Emo on board with substance abuse prevention

 Emo council expressed encouragement of local substance abuse prevention initiatives during its regular meeting last week after having attended a talk on the issue back on May 31.
    “I was telling people how good it was . . . the boys did a heck of a job,” Coun. Ken Fisher said about the presentation, which was made by three young men from Winnipeg who were recovering from drug addictions.
    Sponsored by the Rainy River District Substance Abuse Prevention Team, the trio spent two days in the district speaking to teens, parents, and community members about their path to sobriety.
    One of their stops was at the Emo-La Vallee Community Centre, where about 60 people, including several members of Emo council, had gathered.
    “I’m glad to hear you thought it was good because this is what we are trying to do,” noted SAPT co-ordinator Hugh Dennis, who attended a portion of last Tuesday’s council meeting.
    But Coun. Fisher also noted he would have liked to see more people out at the presentation.
    “Sixty people is not enough—we should have had 1,000 people there,” he remarked. “I know you worked hard on it, but maybe the advertising could have been better.”
    He felt the posters put up around town didn’t entice people the way they should have.
    “But even if we touched just one out of 60, it was worth it,” Coun. Harri Sheloff pointed out.
    “Yes, but it’s too bad more kids couldn’t have heard it,” replied Coun. Fisher.
    Dennis noted that “it was an ice-breaker” and that the next time there is a similar event, people will be looking for it.
    “It was kind of last-minute, so I was happy with the amount of people there. But I could do a better job with the advertising,” he conceded.
    Dennis explained the May 31 presentation was the second “wave” of substance abuse talks this year, noting two men—one a former drug user and the other a former drug dealer—spoke in Mine Centre, Atikokan, and at J. W. Walker School in Fort Frances back in April.
    “We’re planning to have another presentation in the fall—we’d like to ask a few ladies to speak to relate their experiences from a female perspective,” Dennis added.
    Emo council agreed that was a good direction to take for the next speakers.
    Dennis also stressed the SAPT—an initiative by the Northwestern Health Unit—serves the entire district and is made up of many community partners and volunteers.
    Some of the programs it is involved with include the Fort Frances High School “chem-free” grad, D.A.R.E., Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving (OSAID), and the annual “Medicine Cabinet Clean-out.”
    “We want to encourage you [council] to promote healthy living,” Dennis stressed. “Any activities you have to keep kids busy, we want to help out with that.”
    For example, the SAPT would be willing to offer assistance to a soccer program—not for snacks or pizza, but for balls and trophies that help sustain the program and keep youth out of trouble.
    Dennis encouraged Emo council to pass this information along to community groups.
    Also at last Tuesday’s meeting, Emo council:
    •approved the 2007 operating budget with a three percent overall increase on the municipal general portion;
    •discussed school crossing issues along Highway 602;
    •scheduled a road tour date for July 5 beginning at 6 p.m.;
    •agreed to July 12 as the water shut-off date for accounts four months or more in arrears;
    •approved the following requests from the Royal Canadian Legion: to use the sportsfield for a baseball tournament and to hold a beer gardens during the tournament Aug. 16-19; to designate the baseball tournament as a “Community Festival” for liquor license purposes; and for a tax exemption for 2007;
    •agreed to support the Rainy River Future Development Corp. in order to obtain funding to improve digital cellular and high-speed Internet service;
    •donated $100 to Fort Frances High School for its “chem-free” graduation celebration;
    •authorized Crime Stoppers to install street signage to enhance visibility at no cost to the municipality;
    •heard from Allan McKinnon regarding a sewer back-up from Aug. 18, 2005;
    •heard from Stefan Szeder regarding the drainage maintenance program; and    
    •heard from Wendy Judson regarding issues with the Echo Lakes subdivision.
    Emo council’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 10 at 7 p.m. at the municipal office.
(Fort Frances Times)