‘Bail or Jail’ raises over $12,000

It seems crime does pay, as the “Bail or Jail” fundraiser here last Friday and Saturday raked in about $12,500 for the local Crime Stoppers program.
“It actually exceeded our expectations,” Northwestern Ontario Crime Stoppers co-ordinator Det. Cst. Gary Potter said yesterday afternoon.
“After not having it for quite a few years in Fort Frances, we’re ecstatic with the results,” he added. “Given the population, we didn’t think we’d get anywhere near this amount.
“The community really showed their support.”
“I would suspect we’d try and do another event like it next year. I think we’ve really got the community’s support,” Det. Cst. Potter continued. “And the people who went out and collected bail did a phenomenal job.”
He also noted the Fort Frances Crime Stoppers board, including chairperson Laurie Mauro, deserved recognition for the good job staging the event.
The fundraiser, which was held in conjunction with the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s home and leisure show, saw about 40 local individuals agree to be “summoned” for a “trial” at the Memorial Sports Centre on Friday evening and Saturday.
Those summoned were charged with various humorous “crimes” (such as making loud noises when they sit down and eat their lunch, like the town’s Chief Building Official Rick Hallam) and then asked to raise a certain amount of bail.
They then would appear before one of several guest judges and have their cases heard.
If they so chose, they could go to jail (a “cell” at the arena) and try and raise even more money.
About 15 people agreed to do this, noted Fort Frances OPP Cst. Caroline Spencer, a community services officer and Crime Stoppers liaison.
Cst. Spencer acted as bailiff during the two-day event.
“I had a hoot,” she remarked. “Everybody I talked to enjoyed it. And I’ve been getting positive feedback ever since the trade show.”
The participant who raised the most bail was Laurie Walsh (playing the outlandish character “Stubby Poke”—a member of a hillbilly family first established by the Fort Frances Little Theatre).
He brought in about $1,600 on his own.
Walsh said he had raised about $1,400 in bail before Saturday, but once he got put into the cell, he begged to be let out to raise some more money by hitting up trade show patrons.
He wandered the trade show floor for some time, collecting another $180 or so from people passing through. “It was fun, and it was for a good cause,” Walsh said Monday.
Walsh had been charged with “Insuring the Safety of the OPP Auxiliary” contrary to the Humour Is Not Allowed In This Profession Act.
Fellow Little Theatre actor Mary Elder, also playing a Poke family member, raised about $1,000 for the fundraiser.
While most of the “accused” appeared before the judge on their own accord, Fire Chief Steve Richardson was “arrested” by Cst. Spencer in front of the arena at 6 p.m. on Friday.
“They thought I was trying to get out of my court appearance,” laughed Chief Richardson yesterday.
But he didn’t have to do any time for his crime: “Drinking Robin’s Coffee In the Fire Hall,” contrary to the Tim Hortons Act.
“The judge let me off after I paid my bail. It was $225,” Chief Richardson said. “But all the money goes to Crime Stoppers—it’s a really good cause. If they do it again, I’d encourage anyone to participate.”
“It was fun,” echoed Teresa Hazel, who was charged with being the “Poster Girl for the Fort Frances Times” under the How Many Times Can You Have Your Picture in the Paper Act.
She had raised $415 (thanks mainly through her husband, John, getting pledges from his co-workers at the mill), but still needed $10 more to make bail.
As such, she had to spend about 15 minutes in the slammer with Canada Safeway manager Dave McBride and Diane Boustead of MacDonald GM on Saturday morning.
In a twist, yours truly was summoned as an accomplice to Hazel’s “crime,” and after questioning, ended up paying the $10.
Crime Stoppers’ “Bail or Jail” was taped by Lyndon Hughes of Shaw Cable 10, and will be broadcast on that channel periodically over the next little while.
All the money raised through “Bail or Jail” goes to Crime Stoppers, either to pay the rent for the regional office in Kenora and for the one employee who works there, or for reward money for tipsters.
Crime Stoppers will continue to raise funds here next month, with a charity golf tournament on June 8 and then the annual “Great Rubber Duckie Race” on June 24.