Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crash on Algonquin~

Traffic was backed up on Algonquin Boulevard this afternoon when a westbound tractor trailer slid into the telephone pole in front of the Beer Store. The pole was snapped off right at the base and telephone and cable-tv wires fell onto the cab of the truck. The vehicle was registed to Robert Rubino & Sons Trucking Ltd. of Porcupine. The driver was not injured. A Timmins Transit bus was parked nearby at the accident scene, just ahead of the truck, and it was not clear at press time how the bus was involved or whether there were any serious injuries.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Timmins storm. Signs of winter.

Timmins got a bit of holiday today, thanks to the big winter storm. Deep cold and heavy winds caused blowing snow and white-out conditions. For some city residents, it was no holiday as many living in outlying areas of the city were left with no electricity when power lines were blown down. Hydro One says it expects to have power restored to all areas around Timmins before midnight.
The Timmins Square shopping centre decided to shut its doors at 1:00 p.m. City hall followed suit and shut down non-essential operations by 1:30 p.m. As local schools began sending students home early, many business operations also shut down early so that workers could get home.
Surprisingly, there have been only minor traffic mishaps. Most residents seem to be taking advice from the police and are staying off the roads. The photo above shows Third Avenue, the main drag downtown, during the noon hour.

Dr. Smith apologizes to judge

Dr. Charles Smith, the man at the centre of the Goudge Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology, has apologized to the Ontario Superior Court Judge James Dunn for making untrue statements that Dunn supported his conclusions in the Baby Amber case.
Smith, who is testifying this week in Toronto, is one of the doctors who concluded that 16-month old Baby Amber of Timmins did not die from a fall down five carpeted stairs.
Smith suggested the cause of death was Shaken Baby Syndrome.
This led to a 12-year old Timmins girl, the babysitter, being wrongly charged with manslaughter back in 1988, when the toddler Amber died on July 30, 1988, from head injuries after a fall.
The criminal charge not only forced the 12-year-old to go through the grueling court process, it also caused extreme financial hardship for her family which was forced to hire expert legal help.
The case went to trial in October 1989 in Timmins. The girl was found not guilty when Justice Dunn concluded there was not enough evidence to prove the case against the girl. Dunn even concluded that Smith had mishandled the case by not following some standard procedures.
Several experts, hired by defence lawyer Gilles Renault, were able to prove that Smith’s theory of shaking the baby was unlikely.
Added to that is evidence that the Timmins babysitter likely was not strong enough to cause shaken baby injuries, but more importantly, she was not in any way likely to cause harm to a baby.
Despite that, Dr. Smith gave the impression to friends and colleagues that Justice Dunn actually believed Smith’s case.
It may have contributed to the reason why the chief coroner and the Hospital for Sick Children tended to ignore the Timmins case and instead opted for “damage control” as outlined in a meeting held in Toronto after the Dunn’s decision.
Smith told the hearing Monday that he thought at the time that Justice Dunn was agreeing with his position,
On another occasion, Smith told colleagues that he had spoken with Justice Dunn in the late 1990s and Dunn had agreed that if the Timmins babysitter had gone back to court, with the new evidence available in the 1990s, the Timmins girl would have been convicted. It was a lie.
His voice hardly a whisper, Smith admitted to the hearing this week “I believed that I heard what I wanted to hear” in his conversation with Dunn.
When asked if he had anything to add, the disgraced Smith said “I deeply regret my conduct. I realize how wrong it was. I'm very sorry that it happened. I would want Judge Dunn to understand that I recognize my mistake in saying what I did and -- and harming his reputation, and -- and I'm very sorry for that.
The hearing continues and Smith is expected to continue testifying for at least another day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New dog in town.

Reiko, a 23-month old Czechoslovakian Black Shepherd dog was formally introduced to the Timmins media Tuesday along with his handler, Timmins Police Service Const. Tim Chalmers. Reiko is the latest in a series of police service dogs that have been part of Timmins Police in the past decade. Const. Chalmers and Reiko have recently returned to Timmins after having spent four months of intensive training in southern Ontario, with the London Police Service. The dog is purebred and both parents were police dogs. TPS Deputy Chief Des Walsh said the cost of the animal was $5,000 but says the return on the investment to the community and in police investigations will far outweigh the cost of having a police service dog on force.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Robbery update. Arrest made.

