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Volume 3, No. 2 October 2012 FREE

• Dorothy Gebert New gardening column • Elizabeth VanHooren Halloween’s hellish overtones • Peter Atkinson Tech dreams for Elgin Dyllan Bretz, featured on Undercover Boss Canada Cover story: page 3

Be ready for winter

Incorporating St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce


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October, 2012


BUSINESS & COMMUNITY As I see it Tunnelling toward truth by Jim Innes ....................................page 4

Leadership Workshop wisdom by Shayne Wyler ..............................page 5

DINING & ENTERTAINMENT Savour Elgin Elgin-licious by Kate Burns ..........................pages 6 & 7

HEALTHY LIVING Everyday Health Public Health plans by Ryan Huffman ............................page 8

BUSINESS BEAT The Front Page Small Business Week ........................page 9

Chamber News Emerging stronger ........................page 10 St. Thomas uncorked ....................page 11

Legal Business Robert Ford by Monty Fordham ........................page 12

Chamber News Spirit awards ..................................page 13

Pro Text Going south? by Crystal Underhill ......................page 14

Cover Story

S P E C I A L F E AT U R E

BE READY FOR WINTER Good gourds by Dorothy Gebert ..............pages 18 & 19 Car prep ........................................page 20 The dope on dopamine by Sharon Lechner ........................page 21 Energy efficiency ............................page 22 Optimize your winter by Bryan Vine ................................page 23 Surfer dude inspiration by Stephanie Farrow ......................page 24 Get your business tech-ready by Peter Atkinson ..........................page 25 Avoid hockey pain by Greg Johnston ..........................page 26 Halloween gremlins by Elizabeth VanHooren ................page 27

DINING & ENTERTAINMENT Wine & Food That’s Zinful by Jamie Quai ..........page 28

LIFESTYLES Decorating Maximize your kitchen by Renee Carpenter ......................page 29

Time on my hands Heavy hitters revisited by Duncan Watterworth ................page 30

Chamber News Skills survey, part deux ..................page 15 Bridges to Better Business ............page 16

BUSINESS & COMMUNITY Second Career by Megan Bartlett ..........................page 17

St. Thomas man featured in Undercover Boss Work ethic recognized on television special by Terry Carroll

What’s the old saying? Hard work pays off. Sometimes, it does, in completely unexpected ways. Take Dyllan Bretz of St. Thomas. He’s a little old-fashioned about work. He enjoys hard physical labour. Here’s how he expresses it: “I love to sweat. I enjoy the hard-working part of the job . . . I’m a mule. I’ve got a back like a coal miner.” Dyllan also has a good, old-fashioned approach to his family and integrity. When his son Geordyn, six, and his daughter Zoey, four, see their dad at his job, they know that he’s doing it for the company, for himself, and for his wife and children. “Integrity,” he says, “is doing the right thing when no one’s looking.” He works for Geerlinks Home Hardware Building Centre in St. Thomas loading and delivering drywall, insulation and other building supplies, often with Dan Bechard, and Dyllan can’t say enough good things about Dan. When Reality TV show Undercover Boss Canada went looking for locations and employees to show one of the Big Kahunas what it’s really like outside the corporate offices, Geerlinks and Dyllan seemed like a natural choice. Home Hardware COO Terry Davis donned a disguise and showed up as “John.” Instead of letting Dyllan know that this was Undercover Boss, the producers used the ruse that they were filming a pilot for a show tentatively called A Hard Day’s Work. Dyllan showed “John” the proper technique for hoisting drywall and insulation bales, and Terry Davis gained a new appreciation for the amount of physical labour and the safety issues involved. As a reward, Dyllan is to be featured in an upcoming company training video, and he and his wife and family are getting their rent paid for free. One of the biggest rewards, though, has been offcamera, when customers and tradespeople let Dyllan know, “It couldn’t have happened to a better guy.” Some rewards speak for themselves. Cover photo by Philip Bell, Shutter Studios

Carroll Publishing Inc. President Terry Carroll Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Kelly Carroll

Elgin This Month Publisher & Editor Terry Carroll Section Editor Business Beat – Bob Hammersley

Graphic Design / Production Jim McHarg Sales Representative Greg Minnema Office Manager Laura Bart

Elgin This Month is a monthly magazine focusing on business and lifestyle issues and includes Business Beat, the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce newsletter. The publication is available for pickup at no charge at news stands and other locations around Elgin County, as well as distribution to businesses and selected households.

Published monthly by Carroll Publishing Inc., 15 St. Catharine Street, St. Thomas, ON N5P 2V7 519-633-1640 www.theweeklynews.ca/etm October, 2012

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INNES AS I SEE IT

What happened to my nerve? The blessing and the curse of somewhat willful energy by Jim Innes

In a small city, near where I grew up, is Canada's first railway tunnel: an antiquated passageway that holds me in a mysterious spell. The tunnel was active from 1860 to the mid 1970s. I was about 13 or 14 when they barricaded it with massive oak doors. These barriers were once used as gates protecting wandering cattle. Once locked down, the tunnel’s entrance looked like a fortress. It was a visual warning to any dangers which may lay dormant within the now obsolete cavern buried beneath the city. To an inquisitive and reckless kid such as I, the restricted corridor turned into an alluring 1,700 foot challenge. More than once, my buddy and I crept through a wornout gate panel to breach the unwelcoming emptiness. I can still evoke the chilly weight of the tunnel’s impenetrable blackness. I remember that inside this damp and disturbing starkness, there was

no point of reference except a small trickle of daylight filtering through the cracks around the gate panel. This slight illumination faded far too quickly as we blindly wandered until our apprehensions grew too intense. I recall that we didn’t last long. It was too threatening, too disconcerting; even time got confused. Why we returned over and again I don’t know. My buddy can also recall the ominous nature of these gripping

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forays. His memory of our hesitations were amusingly explicit, “I didn’t see the tunnel so much as a mystery . . . I was more afraid of the bats and rats or coming across a dead body.” It is a memory that gives me pause, and I reflect on the importance of the daring delight I enjoyed while in that tunnel’s grip. I ask myself whether in my 50s I still have the same gumption, the same wayward nerve. I’d like to believe I do because, in my experience, it is this energy that is required to stay invigorated and soulful. It is the energy that compels us to rebel against safe comfort and initiate an adventure, precarious or not, in which, despite its inevitably hazards, we can experience an exhilarating moment or two. It can easily be judged as reckless and negligent. Yet it holds the power to effectively respond to the small voice inside that sometimes says, “I need change.” The blessing and the curse of this somewhat willful energy is that it takes us deep into situations

where, as in the closed railway tunnel, breathing is laboured, and sight is blinded, by the scary and unlit mystery ahead. The tunnel remained completely closed till the mid 1980s when 85 feet was opened up as a museum. There is currently much talk about how to increase the flow of tourism. Whatever they decide to do, it remains in my bones as both a compelling and intimidating cave. A place where my buddy and I, like Huckleberry and Tom, reveled in the exhilarating juice we squeezed from our adventures inside it.

Jim Innes is a clinically trained therapist and a priest at St. John’s Anglican Church

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BUSINESS / COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP

The truth about workshops Part one: how to have a great workshop experience

by Shayne Wyler

As is our style at Seven, let's explore the truth about workshops using seven questions and in doing so, help you gain the clarity you need to have a great workshop experience. Question 1: What do you need to accomplish? Make a list of the things you need to accomplish. Take the time to answer this question specifically. Knowing what you need will make the job of finding the right workshop much easier for you. For example, "I need to learn how to assess the opportunities available to me." Question 2: Where do you need clarity and direction in this? To know where the holes are is vital to being able to reach your intended goal. For example, "We need to figure out a way to communicate what we do simply, so that people not only understand it, but realize where they need it too." Question 3: How valuable is it for you to gain that clarity to accomplish what you need? In assessing the value of where you need clarity, you begin to see why you need it. For example, "We need to hire six new sales reps.  As we have figured out how to assess where the opportunities are, we aren’t able to respond to our clients as quickly as they need us to, and they are having to wait too long for someone to get back to them." Question 4: How will having that clarity of direction help you accomplish this? This question helps you to develop October, 2012

the strategy you need. For example, "We need to make sure our hiring process is helping us find the right people for the job the first time around.” Question 5: Why is a workshop the right tool to use? Workshops are tools used to explore specific areas of need. In dis-

covering what you need using questions one to four, you can then determine if a workshop is going to give you the answers you are seeking. Question 6: What is your budget? To know your budget is vital in deciding what workshops to attend. As you assess the value of having the clarity you need to proceed, how much is that worth to you?  Knowing that, you need to assess your current budget to know how to proceed. Question 7: What workshop do you need? Now that you know what you need to accomplish, the areas where you need some clarity and direction, the value of achieving that, how a workshop will support you and how much you can spend, you now are able to pinpoint with accuracy the workshop you need.  For example, "We need to figure out how we can exit from this business, when we want to.  I am not sure how to go about doing that. We need to find a great workshop on succession planning and start to build our strategy.”

Finally, with the answers from these seven questions, do these four things. 1. Determine the questions you want to ask the workshop providers. 2. Do your research by asking these questions of them and those who have attended previously. 3. Pick the workshops that are going to support you in accomplishing your goal. 4. Be open and willing to learn. Next month, we will explore how to give a great workshop experience.

Shayne Wyler, CEO of Seven, works with people and organizations that need clarity.  By asking the right questions, Seven clarifies your direction, giving you the clarity you need.

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D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T SAVOUR ELGIN

Elginlicious

S a v o ur

th e f al l f l avo u rs by Kate Burns

Savour Elgin is hosting the first ever Elginlicious event, October 12 thru 21. This is an opportunity to take advantage of the area’s restaurants, wineries, specialty food shops and agri-tourism destinations at three great price points. Special promotions will be running at $10, $15 and $25 at all participating businesses. Elginlicious is unique to all other “licious” events, in that it is not exclusive to just restaurants offering three course menus. This is an opportunity for you and your friends and family to get out and explore all that Elgin County has to offer in the fall.

