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Some of the most recognized local business people have become “Easter Seals Stars”. Paired with professional dancers they will compete to be crowned Best Dance Couple. Celebrity judges, along with guests, will determine which dance team will be the winner of Barrie’s 5th annual Dancing with Easter Seals Stars. The event runs April 22 at Liberty North, 100 Caplan Avenue, Barrie. For more information, visit


A report about the history and sale of Collus Powerstream may have produced more questions than answers. READ MORE: READ MORE: Mark Rodger made a presentation on Thursday to council, offering a report that looked at the utility company before and after it was sold in 2012. Rodger said the report was challenging to prepare, citing lack of documentation on certain issues.  “It was not possible to draw conclusions on certain issues because of information gaps or very different interpretations of the facts,” he said. “It is apparent to me that there has been a certain amount of communication breakdown between the utility and the town. At some levels, I’ve described it as a mutual eroding of trust. “This has made it more challenging because we’re unfortunately where certain information is asked for, it’s being perceived as a hostile act.” One of the areas where there is a lack of a “paper trail,” according to Rodger is the sale of 50 per cent of the utility company to Powerstream. Rodger hasn’t been able to obtain documents on who suggested a 50 per cent sale of the shares. He said the only documents he received were the minutes of the meeting when the decision to sell the company was approved. He said he couldn’t confirm “the specific reasons why a 50 per cent share sale was determined to be the optimal option for the Town.” He said a lack of minutes and resolutions, “that’s where the gap is.” Councillor Kevin Lloyd said former Collus chairperson Dean Muncaster suggested the 50 per cent sale. Muncaster died soon after the deal was approved by council. “That was recommended to council through KPMG and also Dean Muncaster, a very highly respected businessman,” he said. “We were searching for a strategic partner. It was recommended that it be a 50-50 partnership, so no one held the advantage. It was an equal partnership.” Rodger said he did receive a clarification and confirmation memo on March 18 signed by six members of the previous council, and a memo from Councillor Dale West sent on March 19. Councillors Keith Hull and Joe Gardhouse, according to a comment by Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson, didn’t sign the document. Mayor Sandra Cooper said she attended a meeting on March 18, which included members of the previous council and representatives of the Collus board. She said she wasn’t aware of who called the meeting. She said the 50 per cent sale of Collus was discussed. “I didn’t host it, I didn’t invite people,” she said. Cooper said Rodger’s report came in yesterday and said while she had read some portions Thursday morning, she hadn’t had a chance to read the entire report. “I can’t really comment much about it because I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly read it yet,” she said. Cooper said if she had to do it again, she would still go in the same direction. “We have an innovative partner,” she said. “We are able to tap into more resources. It’s a benefit to all of us. I would still have the same partnership with Powerstream. I think it’s an excellent partnership.” According to the report, West wrote to Rodger that the driver of the deal was to “maximize value for the residents of Collingwood.” Rodger also included in his notes a report from CAO Kim Wingrove on Jan. 23, 2012, where she stated one of the reasons for the deal was to provide “additional funding to the town. The funds that are received as a result of this partnership will allow the municipality to reduce debt or to be available for valuable community projects.” Saunderson said he wanted to put the March 18 meeting and memo in context. “Have you ever had a document like this produced to you, in terms of an $8 million transaction?” he asked. “In fairness, I’ve never done a report like this in the past,” Rodger replied. Saunderson also asked Rodger who was pushing for the sale. “Do you get a sense of your report of who was driving the bus on this transaction?” Rodger felt the utility and the town don’t always have the same interests and believed council should have had its own legal counsel.  “I will say, in my experience, the best interests of the town are not always the best interests of the utility,” he said. Four proposals were received when the town advertised for a partner in the utility in 2011. The bids were ranked on 70 per cent of the grade based on provision of strategic and specialized resources, support for employees and their careers, customer experience and satisfaction, and competitive distr


