Man’s throat cut in attack

A 31-year-old Tottenham man is facing assault charges after he allegedly hit another man and sliced his throat with a knife last Wednesday night (April 1). A Toronto man was visiting an Alphonsus Court home that night, when the accused threatened to kill him, police said. The accused then hit him in the face, and sliced the victim’s throat. Police said the cut missed an artery by only a few millimetres. The victim was treated in hospital for his injuries and released. Bryan Graystone, 31, of Tottenham  is charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and threats to cause bodily harm. He was held pending a bail hearing today (Mon., April 6).


Save sports fields: Residents

Public input has played a major role in the creation of a report that will determine the future of Orillia secondary schools ODCVI and Park Street Collegiate Institute. That’s the word from Michael Gordon, one of the members of Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) looking into the closure of both local high schools. At public meetings held over the past few months, members of the ARC committee have received input from Orillia residents, with respect to the two educational facilities. “The input from the public was very helpful in the preparation of the final report that has been submitted to the school board,” said Gordon. Among the 11 recommendations made in the report, is a call for the closure of both ODCVI and Park Street high schools, along with renovations and retrofits to Twin Lakes Secondary School. As well, the report calls for the history of the two closed schools be incorporated into the design and construction elements of the new school. A copy of the ARC report has been forwarded to the Simcoe County District School Board, which will discuss it at a June meeting in Midhurst. “The major recommendations that were added after the meetings centered around trying to retain the track and soccer/football fields for recreational use, at whichever space is not used to build the new school,” said Gordon. He noted the recreation space could be used by the school board, or partnerships could be forged with other sports user groups within the city. “That was the main thing we took away from the meetings. People were saying they just don’t want the board to surplus and sell the unused site, because it has the potential to give the city even more outdoor recreational space,” said Gordon. Emphasis was placed on retaining use of the soccer fields and track facilities in place at both ODCVI and Park Street Collegiate. Others suggest converting the Hillcrest Public School site into recreational space, after the school is closed in the future. “That is a whole different option because it will cost a lot of money to take that building down and then do grading on the property and turn it into a usable field. Right now there just isn’t the funding to do that right now as part of the part of the new school funding envelope,” said Gordon. He noted the school board put the Mount Slaven, Hillcrest, David H. Church and Central school properties up for sale two weeks ago. “The input we took from the crowds at the public meetings was that the school board shouldn’t just sell whichever property the school board decides not to use for the new school. They wanted to see if there was some way the board could retain the track and field/soccer portions and then maybe sell the rest,” said Gordon. Gordon noted it would cost an estimated $25 million to build a new secondary school in Orillia to replace ODCVI and Park Street.


Angus Early Years Centre closing March 31

After several battles to keep the doors to the Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC) in Angus open, it is closing March 31. Users of the centre were given notice Feb. 27 that the OEYC on Mill Street in Angus is closing for good. The letter also notified parents that the same programming would be offered through outreach programs at other locations in the community. Losing the central location is a concern for parents who regularly use the programming. Debbie Skiffington has been bringing her two-and-a-half-year-old twins to the OEYC programs for over a year, since she moved to the area from Georgetown. Being new to the area, Skiffington said the OEYC helped her access information through resources at the site or be pointed in the right direction for services not available at the location. "It’s just been great the amount of information I’ve gotten out of that place," Skiffington said. Skiffington likes the OEYCs routine, from visiting the office to the activities it provides for her children. She said the programming reiterates things for children that they are already learning at home, like washing their hands and not wandering around while eating. The programs are also a reminder for parents, who she said regularly learn helpful tips at the OEYC. "That location means so much to the people that go there," she said. "It’s hard to put into words the impact it’s going to have on all these people that use it." As the site is cleared of its resources, why is the lingering question for Skiffington. She said every time she’s at the centre it’s busy, so she doesn’t know how usage could be an issue. "Maybe it’s just not enough," said Skiffington. E3 Community Services is responsible for the Angus and Alliston locations of the OEYC, which are satellite locations of the main site in Collingwood. The OEYC does receive provincial funding, which is given to E3 to distribute between the three locations. Over the past year, Ministry of Child and Youth Services spokesperson Cristina Brandau said E3’s OEYC funding hasn’t changed. Brandau said the programs previously offered at the Mill Street centre are going to be at community centres, churches and schools in the area. "We want to create as little disruption as possible for families," said Brandau. In continuing to offer services to Angus, the Ministry said outreach programs are the most cost-effective option. It was a year ago that Angus last faced service cutbacks. At that time, OEYC notified the landlord of the building where the OEYC is located that the organization wouldn’t be renewing its lease in June. MPP Jim Wilson petitioned the closing and the doors stayed open past the June deadline, however hours at the centre were slashed. E3 also said they were reviewing the programming in Angus. Wilson said at that time it was public pressure that helped keep the level of programming in Angus. "Keep the pressure up," said Wilson. "Don’t give up because the government made a decision, governments have reversed decisions." This year, Skiffington said she and other parents started hearing rumours that the doors are closing for good about a month ago, with the real worry starting when items at the site started getting cleared out. Confirmation came when the users received their letter about the centre. She said now that people are used to the changes in programs and hours last year, the location is actually closing. "It’s frustrating," she said. E-mail reporter Maija Hoggett at [email protected] 


