Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Otterness Says Goodbye

International Falls city administrator is saying farewell.

Rod Otterness is becoming city manager of Union Gap in Washington State.

Otterness says he leaves with great respect for the people he's worked with and will have a fondness for the unique relationship seen between International Falls and Fort Frances.

Otterness worked his last day in the Falls yesterday.

Harper Recognized Tug Of War Event Again

For the second straight year, Prime Minister Harper is giving recognition to the Pulling For Peace tug-of-war between Fort Frances and International Falls.

He's signed a declaration recognizing July 2nd, the day of the event, as International Peaceful Border's Day

Councillor Rick Wiedenhoeft says they'll still working on a similar declaration from the U.S. government.

Wiedenhoeft says they'll be sitting down next week to plan the tug of war with Chambers of Commerce on both sides of the border getting involved.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Huffman School Proposal Pitched

A senior's group is pressing its case for making the former Huffman School in Fort Frances an extension of the Sister Kennedy Centre.

Members of the Fort Frances Seniors Advisory Committee outlined its proposal to town council last night.

Spokesperson Allan Bedard says their plan fits with the town's own strategic plan relating to seniors.

Bedard says dollars needed to reopen the building could be taken out of the Centre's reserve fund with various grants helping to cover the ongoing operating costs.

Council will now review the proposal at the committee level

New Councillor Appointed

Doug Kitowski (l) sworn into office
The vacancy on Fort Frances council has been filled.

Doug Kitowski was selected by the remaining members of council to fill the seat for the remainder of the term.

The owner of a local trucking firm has served on a number of town committees in the past.

Kitowski says he joins with no personal agenda and says the first few months will be learning how things operate.

New Chief Building Officials Appointed

Travis Rob shown here on right
The town of Fort Frances has a new chief building official.

Travis Rob takes over from Rick Hallam who is retiring at the end of this month.

Hallam, though, will continue to serve as needed in a deputy capacity.

Water System Scores High Marks

Fort Frances' water system is getting good marks from the province.

Councillor Rick Wiedenhoeft says it came following a comprehensive review of the system by the Ministry of Environment.

Overall, the Ministry gave it a score of 96 per cent.

The Ministry did find a couple of minor non-compliance issues relating to sampling and data recording.

Wiedenhoeft credits staff for the high marks.

NDP Questions Casino Expansion Plans

Ontario's New Democrats want the province to put the kibosh on its plans to build new casinos.

The NDP is warning that the property values of some existing casinos have plunged dramatically.

But Premier Wynne defends the government's plans, saying new casinos are needed because some of the older ones close to the U.S. border aren't bringing in as much money as they used to.

NDP Blasts Harper Government On Commitment To Northern Ontario

The federal NDP is accusing the Harper government of abandoning northern Ontario.

MP Glenn Thibeault points to the cut in FEDNOR's budget while at the same time increasing funding for an economic development agency in southern Ontario.

NDP add the only reference to northern Ontario in the federal budget comes in a passing reference in a section related to economic development in southern Ontario.

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Chief Building Official Considered

Travis Rob (r)
A new councillor isn't the only appointment Fort Frances town council is expected to make tonight.

Administration is recommending council appoint Travis Rob as the town's new Chief Building Official.

He's now Facility and Special Projects Coordinator.

Rick Hallam, who is currently Chief Building Official, is retiring at the end of this month, but has agreed to stay on as required in a deputy capacity.

Rob has been recently writing the necessary exams to qualify for Chief Building Official and has one more to go for his inspection qualifications.

DSSAB Passes Budget

It will spend more in 2013, but the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board is giving municipalities a bit of a break on their financial commitment.

The DSSAB's $18.8 million is $2-million more than last year.

Chief Administrative Officer Dan McCormack says it's because of new money from the province.

It means being able to reduce the municipal share of funding by just over one per cent.

There is an increase in land ambulance costs.

A fund set up to handle additional patient transfers from Rainy River will stay in place while officials assess the doctor situation in that community.

Pre-Budget Hearing Set For NWO

File photo
A legislative committee gathering input into the upcoming budget will hold a hearing in northwestern Ontario after all.

