Saturday, May 30, 2009

What an Inspiration !

Jacksonville University's Harvey is bound for greatness

Natasha Harvey competes in the long jump at the Atlantic Sun Conference meet earlier this month.
As one of the greatest athletic careers in Jacksonville University history nears the finish line, track and field coach Ron Grigg wonders if he will ever be this lucky again.
Once Natasha Harvey completes her final long jump or sprint, either this week at the NCAA regionals in Greensboro, N.C., or at the NCAA championships June 10-13 in Arkansas, there will be a lot more to replace than her record times and distances. The near-impossible challenge for Grigg is filling the void that Harvey, a four-time All-American, will leave behind in terms of her overall impact on teammates and everyone she touched at the school.
Harvey, generally regarded by colleagues and school administrators as one of the most popular athletes to ever come through JU, cannot be measured simply on her ability to win races or outjump the competition.
Whether you spend a few minutes with Harvey or an entire day, most people feel it's not enough. Her engaging personality, like a comfortable sit-down on the couch with Oprah, leaves them wanting more. But peeling away all the layers of Harvey's tragic past, and how she refused to let it get in the way of her Olympic dream, helps to understand why this 21-year-old from West Haven, Conn., has been such an inspirational figure on the JU campus.
"It's the way she leads her life; she's the whole package," Grigg said. "She gets it more than most adults. Just when you think she's the most incredible person you ever met, there's something deeper. I don't want to sound gushing, but she's just that kind of a kid. She's an inspiration to watch how she handles situations.
"I'm supposed to be the authority figure by nature of being the coach, but there's so much I need to model after her. She has perspective. She chooses to act in a way that she's proud of the consequences."
By themselves, Harvey's athletic accomplishments make her a headliner. The Dolphins had never won a conference title in track and field before she arrived. With Harvey aboard, they went eight for eight in capturing Atlantic Sun indoor and outdoor championships, with Harvey accounting for 302 of the 1,327 points accumulated (22.7 percent) during that streak in six different events.
And here's the amazing part: Harvey could have easily fallen by the wayside, allowing difficult family circumstances to impede her path to greatness. She passed up scholarships to Penn State and Clemson to come to JU, stayed in Jacksonville after her half-brother was murdered, graduated cum laude with a 3.563 grade-point average, served as president of the student-athlete advisory committee, and was the first person in her family to attend college. It's all part of Harvey's fascinating journey.
"I had to reverse it," Harvey said. "I had to not allow everything to destroy me."
Where "everything" begins is probably when Natasha was 9, living in New Haven, Conn. A never-identified arsonist sent her house up in flames as she was sleeping.
The firefighters were amazed that all six people - Natasha's parents, along with her three siblings - got out alive. Natasha nearly died because the rest of family escaped and forgot about the little girl, who had to be rescued at the last second by her oldest half-brother, Carlos Ashe.
"In panic, they just escaped while I was asleep," Natasha said. "I remember [Carlos] waking me up and saying, "Baby girl, I'm going to get you out of here.' I watched my house burn down from across the street."
Sadly, that fire was only the beginning of a family unit breakdown. Natasha's father, who never married her mother, Theresa Ashe, went to live with his mother after the fire and grew apart from the family. He kept his distance from Natasha and her younger brother, Antonio, separating himself from his two kids with Theresa, leaving Natasha perplexed to this day why her father remains out of her life.
"We didn't really ask too much of him, except for his time," Natasha said. "I couldn't fathom why he didn't want to be my father, while I was trying so hard to be his child."
If only that was the extent of the hardship. But her two older half-brothers both got caught up, as Theresa says, "with the wrong crowd," and paid a heavy price for it.
In December 1996, at about the same time of the fire, a gang-related murder in New Haven led to the conviction of Carlos - in a second trial, following a mistrial - and three others on four counts, including murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Carlos, a child by Theresa's first marriage, remains incarcerated.
During Natasha's freshman year at JU, just as the indoor track season was beginning, her other half-brother, Steveland, was shot and killed near an uncle's house. While Natasha went home for a week to comfort her grieving family, she also had to cope with the pleas of Antonio - whom she helped raise while Theresa worked a job at a Walgreens - to either stay home or transfer to a school closer to West Haven.
"It was a huge deal for me to be so far away from my family," Natasha said. "And now, the family was disrupted [by Steveland's death] and [Antonio] felt alone. It was hard for us to get through it."
But that's the remarkable part of Harvey's 12-year road to get to this point. Somehow, through her faith and the support of Theresa, Antonio, several coaches and JU colleagues, she managed to get through a fire that destroyed her home, then having her family being ripped apart because of some questionable choices. Antonio, an accomplished dancer, is now a high school junior who has been invited to participate in an elite summer program at Wesleyan College.
"The thing about Natasha is she's never going to give up," said her mother, Theresa. "When Stevie got killed, and my other son was incarcerated, for her to leave [to go back to JU] was hard. But she understood she had to make her own life.
"She had to deal with a lot of stuff on her own. But if you don't learn how to push past the difficult times, you'll just be miserable because you wouldn't be able to function."
Natasha is quick to credit God and her coach at Career (Conn.) High, Kareem Jackson, with the guidance she needed to make sure that her potential as a track athlete and student wasn't wasted. Harvey remains close to Jackson and his entire family because they treated her like one of their own.
"[Jackson] played a man in my life who would accept me as his own daughter," Harvey said. "I've just recently found a freedom and peace with the fact my father hasn't been there, but God has taken care of me. He has given me great men in my life to fill the void that my father couldn't or wouldn't fill."
No matter what personal adversity she battled off the track, Harvey has pushed herself to excellence. She has won 22 different events at the A-Sun championships. She finished second in the long jump last year at the NCAA outdoor meet with a personal-best leap of 21 feet, 10 inches, beating out eventual Olympic bronze medalist Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria.
Except for a bulging disk that has flared up recently, which has limited her weightlifting regimen, Harvey is feeling uplifted. Natasha smiles at the memory of receiving her college diploma on May 2, with Theresa and Antonio in attendance.
And when someone asks her about what looks like an engagement ring on her left hand, Harvey can hardly contain her joy. For the record, it's not an engagement ring, but a "promise ring" that she recently bought for herself. This is how she explains its significance.
"It's a covenant between me and God," said Harvey. "It's my promise to him that I would save myself and stay in covenant until whoever it is that he's saving for me. I've laid it down. I don't want to say I'm picky [about what she wants in a future husband], but I am. He has to have a relationship with God and be driven, or we won't mesh well. He has to have goals and a plan in place about how he wants to achieve them."
Harvey has had a plan in place for her future ever since she long-jumped 21 feet for the first time as a JU freshman. She will move to the Olympic training center in Chula Vista, Calif., in October, and depending on how she fares at the NCAAs (Harvey is competing in the long jump, 100-meter hurdles and 4x100 relay), Harvey has a clear vision about where she hopes track can take her.
"I don't need a lavish life," Harvey said. "I'd like to take care of my mom and hope to have a shoe contract that will allow me to do that. I do have a passion to be part of a mentoring program for girls, something where I can help them have a life of self-respect for themselves and to take care of their bodies.
"The plan is to be part of the Olympic training program and see where that takes me. The 2012 Olympics [in London], that's where I want to be, contending for a spot on the [medal] podium. I know I have what it takes to get there."
Looking back at where Natasha Harvey has been, two things seems pretty certain: She will live a life of fulfilled promise and leave a favorable impression along the way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I had nothing to do with tax deal, Mulroney says

