Pickup almost hits officer

A South Simcoe Police officer had a tense moment last Friday night after he had stopped a vehicle at the corner of the 10th Sideroad and 10th Line. While speaking to the driver, the officer observed a black GMC pickup turning the corner onto the 10th Line, spinning his wheels and rapidly accelerating towards the two parked vehicles. The police car had its emergency signals activated. The officer attempted to flag the truck over and the driver almost rear-ended the vehicle the officer had already pulled over. The GMC swerved to miss the other vehicle and came close to hitting the officer. The truck finally came to a stop farther down the road. After speaking to the truck driver, the officer realized he was impaired. He was taken back to the police station where he blew at twice the legal limit for alcohol. A 38-year-old Innisfil man was charged with impaired operation of a vehicle and given a May court date. Man ditches his wheels Police were called to an area near the 4th Line east of the 10th Sideroad at approximately 1 a.m. on Saturday, March 21 in response to a car off the road. Officers arrived to find a man standing on the side of the road wearing only one shoe. He told police he was the driver and owner of the vehicle. Police noticed the man was unsteady on his feet and took him back to the police for a breath test. The man blew at twice the legal limit and was charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle. House fight nets firearms South Simcoe Police removed 21 legal firearms from a Innisfil house after a fight broke out early in the morning on Sunday, Mar. 22. Police learned two men, a 43-year-old and a 27-year-old, started a brawl after one of their vehicles had been damaged. The younger man’s girlfriend was also assaulted when she tried to get involved. Both men are now facing assault charges. One was also hit with an additional charge of mischief, the other with a charge of assault causing bodily harm. No one was seriously hurt. The pair will appear in Bradford court in April. Four times over limit After receiving a tip about a vehicle being driven erratically, police pulled over a 43-year-old Innisfil man who was speeding along the 4th Line early last Sunday afternoon. He was clocked doing 90 km-h  in a 50 km-h zone – in the wrong lane. The driver was immediately taken back to the police station where he blew four times over the legal limit for alcohol. He remained in custody until sober and will make a court appearance in Bradford in April to face charges of impaired driving and driving with over 80 mgs. of alcohol in his blood system. Man threatens wife, guns seized A man who threatened to kill his wife is up on charges after she called police on March 23. Police arrested the man at his workplace and later returned to the couple’s house where 14 legal firearms were removed. The man was held in custody for a bail hearing Tuesday morning. More firearms found The new owner of a home called South Simcoe Police on Saturday, March 21 after finding a quantity of firearms and ammunition while cleaning out his garage. Police questioned the previous owner of the house to learn he had inherited the items and did not know what to do with them. The man got off with a caution regarding the careless storage of a firearm. Police removed the firearms and ammunition. They will be destroyed.


Pets perish in fire

Two dogs and two cats died in a house fire close to the base of Blue Mountain last weekend. The Blue Mountains Fire Department responded to a fire at 128 Brooker Blvd. on Friday at 10:37 a.m. on Friday, March 6. When fire crews arrived, the entire back wall and roof of the two-storey home was on fire. No one was home at the time of the fire and a neighbour placed the emergency call. Fire Prevention Officer A.J. Lake said crews gained access to the roof space and were able to quell the flames quickly enough to reduce structural damage and content loss. Fire fighters tried to revive the pets, but were unsuccessful. A rabbit did survive the blaze. Lake estimated the loss from the fire at $180,000. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


Students trapped on crashed bus for two hours

Students were trapped in a school bus for about two hours after it crashed into a hydro pole near Utopia this afternoon. The crash occurred on the 6th Line of Essa between the 25th and 30th Sideroads just after 3 p.m. when the bus entered the ditch and struck a hydro pole, downing power lines and preventing them from leaving the vehicle. Emergency crews had to wait until the hydro lines were shut down before they could remove the students. By about 5 p.m., the students were transferred to another school bus. The bus that crashed was from St. Joan of Arc High School in Barrie.  Police and Essa firefighters are currently on the scene. It is still unclear how many students were on the bus. One person was seen being taken off the bus on a stretcher, and will be taken to Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie. There is no word yet on the extent of the injuries. Police blocked the 6th Line at both the 30th and 25th and are not allowing anyone in. Parents started arriving at the barricades while the children were still in the bus. One woman reported that her daughter was a passenger on the bus and that she called her on her cell phone. The girl reported the bus was “on its side” in the ditch and the students were being kept on the bus at the time.


