Amid turmoil in the auto industry, Honda of Canada Mfg. celebrated a milestone this week as it produced its five millionth vehicle assembled at the Alliston manufacturing plant. The five millionth vehicle was a 2009 Honda Civic sedan. It was presented to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty Tuesday at Queen’s Park. "This is a significant accomplishment for Honda in Canada," said Manabu Nishimae, president and CEO of Honda Canada Inc. "In 1986, we built the first of three factories in Alliston, based on our company’s philosophy to build our products close to our customers. Honda continues to invest its profits back into Canada as we strive to be a company that Canadians will want to exist. We are also committed to the manufacturing of green, safe, fun vehicles. Our donation to the province and to Safe Kids Canada is a reflection of this pledge to our Canadian consumers and to consumer safety." McGuinty said that Honda has been a major contributor to the economy in Ontario and Canada for 40 years. "We are honoured by Honda’s gift of its five millionth vehicle to the province of Ontario, and to one of our local charities, from a company that has become part of the Canadian manufacturing landscape," said McGuinty. After McGuinty received the keys to the five millionth car, he in turn donated the vehicle to Safe Kids Canada executive director Pamela Fuselli. "It is donations like this from our partners and supporters that enable Safe Kids Canada to provide Canadians with practical and reliable solutions to prevent injuries so that our children can be active, healthy and safe," said Fuselli. Up to 390,000 vehicles are built each year at the two pants in Alliston, including the Honda Civic, and the Acura CSX and MDX. A third plant began producing fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines last September. It was recently announced that the Alliston plants will also be producing the new Acura ZDX, a luxury four-door sports coupe.
Police have charged three people with crimes involving cocaine and weapons. At about 11 p.m. on May 8, members of the OPP Central North Drug Unit were doing surveillance at a Smallman Drive residence in Wasaga Beach when they observed a "person of interest" leave the residence, said OPP spokesperson Mark Kinney. The man was stopped on Vigo Road while traveling in his vehicle. An investigation revealed that he was in possession of cocaine. He was arrested and charged. OPP executed a search warrant at the Smallman Drive residence 30 minutes later and discovered a quantity of cocaine and marijuana, four percocet pills, drug paraphernalia, $2,200 cash, three sawed off shotguns, one standard pump action shot gun along with ammunition and a cross bow. Two individuals were located in the residence. Police have charged Krysta Mendonca, 21, and Bruno Sodoma, 24, both from Brampton, and Brian Kennedy, 40, of Wasaga Beach with possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. Mendonca and Sodoma are scheduled to appear in court in Barrie on May 11. Kennedy is also charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm. He is scheduled to appear in court in Collingwood on June 9.
A spectacular fire that lit up the night sky over Midland Bay completely destroyed a Home Building Centre storage building on Tuesday. Owner Kevin Mateff said between $75,000 and $100,000 worth of construction materials was lost, including plywood, chipboard, some roofing products, concrete mixes and more. The total damage was estimated at $400,000. Mateff was working late at his Fourth Street store around 8:15 p.m. when he received a phone call notifying him of the fire. He dashed over immediately, but there was nothing to do but watch the flames tear through the roof and destroy the building. “It was pretty chaotic,” he said, noting a lot of people had gathered to watch the dramatic scene unfold. “There were flames from the roof of the whole building. It was basically fully engulfed.” The Midland Fire Department responded around 8 p.m. with five trucks and about 25 firefighters. When they arrived, smoke could be seen pouring from the building. After briefly attempting an aggressive interior attack, crews pulled back due to heavy fire conditions and fears the structure would collapse. Due to the significant damage, fire Chief Kevin Foster said investigators have been unable to determine the cause of the blaze. “I don’t think we’ll ever know,” Mateff said. “Talking to the fire department (Wednesday) morning, I really don’t think there’s much hope for finding out. The building, there’s so much destruction there.” The last person to leave the building was an employee at around 3 p.m., he said. As far as the impact on business, Mateff said the building was leased and the contents fully insured. In the meantime, the store remains open. “It has an impact on our inventory,” he said, “but from a customer point of view, it’s going to be fairly seamless.” He’s already had offers from other businesses – some of them competitors – offering warehouse space or even materials. “We certainly have a pretty good support system in place from different stores,” he said. “I’d like to thank people for their generous support.” No injuries were reported in the blaze. Firefighters remained on the scene until about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. “It was an incredibly long and challenging fire for the firefighters,” Foster stated in a press release. “They deserve great praise for their hard work and tenacity throughout what was a very stubborn fire.” [email protected]
Free Spirit Tours in Heathcote are once again organizing their annual Clean and Climb and Beaver River Clean Up events. Clean and Climb, scheduled for May 24, at 10 a.m. at Metcalfe rock started nine years ago, and has volunteers cleaning and maintaining trails around Metcalfe Rock. Local landsapers, Blue Mountain 4 Seasons, donate a truck load of wood chips and volunteers disperse these along the trails and high traffic areas. To reward the volunteers, Free Spririt Tours provides free rock climbing and caving after the clean up. The Beaver River Clean up is a yearly spring event, falling on Sunday, May 31 this year, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Free Spirit Tour’s base in Heathcote. The team travels to the Beaver River to disperse log jams with chainsaws and trimmers. Both events feature prizes donated by local stores. For more information, visit www.freespirit-tours.com or call 705-444-3622.