It's set for April 3 in Thunder Bay.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell, who had been critical of the committee for not initially  scheduling meetings in the region, is pleased by the decision and hopes area groups and organizations will participate.

Council To Pick New Councillor Today

Fort Frances town council is expected to fill a vacancy at the table today.

A special meeting this afternoon will be held to interview the four candidates up for the job.

Arlene Georgeson, Ed Haglund, Doug Kitowski and Joe Galbraith put their names forward.

The selected candidate is to be sworn during tonight meeting.

Fire Department Honoured

The Fort Frances Fire and Rescue Service is being honoured by the Canadian Military.

It's been recognized for allowing one of its own, Nathan Cousineau, to take time from his employment to serve as a reservist.

The Service was presented with an Award of Excellence from the Canadian Forces Liaison Council.

Cousineau nominated the Department for the Award.

The awards are given out every two years.

Strike Vote By LCBO Workers Planned

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario is expressing disappointment that a union representing seven-thousand of its employees is seeking a strike vote.

The contract with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union expires March 31.

The union is upset with LCBO`s demands for a four-year wage freeze.

A LCBO spokesperson complains the union announced the strike vote after only 10 hours of face-to-face bargaining.

Food For Fines

Tardy library users in International Falls can get a break on the fines they may owe.

All this week, the Falls Public Library will accept non-perishable food items as payment.

Director Diane Adams says it's part of a campaign to help fill the local food bank.

Adams says in past years, they've collected between three to five hundred pounds of foods through the campaign now in its tenth year.

Question Of The Week

What do you think about the federal budget?

Let us know on our website

In response to our last question, 59 per cent of respondents would support town council abandoning its plans for a housing division in favour of other uses of the former Huffman School property?

A proposal to use the former school as an extension to the Sister Kennedy Centre comes before council on Monday.

Friday, March 22, 2013

High Fur Prices Helping Industry

Canada's fur industry is experiencing something it hasn't seen in a long time.

Furs are being sold off, in some cases, at record-breaking prices.

President of the Rainy River Fur Trappers Council Brian Love says that can only bode well for their future.

Love says increased interest in Canadian furs from the Pacific Rim countries is partly responsible for the high prices.

More Time Needed To Meet Standards

U.S. Representative Rick Nolan says Minnesota taconite producers need more time to meet certain air quality standards.

Nolan says he's telling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the companies need up to five years to try out new technologies aimed at reducing pollution.

The federal regulations are aimed at reducing haze over northern Minnesota's wild areas including Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Minimum Wage Freeze Protested

A mock 10-dollar bill _ frozen in a block of ice _ has been presented to the provincial government.

It was handed over to a representative of Ontario's Labour Ministry during a protest at Queen's Park over the government's minimum wage freeze.

Several advocacy groups want a three year freeze lifted and the minimum wage brought to $14.00 an hour.

Riverfest Tickets Go On Sale Next Week

Tickets for Riverfest in International Falls will go on sale next week.

This July's concert, at the Irvin N. Anderson Amphitheatre, will now feature four bands - Arch Allies, Beatles tribute band "Hard Day's Night," Rush tribute band "Spin Drift" and Lynyrd Skynrd tribute band "Freebird."

The concert is being co-organized this year by Falls Rotary Club and Backus Community Center.

Tickets are just $20.00 in advance and $ 25.00 at the gate.

Tickets will be available beginning March 26 at the following locations:

International Falls:                 Fort Frances:

Backus Community Center
Chocolate Moose
City Drug
International Falls Chamber of Commerce
It's A Girl Thing
Loon's Nest                        
Rainy Lake One Stop
The Outdoorsman's Headquarters

Fort Frances

Boston Pizza
93.1 The Border
Northwods Gallery and Gifts
Sight and Sound

To purchase tickets by credit card, call Backus at (218) 285-7225.

Buy tickets online at

Province Called On To Keep ELA Open

Calls to the province to help keep the Experimental Lakes Research site near Kenora open.

