(Staff) – Midland residents eager to prove that man is a dog’s best friend will be taking part in the Friends for Life walk-a-thon on May 24. The event is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Midland branch of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, raising $11,000 in 2008. The goal is to double that this year. "We can reach our goal if 100 people joined and each person raised at least $200 of pledges," said branch manager Maureen Dool, adding she is aiming to raise $1,000 herself. All the money raised will go toward care of the animals at the shelter. "I am hoping some of our past rescued dogs will join us on the walk," she added. "It’s exciting to see them with their families and how they have matured into great friends." Registration begins at 9 a.m., with the walk starting at 10 a.m. Visit to register or to learn more about the walk. Pledge forms are also available at the shelter, local veterinary offices, Pet Valu and Global Pet Foods. A free lunch and drinks will be provided. There will also be a number of prizes up for grabs, including a Disney World holiday for two.
When a home disaster strikes, families can have enough on their hands just dealing with a devastated child whose favourite stuffed animal has become contaminated. At the second-generation family business R & F Construction – Disaster Klean Up, experienced crews use proven processes and state-of-the-art equipment to make the process of dealing with fire, flood or wind-damage as easy as possible. And using the new Estorta Cleaning System (exclusive to Disaster Klean Up members), even a plush toy that’s been dragged through toxic waste can be washed and restored safely to its young owner. “It’s a win-win situation,” says general manager Trevor Walker, who also heads up the Barrie office. “It’s less expensive for the insurance companies, it’s a new revenue stream for us, and the home owner gets to keep their stuff.” The specialty washing machine uses pressure to force the non-toxic cleaning solution through the material without damaging it, he explains. “It even works on leather, so goalie pads can go through this process.” In lab tests, swabs have come back cleaner than when items were first purchased, Walker says. Regardless whether the items were contaminated with mould, sewage or soot, the system certifies them 100-per-cent free of bacteria afterward. “Everything that goes through the system is 100-per-cent safe to go right back down the drain,” he says. “These (contaminated) items used to be just thrown in the landfill site.” R & F Construction was established in 1961 in Orillia. Originally a home-based business, it soon demanded more space, and a shop was built next to owners Sharon and Jerry Rimkey’s Telford Line home. Jerry had been in the commercial-cleaning business when a local insurance adjuster asked him to take on the task of cleaning up furnace blow-backs. Then he was asked to put a crew together to re-construct the damage. “He got asked more and more and it became the main part of the company,” Walker recounts. “In the late ‘90s, they joined an organization called Disaster Klean Up Canada (DKC), an organization of long-standing companies in this industry that belong to, and own shares in, the DKC.” Today, the couple has taken a step back while their sons Rich and David, both licenced carpenters, take on the leadership role. Walker, the sons’ first cousin, came on board two years ago. “There has been a lot of growth over the last five years – from about 25 employees five years ago, to about 65 employees now,” Walker explains. “There has been a gradual change to the sons – they grew up working in the company and have been looking for growth.” To accommodate this expansion, the company’s Orillia division is moving into a new 54,000 square-foot shop this month. Located in Orillia’s Forest Home development, it will have an ozone room designed to successfully remove most smells from most materials. There is also a plan to bring in an ultrasonic cleaning tank that uses high-frequency sound waves to knock off the dirt (“like smoke off jewellery”, for example). For sensitive paperwork that has sustained water damage – like the files in a doctors’ or lawyers’ office, for example; the company uses a specialized company that employs liquid nitrogen to flash freeze the paper, which removes all traces of the water. If the sheets are torn or dirty before the process, they will remain so, but they’ll be dry, promises Walker. “We use a lot of new technology – like thermal-imaging cameras for finding moisture inside walls,” he says. “It lets us be less destructive of people’s lives. It lets us pinpoint the water in the walls.” Working primarily with insurance claims (about 90 per cent), the growing team is largely recession-proof. Management invests in its staff to continually develop an expertise in the field. In addition to ongoing professional development provided for the licenced carpenters, skilled labour and trained technicians on staff, employees enjoy a full benefits package (including a fully covered counselling if required), and healthy work environment. “We figure if they have a better home life, they’ll have a better work life as well,” says Walker. Together, R & F Construction “touches, on average, about 20 jobs per day,” he adds, noting their full roster last year listed approximately 900 claims. “The goal is to be a $1 million company by 2010, but it looks like we may achieve that by 2009. Claims can be anything from the results of an overflowed toilet to a full fire in the Simcoe County area – their territory also extends up to Huntsville and east to Beaverton and Keswick. Thanks to the answering service Encore TeleSolutions, “all our phones are answered 24/7 by a live person,” he says. He realizes his team sees people at their worst – and he doesn’t want them to have to wait to get the clean-up started. For more information, visit www.rfconstruction.com.
The Municipality of Grey Highlands has its first application for a wind energy project. Council at its regular meeting on April 27 received a lengthy report from municipal planner Lorelie Spencer about the municipality’s first wind energy application. The application is called the Plateau Wind Farm. The proposal would locate a total of ten 1.5 MW large-scale wind turbines at various locations. Nine of the turbines would be in the Municipality of Grey Highlands. The proposal also includes: transmission lines, a meteorological tower and a switching station. The application is the first test of the alternative energy planning policies adopted by Grey Highlands council. Council did not review the actual planning application at the April 27 meeting. Council took a look at Spencer’s formal comments about the project’s draft Environmental Screening Report/Environmental Assessment Report. Spencer’s report was quite lengthy – 12 pages – and pointed a number of areas of the report that were incomplete or insufficient for the project to continue forward. Spencer highlighted a number of deficiencies in the ESR/EIS that need to be addressed before the application can move forward. They include: • Planning Justification Report – scope is inconsistent with local policies • Visual Impact Assessment – not submitted • Ice Throw Report – not submitted • Noise report – scope is inconsistent with local policies • Management Plan – committed to during pre-consultation with the municipality, but not submitted • Site Plan – not considered to be of sufficient detail to fulfill the site plan requirements contained in the local Official Plan • Evidence of no electromagnetic interference – insufficient During her presentation to council, Spencer significantly reduced the size of her report. Several members of council questioned why the municipality is reducing the number of concerns it has about the reports that have been submitted. Spencer explained to members of council that her report was shortened for a number of reasons. She said all of the concerns raised in the initial report would be communicated to the proponents of the application. She said in light of the province’s proposed Green Energy Act (Bill 150) she didn’t want the report to appear to be "onerous" with regards to this initial application. Members of council discussed the report at length. Councillor Paul McQueen said he was concerned the report didn’t include a map showing where the wind towers are being proposed. The reaction of the public to the application was clearly on the minds of councillors. Earlier in the meeting council faced questions from several residents about wind energy projects in the municipality. Council also received a lengthy presentation and report about potential adverse health affects of wind towers from local resident Lorrie Gillis. With the discussion and comments starting to veer off course into the details of the actual planning application – Mayor Brian Mullin had to steer council back on course. "These are comments about a draft ESR/EIS report. These are not comments about the application itself," said Mullin, pointing out that the formal Official Plan and zoning bylaw applications will go through a vigorous public process. Mullin repeatedly warned members of council that they were approving Spencer’s comments about the ESR/EIS report – not the actual planning application. No date has been set when council will hear the formal application for a wind energy project.