Thursday, September 26, 2013

MNR Winding Down Operations

Operations at Ministry of Natural Resources forest fire bases are winding down.

The lack of fires has prompted the move.

Information Officer Heather Pridham says they still have the resources in place in case a fire does flare up.

There are no active blazes at this time.

Prescibed Burns Planned

MNR File photo
The Ministry of Natural Resources is planning to light today a couple of fires on purpose at the southern end of Lake of the Woods.

Prescribed burns are planned for Blaze and Queen Islands, both in the area of the Aulneau Peninsula.

The MNR says the goal to study how fire occurs and impacts the island's ecosystems.

Liberal MPP Wants Expanded Bear Hunt

A northwestern Ontario Liberal is looking to provide help to municipalities dealing with nuisance bears.

Thunder Bay's Bill Mauro has introduced a private members bill in the legislature calling for an expansion of the bear hunt in northern Ontario, even it means resurrecting the spring bear hunt.

Mauro believes since the spring hunt was cancelled, the number of human and bear interactions has gone up.

Northwest Conference In Thunder Bay

file photo
The annual Northwestern Ontario Regional Conference is underway in Thunder Bay.

It draws municipal leaders from across the region.

President of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association Dave Canfield says the conference will bring them up to speed on several issues.

Energy, mining and forestry are also top of mind.

Federal Minister of Science and Technology Greg Rickford and Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle are also scheduled to speak.

Power Project Discussed Today

Residents of Koochiching County will get an update today on a proposed new transmission line through Minnesota that will connect to Manitoba.

Minnesota Power is in the planning stages of a 500 kiloVolt line with potential routes identified through the County.

Power officials will talk about the projectduring a luncheon hosted by the International Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Changes To Liqour Laws Suggested

Some changes to Ontario's liquors laws may be on the horizon.

In an interview with CTV news, Premier Kathleen Wynne says any changes would be made to support the province's wine industry in particular.

She says it could include small wineries being allowed to sell at farmer's markets.

The Premier, though, rules out any changes allowing
beer and wine being sold in corner stores.

Former Fort Frances In Reality Contest

A new reality show set to air next March includes a former Fort Frances resident.

"The Search" features Marc McNay, now living in Dryden, along with hunting partner Denise Dubois, in a challenge to secure their own program.

McNay says it's been an amazing opportunity.

McNay says a Facebook site has been developed to follow their progress and to vote to help send them through.

Link here

North Left Out Of Travel Guide

The Liberal government is again being accused of ignoring northern Ontario when it comes to tourism.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell is taking issue with the government latest marketing scheme.

Campbell says a new travel guide completely ignores the north.

Campbell says it also suggests contact local tourism information centres for more information, noting that the Liberals closed down the centres in her riding two years ago.

Natural Resources Minister David Oriazetti says government is committed to providing positive experiences and opportunities for everyone across the province.

Little Choice For County Residents

It appears resident of Koochiching County won't have much choice when it comes to searching for a health insurance provider through MNSure, the state’s new health insurance marketplace.

Only UCare Minnesota will be available when area residents begin registering October 1.

The County's Community Services Director Terry Murray says had some research been done, the State would have found UCare wouldn't have been preferred by most residents or health providers.

Commissioner Wade Pavleck feels they're being discriminated against given that other parts of the State will have up to five providers to select.

The County intends to voice its concerns in a letter to State officials and the Governor

Roof Repairs Approved

Koochiching County will go ahead replacing the roof at a former military complex, now owned by the County, this year.

County commissioners agreed at their meeting Tuesday to award a $64-thousand contract for the work at the former Koochiching Army Reserve Training Centre.

They were told last week the condition of the roof was becoming a safety concern.

The County uses the building primarily for storage.

MPP Resigns

A Liberal MPP has resigned.

Kim Craitor, who represented the Niagara Falls area, announced his decision to quit immediately to the Premier Tuesday.

It leaves the Liberals with 49 seats, compared with the Conservatives 37 and NDP 20

A by-election will likely be held in March.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Franco-Ontarian Day

Today is Franco-Ontarian Day across the province.

There will be flag raising ceremonies at the town halls of Atikokan and Fort Frances this morning to celebrate the history of francophones in our region and across Ontario.

