Friday, October 25, 2013

Crash Victims Identified

Provincial Police have identified the four other men killed in Saturday's crash on Highway 17, near English River.

26-year-old Brady Ostell, 27-year-old Andrew Ostell, both of Kitchener, 42-year-old Kyle Prince from Waterloo and 44-year-old James Jackson from Fort Erie were in a pick-up truck that collided with a transport.

The driver of the transport, a 43-year-old man from Cambridge, was also killed.

More Drug Charges Laid

OPP have have laid more charges in connection with that massive drug bust last week in Kenora.

Eight more people have been arrested and face a variety of charges, including of possession and trafficking of both cocaine and marijuana.

A total of 38 people were rounded up last week following a year-long investigation.

Quarry Issue Sent Back To Planning Commission

Plans for a rock quarry are drawing the ire of some residents in Koochiching County.

Wagner Construction wants the develop the quarry at the end of County Road 144, southeast of International Falls.

The application was denied by a planning committee, but residents living nearby, such as Cindy Black were back before the County board to convince it of their opposition.

The County is sending the issue back to the planning commission for a re-look.

Land Auction Today

Several state lands in northeastern Minnesota are about to be sold off.

A public action for the 23 parcels of land takes place today.

Many of the properties are located with Cook, Itasca, Lake and St. Louis Counties, with minimum bids ranging from 27-thousand dollars to has high as 650-thousand.

Blood Donor Clinic Closes To Target

They came close.

The Canadian Blood Services collected 231 units of blood following clinics held earlier this week in Fort Frances.

They were hoping for at least 240 units, but are still happy with the outcome.

Almost 300 people turned out.

The next clinics won't take place until next August.

Best Chili Named

FFCC photo
The people have spoken.

Gillon's Insurance's "Bewitchin Broker's Brew" was named the top tasting chili in a public vote at the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce's Great Canadian Chili Cook Off.

That differed from the judges selection of the dish "Socket To You" from the staff at Acklands-Grainger.

The Fort Frances Dental Centre won the award for the best costumes.

Regions Drug Overdoses Now Number 1 Killer

It's now become more deadly then motor vehicle collisions.

The Northwestern Health Unit has revealed some sobering statistics about drug use in our region.

Public Health Nurse Kim Elke says opiate overdoses have become the leading cause of deaths in the region.

Elke says Oxycodone is the leading cause of opiate addiction in the region even though it has been pulled of the health units drug list.

Winter Road Maintenance Questioned

OPP photo
A brief dusting of snow in some parts of the Rainy River district yesterday morning has our MPP wondering how well our highways will be plowed this winter.

Kenora-Rainy River's Sarah Campbell says over the past couple of years, her office has fielded several complaints about the condition of roads in the winter.

Campbell says government needs to step up and ensure our roads are maintained to a high standard this winter.

NDP Support Ranger Program's Return

NDP are standing with former alumni in calling for a reinstatement of the Ontario Park Ranger program.

At Queen's Park Wednesday, Michael Mantha, a former Ranger himself, questioned Natural Resources Minister David Oriazetti on the decision.

Mantha says it provided unique opportunities for young people.

But Oriazetti says by moving the program to a day-based one, they've been been able to add more locations and provide more opportunities for youth.

County Offers Loan

Koochiching County is agreeing to offer up a loan to help get a new animal shelter built in International Falls.

Commissioner Wade Pavleck says the facility is needed and a loan of up to $30 thousand is the best solution.

The city of International is also offering up a loan of up to 30 thousand to the Borderland Humane Society.

Falls Groups Get Funding

Two International Falls organizations are receiving funding from the Minnesota Power Foundation.

Five thousand dollar cheques have been doled out to the Falls Hunger Coalition and to Backus Community Center.

The coalition is using its money to keep its food bank shelves stocked while Backus will uses its gift to support a variety of its programs.

Safeway Store Not Being Sold

The Safeway store in Fort Frances will not be sold off as part of Sobey's takeover of Canada Safeway.

Sobey's spokesperson Andrew Walker says a government regulator has approved the takeover, but ordered Sobey's to sell 23 stores across the country.

None of the stores in northwestern Ontario are impacted.

The $5.8 billion dollar deal is expected to be finalized in early November.

Festival Of Frost Coming Together

A new version of the annual Christmas Parade in Fort Frances is coming together.

The event, renamed the Festival of Frost, and will include a static display of Christmas floats, events with Santa Claus and a food and toy drive.

One of the organizers Robin Payeur says they are getting interest from groups wanting to decorate a float that will be placed in the downtown core.

Payeur says they're also working on a number of other events to coincide with the Festival.