Timmins Police say an arrest has been made in connection with the robbery at the Mac’s Milk on Victoria. Police say a 19-year old store clerk was arrested and charged with Theft and Public Mischief, on Saturday. Police have indicated it is unlikely there is a connection between this robbery and other recent store robberies in the city.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Balaclava Bandit continues to plague Timmins

Another armed robbery occurred at a convenience store in Timmins last night. The suspect, armed with a knife, robbed the Mac's Milk store at Victoria and McLean around 10:30 p.m. Timmins police sent every available car to the area, along with a canine team in an attempt to capture a suspect wearing dark clothing and a face mask. At least eight armed robberies have occurred at late night convenience stores in Timmins, since the first week of December. In almost every case, the suspect wore a face mask or balaclave and held out a knife. No arrests have been made.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Regimbal would have dropped the Amber case

The crown attorney who prosecuted a 12-year-old Timmins girl for manslaughter in 1989 has said she would not have pursued the case had she known how weak the evidence was from her expert witness, Dr. Charles Smith.
The disgraced Dr. Smith is a central figure in Goudge Inquiry into the Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario.
The inquiry is being held to review Ontario’s policies and practices in forensic pathology in response to the many incorrect findings by Dr. Smith that led to several criminal court cases where people were falsely accused.
One of them was the 12-year-old Timmins girl (known only as S.M. since she cannot be named). S.M. was wrongly accused by Smith of killing a 16-month old baby girl in the summer of 1990.
Crown Attorney Terri Regimbal was the prosecuting attorney at the trial that began on Oct. 2, 1989. She was the junior crown attorney assigned to the Timmins office back then. Regimbal is now the senior crown attorney for the Temiskaming District.
The inquiry, which is examining numerous cases across Ontario, is learning that the outcome of the Timmins case should have been the red flag case to signify that Dr. Smith was giving inaccurate testimony.
Baby Amber of Timmins died on July 30, 1988 after suffering a head injury. The child had fallen down five stairs while in the care of her babysitter, S.M.
Dr. Smith, who was employed as chief forensic pathologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, had studied the case in the late fall of 1988 and told Timmins Police he believed the child died from Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Based on that, Regimbal says senior crown attorney Dave Thomas met with chief coroner Dr. James Young, Dr. Smith and Timmins Police and the decision was made to charge the Timmins babysitter with manslaughter.
Regimbal said she was assigned the case because Crown Attorney Thomas was handling a murder prosecution in Cochrane at the time.
Regimbal told the inquiry this week she was fully confident in the case, based on the reputations of the doctors and the reputation of the Hospital for Sick Children.
“I had great confidence in it. As I said, the Deputy Chief Coroner and -- who I was lead to believe was Canada's leading pediatric pathologist, had flown up to Timmins, taken the time to go through the findings of the doctors with Mr. Thomas. And they were absolutely confident that this was -- the diagnosis was Shaken Baby, and that's what Amber died from. She did not die from the fall down the five stairs onto the padded linoleum floor. And yes, I was very confident,” Regimbal testified.
But as the trial progressed, Regimbal told the inquiry she was dismayed to discover that defence lawyer Gilles Renault had produced a team of experts and reports to show that Baby Amber could not have died from being shaken.
Regimbal said if the defence had shared some of the information with her, she would have sought more advice.
“Even if I had some of those reports prior to proceeding with the trial, I would have sought an independent opinion outside the hospital for Sick Children,” Regimbal told the inquiry.
She admitted that although she had prepared diligently for the case, new information was being presented from medical experts she was not prepared for. It became apparent to the trial, that it was more likely Baby Amber died as the result of a ahead injury from falling down stairs, and not from being shaken.
“Yes, well, you know, of course, as we're sitting here in January of 2008, and we have the benefit of twenty years of hindsight…. Certainly, nowadays I could say, Well if I had known what some of that expert evidence would have produced, I -- I probably wouldn't have even prosecuted that case,” she told the inquiry.
Regimbal was also asked to comment on whether the Timmins Police handled the investigation properly.
“Well, it probably was a case that would have been an unusual type of investigation for them and they wouldn't have had a great deal of experience in investigating homicides involving young persons as suspects,” she said.
“And I think that was evidenced in the fact that despite their knowledge that this was a suspicious death and that they may be involved in a homicide investigation, when they interviewed the babysitter, they did not take a statement in compliance with the Young Offenders Act, which, of course, made them inadmissible,” Regimbal added.
When asked if anything “went right” at the trial, Regimbal said the “Not Guilty verdict” was the correct one.
“Well, as for what went right, the right decision was arrived at, and we see that a lot more clearly now in 2008 than in 1991, but clearly the system worked in that sense,” she testified.
S.M. was acquitted by Ontario Superior Court Judstice James Dunn who severely criticized Dr. Smith and his theories of Shaken Baby Syndrome, saying he failed to provide evidence to back up his accusations.
The Timmins Times has spoken to the family of the 12-year old who was wrongly accused and the father has declined a public interview at this time.
The father, who cannot be identified, has followed the inquiry diligently.
He says he is confident the trial in Timmins has become “the cornerstone” of the inquiry in that it demonstrates how the system can go horribly wrong.
“It was a missed opportunity,” he told The Times.
“This was the first time Dr. Smith had been critiqued in the courts.”
He said if the doctors, the lawyers and police had paid attention to what happened in Timmins, all the future mistakes in forensic pathology involvind Dr. Smith could have been avoided.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"the Mac" to be studied by Mayor's group

Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren announced Monday he will be appointing an ad hoc committee to review the future of the McIntyre Community Building.
The “Mac” which is now is it’s 70th year of operation, is running an annual deficit of half a million dollars a year, according to a reported tabled before city council this week.
“Historically the McIntyre has run at about a $500,000 deficit. This is not new. I went back and checked the reports in 1990, in 1995 and there was a $500,000 deficit back then as well,” said city administrator Joe Torlone.
He added that revenues from the curling rink, the ballroom, the auditorium. the restaurant and the Lion’s Club have been consistent and have even shown a gradual increase. But Torlone says the revenues are still not enough to even pay the utility bills for the building.
The mayor says the city will seek out members of the public who wish to be on the committee, examine the costs of running the building and even explore ideas for a major renovation. The committee will also include city staff and some council members.
City clerk Jack Watson, who co-authored the report to council said “we’re not interested in closing the facility. It’s our premier building within the community. It’s where we can host big events. We want to see how we can make it run more effectively and efficiently.”
Reading from the report, the mayor stressed that the Mac would always cost the city money, but that it was “ an economic generator” in the sense that having the building means the city can host tournaments, trade shows, conferences and large scale entertainment events, all of which bring tourists and visitors to Timmins.
Coun. Mike Doody said he endorsed the idea of having a committee review the future of the building but added that if the committee is in favour of a major upgrade of the building, then the community had to be prepared to make a financial committment to the future of the Mac.
“There’s one thing I do know and you can’t sugar-coat it,” said Doody. “It’s going to mean commitment. It’s going to mean you’ll have to spend a few dollars. You’re going to have to put a little more of a workforce in there,” he added.
The mayor’s ad hoc committee expects to have a report by late summer.

Timmins purchasing bylaw ready

City Hall is finally taking steps to refine its purchasing and tendering policies. City council will soon be voting on a new purchasing bylaw to clarify the bidding and tendering process outlinined in previous purchasing bylaws.
The city’s policies came under fire late last year when Chamber of Commerce president Marilyn Wood addressed council on Dec. 3. Wood told council that many local businesses felt left out of the city’s purchasing process and were often dismayed to find that tenders and purchases were being picked up by out-of-town companies.
“We have had an ongoing concern about the estimated ten million dollars of city purchasing from out of town,” Wood told council before Christmas.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Joe Torlone said Monday he was glad to finally be able to table the document after extensive consultations with the business community, especially since “Marilyn Wood and (chamber manager)Keitha Robson have been hounding me for months.”
“We’ve heard from the business community that they’re not looking for local preference. All they want is the opportunity to bid,” said Torlone.
He said extra measures are being taken to make sure more local businesses are aware of the city’s purchases. But Torlone said local businesses have to take steps as well to stay in touch with the city’s website to make sure they know when tenders and purchase proposals are sent out.
“We believe this document is a more effective document and clarifies some of the issues we’ve had in the past,” he added.
“It has been reviewed by staff. It has also been reviewed by our lawyers and no doubt we will have some growing pains.”
Under the new bylaw, the city treasurer will be allowed to make purchases at his discretion for goods and services under $1,000.
For purchases more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, the procedure changes. A formal purchase order must be approved and at least three quotations must be provided.
Also, city council’s approval will be need for purchases more than $25,000 where only a single supplier can be found.
Council’s approval is required for all purchases more than $50,000 regardless of the suppliers.
The bylaw does have some loopholes. It says the purchasing policies are not necessary for several items listed in Schedule “A”, provided those items have been previously approved by council and are in he budget.
Schedule “A” includes such things as Training and Education, meal and travel expensives for staff and council members, utilities such as heat and hydro, media advertising, freight and courier expenses.
Another loophole says that in the event of an “emergency” the treasurer may approve purchases of more than $25,000, without council’s approval, provided there is a written follow-up report presented to council and the CAO.
Another important part of the bylaw states that no contract shall be broken down into smaller parts in a such a way that the tendering process would be avoided.
The bylaw also states that no city employee shall be involved in the tendering process in any manner, if their spouse or companion has a financial interest in a company involved in the bids. This also applies to city employees whose spouse or partner is employed by a bidder.
Future bids for goods and services will have a lifespan of not more than five years. As an example, Fortier Beverages last summer signed an agreement that says only Coca Cola products may be sold in city owned buildings for a ten-year period. That deal expires in 2017.
Council is expect to vote on the bylaw at Feb. 11 regular meeting of council.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Goldcorp looking to reopen the Mac!

