Author: qamq

Orillia native travels globe for CP

It’s 4 p.m. on a Monday and Orillia native Terry Pedwell is juggling a list of stories he’s pursuing for the Canadian Press (CP) newsroom.

“My day started with covering the beginning of closing arguments in the Mike Duffy fraud case, and then moved on to the finance minister (Bill Moreau) announcing the federal deficit is going to be billions more than originally estimated,” Pedwell told Simcoe.com.

He was so busy he missed covering Question Period in the House of Commons.

“Now, I’ve moved on to an interview with two RCMP officers who have come back from Jordan, after assisting Syrian refugees,” he added.

No two days are the same for the 53-year-old graduate of Couchiching Heights Public School and ODCVI. Pedwell likes it that way.

Change “is part of it, and things change all the time,” he said.

“Sometimes that can be confusing, because there are so many things happening all at once.”

He notes that with today’s rapid-fire approach to news, CP clients want to access material as quickly as possible.

“The drive is still there because there are so many interesting stories to tell and events to cover, and the bigger they get, the more complicated they get,” said Pedwell.

Looking back, Pedwell vividly remembers being in an English class at ODCVI, where his teacher first planted the seeds of journalism in his head in his early teens.

“Mary Masterson was my English teacher at the time and she was probably the most important influence on me,” said Pedwell.

Through conversations, she suggested he abandon thoughts of becoming an eye doctor and instead pursue journalism.

“Looking back, there might be some fascination in becoming an eye doctor, but you end up being stuck in an office, looking at people’s eyes all day,” he said. “That’s something I could find tedious after a while.”

Now 26 years into his career with Canadian Press, his assignments have taken him to the far reaches of the globe.

“I’ve been on every continent except for South America, and I plan on going there later this year,” he said. Pedwell has so many memories of trips abroad, but one trip to Israel with then Prime Minister Jean Chretien has special meaning. He had just a short window of time before he had to board the plane “and I was bound and determined I was going to go out and see something,” he recalls.

He ran as fast as his body would carry him from the King David Hotel to the Wailing Wall in the old section of Jerusalem.

“I saw what I needed to see, bought a souvenir off a vendor, ran back to the hotel, packed my bags and jumped on the plane,” said Pedwell.  “I also saw the pyramids in Egypt through my hotel room,” he jokes.

Working as a war correspondent for CP, he did three tours of Afghanistan.

“My third time in Afghanistan, I was sitting in my tent in the Canadian base in Kandahar, two days into my assignment and saying to myself, ‘what the hell am I doing back here?’” he said.

But what he saw there paled in comparison to the atrocities he witnessed in Haiti.

The ousting of Jean Betrand-Aristide unleashed full-blown violence.

“It (Haiti) was probably one of the toughest experiences of my life and there were mobs of people who were moving around like flocks of birds,” he said.

At one point, a young man was shot and killed right beside him.

“At that moment I froze and the gunman who shot the boy came up to me and just smiled. I froze and watched him reach down and pull the running shoes off the dead man and he just took off,” he said.  

Pedwell’s news partner and photographer was yelling frantically at him to run for his life.

“It was the strangest and most horrifying situation I’ve ever encountered,” he remembers.

The images and memories of that day have never left him.

“There were situations I saw there, that I will never be able to un-see,” he said.

On Parliament Hill, Pedwell has seen governments come and go in his time.

The change in federal governments last fall from Conservative to Liberal has altered the relationship between members of the media and MPs.

“During the Harper years, we didn’t really rely on information from any of the communications people in the various departments or the ministers, because they all clammed up,” said Pedwell.

“So you had to find other ways of getting information.”

During the first 100 days of the Trudeau Liberals, the exact opposite has happened.

“There is more access to ministers and department officials now, but the problem with that is that you are inundated with information from so many sources you have to sift through it and figure out what is important to people,” he said.

Pedwell says the relationship between politicians and reporters is sometimes rocky.

“If they’re not in hot water, they’ll get to know you and want to talk to you,” he said. “If they are in hot water and they know you, they want to avoid you like the plague because they know you are going to ask the tough questions.”

Barrie residents honoured for saving life at Lowe’s

Five Barrie residents received Awards of Merit from Mayor Jeff Lehman Monday for helping save the life of a Lowe’s employee.

Peter Rovazzi had just finished his shift Dec. 21, 2015, when he decided to help a few last customers, one of whom later found him lying on the floor.

She and four others in the store, including one employee, took turns giving Rovazzi CPR before emergency crews arrive and took him to hospital.