CLEARVIEW TWP. – A self professed "hands-on" guy, Paul Vorstermans just wants to keep the Creemore Log Cabin standing in good condition. The Creemore Log Cabin Service Board director doesn’t want to have to do things such as sign a volunteer agreement, take accessibility and administration training; take minutes at the meetings, write resolutions, make reports to council while making sure the meeting locations are advertised, open, accessible and that there is a clear paper trail to any financial income and costs. "We have a minimal budget. We make sure the doors are open and a few odd bills are paid and maintenance. To me, the idea of having our minor decisions go to council for confirmation is kind of unnecessary," he said. Yet provincial legislation is changing the way municipalities and all its volunteer committees, boards and working groups operate through Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014, and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) are requiring changes. The Ontario Ombudsman is taking complaints about the province’s 444 municipalities and auditing them through Bill 8. Oro-Medonte was audited under AODA legislation in January and passed, said Darcy Brooke-Bisschop, co-ordinator of economic development and communications. A special Clearview council meeting was called for March 29, where director of legislative services and clerk Pamela Fettes presented a new report about how the township’s 34 committees measure up. "The Ontario Ombudsman has the power to review council and all committees, boards and working groups," she said. "Not having an agenda, not letting people know where the meeting is and not submitting minutes until the end of the year could trigger an investigation," she said. Coun. Kevin Elwood asked if the town was non-compliant with requirements under Bill 8 and Fettes responded, "Yeah." Treasurer Edward Henley added the municipality has to have oversight on each group’s finances. When he started in Clearview, none of the boards’ accounts were under Clearview’s care and control. "A number of them has switched over but six haven’t gotten there yet," adding, "Not that there is any issues." However those six committees have $184,000, "A significant sum of money" in their bank accounts, he said. There are cases where performers have been paid cash without a receipt or where boards have used member’s personal accounts. "There has to be a paper trail… We have to treat their money like it’s our money," he said. CAO Stephen Sage said he’s hearing from volunteers, "’We haven’t had to do this before.’" "Bill 8 and AODA has really brought many municipalities to the forefront. We’ve been warned that this is coming for about four years and it’s here." Clearview has a harder task because it has the highest number of committees at 34, whereas Collingwood has 12, Wasaga Beach has 10, Springwater has five, Blue Mountains has 11, Barrie has eight. Ramara Township has the second highest at 17. Several councillors suggested that the number could be reduced as some are inactive and some could be amalgamated. Elwood suggested bringing all the separate community hall boards into one, but Coun. Shawn Davidson said that was a bad idea. "Unless we are ready to make some seismic shifts to the people in the community we cannot. Who will push the seismic change? I’m not doing it." Coun. Deborah Bronée said volunteers are under the impression that these changes are a choice. "Our bank accounts should be with the township. That is not a choice. AODA training. They thought it was a choice. It is not a choice," she said. She said things have to be dealt with properly so that the municipality can protect itself and that volunteers should look at training as a benefit they can use in other parts of their life. Volunteers have done a tremendous job of keeping the committees going, but it’s difficult to get training done, said Coun. Connie Leishman. Past councils are to blame for inconsistencies with boards, said Coun. Robert Walker. "Amalgamation. Ten years later issues that should have been addressed haven’t been addressed," he said. Coun. Thom Paterson argued that the municipality is working from the "top down" onto volunteers treating them as "quasi staff" and that that is belabouring volunteers. "Do all volunteers have to be involved in accessibility training? Does that apply to volunteers we put outside the log cabin for two hours a year?" he asked. He added that instead of scaring away volunteers, council should be putting more emphasis on enriching the volunteer experience. Deputy Mayor Bar


