to come up with a 10 percent down payment." The HDH holds two mortgages on the property, explained director Ralph Sneyd. The first represents the costs of land and materials that go into the home construction, although most of these costs are donated. The second represents the value of donated labour, plus the difference between the hard costs and the estimated market value as determined by a real estate appraiser. After they pay off the first interest-free mortgage, the homeowners are not required to pay the second. It is held by HDH, Sneyd explained, only to ensure that the owners do not sell the home unless it is sold back to HDH for a price representing the actual cost plus interest. That way, the HDH can provide the home to another family needing housing. Built by some of the 350 volunteers of the South Georgian Bay affiliate of HFH, the house is to take shape Aug. 8 to 15. Following a June groundbreaking, the foundation will be laid and the walls prefabricated, Sneyd said. The Lohnes should be able to move in by Thanksgiving. The name of the other family chosen for the Stayner duplex had not been announced by press time. For Devlyn, good grades in school also count toward the sweat equity, he explained, as does time spent in any volunteer activity by his cadet corps. "The whole family needs to be involved," said another director and affiliate secretary, Anne Marie Wright. "We’re concerned about the whole family, that they’re comfortable." "That’s the way to put it – comfortable," Carrie agreed. "We will be first time homeowners and it’s a relief to find out that they (HFH  volunteers) don’t just leave you alone," Carrie said, adding that the whole process is not so daunting when there is someone there to provide guidance. "We enter into an agreement," Wright said. "It’s like a mini-marriage." Income from the Collingwood ReStore, along with corporate and private donations and receipts of fund-raising activities, provides money to build the homes. "Monies raised here (in this area) stay here," said Wright. All of the labour and many of the materials are donated. Carrie had applied previously for an HFH home built in Wasaga Beach but was not chosen at that time. She explained that she had been working only two days a week and would not have been able to handle the mortgage payments The Lohnes family "shone so well that the interviewers remembered them," Wright recalled. Carrie is now working full time as a 911 dispatcher in Collingwood. Of the HFH organization, Carrie said, "it’s phenomenal. It all started with a man who had a dream." That man was Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity International, who passed away in February. His life and work were celebrated at a ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on March 14, 2009. Anyone wishing to know more about HFH and the home to be constructed at Sutherland Street and County Road 91 is invited to attend a meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wed., March 25 at the Clearview Community Church across from the Stayner Foodland.


Students get head start on trade certification

While not a completely new concept for Ontario, the carpentry apprenticeship program offered at Bradford District High School is the first of its kind in Simcoe County, Dan Barrett of the Local 27 Carpenters’ Union said. The apprenticeship program for Grade 12 students is a four-credit co-operative education course. It allows many students seeking to start a career in carpentry a head start on their apprenticeship for certification. “To be certified, it’s a three-part series,” Mr. Barrett said. “The students do their first part here in school and then are required to spend some time out in the field, before moving on to getting their Red Seal certification.” For many of the students in the class of 14 (with seven coming from Nantyr Shores Secondary School in Innisfil), it’s an opportunity to learn something outside the normal classroom structure and start their career goals a year earlier than many others, while still completing their high school education. For the carpenter’s union, it’s another way of ensuring people are using more certified workers in the labour force, Mr. Barrett said. “The students do not come out of this as a member of the union at all,” Mr. Barrett said. “When they are done, we will help them find work, either with a private practice or with union work. It is completely up to them what they want to do.” The course is about ensuring the students are given the proper skills to go out and join the workforce, something the construction business has not always done in the past, Mr. Barrett said. Carpentry is unlike any other skilled profession, as their is no license needed, unlike electrical work and plumbing. “Because we only have certification and are not a licensed trade, anyone can throw on a pouch and call themselves a carpenter,” Mr. Barrett said. “This is a way that we can ensure that those with a pouch are indeed skilled carpenters.” It’s a much different setting for most of the students in the class, who have spent years learning from a desk and reading off a chalkboard, Mr. Barrett said. “For many of these kids, they never would have gone to college or university,” Mr. Barrett said. “This gives them an opportunity to still get their education and start to work on their careers.” The students are essentially isolated from many of their peers in the school, with strict guidelines on how many hours are required throughout the semester. Each student can only miss 24 hours or they will lose out on the apprenticeship program. “I had one student who went away early for March break and now he is already down 11 hours,” Mr. Barrett said. “Not only that, but there is not a lot of time to get the projects done, as the class moves on without him and he is left to try and catch up.” As part of the apprenticeship program, students study the background of the trade, complete a machinery how-to course and safety certifications. They will also build an L-shaped wall. “The most important thing that they must learn is the discipline,” Mr. Barrett said. “If they are late more than six times, they will be removed from the program, much like they would on a site.” Teachers Sean Griffin and Jon Sweeny helped launch the program at the school. Mr. Sweeny is a certified carpenter and has worked hard in partnership with schools in the area to make the program known as one for the whole county, as it will accept students from any of the region’s schools. “A great deal of credit for our success needs to go to Glenda Galliford from Nantyr Shores,” Mr. Sweeny said. “She is a guidance counsellor there and has been a strong advocate for our program and promotes it very effectively.”