At Great Lakes Farms, you will be able to enjoy a piece of homemade apple pie, and a drink. After you have filled your belly, you can roam the farm on your own or take a tractor ride. Make sure to take your best shot at the corn maze and burn off those last few calories in the play area. The fun doesn’t stop there. Take home 2 ½ pounds of pick-your-own apples all for just $10!! For the grown up adventurer, $10 will take two on a tour of Railway City Brewing Company, where you learn how a 10 hectoliter system comprised of a kettle, mash tun, hot liquor tank, 7 fermentators and a brite tank combine to make award-winning, handcontinued on next page

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October, 2012


D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T SAVOUR ELGIN

Elginlicious

For all the up-to-date program information, be sure to visit www.savourelgin.ca.

Savour Elgin is a program with a goal to promote and enhance culinary tourism in Elgin County and St. Thomas. The Savour Elgin trail is a route through Elgin County that visits some of the best restaurants, farms, wineries, and other culinary attractions that focus on food and drink that’s local and unique to Elgin County and St. Thomas. For full trail information visit www.savourelgin.ca or find us on Facebook

continued from previous page

crafted beer. After the tour, enjoy a sampling of Dead Elephant Ale, Roundhouse Pilsner or maybe a Blonde, Copper or Amber. Don’t forget to take home your beer glass, which is all part of the package. Indulge your sweet tooth, at Harbourtown Fudge where you can buy one pound of fudge for $15 and get a quarter pound free. With over 20 different flavours to choose from, you may be walking away with more than one pound! Harbourtown will also be featuring their Pumpkin Pie Fudge during the Elgin-licious campaign. At the Arts and Cookery Bank, channel your grandmothers and great-grandmothers by kneading, rolling, pulling, punching, canning, baking, simmering and boiling. They brought a barn and a bank back to life, and they are bringing these Lost Arts back to life, too – baking bread, biscuits and buns, making pie crusts and pies from scratch, making soup stock, making jams, jellies and preserves. We revel in new recipes and cooking styles, but there's something par-

ticularly special about good old-fashioned recipes, handed down from generation to generation. We experience something magical when we say, "This recipe was my grandmother's. She taught my mother and my mother taught me." Help celebrate the Ladies of Elgin as they share some of their finest tips and techniques at the Arts and Cookery Bank on October 16th during Reviving the Lost Arts just $25. This is just a small sampling of the great deals that will be happening during Elginlicious October 12 thru 21.

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H E A LT H Y L I V I N G EVERYDAY HEALTH by Ryan Huffman

Elgin St. Thomas Public Health is proud to release a new strategic plan for 2013-2015. The plan envisions healthy people and healthy communities where together Public Health works to promote wellness, protect health and prevent injury as well as advocate for positive change.  The strategic planning process, launched in January 2012, under the direction of our Board of Health, engaged a wide range of community stakeholders from various sectors. The response from regional partners was tremendous and we are grateful for all the feedback provided. Community and staff comments became the foundation for the plan, painting a vivid picture of community needs, opinions and priorities, resulting in a clear path to meeting the following local strategic priorities: 1. Implement the Ontario Public Health Standards, with an added integrated focus across ESTPH on: • Addressing the health issues related to the impacts of the regional economy • Teen pregnancy • Childhood obesity 2. Design and implement service delivery models that leverage resources and support internal and external integration in order to remove barriers and increase access, thereby better serving the community. 3. Create and implement ways to work more efficiently and effectively including facility design and execution. 4. Establish and implement a comprehensive human resources strategy inclusive of staff wellness, recruitment, retention and leadership development. 5. Develop and implement a com-

A clear path for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health

Organization releases strategic plan munication strategy that coordinates internal & external communication, leverages our profile, increases awareness and engages our partners, clients & staff. 6. Ensure effective governance and strong leadership at all levels. Many of the comments received showed strong support for continuing the work Public Health staff do in the community. For example, representatives from Elgin County schools voiced their appreciation for the “organized, knowledgeable and supportive” partnerships with Public Health staff. They appreciated the resources and assistance shared through health unit programs such as Peanut Free Schools, Healthy Smiles, and immunization/sexual health clinics. Some comments from partners and our local demographic/health status report showed us that we have to expand our work in the following key

areas: social determinants of health, childhood obesity, and teen pregnancy. One of the ‘root causes’ addressed in the plan is the current economic condition in Elgin County, specifically an unemployment rate that is higher than the average in Ontario and household incomes that are lower. This situation affects health; also known as the social determinants of health. Knowing that people require more public health services and that we have less funding to provide those services, there is an emphasis on working with our clients and local partners to identify and reduce barriers and hopefully reduce costs. Another challenge ESTPH addressed in this plan was the proportion of those considered by definition to be overweight and obese. At least 60% of Elgin residents report being overweight or obese and over the past 5 years, the proportion

has been rising. This trend is associated with an accelerated onset of chronic diseases from having an unhealthy body weight. These chronic diseases can include diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and several types of cancer. For each strategic direction, expected outcomes were identified. Below is one example related to our work on preventing childhood obesity. Goals Implement the Ontario Public Health Standards, with focus on childhood obesity. Expected Outcomes Within 3 Years In order to decrease childhood obesity over the long term within vulnerable populations we will: Raise public awareness with respect to the benefits of healthy weights and the dangers of childhood obesity. Increase the skills of and opportunities for parents and children to become more active and eat healthier. Ensure a change in parents and children’s behaviour that leads to healthier living. A copy of the plan including descriptions of the values, strategic directions and expected outcomes for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health is available at www.elginhealth.on.ca. Please review the document and do not hesitate to provide additional comments via email or social media (estph@elginhealth.on.ca or www.facebook.ca/ESTPH). For those that participated in our planning, thank you for your consideration and advice. We look forward to the positive changes to come.

Ryan Huffman is Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Elgin St.Thomas Public Health

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October, 2012


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National Small Business Week Sunday October 14 – Saturday October 20

Bob Bierling (left) from Lyle Cook Automotive chats with Tony Brooks from Coffee News at the August Business After 5 for NAPA AutoPro.

Business Beat Table of Contents Emerging stronger ................................page 10 Permit values up ................................page 11 Mayoralty dilemma ................................page 12 Meeting locations ................................page 13 Snowbirds prep ................................page 14 Top Ten, part two ................................page 15 Draft strategic plan ................................page 16

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce will be active in 2 significant events as we mark Small Business Week this year. Wednesday October 17, 2012 – Annual Small Business Sample Show Thanks to our Platinum sponsor, The Weekly News; and our Diamond sponsor, The Elgin Business Resource Centre, the Chamber is proud to present the Business Sample Show. This ultra popular event doubles as the Chamber’s only “open to the public” Business After 5 and features exhibits and displays by over 60 businesses and organizations. Take a ‘tour’ of some of St. Thomas best businesses, restaurants and organizations all under one roof! Fifty-six exhibitors plus five special hospitality/food service booths will be on hand with various samples, unbelievable door prizes, and much more! Admission is free. Parking is free. Food sample tickets are $5 for 4. Fully-licensed beverage service available, too. Doors open early for this event at 4:00 p.m. and exhibits close at 7:00 p.m. at St. Anne’s Centre, 20 Morrison Drive in St. Thomas.

' Small Business Sample Show Wednesday October 17 St. Anne’s Centre St. Thomas Sponsors: The Weekly News Elgin Business Resource Centre Doors open at 4pm. Free admission. Free parking. Food samples $5 for 4. Exhibitors have samples, giveaways for the public. Fully licensed beverage service. October, 2012

St.Thomas/Elgin

Spirit awards

Saturday October 20, as the wrap-up to Small Business Week, the Chamber will join with over 30 community supporters and sponsors as myFM radio hosts the first “Spirit Awards” in St. Thomas. Additional details on the event at The Timken Centre appear on our Member News page in this issue.

Take part in our November feature “Farm Business Report” To take advantage of excellent advertising opportunities give me a call at 519-633-1640 (ext. 22) Greg Minnema, Advertising Sales

or email me at gregthismonth@theweeklynews.ca November Edition Advertising Deadline is October 15th

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BUSINESS BEAT

CHAMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members

We’re getting together to help you The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce will be one of nine area Chambers participating in a new event October 9. It’s called “Emerging Stronger” and is part of a provincewide series. In advance of the Ontario Economic Summit this November, the organizers are relying on the provincial Chamber network to gather business and civic leaders and shape an economic vision and strategy for Ontario. Similar events have already been held in northern and eastern Ontario. Another will take place in the GTA October 4, then our own southwestern Ontario gathering happens October 9. The London Chamber of Commerce has graciously agreed to host us, and welcome a crowd of 60 to 80 representatives from St. Thomas & District, Chatham-Kent, Ingersoll, Sarnia, Strathroy, Tillsonburg, Woodstock and Windsor-Essex. Our work on October 9 will be a crucial discussion centred on 5 prior-

ities: 1. Becoming a productivity leader 2. Building a 21st century workforce 3. Restoring fiscal balance 4. Taking advantage of global opportunities 5. Identifying our competitive advantage We will collect community-level responses based on actions that can be taken right now and over the nearterm horizon (two to three years) by business and civic leaders. We’re also very thankful and appreciative that our work will be led by a nationally-recognized expert, Erik Lockhart, Associate Director of the Executive Decision Centre at Queen’s University. Sponsorship and leadership support of this initiative is made possible by CA, the Chartered Accountants of Ontario, RBC Royal Bank, and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Over the next few months, look for additional information and reports on our activities. We also recommend

having a look at the “Emerging Stronger” document available on the Chamber’s website at www.stthomaschamber.on.ca

Published by Carroll Publishing Inc. and delivered to businesses in St. Thomas and Elgin County For complete information on the St.Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce, reach us at: 115-300 South Edgeware Rd., St. Thomas, Ontario N5P 4L1 Telephone: 519-631-1981 Fax: 519-631-0466 E-Mail: mail@stthomaschamber.on.ca Website: www.stthomaschamber.on.ca President & CEO Accounting Coordinator

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Bob Hammersley Susan Munday

Member Services

Wes Bailey

Member Services

Linda Crawford

M O N T H

2012 Board of Directors Chair: Jason White Steelway Building Systems 1st. Vice-Chair: Paul Smith P.J. Smith & Associates 2nd. Vice-Chair:  Laura Woermke St. Thomas Elgin Art Centre Treasurer:  Mark Lassam, CA Kee, Perry & Lassam Chartered Accountants Past Chair:  Linda Sawyer BMO Bank of Montreal Director:  Beth Burns             K & K Locksmiths Director:  Renee Carpenter            Jennings Furniture Director:  Pete Charlton Charlton’s Quality Meats Director:  Monty Fordham Monty Fordham Law Office Director:  Jeff Kohler                      Presstran Industries Director:  Rob Mise             myFM 94.1 Director:  Debra Mountenay         Workforce Planning & Development Board Director:  John Regan Elgin Business Resource Centre Director:  Darren Reith Reith and Associates Insurance & Financial

October, 2012


BUSINESS BEAT

CHAMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members

Wine & Art appreciation

As we mentioned in last month’s issue, our Member Services Committee is developing a new event for Members that will mix business with “good taste” at several levels. “St. Thomas Uncorked” will happen Saturday January 26 at the St. Thomas – Elgin Public Art Centre and we’re pleased to announce that TD Canada Trust has teamed with us as our main event sponsor. Over a 3-hour agenda, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., everyone attending will sample wines and a variety of food, in addition to being given a chance to explore special art displays and exhibits. Wines offered during the event will be local, regional, national and global choices and be presented by a team of wine-industry professionals and experts. 150 tickets will be available at $25 per person and our committee volunteers are promising a memorable experience in what we hope can become an annual function. Additional details will be confirmed soon but advance ticket orders can be made now through the Chamber office or online at our website: www.stthomaschamber.on.ca If you’re looking for a unique and valuable Christmas gift idea, this could be it!

