BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Citing safety concerns, the Township of Scugog closed Seagrave’s River St. bridge on Friday, Sept. 19 - following an inspection which revealed a major safety hazard.
At council’s meting on Monday, Sept. 22, Scugog CAO and Director of Public Works Ian Roger presented photographs to the members of council which showed one of the concrete abutments which support the nearly 10 metre bridge’s deck, eroded to nearly nothing.
“There is very little material left supporting the bridge itself, so we closed the bridge on Friday, and are now looking at options,” said Mr. Roger.
Over the course of the weekend, Township staff noticed that someone had removed the barricades which blocked access to the bridge - and had apparently driven a vehicle across it.
“Our first course of action will be to install fixed barricades in order to block traffic, as any additional weight could cause a collapse,” said Mr. Roger. “We will also set up an information package and public forum to inform local residents.”
Scugog Township was left discussing options for the aging bridge, although any construction near the Nonquon River will require the approval of the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority.
“We can do a temporary repair which will re-open the bridge in the condition it was in prior, which will take about two months,” said Mr. Roger. “The hard part is to get approved by the KRCA, and we have no idea how long the approval process could take.”
Councillors were hesitant to jump on the repair decision, which would cost approximately $15,000, before further information is gained from the environmental assessment (EA), currently being carried out on the Seagrave bridge.
Mr. Roger stated that it seemed highly likely the bridge would be deemed both necessary to Seagrave, and in need of full reconstruction.
“I’m concerned that repairs and designs will cost more than we estimate,” said Mayor Chuck Mercier. “We can’t just spend money on the repair job, and then demolish and re-build the bridge in two months if we find out the results of the EA.”
Meanwhile, Scugog has been seeking infrastructure funding from the Province of Ontario, and has stated that details should be presented in the next couple of months.
However, if funding is not made available by the Province, Council would need to discuss the approximately $2 Million reconstruction process in their 2015 budget - as the current lame duck Council cannot deliberate a sum of more than $50,000.
Information packages are currently being drawn-up, and Seagrave residents will be contacted regarding a coming information forum - at the Township’s earliest convenience.
Organizers of the Caesarea Skateboard Park for Kids happily accepted a donation of $15,000 from Hydro One’s Power Play program, on Friday, Sept. 19. Also, on Monday, Sept. 22, Scugog Council agreed to pay roughly $20,000 for designs and concepts to be created. Photo credit: Benjamin Priebe/The Standard
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: The Caesarea Skateboard Park project received a notable boost this week - and work has begun on designs, which will decide the future of Putsey Park’s newest addition.
On Friday, Sept. 19, Susie Bollon and the Caesarea Skateboard Park committee graciously accepted a donation of $15,000 from Hydro One’s Power Play program.
The project saw another push forward on Monday, Sept. 22, when Scugog Township also approved $19,868 from this year’s budget to contract a Vancouver-based skate park design firm, Spectrum Skateparks Inc., to begin working on designs and plans for the skate park.
The approximate price-tag on designing costs came in under half of the $40,000 budget originally set aside for the design stage; earlier in 2013 when proponents for the Skate Park asked Council for funding.
Spectrum Skateparks Inc. has designed many local parks, as well as the new skate park in Uxbridge,” said Ian Roger, CAO and Director of Public Works and Parks for the Township of Scugog. “The designs will include eco-friendly concrete and considerations for the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”
Mr. Roger added that there has been no specification given to Spectrum Skateparks regarding layout - and that the variations are limited only to what the public and local youth decide.
With funding well under way, thanks to Trillium Foundation monies, Township budget allocations, and the support of numerous local fundraisers - a forum will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 30, inside the Caesarea Community Hall, located at 3554 Regional Rd. 57 in Blackstock.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Lace up your sneakers, because the area's biggest Walk-A-Thon is returning on Saturday, Sept. 27 in support of the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog.
The second annual Walk-A-Thon is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 27, with walkers departing from either the Uxbridge Seniors Centre or Scugog Arena and travelling seven kilometres to Epsom Public School - which will be decorated as a doghouse for the occasion - and enjoy a barbecue from the Bonner Boys, along with entertainment and other family and animal-friendly activities.
Registration for the Walk-A-Thon takes place at either starting location on Friday, Sept. 26 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on the day of the Walk-A-Thon, starting at 8 a.m. Pledge forms can be found inside this week's edition of The Standard.
