Friday, May 30, 2014

Atikokan Man Charged

An Atikokan man will appear in court Monday in connection with an assault in that community last week.

OPP say a 48-year-old man was taken to hospital for treatment and released after being assaulted by another brandishing a hammer.

The 40-year-old remains in custody pending his court appearance in Fort Frances.

County Seeks Assurances On RECAP Project

Koochiching County wants to ensure the company proposing a renewable energy project is considering potential sites, west of International Falls as part of a feasibility study.

Commissioner Wade Pavleck says Coronal's latest report makes no mention of looking at land around the city of  Big Falls, despite previous requests from both the city and the county.

Pavleck says the company seems focuses soley on a site near International Falls that includes both private and city owned property.

Election Notebook

On the election campaign, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is challenging PC leader Tim Hudak to prove her wrong.

The Liberals and some economists say the Tories have incorrectly counted person-years of employment as full time jobs in their projections towards the million jobs plan.

Wynne wants Hudak to produce at least one qualified independent economist who supports the PC's claim.

PC's, meantime, are launching new ads after releasing details of what they say is an approved $317-million bailout of a Toronto real estate firm signed just prior to the provincial election campaign.

PC's released documents pertaining to the deal yesterday.

Premier Kathleen Wynne denies the allegations, saying the documents are part of ongoing negotiations in a real estate transaction.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath is promising to clean-up what she calls the corruption at Queen's Park and focus on the priorities that matter most to Ontarians.

Horwath says Liberals have wasted billions of dollars on such things a CEO bonuses, the ORNGE air ambulance scandal and the cancelled gas plants instead of on health care, education and public transit.

Former Atikokan Resident Releases Book

A former Atikokan educator is out with a new children's book.

Paul Bachmeier, who now lives in Thunder Bay, authored "Barley the Elephant."

It's about a spotted baby elephant. 

Bachmeier credits his daughters for the idea and includes both in the book.

The book is illustrated by Scott Chasty, another former Atikokan resident.

A launch will take place in Thunder Bay tomorrow at the Chapters book store.

You can also obtain the book on line and through

Three Charges In Drug Bust

OPP are charging three people with drug related offences.

A 66 year old Thunder Bay man, a 53 year old from Fort Hope and 41 year old woman from Webequie woman are charged with possession of oxycodone, marihuana, and possession of property of crime.

About 11-thousand dollars worth of drugs were seized in  the investigation.

Governor OK's Marijuana Use

Governor Mark Dayton has signed off on a bill paving the way for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The bill creates a patient registry and authorizes the use of medical cannabis in limited forms for certain conditions.

The State expects to have distribution sites in place by next summer.

New Health Unit Campaign

A new campaign to encourage healthy lifestyles has been launched by the Northwestern Health Unit.

Medical Officer of Health Doctor Kit Young-Hoon says its aimed at improving the overall health of the region through better eating and lifestyle habits.

The campaign includes a new website offering a 21 day challenge to help change your lifestyle choices.


A busy year for Northern Community Development Services, or NCDS.

The employment assistance agency saw nearly 9-thousand people visit its Fort Frances office.

Marketing coordinator Sarah Maruzyk says it was in part due to the layoffs at Resolute Forest Products.

NCDS also saw over 21-hundred people participate in a variety of skills development workshops.

Voter Cards Being Issued

Voters across the Kenora-Rainy River riding are beginning to receive find their notice to vote cards in their mail boxes.

It includes the polling station you vote at on election day.

Returning Officer Ian Simpson says check the cards closely to ensure they are accurate.

If there are errors, or you have not received a card in  the next few days, call the Returning office.

Voting can now be done at returning offices by special ballot with advance polls opening this weekend, but the cards are not required.

Two pieces of identification is all you need.

Board Positions Filled

The Northwest Catholic District School Board has appointed two to the position of Superintendent of Education.

Brendan Hyatt and Joanne Querel will assume their new duties in August.

Hyatt is currently principal at Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton and the assistant to the education director

Querel now serves as an assistant Superintendent of Education.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fraser Institute Reviews Ontario Pension Plan

The Fraser Institute is throwing cold water on the Liberal's plans to create an Ontario Pension Plan.

The Conservative think-tank suggests it will costs Ontarians up to $3,400 a year - nearly $7-thousand for a working family.

The proposal calls for workers to contribute 1.9 per cent of their earnings to be matched by employers.

The Institute suggests that will reduce household spending and the standard of living.

It also believes employers will make cuts in other areas to offset its share.

OPP Officer Charged

OPP are charging one of their own.

Detective Constable Rory Thompson, who is based out of Thunder Bay, faces eight counts of theft under 5-thousand, and one count of fraud under 5-thousand.

The charges stem from an investigation into incidents dating back to October 2012 until this past March.

