Council demands to know fate of old Fort High

Under direction from town council, a letter will be sent to the Rainy River District School Board to find out what it will be doing with the old Fort Frances High School building on First Street East that has been sitting vacant for three years.
“Council’s no longer looking at it, the private sector sure doesn’t want it, and ‘Re-Inventing’ doesn’t want the building,” Coun. Dave Bourgeault said at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
“It’s becoming an eyesore. Kids have been breaking into it, starting fires. It’s becoming a hazard,” he argued, adding other communities in Ontario are facing the same problem due to school closures.
While the building previously was looked at for possible use as an office building, call centre, or other business, and the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee initially considered maintaining the oldest part of the school as a heritage site, these plans have either been scrapped or never materialized.
“I think we should be getting in touch with the school board as to what they intend to do with it,” said Coun. Bourgeault.
Upon Coun. Bourgeault’s request, council directed town administration to send the school board a letter requesting a response.
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, which was pushed back one day due to Remembrance Day, council received an update on the Kiwanis skate park from Steve Maki and club president Mark Jones.
As per the pair’s suggestions, council referred a request for up-front funding to the Administration and Finance executive committee for recommendation and a request for $50,000 in additional funding to the 2003 budget process.
A request for confirmation on land use of the lot on the corner of Second Street East and Reid Avenue was referred to the Community Services executive committee.
Council also heard a presentation from Brad Herbert, FOCUS co-ordinator for the Rainy River District Substance Abuse Program, and agreed to declare Nov. 17-23 as Drug Awareness Week.
Mayor Witherspoon also agreed to emcee the opening ceremonies this coming Monday.
Meanwhile, council deferred a request from Coun. Neil Kabel to consider having a large bass statue built on the riverfront to be discussed at a future council meeting.
Coun. Sharon Tibbs noted council should keep in mind the museum is looking into having a mermaid sculpture installed on the waterfront next year.
In other business Tuesday night, council:
•referred the La Verendrye Parkway signage capital budget item ($25,000) to the La Verendrye Parkway advisory committee for recommendation of location, wording, and structure for installation as soon as possible in 2003;
•referred a request for financial support from the CAN HELP program of the Canadian Mental Health Association to the Administration and Finance executive committee for a recommendation;
•supported a request that the Economic Development advisory committee take the lead administrative role in organizing the Northern Networks trade conference being hosted here in 2003; and
•referred a request from the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition for financial support for annual operating costs of community programs to the Administration and Finance executive committee for a recommendation.