Uxbridge Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who is also one of the organizers of the event recently told The Standard that, "everything is lined up great for this year's Walk-A-Thon." And, that he is hopeful that the event will be able to surpass the more than $23,000 raised in 2013, at the inaugural event, with even more two-legged and four-legged participants.
Durham Region Transit buses will be travelling behind both groups to provide an opportunity for tired walkers and their pets to rest. As well, there will be comfort stations throughout the route to allow participants to pause for a break.
For more information on the 2014 New Animal Shelter Walk-a-thon, visit www.animal-shelter.ca.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Many Medd Rd. residents are concerned about speeding traffic through and around Epsom.
Erin Van Dyke, a local mother who resides on the road, gathered a petition of those who live in the area, and presented a deputation to Scugog Council on Monday, Sept. 15.
Ms. Van Dyke said that she feels the 80 Km/H speed limit on the road is too high, given the number of family homes located along the hilly stretch - as well as frequent farmer's tractors making use of the shoulder, and the Family Worship Centre churchgoers who use the road.
"I spoke to the DRPS Constable Sue Kelly about my concerns, and the fact that many drivers don't seem to follow the speed limit anyway, and she asked me to speak to Council," said Ms. Van Dyke.
Ms. Van Dyke also cited a lack of precautionary signs along the road, and predicted an increased danger during winter - when snow drifts narrow the road and make low visibility an issue.
Medd Rd. has been made popular for drivers looking to bypass traffic on Reach St., especially during this past summer's road repair and increased heavy truck traffic.
"I would like to see the speed reduced to 60 or 70 Km/H - with signs posted warning of children and pedestrians," said Ms. Van Dyke.
Scugog's newly appointed CAO and current Director of Works and Parks, Ian Roger, explained the political process of loweringspeeds on a rural road - but said it would take some time.
"The Highway Traffic Act states that a rural road is designated as an 80 Km/H zone, it is up to the local Township to decide whether the speed should be decreased," said Mr. Roger.
Mr. Roger went on the explain that Medd Rd. has just recently seen a safety audit, which did not raise any flags, due to it's low traffic volume and fair road condition.
Councillors thanked Ms. Van Dyke for her presentation, and Ward 2 Councillor John Hancock mentioned that he has heard similiar stories of speeding motorists, from those living along the nearby Scugog Line 6.
"This reminds me of the Deering sister's incident in 2004, where the Township was found to have culpability due to poor road conditions," said Councillor Hancock. "I would hate for another accident to occur, after the Township decided not to take action."
Mr. Roger notified council that the Township's Works Department could set up monitoring equipment on the stretch, which would measure traffic volumes and speeds, in order to devise their next step. Township staff will also look into guidebooks regarding traffic signs, which would urge motorists to slow down and be cautious. In the meantime, Scugog Township will speak to Cst. Kelly regarding increased police enforcement along the road, and the stance of the DRPS.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: An ALS Ice Bucket Challenge signalled the merging of local Maple Leaf Foods employees with the larger Unifor 1090 union.
The roughly 100 employees of Port Perry’s Maple Leaf Foods plant, located on Old Simcoe Rd., were excited to announce that their union, Local 370, would be joining the larger Unifor 1090 on Thursday, August 28.
“The Local 370 was a small standalone union in Port Perry, who wanted more resources and a stronger bargaining power,” said Steve Batchelor, President of Unifor 1090.
“Unifor 1090 and Local 370 have been in talks over the past few months, and now it’s been put to an overwhelmingly positive vote.”
Unifor 1090, a Durham Region-based union of roughly 5,000 members, was formed by the amalgamation of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. Unifor 1090 also represents employees of the Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island.
The group strongly advocates the personal involvement of its members, in order to allow workers better communication and more effective participation in the workplace.
According to Mr. Jeff Pett, Plant Manager of the Port Perry Maple Leaf Foods site, the company challenged its unionized staff represntatives to an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in order to make the sign over a fun occasion with a charitable aspect. Maple Leaf Foods executives and Unifor leaders have all taken part, and will be donating $10 per person who takes the plunge.
Kim Power, National Staff Representative for Unifor 1090, said that “The plant’s employees will greatly benefit from a larger collective bargaining group, and will be able to access the education and information offered by Unifor - it was a great day for everyone involved.”
For more information on Unifor 1090, visit www.cawlocal.ca/1090.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Port Perry’s leg of the Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life has been cancelled this year, after organizers saw a decline in participation.
According to Ms. Kendra Chopcian, Manager of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Durham Region Office, the decision was difficult, but necessary.