With the price of gold trading higher than $900 US an ounce, The Timmins Times has learned that Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM) is looking to revitalize underground operations at the McIntyre Gold Mine in Schumacher. The mine has not been active since the early 1990s.
Dave Bucar, Goldcorp’s Strategic Development Manager told the Watchful Eye group this week that PGM plans to begin drilling “within the next week” to find a new gold zone at the old McIntyre Mine.
“The plan is to get four or five drills up and running on our projects by next week as soon as we can get enough ice on the lake. We will be drilling an underground target of the McIntyre Mine underneath Pearl Lake,” said Bucar.
“We’re looking at the McIntyre Mine at depth up to about 1100 feet from surface,” he said.
“There’s always been talk about a potential orebody in there, and the McIntyre just ran out of time and the costs were too high in the 1960s or 70s when they were looking at it. So given the market that we’re in today, the underground mine just may be an opportunity.”
Bucar says he wants the public to be aware that the presence of new drilling activity along the north side of Pearl Lake and the old McIntyre Property has nothing to do with the pre-feasibility study for the Hollinger Mine project.
“I want to make sure people don’t think we’re going to have an open pit all the way to Pearl Lake,” Bucar said.
Bucar says having viable underground operations is part of the company’s long-term plans for the city.
“The key for us moving forward into the future is to find a second underground mine. Right now we run our Hoyle Pond Mine, which has a long life ahead of it. The Dome underground is back on, and we probably have a few more years to mine there, but we’re looking for the next underground mine as much as we’re looking for an open pit,” he said.
When asked if it would mean sinking a new shaft or using the existing No. 11 McIntyre headframe, Bucar said it’s too early to be specific.
“It’s pretty early on. It’s a geologic target at this point,” he said.
“There’s only been very preliminary thoughts about how one would get to it. It could be a ramp access from way in the back. It would likely have very little affect on the area in terms of surface disturbance. Again, its just an exploration target right now.”
With respect to a timeline, Bucar explained that “it takes years” to develop and bring a mine back into operation, but he said the company considers it a good target.
Goldcorp appears to be following the old adage that the best place to look for new gold mines is in the shadow of old headframes.
“There was a lot of mining along the north shore (of Pearl Lake), there was stuff further to the south and below,” said Bucar.
“This target is in the porphyry rock, a different rock unit. They just never mined it. There’s some ground condition issues I believe, there’s a lot of challenges but I think with today’s technology it makes it a little bit easier,” he said.
“The increased gold price may help. As long as you have a decent high grade underground, it’s more cost effective compared to open pit mining. It’s a lot less labour and fuel intensive.”
Earlier this week, gold was trading at more than $900 US an ounce, an all-time record high.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another Fire!

At least six persons were left homeless today when an apartment house in Schumacher caught fire. The alarm was called in shortly after ten oclock this morning when residents noticed smoke in the garage, attached to a house on Fourth Avenue. Firefighters from Schumacher and Timmins arrived to find the building enveloped in heavy grey and white smoke.
Shortly after, the fire spread to the apartment located above the garage. Firefighters have also broken through the roof of the building and are pouring water into the apartments below.

