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Long-distance training

If a head office needs to educate 500 of their dealers across the country, sending out trainers might not be the best strategy available, says Mark Lang, president of Digital Video Productions (DVP). “If you produce a DVD, it’s more cost effective (and more efficient than going in person),” he adds. “There are various ways of making the communication effective. It just depends on the needs of the client.” DVP has produced interactive safety-training modules for use by fire departments and by organizations wanting to teach young people how to recognize hazards in the home. It has also has worked on municipal transit and national railway public-education initiatives, and has developed corporate health and safety tools, as well as videos detailing how to use a product or piece of equipment. The format is irrelevant, explains Lang, regardless of whether the presentation shows up on a video business card or online; or if the project requires print collateral or on-location event management.  “There are all kinds of executions,” he says. “Communication is the number one thing we’re doing.” The relationship with a client starts with a needs analysis and then a suggestion from DVP detailing how to achieve those goals. Budget also plays a part, but there are “many ways to get something done,” he says “Each project is customized to each need. There really is no template.” The extensive experience of the founding partners Lang and Martin Convery allows for maximum flexibility in approach Prior to establishing DVP, television producer Lang and award-winning director of photography Convery had worked at the same company, but never together. Starting his career at the then-named CKVR, Convery later moved onto a successful freelance career working in broadcast video that took him around the world. He filmed Bosnia and at soccer’s World Cup in his travels. Along the way, he won two Gemini awards for his documentary work. The Sudbury-born Lang, on the other hand, started his career as a freelance production assistant in Toronto. He recalls compiling portfolios for stunt performers and having to work fast to get the required action shots while people leapt from motorcycle to car, or jumped from a silo or ran by engulfed in flames. “It was pretty hectic in those days,” he recalls with a chuckle. Eventually his career brought him to CKVR and his family to Barrie. While overseeing a project for the station, he hired Convery and brought him back to the area. The two have been working together ever since. “We had an opportunity to create a new television series with Snowmobiler TV,” Lang says. He took on the business side of the responsibilities while Conery agreed to oversee production. “The basis of our collaboration was the television series.” But soon the duo was exposed to new opportunities that developed through their joint venture. “It opened some doors to the corporate world,” says Lang. Premiering in 1992, Snowmobiler Television is now syndicated across Canada on 17 different networks. It runs locally on A. Twenty-six magazine-style episodes are shot every year. “When the snow falls, we’re busy people,” he acknowledges. The DVP team is not so busy that they stop developing new projects, however. GoRiding TV, a new motorsport show, premieres on OLG Sunday, April 5 at 9:30 a.m. But their action-packed television shows, accompanying magazines, and other productions, like their full-length documentary “Adventures in Breathing” about Karen Murray, the recipient of a double lung transplant; comprise only about 50 per cent of the company’s business. “We have corporate clients all over Canada and many in the U.S.,” says Lang, who works with a staff of 10 to become a key component of a client’s marketing team. “A brochure is no longer acceptable by itself,” he explains. “Not in the sales, marketing and training world anyway.” Lang says people are often surprised at finding a turnkey production operation in Barrie that has production gear, editing equipment and graphics studio all in house. Specialty items can be easily outsourced for clients by tapping into the company’s extensive network. “When they see our portfolio of clients, it’s pretty impressive,” he concludes. “Typically companies would have to go to Toronto, go the agency route to get all it.” For more information about all the DVP products and services, call Lang at 705-734-9932, extension 238.


BCC embraces change

After the better part of a decade constructing an updated course and clubhouse, the management team at the Barrie Country Club (BCC) is looking for other ways to improve this nearly 100-year-old facility. Throughout last year, members, their guests and tournament participants enjoyed the new state-of-the-art clubhouse that opened November 2007. “The building has met everyone’s expectations,” says BCC general manager John Peters. “The members are proud of it and very actively using it, and the community has certainly embraced it. “It’s the place to hold an event in Barrie right now.” But Peters isn’t content to coast on the hard work that’s been done to date. “We have a couple of major projects on the books for this fall,” he reports, referring to the planned reconstruction of the sixth and seventh greens. “We had our golf architect Graham Cooke here today to review the projects.” An earlier assessment of the area suggested changes were in order. “The grade is higher than is deemed to be fair under current standards,” explains Peters. “So, we’re going to modify the playing surface to ensure that they’re fair. “(The change) also allows us more variety of pin placements.” There are a number of other smaller projects, involving tee decks and overall course conditioning, that will also be tackled, he adds. Otherwise, Peters says he’ll be working on letting everyone know about this great facility at the edge of Barrie. There are a few membership spots still available for purchase, he says, but the current roster is almost at capacity. Despite the current economic woes, approximately 600 of the available 620 spots are occupied. “We haven’t lost more members this year than in any other year,” he says. An associate membership program was introduced in 2007 allowing interested prospects to “try on” a full membership for a year before signing on for good. Peters says the initiative has had a good conversion rate. “If the lifestyle fits, they’re quite happy to commit long term,” he confirms. To provide extra value to members and offer them alternative golf experiences, the BCC has entered into reciprocal contracts with other private clubs in Ontario. In addition to golf memberships, the BCC also offers affordable social memberships that focus on the non-golf benefits of the club. Even so, it does include limited course privileges. Corporate golf memberships are the other option. Companies can designate two individuals for membership (and those two named members may be changed when necessary for a nominal fee). As a bonus, corporate members can also choose from three additional packages. Options include a spousal social memberships; a junior membership plus five guest passes; or five guest passes, a private lesson and 10 free cart passes. Peters says there has been interest in the BCC shown from Toronto residents seeking retirement communities that mirror services they currently enjoy. BCC members have the option of unlimited play in their area when the Barrie club is hosting the Ontario Professional Golf Association championships every year. “We’ve done it for the past six years,” says Peters. “It’s a big competitive event.” During the two-day tournament, BCC members can enjoy reciprocal privileges all over the province. It’s also two days when the public is invited into the Barrie facility to watch the competition. Corporate and charity tournaments through the year (on Mondays only) are another way non-members have a chance to play the BCC course. Wedding and banquet guests have the opportunity to view the grounds from the lofty balcony that provides an expansive view of the entire area while they enjoy all the services the new clubhouse has to offer. To find out more about everything at the BCC, visit www.barriecountryclub.com.