Snow Day across Simcoe

School buses across Simcoe County remained parked this morning thanks to another spring snowfall. The weather not only left children with a much appreciated snow day, it also created treacherous road conditions during the early morning commute. The snow is expected to continue into Tuesday with a high of -4 C.


Man jailed 61 days on multiple charges

Former B.C. resident Michael James O’Hara, 27, pleaded guilty from the prisoner’s box in the Collingwood Ontario Court of Justice Feb. 3 to several charges including disobeying a probation order, drive witth excess alcohol and failing to attend court. The defendant received 45 days behind bars for failing to show, with 16 further days on the breach and was fined $1,000 for blowing over the legal limit. Crown attorney Judy Bielefeld said as of July 1, 2003 the defendant had neglected to make $1,114 in restitution to the State Farm Insurance company from a prior conviction. On Oct. 11, 2003 Collingwood police made a traffic stop with O’Hara at the wheel. He later blew breathalyzer readings of 130 and 140 mg per cent said the Crown. The accused will be a prohibited driver for a year, with three months to pay the fine.


A vision in red

A young woman models a bright and beautiful gown before a packed audience at the Spring Extravaganza, held April 5 at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre. The show featured fashions and ideas for weddings, graduations and other special events.


ARC puts forward three recommendations

Members of the Accommodation Review Committee agreed to disagree Monday night. The committee, convened by the Simcoe County District School Board to come up with solutions regarding declining enrolment in the area, initially set out to come to a consensus on one solution but instead it is sending three recommendations to school board trustees. The 38-member committee first met one year ago. It set out to review high schools in Stayner, Collingwood, Elmvale, Penetanguishene and Midland and to make a suggestion about how to solve enrolment issues. Wasaga Beach was included in the process as a possible school site. Wasaga Beach does not have a high school and parents and politicians have been lobbying for one for many years. On Monday, the committee approved the three recommendations that will be presented to the board’s senior administrative staff this morning by committee co-chair and superintendent of education Janis Medysky. The recommendation that received the most support is a five-school scenario defined as status quo with upgrades. The committee recommends that all five existing high schools remain open and receive the renovations they require to properly serve the student population, whether its removing capacity in schools that have too few students or adding to schools that are over crowded and require facility upgrades. A second recommendation that was supported by three committee members is a four-school scenario that would see Elmvale District High School remain in operation, one high school remain in Midland and Penetanguishene with two schools to serve the catchment areas of Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Stayner Collegiate Institute. The scenario could include the construction of a high school in Wasaga Beach. A third recommendation supported by three committee members is a six-school scenario that would see all five existing high schools remain in operation and a school built in Wasaga Beach. The decision to finalize the three recommendations came right after a public meeting held Monday in the gymnasium of Stayner Collegiate Institute. More than 200 people attended the meeting, many coming to the microphone one by one for one-and-a-half hours to make a plea in support of Stayner Collegiate or voice their opinion that a high school in Wasaga Beach is long overdue. Educators said small schools have the highest graduation rate and politicians said Stayner Collegiate is pivotal to the community. People speaking on behalf of Wasaga Beach said they want their children to go to school in their own community and have a chance to reap all the benefits. Although the accommodation review committee was established to assess the physical structures of the schools – the bricks and mortar as it is often referred to – community members continually brought the discussion back to community and quality of student life. Throughout the process, Wasaga Beach and Clearview demonstrated their growth potential and community members defended their threatened schools as Clearview Township residents and politicians pleaded with the school board to protect their school and not allow Wasaga Beach to construct a school at the expense of theirs. "There is no reason a community of 16,000 should lose its school so a community of 16,000 can have one," said one Grade 11 student at Stayner Collegiate. With a lot of public support voiced for the five-school status quo scenario, Shawn Davidson, a Clearview Township municipal councillor who operates businesses in Stayner and Wasaga Beach, asked the committee after the public meeting if members would consider voting to reprioritize the recommendations. He said the committee could distance itself from the four-school scenario a little further by strengthening its support for the six-school scenario. Stayner Collegiate teacher Jared Singleton asked the committee to consider putting only the five-school recommendation to school trustees, saying the committee came close to a consensus on the option than members ever thought they would and it received a clear majority. But the committee did not vote on Monday night except to finalize its draft report containing three recommendations. The report will go to a special facility standing committee meeting on Apr. 14 and a special board meeting on May 14. The public is allowed to make scheduled delegations at both meetings by contacting Rita England at 734-6363. School trustees are expected to make a final decision on June 17.


