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Courage under fire isn’t always being literally under fire. Though for Tom Christianson, a retired lieutenant colonel and former US Special Forces soldier, and current senior historian to the US secretary of defense, bullets were involved. Christianson, a former Collingwood resident, was the guest speaker for this year’s South Georgian Bay Civic Prayer Breakfast held May 13 at Bear Estate. His talk was called “Courage beyond fear in leadership.” “Courage is not fearlessness,” said Christianson. “Courage is acting in spite of fear.” He told the crowd of local business owners and churchgoers courage is a misunderstood word, and it can exist even in a terrified individual. And he would know, having been on military tours in Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq – where he commanded armoured tank divisions during Desert Storm. During operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Christianson’s unit taught Mujahideen fighters how to fire Stinger missiles in their conflict with the Soviet Union. Following one lesson, Christianson and his men were asked to help with a patrol in an area considered clear. They were ambushed and the two point men were shot – one in the leg and the other in the lung. From the safe cover of a boulder, Christianson told a fellow soldier to get their point men to safety. Bullets screamed past their heads as they made a run for it. “I thought, ‘I’m probably going to die, but I do have faith,’” he said, adding he prayed and read scripture often before a day on the battlefield or in a conflict zone. “What actually went through my head was, ‘The worst thing that could happen is I could die, but would that be so bad?’” Christianson reached the soldier with the chest wound and patched him up with cellophane to stop the blood loss. While dragging the wounded soldier to safety, Christianson felt a twinge in his ankle, but chalked it up to a sprain and carried on. A helicopter arrived for the wounded and their attackers fled. When calm resumed, his colleague pointed out the blood on Christianson’s ankle. What he thought was a sprain was a bullet still lodged in his flesh. Christianson’s men all survived, including the two point men who were badly injured. “Courage isn’t limited to the battlefield,” said Christianson. “The way you become courageous is by having someone – in this case the Lord – behind you.” He encouraged the crowd to be courageous in their everyday lives by drawing strength from their faith. This was the third-annual Civic Prayer Breakfast, the first featured as guest speaker Paul Henderson – a hockey legend known for scoring the goal in the 1972 Summit Series Canada versus Russia game. Last year’s speaker was Lorna Dueck, the host and executive producer of Context with Lorna Dueck, which explores current affairs from a Christian perspective and airs on seven TV networks.

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Special weather statement in effect for: \t•\tBarrie – Collingwood – Hillsdale \t•\tMidland – Coldwater – Orr Lake \t•\tOrillia – Lagoon City – Washago * Anugs – New Tecumseth – Innisfil Yet another April snowfall on tap.??The latest battle between spring and a very stubborn winter is setting up for today and tonight across Southern Ontario. A large Alberta Clipper approaching the Great Lakes from the northwest will spread a large area of snow into the region, with the snow expected to arrive in Southwestern Ontario by early afternoon. Snow will reach the Muskoka to Golden Horseshoe areas later this afternoon then spread into remaining regions this evening.??Snowfall amounts will range from near 2 cm over areas near Lakes Erie and Ontario, to 4 to 8 centimetres further north. Up to 10 centimetres of snow is possible in a few locales tonight especially in areas around Georgian Bay and the Dundalk Highlands to the Haliburton Highlands.?? As a warm front associated with the clipper moves in, the snow will change over to rain by late afternoon in the Windsor area. The changeover to rain will then work its way northeastward with the warm front tonight across remaining regions of Southern Ontario. There may be a brief period of ice pellets or freezing rain during the transition from snow to rain.??Most areas should receive a total of 5 to 15 mm of rain before the rain ends on Monday.

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MIDLAND – Midland Ribfest has been called off. Glen Moffatt of Slam Promotions, co-ordinator of the planned Aug. 5-7 happening, issued a press release May 10 indicating there were too many barriers to staging the event successfully. Identified as the main “obstacle” was the Midland Police Service, which Moffatt said was “asking way too much of us for a first-year event.” BACKGROUND: Chief Mike Osborne responded in his , noting sparse details about the event put police in a difficult position. “Mr. Moffatt has never submitted a final operational plan,” wrote Osborne, “but he did make it clear that he did not wish to pay for a police presence or the recommended number of security personnel that would protect the interests of Midland residents.” Moffatt said vendors who had booked spots for the event will have their money refunded.

