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March, 2001

March - In like a Lion... out like a Loon

Right off the top let's remind readers that it goes without saying that the news this month was chocked full of accounts of our citizenry driving while under the influence. Most of those caught were also found to be driving with suspended licenses to boot. Guess why they lost them? You got it - the previous drinking and driving incident. So keep in mind as you cruise around Muskoka that an uncomfortably high percentage of the cars you have to share the road with are piloted by inebriated felons. Keep your eyes on the road, drive defensively, and you might make it through your next visit without sheet metal damage.

Beau Welling of Toronto got a crash course, pardon the pun, in Rule #1 of Driving While Impaired - stick to roads you know. The 26-year-old went through two stop signs as he blazed up MacDonald Street in Bracebridge going over 100 km/h. The only problem here is that MacDonald Street dead ends at a cliff twenty yards after that second stop sign. Flight Officer Welling sailed his pickup 105 feet through the air before ending up in pretty bad shape at the bottom of a 35 foot deep ravine. He got off with injuries served and 120 hours of community service (hopefully not Meals on Wheels).

Houston we have PIZZA! Buffalo ain't the only place that's Talkin' Proud these days - Bracebridge has Canada's first Pizza Pizza drive-thru! It's in the parking lot of the A&P plaza. Yes, in the parking lot. Where people used to park their cars. I don't know what the logic of that kind of move is but it's very popular with retail developers these days. Maybe the Japanese are ready to import cars that hover and I just don't know about it yet.

Santa came late to Muskoka when Ontario Associate Minister of Health Helen Johns showed up mid-month and pulled $267,001 out of a hat for South Muskoka Memorial Hospital to upgrade its old equipment. Then she threw in some cash for our ambulance service, too. Thank God for by-elections!

The Port Carling Shoreline Novices received a hero's welcome in late March after winning the Red Lobster Cup for their division. That's just WAY too easy to blow holes in... Congrats, guys!

What do you do if you're on probation, prohibited from owning a firearm and have lost your driver's license? Well if you're Kenneth Ward you grab a shotgun, hop in the car, drive to the house of an acquaintance and threaten to 'blow his head off' over money supposedly owed. He'll have three hots and a cot courtesy of the federal government for the next three years to think about if that made any sense or not.

What do you call a resident of The Riverview apartments in Bracebridge standing on his balcony having a smoke? A thrill seeker, that's what. The third-floor balcony of one unit fell off recently. And I'm not talking about the railing here - the whole balcony fell off! Note to kids: skip indoors.

This just in - allmost haf of Muskoka's Graid 10 studants faled there new provincil litracy testes. Ouch! Local principals defended their students saying many didn't take the test seriously enough to try to do well on it. Maybe next time we should make it clear that those who fail the test get no money for smokes for a month.

March's Don't Pay a Cent Event: one local carpenter not only gets paid to install kitchen cupboards in houses and cottages - he also ends up with the furniture! But the spooky thing is - he doesn't steal it. He claims he bought the furniture in question from a guy who'd placed an ad in the Trading Post newspaper. It just HAPPENED to have been stolen from a cottage where he recently worked! What are the odds? And while you're calculating those, what are the odds the judge bought his story?

A gal who was described as "feisty" and "stressed" received a $500 fine and two years probation recently for slappin' around a pizza guy who didn't hand over her slice fast enough. She claimed it was because she was tired, cranky and hungry. Maybe. But it was also assault conviction #3 for Miss Congeniality. Not even two-year-olds are tired, cranky and hungry THAT often...

Deer season may be over but it's hard to shake that huntin' bug. So Huntsville resident John Broadbent decided his .303 would go to good use settling a dispute over some logging equipment. Ken Earl ended up being airlifted to St. Mike's in Toronto with a shattered femur and Broadbent is cooling his heels in the slammer charged with bagging loggers out of season.

Local Ontario PC candidate Norm Miller slapped the competition around like red-headed step-children and walked away with almost 50% of the popular vote in the March 22 by-election. Liberal candidate Evelyn Brown kept a stiff upper lip proclaiming, "We put Mike Harris on notice, and that's a victory!" That of course sounds a lot better than, "I guess people thought Dalton and I weren't up to the job..." NDP candidate and self-appointed social activist Joanne Bury took after her surname - again - and was BURY-ed by almost everyone on the ballot including The Green Party candidate. Ouch! At least she beat the two independents (which wasn't too tough seeing as one of them was arrested earlier in the week for disrupting an all-candidates meeting. You don't want to know about that one).

Speaking of elections, the Green Party candidate's wife wrote in to the Weekender complaining about the disappearance of some of her husband's campaign signs. Was it petty vandalism? Someone out to score some cheap 2X2s? No no no.... according to Ms. Thomas it was, "second-rate, Third World, military dictatorship kind of behaviour..." And people wonder why the Greens frequently suffer from a bit of a credibility problem.

Those electors who were told by Elections Ontario to vote at the Port Carling Community Center arrived to find their polling station had been demolished several months ago to make way for a new library! Oops... They voted at the Legion instead. The new library is nice - the kind of expensive-looking faux-post & beam affair that you'd expect to find in a place jam-packed with expensive-looking faux-Muskoka cottages.

Speaking of voting, there's talk that the Township of Georgian Bay may vote to separate from The District of Muskoka. Apparently our language and cultural differences are insurmountable.

Like shopping at the Muskoka Store? So does Richard (don't call me Dick) Busch. But sometimes he finds the store's hours are a bit restrictive. So in mid-March he went in through the side window at 3 a.m. and drove off with $7000 worth of wet suits. He was caught soon afterward with a van full of hot neoprene and it looks like Rich'll be missing Wakestock this year. Probably next year, too.