Fire Relief Effort underway

A relief effort has been launched as the result of the house fire in Timmins early Tuesday morning that killed one 39-year old man and injured his adult two sons. The name of the man had not been released at the time of this writing.
The alarm was called in around 1:30 Tuesday morning and firefighters from Timmins and Schumacher responded to find heavy smoke and flames.
Although two young men were able to escape the fire, a third person, their 39-year-old father had to be rescued from the house by firefighters. The man had no pulse and was not breathing when he was transported to Timmins and District Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. It is the first fire death in Timmins this year.
A family friend said the two sons suffered smoke inhalation, burns and injuries.
A family member said the older man had been visiting the home to congratulate his son on the birth of his first child on Monday. The mother and the baby are still in Timmins and District Hospital.
Family member Julie Robert said there was great sadness in the family over the loss of the father, but that the relief effort is now needed for the young family which lost everything and had no insurance.
“Please help this young family to get back on their feet and get on with life… to take care of their young angel,” said Robert. The young family lost all their possessions in the fire and had no insurance.
Donations of clothing, small appliances, baby items and baby clothes can be provided to Tracy and Joel Ratte, 270 Kraft Creek Road, telephone 264-8570.
No word has been released on the possible cause of the fire. The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office has been called to investigate the scene and try to determine the cause.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fire fatal

Timmins police and fire investigators are today on the scene of an overnight house fire where it has been confirmed that one person died. Firefighters from Timmins and Schumacher responded to the call around 1:30 this morning at a backhouse on Elm Street North. Police say three persons were in the house at the time of the fire and two managed to escape. The third person, a male, was pulled out of the house by firefighters. Fire crews were on the scene of the fire until about 6:30 a.m. Further details are expected top be released later in the day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Snowmobile crash and rescue

Two snowmobilers were rescued and transported to hospital today after a snowmobile crash in the bush west of Timmins. Police, firefighters and ambulance personnel attended the scene on the trail system off of Highway 101 around noon today, when the first reports came in that there was a crash. Timmins Police snowmachines and private snowmobiles were used to bring paramedics into the scene, roughly three kilometres off the highway. Police and paramedics transported the first victim out on a rescue sled. The second victim was loaded aboard an equipment sled, but it kept getting bogged down in the snow even when it was being pulled manually by a firefighter and a paramedic. The second victim had to lay shivering while waiting several minutes for the first sled to be returned to the scene. A smashed late model Formula III Bombardier Ski Doo was at the crash scene.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bozzer is leaving town...

In the next few days, Wayne Bozzer will be traveling from the North of Ontario to the north of Sudan, in Africa.
Bozzer, the well-known executive director of the Timmins YMCA will be one of a group of Northerners taking part in an international outreach program to the YMCA in Sudan.
For many years, the Sudbury YMCA has maintained a relationship with the YMCA in Khartoum, the capital city in the north of Sudan. Sudbury’s “Y” has enlisted financial aid from the YMCA operations in Timmins, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.
Bozzer says a $1,200 contribution from the Timmins “Y” is leveraged with dollars from the Canadian International Development Agency with the result that it forms a substation contribution to the Sudanese operations. He says the overseas trip is a first for him and it’s the first time the Timmins “Y” has become involved assisting the international YMCA movement.“We try to tag along where we feel we’re capable of tagging along,” Bozzer said.
The effort will be used for skills development training for Sudanese. Each year, the YMCA in Khartoum will train 800 adults, 400 younger adults and 400 youth in a variety of vocational skills, according to a news release from Sudbury YMCA.
Bozzer says many Canadian YMCAs have international projects. He is pleased Timmins is contributing, even in a small way, to help out a YMCA in central Africa.
He says the Northern Ontario team, consisting of two staff members and two volunteers, will be meeting with their Sudanese counterparts to see how Canadians can offer further assistance.
“We are international,” said Bozzer, adding that he is looking forward to the trip to Africa to get an appreciation of the realities of the world.
“I think we’ll see how privileged we are you know, and our little “Y” here in Timmins is not too badly off,” Bozzer admitted.
He says the Timmins YMCA building, the former St. Alphonse School on Poplar Avenue was only purchased in recent years “and our little 1939 schoolhouse is probably a lot better than what we’ll see over there.”
Bozzer, who calls himself “a news junkie” says he is becoming more acquainted with the challenges of life in Africa, but says he is sure the trip will “be a real eye-opener.”
He suggests the trip will take him and he colleagues “totally and quickly out of the cultural cocoon of life” in Northern Ontario. It may be happening sooner than he thinks. As he browzed the internet on his laptop computer, Bozzer noted there would be a brief stopover in Cairo, Egypt for a few days where the temperature was 35 Celsius.
Despite that Bozzer says he won’t be in his typical summer casual clothes. No matter the heat you won’t see Wayne Bozzer lounging in walking shorts he says.
“Men are advised not to do that. We have to respect the culture.”