It will take place at the end of November.

Hire A Hitter

Members of the Rainy River Voyageurs men's baseball team are offering up their services.

The "Hire A Hitter" program allows residents in the International Falls area to hire a team member to do work around the house or office.

Money raised offsets travel costs to Florida in the spring.

Call Shelly at 283-3380 if you can help.

Seniors Recognized

A number of senior citizens have been recognized by the Sister Kennedy Centre in Fort Frances

Appreciation awards were presented to 25 individuals during a dinner Wednesday night as part of the Centre's 30th anniversary.

They were recognized for their contributions to the centre.

The honourees are Donna Law, Diane Martin, Shirley Nault, Mildred Bedard, Marg Benjamin, Gordon Calder, Ethel Lowey, Cindy Nobel, Ann Wihnan, Bill Krukoski, Joan Krukoski, Mary Clinker, Mavis Dick, Ralph Longmuir, Ann Longmuir, Alvin 'Buzz' Wickstrom, Bonnie Watson, Metro "Svet" Wowchuk, Henry Miller, John Albanese, Gerry Martin, Ella Desserre, Lawrence Desserre and Ben Benjamin.

The town's five mayors over the past 30th years were also honoured for council's support of the area's seniors and the Centre.

First Nation Chief Charged With Extorton

The Chief of the First Nations Community on Lake of the Woods has been charged with extortion.

RCMP charged Chief John Thunder of the Buffalo Point First Nations in connection with a complaint about correspondence directed at a federal government official involved with the Buffalo Point Cottage Owners.

It's alleged the Chief's correspondence was an attempt for derail a civil legal proceeding involving the Cottage Owner’s Association.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Path Of The Paddle Getting Closer To Reality

The dream of creating a canoe route across the region remains alive and well.

Path of the Paddle has been officially incorporated and a committee is hard at work finalizing the route.

Melissa Pomeroy is director of the Trans-Canada Trail in Ontario and says they hope to the Path in place by 2017.

Pomeroy says the route through Quetico Provincial Park is complete while others going through Rushing River, Turtle and White Otter areas should be finalized by next spring.

Provincewide Bargaining Proposed

File photo
Ontario intends to create province-wide bargaining for teachers.

Education Minister Liz Sandals introduced the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act yesterday,  that if passed, would establish a clear process in future negotiations.

The proposed model would feature a central bargaining table where government, unions and teacher federations would tackle issues with province-wide impacts, such as pay and benefits.

Local bargaining would also occur involving school boards and local federations and unions.

The government wants the Act in place before teachers contracts end next August.

Campbell Dealing With Complaints On High Hydro Rates

Hydro prices in Northwestern Ontario continue to be an issue for Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell.

Campbell says she has been getting flooded with calls and emails from residents who can't afford their bill.

She says blame can be blamed on the Liberals and the cost of cancelling two gas plants in southern Ontario.

Campbell says since 2007, the off-peak hydro rate has gone up by 140-percent.

Anglers Charged

Four Minnesota men are out $740 each after pleading guilty to overfishing.

The men were charged following a recent Minnesota Department of Natural Resources investigation.

The men were found to have 84 sunfish over the legal limit after conversation officers had searched freezers in several locations.

The DNR says the fish were from lakes around Effie, about 70 miles southwest of International Falls.

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes

You might see a lot of red shoes this afternoon in International Falls.

It's part of the annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes aimed getting men, especially, to bring more awareness to the issue of sexual and domestic violence.

Friends Against Abuse LeeAnn Meer feels the campaign does make a difference.

The walk begins at 4 p.m. at Backus Community Centre.

Rainy River Woman Wins Lottery Prize

A Rainy River woman is a little richer today.

Marilyn Jenson was one of 30 early bird winners in the Canadian Cancer Society's Lottery.

Jenson picked up $25-thousand dollars in cash.

Sister Kennedy Centre Celebrates

It's a week long celebration at the Sisiter Kennedy Centre in Fort Frances.

The Centre kicked off its 30th anniversary with some of those involved in its development on hand Monday.

Deanne Cunningham, mayor during the planning and construction, credits Sister Betty Kennedy who help ran smaller centre out of a an area church for getting the ball rolling.

Dave Bourgeault helped head the fundraising campaign at the time and says it was an easy sell.

The Centre is holding a variety of events this week to mark the anniversary.

New Senior Award Handed Out

File photo
One of Fort Frances' oldest residents is the first recipient of a new award being offered by the Sister Kennedy Centre.

Hubert Medhurst has received the first ever Senior Citizen of the Year award.

Director Nick Wihnann says the 106-year-old has been a big part of the centre since its development thirty years ago.

