ALEX ROSS The Standard Co-op Student
I am a Port Perry High School student that is co-oping at The Standard. This is my first time participating in a co-operative education program and, so far it has been an excellent experience. The staff has been very friendly and they all treat me as one of their own. I feel as though I am a functioning part of The Standard Newspaper team and that I fit in this environment comfortably.
My choice to take a placement at a newspaper for my co-operative education program was driven by a desire to review films and other sources of digital and video media and wanting to pursue entertainment journalism as a career. I hope to attend the journalism course at Durham College next fall, and I hope it will be as interesting as this co-op program has been so far.
I chose The Standard for my placement because I thought that it would give me a better chance to get my name into the paper because it is a larger paper with a more specialized location and it is independently owned. By the end of my placement I hope to have achieved a vast array of experience in different fields of the newspaper, from typesetting to reporting to editing.
My first week was almost all typesetting, putting physical or electronic letters into the newspaper formatted template, but as boring as that may sound, I oddly found it very interesting. Reading about all the upcoming events before they’re put into the paper was weird, it was like seeing the paper being built and I’ve never experienced anything remotely close to this.
These past few weeks have been outstanding, I have gone out onto the town to take pictures for articles and stock photos, I have been writing articles, and I’m just generally enjoying the placement. Being able to go out and take photos is an amazing experience, although I am on my own, I am able to express myself.
For future students that are looking to get into the journalism field and are looking into a co-operative education program, I strongly recommend that you look into The Standard Newspaper for your placement, it is a very well knit office and a very comfortable environment to begin your entry into journalism.
The editor, Blake Wolfe, is a very relaxed guy and he had me perform tasks that a full-time employee might do within the first two weeks and I thank him for that. Being thrust into the field so early gave me a good understanding of the type of work I would be doing in the future and it let me decide if I wanted to continue with my co-op placement before it was too far into the program to leave. I started my co-op program on Monday, September 16, and it has been a good start to the school year, I sincerely hope the rest of the semester stays this good.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Throughout the year, the Scugog community can be counted on for its generosity in assisting with and donating to any number of local causes.
From helping with everything from Christmas toy drives to new animal shelters, local residents are never short on goodwill.
And now, the recently-formed Megalore Group aims to capitalize on that charitable spirit, by hosting a series of semi-annual events to raise money for charitable endeavours within the township.
The group’s mission statement - ‘to assist community members within Scugog Township who are faced with life-altering challenges and in need of financial assistance not obtainable through insurance plans or government programs’ - will guide Megalore through its fundraising initiatives throughout the calendar year, which will pool all proceeds and put them toward any number of good deeds.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, the group held its first event - a 1950s sock hop dance - at the Port Perry Masonic Lodge, which ultimately helped raise _ to be put toward a local cause. As of Oct. 18, Megalore director Glenn Willchuk said that 110 of the 150 tickets available for the event had already been sold.
According to Mr. Willchuk, Megalore hopes to raise at least $10,000 per year.
According to founding member Lynn Doucette - who put the group together along with husband Jim and Mr. Willchuk - Megalore hopes to host four different fundraising events each year. In addition to the recent dance, events such as curling bonspiels and golf tournaments have also been suggested. The three initial members of Megalore are also involved with designated driving service Keys To Us, of which Mr. Willchuk is a general manager (Mr. and Ms. Doucette work there as drivers). As a result, Keys To Us is providing its services to attendees of Megalore’s events.
The Megalore group, said Ms. Doucette, was the result of a desire to help people right in her own community, a drive which became somewhat hampered by the rules governing charitable organizations.
"A few years ago, I wanted to start a charity to help local families making under $25,000 per year," recalled Ms. Doucette. "I was told that I couldn’t put an income ceiling on a charity, because you can’t turn anyone away based on how much money they make."
The answer and inspiration for Megalore came from across Lakeridge Rd. in Uxbridge, where the Gorgons community group has had much success raising money for local causes in a similar manner in recent years.
