O’Sullivan worried about fire season

The prospect of another hot, dry summer has become a matter of concern for the chief of Emo’s volunteer fire department.
Chief James O’Sullivan advised council at its regular meeting last Thursday (April 8) that the fire season is now underway and already there have been a number of small grass fires in the township and beyond.
As well, a fire at the township dump recently tied up firefighters for more than six hours in a futile attempt to extinguish the blaze.
Emo Reeve Russ Fortier suggested, in the future, that instead of wasting valuable water, the township bring in its excavator to deal with the burning material at the dump as soon as a fire is detected.
Chief O’Sullivan also noted there was a house fire earlier in the week that resulted in the complete loss of the residence. There were no injuries, however.
The fire at the dump also was raised by Public Works superintendent Dan Wilson, who gave a presentation to council. Coun. Gary Judson reiterated council’s position on fires started by people that subsequently get out of control.
“People don’t mean to start it on fire, but it happens and the fire department should be compensated for it,” said Coun. Judson.
Wilson also advised council that the municipal docks went in April 8—much earlier than last year.
He also recommended council put out a tender for crushed gravel, estimating he will need roughly 15,000 cubic yards for this year. And Wilson recommended the township hire additional personnel for the summer.
Council agreed to look for someone.
Meanwhile, OPP S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis gave his semi-annual report. In it, he told Emo council there were a total of 620 automobile accidents in the district, resulting in six fatalities.
S/Sgt. Dennis attributed at least three of those deaths to failing to wear seatbelts, adding his staff will be particularly vigilant in enforcing that section of the Highway Traffic Act this year.
He said that policy already is having an effect. “I think the visibility and enforcement is having an influence,” S/Sgt. Dennis remarked.
The OPP’s visibility and enforcement also will be enhanced by the acquisition of a new jet boat for the Rainy River as well as a hovercraft for use on Rainy Lake.
The latter, noted S/Sgt. Dennis, is expected to fill an important role in search and rescue, as well.
S/Sgt. Dennis concluded his remarks by noting that despite the fact he now has only 42 officers under his command (down from 44 earlier), they accounted for 17,000 hours of directed and foot patrols in the district last year.
“They’ll be encouraged to be even more visible in the future,” he pledged.
The fourth public delegation of the evening was from the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, which gave council an update on the status of social housing in the district.
DSSAB said there currently are 301 social housing units in the district that are coping with a “flat and declining market.”
The units under DSSAB’s control are not entirely subsidized. There are, in fact, people who are paying market-value rents for the available units and all is administered within the board’s $2.5-million housing budget.
Reeve Fortier told council he had spoken to the Canada Blood Services in Winnipeg with a view to bringing a blood donor clinic to Emo some time in the fall.
A clinic is scheduled for April 28-29 in Fort Frances, but Reeve Fortier said he felt it would be possible to set one up in Emo at a location like Donald Young School as long as he could get a commitment from at least 200 donors.
He also told council that Prime Minister Paul Martin has declined his invitation to come to Emo for a “coffee shop” chat with residents. Apparently, the prime minister’s busy schedule will not permit the trip.
In other business, Emo council:
•drafted a resolution stating the municipality will not in future charge rental fees at the curling club for any not-for-profit organization or event;
•passed a resolution to make the April levy payment to the Northwestern Health Unit in the amount of $4,887.50; and
•approved a $100 donation to Fort High’s 2004 “chem-free” grad party at the Memorial Sports Centre in Fort Frances.
Emo council’s next regular meeting is slated for Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. in the municipal office.