GREAT idea!!

Chamber Cheers go to St. Thomas’ Fire Prevention Officers, Bill Todd and Brian Leverton, for developing a new program launched at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital on October 1. It’s called S.A.F.E. Baby (Smoke Alarms For Every Baby). Offered in St. Thomas and across Elgin County by all fire departments, the S.A.F.E. Baby program starts with a certificate given to parents of each newborn at the hospital and instructions to call their local fire department for a free fire safety audit of their home and installation, when needed, of free smoke alarms. There’s also a one-year follow-up on baby’s first birthday that will see firefighters return and replace the batteries in the smoke alarms. Full details on the program are on the Safe Communities website: www.gosafecomm.ca

Membership Directory coming The 2012 - 2013 edition of the Chamber’s Membership Directory & Buyer’s Guide is being distributed to all Members this month. The Chamber sincerely thanks all Members who supported production of this annual publication through advertising, and our project production partner, AE Media, for all the work in design, sales, layout, printing and distribution. Our directory is the most comprehensive source of business and community information available in a printed format, and complements our online directory on the Chamber’s website.

It’s not what you earn... It’s what you keep.

Permit values climbing

The rebound trend in local construction activity is continuing. The Chamber regularly monitors and tracks construction activity through the value and number of Building Permits issued by local municipalities. To the end of August, activity in the City of St. Thomas is 41 per cent higher than last year at the same time. $27.5 million worth of new permits were issued by City Hall to August 31 this year, up $8.6 million over last year or 46 per cent. Construction of new residential dwellings stood at 103, up from 75 at the same time in 2011.

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www.kpl-accountants.ca October, 2012

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11


BUSINESS BEAT

LEGAL BUSINESS Legal News and Issues for Business

Council in conflict: The Robert Ford case Lawyers, more than any other professionals, must be mindful of the concept of “conflict of interest” as it relates to the interests of clients. Generally, lawyers must observe the principal “no one can serve two masters.” Accordingly, in any situation where the interests of two parties are not identical, the lawyer must not represent both. The rules of professional conduct provide extensive guidelines and members of the profession are required to know them; ignorance of the guidelines is no excuse. In matters of municipal governance, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act sets down the rules regarding participation of municipal council members in matters in which they have a direct or indirect “pecuniary interest.” The Superior Court of Ontario, in the case of Magder v. Ford, has been called upon to address the issue of municipal conflict of in-

terest, and its decision (which is not available at this writing) will, it is hoped, provide badly needed guidance in this most important area. Depending on which side of the Rob Ford fence you may reside, he is

by Monty Fordham

The criminal courts are full of people who have committed an error in judgment.

either a bold, fiscally conservative rebel, or an arrogant bully. But whatever one may think of him, he is the democratically elected mayor of Canada’s largest city. He is at risk, however, of being removed from office as a result of the Court’s decision. Mayor Ford was and is the principal of a private charity which supports football programs in high-risk neighbourhoods in Toronto. Over a period of time prior to being elected mayor, but at a time when he was a

councillor, Mr. Ford received donations to his charity from various individuals and companies, some of which were lobbyists or companies which had done business with the city. The City’s integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, became involved, as a result of allegations Mr. Ford had contravened provisions in both the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and the Toronto council Code of Conduct. As a result of a report issued by Ms. Leiper, council in August of 2010 passed a motion ordering Mr. Ford to pay the sum of $3,150 back to contributors. It’s unclear whether Mr. Ford participated in the discussion and vote in August of 2010. What is clear, however, is that, to date, he has not paid the money back, and in February of this year participated in discussion and voted with respect to a motion reversing the previous order. It is interesting to note that his vote was not needed to pass the motion reversing the previous order. As well, there was never any suggestion that Mr. Ford benefitted personally from the donations. Paul Magder, (not the furrier), a Toronto businessman, commenced the action which is now before the court, alleging amongst other things, that Mr. Ford had breached the conflict of interest legislation. The potential consequences for Mr. Ford are

1.59 6.9 1.64 %

¢

%

severe. The Act provides: “Where the judge determines that a member ... has contravened subsection 5(1), (2) or (3) (direct or indirect pecuniary interest) the judge a) shall, in the case of a member, declare the seat of the member vacant.” Wow. Sounds pretty bad for Rob Ford. However, the Act provides further, that where “the judge finds that the contravention was committed through inadvertence or by reason of an error in judgment, the member is not subject to having his or her seat declared vacant.” Hmm. But what is the definition of “inadvertence”? Can it be self induced? (Mr. Ford testified he had not read either the Act or the Councillors’ handbook.) And what would constitute an error in judgment? The criminal courts are full of people who have committed an error in judgment. And why is there no specific definition in the Act of “pecuniary interest”, other than what would be considered “indirect”? Would Mr. Ford not be considered merely a trustee of donations received? Did council have the jurisdiction to make the order of repayment in the first place? This article was prepared for publication in advance of a court decision. Whatever the outcome, I will attempt to slice and dice it for you in a future column.

Lawyer Monty Fordham prepares this monthly column for the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce and our Members. Monty is also a volunteer serving on the Chamber’s Board of Directors. Questions, comments and suggestions for future columns are welcomed by Monty at his office: Fordham & Brightling Associates – Lawyers, 4 Elgin Street, St. Thomas. Telephone 519-633-4000, FAX 519-633-1371 or e-mail: montyfordham@4elgin.ca

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October, 2012


BUSINESS BEAT

CHAMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members

Need a meeting location?

One of the most frequent requests at the Chamber office is from people hunting for meeting space or a location for a special event. Sometimes it’s a hunt for space to hold hundreds of people while others are looking for a comfy space to host much smaller groups. Most callers are surprised when we report back that there are no fewer than 27 locations registered with us! Many of them have multiple choices at their locations as well, so the number of options available is actually over 60 sites with capacities from 8 people into the thousands. To add a bit more convenience to our ability to respond, we have updated our lists and made an addition to post the data on our website. To see the online version, just go to the Chamber’s website at www.stthomaschamber.on.ca and click on the ‘Business Info’ link in the banner at the top of our main page. Chamber staff can respond from our office as well with copies via email or on paper. The document is called “Community Meeting Rooms” and also contains information on how to connect with suppliers such as those who provide catering or audio/visual equipment. Listings for each of the properties includes address and contact information plus a brief description of the capacity and type of space available.

Spirit awards –YES! The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is proud to be one of over 30 local businesses and agencies supporting and sponsoring a new awards and recognition program: myFM radio’s “Spirit Awards.” The program is different than any other, and is the creation of myFM’s St. Thomas General Manager Rob Mise. It’s intended to be fresh and easy; a path to boost attitudes and awareness,

and recognize ‘the people’s choice’ in 50 different award categories. It will honour people, places and things. The best chicken wings in the area to the best Christmas lights and the best place for a first date are among the options, along with people like your favourite bartender! The program is aimed at becoming an annual event. Award categories will change each year, based on participant feedback. Full details appear on myFM’s website: www.stthomastoday.ca Just click on the “Community” section in the banner at the top of the main page. Nominees were solicited to mid-September. Voting opened at September 15 and continues to Sunday October 14. The Awards will be presented Saturday October 20. The Spirit Awards presentations take place at The Timken Centre, in an event that is free to attend. No meal service, no videos and no guest speakers – just 50 seconds of recognition for each of 50 winners!

Video marketing

Congratulations to everyone at Dowler-Karn Fuels on the creation and release of two new promotional videos. The videos are informative, cast a positive reflection on the community, and supportive of the talents that have built an interesting and highly successful business. Dowler-Karn Marketing Manager Jeff Shaw tells us the videos will have several applications. Links to the YouTube postings will be carried in all staff e-mail signatures and on Dowler-Karn’s website. Partner relationships with radio stations across their marketing region will see the videos posted on station websites and there are several opportunities for posts on other community websites. Jeff says the new videos are the first two in what will become a series. One focuses on business promotion with testimonials from customers and staff commentary while the second one is dedicated to the firm’s impressive museum collection. Have a look:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj7gpDCIW9A and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SswbywdAmeU

Employment Services Elgin would like to introduce Gordon Hall, Job Developer at Employment Services Elgin

Gordon Hall

Gordon Hall is available to assist Employers in the St. Thomas office as well as in the West end of Elgin County. Gordon is a long time business consultant with an extensive background in business with a focus on Business and Community development .

