A new memorial on the grounds of the former Currie Barracks military base in Calgary gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of four Canadian servicemen and women through the letters each wrote home during different times of conflict.
A new memorial on the grounds of the former Currie Barracks military base in Calgary gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of four Canadian servicemen and women through the letters each wrote home during different times of conflict.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Cannabis has been legal in Canada for two years, but several police raids on illegal grow-ops show the illicit market continues to thrive. The OPP said it seized more than 122,000 illegally grown plants, valued at about $143 million on the street, following 52 raids across the province since July 1. “There is still a huge demand for illegal cannabis here in Ontario and in Canada,” Det.-Inspt. Jim Walker told Simcoe.com. “A great deal of the illegal cannabis we are seeing is being exported into the United States and it’s coming back in the form of U.S. currency, but also in harder drugs like cocaine, meth, fentanyl and in some cases firearms.” The provincewide investigations ended with 195 arrests, the seizure of 36 firearms, $76,000 in cash and $514,000 in property obtained by crime. Twenty-five of the 52 search warrants were conducted in central region, which includes Simcoe County, where more than 7,000 illegal plants were discovered in a Midland industrial building last month. Walker said illegal grow-ops are being operated by “opportunistic” individuals who are using loopholes in Health Canada’s medical cannabis licences and diverting cannabis to the illicit market. Suspects allegedly “stack” personal and designated cannabis grow applications onto one address, Walker said. “So you are getting cannabis grown in these large-scale illegal cannabis production sites with no intention of it every going to a medical patient,” he said. Walker said those who purchase cannabis illegally should know they are supporting criminal groups involved in human trafficking, weapons offences and dealing hard drugs. “When you are buying it from the black market, those funds are going to the pocket of criminals.” The illegal grow-ops are also impacting the quality of life of residents who live near a large facility. “Municipalities are getting complaints about them not abiding by the bylaws and even building codes,” Walker said. Earlier this month, New Tecumseth town council placed a hold on new applications related to the production and cultivation of cannabis until a study has been completed. A grow operation popped up near Tottenham earlier this year without town approval, creating noxious odours for nearby residents.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 23, 2020 Simcoe County first responders, including dozens of police officers, lined bridges over Hwy. 400 Nov. 23 to salute Const. Marc Hovingh, who died following a shoot out on Manitoulin Island last week. Hovingh died Nov. 19 after an incident that also caused the death of a civilian. Hovingh's body was taken to Toronto for an autopsy and transported back to Manitoulin Island in a hearse, accompanied by two police cruisers. The OPP encouraged supporters to follow the procession’s live Twitter feed. “Because we’re in this pandemic, we’re on lockdown, we’re in a different situation here right now,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “There’s not a lot of opportunity for paying of respects and for gatherings.” Hovingh was one of the officers who responded to a call about an “unwanted man’’ on a property in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. According to the Special Investigations Unit – Ontario’s police watchdog – Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after exchanging gunfire. Hovingh was a 28-year veteran of the force. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 13, 2020 If you happen to have an interaction with a front-line Barrie police officer, you may be on camera. The city’s police service rolled out a pilot project Oct. 13, providing 25 officers with body cameras to test how beneficial they are for officer safety and transparency. An evaluation of the results will take place and a report will be presented to the police services board. The service is starting the pilot project after studying their use in other jurisdictions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced funding for RCMP body cameras, and Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders is expediting body cameras for his officers. Calgary police are one the few large municipal police services in Canada to use the Axon body cameras. So what does this mean for Barrie officers and citizens? Will the cameras always be on? The short answer is no. Officers will engage the cameras when they arrive on a call or are about to engage in an investigation. The officer controls when the camera is off or on. What happens to the footage? The footage is uploaded to a secure server to be used for an ongoing investigation or for court evidence. Footage not needed for court will be deleted within one year. How will you know when you are being recorded? The camera will have a flashing red circle when it is recording. The flashing red light can be disabled if it compromises officer safety. What if you don’t want to be recorded? Officers do not need consent to record in a public place but must ask permission in a private place, unless they have a search warrant to enter the premises. Can an officer delete or edit the video? No. Officers have no control over the video once it is recorded. At the end of their shift, video is uploaded to a secure virtual server and is retained for one year unless needed for court. Can you view the video? A written request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is required before a decision can be made to release video or deny its release. