It may not be Guinness-Book-of-World records big anymore — but Innisfil’s giant rocking horse is still larger than life. And now it’s a horse with no home. The 5,500-pound ponderosa pine rocking horse built by Munro’s Furnishings in 2010 now sits in an InnPower works yard, waiting for a new home where it can be proudly displayed. But finding a proper place for the 23-foot-long by 20-foot high and nine-foot wide horse is no easy task. The horse was displayed at Munro’s at Innisfil Beach Road near Hwy. 400 for five years, but Camp Mart had no room for the rocker when it took over the property last year. The Town of Innisfil, which now owns the horse, is looking for offers from anyone who would like to display the mammoth mare. The town sees the horse as a viable tourist attraction but has not found a proper place to display it near a highly-travelled road. Innisfil’s rocking horse may need a lot of space, but only about half as much as the new world-record holder built in Linyi, Shandong, China by Gao Ming in 2014. That rocking horse measures 41-feet high and 26-feet long. Town staff will consider location, visual impact, opportunity for public access/viewing, benefit to community, benefit to business, proposed use, placement on concrete pads and proposed maintenance schedule when deciding who will get the horse. “It is “made in Innisfil” and should remain within the community. Local business owners should have the opportunity to utilize the horse as a means of attracting tourists and patrons to their site,” a staff report says. The horse if free and the town will pay the $2,000 to $3,000 cost to have it moved. But the new owner must pay for ongoing maintenance and insurance. The town will have the first right of refusal if a new owner decides to dispose of the rocking horse.
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Mitchell Brooks sentenced himself to a life of “misery and desolation,” but he did not intend to kill his wife. After two days of deliberations a jury found Brooks, 53, not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter of his wife Deena Brooks, who was shot in the chest as the couple struggled in the foyer of their New Lowell home May 24, 2013. Brooks had testified Deena was “the love of my life,” and that he meant to shoot himself because he was devastated his wife was leaving him, but in the struggle she was accidentally shot. The judge had instructed the jury that even if the shooting was an accident, it happened during an illegal act – Brooks had a loaded, unregistered handgun – which meant the accident legally must be manslaughter. “It was a terribly tragic and horrible thing to happen,” said the dead woman’s brother, Eric Balser, a family doctor who travelled from Nova Scotia, as he stood shivering in the cold outside of court after the verdict last night. “But I believe it was an accident. He did not wake up that day and say ‘I think I’m going to shoot my wife today’.” “It was a complete mess,” said older brother Mike Balser, a school teacher who travelled from B.C. “My only question is if he meant to commit suicide, why is he still alive?” Balser said. “Why did he still have five shells left in that gun? But I’m not going to lose sleep over that question.” They described their sister as a “beautiful, incredibly strong-willed” woman who was devoted to her daughters. Manslaughter can carry a sentence anywhere from house arrest to a life sentence. Since Brooks has already spent almost three years in prison, he will likely be released on a house arrest. “But he has already sentenced himself to a life of misery and desolation for what he’s done,” said Balser. “A life without a family.” The Crown had urged the jury to find Brooks guilty of first-degree murder. The Crown pointed to bruises and scrapes on Deena Brooks’ hands, elbows and two unexplained broken ribs that showed she could have been forcibly confined. “Deena Brooks fought desperately for her life,” said Crown Mary Ann Alexander, noting that a murder committed under forcible confinement, even if it was not planned, is first-degree murder. The jury had heard how Deena was afraid of her husband’s volatile moods, depression and bouts of anger, but that she never feared for her safety – she only feared her husband would commit suicide. Brooks insisted he only wanted to shoot himself. “I was in my lowest depths,” he had testified. “I never would hurt her. I only wanted to shoot myself.” In the end, the jury believed him. And from the beginning, his daughter, Kristin, who was at her high school prom waiting for a ride home that night when her mother was shot, believed her dad. “It was an accident,” she said, weeping outside of court earlier this month. “He would never hurt anybody but himself.” Brooks will have a sentencing hearing April 25.
(MUSKOKA LAKES) – Bracebridge OPP are investigating a complaint of animal cruelty after a dog owner reported their pet had been spray painted with vulgar language. OPP say the incident happened Monday in the area of Muskoka Road 141 in Muskoka Lakes Township. The dog’s owner reported the animal had wandered away from home and then was found with words painted on the sides of it. The dog did not appear to have been injured, OPP say. Anyone with information is asked to contact OPP at 705-645-2211, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. Tips can also be left online at www.crimestopperssdm.com.
