Phonin’ it in for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Telus in Alliston was in the giving mood recently, donating proceeds from its cuddly Critter Sales initiative to Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Simcoe. The store sold plush meerkats, two of which are seen here checking out some phones, to customers during the Christmas season. Proceeds from each sale went to BBBSSS. In total, $113.42 was raised. Seen here, from left, are Kyle Cubberly from Telus Alliston, and Kelly Cetnarski and Kally Malcher from BBBSSS.


Local public servants make sunshine list

Seventeen local public sector employees made the 2009 Sunshine list. The list is published annually by the Ministry of Finance and includes public sector employees who earn more than $100,000 in salary and taxable benefits. The 2009 list is for the 2008 year. In Collingwood, CAO Gordon Norris earned $129,210 in salary and $1,065 in taxable benefits. Former fire chief Sandy Cunningham earned $115,901 in salary and $890.85 in benefits. Peter Dunbar, director of leisure services made $115,562 in salary and $2,676 in benefits while Donald Green, manager of environmental services made $106,782 in salary and $416 in benefits. Treasurer Marjory Leonard ($104,784 and $958), director of library services Kerri Robinson ($104,848 and $461) and director of planning Gord Russell ($103, 936 and $955) made the list. In the Town of the Blue Mountains, CAO John Paul Graham ($128,788 and $9,876), director of engineering and public Reg Russwurm ($113,176 and $761) and director of building and bylaw David Finbow ($104,535 and $530) made the list. In Wasaga Beach, CAO George Vadeboncoeur earned $147,247 and $1,287 in benefits and Jim McIntosh, director of public works made $116,157 and $1,059 in benefits. Clearview Township CAO Sue McKenzie made the list with a salary of $105,275 and benefits of $772. Four employees at Collingwood General & Marine Hospital made the list, with CEO Linda Davis topping the list at $189,220 in salary and $558 in benefits. Linda Macleod, vice president of patient services, earned $120,510 and $381 in benefits. Also, registered nurses Deb Foubert ($106,563) and Denise Young ($106,449 and $199.59).


Plane forced to land at Billy Bishop Airport

A student pilot who experienced complete engine failure was forced to land his plane at the Billy Bishop Regional Airport just east of Owen Sound on Tuesday, March 31. It was a tough way to learn, but he sure did a good job. The incident occurred at 12:30 p.m. The airplane, a single engine Beechcraft Bonanza, was part of the fleet utilized by the Seneca College flight program based at the Buttonville Airport in Markham. (North of Toronto). It was piloted by a 21 year-old male student accompanied by a 21 year-old male passenger. They had left Wiarton Airport on route to Midland, ON. While flying over Owen Sound they experience total engine failure at 9,500 ft. The passenger issued a Mayday call, which was received by air traffic controllers in Toronto as they looked for a place to land. The pilot decided to glide the plane toward the Billy Bishop Regional Airport, situated on Highway 26 just east of Owen Sound, in the Municipality of Meaford.  After gliding for several kilometres and descending, the powerless plane was landed at the airport without incident. There were no injuries or damage to the aircraft. Grey County OPP officers were able to report the miraculous outcome back to the Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, who had asked for police to observe the aircraft.


Hospital reaches out to community for help

Collingwood General & Marine Hospital could be in real trouble and has gone to the community for help. At a media focus group last week, Collingwood G&M Hospital president and CEO Linda Davis said the hospital is expecting a $600,000 deficit next year. This was originally expected to be a $1.2 million shortfall but the hospital managed to cut some costs. Davis said the hospital has a $40 million budget, 85 per cent of which is funded by the province, with the balance being covered by parking revenue. Davis said the province is expected to increase the hospital funding by 2.1 per cent this year. "If we don’t get it, we will be in significant trouble," Davis said. She said the 2.1 per cent isn’t a big help to the hospital, as nurses signed a new contract last year that included a three per cent raise. She said the hospital has few outlets to raise money to offset its operating costs as the Collingwood G&M Hospital Foundation can only fund capital projects that aren’t funded by the province. In an effort to generate some ideas, the hospital has held a series of focus groups over the past several weeks, including local residents, politicians and business people. The sessions were not only designed to gather ideas from the community, but to also offer some insight into the hospital’s financial picture. Davis said one of the problems the hospital has is that its funding doesn’t equal the number of people it serves. She said being a tourist area, the emergency room sees hundreds of visitors a year. "Twenty per cent of individuals who come through our ER aren’t from our catchment area," she said. Davis said the after-hours clinic and family health team has helped improve the situation in the ER as the number of non-urgent patients dropped over the past year. Another challenge G&M struggles with is space. It currently has 72 beds and is often running over capacity. Recently it had 83 people at the hospital with many of them lying on stretchers in the hallway. "That is not a good way to care for patients," she said. Davis said the hospital currently has four portables and could be expanding to five in the near future. She said another challenge is the lack of long-term care beds in the community. She said there are a lot of people in the hospital who don’t need to be in the hospital but have no place else to go. She said because of the population growth and the aging population in the area, this is expected to get worse. "We’re also aging faster," she said. In the focus groups there were nine priorities discussed including developing a communication plan for the hospital, educating the public about the costs of running the hospital, further improvement of services, expanding the amount of revenue generated by the hospital, seek ways to access more government funding, seek funding from other sources, attempt to decrease patient volumes, evaluate current services and divert some, and don’t stop major services. Davis said the groups had a number of ideas including a mobile clinic that would be stationed at Blue Mountain in the winter and Wasaga Beach in the summer, in an effort to divert some people from the ER. Another idea was to move some non-essential services such doing away with some non-essential services such as diagnostic testing to create more space. "Would you be able to travel for some of those services?" she said.


