Last week the Nebs Business Forms company recognized Valerie and Phil Callus as Barrie’s Most Community Involved Local Business in 2001.

Anyone who knows the Callus team will be smiling as you read this... everywhere you go, Phil Callus is there. Everywhere!

I first saw Phil scooting in and out of the crowd of people when the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion was officially opened in Barrie in September. I’d bought meters of trail for my kids for Christmas last year (they were very professionally handled with attractive, numbered certificates et al and well received by the kids who’ve left home) and was there to see their names (and scores of others) go up on plaques in the pavilion.

And there was this busy guy, shooting film (or digital images) of everything. Since I know most of the media photographers, I wondered who this fellow was. “Oh, he’s from scenicbarrie.com,” someone said.

Hmmm.

And then in October we held a small business trade show celebrating seven years of business start-ups under the federal government’s self employment program. I’m standing at the microphone, introducing dignitaries and coaxing a year’s worth of businesses onto the stage to present their scholarship to two students from Central Collegiate. “Darn!,” I thought. “I should be grabbing this on film!” I look down and here’s this guy,. bobbing in and out, flash going off, history recorded.

Later that night I was one of the ‘roasters’ for Janice Laking’s Celebration Roast at Georgian College. I’m on stage, sitting between Ted Barnaby and Jim Massie, each of us poised to say a few words about our beloved Barrie icon. Guess who’s in the front row? Yup! The busy photographer, shooting away.

Days later I was at the Children’s Aid Society offices, coordinating the judging of a new logo for the society’s newly forming charitable foundation. Guess who shows up? To ‘shoot’ the judges... Phil Callus.

What’s he doing with all this stuff, I wondered. And then someone pointed me to www.scenicbarrie.com. Phil and Valerie Callus launched their Barrie website last June and in less than six months they’ve covered 120 events, and shared those pictures on their events section. Visitors to the website can pop into the maps section (to find your way on Barrie’s streets), schools, parks, churches many with photo features. You can click on Rural Simcoe County, Lake Simcoe, Night and Day images, Key attractions and Community Calendar. The Business and Community directory offers virtual tours of our walking paths, extreme shots of some of our remote areas.

The Callus duo is giving this community a fabulous addition to our traditional local media... and the Canadian Newspaper Association and Nebs Business Forms agree!

Valerie Callus says she and Phil were motivated to do this when they moved to Barrie five years ago. “This community is growing so fast we wanted to do something to share Barrie not only with the world but with Barrie people, too. There’s so much people don’t know about Barrie.”

Val points out that if your grandparents live in Europe and can’t get to Barrie, they can see where you live by logging on to scenicbarrie.com. Or people wanting to do business here can check out the business directory, research what a company does, get some idea of the kinds of activities offered in this community.

“We want to show the city off spectacularly,” she says.

Valerie says people frequently call to order prints of pictures from the site, and companies have bought pictures and blown them up as backdrops for trade shows. People sponsor businesses, and get weblinks from scenicbarrie.com to their own sites. Almost as a second thought, Phil and Valerie have people asking them to produce their web pages because they’re so impressed with scenicbarrie’s.

Two weeks ago, Creative Business Promotions (that’s the official business name) launched scenicorillia.com, too and are busy recording and celebrating online the achievements of Orillia.

As she looks back to her social work background and to Phil’s municipal works background, Valerie says it’s amazing how the desire to link and celebrate Barrie has evolved... “It’s gone so differently than we thought at the beginning. People call and thank us for coverage. It feels so good. People appreciate the recognition.”

They sure do. You can contact Valerie or Phil by hitting the Contact Us button on the website or by picking up the old fashioned receiver and dialing 722-5249.

Either way, you’re celebrating Barrie. What a wonderful service, straight from their hearts!

Thanks, Phil. Thanks, Val.

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