Opinion| Millroy’s 2016 Darts and Laurels

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A bit of a milestone today. This is the 20th edition of my year-end Darts and Laurels – 19 with The Sault Star and now this one on Northern Hoot – in which I bring back what I see as some of the highs and lows in the Sault over the past year.

DART: To the city’s Public Works and Engineering Services people, who also are in charge of traffic, for accepting the change in lane configuration at the intersection of Albert and East Streets that came about through a mistake by the line-painting contractor. The previous lane configuration, which had served Sault motorists well for more than 50 years, allowed two lanes of traffic from Albert to travel smoothly up East Street to eastbound Wellington. The screw-up by the line painters cut that to one.

DART: To city council for keeping traffic lights at the low-traffic Wallace Terrace and Goulais Avenue intersection while at the same time ignoring the problem at the Albert and East Street intersection, a site which will become extremely dangerous if the yield sign on East Street comes out, as recommended by CIMA+. The so-called experts were approached by our traffic people for advice on what to do about the screw-up by the line painters, something any city department worth its salt should have been able to do on its own, that being to order the line painters to correct their mistake.

LAUREL: To the city’s Public Works and Engineering Services for recommending the elimination of traffic lights at many intersections where the amount of traffic indicated they were no longer needed, common sense playing a role that was conspicuous by its absence in regard to the city department’s handling of the Albert-East intersection.

DART: To the Crown Attorney’s office for going along with the defence in a plea bargain that dropped the first-degree murder charges against Ronald Mitchell, Eric Mearow and Dylan Jocko all the way down to manslaughter in the slaying of Wesley Hallam. As a result, the three were sentenced to 10 years in penitentiary for the killing of Hallam and the dismembering of his body in January 2011, meaning that with time served they will be out in two years and on parole for about two-and-half more. If convicted even on second-degree murder charges, they would have been on parole for the rest of their lives. I consider the plea bargain a great miscarriage of justice and a betrayal of the community, especially the Hallam family. This should have been decided by a jury, not suits behind closed doors.

LAUREL: To Steffanie Petroni, proprietor of Northern Hoot, for publishing an account of the plea bargain to let the public know what was coming when no other media in the city had the courage to do so. Their silence was deafening. The Sault Star wouldn’t publish my column on it, which is why I am no longer there, but she, standing much taller than her five feet would indicate, had no trouble doing so when I offered it, which is why I am now writing here.

LAUREL: To Lisa Damignani, owner of the O’Sullivan Funeral Home and Cremation Centre, for not only picking up the tab for Wesley Hallam’s funeral, but the generosity and helping hand she has extended to others as well.

LAUREL: To Dave and Dar Sawer, owners of Mike’s Lunch, who, generous throughout the year to many of the less fortunate who people the downtown area, this year took their generosity a step further. They provided a Christmas Eve dinner of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and all the fixings compliments of Mike’s Lunch. Enlisting the help of family, they offered the meal over four sittings to the less fortunate and some who were just alone on Christmas.

LAUREL: To Dave Patterson, president and originator of the Northern Ontario Country Music Association, the association’s Hall of Fame and the Northern Grand Opry. Recognizing the talent that was in this city and seeing it in other centres as he travelled the north in his job as a liquor salesman, Patterson, with the assistance of his wife, Carol, and music celebrities George Pinder and Al Mooney, brought it all together. As Richard Plaunt pointed out in his story in Sault This Week, as of this season the Opry will have inducted 115 country musicians from cities and towns across Northern Ontario and named 47 to the Hall of Fame,

LAUREL: To Derek Jackson, the introspective and courageous young man who recently on this site took us through the struggles with mental health that became so severe they led him to attempt to take his own life. Looking back on the support he received after he survived the suicide attempt, he said he decided to write about his journey, not for himself but to let anyone suffering know that it can get better. “You may have to fight like a warrior, but you will get through this,” he said. Such advice from someone who has been there will be well taken.

DART: To all the tailgaters out there. As one reader wrote, “It is common place to look in the rearview mirror and see the top of the hood of the car behind you; some are so close you can’t even see their headlights.

LAUREL: To Tianna Legacy, the 13-year-old Grade 7 student at Holy Family school who has become a force in fighting bullying through her writing of and performing of two anti-bullying songs, Standing Alone and Who We Are. As The Sault Star reported, a video of Who We Are was filmed at Loplops and is posted on Owl Kids website. It earned tweets from American Idol contestant Tyanna Jones and Pink Shirt Day.

LAUREL: To Conor Flood, the 22-year-old Algoma University science graduate who was recognized by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre as innovation student of the year for several projects, including making a program for mathematical proofs and tapping artificial intelligence to assist persons with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease do household tasks.

DART: To stores who make cashiers ask customers if they would like to make a donation to a specified charity.

DART: To stores who offer sales of buy one and get 50 percent off a second which, of course, amounts to 25 percent off each. I am offended that they think we are so stupid that we won’t figure this out.

DART: To restaurants that do not give you your bill at the table, but only produce it when you go to the till. You should be given a chance to look at it to see if it is correct and also to be given time to decide the amount of the tip.

LAUREL: To David Orazietti, our retiring MPP who represented us on city council and within the provincial Liberal government for so long and so well. He brought a lot to the Sault during his time in government but beyond that he was responsible for getting into play four important pieces of legislation: The Protecting Children and Youth from Second-Hand Smoke in Automobiles Act, 2007; the Apology Act, 2009, which enables individuals and organizations, such as hospitals and other public institutions, to apologize for an accident or wrongdoing, without it being used as evidence of liability in a civil legal proceeding; the Breast Cancer Screening Act, 2011, which led to increased access to breast cancer screening; and the Wireless Service Agreement Act, which calls for greater protection and transparency for users of cell phones.

LAUREL: To sports writer Peter Ruicci of The Sault Star, whose coverage of sports in this city would lead one to believe he is part of a sports department rather than the essentially one-man show that he is.

DART: To whoever from wherever puts together The Sault Star for carrying, during the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event held at the Essar Centre in December, almost identical pictures of Sault skip Brad Jacobs delivering a rock for three days, one of him standing on another day and one of the entire team when it won the event. There were major teams, both men’s and women’s, from all over the world here. Surely at least one of them deserved a picture at least once.

LAUREL: To Karen MacDougall Johns, not only for her efforts in rescuing and attempting to rehabilitate an injured squirrel this fall, but for her efforts in general over the years in helping injured animals and birds.

Doug Millroy can be reached at dmillroy@gmail.com.

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