To learn more about Gordon and our other job developers, and the FREE services they can offer, call, click or stop in today. Employment Services Elgin 400 Talbot St., St. Thomas P: 519.631.5470 Mon-Thurs 8:30am-6pm • Fri 8:30am-4pm

Aylmer Community Services West Elgin Support Services 25 Centre Street, Aylmer P: 519.765.2082 Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm Tues 9am-6pm

160 Main Street W., West Lorne P: 519.768.0020 Mon-Fri 9am-5 pm

www.jobselgin.ca October, 2012

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This Employment Ontario program is funded by the Ontario Government

13


BUSINESS BEAT

PRO TEXT Business Management News & Issues

Time to go away? by Crystal Underhill

It’s inevitable. Summer ends, the winds pick-up and the days become shorter. For some of us, this may look like a gloomy prospect for the coming months (especially with that NHL lockout). For others, this is the perfect time to spread those wings and head south. An ever-increasing percentage of retired and semi-retired Canadians are spending their winter months in sunnier destinations. Included among the hot spots are Florida, Texas, Arizona and Mexico. Before you decide to head south with our feathered friends, there are a few things you may want to take care of. Your property insurance policy may have a clause stating you must have ‘a reasonable and competent person’ to check on your home every few days, especially in the heating season. Be sure to have such designates go right into the home and not

just look from the porch. Have them go on all levels of the home to look for possible problems. Ask them to ‘look up’ for any visible water issues. Also have them check the windows and doors to ensure they remain in a secure position. Water damage claims make up the largest percent of personal property insurance claims each year. Help prevent potential water damage by having your water turned off and the pipes blown out. Before you leave, go around your home and unplug all unnecessary appliances. This will

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also help with decreasing your energy bill while you are away. We have all heard the story “I came home from my trip and everything was gone.” Do not give the impression to thieves, robbers and vandals that you are not home. Make your home look lived in. Have your inside and outside lights on timers at different intervals so that a pattern is not distinguishable. Leave your curtains as you normally would if you are home and have your mail stopped or rerouted to avoid the obvious tell-tale sign that no one is home. Inform your neighbors you will be away and how long for. If you have great neighbors, consider giving one of them an extra key in case of emergency. Also be sure to have someone keep your sidewalks and driveways free of snow. You also may want to consider installing a home security system. Avoid posting your plans online. Social media and blogging are great ways to stay in contact with loved ones braving the frigid temperatures but they are also great ways for robbers to track what you are up to. Keep your privacy settings on high and remember what is placed on the internet becomes public informa-

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tion. Go ahead and post those pictures on Facebook, but only after you get back. Are you going to be driving south? Do you have a vehicle that will be making the trip with you? Be sure to check with your insurance broker as to the length of time you are able to have your vehicle outside of Ontario. An important point to know is that the standard auto policy gives coverage for Canada and the continental USA, but excludes coverage in Mexico. Going south for the winter is a wonderful experience that many of our retirees have been doing for years. By taking care of things before you leave you can help to ensure that your return in the spring is as relaxing as your time away.

This column appears monthly in Business Beat and has been submitted by Crystal Underhill, RIB (ON), Personal Insurance Advisor at Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services Limited. Questions and comments are welcomed by the writer at 519-631-3862 or email: crystal@reithandassociates.com

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October, 2012


BUSINESS BEAT

CHAMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members Network Skills Initiative: Results from skills survey #2 Theme: Life-long Learning

Over the course of 16 weeks, from March to June 2012, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released eight surveys to its chamber network. Each survey focused on a particular theme under the umbrella of the skills challenges that Canada faces. Chambers across Canada, including the St. Thomas & District Chamber, were encouraged to circulate the surveys to their business Members throughout the survey period. If your firm responded to our request, we thank you! Last month (September 2012, Page 15) we reported on skills challenges faced by our Members. What follows are the results from survey #2 which asked respondents for input on the challenges they face relative to life-long learning. As you will note, many of the survey respondents represent small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); the feedback and commentary provides useful context and a foundation for the Canadian Chamber as it prepares its first report back to the chamber network on the skills challenges that Canada is facing. The Canadian Chamber presented a full report at its annual general meeting September 20 – 24 in Hamilton. Look for more information from the event in future issues of Business Beat.

Had some government funding for training. Grants or government funding. I am concerned that too many funding sources are too focused and do not allow flexible training. Apprenticeship programs are desirable and act as trial job placements to acquire skills. Give young people every opportunity to get a skill or upgrade their skill. Also allow adults who are out of work to attend courses and seminars to explore opportunities to get employment skills. Not aware of any incentives available and if it would apply for a self-employed person with no employees but would benefit from skills development applicable to my business. I would be interested to know if that was available through government incentives.

Selected Comments: Are you investing in the training for your employees? Upgrading their skills is very important. We provide and encourage technical skills upgrading. I am self-employed but investing in my own life-long learning. We encourage them to take additional schooling related to their work, or join related associations and we pay for them. Yes, technology changes consistently and we must be able to adapt that change to be competitive. Minimal funding for professional development is available, but we try to take advantage of free or low cost training opportunities. Yes, my goal is to have my employees able to replace me. I commit a large budget to staff training and also support time off for staff to engage in additional training and learning opportunities. Yes, to those who are motivated to continue learning. How are you encouraging your employees to upgrade their skills? Firm develops ongoing technical sessions and has developed a number of relevant courses for employees. Internal training and reinforcing current systems and processes. By paying for exams, courses etc. and inviting employees to industry specific training or meetings, and informing them about my active involvement in industry, education and membership. Employees with varied skill sets are more valuable to the company, they understand the more useful they are the more potential they have for advancement. Encouraging staff to identify their goals and then take professional development opportunities to reach those goals.

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www.disbrowe.com 15


BUSINESS BEAT

CHAMBER NEWS Events and News of Interest to our Members

Business connection tactics

The challenge of linking businesses to customers is never-ending, so the subject is the perfect framework for the next Bridges to Better Business event, organized by the Elgin Business Resource Centre. Thursday November 1, at St. Thomas Golf & Country Club, the 2012 Bridges event will be presented under the theme “Get Connected”. In a five-hour agenda from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., attendees will get insight and information on marketing, public relations and utilization of electronic business & media tools. The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is proud to be one of a group of 11 businesses and community partners supporting and sponsoring EBRC’s 2012 program. Attendance is open by advance sale only and registration is priced at $30 per person, including lunch. The program will be delivered at the St. Thomas Golf & Country Club and features TV personality and media specialist Melissa Schenk as keynote speaker with a presentation about on-line and social media

communication called “I’m Online . . . Now What?” Other presenters on the agenda include EBRC program co-ordinator Kevin Jackson on “Building Lasting Relationships”; Terry Carroll, Editor and Publisher of Elgin This Month magazine on “Local Success Stories”; and Rob Mise, General Manager of myFM 94.1 with “25 Sales Promotion Ideas in 25 Minutes.” For additional program details and registration, contact Ronda Stewart at the Elgin Business Resource Centre at 519-633-7597 or email: rstewart@elgincfdc.ca Program information and a ‘teaser’ video by Melissa Schenk are on the EBRC website: www.elginbusinessresourcecentre.com

City Plan unveiled The City of St. Thomas has released the 58-page draft of a new strategic plan that maps action plans for the next decade. Council received the draft in a special meeting September 12. The full report is available for viewing on the municipal website. Go to: www.city.st-thomas.on.ca and look in the Minutes and Agendas section for the September 12 Special Meeting agenda. A public consultation is expected to be held Thursday October 11, but time and location details were not available at deadline time for this article. Development of the draft document is the result of an extensive year-long process that involved a public survey of taxpayers and several meetings, community open houses and interviews with residents, organizations, groups and businesses. It contains 16 objectives with 90 recommended actions, as well as extensive background and research data on community strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges.

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October, 2012


BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY WORKING IN ST. THOMAS & ELGIN

Two local men lose jobs and re-invent themselves by Megan Bartlett

Meet two creative individuals who lost their well paying manufacturing jobs and needed to re-invent themselves: Greg Minnema who studied Business Foundations at Fanshawe College, St. Thomas Campus, and Spencer Sharpe who studied Human Resources at Fanshawe College, London Campus. Both had attended college after high school but the lure of money to be made while employed in the manufacturing sector drove them to factory work. Greg had started his college education in Accounting and worked in a variety of manufacturing settings before coming to Formet. When Formet had a lay-off, Greg contacted Aylmer Community Services, and met with an Employment Counsellor to discuss his options. Testing was done to help point Greg in the right direction. Through working with a counsellor and doing research, Greg settled on Business Foundations, a program through Fanshawe that would upgrade his business skills to a current level. Second Career provides laid-off workers with skills training and financial support to help them find jobs in high-demand occupations in Ontario. It includes a cost-sharing grant provided on the basis of need, so participants may be asked to contribute what they can toward their training or education. It may provide up to $28,000 for tuition, books, other instruction costs such as manuals or workbooks, transportation, and a basic living al-

Second Career success stories lowance. Additional support may be available to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities, dependent care, costs of living away from home and academic upgrading. Greg was accepted for Second Career. Going back to school as a mature student was a bit nerve racking but due to the small class sizes, other mature students, and the help of supportive staff who wanted to see him succeed, the transition from employee to student was a smooth one. Greg says he was definitely more mature the second go around and graduated on the honour roll. Greg is working in his chosen field at Elgin this Month and credits Second Career with helping him achieve his goals. Spencer Sharpe had originally started out in college but the opportunity to make good money drove him to the factory. When he lost his position at the Sterling Truck Plant, he looked at the lay-

off as an opportunity. He knew he wanted a career not a job. An Employment Counsellor from Employment Services Elgin came to the factory and spoke to employees about options for them upon their exit; one of them was Second Career. Spencer met with an employment counsellor to construct a game plan and determine his next steps. He ultimately settled on human resources. Spencer says he was extremely motivated and knew what he wanted. In January, Spencer began college as a mature student. Because he was so motivated, he finished the college course in 18 months. He treated college as a job, giving as much to his school work as he would his job. One month out of school, Spencer was offered a part time contract position with Fanshawe College. He now is employed with North American Trade School in London and is happy with how things turned out. According to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (2011), 74% of Second Career students find a job within one year of graduation. Both Greg and Spencer are a true testament to that. They both took a devastating event and turned it into a positive for them, re-inventing themselves and looking forward to a bright future. To learn more about Second Career or to meet with an Employment Counsellor, stop into Employment Services Elgin, call 519-631-5470 or visit www.jobselgin.ca. Megan Bartlett is with Employment Services Elgin

'ĞƚŽŶŶĞĐƚĞĚ͊ ' Ğƚ ƚ ŽŶŶĞĐĐƚƚĞĚ͊ Ě͊ ƚƌƌŝĚŐĞƐƚŽĞƩĞƌƵƐƐŝŶĞƐƐ ƚƌŝĚŐĞƐƚŽĞƩĞƌƵƐŝŶĞƐƐ dŚƵƌ ƌƐĚĂLJEŽǀĞŵďĞƌϭ͕ϮϬϭϮ dŚƵƌƐĚĂLJEŽǀĞŵďĞƌϭ͕ϮϬϭϮ ^ƚdŚŽŵĂƐ'ŽůĨΘŽƵŶƚƌLJůƵď͕hŶŝŽŶ ^ƚdŚŽŵĂ ĂƐ'ŽůĨΘŽƵŶƚƌLJůůƵď͕hŶŝŽŶ