Family Day store opening concerns

Local concerns over Ontario’s new Family Day go beyond the $60,000 municipal cost of the holiday for Timmins taxpayers, as The Timmins Times first reported back in December.
It now appears that are local retailers who want to be open for business on Monday February 18, when Family Day it will be celebrated in Ontario.
The Family Day holiday was declared as a last-minute election promise by the McGuinty Liberals in a bid to win the October 10, 2007 provincial election.
With Family Day being declared an official statutory holiday in Ontario, it means the day is likely subject to the rules of the Retail Business Holiday Act.
Timmins city clerk Jack Watson confirmed local retailers are asking questions.
“Some retailers have inquired, yes, about being able to open with having any repercussions,” Watson told The Times.
In some municipalities in Ontario, retailers are allowed to open for business if their city or town is declared a “tourist destination area”.
“We (Timmins) have not declared ourselves a tourist destination area,” said Watson. “There’s a lot more to it than that.”
At least one advocacy group, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), is lobbying to give retailers the right to choose whether to be open on the stat holiday.
Diane J. Brisebois, the RCC’s President and CEO has sent on open letter to all municipalities in Ontario.
“If municipal 'tourist destination area' by-laws are not up-to-date to include Family Day as a day for retail stores in these special areas to open, there will be significant confusion in the marketplace, frustrated visitors to our communities and lost dollars at a time when Ontario's economy is facing a number of challenges,” Brisbois wrote.
Watson says his office will make inquries on behalf of the local retailers to see if there are any options.
“We are looking into it with retail people with the province to determine whether or not stores can open,” Watson said, adding that if the new holiday has not yet been given formal assent from the office of the Lieutenant Governor, there may be a loophole.
“We are going to double check with the Attorney General’s office to get a ruling,” he said.
“We don’t regulate store hours here in Timmins. We got away from that years ago,” said Watson
He added though if a local retailer was to open for business, contrary to the Act, and if there was a complaint, Timmins police would be obliged to investigate.
The minimum fine for a retailer convicted of opening in defiance of the RBHA is $500 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second offence, and $5,000 for a third or subsequent offence. Retailers can be fined up to $50,000 or the total amount of gross sales for the holiday – whichever is greater, according to the Queen’s Park website.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Crash course

Road conditions in Timmins today were terrible as the weather turned from mild to monstrous in a matter of hours. Highway 101 seemed to be one long string of auto crashes, from the east end by GORF construction (top photo) to the west end by Wal Mart (bottom photo). Fortunately there have been no life threatening injuries. Police are urging all motorists to adjust their speed to the road conditions.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Timmins Police back on the beat

The Timmins Police Service is bringing back something that was once a common site in the city – regular foot patrols.
In what deputy police chief Des Walsh refers to as a tried and true method of policing, two veteran officers will be dedicated to a new community-oriented foot patrol unit.
Constable Guy Lauzon and Constable Richard Losier, the officers assigned to the foot patrol are both well-known police veterans who know the city inside out.
But instead of merely “walking the beat” in the downtown area, the officers will be patrolling wherever they’re needed. Their responsibilities will include foot patrols in residential areas, parks, trails, shopping areas, and schools. They will also be seen riding on public transit.
Aside from having a wealth of background ranging from forensics to detective work, both officers are known for police volunteer work with community groups.
Walsh said the decision for returning to foot patrols follows a lengthy process of public consultations.
“Over the past few years, we heard loud and clear from all segments of the city… that they want to see a return back to the days when the cop was on the beat, walking in the neighborhoods, in the malls in the recreation areas,” Walsh said.
With an unintended pun, Walsh mentioned that in assigning Lauzon and Losier to the new foot patrol, it would become “their sole function…”
Both men will be assigned to the Police Traffic and Community Services office, under the new leadership of Sergeant Bill Aird.
Aird said he took pride and pleasure in seeing the foot patrol become part of the community service branch of policing in that the officers would focus on interacting with the public and problem solving.
“These officers will be visible in Porcupine, South Porcupine, Schumacher, Timmins proper and Mountjoy; the entire city of Timmins,” he said.
As part of the announcement, Timmins Police Chief Richard Laperriere gave each officer a new pair of police walking boots in exchange for their keys to their police cruisers.
“This is a great day not only for the police service but also for the citizens of Timmins. We’re making a real commitment to being proactive throughout the city and I have full confidence in these two officers,” the chief told assembled reporters.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gold was the big story of 2007 - - possibly 2008