Program delivers healthy messages to girls

Girls in one Midland school are learning some important messages about living a healthy life thanks to a new program by Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe. Go Girls! Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds is a mentoring program for girls between the ages of 12 and 14. It is designed to encourage physical activity, healthy eating choices and the development of a positive self-image. “The goal is for the girls to have an appreciation of the benefits of an active lifestyle,” said France St. Amour, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe. “We want to support the girls (and) provide them with the right tools to choose and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’re trying to enhance their confidence and self-esteem…. If their inside feels good, then they will feel good on the outside, too.” The program, which runs in seven sessions and is led by volunteer female mentors, incorporates fun, educational games and activities. The idea is to build the mentor/participant relationship – as well as spark self-reflection and group discussions about healthy living and emotional, social and cultural issues. Each session is structured around three key Go Girls! themes: active living, balanced eating and feeling good about oneself. While Go Girls! is a national program, it has only recently been launched in North Simcoe, noted St. Amour, through a pilot project at Mundy’s Bay Public School. “The need is there. When you look at the bigger picture, you (realize) that girls between 12 and 14 don’t really do physical activity – unless they’re athletic. I think every school should have a program like this,” she said. “It helps them transition between (being a) teen and adulthood.” Rae-el Woo and Abigail McTague are the first two participants in the local program. They said they are enjoying their experience. “I thought it would be a cool thing to do after school,” said Rae-el. “It’s pretty fun.” Abigail agreed, saying the Go Girls! program is teaching her how to avoid making bad decisions in the future. Principal Barb Condren said she felt the program would offer an excellent opportunity for female students to address issues such as self-esteem, eating disorders and healthy living. She added that having someone closer to their own age to discuss these issues with seems to be what appeals to participants. “Girls are facing a lot of tough decisions. This is a great opportunity to not only get guidance, but also present choices.” Although the program is starting off small – only two students signed up for it this time around – St. Amour is confident it will grow as more young people learn about its benefits. In the meantime, she is hopeful she will be able to recruit enough mentors to deliver the program to three groups next year. For more information on the Go Girls! program, call 526-5051 or visit www.kidsdomatter.com. [email protected]


Ag safety week starts March 12

Canadian Agricultural Safety Week starts March 12, with local activities taking place later this month and in April. The campaign’s emphasis this year is the importance of using personal protective equipment. "Ontario’s agricultural industry is diverse, vibrant and vital to our economy, environment and quality of life," Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Betty Jean Crews said in a statement. "Farm safety is not a nicety, it is a necessity. We must continue to work to protect the health and safety of farmers, their families and farm workers." The Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, in partnership with Farm Credit Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will present the safety campaign. Organizers of the campaign say that on average 115 people are killed and at least 1,500 are hospitalized due to farm-related mishaps in Canada each year. Campaign officials say the most frequent causes of farm-related injuries are the unsafe use of equipment and material handling practices, followed by fatigue. The official launch of Canadian Agricultural Safety Week is at 7 p.m. on March 12 at the St. Jacob’s Community Centre, where a farm safety rally will be held. Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture president Dave Riddell said the local association will be running farm safety advertisements in publications and on radio in the coming weeks. Riddell said the York Region Federation of Agriculture will present a St. John Ambulance session dubbed First Aid on the Farm, March 24 and 25. The event is open to all Ontario Federation of Agriculture members in Durham, Peel, Simcoe and York. The session is at the St. John Ambulance York Region branch at 13025 Yonge St., at King Sideroad. The cost is $145 for two days. There will be lectures and hands-on practice. Participants will receive a Standard First Aid certificate upon completion and a St. John Ambulance First Aid on the Farm booklet. To register, call 1-800-268-1677. He said the Simcoe County federation will present its Keep Kids Safe Workshop on Sat., April 4. The workshop is at Richards Farm Equipment, 823 County Road 93, in Crown Hill, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The workshop is open to children age five to 15. Riddell said the line-up for the day hasn’t been nailed down but there may be sessions on fire safety, electrical safety, all-terrain vehicle safety, animal safety and tractor safety. He said that St. John Ambulance might also present a first aid session at the workshop. The federation is asking that participants register for the workshop by March 31 by calling the federation office at 726-9300, ext. 1224. The cost is $2 for each participant. The local federation tries to run a farm safety workshop each year for youth, during or near farm safety week, Riddell said.


Woman hit while trying to call police

Midland police charged a 50-year-old Waubaushene man with assault last week after a woman was shoved and hit in the face. The incident happened March 31 around 10:25 p.m. at a Midland home. After being shoved into a table, the woman tried to call police, only to have the man break the telephone. When she tried another phone, the man grabbed her hand and hit her in the face. The accused – charged with assault, mischief under $5,000 and uttering death threats – was held for a bail hearing in Barrie.


Schomberg senior wins travel draw

Mary Watts of Schomberg was the lucky winner of an Alliston Potato Festival draw at Bradfield Travel. Although she’s retired, Watts has been too busy to make the trip up to Alliston to pick up her prize until recently. She won two WestJet airline tickets to anywhere in Eastern Canada. Seen here, from left, are Rod Bradfield and Peggy Bradfield, both from the Alliston travel agency, Watts, and Leah Irvine from WestJet Airlines and WestJet Vacations. Watts is planning to go to Prince Edward Island with her family. – Kurtis Elsner photo