The city could waive its landfill fees for tree trimmings and brush from last week’s ice storm in Barrie. Councillors will consider a motion Monday to grant a temporary exemption from April 5-23 for city residents. “It would be unfair to charge them the tippage fee, or ask them to use up their 100 kilogram exemption, for what was an act of nature,” said Coun. Barry Ward. “I think there is so much yard waste from the storm, some people will find it much more convenient to bring it to the landfill site themselves rather than cut it up and bundle it to meet city standards for curbside pickup.” The tree trimmings and brush would need to be separated from all garbage and not be mixed with any other waste, and received at Barrie Landfill during its normal operating hours. Proof of Barrie residency would be required. The tree trimmings and brush would need to be from a city property, and from the storm – which took place overnight March 24-25, and into the Easter weekend. “They are doing the city contractor a favour in this particular case, because anyone bringing branches to the landfill site reduces the massive volumes which will be out on the curb,” Ward said. “It’s important to remember this isn’t household waste which will fill up our landfill site: it’s wood which will be chipped or composted.” Councillors will consider this motion as an item for discussion Monday. It comes from Ward, as well as Couns. Andrew Prince and Sergio Morales. The freezing rain/ice storm brought down trees and branches on hundreds of Barrie properties and streets, knocking power out for hours. The cleanup is expected to take weeks. Leaf and yard waste is not collected in Barrie during March, and regular collection doesn’t include branches larger than four inches in diameter. Residentialfees for leaf and yard waste at the landfill are: no charge for the first 100 kilograms, then $60 per tonne. Barrie Landfill is located at 272 Ferndale Dr. N. and open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Curbside leaf and yard waste collected is brought to a designated area at Barrie Landfill for composting. The materials are put into windrows, then turned and monitored daily. The compost is eventually screened and tested to ensure it meets Ministry of the Environment standards, then sold to Barrie residents. The ice storm also caused significant tree damage and power outages across Simcoe County, especially Essa, Innisfil, New Tecumseth, Adjala-Tosorontio and Bradford West-Gwillimbury. The County of Simcoe will begin a special brush collection on Monday, April 4 in the harder-hit areas of south Simcoe, as resources permit. Brush collection may not coincide with regular waste collection days, so residents are being asked to place brush curbside by April 4 for service as soon as possible. Large branches or trees will not be collected. Brush must be cut into manageable lengths, a maximum of two metres long and individual branches not to exceed 12 centimetres in diameter. Brush should be bundled and tied in manageable packages, weighing a maximum of 20 kilograms a bundle. Larger pieces may be cut into firewood and left out for re-use as firewood by others. Residents may also self-haul brush to county waste management facilities, at no charge. firstname.lastname@example.org @BrutonBob
Fraser Collins summons the spirit of Elvis in a snow-white jumpsuit studded with shimmering rhinestones. Handed a guitar, Collins bursts into song in an exuberant nod to the King. There are smiles all around as the local man puts his talents to work in the front room at Orillia Community Church, home base for an emerging theatre program for adults with special needs. “It’s not really Elvis,” Collins says of his get-up. “It’s a fake.” Dubbed “The Able Project,” the 10-week theatre program was made possible through a $10,000 Ontario Arts Council grant. A writer, teacher and social worker, S.C. Pinney secured the grant in partnership with Christian Horizons, which oversees a number of group homes in the area. “Several people in the group home where I work have an interest in performance, (but) they don’t have a lot of opportunities to do that,” he said of the impetus for the program. Pinney wrote a play several years ago centering on young adults with intellectual disabilities – ‘The Ghosts of Mariposa’. Incorporating actors with special needs into a theatre program is “a natural extension” of that earlier interest, he says. Over the next two months, participants will develop skills related to acting, performance and personal expression. The inaugural session focused on games and activities that will lay the foundation for the future, including vocal work and body movements. “I wanted to try something new,” eager troupe member Ryan Smith told Simcoe.com. “I just go with the flow and do my best.” The 31 year old enjoyed a round of applause after introducing himself with enthusiasm and flair during one of several exercises that afternoon. “It was a lot of fun, I got to meet new people and be famous,” Smith added. Working with Pinney are Christian Horizons’ district manager Mike Thompson and director Tom Carson. Over the next several weeks, the troupe will create an ensemble production for early summer performances at opera houses in Orillia and Gravenhurst. “I think it’s an opportunity to come and experience, hopefully, a good show and to hear from a voice that maybe we don’t hear from often enough in our community,” Pinney added. Anyone wishing to take part can call 705-325-8272.