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(SUBMITTED) – A section of the Simcoe County Forest is receiving a spring cleaning this weekend thanks to the Simcoe County Off Road Riders Association (SCORRA). The group is hosting its annual cleanup day on Sunday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lawden Tract in the Township of Clearview. Through one of several Use Agreements with the County of Simcoe, SCORRA is actively involved in establishing and maintaining off-road motorcycle trails within the County Forest. Their network of single track trails within the Forest are also enjoyed by a range of other users and the relationship is managed through the County’s Forest Recreation Policy and Bylaw.  “We want to thank SCORRA for their efforts this weekend and all our partners who make the Simcoe County Forest such a unique entity,” said Graeme Davis, County Forester. “All users should be reminded that designated trails are established and maintained by volunteers, and that respect for others goes a long way to ensure a great experience for everyone.”  Through partnerships, a tremendous network of hiking, mountain biking, motorcycle, ATV and snowmobile trails have been established throughout many areas of the County Forest. The enjoyment of our Forests is greatly enhanced by the many individuals who dedicate their time to trail stewardship.  At more than 32,600 acres and still growing, the Simcoe County Forest is the largest municipally-owned forest in Ontario and among the largest of its kind in Canada with over 150 properties ranging in size from 13 to more than 3,500 acres. Simcoe County is one of the few municipalities in Ontario that continue to invest in additional lands to ensure that the substantial environmental, social and economic benefits continue into the future. Within the past decade, the County Forest has expanded by more than 3,600 acres. More than 20 million trees have been planted within the County Forest since inception and $35,000 from forestry revenues is directed annually to local agencies to support tree planting on private lands within our communities.  SCORRA will provide lunch. All participants are welcome. Formed in 2006 with an inaugural membership of 25, SCORRA is a family orientated off-road motorcycle riders club which has since grown to become one of the largest of its kind in Ontario with more than 1,000 members. Visit www.scorra.ca/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=5999 for details.

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INNISFIL – The ‘mystery’ of goat heads in trees has been solved. “Turns out the fella who put them there purchased them from a slaughterhouse and hung them up to dry,” said Const. Richard Williamson of South Simcoe police. “He wanted to use them as decoration. “There’s a company in Peterborough that will do it for you, but he decided to save money and hung them up so the birds and insects would strip them. They were in the trees so that animals wouldn’t drag them away. “He didn’t call us when he heard the story because he thought he’d get in trouble. No offence, no charge. He’s going to remove them.” The goat heads that have been placed in trees not far from an Innisfil cemetery. An Innisfil resident — who asked that her name not be used — contacted the Barrie Examiner last week about the heads, which she found while walking through a wooded area.

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BRADFORD — In less than a month, the RBC branch in downtown Bradford will be closing. Its business has been merged with the newer branch at the west end of town at 539 Holland St. W. A meeting to help customers “transition” from the old to the new was held May 11 at the west-end branch, attended by a handful of residents and downtown business owners, including Coun. Peter Dykie Jr.  “You’re among friends,” said Wayne Brakeboer, RBC community manager for the past five years.  He noted that RBC has been serving the Bradford community for 61 years. “We’ve made a lot of great relationships, helped a lot of families,” he said, adding staff will continue to focus on customer service throughout the transition. “They know you, they appreciate your business.”  Brakeboer also promised that RBC will continue to play a role in the community, hosting a family skate on Family Day, supporting organizations that include minor hockey, the curling club, Lions and CHATS. “It makes the bank a lot more than just numbers," he said. Brakeboer acknowledged that the closure of the branch at 26 Holland St. E. means a change for some longtime customers. “It’s what it is; it’s not the best," he said while promising that the consolidation would result in a “better Royal Bank” and that staff would help each client find solutions that might include public transit, online and telephone banking, even mobile banking that makes “house calls” for some services.  Regional vice-president Stella Partipilo cited the statistics behind the move, claiming that the number of clients using the downtown branch at 26 Holland St. E. has been declining by 25% annually for several years.  But Dykie told Partipilo that council was “disappointed” by the decision to close the downtown branch, reminding her that six years ago, when the west branch was first proposed, councillors were told there was enough business in town to support two branches. He asked if the bank machines, at least, would remain in the downtown core. Partipilo said the ATMs would remain as long as RBC owns the building, but that the building is up for sale. She suggested that RBC could negotiate to keep the machines in place, or “look to an alternate location.” Dykie also pointed out that not every transaction can be handled electronically. “Some people still need coins,” he said. Longtime client Jake Winter told Partipilo that the decision was an inconvenience to seniors and to marsh farmers. “You’ve catered to the new subdivision development in town, leaving us at the other end short-changed," he said. “Somehow, our downtown core is being decimated to provide service to the new residents,” added Stephanie MacGregor. “It was so convenient. … The older part of town is being left behind.” But Brakeboer and Partipilo said that banking habits have already changed, with farmers and other clients already using the west branch when they come into town, or banking where they work. “For most of our clients, this is a feasible choice – not their best choice, but a feasible choice,” Partipilo said, noting that the west-end branch also offers longer hours for banking, and is open on Saturdays. The downtown branch closes June 3. 

