Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kootasca Challenged With Propane Shortage

An agency that helps low-income people is facing some challenges of its own as it tries to help those deal with the propane shortage and subsequent price hikes in Minnesota.

Kootasca says the number of people seeking financial assistance this winter has more than tripled over last year.

Housing Director Dana Herschbach says its taxing both staff and their bottom line to the point that its administrative funding may dry up in the very near future.

Hershbach says they area talking with the State about some financial relief.

Warning From Fire Department

The International Falls Fire Department is warning area residents to take precautions if using alternative heating sources to compensate for the shortage of heating fuels.

Fire chief Jerry Jensen says with some residents turning to wood or space heaters, it's even more important to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms throughout the home.

He's also offering up the Fire Department to conduct home inspections to provide further advice that makes residents safer.

Break In At Nestor Falls

OPP looking into a break in to a business in Nestor Falls.

Police says the unnamed business on Highway 71 was entered sometime after its closing Saturday night and 1 p.m. the next day.

An undisclosed amount of money and other small items were taken.

Policing Costs Clarified

Municipalities are now learning how they will be charged for policing.

Beginning in 2015, cities and towns who contract police services out to the OPP will be charged $260 per household plus additional costs based on the number and types of calls for police assistance.

Rainy River district detachment commander, Inspector Steve Shouldice says municipalities, including Fort Frances, now paying nearly $700 per household should see savings.

Shouldice says the formula will also be based on 96 different types of calls, instead of the 400 now used.

New Water And Sewer Rates In Place

New water and sewer rates have now being determined in Fort Frances.

Beginning next month, Fort Frances residents will see an extra $1.25 per month on their bills.

The industrial and commercial sectors will see a nearly $8.00 increase to their base rates, paying $2.70 per cubic metre after that.

Councillor Rick Wiedenhoeft says it's a compromise to what some councillors wanted.

The increase will help the town raise an extra $106-thousand.

Campbell Calls Wage Increase A Good First Step

The MPP for Kenora Rainy River is weighing in on the increase to the minimum wage.

It's to go up to $11 an hour this summer with future increases based on the cost of living every October.

Campbell says the increase will be good to the province's lowest wage earners, but businesses are also facing financial challenges and may need some help of their own.

Campbell does note that small business owners at a pre-budget consultation in Thunder Bay indicated they did favour the wage increase.

Minnesota Looks To Improve Highway Workers Safety

File tape
Minnesota is looking some new rules aimed at improving the safety of highway construction workers.

One proposal would prohibit cell phone use - even hands-free devices – in work zones and establishes a new $375 fine for speeding when construction workers are present.

A second also proposes a ban on the use of mobile phones in construction zones, plus a $375 fine for drivers who don't obey safety flaggers in work zones.

The bills are now being debated at the committee level.