Category: fstgzbyux

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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Barrie man charged with stunt driving after travelling 205 km/h on Hwy. 400

A 19-year-old Barrie man has been charged with stunt driving after admitting to police he had been driving 205 km/h on Highway 400 Saturday night.

Barrie police say shortly before 11 p.m. an officer stopped a vehicle that had been travelling 175 km/h on Highway 400. Police stopped the vehicle just north of Mapleview Drive.

After being stopped, police say the driver admitted he had actually been travelling much faster.

Despite his honesty, he was charged and received a seven-day driving suspension and had his vehicle impounded.

Highway 400 Bridge replacement planned

The province is widening Highway 400, from Highway 9 north to the Holland Marsh – widening and replacing the bridges over the North and South Canals.

The South Canal Bridge replacement will take place first, with completion slated for 2018. Once that project, and the construction of the new interchange at the 400 & Line 5 BWG are completed, work will begin on the North Canal Bridge replacement, Bradford West Gwillimbury Council was told by Mike Trader, Senior Association and Professional Engineer with Stantec.

As part of the project, a section of the North Canal will be realigned to the north, the Central River Culvert will be “rehabilitated, removed or replaced” – and the existing Canal Road Ramps will be closed.

Trader noted that construction on the Design-Build project will begin in 2019 and take three years to complete. The highway and bridge will initially be widened to six lanes in each direction, “10 lanes ultimately.”

During construction, the Ministry of Transportation plans to keep three lanes of Hwy. 400 open in each direction, by starting the new bridge 11 metres from the existing roadway on each side, then shifting traffic as the centre span is built.

While Hwy. 400 traffic will continue to flow, North Canal Road will be closed between Wist and Davis, for the three years of the project.

A public meeting to present the project will be held at the BWG Leisure Centre, 471 West Park Ave. on Wednesday, March 30, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Councillors suggested that there would be strong public reaction to the plans. Mayor Rob Keffer called the closure of North Canal Road an issue for marsh farmers, noting, “The farming community I don’t think will be pleased with a 3 year closure.”

“This is pretty serious,” agreed Councillor Gary Lamb.

Contest open to Barrie musicians

Multi-Tech Audio Video is running a live music competition April 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. in Barrie as part of its grand opening celebration.

Barrie and area musicians can enter to win free promotional materials and a grand prize of a Live HD promo video package worth $3,000.   


Any contestant that moves forward in the competition and performs live on April 24 will receive a live mix down to CD and MP3 of their performances, just for participating.

There is no entry fee and proceeds will support the Barrie Food Bank.

For more, visit

Never sweat the small stuff

With a trip to the library and a couple of books under her arm, Jessie Marion steeled her nerve and opened her own doggie daycare/training/grooming business.

That was a year ago, and now Crate Escape is going strong.

"I’ve been in the dog industry since I was 15 and I always wanted to work for myself," said Marion, 25, owner of Crate Escape. "In the past, I have dabbled in just about every dog job there is and I always wanted to do daycare."

About two years ago, Marion started working on her business plan and with the help of a evening seminar at the public library on starting a business, particularly the importance of a business plan. After reading a couple of books and getting advice from an uncle who is an entrepreneur, she was ready to hang out her shingle last year.

One challenge is how her customers react to her age.

"At least once a week someone asks me how old I am," said Marion. "Some people are worried, some people like it, but when I tell them I have been working with animals for 10 years they’re really surprised."

Marion has 2,500 sq. ft for the animals to play in on a rubberized floor, lots of activities and if a client prefers, the dog can be groomed and spend the day.

Starting a business is scary, and even yet the biggest fear for Marion is what any day will bring.

"The biggest hurdle that I had was getting clients, trying to market the business on a budget," said Marion. "If your budget was unlimited it would have been so easy, but you really have to depend on word of mouth."

For her, the biggest thing was just trying to get her name out to the right people.

And it appears that she did just that.

Ready to kick off Crate Escape into it’s second year, Marion already has plans for the future. In five years she would like to have the ability to offer boarding, as well as increase her schedule for training, add some more staff, but there is time enough for that.

"The biggest lesson I learned is not to sweat the small things, whatever is going to happen, whether you are going stress about it or not. You have to roll with the punches basically." said Marion. "As long as you know that you did everything you can on your half, then don’t sweat it."

