Texting and driving don’t mix, say police

Police pulled over a suspected drunk driver in Tay Township last week, but it turned out she hadn’t had a drop to drink. She was, however, trying to send a text message while driving. Southern Georgian Bay OPP report the incident happened on Highway 12, near Rumney Road, around 6:30 p.m. on April 16. A 45-year-old Brampton resident was charged with careless driving. Police, in addition to reminding motorists to always focus on the road, credited the concerned citizen who reported this driver with averting a potential tragedy.


Going green: Nursery turns to bugs

A Wyevale nursery is being infested with bugs in an attempt to go green. Robert and Laura Moon, owners of Wye Nursery, are reducing their greenhouse practice of pesticide spraying, choosing instead to use a biological approach that introduces one insect into the greenhouse that will prey on other insects known for eating or destroying plants. “We’ve been buying bugs that are predators to other bugs – for instance (one type we bring in) are microscopic bugs that live in bran and will stay in there for up to five weeks,” said Robert Moon, adding the alternative to this “green” way of ridding plants of known pests would be using sprays, chemicals and pesticides, which aren’t good for people’s health or the health of the plant. “It’s bad for us and it’s bad for the customer. The pesticides are left on the leaf, and (most) people don’t know that.” Added Laura Moon, “With all the recalls of fruits and vegetables, you don’t know if a tomato is from Mexico, what they’re spraying on them, where they’re growing them or how they’re growing them.” The nursery started using the new method last year with its fall mums, noted Robert Moon, adding the bugs – which come as both mature bugs and eggs – live in sacks providing them with enough food for a several number of weeks.  “The more you use a spray, the more a plant becomes immune to it. They weren’t being effective,” he said. “It’s just like cough medicine,” added Laura. “The more you take, the more you (don’t respond).”  With 90 per cent of the plants sold at the nursery being grown there from seed, using this new “greener” process can also be a bit time consuming, they noted.  “We’re still at the early stages, and you definitely have to keep on top of it,” said Laura Moon. “You’ve got to get it managed. If you just sense that there are some, and you find a few, you’ve got to get right on top of it because, if you just let it go and they’re everywhere, then these aren’t going to work. You have to bring these in early and stay on top of it,” added Robert Moon. The couple said even though the bugs cost approximately 50 per cent more than what they were previously paying for chemical sprays, the benefits are priceless. “It’s just a better way of doing things,” she said. “Never mind what the sprays and chemicals are doing to us – obviously, they’re not good for us to breathe them in, for our kids (or) the environment – but it’s the greener way to go. For us, doing what we’re doing, and moving to the next level, it just seems like the logical thing to do… like it’s the right next step.”


Park pavilion to memorialize Michael Worrod

The family of Michael Worrod is trying keeping his memory alive in Tottenham. At a New Tecumseth council meeting Monday night, the Worrods offered the town $4,000 towards renovations at Coventry Park Pavilion and volunteers to help keep up the park. They also asked the town to rename the pavilion the Michael Worrod Pavilion. Worrod was 25 when he died in a motor vehicle collision in December 2007. In a letter to council, Worrod’s fiancée Lindsay Fleischer said he played baseball with the Tottenham Young Merchants for many years and Coventry Park was his home field. Worrod was also a member of Tottenham hardball teams that won two Ontario titles. She said supporting upgrades to the pavilion is the perfect way to honour Worrod and ensure that other young players continue to have great experiences at the park. Over the past year the Worrod family has held several fundraisers in Michael’s honour, raising money for the Children’s Wish Foundation and other charities. After seeing that New Tecumseth is looking to rejuvenate the Coventry Park Pavilion they decided to donate the money raised at a golf tournament last year to the efforts. "We’re anxious and hopeful to start distributing money that has been collected from the community over the last year," said Tim Kane, Worrod’s brother-in-law. New Tecumseth has $75,000 in the 2009 budget to rebuild the pavilion. A report from Parks, Recreation and Culture manager Joyce Epstein said the donation enhances the project and allow for new pavilion signage.


No tax break for business

Simcoe County councillors opted not to give employers a tax break this year for fear of the impact on homeowners. Instead, county councillors will contemplate how to reduce the tax burden for business and industry at a strategic planning session. And they’ll have a year to consider how to implement any ideas that may emerge as the county sets tax ratios – how to allocate the tax levy among the various property classes, such as residential, commercial, farm, pipeline and industrial. Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier urged the mayors and deputy mayors of the county’s 16 member municipalities to give business extra care this year, as the recession stresses companies. He said the county has room to move to make its tax ratios more fair, as businesses bear more than their fair share of not only the municipal tax, but even six to 10 times more than a residential taxpayer in education taxes. “We have significant employers looking toward all levels of government to offer stimulus and be more fair,” he said Tuesday. “We’re a long, long way from the (provincially-recommended) range of fairness. What I’m asking is the moving forward of the bylaw (setting taxes) be held off, until we collectively discuss this.” His motion, however, failed, and county councillors set the new taxes. "I’m not opposed to what Coun. Carrier is suggesting (but) we really need to see the actual effect on a number of municipalities. My community is 95-per-cent residential,” said Tiny Township Mayor Peggy Breckenridge. “It’s probably not too bad, but without the numbers, how can we move forward?” Switching the ratio slightly would mean a few dollars more for residents, while sparing companies with higher assessments much more. It would impact municipalities differently, depending on their make up. Collingwood, with its diverse employment and industrial base, would benefit, while Tiny, which is largely residential, would see its support to the county rise. Two weeks ago, Essa Township Mayor David Guergis highlighted a Barrie company that was poised to build two plants in Essa, but which went to the United States instead, where taxes were lower and municipal regulations fewer.


