Tragedy on Hwy 60 near Huntsville; local man dies from head on crash

Head on crash kills Huntsville man on Hwy 60 today; and new OPP report shows traffic deaths from speeding on the increase

Published June 25, 10:55pm: Huntsville OPP is investigating a head on crash this afternoon that killed a 66-year-old local man on Highway 60 near Grassmere Lake Road.

The accident happened just before 2:30pm.

Initial investigation found that a Ford Escape with two occupants was traveling west bound and a Subaru was heading eastbound on Highway #60 when the vehicles struck head on, causing the Subaru to go into the ditch on the south side of the road. The two occupants of the Escape were taken to local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  The driver of the Subaru, a 66 year-old Huntsville man, died from his injuries in hospital.

Highway 60 was closed as the OPP and its Central Region Technical Traffic Collision Investigation Unit investigated the crash.

Speed-related road deaths more than double last year’s fatalities, says OPP

The OPP have issued a new report showing highway deaths with speed as a factor have doubled in 2014 over the same period last year. The OPP made the announcement while calling on all drivers, boaters and off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts to work together to make the upcoming Canada Day holiday weekend a safe one.

OPP data shows speed-related deaths are currently in the lead when compared to collision fatalities in which distracted or impaired driving were causal factors. Of the 113 people who have been killed on OPP-patrolled roads so far this year (as of June 15, 2014), speed was a factor in 33 of those deaths. Distracted driving is in second place at 24 fatalities and impaired driving related deaths are at 12.

“Last year speed was a factor in more than 11,000 collisions we investigated so there is no question that speed threatens the safety of all road users. As people make travel plans for the upcoming Canada Day weekend, drivers need to remember that speeding, following too closely, making unsafe lane changes, road rage and failing to yield right-of-way are all aggressive driving behaviours that injure and kill people of all ages every year,” said Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

“In 2013 our officers laid nearly 300,000 speeding charges across the province.  Almost 3,000 of those charges involved the motorist driving 50 km/h or more over the posted speed – one of the most aggressive, reckless and dangerous driving behaviours on our roads.  The motoring public has the right to be safe and it is an unacceptable injustice to all safe drivers and innocent passengers when aggressive drivers display this type of behaviour and endanger everyone,” said Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander, OPP Highway Safety Division.

With the Canada Day weekend approaching, the OPP is reminding all drivers who will be travelling on Ontario roads, waterways and trails that they have the ability to make it an incident-free weekend.

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Norm Miller endorses Christine Elliot in her bid to lead Ontario PCs

Miller supporting Elliot in Ontario PC leadership bid

Published June 25, 10pm: Parry Sound–Muskoka MPP Norm Miller this morning joined with PC Caucus colleagues in supporting Christine Elliot, MPP for Whitby–Oshawa, as she announced her bid to become the next Leader of the Ontario PC Party.

“After the June 12th election, voters sent our party a clear message. The Ontario PC Party needs a leader to rebuild and take the Party in a new direction. With her vision for combining fiscal conservatism with social compassion, I believe that Christine Elliot is that Leader,” said Miller.

Featured photo: Norm Miller stands to the right of Christine Elliot as she announces she wants to be the next leader of the Ontario PC party

“Christine Elliot is the experienced, hard-working Leader that the Ontario PC Party needs,” he concluded. Along with Miller, PC MPPs Laurie Scott, Sylvia Jones, Jeff Yurek, Todd Smith, Bill Walker, and Michael Harris have put forward their support of Elliot. Her leadership campaign slogan is “Ready to Lead.”

Miller supported Hudak for leader

In April 2009, Miller was equally quick to endorse Tim Hudak in his leadership bid calling him “energetic and hard-working”. Miller’s joined the “Hudak is Right for Ontario” campaign a month after then Ontario PC leader John Tory’s defeat in the March 2009 election. (Source: Bracebridge Examiner, April 10, 2009. To read that article, click here.).

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Thank you!

Fake toxic truck and train crash centre of mock emergency in Bracebridge

Code Orange mock emergency in Bracebridge today

Hospital release published June 25, 950pm: A mock disaster in downtown Bracebridge today put hospital staff, physicians and volunteers through their paces in responding to a community emergency.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) prepared for an influx of patients with varying medical conditions and severity of injuries while at the same time maintaining regular service levels. A Code Orange is an external community disaster or emergency situation that will impact the capacity of hospital services.

Featured picture: A volunteer disaster patient progresses through the decontamination tent, which uses a shower system to remove contaminants before the patient can enter the hospital for medical care. The decontamination tent was used as part of a training exercise to practice Code Orange at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site on Wednesday, June 25.

“A training exercise is the best learning experience for staff, physicians and volunteers in what to expect during a community disaster and how the hospital’s emergency response plan is executed,” explains Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer. “Regularly testing our emergency response plan helps to identity opportunities for improvement and ensures that MAHC is properly equipped to safely and effectively respond in the event of a true emergency.”

The training exercise began at approximately 10 a.m. this morning when a transport truck carrying chemical material was struck by a train at the railway crossing at Taylor Road and Hiram Street. The training exercise involved community emergency responders, including ambulance dispatch, paramedic services and police. The Town of Bracebridge, Township of Muskoka Lakes, District of Muskoka, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Red Cross and community agencies such as Muskoka Victim Services and 211 Community Connections were also involved, as well as community volunteers who participated as patients by role playing.

More than a dozen victims were transported to the hospital, where a CBRNE event (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Environmental) response was executed.

“We would like to thank all of the local emergency personnel, health service providers, the community agencies and volunteers who partnered with us to conduct this training exercise,” says Bubela. “We would also like to thank the patients and visitors for their understanding as we completed this important training exercise.”

There were no disruptions to regular patient care during the training exercise.

Blockbuster show raises over $11,000 for wellness centre in Port Carling

Thousands for Brock & Willa Wellness Centre raised by Muskoka Melody

Release by Peter Jennings
Published June 24, 11:15p: It was literally Standing Room Only on June 21 for Muskoka Melody’s “Sounds of the 50s & 60s” concert, resulting in a prolonged standing ovation for the performers and a cheque of $11,560 to the Brock & Willa Wellness Centre in Port Carling.

Featured picture shows members of Muskoka Melody making cheque presentation to Brock and Willa Napier

“We are incredibly pleased,” said Cassandra Rowswell, one of the Muskoka Melody
singers and the individual who organized donations from advertisers and individual supporters. “Between the actual ticket sales, contributions from businesses and individuals and funds raised through program advertising, we’ve been able to make a significant contribution to the charity.”

In addition, Ms. Rowswell was able to organize a grant from Muskoka Community Services – the Pay It Forward Muskoka 2014 Community Investment Grant – which resulted in extending awareness of the charity throughout the Muskoka Lakes area. “We aimed at donating $10,000 and are pleased to have over-achieved that goal,” she added.

As one audience member said enthusiastically, “I tapped my feet to exhaustion, I
doubled over in laughter, I cried, my hands stung from clapping, I smiled from ear to ear… what an absolutely wonderful show!”

