Friday, May 31, 2013

Overdue Hike Found Safe

An overdue hiker is okay after spending the night in the woods of northeastern Minnesota.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's office says the 31-year-old man from Grand Rapids emerged from the woods on his own yesterday morning.

He had gone for a hike on a trail northeast of Orr Wednesday, telling family members he'd be back that night.

Because of bad weather, the hiker decided to camp out overnight and hike out in the morning.

Missing Teen Sought

OPP are seeking the public's help in locating a Fort Frances teen.

Police say 16-year-old Angela Shutes had left a home in the town's east end May 19.

She was spotted at a north end home Monday night in the company of a man where she told people there she did not wish to be found.

Shutes is described as being native with a heavy build and wearing dark rimmed glasses.

She sometimes uses the last name as Linklater.

DNA Being Sought To Identify Decades Old Remains

Minnesota authorities are asking families of missing loved ones to provide DNA samples as part of an effort to identify about 100 sets of human remains.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says many of the unidentified remains were discovered decades ago, before DNA testing was available.

Kasabonika Residents Return Home

Emergency Management Ontario says all of the residents of Kasabonika Lake First Nation who were evacuated from the community have returned home.

EMO says the flood situation in the remote northwestern Ontario First Nation has stabilized, although water levels in the area still remain high.

Power Outages Hits Western Part of District

A brief power outage yesterday for several residents living west of Fort Frances.

Nearly 42-hundred Hydro One customers between Alberton township and Rainy River were without power for about ninety minutes yesterday afternoon.

Hydro One says the outage was so crews could make emergency repairs. 

Zebra Mussels Found In Minnesota Waters Linked To Ontario

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Zebra mussels have been found in a Minnesota lake that eventually flows into the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods.

The Department of Natural Resources confirms the invasive species were found attached to a dock removed last fall from Sand Lake, 170 kilometres, southwest of International Falls.

Zebra mussels have also been identified in nearby Little Sand Lake.

Both lakes are part of a chain of waters that eventually flow into Rainy River.

Additional searches of connected waters are being performed to determine the scope of the infestation.

New Kids' Garden Club Formed

Young people will get a chance to grow a their own garden this summer.

A new Kids's Garden Club is being establish as part of the Fort Frances Community Garden.

Krista Nielson of the Northwestern Health Unit says a number of small plots are being set up for children of all ages to participate.

Nielson says it will help foster healthy eating habits and educate youngsters about where their food comes from.

Registration to the club can be made by calling Krista at the Health Unit at 274-9371

CEP/CAW Merge To Be Called Unifor

What will become Canada's largest private sector union now has a name.

The new group _ which brings together the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and the Canadian Auto Workers _ will be called Unifor.

Its logo will be a red U on a white shield.

The new union will represent about six-thousand workers in northwestern Ontario.

Library Announced Summer Hour

Summer hours for the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre will kick in this weekend.

It will be open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. while closing weekends.

Tax Extension Given To Some Minnesota Businesses

Some Minnesota businesses are getting extra time to pay taxes.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue is advising that some commercial property owners can have two extra weeks to make their first-half tax payments.

It's the result of a new law meant to accommodate businesses that have seen profits hampered by a cool, wet spring.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quetico Centre To Reopen As School

The former Quetico Centre near Atikokan is set to reopen as a school.

The former conference facility was recently purchased by Toronto educator Michael Heaton with the intent of refurbishing it into a private boarding school.

Heaton says he's received plenty of interest from teachers.

Heaton hopes to open the school this fall with an enrollment of about 30 students.

Protocol Signed Between Treaty 3 And Cancer Care Ontario

Cancer Care Ontario is helping to reduce cancer concerns among area First Nations.

It's signed a new relationship protocol with Grand Council Treaty 3.

Council director Alethea Kewawyosh says its aimed at patient care and education.

Kewawyosh says cancer rates among native men have tripled and while doubling among women.

Mental Health Issues Discussed

A message of hope for those dealing with mental health issues.

Kendra Fisher, a former member of Canada' national women's hockey program, is travelling around the region to talk about her experiences after being diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder.