“All of these individuals did something extraordinary under the circumstances,” said Lehman before presenting them with medallions. “(CPR) training saves lives.”

The Award of Merit recipients are Sherry Oudit, Lynn Lamoureux, Doug Switzer, Gary Banting and Anthony Cassiani.

Guinness verifies curlers’ world record

Now that’s putting down the hammer.

A group of 10 area curlers, who participated in a marathon bonspiel at the Coldwater District Curling Club nearly 18 months ago, can now boast world-record status after their quest to enter the Guinness World Record books has been verified following a process organizers referred to as a "marathon in itself."

The dedicated group, which included Orillia-area representatives Stephen Collins and Lauren Grealy, bested the previous record (73 hours, six minutes and 52 seconds) set in Dumfries, Scotland, in 2013. The new time to beat now rests at 79 hours, 15 minutes and three seconds.

But to receive the coveted honour, the group had to submit more than 80 hours of video, statements of authenticity from more than 40 witnesses and local officials along with media clippings and reports that had to be examined with what Coldwater organizer Bill Pearce described as "one of the finest-tooth combs I have ever heard of."

Besides Collins, Grealy and Pearce, the newly minted record holders include Corrine Bertolo, Michael Foster, Perry Marshall, Pearce’s twin daughters, Brittany and Amanda, along with Andrew and Jeff Vanbodegom.

"It was an honour to get to do this with such a great group," said Pearce, who noted it was equally exciting do take part in the exhausting yet fun effort with his daughters. "What a great experience."

The official certificate celebrating the world record was presented to the Coldwater District Curling Club recently and will hang prominently next to championship banners from the likes of Glenn Howard and Sherry Middaugh.

Both Pearce and Collins also took part in a 60-hour record event held in Bala in 2011, making them two of only nine in the world and the only two Canadians to have broken two world records for marathon curling.

Although the curlers have no immediate plans for any future marathons, some of them said they wouldn’t rule it out entirely if their official record were to be beaten.

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Angus couple wins $100,000 in High Roller game

An Angus couple are $100,000 richer after winning the top prize in LOTTO MAX’s Instant High Roller game.

John and Lauraine Malarczyk won the money in Game 1874. ?The couple are regular LOTTO 6/49 and LOTTO MAX players, but tried the High Roller game because it’s new.

“I was completely breathless when I realized we won,” said John Malarczyk. “I kept telling him to breathe,” added his wife. ??

The couple have four children and say they will using the money to help with their mortgage. ??INSTANT HIGH ROLLER is a $5 INSTANT game that has eight top prizes of $100,000. Overall odds of winning are one in 3.82. ??

The winning ticket was purchased at Giant Tiger on Massey Street in Angus. 

Toronto woman killed in Essa accident

Police have identified the woman killed in Sunday’s fatal crash in Essa Township.

The victim, 24-year-old Toronto resident Bronwyn Dalziel, died after two vehicles collided around 4 p.m. March 27 on the 9th Line at the 5th Sideroad.

Police said the woman was driving a car south on the 9th Line when she ran a stop sign and crashed into a van.

Another person sustained life-threatening injuries, while three others were also hurt.

The road was closed for several hours for the police investigation, re-opening around 10 p.m.

Orillia hockey league wants new rink

Orillia Minor Hockey is imploring the city to replace the outdated Brian Orser Arena with a new rink at the coming recreation centre.

But a councillor with an affinity for the game says taxpayers’ money is better spent on refurbishing the aging Gill Street facility.

“There is nothing wrong with the building, it’s still good,” said Rob Kloostra. “Oro did the whole renovation on their (rink in Guthrie). It was $3.2 million to do the whole project and they got 20 more years out of it.”

Kloostra’s suggestion that the local facility could be upgraded and perhaps expanded is unlikely to find favour with the local hockey association.

President Fior Tucci is calling on the city to include a twin pad at the recreation centre at 255 West St. S., with a single ice surface constructed as part of the project’s first phase.

Pouring millions into the Brian Orser Arena makes no sense, Tucci recently told council in a letter.

“As an association, we are opposed to spending millions of dollars on an outdated, fledgling building which is cost prohibitive to repair based on its original intention,” he said, adding the city has yet to solicit input on the recreation file from his organization.

Tucci said the local hockey association was forced to cancel games and practices at the arena after the ice plant was shut down in September.

A letter outlining its concerns was sent to council that month.

“We also moved tournament games from Brian Orser over concerns of the reliability of the facility for our popular 26th annual Jim Wilson Tournament, which draws over 1,000 participants to our city,” he added.