In thanking the audience for their attendance and contribution to the Wellness Centre, patron Brock Napier stated, “I particularly want to thank ‘Muskoka Melody’. You are such a talented group, you’ve work so hard, you always put on such a great show and you donate your time. Thank you so much on behalf of all of us here tonight. What
great community spirit!”

“Sounds of the 50s & 60s” – a one-night-only evening of entertainment featuring the
music of those stars who made the musical heavens light up so many years ago – presented songs from the best of the post-WWII era performed as solos, duets and ensemble numbers. All the performers donated their time in order to maximize the contribution to the Brock & Willa Wellness Centre.

Ticket sales were brisk and the Port Carling Community Centre was sold out
for the event months ago. A follow up performance is scheduled for the Actors Colony Theatre in Bala on July 20th at 7:30pm (see www.newact.ca/Muskoka_Melody.html for more details and to purchase tickets.)

The Brock and Willa Wellness Centre will house the future Muskoka Lakes Nursing
Station, Hospice Muskoka/Andy’s House and the Hub of the Lakes Retirement Residence. Wellknown philanthropists Brock and Willa Napier donated the land for the health-related complex plus they contributed $750,000 to the three entities to be divided equally (please see www.brockandwillawellnesscentre.com).

With the success of this event, Muskoka Melody members are considering another fundraiser for next year. The public can visit www.muskokamelody.com for more information.

Year long investigation leads to charges against Bracebridge group home counsellor

Counsellor charged with assault on members of Bracebridge group home

Published June 20, 10am: A residential counsellor has been charged after Bracebridge OPP and the Muskoka Crime Unit investigated alleged physical assaults on the residents of a local group home.

On May 14, 2013 the OPP was called to investigate a case of repeated assault in a group home in the Bracebridge area. According to the OPP, a residential counsellor at the group home was observed physically assaulting her clients in the group home, while employed to take care of them.

Denise Mallia, a 54-year-old woman from Huntsville, has been charged with four counts of Assault.

She will appear June 20, 2014 in Bracebridge Court to answer to her charges.

Guest Article: So you want to be a municipal councillor?

Why do you want to run for council? Do you really know all it entails?

Special to Muskoka News Watch: Gina Barber knows a thing or two about municipal council life. She served four years in the municipal trenches herself, and continues to keep a close eye on London city council for her fellow citizens — and today was the day London Mayor Joe Fontana’s resigned, officially, after being found guilty of fraud charges. So MNW asked her if we could reprint “So You Want to Be a Municipal Councillor.” She said yes, she was happy to share! Check out Gina’s blog, London Civic Watch if you’re interested in seeing how other local news watchers report on their council’s shenanigans and their achievements. The only changes in her article below were to switch the words city and London for ‘municipality’.

So you want to be a councillor?
By Gina Barber, London Civic Watch

You’ve been watching council for a year, heard about the skirmishes, the dust-ups and the name-calling and you’re thinking, “Anybody would be better than that! I would be better than that!”

You’re probably right in far too many instances, but before you plunk down your one or two hundred dollars and open a bank account for a municipal run, you may want to think about some of the following questions.

Why do you want to be a councillor? Is it for the status it will give you? Are you looking for a job, part-time or otherwise? Or do you really have a vision for your city?

If you are elected, you have four years to get started on your vision. Don’t say a tax freeze—that’s a slogan, not a vision. Jobs, jobs, jobs!–ditto.

What do you like about your municipality? What’s missing? What needs to be done better? What needs to be eliminated? What kind of place do you want for your children and grandchildren? What changes need to be made to move the city in the direction of your vision?

What experience, residential or travel, do you have of other cities?

What is your vision for your municipality? Are you the best person to achieve that vision?

Here’s where you start taking a long, hard look at yourself. Being a councillor is not an easy ride so an honest assessment of your own skills, abilities and interests is warranted. You may want to get some help on these from people who know you well.

  • Are you prepared to sit in meetings hour after hour? Do you understand the basic rules of procedure? Much of your time at city hall will be spent doing just that, and under the scrutiny of the public, both in the gallery and at home in front of a computer or TV.
  • Are you a fast reader? Can you absorb a lot of information quickly, digest it, retain it, and synthesize it with other information you have acquired? Have you read through council agendas? Can you understand them? Remember, agendas for most committee and council meetings are hundreds of pages long. Legal-sized.
  • Are you prepared to give up most of your weekends for the next four years? Agendas come out on the Thursday or Friday of the preceding week; the meetings will be held on Monday or Tuesday. That means you will be reading hundreds of pages over the weekend so that you can get answers to any questions that may arise before the meetings at which you have to make a decision.
  • Do you find it easy to make decisions? All council motions require a yes/no response; there’s no “yes, but..” and you are stuck with your decision, decisions which may involve millions of dollars and hundreds of thousand residents.
  • Do you like researching issues? Do you have a questioning mind? Do you know where to look for answers? Are you willing to ask for information and help?
  • Are you a team player? Are you prepared to compromise from time to time? Are you willing to let someone else take the credit in order to get it done? Are you willing to consult?
  • Are you a good listener? Most of your time in meetings will be spent listening to others. Can you keep an open mind so that you can hear the arguments?
  • Are you a good speaker? Usually, you will have five minutes to make your case. Can you speak succinctly? Can you think on your feet? Can you capture people’s attention when you speak?
  • Are you a multi-tasker? As a councillor, you will be dealing with several issues and conflicting demands at the same time. You need to be able to keep your wits about you.
  • Do you enjoy public events? Are you prepared to be at them three, four or five evenings per week?
  • Are you comfortable with current information technology? Do you have social media accounts? A website? Are you caught up on your email correspondence?
  • Are you willing to accept phone calls day and night?
  • Can you handle a request for a radio interview at 6 a.m. although the meeting didn’t end until midnight?
  • Do you know basic stuff about the city and how it functions? What about its major employers, institutions and organizations? Its physical infrastructure? Its public services?
  • Can you accept criticism? You’ll probably be getting lots of it, both publicly and privately.
  • Do you have any connections or involvements that may compromise your impartiality? Remember, you are there to serve the interests of the public, not sponsors or personal friends and acquaintances.

Can you win?

Although you will be helping to shape the municipality as a whole, you have to win the most votes in the ward you choose to run in.