After Justice William B. Horkins delivered his verdict, pronouncing Jian Ghomeshi not guilty on all counts, Linda Christina Redgrave rushed to the witness assistance room and screamed in rage. She was livid — not that Ghomeshi had been acquitted, but at how the judge had torn into her and the other two witnesses as inconsistent, unreliable and “careless with the truth.” Redgrave had been “exposed” during cross-examination, he said, “as a witness willing to withhold relevant information from the police, from the Crown and from the Court.” “He indirectly called us liars, like ‘You naughty girls, what were you thinking? Go back to your rooms. You wasted our time,’” she said during an interview at a coffee shop recently. “How dare he be so condescending. He could have come to the ‘not guilty’ in a much more respectful way to women. He’s not just talking to us, he’s talking to all survivors of sexual abuse.” It hardened her resolve to campaign to change the legal system for sexual assault victims. To do that, she decided to get the publication ban on her name lifted, which Horkins did in court. “I want other women to do this. I want them to identify with me and know I’m just a normal woman. I’m doing this so other women will be armed doing this,” said Redgrave, a grandmother who looks 15 years younger than her age (she doesn’t want it printed) and de-stressed during the trial in a sauna at her gym. Redgrave was the first complainant to take the stand against the man she’d met while serving canapés at a CBC Christmas party in 2002. She told the court that on their first date, he grabbed her hair and yanked it “really, really hard.” A few weeks later in his home, he grabbed her hair again, punched her in the head several times and pulled her to her knees, she testified. After that, she said she had no contact with him. During cross-examination, Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein pointed out inconsistencies in Redgrave’s story that Horkins called “concerning.” After her initial statement to police, she had emailed them to add she’d had hair extensions at the time. On the stand, she said she didn’t. Also, in the media, she had changed her verbs, saying Ghomeshi had “pulled” her to the floor, in two interviews, and “thrown” her, in another. The judge took particular issue with her “demonstrably false memory” that Ghomeshi had been driving a bright yellow “Love Bug” — a car Henein said he bought seven months later. Her evidence fell apart when Henein produced two emails Redgrave had sent Ghomeshi after the alleged attacks — one with a photo of her in a red bikini. Horkins said these emails were not ones Redgrave could “have simply forgotten about.” He classified her behaviour as “odd.” “He called my behaviour odd, but the other two women had similar behaviour. I didn’t know those women,” said Redgrave. “We didn’t behave maybe as a man would have, who doesn’t have a clue about these issues.” She maintains she had only vague memories of them, but didn’t know if she ever sent them because Ghomeshi never responded. If she could do it all over, Redgrave would retain a lawyer before speaking to the media and going to the police. “I had no idea what you say in the media was just as good as a sworn statement in court,” she said. “I didn’t know I had to remember every precise detail and it would be used in court. At that point, I didn’t even know I was heading that direction. I was just telling my story.” Redgrave only reported to police after Toronto police Chief Bill Blair called for witnesses to come forward. She thought her statement would help police with their investigation — she didn’t understand it would be the bulk of their investigation. Each time she phoned them back or emailed with subsequent details, she thought she was giving them more clues to get to the truth. Instead, the way the system works, each additional detail was given to the defence. Much was used to discredit her memory. “Apparently, I was supposed to say it perfectly scripted from the beginning,” she said. “I thought what you say in court, that is your story.” Before every videotaped witness interview, police read from a script warning witnesses that they are under oath. Sex crime officers routinely make it clear that all evidence is shared with the defence, said Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash, but that’s not included in the script. On the Toronto police website, “A Guide for Sexual Assault Survivors” explains many parts of the process, but not the importance of a witness statement. Redgrave thinks police should have a written script plus a pamphlet for complainants to read before they make their statements, laying out how the legal system works and the fact that victims have the right to counsel before making their statement, as well as when it comes to their sexual history and third-party records. “The accused


MIDLAND – A toy collection may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a man of the cloth, but Rev. Alton Ruff proves appearances can be deceiving. The pastor of Midland’s Knox Presbyterian Church has an extensive collection of toys and figurines, many of which are on display in his office at the church on Hugel Avenue. Ruff acknowledged it may be a “bit unusual” to see a minister with such an extensive toy collection. “But the first thing you need to know about us is that we’re human just like everybody else,” he said. “Although people put us up on a pedestal, we don’t really belong there.” Ruff is passionate about his collection. He said he’s been accumulating pieces since 1984, when the original television version of “The Transformers” caught his imagination. The 1980s version of Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, remains at the core of his collection. “Once I saw the vehicle that could be transformed into a robot, I was absolutely taken in,” said the Stouffville native. “He always stood for truth, even if it cost him.” Ruff eventually realized the figure of Optimus Prime had a bit of a tie-in with his faith. In the original 1985 animated film, the character sacrifices himself to save others, and then come back to life. “Without sounding sacrilegious, he is a bit of a Jesus figure,” he said. Ruff has 300-400 “Transformers” figurines, 50 “Star Wars” pieces and a few miscellaneous items such as the Ninja Turtles. He said he keeps the most valuable pieces at home, with the “spillover collection” finding a home inside the church. After 30 years of collecting, he noted he has “no idea” of the total value of his collection: “But it’s probably worth several thousand.” Ruff said he has done “some reflecting” on why he likes the toys and figurines so much, especially since he will be turning 40 in December. “People will come in to plan a funeral or get some marriage counselling,” he said. “And they always have a positive reaction that helps … bring a little light to what may be a pretty dark day.” And Ruff said the collection helps him when he is dealing with difficult times in his own life. “I can go into a hospital to see a parishioner who is dying, or have someone pour out the trauma in their lives,” he said. “And then I can just go home and grab one of these guys and feel like I’m a kid again.”


Close to 600 Grade 5 students from 20 area schools are participating in the ‘RACE Against Drugs’ program at ODAS Park over two days. Students learn about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, impaired driving, smoking, and gambling while visiting interactive pit stops. Partners include the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Orillia OPP, Rama First Nations Police, and the public and separate school boards.


