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‘Disturbing’ and ‘disrespectful’ act of vandalism

Workers at St. Ann’s Cemetery were cleaning up earlier this week after vandals toppled more than 40 gravestones over the weekend. Southern Georgian Bay OPP is investigating the incident, which Const. Peter Leon called a “very disturbing case of mischief.” The majority of the gravestones damaged were in an area of the cemetery adjacent to the Village Square Mall. Among the damaged markers was an eight-foot-tall cross that had been pushed over. “A cemetery is very sacred in nature and a very hallowed place,” Leon told The Mirror. “For a family to come and see something like this – the cost factor is one thing – but this is a very, very disrespectful act.” Police are appealing to the community for help to find who is responsible. “I would think that somebody, somewhere out there, has to have some information in regards to this.” The estimated cost of repairing and re-erecting the gravestones is estimated at $5,000. nmillion@simcoe.com  


TBM fire dept. warns of dangers of open air burning

Residents of The Town of The Blue Mountains are reminded that the Fire Department must be notified before they start campfires or burn brush. Poor air quality or extremely dry conditions may prohibit open air burning. To ensure burning is permitted, the fire department should be contacted at 519-599-2211. The property owner responsible for the fire must provide their name, civic address, telephone number and times they are burning. It is the owners’ responsibility to ensure the fire is contained in a pit, a maximum of one meter in diameter, and a minimum of ten meters from any buildings. They are also responsible to ensure a means of extinguishing the fire is on site, the fire is attended at all times and completely extinguished when it is not being supervised. A minimum charge of three hundred dollars will be issued to property owners if the fire department responds to an unsupervised or out of control fire resulting from open air burning. By-law 2004-23 will also be enforced if smoke or particulate from open air burning becomes a nuisance to the public or could affect the health and wellness of the public. The materials to be burned must be limited to dry wood or by-products of wood excluding materials that can be reused or recycled. Leaves and garden waste, which produce excessive smoke cannot be burned. The landfill site on Grey Road 13 accepts leaves, garden waste and brush for disposal at no charge. "Open air burning, especially if left unattended, can become difficult to control and can result in a serious widespread fire," said Fire Prevention Officer A. J. Lake. "Although we have only responded to one such fire this year it is still one to many".


Order of The Blue Mountains winners recognized

Local volunteers filled the Beaver Valley Community Centre for the second annual volunteer awards ceremony hosted by The Blue Mountains. The ladies of the Harmony North Chorus provided musical entertainment for the evening, and Mayor Ellen Anderson brought greetings from the town, the province and the federal government. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kearney from the Land Forces Central Area Training Centre was the guest speaker for the event, and he commended all the community volunteers on their contributions, adding that he was proud of the volunteer spirit in Canada. Mayor Anderson and a representative from MP Helena Geurgis’ office presented five volunteers with the Order of The Blue Mountains. Rob Potter and Bill Abbotts received the order in the category of Arts and Culture. Both thanked their nominators for the recognition, and recognized the many volunteers they work with. Joan Gaudet received the order for community service. "Isn’t The Blue Mountains fun?" she asked when she received her award. "I’m just doing what I love." Sharon Dinsmore thanked her family for their patience when she received the order for Sports and Recreation. She spent countless hours in meetings and at the arena over the past year organizing the skating competition, Ice Dreams, and being involved in other Beaver Valley Athletic Association events. Ayla Tymczuk received the first ever youth order, and said she hoped she had paved the way for more youth volunteers in the future. Mary Elizabeth Hoffmann accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of her husband Steve, who died last year. Several other volunteers in the room were recognized with letters of thanks from the town and all posed for a group photo. The Community Volunteer Awards are an annual event, and nominations open early Spring. Visit thebluemountains.ca for more information about the order awards.


Province funds energy upgrades for local schools

Local school boards will receive more than $5.5 million for "greening" according to a recent announcement by MPPs Carol Mitchell and Bill Murdoch. The funding announcement is part of a $550 million investment over two years by the provincial government to cover all boards in Ontario. Most of the money will be allocated to conducting energy audits and retrofitting buildings with energy efficient heating, ventilation, air conditioning and boilers. Bluewater District School Board (BWDSB) will receive $4.4 million and the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board will receive $1.08 million according to a recent release from Murdoch’s office. "Additional funding of this magnitude is a most welcome gift," said Chair of the BWDSB, Jennifer Yenssen. "New funding in the amount of $4.4 million will possibly allow us the opportunity to go to locations that have not seen a major renovation." A portion of the Province’s investment will be allocated on a project-by-project basis to improve the learning environment for students currently in energy inefficient portables and schools, according to the release. 