  • Do you live in the ward? How long have you been there? How well do you know its neighbourhoods? What are the main features of the ward? Who votes there? What are their interests and concerns? Do they match your vision? What are the salient issues in the ward?
  • How well are you known in the ward? Will your name resonate with the voters? Are you involved in ratepayers’ or community associations?
  • Who else is running? Does the ward have an incumbent who is running again? What is the incumbent’s record of voting and achievement? Are there other contenders who have a vision similar to yours? Are other candidates better known? Remember, it’s a first-past-the post system; the more contenders there are, the less it takes for the incumbent to win again.
  • What accomplishments, in your career or in voluntary organizations, can you claim? Do people think of you as a leader? Are you someone they normally turn to to get things done?
  • Can you raise enough money? The spending limits are $20,000 to $25,000, and successful campaigns rarely come in at less than $10,000. Signs and brochures are expensive but they are essential. Do you have the money? Can you raise it through donations? From whom? Will your sponsors expect anything in return for supporting you?
  • Do you have a team to help you? You need a manager and supporters to organize and do the grunt work of canvassing and pounding in signs. Who will help you? Are they reliable?
  • Do you have the energy and stamina for a campaign? Ideally, you should knock on every door at least once. Are you in good shape for this?
  • Do you have a strategy for all-candidates’ meetings? Are you prepared for the questions that will be asked? Can you anticipate what the questions will be?
  • Is your family supportive of your undertaking a campaign? Will they help? Will they give money? Will they mind if you are never home?
  • Do you have a good, firm handshake?
  • Have you used social media responsibly? Are there any pictures or postings that may embarrass you?

These are just a few questions that come to mind. I would appreciate hearing additional suggestions from you. Just remember, there are many ways to give or give back to your community. Running for office is not the only, or even the most desirable, way. Sometimes, helping others with more skill, more knowledge and more potential is the way to go.

Here’s an exercise: For one month, read all the agendas, including the budget (on the weekend, of course) and attend all council and committee meetings in person. It’s not the same as watching them televised or live-streamed. Figure out how you would vote on motions and why. That should give you a taste of what some of your life as a councillor will be. Without all the pesky calls from the public.

Once you’ve done that, and you still want to run, my best wishes to you.

Muskoka News Watch thanks Gina Barber for allowing us to reprint this article. Catch all of Gina’s inquisitive and informed commentary at London Civic Watch.

Over 500 without power in Torrance area after hydro wires knocked down

Hydro wires spark, cause smoking bush across from Torrance Community Centre

Published June 17, 9;50pm: Power is expected to be restored soon to over 500 people in the Torrance area after hydro wires were knocked down during the storm today.

Torrance Road was blocked from Elizabeth Street to Queen’s Walk Road. Wires were down directly across from the Torrance Community Centre at the foot of Kidd Street. Smoke was rising from the bush there where hydro wires were tangled in trees and were hanging down.

Featured pic: Smoking bush from sparked down hydro wires in Torrance. Photo by Norah Fountain.

Hydro One hopes to have power restored within the hour.

Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was directing traffic away from the downed wires in the late afternoon. The firefighters were also busy earlier in the day responding to a car rollover on Walker’s Point Road.

Smoke cleared about 6pm; power out until late evening
Smoke cleared about 6pm; power out until late evening

Speed may have been a factor in that crash. There are no further details as to whether anyone was injured

 

Tornado Warning downgraded to severe thunderstorm warning in Muskoka

Environment Canada was almost right to the minute: said Tornado threat would pass by 4.45pm. Now it’s raining and we’re back to a thunderstorm warning for areas in Muskoka

Warnings

4:54 PM EDT Tuesday 17 June 2014
Severe thunderstorm warning in effect for:

  • Bracebridge – Gravenhurst
  • Port Carling – Port Severn

Persons in or near this area should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions. Watch for updated statements.

Please refer to the latest public forecasts for further details and continue to monitor the situation through your local radio and television stations or Weatheradio. Should the storm worsen, watch this space on Muskoka News Watch for updates.

Environment Canada meteorologists are tracking a line of severe thunderstorms capable of producing very strong wind gusts, dime to ping pong ball size hail and heavy rain.

These thunderstorms are affecting areas from Bracebridge in the north through Orillia and southwestward to Orangeville and are moving eastward at about 80 km/h. The atmospheric environment is also favourable for tornado development. Take cover immediately, if threatening weather approaches. Large hail can damage property and cause injury. Strong wind gusts can toss loose objects, damage weak buildings, break branches off trees and overturn large vehicles. Remember, severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes. Go indoors and move away from windows and skylights. Avoid areas of the building that could be affected by falling debris such as tree limbs. In Canada, lightning kills up to 10 people every year. Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors.

Emergency Management Ontario recommends that you take cover immediately, if threatening weather approaches.

Environment Canada: Tornado warning in effect as of 345pm today for Central & South Muskoka

Tornado Warning for Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Port Carling and Port Severn. Please take cover and protect items on your property.

3:45 PM EDT Tuesday 17 June 2014
Tornado warning in effect for:

  • Bracebridge – Gravenhurst
  • Port Carling – Port Severn

Updated or ended by 4:24 p.m. EDT.

At 3:45 p.m. EDT, Environment Canada meteorologists are tracking a severe thunderstorm that is possibly producing a tornado.

A few severe thunderstorms possibly producing Tornadoes are moving acrross the regions. These storms are tracking from west to east at 60 kilometres per hour. Damaging wind and wind gusts to 100 km/h are also likely with these storms.

This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation. Take cover immediately, if threatening weather approaches. If you hear a roaring sound or see a funnel cloud, swirling debris near the ground, flying debris, or any threatening weather approaching, take shelter immediately.

Go indoors to a room on the lowest floor, away from outside walls and windows, such as a basement, bathroom, stairwell or interior closet. Leave mobile homes, vehicles, tents, trailers and other temporary or free-standing shelter, and move to a strong building if you can. As a last resort, lie in a low spot and protect your head from flying debris.

In Canada, lightning kills up to 10 people every year.
Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors.

Emergency Management Ontario recommends that you take cover immediately, if threatening weather approaches.

Environment Canada meteorologists will update alerts as required, so stay tuned to your local media or Weatheradio. Email reports of severe weather to storm.ontario@ec.gc.ca or tweet with the hashtag #ONStorm.

For more information on being prepared click here

 

Rainbow flag will be raised in Muskoka Lakes: Council approves Pride Muskoka ask for recognition

Rainbow flag will be up in Muskoka Lakes for Pride Week in Muskoka; flag to be affixed to Township offices in Port Carling

Published June 17, 2pm: The third time was the charm for Pride Muskoka: it has asked the Township of Muskoka Lakes for three years in a row to raise the rainbow flag to recognize Muskoka Pride Week, and this time, Council said yes.

Heather Hay, who asked Council officially for Pride Week recognition April 17,  was in North Bay today and couldn’t be there for today’s vote. Reached by phone afterward, she said she was very pleased to hear the news. Hay will follow up with Township Clerk Cheryl Mortimer to determine what type of wall mount fixture will be needed to raise the flag.

Featured pic: Flag raised in Gravenhurst on July 22, 2013. Photo by Norah Fountain

The flagpole at the Township offices in Port Carling is reportedly not built in a way that it can carry two flags (and some officials have said there is a Canadian flag protocol to consider), so Council was thinking about whether to install another pole, deny the request all together, agree to having Pride Muskoka pay and arrange for a temporary building mount fixture, or gather for a photo opportunity with the flag. Option 3, the temporary wall mounted flag, was agreed upon unanimously.

