Friday, February 28, 2014

Ministry Of Labour Investigating Biomass Accident

An investigator with the Ministry of Labour is expected to be in Fort Frances today looking into yesterday's accident at Resolute Forest Products.

A dust explosion and subsequent fire at the company's biomass boiler sent an unnamed worker to hospital with serious burn injuries.

The man was last listed in critical condition.

A company spokesperson says they're also trying to determine the cause of the accident and that their main focus is with the employee and his family.

Operations at the biomass have since resumed.

Emo Church To Close

A part of the spiritual life in Emo will be close it's doors this spring.

The final church service at St. George's Anglican Church will take place Easter weekend with a formal closing in May.

Archbishop of Keewatin Diocese, David Ashdown says provision has been made to continue a food bank and thrift shop.

Ashdown says the small congregation's inability to maintain itself is the main reason for the closure.

High School Students Going Hungry

A group of students are going hungry.

But they are doing it for a purpose.

Fort Frances High School student Maisie Fichuk says it's all part of World Vision's 30 hour famine to raise awareness and money to help end world hunger and poverty.

As many as 70 students started their fast early this morning and will end tomorrow morning.

Former Game Show Host Opposes Spring Beat Hunt

The  former host of The Price Is Right is speaking out against the spring bear hunt.

Bob Barker calls the hunt barbaric and doesn't agree with those who say that he doesn't live here and so shouldn't have a say on the matter.

The Thunder Bay area is one of eight where the hunt is to take place.

Barker wants the City's council to reverse a decision, allowing the province to proceed with the hunt this spring.

FEDNOR Help For French Language Communities

The Federal Government is launching a five year initiative that will help French language speaking communities in northern Ontario.

The economic development initiative will help foster local and regional business opportunities.

FedNor will supply $4-million to the program over the next 5 years.

Minimum Wage Debated In Minnesota

The debate continues into Minnesota's minimum wage.

A conference committee reviewing a potential increase to $9.50 an hour heard from more than 50 people yesterday.

Mike Jennings, speaking for the Minnesota License and Beverage Association, says the over $3-dollar jump from the current rate would be detrimental to restaurant owners, forcing hire prices.

The committee continues its hearings today.

Crash Cause Identified

Darkness and low-intensity runway lights have been identified as causes of a deadly plane crash near Pickle Lake.

The Transportation Safety Board says the small private plane came in at 6-times the normal rate of descent and hit the ground on the night of October 16th, 2012.

Two pilots and one of the two passengers onboard died.

Back Is Best

"Back is best" when it come to sleeping babies.

The long-suggested practice is now contained in a guideline put out by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

Nurse practitioner Elyse Maindonald says there are still a lot of myths regarding the best way for a baby to sleep and hopes their guideline puts that debate the rest.

The 'back is best' recommendation applies throughout the first 12 months of a child's life.

Canada Post Needs Walkways Clear

Canada Post says it's having troubles delivering the mail in the Fort Frances area.

Spokesperson John Caines says it's all because of the snow and they're asking homeowners to keep their walkways free of snow as best they can.

Caines says snow on town sidewalks is also causing some difficulty for letter carriers hauling huge bags of mail.

Caines says those not getting mail will have to visit the post office to pick it up.

Two Charged In "Neknomination" Video

OPP are laying charges against two male youth in the Atikokan area after looking into a so-called "Neknomination" video that was recently posted.

The drinking game involves the consumption of large amounts of alcohol and attempting something risky - in this case it involved snowmobiles.

One youth has been charged with failing to wear a helmet on a snowmobile and having an improper tow attachment.

The other is being charged with underage drinking and failing to wear a helmet as well.

Ontario Tackles Invasive Species

Ontario is getting tough on invasive species.

Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti has introduced new legislation that, if passed, would make Ontario the first in Canada to have its own legislation to better deal with things such as zebra mussels, Asian carp and mountain pine beetles.

Orazietti says the province currently relies on a patchwork of federal and provincial laws that don't have enough teeth.