Wihnann says selection of Medhurst for the inaugural award was an unanimous selection by the board.

Armed Robbery In International Falls

International Falls Police Department is hoping for witnesses will step forward to aid in their investigation into an armed robbery in that city.

Police says someone entered Koerter's Amoco Sunday night at about 7 p.m., armed with a knife and demanded cash before fleeing on foot.

An undisclosed amount of money was taken.

Road Closure

A road to Mitaanjigaming First Nation will be closed temporarily this week.

The Mitaanjigaming access road, formerly known as Stanjkoming Road, will be closed at kilometer 2 Tuesday, October 22 and Wednesday, October 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.

The Ministry of Transportation says the closures are necessary while a construction project along the road takes place.

Ontario Will Cover Medical Trips To Manitoba

Ontario's health minister is ensuring area residents that if they can get medical care in Manitoba, the province will cost the costs.

Deb Matthews clarified the province's policy in response to questions in Queen's Park about a Kenora cancer patient who was recently denied permission to travel to Winnipeg for treatment.

Matthews says part of the problem stems from a directive issued by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to Manitoba physicians that was not accurate and has been corrected.

Cyber Summit In Minnesota

Officials in Minnesota are gathering in Minneapolis to share notes on the cyber threats they face and how to manage the risk.

The Better Business Bureau's Dan Hendrickson says it's a real issue that requires a statewide solution.

It's estimated that nearly half of the data breaches in the U-S last year were from malicious attacks.

House Fire In Fort Frances

No injuries reported in a house fire that occurred Tuesday morning in Fort Frances.

Member of the Fort Frances Fire and Rescue Service were called out at around 6 in the morning to the home in the 11-hundred block of Second Street East.

Damage was extensive

The cause of the blaze is under under investigation.

New Contract For CN Police

CN Police have a new contract.

The Canadian National Railways Police Association says its member have ratified a new four year deal that begins in January.

The agreement provides for wage and benefits improvements for the 74 officers with CN across Canada, including here in Fort Frances.

MP Wants National Rail Strategy

A northwestern Ontario MP is looking for changes to the laws that govern train transportation.

Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer says this weekend's fiery derailment in Alberta should be a call to action for the Harper government

Hyer wants the feds to develop a national rail strategy.

City Supports Return Of Ranger Camps

A campaign to re-open Ontario ranger camps has some municipal support.

Thunder Bay city council is sending a letter to the provincial Liberals asking them to bring back to Ontario Ranger program.

The program saw young people from across the province work in provincial parks and other ministry of natural resource related jobs until it was cut over a year ago.

MnSure Information Session

Koochiching County residents will get some information about Minnesota's new heath insurance marketplace, MNsure.

Rainy Lake Medical Center's Foundation will host a presentation October 30th at Rainy River Community College with MnSure officials on hand to answer questions.

MnSure is being put in place for individuals and small groups to obtain health coverage as part of President's Obama's Affordable Care act.

Bell To Track Your Use

Starting next month, Bell will be tracking what its customers do online, what TV shows they watch, and what kind of mobile apps they use, unless they opt out.

The company has updated its privacy policy to say on November 16, they will start collecting customer data.

They say it's to improve network performance, create marketing reports and sell targeted ads.

You can opt out, though, by registering on Bell's website.

Seniors Recognized

Two seniors from the Rainy River are being recognized by the provincial government.

Alex Broski of Atikokan and Janet Loney of Emo are among 21 receiving Senior Achievement Awards, the province's highest honour for seniors that recognizes those who've made outstanding contributions in their communities.

Broski is cited for his leadership in a range of projects with the Lions Club, being a founding member of Atikokan's Sports Days, and chair of the local Christmas Cheer fund for three decades.

Loney created Emo's Meals on Wheels program, and helped establish the Assisted Living Building Committee.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chemical Spill Cleaned Up

Supplied photo
A rail car that toppled over Friday on Resolute Forest Products mill property in Fort Frances has now been emptied and hauled away.

Some of it's contents, hydrogen peroxide, spilled, but crews had it contained by Saturday.

The chemical is used in the bleaching process at the mill, but officials says it posed no risk to the public at any time.

Roads that had been closed during the incident have now been reopened.

Mock Emergency Planned

Area emergency personnel will be put to the test next Tuesday as they participate with Energy Fundamentals Group or EFG in an exercise simulating a natural gas leak.

EFG's Michael Pelletier says it's being done in conjunction with Union Gas and the town of Fort Frances.

The exercise is also being evaluated by the National Energy Board.

