Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hundreds of locals on Sunshine List

The sun is certainly shining on over 500 public servants in Thunder Bay who made more than 100 thousand dollars thanks to your provincial tax dollars.  The province's so called Sunshine list is out and it shows over 200 of the top public money makers in the city last year worked at Lakehead University and 100 within the City of Thunder Bay, including Police Inspector Dan Taddeo who made a 140 thousand dollars while under suspension. Health care workers earned a good bulk of the money as well. Ron Saddington the former CEO at the Regional Health Sciences Centre made over 400 thousand dollars while Tracey Buckler the top gun at St. Joseph's Care group collected over 300 thousand dollars. A link to the list is here

Bombardier deal draws criticism

The City of Thunder Bay will benefit from the province's eight billion dollar investment in a new transit line across Toronto. Premier Dalton McGuinty says cars for the light rail line will be built in our Bombardier plant. Meanwhile, the Union Rep for workers at the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay isn't happy with the plan. Paul Pugh says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stong armed this deal. Pugh adds the new deal will take work away from Bombardier a reduction from the original contract. Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro says he's looking into how this will impact the Bombardier plant.

More money to drop off trash

It's no April Fools joke.  It's going to cost you more to drop off your trash at the city's landfill.  It will cost over 50 dollars for loads of garbage that weigh more than 140 kilograms.  The gate fee for residents dropping off loads weighing less than 140 kilograms will be 7 dollars.

New Job Resource Centre Open

First Nations residents looking for job experience need look no further than the Matawa First Nations Office.  The building is now home to a job resource centre.  Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy says its for both young and old.  The resource centre will provide financial assistance to those residents looking to expand their options.  Child care will be on site.  Classes will be held to teach residents how to prepare for a job interview and write a resume.

Another 50-thousand dollar winner

Thunder Bay has another lottery winner.  53 year old Joseph Veltri won 50-thousand dollars playing instant KENO scratch tickets.

OPP continue search for Wabasse

It could take several days for the OPP's Underwater Search and Recovery team to finish searching the Kam River. Crews are examining the water below the James Street bridge for signs of Jordan Wabasse. Thunder Bay Police Spokesperson Chris Adams says they'll decide on a day by day basis whether or not to continue the search. The OPP are using high tech sonar devices to see what is underneath the water's surface. The 17 year old has been missing for just under two months.

Study outlines problems with homeless youth

Thunder Bay's sub-culture of homeless street kids is a serious problem according to local experts. A 3 month study for the Children's Aid Society paints a picture of youth who are addicted to substances and have no place to go according to Executive Director Rob Richardson. The report makes 5 recommendations to help ease the problem

Election keeping Home Energy Evaluators in limbo

A handful of home energy evaluators are without work in Thunder Bay because of the Federal election.  The evaluators are in Limbo because the Home Energy Retrofit program is set to expire Thursday and can't be reinstated until a government is formed.  EcoSuperior's Ellen Mortfield says hopefully the next government will keep the program going because it brings back 2 dollars for every one invested by the government in tax revenues and other spending.  Mortfield says EcoSuperior has handed out 3 million dollars in grants through the program since 2007.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

OPP nab speeders

The Thunder Bay Expressway has become a popular place for speeders now that the snow is off the roads. OPP nabbed three people for speeding in the 90 km zone. Police are still finding people driving and using their cellphones.

Fire Season starts April 1st

With spring around the corner, fire season is on it's way.  Ministry of Natural Resources spokesperson Debbie Mclean says she's anticipating a quiet start to the 2011 season.  Forest fire crews are going back to work in early April and water bombers will be put into use in mid-April.  Mclean says the average number of fires in the area has dropped in the past few years.

Gliddy murder case could face delay

Another Thunder Bay murder case may be about to be thrown into disarray.   29 year old Thea Gliddy is charged with Second Degree Murder in the death of Randy Lawrence Cromarty last May. His body was discovered at the Inntowner Hotel. In court Gliddy's lawyer Chris Watkins asked to be taken off the case, as did the prosecution who says it's over a conflict of interest. That is, Watkins had at one time been Randy Cromarty's lawyer. The preliminary hearing in the case was to have started this Monday. That now could be in jeopardy. Justice Frank Valente is to make a ruling on the request on Friday.

