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Vehicle stolen from Grey Highlands home

On March 18, Grey County OPP received information that a 2004 GMC Sierra truck had just been stolen from a residence on Grey Rd. 9 in Grey Highlands.

Not long afterwards, Wellington County OPP located the damaged vehicle in Arthur. The lone driver of the vehicle was arrested at the scene and turned over to Grey County OPP.  There were no injuries reported.

A 22-year-old woman with no fixed address was charged with theft over $5,000 – motor vehicle and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.

She is scheduled to appear in court in Owen Sound on April 28.

Group of former Goodwill employees have been helping colleagues following store closures

Former Goodwill employees have come together to raise more than $100,000 to help their out-of-work colleagues, but uncertainty remains as the volunteer group prepares to disband.

"I had worked for the company for a few years and had a good understanding of the challenges a lot of the employees had, and I just felt very deeply that this situation would really put people into distress," said Gladys Okine, who worked with Goodwill in Toronto since 2012, until 16 stores were closed in January.

Employees Goodwill locations in the eastern, central and northern Ontario regions showed up to work Jan. 16 only to find out the stores had been closed. A few days later, the company filed for bankruptcy, leaving hundreds of employees in the lurch.

That’s when Okine reached out to several co-workers, 20 of whom helped form a group called Renew the Good.

"The group is made up of volunteers who have been impacted by this, and it’s important they all start to process what’s happened and think about what they have to do for their lives and family now," she said, explaining why Renew the Good will disband Thursday.

Lucia Ruffolo worked at Orillia’s Goodwill for more than 16 years. She is among the former employees who are part of Renew the Good.

"I knew what I was feeling and going through, and if I was that overwhelmed, I could just imagine what they were going through, so I had to volunteer my time," said Ruffolo.

The first step, she explained, was to make phone calls to the most vulnerable ex-employees — those with physical and intellectual disabilities — to make sure they were OK.

"Second step: Gladys had decided, ‘Let’s see if we can try and raise some money to make sure that they financially were OK,’" she added.

The goal was to to raise money to help employees with urgent needs, such as medicine, rent and food.

Soon, said Ruffolo, volunteers realized the most vulnerable employees weren’t the only ones in need of assistance.

"We passed it out to all of the employees, saying, ‘(If) you’re in need of something, give us a phone call. Let’s see what we can do for you.’"

The fact Renew the Good is made up of former Goodwill employees made a big difference, she added.

"It wasn’t just somebody on the phone; it was somebody going through exactly what they were going through," she said. "So, to be able to hear someone on the other side saying, ‘Yeah, I lost my job, too,’ made that personal connection."

A majority wanted to know if the store closures were temporary.

"It wasn’t clear in the beginning," said Okine. "We had been closed temporarily and weren’t clear on the status of the organization and whether it was going to be reopening. It was very confusing and there was no way to communicate what was happening."

Once the decision to close the stores had been finalized, "I knew that would definitely be a challenge — helping employees and colleagues figure out what to do next, how to move through this." she said.

From January until now, the group has helped colleagues connect with several resources, such as the federal Wage Earner Protection Program, Ontario Disability Support Program, employment agencies and even post-secondary institutions for those who wanted to return to school.

And even though the volunteers will go their own ways at the end of this week, Okine said, third-party referrals for confidential and individual matters will still be available.

"Everybody has been very, very helpful," she said. "I’m so thankful to all the volunteers, because none of this would have been possible without them. They will be looking for work as well and I hope people will be able to see what these volunteers have done. They’re very capable, very talented people."

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Innisfil residents advised to stay off roads as power crews work

The Town of Innisfil is advising residents to stay in-doors and avoid all non-essential travel as crews work to restore power and clear roads of debris caused by the ice storm.

The Town of Innisfil has opened a warming centre at the Innisfil Public Library Lakeshore branch (located at 967 Innisfil Beach Road) for those who need electricity and a warm place to stay.

Power was still out in the Sandy Cove area this morning.

Residents are advised to report any power outages to InnPower at 705-431-4321 and monitor InnPower’s website for updates .

To report any roads that are blocked or flooding, residents can call Innisfil Town Hall at 705-436-3710 or 1-888-436-3710 and leave a message.

At this time, police, fire and road crews are working to restore power and clear roads of debris and the town does not need volunteers at this time.

Suzuki speaking at Georgian College on Earth Day

Georgian College will mark Earth Day 2016 in the company of award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki. 

Suzuki will share his wisdom on The Challenge of the 21st Century: Setting the Real Bottom Line with students, alumni, staff and supporters on Friday, April 22.

His hour-long presentation is part of the President’s Thought Leadership Speaker Series, which engages the broader community in the exceptional learning experiences available at Georgian.

“I am eagerly anticipating the visit from Dr. Suzuki, especially for Earth Day 2016,” said MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College President and CEO. “Georgian is fundamentally committed to environmental sustainability and we strive to continually advance our efforts. I know that Dr. Suzuki will bring challenging and inspirational messages for all of us.”

