Collingwood man says positive attitude best way to deal with Parkinson’s

They say laughter is the best medicine.

It sure is for Gerry McComb.

McComb was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago and has two tattoos on his arms. One says ‘live for today and please smile,’ and the other says “a whole lotta shakin going on.’

McComb believes a positive attitude is one of the best ways to deal with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects motor function.

“I get up every morning and attempt to make six people laugh or smile,” he said.

He said while people associate shaking with the disease, it’s the stress and anxiety that is difficult to deal with.

He said some people will be uncomfortable with him shaking, which is why he tries to make jokes about it and put people at ease.

“If you can get the stress and anxiety under control, you’re halfway there,” he said.

McComb said he retired from the car business last year and has dropped 30 pounds. He tries to get an hour of physical activity a day.

When he was first diagnosed, he wasn’t trying to improve his situation.

“I didn’t do anything for four years,” he said.

The 2018 Parkinson’s Super Walk takes place in Collingwood on Sept. 8 at Harbourview Park. Check-in for the walk is at 9:30 a.m., and the walk gets started at 10:30 a.m.

Residents are encouraged to participate and collect pledges, with all money raised going to Parkinson Canada.

McComb said while it’s important for the general public to get educated about Parkinson’s, he said it’s just as important for people with Parkinson’s to gain knowledge.

He said he’s been going to local meetings with residents diagnosed with Parkinson’s and has learned how to deal with the effects of the disease.

He said he suffered from sweating and had a knot in his stomach, and spent a year getting blood tests only to find out information he was looking for at the meeting.

“As much as you know about Parkinson’s, the average Parkinson’s patient probably knows less,” he said.

For more information, or to register, visit

Blue Mountain employees donate $96,000 to Collingwood hospital

Employees of Blue Mountain Resort presented the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital Foundation (CGMHF) with a $96,000 contribution on June 27 that included cash and “in kind” donations.

Blue Mountain Resort has designated CGMHF their charity of choice and staff take part in events and programs that raise money in support of the hospital.

“No matter what you do to stay active, everyone benefits from the services at the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital,” says Tara Lovell, Manager, Public Relations for Blue Mountain Resort. “We are happy to support a community cause that our team not only benefits from but rallies behind.”

For the fourth year in a row, Blue Mountain Resort donated 500 Active Packs to CGMHF to sell to local families. This is one of the most popular springtime programs designed for families to enjoy the wide range of activities available at the resort for one low price.

“This year, the much anticipated passes sold out in record breaking time,” said Jory Pritchard-Kerr, Executive Director of the hospital.

Every penny of the $50 sale price goes directly to CGMHF to help fund medical equipment used to care for the community, and the program spreads valuable awareness about the hospital in the community.

Other Blue Mountain Resort initiatives in support of CGMHF include an annual donation from the Memory Lane Memorial Park and donations from staff events, which are matched by the resort leadership annually.

In addition, the resort  gives $15,000 annually as a pledge to the CGMHF New Age of Care Campaign.

The Collingwood G&M Hospital Foundation would like extend a sincere thank you to Blue Mountain Resort leadership and employees for their growing support and charitable vision.

Cheek swab event helps identify Alzheimer’s risk for Barrie seniors

The same cheek swap to determine a person’s genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease can also be used to further research into the prevention.

At a sold-out event at Barrie’s Grace United Church, more than 100 people participated in the cheek swab.

“It’s a testament to how involved people want to be in Alzheimer’s prevention,” Dr. Sharon Cohen, medical director of the Toronto Memory Program, said.

The swab is used to look for the risk factor gene, ApoE-4 (Apolipoprotein E), linked to the disease. Anyone with the identified gene is invited to join a prevention study.

Once swabbed along the inside of a person’s cheek, the swab can be run through a DNA analyzer. At the Toronto Memory Program’s clinic, it’s a Spartan Cube. Cohen said it’s the smallest device in the world able to analyze DNA. Other samples are sent off to a medical lab. The results of the Barrie event from June 26, are available in early July.

“A few years ago we didn’t have anything like this or a means to do the cheek swab,” Cohen said.

