March Break activities will keep kids busy

While it may not feel like it, spring will soon be arriving. But, before that can happen, kids across the province get to enjoy some relief from school and homework in the form of the annual March Break – which will be taking place March 16-20. Parents across the community will be happy to know there are a ton of activities and day camps available to keep their young ones busy. Midland’s Huronia Museum is running a March Break camp for kids. This year’s theme is all about spring, said education co-ordinator Gillian Ross. Each day will include games and crafts designed to take the kids’ minds off the cold. “The kids have something to do all day,” she said, adding activities are also aimed at a variety of age groups. Activities will include a hunt for a pot of gold, origami projects, frog races and a Welcome to Spring celebration on March 20. Children will also have the opportunity to enjoy the last blasts of winter tobogganing on Campbell’s Hill and skating at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre. Ross noted parents can book their kids for the entire week or just for one or two days. “We’ve been running (our camp) for a long time, (so parents know) their kids are not only safe, but are also having fun.” The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre will be offering a March Break Day Camp to children ages six to 12. “Actively engaging in exciting exploration and learning is inevitable when your child comes to our March Break Day Camp,” Nicole Saltsman, marketing and communications co-ordinator, said in a news release. “It will provide your child with an increased understanding of and appreciation for the world around them.” Children will get the chance to take part in cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, guided hikes, tree and animal identification, and hands-on crafts. In addition, they will come face-to-face with turtles, snakes and birds of prey. Quest Art School and Gallery, meanwhile, will be offering a variety of hands-on activities for young Picassos, including clay sculpture, decorative painting, beading and print making – all taught by well-known local artists. Fledgling Jamie Olivers or Nigella Lawsons will have the chance to hone their culinary skills during the Real Canadian Superstore’s camp for kids ages six to 11. On March 16 from 9 a.m. to noon, kids can get stuffed full of fun as they learn all about food that is stuffed. On March 20, they’ll get to clown around the kitchen as they have a blast making circus-inspired favourites. Participants will get to take home a clown-face cake and learn simple cooking and baking skills. Staff at the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum will also be busy as they explore the globe with children during the museum’s day camp. “We will be very busy visiting five different countries in five days,” said curator assistant Jan Gadson. Participants will travel from Egypt to Ireland before heading south to Jamaica and Mexico. Kids will be given a different clue each day as to their final destination. “We’re going to have lots of activities both inside and out,” said Gadson. “We’re a small and nurturing group, and the kids will have a fantastic time.” Space is limited in most of these programs, so parents are encouraged to pre-register their children as soon as possible. [email protected]


Trustees leave CCI questions unanswered

Simcoe County District School Board trustees have voted to keep four of five area high schools open, leaving existing enrolment gaps at some schools and possibly creating new ones at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Onlookers spilled into the atrium at the school board’s administration centre in Midhurst Tuesday as members of the facility standing committee, comprised of trustees, voted at a special meeting called to deal with nine staff recommendations about how to resolve high school enrolment issues. "Before us there are nine recommendations that are basically going to tear our communities apart," said Peter Beacock, trustee for Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte. Trustees poured over nine staff recommendations during a four-and-a-half hour period Tuesday, in the end, defeating a motion to close the high schools in Stayner and Penetanguishene. A motion to recommend improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute was also defeated. They did approve the closure of Elmvale District High School and the construction of a new secondary school to serve Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. Caroline Smith, the trustee representing Collingwood and Clearview Township, spoke in favour of following the recommendations made by an accommodation review committee (ARC) last month. "There was never a direction from the ARC that they wanted a mega school," said Smith. "This was as close to a consensus as any of the ARCs ever got." She said the board is not allowed to close one school to get growth to build another school, speaking in defense of Stayner Collegiate Institute. But the decisions made by trustees Tuesday are far from final. Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Severn, Tay and Ramara, chairs the facility standing committee. She said by approving some recommendations and not others, the three-school solution recommended by staff has been altered and there are now holes that need to be filled. Redirecting the 450 Wasaga Beach secondary school students to a new high school will result in capacity issues at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Lloyd said that problem has yet to be dealt with. She said things are sure to change as trustees go through another wave of public delegations in May before they make their final decision at a board meeting on June 17. She said although all school trustees sit on the facility standing committee, there will certainly be changes in opinion as they go through the process. The board embarked on the review one year ago to seek solutions to declining enrolment in the area, creating a surplus of so-called pupil places. Staff recommendations, contained in a report dated April 14, differ from the recommendations made by the ARC last month. High schools in Stayner, Collingwood, Elmvale, Penetanguishene and Midland are included in the review. Wasaga Beach was also included as a possible school site. The ARC, a committee made up of school and community representatives, recommended a five-school solution, to keep all five schools open and fund necessary improvements and upgrades to solve capacity issues. Board staff recommended a three-school solution, which would result in the closure of Penetanguishene Secondary School, Stayner Collegiate Institute and Elmvale District High School and the construction of a central school for Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier said the decision to close Elmvale High School wasn’t the best one. "I supported a six school option, one for each community," he said.  "This is devastating news for the people of Elmvale," he said. "I sympathize with them. I’m shocked that this is one of these recommendations." Carrier said there continues to problems with education funding in Ontario. "I don’t think the board folks are the bad people," he said. "It shows how under-funded education is." Carrier disagrees with the idea that if a school is built in Wasaga Beach, CCI will lose programming. He said it is likely that CCI could lose 300 students, but he can’t see them going from 1,250 students to 850 students overnight. "If they are going to close Elmvale, the school will likely be located in the east end of Wasaga Beach. It still might be advantageous for kids to hop the bus and come to Collingwood," he said. Carrier said they expect huge growth in Nottawa and those kids would likely attend CCI. He said the growth in Collingwood will also add more students to CCI. "Where is the growth going to be in Simcoe County – it’s going to be in Collingwood, Clearview and Wasaga Beach," he said.


