Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fort, Falls to do battle

The gloves are off.
International Falls councillors Cynthia Jaksa and Gail Rognerud, escorted by former mayor and current city EDA director Shawn Mason, appeared before town council last night to challenge them in the Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival on July 1 and then in the “Peace Pull” tug-of-war across the Rainy River on July 2.

“We now are challenging this council to two tests of national pride,” announced Coun. Jaksa.
“One of them is the dragon boat race on July 1,” she noted.
“We will meet you at the Sorting Gap landing and we will have a ‘race of the dragon,’ with the drummers, with this council.
“Our second challenge to you is, of course, our annual ‘Peace Pull,’” Coun. Jaksa added.
“I understand you have an active battalion coming. We will have our brigade arrive in a cargo tank,” she continued, referring to the fact the Canadian Forces reserves and the Minnesota National Guard will grab the big rope and face off as part of this year’s event.
“We are looking forward to a very contested and high-spirited competition between the two bodies.
“And with that, I would like to be more direct here,” said Coun. Jaksa, who proceeded to approach Couns. Rick Wiedenhoeft and Andrew Hallikas and playfully slap them each in the face with a white glove, thus making her challenge official.
Coun. Wiedenhoeft also was given a pair of women’s shoes, which he must wear out in public in the future, as per a condition of a bet made between him and Mason before last year’s tug-of-war.
Because the Falls won, he lost the bet.
“We do accept the challenge [at] both venues—the dragon boat race and tug-of-war,” responded Coun. Wiedenhoeft.
“But we would ask this year, prior to the tug-of-war beginning, you disconnect the tank from the rope so it’s a fair pull,” he quipped.
Coun. Ken Perry said the challenge truly displays the unique relationship between the Fort and Falls.
“Just the thought of two councils from two different countries in the same room, having fun and joking with each other . . . if this was broadcast anywhere else in the world, they wouldn’t believe it,” he remarked.
“They’d think we’re all just one big happy family and getting along.
“It’s a sporting event but it’s two countries,” added Coun. Perry.
“It’s almost unheard of in the world and we’re doing it here.”
Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis had the final word on the challenge issued by Couns. Jaksa and Rognerud.
“I think you’ll be disappointed after the [July 1] and after [July 2],” he remarked.
“But with that, we’ll leave it at that and look forward to those two days.”
The dragon boat races will run from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Sorting Gap Marina on Canada Day.
Both the Town of Fort Frances and City of International Falls are putting in teams consisting of mayors, councillors, and municipal staff.
Then this year’s “Peace Pull” will be held Wednesday, July 2 starting at 5 p.m. at the Sorting Gap.
There will be three tugs.
Instead of a “celebrity” pull, there will be a “community” pull, with dignitaries taking part (this means politicians and other guests will be pulling with the community members).
The second “tug” will feature the armed forces’ face-off while the third one will be a “power” pull—pitting the strongest men and women each side has to offer (44 tuggers per side).
The winner of this pull will take home the trophy, with the mayor of the losing side travelling across the river to present it.
Also at last night’s meeting, council:
•granted a request from the local library board to use $27,244 from the library reserve fund to upgrade the information technology infrastructure there (the combined remaining balance of the two library reserve funds will be $269,916.71);
•authorized the Northwestern Health Unit to use the Sorting Gap Marina on June 16 and Point Park on July 15 for its “Do One Thing” events to promote physical activity and healthy eating;
•agreed to various requests from the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, including designating it as a significant community festival;
•agreed to various requests from the “Harmony of Nations” Music Festival, including designating it as a significant community festival;
•agreed to partner with the Community Garden planning committee for the purpose of making an application to Farm Credit Canada’s AgriSpirit Fund to obtain a grant to improve the community garden;
•approved per diem and travel claims from Coun. Hallikas ($812.35) for attending the “Do One Thing” conference in Kenora on May 27-28; and
•granted an advertising request to pay $150 plus taxes for 25 15-second congratulatory messages to Fort High’s Class of 2014 on 93.1 The Border.

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