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Library revamp more expensive than expected

Riverdale Park Watermain Replacement Tectonic Infrastructure Inc. has won a bid for replacing the Riverdale Park and Fletcher Crescent watermain. The total cost for the project is over $263,000 and will be paid for with money from the gas tax reserve fund. If council approves Tectonic Infrastructure to do the work, construction would start as early as May 25, according to a town report. Most of the work should be done by June 25. Royal Bank Coming to Alliston New Tecumseth council is set to approve a new Royal Bank in Alliston. The Royal Bank and commercial development will be at the northwest corner of King Street and Reserve Lane in Alliston opposite the Dairy Queen. It is made up of two separate properties that have been merged to form one parcel of land. It would include a drive-through bank machine. Alliston Library Revamp On Hold Plans to revitalize the exterior of the Alliston Memorial branch of the New Tecumseth Public Library are on hold. After two rounds of tenders, the bids have all been well over the $50,000 the Alliston Business Improvement Association (ABIA) approved for the project. Coun. Dennis Egan said he’s disappointed the project isn’t moving forward and would still like to see work be done on the library’s sign and the plants in the courtyard. "The exterior of the building and the courtyard is in need of some tender loving care," said Egan. The ABIA has a meeting scheduled for May 7 and will be discussing other options for the project. After the meeting the ABIA will let the town know if it’s moving forward with the re-development of the courtyard in any capacity, according to a town report. Centre Street Closures In order to complete the reconstruction of Centre Street in Alliston, there will be temporary closures for three months. Centre Street will be closed from Albert Street to Wellington Street between 1 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday starting May 19. The closures will continue until July 31. John Bravakis Enterprises Ltd. has been hired for the project. Work includes installing a storm sewer, sanitary sewer and watermain installation. The road surface will also be re-done, complete with a curb, gutter and sidewalks from Albert to Wellington streets.


Drunk driver crashes on school grounds

A man has been charged with drunk driving for the second time in two weeks, the latest time after crashing into a sign at the front of Tecumseth Beeton Elementary School Friday. The crash happened at about 3:30 p.m., just as students would normally be getting out of school. Friday was a professional development day though, meaning students were not at school. A witness saw the accused drive into the school parking lot, jump a curb and then hit the sign. He damaged his vehicle and attempted and tried to back out of the sign, but his wheels were left spinning on the grass. One witness said he asked the driver if he was injured, but the man seemed disoriented and confused. The driver then ran on foot towards Main Street. The accused was followed by a witness until police arrested him minutes later. The 46-year-old man, formerly of Palgrave, was charged with impaired driving and diving with over 80 milligrams of alcohol in his blood.


New Probus club receives charter

One of Alliston’s newest social networking clubs received its official charter last week. The Probus Club of South Simcoe celebrated the event at the Gibson Centre last Friday morning. The club, which offers retired and semi-retired people social networking opportunities, meets the first Friday of every month. President Brian Carmichael said membership has been steadily growing since the beginning of April. He said the club lets people of similar interests get together and socialize. "It’s an opportunity for social networking and to do something. It’s the special interest groups that set up that make Probus quite interesting," he said. Along with the regular meetings, members often set up side groups for golfing, playing cards, or other social activities. Probus also plans occasional trips, such as day trips to art galleries or wineries. The group is linked to the Rotary Club, but is not a service club and doesn’t do fundraising, Carmichael said. Many of the Probus members are also members of other service clubs or groups though. The Probus Club of South Simcoe is separate from the already existing Probus Club of Alliston. Carmichael said that it is not uncommon for communities to have more than one club, and that after a club reaches about 100 members, it is normally time to start a new one. To join the club, call Brian Carmichael at 705-435-3467.


Tim Hudak in Barrie today

Niagara West MPP Tim Hudak, will be in Barrie today to talk with local Progressive Conservative supporters. Hudak is running for the leadership of the Ontario party and is here to discuss issues affecting the area and all Ontario families. He’ll be at Barrie City Hall this evening.


