Monday, December 31, 2012

Idle No More Protests Continue

You Tube
Idle No More demonstrations continue in Northwestern Ontario.

Yesterday, a number of people stood along side Highway 11 in Couchiching, carrying signs and handing out pamphlets outlining the reasons behind the movement.

A similar action was held at Fort William William First Nation.

While in Kenora, Tania Cameron says on Wednesday First Nations people will boycott some businesses in their opposition towards federal Bill C-45

Cameron says their goal is to send a message to Ottawa to allow debate on the bill, First Nations leaders have said threatens Treaties.

The northern Ontario aboriginal chief, the demonstrations have also been in support of, made a brief appearance outside of her teepee yesterday along the Ottawa River on Day 20 of her hunger strike.

Theresa Spence says she's "deeply humbled'' by the support she's received from aboriginals and non-aboriginals in her appeal for a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Harper and the governor general.

Deadline Looms For Teachers

The deadline for Ontario's teachers to reach agreements with their local school boards is tonight at one minute before midnight.

Education Minister Laurel Broten is urging those school boards and teachers who haven't yet reached deals to do so before tonight's deadline.

Broten has not said if she will move to impose deals tomorrow if they don't.

CUPE Reaches Deal

The province has reached a tentative agreement with the union that represents school support workers.

Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario president Fred Hahn says the union remains opposed to Bill 115 and will continue its campaign to repeal it, which includes a legal challenge.

Lots of Accidents Last Week

Plenty of banged up vehicles in the Rainy River district.

Provincial police say they were called to sixteen motor vehicle collisions over the past week.

Police say many were the result of drivers failing to adjust their driving habits with the weather and road conditions.

Driver Charged In Accident

OPP charged a 56-year-old Atikokan man with impaired driving after a motor vehicle accident last Wednesday on Highway 11, east of Atikokan.

He'll now be making a court appearance in Atikokan in late January.

Party Safe

Many people are preparing to ring in the New Year tonight at celebrations throughout the Rainy River district.

Police are urging everyone to make sure their plans include a sober driver or a safe way to get back home.

OPP will be out in force tonight conducting RIDE spot checks.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ontario Residents Happy With The OPP

A majority of Ontario residents feel safe in their communities.

That is one of the findings from a Community Satisfaction Survey released by the Ontario Provincial Police.

Almost 95 per cent of respondents were also either satisfied or very satisfied with the OPP response times to violent crime, especially.

Staff Sergeant Hazel O'Brien says their annual survey also found a large number of people admitted to using a cellphone or texting while driving.

O'Brien says it will be an issue police will continue to focus on in the new year.

New Zoning Regulations In Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls

Nestor Falls residents are going to have to get used to something new.

Zoning regulations.

Bill Thompson, mayor of the township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls says one of the measures outlines close one can build to the lake.

Thompson says they considered a 30 metre buffer from the lake, but reduced it to 10 metres.

The previous setback in Sioux Narrows was 7.5 metres while there had been no restriction at all in Nestor Falls.


A series of "snapshots" are hoping to reveal strengths and weaknesses in children and families in the area.

CEO of Firefly Karen Ingebrigtson says they are intended to be a resource for service providers to address needs and issues within surrounding communities.

A link to the snapshots is available on both Firefly's and the Northwest Health Unit's websites.

Nolan Get Seat On U.S. Transportation Committee

The man who'll represent Koochiching County in Washington has been appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Rick Nolan says the seat is vital to economic development in the Eighth District, which includes northeastern Minnesota.

Governor Recovering

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is recovering from spinal surgery.

A spokesperson for the Governor says yesterday's procedure went as planned without any complications, but it will keep him sidelined at least through New Year's.

Dayton had the operation to relieve a constriction in his lower back.

Polar Plunge To Go New Year's Day

No time better than now to think about jumping in the lake to start the new year.

The Voyageur Lion's Club stages its annual Polar Plunge Tuesday.

Participants have been jumping into the ice waters of Rainy Lake for the past decade every New Year's Day. 

Member Gabi Hanzuk says its never too late to sign-up.

Registration will take place at the La Place Rendez-Vous in Fort Frances at 11 a.m. with the event getting underway at 1 p.m.

The minimum cost is $50 dollars

Many of the jumpers will also be raising money for charities of their choice.