"We wanted to replicate what they (the Gorgons) have done in Uxbridge," said Ms. Doucette. "We said ‘why can’t we do that here?’"
"The concept," added Mr. Willchuk, "is that we’re a non-profit that looks to support Scugog residents exclusively. It’s about friends and neighbours helping friends and neighbours."
Within weeks of putting the idea forth, the Doucettes and Mr. Willchuk soon found that many of their friends and neighbours were happy to help out and provide their assistance to Megalore, including many who were able to apply their specific skills, such as a web designer who provided the group’s web site free of charge. Many local businesses have also offered to help with future events, said Ms. Doucette, by offering services or items to be raffled off, several of them without any prompting.
As for the name, ‘Megalore’ was straight out of the blue.
"We were sitting down one night trying to think of something," recalled Ms. Doucette, "something with substance and power. Jim blurted out ‘Megalore’ - which was the name of his great, great, great grandfather."
Megalore is always looking for new members to assist with its projects. Annual membership fees are $25 for individuals and $100 for businesses (who will be listed as official sponsors of the group on its web site), and members will be informed of upcoming events and success stories through regular newsletters.
For more information, visit www.megaloregroup.org.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: It was another banner year at Woodnewton as the former cross country ski club paid host to a pair of great outdoor events.
Located on Conc. 6 between Hwy. 47 and Durham Rd. 21, the season at Woodnewton kicked off with an Ontario Cup mountain biking event in April.
The event attracted more than 500 riders from across Ontario to the municipality, raising hundreds of dollars in support of Canadian Tire Jumpstart’s North Durham chapter.
In August, Woodnewton played host to the third annual Mudnewton mud run.
The event has seen significant local growth since its launch in 2011. According to organizer Erin Bennett, approximately 20 per cent of the particpants from this past year’s run hailed from Uxbridge, up from just one per cent in 2011.
The event was hugely successful, raising $3,500 in support of Jumpstart North Durham and drawing families of competitors from across the province from as far away as Sarnia, with many raving about the natural beauty of the Uxbridge countryside.
"Everyone we talked to loved the event. The biggest complaint we heard was that there isn’t a hotel in Uxbridge, but that’s probably for another council meeting," added Mr. Bennett.
In total the events raised more than $4,000 in support of Jumpstart, which provides the opportunity for sports and recreation to families in need. According to Mr. Bennett, the funds raised through the two Woodnewton events accounted for ten per cent of the local contribution towards Jumpstart.
A planned third event - a cross country meet hosted by local elementary schools- was unfortunately derailed due to insurance issues with the Durham District School Board, as organizer Andy Luukonen explained.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor congratulated the pair for the success of their events, but added that the events at Woodnewton, as well as the CMX motocross races in Zephyr will both potentially have zoning issues to deal with going forward.
However, Township Clerk Debbie Leroux clarified that those events should be dealt with through the township’s Special Event By-Law, which is tentatively scheduled to be brought before council at their meeting on Monday, Nov. 18.
With both events at Woodnewton raising funds for Jumpstart, Mayor O’Connor credited the pair for their commitment to keeping Uxbridge residents active.
"I couldn’t think of a more worthy organization than Jumpstart to make the contribution to, $4,000 is a great amount for Jumpstart," Mayor O’Connor said. "It’s all about the kids, and we have to look after them because, they’re our future."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: A recent truck safety blitz in Uxbridge raised questions from members of coucil regarding the safety of local roads.
Details of the blitz emerged at a recent council meeting, causing Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor to call on the provincial Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to increase their efforts to keep unsafe trucks parked.
Earlier this month, the MTO held a two-day safety campaign in Uxbridge that saw 35 trucks tagged for inspection at Uxbridge Arena. The inspections yielded a total of 28 charges laid relating to unsafe operation, while 37 per cent of trucks stopped were taken off the road.
Mayor O’Connor was vocal in the wake of the results of the blitz in asking more more efforts from the MTO to ensure the safety of roads within Uxbridge Township.
"Considering the number of trucks going through this municipality, I think we should be asking for more blitzes," said Mayor O’Connor.
