Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Casino Ballot Approved

It will now be up to the public to decide if Fort Frances council should further pursue the idea of a casino for the community.
Final wording of a question to appear on the ballot in this fall's municipal election received unanimous support from council last night.
There is still an appeal process to get through, but it is expected the question will remain as is for the October vote.
Town clerk Glenn Treflin says even if there are no elections for council, the question will stay in place.

Province Commits To Ring Of Fire Infrastructure

The provincial government is committing a billion dollars towards the Ring of Fire infrastructure development.

Mines Minister Michael Gravelle is challenging the federal government to do the same. 

The provincial commitment is to be included in this week's budget which would require NDP support in order to pass.

Parternships Needed

A strong commitment from the Grand Chief of Treaty 3 to work with area municipalities.

Warren White says i'ts vital for the entire region that everyone come together to help each other prosper.

White made his comments while speaking to delegates at last week's Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association conference.

Education Around Treaties Planned

Aboriginal Affairs photo
The provincial Liberals want students to better understand First Nations treaties.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer says a new school curriculum about treaties is being developed in partnership with First Nation Leaders that helps students learn about First Nation communities, cultures and perspectives.
The first step is a map being sent to every elementary and high school in the province.
Ontario is covered by 46 treaties and other agreements, including Treaty 3 covering this area and signed in 1873.

Premier Announces New Jobs Fund

Ontario's Liberals are revealing some of its plan aimed at attracting and maintaining business in the province.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says it include the creation of a new Jobs and Prosperity Fund.

It proposes to offer $2.5 billion in grants over the next 10 years.

More details are expected in Thursday's budget.

Province Seeks No Board Report In Talks With Union

The provincial government has asked for a "no board report" from the Ministry of Labour in its contract talks with the union representing government supervisory and administrative staff.

Approval could put members of the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario in a legal strike or lockout position within a few weeks.

The union calls the move both irresponsible and puzzling, noting there hasn't been any meaningful bargaining since a strike vote in March.

Tbaytel For Good Campaign Returns

Tbaytel's latest "Tbaytel for Good" campaign is now underway.

The telecommunication's company is offering up a total of $15-thousand to organizations with the focus this time on the environment.

Group can now register their idea and lobby for votes until June 20.

The Border Skating Club in Fort Frances was the winner of the company's winter contest.

Makabi Inn Closed

Concerns for the safety of residents living at a downtown Fort Frances motel has forced its closure.

It came after a visit to the Makabi Inn Friday by the Fort Frances Fire and Rescue Service and the town's by-law department.

Fire Chief Frank Sheppard says flags were raised when they had been told some of the residents were using candles and other heating sources after power had been cut off.

The move led to about 25 people being housed elsewhere.

There's no word when or if the motel will be reopened.

Contract Talks With Resolute Underway

Contract talks between Resolute Forest Products and Unifor are underway.

The results of the negotiations, impacting nineteen collective agreements, are intended to serve as a pattern for talks with other pulp and paper companies in eastern Canada.

The talks are scheduled to continued all this week in Montreal.

TD Bank Welcoming Aboriginal Customers

TD Bank is releasing a report on their aboriginal customers.

The company says they want to be the bank of choice for First Nation families, businesses and communities.

The report highlights the relationship the bank has with aboriginal people as an employer, bank and philanthropic organization.

Province Wants More Money From Feds For Roads

Ontario says the federal government needs to ante up when it comes to road improvements.

The province is proposing the feds kick in $3 billion annually, matched dollar for dollar by Ontario.

Transportation Minister Glenn Murray says currently, the federal commitment is well below that and does little to improve infrastructure that's been neglected for many years.

Some smaller municipalities adds a federal program for upgrades excludes them because of their size.

NDP Offer Up Plan To Improve Highway Snow Plowing

Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath is out with her plan to improve area highways.

Horwath says it includes putting another two hundred pieces of snow removal equipment on the roads in the winter.

Horwath says the northern Ontario highways are a lifeline for northern residents.

She aims to have the plan in place by next winter.

Monday, April 28, 2014

More Wanted In Export Business

FEDNOR wants to see more companies in northwestern Ontario get into the export business.

The regional economic development agency provides assistance to firms wanting to expand.

Director Aime Dimatteo says of the 67-hundred business now in northern Ontario, only six per cent are now exporting products or services elsewhere.