Sewer And Water Project Eyed

The town of Fort Frances has identified a section of Second Street as a high priority upgrade in an application for funding from the province.

The town wants to replace aging and severely deteriorating water and sewer lines in area of Central and Mowatt Avenues.

The town's seeking a third of the estimated one-point-three million dollars total cost.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bayfield Continues Work

Bayfield photo
Drills at Bayfield Ventures' exploration project are expected to continue into the next year.

Bayfield is working adjacent to the Rainy River Resources project, north of Barwick.

Company president Jim Petitt says they believe there's still plenty of gold to be found.

Petitt says while there's nothing written in stone, their finds might be attractive to Rainy River Resources to acquire in the future.

Canadian Company Interested in Minnesota Peat

A Canadian company is expressing interest in extracting a high quality type of peat from northeastern Minnesota.

Koochiching County has one of the largest deposits of sphagnum peat in the U.S.

Outgoing Commissioner Mike Hanson says the problem is that in lies in protected science and nature areas

Hanson says it may take some legislative changes for the unnamed company to access the areas, the County will pursue in the new year.

More Native Demonstrations in Rainy River Area

A number of aboriginal people danced and carried placards in front of the Walmart Store in Fort Frances on Monday to draw attention to the Idle No More Movement in this area.

It follows a walk staged Friday in support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike and the opposition to the federal government's omnibus budget bill C-45.

A similar event happened yesterday inside a mall in Bemidji.

Helicopters and Pilots Wanted

MNCIS photo
Minnesota is seeking a few good helicopters and pilots.

The Department of Natural Resources is hunting for helicopter services for its fire control bases in Cloquet, Princeton and Roseau.

The agency hopes to hear from potential vendors by early January.

Alzheimer Society Fundraiser Set

The Alzheimer Society for Kenora-Rainy River is preparing for a major fundraiser next month.

The Forget Me Not Charitable Dinner will take place January 12 at the La Place Rendez-Vous in Fort Frances.

Executive Director Lynn Moffatt says tickets are now on sale.

Call the Society's office in Kenora for ticket details, or click this link to the Alzheimer Society's website.

Community Christmas Dinner Celebrates 25th

Many area residents took advantage of a free dinner in Fort Frances on Christmas Day.

The Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau hosted its 25th annual event at Knox United Church.

Volunteer June Caul says its been an important one to the community.

Organizers says support from several businesses and volunteers help make the event possible year after year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Area First Nations Protest C-45

First Nations continue to speak out against the Harper Government and its omnibus budget bill C-45.
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A walk Friday from Couchiching to Fort Frances was part of the national Idle No More protests.

Couchiching Chief Chuck McPherson says it's not just aboriginal people who should be concerned with sections of the Bill that impact areas as the environment.

First Nations also see the Bill a threat on the Treaties.

Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White says they can't stand idly by.

November Crime Stats

OPP have seen a drop in some crimes in Fort Frances.

Just 49 charges were laid in November, slightly less than half the number the month before.

After a rash of break-ins and acts of mischief in October, police report investigating just a single act of mischief last month.

That being damage to truck.

Two drivers were also charged with impaired driving, compared with 7 in October.

Chopper Says Goodbye

A long-time municipal politician in International Falls is saying farewell.

Mayor Tim "Chopper" McBride ended 22 years in office with his last council meeting last week.

McBride says he leaves with no regrets of the decisions he's made.

McBride called for a continuance of Economic Development Authority and the summer concert at the Irvin N. Anderson amphitheatre.

Fort Frances Mayor Looks Ahead

Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis says there's a lot on council's plate heading into the 2013.

At the top of the list, Avis says, is the town having to deal with the pending outcome of Resolute Forest Products assessment appeal and its recent idling of its kraft mill and paper machine.

The town is planning to review the water and sewer agreement with Couchiching First Nations with the land claims issue over Pither's Point Park front and center. 

Christmas Dinners Planned

Community Christmas dinners are planned on both sides of the border tomorrow.

Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau will hold its 25th annual event at Knox United Church beginning at noon until 2 p.m.

In International Falls, a dinner will be served from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Aurora Bar 'N' Grill on Highway 11 East.

Both events are free of charge, although donations are welcome.

Track Santa

Volunteers are pulling on their Santa hats, phone lines are set, and tracking screens are ready.

NORAD Tracks Santa is primed for its 57th annual goodwill mission.