Sandcastle Theatre’s Meaford Hall students excelled at the recent Kiwanis Festival of Music in Owen Sound. From April 11 – 22 hundreds of musicians and actors bustled around the city from venue to venue competing in one of the most prestigious competitions in Canada. The annual Grey County Kiwanis Festival of Music began in 1932 with a mission to advance and develop musical talent and education in Grey County and to hold music festivals. This competitive music festival is held for two weeks each April whereby opportunities are provided for music students and community members alike from Owen Sound and the surrounding areas to be adjudicated and to perform before an audience. Awards are presented to assist musicians in their musical development. Sandcastle students walked away with a number of bronze, silver, bronze and gold certificates (and smiles.) On May 3, seven high-score Meaford competitors were presented with awards including prize money as per Kiwanis’s mandate to help them further their development in the arts. Award winners that night were: Abigail Adams, Franz Greenfield, Misha Greenfield, Matthew Rocque, Lilly Todds, Abby Woodhouse and Sara Wright. “I had never competed in the Kiwanis Festival before,” said Abby Woodhouse. “You perform and then an adjudicator gives you feedback on your performance and helpful suggestions for improvement. I really suggest that all young artists should take part in this opportunity.” Out of the secen actors awarded, four were also asked to compete in the upcoming prestigious Provincial Festival in acting and singing disciplines. “It was really never wracking and really fun at the same time,” Franz Greenfield said. “When I was younger I really wanted to be an actor.” Performances included a monologue, duet and a group improve session. “It was a lot of fun. I wish I could do it again,” said Misha Greenfield. “I was really excited I won. It was my first time doing drama. Most of my family has been in theatre a long time.” Sandcastle’s Meaford Hall instructor, Nadia Mear was thrilled with the performances of her students. “Some people think that acting is just memorizing lines, but it’s so much more. There are countless hours of technical work that go into preparing a scene, a monologue or a song and these kids are proof that their hard work has paid off,” said Mear. Sandcastle Theatre was established in 2002 to offer young people in Grey-Bruce the opportunity to experience engaging theatre programs and performances. Classes run from Collingwood to Port Elgin and since its inception, artistic director, Stephanie Fowler has worked with hundreds of young people in communities throughout the region. “Theatre is an art that anyone can participate in, regardless of age or experience.  It asks only that you be willing to make believe – to explore and experiment and take a chance. For children, that art of make-believe is so much more natural and even those who are new to theatre are able to dive right in and try out new roles,” said Fowler. “Having fun while working together allows participants to develop extraordinary amounts of self-esteem as well as communication, negotiation and problem solving skills that will serve them beyond the stage.” The actors are now preparing for the provincials. “I’m really excited to show them what Meaford has to offer!” said Woodhouse. Matthew Rocque, Franz Greenfield, Misha Greenfield and Abby Woodhouse will all compete in the Kiwanis Provincials June 1 – 3 in Peterborough.

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A school bus driver has been charged with careless driving and improper use of a seatbelt after the full-sized  bus careened into a deep ditch in south Innisfil yesterday morning. There were no children on board but the driver was taken to hospital with a shoulder injury. Firefighters and paramedics extricated the driver from the bus, which landed on its side in deep muck. The northbound bus drove off Sideroad 10 at about 9:22 a.m. while driving along an S-curve between Lines 2 and 3 in the garden marsh area near Hwy. 89 Sideroad 10 between Hwy. 89 and Line 4 reopened at about 1:30 p.m. after a heavy tow truck pulled the bus from the ditch.


MIDLAND – The inaugural Mayors’ Mac & Cheese Fundraising Dinner took place Tuesday at The Library Restaurant in Midland. Proceeds from the event went to We Are the Villagers. READ MORE:


William Martin doesn’t mind serving up a cup of coffee to random strangers. The 17-year-old entrepreneur recently started his own business selling coffee and is giving some of his proceeds and product to the David Busby Street Centre. “We started selling coffee to local businesses in January, so it’s fairly new,” Martin said. He is delivering coffee pods, coffee beans and ground Ara Azzurro coffee to 30 offices already and said his first donation to the David Busby centre was earlier this month. “I am donating coffee to the Busby centre, because I want to give back to the community. It’s a nice place to give back to,” he said. The street centre offers counselling, housing and job assistance to the homeless or those living at the poverty line. William’s grandmother worked with David Busby and he said the centre relies on donated coffee to serve to clients. The homeschooled youth was ready to jump into a career. After finding out about the Ara Azzurro brand packaged in Bolton, he and his dad, Vern, started the distribution business. “The name Genesis 2 comes from the Bible,” William said. “The second chapter, when all of the plants are there — including the coffee beans.” The company offers 17 different flavours of coffee pods, but he said the breakfast blend and dark roast are the most popular. As for William, he’s not much of a coffee drinker himself. Reach William at 705-305-8226 or for coffee distribution services.