There is one story that dominated the Timmins news in 2007 and by all indications it could be the big local story of 2008 as well.
The rising price of gold, which hit a 2007 peak of $841.10 U.S. on Nov. 8, has had a major impact on the economy of Timmins. Gold was trading as high as $872.50 U.S. an ounce in New York last week, an all time record high.Chris Cormier, the manager of Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM), says the rising gold price brought many mining projects back to life.
“I think overall is helped projects that would not have been feasible, or have remained feasible,” said Cormier.
“The biggest impact is that is has allowed for a lot of exploration dollars being spent locally,” he added.
The boom was evident early in 2007 as housing prices began to climb. By June, the results of a survey by RE/MAX Ontario, showed average housing prices in Timmins had risen by 29 per cent over a one year period.
Stan Makuch, the owner of Re/Max Millennium Inc. in Timmins attributed part of that to the confidence in gold as well as the growth of the De Beers diamond project in Attawapiskat.
In the meantime, Cormier says he is confident the economic upturn from gold is likely to continue.
“The exploration boom will continue as long as the price stays up and there are still companies out there canvassing for exploration dollars, so it will continue,” he said.
One of the major impacts was the decision by Goldcorp PGM to move its Hollinger project into the pre-feasibility stage to determine if there is enough gold mineralization to create a new billion-dollar open pit in the heart of the city.
Bob Calhoun, a geologist and manager of the Discover Abitibi Project with the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, confirms that gold has had the most positive effect on the local economy in the past year.
“This towns runs on gold,” said Calhoun. “If gold goes up everybody is happy and everything booms. But if it goes down they want to roll up the streets and leave town,” he added with a smile.
Calhoun says mining continues to be the engine that drives Timmins, but quickly adds that local copper, zinc and nickel mining operations are just as important as gold, but without the glamour.
“But everyone feels very good about themselves because of gold,” he said.
Cormier says the optimism over the gold price has a lot to do with it’s current price stability.
“I think generally no one had ever seen it this high for this long,” said Cormier.
Cormier adds there are many gold watchers who predict the price will go higher. He says there seems to be general agreement that the price could hit $1,000 U.S. an ounce within a year.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Investigation continues

A precise cause of the fire that destroyed the Palmour Tavern in Porcupine has not been determined, but two investigators from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office are today inspecting the scene of Thursday’s fire to get a better idea of what it might be. On Thursday, Timmins Fire Chief Mike Pintar said he suspected the fire began as the result of a problem with an electrical panel. There is no indication to believe the fire is anything but accidental, but the fire marshal investigators are always called whenever there is a fire with a significant amount of damage. The fire scene has been taped off, but that hasn’t stopped dozens of area residents from dropping by to check out the damage on their own. (click on photos to enlarge)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Palmour Tavern Fire - Updater

The fire was called in at 9:33 a.m. today when neighbors saw grey smoke coming from the basement. Firefighters from Whitney, South Porcupine and Timmins responded and discovered a faulty electrical panel which is suspected as being connected to the cause of the fire. Firefighters were unable to fully attack the fire until the live electricity had been shut off by Hydro One. More than thirty minutes passed before that could be done. Fire chief Mike Pintar says that’s all it took for the fire to spread into the walls which then spread throughout the building. There were several residents living in the upstairs apartments but they were all quickly evacuated and no injuries were reported. By noon today, the smoke was so thick that Highway 101 in Porcupine was closed to traffic. Firefighters continued to battle the blaze and eliminate hotspots until nearly 5:00 p.m. The fire scene is now under police guard. The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has been notified.

Palmour Tavern Fire

Fire broke out this morning at the Palmour Tavern, a landmark on King Street in Porcupine. At first it appeared the fire would be confined to an electrical panel in the basement when firefighters first responded, around 9:30 a.m. But the fire soon got into the walls and from there it appeared it get out of control. It was about an hour after firefighters arrived that Highway 101 (King Street) had to be closed due to heavy smoke. Fire chief Mike Pintar says the fire is under investigation.