“People are always interested in learning about what’s going on in the field,” Cohen said. “And we’re in the era of trying to prevent the disease, not just play catch-up.”

By identifying the ApoE-4 gene, Cohen said, doctors can identify people who qualify for a prevention study.

“ApoE tells us how rapidly one’s symptoms evolve,” Cohen said. “Genetics play a role in many ways including response to treatment and progression of the disease.”

In Canada, about 25,000 new cases are identified annually.

While genetics play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, preventive measures such as proper diet, getting enough sleep, and maintaining physical and social activity are a factor.

“As far as lifestyle goes,” Cohen said. “The earlier one starts the better.”

While prevention studies focus on people over 60, baseline memory testing is available at any age.

Dr. Cohen will hold another cheek swab event at Grace United Church () on July 18, at 3:30 p.m.

Neighbours of Midland high school fed up with students speeding past their homes

Christine Drive residents are fed up with the dangerous driving, excessive garbage, noise and general disrespect plaguing their street.

The dead-end drive, which leads to the back of St. Theresa’s Catholic High School, has been subject to a multitude of ongoing problems over the past few years, according to those who live along the street.

Phil Kidd, his wife, mother and two dogs live in a house on the corner next to the school’s back parking lot. Ever since the student smoking pit was relocated to the back of the building, they’ve had to deal with a large group of students on the sidewalk and street near their home.

Students aren’t allowed to smoke on school property, so the large group of kids wanting to light up is forced onto public property. They gather in hordes directly across from Kidd’s home.

“There has got to be approximately 75 kids out here in the morning and afternoon,” said Kidd. “They stand here and swear and spit. They are speeding out of here. There is smoke in plumes, and the garbage is the worst.”

A quick walk around the area and you will find broken glass, lighters, bottle caps, errant shoes, and thousands of cigarette butts strewn among other garbage.

Two garbage cans in the area are empty.

“We are getting a ton of seagulls and raccoons around here because the students are just tossing their lunches around,” said Kidd.

Tucked in the bushes across from the side of the Kidd’s property are two hangout areas with bottles, broken chairs, torn up St. Theresa’s school uniforms, garbage, smashed bongs and other drug paraphernalia.

“I caught some kids ready to throw beer bottles full of gasoline in the bushes,” said Kidd.

He and his wife say they’ve had countless meetings with school board officials, the principal, vice-principal, police and Ministry of Health representatives.

“This is ongoing and nothing has changed,” said Kidd. “We are just trying to get them to be good neighbours.”

School officials say they are aware of their neighbours’ concerns and that they strive to keep the school grounds as clean as they can.

“St. Theresa’s does work to keep the areas surrounding our school clean through weekly cleanups, announcements and liaising with city officials and bylaw enforcement,” said Pauline Stevenson, communications manager for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

“Our facility is a busy site — with students, parents, visitors and user groups — making it difficult to always keep the grounds in the pristine condition we all would desire. It is our goal to keep the grounds as clean as possible, and we will continue to work with our neighbours and other members of the community to do just that,” added Stevenson, noting she discussed the concerns with St. Theresa’s principal, Bern Tate.

By far the most concerning issue for residents along Christine Drive is the speeding. Around half a dozen neighbours say they have witnessed cars leaving the school at excessive speeds.

“They are coming around the corner sideways,” said Kidd.

“I figure they are going at least 80 km/h past my place,” said Fred Axt, who lives a few doors down the street.

One neighbour complained about a car that came around the corner so fast it lost control and crashed into a decorative rock on their front lawn.

“People are afraid for their kids and grandkids or backing out of their driveways,” said Axt. “I have grandkids at my house all of the time. We teach them not to run out on the street, but kids are kids, and if a ball goes out there, they’ll go after it.”

James Coady, who used to live at the far end of Christine Drive, is one of several residents who have complained to both the Midland Police and OPP about cars leaving the school parking lot and travelling down the street at excessive speeds.

“I understand police have a job to do, and it is not the easiest job … but all they have to do is set an example. If they catch one kid doing 90 km/h down that road, word will get around really quickly, and they will slow down before someone gets killed,” said Coady.

