Monday, April 1, 2013

Subdivision Costs Identified

The town of Fort Frances has a better idea on the costs to develop the former Huffman School property into a housing subdivision.

The town has received six bids ranging in costs between $1.8 million dollars and nearly $2.3 million.

A consulting firm had estimated costs to come in around $2.2 million for the project that includes demolition

Council will discuss the bids at a special budget meeting today.
of the former school, road, sewer and water upgrades to a section of Williams Avenue and a new sidewalk along a section of Fifth Street East.

$100,000 List Revealed

The region's education sector leads the way of the top-wage earners in the Rainy River district on Ontario's so-called sunshine list.

The Rainy River District School Board has 35 employees over the $100-thousand salary threshold, including 10 teachers, 10 principals and six vice-principals.

That's up from 22 reported in 2011.

The Northwest Catholic District School Board has 14 employees on the list.

Riverside Clarifies $100,000 List

Riverside Health Care Facilities is clarifying the salaries earned by its top wage earners.

Fifteen employees earned $100-thousand dollars or more in 2012, an increase from 12 in 2011.

Former Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Woods is shown earning $185-thousand.

Allan Katz, who took over in April, earned $128-thousand.

Board chair Michelle Marinaro says Woods' figure reflects both his salary for three months plus compensation for unused vacation and statutory holidays.

Marinaro adds Katz was recruited at a lower salary.

Fort Council Wages Revealed

The money earned by members of Fort Frances council last year has also been revealed.

Just over $116-thousand were paid out in salaries and per diems to various committees to Mayor Roy Avis and the six councillors.

Avis tops the list earning almost $32-thousand for serving as both as mayor as well as sitting on the Police Services Board and Fort Frances Power Corporation.

OPP Investigating Kenora Death

CJRL-News photo
Provincial police are investigating the death of a man at a hotel in Kenora.

OPP says officers were called early yesterday morning to investigate a disturbance when they found a man lying on the street below a broken fourth-floor window.

The man, who's name has not been released, died later in hospital.

Increase In Assaults Reported

A slight increase to the number of assaults in the Rainy River district.

OPP investigated 14 assaults last month, compared with 12 in January and one more than in the same period last year.

Five of the assaults were in Fort Frances, four of which were domestic cases that led to charges against three

women and one man.

Teacher Deal Announced

The province says it's reached a tentative agreement with the union representing Ontario's public high school teachers.

Education Minister Liz Sandals says it involves concerns on issues such as sick leave, maternity leave, retirement gratuity, unpaid days and local bargaining.

Details of the agreement will be shared with members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
over the coming days.

Local Teen Competing in Pageant

The Rainy River district will be represented at a pageant next month in Sudbury.

18-year old Emily Hyatt of Fort Frances is competing in Miss Teen Northern Ontario in hopes of advancing to the Miss Teen Canada or Miss Teen World events.

Hyatt says it was the event's objectives that attracted her to enter.

During the talent portion of the contest, Hyatt will showcase her use of the bow and arrow she uses to hunt.

New Water Rate Considered

The Town of Fort Frances is considering new water and sewer rates for apartment buildings with three units or less.

It stems from concerns from a local landlord about the amount of money charged for her two properties.

Council agreed at their meeting this past week to explore the potential of a new residential rate class
for properties that contain three or fewer rental units.

Community Garden Seeks Extension

Organizers with the Community Garden in Fort Frances are asking for an extension to the permission they now have for the garden's location.

A current agreement with the town for the Lillie Avenue site comes to a end in August.

Organizers would like it extended to until October allowing for sufficient time to harvest and clean the property up.

They say some potential gardeners may shy away from renting plots this year if they have to pull their plants before they're ready.

Murder Investigation Continues

OPP continue to say little about an investigation into the last year's only murder in Fort Frances.

45-year-old Leo Whitecrow was found dead inside a downtown motel room last November but his cause of death has never been revealed.

Because it's considered an ongoing investigation, police aren't commenting on its status.

A report to the Fort Frances Police Services Board does indicate that officers spend almost 16 hours in overtime in the investigation in January.

Final Policing Cost Lower

The town of Fort Frances is getting a bit of a financial break from the Ontario Provincial Police.

The final cost of policing for last year has come in at $123-thousand less than expected.

OPP had forecast their contract costs to come in at just under $2.7 million.

The final cost of $2,565,000 is still about $60-thousand than what the town paid in 2011.