Outspoken Clearview councillor dies

John Crispo, a highly educated man who had a distinguished career as an economist, lecturer, and author and in later years served as a Clearview Township councillor for Ward 3, has died. Crispo, a Creemore resident, died Monday night at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto after an 18-year battle with cancer. He was 76. Ward 7 councillor Shawn Davidson said he was saddened by the news. "He was always a passionate individual," he said in a telephone interview with The Stayner Sun on Tuesday morning. "I quite liked him. Although our views on some issues were much different, I think both of us enjoyed the spirited debate that occurred often." Davidson and Crispo routinely sparred over local growth issues – a jousting that while at times was heated always appeared to contain an air of mutual respect. "He was as likeable as he was frustrating," Davidson said. Mayor Ken Ferguson was at Simcoe County council yesterday and could not be reached for comment. Coincidentally, council accepted Crispo’s resignation Monday night. Ward 4 councillor Thom Paterson, his voice cracking at times, read Crispo’s letter of resignation. "I regret having to inform you and my constituents that I will not be able to serve the remainder of my term as Ward 3 councillor because of a serious deterioration in my health," Crispo wrote. "Unfortunately, this resignation has to be effective immediately." He noted in the letter that he had hoped to "continue at least until we had an official growth plan approved by the county and the province but I cannot make it." He added that he hoped the township’s growth plan would "preserve and protect our rural character and history." Crispo said he liked the debate that occurred while he served on council. "I enjoyed sparring with some of you – you figure out who – and learned to live with mutual frustration with most of the rest of you," he said. "I suspect you will miss me as much as I will you." A final letter from Crispo was sent to constituents in his ward on Monday, explaining why he was resigning. In the letter, he thanked people for their support over the years, including Judy Fuke, his campaign manager. Crispo was elected to council in 2006, beating incumbent Marc Royal. He ran a strong grassroots campaign – one where he pledged to fight rapid growth in the municipality. Councillor Paterson was elected in the same election. Paterson moved to Creemore in March 2004 and the two met in September, quickly striking up a friendship. "We became friends and that developed out of a mutual respect for each other more than anything else," he said in an interview Tuesday. "He’d often just pull into the drive and come bounding through the front door." Paterson said he will miss his friend greatly. He said he last visited with Crispo on Sunday at Princess Margaret. "We had about an hour-long discussion," he said. "It was a very relaxed conversation. He wanted an update on Creemore and we just chatted." Paterson said Crispo was ready for what was to come. "He’d said his goodbyes." He said Crispo was in and out of hospital until the end of last week when he was admitted to palliative care at Princess Margaret. Crispo first came to the area as a weekender in the early 1960s and gradually spent more time in the area. He and his wife, Barbara sold their rural Nottawasaga home a few years ago and settled in Creemore, while also maintaining a home in Toronto. Crispo was an avid skier and golfer. He belonged to the Mad River Golf Club, south of Stayner and Devil’s Glen Ski Club, near Singhampton. Crispo grew up in Toronto and earned a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Toronto (U of T) and a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a professor at U of T and later professor emeritus. At the university, he was the founding director of the Centre for Industrial Relations. In the 1980s, on behalf of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, he campaigned in favour of free trade. Crispo also served on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s board of directors from 1991 to 1994 and was a director and member with several other organizations throughout the years. He wrote several articles and books, including Making Canada Work: Competing in the Global Economy (1992); Can Canada Compete? (1990) and Free Trade: The Real Story (1988). In 2002, he released his memoirs, Rebel Without A Pause. Crispo’s family was requesting privacy Tuesday but his friend, Art McIlwain, said a celebration of life service will be held in Creemore in due course. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and two daughters.


Stop signs deliberately removed

Police are warning residents to be on the look-out for missing stop signs at rural intersections, particularly northeast of Markdale, in the Municipality of Grey Highlands. The OPP were called to the intersection of the 9th Line and Sideroad 7A in the former Euphrasia Township at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night after reports two stop signs had been removed. The intersection, located one concession west of Wodehouse corner, had both stop signs on Sideroad 7A, controlling east and westbound traffic pulled out of the ground. Tire tracks and evidence of wheel spin indicated a vehicle was used. "The potential for collisions is ever present in situations like this," said Media Relations Officer Steve Starr. "Residents are reminded to use caution, and look for stop sign control at all intersections. There are very few uncontrolled intersections left in the county." Police are hopeful that this was a one time random act but there could be more. "This is a foolish act by those responsible. Not only is there cost incurred by the taxpayer to repair the signs but while they are down there is potential for a tragic collision," said Starr.  "If the person or persons responsible are identified they will be charged accordingly." Anyone with information that might assist is asked to contact Grey County OPP or Crime Stoppers. Constable Stephen Whitehouse is the investigating officer.