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Fueled by hatred, misogyny and transphobia, there is still a lot of gender-based violence says the Violence Is Preventable Committee in Williams Lake. This year’s Purple Ribbon Campaign is well-underway and aims to raise awareness on this very topic which has been occurring in situations where it was previously unheard of or with people nobody would have ever expected. This is due, in large part, to increased stress, according to Women’s Contact Society family law advocate Kelsey Borgfjord. “2020 has been an exceptional year for stress due to the once-in-a-lifetime event of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Early on, everyone was panicking due to the fear surrounding the unknown which has since morphed into stress and exhaustion as we enter nearly nine months since the state of emergency was declared.” Because of the novel coronavirus, there have been a lot of extra challenges for everyone. “For anyone in a stressful relationship, be it at home, at work, or in the schools, the uncertainty and changes in the way we are supposed to behave when in public can cause additional tension that turns into violence,” noted committee chair Tamara Garreau. To help support and increase awareness of this phenomenon, Garreau encourages everyone to support the campaign, which runs in Williams Lake from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, by wearing a purple ribbon, noticing the banners, starting discussions on the topic and speaking out when one sees bullying or gender-based slurs. As the pandemic presses on, Borgfjord believes it is more important than ever to not only bring awareness to this cause but also mental wellness. “Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help,” she said, listing the Women’s Contact Society, Cariboo Friendship Society, Canadian Mental Health, Three Corners Health Services Society, RCMP Victim Services, Aboriginal Victim Services and Crisis Line as valuable resources.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 27, 2020 A Barrie man who drove his truck into his best friend in a fit of jealousy faces a sentencing hearing Dec. 4. Isidoro Pacheco pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The court heard Pacheco had suspected his wife and friend were having an affair during the summer of 2018. On Sept. 18, Pacheco’s pickup truck struck his estranged friend while he was helping his wife pack up her belongings on Pacheco’s Baker Crescent driveway. The court heard Pacheco’s truck jumped the curb as he returned home early from work at about 11:30 a.m. to see his ex-friend carrying “something” from the house. “At about that same moment, his truck veered left, jumped the curb and drove diagonally across a driveway, a boulevard, a sidewalk, and his next-door-neighbour’s front lawn,” a court document states. “It struck (the victim), causing him to fly through the air and make a hard landing, face down, some distance away.” Although Pacheco pleaded guilty, he testified that he did not intend to run over his former friend. Pacheco told the court he lost control of his truck when he stuck his head out the window to get a better look at the “person” he saw at his front door. But Justice Cary Boswell ruled the evidence showed the crash was intentional. “I do not believe or accept Mr. Pacheco’s version of events leading up to the collision,” Boswell said in a written decision. “Indeed, I consider his account impossible to accept.” After the collision, Pacheco’s wife knelt beside the victim and said, “Oh my God, you’ve killed (him).” When Barrie police officers arrived, they found Pacheco hiding under a pool cover in the backyard holding a steak knife. He was arrested without incident. Barrie police were also at Pacheco’s home the night before the crash, when officers told him to stop throwing his wife’s belongings onto the front lawn. The case resumes Dec. 4 in Barrie Superior Court of Justice. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 26, 2020 When a single mother was struggling to afford a bed for her and her kids, Mike the Mattress Guy stepped up. Owner Mike Rudkins dropped off bunk beds for the children and a queen-size bed for Mom. That’s the kind of charitable gesture that helped Rudkins and his wife, Krista, earn the provincial Small Businesses, Big Hearts Award. The Barrie entrepreneur also helps the community by offering free delivery for donations to the Barrie Food Bank or the Women’s and Children’s Shelter of Barrie. Last May, Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria created the award, which was designed to recognize businesses that help their community during COVID-19. Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin presented the award at the Barrie store. “Mike the Mattress Guy helped our community by donating services, resources and time to help others so that the vulnerable can be in a better position to rebound from the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19,” she said in a media release. If you know a small business that has stepped up to help the community, send their story to firstname.lastname@example.org Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
There are five new COVID-19 cases in Arviat, Nunavut, as of Thursday, according to the territorial government.The new cases brings the community's active case count to 68, while the territory is at 75 active cases, it says in a news release issued on Thursday. The total number of active cases in the territory has been going down over the past week.All active cases in Rankin Inlet are now recovered while Whale Cove has seven active cases as of Thursday. The territory's top doctors said it's important the community stays vigilant."While Rankin Inlet has successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve, I ask residents there to remain strict in their commitment to continue on this path and follow the current public health restrictions," said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, in a statement."COVID-19 is not over in Nunavut. Everyone needs to ensure they do their part to bring us to zero active cases in the territory and remain committed and prepared for a potential resurgence of the virus."Contact tracing in all impacted communities is ongoing and people in isolation are being monitored by public health staff, the release says.As of Wednesday, there have been 223 tests done in Rankin Inlet with negative results, while Arviat has had 643 negative tests and Whale Cove had 125. Sanikiluaq is still being monitored.People who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to call the COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre and immediately isolate at home for 14 days.People are asked to not go to the health centre in person.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
