New way for a new day

At the Wasaga Sun we are constantly exploring new trends and innovations in our industry to better serve readers and advertisers. The Sun and its sister papers in Simcoe County are part of the Metroland Media Group, proprietor of more than 100 papers throughout southern Ontario. On March 1 all Metroland tabloid papers converted to a modular format, resulting in some significant changes. The first, and most obvious, is the size. We have gone with a shorter tab that has proven popular with readers and advertisers in other communities. Why? First, and foremost, it’s easier to read, more manageable to handle. But that’s not all. The change in size comes with a switch to modular layout. Without boring you with industry chatter, it means the layout of the paper will be cleaner, allowing for more creative design of both editorial content and advertising. The change has wider ramifications. Most notably, it reduces the company’s carbon footprint because it requires the use of fewer resources to meet business needs. Change is ongoing and constant. We are committed to meeting the challenges, and also opportunities, presented by change to better serve the community. If you have comments about the new format send them to John Devine, group editor, at [email protected]


Woman battling town over damage to car

A Victoria Harbour woman has found herself fighting an uphill battle after incurring more than $600 in damage to her car while driving on a Penetanguishene street late last year. April Herron, who works in Penetanguishene, was driving west on Robert Street near Georgian Manor when she hit a rough spot on the road. “There was no signage posted that there was a big dip in the road, so I didn’t adjust my speed,” she said. “The car bottomed out and (my) muffler and everything fell off.” Herron called the Town of Penetanguishene to inform officials about what had happened. “I told them there was no signage posted and that my car wasn’t drivable,” she said. “I wanted answers.” Herron said she was told to call a tow truck and to submit the bill for damages and the tow truck, both of which would be paid by either the town or the contractor. “It’s been since the end of October, and I have contacted the town several times. They have washed their hands clean of it and said it’s in the contractor’s care because they are the ones responsible for the signage.” Herron has also contacted the contractor, but said she isn’t getting any answers there, either. “I (want) the town to be culpable because they are the ones that hired the contractors. The fact that they told me this would get taken care of right away … this is not good business practice,” she said. “Nobody is taking responsibility for it. It’s going around in circles and I’m not getting my calls or e-mails returned.” Bryan Murray, manager of capital projects for the town, said because the accident was caused as part of a construction project, it would be the construction company’s responsibility. “It was out of the town’s hands because it’s not technically the town’s site. If she thought we were going to take care of it, she probably misunderstood us,” he said, adding he did get in touch with the company and forwarded all the documentation received from Herron. “When I said we’d take care of it, I meant (we would) get it to the right person to handle it, but not that we would pay it. From what I hear, (Corm Construction) is saying they’re not responsible, and I guess she’s looking for someone to take blame for this.” Penetanguishene CAO Eleanor Rath said Ontario is a no-fault province for insurance purposes, and all vehicles are covered by their owners’ insurance, so drivers are required to go through their own insurance when damage occurs. “In the event that someone is alleging damage to their vehicle as a result of a town road … they’re advised to notify their insurers. In the event their insurers feel there is a claim against the town, then it would flow through their insurers to our insurers,” she said, adding while she can’t comment on specific matters, in the event the town has a contractor on site, that company is required to carry insurance. “If someone alleges their vehicle is damaged, and it’s in an area of construction, they should have been referred to the insurance for that company,” she said, adding it is not the town’s policy to agree to cover such damages. “If anyone notifies us of any type of damage – particularly to vehicles – we notify them they should contact their own insurance company.” For Herron, having to cover the cost of the repairs has been a bit of a hardship. “It’s been very hard on us to make ends meet as it is, and then to have this unplanned thing pop up … it’s hard,” she said. “It’s anxiety-provoking.” Herron said she has learned an unexpected lesson, adding anyone in a similar situation should make sure to keep some important things in mind. “Bring a camera with you to take pictures of what’s happening, and get statements from everyone to submit at a later time,” she said. “I wish I hadn’t been so trusting at the time. I should have asked for something in writing.” Calls to Corm Construction were not returned. [email protected]


Signs of trauma to body found in park

Barrie Police officers say trauma to a man’s body found in Sunnidale Park Monday morning was  self inflicted. After cordoning off the area and remaining at the scene throughout the day, Barrie Police reported a 27-year-old man died from self-inflicted wounds during a press conference at 5 p.m. A dog walker found him at approximately 9:30 a.m., with obvious signs of trauma to his body. The body was found on the south side of the park, past a playground and down a hill. “We can’t say how he met his demise,” said Sgt. Robert Allan. “We are examining the scene for more information, but it’s suspicious.” Close to a dozen officers set up a perimeter around the park, asking joggers, dog walkers and parents with children to stay out for the day. Recreational users should head to the waterfront, said Allan. He wasn’t sure how long the body had been there, but said officers are looking for tips within the last day. “It’s a well-travelled area and this is the largest park in Barrie, there are many community events here. We’re asking people who were here within the last 24 hours to call us with any information, even if they think they didn’t see anything suspicious.”