I had nothing to do with tax deal, Mulroney says
Former PM distances himself from the 'pretty good deal' that let him pay tax on only half of the cash he got from Schreiber
Brian Mulroney was required to pay income tax on only half of the $225,000 in cash he accepted from lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber, thanks to a "pretty good deal" offered to the former prime minister by Canada Revenue Agency, a public inquiry heard yesterday.

Read the story here

    "Honestly Officer,I was just along for the ride"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"a catastrophe"

Reactor shutdown 'catastrophe' as medical isotopes dry up

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
May 19, 2009
OTTAWA — A shutdown of the Canadian nuclear reactor that produces much of the world's medical isotopes is a “catastrophe” that threatens to delay or cancel critical medical procedures both in Canada and abroad for many weeks, medical experts said Tuesday.

The aging reactor at Chalk River, Ont., which has been plagued with problems in recent years, will be closed for at least a month as technicians repair a leak of heavy water.

“It's a catastrophe. For 18 months I have refrained from using that word. I have to use it,” said Jean-Luc Urbain, the president of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine. “It's a catastrophe for the patients, for the health-care system in general, and for the profession.”

Read the article

And what politician will take responsibility for this mess? 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bosnian killer free in Canada

Mayor 'furious' Bosnian killer free in Calgary

A fugitive from Bosnia wanted back in that country for an execution-style double murder in 1992 is a Calgary business owner, a taxpayer, and he has two Canadian-born children,  according to his lawyer.


Gavin Grant says 37-year-old Elvir Pobric has no criminal record and has been living here under his own name.

Pobric is free after being released in between hearings with Immigration Board officials.

His presence in Canada - and his past - came to light when one of his victims' relatives alerted police that he was here.

Pobric was serving 20 years in a Bosnian jail for killing two men and then burning their bodies.  He escaped in 1996 and arrived in Canada 3 years later.

Canada,land of the free.....disgusting isn't it

Thursday, May 07, 2009

This is a town without pity

WOODSTOCK, ONT This is a town without pity.

