Man charged with obstructing justice

A 35-year-old Innisfil man is facing two counts of breach of recognizance and a single charge of obstructing justice after a woman appearing in Bradford court on April 2 told police the man had tried to prevent her from testifying. The man had come to her home on Feb. 21 while intoxicated. This was in breach of his conditions of release from custody. Police located the man and he was held overnight for a bail hearing on April 3. Tree basher charged with impaired Police were called to Ewart Street the evening of April 2 in response to a vehicle that had crashed into a clump of trees. A group of concerned citizens directed officers to the area where the driver had fled. Police quickly found the man and charged him with leaving the scene of an accident. He also showed signs of being drunk. He was taken back to the Bradford station where a breath test confirmed he was intoxicated. Charges of impaired driving, excess alcohol, failing to remain and not having car insurance were laid. While his vehicle suffered severe damage, the driver was unharmed. He was released from custody with an early May court date. Woman slapped with assault charge South Simcoe Police charged a 27-year-old Cookstown woman with assault after a man complained he had been struck in the face. The man had been asked to leave her place and an argument ensued. The woman then slapped the man with her hand. She was released from custody with a promise to appear in court to answer to the charge.


Save sports fields: Residents

Public input has played a major role in the creation of a report that will determine the future of Orillia secondary schools ODCVI and Park Street Collegiate Institute. That’s the word from Michael Gordon, one of the members of Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) looking into the closure of both local high schools. At public meetings held over the past few months, members of the ARC committee have received input from Orillia residents, with respect to the two educational facilities. “The input from the public was very helpful in the preparation of the final report that has been submitted to the school board,” said Gordon. Among the 11 recommendations made in the report, is a call for the closure of both ODCVI and Park Street high schools, along with renovations and retrofits to Twin Lakes Secondary School. As well, the report calls for the history of the two closed schools be incorporated into the design and construction elements of the new school. A copy of the ARC report has been forwarded to the Simcoe County District School Board, which will discuss it at a June meeting in Midhurst. “The major recommendations that were added after the meetings centered around trying to retain the track and soccer/football fields for recreational use, at whichever space is not used to build the new school,” said Gordon. He noted the recreation space could be used by the school board, or partnerships could be forged with other sports user groups within the city. “That was the main thing we took away from the meetings. People were saying they just don’t want the board to surplus and sell the unused site, because it has the potential to give the city even more outdoor recreational space,” said Gordon. Emphasis was placed on retaining use of the soccer fields and track facilities in place at both ODCVI and Park Street Collegiate. Others suggest converting the Hillcrest Public School site into recreational space, after the school is closed in the future. “That is a whole different option because it will cost a lot of money to take that building down and then do grading on the property and turn it into a usable field. Right now there just isn’t the funding to do that right now as part of the part of the new school funding envelope,” said Gordon. He noted the school board put the Mount Slaven, Hillcrest, David H. Church and Central school properties up for sale two weeks ago. “The input we took from the crowds at the public meetings was that the school board shouldn’t just sell whichever property the school board decides not to use for the new school. They wanted to see if there was some way the board could retain the track and field/soccer portions and then maybe sell the rest,” said Gordon. Gordon noted it would cost an estimated $25 million to build a new secondary school in Orillia to replace ODCVI and Park Street.


Archer aims for top-10

When she steps onto the competition floor Apr. 24 in Windsor, Mariposa Gymnastics Club member Ali Archer will be retracing a path she has taken numerous times before. While only 16, this will mark her fifth appearance at the Ontario Gymnastics Federation Championships. “It never gets boring because there are different kids every year and it’s a different level, so it’s always exciting,” said the ODCVI Grade 10 student. Her goal is simple. “At a competition (in St. Catharines) we just had, the same girls were there that I am going to be competing against in Windsor. At that event, I finished 11th, which was a big disappointment for me. I definitely want to finish in the top 10,” she said. At the recent Ontario Cup qualifying event, held at Base Borden, Archer finished third overall in the 14 and Over, Level 6 Division. At that event, Archer posted second-place finishes in the vault and balance beam, third on the uneven bars, while also posting a fifth-place finish in the floor program. While now accustomed to facing the best in the province, Archer said performing at such a high level takes a toll mentally and physically. “I get still get pretty nervous before I perform and I still shake a lot. But it is better in that I know what is going on in front of me and nothing I will be experiencing will be new,” said Archer. She is hoping efforts to improve her floor routine will provide dividends at the Ontario finals. As a member of Mariposa for 13 years, Archer has been one of the guiding lights in the club, and one of the senior gymnasts the younger girls look up to. She feels comfortable being a role model. “For someone to be in the club as long as I have, it’s only natural for the younger ones to look up to someone who has been here so long,” said Archer.


