Innisfil man arrested for Barrie grow-op

A 48-year-old Innisfil man is facing several charges after officers of the Barrie Police Drug Enforcement Unit, accompanied by members of the Street Crime Unit, entered a business at 166 Saunders Rd., Unit 2, with a search warrant on Thursday, Mar. 19. Police found a sizable marijuana grow operation on the main floor, and a second one hidden on the upper level of the unit. In all, 900 plants at various stages of maturity were removed from the premises, valued at $500,000. Police also dismantled a considerable amount of equipment used in the operation. The man was charged with the production of marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of marijuana. He’s been given a May court date. In other police news: Child bitten by a dog Barrie Police officers are investigating after a dog bit a 12-year-old boy Saturday. He was in the Harvie and Essa road area around 3 p.m. He was taken to RVH for rabies shots and police are still trying to figure out the type of dog that bit him, and who its owner is. Man charged after bar fight A 23-year-old Barrie man is in trouble after talking to police Saturday morning. He was in a fight at The Bank bar on Dunlop Street, and didn’t give the officer his real name at first. It turns out he was wanted for a previous offence, and the officer also found a small bag of marijuana on him after a search. He was charged with possession of drugs and obstructing police. Argument heats up between couple Barrie Police officers went to a local home after a separated couple had a fight Sunday. Police said they were together for 10 years and have been apart for two, and the man went to pick up a few things. They started screaming, and he left after the woman threatened to call police. He then called the home and left a voicemail threatening to kill her. She called officers and he was arrested for uttering death threats. Empty kegs stolen Barrie Police officers have charged a second person after five empty beer kegs were stolen from a Bayfield Street restaurant earlier last week. An investigation led police to a teen March 17, who returned the kegs to the Beer Store for a refund. On Sunday, a man was also arrested for break and enter. Four kegs were found and returned to the owner. Second charge for local man Barrie Police officers were called to the LCBO store on Mary Street Saturday after security stopped a man trying to take liquor without paying. Police said the 52 year old was drunk and was charged with theft and being intoxicated in a public place. He had just spent the previous night in jail for being drunk in public. Looking for driver Barrie Police officers are looking for a driver who didn’t stick around after a fender bender Saturday morning. Officers went to a crash at Bayfield and Simcoe streets at 2 a.m., after a sliver GMC truck hit a parked car. Witnesses had to run to avoid being hit first, and they managed to get a licence plate number. The truck took off down Lakeshore Drive. Fished out A 36-year-old Toronto man was fined $3,000 for catching too many whitefish in Lake Simcoe in February. A conservation officer caught Luigi Pompili with eight fish, and the limit is two. Six of the fish were hidden in a knapsack. He was fined by a Barrie judge March 11. RIDE stop Barrie OPP officers stopped an Orillia man early Saturday morning at a RIDE check on County Road 93. The 25 year old was charged with drunk driving and driving while suspended. He has an April 4 court date. Sunday night, officers stopped a different vehicle on County Road 93 near Crown Hill for a minor driving offence. His car was searched and the 19-year-old Penetanguishene man was charged for possession of marijuana.


McKay drops in for some training

National Defense Minister Peter McKay flew into town Saturday morning to do some training at Land Force Central Area training Centre (LFCATC) Meaford. McKay arrived via a Griffin helicopter on Saturday morning for an impromptu visit at the Meaford military training centre. McKay was looking forward to getting out in the field with the troops training in Meaford. “I understand they have a rigorous program planned for me today,” said McKay after he exited his helicopter and met with top brass from the base and MP Larry Miller. “It’s all part of a process I have undertaken to visit as many bases as possible and spend time with the troops and their families to express our appreciation,” he said. It was a very busy morning for McKay at LFCATC Meaford. Staff at the training centre planned to show McKay as much of the facility as possible during his four-hour stay. Capt. Jason Geroux said the timing of the Minister’s visit was perfect. “There are a lot of troops here right now and lots of vehicles. He will see the range and do some rappelling. There’s all kinds of training going on out there right now,” said Geroux, noting that the training centre had eight units consisting of more than 250 primary reserve troops from all over Ontario at the centre on Saturday. “We’ll show him the facilities. He will fire some weapons and have lunch with the troops,” said Capt. Geroux. McKay said the current government has made it a priority to modernize and update the Canadian military. He said as Defense Minister it’s very important to get out and visit Canadian forces to see the affects of the changes the government has introduced. “It’s important to demonstrate in tangible ways the value we place on the work our troops do,” said McKay. MP Larry Miller said he invited McKay to LFCATC Meaford immediately after he became defense minister in 2007. “It was a surprise when I got the phone call. It’s good to have him here to see our young men and women training in Meaford,” said Miller. “It’s very important for him to visit like this. He’s going to do some training. He will enjoy that, he’s a heck of a rugby player,” Miller added.