School officials say they are aware and understand all of their neighbours’ concerns.

“We take these concerns seriously and recognize that there is always room for improvement. As always, we will continue to work with our neighbours and other members of the community to address concerns as they arise,” said Stevenson.

The situation has frustrated several neighbours so much they’ve sold their homes and moved. If something isn’t done to address the current issues soon, other neighbours say they may follow.

“Why is nothing being done? Is the town and the police going to wait until someone is injured or killed before something is done about this?” asked Axt.

Police seek 2 suspects after assault in Bradford

South Simcoe Police is seeking the public’s help in identifying two suspects wanted in connection with an assault in a Bradford parking lot.

A 38-year-old Bradford man was transported to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries after being treated by paramedics at the scene of the alleged attack that happened around 12:30 a.m. Friday, July 13.

Witnesses reported an argument involving the victim and two men in the parking lot of a coffee shop on Holland Street East.

The suspects fled when approached by a passerby.

Suspect #1 is described as: white, five-feet, nine-inches tall, thin build, blonde hair, wearing a light blue jump suit

Suspect #2 is described as white, thin build, wearing a black tank top and blue denim shorts and possibly wearing a baseball hat.

Anyone with information or who can help police identify these suspects is asked to call  705-436-2141 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Jason Malott — Penetanguishene councillor

As a lifelong resident of Midland and Penetanguishene, I love my community and would never consider leaving. At 39 years old, I am a father and local business owner. These aspects and more drive me to see our community thrive, not only with its existing core and attractions, but to see it expand and grow in the future.

I graduated from Midland Secondary and directly entered the workforce, maintaining a position at Franke Kindred for more than 20 years. After 20 years of working for others I decided it was time to follow my dream, opening North of Exile Games with my spouse in 2017. It is Penetanguishene’s first — and only — board game café and gaming store.

Owning this store has given me the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with many people in our diverse community.

I am your choice because, along with my enthusiasm and strong work ethic, I will bring a younger and fresh mind to our council. Not only am I invested in this community as a business owner, I am invested in the community first and foremost as a resident. I have experienced the satisfaction of being able to provide my family with a good quality of life thanks to our local industry, and I am strongly motivated to ensure that our local businesses and industries are given every opportunity to thrive so that others can know that same satisfaction.

If elected, not only will I bring my own ideas to the council, I will be accessible for you to bring your ideas forward as well. I will bring a fresh mind with aspirations for more tourism, and events to bring our community together as a family.

I would love to get to know you and introduce myself. Feel free to visit the store at 61 Main St. or call . If you prefer social media, my and Instagram can be found

Many reported thefts in Midland area occur in unlocked vehicles: OPP

North Simcoe residents aren’t doing much to dissuade people from stealing cars or removing the valuables from inside them.

According to the OPP, from January to August there were 140 car-related thefts in the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment area. The majority of these thefts are crimes of opportunity – a car left unlocked and then ransacked, or stolen.

“In a large number of these reports, owners failed to secure their vehicle prior to leaving it or they had their vehicle stolen with keys that had been left in them,” said Const. David Hobson of the Southern Georgian Bay OPP.

Between July 2 and Aug. 8, OPP responded to six vehicle thefts in Midland and another four in Tiny Township.

In one case, in which a 2018 Ford F-150 was stolen, the keys to the vehicle were stolen prior to the theft of the vehicle itself.

“Owners need to take a moment and make an effort to secure their property prior to parking and leaving it,” Hobson said. “(Owners should) ensure the vehicle is locked, windows are rolled up, keys are pocketed, and valuables are out of sight.”

Vehicle thefts have been pretty steady in North Simcoe over the past two years. Between January and August, police responded to 44 vehicle thefts. During the same stretch in 2017, there were 54 vehicles stolen.

The OPP say there isn’t much they can do if residents continue to leave their vehicles unlocked.

“If we provide the message, hopefully that message will be heard,” said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon. “People need to get in the habit of when they leave their vehicle, they lock the doors.”