Quarterly report shows building down in Grey Highlands

Grey Highlands council received quarterly reports from all of its major departments at Monday morning’s regular meeting. Senior staff members each provided council with a written report about the operations of their own individual departments at the meeting. They were also on hand to answer questions from councillors in person. Council received an overall municipal quarterly budget report, water and waste water quarterly budget reports and reports the planning department, the clerk’s department, the building department and the museum. CAO/Treasurer Kelley Coulter provided a full budget report update at the meeting. Council received good news from the CAO when she reported that the municipality is operating with a surplus one quarter of the way through 2009. In 2008 Grey Highlands recorded a year-end budget deficit, due mainly to much higher snow removal costs caused by the heavy winter experienced in 2008. Coulter reported that the 2009 budget is currently tracking a surplus of just over $100,000. She told council that over the next two quarterly reporting time periods she expects the budget to track back towards being in balance. "There were a few timing delays. My expectation is that the surplus will be absorbed in the second and third quarters," she said. In the planning department, Grey Highlands Planner Lorelie Spencer reported a 22% increase in planning applications in the first quarter of 2009 as compared to 2009. Spencer reported that Grey Highlands currently has 78 active planning applications on the go. She said she expects 2009 applications to continue at a similar pace as 2008. Spencer’s report provided details about each planning application and also provided council with the average processing time for each time of planning application. On the flip side, the Grey Highlands Building Department reported that activity in early 2009 has decreased significantly. Deputy Chief Building Official Karl Schipprack reported that building activity in the first three months of 2009 is down. Schipprack said the number of building permits decreased by 15.8% the first three months of the year. He said proposed single family dwellings are down 14.3% and that the estimated value of construction in early 2009 had dropped 9.9%. On the plus side of the ledger, Schipprack reported that building fees received by the municipality were virtually on par with the numbers through three months of 2008. Schipprack also reported that in April Grey Highlands saw increased building activity. "In the month of April we’ve had 25 applications so far, with five being for single family dwellings. We’re hoping the next quarter will be a lot better," noting that homeowners in Grey Highlands appear to be taking advantage of a federal home renovation tax credit introduced by the federal government in the recent budget. "We’re seeing a lot of applications for smaller renovations. That’s why the overall value is down," he said. Water and Wastewater Superintendent Shawn Moyer reported to council that, for the most part, water and sewage budgets are performing adequately. Moyer did point out that the Kimberley Amik Water Department is showing a deficit through three months of the year. He said the deficit has been caused by lower than expected revenues. Moyer recommended the issue be monitored closely. He said if the problem persists the municipality may have to take corrective action.


Wakestock in Collingwood won’t be like Wasaga Beach: organizers

The organizers of Wakestock are confident that the issues that plagued the event when it was held in Wasaga Beach won’t happen if it comes to Collingwood. Todd Elsey and Bill Jones from SBC Media – the company that organizes Wakestock made a presentation to council on Monday to discuss the annual wakeboarding festival. The event is slated to be held at Collingwood’s harbourfront from Aug. 7-9, pending council’s approval. Wakestock is one of five events in the world series of Wakeboarding and features some of the top professional wakeboarders in the world as well as a skateboarding event and a live music. The event was held in Bala from 1998-2001, Wasaga Beach from 2002-2004 and Toronto Island from 2005-2008. The event created a lot of controversy during its tenure in Wasaga Beach as numerous charges were laid during the weekend. Elsey said the reasons for the event move from Wasaga was "disorganized tourism infrastructure, lack of quality hotel rooms," and "the event got a bad reputation from activities outside the venue, by typical beach problems." Jones told The Connection that a lot of the reputation of Wakestock in Wasaga Beach was caused by the press coverage. "We’re a professional, well run event," Jones said. According to the presentation, attendance for the event has been between 9,500 and 15,000, with the largest attendance occurring in Wasaga Beach. Elsey said Collingwood is the perfect site because of the area’s association with "action sports," including skiing, wakeboarding and snowboarding. The plan is to hold the event on the Spit and shuttle visitors to parking lots on either side of town as well as shuttles to hotels in the Blue Mountain resort. Elsey said they will also employ private security team, paid duty officers and a K-9 unit. Counc. Norman Sandberg said he had spoken to officials from Toronto and was told that the event worked because the Island was a contained site. "I see the spit as having a similar-type situation," he said. Elsey said the reasons they left Toronto were the expensive costs and it was difficult for spectators to access the site. He spoke to a majority of council before his presentation and said the Collingwood Yacht Club, the Fire Department and the Collingwood OPP didn’t have any concerns. A majority of concerns from council were related to parking. Council is expected to make a decision next week.


‘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. [email protected]  


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.