Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State Of Emergency Declared In Minnesota

A shortage of propane and other heating fuels in Minnesota has prompted Governor Mark Dayton to declare a Peacetime State of Emergency.

The measure allows the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to activate the Minnesota Emergency Operations Plan.

The State is also asking President Barack Obama to restrict exports of propane and natural gas until the shortage eases and that more supplies be trucked from Texas.

Fines Issued Against Contractors

The Ministry of Transportation has penalized maintenance contractors clearing provincial highways in northwestern Ontario for not meeting winter maintenance standards.

Carillion Canada and Integrated Maintenance and Operations Services in the Thunder Bay region and Transfield Services in the Kenora-Rainy River were penalized.

The MTO will not say how much the penalties were, but do describe them as "significant financial consequences."

Fort Frances Supports Heritage Designation Proposal

Fort Frances council is giving its support to an effort to designate a water route between Thunder Bay and Rainy River under the Canadian Heritage River System.

A group is working toward making a submission to a panel for review by this March.

Rainy Lake Conservancy's Stephen Challis says the Voyageur's Boundary Waterway Route will help draw awareness of the route's significance to the region.

Challis also sees the designation playing a part in Fort Frances's branding exercise.

Fire In Ignace

There's been a major fire in Ignace.

The blaze at a grocery store on Highway 17 has forced a closure of the highway there.

Traffic is being routed through the community.

No other details are available at this time.

Increase To Minimum Rate Suggested

Ontario is being told the up the minimum wage.

An advisory panel suggests it be increased based on Ontario's annually inflation rate, the first to be retroactive to 2010 when it was frozen at $10.25 an hour.

Labour and social groups welcome the news, but would still like the new starting rate be at $14.00  an hour.

Hyer Named Green's Deputy Leader

Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer has new responsibilities.

He is now the Deputy Leader of the Green Party.

Hyer joined the Greens in December, a year after leaving the NDP over differences with leader Thomas Mulcair.

Relays For Life Set To Go

Residents across northwestern Ontario are being encouraged to help get behind one of eight relays for life to be held this summer.

Fort Frances organizers helped kick off the major fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society by announcing its event will be held in June.

The Society's Regional Manager Maria Cabral says a partnership will continue to see some of the money raised staying in this region.

Of the $77-thousand raised last year, more than $31-thousand was given to Riverside Health Care Facilities to purchase necessary equipment.

This year's goal has been set at $75-thousand.

There will also be a Relay For Life event in Rainy River

Cold Weather Persists

Bundle up, again.

It's going to be another cold day with wind chills of minus 40 C to minus 45 C across the Borderland.

The cold temperatures aren't setting any weather records, but Meteorologist Bill Laidlaw says it has been a few years since we've had weather patterns such as those experienced.

A bitterly cold Artic air mass is entrenching all of northern Ontario and much of Minnesota leading to weather advisories again in both areas today.

Water Tower Sound

No major concerns for the water tower in Fort Frances.

An inspection of the tower by Minnesota-based KLM Engineering last November found some minor defects, but none that require any immediate attention.

It's the first inspection since the town did some work on the interior of the tower in 2010.

The engineering firm says that work is holding up well.

Stay Safe Outdoors

This winter's icy conditions, along with freezing and thawing cycles, pose a hazard to pedestrians trying to get around on slippery sidewalks.

Insurance Bureau of Canada has some tips to prevent falls on snow or ice.

Wear sturdy footwear, with a good grip.

Walk slowly and take short, deliberate steps.

Keep walkways clear of debris, and use salt or sand on front steps, driveways and sidewalks.

And push the snow rather than lift it when shoveling.

Demand For Feed-In Tarrif Program

There continues to be strong interest in the province's Feed-In Tariff program.

The Ontario Power Authority says it's received nearly 2-thousand applications for renewable energy projects that would feed power back into the grid.

More than 75 percent are for rooftop solar projects.

About 30 per cent of all projects are from First Nation communities or groups.

Builder Selected For Shelter

The Borderland Humane Society in International Falls is a step closer to having a new shelter.

Up North Builders of International Falls has been selected to build the facility at a cost of $250-thousand dollars.

The new facility will be located just west of Menard and should be complete by August.

Fort Frances In Top 8

Fort Frances is sitting sixth overall in its bid to become Kraft's Hockeyville.

It's 31 members and 23 uploads are still well back of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, which is at the front of the west division of the contest.

More members and uploads are needed by the time the first round of the contest ends in two weeks time.

Top 8 will earn $25-thousand for arena upgrades.

You can throw your support for the Fort Frances bid by going to the Kraft Hockeyville website.

New Gold Still Committed To Mine Project

New Gold says its still committed to moving ahead with plans to develop a gold mine north of Barwick.

The company will hold two open houses, today in Barwick and tomorrow in Fort Frances, on its environmental assessment report.

Company vice-president Kyle Stanfield says the recent release of a new feasibility study shows plenty of promise for the project despite fluctuating gold prices.

New Gold anticipates production to begin in the later part of 2016, later than what had been projected by then-Rainy River Resources.

OPP Worried About Driving Habits

OPP are concerned that drivers are not adjusting to road conditions.

This comes after OPP have had to respond to over sixteen-hundred accidents including three fatalities across the province following recent weather conditions.

OPP remind drivers that reducing speed and distance are significant first steps in preventing accidents.

Three Nabbed For Impaired

Three Atikokan men will be making court appearances after being charged with impaired driving-related offences in the past couple of weeks.

A 19-year-old was first charged back on January 11 while OPP were conducting a RIDE check in the area of the Atikokan High School..

Another RIDE Check a week later in the same area led to police charging a 31-year-old driver.

And early last Wednesday, a 25-year-old man was charged with failing to comply with a breath test after OPP had stopped a vehicle on Front Street.

MP's Back To Work

MP's are back in Ottawa.

For Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty, Canada Post's plans to stop home delivery is top of his mind.

Rafferty says the federal government is setting the crown corporation up for failure.

Rafferty feels the problem with Canada Post is the highly paid Chief Executive Officer and its twenty-two vice-presidents.

More Rail Traffic Seen Through Region

Area residents are seeing more rail traffic go through the Fort Frances area.

Speaking recently to area municipal leaders, CN Rail spokesperson Jim Feeney says much of that traffic is heading south.

Feeney says the increase started about the time that Prince Rupert became a key port on the west coast.

Feeney says CN has also put a lot of money into improving the American network, including helping trains move around the city of Chicago better.