Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Town Makes Staffing Changes

The town of Fort Frances has completed a series of staffing changes as part of a cost-saving measure.

The changes affecting eight positions and will save the town $346-thousand this year and over half-a-million dollars in 2014.

Chief Administrative Officer Mark McCaig says most of changes were acheived through retirements.

Only one person will be laid off while some seasonal positions won't be filled.

Some of the duties and responsibilities of employees who are retiring will be taken over by other employees.

Budget Talks Continue

Service cuts and user fees will be the next focus of attention for Fort Frances council as it continues tackling the 2013 budget.

Councillor Paul Ryan says they really have no choice

The operating budget is down to about $380 thousand, but an agreement to reduce Resolute Forest Products' assessment has yet to take effect.

Councillor Andrew Hallikas supports taking a look at services and fees, but cautions against making any knee jerks decisions

Housing Lots Sale Sorted Out

Details how the town of Fort Frances will sell off lots in the proposed Huffman School subdivision are being sorted out.

Development costs will come in at about $912-thousand with some project components being delayed for now.

Town Planner Faye Flatt says a massaging of the numbers brings lot prices to between $50-thousand and $82-thousand, depending on size and location.

The town is considering a lottery to sell off the lots, but Councillor Paul Ryan prefers accepting seal bids in hopes of maximizing the financial benefit to the town.

Forest Fire Season Underway

The new forest fire season is here and Ministry of Natural Resources staff is ready to go.
Spokesperson Debbie Maclean says weather is keeping a damper on an immediate threats.

MacLaclean says forecasters don't expect the snow to melt quickly, so most of April will likely stay quiet.

Last year, the MNR battled 14 fires before the official start to the forest fire season and some municipalities in the Rainy River district were forced to issue bans on open-air burning.

Mines Symposium In Thunder Bay

Northwestern Ontario's mining industry will be highlighted over the next couple of days.

The Ontario Prospectors Association is holding its Mines and Minerals Symposium in Thunder Bay.

Executive Director Garry Clark says they have over a hundred booths and posters highlighting the geology of northwestern Ontario and jobs in the area.

The theme this year is "Advancing Towards Production".

Mulcair Visits Northwestern Ontario

A stop in Northwestern Ontario for the leader of the Opposition Party.

Tom Mulcair is in Thunder Bay today.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell and Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty are joining the federal NDP leader on his visit.

Minnesota Legislature Returns

The Minnesota Legislature returns today.

House Speaker Paul Thissen says lawmakers should expect the pace to pick up considerably with the budget much of the focus this month.

Also unresolved are measures to boost the minimum wage and a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.