County Set To Help Propane Users

Koochiching County says it's ready to provide some relief to those struggling to pay their heating bills.

It will handle referrals from KOOTASCA after exhausting all other means of relief.

Community Service Manager Terry Murray says they were hoping they get a list in preparation, but privacy rights prohibits that.

The County has put $20-thousand into its assistance fund.

Labour To Battle PC's

Ontario labour movement is uniting in effort to prevent the Progressive Conservatives from forming the government in the next provincial election.

The Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress launched its campaign last night in Toronto.

OFL president Sid Ryan says leader Tim Hudak's entire platform is centered on dismantling the labour movement to clear the way for a low-wage economy.

Ryan says Hudak isn't fooling anybody with last week's announcement to drop controversial labour reforms.

Hudak Addresses Candidate Dismissal

Ontario's Conservative leader Tim Hudak is addressing the firing of PC candidate Tamara Johnson in Thunder Bay.

During a media conference in Toronto, Hudak didn't get into the details of the dismissal, but says all candidates have to be on the same page.

Johnson was fired early this week following comments made on social media about businesses in the Fort William First Nation.

Minnesotan "Housing Cost-Burdened"

BLH Photography
The latest analysis finds there are still a lot of folks across Minnesota on the edge financially.

High housing costs are partly to blame.

The Center for Enterprise Development's Kasey Wiedrich says they found that about half the renters in the state are what's called "housing cost-burdened."

For homeowners in Minnesota, the rate is significantly better, with just over one in four considered housing cost-burdened.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Explosion Reported At Mill

Fort Frances Fire and Rescue Service were called to an incident at Resolute Forest Products biomass boiler.

Officials say a dust explosion occurred inside the building this morning leading to a small fire that has been extinguished.

It's believed one person may have been taken to hospital with unknown injuries.

Minister Questioned On Winter Road Maintenance

A call to scrap the contracts given out to plow Ontario's highways.

Kenora-Rainy River M.P.P. Sarah Campbell says Transportation Minister Glen Murray recently talked about putting road maintenance back into the hands of the public sector.

Campbell says given recent fines and complaints from the travelling public it time.

She's also calling on Murray to stand behind a promise he made in the fall to visit if conditions weren't being met.

Murray says the province has added more plows on the roads and the word he's getting from Mayors he's spoken with is that winter road maintenance is getting better.

Distracted Driving Fine Going Up

You may want to think twice now when talking on your cell phone or fiddling with that MP3 player while behind the wheel.

The Province has increased the fine for distracted driving from $150 to $280.

OPP Sergeant Shelly Garr says it's become a huge problem in northwestern Ontario.

The higher fine comes into effect March 18th.

OFAH Rallying Support For Modified Bear Hunt

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters wants residents to speak up about plans to bring back the spring bear hunt.

The Liberals are proposing a partial return with the hunt to take place in eight wildlife management units this year.

OFAH's Mark Ryckman says animal rights activists are ramping their efforts to oppose the hunt, so they've decided to do the same to drum up support..

Comment to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry must be made before March 7.

Moose Numbers Down

The number of moose in northeastern Minnesota continues to be on a downward spiral.

The Department of Natural Resources says an estimated 43-hundred animal were spotted in an aerial survey in January - close to last year's number, but more than half that identified in 2006.

A number of studies are currently underway to understand the reasons behind the decline, looking at such things as wolf predation, habitat, disease and climate change.

Fuel Tax Concerns

Concern is being expressed in Koochiching County about a plan aimed at raising money for road improvements in Minnesota.
A coalition wants the State to add a 5 per cent tax on the wholesale price of fuel.
County Commissioner Wade Pavleck sees it only being passed onto the consumers already struggling.
The County intends to write the Governor and its State reps to show its opposition to the proposal.