The Town of Bay Roberts will be getting a new fire truck. Council unanimously accepted a tender on a new vehicle during the November 24 public meeting. The Town had received two bids, one from Metalfab Ltd,. at a cost of $344,328 and the other from Micmac Fire & Safety Source Ltd., at $299,248 (both prices are quotes before HST). Director of Protective Services Justin Parsons and Fire Chief Doug Mercer recommended that council approved Micmac Fire & Safety Source’s bid. Councillor Geoff Seymour inquired about the expected delivery time on the new vehicle, and Mayor Philip Wood said that he believed it would be delivered by next fall. The company building the truck is based out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Barrie police has pulled the plug on a sexual-assault investigation that included the circulation of an artist’s sketch of a possible suspect. The sketch was widely publicized by local media outlets, and police created a direct tip line for information from the public. But police closed the case without charges following a three-week “thorough, detailed and comprehensive investigation,” according to a media release. “Investigators have determined that there was never a threat to public safety and, as a result, there will be no further details or updates provided regarding this investigation,” police stated. Police were called Oct. 1 about a sexual assault that was reported to have taken place in Hurst Park while a woman was walking her dog. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Town of Paradise is looking for input from residents who might avail of an accessible transit system. Councillor Sterling Willis noted it is something that residents have been requesting. “We are now developing an accessible transit policy project… as a part of developing this pilot project, the Town will be hosting a focus group to seek input from potential users,” said Willis during Tuesday’s public council meeting. Participants in an upcoming focus group will be limited to Paradise residents who have disabilities or who have family members living in Paradise who have disabilities. The focus group, held over Zoom, will be held on December 10, with a real time ASL translator present. Those interested are asked to contact the Town by December 2. Though Metrobus offers some wheelchair accessible routes, the one Metrobus route which passes through Paradise is not accessible.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Two people in Haines, Alaska, were still unaccounted for on Thursday afternoon, after torrential rains washed out roads and created sinkholes and mudslides on Wednesday."We are still looking for two people," said Mayor Doug Olerud, early Thursday morning."They had to call off the search yesterday because the ground was still too unstable in the area. And so they're hoping that will stabilize today and hopefully we'll have good results from the search."Alekka Fullerton, interim manager of the Haines Borough Government, said on Thursday afternoon the search was still ongoing."This has been a hive of activity, we have the Coast Guard here with helicopters and they have been using their technology to go and look at the slide area," said Fullerton.She said geologists from Alaska's Department of Natural Resources were expected later on Thursday to help determine the stability of the area."We have lots of volunteers who are ready with search and rescue, however they have decided the mountain is not stable enough to send out the volunteers because there is another area that could slide as well."She said the road has been opened up to the airport and they had also gained access to Lutak dock as well, where the barge comes in.State of emergencyHaines Avalanche Center director Erik Stevens said the storm began Monday night, and that what started as snowfall turned into rain and continued into Wednesday.Several homes were destroyed by mudslides, Mayor Olerud said, and some areas were evacuated on Wednesday using boats, as roads were washed-out. The borough has declared a state of emergency.Olerud said on Thursday that the rain had let up, and flood waters were starting to recede. "Yesterday, you really couldn't make any progress on anything because there was so much water still coming down," he said."But as I drove into town today, where it was six inches coming over the highway yesterday morning, the road was clear of water."The U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Army Nation Guard and Alaska State Troopers are all involved in the search and rescue operations, along with local officials and volunteers, Olerud said.The mayor says he spoke with state Governor Mike Dunleavy and other state officials on Wednesday evening. "They're going to be sending quite a few resources to us today, more search and rescue personnel. We've got a Coast Guard cutter here. I think we've got another one on the way," Olerud said. 183 metre-wide mudslideThe people unaccounted for were in the Beach Road area, where the largest slide — about 183 metres wide — came down Wednesday afternoon, Olerud told the Associated Press. About 2.7 metres of mud and trees cover the area, according to state troopers. At least two evacuations were underway Wednesday afternoon, according to the Haines Borough Government Facebook page — the police department was getting residents on Lutak Spur Road out by boat, and assisting residents fleeing Beach Road after a major