Just prior to the supporting vote, Councillor Ruth Nishikawa cautioned that approving the request could lead to more such asks for recognition.  “I don’t think we’ve ever excluded anyone in the community…and I have friends in Pride Muskoka,” said Nishikawa. “So that’s not the direction my comment is coming from; I’m not excluding anyone.” She continued, “We have many unique and special people in the community and it’s unfortunate we intend to do this – zero in on one particular group. I personally think we should be celebrating our disabled people much more than we do. Where does it stop?”

As a result of today’s decision, the rainbow flag is expected to fly proudly in Muskoka Lakes as well as Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville on July 21.

South Muskoka Memorial Hospital gets $1million gift from developer for ER department

 

Historic $1 Million Gift Supports Peter Gilgan Emergency Department

Release by Allyson Snelling for Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare
(Monday, June 16, 2014, Muskoka, ON) – The Peter Gilgan Emergency Department at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site was unveiled during a special reception this afternoon in recognition of the largest single donation from a seasonal resident in the history of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation.

Featured picture of official donation ceremony (from left to right): Douglas Lamb, ‘Get Better’ Campaign Chair; Paul Hammond, Chair of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation, Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes; Natalie Bubela, MAHC Chief Executive Officer, MAHC Board Chair Larry Saunders.


Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes, made the $1 million gift to set the stage for a $6.5 million capital campaign, of which he has agreed to serve as Honourary Chair, to better connect patients to care through technology. The donation will support much-needed equipment in the hospital and ultimately help to make emergency care better in Muskoka.

A longtime cottager in the Muskoka region, Mr. Gilgan’s gift was inspired by the care and courtesy of the staff and physicians that his friends and family members have received over the years.

“I have always been so impressed with the high level of care, kindness and warmth that South Muskoka Memorial Hospital brings to our community and wanted to do my part to help raise awareness and interest in the importance of good community hospitals,” said Mr. Gilgan. “They are the front line of care in our province and are so important to the health and well being of great communities.”

The major gift to the SMMH Site is one of Mr. Gilgan’s many acts of philanthropy. As a respected and dedicated community leader, he has supported various projects and organizations ranging from health care to physical activity to higher education and community legacies.

“This gift that Peter has given us today will help further improve the care we provide by helping to ensure we have the leading edge equipment and technology that we rely on,” says Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC).

The role technology plays in patient care and the impact of state-of-the-art tools and equipment cannot be overstated, says Dr. Jan Goossens, Chief of Staff at MAHC.

“Technology is critically important to delivering health care services and saving lives,” says Dr. Goossens. “Having access to electronic health records means that when seconds count, everything we need to know will be at our fingertips. An expanded telemedicine system means access to specialized care. An automated medication management system means peace of mind for better and safer drug administration, while new Diagnostic Imaging equipment, will give us faster and more accurate ways to diagnose our patients.”

Algonquinhealthcarelogo
Paul Hammond, chair of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation, says Mr. Gilgan’s significant donation brings the Foundation’s fundraising tally to $38 million over 28 years.

“A strong hospital has competent and caring staff. A strong hospital has solid infrastructure and up-to-date technology,” Hammond explains. “Peter, you have helped to make us even stronger and on behalf of everyone who benefits from your generosity, I thank you for that.”

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Blue Water video project announced for Muskoka

RBC donates $20,000 for waterway impact video project

Published June 16, 1pm: With the help of a $20,000 donation from RBC, Friends of the Muskoka Watershed (FMW) is making a video about Muskoka waterways.

The video, funded by the RBC Blue Water Project, will focus on the headwaters and downstream impacts of Muskoka waterways.

Featured picture: RBC in Bracebridge presents $20K cheque for waterways video

The RBC Blue Water Project is a funding program dedicated to protecting the world’s most precious natural resource: fresh water. The program sponsors conferences, economic reports and events that help build awareness about the importance of water.

In the case of Muskoka, the RBC branch in Bracebridge was able to present funding to FMW, which will be working with The Land Between on the video. The Land Between is a national charity dedicated to conserving & enhancing the cultural, natural & economic features of a significant region in Ontario.

More information about the video partnership with The Land Between and the Friends will be coming soon. The cheque was presented to FMW on June 12 in front of the Bracebridge Royal Bank branch.

 

 

Thieves break into Bracebridge home

Break and enter on Denniss Drive yesterday in Bracebridge

Published June 13, 1.38pm: The Bracebridge OPP detachment is investigating a daytime break and enter on Denniss Drive in Bracebridge yesterday.

OPP were called at 1.25pm to an address on Denniss Drive to investigate a reported break and enter.

The home was found to have been broken into while the owners were away for a short time. The suspect(s) stole multiple items and left quickly.

If readers have any information regarding this crime or have seen any suspicious people or vehicles in the area please contact Bracebridge OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or 705-645-2211

Hear in My Car: Music and cars combine at 21st Gravenhurst Car Show June 14

The Gravenhurst Car Show back for its 21st year Saturday with 500 cars, almost a dozen musical acts

Story by Tim Brazeau, Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce.

Published June 13, 9:45am: The 21st Annual Gravenhurst Car Show proudly sponsored by Canadian Tire Gravenhurst takes place this Father’s Day Weekend on Saturday June 14th at Gull Lake Rotary Park. With over 500 vehicles, family friendly events throughout the day, many food vendors and a beer garden sponsored by Sawdust City Brewing Company the day is definitely going to be a hit!

Featured picture: 2013 Car Show crowd watching music at The Barge at Gull Lake Park

The fun filled day begins at 9:00am and includes over 500 vehicles, earning the title of the largest car show in Northern Ontario, a Trophy Award Ceremony sponsored by Wayne’s Tire at 3:15pm will present honours for Best in Show, Best Paint, Best Chrome, Oldest Vehicle, Longest Driven and many more. The day boasts a wide variety of vehicles and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, there are a variety of scheduled events including those intended for kids.

A vast musical roster of live entertainment on the barge with performances by musicians including Jenn Morin, Big East, Elyse Saunders, Jeff Young & The Muskoka Roads Band, Juan Barbosa, The Carpet Frogs, Pam Millar, Sean Cotton’s Doghouse, followed by headliner Red Wanting Blue at 7:30pm are sure to entertain.

2013 Gravenhurst Car Show Car lotThe Carpet Frogs return to Gravenhurst taking the stage for two sets beginning at 2:30pm. The classic rock cover band was a tradition during Dockside Festival in the 1990s that attracting loyal fans.

Headlining the evening concert this year, Red Wanting Blue is definitely far From The Vanishing Point. This rock and roll group from America’s heart land is led by singer-songwriter Scott Terry, his passionate and poetic songs are anchored by his band mates Mark McCoullough, Greg Rahm, Eric Hall Jr. and Dean Anshuntz. Their latest studio recording ‘From The Vanishing Point’ is the band’s coming-of-age album and instantly hit the Top 10 on Billboard’s “Heatseekers” charts. The bands small-town sensibility and loyal fans have contributed to its world class rock n’ roll powerhouse sound.

Antique Cars Gravenhurst Car Show 2013The event is coordinated by the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce and supported by many local businesses, event sponsors and volunteers.