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.”


Man arrested in home invasion

Several OPP officers suffered minor injuries during the arrest of a man in connection with an afternoon home invasion in Orillia. Police say officers responded to a home invasion in progress at a residence near the intersection of Coldwater Road and Peter Street at about 2:45 on Wednesday. A male suspect was apprehended, with several officers receiving minor injuries during the arrest. The suspect was taken into custody and was to appear for a bail hearing on April 16. A 49-year-old Orillia man is charged with several Criminal Code offenses, including robbery, break and enter, assault, assaulting police, and uttering threats.


Dunlop lauded for belief in skilled trades

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop went from plumber to politician, and now he’s being honoured for his belief in the value of skilled trades. Dunlop will be among six Ontarians inducted into the Klaus Woerner Skilled Trades Hall of Fame next week. Nominated by Georgian College president Brian Tamblyn, Dunlop is one of only a handful of provincial politicians with a background in the trades; he operated his family’s plumbing business for almost two decades before entering politics. He was one of the first politicians to push for the apprenticeship tax credit, and in 2002 wrote an extensive report on skills development for the minister of education. Dunlop also played a role in the establishment of the first Skilled Trades Centre at Georgian College, located at the Robbert Hartog Midland campus, and continues to advocate for a standalone Ministry for Apprenticeship and Skills Development. The Klaus Woerner Skilled Trades Hall of Fame recognizes people who have made significant contributions to the advancement of skilled trades and technologies. The induction ceremony will take place March 3 in Kitchener.


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


Industrial Pkwy. crash sends two to hospital

A collision between a dump truck and a car south of Alliston Tuesday morning sent two people to hospital. The crash happened at Church Street South and Industrial Parkway. A silver car was southbound on Church. The driver had a green light and turned left onto Industrial. A westbound dump truck went through a red light, hitting the car, police said. The driver and passenger in the car were taken to Stevenson Memorial Hospital with undisclosed injuries. They have since been released. The driver of the dump truck, a 56-year-old Essa man, is facing Highway Traffic Act charges for failing to stop at a red light.


Bike lanes may be in works planned for Heathcote bridge

The bridge on County Rd. 13 in Heathcote is scheduled for an estimated $500,000 pulverization and reconstruction project this spring, according to the Grey County Transportation Department. The plan is to crush the length of road from the bridge in Heathcote to the Hemlock Bridge and re-pave it, possibly adding a 1.2 to 1.5 metre wide cycle/walking path to each side, according to Sharon Melvill of Grey County Transportation and Public Safety. There is a committee looking into the bike lane addition. In the meantime, the asphalt on the two County Rd. 13 bridges will be removed, repairs will be done to the decks and waterproofing added prior to the new asphalt over the top decks. The asphalt on the roads will also be ground up, and replaced, with some of the old materials being reused for the bottom layer, according to Melville. She added that the bridgework will be done first, followed by the road work.