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Ramara’s Library’s  ‘Fibre Friends’, meet every Wednesday at 10 a.m. Group members are “knitting for a cause” in support of the Green Haven Shelter in Orillia. “Come out and help with making handmade baby/toddler blankets, children’s hats and mitts and dish cloths,” officials noted in a media statement. “No skill necessary, the Friends will be delighted to help get you started.” The club meets in the Vic Howarth Room at the Ramara Centre. New knitters/crocheters are welcome. Ramara Library also presents ‘Skinamarink Storytime!’, beginning April 8 at 10:30 a.m. The program runs Fridays at 10:30 a.m. until May 27 and is for toddlers up to age five.

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Cassandra Sigler laces her husband Jared’s large fingers through her own small ones and looks up with tears in her eyes. Two expressions of hope and fear chased each other across her face, as she wiped away tears that welled up and threatened to spill over again. With the doctor’s words, “his future is uncertain” ringing in her ears, Sigler had stoically walked into Jared’s room in Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s (RVH) intensive care unit (ICU) to hear Rolland Sigler speaking softly into his son’s ears. “If God wanted him, he’d already be gone,” Rolland Sigler had reminded her quietly outside Jared’s ICU room earlier. “He’s one of the best people you’ll ever meet. I’m his right-hand, he’s my right-hand man. I’m here to make sure my son is okay, to help his mind and his spirit heal.” Jared, 33, lies in what Dr. Ana Igric, a general surgeon for critical care patients in ICU, calls a “minimally conscious state.” How he got there still leaves his 22-year-old wife Sigler shaking her head. Four years ago, Jared began following Sigler on the social-media site Tumblr. After chatting frequently, Jared went out to buy a webcam, so they could talk in person over Skype. After nine months of getting to know each other, they finally met when he visited Alliston in June 2012. “When he came up for that week, it was so natural, so perfect. It was like that movie feeling, where everything fell into place. The whole week was just perfect,” Sigler had said with a quiet smile, seated in the lobby of RVH earlier Wednesday afternoon. She said within a short time, Jared moved to Canada from his home in Philadelphia. With about 50 family and friends from both sides of the border present, the young couple married in Sigler’s mother’s backyard in July 2014. Although he couldn’t work while they waited for his immigration papers to be approved, she was rising up in the ranks at the Hair Gallery Salon in Alliston and they could afford their own apartment. However, on a Saturday in late February, Jared was struck by sharp pains in his abdomen and after an unsuccessful diagnosis at a local hospital, Sigler brought him to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket the following Monday. There a CAT scan revealed a large mass in his lower intestine that required emergency surgery on March 4, she said. “It was supposed to be a three-hour surgery, but it was seven hours. They said he had diverticulitis, but they usually don’t see it in someone so young,” Sigler said. After a week in hospital, Jared returned home with a stoma or colostomy bag that they expected to have removed once he had healed. But two weeks later, when Sigler returned home on Easter Monday, Jared said he was having trouble breathing. “The last thing he wanted to do was go back to the hospital, but we did. They told me he had a blood clot on his lung and they were transferring him to RVH. They didn’t tell me how serious it was. I’m 22 – I’m not a doctor – I was going to go home and feed the cats, and they finally said to me, ‘no, you should follow the ambulance to the hospital now’,” she said. Just after the ambulance passed Innisfil Beach Road, it pulled over onto the shoulder. Sigler pulled in behind it and approached the vehicle. “I could see them through the window doing CPR. It took them seven minutes to bring him back,” she said. A police escort arrived and drove her the rest of the way to RVH. During a meeting with the doctors in ICU on Wednesday, Igric said by the time Jared arrived at the hospital, he had suffered another cardiac arrest and then a 30-minute cardiac arrest at RVH, where they performed CPR for almost 30 minutes, she said. “His blood clot caused the cardiac arrests,” Igric said. Once he stabilized, Igric said Jared’s body was cooled for almost 36 hours to protect his brain from swelling after all the trauma. “Because of his arrests, the brain doesn’t get enough blood flow and people can get permanent damage,” she explained. “He’s been here three weeks in a minimally conscious state.” Jared can’t breathe on his own and was to have a feeding tube implanted on Wednesday, she said. “So now, our prognosis is uncertain. We don’t know what will happen, but this patient is likely to be left with significant deficits. His future is uncertain and his neurological recovery is uncertain,” Igric said. Sigler’s eyes filled with tears as she nodded her understanding of what the doctor was telling her, as two fellow ICU physicians, Dr. Giulio Di Diodato, and Dr. Adarsh agreed with Igric’s prognosis. “We know he’s not in a vegetative state. He can obey some commands and has moments of lucidity,” Di Diodato said. “He has a decreased level of awareness with occasional periods where he can interact with his environment,” said Tailor. An ICU nurse poked her head into the consultation and added, “When I asked him to stick his tongue out today, he did.” During the last few days, Jared has begun opening his eyes and interacting briefly with his family. Sigler hopes for the best but as she worries about Jared’s future, she also worries about the mounting hospital bills. “Jared’s an American. He’s not covered by OHIP,” she said. Although the Sigler’s filed Jared’s immigration papers applying to becoming a Canadian citizen in November, he has not yet received approval. “Every hospital visit, every doctor that sees him, the surgery, every scan and test costs us. Depending on how long he spends at RVH and then all the rehabilitation and recovery if he wakes, we could be facing up to $100,000 in medical bills,” Sigler said. The Hair Gallery at 3 Victoria Street in Alliston is offering its services on Sunday with all the proceeds going to help the Siglers. With a donation of $100, women can have their hair, make up and photo taken. Men can have a hair cut for $20. For more information, visit the Hair Gallery Salon and Spa on Facebook. Additionally, a Gofundme (gofundme.com/hvsspat8) page has been set up to help the Siglers. cheryl.browne@sunmedia.ca Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1