NORAD Santa trackers will start taking calls this morning, telling children -- and some adults -- when Santa is due at their house.

The number is 877-HI-NORAD or 877-446-6723.

Updates will be posted online at as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Town Officials Meet With Resolute

Officials with the town of Fort Frances have managed to talk with the president and CEO of Resolute Forest Products about the future of the mill in Fort Frances.

That meeting came Wednesday while Richard Garneau and senior members of the company's management team were in Thunder Bay.

Mayor Roy Avis calls the meeting very good, noting the company is researching potential products, but will take time to complete.

Avis says they'll continue to dialogue with Resolute and assist however it can.

Police Asked To Schools In International Falls

Students and staff at public schools in International Falls will have Police on hand for the last day of school heading into the Christmas Break.

Superintendent of Independent School District 361 Nordy Nelson says they asked police to attend the final couple of days in light of last week's school shooting in Connecticut.

Nelson says their schools are safe and the police helps ease fears and stem rumours.

Since yesterday, Police have been on site before and after school and during the lunch period. 

Nelson says schools have always had doors locked other than the front door, but the board will look at how to improve safety for students further in the new year.

Board Action To Keep Schools Safe

The Rainy River District School Board has a number of safety initiatives in place for its schools.

Education Director Heather Campbell says most of its schools are fitted with video cameras, some installed this past summer.

Campbell says staff across the district have also been involved in Threat/Risk Assessment training.

The board also works closely with OPP in developing plans.

More Education Protests Threatened

School support workers are joining teachers in threatening to stage a one-day protest if the governing Liberals force a collective agreement on them in the new year.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents custodians, educational assistants and others.

December 31st is the deadline for education workers to negotiate new collective agreements with school boards.

First Nations Protests

First Nations are Idle No More.

Couchiching First Nation will be the latest site of aboriginal protests over federal Bill C-45 and support of hunger striker Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat.

Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White says everyone needs to fight the passing of the bill.

Today's protest begins at noon at the Multi-use facility in Couchiching before marching toward Fort Frances downtown.

Rainycrest Still Restricting Visitors

Visitor restrictions at Rainycrest Long Term Care will now have an impact on Christmas at the home.

Those restrictions went into effect last week because of an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

As a result, a dinner planned for Christmas Day for residents has been cancelled.

Only family members are being allowed to visit, permitting they don't any flu or cold-like symptoms.

McDonald's Reopens Tomorrow

The public will get its first look at a remodelled McDonald's Restaurant in Fort Frances this weekend.

The Restaurant is scheduled reopen its doors tomorrow.

A grand opening is planned for January 5 with a special appearance expected from Ronald McDonald.

Small Businesses Receive

Some provincial funding for a couple of small businesses in the Rainy River district.

Rainy River Cereal, based out of Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, has received over $47-thousand from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to continue marketing and developing its product.

Finland Corners has received over $44-thousand for an expansion of its business along Highway 71 in Chapple Township.

International Falls Planning For Bass Tournament

International Falls is preparing for its annual bass fishing tournament.

The 9th annual event is scheduled for late August.

Committee member Marty Cody says their big accomplishment this past summer was finding a way, with the help of the Fire department, to clean live wells, meeting State laws regarding the control of invasive species.

Cody says the planning committee will start meeting in early January.

Changes To FFCBC In Works

Organizers with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship are making some changes to next summer's fishing tournament.

The entry fee has been dropped from $1,000 to $800.

Organizers are also considering a move back to the waterfront.

The event was relocated to the Memorial Sports Centre two years ago because of financial and manpower considerations.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Power Corp. Opposes Amalgamation Suggestions

A new report suggesting sweeping changes to Ontario's electrical distribution system isn't being greeted warmly by the Fort Frances Power Corporation.

The report, issued last week, suggests voluntary amalgamation of municipal utilities, saving the province more than a billion dollars over ten years.

Chair of the Power Corp. Doug McCaig doesn't see bigger being better for our area.

McCaig doesn't believe the report recognizes the regional differences faced by northern Ontario electricity distributors.

Education Minister Issues Warning To Teachers

Education Minister Laurel Broten is advising the union representing public elementary school teachers to focus on local bargaining, not on more job action.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario is planning to announce its next steps in its ongoing labour dispute with government tomorrow.

Teachers around the province have been participating in one-day rotating strikes for the past two weeks.