The majority of these crimes aren’t considered break and enters, as the thieves aren’t breaking in to the vehicle. They simply walk around checking for unlocked vehicles, enter them, and take what they want from inside.

So far in 2018, there have been 96 thefts from vehicles in North Simcoe. This is a slight increase from the same time last year when there were 93 thefts.

“The impact can be devastating for some people. People don’t realize it, but they leave a lot of information in their vehicles. Your ownership and licence has your name, address and driver’s licence number. It could lead to the start of identity theft,” Leon said.

The OPP are reinforcing their “Lock it or Lose it” campaign message in an attempt to reduce vehicle thefts in the region.

“It is all about preventing the next crime,” Leon said. “If someone comes into your neighbourhood and is successful, what is to stop them from coming back for more?”

While some may feel leaving their vehicle unlocked will prevent someone from damaging it when they break in, Leon says locking it is the best way to prevent theft.

“If it is locked it is a deterrent, and if you are not leaving valuables – keys, electronic devices or spare change – in plain view there is no reason for someone to try and get into your vehicle,” said Leon.

Craigleith residents say highway plan could destroy character of village

A group of residents in the village of Craigleith are concerned that the widening of Highway 26 will have “serious repercussions,” on their community.

Elton and Rita Matthews, Lori King and Lucy Richmond are members of a group who are petitioning the province to lower the speed limit along a section of the highway. The group is also against the proposed widening.

“They are posting 80 (km/h), but they are doing 100, 120,” Rita said. “It needs to drop down to 60.”

Richmond said two accidents occurred along the stretch of highway in Craigleith last week, and she’s seen a number since she’s lived in the area.

“My concern is for safety of the community,” she said in an interview with Simcoe.com.

The province is proposing a four- or five-lane road from Collingwood to Thornbury along the shoreline.

Recently council did direct staff to work with the province and neighbouring municipalities to “investigate potential options and alternatives,” to the widening.

The group has delivered flyers to local residents, held a meeting and is getting signatures on a petition to send to the province.

Richmond said they are also calling on the province to look at alternatives, such as a bypass or a new highway, similar to what they did in Collingwood on the eastern portion of Highway 26.

“Give us an expressway,” Richmond said. “Does everybody from Tobermory to Toronto, Barrie to Owen Sound, need to come through Craigleith?”

Richmond would like to see the costs of widening the road in comparison to building a new highway.

A concern for residents is how a widened highway will affect the character of the village.

There are currently three major housing developments planned for the area that would bring hundreds of new homes.

The needs assessment provided included in a June 4 staff report to the Town of the Blue Mountains council, said about 73 per cent of the 406 properties along Highway 26 would be impacted if the widening were to occur.

The project could also leave 297 properties sterilized.

According to the report, the widening could also drop the assessed value from $225 million to $119 million.

Elton said that the widening of the Highway and the proposed development, could lead to the “erosion,” of the village atmosphere.

“Erosion of that will destroy it forever,” he said. “Our position has been since 2005, lower the speed limit, don’t widen the highway.”

King said when she moved into her home on Highway 26, she quickly realized there is a tight-knit community in Craigleith.

There are also concerns that the widening could have environmental impacts on the surrounding area.

The municipality has asked the province to undertake an Environmental Assessment process in 2019-2020.

Deputy Mayor Gail Ardiel met with the minister of transportation at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association Conference in January.

Collingwood Sailing School continues to make waves

With Collingwood’s attachment to water, it’s no wonder the Collingwood Sailing School has found success.

For about 14 years, the school has been a fixture in Collingwood Harbour every summer.

It was operated by a group of volunteers until 2015, when the municipality took over control.

Quinsea McKenna, who was a participant for several years, is now head instructor.

She said an average of about 20 kids per week participate in the sessions, which run during July and August.

McKenna students learn theory in the classroom beside the grain terminals and then get out on the water to apply the lessons.

The town has a fleet of about nine sailboats with one being paid for through a portion of the proceeds from the 2017 Mayor’s Golf Challenge.

The program is kids ages eight and up and for all skill levels including beginners.