The first of three signs marking historic sites in Wasaga Beach has been unveiled. On Sunday, Mayor Brian Smith, along with members of the town’s historical advisory committee and the owners and players at Marlwood Golf and Country Club, peeled back the covering on an interpretive sign that outlines the history of the 90-year-old course. The sign includes a story about the course, which goes back to the 1930s when two of the NHL’s Conacher brothers bought property and built a nine-hole course. In 2015, the club was purchased by the Smardenka Group, which recently unveiled a significant renovation to the clubhouse. The sign includes several historic photos of the course and clubhouse. “We’re trying to protect the history of Wasaga Beach,” said historical advisory committee member and town archivist Mary Watson. “Historical interpretive signage provides visible promotion of the town’s heritage and is an important component in expanding the town’s appeal, by providing the opportunity to learn more about the unique history of our community,” said Mayor Brian Smith. “This initiative will allow local residents to have a look into the history of the community they have chosen to call home.” Two more interpretive signs will be installed in the next two months: one recognizing the history of Playland Park, and the other focused on motorcycle racing that took place on the beach in the late 1930s.
Zehrs shoppers Jolene and Tony Newhook were surprised with free groceries Tuesday. The Essa Road location held a Market Moment, during which every customer in line at 6:15 p.m. received free groceries. More than 40 shoppers had their groceries paid for by the chain store, totaling $2,752. The Newhooks had just left the gym and were in the store picking up a few things as cashier Amy Peterson rang their free groceries through. Ken Preston was another shopper who received free groceries. “I thought my wife was going to be mad about this for being late, as I had to grab a couple of things,” he said. “I’m getting free (grocery) bags, too.” Market Moments started in the fall of 2014, with the Loblaw company wanting to create in-store excitement. This is the second Barrie store to give away free groceries this month, as the Loblaws on Bayfield Street held a similar giveaway. “Loblaw’s has created Market Moments as a marketing campaign, with different levels,” Essa Road Zehrs manager Randy Rutledge said. Two weeks ago, he had a Pay-it-Forward event, during which he randomly gave a customer a $100 gift card, then handed them a second $100 gift card to pass on to another shopper. Market Moments is promoted through the company’s flyers and YouTube channel, which also shares other store surprises.
Everyone who purchases a ticket to the Orillia Museum of Art and History’s ‘100 *100’ fund-raiser on April 15 will take home an original work of art created for the event. Ticket stubs will be randomly drawn and matched to the artwork. Contributing artists include Charles Pachter, Jim Ireland and Roger Kerslake. Previews of the artwork began April 13. The event includes a cash bar, DJ and snack foods/desserts. Proceeds go to support the museum’s operations and programming. Tickets can be purchased by phone, in person or online. Pictured are executive director Ninette Gyorody and registrar Hope McGilly.
Days after , the Tottenham Steam has lost its head coach. Ryan Wood has confirmed he has parted ways with the organization following a recent change in ownership. Wood, who held a minority share of the team, said he would have liked to become the owner, but passed on making an offer to purchase the franchise from his partner, GMHL president Bob Russell, who was the majority shareholder through his company, Russell Hockey. “It just didn’t work out for me to buy the team for that amount of money so I made the decision to leave,” he said. Russell said the team is now owned by the DaSilva family from Toronto and will be coached by Jim Aldred, who coached the Alliston Coyotes this past season. “They seem like good business people who will take care of the team, and that’s one of the reasons we sold the team,” Wood said. Wood, who has been with the Steam since it , said saying goodbye wasn’t his first choice, but a necessary move in order to strike it out on his own. “I want to have my own team so, that’s what I’m working on right now,” he said. Russell wishes Wood well on his next endeavour. “Ryan did a good job for us, he did well here for three years, but he’s at a point now where he’s looking at having his own program and that makes sense to us, and he’ll do well wherever he ends up,” he said. Wood’s next move may be purchasing the Alliston Coyotes and/or starting a new GMHL team in Angus. “I’ve got some options,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I’ll have a better idea in the next couple of weeks once I know the lay of the land, but the GMHL is where I will end up probably.”
Barrie police are looking for a man suspected of stealing from a Bank of Montreal ATM back in the fall. Police say the suspect made two withdrawals on Oct. 22, 2015, shortly before 7 p.m. at the bank’s ATM on Mapleview Drive West. He was captured on video surveillance leaving the area in a four-door Honda and is described as a white male wearing a light-coloured Pittsburgh Steelers hoodie. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det-Const. John Parliament of the Barrie Police Fraud Unit at 705-725-7025, ext.2938, or by email at email@example.com. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or leave an anonymous tip at www.tipsubmit.com.
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