Broten warns any strike action after December 31 will be illegal.

Skywest Now Serving International Falls

Skywest Airlines has started flying out the International Falls Airport.

The Utah-based air carrier officially took over the route from Delta last weekend.

Spokesperson Wes Horrocks says for flying public, there's really little change.

Skywest if providing two daily round trip flights with a 50 seat Bombardier CRJ200, connecting with other Delta flights out of Minneapolis.

Energy Efficiency Designation For Falls Building

The city of International Falls has been received an significant energy efficiency certification for its development of Voyageur National Park's headquarters.

The city received Silver status from the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

It's the first building constructed in International Falls to receive LEED certification.

Advice Available To Resolute Workers

Some help today for workers impacted by the idling of the kraft mill and paper machine at Resolute Forest Products mill in Fort Frances.

The Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union has set up information sessions at the Legion in Fort Frances to provide workers with advice on employment, training and education opportunities.

Representatives from Service Canada, NCDS and the provincial Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities will be on hand first at 1:30 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.

Walmart Helping Salvation Army Today

Your donation to the Salvation Army's Christmas Kettle at Walmart could be a little extra special today.

Walmart Canada is once again planning to match donations collected today up to a maximum $100-thousand.

World Vision Gift Catalogue Still Open

A Chicken might not be a gift item on your Christmas list, but it's something you can buy to help someone living in an underdeveloped country.

Genevieve Barber of World Vision Canada says it's not too late to consider making a purchase from its Gift Catalogue on behalf of someone on your list.

Items ranges from farm animals, clothing, school supplies to medicine.

Barber says the donation, which is tax deductible, includes a card explaining how its helping.

Last year, nearly $8-thousand in gift items were purchased by Fort Frances area residents.

Here's a link to that catalogue -

Teachers To Outline Future Job Action Tomorrow

The union representing Ontario elementary school teachers is expected to discuss its next steps in its ongoing labour action later this week.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is planning a news conference for Friday.

The event caps off two weeks of rotating one-day walkouts by the teachers, who say they are protesting legislation that allows the government to ban strikes and impose contract agreements on teachers.

Three People Hurt in Crash

Three people are recovering from injuries following an accident on Highway 11, west of Fort Frances Tuesday.

OPP say a pick-up truck lost control and slid into the path of another oncoming pickup about 15 kilometres west of town.

The 54-year-old male driver and a 51-year old female passenger from one truck and the 29-year-old driver of the other were transported to LaVerendrye Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

S.I.U. Clears OPP Officier

An OPP officer in Red Lake has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the death of man in that northwestern Ontario community early last month.

The province's Special Investigation Unit concluded its investigation by saying the 35-year-old took his own life, but there was no police contact or involvement at the time of his death.

New Air Ambulance CEO

Ontario's embattled air ambulance service has scooped up the province's chief coroner to be its new president and CEO.

Dr. Andrew McCallum will start his new position January 21.

McCallum has been Ontario's chief coroner since 2008.

Health Unit Looking Into Suspected Food Poisoning

Thunder Bay's Health Unit is looking into a case of suspected food poisoning.

A number of people have reported being sick after taking part in a number of catered events in the City this past week.

If you are ill and believe it may be connected to something you ate at a catered event, your asked to contact the health unit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Protest Today

Motorists travelling along Highway 71 may encounter a brief delay this morning.

Members of Onigaming First Nation near Nestor Falls intend to protest measures contained in the federal government's omnibus bill they say effect the environment and First Nation Treaties.

Chief Norman Copenance says the protest will be peaceful.

Protesters will begin with a ceremony at the community's school before marching along the Highway around 10 a.m.

Opposition Differs on Teachers Dispute

Opposition parties continue to differ in their response to the ongoing strikes by public elementary teachers in Ontario.

NDP are stand in support of teachers in calls to repeal legislation imposing a contact on them.

PC education critic Lisa MacLeod says government should use Bill 115 to end the rotating strikes.

The Liberal have the power to end the strikes, but are allowing them to continue if 72-hour notice is provided.

RIDE Numbers Released

Maybe a sign area motorists are getting the message about drinking and driving.

OPP say just one driver so far has been charged with impaired driving in the Rainy River district during this year's Festive RIDE program that began at the end of November.

Two other motorists, checked by police, had their licenses briefly suspended after being found with a blood alcohol limit of between 0.05 and 0.08.