Know more: Call The Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce at (705)-687-4432, email info@gravenhurstchamber.com, or visit www.gravenhurstcarshow.com.

Want to Hear ‘Here in my Car’ by Gary Numan to get in the car and music show mood? Watch this YouTube video

Ontario Votes: A vote for collaboration, and history made

Update June 13, 1.45pm: Parry Sound-Muskoka Green vote highest in the province.

When the final tally was official, Parry Sound-Muskoka Green candidate Matt Richter had the highest percentage of vote of all Green Party of Ontario candidates at 19.34%, just slightly edging out Green leader Mike Schreiner, who ran in Guelph and garnered 19.2% of the vote there.

Update: FINAL PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA RESULTS

  1. Incumbent PC MPP Norm Miller, 15,752 votes (40.7%)
  2. Liberal candidate Dan Waters, 10, 177 votes (26.3%)
  3. Green candidate Matt Richter, 7,484 (19.34%)
  4. NDP candidate Clyde Mobbley, 4,993 (12.9%)
  5. Freedom Party candidate, Andy Stivrins, 296 (0.8%)

Original commentary written in real-time from election night follows:

Ontario elected its first female premier tonight, the Green Party more than doubled its vote across Ontario and the province voted to stay the course

Commentary by Norah Fountain published June 12, 11.10pm: No doubt by now all MNW readers know that Ontario has a Liberal majority government.

Here in Parry Sound-Muskoka, it was early after the polls closed that incumbent PC MPP Norm Miller was re-elected as expected. As of 11pm this evening, Green Party candidate Matt Richter had 7,484 votes – over 19% of the vote, a historic high for the Green Party in Parry Sound-Muskoka and at the moment of this writing, the highest Green percentage in this election, just ahead of Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner (3,000 votes and 19% in Guelph). UPDATE: Just minutes after this post, polls in Guelph pushed Schreiner’s results to 19.51%. Parry Sound-Muskoka Liberal candidate Dan Waters is holding second behind Miller with 8,458 votes (26%). The NDP’s Clyde Mobbley with 4,421 votes (13.6).

PC Leader thanked his supporters and announced he would resign just before 11pm.

History was made tonight with Premier Kathleen Wynne becoming the first female Ontario premier to be elected — and with a majority government to boot. The Greens also made history as well with historic high results in our riding, in Guelph, and Dufferin-Caledon (and by doubling the Green vote province-wide).

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is just finishing her speech to her supporters as this is written, promising she will work with all MPPs. Perhaps she has done what she said she would do in bringing down a budget to cause this election — she has helped deliver change to the province. The Ontario 2014 election was a vote for collaboration.

Update: FINAL PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA RESULTS

  1. Incumbent PC MPP Norm Miller, 15,752 votes (40.7%)
  2. Liberal candidate Dan Waters, 10, 177 votes (26.3%)
  3. Green candidate Matt Richter, 7,484 (19.3%)
  4. NDP candidate Clyde Mobbley, 4,993 (12.9%)
  5. Freedom Party candidate, Andy Stivrins, 296 (0.8%)

Ontario Votes: With the right identification, you can still vote without a voters card

Didn’t get a voter card? You can still vote today. Polls open from 9am to 9pm

Published June 12, 7:40am: Candidates in the Parry Sound-Muskoka election are saying many of their supporters have mentioned they never received a Voter Card in the mail.

Some voters have told MNW that only one member of their household received a card.

You can still vote by bringing two pieces of ID. A government ID like a driver’s licence and a second piece. If you have more questions, call your local returning office for help at 1-866-532-3169.

Here is the list of acceptable ID you will need to vote today if you do not have your Voter Card. Even if you DO have a Voter Card, it’s a good idea to bring along a piece of government ID.

FIRST: Show one piece of government identification that includes both name and residential address
  • Ontario Photo Card
  • Ontario Driver’s Licence
  • Ontario Motor Vehicle Permit
  • Statement of Government Benefits (child tax benefit, old age security, etc.)
SECOND: Any document:
  • issued by the Government of Canada, Ontario or a municipality in Ontario or from an agency of such a government
  • issued by a Band Council in Ontario (established under the Indian Act)
  • Bank/Credit Card Statement
  • Cancelled Personalized Cheque
  • “Certification of Identity and Residence” form signed by authorized administrator
  • Cheque stub, T4 tax slip or pay receipt issued by an employer
  • CNIB Identity Card
  • Document issued by a post-secondary school Campus Residence Official
  • Hospital Record/Document
  • Insurance Policy/Statement
  • Loan/Agreement with a Financial Institution
  • Post-secondary school Admissions Letter
  • Post-secondary school Transcript/Report Card
  • Post-secondary school Tuition/Fees Statement
  • Residential Lease, Rental or Mortgage Agreement/Statement
  • Utility Bill (gas, hydro, etc).

Ontario Votes: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Parry Sound Muskoka Election Watch

If you look hard, or just take a little time, you can always find something to vote for, if not someone

Commentary by Norah Fountain. Featured photo: All Candidates in Huntsville.

Published June 11, 11:59am: No matter what you think of this Ontario election campaign, all candidates and volunteers and voters deserve credit. For people who are undecided and think they might pass on going to the polls, consider all the people – many of whom are your neighbours who have worked so hard for democracy these past weeks. Voter fatigue is a reality, but surely you can find a nugget of something in someone’s platform that you can agree with so you can cast a vote. Which brings me to this eleventh hour commentary.

I’ve followed this election closely, I’ve heard all the candidates, and what follows is my analysis of the good, the bad, and in one case, the ugly, that I saw or heard since the election was called. The only party and candidate I will not comment on is Green Party of Ontario candidate Matt Richter* because of my personal bias in favour of him. See full disclosure at end of article.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Ontario Votes – Parry Sound-Muskoka

The Bad. The Blame Game. Let’s take the gas plant scandal. After all, those who live in glass houses…One of the best quotes, hands down, at the Huntsville all candidates meeting came from Liberal Dan Waters: “A pox on all of their houses: McGuinty, Horwath and Hudak.” He’s absolutely right. NDP leader Andrea Horwath and PC leader Tim Hudak themselves stood in Oakville and said they would cancel that plant while campaigning in 2011. Blame makes for easy sound bites but I think voters are sick of hearing about past blunders while not hearing solid policy for a better future. That leads to apathy and that’s next.

The Bad. Apathy. And/or Need for Better Communication with Voters? I counted only 89 people at the Huntsville All Candidates meeting, the only such meeting held in Parry Sound-Muskoka. Many people asked me afterward, when’s the next meeting? I think all local media (including MNW) promoted the meeting, but that wasn’t enough. Maybe no amount of communication would have made it better as one wise pundit I know believes such meetings are only worthwhile for the press they might generate.

The Good. Huntsville Lakes of Bays Chamber of Commerce for producing that all candidates meeting. Well done.

The Good. Hunter’s Bay Radio for holding the best debate production I’ve heard in a long time. Hopefully, they can do the same during the municipal election. Many voters also told me they watched the Cogeco All Candidates debate and said it, too, was well produced.