Suspicious fire at grocery store

A Thursday-morning fire that lit up the frame around a grocery store loading dock was similar to one set outside a dollar store in March, officials said. “It is pretty close to the same style of fire,” Orillia’s deputy fire chief Jeff Kirk said. Firefighters responded to the Metro grocery store on Front Street shortly after 10 a.m. to find the loading dock’s wooden border and foam bumpers burning. “We had to rip (the bumpers) down because of the expansion of the fire,” said Kirk, noting that the burning material was quickly extinguished. An evacuation of the store was unnecessary as the fire was contained to the outside of the loading dock, he added. The fire caused about $3,000 in damages, and is being treated as suspicious. The case has been handed over to the OPP for investigation. “There was no evidence of any incendiary devices at the scene,” Kirk said. Police said arson was the cause of a short-lived fire at the rear of a Memorial Avenue Dollarama store on March 12. There, too, the frame and bumpers around the loading dock were set ablaze.


Hospital on ‘heightened alert’

Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital is on “heightened alert” as it monitors the spread of the swine flu virus from Mexico. Patients entering the hospital are being screened for signs of severe respiratory illness, a symptom of the virus, said spokesperson Terry Dyni. “If you are a patient, you are screened immediately when you come in,” Dyni said. Patients are asked whether they have a new or worsening cough, chills or fever or have traveled to any of the affected areas in the past week. The affected areas are: Mexico, California, Texas, New York, Ohio, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia. “We are on heightened alert for any of those types of conditions,” Dyni added. He stressed that no patients have exhibited symptoms of the virus to date. Signs have been placed at entry points, instructing visitors with symptoms to wash their hands, don a mask and report to the nearest health care professional. Patients admitted to hospital with symptoms would be isolated in a private room, with all cases reported to the local health unit, said Cindi Wigston, infection prevention and control coordinator. Those well enough to be discharged are to isolate themselves for 24 hours after the symptoms end, or a week after the onset of symptoms. Patients should continue to monitor for symptoms and seek medical attention, should they worsen. Again, the health unit would be made aware of the patient for follow-up, Wigston said. Those individuals are additionally advised to cover their noses and mouths when coughing, exercise regular hand washing, minimize contact with family members, and stay away from the workplace. The hospital continues to work closely with its infection control team, as well as the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, officials said. Dyni said the hospital began screening patients for severe respiratory problems in 2003 following Ontario’s SARS outbreak. A formalized screening process began the following year. “(Now), the questions are a bit more specific related to the swine flu,” Dyni added. Swine flu is a respiratory infection that causes outbreaks in pigs, though sporadic human infections have occurred. As of Wednesday, the province reported four confirmed cases in Ontario.


Council finalizes 2009 budget

The long and winding road to a 2009 budget for the Municipality of Meaford finally came to an end at Monday  night’s regular meeting. Meaford council adopted its 2009 budget at the meeting. Third reading of the budget by-law was passed in a tight 4-3 vote. Council was split right down the middle on the budget and Deputy Mayor Mike Traynor was the deciding vote. Traynor told council and the public that after some long conversations with CAO Frank Miele  he is satisfied that municipal staff will be on top of the municipality’s finances as the year moves forward. "I have been assured our CAO has done everything he can. He will monitor this budget with his managers and we will have quarterly reviews," said Traynor. The Deputy Mayor had nearly caused the defeat of the proposed budget two weeks earlier after he refused to support the budget by-law. At the time Traynor wanted more information about an Operational Review CAO Miele will conduct over the next several months. At Monday night’s meeting Miele’s terms of reference for the review were before council and approved in a 5-2 vote. With that new information Deputy Mayor Traynor said he is satisfied the municipality can avoid the financial control issues that have plagued the administration for the past several years. Both Mayor Francis Richardson and CAO Miele were relieved that the long process to set a budget was now over. However, they both said the real work on the budget will now begin. Miele thanked all the staff of the municipality for their long hours in preparing the budget and he also promised council that the past financial issues will remain in the past. "We will do everything we can so you don’t have a deficit," said the CAO, noting that quarterly reports about the performance of the budget will begin almost immediately. Miele said his initial review of the municipality’s finances and the budget that until Monday night was just a proposal is encouraging. "We are on target with both revenues and expenses," said Miele. Mayor Richardson said council made the right decision when it approved the budget. "I’m delighted we were able to get it done tonight. We couldn’t move forward until the budget was done," said Richardson, who promised all the ratepayers that approval of the budget was the beginning of the process. "It has just started now. We must get out to the taxpayers and make it clear to them what’s happening and keep those lines of communication open," said the Mayor. Ratepayers in the Municipality of Meaford will pay just over 5 per cent (overall, when county and school board taxes are included) on their tax bills in 2009. The exact percentage depends slightly on which part of the municipality a ratepayer’s home is located (Meaford, St. Vincent or Sydenham). The biggest change in the municipality as a result of budget will be the implementation of a $2 per bag garbage fee beginning on July 1.