Town Dinner Planned

A new date and location is being considered for the town of Fort Frances' appreciation dinner that was cancelled last November.

The town has struck a committee to oversee planning of the event tentatively scheduled for June 8 at Sunny Cove Camp.

The town holds the dinner to recognize retiring staff and volunteers.

Tuition Fee Cap Reduced

The Ontario government is lowering the cap on average tuition fee increases for public post-secondary institutions over the next four years.

Under the new framework , annual fee increases will be capped at an average of three per cent.

Previously, colleges and universities were allowed to hike tuition by an average of five per cent.

Access Difficulties To Home Care Services

Some residents in the Rainy River district are having difficulty accessing home health care services.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell highlighted a particular case involving a district woman during recent debate on the Throne Speech.

Campbell says the senior has been forced to use the emergency room in Rainy River after failing to get access to home care services.

Campbell intends to address the issue with the local provider.

Visitor Restrictions Lifted

Visitor restrictions at the Emo Health Centre have been lifted.

The measures were put in place last Tuesday following an outbreak of influenza A.

Three residents in the hospital's long term care unit were confirmed with have the flu while four others developed respiratory symptoms.

Hospital officials say they've had no new cases since.

Fort Mayor Denounces Road Toll Proposal

The idea of toll roads on northern Ontario highway isn't getting a warm reception from some municipal leaders in northwestern Ontario.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has floated the idea to help cover the repair costs of aging infrastructure.

Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis says earmarking a portion of stumpage fees to road repairs may be a better plan.

Avis feels that because of the difference in traffic volumes, toll fees in northern Ontario would be far greater than those in the south.

Koochiching Road Projects

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has unveiled its 2013 road construction plans.

The $1.1 billion project list includes two projects in Koochiching County.

Nearly $3.8 million will be spent on bridge repairs along Highway 65 and another$ 880-thousand will be used to replace a culvert on the same Highway near the Littlefork River.

Eleven other projects are also on the books for the next four years.

Conservative MP's Revolt

Some Conservative MP's in Ottawa are revolting and Thunder Bay NDP MP John Rafferty is on their side.

The MPs are upset with how short a leash the Prime ministers office has them on.

Rafferty agrees it's limits MP's ability to represent their ridings

Pink Day At Library

Area groups are preparing to paint the Rainy River district pink.

April 10 marks International Day of Pink which encourages people to wear pink to help raise awareness in stopping all forms of bullying.

The Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre, along with the Celebrating Diversity Committee, will use the day as a Family Day with the showing of the documentary "Bully."

Moose Survey Numbers

Some new numbers regarding the moose in parts of the Rainy River District.

Ministry of Natural Resources survey of wildlife management unit 9A between Nestor Falls and Ignace spotted almost 1,200 moose.

Biologist Chris Martin says it represents a stabilizing of the population.

A survey of unit 12B in the Atikokan area identified 1,800 moose, down from 2,400 in 2009.

Elementary Teachers Union Lifts Extracurrilar Ban

The union representing Ontario public elementary teachers has joined the high school teachers union in lifting a ban on voluntary or extracurricular activities.

President Sam Hammond says the ban is being lifted in light of progress made in talks with the government.

Teachers withdrew from extracurricular activities last fall to protest legislation used to force contracts on them in January.

New Tourism Program At College

A new program is coming to Confederation College's campus in Fort Frances.

A two-year Tourism, Travel and Eco-Adventure program will be offered this fall.

Program Coordinator Giannina Veltri says it's a bit of a chance in focus for the College.

A total of 35 students will be accepted.

New Mental Health Services For Area College Students

Post-secondary students in northwestern Ontario will have better access to mental health supports.

Confederation College, in partnership with other colleges in northern Ontario, will  work together on a number of initiatives aimed at detecting mental health issues in students sooner.

Funding in the amount of $972-thousand is coming from the province.

County To Renew Assessor Contract

Koochiching County will continue to contract out chemical use, or Rule 25 assessments despite concerns from an area treatment facility.

Pineview Recovery Centre in Littlefork says it may close because it's not seeing enough referrals.

The County's Community Services Manager Terry Murray says he's willing to watch the situation closely in signing a new contract.

Another contract the County did have for Rule 25

assessments is being ended by the provider.

County Hires New Engineer

A former city engineer with International Falls is taking on a job with Koochiching County.

Joe Sutherland will takes over as County Engineer April 22 from the retiring Doug Grindell.

Sutherland served as engineer and public works director for the city between 1995 and 2003.