Doors open to attendees at 9:30 a.m. with a pre-show starting at 10 a.m. Tickets for the general public cost $30 each and can be purchased at GeorgianCollege.ca/EarthDay.  The presentation will take place in the Barrie Campus Athletic and Fitness Centre. All tickets are general admission and seating on bleachers.

This event is proudly sponsored by TD Friends of the Environment, Johnson Inc. and AMG Environmental Inc.

Barrie Film Festival screens new flicks in April

The Barrie Film Festival is bringing some critically acclaimed flicks to the big screen in April.

The Screen One Film Series presents The Lady in the Van April 6 and 7 at the Uptown Theatre.


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The comedy is based on the true story of Miss Shepherd (played by Maggie Smith), a woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked her van in Alan Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years. What begins as a begrudged favour becomes a relationship that will change both their lives.

Showtime is April 6 at 4, 7 and 9:15 p.m. and April 7 at 4 and 7 p.m.

The BFF Dinner and A Movie series presents Mustang at the Uptown Theatre April 21 at 4 and 8 p.m.

It’s early summer in a village in Northern Turkey and five free-spirited teenaged sisters splash about on the beach with their male classmates. Though their games are merely innocent fun, a neighbour passes by and reports what she considers to be illicit behavior to the girls’ family. The family overreacts, removing all “instruments of corruption,” like cellphones and computers, and essentially imprisoning the girls, subjecting them to endless lessons in housework in preparation for them to become brides. As the eldest sisters are married off, the younger ones bond together to avoid the same fate.

The film is subtitled.

The two screening times will allow you time to enjoy a meal either after or before the show. Film tickets and meals are sold separately.

Barrie’s Kansas Stone ready for next level

It may have taken years, but Kansas Stone is ready to unleash its debut EP on the world.

“We all have to work our day jobs. It took so long for us,” vocalist Brian Vain said. “We have been playing, playing, playing, and at every show people say, ‘Where can you buy your album?’”

They finally have an answer.

The Barrie-based country band’s Country 101 will be available in April.

Kansas Stone – made up of Vain, Matt Davey, Dave Ahara and Brad “Big Turk” Ryder – has performed live for the past few years, building a solid local fan base.

Between gigs, the band found time to hit the studio with producer Neil Devereaux at Mojo Studios.

“Right now, it’s just getting mastering done,” Vain said. “Neil’s a good friend of ours. He worked on the Road Hammers album. He’s very talented.”

For those unfamiliar with the band, Vain describes Kansas Stone as “real music.”

“We don’t pretend to be what we aren’t. We write what we feel.”

Ryder said what sets the band apart is its drive.

“We lock into our music totally,” he said.

“We like to capture a lot of the feelings and emotions that people go through daily, but people sometimes want to let loose and have fun. We have all of that in our music.”

Kansas Stone recently hosted a video release party at The Ranch for the song Whisky and Wine.

The event included an appearance from CMT Canada’s Paul Maguire.

“It’s great any time we get to play the Ranch, not only because it’s the biggest country bar in Canada, but because it’s our hometown. It’s like family,” Vain said. “The whole night, the whole experience was great. Having Paul Maguire from CMT was such an honour.”

Davey said he found the party “amazing and enlightening.”

“It was good to see all that hard work pay off. It had been a long time coming,” he said. “We had lots of support, all our friends and family. It’s one of the tighter shows we’ve played. We were excited to show our best selves.”

Is Kansas Stone on the cusp of something great?

“It’s snakes and ladders. Sometimes you make it right to the top right away, but you can’t doubt yourself or give up if you don’t get up there right away,” Davey said.

The band’s next single will be Country 101.

“It’s been a staple for us. Learning how to become part of the country music scene and learning to carve out our place, Country 101 embodies that,” he said.

Up next for the band is a gig at Canadian Music Week in Toronto in May.

More show dates will be added to the band’s website in the near future.

The EP will be available through the band’s website and iTunes.

Visit for details.


GET TO KNOW KANSAS STONE

What is your favourite song on the EP to perform?

Brian Vain – Whisky and Wine

Matt Davey – Drink On

Brad “Big Turk” Ryder – Country 101 because “I like to drive my symbols right to the ground. It’s heavy. I love that song.”

If you could open for any music act, who would it be?

Brian Vain – Garth Brooks because “He’s like the KISS of Country”

Matt Davey – Chris Stapleton

Brad “Big Turk” Ryder – Zac Brown Band

Three arrested in Orillia drug bust

Two Toronto youths, along with an adult from Orillia, are facing several charges following a drug bust Thursday night.

Just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday, officers form the OPP Tactics and Rescue Unit, Central Region Emergency Response Team and Central Region Canine Unit executed a search warrant at two separate houses on Front Street in Orillia.

During the raid, police say they located and seized a quantity of crack cocaine, marijuana, paraphernalia associated with trafficking and a prohibited weapon.

The three arrested face “several drug and weapon charges,” an OPP news release issued via Twitter stated. They were all released on promises to appear in Orillia youth and adult court, respectively.

The adult charged was a resident of one of the houses. Police are continuing to investigate the involvement of the other residents.

Neither the identity of the adult accused nor the specific charges laid were released by police.