Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Premier Recognizing N. Ontario Interests

Premier-designate Kathleen Wynee is promising more input from northern Ontario in the decision at Queen's Park.

Wynne held a conference call yesterday with members of the media from northern Ontario, including CFOB-News.

She says she has plans to form a northern Ontario cabinet committee that will examine decisions, policies and issues effecting the north.

Wynne is also promising some northern flavour in her cabinet, but is keeping who that will be close to her chest until Monday.

She also intends to hold some cabinet meetings in the north, the first taking place at an undetermined location with her first thirty days in office.

County Wondering About Peat Project

Koochiching County's board of commissioners are growing restless with a peat project in their area.

The County signed a 21-year lease agreement with Berger Horticultural out of Quebec, it says promised jobs and revenue.

Commissioner Rob Eklund says they've now learned the company won't be spending money on the project this year.

The Koochiching Development Authority wants to find out if the company has violated its agreement.

Minnesota Man Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison

A Koochiching County man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in the death of his wife who was crushed by a totem pole.

Carl Muggli of Ray plead guilty to unintentional second-degree murder of his wife, Linda, in an agreement with prosecutors, after initially being charged with first degree murder.

The 51-year-old Muggli admitted he was arguing with his wife about an Internet romance just before she was pinned under the totem pole the two were carving at their home south of International Falls.

School Board Recognizes Staff

The Rainy River District School Board is recognizing three of its long-serving employees.

Kim Basaraba, a caretaker at Fort Frances High School, was honoured by the board Tuesday night for his 25 years of service.

Ann Jane Anderson, a librarian at Crossroads School, and Cliff Achilles, a caretaker at Fort High, were recognized for their recent retirements.

Anderson was employed by the board for 32 years.

Achilles since 1989.

Review Plans For Rural Catholic School

The Northwest Catholic District School Board is in the process of forming a committee to examine the future of Our Lady of the Way School.

Low enrollment has prompted the accommodation review.

About 15 students now attend classes at  the Stratton school.

Board Chair Anne-Marie Fitzgerald is hoping the public will get involved.

The Board is also seeking people to sit on the committee that will begin its work later this month.

Third Public School Gets Review

The Rainy River District School Board has began an accommodation review of Crossroads School in Devlin.

A committee has been formed with plans to begin public hearing later this month.

A separate committee that called for a rebuild of Donald Young School in Emo last spring, recommended the board delay construction until it studied Sturgeon Creek School in Barwick and Crossroads.

Recommendations for Sturgeon Creek are expected next month.

The first of four public meetings on Crossroads will occur February 19

Labour Ministry Issues Orders

The Ministry of Labour has issued two orders in connection with a fatal accident at Couchiching First Nation last week.

A 61-year-old woman died Wednesday after being struck by a truck that was plowing snow around the Health Access Centre.

The Ministry says the truck was going in reverse at the time.

No charges have been laid

Ministry spokesperson Matt Blejar says both the contractor, Tom Veert Contracting and the Centre, have been instructed to come up with separate plans that protect people from the hazards of vehicles operating in reverse.

Paramedics To Be Hired In Falls

The city of International Falls is hiring two more paramedics for its ambulance service.

Councillors gave approval at their meeting Monday night.

Fire Chief Jerry Jensen, who oversees the service, says it allows for a paramedic to work the night shift, instead of placing one who's just worked a day shift on call.

The additional hiring will give the service six-full time paramedics, complemented by a roster of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Union Gas Offers Financial Help To Customers

Union Gas is offering some financial help to qualifying customers in the Rainy River district to pay their bill.

Spokesperson Andrea Stass says it's part of their winter-warmth program they've delivered annual for the past ten years.

Union Gas customers can apply for up to $500.

The Lakehead Social Planning Council is helping the utility deliver the program in the Rainy River district.

Stass says the Utility also offers other payment options to those finding it tough to pay their monthly bill.

Organ Donors Increasing in Fort Frances

The Fort Frances area continues to be one of the top communities in the province when it comes to registered organ donors.

The Trillium Gift of Life Network says 40 per cent of residents have signed up to be donors, a jump of 10 per cent since 2010.

President Ronnie Gavsie says they'd still like to see the number higher.

Last year, over one thousand organ transplants were done in the province, an 11 percent increase from 2011.

Quiet Fire Season For International Falls

It's been one of the quietest years ever in terms of fire calls in International Falls.

The Falls Fire Department responded to just 34 calls in 2012, 12 involving structures and no fatalities

Fire Chief Jerry Jensen credits residents who've become better educated about fire safety and a city program to rid itself of derelict buildings.

The department,  though, has started 2013 busier than last year with 8 fire calls in January.

Dryden Hit With New Assessment Of Domtar Mill

While the town of Fort Frances continues to deal with the appeal assessment of its major employer, the city of Dryden has been given some bad of news of its own from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

MPAC has asssesed the Domtar Mill at $14-million.

The city used a figure of $36-million in drafting this year's budget.

Mayor Craig Nuttal says the difference in assessment has put them in a tough position, with the potential of a $4-million shortfall.

Missing Walker Found Safe

A safe ending to a search for a missing person in Koochiching County last week.

Deputies with the County's Sheriff's Office were called out last Thursday to look for a 29-year-old man along the Arrowhead Snowmobile Trail.

Police says the man was walking the trail between International Falls and Lake Kabetogama when he lost his direction.

Deputies were able locate him and bring him safely back to his vehicle near Lake Kabetogama.

Public Helps Police Nab Drunk Driver

A call to OPP helped them take a drunk driver off the road on the weekend.

OPP says acting on a public complaint, they were able to track down a vehicle in Fort Frances and charge the driver, a 36-year-old Fort Frances man.

He'll now answer to the charges in court next month.

Fort Frances Teacher Seeks OSSTF Presidency

A Fort Frances High School teacher is looking to become the new head of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation.

Paul Elliott has been on the OSSTF executive since 2005, serving as a vice-president for the last four years.

He's been on a leave of absence from his teaching job since.

Elliott feels he's got the skills to shape new relations with the province.

Elections will be held at Federation's convention in March.

Current president Ken Coran has indicated his intentions to step down.

Assessment Appeal Reaches Pre-Hearing

Resolute Forest Product's appeal of its assessment in Fort Frances has reached the pre-hearing stage.

A face-to-face meeting between the Ontario Assessment Review Board and parties involved has been scheduled for February 15 in Toronto.

The town will be represented by a Toronto consultant firm.

Resolute claims the assessment of its mill properties is too high.

It's possible that a date for a full-hearing could result out of the pre-hearing.

Foresty Officials See Improvements In Industry

The years of hard times in the forestry sector may be coming to an end.

President and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, Jamie Lim, says with the building of a new sawmill in Atikokan and the re-opening of mills in Kenora and Sioux Lookout, the industry is ready for a comeback.

Lim says is a rise in the U-S housing market and a rise in the composite price index and helping with the turn around..