Volunteers keep Good Food Simcoe rolling

The truck from Glen Huron Farms rolls up early in the morning to the front door of the Innisfil Lions Hall in Alcona. The monthly delivery is eagerly awaited by a dozen volunteers from Good Food Simcoe who will soon sort a variety of fresh produce onto tables inside the hall. Bob Billinger is one of those volunteers. The Crossroads resident is out this Thursday morning with his wife, Maureen. “We joined Good Food Simcoe last August,” Billinger says. “We like helping the community by making fresh fruit and vegetables available to them for better health.” The program was started by a small group of volunteers with guidance from the Barrie Community Health Centre. Since its inception, momentum has been gradually building to the point where the group now serves an average of 70 families a month who purchase either a small bag for $10, or a large bag for $15, on the third Thursday of each month. This month’s offerings include premium quality red peppers,zucchini. mushrooms, lettuce, potatoes, cabbage, apples, carrots, plums and onions. “We’re both retired and we wanted to help out and do our best to get the best quality produce, for the best price, to people,” Billinger says. “We buy in bulk and get produce at about 50 per cent off the retail cost. Members of our board of directors visit different supermarkets to price items.” Good Food Simcoe is a not-for-profit organization, he says. “Anything we make on the bags goes back into buying the product,” Billinger says. “It’s open to everyone. We’ve been approaching different organizations for donations to help us out. Our goal somewhere down the line is to buy some bags we can give to people who can’t afford it. We don’t want to know who gets it. We know the Lions Club distributes a couple of bags to people they know can use it.” On a typical packing day, between 11 to 15 volunteers show up and work with great precision to fill the bags. It takes less than an hour for them to complete the task. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., purchasers can come to pick up their bags. Every effort is made to source products either locally, from Ontario, or Canadian growers. “We want to support our farmers,” Billinger says. “We always have a little joke whenever we get oranges.” Sharon Wozniak of the Barrie Community Health Centre is impressed with the Innisfil contingent. “We have a wonderful group here, plus our board of directors,” she says. “It’s a real credit to the community. It truly is a local effort.” For volunteer co-ordinator Cathy Richardson, “It’s a great job. I love it. Some of our volunteers come every month to pack.” Orders for food can be made, cash only, through Adam & Eve Tanning at 1070 Innisfil Beach Rd., Innisfil Denture Clinic, 980 Innisfil Beach Rd., or Second Time Around, 7328 Yonge St., just south of Innisfil Beach Road. On June 25 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the group is hosting a showcase for local growers and health-related organziations at the Innisfil Lions Hall. There will be a guest speaker, bake sale and volunteer recognition as well. For more information, call Richardson at 436-3178.


Kelsey’s poised to reopen

After closing its doors in October, Kelsey’s Restaurant in Midland is hoping to once again become a popular neighbourhood bar and grill. The restaurant, located at 917 King St., closed Oct. 10 after the owners “left the building,” according to general manager Ken Webster. He told The Midland Mirror at the time that the restaurant had been placed in a holding pattern while Cara Corporation Ltd. attempted to assume responsibility. It may have taken four months, but the family restaurant is now a bustle of activity as new owner Stephen Moro and staff hurry to breathe new life into the establishment.  The restaurant held a job fair that saw more than 200 people trying to score one of the more than 80 job openings. In the meantime, crews have been hard at work giving the restaurant a bit of a facelift. “We’re modernizing it … making it look a bit more contemporary,” said Moro. “Each Kelsey’s is entrenched in the neighbourhood … so we’re changing the décor to showcase the history of Midland and Penetanguishene.” Although he has worked in the restaurant business for more than a decade, this is Moro’s first foray into ownership. Despite the location’s recent past and his own apprehension about diving into a new venture, Moro opted to take the risk. “I understand there was a history here, but our focus is on the future,” he said. “As long as we keep delivering on the promise of great food, great service, great atmosphere, I think we will do well.” Moro has worked for the company for more than 15 years. “The restaurant business is challenging, but I … knew the market (in Midland) for a long time and I knew the potential, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at it.” Kelsey’s will be staying true to the brand, but will also feature a new look, a new team and a new menu, he noted. “We call it familiar classics that are done really well,” Moro said, adding they’re working toward fresh, good-quality ingredients. 


BAT launches this weekend at home show

New Tecumseth is looking for people to step up to BAT for its buy local campaign. Buy Around Town in Beeton, Alliston, Tottenham is being launched this weekend at the New Tecumseth Home, Health and Leisure Show at the New Tecumseth Recreation Complex. It’s a town-organized initiative to promote shopping locally. A wallet-sized BAT passport will be given away at the home show and is also available in today’s Herald. People will get a sticker for their passport for every $10 spent at participating businesses in the three communities. Once a passport has 10 stickers it is put in a ballot box and the person is eligible to win one of three cash prizes, which will be drawn at the end of the 10-week campaign, July 4. The three prizes are for $2,000, $1,000 and $500 in BAT bucks that can be used at any of the participating businesses. When getting a passport, New Tecumseth business improvement association co-ordinator Sarah Toth said people will also get a pin. "People will be out looking for shoppers wearing a BAT pin," she said. When people are caught with the pin on, the pin-wearer gets $25 BAT bucks and will get their photo taken for the newspaper. Toth said participating stores will have a BAT poster in the window so people know they are a part of the campaign. An updated list of businesses will also be available online at www.allistonbia.com New Tecumseth’s economic development division is facilitating the initiative with the Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce, the Tottenham and District Chamber of Commerce, the Alliston Business Improvement Association, and the Beeton-Tottenham Business Improvement Association. For more information, contact Toth at 705-435-6219 ext. 256.