Crate Escape is on 100 Mountain Road, Unit 4.

[email protected] 

Laurentian students taking fight to stay in Barrie to city council

Laurentian University (LU) Students Union will take its battle to Barrie city council on Monday.

James Westman, the union’s vice-president, has said the goal is simple.

“The purpose of this presentation will be to have the student voice heard, which has been tragically absent from discussions over our own future at Laurentian,” he said.

After delivering programs at Georgian College in Barrie since 2001, the university’s board of governors decided last month to relocate the Barrie arts and management programs as of May 2017, and to no longer provide social-work programs in Barrie as of May 2019.

LU has about 500 full-time equivalent students at the Georgian campus this year. The university’s plan to leave Barrie directly affects 219 Laurentian students.

Their original options were to finish their courses in Sudbury – Laurentian’s home base – complete only a three-year bachelor or arts degree, study online or transfer to another university.

“Our best chance to allow all Laurentian students to stay, and grow the prospects of university education in Barrie, rather than letting (them) be exported to Sudbury, Orillia and Toronto, is to have everyone on board,” Westman said.

“We need Laurentian, the province and the municipality to work together.”

The union is demanding Laurentian’s board of governors allow all of the university’s Barrie students to complete their four-year degrees in Barrie by 2019.

Laurentian officials have said the university will meet with each student registered at Barrie, and come up with a degree completion plan that works for each individual, both academically and in their personal situation.

Coun. Sergio Morales helped put the LU students union on council’s agenda.

“I paid them a visit when they were having their picket, and they said ‘we just want to keep the lines of conversation open with the city’,” he said.

“They know – even before my time – the city has pledged their support so much, to the cause of getting post-secondary education options in Barrie, so they wanted to be able to come and (council) hear them out.

“There’s just no reason why we shouldn’t have the conversation,” Morales said.

“We are asking for the full support of council to allow all Laurentian students to complete their degrees in Barrie,” Westman said. “We are trying to build as much support as we can – from Laurentian to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

“But support of city council is crucial for the only university student constituents in this city.”

Morales said, however, that he doesn’t expect council to consider a motion of support for the LU student cause, at this point.

“It’s just them coming and presenting their case, as anybody … but especially since we have committed (support) in the past,” he said.

LU students spent time in the Georgian Drive, Duckworth Street area last month with signs to show motorists why they don’t want their university to leave Barrie by 2019, after holding sit-ins at the Barrie campus.

The students’ union will also be attending Laurentian’s April 15 board of governors meeting in Sudbury, to present a petition opposing the Barrie decision, letters of support and stories of students with options that don’t work for them.

LU’s departure from Barrie also means its 23 full-time faculty will be offered positions in Sudbury, 11 full-time non-academic staff will be taken care of according to their collective agreements and the remaining 32 part-time staff will lose their jobs in 2019.

[email protected]

Mentally ill young woman charged with assaulting an officer gets jail sentence

As the lone officer approached, a distraught Shania Paige, 19, held out a pocket knife and locked eyes with her.

Just as Paige planned, Const. Erica Sinclair drew her gun, but instead of shooting, she kicked Paige in the legs, sending her to the ground where the two scuffled in a snowbank.

"It’s not easy to kill yourself," Paige later told police as she sat in a jail cell, arrested that January night for assaulting a police officer. She’s been in jail ever since.

"I’ve been wanting to get shot by police for a month now. Drug overdoses don’t work," she told police. "Even if you stab yourself in the stomach, you might screw up your life but you might not die."

The sad details of Paige’s case were revealed in a Barrie courtroom last week.

She suffers from bipolar disorder, cuts herself and has tried repeatedly to end her life.

She used to reach out to the suicide hotline almost daily — but not anymore after police charged her with public mischief last June for making "bogus" calls.

"She was punished because she didn’t actually kill herself," her outraged lawyer, Angela McLeod, told the judge. "She is not able to use that service any longer for fear she will be arrested."

So the next time Paige found herself in crisis, back in November, she went to the mental-health crisis service at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie. Now she’s banned from using that service as well.

In that case, Paige refused to let go of the bottle of hand sanitizer.

"She became agitated and refused to give back the bottle of hand sanitizer," Crown attorney Jenna Dafoe explained. "She became belligerent."