It's set to close at the end of this month with the Harper government's withdrawal of funding.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell feels the province should be taking a greater role in the fight to keep the site open.

A NDP motion in the House of Commons Wednesday to keep the facility open was defeated.

Chamber Now Accepts Nominees

Nominees are now being accepts for the Atikokan Chamber of Commerce's business awards.

They'll be handed out May 16.

Nomination forms for award in Business Excellence, Entrepreneur of the Year, Health & Safety, Customer Service and the Ambassador's Award are available at the Chamber's office on Main Street.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Emo Walleye Classic Makes Changes

Emo Walleye Classic photo
Organizers of an area fishing tournament want you to start thinking about their event, and are offering some incentives to get you involved.

It includes a lower entry fee to the Emo Walleye Classic.

Co-chair Lincoln Dunn says they hope a fee of $500 will entice few new anglers.

Dunn says anglers will also be allowed to fish the Rainy River right to its mouth at Baudette which might be attractive to those who currently fish the west end of the river.

Budget Day In Canada

The Harper government brings down its budget later today.

Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty doesn't see much good news for Canadians coming out the fiscal document.

He's expecting to sees more services cuts impacting northern Ontario and  a lack of effort to create new jobs.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to shuffle spending priorities without adding any new money.

Audit Finds Issues With First Nations Policing Program

Audits of the First Nations Policing Program found a number of cases in which officers' personnel files were missing proof they completed basic training, did not have criminal records and were actually Canadian citizens.

Investigators also found apparent violations of aboriginal communities' policing agreements with the federal government.

The findings of the audits raise questions about the level of oversight in  the $122-million-a-year program used to offset native policing costs.

Police Seek Help In Theft Case

Provincial Police are seeking the public's help in locating a number of items stolen from a cottage in Lake of the Woods township.

The items include a green and tan coloured 17 foot Lund boat, a Johnson outboard motor, a Minkota electric trolling motor, a 9.9 Honda motor and a grey E-Z Loader trailer.

Keep Smiling

Premier Kathleen Wynne wants Ontario's governing Liberals to keep smiling even though they may be facing a sea of troubles.

Wynne told a major party fundraiser last night in Toronto that the looming threat isn't a spring election, but a toxic political environment.

Wynne says voters will tune out if they see a provincial politicians being vicious and willfully partisan.

County Health Report

Koochiching County ranks near the middle in a new report examining the healthiness of counties in Minnesota.

Counties were ranked by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute on a variety of factors.

Koochiching's rating is dragged down in part by slightly higher than average rates for adult obesity, excessive drinking and child poverty.

Nutrition Workshop

Questions you might have about those nutrition labels found on the food you buy will be answered next week.

Rooksana Randeree, the registered dietician at Riverside Health Care Facilities, is offering a workshop next Wednesday as part of nutrition month.

There is also a virtual trip through a grocery store to teach people how to make healthy food choices.

Register by calling 274-4817.

Atikokan Volunteer In Kraft Canada Contest

A long-time volunteer with Atikokan Minor Hockey is a finalist in Kraft Canada's new Hockey Goes On contest.

Brad Sampson is the only one from northwestern Ontario in the final 100 the public can vote for this weekend as Kraft prepares to reward volunteers and their associations with a share of a million dollars.

As well as serving as president and coaching a team in Atikokan, he also coached a girls team this year in Fort Frances.

You can support Sampson and Atikokan Minor Hockey by voting at this Saturday and Sunday.

Assault Captured On Video

Dryden Police are investigating an assault at a fast-food restaurant in that city.

The incident was captured video and immediately became the centre of attention on social media.

Police Chief Rob Davis says they were only made aware of the undated incident last night, but have been able to identify the victim and a suspect and charges are likely.

Police are also hoping to talk to the person who shot the video.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

No Pre-Budget Hearings In Northwest

There's be no stops in northwestern Ontario for a provincial pre-budget consultation committee.

The legislative committee began its work last week with stops in Windsor, Timmins and Ottawa, ending in Toronto this week.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell is disappointed it's not making a trip this way.