It wasn't always like this.

When Victoria Stafford, known as Tori, disappeared from Woodstock on April 8, the town of 35,000 people did what towns typically do – rallied together and scoured streets, parks, ponds and surrounding areas looking for her. Terrified of what might have happened, people posted thousands of posters showing Tori's smiling face.

Four weeks later, the posters are still there – some frayed, others fading – but anger has replaced fear and gossip has taken over from populist efforts to find Tori.

Meanwhile, Rodney Stafford knows small towns can be big-hearted, and alternately pitiless. "I'm very grateful to everyone who has helped look for Tori. I have no complaints."

I don't personally know Rodney Stafford but in regards to his comment I say "Amen" to that.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mothers day for Tara McDonald

A painful first for Tori Stafford's mom: Mother's Day likely without her daughter
WOODSTOCK, Ont. — Since becoming a mom, Tara McDonald has spent every Mother's Day with her two children by her side. But with her eight-year-old daughter Victoria Stafford missing for a month now, McDonald hopes for just one thing this Sunday: to get her daughter back.
"I just wish these people, this person, whoever it is, would just bring her home - let her go," she said Wednesday at a news conference outside her home.
McDonald fondly recalled the Mother's Day card that her daughter - who every calls Tori - made for her last year, and said she will likely spend this Sunday at her mother's place with her 11-year-old son Daryn.
"I really hope to have my child home for Mother's Day," she said.
Tori has missing since April 8, when she didn't return home after school.
Massive search efforts have continued throughout this small southwestern Ontario city, but local and provincial police have failed to turn up significant clues into her suspected abduction.
Standing outside McDonald's tiny white-panelled house, Tori's parents looked the same as they said they felt: drained.
"I'm just at the frustrated point," said McDonald, her pale face framed by large sunglasses that couldn't hide the fact she was on the verge of tears.
"I've hit the sad, the angry. I'm totally frustrated. My main concern is our daughter. Who has her? Is she being taken care of? And why is it that you want our child?"
Rodney Stafford, the girl's father who is separated from McDonald, joined her at Wednesday's news conference, wearing a homemade T-shirt emblazoned with "Daddy's Little Girl" and adorned with a painting he'd created of floating purple balloons and Tori's photo placed just below his heart.
Stafford said questions about his daughter's whereabouts stream through his head "all day, every day."
Tori's parents have continued to speak about the bubbly blond girl in hopes of keeping the case in the public eye, but like police, they too had no new information to share Wednesday.
The Grade 3 pupil was last seen in a grainy surveillance video walking with a dark-haired woman wearing a puffy white coat.
Police say they've determined the girl and her suspected abductor were walking away from her school and toward the parking lot of a nearby nursing home.
Investigators say they have received more than 2,500 tips since releasing a video this week of a dark-coloured car they are calling "a vehicle of interest." They're eager to speak to the car's driver, who passed by the abduction scene moments after Tori disappeared.
A police investigator joined the media Wednesday to record the parents' news conference on video.
"It doesn't bother me, I don't really think about it," McDonald said when asked what she thought of the surveillance, adding she believes "police are doing what they can," in the search for Tori.
The officer later explained he's been sent to several of the news conferences to collect information.
A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever abducted Tori.
A composite sketch of the woman seen on the video suggests the abductor may be 19 to 25 years old, about five feet one, weighing around 125 pounds, with long dark hair tightly pulled back in a ponytail.
Tori's disappearance has also been featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted."

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Former Woodstock minister charged

A former Woodstock minister was charged Wednesday with sexual assault and sexual exploitation following a complaint from an alleged victim late last week,

David Woodall, a Woodstock resident and the former minister at St. David's United Church, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with two counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual interference. Following an afternoon appearance, the 53-year-old was released on bail.

Woodall is scheduled to appear at Goderich Provincial Court on June 15 to answer to these charges.

The Huron County OPP criminal investigations unit began its investigation of these allegations on April 25 after receiving a complaint from a male victim, who claimed the church minister had sexually assaulted him several years ago. The original complaint led to additional information about the alleged assault and a second victim.

Both incidents stem from separate "youth" sleepover program that were organized as church functions. The first incident allegedly occurred in Clinton, Ont., in 1991-1992 while the second incident allegedly happened at MacGreggor Provincial Park in Bruce County's Saugeen Township. While the two victims are now adults, both were pre-teens at the time of the alleged offences.

Woodall served as minister at the Clinton United Church from 1985 to 1994. Following an eight-year stint as minister of London's Hyde Park United Church, Woodall served in Woodstock from 2002 to 2006. Since his time at St. David's, Woodall has served as the executive secretary for the United Church's London Conference, which is comprised of eight area presbyteries.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact the Huron County OPP's criminal investigation unit at 519-524-8314 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Rememberance Day 2018