Fuel Tax Increase Concerns


Salad Recall

There's been recall a bagged salad sold at Safeway stores across northwestern Ontario.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Signature Cafe, Fresh 'n Delicious and Nester's Own Brand Caesar Salad products have been recalled by the company due to a possible Listeria contamination.

Currently, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the recall.

Recalled products
Signature CafeChicken Caesar Salad140 g0 58200 13145 1Best Before dates up to and including MR01
Signature CafeChicken Caesar Salad300 g0 58200 13119 2Best Before dates up to and including MR01
Fresh 'n DeliciousCeasar Salad100 gStarts with 2 06430Best Before Dates up to and including FEB 28/14
Fresh 'n DeliciousCeasar Salad205 gStarts with 2 06419Best Before Dates up to and including FEB 28/14
Fresh 'n DeliciousChicken Ceasar Salad280 gStarts with 2 06422Best Before Dates up to and including FEB 28/14
Nester's OwnCeasar Salad100 gStarts with 2 06430Best Before Dates up to and including FEB 28/14
Nester's OwnCeasar Salad205 gStarts with 2 06419Best Before Dates up to and including FEB 28/14
Nester's OwnChicken Ceasar Salad280 gStarts with 2 06422Best Before Dates up to and including FEB 28/14

Solar Project Eyed In Koochiching County

Koochiching County is going ahead with at least the application process for a solar project of its own.

It's looking for State help to install solar panels on the roof of the Forestland Annex building.

If approved, the bulk of the project's costs would come from the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive program, but the County would still have to contribute $45-thousand.

School Bus Cancellations


Here is a list of school bus cancellations

MM230 - Murray McDonald

SM235 - Shane McDonald

BN245 - Bruce Neilson

MN 250 - Darryl Dyck

MN 251 - Maury Neilson

KJ220 - Keith Jolicoeur

Northwest Bay elementary and secondary buses

Dimit Bus Line routes DB100, DB101, DB102, DB103, DB104, DB105, DB106, DB107, DB110, DB111 and DB 112

DB108 & DB109 (Kindergarten buses) are running

Iron Range routes

IR302 Herman Rodriques

IR 304 - Stacy Bragg

IR 306 - Nancy Allen

IR 308 - Karen Kellar

IR 312 - Michelle Brusven

IR 307 - Reef Point portion only

Stanjikoming F.N. - Brian Wayash

Red Gut Bay buses

Big Grassy to Rainy River H.S. - Jodi Goliquer

BJ 215 - Bob Johnson

BJ 216 - Kaylene Johnson

Seine River handicap bus

BR 260 - Bill Romyn

FK 2225 - Fred Kropelin - is running two hours late

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Woman Charged In Assault

A woman has been arrested in connection with a stabbing in the International Falls area.

Koochiching County Sheriff's office says a 52-year-old man was stabbed several times with a knife at a home on County Road 99 short after 1:30 a.m. yesterday.

He was taken to Rainy Lake Medical Center for treatment.

48-year old Tracy Nuthak is in custody and faces a charge of Second Degree Assault.

OEB Should Watch Gas Prices

Provincial NDP is suggesting the Ontario Energy Board monitor gasoline prices.

Critic France Gélinas says while there's an expectation northerners will pay more for gas at the pumps than in southern Ontario, a recent jump in prices has her wondering if its bordering on opportunistic price gouging.

Gelinas says a good start to ensuring fair, stable and predictable fuel prices might be mandating the Ontario Energy Board to watch prices.

Infrastructure Fund Promoted

The federal government says its ready to help small communities in Ontario rebuild.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt promoted the Conservative's New Building Canada Plan to municipal leaders attending the Ontario Good Roads Conference in Toronto yesterday.

The 10-year plan proposed to spend 70 billion dollars on infrastructure.

Raitt sees the plan ensuring small communities have stable, long-term access to funding for infrastructure projects.

Government's Commitment To Mining Questioned

The Progressive Conservatives are questioning the Liberal government's commitment to mining in the province.