The Bad. Refusing to vote because ‘the parties are all the same’. Surely there is something in someone’s platform that you can like even if you don’t agree with it all?

The bad. Healthcare? Education? Anyone? I found there was little discussion on education and on healthcare other than about cancelling the LHINs (Local Health Integration Networks) and concern for our local hospitals. I can’t recall any policy statements covered well, at least not locally. (The Toronto Star also has a good article, Healthcare, the forgotten issue, suggesting healthcare was not on the radar much across the province either). TVO’s The Agenda did have a roundtable on education Tuesday night.

The Bad. Job creation that starts with cuts. Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC party created turmoil and confusion right at the start with Hudak’s announcement that his party will cut 100,000 jobs (and he also gets bad marks for what appears to be shoddy math skills, particularly for an economist).

Local PC candidate Norm Miller claims that any suggestion that the 100,000 job cuts would include municipal job cuts was ‘fear mongering’ by the other parties. Time will tell if that is true. “Municipalities are not specifically targeted. It’s across the greater civil service and our plan is over four years, mainly through attrition, to reduce the civil service by 100,000,” says Miller.

Note: I could not find one direct quote from Hudak saying jobs at a municipal level would be cut even though a Hudak staffer had said they would in a CBC report.

Quoting that report: “In response to a question from CBC News, a senior Hudak campaign member confirmed Hudak’s plan would include cutting funding to municipalities.”

But the report does not quote Hudak as saying that. So Miller gets a nod from me for supporting and explaining the PC job cut plan with grace under pressure, and for clarifying that “no transfer cuts are planned to the municipalities.” But the job cut plan? Still bad, in my opinion.

The Good. What the Liberals rightfully boasted about, such as no more coal burning and for having the guts to make the Green Energy Act (GEA) reality. No matter how badly it may have been implemented, Ontario has been touted across North America as the leader in renewable energy policy. A former Chair of the Toronto Board of Trade noted, “with the introduction of the Green Energy Act, Ontario will be at the forefront of progress, a dynamic force for change.” No, the Liberals didn’t ‘get it right the first time’. Neither did Obama when introducing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act in the U.S. But there is no doubt that the GEA is the needed step in the right direction. Nobody’s talking climate change much in this election, but the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka care about the environment and our economy depends on its health. Laurels for the Act and darts to the poor implementation, but please, let’s not execute this green Liberal baby and green job creator.

The Liberal Bad. They deserved the knocks they get for poor implementation, communication, and support of programs that start as good ideas. I didn’t hear any Liberals admitting they could have done better during this campaign. They also seemed to fudge on education: there’s still no indication of any overhaul of the way education is funded in the province despite the need to do so and I am leery of promises that they will finally do more for special education – or ensure more funding actually is used for that purpose.

Dan Waters, Liberal Candidate
Dan Waters

The Good. Dan Waters for hanging in there, broken ankle and all. And for always speaking his mind. When an NDP MPP, he spoke for Parry Sound-Muskoka even when it didn’t jive with his party’s direction. As Liberals, he and his wife, Cindy, have worked hard to keep the provincial riding association and conversation about issues going. They really believe in Kathleen Wynne. You may not like their politics or party, but you’ve got to applaud their passion. Oh, and a good for Wynne for promising to move to allow election ballots to be ranked (if she’s elected, of course).

The Bad. The NDP for making this election happen, now. We didn’t need it now, in my opinion, and you’d think whoever runs things for the NDP could have given local ridings more of a ‘be prepared’ pep talk. Yet I think this election is now a critical one. Please, everyone vote. If voter anger combined with apathy causes a huge swing (which has happened before in Ontario), the PCs could have big smiles on their faces late tomorrow night.

The Bad. The NDP offer of an estimated $200 off our hydro bills. Sure, go ahead, consume – we’ll give you money back! I can’t begin to properly dissect the shortsightedness of this offer – and this coming from a person who has a huge hydro bill to deal with this month.

The Good. NDP promise of interest free student loans and the senior caregiver idea gets half a nod. Good idea but I think it should go further. The slightly bad of both of these ideas is I didn’t hear these platform points made at the all candidates meeting or elsewhere, locally.

Clyde Mobbley
Clyde Mobbley

The Good. NDP candidate Clyde Mobbley for writing letters between elections, even though some have criticized him for giving a certain federal MPP too much ‘ink’. While he doesn’t comment much on provincial issues, he stays engaged and deserves kudos for starting conversations in our region. I felt his closing speech at the all aandidates meeting fell flat: mostly ‘vision’ speak without clarity on what the NDP might actually do to help our region.

The Good: Getting our fair share? Back to Miller, he says municipalities Norm Miller - Campaign Vanwill fare better under his government as the PCs would make sure there was a better sharing of the gas tax for municipalities like ours that don’t have transit. Personally, I think it might be a tough sell given the clamoring of urban municipalities, but locally we need and deserve a better share.

The Really Bad: Job cuts affecting schools. The 100,000 job cuts by the PCs will include cuts to jobs in schools – most to non-teaching support staff, anywhere from the PC number of 10,000 (in a 2013 PC plan) to 22,000 according to Kathleen Wynne. (If you want to read my entire piece on the 100,000 job cuts and more of my interview with Norm Miller, see the additional copy at the end of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly list).

The Ugly. Play acting as a female bureaucrat to make a point. Admit the somewhat misinformed rhetoric and sometimes comic relief; I thought Andy Stivrins actually had some good points about ‘police state’ concerns. But when answering a question about WHMIS regulations hurting business (a good starting discussion point about an issue legitimately affecting small and medium sized businesses in our region), Stivrins talked about ‘people in pink hats’ and then assumed a falsetto voice to mimic a woman coming into a business to drive the owner crazy. You lost me at ‘pink hat’, Mr. Stivrins, and made me wonder about your Freedom Party’s position on freedom for women to make a living in the workplace.

The Bad. No mention of how getting Muskoka back into Northern Ontario Heritage Fund was abandoned. I’m surprised it didn’t come up at the all candidates, and I didn’t ask Miller about this when I could have, but I believe Muskoka’s fight for access to funding deserved more attention from our MPP. I believe Miller should have led a much stronger charge to allow Muskoka to take advantage of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. Just because a party isn’t in power does not make an MPP powerless. Muskoka, thanks to the efforts of local Mayors and others, can now supposedly take advantage of the Eastern Ontario Development Fund that I bet displeases some people in rural areas around Ottawa and Kingston. Locally, I know people personally who have lost job opportunities because they didn’t live in Parry Sound even though they were only minutes away in Muskoka Lakes.

The Good. Better thinking on electricity. At the all candidates meeting in Huntsville, Miller mentioned importing cheaper electricity from neighbouring provinces. It’s not a new idea, but it’s a good one. According to Paul Norris of the Ontario Waterpower Association, all parties have looked at interties (transmission between provinces) as an economic framework and have all mentioned it on the campaign trail (except for maybe the NDP) and importing electricity is a core plank of the Green platform. It would take government negotiations to import more, says Norris, but it can be done.