Orillia man faces porn charges

An Orillia man is under arrest in connection with what police are describing as Canada’s largest coordinated investigation into Internet-based child-abuse. Fifty-four people have been arrested and face charges ranging from sexual assault and sexual interference to possessing, making and distributing child pornography. Among them was a 19-year-old Orillia man, who was arrested March 25 and charged with two counts of possessing child pornography, one count of making available child pornography and one count of breaching his probation. Police seized one computer, alleged to contain images of child sexual abuse. The man’s arrest followed a joint investigation involving the OPP Electronic Crimes Section and the Orillia OPP detachment. He was scheduled to appear in Barrie court for a bail hearing on Wednesday. A 34-year-old Innisfil man was also arrested and charged with two counts of possessing child pornography and one count of making available child pornography. The RCMP and the Ottawa-based National Child Exploitation Centre coordinated the investigations in conjunction with law enforcement partners across the country. Police say they targeted individuals who met online to exchange pornographic images of children.


New Acura to be built in Alliston

A new luxury vehicle is going to be made at Honda of Canada Manufacturing’s plants "It looks like it is going to be a spectacular vehicle that we will be proud to be producing," said Colin Fisher spokesperson for Alliston’s Honda plants. "HCM is quite proud that it has been the introducing factory of a number of new vehicles." Fisher said the company isn’t yet releasing how the new vehicle will affect the local plant’s production numbers. During the past four months, production in Alliston has been repeatedly scaled back. Fisher said that production on the ZDX will likely begin by summer or early fall. The Alliston Honda plant already produces the CSX sedan and MDX sport utility vehicle. The new ZDX is designed to be the next step in the company’s luxury line, complete with high performance and comfort. The all-wheel drive, six-cylinder vehicle will include a rear camera to make parking easier, a navigation system and leather seats and trim. "The new Acura ZDX is designed to be a luxury performance coupe, plus," said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice president of Honda Canada Inc. "The dynamic coupe styling combined with a luxurious and dramatic interior and surprising versatility, will allow the ZDX to define its own segment and attract a new customer to the Acura brand." The announcement was made at the New York International Auto Show.


Hamilton man faces weapons offenses

A Hamilton man is facing weapons offenses following his arrest outside Casino Rama. Police say a passenger on a charter bus was causing problems inside the vehicle and had reportedly brandished a pocketknife. Members of the OPP and the Rama Police Service were called to the bus ramp at the casino, and arrested a 75-year-old man. He was charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and unauthorized possession of a weapon. There were no injuries. The suspect is to appear in court on May 12.


Museum plans $1.5M expansion

The Orillia Museum of Art and History will double its exhibit space with a renovation of its upper floors, a project pegged at about $1.5 million. Board chair Will Davis said utilizing the second and third floors of the historic Sir Sam Steele building would make available another 6,000 square feet of sorely needed space for exhibitions. “We have so many items in storage right now, we need the square footage to put things on exhibit,” Davis added. Today, many artworks and artifacts of historical significance are housed below grade, some of them in the subterranean cells that once housed prisoners during the building’s days as a police station. Renovating the upper two floors will allow the museum to expand its operation and bring many of these pieces into the light of day, said program director Katie Calcaterra. “We have over 100 pieces of art,” said Calcaterra. “We have 20 Group of Seven pieces, we have Arthur Shilling – lots of really important artists from the area. If you have more than one gallery offering different things for people to see, then it’s a smarter way of doing it.” A preliminary estimate pegs the cost of construction at about $1.5 million. Davis is hoping work can begin next year. “I think the shovel would be in the ground some time in 2010,” he added. The project, which follows on the heels of an ambitious renovation several years ago of the building’s ground floor, will include a sprinkler system on all floors and an elevator. Designed by Thomas Fuller and completed in 1894, the red brick and limestone building served as a federal customs house and a post office until its purchase by the city in 1956. It would come to house a police station, courthouse, jail and office space for various organizations before undergoing a $1.1 million restoration and renovation of its ground floor, basement and roof in 2004. In addition to its regularly rotating exhibits, the museum offers art programs for children and adults and a research room where residents can access a database of historic photographs and genealogical information. Additional space is planned for educational programs. “That is part of our mandate,” Calcaterra said. The museum must finalize its budget and seek out grants before launching a capital campaign, which could happen between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010, Davis said.