Provincially, just 18 per cent of companies are in the exporting business.

NOHFC Money Doled Out

Several communities will share in funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.

Emo is receiving one million dollars to install water services to service commercial lots in its east end.

Seine River First Nation is receiving one-million to building a  multi-purpose centre.

Mitaanjigaming First Nation is receiving $569-thousand to upgrade a road for a quarry development project.

It's also getting $280-thousand to build a multi-use centre.

Lake of the Woods township will use $125-thousand to install a geothermal heating system at the Bergland Hall.

Saulteaux Consulting in Fort Frances will get $44-thousand to expand its engineering business, creating three jobs.

Progress Report Released

Ontario is releasing its Jobs and Economy Progress Report, which outlines economic development across the province.

According to the report, the province has invested almost $900-million helping to create nearly 23-thousand jobs through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund since 2003.

In addition, the province says it created just over 95-thousand jobs last year.

NDP AND Greens Confirm Candidates

File photo
If a provincial election takes place this spring, the ballot is pretty much set in the Kenora-Rainy River Riding.

Sarah Campbell was acclaimed by the NDP at a nomination meeting in Dryden.

Meanwhile, the Green Party will have a candidate in the next provincial election.

Pickle Lake's Tim McKillop has been selected to carry the green colours.

McKillop is a High School teacher with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board.

He joins Campbell, Randy Nickle of the Progressive Conservatives and Anthony Leek of the Liberal party on the ballot in the next election.

National Day Of Mourning

Flags at all government buildings are flying at half-staff today as part of the National Day of Mourning.

The days is held to remember the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents.

Atikokan Chamber Awards

A number of Atikokan businesses and individuals are being honoured by the Atikokan Chamber of Commerce.

It handed out its annual awards last week.

Johnson's Esso won the Business Excellence Award.

Dr. Sara Van Der Loo won the Customer Service Award.

Brad Sampson took the Ambassador Award.

Atikokan Youth Initiatives won the not-for-profit excellence award for its teen centre.

Atikokan Hydro earned the health and safety award.

Ontario Power Generation's Atikokan station was handed the Widening Our World Award.

Skills Development Trainin For Native Women

The Federal Government is providing 200-thousand dollars to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation to provide training and skills development for First Nations women.

NAN Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says they want to reach out to as many communities as they can.

The 200-thousand will be provided over two years, and  Fiddler hopes they can  expand it once funding runs out.

New Fire Chief

International Falls has a new fire chief.

Adam Mannausau takes over the from the retiring Jerry Jensen.

Jensen has been with the International Falls department for more than 30 years the last 16 as chief.

Border Numbers Down

The Canada Border Services Agency says border travel at Fort Frances and Rainy River was down last month.

Just over 55-thousand travelers crossed into Canada at Fort Frances in March, down 2 per cent over the same period in 2012.

A similar decrease was seen at Rainy River where 21-thousand travelers crossed the border last month.

Premier Challenges Opposition To Debate

Ontario's Premier is issuing a challenge to the provincial opposition leaders.

Kathleen Wynne used her visit to the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association last Thursday night to challenge PC leader Tim Hudak and NDP leader Andrea Horwath to a debate in northern Ontario if they force a spring election.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath was quick to respond saying the Liberals have ignored the needs of northern Ontario for too long and she'd be happy to debate Wynne anywhere, anytime.

MPAC Concerns Discussed

Some hope from municipal reps after hearing from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

MPAC officials outlined at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association conference in Fort Frances last week where they're improving.

Fort Frances Administrator Mark McCaig is hoping it makes a difference.

Some municipalities complain of drastic changes to property values without reason.

Ring Of Fire Framework Agreement

A major hurdle is now cleared in the Ring of Fire process.

A framework agreement has been signed between the provincial government and the nine Mattawa First Nations.

While in Thunder Bay, Premier Kathleen Wynne says she doesn't believe it will add to any delays in getting the giant mining project off the ground.

The First Nations say the agreement allows them to have a say about mining development on their lands.

Man Sought in Emo Incident

OPP are looking in an incident in Emo in which a man may have been trying to pick up a young girl.

Police says the driver of a pickup truck had pulled up to the girl walking on Roy Street April 15 and began asking her some questions.

At one point, the man appeared to unbuckle his seat belt before the girl left and told her parents who called police.