Express go wild at OHL draft

With teammate Daniel Catenacci proclaimed the first pick a day earlier, it was Ryan Murphy left to face the first one-on-one showdown of the Ontario Hockey League draft Saturday. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds selected Mr. Catenacci, the highly touted York Simcoe Express minor midget centre and team captain as the No. 1 overall pick Friday. The Kingston Frontenacs made no secret of their desire to choose Alan Quine of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens with the second pick. That set up the Kitchener Rangers to decide between Mr. Murphy, an Aurora resident, and Justin Sefton of the Notre Dame Hounds for third overall choice and the first defenceman to be chosen. Mr. Murphy, an offensive-style defenceman frequently likened to the Windsor Spitfires’ Ryan Ellis, got the nod. “I knew a couple of weeks in advance they were interested, but it was only a couple of days before that they told me to not talk to other teams, that it looked like they were going to pick me,” Mr. Murphy said Sunday night. “It feels awesome to be part of the OHL and to have the chance to move on. I can’t wait ‘til next season.” Mr. Catenacci, Mr. Murphy and  Barclay Goodrow represented a first-round hat trick for the Express program, leading a wave of 11 team members taken in the 15-round process. That total surpassed the nine players chosen from the York Simcoe program in the 2004 draft. There is no shortage of demand for offensive-minded defencemen, although Mr. Murphy noted the Rangers mentioned a modification to his game would be in order. “They said I have to play more defence, but not to change my game too much,” said the Grade 10 student at Villanova College in King City. “I guess I’m similar to Ryan Ellis, but I think we have some differences. He has more grit in his game; I’m more speed and finesse.” No matter how highly young players are regarded, there always exists a grain of doubt when scouts start poking around. Mr. Murphy, who along with his Express teammates has been on the OHL radar for more than a year, is no exception. “There were times I thought I’d be crossed off the list,” he said. While a foregone conclusion as the first pick, Mr. Catenacci said it was still a significant moment. “Just to make it official is really special,” said Mr. Catenacci, who was on hand in Toronto for the process after spending a large part of Friday in Sault Ste. Marie. The Newmarket resident has already been tabbed Boy Wonder in the Soo media. He’s a little leery about the designation. “They can say what they want,” said Mr. Catenacci, the first Express player ever taken first overall in the 20-team process. “I know they’re expecting a lot, but I’m only 16 and part of the rebuilding process. I’ll try my hardest to do my best.” Mr. Goodrow, also an Aurora resident, was selected 17th overall by the Brampton Battalion. “I’m very happy with myself and how my teammates did in the draft, too,” said the six-foot-two, 210-pound Mr. Goodrow, who attends Country Day School. “I was talking to Brampton before the draft, but you never know where you’re going to go or who’s going to take you. “It’s nice to just know where you’re going and where you’ll be living.” In the second round, forward Steven Janes was picked 36th overall by the Ottawa 67’s. Defenceman Jack Kuzmyk of Bradford went to the Owen Sound Attack in the third round at the 49th slot. Brandon Francisco, touted by many as a first-rounder, may be a steal for the Sarnia Sting with the 55th pick, as teams passed on the Bradford resident, who has been linked to the University of Maine for a scholarship in two years. “I knew I wouldn’t go high because of the commitment, but Sarnia is one of the places I liked,” said Mr. Francisco, a five-foot-10, 160-pound forward. “There were some places I didn’t want to go.” Mr. Francisco, who visited Sarnia Sunday, said it may be a month before he chooses between the Sting and the Black Bears in Maine at least two years down the road. “Sarnia said (it) had me higher in the draft,” Mr. Francisco said. “They want me to step right in, so I’m excited about next year.” Also selected from the Express roster were forwards Calvin Higley (Plymouth Whalers) and Jeffrey DiNallo (Guelph Storm), both in the sixth round, and Andrew Shutt (Sault Ste. Marie) in the 11th round. Netminders Matthew Wintjes (Kingston Frontenacs, 13th) and Hayden Neuman (St. Michael’s, 15th) rounded out the list of Express players chosen.


Penetang teen acclaimed for ‘giving heart’

It was a shopping trip Jonathan Hesler will never forget. Strolling the aisles at a Hamilton grocery store, the 18-year-old Penetanguishene resident took a call on his cellphone informing him he had been selected as one of eight 2009 recipients of an Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers. “I was shocked,” he recalled. “It’s not every day that someone from the government calls and says you’re receiving an award.” True, but it’s not every 18-year-old whose accomplishments merit such recognition. The St. Theresa’s High School Grade 12 student richly deserves the accolades, says Angela Monaghan, who nominated Hesler for the award. “His outgoing and accepting personality elicits joy, and his optimistic energy gives hope of a wonderful world to anyone who may be struggling,” she wrote in her nomination letter. Monaghan and Hesler are co-facilitators of the BEAT Bullying (Bullying Education and Awareness Team) program. It offers assistance to teens struggling with bullying issues. Hesler heads up the communications component of the program, spending hours conducting online support at www.endbullyingnow.com, a website he created. He also spends time every week talking to struggling teens face to face. Hesler’s other volunteer activities have also included work for the Relay for Life, Lupus Ontario, Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, Meals on Wheels and the Jack Rabbits ski program. Monaghan described Hesler as “a young man with a giving heart” whose “endless energy makes him a positive role model to not only his peers, but adults, as well.” “His embracing smile and genuine spirit enhances our community,” she said. “Such an inspirational, enlightened and genuine individual is, unfortunately, rare.” Hesler, who hadn’t read Monaghan’s letter, said he volunteers for the simplest of reasons. “I just get involved because I know someone’s benefiting from my work,” he explained, adding he gets satisfaction from “knowing I make a difference and … someone who might be experiencing bullying can come and ask me questions and I can help them.” Hesler travelled to Queen’s Park on Monday to receive his award. His father, mother, stepmother, sister, grandmother and Monaghan were all scheduled to accompany him. The medal for young volunteers is presented by the lieutenant-governor in recognition of the time and effort made by Ontarians between the ages of 15 and 24 to improve the quality of life in their communities. Including Hesler, eight young people are on the list of 2009 recipients. “I am pleased to invest eight of Ontario’ finest young volunteers with this tremendous honour for their leadership and dedication,” Lt.-Gov. David Onley stated in a press release. “They are inspirations for all Ontarians.” [email protected]