Campbell's hoping to fill the void by sending out her own pre-budget document to get residents thinking of what the budget priorities should be.

Accommodation Review Meetings Begin

A chance tonight to express your thoughts about the future of a small catholic school in the Rainy River district's west end.

A committee, tasked with examining the future of Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton, will hold the first of four scheduled public meetings.

Low enrollment has prompted the review.

Tonight's meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the schoo.

Visitor Restrictions At Emo Hospital

Google Earth
A case of Influenza A has forced Riverside Health Care Facilities to impose visitor restrictions at the long-term care unit of the Emo Health Centre.

Patient visits are being restricted to family members only and to the resident's room.

Hospital officials also advise that if your experiencing any flu symptoms not to visit.

All group programming by Activation has also been cancelled until further notice.

Children Need To Be Active.

Children in the region aren't getting enough daily physical activity.

People for Education says its mainly due to the lack of physical education teachers in elementary schools, resulting in kids are falling short of the recommended amount of activity time.

Elaine Fischer with the Northwestern Health Unit says its an ongoing concern.

Fischer says developing physical activity early in life is key to life long habits.

Local Support For New Pope

Local support for Pope Francis.

Director of Education with the Northwest Catholic District School Board, Mary-Catherine Kelly expects him to shed a new light on the catholic system.

Kelly says the pope's message of hope will hopefully inspire students to help and support others.

Greenpeace Apologizes

Greenpeace Canada has acknowledged it was wrong when it accused Resolute Forest Products of secretly logging in protected boreal forests.

The environmental group says it has learned that the allegations it made the company in December were inaccurate.

Greenpeace says it sincerely regrets its error, and all references to the allegations have been removed from its website.

U.S. V.P. Interested In Minnesota Gun Law Debate

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is taking an interest in Minnesota's gun law debate.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says Biden personally called him late last week to assess where the issue stands at Minnesota's Capitol.

Much of the focus has been around on requiring background checks on gun purchases.

Bakk says Biden also wanted to know opponents were fighting gun control measures.

Spring Is Here??

Today is the first day of spring, but looking outside it is hard to believe with 20 centimetres of fresh snow earlier this week.

If you think back, we were enjoying temperatures of 20 C, or 68 F, at this time last year.

It’s going to be colder than normal to start spring off this time, but we should see more seasonal temperatures later in the week.

Land Purchase Deal Completed

The city of International Falls has finally closed a purchase deal with Boise for land that will become the site of a multi-modal facility.

The more than $179-thousand purchase includes about 30 hectares, or 77 acres, to the east of the city, running adjacent to rail lines and a truck route.

Director of Economic and Community Development Shawn Mason says completion of the agreement allows them to focus on the project and have further discussions with the unnamed developer.

It's hopes work will begin later this year.

Appeal Court Supports Province

Ontario's highest court has ruled that the province has the right to "take up'' treaty land for mining and forestry.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation, north of Kenora, challenged Ontario's right to permit industrial logging on its traditional lands, saying it infringed on their hunting and trapping rights under a treaty they signed in 1873.

But The Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled yesterday the province doesn't need the federal government's approval to ``take up'' the lands - a decision that overturns a lower-court ruling.

Stockholders Meeting Comes To NWO

Resolute Forest Products is bringing its annual stockholders meeting to northwestern Ontario.

The meeting is scheduled for Thunder Bay on May 16.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

City Moves Ahead With Licensing Of Rental Properties

The city of International Falls is taking the next step towards licensing and inspecting rental properties.

Council approved at their meeting last night to sent a letter asking landlords to register their properties with the city.

Some landlords like John Vinar feel the city's moving too quick with its efforts.

The city has always had an ordinance requiring the licensing of rental properties, but never had a process to enforce it.

The city isn't requiring landlords to have licenses until the end of 2014.

Liberals Not Following Through With Merger

Even though it could produce a substantial saving, the Ontario government says it won't force local electricity distribution utilities to merge.

An expert panel set up by the Liberal government called for the 80 local distribution companies to be merged into eight-to-12 regional agencies within two years.

But Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says the Liberal government will not legislate forced consolidation.

The Fort Frances Power Corporation had opposed the merger plan saying it would lead to high electricity rates for its power users.

Phys-Ed Teacher Shortage

R. R.  District School Board photo
A new report from an education advocacy group says there's a shortage of physical education teachers in Ontario's elementary schools.

The report from People for Education finds only 45 per cent of schools surveyed had a specialist physical education and health teacher on staff.

The shortage is most pronounced in northern Ontario where only 22 per cent of schools have phys-ed staff compared to 75 per cent in the Toronto area.

Overdose Prevention Program Launched

The Northwestern Health Unit wants to prevent drug overdose deaths in the region.

It's started a prevention program aimed at those who are at risk of overdosing on opioids such as oxycodone.

Manager Gillian Lunny says eligible participants will be offered a drug called Naloxone that helps counter the effects of an overdose.

Lunny says they're also educating those of the risks associated with using opioids.

Fort Frances Not On Casino List

A deadline for communities to submit an application for a casino to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has passed without Fort Frances on the list.

OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti says there were 10 other communities that did make it, including  including Kenora.

The province considers the Kenora area as an under-serviced areas for gaming potential.

Provincial Promoting Mining Benefits

The provincial government is highlighting the benefits mining is having on Ontario's economy.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle says the province is seeing record spending by the industry.

"In 2003, exploration expenditures in Ontario were $193 million," says Gravelle. "In 2011, we surpassed the $1-billion mark in mineral exploration. That makes Ontario the leading jurisdiction in Canada for exploration. The value of mineral production in 2003 was $5.7 billion. In 2011, we reached $10.7 billion."

Gravelle says that makes Ontario the leading jurisdiction in Canada when it come to exploration.

Some Moose Deaths Caused By Wolves

Researchers tracking the decline of northern Minnesota's moose population have found wolves are to blame for some of the deaths.

State wildlife experts trapped 111 moose in January and February and placed GPS trackers and transmitters on the animals.

Researchers say six of the moose in the study have died and at least two appear to be victims of wolf attacks.

Bus Cancellations For Tuesday March 19

Poor road conditions in the rural areas are forcing some buses to cancel their routes today.

Here is a list of buses not running today.

DB100 - ANH     Jane Peterson    Dimit Buslines
DB101 - BN    Tracy Mose    Dimit Buslines
DB102 - BP    Vic Alberts    Dimit Buslines
DB103 - CLE    Karen Borger    Dimit Buslines
DB104 - CN    Bradley Shoemaker    Dimit Buslines
DB105 - ECE    Harrold Boven     Dimit Buslines
DB106 - ENS    Kyla Hartlin    Dimit Buslines
DB107 - ESS    Gwen Dimit    Dimit Buslines
DB110 - RFH    Bernice Kornelsen    Dimit Buslines
DB111 - SCE    Jody Jolicouer     Dimit Buslines
DB112 - SFN    Aleata Jerry    Dimit Buslines
SM235 - DSE    Shane McDonald    Shane McDonald
GF200  - CLS    Greg Ferris    Greg Ferri
IR302  - ASH    Herman Rodrigues    Iron Range
IR312 - TNC (RP-AM)    Roman Mlynarski    Iron Range
IR304  - ATW    Stacy Bragg    Iron Range
IR306 -  DSH     Nancy Allan    Iron Range
IR307  - LAMB (RP-PM)    Lyndon Hughes    Iron Range - reef point portion of run this afternoon only
IR308  - MIS    Karen Kellar     Iron Range
Stanjikoming First Nation - Brian Wayash
Rainy River First Nation high school bus - Viola Medicine

Keep listing to 93.1 The Border or for updates throughout the day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

High School Report Card Released

It's back to school for students across the Rainy River district today with news area high schools aren't getting the best of grades from a conservative think-tank.

The Fraser Institute has released its latest report card on secondary schools and how well their students performed in recent provincial tests.

Co-author Peter Cowley says Fort Frances High School is among schools that haven't seen seen much improvement over the past five years.