Highway Accident Kills Five

OPP continue to investigate a horrific crash on Highway 17 near English River Saturday night involving a transport and a pickup truck that claimed five lives.

Provincial Police have released the name of the transport driver killed as 43-year old Sukhwinder Thandi of Cambridge, Ontario.

The names of the four men killed in the pick-up have not been positively identified.

Two oth
er vehicles were involved in the accident, although none of the occupants were injured.

Operation Impact Numbers Revealed

The numbers of this year's Operation Impact Campaign are in.

OPP Constable Dave Shaw says all of their statistics were down from last year.

Police still laid 244 speeding charges, one stunt driving charge, 34 for seatbelt violations and 4 distracted driving charges.

The month long campaign ended last Sunday.

Forest Fire Season Winding Down

The forest fire season in Northwestern Ontario continues to be a quiet one.

Ministry of Natural Resources Spokesperson Deb MacLean says the last fire was in Red Lake, and was put out last Wednesday.

Two prescribed burns in the Sioux Lookout area are still active, but are listed as being held.

The official end of the forest fire season is October 31.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blood Donor Clinics Seeking Young Donors

The Canadian Blood Services is back in Fort  Frances.

It will hold clinics at the Fort Frances High School today and tomorrow.

Spokesperson Mike Choi says part of the visit is to attract more young people as donors.

Choi says they hoping to collect 240 units of blood.

Senior Centre Celebrates

Anniversary celebrations for a senior's center in Fort Frances this week.

The Sister Kennedy Centre is celebrating 30 years with a variety of events.

It will kick the week off this morning with an official opening at 9 a.m. with a number of dignitaries on hand.

Freshie Week

This week is Freshie Week at Fort Frances High School.

The main event is the naming of a Freshie King and Queen.

A total of ten nominees will participate in a week-long friendly competition towards a crowning this Friday.

This year's nominees for Freshie Queen are Victoria Beaudry, Kassidy Fryer, Caitlin Visser,  Jess Steele, and Sara Selman.

Cole Sandelovich, Brett Hahkala, Hunter Koles, Christian Audette, and Cole Kowalski vye for the title of  Freshie King.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Comunity Living Outlines Plans For Former School

Supplied photo
Community Living Fort Frances and District has taken the wraps off its plans for the former Sixth Street School.

It intends to demolish the former school and construct a new multi-use facility featuring space for training, activities and offices.

Executive Director Alanna Barr says the plan came out of input from a variety of individuals.

A fundraising campaign for the estimated $3.5 million dollar project will be launched soon.

Gold Project Still Proceeding

New Gold is assuring the public it intends to continue work on a proposed gold mine north of Barwick.

It's acquisition of Rainy River Resources is now complete..

Director of Sustainability Kyle Stanfield says while there is a new owner to the project, there are no plans to scuttle the work take placing.

Stanfield says they're still aimed for obtaining ministerial approvals early next year and possible construction next fall.

Tory MP Defends Government Agenda

Northwestern Ontario's lone Conservative member is defending the federal government's agenda outlined in Wednesday's Throne Speech.

The Minister Responsible for Fednor Greg Rickford says there were many perks identified for our region.

Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty notes may of the promises made will be done if government returns to a balance budget, something he doubts will take place.

NDP Want Wynne To Testify Again

The NDP wants Premier Wynne back before a committee examining the decision to cancel two gas plants in southern Ontario.

Critic Gilles Bisson says the recall of the Premier is needed to answer some of the questions arising out of the Auditor General's latest report that now puts the cost of the cancellation at over $1.1 billion.

Since the recall is not binding, it's up to the Premier to decide if she want to appear.

Drug Bust Details To Be Announced

File photo
Details of a lengthy drug investigation in northwestern Ontario are being reveal today.

It involved Dryden Police, OPP, Treaty Three Police and the Anishinabek Police Service.

A media conference is planned for this morning in Kenora police say will address the results of a lengthy undercover operation that led to large amounts of cash, drugs and property being seized.

Charge Laid In Fort Severn Death

A 19-year-old man from Fort Severn First Nation is facing a charge of second-degree-murder in connection with the death of a woman in that remote community earlier this week..

Nishnawbe-Aski Police say 24-year-old Georgina Beck Stoney died at the community's nurse station Monday.

Charged is Tommy Raymond Miles Junior.

Community Television Station On Fundraising Drive

Officials with a community television station in International Falls are now focused on funding.

A community drive is underway to raise funds for equipment.

Board member and city councillor Cynthia Jaksa says it includes purchasing gear to stream programming on-line throughout Koochiching County.

Jaksa says they also want to purchase cameras to be placed in communities outside International Falls where resident can use to record their own programming for the station.