While Canada’s eyes were directed at Barack Obama’s trip to Ottawa last week, an Essa farmer’s gaze was directed a little further – to the president’s lunch plate. Cookstown Greens has been providing vegetables for the meals of visiting dignitaries for about two decades, and it was no different for Obama. "Almost every time they (dignitaries) come to Canada, we get chosen to feed them," said farm owner David Cohlmeyer. Cookstown Greens supplies vegetables to both the prime minister’s chef and the Governor General’s chef. Since most visiting foreign dignitaries will have a meal with one or the other, it’s just a matter of time before they feast on produce plucked from Essa’s soil. Cookstown Greens has provided vegetables for visits from Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and both Bushes. Produce from Cohlmeyer’s farm has also been on the table for visiting monarchy, including Queen Elizabeth II. As might be expected, it’s no run of the mill meal when dignitaries come to town. With the prime minister’s chef cooking up a special meal for Obama’s visit, the recipe called for some very unique ingredients. Cohlmeyer said he isn’t yet sure exactly which vegetables made it to Obama’s plate, but said there were several woven throughout the chef’s planned meal. There were red and green flesh radishes that were part of a Pacific Coast tuna appetizer. Red, white and black carrots, as well as amber and red turnips, were part of a warm root-vegetable salad that was served with Arctic char. Three different varieties of beets were used for a relish. The main course of bison had a side of fingerling potatoes, titan leeks and crosnes. But as colourful and unique as vegetables may sound, they really deliver when it comes to taste, said Cohlmeyer. "Everything we do we choose for exceptional flavour," he said. When it comes to determining taste, Cohlmeyer has the right background. He was originally a chef in Toronto, before deciding on a career change. In 1988 he opened Cookstown Greens, in Egbert, and he hasn’t looked back since. His background gave him the knowledge, and also the connections, and it wasn’t long before Cookstown Greens was providing produce for many of Toronto and the surrounding area’s high-end restaurants and hotels. Part of Cohlmeyer’s success has been carving out a niche. He has selected different vegetables that aren’t found in the average garden or on grocery store shelves. In doing so, he’s discovered that newer isn’t always better. By looking into the past, Cohlmeyer has discovered some forgotten flavours. "People think the reds, the whites, and the black (carrots) are new, but they’ve been around the longest," said Cohlmeyer. It has only been in the past few centuries that orange carrots have come into prominence, and that is mostly because of their suitability to certain soils, he said. "So everybody is up with the latest when they’re eating the orange carrots," said Cohlmeyer. While Cohlmeyer has list of consistent customers, he still does have produce available for those that want to make presidential meals out of their own kitchen. He sells out of the Brick Works Farmers’ Market in Toronto, but vegetables are also available directly from the farm. For more information, call 705-458-9077 or go to .
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.
Timothy Andrew Nightingale, 23, of Collingwood, pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice Apr. 14 to the indictable offences of breaking and entering a dwelling and using an imitation firearm in the commission of the crime. He was sentenced to two and a half years behind bars in a federal penitentiary, to be followed by three years on probation. Nightingale’s jointly accused – Grant Shuttleworth, also 23 and a Collingwood resident – pleaded guilty to similar charges plus a breach of probation last December. He received four years in a federal penitentiary. Prosecutor Paul Billington began by summarizing the evidence with a lengthy statement describing the case. He read that at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2008, both accused went to a Matthew Way Co-op address, where they tried to buzz in but were denied entry. Driven by alcohol and seeking revenge for an uncle who was seriously assaulted 10 days before, Shuttleworth "went to the steel door and kicked it in," Billington said. Both men entered wearing cloth masks and brandishing air guns. A five-minute reign of terror by Nightingale and Shuttleworth ensued, during which the mother of two girls, age 11 and 13, was threatened with death if she did not reveal the whereabouts of the male occupant. According to earlier evidence, Nightingale was ordered upstairs to search in vain for the other man – who remained safely hidden in a closet throughout the invasion. Meanwhile the mother had dialed 911, leaving the line open for the dispatcher to hear as both perpetrators "walked around smashing a television and ripping off closet doors." A bedroom door was also broken in half, added the Crown. At one point Nightingale confronted the younger girl, after first kicking in her unlocked bedroom door. While the terrified victim watched from a corner, he told her: "I’m sorry, I don’t like doing this to kids." Shuttleworth then warned both girls and their mother that "there will be blood" if they could not locate the man they sought. When police arrived at approximately 4:45 a.m., Nightingale – who was still holding the weapon – attempted to flee, court heard. It was admitted in Tuesday’s court by both counsel that the first offender "doesn’t recall pointing a gun, but might have." Trial lawyer Cecile Applegate said on her client’s behalf: "They were playing around with air guns. Shuttleworth tied a bandana around Mr. Nightingale’s face and his own. He thinks it’s a joke. When Shuttleworth kicked in the door, Mr. Nightingale knows it’s no longer a joke. Unfortunately he could have turned around and walked out, but he didn’t." The accused stood before Mr. Justice Roland Harris: "I’d just like to say I’m very sorry," he said. The defendant will be bound by a weapons ban for life. A DNA order will be affected within days, and his probationary period will address issues of alcohol abuse and empathy. "Three hundred years ago," wrote Harris, "Sir Edward Coke came up with the phrase: ‘A man’s home is his castle.’ It’s usually the one place you can feel safe. Instead, in this case what was in store for a number of people not to mention the target, was stark horror.