The association has had to rely on the arena for its expanded Tyke House League program, as there was no ice available at Rotary Place.

Tucci says the building has ongoing issues and should not be viewed as an optional ice surface.

“We cannot start a program in September in the hopes that Brian Orser can facilitate our program,” he added. “There are no other options and we would be forced to cancel programs.”  

According to Kloostra, the city has no funding commitment from upper levels of government for another rink.

“For this population, how are you going to pay for it?” he said. “You’d have to have it open 24 hours a day to pay for it.”

Council has agreed to repair the refrigeration system at Brian Orser along with any minimal repairs that are required, Kloostra added.

“But there has been no commitment for any major work on it,” he said.

Kloostra intends to push for a larger investment in the decades-old facility, including updated dressing rooms, energy efficient features and increased seating.

“Bring it up to NHL size,” he said, adding a second floor could be erected to accommodate meeting rooms.

“We are talking millions, but it is good money well spent,” he said.

In a previous report, staff said retrofitting the Brian Orser Arena carried a $3.5 million price tag, while a new arena would run $7 to $10 million.

Ontario’s $100,000 club grows again

Carla Ladd and Kimberley Greenwood were the two highest-paid City of Barrie employees in 2015.

Ladd, Barrie’s chief administrative officer (CAO), earned $241,505 last year.

Greenwood, Barrie’s police chief, had a salary of 241,113 in 2015.

The Ontario government released its annual disclosure of public-sector salaries of more than $100,000 last Thursday afternoon, right before the Easter weekend.

The so-called ‘Sunshine List’ contains the names and salaries of more than 115,000 people.

City employees, city police officers and firefighters made the list.

Retired Barrie fire chief John Lynn earned $162,639 last year. New Barrie Fire Chief Bill Boyes earned $139, 584 in 2015 as a deputy fire chief, the department’s manager of operations and training.

Bruce Carlson, Barrie’s deputy police chief, earned $204,339 last year.

After Ladd, the next highest-paid employee at city hall in 2015 was Richard Forward, Barrie’s general manager of infrastructure and growth management, at $193,246.

The Sunshine List also contains salaries for Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).

President and chief executive officer Janice Skot’s 2015 salary was $302,960, followed by executive vice-president Nancy Savage at $295,000.

Five RVH vice-presidents also made the Sunshine List, earning more than $100,000 last year.

Charles Gardner, Simcoe County’s medical officer of health, had a 2015 salary of $298,811.

Colin Lee, associate medical officer of health at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, had a salary of $223,553 last year, while Lisa Simon, also an associate medical officer of health, had a 2015 salary of $188,414.

At the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB), education director Kathryn Wallace had the highest 2015 salary at $225,346, followed by associate director Janis Medysky at $181,219.

Eight SCDSB superintendents also made the Sunshine List, along with nine high school principals.

At the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, education director Brian Beal topped the 2015 Sunshine List with a 2015 salary of $212,654, followed by associate education director Peter Derochie at $203,612.

Five superintendents of education also earned more than $100,000 last year with the Catholic school board, along with four high school principals.

Still in the educator sector, Georgian College president and chief executive officer Marylynn West-Moynes earned a 2015 salary of $279,068.

At the County of Simcoe, chief administrative officer Mark Aitken earned $260,669 in salary last year, while Jane Sinclair – general manager of health and emergency services – had a 2015 salary of $206,336.

Andrew Robert, the director and chief of paramedic services (which serves Barrie), earned $151,031 last year.

Tom Mitchell, the CEO of Ontario Power Generation, came out on top for 2015, taking home $1,528,933 in salary – plus taxable benefits worth $66,377.26.

Next was William Moriarty – president and CEO of the University Of Toronto Asset Management Corporation, who had a salary of $1,473,446.

For more information on the Sunshine List, visit: news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/ontarios-sunshine-list-for-2016-public-sector-salaries-over-100k.

With files from The National Post

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Georgian College hosting spring open house April 7

(SUBMITTED) – Georgian College throws open the doors at all seven campuses for its annual spring open house on Saturday, April 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Prospective students, friends and family are all welcome.

Visitors will be able to ask questions about housing options, the application process, books, financial aid, awards and scholarships, campus food options and more.

They’ll also have a chance to meet faculty, staff and other students, and learn about Georgian’s more than 125 apprenticeships, certificates, diplomas and degrees that start in May, September and January 2017.

Scheduled academic sessions will be held at the Barrie and Orillia campuses. At all other campuses, participants are invited to drop by classroom sessions throughout the day.