You've got to hand it to the folks at The Examiner - they have a way with headlines. Case in point: Local Family Attends Disorder Conference. I thought it was going to be about local social activists taking civil disobedience courses prior to something like a world trade conference. Wrong. They were attending a course on a medical disorder known as ACC (and no, the Air Canada Center is NOT a recognized medical disorder. Yet.)

Kirt Watford went home from the local ice fishing derby a happy man after he won $425 for landing the largest fish of the day - a 10.5 lb. lake trout. Peter Tingey almost covered his beer expenses by winning $275 for a 8.5 lb. northern pike.

Remember that gal who drowned under mysterious circumstances last summer in the Muskoka River? The death is now being treated as a homicide. A little late to start looking for clues, don't ya think?

Notice to the lost and soiled - Bracebridge's coin laundry industry has been globalized, consolidated and vertically integrated. You'd be well advised to head to the lone Wellington Street location now - it's where Bracebridge Yamaha used to be.

A 34-year-old Utterson woman was found to be driving down Hwy 11 in a hot car recently and for once around here that didn't mean that she'd stolen it - it was on fire! She hastily pulled over to the shoulder and watched her '88 Mercury Sable burn to the frame. The one upside to all this - that's one less '88 Sable anyone has to worry about.

Recognizing this area's total lack of opportunities to golf, the Township of Muskoka Lakes has okayed a zoning change to allow a driving range to open on Hwy. 169 between Bala and the cranberry marsh. When that run-off hits the water table, look for Bala's chief export to be cranberries the size of... well... golf balls.

Speaking of Bala, their annual Cranberry Festival has now been rated one of the top festivals in Ontario and more specifically the #4 draw for October. But that was before anyone knew that next year's cranberry festival visitors would be able to shag a bucket or two of balls after dragging their kids through the swamp, er... marsh. Ten bucks says the Cranberry Festival is #1 this year!

If you caught the RCMP Musical Ride in Bala last year you'll know where the new Bala Sports Park is going to be. If you didn't catch the Ride, it's the vacant lot beside the self-storage units. Picturesque, no. Assessable, yes.

The Port Carling Golf and Country Club has applied for a minor variance to allow them to erect a 8' X 12' sign advertising the sale of Muskoka's answer to land-borne zebra mussels - townhouse units! Why should the Township allow them to erect a sign FOUR TIMES larger than is normally allowed? Because it's "pleasing to the eye...", that's why! May I go on record right now as saying that I would rather see a big, beautiful sign that's pleasing to the eye than say, stupid old trees and the Canadian Shield. Any day.

Gravenhurst is looking for sponsors for its annual Music on the Barge concert series. However federal laws prohibit sponsors from industries whose products aren't necessarily good for you ( ie the tobacco, brewing or distilling industries). Which leaves organizers wondering, "Who makes tofu, anyway?"

Word is out that Gravenhurst has a major drug problem on its hands these days. Should we round up these dope fiends and throw them all in jail? Hell no - they're already there! Apparently Fenbrook Medium Security ain't so secure.

This month's funniest headline award goes to The Weekender for "Bigamist busted for furnace theft". There's a mental picture for you. Seems one of Huntsville's Mensa hopefuls went to Cuba for a little R&R and brought back more than cigars - he scored himself a Cuban bride! That's what I call a souvenir! So much for the bigamist part. Then there was the part where he stole a furnace from his employer and installed it on the side. His only slip-up was that he did too good a job - the homeowner called the shop to compliment them on their excellent installation guy. Oops...

And if Townships of Muskoka Lakes Mayor Susan Pryke is properly informed, the Glen Orchard landfill is not leaching toxic substances into the surrounding lakes. It's only leaching toxic substances onto the property. If you aren't sure where the Glen Orchard landfill site is, take Hwy. 118 to Hwy. 169 and look for road kill with too many heads.

Bracebridge may have a decent share of juvenile delinquents but at least we can take some consolation in the fact that they're computer literate. Someone broke into a Bell Canada truck last week. Did they steal tools and stuff? No... they stole high speed modems. Police figure they'll never find the culprits because they'll be spending the next 18 months huddled in front of a monitor in mom's basement hi-speed downloading shots of Britney Spears shakin' her money-makers. Hope they've got Shockwave.

And a big Bracebridge welcome to Ron and Loren Koval - the two Toronto entrepreneurs (where 'entrepreneur' translates into 'embezzling weasel') who walked off with $90 million that was supposed to be invested in their medical center. The Kovals plead guilty and received seven years each. Short-stretch white collar crime types usually end up at the Beaver Creek Bed & Breakfast. Kids take note: if you robbed the Mike's Mart and made off with $250 you'd pull 10 years in a federal penitentiary - easy. But if you screw investors out of $90 million you get seven years tops and even then only if you're dumb enough to not be able to buy your safety in a nice banana republic somewhere. The moral of this story? Go big or go home. You're welcome.

As a preview for next month look for the whole issue of 'watershed boundaries' to be the next big thing. Someone somewhere came up with the idea that for management purposes the official Muskoka boundaries should encompass our entire watershed. Everybody thought it was brilliant so they asked the Province to appoint a commissioner to study it. Then everybody slept on the idea and woke up to realize we stand to lose more turf than we gain if it goes through. Now no one knows what to do about the fact that the genie's out of the bottle and the Province has been brought in to do something that on second thought nobody wants done. Stay tuned for more ill-advised ideas.

READ ON (April 2001 Edition)

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