Girls in one Midland school are learning some important messages about living a healthy life thanks to a new program by Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe. Go Girls! Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds is a mentoring program for girls between the ages of 12 and 14. It is designed to encourage physical activity, healthy eating choices and the development of a positive self-image. “The goal is for the girls to have an appreciation of the benefits of an active lifestyle,” said France St. Amour, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe. “We want to support the girls (and) provide them with the right tools to choose and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’re trying to enhance their confidence and self-esteem…. If their inside feels good, then they will feel good on the outside, too.” The program, which runs in seven sessions and is led by volunteer female mentors, incorporates fun, educational games and activities. The idea is to build the mentor/participant relationship – as well as spark self-reflection and group discussions about healthy living and emotional, social and cultural issues. Each session is structured around three key Go Girls! themes: active living, balanced eating and feeling good about oneself. While Go Girls! is a national program, it has only recently been launched in North Simcoe, noted St. Amour, through a pilot project at Mundy’s Bay Public School. “The need is there. When you look at the bigger picture, you (realize) that girls between 12 and 14 don’t really do physical activity – unless they’re athletic. I think every school should have a program like this,” she said. “It helps them transition between (being a) teen and adulthood.” Rae-el Woo and Abigail McTague are the first two participants in the local program. They said they are enjoying their experience. “I thought it would be a cool thing to do after school,” said Rae-el. “It’s pretty fun.” Abigail agreed, saying the Go Girls! program is teaching her how to avoid making bad decisions in the future. Principal Barb Condren said she felt the program would offer an excellent opportunity for female students to address issues such as self-esteem, eating disorders and healthy living. She added that having someone closer to their own age to discuss these issues with seems to be what appeals to participants. “Girls are facing a lot of tough decisions. This is a great opportunity to not only get guidance, but also present choices.” Although the program is starting off small – only two students signed up for it this time around – St. Amour is confident it will grow as more young people learn about its benefits. In the meantime, she is hopeful she will be able to recruit enough mentors to deliver the program to three groups next year. For more information on the Go Girls! program, call 526-5051 or visit www.kidsdomatter.com. [email protected]
Should local companies receive preferential treatment when bidding on tenders for municipal work? Harold and Patricia Huestis, owners of P&H Sweepline Services Inc., think so. The couple, who run a company that provides power sweeping, line marking and sign installation, are miffed because they recently lost a two year contract to supply durable pavement markings for the Town of Innisfil. Six companies bid on the tender, with submissions ranging from the lowest bid of $62,782.80 to $96,337.50. P&H quoted $66,888.65 and was the second lowest bid. The Huestis’ complained to their councillor, Peter Kmet, after the tender was awarded on March 25 to a Kitchener company. As a result, Innisfil council has been asked to consider a motion by Kmet, who has requested staff prepare a report to study the “feasibility of including a ‘local preference’ provision in the Town’s purchasing policy.” If Innisfil had a local preference clause, local companies would have a better chance of getting the job, even if they didn’t submit the lowest bid. The Stroud couple has operated their business for 12 years. Their client list is lengthy and large construction contractors from across southern Ontario often seek the firm out. “Every time I bid on stuff here and I’m really close, I never get it,” Harold Huestis says. “I’ve spoken to other business people in Innisfil who feel the same way. I employ a dozen local people, we all shop here and I get my trucks fixed in Innisfil. We all joined the new YMCA, too.” His wife and business partner, Patricia says, “We’re outraged. They’re not doing the right thing.” She’s upset that references supplied to the Town weren’t called. “They didn’t go to next level,” she says. “It’s like they blew us off like we’re nobodies.” When it comes to awarding tenders, “it’s generally been the rule of thumb to go with the lowest bid,” Mayor Brian Jackson says. But Jackson is open to giving local companies an edge, especially in a recession. “With the motion to look at local preference, in today’s economy, it’s something we’d like to accomplish,” he says. “It’s worthy of investigating if we have local taxpayers who are competitive and meet all other criteria to give them consideration.” The town already has a policy of not necessarily accepting the lowest bid on every project. Other criteria come into play, such