Fisher says increasing awareness can help others.

Fisher spoke yesterday at Fort Frances high School and at a public presentation.

Upgrades Planned For Senior Centre

Some upgrades to the Sister Kennedy Centre in Fort Frances are in the works.

Town council agreed this week to award a contract to replace the senior centre's roof.

The roof experienced leaking during the spring, forcing buckets to take the place of card tables to collect falling water.

The job will cost over $22-thousand which will be taken out of the town's reserve fund.

Wet Weather Forecast Until Saturday

Get ready for another dose of wet weather.

A Colorado low is heading our way and is expected to bring a lot of rain.

Environment Canada says some areas could get as much up as 50 millimeters by the time the system moves away Saturday

MPP Renews Calls For Paved Shoulders

A Tory MPP is renewing calls for paved shoulders on provincial highways.

It's the third time that Norm Miller has introduced a paved shoulders bill with previous unsuccessful attempts to get the legislation passed coming in 2010 and 2011.

Miller says studies have shown that paved shoulders have a positive effect by increasing opportunities for cycling tourism and reducing recreation-related collisions.

No Nomination Meeting Just Yet

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With the threat of an imminent provincial election diminishing, the provincial NDP in Thunder Bay-Atikokan don't seem ready to select a candidate just yet.

There are currently two candidates in the running, George Saarinen and Mary Kozorys.

The riding Association's Robin Rickards says they are waiting to be vetted by provincial party officials and until that happens, no date can be set for a nomination meeting.

Budget Motion Approved

Any threat of a spring election in Ontario is diminishing.

The governing Liberals survived a confidence vote on the provincial budget with help from the New Democrats.

The vote on the budget motion, not the actual budget bill, passed 65-to-36 this morning with only the Progressive Conservatives opposed.

After securing several concessions, the NDP agreed to vote with the Liberals.

The government wants the vote on the actual budget bill itself before the summer recess scheduled to begin June 7.

She's willing to support the budget, but Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell believes the Liberals can do better.

Campbell suggests Premier Kathleen Wynne should look at hiking corporate taxes instead of increasing the burden on ordinary Ontarians.

Campbell says government also needs to work with First Nations closer on projects such as the twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway

Health Coverage For Celiac Disease Testing Sought

Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro is calling for improved access to testing for celiac disease.

Mauro has introduced a private member's bill that seeks an expansion of Ontario's health coverage for the tests.

He introduced a similar bill several years ago.

MP Seeks To Restrict Motions of Confidence

An Independent MP from northwestern Ontario wants to put an end to motions of confidence in Parliament.

Bruce Hyer says his private members bill would restrict the Prime Minister's ability to declare any issue a matter of confidence.

Hyer hopes to get support from the opposition parties.

Fort Frances To Host NOMA

Next year's gathering of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association will happen in Fort Frances.

Town council has given its blessing to hosting the event with support from area municipalities.

Chapple and Alberton township councils have already agreed to provide a thousand dollars and a staff person to assist.

Fort Frances last hosted the annual gathering of the region's municipal representatives in 2009.

Three Charged With Impaired Driving

Three drivers from the Rainy River district will be making court appearances next month on impaired driving charges.

They were charged in separate incidents that occurred last week in Fort Frances, Emo and Atikokan.

In each case, OPP acted on complaints from the public.

Forest Fire Hazard High

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The forest fire hazard remains high across the northwest region.

There are no fires burning in the Rainy River district, but the Ministry of Natural Resources is worried about the number of blazes deemed human-caused this season.

All but one, that in the Thunder Bay region, have been started by something other than lightning.

Tourism Battles Continue

The fight to reopen provincial tourism centres in northwestern Ontario is continuing at Queen's Park.

Kenora Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell says the government has no idea how its decisions are impacting the region.

Campbell is also critical of proposed fishing regulation changes for this region that would reduce non-resident catch limits from four to two.

Campbell says this would make it difficult for some campowners to attract business and result in their closure.