Council Asked To Bring Down Hotel

Fort Frances Downtown Business Improvement Association wants town council to get moving on removing the former Rainy Lake Hotel.

It's asking that money be set aside for demolition in the 2014 budget..

Chair Doug Anderson says it's one building that gets a lot of negative comments from visitors.

A proposal put forward for an open air market had estimated demolition costs at nearly one-million dollars.

Trees Need Attention

The condition of some trees in Fort Frances has a local resident asking council to take action.

Resident Merv Ahrens says there are several areas around the community where the trees are in such poor condition they pose a safety hazard.

Ahrens says the most problem areas are in Legion Park, Pither's Point Park and along Kings Highway west of McIrvine Road.

Salvation Army to Celebrate

The Salvation Army will celebrate 100 years in the Fort Frances area next year.

As part of the festivities, it's bringing in a band from Bermuda to put on a concert in April.

Lieutenant Dennis Maybury says the concert will be free.

Former Rangers Hold Lobby day

Alumni with the former Ontario Rangers program are bringing their fight to restore the program directly to Queen's Park today.

They held a lobby day in hopes to convincing MPP's to support their cause.

Spokesperson Martin Dubec says they want them to hear directly from those who've benefited.

The program and camps, including one at Quetico Provincial Park, were axed last fall

Interim Police Chief Elected

Treaty 3 Police Service has selected an interim Police Chief to take over from Conrad Delorande who announced his retirement last month.

Dan Davidson, an OPP detective inspector, is being seconded to take over October 7.

Davidson, who grew up in the Morson area, has been with the OPP since 1991.

CN Seeks Conciliation

Canadian National is seeking conciliation in its negotiations with the union representing its train conductors, trainmen, yardmen and traffic coordinators.

Members of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference have been without a contract since July 22.

Health and safety issues are at the forefront

The union claims CN is seeking concessions that would see employees work longer hours.

New Road Has Name

The new road being constructed as part of the housing subdivision on the former Huffman School property now has a name.

It's to be called Huffman Court, in honour of Fletcher Hasby Huffman who's name donned the public school.

The town's planning and development committee felt that given Huffman's significance to the community it was important the town continue to recognize the long time educator.

Mayor Please With Interest In Budget Process

Several groups and individuals are making pitches to Fort Frances council for funding in the 2014 budget.

They presented their requests Monday night.

Organizers of the Dragon Boat Festival, the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Frances Traffic Safety Committee, Meals on Wheels and the Mill Quarter Century Club among those seeking funds for projects under the 2014 budget.

Mayor Roy Avis was impressed by the interest.

The information will be discussed at the committee level before brought back for council to mull over when a preliminary budget is presented early in the new year.

Open House For Out-going Police Chief

Treaty Three Police Services Board is planning an open house in Kenora to say farewell to their out-going chief of police.

Conrad Delaronde will be retire October 18.

The police services board says it will hold the open house on October 10.

No Fires Burning

For the first time since the start of the forest fire season, there are no fires burning anywhere in northwestern Ontario.

No new blazes were reported over the weekend and the Ministry of Natural Resources expects the situation to stay the same the rest of the week.

The official close to the fire season isn't until October 31.

Government To Recover Scammed Money

The Ontario's Attorney General's office has obtained a court order to recover $17-million for victims of an international investment fraud.

It's believed to be the largest recovery under Ontario's civil forfeiture law.

The money was linked to an international Ponzi scheme operated over the past decade by the Stanford group of companies in the United States, South America and the Caribbean.

Employment Fund Now Accepting Applicants

Young people can now apply to Ontario's new Youth Employment Fund.

The Liberal government set up the $265-million fund to help get more young people into the workforce.

The program provides up to $6,800 to employers to offset wages and training costs, and up to a $1,000 to young workers to offset job-related costs such as tools and transportation.

Human Rights Commission Wraps Up Session

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is wrapping up a two day training session in Thunder Bay.

Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall says several issues were heard, mostly around disability rights.

Over 100 people are taking part in the training that's also examining aboriginal issues as well as housing rights.

Falls Company Fined By MPCA

An International Falls chemical processing plant has ran afoul of Minnesota's air quality permit limits.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says Specialty Minerals has agreed to pay a 24-thousand dollar civil penalty after it was found to have exceeded its air emissions permit limit between September 2011 and 2012.