Trustees spare PSS

MIDHURST – Simcoe County District School Board trustees have voted to keep Penetanguishene Secondary School open. Despite a recommendation by an accommodation review committee (ARC) last month to keep PSS open, board staff recommended closing the school and transferring its students to Midland Secondary School to fill excess capacity. “Just because you have excess capacity at MSS doesn’t mean we should close PSS and close the only English-language high school in Penetang,” said Brad Saunders, trustee for Midland, Penetanguishene, Wasaga Beach and Tiny Township. “Leave PSS alone.” Onlookers spilled into the atrium at the school board’s administration centre in Midhurst on Tuesday as members of the facility standing committee, comprised of trustees, voted at a special meeting called to deal with nine staff recommendations about how to resolve high school enrolment issues. “Before us there are nine recommendations that are basically going to tear our communities apart,” said Peter Beacock, trustee for Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte. After pouring over the recommendations during the four-and-a-half-hour session, trustees defeated a motion to close high schools in Penetanguishene and Stayner. A motion to recommend improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute was also defeated, although trustees did approve the closure of Elmvale District High School and the construction of a new secondary school to serve Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. “It troubles me that we have a different set of recommendations from administration than from the ARC,” said Saunders, who noted he found it difficult to go along with the staff proposal. “If we go with staff, we will have trouble finding people to sit on an ARC…. That is a situation, as a trustee, I am very, very uncomfortable with.” Saunders tabled two recommendations derived from the ARC, and both passed. Trustees supported recommending board staff investigate all means of removing capacity from MSS, including, but not restricted to, demolition, leasing and community and/or joint-use partnerships. They also recommended that, subject to funding, renovations be undertaken to MSS as a direct result of removing excess capacity. The decisions made by trustees Tuesday are far from final. Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Severn, Tay and Ramara, chairs the facility standing committee. She said by approving some recommendations and not others, the three-school solution recommended by staff has been altered and there are now holes that need to be filled. Redirecting 450 Wasaga Beach secondary school students to a new high school, for example, will result in capacity issues at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Lloyd said things are sure to change as trustees go through another wave of public delegations in May before making a final decision at a board meeting June 17. The board embarked on the review a year ago to seek solutions to declining enrolment in the area. Staff recommendations, contained in a report dated April 14, differ from the recommendations made by the ARC last month. High schools in Penetanguishene, Midland, Elmvale, Stayner and Collingwood were included in the review. Wasaga Beach was also included as a possible school site. The ARC, a committee made up of school and community representatives, recommended a solution that would keep all five schools open and fund necessary improvements and upgrades to solve capacity issues. Board staff recommended a three-school solution that would result in the closure of PSS, Stayner Collegiate Institute and Elmvale District High School, and the construction of a central school for Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. [email protected]


Rumor has it, community theatre onstage

Wasaga Community Theatre is staging Rumors, a play by Neil Simon. Simon is an American playwright who has written more than 30 plays including The Odd Couple and Brighton Beach Memoirs. In Rumors, first published in 1988, guests arrive at the posh apartment of New York City’s deputy mayor to celebrate his 10th wedding anniversary only to discover the house in darkness. The first guests to arrive, a pair of lawyers, discover the deputy mayor has been apparently shot and rumors fly. They discover it is a superficial wound and try to keep it quiet until they find out what happened. They call a doctor instead of the police, in an attempt to keep the shooting out of the media. As more guests arrive, dressed in gowns and tuxedos, they begin looking for the food, drinks and the host only to discover the wife of the man who has been shot is missing. "It just gets more and more complex as it goes along," said director Pat Drury. Drury said the host spends the entire play upstairs, passed out in bed, unseen by audience. She said the play has many great lines, delivered by the 10-member ensemble cast that has been rehearsing since the beginning of February.   "We chose it because it’s extremely funny. The audience seems to like the comedies, especially now, they need something to perk them up a little bit and we were looking for another comedy and its really hard to find really good comedies," said Drury. "We want to give them what they want and we want to do it too because it is fun for us." She said the theatre troupe has performed several Neil Simon comedies over the years and they are always popular. Drury had to write to Simon’s agent, promising not to stray from the original script, in order to get the royalty rights to perform the play. Evening shows on April 16-18 begin at 8 p.m. and there is a Sunday Matinee on April 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15 each and are available at Major’s Guardian Pharmacy, The Corner Market, IDA Pharmacy, The Crow’s Nest Books and Gifts in Collingwood and Barb’s Clothes Closet in Stayner. The theatre group offers tiered seating. Visit www.wasagacommunitytheatre.com. Cast: David Clayton Laura LaChapelle Al Davidson John Clayton Marion Bell John Robinson Jennifer Smith Pat Drury Sherrie Halliday Ilona Armstrong