Cancer care reduces wait times

Regional Cancer Care Northwest plans to help reduce the waiting times for lung cancer patients awaiting test results. They plan to cut waiting time from 18 weeks to just 6 or 7, easing the anxiety of patients and their families.

Trial for OPP Sgt. delayed

The trial of a Thunder Bay OPP officer will now take place year later than originally scheduled. Sgt. Darryl Storey is charged with criminal negligence causing death in connection with the death of an 18 year old woman in a traffic accident in 2008. He was driving an unmarked cruiser at the time. The trial will now take place in June of next year.

LU students receive 15-thousand dollars

Six Lakehead University graduate students are getting 15-thousand dollars for field research in Northern Canada.  The money is flowing through the Federal Government's department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

NAPS offers summer jobs

The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service has unveiled a new summer student employment program.  Youth, aged 14 to 17, will spend 8-weeks working alongside police officers in several NAN communities.  Sioux Lookout, Pickle Lake and Sandy Lake First Nation are among the participating communities.  Applications can be picked up at local Band offices until April 20th.

Lang on the Provincial budget

The Head of Confederation College is pleased with Tuesday's Budget.  Pat Lang says the Province is taking a step in the right direction with 44-million dollars over 3-years for literacy and basic skills programs.  Lang says the addition of 60-thousand new post-secondary spaces showcases education as an economic driver for Ontario.

UFO sighting reported in Fort Frances

Hot off the silver screen release of the alien comedy "Paul"; Fort Frances residents are claiming they've seen a UFO.  Some residents are talking about a strange object that appeared in the night sky over Fort Frances Tuesday night.  Sandra Allan, who took photographs, says it hovered in the south in an area over the AbitibiBowater mill for nearly half an hour before it disappeared.  Some resident in Couchiching also reported seeing the object.

OPP divers to resume search for Wabasse

The family of missing teen Jordan Wabasse is hoping for answers from the OPP dive team.  The Underwater Search and Recovery Unit will be conducting a search of the Kam River near the James Street Bridge Thursday.  Divers did a limited search last month in the area and found no sign of the 17 year old who has been missing since February 7th.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hillier weighs in on provincial budget

The Progressive Conservative Critic for Northern Affairs says the Provincial Budget is 300-pages of nothing for Northern Ontario. Randy Hillier says there's no mention of anything of importance including help for the forestry sector. Hillier points out the only announcement was one that was already made; 10-million dollars extra for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.

Thunder Bay MPP's defend budget

Thunder Bay's MPPs are touting the 10 million dollar increase to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.  The cash boost was included in Tuesday's provincial budget.  Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro says it's good news for the region.  The money for the NOHFC was originally announced several years ago.  Mauro feels the province wide announcements for health care and education will also benefit the Northwest.  Meanwhile, Minister of Northern Development Michael Gravelle is standing by his government's provincial budget.  Gravelle says there wasn't specific money set aside for the region but there was projects that were mentioned such as the Ring of Fire and the expansion of Highway 11/17.

Thunder Bay man wins $50 thousand

Thunder Bay's Jeffrey Russel won 50 thousand dollars on an instant win lottery game. Russel plans to use his prize to pay off some debt. The winning ticket was purchased at The Winners Circle on Victoria Avenue in Thunder Bay.

Hampton on provincial budget

The NDP feel the provincial budget leaves Northern Families in the dust. Kenora Rainy River MPP Howard Hampton says not even a political compass can get the McGuinty government headed in the right direction. Hampton says the Liberals cut funding for important ministries like Natural Resources, Aboriginal Affairs and Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Young woman disarms companion

An 18 year old girl is a hero to a couple of city police officers. It comes after she grabbed a knife from her 18 year old guy friend who flashed it in front of the officers. Police spokesperson Chris Adams admits the girl did risk injury to herself and such action isn't recommended.   The incident took place at May and Leith Street's Monday afternoon.

Transit seeks input

You can have your two cents heard Wednesday night at a public meeting put on by the City of Thunder Bay. The City is collecting input on the services provided by Thunder Bay and HAGI transit services. The first meeting is from six until 8 Wednesday in City Hall's lobby.

Jimi's owners back in court next month

The fate of "Jimi the dog"  remains up in the air.   His owners are facing charges after "Gus the Chihuahua" died at a city owned dog park last year.   Defence lawyer Francis Thatcher says a confidential pre-trial hearing was held this morning.  The case will be heard again in Provincial Offences Court on April 27th at which time a trial date will be set or it could be settled.   

