February 7, 2013
THE VOICE OF NORTH DURHAM
Rik graduated from Durham College with an Honours Degree in Journalism and worked as a police and courts reporter at The Durham Post, Thompson Newspapers at The Lindsay Post as well as an on-air reporter for CHEX television before coming to The Port Perry Star in 1997 as a staff reporter/photographer covering police, municipal government and education.
Rik was a founding staff member of The Uxbridge Star and has written for The Toronto Star, Blue Line (the national police magazine) and Education Today.
While at Durham College he won the Ontario Community Newspaper Award for student writing for his coverage of the Gagnon Sports Store murder trial.
He also won the OCNA National Newspaper Award for news photography in 2006 for coverage of the fatal fire on Crandle St. in Port Perry.
Rik led the core group of people who formed The Scugog Standard ten years ago.
The paper has since grown to the largest independently owned weekly newspaper in Durham Region and has been awarded numerous national and provincial newspaper awards in the fields of news coverage, editorial cartoons, paper promotions and advertising design. The Durham Regional Police Service, the OPP and MADD have all presented commendations to the paper for it's promotion of their activities and The Standard has twice won the Mothers Against Drunk Driving media award for their poster designs in the ads for this group.
The Standard is the driving force behind the North Durham Food and Toy Drive each Christmas, The Chrome by the Lake Classic Car show which raises funds for the local museum and the Annual Easter Egg Hunt which draws over 1,000 people to downtown Port Perry each Easter Sunday.
During the recent Postal Strike Rik was interviewed on CTV NewNet about the problems facing independent papers and The Standard has been featured on CFTO News and Breakfast Television.
His weekly column, Standard Transmissions is read by over 10,000 people weekly and his news team has recently begun to expand in the area of specialty publishing.
He has interviewed three Prime Ministers, Two Premiers and one Oscar Winner as well as numerous people who think they are one of the above.
Man, I hate changes. It is a testimony to my age that I have reached that point at which change of any kind is looked upon with fear and suspicion.
Anybody who lives with me can testify to the fact that simply changing my morning routine in the slightest way... do one thing out of order, moving a wallet or keys one foot... will result in disaster that ripples through my entire day.
One thing done out of order as I begin my day will result in forgetting things for the rest of the day, reaching for a cellphone that is not there, searching my pockets at the cashier for money that is sitting on the dresser at home. Don't get gas on Tuesday and Friday and probably run out of gas on my way somewhere on Thursday or Monday.
In order to function with any modicum of efficiency, nothing must change.
So, when we sat down to look at the next step in the evolution of this amazing little newspaper... a newspaper that has survived the onslaught of corporations and existed when any sense told us it could not... I was, quite simply, scared to death.
The Scugog Standard has, for nine years, won awards, accolades and honours within the newspaper world and won the hearts of readers all across North Durham. The Uxbridge Standard is now considered the best news voice in that area by the very people who make the news each week.
The business community in Uxbridge has been slower to "get it" that they ought to advertise in the paper their customers actually read... but that will come.
In any event, you are reading the next step in community news coverage for North Durham... the all-new Standard Newspaper. It covers all of Scugog, Uxbridge and nearly all of Brock Townships. Municipal news from each council that affects all of us and regional news that directly affects the residents of North Durham.
We will stick by our unofficial motto which goes, "I have no idea what happened in Whitby and I don't care!"
But the all-new, all-in-one paper known simply as 'The Standard' will cover the whole area seamlessly. For those, like me, who don't much like change and who will no doubt say... "why do I want to read Uxbridge sports?" I can only point out that residents of Scugog play sports in Uxbridge and residents of Uxbridge and Brock play sports in Scugog and all the teams play against one another.
The municipal politics of North Durham affect all of us and for sure, the police and regional issues know no borders beyond 'the ridges' and we will continue to focus on the things you, the reader, need to know. Our advertisers will now reach the entire North Durham market in one newspaper, as will your classified and community events.
Our photographers will cover all the community events you want to know about and the messages from charity groups will reach all of us in this growing evolving larger community known as North Durham.
And I will adjust and try not to lose my car keys!!!!
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Okay, let's see if we can get all the gun owners mad as hell at me.
After the recent tragedy in Newtown in the United States, the control and restrictions surrounding firearms has once again come to the forefront both there and here in Canada.