What goes around comes around

Brush past the fun and funky beads hanging in the doorway of 102C Main St. in Penetanguishene and be enveloped by the tantalizingly rich aroma of coffee. But this isn’t just any coffee; it’s organic fair trade (not to be confused with free trade), which aims to put money directly in the hands of the people producing the products rather than a vast multinational marketing network. Think of it as a cup of karma, the notion that you reap what you sow. Erin Chapelle’s vision statement for the store reads: “We believe you get what you give because what goes around comes around.” Today’s brew is a blend of beans from Guatemala, Peru and the Dominican Republic. “It’s as directly from the farmer as it can be,” Chapelle explained. “There are just two hands between me and the farmer.” The beans travelled to a port in the U.S., and then to a roaster in Barrie. It’s a far cry from traditional commercial brands, which may pass through dozens of distributors, processors, marketers and retailers before reaching consumers’ cups. Each one takes a percentage, leaving fractions of a penny in the hands of the producers. Welcome to the Karma Marketplace. From the fair-trade coffee beans to the locally made wire jewelery, artwork, clothing and home furnishings, there are many options for the conscious consumer. Chapelle opened her doors in November 2007, and, although it may be a small space, it’s a store with a big vision, encouraging consumers to think about the source of their supplies and ensuring fair wages for quality handicrafts. “People are at the source of what we use every day,” Chapelle said. “In purchasing quality, original, handmade products and supporting local and international artists, we think you are not only participating in conscious consumerism, but also directly affecting your own karma through positive action.” Chapelle said she’s not just selling objects, but sharing an idea, telling shoppers about her producers and explaining the concept and importance of fair trade. “As a teacher, you learn more through sharing.” Chapelle likens it to planting a seed. “Seeds sometimes take a while to grow,” she acknowledged, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. She’s fostering those seeds in other areas, as well, working with Only Green in Midland as an eco-adviser and joining the Simcoe County Farm Fresh organization to promote local producers and awaken shoppers to local food sources. Chapelle is undertaking a survey of local restaurants to determine their food requirements and how direct links with local suppliers could be further developed. “It’s another way to bring attention and awareness to the local community.” Along with a University of Toronto student, Chapelle is also working to establish an eco-awareness summer camp for kids this year. At the moment, she is most excited about efforts to establish a community market in Penetanguishene, an idea she proposed to the town last summer. The market would include a range of locally created produce and products. “I’m a crafter, not a baker or farmer, so I termed it a community market.” Since then, she’s been delighted by the co-operative response from the municipality, as well as the interest from both producers and consumers. A recent meeting at the Penetanguishene library attracted 33 people and plenty of enthusiasm. A steering committee of 10 has now been created, and plans are moving ahead for the Penetanguishene Community Market to operate each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from June 6 until Oct. 10. A few logistics are still being worked out, but the market will be at the Penetanguishene Town Dock. Chapelle said there are at least 15 vendors ready to roll: “We are still looking for local vendors and performers.” She said she would like to see entertainment as an integral part of the market – whether it’s music, drama, jugglers, unicyclists or whatever – and also plans to provide space for community groups to promote their activities. “We brag about our Winterama history; I think we should be able to brag about our Community Market history, too,” Chapelle said. “It’s wanted.” Meanwhile, the Karma Marketplace also hosts poetry nights on the third Wednesday of the month. “It’s open to local poets and listeners. We’re getting good response, including some high schools students. We have about nine steady poets who come to present.” Readings begin at 7:30 p.m. and run for a couple of hours: “We’ve been setting themes, and this month it’s hope.” Poetry readings rotate between Karma and the Meritz Bistro next door. In the future, Chapelle said she would like to expand the fair-trade initiative. She spent six years in Central America teaching and working with farmers and neighbours, and she’d like to turn those connections into direct relationships with communities and farmers. The Karma Marketplace is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon until 6 p.m. A website (www.karmamarketplace.com) is under construction and will soon be a convenient way to keep up with happenings and products in the marketplace and the community. For more information on monthly art shows and products, call 549-5999.