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A rooftop light box will shine like a beacon at boaters approaching the Port of Orillia. The luminescent feature will adorn a nearly $2 million structure that replaces an administration building that burned to the ground in a 2014 arson. Council committee supported the proposal by Bradanick Construction Services – one of three firms that bid on the project. The single-storey design includes administration offices, washrooms and showers, and a large community space. “I think it will be very well utilized for a number of events over the years, whether it’s weddings or other events,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “The view of the water and park from inside this facility will be great with all the glass.” Coun. Tim Lauer was less than enthused by the light feature. “Just for the record, I’m not a light fan … I think that’s a very risky feature and I hope the design people take a real close look at that,” Lauer said. The approved project budget is $2.3 million, including $400,000 for furniture, utilities and consulting fees. Still to take place are discussions on a potential contribution from the chamber of commerce, which operates the port. Staff had held off on those talks pending a report from the city’s insurance company on the coverage it will provide towards temporary facilities. The municipality has received $168,000 of the projected $280,000 that will be incurred through trailer rentals and related costs. Staff will now approach the chamber to help with a portion of the remaining $112,000 in costs. “Now that we have those numbers, we can move forward with that,” said Kent Guptill, director of facilities and services. The building was insured for about $700,000. Guptill said the new structure is slated to open in May of 2017. Council must approve the proposal by Bradanick Construction at its next meeting.

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Barrie Police investigators are looking for Ryeleigh Barnes in connection with a stabbing Saturday. Several people called police just after 3 p.m., when a 40-year-old man was stabbed in the abdomen. The victim was leaving a Worsley Street address when he was stabbed. Police say his assailant ran away and left the knife behind after the confrontation. Officers have identified Barnes, 22, as a suspect. He is six-feet, six-inches tall, 185 pounds with blue eyes and light brown hair. He was last seen wearing a black baseball hat, black T-shirt with red and white lettering, a black hoodie, dark jeans and blue running shoes. If you have information, call police at 705-725-7025.

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