Thompson has been suspended with pay and will appear in court on July 11.

Davidson Returns To Head Atikokan Metis

File photo
Marlene Davidson will again serve as president of the Atikokan Metis Council for the next two years.

Her position was one of nine acclaimed after nominations for the Council's elections closed May 18.

Elections were planned for June 1.

Three other positions on the Council are still vacant.

No Bad Roads In Northwestern Ontario Apparently

We love to complain about them, but northwestern Ontario's road have been left out of the Canadian Automobile Association's worst roads list for this year.

The annual list is compiled by public nominations.

Dufferin Road in Toronto tops this year's list for a third straight time.

The remainder of the top ten were either located in Toronto or elsewhere in southern Ontario.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Water Now Flowing Freely

Fort Frances residents can stop trickling their water.

The directive was issued after an outbreak of frozen water lines this past winter.

Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown says the last problem area was resolved just last week.

Effected users on water meters won't be taxed with higher water bills for keeping the water running.

Brown says their bills will be based on their water usage last year.  

Meantime, town crews are still working to repair broken water and sewer pipes with with three of over 40 this year yet to fix.

Laid Off Workers Recognized In New Contract

While the mill itself is no longer operating, laid off workers at Resolute Forest Products in Fort Frances are being recognized in a new contract with Unifor.

Unifor's Mike Lambert says the new four-year deal secures preferential hiring for the workers at the new sawmill in Atikokan.

That sawmill is to open next spring.

Lambert says workers in Fort Frances were included in the contract because talks had started well before the closure announcement.

Lambert says the contract would also in place if there were efforts by someone else to restart the now shuttered Fort Frances mill.

Resolute said it explored a potential sale before making the closure decision, but has not said if anyone is now interested in the mill.

Tax Break For Some Big Falls Area Residents

Koochiching County's board of commissioners is agreeing to provide tax relief to property owners who now fall under two hospital taxing districts.

The duplication, effecting some owners in the Big Falls area, came when a new district was created to help Littlefork Medical Center repay a million dollar County loan for capital improvements.

The County will now provide a yearly grant to the city of Big Falls equal to the amount of tax assessed on effect properties.

Do One Thing Underway

Northwestern Health Unit has officially opened its Do One Thing Conference in Kenora.

Chief Executive Officer  Mark Perrault says health is not accomplished by one single entity.

Perrault says the goal is to get ideas won which direction they can take to improve the health of area communities.

More than 300 people from across the region are attending.

New Name For Pither's Point Park

A new name for Pither's Point Park is being explored.

It comes out of meetings recently held between the town of Fort Frances and First Nations leaders with the band's who've laid title to the park.

The town's Chief Administrative Officer Mark McCaig says it will now be referred for now as the Point while the two sides come up with a new name.

McCaig say the two sides have also agreed to ongoing dialogue with the aim of solving some, if not all, the issues that have been, in the past, before the courts.

Input Sought On Bicycle Plan

Minnesota continues to seek public comment on its statewide bicycle plan.

The Department of Transportation has set up an interactive map and survey on its website to gather input on how to address the needs of bicycle riders across the State.

They will stay in place until June 1 with the Department expected to complete its plan by the end of this year.

Minnesota Warns Of Tick Problems

The snowy and cold winter is apparently not hurting ticks in Minnesota.

Fields studies in southwestern parts of the State are finding large numbers of adult deer ticks.

The Department's David Neitzel says ticks were likely insulated from the cold by deep snow, meaning the risk of tick-transmitted disease to be high again this year.

Last year, the department reported a record 14-hundred Lyme disease cases around the State.

Northern Ontario Debate

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath are fresh off the Northern Ontario debate in Thunder Bay Monday.

The two went head to head on a variety of issues including revamping the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

Horwath says she would tackle the problem immediately.

Wynne focused more on the current economic programs her party offers.

The two leaders also indicated a willingness to consider taking back OPP policing costs from municipalities under 5,000 population.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak didn't attend because of scheduling conflicts.

NOMA Remembering What Leaders Said

The proof is in the pudding.

That reaction from the president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association following Monday's debate between Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP leader Andrea Horwath in Thunder Bay.

In an interview with NetNewsledger Dave Canfield says he'll be holding the leaders to their word after the election.

Canfield says he did hear from both that they were willing to work with northern Ontario leaders.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hudak Promotes Wage Freeze

PC leader Tim Hudak is proposing to freeze the wages of all public sector workers and MPP's upon taking office.

Hudak says 97-thousand government workers are already making six figure salaries.

Hudak says a wage freeze would save Ontario taxpayers $2-billion a year and help create new jobs.

Northern Ontario Heritage Party Announces Candidates

The party advocating northern Ontario be its own province is running three candidates in the provincial election.