It was also requested that the MTO set up additional blitzes on weekends to contend with the truck traffic passing through Uxbridge en route to the ongoing project at Greenbank Airport.
"If you saw the condition of the trucks that are coming through to our friends over here on a Saturday, I don’t even know how they get loaded and not fall down or fall apart," commented Mayor O’Connor. "The same trucks that run during the week are not the ones running Saturday."
However, Township Public Works Director Ben Kester shed some light on the numbers, explaining that they may only represent a small sample of trucks passing through the municipality.
"To put this into context, they are only going to stop the ones which they think are poor looking. They’re not going to stop a brand new Mack or Kenworth truck, they’re going to pick and choose who they stop," Mr. Kester explained.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Christmas spirit was alive and well at a recent council meeting, although ultimately some councillors fear that the move may prove costly for the local community toy drive.
During the Recreation, Tourism and Culture Committee meeting on the morning of Monday, Oct. 21, a matter was raised by Ward 3 Councillor and Committee chair Pat Mikuse that would see the York-Durham Heritage Railway enter a partnership with CTV Toronto and the Salvation Army’s ‘Toy Mountain’ during the upcoming holiday season, from early November until Friday, Dec. 6.
However, not all councillors endorsed the idea, warning of a potential conflict with the long-running community toy drive, spearheaded by Canadian Tire owner Pat Higgins.
Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, who also serves as Chair of the local branch of the Salvation Army, protested the move, explaining that toys collected through ‘Toy Mountain’ become property of the Salvation Army and in the event of a surplus, are redistributed through the province, not to other local groups such as the Lions Club and Bonner Boys, as is the case with the Community Toy Drive.
"(Salvation Army) is a small drop in the bucket locally. The Lions Club and the Food Bank have many more families that they help," explained Councillor Northeast.
Since, the York-Durham Heritage Railway only runs on weekends, Councillor Mikuse brought forth a request to have donation bins placed at both Uxpool and Uxbridge Arena to maximize the possible pool of toys for ‘Toy Mountain’ and allow for donations throughout the week.
Township Facilities Manager Bob Fergusuon noted that the arena already hosts a donation bin for the Community Toy Drive through their partnership with the Uxbridge Bruins Junior ‘C’ hockey team.
"Toy Mountain bins are unfair to Salvation Army, and paints a picture that we are out working on our own, which is not the case," added Councillor Northeast.
When the matter was voted on by councillors, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor, Councillor Northeast and Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy all voted down the measure.
However, Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle, Ward 5’s Gord Highet and Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger all voted in favour, leading Councillor Mikuse to break the tie with a positive vote.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Despite being turned down once already, township staff will again request provincial infrastructure funding to be put toward the reconstruction of a stretch of Ashburn Rd.
The direction from councillors this week came following a deputation from members of the Ashburn Road Action Group, comprised of several Ward 1 residents living on or near Ashburn Rd., who are concerned with the state of the roadway, of which two stretches – between Townline Rd. and Marsh Hill Rd. – are in the township’s top 10 of roadways most in need of repair. While the group had requested that the township allocate the money for the fixes in the township’s 2014 budget, several councillors and staff were quick to point out that the cost of the repairs, estimated by Public Works Director Ian Roger to be in excess of $2 million, could not be borne by the municipality alone and offered a compromise.
"At least five kilometers have been terribly neglected over the past 20 years and has deteriorated to an unsafe and unsightly state," said Ashburn Road Action Group spokesperson Charles Monk, adding that a petition circulated by the group in favour of the repairs garnered more than 214 signatures. "There are a lot of concerned and angry residents in the southwest quadrant of Scugog because of that road. One section is almost entirely filled potholes. The cold patch is not tamped down and the result is a bump instead of a pothole. It’s a very busy and important commuter route between Scugog and Whitby. The 407 extension will finish in the next couple of years and that will put even more traffic on the road. In its current state, Ashburn Rd. in Scugog reflects poorly on Scugog Township as a whole, the butt of jokes and derision. Cyclists even post special signs during rallies to beware of the road’s condition."