“This is where I learned to sail,” she said in an interview with Simcoe.com. “It’s a great way to spend the summer.”

The sessions run from 9 a.m., to 4 p.m., and cost $315 for the week. For more information or to register visit collingwood.ca/sailingschool or call 705-444-2500.

Innisfil dairy farmers have high standards to follow

Gilford farmer Julie Neto lives on a century farm, which has been producing milk since 1931.

She isn’t surprised to learn a recent Toronto Star study showed there’s not much difference between her cows’ milk and that collected from organic farms in Canada.

A tracked organic milk production and found it was no healthier than cheaper conventional milk.

“It’s the same with everything they buy that says organic,” Neto said. “It’s kind of an inside joke among farmers: people go organic because they have no money for spray or fertilizer. That’s what they say.”

As a conventional farmer, Neto must comply with regulations from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario — the quasi-governmental organization that controls the organic and regular milk supply — and she and husband Armenio work hard to produce good quality milk.

“To say organic is better, I don’t believe it is,” Neto said.

Many organic milk buyers believe they’re getting a purer, more natural product without additives like antibiotics or hormones. Federal law, however, prohibits antibiotics and growth hormones in all milk.

Tests done on Ontario milk by the Star found no difference in the levels of metals or healthy fats. Neither contained detectable traces of pesticides.

“The milks are the same — they are identical with respect to the testing and quality standards. There’s no added hormones. No antibiotics,” Dairy Farmers of Ontario spokesperson Graham Lloyd said.

In Ontario, every truckload of milk is tested for the presence of inhibitors, including pesticides and antibiotics.

If a cow is sick and antibiotics are needed to treat it, the milk is discarded and not included in the daily haul for at least 14 days after treatment.

For organic farmers, that milk is removed for at least 30 days after treatment, or twice the minimum required for conventional use, whichever is longer, Ottawa-based Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) director Tia Loftsgard said.

Loftsgard critiqued the Toronto Star study by saying it wasn’t a robust scientific study. She said customers who buy organic milk are concerned about their health, animal welfare and environmental benefits.

“Choosing organic milk means consumers are supporting the reduction of toxic synthetic pesticide use on pastures and cropland among many other benefits,” she said in a statement. “Choosing organic dairy products is not only about the final product, nor the farm it was made on. It is about supporting a system that is trying to do better across the supply chain.”

In Canada, farmers are also not allowed to use growth hormones.

“If we use that, our license is gone,” Neto said. “If they find any drugs in the milk, we are in major trouble, and major financial trouble, too. If you’ve contaminated a load you’re in deep (trouble).”

Neto has about 40 milking cows on her farm, but also has young heifers and rotates the ones that are milked.

She has a tie-stall operation, where the farmer moves from cow to cow to do the milking.

They are usually two-and-a-half years old when they start. A fact milk drinkers might not realize is that farmers like Neto don’t milk the cows year-round.

“You can’t milk a cow from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31,” she said. “We have heifers who are bred and you can’t milk them if they’re going to have a calf. Say she gets bred Aug. 1. She would be due around May 7. You can’t milk that cow up to May 7. For me, I try to allow a 60-day dry period (before calving) to let her have a rest and build her body back up to go through the calving process.”

Innisfil dairy farmer Barbara Kell-Rose is following in her father’s footsteps and has mostly Holsteins on her farm. She said milk consumers should know they are buying safe products at the grocery store.

“I think some of the companies market things and try to add a bit of fear to promote their own product. But as farmers, we all care about our cows and are concerned it remains a safe product for everybody,” she said. “We all drink our milk and we were pleased to see the results from this study.”

While there are only two Simcoe County farms that process their own milk — in Loretto and in Creemore — milk drinkers can support other county dairy farmers by drinking Canadian milk.

“The minute you go to the store and buy four litres of milk, you are buying local. Look for that little blue cow that says it’s 100 per cent Canadian,” Kell-Rose said. “You are buying something safe, that’s tested. But it’s not just the farmers you’re supporting. There are feed suppliers and many other small businesses involved in the farm chain.”

— With files from Torstar News Service