Honda Civic sales on the rise in March

While overall sales for Honda and Acura vehicles dropped in Canada in March, the company is reporting that Honda Civic sales doubled over February’s results. In March, Honda Canada Inc. reported its March sales were down 11,359 units, or 20 per cent, compared to last March. Acura’s sales in March were down 42 per cent over last year. Overall, the Honda and Acura divisions saw a year-to-year sales decrease of 23 per cent, or 12,570 units. While the overall sales are down, Honda Canada Inc. executive vice president Jerry Chenkin said the Alliston-made Honda Civic sales in March more than doubled over February’s results. "Our March results, although down from last year’s record results, are only off by 13 per cent over the last five-year sales average," said Chenkin. "We are encouraged to see that showroom traffic at our dealerships in March was up over the previous months, and that consumer confidence is showing a gradual upswing." About 91 per cent of all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in Canada during March were produced in North America, with nearly half of those made in Canada. Honda Canada is in its 40th year of operation in Canada. The Honda Civic sedan and coupe, and Acura CSX and MDX are manufactured in Alliston. Honda’s new engine plant also produces fuel-efficient, four-cylinder engines in Alliston. Yesterday, Honda Canada told workers at its two Alliston plants there were be a reduction of another 13 days of production between now and the end of the summer.


Two more die after fire

Two more residents of an Orillia retirement home, gutted by an early morning fire on Jan. 19, have died. As reported earlier, the January fire initially claimed the lives of Robert McLean, 90, and Hugh Fleming, 85, who died of smoke inhalation. An official with the Office of the Fire Marshal has confirmed that two other residents of Muksoka Heights Retirement Residence have died. However, spokesperson Bev Gilbert said he could not provide further details regarding the identities of the deceased, their ages or when they died. “We can’t release anything else on that,” Gilbert told Orillia Today. Further questions were directed to Dr. Dirk Huyer, regional supervising coroner. Huyer would say only that, “We are now investigating four deaths.” “The Coroners’ Act limits us from releasing any information without family consent, and even then we wouldn’t likely release it while the investigation is ongoing,” he added. The coroner’s office can release information when it is warranted due to an issue of public safety, he said. However, “There is no immediate public safety risk at this moment that would allow us to override the need for consent,” he added. An investigation into the blaze is ongoing, as officials attempt to determine the cause of the fire that is believed to have started in the centre of the two-storey building. Officials are sifting through and examining evidence trucked away from the severely damaged structure. “They seized a lot of stuff from the scene and they are still examining that,” Gilbert said. “It is a very long, arduous process.” Officials are continuing to speak with witnesses and are examining the home’s fire safety plan. “It goes well beyond cause and origin,” Gilbert added of the investigation. “It goes on anything that might have impacted on the fire. “One of the goals is certainly to prevent something like that from happening again, from ever happening period,” he added. Huyer said a coroner’s inquest “certainly is possible,” but added that it was too early to determine whether that would happen. Officials last month reported that seven residents of Muskoka Heights Retirement Residence remained in hospital, five of them in critical condition.


Kelsey’s poised to reopen

After closing its doors in October, Kelsey’s Restaurant in Midland is hoping to once again become a popular neighbourhood bar and grill. The restaurant, located at 917 King St., closed Oct. 10 after the owners “left the building,” according to general manager Ken Webster. He told The Midland Mirror at the time that the restaurant had been placed in a holding pattern while Cara Corporation Ltd. attempted to assume responsibility. It may have taken four months, but the family restaurant is now a bustle of activity as new owner Stephen Moro and staff hurry to breathe new life into the establishment.  The restaurant held a job fair that saw more than 200 people trying to score one of the more than 80 job openings. In the meantime, crews have been hard at work giving the restaurant a bit of a facelift. “We’re modernizing it … making it look a bit more contemporary,” said Moro. “Each Kelsey’s is entrenched in the neighbourhood … so we’re changing the décor to showcase the history of Midland and Penetanguishene.” Although he has worked in the restaurant business for more than a decade, this is Moro’s first foray into ownership. Despite the location’s recent past and his own apprehension about diving into a new venture, Moro opted to take the risk. “I understand there was a history here, but our focus is on the future,” he said. “As long as we keep delivering on the promise of great food, great service, great atmosphere, I think we will do well.” Moro has worked for the company for more than 15 years. “The restaurant business is challenging, but I … knew the market (in Midland) for a long time and I knew the potential, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at it.” Kelsey’s will be staying true to the brand, but will also feature a new look, a new team and a new menu, he noted. “We call it familiar classics that are done really well,” Moro said, adding they’re working toward fresh, good-quality ingredients.