According to CAO Bev Hendry, the Ontario government recently announced another intake of applications to the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII) fund, with a deadline of Nov. 1. Despite a turnaround time of less than one month (the township was informed on Oct. 4, said M. Hendry) and the rejection of the township’s last application for funding to help with Ashburn Rd., Ms. Hendry suggested reapplying. Mr. Roger later explained that the previous application was for repairs to the entire length of the road and suggested instead to apply for help with fixing only the worst stretches.
"You’re not alone," said Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew, serving as acting mayor for the discussion. "Not to diminish what the residents of Ashburn Rd. are going through, but many of our roads are in need of repairs, due to Ontario moving away from funding such projects. We tried once and will try again and hopefully this time we’ll be successful."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: At a news conference last week, Toronto Police said that they’ve made a breakthrough in the death of Chris Skinner, who was beaten, run over by an SUV and left for dead on a downtown street in 2009.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 19, 2009, the charismatic 27-year-old Uxbridge native, who served as Student Council President while a student at Port Perry High School, was killed after getting into an altercation with the passengers in a black SUV near the corner of Adelaide St, East and Victoria St. in Toronto’s Entertainment District after celebrating his sister Taryn’s birthday.
In a new development in the case, police claim that Skinner was trying to hail a taxi when he made contact with a passing SUV. At that point, the passengers in the vehicle got out and kicked him to the ground before returning to the SUV, at which point the driver drove over Skinner’s body and away from the crime scene.
At a news conference on Friday, Oct. 18, police said that they believe they have determined the make, model, year range and colour of the suspect SUV.
"The investigative team is identifying through various databases potential owners of vehicles in 2009, which in turn will lead us to the driver of this vehicle," Det.-Sgt. Stacy Gallant said at a news conference. "We’re not going away. We’re going to keep coming back year after year after year. One of these days we will be knocking at your door, you can expect that to happen."
Two separate rewards - totalling $150,000 - have been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Skinner’s mother Ellen noted at Friday’s conference, that she was confident that those responsible will be brought to justice.
"You don’t get away with stuff like this, not with the team we have working on it. I think it’s important for them to know that they are going to have to answer."
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Despite the expiration of a provincial permit, work on the proposed Greenbank Airport expansion continues as all parties involved await the issuance of another interim work permit from the Ministry of Transportation.
The issue was raised by Ward 1 Councillor Larry Corrigan during a discussion of the project this week, which is currently undergoing review at the provincial level to potentially double the number of trucks shipping fill to the property, from the current limit of 200 up to 400. That increase is not expected to happen until after a number of conditions have been met, such as improved truck washing facilities to control mud and soil on the roadway, as well as a new entranceway to the facility.
The project, which came to light in early 2012 and was the subject of numerous public meetings and concerns over a major commercial fill operation, was originally supposed to see 2.5 million cubic metres of soil dumped over two to three years to facilitate the extension of a runway.
Scugog CAO Bev Hendry explained at a committees meeting this Monday (Oct. 21) that while shipments of dirt continue to arrive at the Hwy. 47 aviation facility, provincial staff have expressed no concerns with the operation continuing in anticipation of a new interim permit from the MTO, after the initial permit expired earlier this month. According to Ms. Hendry, that new permit could be ready next week. In early October, Scugog councillors approved a new interim site alteration permit for the project at the municipal level, one of three such permits that govern the operation (a third permit has been issued by the Region of Durham).
Ms. Hendry also explained that following a number of concerns expressed by residents of Goodwood in Uxbridge Township, a truck study for Regional Rd. 21 has been undertaken by Durham Public Works staff.
According to Ms. Hendry, Regional staff have indicated that the 2012 average is 1,223 trucks per day traveling along the road, with the airport project adding only an estimated 75 trucks per day to the current traffic volume.
As for complaints from Goodwood residents that the airport is to blame for all of the increased truck traffic, she added that "there are at least five other major projects going on in North Durham" that could account for the increase. The truck study is expected to be complete sometime next spring.