Two security officers came to "de-escalate" the situation, and a "reasonable use of force" was used to escort her out of the hospital, court heard. But somehow in the melee, her arm was broken in three places, requiring surgery. She was also charged with another assault.

"She was in the throes of a crisis, yet she was being kicked out of the hospital … because she was obsessed with a bottle of hand sanitizer," said McLeod, who noted Paige remains under a trespass order from the Barrie hospital.

"She had no where else to go."

Dafoe asked for a nine-month jail sentence for both assault charges.

"Ms. Paige’s behaviour is escalating," Dafoe said, noting there have been 101 mental-health cases involving police since February. "The previous programs and supports have not proven to be efficient … Ms. Paige is getting worse.

"When she snaps, she causes great and immediate danger … Our officers have to make snap decisions and then are scrutinized by the public."

In his ruling, Judge Nyron Dwyer praised the police officer for preventing a potentially disastrous outcome, but shot down the Crown’s request for a lengthy jail sentence.

"Unfortunately, our criminal justice system seems to be the repository for people with mental-health illnesses," the judge said.

He handed Paige a three-month jail sentence with three years’ probation.


Judge Nyron Dwyer:

"This young woman needs treatment. She has bipolar disorder. It is not of her choosing. She is just as much a member of the community as anyone else."

"The police are hamstrung. The mental-health services are hamstrung."

"Just because solutions may be difficult, we can’t allow ourselves to get to a point where general deterrence for these people means a lengthy jail sentence."

Defence lawyer Angela McLeod:

"Sadly, this is all too reminiscent of the Ashley Smith case and other young women like her who have taken their lives while in custody because of a lack of resources to deal with mental illness."

"How is it that despite the devastating outcomes of cases like Ashley Smith and Sammy Yatim, we are still having these problems? Have we learned nothing?"

"A bottle of hand sanitizer? Really?"

In a letter submitted to the court, Alanna Hargan, a Central North Correction Centre representative, asks the judge not to send Shania Paige to jail:

"We have seen the consequences of young girls with (mental illness) in the institutions and how a lack of support can lead to devastating effects."

Sunshine List grows by 3.5%

The top-paid public servant in Simcoe County is a psychiatrist for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Kola Phillips, who works for the association’s North Simcoe Assertive Community Treatment Team based in Orillia, was paid a salary of $339,587.84 in 2015, as revealed in the province’s Sunshine List, release Thursday afternoon.

The document, an initiative of the Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government in the 1990s, discloses the annual salaries of those working for provincial taxpayers and making more than $100,000 annually. There are 115,431 names on this year’s Sunshine List — about 3.5% more than in 2014.

City of Orillia

The highest-paid employee of the City of Orillia for 2015 is CAO Gayle Jackson. Jackson’s salary was $176,613.95. Her next-closest counterpart was CFO Bob Ripley, who was paid $156,690.09. Parks, recreation and culture director Ray Merkley was third-highest paid, at $142,126.33.

They’re a few of the 21 city employees on the list, which includes seven firefighters. Chief Ralph Dominelli was tops of that bracket, bringing in $135,891.20. Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Kirk was next at $121,707.20, followed by Capt. Matt Hinds at $105,726.94.

Insp. Pat Morris, Orillia OPP detachment commander, was paid $142,028.92.

Surrounding townships

Data was available for two of the three townships that surround Orillia. In Oro-Medonte, 11 people made more than $100,000 in 2015, including CAO Robin Dunn, who was paid $166,627.85. Paul Gravelle, who serves as deputy CAO, treasurer and director of finance, was next at $131,860.04.

Only three people were paid more than $100,000 in Severn Township. The CAO also took the top dollar there, bringing in $136,760.08. Director of corporate services/treasurer Andrew Plunkett was next at $113,662.66.

Simcoe County

The County of Simcoe had 101 names on the Sunshine List this year, with nearly a third of those affiliated with the county’s paramedic services.

County CAO Mark Aitken was the top earner, bringing in a salary of $260,669.04 in 2015. Jane Sinclair, general manager of health and emergency services, followed at $206,336.14, with the third-highest salary going to general manager of corporate performance Trevor Wilcox.

Health care

Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) had 45 names on the Sunshine List for 2015, including two who made more than $200,000 last year.

CEO Pat Campbell, in her first full year on the job, earned $270,002.20. Chief of staff and vice-president of medical affairs Nancy Merrow’s salary was $249,815. Six registered nurses and five pharmacists at OSMH also made the list.