Architects hired for new town hall

The Blue Mountains has hired Chamberlain Architects to design the new town hall.   At a regular meeting on Monday, March 23, council approved hiring Chamberlain as was recommended by staff. The Architectural firm based out of Burlington, Ontario, was one of 29 firms who responded to the request for proposals sent out by the town. They were added to a short list then selected to participate in a design competition with one other firm. Chamberlain,  according to the steering committee, had the best entry. Council approved a fee of $420,000 for Chamberlain to do the design consultation for the new town hall. The construction budget for the project, which was adopted in the 2009 budget, is $5.7 million. The total budget adopted for the 21,000 square foot building including design services, moving costs, LEED consulting, landscaping, demolition, furniture, fixtures and equipment is $7.9 million. The building will meet the standard for silver designation, according to the Leadership in Energy Design (LEED) green building rating system. Councillor Bob Gamble was opposed to hiring the architects, and Councillor Michael Martin was absent from the council meeting. David Finbow, director of planning and building services, presented a report to council on Monday including the progress of new town hall steering committee, established last year. Part of the report included an extensive history of the town hall site, prepared and presented by Rob Potter. The steering committee decided the new town hall should have a "Victorian industrial" theme and drew inspiration from Toronto’s brewery district. Chamberlain Vice President, John Knox, presented the preliminary designs to council. The architect’s idea for the new town hall was a two storey building with a large atrium or indoor street in the centre connecting the two halves and giving an open space from the front of the building to the rear, park-like public gathering space.


CAW greeted with hostility at Honda plant

One of Canada’s largest labour unions was met with open hostility by Honda workers after picketers set up outside the Alliston plants today. Members from the Canadian Auto Workers union were outside the Honda of Canada Mfg. plant entrances during the afternoon shift change handing out information leaflets and looking for support. While most Honda workers leaving the plant simply kept their windows rolled up, some yelled insults and obscenities at the picketers. "You already put Ford and Chrysler out of work," one man yelled as he drove by. Another woman shouted to the picketers to "go home." Some Honda workers opened their windows and took the leaflets, while a few honked their horns. CAW representatives said the picket was to inform Honda workers of the difficulties autoworkers are currently facing. They want them to back the CAW as it fights cuts in the sector caused by the current recession. "It’s a solidarity message from the CAW with respect to what’s going on in the auto industry, the cause of it, and that it’s affecting all auto workers, not just GM, Ford, (and) Chrysler, but Honda and Toyota as well," said Dan MacPherson, of the CAW. The union had also scheduled information pickets outside the Toyota plants in southern Ontario. While Honda is not unionized, the CAW argues in the leaflet that wages and benefits of unionized employees have a direct impact on those of Honda workers. Karen Clark is part of the CAW Local 222 and works at the General Motors plant in Oshawa. She made the trip to Alliston for the picket. She said the media, among others, has given the public the impression that the union is to blame for the current financial trouble of the Big Three automakers. She suspects that’s part of the reason some Honda associates were acting hostile. "It’s a scary time for people, because they don’t know where to turn," she said. "If you actually look at the facts, I could work for free now and it wouldn’t sell another car." As Honda associates rolled into a local Tim Hortons after their shift, the reaction was a little more muted. Most didn’t want to comment on the picket. One man said the union was wasting its time and that the CAW doesn’t have a place in Honda. Another woman said she wasn’t allowed to talk about it. The issues for the CAW include layoffs, wage reductions, and recent reports that the province doesn’t have the money to back private pension plans should General Motors, or any of the Big Three automakers, file for bankruptcy protection. Ontario’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund provides pensioners with up to $1,000 a month if a private plan falters. Premier Dalton McGuinty said last week there was not enough money in the fund to cover pensions should GM  go bankrupt. The fund is currently worth about $100 million. If that happens, the CAW argues, retirees from all sectors across the province could find themselves in financial jeopardy. The union is staging a large rally at Queen’s Park April 23 to push the government to do more to guarantee workers’ pensions. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has said the province’s priority is to work with GM to make sure the situation never gets that far. Honda in Alliston had no comment on the union action. Honda communications spokesperson Colin Fisher wouldn’t release any details regarding Honda’s pension plan, but he said there have been no changes to it during the economic turbulence of the past six months. Honda has however significantly cut production in the past months, cancelling the Plant 2 afternoon shift, buying out all temporary worker contracts, and at times cutting production to four days a week. -With files from Torstar


Restaurant celebrates Earth Hour

Beverly’s On Main Grill House owner Beverly Wood is celebrating an extended Earth Hour on March 28 with a candle-lit dinner. The restaurant will be serving a special menu from 5-10 p.m., and keeping with the tradition of Earth Hour all lighting will be extinguished. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) held its first Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007. The organization asked all individuals and businesses to turn off their lights for one hour in a united protest against global warming. At last count, 1,429 cities and towns, including Wasaga Beach, in 80 countries have signed up to participate. Wood held a similar event last year and it was a sell-out. This year, she is offering a special menu, including steak and lobster, linguini with seafood marinara and a special version of her famous schnitzel. The evening will feature live entertainment by a local jazz guitarist. The restaurant seats 90 people. Call 429-0179 for a reservation. Earth Hour officially takes place between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Sat., Mar. 28. To sign up and get more information visit www.earthhour.org.