Vic Fedeli says after the Victor diamond mine was developed, the province imposed a mining tax and he wonders if history could repeat itself in the Ring of Fire.

Fedeli says in 2003 Ontario was ranked number one in mining, now we are number 16.

No Word On Casino Yet

Still no indication from the provincial government if and when a casino might be developed in northwestern Ontario.

A request for proposals for the Ontario North Gaming Bundle closed almost a year ago.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation had said it wanted to see new casinos in the Kenora and North Bay areas, adding to existing casinos in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. 

Minnesota Legislators Back To Work

Teresa Boardman photo
How to better support Minnesota's nearly 700-thousand family caregivers is among the issues to be debated as the 2014 Legislature opens today.

State director of AARP Minnesota Will Phillips says they're supporting efforts that help those with economic security and workplace flexibility

The estimated value of unpaid family caregivers to the Minnesota economy is nearly nine-billion dollars annually.

Hockeyville Voting Area Set Up

Proponents of Fort Frances' bid to the Kraft Hockeyville contest say they'll have a specific voting area if they make it to the next round of the contest.

It will be set up at the Memorial Sport Centre.

Officials say the arena will also be open during the duration of voting.

An announcement of the sixteen communities to advance in the contest will be made during Hockey Night in Canada March 8.

Fort Frances Gets Audience With Provincial Ministers

A number of issues impacting Fort Frances will be discussed in Toronto this week.

Mayor Roy Avis and Councillor Ken Perry are among those at the Ontario Good Roads Conference.

The duo have meeting with a number of provincial cabinet ministers.

They started with discussions yesterday with Transportation Minister Glen Murray over winter road maintenance and connecting link funding.

They're also schedule to meet with Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle.

MPAC Changes Forthcoming

The Province is taking action against the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

The government is directing the Ministry of Finance to develop an action plan to implement 26-changes to improve the property assessment system.

Dryden Mayor Craig Nuttall, who led the campaign for change, says it's a long time coming.

Several northern Ontario mayors called for changes are the assessed value of area mills were dramatically reduced, leading to huge tax rebates for the companies and fewer tax dollars for municipalities

The Ministers of Finance and Municipal Affairs are also calling for a comprehensive, independent performance evaluation of MPAC.

No Gas Shortage Concerns From Union Gas

No worries of a shortage of natural gas for users in northwestern Ontario.

The colder than usual winter has increased demand.

Union Gas' Andrea Stass says they have amble supply to meet that demand.

New prices come out in March, but Stass says any change will likely still be below market price because the company purchases on longer-term contracts that helps keep consumer costs down.

Nominations Announced

A total of 42 nominations have been made for the upcoming Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce's annual business awards.

Those awards will be handed out March 6.

Here is a list of all nominees.

Business of the Year - Sponsored by: B93.1 The Border

Betty’s of Fort Frances
Saulteaux Consulting and Engineering
From the Grind Up
Gillons' Insurance Brokers
Cloverleaf Grocery

Customer Service Award (Individual) - Sponsored by: Good Impressions Printing
Kerry Zucchiatti, 93.1 The Border
Zac Manty, Webb's Power Shack
Adrian Chapman, Investors Group
Alicia Desserre, Simplicity Hair & Body Shop
Donna Lowey, Lowey's Green House
Laureen Luchka, Boston Pizza

Customer Service Award (Business) - Sponsored by: TD Canada Trust
RBC Royal Bank
Tonic Tattoo
Betty's of Fort Frances
Fort Frances General Supply
Northwoods Gallery & Gifts
Tompkins Home Hardware

Employee of the Year - Sponsored by: The Westend Weekly
Christine Krueger, Fort Frances Dental Centre
Elizabeth Petkau, Rainy River Meats
Duane Hicks, Fort Frances Times
Jay McFarlane, Plaza Lanes

Business Woman of the Year - Sponsored by: Professional Women’s Network
Donna Lowey, Lowey's Greenhouse
Jennifer Horton, Curvy Chick/ Chick With A Camera
Grace Cridland, Gillons’ Insurance Brokers
Paula Jensen, Shear Serenity
Jackie Lampi-Hughes, Energy Fitness

