Help bring Victoria home. Victoria, known as Tori to friends and family, vanished a week ago after leaving Oliver Stephens Public School in Woodstock where she is a Grade 3 student. She was seen on surveillance video walking with an unidentified woman. Woodstock, a community of about 36,000 people 145 kilometres southwest of Toronto, has since been on edge. If you have any information about Victoria’s whereabouts call Oxford Community Police at 519-421-2800 or e-mail MailUs@oxfordCommunityPolice.on.ca.
The Thornbury Independent Order of Oddfellows received their Charter in October of 1884 and in 1936 they purchased the lodge building on Main Street in Thornbury. The upper level of the building became the lodge hall and half of the main floor has been home to the Thornbury Bakery for many years and the other half in later years Studio 16. Over the years the loge has supported various local charities along with fire and accident victims. For many years the lodge put on a New Year’s Eve dance at the Thornbury High School, which is now the elementary school. At a provincial level, the I.O.O.F. lodges support summer camps for kids with Cancer, one being Camp Trillium. The lodges also support an eye research program through the University of Toronto as well as Leukemia research. In the past few years, membership in the Thornbury lodge started to decline and as existing members started to age, a decision was made in 2008 to close the Thornbury lodge and amalgamate with Spirit Rock lodge in Wiarton. At this time the lodge building was sold. The remaining members of the lodge now had the responsibility to disperse of the lodge assets and the main objective was to keep the money within the community. Donations at this time have been made to the installation of a new audio system in the arena, the Beaver Valley Outreach, the Beaver Valley Athletic Association, the Beaver Valley Pre-school, the Thornbury theatre group, the Marsh St. Centre, the Golden Beavers and the Community Family Health Centres.
The new Angus high school could be a place of learning for more than just students. The Simcoe County District School Board and Essa Township are having ongoing discussions to build a new branch of the town’s public library in the school. Nothing has been finalized yet, but if the project does move forward it would be accessible to students and members of the public, said Lou Brandes, associate director and superintendent of facility services for the school board. "We’re really pleased to have the collaboration," Brandes said. "It would be full-time use by both populations. We’ve seen examples of how it works in other communities." Essa trustee Rob North said the Essa school will be a new format for the SCDSB, but the idea of integrating community services into schools is becoming increasingly popular in other areas. He said sharing of the library would allow the township and the school board to supply the better resources for students and the community at a lower price, by avoiding duplication of resources and overhead costs. "It’s a change for Simcoe County somewhat, but there are other municipalities out there that have done this very successfully. You do what you can with the money you have allotted, and you try to maximize it for the taxpayer," said North. The resource sharing will allow both sides to save money, something that has been holding up construction of new Angus library branch for a few years. For the past two years, the new library has been left out of township’s budget, and it has been turned down for federal grant money. It was recently turned down in a grant application that would have allowed the township to build a stand-alone building with a price tag of over $3 million. With the lack of funding for a stand-alone building, the option of putting the library in the school is a good one, said Essa Mayor David Guergis. "We think it is a tremendous opportunity. For governments at different levels to work together, it’s a tremendous way to save money." School planners aren’t stopping with just the library though. They’re also looking at incorporating a Nottawasaga OPP satellite office in the school. There is already an extended services office in Angus, but school board, OPP, and township officials are discussing possible options, which could include moving that office. Many Ontario high schools, including Banting Memorial High School in Alliston, have liaison police officers that work closely with students and school staff. North said this is an opportunity to expand that relationship. "I think it’s a great idea. We already have community officers in our schools, so having a small touchdown station for them makes perfect sense," said North. School board officials are still finalizing plans for the building, including choosing a site. Brandes said a public meeting is planned for later this spring. The school is scheduled to open by 2012. E-mail reporter Kurtis Elsner at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meaford Tim Hortons is getting a facelift. If local residents hadn’t already noticed, there is major work going on at the Meaford Tim Hortons. The store was closed a couple weeks ago with customers (both walk-in and drive-thru) being served by a small trailer that has been located next to the store. The inside of the store is under going a complete re-make and overhaul. When the project is finished in April the Meaford location will be fully updated and will look similar to the store in Thornbury. "They’ve pretty much gutted the whole store and they’re on the anticipated schedule of 4-6 weeks. I think it’s going to be more like four weeks," storeowner Cheryl Fewster said in an interview last week. Fewster explained that Tim Horton’s storeowners are contractually obligated to renovate their stores every ten years. It’s been 13 years since the Meaford location had an update. "Our store is in such good shape that we’ve been able to wait 13 years," she explained. "The store will have a nicer, fresher look. The tables won’t be fixed anymore. In Meaford we have a lot of sit down customers. Now our people will be able to push their tables together. So far it’s really going smoothly," she said. Fewster said contractors working on the project expected to have the tiling at the store finished this weekend. The new equipment for the store will arrive next week. She said she the renovated store is going to be a great change for both customers and her staff. "It’s going to be more staff friendly. They’re all excited about that. I have a lot of long-term staff and I think when the store is all fresh and new it really gives them a lift," she said, adding that everybody is looking forward to getting out of the trailer that is on site now. "The trailer has been a challenge for everybody. My staff have held up wonderfully. I want to thank all of our customers for sticking with us. In the trailer we can’t carry all the products customers are used to. I think it will be all worth it at the end," she said.