Leader and founder of the Northern Ontario Heritage Party Ed Deibel is running in Thunder Bay-Atikokan.

Association president Paul Sloan is running in Thunder Bay-Superior North.

The party says it has a registered riding association for Kenora-Rainy River, but no candidate for this election.

New Asset Management Plan

Fort Frances council is adopting a new asset management plan to help it deal future infrastructure needs.

It includes a recommendation that taxes increase 2.3 per cent each year for the next decade to help pay for the work.

Councillor Ken Perry worries it holds future councils to that commitment.

Councillor Rick Wiedenhoeft says the tax increase is just a recommendation, but council needed to approve the plan to ensure it can access future federal and provincial dollars.

The plan focuses on such things as roads, bridges, sewer and water and social housing needs.

Treaty 3 Chiefs Meet

Grand Council Treaty 3 holds its annual spring assembly, beginning today at Rat Portage First Nation.

Grand Chief Warren White says topics includes child welfare and the Energy East Pipeline.

Unlike past conferences, no provincial representatives will be attending partly because of the election.

White says federal Natural Resources Minister and Kenora MP Greg Rickford and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt were also invited, but did not respond.

Do One Thing

The Northwestern Health Unit's Do One Thing Conference gets underway today in Kenora.

Over 300 people are attending, representing a wide array of sectors, including health, education and non-profit organizations from across northwestern Ontario as well as Winnipeg.

The conference aims to get people more interested in healthy eating and active lifestyles.

Comedian Rick Mercer is attending as a guest speaker.

Liberal Candidates Challenged On Gas Plants Stance

Progressive Conservatives are challenging Liberals candidates to come clean with voters where they stand on the gas plant scandal issue.

A release from the Party says it's important that each candidate state clearly whether or not the one billion dollars spent to cancel the plants in southern Ontario was a waste of taxpayer money.

Leader Tim Hudak last week announced he's initiate a judicial inquiry into the cancellations upon taking power.

GPS Helps Minnesota Man Get Aid

A distress call though a GPS satellite is being credited with helping a Minnesota man receive emergency help.

OPP were notified of the distress call Friday.

Using the coordinates, police were able to locate the man at this lake only access cabin in the northwest arm of Rainy Lake where he was found to have suffered a leg injury and needed assistance.

Police were able to help the man return home.

His injury did not require urgent emergency medical attention from police or ambulance personnel.

MNR Helps Saskatchewan

The Ministry of Natural Resources is providing some assistance to Saskatchewan.

Two waterbombers, a birddog aircraft and an air attack officer have been sent to assist with a forest fire in the northern part of the province.

The fire forced the evacuation of about 900 residents from the Stanley Mission area.

OPP Auxiliary Information Session

An information session is planned in Fort Frances for those interested in being involved with the OPP's auxiliary program.

Members of the Northwest Region Auxiliary are volunteers who assist police in various ways.

The session takes place Wednesday night at 7 PM at the NCDS boardroom on Scott Street.

You're asked to call the OPP is you plan to attend.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Racoon Turns Out The Lights

A racoon is being blamed for causing a power outage this morning in Fort Frances.

The electricity went out around 3 AM.

A spokesperson with the Fort Frances Power Corporation says the animal got into one of its substations, causing the wide-spread outage.

The lights came back on shortly after 4 AM.

Meantime, brief outages were also reported elsewhere in the district.

No cause has been listed for those yet.

The outage also impacted 93.1 The Border's transmitter.

The station could still be heard through it's website before technicians were able to restore the off-air signal shortly before 8 AM.

Derailment Investigated

The Transportation Safety Board is now investigating that CN rail derailment west of Fort Frances.

A team of investigators was deployed after thirty-five cars left the track Friday afternoon, just east of the level crossing on Highway 11-71 in the township of Alberton.

It's reported that two of the cars contained dangerous goods, but nothing spilled.

A small grass fire also broke out, but was quickly extinguished.

No one was injured.

CN says it had the tracks cleared of debris by 6 PM Saturday night, but still expected some rail travel to be delayed going through the area.

More Forest Fires On Weekend

The grass fire resulting from Friday's CN train derailment has been recorded as the first forest fire of the year in the Rainy River district.

It was one of five new blazes that sparked across northwestern Ontario this weekend.

All were human caused, but have since been declared out.

It brings this year's total to 22 fires, covering just over 11 hectares.

Two Dead Near Dryden

Two people are dead following a motor vehicle accident west of Dryden yesterday.

OPP says a vehicle came into collision with an oncoming tractor trailer unit on Highway 17 near Eagle River.

Both of the fatalities were occupants of the vehicle, but their names have not been released.

Two people in the transport were not hurt.

Northern Leaders Debate Today

Two of Ontario's top political leaders square off in an election debate in the city today.