The Good. Infrastructure work here. Miller also deserves praise for pushing ahead with his private members’ bill on paving highway shoulders. It may not sound very environmental, but non-paved shoulders in our region are a hazard. I fear for the lives of youth on bikes heading into work, for example. At first, I thought this legislation would not really affect our area, but I was wrong. Hwy 124 now has paved shoulders – and people who travel that route tell me more cyclists are now taking advantage of that change. Miller deserves credit for that.

The BADDEST. Partisan Politics that make debates seem more like football games being fought to the death. Instead of footballs, it’s scandals being tossed around and a lack of individuality that is Orwellian-scary. And, hey, if we want to cut jobs, what about the whips (a tip of the hat to Liberal Waters for raising that during the campaign) and the people in the premier’s office that help feed partisan politics. We need to hear good ideas from all MPPs, all parties, and from all citizens. Just like we have a problem federally thinking that somehow the PMO office has become an ‘elected official’, we have to remember that each MPP is one vote. And government has to work together. Refusal to do so is what got us this election.

More musings, as promised, on the 100,000 job cuts if you really need or want to read more…

Perhaps I asked the wrong questions of Norm Miller about this issue when he graciously gave me a one-on-one interview to talk it over. In doing my research, there was evidence that Hudak couldn’t find enough Ontario public service jobs to cut so the PCs might have to widen it to the broader MUSH (Municipalities, Universities, Schools, Hospital) sector. Yet Hudak had said doctors and nurses and police would be safe.

So there was a lot of talk about where the 100,000 jobs would come from and I bought into some suggestions that even jobs in municipalities could be cut. I took that to mean municipal governments, like our township offices. Putting that aside, if doctors and nurses and police don’t have to worry about being a few of 100,000…

That leaves schools and universities, and there’s no doubt there will be ‘modifications’ as another PC candidate Rob Leone said repeatedly (and chillingly) on TVO’s The Agenda last night. A PC plan released in 2013 promised to cut 10,000 non teaching jobs. Liberal Kathleen Wynne (whom I think could have done a better job pushing for more non teaching support when she was Education Minister) said it’s more like 22,000 education jobs that will get cut by the PCs.

As a former school trustee I fear I know where those cuts will come from. From educational assistants and support workers who work with the students who need help – and the parents of these children– the most should be concerned. Teachers need those support workers as they try and accommodate students who need extra help. And if you think, well, that doesn’t affect me as my child is doing just fine, thank you, recognize that your child is losing out, too, when there’s not enough support for their peers.

Oh, but the cuts will just be those highly paid management jobs at school boards, one voter said to me. Just imagine what those severance packages would look like, I answered back. Savings, really? Not in the short term, anyway.

Are we trading off public sector jobs in favor of promoting private sector positions, I asked Miller. He answered, “It’s not trading off, it’s right sizing government is to get back to a balanced budget and a government we can afford. That’s the reason to reduce the civil service back to 2009 levels.”

As for other jobs that might be lost in Muskoka. Ontario public service jobs are some of the best paying ones around. The PC plan is to “do away with middle management bureaucracy,” says Miller. Perhaps certain board positions might be lost if the PCs cut the LHINs and other bodies and government agencies the PCs would cut.

The constant stressing of attrition and retirement bothers me though: is Miller suggesting the “5-9 percent” he mentions that retire every year are jobs that never needed doing if they are so replaceable? Perhaps there is a gravy train.

True or not, it sounds to me like we’re going to lose jobs in the middle-income sector, and isn’t that where much of our provincial tax revenue comes from? So yes, political rhetoric exploded all over the 100,000 job cut promise, but in my opinion it is not a promise that will meet its goal of balancing budgets. At best, it might seem to create savings in the short term, and I agree with Dan Water’s comment that “when payroll is lost, we all suffer.”

In fact, the announcement that Hudak would cut 100,000 jobs was quickly named the ‘Pink Slip Plan’ by the Liberals who claimed in a press release that Hudak had confirmed in a radio interview (CFRA) that the cuts would include municipal jobs. Some pundits suggested municipal cuts would come by way of cutting transfer payments to municipalities and others, like NDP Clyde Mobbley, demanded Miller show what local jobs would be lost. Yet if you read the media reports carefully, it’s hard to find one showing a direct quote about municipal cuts attributed directly to Hudak. For example, the CBC report attributed it to a Hudak staffer. Here’s what that report said, again:

“In response to a question from CBC News, a senior Hudak campaign member confirmed Hudak’s plan would include cutting funding to municipalities.

“Yes, Mr. Hudak made it clear that we will be reducing spending across the board except in health care. More details on our full fiscal plan will be forthcoming.”

When you think about it, the word, forthcoming, is apt. Because in the real world of politics, campaign promises, be they bad, or good, or ugly, can sometimes turn out to be promises that are impossible to keep. But voters CAN see an action through. They can vote.

*Disclosure: I am a supporter of The Green Party of Ontario and of Parry Sound-Muskoka Green candidate Matt Richter.

Matt Richter
Matt Richter

As a result, you didn’t see a discussion of Matt Richter in this analysis at all. It’s not that I’m ignoring him or the Greens. It’s just that I support him too strongly to be able to comment on his party’s position without a bias: I would cheer him on in ways that could put the Raptors Dance Pak cheerleaders to shame.

 

 

 

 

 

Driver dies after motorcycle crash in Muskoka Lakes

Victim identified as Bruce Neddow of Nipissing Township

Published June 10, 2:30pm: A 66-year-old man is dead after hitting a tree on a motorcycle on Highway 141, north of Coates Road in Muskoka Lakes Township.

The victim has been identified by the OPP as Bruce Neddow of Nipissing Township. According to Bracebridge OPP, the crash happened Saturday just before 4pm. Neddow was taken to hospital by paramedics in serious condition and later died.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Update : Crash kills pilot at Huronia Regional Airport – pilot identified

Pilot identified as Michael Mannapso of Tiny Township

Update June 13, 9:50am: The pilot who died after his ultra-light crashed  at Huronia Regional Airport Monday has been identified as 69-year old Michael Mannapso of Tiny Township. Although the exact cause of death will not be released, police can confirm that the causal factors surrounding his death are consistent with the events which took place as the plane attempted to land at the airport.

Pilot dies in crash landing of ultralight

Published June 9, 7:30pm: A pilot has died in a plane crash this afternoon at the Huronia Regional Airport in Tiny Township.

According to South Georgian Bay OPP, the initial investigations suggests the 69-year old male pilot was trying to land his ultra-light aircraft at the south end of the main runway when it crashed into the runway. The crash happened just before 2pm today.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has been notified and is presently at the scene where they are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of this crash. The OPP’s Forensic Identification Services Unit (FISU) is also on scene.

The OPP will not be releasing the identity of the pilot until a post mortem examination is conducted and next of kin notifications are complete.