Police Chief releases statement

The Chief of Police isn't being drawn into a war of words with the Mayor.  Chief Bob Herman released a statement today saying it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.  Herman also said in the statement that he is taking the necessary actions to maintain his integrity and that of the office of the Chief of Police.  Herman declined an interview.  Herman has filed a formal complaint against Hobbs with the Civilian Police Commission in regards to his conduct at the Police Services Board meetings.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Budget boosted for external lawyers

The City of Thunder Bay is boosting the budget for hiring lawyers.  City Solicitor Rosalie Evans will now have the opportunity to hire external legal counsel at a rate of 500 dollars per hour.  The previous budget for lawyers outside of the city payroll was 300 dollars per hour.

City hires auditor

The City of Thunder Bay is hiring BDO Canada to audit its books.  The five year contract comes in at 215-thousand dollars.  The accounting firm will also audit the books of outside boards and agencies the City is a member of.  The District Services Board and Thunder Bay Hydro are the only exceptions which are able to hire their own auditor.

Survey like living in T.BAY

The latest "civic survey" is painting a mostly positive picture of Thunder Bay.  According to the IPSOS REID survey people like living in the City.  86 percent of people are satisfied with city services, with many saying they receive good value for their tax dollars.  Residents also rated the quality of life in the City very high at 87 percent. The two areas that are cited as in need of improvement are road maintenance and the police service.  Seven out of 10 people polled believe that the city is relatively safe, and six in ten feel safe walking in their own neighbourhood after dark.  500 interviews were completed among residents 18 years of age and older.

Council adds more to investments

Thunder Bay City Council is investing more money into it's ONE Equity Fund. The city plans to transfer about 4 million dollars from bonds to its equity fund. The move came after a presentation on the city's 105 million dollars in investments. In 2010 the city earned 4.7 million dollars in interest.

OPP investigate fatal accident

A Thunder Bay man has succumbed to injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash on Umex Mine Road in Pickle Lake. OPP say the incident occurred on March 16th and involved a tractor trailer unit, carrying a bulldozer and large metal conatainer. Police say the tractor trailer unit slid into an intersection and jacknifed while striking a snow bank. The driver was transported to Thunder Bay Hospital with serious injuries. Police say the man, 58-year-old Thomas Dufault, was released from Hospital on March 24th, but later died.

Hobbs takes dispute with Herman public

The conflict between the city police chief and the mayor has become explosive. Keith Hobbs says Chief Bob Herman has lodged a complaint with the province's Civilian Police Commission about the mayor's conduct at Police Service Board meetings. Hobbs says he's going public because the chief forced his hand. Hobbs says the complaint against him alleges he released confidential information about what went on at closed door sessions at the board. Chief Herman is reviewing the mayor's statement and is expected to make a comment on Tuesday.

Tbay Hydro rates change

The Ontario Energy Board has approved an increase for Thunder Bay Hydro.  The local utility will see its rates go up 2.9 percent.  Spokesperson Vanda Wall says that extra 3 dollars a month will be offset by the Clean Energy Benefit.  The CEB will mean an extra ten dollars off our monthly bills.  The rate changes will take effect May 1st.

New Green Party Candidate

Thunder Bay Superior North has a green party candidate in place.  At first it was released that Lynn Palmer would carry the green colours; but Palmer has since decided to walk away from the nomination because of personal commitments.  The new candidate is Scot Kyle.

Police investigate Hodder area robbery

A woman was robbed on Hodder Avenue Monday morning.  Thunder Bay police say a man carrying a knife approached her in a parking lot just before 10:30 in the morning.  The 20 year old suspect fled with the victim's purse.  Police describe the man as 5 foot 8, wearing a grey hoodie, blue jeans and large sunglasses.

Earth Hour fizzles in Thunder Bay

It appears Earth Hour in Thunder Bay passed mostly unnoticed. Thunder Bay Hydro says it didn't show any reduced usage Saturday night when customers were asked to do so. Derek Tessier of EcoSuperior says awareness is most important in this case.  Tessier says the fact usage didn't go up from last year that is also a good sign

Hobbs to discuss "serious policing matter".