The public school board has developed a new policy that could make homework during the March Break and Christmas holidays a thing of the past. The policy was presented to the Simcoe County District School Board’s programming committee April 1 and could be approved later this month. It contains provisions that would limit "next-day" homework and prevent teachers from assigning work the day before a holiday and making it due the day after. The policy also makes it necessary that homework marking provide constructive feedback, and not just a stand-alone mark. However, some trustees noted the issue of group work was conspicuously absent from the policy. "I don’t plan to support this unless group work is addressed," said Trustee Nancy Halbert. "As a parent of three children, group work has become a nemesis for me." Many trustees say they frequently receive calls regarding homework, and the board has been examining recent studies that have found too much homework can have a negative impact on a student’s family life. Along with taking time away from other activities, homework, especially group work, can put considerable strain on parents, studies have said. The policy was developed so the board would have universal guidelines for teachers to follow that would also limit the impact of homework on family time. Halbert, who represents New Tecumseth and Bradford West Gwillimbury, said many of her constituents are shift workers and can’t always help their children with homework or facilitate the travel required for after-school group work. Superintendent of instructional services Lindy Zaretsky said the board is awaiting the outcome of further studies before it includes group work in the policy. She said she would like to see the current policy move forward with the intent that it be updated as more information becomes available. Student trustee Hart Murdoch said while he likes some of what is in the policy, he questions whether it will have any actual impact in schools. He is currently a student at Bradford District High School and he said his experience is that some teachers will assign the homework they want, regardless of the policy. "Some of our more experienced teachers I could see being a little bit defensive of this," he said. "I worry that this makes a lot of sense on paper, and that students like this on paper, but will teachers listen to it?" The committee forwarded the policy to the board meeting at the end of April for approval. If approved, it could come into effect by the 2009/2010 school year.
BARRIE – Barrie Red Cross home-care workers – including some working in the Midland-Penetanguishene area – hit the picket line April 2 for a local one-day strike. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have been holding rotating strikes across the province since March 24, demanding their travel expenses be paid. “We have been trying to get this through negotiations, and lobbying the provincial government on the issue,” said Cathy Carroll, secretary-treasurer for SEIU Local 1. “Essentially, they have to travel between their clients and they aren’t paid for it.” While the home-care workers are paid mileage, they are not paid for the time spent on the road. Carroll said they should be compensated. “There is not a person in this province that I can think of that, if their job requires them to travel, that they don’t get compensated for that time,” she said. “Even pizza delivery guys get compensated. It’s just not fair.” Last summer, workers voted 88 per cent in support of a strike. Red Cross personal support workers have been in a legal strike position since March 23. The home-care workers ensured essential clients continued to receive the care they need during the strike. email@example.com
Patricia Manning and her mother Rosealie Inglis are stocking their fridge with Vials of Life. They feel a little more secure knowing their medical history and a list of current medications is tucked safely in the door of their refrigerator, and paramedics know exactly where to look for it. The Vial of Life is a program delivered in partnership with the Simcoe County Paramedic Association and Medichair, a Barrie-based company that sells home medical equipment and mobility products. The Vial of Life is to be kept in the top right hand shelf of the refrigerator. A kit is available free and includes a sheet of paper where people can record all their medical information and a pill bottle to keep it in. A magnet notifying paramedics that the Vial of Life is inside is displayed on the refrigerator door. The sheet of paper tells paramedics everything they need to know about a patient’s existing medical conditions, current medications and drug allergies if the patient is unable to communicate. Paramedic and association board member Janel Perron said when attending a call, the first thing paramedics do is check the patient, then one paramedic will go and look for medications and the Vial of Life if there is one in the home. Perron said there is probably tens of thousands of the packages in use in Simcoe County considering anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 are given out each year and the program has already been running for several years. Perron said just last week, he and his partner responded to a call and benefited from the information contained in the Vial of Life. "The person wasn’t able to communicate all of the information that we needed, she was unable to speak more than two words at a time and we located the vial and all of her detailed history was right there which was very helpful to us," said Perron. He said, as an example, when responding to a patient experiencing cardiac chest pain, paramedics are only able to administer nitroglycerin if the patient has received it before, unless one of the paramedics on scene has IV – intervenes – training. Perron said the protocol is in place because it is such a strong medication it may have an adverse affect on the patient unless there is a history of the use of that drug. Manning and Inglis live together in Wasaga Beach. They recently learned of the Vial of Life program during a visit to Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Due to various illnesses, paramedics were recently called to their home three times in two weeks to treat Inglis, who is 99 years old. When the third call to paramedics was made, Inglis’ Vial of Life was filled out and in the fridge. Manning was there and could communicate with the paramedics on behalf of her mother but she said having the information at her fingertips really helped. "When you are upset and excited it’s hard to remember," said Manning. She said the Vial of Life was used to help check her mother into the hospital and when Manning arrived all she had to do was sign the admission papers. "But not only is it a time saver, it can be a lifesaver," said Manning. The program is open to anyone but is particularly useful for people who have a serious drug or food allergy, any medical conditions or are taking prescribed medication. Perron said the Vial of Life program is under review and Simcoe County Paramedics may need to ask people for a small donation to cover the cost of the program. He said clinics are being planned for May but details have not been finalized. "I think every household should have one," said Manning. "It’s a must," said Inglis.
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.