Budget expected to pass Monday

The 2009 budget for the Municipality of Meaford is ready for approval. Meaford council sandwiched two special budget meetings around its regular planning council meeting on Monday evening (April 20) and came away with a majority consensus to move the 2009 budget forward for approval. In a 4-3 recorded vote council approved the 2009 proposed budget with a few changes that will have little affect on the bottom line for local ratepayers. Council began its final budget deliberations at 4:30 on Monday afternoon. Members of council and municipal staff hammered away at the numbers for more than an hour before breaking for dinner. A planning council meeting then convened at 7 p.m. About an hour later, with the planning meeting agenda completed, council again deliberated on its budget numbers. At both meetings Mayor Francis Richardson made it clear council wasn’t going to leave the room without a proposed budget that was acceptable to the majority of councillors. “I don’t want to come forward tonight with something that is defeated,” he said. “Hopefully this is the last go around,” said the Mayor. Council held the budget meetings on Monday to specifically go over the comments from the two sparsely attended public budget meetings held in at the arena and the Woodford Community Centre last Tuesday and Thursday nights. A proposed $2 a bag fee for garbage in the 2009 budget was the most heavily questioned item at the two public meetings. On Monday night council had to decide whether or not to make some changes based on the public’s comments. The budget discussions lasted a couple hours and featured a number of the same comments about bag tags heard at previous meetings. Staff told council that eliminating the $2 bag tag fee would push the overall tax increase up to approximately 7.37%. After hearing that number the idea to eliminate bag tags was dropped completely. However, council was concerned that the $2 bag tag fee would not realize the $370,000 revenue figured included in the budget. Municipal staff first proposed bag tags a number of months ago. The budget process has now dragged on and it’s unlikely the bag tags will bring in the anticipated revenue because they won’t be put in place until halfway through the year. On Monday night council decided to reduce the amount it expects to earn from the $2 bag tags from $370,000 to $200,000 – bag tags will be implemented beginning on July 1. In order to make up the $170,000 difference council approved delaying staff salary grid increases until November (municipal staff will still get a 2% overall wage increase). Council also approved the elimination of the proposed fees for the new Leaf and Yard waste facility. Residents will be able to bring their compost material to that facility for free. The changes approved by council at the meeting will result in an overall tax increase of 5.35%. A resolution to approve the budget, with the amendments presented by staff included, passed in a tight 4-3 vote. Councillors Gerald Shortt, Jim McPherson and Harley Greenfield voted against the budget. All three opposing councillors said the budget didn’t cut expenses enough, although they offered no concrete alternatives other than to call for unspecified cuts to municipal staffing levels. A formal budget bylaw will come before council for approval at council’s regular meeting on Monday, April 27 beginning at 7 p.m.


Break-in at 7th line home

Police visited a house on the 7th Line after the owner reported someone had broken into the residence sometime during the morning of May 7. A brick had been used to smash a side window. Police found mud tracks throughout the house. No items appeared to have been stolen. Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity is asked to call South Simcoe Police at 431-6121, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Vehicle stolen, recovered Police found a vehicle reported stolen during the night of May 11 a few blocks away, stuck in the mud a few streets away. Extensive damage had been done. No suspects were found. Several vehicles were also ransacked overnight in an Alcona subdivision. South Simcoe Police reminds residents to keep their vehicles locked at all times.