as a company’s past performance. On the Town of Innisfil’s request for tender form, a clause states, “the Corporation of the Town of Innisfil … reserves the right to accept other than the lowest bid.” “We should support our local businesses within reason,” Kmet says. “P&H are local and they put money back into the community. If it was me, I would have looked at (the tender) a little closer, but it’s not for me to do (town staff’s) job, but to respect their decision.” The Huestis’ also have a supporter in Elmer Spring, owner of Spring Tree Farms on Innisfil Beach Road. “Work should be kept in house. When I was chasing work at the new rec complex and Town Hall, we couldn’t get the work,” Spring says. “I sent an e-mail to all of council and the Chamber of Commerce. I asked what happened. I thought our Town’s motto was ‘Live together, Work together, Play together’. It appears that they’re only following the ‘Live together’ part. We’re passing our competitors all the time on the road – they are coming into town and we’re heading out.” Ironically, P&H had the lowest bid on a job not long ago in another municipality about a half hour away from Innisfil. “We lost the job to a local firm,” Harold Huestis says. “I didn’t mind. I thought that was good the local guy got the work. I think they have the option to do that here.”
Nottawasaga OPP have charged a 21-year-old Alliston man in connection with an OPP cruiser collision Feb. 24. The man is charged with Turn Not in Safety, under the Highway Traffic Act. The collision happened on Church Street South in Alliston at about 5 p.m. A cruiser, responding to an emergency call on Albert Street was northbound on the road and came up to a long line of cars. The cruiser had its lights and sirens activated, but the cars did not move out of the way, according to police. The officer pulled out to pass and as he was approaching the front of the line, the lead car in the group, a Honda Civic, turned left, and into his path. Both cars spun out into the west ditch, with the cruiser slamming into a sign for PPG Canada. The driver of the Civic was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The officer was not hurt. E-mail reporter Kurtis Elsner at [email protected]
Midland police charged a 50-year-old Waubaushene man with assault last week after a woman was shoved and hit in the face. The incident happened March 31 around 10:25 p.m. at a Midland home. After being shoved into a table, the woman tried to call police, only to have the man break the telephone. When she tried another phone, the man grabbed her hand and hit her in the face. The accused – charged with assault, mischief under $5,000 and uttering death threats – was held for a bail hearing in Barrie.
Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop went from plumber to politician, and now he’s being honoured for his belief in the value of skilled trades. Dunlop will be among six Ontarians inducted into the Klaus Woerner Skilled Trades Hall of Fame next week. Nominated by Georgian College president Brian Tamblyn, Dunlop is one of only a handful of provincial politicians with a background in the trades; he operated his family’s plumbing business for almost two decades before entering politics. He was one of the first politicians to push for the apprenticeship tax credit, and in 2002 wrote an extensive report on skills development for the minister of education. Dunlop also played a role in the establishment of the first Skilled Trades Centre at Georgian College, located at the Robbert Hartog Midland campus, and continues to advocate for a standalone Ministry for Apprenticeship and Skills Development. The Klaus Woerner Skilled Trades Hall of Fame recognizes people who have made significant contributions to the advancement of skilled trades and technologies. The induction ceremony will take place March 3 in Kitchener.
Animal cruelty investigators found 28 head of dead cattle and are seizing 24 live head in connection with an ongoing investigation at a New Tecumseth farm. Investigators from the Alliston and District Humane Society, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and members of the Nottawasaga OPP attended the farm Tuesday afternoon (March 10). The farm is located on the 7th Line, just east of Tottenham Road. The animals include full-grown cattle and calves. The live animals were deemed living under distress by a veterinarian and are being removed from the farm, said Kristin Williams, a spokesperson for the OSPCA. She wouldn’t comment further on the current condition of the live animals. "At this point we’ll wait until we get the veterinary report. We’ve sent one of the dead calves to Guelph for a necropsy, which is an animal autopsy," she said. She said charges are currently being considered, and that so far it appears to be a case of animal neglect. When investigators arrived on the farm, there was no apparent sign of food or fresh water, she said. There also did not appear to be any dry bedding, and there were poor sanitary conditions both inside and outside the barn. Investigators have also removed a dog, which was seen hobbling around the farm, before being loaded into an OSPCA truck. Williams said the investigation was prompted after a complaint from the public.