Entrepreneur of the Year - Sponsored by: Rainy River Future Development Corporation
Ben Morelli, From the Grind Up
Chad Jackson, Pro-Shine
Paula Jensen, Shear Serenity
Tyler Nordin, Just 4 Fun Power Sports

Home Based Business Award - Sponsored by: M.L. Caron Electric
Inga Friesen, Merge 2
Ken Hawrylak, Digital Dr
Nicke Baird, Chelsey Simpson and Heather Bridgeman, Smashing Tea
Miles Kupila, Kupila's Sound Centre
Diane Gibson, Gibson Design

Small Business Trainer of the Year Award - Sponsored by: NCDS

Ted DeBenetti, A Buck or Two
Bobbie Parker, Mr. Sub
Ben Morelli, From The Grind Up
Dennis Roach, D.J. Roach Electric

Tony Beyak Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award - Sponsored by: the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce
Kayne Shaw
Leslie Danielson

The Award Ceremonies will take place at La Place Rendez Vous.

This year's event will be hosted by comedian Ryan McMahon of Fort Frances.

Tickets can be purchased at the Chamber Office.

Fort Frances Youth Selected As QP Page

A Fort Frances youth has been selected to be a page at Queen's Park.

Mira Donaldson, a grade 7 student at Robert Moore School, will be among a number of other young people who will deliver messages to MPP's, meet key parliamentarians and learn about Ontario's government.

Donaldson applied back in November, completing a 700 word essay as part of the application process.

She'll attend orientation at the end of this week and start her duties as page for a month beginning March 17.

Johnson No Longer Party Candidate

A candidate for the Progressive Conservatives has been removed from running in Thunder Bay Superior North in the next provincial election.

Tamara Johnson says she has removed by the party.

The announcement comes following statements Johnson made on Facebook, regarding businesses on the Fort William First Nation.

The PC Party has not yet commented on Johnson's statement.

Vaccines Are Safe

File photo
Vaccines are safe and have a low risk of adverse reactions.
That according to a report on Vaccine Safety in Ontario.

It says of the nearly 8-million doses of vaccine administered by the province's health professionals in 2012, about 630 adverse reactions were reported.

The majority were mild, such as pain, redness or swelling.

Only 56 people encountered more serious reactions

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mail Delivery Continues This Year

Door-to-door mail delivery in northwestern Ontario communities will continue for at least this year.

Canada Post says it will start rolling out its expansion of community mailboxes this fall to 11 communities.

They includes some parts of Winnipeg and Calgary, Oakville and Kanata near Ottawa.

No northwestern Ontario communities are listed.

Canada Post plans to have community mailboxes in all areas where door-to-door delivery now exists within the next five years.

Spectrum Sale

A recent sell off of frequency for expanded wireless services in Canada has netted the federal government more than $5.2 billion.

A total of 97 licenses were awarded to 8 companies taking part in the 700-megahertz spectrum auction.

Bell, Rogers, TELUS and Bragg Communications were winning bids for licenses in northern Ontario.

TBaytel participated in the auction but failed to win any bids.

Energy Summit Planned

Ontario will host an energy summit next week.

The Summit will bring together national, provincial, business and policy leaders from the energy and innovation sectors.

They'll be talking about such things as opportunities in clean energy technology and ways of tapping into international markets.

Energy Minister Bob Chicarelli says it will be a platform for the province can share its successes and collaborate on ways to export its expertise.

School Bus Cancellations In Rainy River District

Weather is having an impact on some schools and buses today.

Classes at Confederation College's campus in Fort Frances have been cancelled.

Schools in International Falls and Indus are delaying the start of classes by two hours this morning.

All schools in the Rainy River district are open.

Here is the complete list of all bus cancellations in the Rainy River district.