Registration is not required, but those who RSVP will receive a free swag bag when they attend. Those who tweet a selfie of themselves on campus during Open House can win one of five $100 gift certificates.

Open House visitors can also enter to win one of three Accelerated Adventure Prize Packs worth $700 each.  Learn more at GeorgianCollege.ca/open-house.

Those who can’t attend Open House are invited to any Georgian campus for a personal tour or to attend one of the many upcoming Community Night events.

For full details and to RSVP, visit GeorgianCollege.ca.

UPDATE: Power still out in parts of Barrie, Oro-Medonte and New Tec

More than 9,000 customers remained without power in Simcoe County Saturday morning, but the light at the end of the icy tunnel was beginning to show.

That the was ice beginning to thaw certainly helped.

“I believe that the temperature is supposed to increase,” said Lori Gariepy, spokesperson for PowerStream. “That will help with the ice melting.., because it’s the heavy ice on the trees that’s causing them to break and fall on the line. As the ice starts to melt, we’ll start to see some relief.”

The ice storm that hit southern and central Ontario Thursday and Friday knocked out power to more than 100,000 customers throughout the province, with some 45,000 Hydro One customers still in the dark and feeling the cold 48 hours later.

Utility companies had crews working non-stop to restore power, including the hundreds working for Hydro One across the province, and the rotating crew of 50 taking care of restoration for PowerStream.

“Additional resources are on the ground right now,” said Ani Bekmezian, spokesperson for Hydro One. “We are expecting to make really good progress.”

As of 3 a.m Saturday, approximately 230 PowerStream customers remained out of service Gariepy said. Those instances were all individual customers, dealing with issues such as downed trees and lines specific to their properties.

By 1 p.m., workers had knocked that figure down by about 100 customers, as 53 in Alliston, 51 in Barrie, 17 in Beeton and six in Tottenham remain without power.

In Oro-Medonte, approximately 500 Hydro One customers remain without power. The company’s Storm Centre website estimates power could be restored between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday.

The number of Hydro One customers who are still without power means some customers may be in the dark longer at the expense of getting the most amount of customers back up and running in the quickest time possible.

“The way we prioritize our work is to ensure we’re doing the fixing of the infrastructure that’s going to feed the most costumers,” Bekmezian said. “Then we move down to the individual homes and the individual customers.”

However, that doesn’t mean rural customers get taken advantage of at the expense of Hydro One’s urban population. Bekmezian added the nature and the extent of the damage done in a particular area will add to the restoration time.

Hydro One has deployed all 1,200 workers, and has been calling on neighbouring utilities for assistance – including Midland and Newmarket.

No specific time for full restoration has been set, but both Hydro One and PowerStream are hopeful things are back completely to normal sooner than later.

“These are estimations, these are our goals to be able to have the power restored for those customers,” Bekmezian said, adding weather conditions could play a factor; the melting ice is causing some bent and bowed branches to spring back, putting additional pressure on the wires.

PowerStream has already seen issues pop up that have hindered the restoration process. Two separate issues in Barrie Saturday morning knocked out power to more than 4,000 customers. When Gariepy was interviewed, the cause was still under investigation. Regardless, power has been quickly restored.

“We do have ongoing issues throughout the region, due to downed lines from fallen trees,” she said.

PowerStream reported 6,800 Bradford customers without power at the peak of the outage, but all service had been restored by 6 a.m. on Saturday  – with the exception of isolated equipment failures. Gariepy called it a "quick turnaround" for those customers.

As for Innisfil residents serviced by InnPower, "At one point we were close to having all of our customers without service. We had a loss of supply," said Vice President of Corporate Services, Shannon Brown. "The ice storm obviously caused a lot of damage. The crews have been working since Thursday, when the outage began."

By Friday night, approximately 70% of InnPower customers had their service restored – but there remained pockets of outages, where downed poles, wires, and damaged transformers may take longer to repair.

For Hydro One customers, check here for the latest outage information. PowerStream customers can visit this link.

[email protected]

@patrickbales

Barrie police looking for man

City police are looking for a man in connection with thefts from Barrie Sports Dome on March 19.

Just after 5 p.m., a man entered the Hanmer Street facility and walked into the men’s change room. Items were taken from unlocked lockers and a man left the building.

Two of the victims’ credit cards were used, at Macs Convenience and Ultramar Gas Bar on Bayfield Street in Midhurst.

The man is described as white, in his mid-30s, with black-framed glasses. He was wearing a black hat, a red hoodie, a black jacket, jeans and black running shoes.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Const. J. Frouws at 705-725-7025, ext. 2504 or [email protected] or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit tipsubmit.com.