Police are now looking for the man who is described as being native, in his late 40's of 50's, with messy hair and one eye that squinted.

He was also wearing a chain bracelet with a skull and had a heart tattoo on his left arm.

Nurses Uniforms To Be Uniform

If you travel to Thunder Bay for medical reasons, you're going to see a new look at the Regional hospital next year.

Nurse there will be required to wear standard uniform.

Spokesperson Rhonda Crocker-Ellacott says it's to help patients know who's a nurse and who's not.

Crocker Ellacott says it was staff who originally came up with the idea about five years ago.

More Funding For Festival

More funding for the new music festival planned for Fort Frances this summer.

The Harmony of Nations festival is receiving just over $8,500 from the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation.

The money is for marketing and advertising purposes.

Area Lakes Get DNR Review

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking the public's comment on new fisheries management plans for 9 lakes and one stream in northern St. Louis and Koochiching Counties.

Area fisheries supervisor Kevin Peterson says the plans identify goals and objectives for the lakes' fish populations and specific management activities for the next 10 to 20 years.

Copies of the draft plans are available at the International Falls Area Fisheries office with comment being accepted until May 2.

Forestry Investments Prime

Investment bank Dundee Capital Markets says it might be worth investing in the forestry sector.

A research report cites increasing housing starts in the U.S. and a lower Canadian dollar to the American greenback as being favourable to Canadian producers.

It names Domtar and Resolute Forest Products as preferred investments because both stocks are inexpensive and there's forecast for growth in earnings.

Furnace Source Of CO Poisoning

Provincial Police are pointing to the furnace as the cause of carbon monoxide poisoning that claimed two lives in Nipigon.

60-year old Ivan Gaujean  and his wife 45- year old Claire Gaujean were found dead in the home last Monday.

The couple's 8-year old son survived.

Man Arrest On Child Pron Charges

Police are charging a 52 year old Thunder Bay man with possessing child pornography.

It comes after a tip advised police that a local man was uploading improper images to Twitter.

Jeffrey Miro will appear in court on May 16.

Few Need Koochiching's Help

A relief fund set up by Koochiching County for residents struggling to pay their heating costs this winter has received very little use.

A total of $790 was provided to just one person to offset their hydro costs caused by using space heaters as a source of heat during the cold winter.

Community Services manager Terry Murray says additional State funding given to other agencies such as KOOTASCA and the Salvation Army for their programs likely limited the need for the County's program.

The County set up the program as a last resort for residents coping with high heating costs.

Former Mayor Back On PSB

The Fort Frances Police Services Board is back to full complement.

Glen Witherspoon returns to the board after being reappointed for another three years by the province.

The five-person board had operated with one less since last summer when Witherspoon's previous term expired.

The former mayor has been on the board for nearly 20 years.

New Court House Opens

Thunder Bay's new consolidated court house is officially open.

A ribbon cutting took place last week.

Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur says she's proud her government made the new building happen.

The new $250-million building has 15 court rooms and an Aboriginal Settlement Suite, the first of its kind in Ontario.

Man Earns Bravery Award

The man who played a role in saving a Fort Frances area woman from a bear attack is receiving one of Canada's top bravery awards.

The governor general is presenting Dan Morrison with the Star of Courage for his part in the October 2011 incident.

Morrison says he's honoured, but doesn't consider himself a hero

Morrison received the medal during a ceremony in Ottawa.

Tourism Industry Worried About Moose Tag Cuts

More concerned being express over the province's decision to reduce the number of moose hunting tags this fall.

Sunset Country Travel Association's Gerry Cariou sees it having a negative impact on the tourism industry.

The Ministry of Natural Resources sites declines in the moose population as the reason for making fewer tags available to hunters.

Liberals Plan Removal Of Debt Retirement Charge

A long-standing complaint with hydro bills may finally get resolved.

The provincial Liberals say they're planning to remove the Debt Retirement Charge off residential electricity bills, beginning next year.

The move would save homeowners about $5.60 a month.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New County Department Created

Koochiching County has taken a step towards creating a new health and human services department.

The board has appointed Community Services Director Terry Murray as the department's director.

Murray is also to come back to the County board next month on how new department will look like.

Fundraiser Tickets Available

Riverside Foundation for Health Care's spring luncheon is fast approaching.

Tickets for the May 4th event are now on sale.