Vial of Life a comfort for mother, daughter

Patricia Manning and her mother Rosealie Inglis are stocking their fridge with Vials of Life. They feel a little more secure knowing their medical history and a list of current medications is tucked safely in the door of their refrigerator, and paramedics know exactly where to look for it. The Vial of Life is a program delivered in partnership with the Simcoe County Paramedic Association and Medichair, a Barrie-based company that sells home medical equipment and mobility products. The Vial of Life is to be kept in the top right hand shelf of the refrigerator. A kit is available free and includes a sheet of paper where people can record all their medical information and a pill bottle to keep it in. A magnet notifying paramedics that the Vial of Life is inside is displayed on the refrigerator door. The sheet of paper tells paramedics everything they need to know about a patient’s existing medical conditions, current medications and drug allergies if the patient is unable to communicate. Paramedic and association board member Janel Perron said when attending a call, the first thing paramedics do is check the patient, then one paramedic will go and look for medications and the Vial of Life if there is one in the home. Perron said there is probably tens of thousands of the packages in use in Simcoe County considering anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 are given out each year and the program has already been running for several years. Perron said just last week, he and his partner responded to a call and benefited from the information contained in the Vial of Life. "The person wasn’t able to communicate all of the information that we needed, she was unable to speak more than two words at a time and we located the vial and all of her detailed history was right there which was very helpful to us," said Perron. He said, as an example, when responding to a patient experiencing cardiac chest pain, paramedics are only able to administer nitroglycerin if the patient has received it before, unless one of the paramedics on scene has IV – intervenes – training. Perron said the protocol is in place because it is such a strong medication it may have an adverse affect on the patient unless there is a history of the use of that drug. Manning and Inglis live together in Wasaga Beach. They recently learned of the Vial of Life program during a visit to Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Due to various illnesses, paramedics were recently called to their home three times in two weeks to treat Inglis, who is 99 years old. When the third call to paramedics was made, Inglis’ Vial of Life was filled out and in the fridge. Manning was there and could communicate with the paramedics on behalf of her mother but she said having the information at her fingertips really helped. "When you are upset and excited it’s hard to remember," said Manning. She said the Vial of Life was used to help check her mother into the hospital and when Manning arrived all she had to do was sign the admission papers. "But not only is it a time saver, it can be a lifesaver," said Manning. The program is open to anyone but is particularly useful for people who have a serious drug or food allergy, any medical conditions or are taking prescribed medication. Perron said the Vial of Life program is under review and Simcoe County Paramedics may need to ask people for a small donation to cover the cost of the program. He said clinics are being planned for May but details have not been finalized. "I think every household should have one," said Manning. "It’s a must," said Inglis.


Easter ritual

The Huronia and District Ministerial Association began its Walk of the Cross at about noon Friday, making its way through Midland’s downtown core and stopping at various locations, including the cenotaph, where participants bowed their heads in prayer and reflection. The group ended its Easter walk at the flagpole in Little Lake Park.


TV station hopes federal cash comes soon

More eyes were glued to “Dancing With the Stars” on April 6 than ever before, according to a recent Nielsen Media Research poll. Peggy Hebden, station manager of A Channel, said that shows viewers support the local station’s programming. But she needs more than viewers right now. In March, the station laid off 24 employees as a way to reduce costs. The station, now owned by CTVglobemedia and facing tough economic times, has asked the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to add a fee-for-carriage charge to help bring in further revenue. Fee-for-carriage is a cost passed on to viewers of specialty channels. The station has applied to get designation as a specialty channel, but was twice denied. An application is again before the CRTC. In the meantime, Hebden said she is hopeful a $150-million fund from the federal government will be approved. Ottawa is thinking about giving a boost to private broadcasters to help television stations and newscasts. “It’s to go to local programming, but we don’t know how to access the money or if there’s conditions to it,” said Hebden. “We don’t know if it’s going to help right now or next year.” Government funding would only help in the short term, she added: “The system is still flawed, even if the economy turns around.” Since cutting its morning show a month ago as part of the layoffs, Hebden has heard from disappointed viewers, but said changes aren’t in the works. Raising the cost of local advertising also isn’t an option because it still wouldn’t generate enough revenue. Plus, local businesses don’t have the money to pay more than they are paying, said Hebden. “We’re hoping to attract more national advertisers, but they’re having problems right now in the recession.” Barrie MP Patrick Brown has created a petition to rescue the local station. “It is uncharted territory that the government would provide (a) subsidy for local broadcasters,” he said, “(but) I would say the average Canadian thinks it’s important to have local programming.” jramsay@simcoe.com