SCI students pick up education awards

Aaron Bourbonnais, Chris Greer and Tori Iceton, Grade 12 students at Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI), received Excellence in Education awards last week. The awards were handed out during the Simcoe County District School Board’s Evening of Excellence on Tues., May 5 at the board office in Midhurst. Students that received an award were recognized for success in such areas as academics, extra-curricular activities and community involvement. Teachers nominated students that received awards, said SCI teacher John Limoges, who oversaw the local process. Bourbonnais, 20, who lives in Avening, said it was an honour to be recognized. He received the award for excellent grades and a positive in-class attitude. A member of SCI’s robotics team, he was also recognized for being a solid role model for younger team members and for his overall dedication to the team, which each year builds a robot from scratch and then enters it in a provincial competition. Bourbonnais said the award was somewhat of a pay-off after a rocky start in high school. He said his first year in high school his attendance was sketchy. He said school didn’t interest him and so he dropped out. Unable to find decent work, Bourbonnais said he attended the board’s Adult Learning Centre and began earning credits. He returned to SCI for Grade 12 and will graduate in June. “I never thought I’d get to Grade 12. I just thought high school was a bunch of hype,” he said. “I learned the hard way what you need.” Bourbonnais said he’s not sure what he wants to do after graduation. Greer, 17, who lives in Creemore, also said it was an honour to be recognized by the board. He was singled out for his involvement with many of SCI’s sports teams. Greer has played on soccer teams, basketball teams, badminton teams and hockey teams and according to the teachers that nominated him has shown solid leadership skills. “I like the release I get from sports – getting away from that pent up energy you get from sitting at a desk,” he said when pressed about what draws him to sports. Greer was also honoured for his academic success. He’s maintained a near 100 per cent average in school – he’s made the Honour Roll every year – excelling at such diverse subjects as accounting, chemistry, biology, English, history and physical education. Why such drive? “I recognize the importance of it [high school] determining my future,” he said. “If I do well, hopefully it pays off down the road. I’m trying to think ahead.” Greer said he’s not sure what he’ll do after high school. “I might take a year off. I enjoy traveling so I might do a bit of that.” He said when he does settle on post-secondary school he’d like to attend Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. He toured the campus recently and said he’s struck by its aesthetically pleasing layout and the small feel of the place. Iceton was recognized for her academic and community involvement achievements. She explained her hard work effort is because she wants to someday be a doctor. “Post-secondary is a big goal for me. I want to be a doctor and to get there I have to do well here,” she said. Iceton has made the Honour Roll at SCI each year and nabbed several subject awards for her success in such areas as French, English and math. Her community involvement for which she was recognized includes helping at Teddy Bears Picnic, a daycare in Creemore. Iceton said she volunteered there in Grade 9, 10 and for part of Grade 11. She also helped clean up sections of area roadways by volunteering through the Creemore Lions Club, when it was operational. She said she got involved through her mother, who was a member. That connection with the club also lead her to help with Santa Claus parades and Canada Day celebrations each year. Iceton is the current student council president at SCI and as a result has helped organize food drives at Thanksgiving and Christmas – with the donations being handed over to the Clearview-Stayner Food Bank.


Hospital warns of Mexican flu bug

Alliston’s Stevenson Memorial Hospital has issued an alert and is advising the community to be on the lookout for a virulent strain of an influenza-like illness that may have been carried into the country from Mexico. The hospital was notified by the Ministry of Health that cases of severe respiratory illness have been identified in various regions of south and central Mexico. The cases elevated from flu-like symptoms to severe respiratory conditions in about five days with some patients even needing assisted ventilation. Anyone who has returned from a trip to Mexico within the last two weeks and is experiencing signs and symptoms of an influenza-like illness is being advised to go to their local emergency room for treatment immediately. Signs and symptoms include a cough, sore throat, fever and chills, muscle and joint aches, and shortness of breath. It’s important to note that so far no cases have been identified at Stevenson Memorial Hospital. The hospital reminds the community once again that the spread of infections can be largely prevented by following a few simple practices including good hand hygiene by washing your hands well and often, the use of an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, sneezing coughing into your upper sleeve or elbow rather than your hands and staying at home when you are ill.


Township after federal cash

Clearview Township council decided last week it will apply for federal funding for four projects. Under the Build Canada Fund, the township is asking for money that will be used to pay for upgrades to the Stayner Arena. In particular, the money would be used to expand the arena to the south, allowing for additional dressing rooms. Another project that Clearview would like funding for is the emergency hub that will be built on the eastern edge of Stayner, on the south side of Highway 26. The facility is a joint project involving the township and the County of Simcoe. The Clearview Fire Department, the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services and the Huronia West OPP will use the building. Clearview is applying to the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund for money to build the facility. It will also apply to the fund for money to replace the Local Airport Road bridge, over Batteaux Creek, and for funding to build a section of the Stayner to Collingwood trail, which runs along the Barrie-Collingwood Railway Line. Mitch Carruthers, Clearview’s treasurer, says that since the council meeting the applications have been submitted. “Now we just have to wait and hope,” he said.