Lock it or lose it!

Some experts predict that in excess of 200,000 bicycles are stolen across Canada annually. Before the winter snow had melted Grey County OPP had already received reports of bicycle thefts. "Although the theft of a bicycle may seem like a minor crime to some, it certainly isn’t from the perspective of the victim," says Media Relation Officer Steve Starr. "They are the pride and joy of many who use them for transportation daily and put a considerable portion of their savings toward the initial purchase. In fact, the purchase price of some high-end mountain bikes and race bikes may rival a small car." Starr says whether you own an expensive bike or a beater that you picked up at a yard sale there are things you can easily do to protect against theft. • If your bicycle is high value think about obtaining insurance coverage or at least enhancing your home policy for include your unusually valuable bicycle. • Consider registering your bike if a program is available in your community but at the very least record the serial number, a description and photograph. • Consider marking the bicycle in several spots with a security mark or label. A personal number like a licence plate or driver’s licence number can be used and at least one should be clearly visible. • Most importantly, purchase a good quality lock and keep your bike locked whenever you leave it unattended. Lock it or lose it! Many bikes are stolen from the owner’s property so where possible, in addition to locking the bike, store it indoors or in a locked shed or garage. When away from home, try to lock the bike to a fixed object in an area that is clearly visible to the general public.


Blackhawks win OMHA title

The Collingwood Hanna Motors Atom AE Blackhawks were crowned OMHA Champions last week by defeating New Hamburg in the finals. The members of the team are: Tyler Atkinson, Hazen Mercer, Ethan Parent, Morgan Lewis, Joesph Sammon, Justin Mills, Brandon Piroli, Jarryd Ling, Nicholas Sammons, Adam Leal, Jaden Dankevy Jacob Kranjec, William Hanna, David Evans and Dylan Demers. The coaching staff is Peter Sammon, Steve Sammons, Adam Parent, Peter Atkinson and Steve Lewis. Contributed Photo/Tempo Photography


Town selling off properties

New Tecumseth is declaring land in Beeton and Tottenham surplus to allow for it to be sold. In Beeton the property is at 195 Centre St. N. The parcel of land is landlocked and abuts several properties. Beeton Coun. Richard Norcross said one of the residents abutting the land would like to purchase it. The land is an easement and is not suitable for buildings, which Norcross said the owner is aware of. Norcross said the owner already enjoys the use of the property and would like to legally own it. "He just wants to enjoy the property and pay us to do that," said Norcross. The former youth centre in Tottenham is also being declared surplus. The property is located at 34 Queen St. N. At last week’s committee of the whole meeting, Greg Perantinos pitched a business deal to council to buy the property and operate his ice cream shop at the location. Last summer Perantinos’ ice cream shop was located just south of the Queen and Mill Street intersection in downtown Tottenham, next to the Royal Bank. "It would just really allow me to bring the community together," said Perantinos. Coun. Jim Stone said allowing Perantinos to expand his business at the new location would enhance Tottenham’s downtown. "Tottenham’s downtown has been going backwards, we’ve had businesses leave and we’re getting a lot of holes there," said Stone. "He’s a great entrepreneur and a great asset for Tottenham." Earlier this year Coun. Jess Prothero asked council to approve demolishing the former youth centre building. He said when he brought that up before it was because of the way the building looks. Prothero said he supports Perantinos’ vision for the building and is looking forward to see how it would appear.


Glossy report cost effective says mayor

Simcoe County politicians are defending the distribution of a full-colour report, For the Greater Good, to every household in the region. At a cost of $192,641, the publication highlights services the county provides, not only for its ratepayers, but also the social and children’s programs and land ambulance services for Barrie and Orillia. At 24 pages, it cost the county 91 cents per copy to create and mail. Literally weeks after the county unveiled the report, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing urged municipalities to rely on non-print advertising. "As a recipient of public funds, your organization has an obligation to ensure that these funds provide value and are spent prudently," said Municipal Affairs and Housing deputy minister Fareed Amin. Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier, who didn’t support sending out the guide that he called a "sales pitch for a region," called the province irresponsible. "What a condescending, paternalistic letter from the province," he said. "For a letter like that to come from the province to elected officials is irresponsible. We are the most responsible level of government." Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes was also "taken aback" and defended the booklet. "I’d say the value for money exceeds other ways (of getting the message out)," Hughes said. "Some ratepayers seem to think we’re extravagant. I really think it’s the most cost-effective way to go." Carrier said For The Greater Good does meet a critical need by raising awareness of what the county does. "When (mayors and deputy mayors) go out and campaign, we’re not asked questions about the county," he said, acknowledging there’s a low level of public awareness about the children’s services, the long-term care housing, land ambulance, and Ontario Works programs, as well as the transportation and environmental services. However, Carrier suggested the county could get better value by distributing smaller reports on specific topics – such as garbage collection, road improvements or long-term care – or by adding more content into the waste management calendar it produces, which people keep and use all year. "I have that at home. We keep that, because it’s informative," he said. "(For The Greater Good) is a one-time thing. It would be interesting to see how many are in the recycling bin."