DĂƌŬĞƟŶŐʹWƵďůŝĐZĞůĂƟŽŶƐʹ/ŶƚĞŐƌĂƟŶŐͲƵƐŝŶĞƐƐ D DĂƌŬ ĞƟŶŐʹWƵďů Ő ůŝĐZĞůĂƟŽŶƐʹ/Ŷ ŶƚĞŐƌ Ő ĂƟŶŐ Ő ͲƵƐŝŝŶĞƐƐ

ZĞŐŝƐƚĞƌEŽǁ͊KŶůLJΨϯϬ Z ĞŐŝƐƚĞƌE EŽǁ͊ KŶůLJΨϯϬ Ϭ ŽŶƚĂĐƚZŽŶĚĂ^ƚĞǁĂƌƚĂƚϱϭϵͲϲϯϯͲϳϱϵϳŽƌ ŽŶƚĂĐƚZŽŶĚĂ^ƚĞǁĂƌƚĂƚϱϭϵͲϲϯϯͲϳϱϵϳŽƌ ƌƌƐƚĞǁĂƌƚΛĞůŐŝŶĐĨĚĐ͘ĐĂŽƌǀŝƐŝƚŽƵƌ ƐƚĞǁĂƌƚΛĞůŐŝŶĐĨĚĐ͘ĐĂŽƌǀŝƐŝƚŽƵƌ ǁ ĞďƐŝƚĞ͗ůŐŝŶƵƐŝŶ ŶĞƐƐZĞƐŽƵƌĐĞĞŶƚƌĞ͘ĐŽŵ ǁĞďƐŝƚĞ͗ůŐŝŶƵƐŝŶĞƐƐZĞƐŽƵƌĐĞĞŶƚƌĞ͘ĐŽŵ DĞůŝƐƐĂ^ĐŚĞŶŬ DĞůŝƐƐĂ ^ĐŚĞŶŬ <ĞLJŶŽƚĞ^ƉĞĂŬĞƌ < ĞLJŶŽƚĞ^ƉĞĂŬĞƌ

Aggenda Agenda ϭϭ͗ϬϬʹZ ĞŐŝƐƚƌĂƟŽŶĂĂŶĚ>ƵŶĐŚ ϭϭ͗ϬϬʹZĞŐŝƐƚƌĂƟŽŶĂŶĚ>ƵŶĐŚ ϭϮ͗ϯϬʹ< ĞǀŝŶ:ĂĐŬƐŽŶ Ŷ͕Z ϭϮ͗ϯϬʹ<ĞǀŝŶ:ĂĐŬƐŽŶ͕Z ƵŝůĚŝŶŐ>ĂƐƟŶŐZĞůĂƟŽŶƐŚŝƉƐ ƵŝůĚŝŶŐ>ĂƐƟŶŐZĞůĂƟ ƟŽŶƐŚŝƉƐ ϭ͗ϭϱʹdĞƌƌLJĂƌƌŽůů͕ůŐŝŶdŚŝƐDŽŶƚŚ͕ ϭ͗ϭϱʹd dĞƌƌ Ğ LJĂƌƌŽůů͕ůŐŝŶdŚŝƐDŽŶƚŚ͕ >ŽĐĂů^ƵĐĐĞƐƐ^ƚŽƌŝĞƐ >ŽĐ Ăů^ƵĐĐĞƐƐ^ƚŽƌŝĞƐ Ϯ͗ϬϬʹZ ŽďDŝƐĞ͕DLJ&&D Ϯ͗ϬϬʹZŽďDŝƐĞ͕DLJ&D Ϯϱ^ĂůĞƐWƌŽŵŽƟŽŶ/Ě ĚĞĂƐŝŶϮϱDŝŶƵƚĞƐ Ϯϱ^ĂůĞƐWƌŽŵŽƟŽŶ/ĚĞĂƐŝŶϮϱDŝŶƵƚĞƐ Ϯ͗ϰϱʹDĞůŝƐƐĂ^ĐŚĞŶŬ͕ŵƐϮWƌŽĚƵĐƟŽŶƐ Ϯ͗ϰϱʹDĞůŝƐƐĂ^ĐŚĞŶ Ŭ͕ŵƐϮWƌŽĚƵĐƟŽŶƐ <ĞLJŶŽƚĞ͗/͛ŵKŶůŝŶĞ͙EŽǁtŚĂƚ͍ < ĞLJŶŽƚĞ͗/ Ğ͗ /͛͛ŵ ŵKŶůŝŶĞ͙ KŶůŝŶĞ͙EŽ EŽǁtŚĂƚ͍ ǁ tŚĂƚ͍

dŚŝƐĞǀĞŶƚǁŽƵůĚŶŽƚďĞƉŽƐƐŝďůĞǁŝƚŚŽƵƚŽƵƌƵƐŝŶĞƐƐĂŶĚŽŵŵƵŶŝƚLJWĂƌƚŶĞƌƐ͘ dŚŝƐĞ ǀĞŶƚǁŽƵůĚŶŽƚďĞƉ ƉŽƐƐŝďůĞǁŝƚŚŽƵƚŽƵƌƵƐŝŶĞƐƐĂĂŶĚŽŵŵƵŶŝƚLJWĂƌƚŶĞƌƐ͘

October, 2012

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When I was growing up, my father grew flowers and vegetables in our backyard, and every year he would end up with an overabundance of gourds in the fall. I always wondered why he grew these weirdly contorted plants since they didn’t seem to be edible or have much of a purpose. However, as I soon learned, people love to use these multi-shaped and multi-coloured members of the squash family as Thanksgiving decorations. When my sister and I went door to door to sell them to make pocket money, our neighbours were agog with the colour, variety and uniqueness of the samples we had in our baskets, and the gourds easily sold themselves. You don’t have to wait for neighbourhood children to come knocking on your door to get your supply. Ornamental gourds are readily avail-

continued on next page

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able, piled high in numerous colours, shapes, and textures, at garden centres and food stores in the fall. But if you feel the pull to grow your own, as my father did, they’re not that hard to cultivate. Gourds are part of the Cucurbitaceae family and are related to pumpkins, melons, cucumbers and squash and, therefore, have similar growing habits. I visited with Marianne Vergeer, who has been growing ornamental crops in Rodney since 1986 and supplies gourds, pumpkins and dried corn stalks to many outlets in Elgin County and beyond. She told me to plant the seeds in spring, around May 15, keep the beds weeded and hoed, with the vines growing along the ground (no need to stake), and then harvest the gourds in late August. “There’s a whole selection of gourds you can grow, almost 20 varieties,” Marianne says. “People are looking

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for funky stuff, and breeders are trying to improve them all the time.” Some of the strange names in the seed catalogues she showed me included “Striped Crown of Thorns,” “Autumn Wings,” “SuperFreak,” and “Martinhouse” (which looks like a large pear and, when dried, is used by enthusiasts to make a house for birds). A shape that Marianne says is especially popular is the “Speckled Swan,” which has a thin curved neck, usually swooping down, that is reminiscent of the stately bird. Marianne’s favourite variety is the bi-coloured, winged “Galaxy” gourd, which is a cross between a white pumpkin and an orange pumpkin. She holds it up in her palm and smiles. “It looks like it’s handpainted,” she says. Gourds and ornamental pumpkins are not edible, but they are wonderful accents as autumn decorations. Marianne says that airy, cool conditions are important to keeping them looking good throughout the fall season and does not recommend placing them in hot, sunny locations. But if you have that itch to go a little further with gourds, you can leave them outside in the cooler temperatures to air and dry out. Better yet,

just leave them on the vine in the garden. “In a couple of months, they mould over, lose their colour, and turn beige,” Marianne says. Eventually the insides dry up, and you’re left with a shell, which you can poke a hole through to create a birdhouse for your garden or leave as is and decorate as a work of art. To me, the best part is shaking the seeds in the dry gourd. The festive, maraca-like sound brings back memories of my father’s garden. Cha-chacha!

Dorothy Gebert is a writer and garden enthusiast in St. Thomas. Marianne Vergeer of Vergeer Enterprises in Rodney shows off the variety of ornamental gourds available for autumn decorations, including the “Galaxy” and “Striped Swan.” (Photo by Dorothy Gebert)

Service You Can Trust! Gastech Solutions is a family owned and operated Heating and Cooling Company located in St.Thomas. They proudly serve Elgin County with reliable friendly hometown service. Gastech Solutions specializes in Residential, Agricultural and light Commercial installations and service. With dedication they offer complete customer satisfaction, and the very best in customer service and quality workmanship in every job they perform. Gary Meredith and his wife Cindy ThwaitesMeredith started their business 5 years ago, with a vision to offer customers the very best in quality workmanship and customer service, all at a fair price. Since they opened their doors in 2007, Gastech has grown to a family of 7, 5 of which are fully licensed gas and air conditioning technicians, offering a wide range of residential services. In addition, when it comes to your Business or Agricultural, know that Gastech can look after those needs as

well. With a fully experienced and licensed G1 on staff, Gastech is a company that you can rely on for all of your Heating and Cooling needs. Whether you need maintenance, Emergency Service, or a complete new installation to replace your present equipment to a more energy efficient option, be sure to know that your family or business, will get quality workmanship at a reasonable price! Gastech is only a phone call away to offer all new and existing customers the quality and service

Gary Meredith, Cindy Thwaites-Meredith and their son, Joshua.

they deserve! As the weather gets cooler, Gastech is now again offering their Fall Precision Care Maintenance Specials. For your family’s safety, and as recommended by Fire departments for Co prevention, call TODAY to take advantage of GASTECHS FALL SPECIAL, and give your family the peace of mind of knowing your furnace has been inspected by one of their fully licensed gas technicians. Don’t wait for the snow to fly before you make that important call.

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Special Feature B E

Is your car ready for the

READY

deep freeze?