It behoves anyone taking a side on this to state out of the gate that the vast number of persons who are firearms owners in Canada are law-abiding and conscientious people, who treat firearms with the respect and intelligence required around anything that has the potential to take human life.
They simply use them for hunting or for gun sports of various kinds.
It also behoves this writer to state up front that he comes from a family of gun owners. My Grandfather Jack was a champion skeet shooter and earned his living in part as a hunting guide and a professional trapper/hunter.
I used my own expertise in the research of military firearms to help write and edit historical books on the Second World War and am very familiar with most types of military firearms from a scholastic point of view. I have tested and fired the 9mm Glock handgun on a police range, when writing on the change-over from revolver type handguns to automatic handguns that happened in Ontario - in large part because of the bank robbery in Port Perry many years ago that resulted in what was, at the time, the largest number of police officers shot in a single incident in Canadian history.
So... my credentials are stated.
After having said all that, I find it mind boggling that any type of military assault rifle, whether it be semi-automatic or not, can be purchased by the public. They have limited value as a hunting weapon and even for target completion or combat style competitions that take place at a legitimate gun club or shooting range.
Americans cling to their 'Second Amendment' rights. For those of you unfamiliar with the Second Amendment, it states, in part, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Americans have used this argument for 200 years to push back controls on such things as background checks, over-size magazines and other public safety issues that only seem to come up when somebody walks into some public building and starts spraying bullets around.
What the second amendment says... in whole... is this: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Thomas Jefferson was talking about a reserve army that, in his day, meant you had your own weapon and equipment and kept it at home. Our reserve army... and theirs... doesn’t work that way anymore.
Here's a thought. Restrict the size of magazines, continue in this country with the kind of background checks in place and simply register firearms the same way we register cars... and dogs! Allow police officers to know if legally-owned firearms are kept in a residence they are responding to and give the police the kind of manpower and funding needed to stop the trade in illegal firearms.
Crooks will still get guns. But none of the people who have committed mass shootings in the U.S. or here for that matter... have as a rule, been criminals to start with. And most of the people serving life in prison for taking life with a gun had no, or very little, criminal background before they killed somebody with a gun.
Don't go after legitimate gun owners... but don't be dumb about it. Register guns, restrict assault type weapons out of use and at least give our police the tools they need to make sure another Concordia doesn't happen here or, God forbid... a Newtown!
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Ever wonder what your dog is thinking?
Having a five-month-old Walker hound pup around the house and watching as he explores his world and tries to find his place in it leads me to ponder that question a great deal more than is probably healthy, but please note that the sponsor of this column is a psychologist after all!
The ball of fluff we brought home five months ago is now all legs and 41 pounds of uncoordinated curiosity and wet kisses.
He was house trained in a week and crate trained sooner than that. Since he was two months old he's been bringing in the newspaper but that's where it stalled... sort of.
Drummer, as his friends call him... is certain that the leash is designed for him to take humans for a walk, not the other way around! And given the incredible amount of strength young hunting hounds possess, he's not really wrong.
His razor-like baby teeth have left my hands looking like I knife-fight for fun and he can reach anything on the kitchen counter without real effort... so... let the training begin.
We solved the leash issue with the use of a 'muzzle leash' which controls him by pulling down on his nose, a process he neither likes, nor agrees to... but it works like a charm. Getting him used to it was like breaking a young wild horse, but he either got the idea or gave up fighting a while ago and he walks now without dragging anyone across the lawn on their stomachs.
He has learned not to jump on people and his propensity for kissing you with his teeth is declining just as his baby teeth are leaving, so one way or the other my hands will heal.
But I watch him watching us sometimes and I know he has some questions. I can see the little puppy mind whirling as he tries to make sense of what he sees.
I think the list must go something like....
"Why do I have to go outside in the freezing cold to do my business while you people have a special room to go to that's nice and warm? You could teach me to use that room! You haven't even tried. I could flush, I know I could!"
"Why do you cook all that good stuff and drive my nose crazy and then stick that bowl full of brown circles in front of me? It's just plain mean!"
"How do you people change your fur? Every day you come out of your crate... oh and why is your crate so much bigger and nicer than mine... and you have on different fur. I walk around in the same black and white fur every day and I'm sick of it. You get variety, I want variety... hell, I can't even find the zipper on this fur suit!"