Money laundering and fraud are among the charges facing five people arrested amid allegations of organized crime. “There will be a raft of victims,” predicted Rama Police Service Chief Dave Whitlow. Five males are in custody and are facing numerous charges, including money laundering, fraud, possession of credit card data, and uttering forged documents. The arrests follow a joint investigation involving the Rama Police Service, the OPP’s casino enforcement unit, the Orillia OPP Crime Unit, the Asian Organized Crime unit, and the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau. While details of what prompted the investigation remain hazy, Whitlow said police arrested “some people related to fraud and credit card stuff. “Something happened in relation to the casino in the morning and our folks got involved,” added Whitlow. “We made arrests related to credit card fraud. Then there was another group that were related that we got as well.” The initial arrests came on the morning of May 6, and led to additional arrests later that day, he said. Whitlow said the second group of suspects was arrested in the Orillia area, adding that others could be involved. “The investigation swelled from there and becomes a group that was involved with (the first arrests),” Whitlow said. “That becomes organized crime.” Whitlow said the arrested suspects were using falsified credit cards bearing the personal information of others. How that information was used remains unknown, and will be determined through an investigation that is likely to prove lengthy, he said. “Since everything they have is fraudulent, you don’t know who they are,” he said. “By the time we arrest these folks, it is hard to identify what may be true and what may not be. “It very well could relate to the casino, but I’m not sure of that,” he added. “It was a fairly large-scale thing that (investigators) are still into.” A casino official who spoke with Orillia Today was unaware of the investigation. The area gaming facility has been the target of criminal activity in the past, and fell victim to an international card-cheating scam that bilked casinos out of millions of dollars. Among those netted in that investigation were employees of the local casino.
Still safe to travel In light of the H1N1 outbreak, Alliston’s Bradfield Travel and Cruises owner said people shouldn’t stop travelling. Rod Bradfield said people with trips planned to Mexico in the coming weeks should go somewhere without swine flu. Bradfield Travel and other companies are allowing people to change their destinations, with the only additional fee coming if the alternate destination costs more than the initial trip. He said Cuba or the Dominican Republic are good substitutes. Bradfield is proud of the way the travel industry is responding to the outbreak. "The whole travel industry is trying to assist people so they can get home quickly or, if they haven’t gone yet, so they can pick a place without swine flu," said Bradfield. He said travel wholesalers, who the travel agency deals with, and airlines are doing a lot to make sure people have a choice in the situation. "The industry is doing all they can to make sure it’s easy for people. West Jet put on extra flights for people down there and who were fearful and some cruise lines have stopped visiting some of the Mexican ports," said Bradfield. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20 countries have reported 985 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. There are 85 cases in Canada, with 16 of those being in Ontario. The WHO said there is no risk of getting H1N1 from eating well-cooked pork and pork products.
Designs for a new St. Paul’s School in Alliston are ready to go, all that’s needed is the land to build on. Parents and staff of St. Paul’s heard the news at a Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board meeting that was held at the school Wednesday night. Plans for the new school include 16 classrooms and room for 489 students. There is also a vehicle drop off and pick up area, green space and outdoor play areas, and room for future expansion. SMCDSB controller of plant Glenn Clarke has been working with Holburn, the developer of the subdivision going up in north Alliston at the end of Church Street, to secure a parcel of land for the new St. Paul’s School. "We need to have possession of the property before we can start building," said Clarke. A deal was expected in February, but Clarke said the developer has held the process up. An alternative to owning the property is a lease agreement with the developer, which will allow the board to start construction and keep the board’s schedule for the school on track, said Clarke. He said it takes about 14 months to build a new school. "The challenge now is we are getting into a tight time period," said Clarke. "We’re still optimistic that we can get the school open for September 2010. The board has already completed Environmental Assessments and other required studies to build on the site. Clarke said he has also been working with New Tecumseth and is in the second stage of a site plan development process.