Teen dies after fall at local ski hill

A 17-year-old girl who died as a result of a skiing accident was remembered by friends as an exceptional student and athlete with a ready smile, and dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Elisabeth Reurink was on a school trip from London, Ont., at the Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood. She was near the bottom of a hill rated as intermediate when she skied off to the side of the open slope yesterday at about 10:50 a.m., police said. "At the bottom of the run she collided with a tree," said Const. Theresa Van Boven of the Collingwood OPP. Police had an area of the hill taped off while they conducted their investigation. Reurink, who was wearing a helmet, was taken to Collingwood General and Marine Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The accident was the third fatality on Ontario slopes in two weeks. At the time of the accident, weather and snow conditions were good. Friend Christina Chehade remembered Reurink, a student at London’s Catholic Central High School, as a rosy-cheeked young woman with a bright future. "She was an amazing student … achieved high rankings in both cross-country (running) and wrestling, an amazing friend, always had a smile on her face and would laugh no matter how lame my jokes were," she said yesterday. Reurink maintained a 90-plus average, she said. In 2005, Reurink received a Spirit Award, presented to students who "exemplify the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations," according to the London District Catholic School Board website. Last Sunday, a 45-year-old Toronto man died at Beaver Valley Ski Club, about 30 kilometres southwest of Collingwood. John Zsolt, described as a skilled snowboarder, fell and crashed into a tree. He was also wearing a helmet. On Feb. 18, "James" Boo Sung Moon, a 13-year-old Korean visa student at Richmond Hill’s Trillium Woods Public School, was killed after he lost control and hit a tree on a beginner hill at Snow Valley. He was not wearing a helmet, which prompted Premier Dalton McGuinty, an avid skier, to buy one himself and urge others to don one on the slopes. Torstar News Service 


Injured soldier returning to Simcoe County home

ORILLIA – A yellow ribbon tied to the metal railing outside Cathy Aleman’s hair salon is the first of many that will soon brighten Orillia like an early spring bloom. Aleman placed it there when her husband, Tim, left for Afghanistan in August. A veteran of the military, the Joyland Beach man was raised in Wales and spent 14 years with the British Forces before joining the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment as a full-time reservist. “We are through-and-through soul mates,” Aleman said this week. “Thank God he’s OK.” The 43-year-old warrant officer was injured March 19 by an improvised explosive device that killed two Canadian soldiers. Two other soldiers would die that same day in another bomb attack. “Friday morning, they came to my door,” Aleman said, recalling the moment military officials informed her of the bombing. “Men in uniform – that is pretty scary. Usually when they come to the door, it means (a loved one) has been killed. I feel very fortunate.” Tim Aleman remained in a German hospital Tuesday, awaiting his return to Canada and his family, which includes a stepdaughter and stepson. Doctors were able to reattach a portion of one ear that was torn off in the blast, Aleman said. “His hearing has been affected, but to what extent we don’t know,” she said, adding her husband could arrive in Canada as early as today (Thursday). A Toronto hospital is likely his first destination. News of his impending return prompted a customer at Aleman’s salon to plan a “hero’s welcome” for the injured soldier. Barb Shakell-Barkey contacted schools with a request for letters and cards from students, while shoppers at local stores are being encouraged to add their names to signs wishing him well. “We have all been very concerned about him going over,” Shakell-Barkey said. “When we first heard about (the attack), we were concerned he wouldn’t return home. We were very shocked. It was quite a relief to hear he is coming home.” [email protected]