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Some helpful tips before the snow starts to fly

(NC)—Winter is a beautiful time to experience Canada. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous time, particularly when you are driving. Icy roads can be treacherous, and a dead battery can leave you stranded. “Keeping your car in top form is especially important in winter,” says Jeff Burke, president & CEO at Western Financial Group, an organization with services to protect individuals and families in western Canada. The advice is also good for Ontarians to heed. He says, “Inspect your vehicle thoroughly before heading out onto the road, and make sure you have adequate insurance coverage.” Car Care Canada's website shares these winter maintenance tips: Check the battery. If it is four years old or older, have it checked at a service station to make sure it will start in bitter temperatures. Check the fluids. Top up power-steering, brake and transmission fluid; oil; and antifreeze/coolant. (Antifreeze/coolant should be flushed and refilled every two years or 50,000 kilometres). Replace your windshield fluid with one specially formulated to cut through ice and snow. Consider winter weight oil. Consult your owner's manual to see if a winter weight oil is recommended for cold months, and remember to change your oil every 5,000 kilometres. Check the function of your heater, defroster, lights and windshield wipers. Replace your wiper blades every six months, and consider the added power of winter blades. Change to snow tires. Traction is essential when you are driving on snow and ice. Winter tires offer traction, peace of mind and – often – a discount on your car insurance premium. Repair cracks or dings in your windshield. Freezing temperatures can turn small nicks into gaping cracks that destroy your windshield. Have them repaired before it's too late. Keep your gas tank at least half full. A fuller tank resists moisture/ice formation inside your gas line. Be well-equipped. Keep these items in your vehicle in case of emergency: snow brush/ice scraper, booster cables, flashlight, first-aid kit, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, snacks and necessary medications.

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What’s the dope on dopamine? It could be a factor in your health this winter by Sharon Lechner

A few nights ago I went to bed feeling very tired and thought I would fall asleep really quickly but a few minutes after getting into bed my legs began to feel really strange, like there were ants crawling inside of them. I had this happen from time to time when I was in my twenties so I knew what I was experiencing was Restless Leg Syndrome. I had to get out of bed because it is very annoying but eventually I was able to get to sleep. The next morning I did what I do with many things, I googled it. I am careful not to self-diagnose because I don’t have any medical training but I definitely recall that I did have Restless Leg Syndrome before so I looked it up and found out that it can be caused by low dopamine levels or low iron. Restless Leg Syndrome can cause crawling, tingling or itching sensations in your legs. It can be very annoying if sleep is your goal. I had never heard of dopamine until last year when I was taking some advanced life coach training. In one of our classes I learned that dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is essential for the functioning of the brain and the central nervous system. It is also the pleasure/reward cen-

tre of the brain. For instance, when you eat a meal, your dopamine levels rise and you feel good. If there are things in this world we can do to feel good while improving our health, I am all in favour of it. Low dopamine levels are associated with Parkinson’s disease, Restless Leg Syndrome, ADHD and Depression. High levels are associated with addictions. The good news is that there are several ways to raise your dopamine levels naturally including the foods we eat. Foods such as almonds, avocados, dairy products, ripe bananas, and lean cuts of beef or poultry are all excellent choices. Lastly meditation and yoga can raise your dopamine levels. If you don’t know how to medi-

WINTER! tate, why not purchase a guided meditation CD or join a meditation group or sign up for yoga lessons? There are several yoga classes being offered in St. Thomas and Elgin County. I even took some virtual yoga classes at a local gym which I enjoyed because the virtual classes were available for various levels of difficulty. Even if you don’t have any desire to increase your dopamine levels, yoga, meditation and wise food choices will help you to keep in good health and thus have a better quality of life. Other things include getting a good night’s sleep, exercise and stress management. Dopamine is also known to play a large role in the way we feel, learn and how we stay motivated. I am not 100% sure my Restless Leg Syndrome incident was caused by low dopamine because I do have very low iron, and since my annual physical is at hand, this is something I can discuss with my doctor. As always, don’t make the mistake a self-diagnosing. Dopamine is just one factor that relates to disorders. Our genes will also influence the role dopamine plays in respect to our individual behaviour. Sharon Lechner is a certified master life coach and owner of Reach for the Stars Empowerment in St. Thomas.

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Special Feature B E Incorporate R-2000 standards in building, renovation (NC)—Are you trying to live a healthier lifestyle? Are you trying to make healthy living choices for you and your family? Are you eating a balanced diet? Are you getting enough exercise? Even with our increased awareness of healthier living, it can be difficult to always make the best and most efficient choices. But what about your home? Why not buy or build a home that takes your family's health and comfort into consideration? Or why not renovate your current home to do the same? With the R-2000 and Energy Star for New Homes initiatives, you can work with your builder to incorporate energy efficiency upgrades into your home before it's built, to ensure that the upgrades you choose reflect your family's lifestyle. The R-2000 Standard and the Energy Star for New Homes are Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy

READY

F OR

Energy efficiency leads to healthier living Efficiency initiatives for new home construction. By integrating energy efficient upgrades at the design stage, you can decide which measures to take that will best suit your family. For example: • energy efficient windows to keep heat in and prevent condensation; • extra insulation and tight construction to minimize winter drafts

New homes may be about The Energy 20 per cent more efficient most people hear Star rating applies the(NC)—When words Energy Star, they usually think about the rating of energy-effito houses too cient appliances. But, did you know

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and cold spots; • a mechanical ventilation system to help make your house fresh and comfortable all year round. The use of healthier building materials during the construction of your home, such as non-solvent adhesives, low VOC paints and formaldehydefree cabinetry provide a healthier environment as fewer chemicals are that your newly built home can also be qualified as Energy Star? In 2005, Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency developed the Energy Star for New Homes initiative in support of the Government of Canada's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Star for New Homes promotes homes that are approximately 20% more energy efficient than a typical home in your region. Qualified homes are constructed by builders participating in this national initiative and these builders work with qualified energy advisors to incorporate energy efficient features into the design of their new homes. A qualified new home also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately three tonnes per year. Typical features of an Energy Star qualified home include • Higher levels of insulation; • High-performance windows,

patio doors, and skylights; • Heat recovery ventilator mechanical system; • More efficient heating, hot water and air conditioning systems and Energy Star qualified products. With Canadians spending an average of $1,147 annually just to use electricity in their home, imagine your total electrical costs after 30 years. It makes financial sense to choose a home that delivers energy savings over the long run. When you see the Energy Star label on a house, you know that it is an energy efficient home with lower energy demand. More information is available online at: www.newhomes.nrcan.gc.ca. www.newscanada.com * Source: Statistics Canada, Household and the Environment: Energy Use, 2007 issue

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released into the air. And when you choose to buy a new energy efficient home that meets the R-2000 standard, you often have even more choices when it comes to features that can improve the health and comfort of your family. Or if you are instead thinking of renovating your home, an EnerGuide evaluation can help you implement improvements to address similar concerns. Having a certified energy advisor undertake an EnerGuide evaluation provides you with a current rating, an assessment of your home's energy efficiency potential, and a prioritized list of recommended upgrades that will not only save energy, but provide a more comfortable home. It may also qualify you to participate in local incentive programs. EnerGuide Evaluations: the first step in smart home renovation. More information is available online at oee.nrcan.gc.ca.

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Prepare yourself and your business for winter Adopt the mindset of optimization by Bryan Vine

As a CEO, you need to elevate your mindset and obsess about getting more from your current resources and efforts. You must ask yourself and others better questions. You must start to ask yourself, “How can our business get greater results from every action we take, every expenditure we make, every effort we expend, every relationship we have?” Avoid status quo like a deadly virus. You must embrace fully the philosophies that, “good enough never is” and “we can always do better.” Optimization (also known as leverage) is a mindset of maximizing your results while simultaneously minimizing the amount of time, effort, risk, money, and energy you expend. It’s all about getting greater productivity, performance, profitability and payback from your ideas, assets, knowledge, systems, processes, practices, people and opportunities. Overlook nothing; leverage opportunities are everywhere. Optimization is all about using your mind and limited business resources in new and better ways. It’s about using your creative intelligence as an incredible force to increase your sales, customer satisfaction, profits, quality, etc. Optimization is about freeing yourself and your organization from limiting beliefs, the “we’ve always done it this way” attitudes, and established industry practices. Optimization is searching for opportunities within and without your company where the application of focus or force will yield substantially

multiplied results. For example, if you start using telephone calls to follow-up your direct mail campaigns, you may multiply your sales results by staggering amounts. Just as a tire jack can lift the tremendous weight of a car for a tire change, so too can the strategy of optimization help you significantly lift your company’s revenues, improve operations, and lighten your daily load. A lever, fulcrum and slight force can lift significant weight if you know how to use these tools. Learn about leverage so you can begin to elevate and optimize your business results. To master the art of optimization, you need to adopt an opportunity mindset. To leave the status quo behind, you need to ask continually the following types of questions: What is the best and highest use of our time, talent, and treasures? What resources are we underutilizing? How can we maximize our returns/output and minimize our input? How can we work smarter, not harder? Which strategies will give us supersized results?

What processes or departments within our business are under-performing? What past or current relationships could we more fully leverage (i.e. customers, employees, vendors, suppliers, advisers, etc.)? What other industries could provide us with some innovative best practices? Where are the hidden opportunities within our business, our employees, our suppliers/vendors, our business partners, our customer base, our competitors, and our business

processes? How can we get a greater return/payoff using the least amount of money, time, risk, etc? How can we be more effective, more productive? How can we get better every day in every way? What suggestions from our customers should we pursue first? Expand your mind and your leadership potential and your business and opportunities expand exponentially. The more you grow as a leader, the more your business grows as a market leader. Think optimization, not status quo.

Bryan Vine is co-owner of The Growth Coach in St. Thomas.

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Special Feature B E by Stephanie Farrow

While on a Dominican vacation, I had the unique opportunity to take surfing lessons from a local surf school in Macao Beach. We were four couples excited and nervous about surfing for the first time. We knew surfing was challenging so we headed out with both optimism and a bit of fear. We were picked up by a 23-year-old surf instructor named Daniel, and as we weaved through traffic, we inquired about their success rate: â&#x20AC;&#x153;In your lessons, what percent of people successfully get up on their boards?â&#x20AC;? He did not hesitate when he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Almost all of them.â&#x20AC;? How could this be, I mean, almost all of them? Come on. I immediately thought he was stringing along our naive group who actually believed we could surf. Oh great, we were in the middle of a tourist trap. He continued, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Many people donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take lessons. They rent a board and try to surf. We see it all the time and they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t often get up.â&#x20AC;? It was his next comment that got me thinking. Very confidently he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s simple. You need three things to learn to surf. First, you need the right board, second the right instructor, and third the right waves. We make sure you have all three. This g

g

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F OR

WINTER!