Yep! That's what I think the dog is thinking - while he's not worrying about all this talk about neutering, that is!!!
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I am told that one should always be open to trying new things. I don't like new things! As I age, I find that (like my old man before me) I am developing a deep seated mistrust of new things. I have even been on the verge of actually saying "new fangled" on at least a couple of occasions. Holy jeez!!!
This from the guy who once wore hippy beads and moccasins and wanted to overthrow "the man."
Well, that's what happens when you go from wanting to overthrow the man to being the man, eh? Now, I like things nice and simple. Change is viewed with slightly veiled contempt or even fear... but at least distrust!
So it was with more than a little trepidation I went, a few months ago, for my very first ever pedicure. You heard me... the foot thing. I was sure that whatever small part of my male ego would slip away with the bath water, as it were.
When Red announced that she had booked me one and I would like it, I smiled weakly and allowed as how I'd "give it a try." Geez, a pedicure?
What real man would let a very small lady do things to their feet and... God help me... possibly paint something on them.
Well, that's not how it worked and after the experience I actually had the nerve to tell a few guys about it and, much to my surprise, the reaction was not what I expected. "Sure, I've had them, aren't they great?" was the response from more than a few of my friends. And, in fact, it was kind of great!
Now the ole budget is pretty tight lately and the vacation budget is non-existent, so when we had the chance to get away, even if only overnight, last weekend I was all for it, sort of. Some quiet time. And a visit to a spa.
A spa? What? A place where women go to be revitalized and reworked and who knows what all? Visions of mud-packs raced through my head! I could feel the "new things" warning bells going off in my head... which can be a pretty echoey place at times!
But, off I went. And it was hot pools followed by cold pools (didn't quite get into that) followed by Eucalyptus steam rooms and saunas, well... it was great. A whole new experience that left me wanting a hot-tub pretty badly.
And the presence of a lot of guys my age or older at this wonderland in the midst of winter didn't hurt either.
Another 'new thing' I'd do again in a second.
And, while my "crusty ole' curmudgeon" status is in no immediate danger, I am getting used to trying a few 'new things.' Heck, I might even consider having my colours done.... but no acupuncture and bikini waxes are out!!!
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Man, the hue and cry over billing a guy for a lake rescue has spread! Good ole' Scugog became the focus of national media for a few days, after the national media types caught wind that a fellow, who went out on to Lake Scugog in less than good conditions and got himself in trouble, was being billed for not thinking a bit more before venturing onto a lake that has killed people who don’t think first.
Apparently the national media had already made their minds up, because the extensive piece done by CTV News made much of the fact it had never been done before and talked to the fellow in question for quite some time. Well, they talked to our Fire Chief Richard Miller for quite some time as well... on camera... under the somewhat antagonistic questions from their reporter. And we can only guess they didn't like the Chief's take on things, because no part of the interview with the guy most knowledgeable about it made it to air. Hmmmm.
Now there is a loud outcry saying that we already pay taxes and charging to rescue folks is double-dipping.
'I already pay taxes, if they are going to charge people, I want a rebate,' some of them say.
'You can't regulate stupidity,' others have told me.
Well, maybe it's time we did. But don't put it on the back of the poor firefighters who are out there risking their lives to try and fix dumb.
If you knock down a telephone pole, you get a bill for it. If you take out guardrail, you get a bill for it. If your non-permitted fire gets out of control, you get billed for it.
So pass a Provincial Offences Act amendment that says that if you venture onto the ice... or the water, for that matter... without proper equipment or when the powers that be have issued weather or ice warnings, and we have to go and get you, you're gonna get a provincial offences ticket and you can either fight it in court or not, as you please.
And as for those who are simply outraged at what they perceive as more 'government control and taxation,' look at it from the first responders 'point of view.... or even the damn reporters'!
I have, in my time, covering the happenings on the lake, stood personal witness to many dumb things and watched as too many bodies have been dragged, pulled or otherwise removed from Lake Scugog. And it only heightens the anger I feel for people's stupidity when I realize that most of those tragedies were completely and totally preventable. The gentleman currently outraged at the bill he received needs to think long and hard about how close he came to being a body recovery.
And if billing people keeps them off the lake, then that's just more people I won't have to watch be loaded into body bags and that's fine by me!
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