SMI uses carbon dioxide and other byproducts from the Boise mill to create a wide variety of products.

The company also agreed to submit a plant to ensure its operation hours aren't exceeded in the future and to submit a permit application that would change its current permitted emissions limit.

Both of the required actions have already been completed.

Power Project To Be Discussed

Residents of Koochiching County will get an update this week on a proposed new transmission line through Minnesota that will connect to Manitoba.

Minnesota Power in the planning stages of a 500 kiloVolt line with potential routes identified through the County.

Power officials will talk about the project Thursday during a luncheon hosted by the International Falls Chamber of Commerce.

You must register with the Chamber of Commerce is you want to attend.

Tory Candidate Ready

Still lots of chatter of a possible fall election campaign in Ontario.

The Conservatives held their policy convention during the weekend in London.

Kenora-Rainy River candidate Randy Nickle says they've been on alert for a while now.

The NDP and Liberals also have their candidates in place with MPP Sarah Campbell looking for a second term while Emo councillor Anthony Leek is ready to run again for the Grits.

New Trade Strategy

Ontario wants to expand its exports in the global market.

It's revealed a new trade initiative called the Going Global Trade Strategy.

It has particular focus on small and medium size businesses.

Part of the strategy includes working with the federal government on new trade deals with the European Union, India, Japan and South Korea.

Smile Cookies Now Available

File photo
Here's your chance to put a smile on a local child's face!

Tim Hortons is holding its annual 'Smile Cookie' campaign this week.

OPP Constable Anne McCoy says proceeds from all sales from the Fort Frances store will go toward the Respect Technology program.

It's the third year Tim Hortons has backed the program through its campaign.

College Still Reviewing Float Plane Program Options

Confederation College is hoping to decide where to locate its float plane training classes in the next couple of months.

The College agreed to move the course from its current location on Eva Lake near Atikokan following numerous complaints from cottagers.

President, Jim Madder says they've received a lot of interest from communities interested in hosting the program.

Committee Co-chair Ready To Get To Work

A long time coming.

That's how Alvin Fiddler feels about a new provincial committee set up to ensure stronger first nations representation to juries.

The Deputy Grand Chief of the Nishinawbe-Aski Nation has been appointed co-chair.

The 11-member committee will implement the recommendations of a report submitted earlier this year by Justice Frank Iacobucci.

NOMA President Supports Pipeline Project

The President of the Northwestern Ontario Association is throwing his support behind the proposed Energy East pipeline.

Dave Canfield says the pipeline to move oil from Alberta to the east coast has multiple benefits.

Canfield any proposed line shouldn't interfere with local watersheds.

Provincial Clarifies Minister's Comments

The Energy Minister's office is clarifying Bob Chiarelli's recent comments about the Thunder Bay Generating Station.

Last Thursday, he indicated the plant would run six HOURS a year, instead of saying six TIMES a year.

Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle says he was trying to stress that the provincial government will provide a stable and cost effective supply of electricity for the Northwest.

Gravelle says no decision has yet been made about the  power plant.

Proponents says a conversion of the coal-fired plant is needed to meet the region's future energy demands.

Torys Election Ready

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives have some new ideas and their party's next campaign platform following a weekend meeting in London.

Hundreds of delegates from across the province had their say on a list of about two dozen policy ideas, from cutting income taxes to selling beer and wine in corner stores.

Ghost Tour

The ghosts of Voyageurs National Park are being summoned.

The park is setting up a ghost tour as a means of teaching people the history of the park and surrounding area.

The Park's Chris Amidon says a number "ghosts" will greet people who participate in the walk.

The event goes later this week, but you have to call the Park office to reserve a spot.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Boise Mill Purchase

New owners for the Boise mill in International Falls.

Packaging Corporation of America is purchasing all of Boise Inc. mills in a deal worth about $2-billion.

Boise spokesperson Virginia Aulin says it's was a good offer to accept.

The deals comes as the International Falls mill prepares to close two of its paper machines and layoff 265 employees.

There is some optimism among the area's leaders over the planned ownership change.

Mayor Bob Anderson feels there will be benefits that help the paper mill becoming profitable.

Anderson says it's still important. though. to continue the work of finding ways to diversify their local economy in light of the mill's restructuring.

