Map marking the Ontario range of the gray jay (with the three isolated populations of study marked in red). Illustration courtesy the Ontario Bird Breeding Atlas

January thaw is upon us

Lake Couchiching usually freezes over during most winters by mid-December and Lake Simcoe by the end of the month. Last year was a late exception with Lake Couchiching freezing over on Jan. 3, Kempenfelt Bay on Jan. 22 and Lake Simcoe on Jan. 27. Lake Couchiching froze over this year on Dec. 10, Kempenfelt Bay on Jan. 7 and Lake Simcoe ice forming

KATE GRIGG/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES Phyllis Johnson is the director of Orillia is Born, written by Jim Lewis and now playing at St. Paul's Centre.

Director always shows up to set the stage

Some directors give notes every night, tweak a production after each performance, but not Phyllis Johnson. Phyllis lets them be. Sits at the back of the house and watches it all unfold. Murmuring sometimes, occasionally gasping, laughing, frowning, beaming, her pleasant, open face reflecting the effect of the passing scenes.

SUBMITTED Kiwanian Peter Head, Rotarian Leanne Johnson, centre, and Kiwanis president Stephanie Worthington are pictured.

Project helps kids get educated

Leanne Johnson of the Rotary Club of Orillia revisited the Orillia Kiwanis Club to update the members on the Rotary Wheels for Learning project.

SUBMITTED Emma Miller recently raised $120 for New Path Youth and Family Services.

Never too young for philanthropy

Ten-year-old Emma Miller, along with her mom, New Path Youth and Family Services manager Lisa Hickling-Miller, toted a wagon full of hot chocolate, candy canes, marshmallows and whipped cream around her neighbourhood to raise money for local charities.

SUBMITTED From left are Lisa Wanamaker, development officer, annual giving, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital Foundation joins Best Western employees Derek Mayes, Chef, Bobbie-Jo Robinson, banquet event manager, Andrea Sullivan, sales manager, Amber Burrage, office manager and Michelle Weber, general manager for a cheque presentation.

Event raises over $4.3K for OSMH

The Orillia Best Western Mariposa Inn and Conference Centre's first annual New Year's Eve Hoedown raised more than $4,300 in benefit of Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital (OSMH). A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales, mechanical bull rides and the event's 50/50 draw contributed to the donation.

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Husband sends marriage to the dogs

Dear Amy: Shortly after my husband and I began dating, he bought a large-breed puppy. He took the dog everywhere he went. We then moved in together, we got another small, mixed-breed dog that we hoped would keep the large dog busy, since he was always demanding my husband's attention.

A light sculpture depicting a King Rooster, in honour of chinese year of the Rooster 2017, is seen during a photocall to promote the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House Gardens in west London on January 18, 2017. The Silk Road was chosen as the festival theme for 2017 due to its historical significance. A very current topic of huge cultural importance as it spread trade and culture between East and West dating back to the Western Han Dynasty of China in 206 BC. / AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

2017 predictions: The Year of the Rooster

The Chinese New Year is coming up January 28, and this year is the Year of the Rooster. Every year, world-renown astrology Eugenia Last presents a special horoscope celebrating this auspicious occasion. Here are her predictions:

Cheryl Pounder. (Handout)

New programs puts girls front and centre

When Cheryl Pounder was cut from the Canadian women's hockey team, she was devastated but luckily, along with superb physical skills, Pounder had developed the mental wellbeing to face adversity with strength and grace, and not give up.

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Can breakfast help keep us thin?

NEW YORK — Cereal makers have happily encouraged the belief that eating breakfast can help keep us thin and bring other benefits, partly by paying for studies that seem to support the idea.

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