Community rallies to save high school

The turnout may have been lower than expected, but the enthusiasm to continue the fight to keep Penetanguishene Secondary School open was as big as ever at a rally last week. More than 60 people came out to the Brian Orser Hall on May 7 for a "Save PSS" rally lead by Mayor Anita Dubeau and PSS English teacher Chris Burns. The rally was to discuss what the community can do to stop the Simcoe County District School Board from adopting a resolution put forth April 22 by trustees Debra Edwards and Jodi Lloyd that would see the high school close. Burns said although attendance wasn’t as high as we would have liked, the meeting served to galvanize the community. "We didn’t have a great number of people here, but we had activists in the community who will take the message out to other members of the community, and that’s exactly what we wanted," he said. Michelle Locke, co-chair of the parent committee for PSS and committee chair for the parent involvement committee for the entire school board, said the meeting was successful in bringing residents together for one cause. "Very rarely do you see such an age group…. We have little kids and grandparents together, all to show how important (PSS) is to their community," she said. One of the ideas tossed around at the rally was to fill as many buses as possible and drive to Midhurst for Thursday’s board meeting. "We’re hoping that as many students at our school and as many community members as possible will … get on board those buses," Burns said. "A high school is one of those things that defines a community." Burns said it’s not only important for graduates of the school to show up, but also for community members – "even those who don’t have anything to do with PSS" – to talk about the potential negative impact of closing the school. "As the tax role decreases because of the lack of a high school … it affects everyone," he said. "This has huge ramifications, not only for present students, but also for the community at large." Grade 11 student Jade Huguenin said the meeting gave the community a chance to distinguish between fact and fiction in relation to what is going to happen to PSS. In addition to providing a great learning environment, PSS offers a variety of invaluable extracurricular activities, she said. "I am involved in everything I can possibly fit in my schedule at school, (and) I am so involved because I like the atmosphere at PSS," said the student council vice-president. "I like the fact that I can become friends with people in all the grades…. When I get to a bigger school, all the opportunities, all the relationships that you can build in a smaller school, diminishes." Locke said despite the outcry from the community, she is not confident heading into Thursday’s meeting. "There are too many unpredictable things that happen," she said, noting a number of trustees have yet to set foot in any of the accommodation review committee meetings or any of the schools facing closure. "I have a hard time understanding how they can make an educated decision without actually being a part of the process." Locke said she offered to pay for a bus to the meeting to show her support and pride for the community. "I am just so proud of this town because they really are pulling together," she said. "Just in the last five years, I’ve noticed a huge push for community involvement…. I just want to keep that going." Buses are scheduled to leave the back parking lot at PSS at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. For more information, contact Debbie Connolly at 549-6621 or .


Plenty of interest in new zoning bylaw

There was heavy interest from the public at a pair of public open houses held to provide information about the Municipality of Meaford’s new zoning bylaw. Members of Meaford’s planning staff and council were thrilled to see a large crowd attend the information sessions. The open house was held at Meaford Hall in the main gallery, which was often packed with people examining the planning maps and asking planners on hand questions about the new zoning bylaw. The new zoning bylaw will implement the municipality’s new Official Plan. The bylaw ensures that zoning regulations are consistent across the municipality. The bylaw is the key document that regulates development across the entire municipality. Meaford Planner Liz Buckton was extremely busy at the open houses last Thursday afternoon and evening. Buckton fielded hundreds of questions and comments from citizens that attended the meeting. "I’m glad to see that people are interested in the zoning bylaw," Buckton said during a rare quiet moment at the afternoon open house. "I’m thrilled with the turnout. I’m glad property owners are participating in the planning process," she said. Buckton said the vast majority of the questions and comments she received concerned specific issues with particular properties. The overall policies and directives set out in the Official Plan and the new zoning bylaw appear to have gained acceptance across the community. "There will be some specific issues we’ll continue to address," commented Buckton. With the public open houses now completed, planners will take the comments and questions from the public and prepare a final draft of the zoning bylaw. "We hope by that point we will have vetted all the issues," explained Buckton. The final draft will be presented at a formal public meeting held by Meaford council. Following that meeting the zoning bylaw will come before council for approval – at a subsequent meeting. The new zoning bylaw does not require approval from Grey Count or the provincial government to be enacted. After the bylaw is passed by council a 20-day appeal period begins. After that period ends and if no appeals of the document are filed it becomes official. Mayor Francis Richardson attended the open houses and was happy to see so much interest in the new zoning bylaw. "The zoning bylaw is the working part of the Official Plan. The Official Plan tells us what can be done, the zoning bylaw tells us how it can be done. We have certainly spent a lot of time developing this bylaw," said Mayor Richardson. "We certainly hope it passes this summer," he added. Councillor Lynda Stephens also attended the open houses and said she is looking forward to this planning process being completed by the municipality. "It will be really good to have this all finished with the comments from our residents included. Then we will have a plan in place and we can move forward," said Stephens.