Hospital’s wait times better than the average

Wait times at Stevenson Memorial Hospital’s emergency room are better than the provincial average and the hospital is striving to make services even better, according to president and CEO Gary Ryan. According to a provincial study released last week patients at the Alliston hospital spend 3.8 hours in the emergency room for minor or uncomplicated conditions. The provincial target for these patients is four hours in the ER. The Ontario average is 4.6 hours. For people with more complex conditions such as heart attacks that require more time to be diagnosed, patients visiting SMH are spending 6.6 hours in the ER. The provincial target is eight hours, while the current average is 13.5 hours province wide. Having a good patient turnaround speaks to successes in other areas of the hospital, said Ryan. He said hospitals that have the largest waits are places where there is a long list of people waiting for a long-term care bed. “Our flow is better usually because we’re better at clearing up our beds,” said Ryan. Re-opening the obstetrics unit last year also helped. Ryan said there are more beds for people who need to be admitted when the obstetrics unit isn’t busy. With the provincial government tightening hospital’s budgets, Ryan is happy funding for improving ER services is separate. “The ER is kind of the canary in the coal mine, it sees the problem but is not the cause of the problem,” said Ryan. Over the past two years the province has offered two rounds of funding to improve ERs but Stevenson Memorial didn’t qualify. Ryan said he hopes at some point SMH will be given money for its ER to improve services. In the meantime, the hospital has been approved for a new physician assistant program that Ryan said could help the flow of people through the emergency room. The physician assistant (PA) program is just being introduced to Ontario. Their role is to conduct patient interviews, take medical histories, perform physical examinations and provide counseling on preventative health care. Ryan said a PA could also have the ability to set a fracture and cast a broken leg. Although SMH has been approved for the PA program, funding hasn’t been confirmed. Ryan said the hospital has to sign on to the terms of the program by the second week of March. To further improve ER services in the meantime, Ryan said they are looking at when the department is the busiest and are looking at having two physicians there then. No matter how busy the local ER gets, Ryan doesn’t want people to hesitate to use it. “I’d prefer to have a few people who maybe didn’t have to be there than dissuade people from coming,” said Ryan. “I’d be loath to suggest running our system in a way to discourage people to come.” A comparison of emergency room wait times for all of Ontario’s hospitals is available online at . 


Short traffic lights now a little longer

The Ministry of Transportation has finished repairs to the traffic lights at Highway 89 and County Road 10. An investigation into the malfunctioning lights was launched in February after complaints from the public and enquiries from the Alliston Herald. "Based on our findings, staff worked with the design consultant to modify the signal timing by allocating more green time to Highway 89 through traffic," said Will MacKenzie, from the MTO. In February, MacKenzie said MTO had received complaints about the lights at the intersection. At the time, the green light for east- and westbound traffic on Highway 89 would only last about 10 seconds, which was long enough for only a few cars to get through from a stand still. MTO admitted it was not an adequate time for a green light. The new light timing pattern was installed in late February, and MTO said they are not aware of any new complaints. Another traffic study has been conducted to determine if the changes were adequate. The data is currently being studied, MacKenzie said.


Baby girl fighting serious immune system problem

The congregation at The Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Stayner is rallying behind a local family that attends the church and asking that others in the community do the same. Brygette Park, the one-year-old daughter of Warrington Road residents Penny Lambert, 39, and Trevor Park, 36, is battling what appears to be some type of immune system problem. Born at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie in December 2007, the little girl returned to the hospital at just five days old because she was dehydrated and lethargic. Eight days later she was discharged but the next day returned to RVH with what turned out to be rotavirus. She was then in and out of hospital in Barrie throughout the month of January 2008 and at the end of the month went to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with meningitis. Since then Brygette, a beautiful girl with golden blonde hair and blue eyes, has battled a number of infections, including periorbital celulitis, an infection in the eyes and skin. Her mother says that several tests have been done to find out what’s causing the little girl so many problems but so far doctors have been unsuccessful in making a diagnosis. She says Brygette currently suffers from ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and inflammation on her hips. In total, Brygette has been admitted to hospital 11 times and spent – off and on – about six months at The Hospital for Sick Children. The most recent stay was from Dec. 19 to Jan. 30. “It’s been exhausting – terrifying. You’re just so afraid for her because of what she’s going through,” Lambert said. She said the girl’s doctors are consulting with physicians in the United States and are awaiting the results of genetic testing to see if they shed any light on what’s wrong. With so much time spent at The Hospital for Sick Children the family has found things financially tough – especially since December when Lambert’s maternity benefits came to an end. The licensed insurance agent, who is employed at State Farm in Barrie, has not returned to work yet because she needs to care for her daughter. Her husband is self-employed as a home renovator but with only him working their finances are tight, she said. And then there’s the expensive cost of the special food Brygette needs due to a milk allergy. The formula is called Neocate and it costs $45 a can. Brygette goes through one can a day. If it weren’t for the help and support of family and friends, Lambert said she doesn’t know what they’d do. She said her mother, Doris Waddell, has moved in with them to help care for Brygette. The Church of the Good Shepherd has offered prayers and recently set up a trust account for the family at the TD-Canada Trust branch in Stayner. Gren Bray, a member at the church, said he encourages people in town to financially help the family if possible. He said the church is planning a special music night, at which a free will offering for the family will be collected. A date for the event, however, hasn’t been set. Bray said it will likely be in the next few weeks though. “They’re a part of our church family and we need to do what we can to help,” he said. Meanwhile, friends of the family have organized what’s being dubbed the Baby B.O.P. (Brygette Olivia Park) Fundraiser at The Five Restaurant on Dunlop Street in Barrie. The event is Thurs., March 26 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available through Brygette’s parents. There will be several live musical acts performing. Lambert plays guitar in a band called Gearl Jam and it’s among the groups slated to perform that night.   For tickets to the event call 428-5452.