“Our planning committee and local organizers looked over the numbers, and unfortunately had to make the call to focus our efforts elsewhere,” said Ms. Chopcian. “We are contacting everyone who registered to see if they want to transfer to a different relay, or keep their pledges until next year.”
The alternate event will be the Campbellford Relay For Life, which takes place at the Campbellford Fairgrounds on Sept. 5.
“We are thankful for the support of the Agricultural Committee and Scugog Township, who supported the organization and allowed us to use the Port Perry Fairgrounds,” added Ms. Chopcian. “We hope that next year we can bring it back - but we need to review the numbers.”
For further information, please visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life website at www.convio.cancer.ca/site/PageServer?pagename=RFL_CAN_NATL_homepage.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Brian Tassell, owner and operator of Ray Hobbs Garage, is set to retire after a 56 year career repairing and maintaining vehicles.
With a long and distinguished career, the 75-year-old mechanic and business owner has decided it's time for some well-deserved relaxation.
"I came to Canada from England at 17-years-old, and needed a job," said Mr. Tassell. "I met Ray Hobbs at his garage in Manchester, and he hired me on shortly after. We sold trucks, tractors, and Studebakers - it was the beginning of my career."
Years later, Mr. Hobbs moved his dealership and garage to a new location in Columbus, and planned to sell the business to Mr. Tassell. In 1978, Ray handed the helm of his garage over to his protege, and Mr. Tassell ran it for 26 years.
In 2004, Mr. Tassell decided to move his shop to its current location at 182 North Port Rd., in order to serve his customers better - and has been located just off of Reach St. ever since.
"My customers are like family to me, I'm going to miss seeing them for check ups and maintenance," said Mr. Tassell. "I've been planning to retire for a few years, and the oppurtunity arose to pass the keys to a lady I've known for many years - the garage is in good hands."
The half-century career of an auto-mechanic has seen numerous changes in the way we get from point-A to point-B
"There have been huge changes in the automotive industry over the years," explained Mr. Tassell. "When I started, cars were simple and straightforward, and could be fixed on the side of the road - now, it's mostly done by computers and automated systems - but we've always kept up and serviced all makes and models."
Mr. Tassell said that he never felt the need to retire and 'enjoy himself' because he always enjoyed his time at work.
"My wife Gwen will be retiring from her job in December, so I think it will work out nicely," said Mr. Tassell.
In retirement, he plans to vacation in sunny Saint Kitts and practice his waterskiing, a favourite sport of the veteran mechanic and maintenance-man.
With a new owner taking the wheel at Ray Hobbs Garage on Sept. 2, Mr. Tassell and the new owner will be putting together a 'passing of the steering wheel' ceremony at a later date.
Stay tuned to The Standard for more information, and pop in to Ray Hobbs Garage at 182 North Port Rd. to have a chat with Mr. Tassell!
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: North Durham's Fair season officially kicks off on Friday August 22, with the annual Blackstock Demolition Derby at 8 p.m. The 149th annual Blackstock Fair and its opening 'Wild, Wild West' parade will follow on Saturday morning.
A special feature of this year's Demolition Derby will be The Canadian Crusher monster truck - on display and offering rides throughout the evening.
The Derby will feature four-cylinder and six-cylinder classes, alongside the always popular Soccer Moms class, which pits mini-van wielding mothers head-to-head in the derby pit, all in the name of charity.
Tina Carter, organizer of the Soccer Moms class, recently spoke with The Standard about the dedication of this year's mash up to the late Brian Van Camp - a father, husband and community leader who passed away in a farming accident on Dec. 16 of last year.
Mr. Van Camp worked with Ms. Carter to originate the idea of the women-only mini-van class four years ago, in an effort to get more women involved in the event, and provide an exciting and unique spectacle for the Blackstock Demolition Derby.
"We're all going to miss Brian being up in the announcer's booth, everyone remembers his big, generous smile and energetic voice up there," said Ms. Carter. "This year, the derby is going to be all about him - I know he'll be watching from somewhere, and making sure we all stay safe and have fun."
Ms. Carter's Chevrolet mini-van is prepped and painted for the derby, a labour of love that usually takes a couple weeks of sweat and hard work to gut and make safe.
"I'm going to paint Brian's name on my van, I owe the whole thing to him - it was our idea and he always pushed me to make sure it was a go," explained Ms. Carter.
Mr. Van Camp held an adamant belief that the Blackstock Fair and Derby were important events for the community, and that they brought families together to visit and share in the fun.