In response to an inquiry by Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten, Public Works Director Ian Roger described the airport project as a scapegoat for critics concerned over potential traffic increases.
"The short answer is here’s the target people can kick at," said Mr. Roger. "Truck traffic has always been there and now this seems to be the target of choice."
The truck traffic along Regional Rd. 21 has also been a bone of contention between Scugog and Uxbridge councils, with some Uxbridge councillors criticizing their Scugog counterparts for a perceived lack of control over the project. This week, another Scugog councillor fired back at comments made across Lakeridge Rd.
"I’m concerned that several Uxbridge councillors said that we don’t know how many trucks are going into Greenbank," said Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson, citing quotes from Uxbridge councillors previously published in The Standard. "Is anyone going to tell them that yes, we do know how many are going there? Someone needs to tell Uxbridge that they need to look after their end of things in Goodwood and we’ll look after the 200 trucks in Greenbank."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Good things are brewing in Uxbridge on the heels of a recent announcement that an award-winning craft brewery plans to relocate its operation to the town.
Robert Lee, the President and CEO of Provincial Beverages Inc., made the announcement at a public meeting in council chambers on Monday, Oct. 21, that the company’s brewing operation will be relocating from Nobleton to Uxbridge in the near future as part of a $15 million project.
The operation will be housed at a heritage farm, located at the intersection of Cemetary Rd. and Toronto St., and will be a craft brewery/cidery/distillery - the first of its kind in Canada, according to Mr. Lee.
"We’ll be incorporating the existing 1876 barn on site as well as the existing stables and riding arena," Mr. Lee explained. "It’s our desire to repurpose this building, and make it a focal point of our new operation."
Part of that incorporation extends to the name of the new operation, the Barn Door Beverage Company.
In addition, there are also plans for a retail outlet, as well as a 200 seat restaurant on the premises, the Barn Door Bistro.
"We plan to bring world class cuisine, as locally sourced and organic as possible," Mr. Lee added.
The group also plans to re-plant a five acre orchard on site to use in cider production. As well, hops and barely will be grown on site.
The brewery is designed to produce four million litres of beer a year, and once fully operational will have approximately 100 employees on site, including the restaurant.
Mr. Lee, a longtime Uxbridge resident also explained that the state-of-the-art operation will be open to tours.
"Part of this is agri-tourism, and we want to show people what we do," said Mr. Lee.
Residents at the meeting expressed some concerns over potential traffic woes at the busy intersection. But, township Solicitor Liz Howson added that the roadway will be improved prior to the opening of the brewery.
"There will be improvements to the road, whether it be lights or something else, I can’t say, but there is an awareness about possible traffic concerns," said Ms. Howson.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: An enterprising young man from Uxbridge approached council recently with a novel idea to raise funds for the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank.
Hayden Prince, a Grade 7 student at Joseph Gould PS made a presentation before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Oct. 7, detailing his ambitious plan for a fundraiser at Elgin Park later this month, in support of the local food bank.
Mr. Prince, who is also a member of the Roxy Kids, plans on holding a special AirSoft Tournament at the park on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event will have a Halloween theme, with a team of Zombies pitted against a team of Survivors.
According to Mr. Prince, AirSoft is a game played using toy guns to shoot small, biodegradable pellets, and uses safety equipment similar to paintball.
As part of his fundraiser in support of the food bank, Mr. Prince is hoping to have 100 kids participate, and raise $1,000 along with 1,000 items for the food bank.
Council was very enthusiastic over the presentation, wishing the young man success in his endeavor.
"I think it’s a great idea, outside in the fresh air, hopefully you get good weather for the event," commented Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet.
Councillors opted to waive the park rental fee for the event, and Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor praised Mr. Prince’s commitment to helping the Uxbridge community.
"It’s outstanding that a young man of Hayden’s age would put something like this together to help those in need, and we look forward to working with you on this event," said Mayor O’Connor.
A web site promoting the event - www.shoot4food.com - is in the process of being finalized, and should be up and running soon.