Dentist part of medical mission

Stayner dentist Ted Proctor is part of a 26-member team heading to the Dominican Republic on March 29 for a one-week medical mission trip. Proctor, a Wasaga Beach resident, said the trip marks his fifth time to the impoverished country in the last three years. While in the Dominican Republic, Proctor will provide dentistry to Haitian refugees who have come to the country looking for work. He said that it was through long-time friends who visit the country for mission purposes that he learned of the opportunity to help. Proctor said he takes part as a way to give back. “Our country is so blessed – it’s our responsibility to help people and to share,” he explained. Spearheading the trip at this end are members New Life Brethren in Christ Church in Collingwood. But once the team arrives in the Dominican, they will work with Dominican Crossroads, a Christian ministry that operates in the hills outside Puerto Plata, a city in the northern part of the country. Proctor, a member of New Life church, said that Dr. Leslie Hutchings who practices in Stayner and Dr. Janet Clark who practices in Collingwood are also taking part in the trip, as are two nurses and several others who will work as medical support staff. “We’ll have people doing blood pressures, counting pills, that type of thing,” he said. Members of the mission trip will be traveling light in terms of personal items, he said. Each person going will bring what he or she needs for the trip in a carry-on bag. However, each person will also bring two 50-pound bags filled with supplies and items to give away, such as personal hygiene products, to those in need. Each person who is part of the team is responsible for covering his or her expenses. In total, the cost is about $1,200 for each person. Proctor said they will arrive in Puerto Plata and then take a roughly 30-minute bus ride to Crossroads, where the team will stay while in the country. Each day they will rise early and meet for breakfast at 7 a.m. and then board a bus at 8 a.m. and head to a village. “Every day we’ll be working in a different village,” Proctor noted. The Haitian refugees they will help have come to the country in search of a better life. Many harvest sugar cane or scavenge in dumps for materials they can sell. All are poor. Proctor said the homes people live in are primitive, made of scrap metal and wood. “These are Haitians who’ve left their country. They have no benefits, very little money and no help except for what outside organizations provide,” he said. Despite the incredibly tough existence the Haitians face, they are a beautiful and warm people, Proctor said. “They are spontaneous, loud, they’re happy, their needs and wants are very simple,” he said. In the villages, the team will provide basic care to people. For Proctor, that means doing emergency extractions without a proper dental chair, x-rays and lighting. “It’s the same standard of care, just in a primitive environment,” he said. At lunchtime each day, the workers will visit a local restaurant and then spend the afternoon distributing things such soap, toothbrushes, children’s shoes, baby clothes and school supplies to refugees. “Last year we took down over 1,000 pairs of shoes,” he noted. People wanting to help the group are asked to donate new or gently used items, such as baseballs, deflated soccer balls, children’s running shoes, plastic toys that don’t require batteries, school supplies, hygiene items and baby clothing. Items can be left at Proctor’s office at the Stayner Medical Centre on King Street or at Major’s Guardian Pharmacy – at the 45th Street or River Road location – in Wasaga Beach or at New Life Brethren in Christ Church, off County Road 124 in Collingwood. Monetary donations will also be accepted at Proctor’s office. Cheques can be made payable to New Life Brethren in Christ Church and a tax receipt can be issued. Last year, between Proctor’s team and another team comprised of Elmvale-area people, more than $20,000 in donations was collected – money that went towards such things as food and education supplies for the Haitians. Thanks to the financial support that mission trips to the country have received, Proctor said he’s seen progress, with schools and medical centres and churches getting built. He said that people who go on the mission trips are often changed by what they see. “When you can actually go, smell, taste and feel it – it changes your life,” he said.


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.


Police charge two private investigators with fraud

Two private investigators based in Ramara Township are themselves under investigation and facing fraud charges, the OPP are reporting. Police in a statement Monday said two private investigation companies were hired by clients to delve into the backgrounds of unnamed individuals “for potential financial wrongdoings.” Police allege the owners of the two companies provided their clients with bogus financial account information about the people whom they were hired to investigate. The clients then acted on that information, police added. As a result of an investigation by the OPP Anti-Rackets branch, a 60-year-old Ramara Township man is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000. A 64-year-old township woman is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000. They are to appear in a Newmarket court on May 20.