All Iron Ranges buses

All Dimit Bus lines

Seine River to Mine Centre

Seine River's handicap bus

All Red Gut Bay buses

Northwest Bay high school and elementary buses

Rainy River First Nation high school

Stanjikoming First Nations buses

Shane McDonald - SM 235

Bruce Neilson - BN 245

Bill Romyn - BR 260

Ken Fisher - ESE 205

Keith Jolicouer - KR 220

Jodi Gouliquer - Big Grassy to Rainy River High School

Maury Nielson - MN 251

Darryl Dyck - MN 250

Shelly McDoanld - MM230

Jack Medwechuk - JM 240 - Morson to Rainy River

Kaylene Johnson - BJ 216 XRR

Bob Johnson - BJ 215HHW

Fort Frances Helps With Recycling Data Base

Fort Frances is being credited with helping Ontario Waste Diversion establish a new municipal database.

It allows the agency to collect information on how much material is being diverted from landfill sites.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Scott says Fort Frances was used as a test model before rolling it out province wide.

Scott says the better data might also help improve municipal recycling efforts.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Osisko Shareholders Still Asked To Reject Goldcorp Take-over Bid

Osisko Mining continues to urge its shareholders to reject the unsolicited take-over bid from Goldcorp.

Chief Executive Officer Sean Roosen says that bid is preventing shareholders from getting a dividend on their investment.

Roosen says Osisko planned for a significant dividend policy, but claims that some of the money is now being spent on lawyers and bankers dealing with the legal challenge against Goldcorp.

A Quebec court is to hear matter March 3.

Ring Of Fire Progress Questioned At Queen's Park

At  Queen's Park,  the NDP is accusing the province of dragging its feet on the Ring of Fire mining project.

The opposition points to a lack of progress with establishing the development corporation.

Mines Minister Michael Gravelle says there's plenty going on behind the scenes to come up with a transportation route.

Gravelle says the hiring of the consulting firm Deloitte is an important part of the equation.

Thunder Bay Hospital Faces Fire Code Violation

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre is facing a fire code violation.

It's because patients are being placed in alcoves not designated for their care.

The hospital is currently facing an overcrowding problem.

International Falls Wants Hockey Day In Minnesota

International Falls wants to host Hockey Day in Minnesota.

The event celebrations the sport in the State with televised high school, college and NHL games on Fox.

The city's economic development director Shawn Mason says she's working on forming an exploratory committee to see what it will take to host the event.

Mason says since the location for next year has already been set, they'll hoping to be a host in 2016 or 2017.

Scholarships And Bursaries Handed Out To College Students

Over 250 Confederation College students have one less financial worry.

They have been awarded scholarships and bursaries totaling $120-thousand to continue their education.

President Jim Madder says it's all made possible by private donations.

The ceremony was held at the College's Thunder Bay campus yesterday.

Construction Boom Predicted For Northern Ontario

A series of large resource and infrastructure projects are been seen as boosting the construction industry in northern Ontario.

A report from BuildForce Canada predicts projects such as the Ring of Fire, the Energy East pipeline and ongoing transmission work, will bring new workers to the region over the next five years.

It also sees the demand for workers exceeding the existing workforce, forcing recruitment efforts to focus on youth and the Aboriginal community.

Ontario Wants More Immigrants

Ontario wants to attract more skilled immigrants to the province.

The Liberals are introducing an Ontario Immigration Act, aimed at strengthening its role in the immigrant selection process.

Ontario also wants the number of individuals who fall under a nominee program to increase to five-thousand from the current 13-hundred.

The program allows employers to fill skilled-labour vacancies with immigrants when suitable workers can't be found in Canada.

Retirement Benefits Changed

Retirement benefits for Ontario's civil service are being changed

Employees who retire on or after January 1, 2017 will be required to pay 50 per cent of their benefits premiums.

Currently the government pays the full cost.

Workers will also have to work 20 years, up from 10, to qualify for benefits.

The moves expect to save the province $1.2 billion over five years.