Unexpected inspiration from a surfer

Think of him while on vacation this winter... or financial planning

is why each of you will be surfing by the end of the day.â&#x20AC;? I have reflected many times on these words since then. As the day went on I learned many things. First, I learned to surf successfully as did my seven companions. Preparation was key, as we took much time on the beach to master the movements on dry land. We were assigned a specific board for our height, weight, agility, balance etc. We each had a personal instructor dedicated to us. When we headed into the waves the instructors chose the waves to our ability. At the start of the day, as a great wave approached my instructor would say, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not this one yet. Maybe later.â&#x20AC;? By the end of the day, we were letting the smaller ones pass by and holding out for the bigger ones. With each attempt, wipe-out, and success, he would give me advice like â&#x20AC;&#x153;Next time you paddle faster,â&#x20AC;? or â&#x20AC;&#x153;Turn your right foot out,â&#x20AC;? or â&#x20AC;&#x153;Move back on your board.â&#x20AC;? These are things I would never have instinctively done on my own. I can tell you I gained much respect that day for the skill it takes to

surf and their guidance that got me there. It was an amazing day, and an experience I would recommend to anyone. Yet â&#x20AC;&#x201C; at the onset I was on guard and sceptical despite their obvious expertise. I have reflected on my experience and Danielâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s words about the three things you need to learn to surf, many times since then. I love the concise simple nature of the approach. It focuses on doing the right things right and working on the basics. Having a plan and a coach increase your odds significantly over jumping in blindly with both feet. This applies to many facets of life. Naturally, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m brought back to financial planning. I reflect on how often in the financial industry we say that taking time with your financial planner is a good investment, but with so many complicated topics and products perhaps we need to put more effort to clarify the simple steps and help people understand why. With a plan you put the odds in your favour. A mentor once told me you need to

be â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;brilliant at the basicsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and the rest will follow. I would never have compared surfing to financial planning in a million years if it werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t for Danielâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s explanation and how the day played out. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a planner by nature so these words spoke to me: take time to prepare, be sure your basics are covered and you have a solid foundation. Follow the plan and focus on doing the right things right. Whether we are talking about a combination of the right board, the right wave, the right instructor, for surfing success â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or the right needs analysis, investor profile, and financial planner for financial planning success â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a similar philosophy that can be extended to so many areas of life. Who knew I would gain such a wonderful new perspective on the need for a planned approach from a surfer dude? Inspiration and reflection can truly come from anywhere.

Stephanie Farrow, B.A., CFP, is a Certified Financial Planner and co-owner of Farrow Financial Services Inc. in Belmont.

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October, 2012


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Get your business tech-ready My dream for every business in Elgin County by Peter Atkinson

It’s no secret how much I like technology. But as someone once said, “Some folks, if they don’t want to know, you can’t tell ’em”. So I’m going to share a dream I have and hope that, once some folks do know, they’ll want to make it happen. Regular readers will know that I think technology is a great leveller; you don’t need lots of money to start a business and you don’t have to be in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Paris or any other big city to make that business thrive. As a result, I think it has tremendous opportunities for our community. I’d like our community to become so tech-focused that we become a model for small cities around the world. Anytime we have a problem, we would look for a technological solution and implement it with the caveat that the technology makes things easier and brings our communities closer together. So I’d like every business in Elgin County to be on Yelp because I’d like to understand what’s behind that storefront and – deep breath business people – I’d like to be able to read reviews. And not just two or three. I’d like every business to have 10 or more reviews because – exhale – they asked their customers to write one. And the reason they asked is that they geared their business to give great service to every customer that walks in the door. And I’d like them all to also have a basic, well-designed, informational website. They don’t have to sell online, but I should be able to know what to expect before I walk in the store. And this website would not be built by someone just because they call themselves a web designer. This website would follow basic best practices for design and content. Because no one is going to read 800 words of your mission statement on your homepage. Really. It would be great if companies with service departments or that take orders could use Supportfu so customers could keep track of the process online. The customer can check the status even after business hours and the business can reduce inbound phone calls. And businesses – or even whole communities – could create their own loyalty programs with Punchd, (getpunchd.com).

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I think it would be a very helpful initiative for our local businesses to cover downtown, (this is a hint), with a free wi-fi network, provided by a local internet access provider. (Also a hint). And I’d like historic, (again - hint), buildings to have QR codes outside them that let me learn more about the building’s history, maybe even link to the building’s Wikipedia entry. (Yet again - hint). I’d like to see our local artists’ winning work on everyArt. The people in the pictures there look very, very happy with their art. In some cases I’m not sure why, but it takes all kinds. And with technology, some of those kinds could be right here in Elgin County. Our local singers can create finished products using just their voice on UJam, (not to boast, but I got a free UJam t-shirt when my song hit the Top 5 one month), and our local authors can use Lulu, Amazon’s Kindle Direct or Kobo’s new Writing Life to create a finished product that can be bought online from...anywhere! (The first copy of my book sold in Germany of all places. And it’s in English). And that’s just for starters. Next month, I’ll drift off and dream some more about technology opportunities and the infrastructure that could actually make them happen.

Peter Atkinson is E-Services Consultant at the St. Thomas Public Library.

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Special Feature B E

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WINTER!

Getting ready for hockey season Tips for avoiding back pain by Dr. Greg Johnston B.H.K., B.Ed., D.C

Fall is here and with it the coming of a new hockey season. Each season brings transition, and with the coming of a new activity, your body must undergo a transition. Unfortunately, all too often these transitions can lead to i n j u r y. Regular readers may remember that in the spring I wrote about the shoulder and Achilles tendon injuries that often accompany the coming of the new baseball season. A new hockey season usually will be accompanied by the onset of back pain for many players returning to the game. This is a common occurrence and there are some specific biomechanical reasons for this

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problem. Being aware of the reasons and knowing what steps to take may help you or someone you know from having a premature end to the new season. Every fall we usually see a steady stream of new back pain patients, and each history of the onset of the pain seems to correlate with the beginning of playing hockey. Skating can be a great form of exercise, but it can also create some muscular imbalances that put stress and strain on the lower back creating back pain during or sometimes after skating. Often the pain is not experienced until the next morning. Let’s examine what we usually see with the typical hockey player. Skating stresses the use of the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the thigh), the adductors (groin muscles), the hip flexors and the calf muscles as well as the muscles of the lower back. As a result, some of these muscles become very strong but unfortunately very tight as well. By contrast, often the opposing or related muscles to these muscles like the hamstrings, the abdominal muscles and gluteal muscles do not experience a corresponding increase in strength and may even become neurologically inhibited resulting in an unequal pull on the skeleton especially the joints of the lower back. A very famous orthopedic specialist name Vladimir Janda described this situation as the “lower Cross syndrome.” This pattern of imbalance creates joint dysfunction, particularly at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 segments (lower back), SI joint, and hip joint. Specific postural changes seen in Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS) include anterior pelvic tilt, increased lumbar lordosis, lateral lumbar shift, lateral leg rotation, and knee hyperextension. If

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the lordosis is deep and short, then imbalance is predominantly in the pelvic muscles; if the lordosis is shallow and extends into the thoracic area, then imbalance predominates in the trunk muscles (Janda 1987). The end result often is back pain. This pattern unfortunately is all too common even without skating. It is a pattern that results from many of our daily postural habits and activities. Sitting is probably one of the worst culprits. So this problem may exist even if you are not a skater or hockey player. It will be accentuated if you are and may be the reason for that back pain that you are experiencing. Now that we have identified the problem what do we do to do to fix it? Here is a basic list of what needs to be done. Strengthen the gluteal muscles, the abdominal muscles and hamstrings. Stretch the hip flexor muscles, the quadriceps muscles, the calf muscles and the lower back muscles. Now please be cautious because it is all well enough to state what needs to be done. But doing the appropriate exercises properly may be a challenge so it may be important to seek out a health care specialist like a chiropractor, physiotherapist or massage therapist who has the expertise and training to prescribe and teach you the proper exercises to maximize the results and minimize the chance of injury. Dr. Greg Johnston is a chiropractor and partner in Family Health Options Treatment and Resources Centre in St. Thomas.

October, 2012


Special Feature B E

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Halloween preparation

by Elizabeth VanHooren

Ten years ago, when I was single, and admittedly had too much time on my hands I thought nothing of hunkering down for a weekend and developing elaborate Halloween getups for my niece and nephew. Today, as a working mom with a husband, night meetings, and two exuberant young boys who have their own schedules of extracurricular activities to juggle, Halloween has taken on a hellish undertone. When my nephew was two years old I took a cardboard box and transformed him into a stop light. The box slid nicely over his head and I cut out two holes for his arms. For an acces-

sory, I made a stop sign that he could hold in his hands. He was delighted. That same year I dressed my niece as a clump of grapes. The costume was simple really – purple balloons blown up and sewn to a black sleeper. It was a little difficult to get on without popping the balloons, but she looked adorable. I remember being a little hurt when my sister had to pop most of the costume to get my niece into her car seat. And frankly I was devastated the next morning when my brother-inlaw not so frankly requested that next year’s costumes be less elaborate – more car and kid friendly. You see, living in the country, trick or treating is done by vehicle, so every stop a few more balloons were popped, and by the end of the evening my nephew was so exhausted from taking his box on and off he decided to just hold his stop sign and stand beside the stoplight. By the time I was dressing my eldest son for his first Halloween, my brother-in-law’s sage advice was lost on me. I spent a whole week transforming another cardboard box into a miniature Thomas the Tank engine.