Theatre in Bala in dire need of financial help or shows might not go on

Save Our Shows: Theatre company issues SOS to keep the curtains rising in Bala this summer

Published June 9, 4.40pm: In what should be a celebratory year for Bala as the town toasts its 100th year of incorporation, a part of its cultural history is in jeopardy.

The Actors’ Colony Theatre is at the 11th hour, says Artistic Director Eva Moore. Without more funding, shows and jobs could be cut. A scaled back season in what was expected to be a break even year could also threaten the future of the company.

Featured picture: Mike Petersen in Punch ‘n Judy, a pop-up family show, planned for parks and public areas around Muskoka.

“We’re still short just over $10K,” says Moore, “which means cancelling the final show, cutting the season back, eliminating four weeks work for 10 people…and the general public doesn’t even know.” The sad reality of a season not funded well enough comes on the heels of Moore receiving the first grant for the Actors’ Colony Theatre since its rebirth over three years ago (the theatre company has a grand history of being the first summer stock theatre in Canada 80 years ago). The $12,000 grant from the Ontario Arts Council is to go toward a planned future production (Spring 2015) — it can’t be touched for the summer season.

It’s the big final show that will be lost if upfront money doesn’t arrive in the coming days. Star Trick, The Musical is a this critically acclaimed spoof of the original Star Trek series by Roger Fredericks and Louise Moon. In the show, the spaceship Improvise is taken over by an unknown force as it orbits over a mysterious planet in an uncharted sector of space. It’s up to the fearless crew to regain control and to battle Ball, the highly evolved super-being. Remaining true to TheatreSports® style, audience members are participants and co-creators in this hilarious partly scripted, party improvised musical production.

Without funding, the comedy could go the way of tragedy in this – the 80th anniversary season of Actors’ Colony Theatre. To donate and help save the summer stock theatre in Bala and maintain a tradition reborn, contact Eva Moore (705-641-2949)  or Allan Turnbull (705 762 3214).

The company’s “To be or not to be” press release follows this article.

Release from Actors’ Colony Theatre May 30, 2014

By Eva Moore

“To be, or not to be, that is the question…” Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet

One of the most famous quotations in the English language is sadly appropriate for Actors’ Colony Theatre (ACT) right now. As Hamlet contemplated going on through the pain of his life against the uncertainty of the afterworld, ACT is facing a similar decision with its 2014 season.

Without an angelic intervention, Dan Does Stan-A, musical tribute to Stan Rogers; Driving Miss Daisy; Star Trick-The Musical; a traveling Punch ‘n Judy show that pops up at parks and playgrounds; and a series of Sunday night cabarets featuring special guest artists from Muskoka and beyond…an amazing season just won’t happen.

The Actors’ Colony Theatre needs funding for Season 4.

“We’re so close, yet so far away” says Artistic Director Eva Moore about the challenge she’s facing at this moment.

Eva Moore
First Grant: But more generosity needed for summer 2014

“We’re embarking on season 4 and each year we’ve improved our numbers dramatically. We’re actually poised to break even this season even though we had predicted it would take 5 years to get to that point.”

The problem is that ACT is surviving strictly on earned revenue and donations, without operating grants enjoyed by more established theatre companies. “We’ve been extremely fortunate in receiving donations and advertising from individuals and local business owners,” says Moore, “and we were delighted this week to get word of our approval for a project grant from Ontario Arts Council to produce a new play this fall or spring in Gravenhurst or Bracebridge…but that won’t save the summer season.” It’s not a task anyone enjoys, but raising money is an essential part of any not-for-profit organization. ACT has applied for, but not yet received, Charitable Tax Status, from Revenue Canada. A tax receipt is not a motivator for folks with a business, but when individual donors are considering a gift, it often influences their decision.

“I’m hopeful that by the end of this year we will have secured our charitable status license, but there’s no guarantee, of course,” Moore says.

Consider how you may be able to help

ACT has created a Director’s Circle for individual donors that they hope will be a popular way to donate…most theatres have some form of ‘inner circle’ like this, with a limited number of members who receive special benefits. They are also currently selling advertising in their classy season program. A number of levels of recognition have been created to encourage individual and corporate contributions.

ACT is a relatively new company and many within Gravenhurst, Port Carling and Bracebridge aren’t yet aware that they’re producing professional summer theatre season in Bala. Audiences have increased each year, but they is still struggling to stay alive long enough to built to a sustainable level. And the clock is ticking.

Help keep the original summer theatre in Canada alive

The first professional theatre company in Canada was the original Actors’ Colony, operating 1934 through 1942 in Bala. It would be a very sad thing to lose this vibrant new company, built on that historical foundation, in its 80th anniversary year. 2014 also happens to be the 100th anniversary of Bala’s incorporation…we should be building, not burying! Folks who would like to help save the season for Actors’ Colony Theatre are encouraged to contact the Artistic Director at 705 641 2949 or eva@newact.ca

For more information contact:

To help the theatre fund the summer shows, call 705 641 2949
To help the theatre fund the summer shows, call 705 641 2949

Eva Moore:          705-641-2949 or eva@newact.ca
Jennifer Clute:         705-762-5663 or tourism@muskokalakeschamber.com

www.newact.ca
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Nebraska highway crash claims lives of Bracebridge couple

 Bruce and Ruth Ann McPhail perish in Nebraska crash

Published June 7, 9pm: A Bracebridge couple died in a highway accident in Nebraska on Thursday.

74-year-old Bruce McPhail owned a menswear shop for years in Bracebridge, and his wife, Ruth Ann, was a past teacher at Bracebridge Public School. News of the accident spread swiftly late Thursday and on Friday through Muskoka friends on Facebook.

Local reports state the car the McPhails were driving in on Thursday was hit by a semi-trailer truck on Interstate 80 near Overton in Dawson County, Nebraska. The details of the accident can be read by clicking here for the local Nebraska article.

 

14 guns stolen from home near Dorset

“This many guns stolen a great concern,” says the OPP

Published June 4, 11.15am: A theft of guns from a home near Dorset has police worried and asking the public if anyone saw anything when the guns were taken (sometime between May 19 and June 1, 2014.).

Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was made aware of a break and enter on Sunday that had taken place on Highway #117 near Dorset Ontario.

Sometime between May 19, 2014 and June 1, 2014 unknown culprits broke out a window, cut into the wall underneath and entered the house.  Once inside the culprits managed to remove a flat screen TV, a bag of battery operated tools and a safe containing several firearms.  A list of guns that were stolen includes:

·         Winchester shot gun

·         Winchester 9410,

·         Ruger Falling Block,

·         Ruger revolver British Small Arms,

·         2 Anschutz, Thompson Centre Pro-Hunter,

·         Marlin 4570,

·         Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV,

·         Stevens 22 Hornet,

·         American Classic 22 Government semi-automatic,

·         Baretta semi-automatic,

·         Taurus PT1911AR semi-automatic

·         2 Taurus revolvers.

Any firearm in the hands of an untrained person is always a concern but when this many firearms are stolen it causes a greater concern for police and for public safety.

Huntsville OPP continues to investigate this break and enter with the assistance of the Muskoka Crime Unit.  Anyone with any information is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.