Jones headlines comedy fest

Orillia’s comedy festival is broadening its horizons as it aims to tickle the funny bones of audiences young and old. Running April 15 to 18, the third annual festival promises a range of talent that runs the gamut from local columnist Jim Foster to nationally renowned comedic superstar Cathy Jones. “We have expanded the festival this year to target a wider variety of age groups,” said Donna Hewitt, chair of the festival committee. “In 2009, we have something for everyone.” Jones will bring her best-known characters to the Orillia Opera House for an April 18 performance. The Gemini-winning actor and writer is a founding member of the East Coast comedy troupe CODCO, and a regular on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a long-running television news spoof. “We wanted to bring someone in who was well known, who is recognizable,” said Kathryn Stephenson, marketing manager for the city’s culture and heritage department. “She is very, very funny.” Performing Wednesday through Friday at the Leacock Museum is local humour columnist Jim Foster and friends Harvey Atkin, Nicholas Pashley, Paul Quarrington, and Dan Needles. Foster and Co. host a “happy hour” from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with tickets priced at $12. The Orillia Opera House welcomes Run With Kittens on the Friday evening. Armed with a repertoire “ranging from darkly witty Dylan-esque tunes to stompers worthy of Motorhead,” the Kittens perform a gut-busting ode to the Sunshine City in “The Orillia Song.” Tickets are $15 or $10 for students. Saturday brings Colonel Quackhorn’s Extraordinary Medicine Show to the opera house for performances at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are $6. “We are trying to appeal to all different age groups,” Stephenson added. “(Colonel Quackhorn) is really funny.” Cathy Jones takes to the stage on the Saturday evening at 8 p.m., with tickets priced at $40, or $30 for seniors and students. Organizers are again hoping to lure visitors to the city during the so-called “shoulder” season, when tourism tends to be at a lull. Tickets for all shows can be purchased through the opera house box office or online at www.operahouse.orillia.on.ca.


Bringing home the bacon

“Happiness is makin’ bacon.” That’s more than just a slogan at Holly Park Meat Packers near Cookstown. The company, tucked away on the 9th Conc. just west of town, is celebrating a rather significant recognition for one of its products. At a banquet held on Saturday, Feb. 21, Holly Park’s Phoenix End to End bacon captured a silver award at the Ontario Independent Meat Producers (OIMP) annual conference. More than 100 premium meat or poultry products were submitted for a chance to be crowned in one of 12 categories. The top three entries from each category were selected based on the judges’ combined scores. They included ham, country style bacon, cold cuts, deli roasts, fresh sausage and home meal replacement. Food industry professionals and media evaluated the entries. “The Ontario Finest Meat Competition is intended to promote the innovative, high quality products that Ontario’s meat processors have to offer,” said Laurie Nicol, executive director of the OIMP. “We hope this competition educates consumers and retailers on the quality and variety of Ontario meat and poultry products.” The OIMP is a voluntary, non-profit organization representing 180 processors from across the province. The Ontario meat and poultry industry contributes more than $6.5 billion a year to the economy and represents 20 per cent of the food manufacturing industry. Lilly Vacca, Holly Park’s bacon production manager, said, “This year, the competition was a little different. Homegrown Ontario was incorporated into competition. Any product submitted had to be homegrown. We’re really proud about that.” Homegrown Ontario is a labelling system for veal, lamb, and pork that were raised, finished and processed in Ontario. The program was introduced in 2007. Entries in the bacon category were judged on seven attributes: • visual appeal • consumer appeal • uniqueness • appearance • flavour • texture • aroma Winning the silver award “was great,” Vacca says. “It was very exciting and a huge sense of achievement.” For team member Karen Dipoce, “I think it’s fantastic. I’ve been here seven years and it’s terrific to be recognized for your work.” In a typical year, 140,000, 10 lb. boxes of Phoenix bacon are shipped from the plant. And “That’s just side bacon,” Vacca says. “They mostly go to the food services industry, then to wholesalers, then to restaurants.” In business for 30 years, Holly Park started out in a 2,000 square foot abattoir supplying mostly veal. Today, two operations, the one near Cookstown, the other in Caledon, process beef, veal, lamb and bacon. The Cookstown plant recently underwent a 28,000 square foot expansion and employs up to 60 staff. The company also processes halal, kosher, natural and organic products and offers custom processing. Holly Park’s owner and founder, Tony Facciolo, is the OIMP president. “Membership in Ontario Independent Meat Processors has grown recently,” Vacca adds. “We have been registering in the product competition for many years and each year, we have improved our process with help from the comments on that evaluation.”