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A festive occasion with hellish undertones

The costume slipped over my son’s body and was held up by two shoulder straps. My husband provided little input into my creative frenzy until the big night. By the second stop, my son didn’t want to put the costume on again. While it hung nicely off his shoulders, I had forgot to imagine how he would walk with a big box swinging from side to side and hitting him just above the knees. By the fourth stop the wheels of the train – four sour cream container lids painted black – had fallen off. I came home in tears; so much time and energy into one costume, one night. And my husband’s words rang in my ears, “Perhaps next year you could make something more car and kid friendly.” So I did. Well, that is, I set out to. I thought it would be neat to dress my eldest as “The Cat in the Hat” and my youngest as “Thing One.” The idea was cute and involved no cardboard boxes – a win-win in my mind. But I wasn’t going to buy a pre-made costume at a store. Instead I spent weeks scouring Dollar stores and the like looking for the Cat in the Hat’s red and white signature hat. The

night before Halloween I was hot gluing “Thing One” in letters over a second hand red sleeper only to discover that I had hot glued the zipper making it impossible to get the sleeper on my son. On Halloween I tried hard to convince my one year old that the blue wig for his “Thing One” costume was just a hat to no avail. By the end of that hellish eve I vowed that buying a car and kid friendly costume did not make me a bad mom. A year later I am on the hunt for two pirate costumes. I’m still not prepared to pay retail – but I’ve found a few good deals on Kijiji which should ensure that my little goblins and I can enjoy the treats of Halloween without shedding any tears.

Elizabeth VanHooren is general manager of the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority.

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D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T WINE & FOOD

Z infpulle a s u r e s A focus on Zinfandel; a wine often unfairly passed over

by Jamie Quai

This month I’ve chosen to talk about a grape that we don’t grow in Canada. The best examples are simply mind blowing, but because of its storied past, this one is often unfairly passed over by the consumer. I am talking about Zinfandel. The grape’s origins are rooted in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Recent DNA typing has shown that Zinfandel is identical to a grape grown in Croatia, for millennia, called Crljenak Kaštelanski. Several centuries ago this grape found its way across the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. Relatively recently, it crossed the Atlantic Ocean – there are records of people attempting to grow it by the mid-1800s. Pioneers heading west in search of gold found that the grape thrived in the warmer weather. No one knows where the word Zinfandel came from, or how

the connection to its past was lost, but the USA embraced Zinfandel as its own, and plantings have grown to account for almost 10% of all of the vines grown in the State of California. Winemakers will often complain that some grapes are just more difficult to work with than others. Pinot Noir is notoriously challenging to make well. Growers that I have talked to say Zinfandel is a close second when it comes to its challenges. It simply needs a more hospitable climate than the one we have here. It needs a lot of heat, very little humidity and a lot of sunshine. The grape clusters are famous for not ripening evenly; grape berries hold onto their natural acidity and the pH of the juice (a very important factor) will creep upwards. High pH and High acidity is the ‘can’t win’ scenario winemakers fear. The grapes have thin skins that are very susceptible to rot. And compounding woes, flavour really doesn’t develop until the

berries’ sugar levels are high. This is why most Zinfandels you’ll see have higher final alcohol levels than many Cabernets. Zinfandel is a Red-skinned grape. There is no such thing as a White Zinfandel grape. The purest or truest expressions of Zinfandel are the full bodied red wines. The wines are often describes as having notes or cranberry, strawberry, anise, and cherries. They are usually oaked and will have aromas of tobacco, chocolate, and raisin. So how did we end up with White Zinfandel? In the 1970s, there was a shortage of white wine grapes in the USA. Wineries started making white-styled wines using red grapes and Zinfandel, which wasn`t selling too well, was an ideal choice to fill the market. There is a popular story in the wine world that one harvest, at one of the larger wineries in California, the fermentation stopped before all the sugar was consumed, and rather than re-start it, they decided

to bottle it sweet. The rest is history. White Zinfandel outsells the Red style at least six to one even to this day. This later turned out to be fortuitous, since the invention of White Zinfandel is credited with saving some of California’s earliest grape plantings from being ripped out. And as it turns out, Zinfandel from older vines will generally produce some of the best wines available today. Zinfandel is a terrific food wine. As long as the wine hasn’t been over oaked, barbequed foods are an ideal pairing. More restrained styles lend themselves to spicier dishes than a Malbecs or Shiraz would. A wellmade White Zinfandel is a great pairing with pasta, pizza, or any tomato-based sauces. Zinfandel owes almost all of its success to the winemaking boom in California. In fact, until the link between Crljenak Kaštelanski, Primitivo and Zinfandel was established, Croatian winemakers didn`t bottle those wines for sale to the wider market. Italian Primitivo producers will often label their wine as Zinfandel when selling in North America. Great Zinfandel is out there. I highly recommend you seek it, and stock up whenever possible. Cheers!

Jamie Quai is head winemaker at Quai du Vin Estate Winery in Elgin County.

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October, 2012


Maximize your kitchen by Renée Carpenter

Ways to make a small kitchen feel larger 10th Annual

Whether your kitchen is used for lots of cooking and baking, big gatherings, homework, family time, or all of the above, maximizing your kitchen is a must. Small yet smart kitchens can be packed with plenty of space-saving ideas – and implemented in your kitchen. Making a small kitchen feel larger is many times a matter of fooling the eye and tricking the brain into thinking the space is bigger. Think vertical. Impressive high ceilings can make up for the lack of footprint space in making a small kitchen feel bigger. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets emphazise a room’s height. Pneumatic door lifts on upper cabinets allow easy access to spices and cooking oils. Including plenty of upper units utilizes a kitchen’s vertical space. Giving the eye an up-and-down path to follow on the walls increases the apparent height of the ceiling, thus lifting the lid off a boxy room. Molding atop a sleek wood cabinet draws the eye upward. If there is a soffit above your cabinets, framed prints, decorative plates or large ceramic tiles whould achieve a similar effect. Choose objects that harmonize with the background rather than stand out against it. White, or various shades thereof, is your best friend in a small kitchen. It reflects light, which enhances the sense of space and makes the walls seem to recede. When you carry the white from cabinetry to the countertops, walls and ceiling, you create a aseamless space without edges or boundaries to stop the eye. Use several shades of white and combine contrasting testures to keep an all-white room from feeling sterile. Recessed-panel cabinets and crown molding create subtle shadows that add interest, too. Reflective surfaces, such as ceramic tile and stainless steel and glass backsplash tiles, subtly amplify the effects of natural and artificial light. Lots of natural light enlarges any space. Maximize the light you have by keeping window treatments minimal.

LIFESTYLES DECORATING Remove some cabinet doors or replace the solid fronts with glass, pulling the eye past the cabinet frames into the depths of the cabinets, so the walls feel farther away. This works best if you keep what’s inside the cabinets orderly and colour-coordinated. Clutter tends to make a room feel crowded. Choose a work island, bar chairs, or stools that are visually lightweight, such as metal ones. Clean lines do not distract the eye, and an open table and chair legs let you see the floor and walls beyond, making the room feel bigger. Depending on your home’s layout, you may be able to remove part of a wall separating the kitchen from an adjoining room. It won’t increase the square footage of the kitchen, but it can vastly enlarge the sense of space, bringing in more light and a feeling of openness. Eliminate countertop clutter with a corner appliance garage for coffeemakers, toasters, etc. Storage-smart drawer organizers, lazy Susans, and spice racks can be incorporated to maximize kitchen storage. Certain types of patterns such as oversized diamonds on the floor create diagonal lines that give the eye a longer path to follow from one side of the room to the other, so the room feels wider than it really is. Combine this technique with low-contrast colours for big results in a small kitchen. Also, striped flooring that runs from side to side instead of following the length of a room will stretch the apparent floor space. It’s worth your while to get a quote. This is the heart-throb of the home and deserves to be utilized to its greatest potential!

Renée Carpenter is the owner of Jennings Furniture and Design in St. Thomas.

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LIFESTYLES TIME ON MY HANDS

Reality (that greased pig) has its place But don’t overdo it by Duncan Watterworth

This is not the first column I wrote this month. The first one got canned. You are reading the replacement. I really liked my first column, but I did have some misgivings. So when I submitted it to editor and publisher Terry Carroll, I asked him how suitable he thought it was. He urged a re-write, and the column was dropped. He said he would have printed it if I hadn’t asked for his opinion. Be careful what you ask for, he kidded me. So was it libelous? (Hey, I’m a lawyer) Kiddie porn? (Not interested). Blasphemy? (Better guess). But nope, to all. My sin was one of style. I had written a synopsis of a book – informative, objective, impersonal. Maybe even important. But columns are supposed to contain colour, opinion, personality. “Tell us

what Duncan Watterworth thinks,” said Terry. “Be careful what you ask for,” said I. It all started a couple years ago in a used bookstore. I picked up The Passion Of The Western Mind – Understanding The Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View, by Richard Tarnas. It sat on my shelf until last June, when I took it to the cottage. It hijacked my summer. I was both fascinated and enslaved. I read it twice. In 445 dense pages, the book chronicles the 2,500 year story of western civilization’s quest to understand the universe and ourselves through philosophy, religion, and science. These are the Big Questions: How did we get here? Is there a God, soul, or afterlife? How does the universe work? Does it – do we – have a spiritual side, or higher purpose? What is really real? The search has attracted a lot of heavy hitters: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein. The trail twists, turns, and doubles back on itself. The potential sources of truth – scripture, science, intuition, revelation, drift in and out of favour. The various world views have been all over the map. Reality, it turns out, is a greased pig. Neverthe-

less, this probably is, with apologies to Charlton Heston, the greatest story ever told. And the end of the story – I should say the current point in the ongoing story – is the Western Mind. That’s your mind, and mine – our understanding of reality. Each of us is immersed so thoroughly in one or another of the Western world views that it is hard to imagine any other. There is an old joke in legal circles that says those who love the law, or sausage, should never watch either being made. I could add “my world view” to the joke, although I did enjoy watching. I don’t fancy being a

mere casing for someone else’s ground meat. But perhaps I am. After so much study, pleasure, and – I’ll admit – slogging, I wanted to share the story, a taste of its perspective, with you. Also, in hindsight, I think I became a little obsessed with the challenge of reducing 2,500 years of Western thought to 600 words. Although the rejected column had the fast-forward feel of the theme song from TV’s Big Bang Theory, I think I did a decent job. But, dear reader, you will never know. So that’s my replacement column. A little more cream and sweetener, a little less reality. But if you like your coffee black, your information full strength, please read the book yourself. Or just phone Terry and ask him for my synopsis.

Duncan Watterworth is recently a retiree and emptynester in St.Thomas.

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October, 2012

October, 2012 Issue  

Your Business. Your Community. Incorporating St.Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce Business Beat.

October, 2012 Issue  

Your Business. Your Community. Incorporating St.Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce Business Beat.

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