Tory Leader Critical Of MNR

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is speaking out against possible increases in Ministry of Natural Resources service fees.

Hudak says it doesn't surprise him the Liberals have polled anglers and hunters in the northwest about what service fee increases they might accept.

Hudak worries the MNR is becoming opposed to anything that creates jobs or attracts tourists.

Flooding Easing

Emergency Management Ontario says the flood situation on a remote northwestern Ontario First Nation is stabilizing.

However, the agency says water levels are still high and some flooding continues in Kasabonika Lake First Nation.

Some of the 150 residents evacuated to Greenstone and Hearst were allowed to return home yesterday.

Emergency Compact Signed

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has signed a compact that will allow Minnesota and some Canadian provinces to request and provide mutual aid to each other in the event of emergencies.

The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says while states and provinces can handle most emergencies, there are times when disasters require more resources.

The compact covers natural disasters from floods and tornadoes to emergencies such as chemical spills or terrorist events.

Gas Prices Dropping In Minnesota

Gas prices in Minnesota have eased a bit.

Increased supplies have caused prices to drop after hitting an all-time high last week.

The travel group AAA says the average gas price peaked at $4.28 a gallon last week statewide, $4.45 in International Falls, but dropped to just over 4-dollars Monday.

Appeals Court Dismisses Court Challenge

A pair of groups challenging Minnesota rules for a state wolf hunting and trapping season has been dealt another blow in court.

Minnesota's Court of Appeals has dismissed a petition aiming to undo rules that allowed for a wolf hunting season.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Another Forest Fire in Rainy River District

Yet another forest fire in the Rainy River district.

Ministry of Natural Resources FireRangers, training near Hope Lake, in the area of Northwest Bay First Nation, identified smoke nearby Friday.

The fire burned 0.2 of a hectare.

It the third first in the district this season.

Osisko Focused on E.I.A.

Focus for Osisko Mining at its Hammond Reef gold project near Atikokan is on an environment impact assessment.

It's been submitted to both the federal and provincial governments for their input.

President Sean Roosen expects a final report to come back some time late this year or early next.

Roosen says about 500 comments were received, but none the company couldn't address.

Meantime, the company will spend just $7-million dollars on the project this year.

Medical Students Happy In Fort Frances

Fort Frances is benefiting from the presence of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

The school's board of directors was in the community last week for its monthly meeting.

Dean Dr. Roger Strasser says Fort Frances is getting positive reviews from students who are doing part of their studies here.

Strasser says that can help in attracting the same students back to the community when they complete their studies.

Strasser says the community may soon see a graduate in the near future here to set up a practice.

Jail Or Bail Success

Voyageur Lions Club's first ever Jail or Bail is being called a huge success.

Twenty-one celebrity criminals help raised nearly $8,500 with more pledges yet to come in.

President Bill Michl says few came in with the minimum and those that did were happy to sit in jail and raise the bail they needed to get out of jail.

The club also attracted four new members as a result of the event.

It's now planning to make it an annual one.

Cold April

April is going down as one of the coldest months in the Fort Frances area in several years.

Environment Canada's Peter Kimbell says temperatures were about four degrees lower than normal.

Just 36 millimeters of precipitation fell during the month with most of any big storms passing by with little impact here.

Cold Fishing Opener

It was a cold fishing opener in Minnesota.

Anglers flocking to lake's in northern Minnesota were greeted by mostly icy conditions.

Governor Mark Dayton kicked things off Saturday by catching and releasing a walleye near Park Rapids.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Research To Continue

A new life for the Experimental Research area.

A deal between the federal government and the International Institute for Sustainable Development will allow research at the Kenora area site to continue this summer.

Kenora MP Greg Rickford says the agreement was months in the making.

Rickford says the province will also continue talks with the Institute.

MPP Seeks WSIB Changes

A northwestern Ontario claims injured workers are being treated like criminals.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell makes that assertion in calling for reforms to the Workers Compensation Board.

Campbell says is disappointing that too many workers often have to fight for years to receive even the basic benefits from a system that is supposed to help them.