Grant Concerns Expressed

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A request for over half a million dollars from the federal government to help offset layoffs at the Boise mill is drawing concerns from an International Falls city councillor.

Cynthia Jacksa sees the application incomplete because it was done without the inclusion of the areas economic development officers.

She also believes many of the initiatives identified for funding are already taking place.

Both councillor Pete Kalar and Mayor Bob Anderson defend the application saying the initiatives covered under the grant were once put forward by subcommittees formed by a joint County-City task force.

PC's Release Northern Ontario Policy

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak wants to give more decision making power to people in this part of the province.

Hudak has taken the wraps off a new policy platform for the the north and natural resources.

Hudak says he's committing to giving northerners more say over such areas as wildlife and hunting management and cottage development.

Boil Water Advisory Ends

A boil water advisory issued for residents of Emo has now been lifted.

The advisory was been put is place last Tuesday because of emergency repairs required at the township's water treatment plant.

That work is now complete.

Catholic Women's League Celebrates

Supplied photo
The Catholic Women's League in Rainy River is celebrating a milestone.

It was formed 60 year ago.

The League celebrated Sunday with special recognition given to some long time members, including Bernice Olinyk, who is a charter member.

Millie Kucha was honoured for 58 years membership while Donna Noga and Gayle Yuryk received
pins for 50 years.

Fake Survey

A survey from RBC appears to be phony.

An email from someone claiming to be from RBC sent to our news room asks to update our profile and for personal information.

It also claims Bank of Montreal will credit our account with money for taking part.

RBC says no such survey is taking place and would not ask for information that way.

Kiss 'n' Ride Warning Period Over

No more warnings.

That from OPP to motorists who don't heed parking restrictions in place around three elementary schools in Fort Frances.

OPP Constable Anne McCoy says there's been a lot of publicity and education around the Kiss 'n' Ride initiative at J.W. Walker, Robert Moore and St. Francis Schools that people should be know be aware of the restrictions.

The initiative went into place at the start of school to ensure a safer drop off and pick up of children and to ease traffic congestion around the schools.

Health Unit Losing Its Medical Officer Of Health

The Northwestern Health Unit is losing its Medical Officer of Health.

Dr. James Arthurs will be retiring next March.

Arthurs came to the Health Unit in 2009 after working in the U.S. as a family and emergency room physician and Medical Director.

The Board of Health has already started the recruitment process.

NDP Critical Of Province On Power Plant

NDP leader Andrea Horwath is again chastising the Liberal government for its foot dragging on the conversion of Ontario Power Generation's coal-fire station in Thunder Bay.

Horwath says it's time the Premier tells us what the government's plans are once and for all.

Horwath was in Thunder Bay on the weekend to attend the NDP's Northern Council meeting.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quiet Season So Far

It's definitely been a quiet forest fire season in northwestern Ontario.

The Ministry of Natural Resources says both the number of fires and area burned so far are half of last year's numbers.

There were no new fires reported on the weekend and the fire hazard remains low in most parts of the region.

National Geographic Marketing Initiative Getting More Support

Several area communities continue to support an marketing initiative involving National Geographic.

The group, Heart of the Continent, is close to signing a contract with the company.

Tourism Thunder Bay spokesperson John Cameron says it's good to work with Minnesota.

Thunder Bay, Duluth, International Falls and Atikokan have committed funding to the project.

Conference Planned

How We Will Sustain Ourselves.

That's the name of a Treaty 3 conference to be held in Kenora later this month.

Coordinator Mike Greaves says many different groups will be presenting.

Greaves says the meeting will also discuss best practices, opportunities, and challenges.

Conservatives Getting Ready

A new session of Parliament will begin in another month.

Federal Science and Technology Minister Greg Rickford says the Conservative caucus is working on the new agenda for the fall session.

MP's will be back in Ottawa October 16th.

Slow Going Over Causeway

It will slow going over the Noden Causeway, east of Fort Frances, later this week.

Toronto Zenith Construction will be doing some concrete work on the bridge that will require traffic to be controlled by both flaggers and a pilot vehicle.

Motorists will be slowed to about 10 kilometres an hour through the construction  zone.

The company says the work will likely begin tomorrow (Wednesday) and finish up by the end of the week.