The entire Van Camp family has earned a special thank you from Ms. Carter and the Soccer Moms, who said that the family has stepped up to make sure that the Fair grows bigger and better every year.
Noting that Mr. Van Camp acted as a unifying force and organizer for the Derby and farm events at the Blackstock Fair, Ms. Carter explained that "things were a little bit difficult this year without him," but that the behind-the-scenes team has pulled together to prove their community spirit, even in harsh times.
"All of the girls and the other derby drivers are absolutely pumped for Friday night," said Ms. Carter. "We're incredibly thankful for the support of Langille's and the Martin family for donating and working on the vehicles."
Maggie Van Camp, Brian's wife, is proud of the whole team for keeping the Demolition Derby and the Soccer Moms class alive and strong. "I miss Brian a lot, but I'm proud that the Soccer Moms are continuing on," said Ms. Van Camp. "This year is for him, it's a special dedication."
Other highlights of the Blackstock Fair, will be the Hoofprint Vaulters riding team, an auto-extraction performed by the Scugog Fire Department, and a fencing sport demonstration.
As always, fair day will be packed full of local talent, livestock, crop and flower competitions and many children's activities.
Local country star Lindsay Broughton will be finishing off the celebration, by performing at a special dance inside the newly-renovated Blackstock Rec Centre from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday night.
Come to the Demolition Derby on Friday, August 22, and the Fair on Saturday, August 23, and experience all that Blackstock has to offer. For further information, please visit www.BlackstockFair.ca.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE With files from Darryl Knight The Standard
SCUGOG: Scugog has embarked on a pair of studies, which will determine the future of two aging bridges over the Nonquon River.
The Environmental Assessments, planned for later this year, will take a look at potential species or ecosystems that would be disturbed by work on the bridges, and define the Township's options for the bridges - the first bridge lies along Scugog Line 8, and the second along River St. in Seagrave.
Each bridge could potentially be repaired, replaced, or completely removed - as, according to Ian Roger, Scugog's Director of Public Works, they are not high traffic areas and have not caused a significant delay.
"The Seagrave bridge was built in 1920 and is still operable for light vehicles, and the Line 8 bridge was built in 1940 and has been closed," said Mr. Roger. "We've seen a long life from both of them, but it may be time to consider our options."
The Line 8 bridge - a 12 foot span which lies just east of Hwy. 12 - has been closed for the past four years, due to deteriation of its deck. The expected truck traffic to and from the new Nonquon Treatment Plant on Line 8 will likely be forced to route through Port Perry's core, if the bridge is not replaced.
The cost to completely re-construct the Line 8 bridge is estimated to be $2 Million, based on a bridge-needs study undertaken by the municipality in 2011.
Construction of the new Nonquon Treatment Plant was delayed by the strike by the Region's inside workers earlier this summer, but Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier recently told The Standard that contractors are being identified, and he expects that construction of the new plant to begin in September. The project plan indicates an 18 to 22 month duration for construction, with a target date for the new facility to be up-and-running by the fall of 2016.
Meanwhile, the 50 foot single-lane bridge in Seagrave bridge could cost up to $1.2 Million to bring up to modern standards, and is considered a higher priority, because it could potentially be used to divert traffic from Simcoe St. in an emergency.
In spite of the costly estimations, a full reconstruction of the rarely-used bridges may not be on the books.
"These projects have potential to be torn down and replaced with a foot path, they may be repaired and replaced, or they may be removed completely," said Mr. Roger. "We won't know until the studies are complete."
Samples are expected to be taken this week and sent to the Ministry of Natural Resources for testing - with a price tag of approximately $50,000 per site.
"We hope to have the Environmental Assessments wrapped up by October, and we will then plan an open house and forum to educate the public and gather their input," said Mr. Roger. "Once that is done, a full report will be compiled for Council in late 2014."
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Police are searching for a suspect and his damaged SUV, after a motorist struck three parked vehicles in the parking lot behind the Port Perry Post Office and fled on Sunday, August 3, at around 5:45 p.m.
DRPS Sgt. Bill Calder estimated that damages to the victim's vehicles would come to about $3,000 each - totalling over $9,000.
Thanks to debris found at the scene, police have determined that the suspect, a white man in his mid-60s, was driving a mid-2000s grey Dodge Durango (which will show damage on both the front and rear).
Residents with any information on suspect, his whereabouts, or the Dodge Durango are asked to phone DRPS Cst. Kromer at 905-579-1520, extension 2672.
Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.