The NDP's Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne of the Liberals will be answering questions on northern Ontario issues when they face each other in the lunch hour debate.

PC leader Tim Hudak could not make it because of a scheduling conflict.

He's in Peterborough.  

You can watch the debate through Livestream beginning at 11 AM Central time. 

The link is being provided by Net

Liberal Election Platform Released

Premier Kathleen Wynne is confident with the Liberal's election platform.

She released her party's plan in Thunder Bay yesterday, much of which mirrors the failed budget presented earlier this month.

The Premier says the Liberals remain committed to better road conditions in the north.

The Liberals are also committing the billion dollars for the Ring of Fire regardless of the federal government's involvement.

NDP Asks "Who Got Main Service?"

New Democrats are calling on the Premier to release the names of Liberal cabinet ministers who reportedly received free maid service.

They were named in OPP documents as part of an investigation into an elaborate kickback scheme that saw a contractor bill for over $2.2 million for government cleaning contracts between 2002 and 2008.

Three government officials plead guilty to breach of trust, two of whom worked with the Ministry of Transportation while Wynne was then Transportation Minister.

Weather Record

A new weather record for the borderland on the weekend.

The high in Fort Frances Saturday of 30.7 C surpassed the old mark of 30.5 C set back in 1980.

Pool Users Get Break On Bills

The city of International Falls intends to give residents with pools a break on their sewer bills.

Council last week approved a committee recommendation to give residents credits when they have to refill their pools over the summer.

Councillor Gail Rogenrud says it recognizes water loss that can happen during the summer.

Mayor Bob Anderson voted against the idea, noting such credits weren't being given to people who water their gardens or wash their vehicles.

Attawapiskat Resident Back Home

Residents of Attawapiskat First Nation are back home, but those from another remote first nation are still waiting to go back.

About 140 Attawapiskat people being housed in Fort Frances were among the 300 hundred allowed to return home last Thursday as flooding threats diminished.

But nearly 15-hundred from Kashechewan are still waiting out high waters near their community in Thunder Bay, Greenstone, Cornwall and Kapaskusing.

A date for their return home is not known.

Youth Located

Provincial Police says two youths reported missing in Fort Frances have been found safe and sound.

17-year-old Felicia Morrison, reported missing May 6, was located in Kenora.

15-year-old Mariah Wilson, reported missing last week, was found in Couchiching First Nation.

All Parks Now Open

The unusually cool spring is having a trickle down effect at some provincial parks in northwestern Ontario.

Ontario Parks delayed the opening of 11 parks across the region, including Quetico Provincial Park, last week because of snow and ice.

All were supposed to open on the weekend.

Three Charged In Plane Fight

A fight aboard a plane taking residents of Attawapiskat First Nations back home has resulted in charges against three people.

It's happened in a flight Tuesday.

A 27-year-old woman and two youth are charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft.

Two youth also facing additional assault charges.

OPP Seeking Students

OPP in the Rainy River district are looking to hire a couple of youth this summer.

Successful applicants will work with OPP to deliver a variety of public safety programs.

Police received funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for the hires.

Applications to the detachment in Fort Frances are now being accepted until June 13.

Healthy Candidates

Anthony Leek, Randy Nickle and Tim McKillop are healthy candidates.

They're among more than 100 candidates in the provincial election pledging to the Heart and Stroke Foundation their parties will invest more to promote and support better health in Ontario.

The Foundation's campaign in 2011 attracted 86 per cent of the elected MPP's.

The Green's John Northey in Thunder Bay-Atikokan is the only other northwestern Ontario candidate to have signed the pledge.

Drug Bust

A traffic stop near Kenora has led to drug charges against a northwestern Ontario man.

OPP say nearly 200 grams of marijuana, street-valued at about $3,600, were found inside a vehicle stopped last Tuesday night.

The 28-year-old driver from Machin will now make a court appearance in July.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

PC's React To NOMA Debate Decision

The PC party says it's unfortunate that organizers of the northern Ontario leaders election debate did not pick a date that was good for everyone.

Tim Hudak won't be in Thunder Bay Monday because of scheduling conflicts.

The Tory candidate for Thunder Bay-Atikokan Harold Wilson says he's not upset that the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association will proceed without the leader.

Monday's debate will feature NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Campbell Criticizes PC Leader For Being A No Show At Debate

The MPP for Kenora-Rainy River is accusing the Progressive Conservatives of making northern Ontario an afterthought in their plans.

The NDP's Sarah Campbell says it's illustrated by leader Tim Hudak's decision not to partake in next week's leaders debate in Thunder Bay.

The Tories say it's because of scheduling conflicts.

Campbell says it's disrespectful to northerners for the leader not to make time to participate.