Mayor Keith Hobbs is holding an afternoon news conference in his office to make what is being termed "an important announcement" on a "serious policing matter". There's no further information. Our newsroom is staffing it.

Aldo Ruberto tired of waterfront negativity

One city councillor is fed up with the negativity that surrounds the waterfront project. Aldo Ruberto spoke with our newsroom today and says some people in Thunder Bay are failing to see the big picture.  The project is over budget, but by condensing it, it will bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue to the city sooner and will also create jobs and other spin offs sooner rather than later.  Ruberto says a small group of nay sayers seem to dominate the spot light and are surrounding good news stories in Thunder Bay with a cloud of negativity.

Think tank scores local schools

It's a mixed bag for Thunder Bay's elementary schools. The Fraser Institute ranks half of them at above or at the provincial average; the other half falls below. Spokesperson Michael Thomas says the rankings alert officials that something needs to be done. Vance Chapman school saw it's rankings slide from already below the provincial average at 3.7 to 1.7. Claude E. Garton also saw their marks decline this year. St. Francis, St. Paul and St. Thomas Aquinas all scored marks higher than the provincial average.

Green Party joins Thunder Bay Rainy River Race

The Green Party has announced its Candidate for Thunder Bay Rainy River. Former Research Scientist Ed Shields will be representing the Greens and says with science based jobs in our future Parliament is in need of someone with his expertise.   Shields says Thunder Bay has great potential for jobs in the bio technology industry.

No injuries after morning fire

No one was hurt in an early morning fire on the south side.  Crews responded to the blaze just after 4 o'clock in the basement of an apartment complex in the 100 block of Cumming Street.  The cause is under investigation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hyer back from Ottawa

Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer is back in town from Ottawa and ready to defend his seat. Hyer says affordability of life and truth and honesty in government are two key issues in this election. The incumbent MP says while he's aware many voters aren't excited about having to head to the polls, he's optimistic some positive change will come out of the election.

Yves Fricot on election

Yves Fricot is the Liberal candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North. Fricot says voters in the riding want to be able to find work and raise families without having to leave the region. Fricot says if he's elected he wants to work with MPs from other parts of Canada facing the same challenges as Northwestern Ontario to come up with solutions.

Harvey ready for election

Richard Harvey is running for the Conservatives in Thunder Bay-Superior North. Harvey says he feels there was a lot of voting along party lines during the last session of Parliament, which ran contrary to the interests of Northwestern Ontario. Harvey—who’s also mayor of Nipigon— believes he can do a better job of representing the region in Ottawa. Harvey says unemployment and economic recovery are the main concerns of the voters he’s been talking to.

Polar Bear Plunge

The second annual Polar Bear Plunge saw some brave swimmers leaping into the chilly waters behind the Slovak Legion Saturday afternoon. The thrill seekers were raising money for Special Olympics Ontario.

Citizen Satisfaction Survey

City Council is getting the results of a citizen satisfaction survey during Monday's meeting. The poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid Public Affairs looked at a number of factors like quality of life and how city services are being delivered. The survey results can be used by city council to help make decisions.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bouncer threatened with knife

Police have arrested a 17 year old male last night who allegedly threatened a bouncer at a Victoria Avenue bar with a knife. According to police, employees of the bar subdued the teenager until police arrived. There were no injuries.

First ship of the year has arrived

Thunder Bay's shipping season is officially kicking off with the arrival of the Ojibway this morning. The captain and chief engineer of the vessel will be presented with a top hat in a ceremony a the Port Authority office at noon. The annual honour is bestowed on the first arrival of the year. The Ojibway is in port to pick up a load of canola. Three other vessels are expected to come in today. A pair of U.S. Coast Guard ice-breakers have been helping to clear the way to the port.

North Stars fall to Wilderness

The Thunder Bay North Stars fell to the Wisconsin Wilderness 4-3 in the SIJHL semifinals giving Wisconsin the sweep along with a ticket to the championship game. Wisconsin's win puts an end to a seven year championship-game-appearance streak by the North Stars.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Waterfront project has extra staff

The City of Thunder Bay has hired a part time employee to over see the Waterfront project.  City Manager Tim Commisso says it's because the project is becoming more complex.  The Mayor has said he wants the project micro-managed and asked for the extra position.