Parts Of Hotel Shut Down

A portion of a hotel in International Falls has been temporarily shutdown.

This after a person was found unresponsive in a room at the AmericaInn Monday  and had to be airlifted to hospital in Duluth.

City officials says the person's condition may be been the result of carbon monoxide entering the room.

The pool and the room the person was in have been closed while local officials determined no other parts of the hotel were impacted.

The exact cause for the incident is still being determined.

NTAB Looking At The Trades

The Northwest Training and Adjustment Board wants to know what employment demands are in the region.

It's focusing primarily on the trades.

Executive Director Sonja Wainio says the trades have become high-profile positions.

Wainio says they want to start going into schools and talking to students about the endless opportunities.

New Budget Demand Expected

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NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is set to unveil yet another demand today in exchange for supporting the minority Liberal government's budget.

The New Democrats are seeking a firm five-day guarantee for seniors needing homecare services.

Last week's budget includes 185-million dollars this year to reduce wait times for seniors who need
home care.

Gay Marriage Bill Passes

Minnesota's House has given approval to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the State.

The vote resulted in four Republicans breaking party ranks to pass the bill, while two Democrats voting against it.

The Senate will hold its vote Monday before it's handed to Governor Mark Dayton for his signature.

Fishing License Sales Slow

A cool spring has slowed the sale of fishing licenses heading into this weekend's fishing opener in Minnesota.

The Department of Natural Resources says sales are down by about a third.

The DNR expects license sales will pick up after all of the ice melts off northern Minnesota lakes.

Minnesota Mussel Dogs

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be sniffing out zebra mussels this weekend.

For the first time, it's using canine teams in the effort to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Conservation Officer Travis Muyres (Meyers) says three dogs have been trained to search out the mussels, much like dogs used in drug investigations.

Minnesota's mussel dogs will also be trained in tracking, firearms and wildlife detection.

Fire Kills Three

Three people, including two young children, are dead following a house fire in a remote First Nations community.

Officials in the Wunnumin Lake First Nation say the two children, aged one and six and a 21-year old woman were killed in yesterday's blaze.

The cause of the fire is not immediately known.

Crisis teams have been sent to the community, 360 kilometres northeast of Sioux Lookout, where officials say residents are devastated by the tragedy.

Red Lake Contamination

Residents of Red Lake are being advised about possible heavy metal contamination in area soil and well water.

The Northwestern Health Unit says since the 1920's, waste products from gold mines deposited throughout the Red Lake area may contain elevated levels of arsenic, antimony or cadmium.

Parents are being advised to not let children play in areas where so-called mine tailings may have been deposited.

Residents with wells are being urged to have their water tested.

Manitou Continues Exploration

Manitou Gold continues its exploration north of Fort Frances.

It's released the latest results of drilling in its Elora property.

President Todd Keast says the exploration continues to demonstrate indications of a potentially large gold bearing deposit.

More drilling is expected once ice from lakes is gone.

Accountability Office "Interesting"

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the NDP's call for a financial accountability office for the province is an "interesting idea.''

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath made the pitch Wednesday - the latest in a list of changes the New Democrats want made to the minority Liberals' budget.

Wynne says the budget is not a starting point for negotiations and she's not afraid of facing an election.

New Treatment Program In District

Some help closer to home for those suffering from addictions or mental health issues.

Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services is out with a new treatment program that includes pre-treatment, out-patient and after care programs.

Director of Behavioral Health Services Lori Flinders says it avoids having to go out of town.

The Health Services will begin the program next week.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Children's Mental Health Week Recognized

Firefly is celebrating Children Mental Health Week.

Board chair Jackie Mitchell says the one big initiative this week is to raise awareness about mental health.

Mitchell says one in five children have a mental health issue.

Officers Support PSAC

Officers with Treaty 3 Police Service have reaffirmed their desire to stay with Public Service Alliance of Canada.

The vote was held last week as management challenges the union's ability to represent them at the Canada Industrial Relations Board. 

PSAC regional vice-president Sharon DeSousa the fight will continue regarding what jurisdiction the service will fall under.