Director Samantha Manty says "old bags" are being brought back for the event, but they still need more donations.

Call the Foundation if you can help or need to buy tickets.

You can also purchase tickets at Gillons* Insurance and McTaggarts.

Gas Prices Rising

Motorists are starting gas prices increase across Ontario.

The average price in Ontario is about $1.37 a litre, but some stations in northwestern Ontario are hitting just below $1.50.

Prices in Fort Frances are at $1.39.

Gas buddy.com says the average price in Manitoba is $1.28 while the average price at Minnesota station is selling for the equivalent of just over the dollar mark.

Energy Bill Passed House

Minnesota is looking at additional aid for low-income electricity customers and added protection from rising price for propane purchasers in an Omnibus energy bill that has received House approval at the State capital.

The bill combines suggestions from several others that were heard at the committee level.

It now heads to the Senate for debate.

Mandatory Swimming Lessons Considered

Minnesota lawmakers are looking at making swimming lessons mandatory in public schools as a way of reducing the number of drownings.

A proposed bill now at the committee level proposes lesson at all grade levels.

Those without easy access to a pool would need to provide in-class instruction such as water safety.

The Minnesota School Board Association worries about the added costs of implementing

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ar Service Explored For Fort Frances

A Fort Frances man is exploring the idea of setting up his own air charter service.

Jordan Manty is currently gathering information in hopes of having his planes flying out of the Fort Frances airport as early as this fall.

The local pilot sees potential with Bearskin recently cutting service to Winnipeg and those working out of town and travelling great distances.

Part of his work right now is gathering public feedback and meeting with potential investors.

He's also set up a survey on Facebook.

MVA Death In Koochiching County

Authorities in Koochiching County are looking into the death of a teenager involved in a single vehicle accident Monday afternoon.

The body of 16-year-old Tanner Mollberg of Baudette was the found in the vehicle located on County Road 18, on the western edge of Koochiching County.

The County's Sheriff's Office believes the teen died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while the vehicle was in motion prior to it going off the road and striking a tree.

Carbon Monoxide Death Investigated

The community of Nipigon is in shock following the death of two of its residents of carbon monoxide poisoning.

A 60-year-old man and 45-year woman were found dead in their home Monday afternoon.

Their 8-year-old son is currently being treated in hospital.

The source of the deadly gas has not been determined. 

Minnesota Power Identifies Transmission Line Routes

Minnesota Power has its preferred and alternative routes selected for a new transmission line to connect with Manitoba.

The line is to bring power to the Iron Range and will go through parts of Koochiching County.

Supervisor of environmental siting and permitting, Jim Atkinson says it's now before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for review.

Atkinson says it could lead to environmental scoping hearings later this summer.

Atkinson adds that the route through Koochiching County was altered to address concerned expressed from residents over its original plans.

NOMA Delegates Arrive Today

Municipal reps from across northwestern Ontario will begin arriving in Fort Frances today for the annual meeting of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association conference.

President and Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield says the theme is around partnerships.

But Canfield says that theme could be overshadowed by the discussion over winter road maintenance and property assessment which have greatly impacted municipalities over the past year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and four members of her cabinet are also expected.

Heart Of The Continent Seeks Tourism Areas To Promote

The group promoting an international marketing initiative involving National Geographic is looking for areas to spotlight.

Selected sites and attractions around northwestern Ontario and northeastern Minnesota will be part of a web map in the Heart of the Continent's Geotourism project.

Committee member Eric Johnson says the public is being invited to nominee their favourites by going to traveltheheart.org by June 15.

Johnson says they hope to have the map in place later this fall.

Easter Scavenger Hunt A Success

Organizers of the first ever Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt in Fort Frances hail Saturday's event a success.

The Fort Frances Kiwanis and the Downtown Business Improvement Association combined efforts to attract about 350 kids.

Kiwanis member Scott Turvey was pleased with the turnout, despite the cold weather.

He credits the support of area businesses for making the event a success.

Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls Council Passes Budget

Residents in Sioux Narrows/Nestor Falls shouldn't have to dig much deeper to pay their property tax bill this year.

The township council has approved a budget with a one per cent increase in the tax rate.

Mayor Bill Thompson says with decreases in education taxes, most homeowners will actually see an overall decrease.

Thompson says the budget also includes more money into reserves for future projects.