Nine members of the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network made the list, including CEO Jill Tettmann, whose salary was $267,500.17 in 2015, and COO Neil Walker, who made $219,974.85.

They were joined by 31 employees of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, including medical officer of health Charles Gardner, who was paid $298,811.04 last year. The two associate medical officers of health, Colin Lee and Lisa Simon, were paid $223,552.69 and $188,414.06, respectively.


The county’s two school boards combined to have more names on the 2015 Sunshine List than any other local organization, with more than 500 between the two of them.

Simcoe County District School Board director of education Kathryn Wallace was the top earner, with a salary of $225,346.05. Her counterpart at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, Brian Beal, brought in $212,655.89.

The public board had 390 employees making more than $100,000, compared to 153 with the Catholic board. As well, barely a dozen-and-a-half teachers made more than $100,000 for the Catholic board, while more than 180 teachers made the list for the public board.

The principals at Orillia’s high schools are included in those numbers. Jim Sammon, of Orillia Secondary School, was paid $131,632.16 in 2015. Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School’s Carolyn Healy took home a salary of $126,576, while Irfan Toor, of Twin Lakes Secondary School, made $122,126.19.

In the area’s institutions of higher education, Lakehead University Orillia’s Kim Fedderson was the top earner at $198,322.95. Mary O’Farrell-Bowers, at Georgian College Orillia, made $145,631.80.

Other local agencies

A number of other agencies in the region had members on the Sunshine List, including OPP General Headquators, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, Simcoe Community Services, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and New Path Youth and Family Services of Simcoe County.

For the complete Sunshine List, visit

[email protected] 

Billboard raising profile of Barrie Historical Archive

The Barrie Historical Archive is spreading a message in a big way thanks to the donation of a downtown billboard.

The billboard, on loan to the group from Paul Lynch for three months, is located at 35 Dunlop St. E..

The property is home to Joshua’s Greenery and three residential suites which are currently being renovated.

“Although all of Barrie’s history is important, this sign in the heart of the downtown core where so many fondly-remembered buildings have stood, is particularly meaningful,” says Deb Exel, vice-chair of the Barrie Historical Archive. “We’re really hoping that this tangible reminder of our past will prompt people to come forward with stories, photos and donations to help further this cause.”

Dr. Travis Doucette, who heads the group, agrees.

"We are excited to get the word out about this incredible initiative that will celebrate and centralize Barrie’s history in a way like never before.  We’re looking for community members to link arms with us as we continue to raise funds to make this exciting project happen. We are hoping the billboard will generate curiosity and draw people to our webpage where they can learn more and help support this incredible cause."

To learn more about the group, or how you can help, visit

Barrie police ramp up distracted driving campaign

(SUBMITTED) – The Barrie Police Service is ramping up their annual distracted driving campaign, which will continue through the Easter long weekend.

The campaign is intended to raise awareness about the risks associated with distracted driving in order to improve road safety and to ensure a safe holiday for everyone.

Distracted driving qualifies as talking on a cell phone, texting, reading (e.g. books, maps, and newspapers), using a GPS, iPod, watching videos or movies. Distracted driving has become the number one cause of fatal collisions for young drivers. The lack of visual, manual and cognitive awareness leads to these collisions.

It is against the law in Ontario to use any electronic device while driving unless it is hands-free. Any motorist caught using a handheld electronic device while operating a motor vehicle will face:

$490.00 fine

Three (3) demerit points applied to your driver’s record upon conviction

If a motorist is convicted of distracted driving, a novice driver (subject to the Graduated Licensing program) will be subject to escalating sanctions:

First occurrence will result in a 30-day licence suspension

Second occurrence will result in 90-day licence suspension

Third occurrence – licence cancellation and removal from the Graduated Licensing System.


You can still use hand-held devices while driving in a few cases:

In a vehicle pulled off the roadway or lawfully parked

To call 9-1-1 – Having a cell phone can be an important safety aid for drivers and passengers – whether for personal safety or for reporting a crime or a collision.

Transmitting or receiving voice communication on a two-way, CB or mobile radio (hand-mikes and portable radios like walkie-talkies require a lapel button or other hands-free accessory)

Police, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters and enforcement officers can also use hand-held devices and viewing display screens when performing their duties.