Grey County OPP has laid charges related to break and enters at area LCBO and Beer Stores that occurred on March 18 in Meaford and Thornbury. Police report that at 3 a.m. they responded to an intrusion alarm at The Beer Store on Sykes Street (Highway 26) in Meaford just before 3 am. The first units arrived on scene within two minutes of the dispatch time and found a piece of concrete had been used to smash the front window. Video surveillance confirmed the culprits entered and removed two cases of beer through the hole in the window. Minutes earlier, officers from Blue Mountains OPP had responded to another intrusion alarm at the LCBO Store in Thornbury and a found a smashed window and a brick lying inside the store. There was no indication of anything being removed from that store when a follow-up inventory was done. A male 17 year-old Blue Mountains youth, in custody on unrelated charges, is charged with the Criminal Code offences of Break, Enter and Theft, Break and Enter with Intent and Possession of Stolen Property. Two other males, a 19 and 17 year-old, from Barrie have also been charged and warrants for their arrest have been obtained. They face the same charges as the youth in custody with added charges related to breaches of probation and violating conditions contained in a recognizance.
Ashley Hall-Garbutt was planning to take advantage of any painkillers offered to her during the birth of her first child but after consulting with her doula, she is approaching the upcoming delivery a little differently. She is planning a natural childbirth, working with Stephanie Stack, a Wasaga Beach doula, to make it possible. Hall-Garbutt said the information and support Stack has provided her so far will help relieve some stress during the delivery. "The tools Stephanie provides are essential to a new mother," she said, adding that she really had no idea what to expect before consulting with Stack. A doula – pronounced doo-la – is not a new concept. In fact, women have been helping women give birth under very natural and non-medical circumstances since the beginning of the human race. Stack says at some point childbirth became a medical procedure and doulas and midwives became less common. But doulas are coming back onto the birthing scene and although Stack is the only one in the area, there are doulas working in nearby cities, helping with births in hospitals, in birthing clinics and in homes. "People are tending to go for a natural birth," said Stack. She said because there is such a high demand for midwives some people chose to use a doctor and a doula. According to Statistics Canada, doula-assisted births were are on average 98 minutes shorter, 60 per cent less likely to involve an epidural and 51 per cent less likely to result in a cesarean birth. Doula services vary widely. Stack is a labour support doula specializing in prenatal. She offers a package, beginning at about $200, which includes consultations at the three- and six-month marks and labour support and is available on-call 24 hours per day. At three months, she works with the soon-to-be parents to help them formulate a birth plan. Stack said by six months that plan may have changed, so they work to confirm plans, and talk about what’s to come after the birth. She relays the appropriate information she has learned during four months of training at the Ontario Parinatal School in Kitchener, which included assisting in two live births. Stack has been working as a doula for one year but just became certified to teach prenatal classes. During her training, Stack learned various components of pregnancy and childbirth, including anatomy, medications, birthing devices, prenatal nutrition, safe exercise and breastfeeding. At the time of the birth, a doula can advocate for the parents, helping them stick to their birth plan if they choose and helping to relay information from the medical staff in a calm manner. Stack is offering her first series of prenatal classes this month. During four two-hour classes parents learn breathing techniques, how to time contractions, what to expect when they get to the hospital, breastfeeding, what to look for to recognize postpartum depression and how to make homemade baby food among other things. The classes are open to a maximum of six couples to allow for lots of individual attention. Classes cost $200 and are held at the mess hall at Wasaga Stars Arena. Stack is also a registered massage therapist and does treat expectant mothers for the aches and pains that go along with pregnancy. Stack works out of Active Healthcare Centre, call 422-0224.
The inaugural meeting of Stevenson Memorial Hospital’s advisory board is being held tonight (Mon., April 27). The meeting will be at the New Tecumseth Recreation Complex in Alliston starting at 7 p.m. Advisory board membership is $25 and anyone can join. "This is the first opportunity for the public to meet the board. As we begin a new process of communication and look to the future, we value the input of our community. We encourage everyone interested in health care and SMH to join the Advisory Membership and show their continued support for their community hospital," said Dr. Ted Vandevis, SMH board chair. At the meeting, there will be information on the opportunities and challenges ahead for Stevenson Memorial and advisory members will be able to comment on the hospital’s vision and mission. Other information that will be available is the hospital’s financial statements, the accountability agreement signed with the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), and former SMH supervisor Mark Rochon’s report on the hospital. These documents are also available online at www.smhosp.on.ca. The advisory board is new for Stevenson Memorial and is the recommendation of former supervisor Mark Rochon. In Alliston the community forced a mass resignation of the hospital board in June 2007. Rochon was appointed as supervisor by to province to help resolve the issue. He hand picked a four person advisory committee to sift through applications for new board members and ultimately select the new, 12-member board. The hospital now uses a corporate membership for its board. Essentially, the 12 members chosen last year will elect their own replacements as terms expire or people step down from the board. People in the community can be advisory members, but have no right to vote. Memberships will be available at the door of the inaugural meeting. Further information is available on the hospital’s website or by calling 435-3377 ext. 3200.