Driver error ruled out in Hwy. 400 crash

Police have ruled out driver error in a multi-vehicle crash on Hwy. 400 last week that sent an Alliston man to hospital with life-threatening injuries. Thursday morning a northbound transport truck crashed through the centre guardrail on Hwy. 400 just north of Hwy. 88. The truck collided with a southbound Ford Explorer, driven by a 40-year-old Alliston man. The man was airlifted to a Toronto hospital where he was in critical condition. OPP Sgt. Dave Woodford said there was no update on his condition. His identity is not being released. Woodford said investigators have ruled out driver error, but they still aren’t sure what caused the crash. He said the truck driver would not be charged. “It could have been one of those things that he hit a patch of ice and flew across the highway,” Woodford said.


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.


Tips from public lead to 24 charges

Police made 14 arrests and laid 24 charges in February as a direct result of tips called in by the public to Crime Stoppers of Simcoe-Dufferin-Muskoka. “When the community and the police work together, results can be obtained,” the organization stated in a press release. A total of 186 calls last month helped police clear 12 cases involving weapons, narcotics, stolen property and other offences. People with information about criminal activity can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Since its inception in 1987, Crime Stoppers has received more than 42,000 calls, leading to 3,300 arrests, almost $9.9 million in stolen property recovered and $43 million in drugs seized.


Woman shoves attacker from moving car

A 36-year-old woman staved off an attack by pushing a man out of her moving car on Highway 400 Sunday afternoon, according to police. The 55-year-old man, who was treated for minor injuries at Royal Victoria Hospital, was charged with assault and threatening. The woman knew her attacker, the OPP say. Officers responded to the attack while it was in progress on Highway 400 near Innisfil Beach Road. Anyone with information should contact Const. Richardson of the OPP Barrie Highway Safety Division at (705) 726-3930.


Georgian residence in works

An Orillia developer is under way with plans to build a 200-bed residence that will serve students attending the local campus of Georgian College. Located next to the campus, on lands west of the property line, the $12 million project is a joint venture involving Charter Construction and Mark Rich Homes. “We understand that a student residence needs to be facilitated in the worst way, as students are struggling to find good accommodations,” Angelo Orsi told Orillia Today. Orsi was aiming to have the residence open by September of 2009, but said the project hinges on the province allowing a sewer line to cross a nearby property occupied by OPP General Headquarters. “We anticipate to have (Ontario Realty Corporation) approval by March, which then gets us going on the site servicing this summer,” he added. “It is critical that we get approvals this spring so that we can secure the 2010 school season.” A second phase, proposed for 2011, would make available another 100 to 200 beds, coupled with a supporting neighbourhood commercial development, he added. Approval of an environmental assessment for the all-important sewer line is already in place, “however, it needs to be reviewed through the (province’s) own EA,” Orsi added. Georgian College has “been interested in having residences for well over 10 years,” Cathy Campbell, director of campus services, said in an interview this week.   “It is a common question when we recruit students for open houses and information days,” Campbell said. “It will play a significant role in attracting students to programs at the Orillia campus. We are very excited about it.” Students who would have commuted from neighbouring communities are more likely to live on campus with the addition of a residence, she added. “It brings a different element of student life to the campus and to the community,” she added. Orsi agreed. “We are confident that having a residence right next door to Georgian is a great fit for students, and growing the enrollment at Georgian College,” he added. Many of the college’s students hail from neighbouring towns and cities, with some choosing to commute rather than rent locally. Those who rent within Orillia can choose from a variety of accommodations, including single rooms with kitchen privileges, shared housing and apartments. In existence at its current location since 1979, the Orillia campus has about 1,700 full-time students.