landslide. Olerud said the state was sending in some geotechnical experts on Thursday to identify any other areas deemed to be unstable."They're going to do some hopefully fly with some radar and pinpoint the areas that we need to be concerned about so we can be proactive. If there is an area that we need to get people out of, we can evacuate them beforehand," Olerud said.A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was launched from Sitka to assist, and the Coast Guard cutters Liberty and Anacapa have been ordered to make preparations to sail to Haines to provide additional support.A 13.7-metre Coast Guard response boat has also been launched from Juneau.Olerud said the situation was moving so quickly he couldn't provide a list of additional resources they may need."Prayers help. We can always take prayers. Those always work. We need a lot of those right now," Olerud told the Associated Press.'All hands on deck' in nearby SkagwayMeanwhile, nearby Skagway, Alaska, has also been hit with stormy weather over the last few days that has caused damage there as well, said Mayor Andrew Cremata."Not only did you have all of this massive amount of melting wet snow, but on top of that you had rain. The two things happening back-to-back, compounded with really strong winds, has ... caused a significant amount of damage," Cremata said.Though Cremata said the damage in Skagway is not as extensive as in Haines, there was a large mudslide on Dyea Road that caused "significant damage" to a roadway, but luckily caused no loss of human life or property.There have also been trees knocked down, minor mudslides, and flooding in people's homes."Everyone who is capable is lending a hand ... It's a real 'all hands on deck' kind of moment. And we've also reached out to Haines, because they're only 10 miles away, to offer assistance for their rescue effort there.""They're our neighbours, and we're going to offer whatever assistance we can."
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)
The Town of Bay Bulls has approved mil rate increases for residents and business operators as part of its 2021 budget, but Mayor Harold Mullowney says very few people should actually see a hike in what they pay. The new tax structure, along with the municipal budget, was approved during a special meeting of council called for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30. The Town gave several hours notice on its Facebook page that it would be tabling the budget. Residential property is up from 4.25 mils to 4.5 mils, while commercial property tax has increased from 14.0 mils to 14.75 mils. All business-related mil rates increased by half a mil. Annual fees, including the controversial home-based business tax of $450 which was applied earlier this year to residents who felt they ought to be thought of as crafters and hobbyists instead of businesses, as well as permits remain largely unchanged. The Operation of a Business permit has dropped from $250 to $50. Mayor Harold Mullowney said the mil rate increases were necessary, but remains optimistic residents and business operators will not see a big impact on their tax bills. “The (property value) assessments this year are lower this year then they were last year,” said the mayor. “Every where, you have your property assessments done. And this year, those assessments came in lower. So, we have to make up the same amount of revenue every year because our own source revenue is mandated by the province per capita. We can’t let that drop. So, when our assessed values drop, if the mil rates stay the same, then our source revenue would drop. My plan was to make sure that everybody would be pretty well the same as they paid last year, especially during this difficult COVID year. So, what had to happen, was we had to bump up the mil rate across the board. I’m thinking 80 to 90 percent of residents should see their tax bill very close to what they paid last year.” He reckoned that, because the assessed values have gone down, even with the mil rate increase, the town will bring in roughly the same amount of tax revenue as last year. As for property values, Mulowney said it is closely related to the general ‘boom-and-bust’ of the economy. “Everyone, I think, across the province, has seen a small decrease in their assessed values this year,” said Mullowney. “Everyone is seeing a bit of an increase (in mil rates). But we tried to do it as fair and equitable as possible, without hitting any one group or sector overly hard. So, the game plan, when we sat down and put together this budget, was to try to keep our income from all sources very close to what it was last year. With that said, I think we’ve been fairly successful in doing that.” As to the sudden revision of the agenda to include the budget and tax structure Monday night, Mulowney said it was a matter of finding the right date and time that worked for everyone, which proved to be a challenge. The Irish Loop Post requested a copy of the budget document approved for submission by council during the November 30 meeting, but Town Manager Jennifer Aspell said it would only be provided once it has been signed and submitted to the Department of Municipal Affairs for review. Meanwhile, Mullowney said despite the troubles of 2020, he is content with the budget drafted by council. “We didn’t see any big increases for any of the residents. If we can keep 80-90 percent of the residents pretty well in the same ballpark of taxes as they paid last year, that’s a good news story, I think. Ovbiously, there will be some who have seen an increase they’re not happy with,” he said. “But then again, who likes paying taxes? None of us. And at the end of the day, we’re trying to be as fair and equitable as possible, while trying to bring in the amount of money needed to run the town effectively.”Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 24, 2020 OPP detectives have charged a 19-year-old Severn Township man with first-degree murder in the death of 34-year-old Derek Simmerson of Orillia. Police arrested Justice Snache at about 11 a.m. Nov. 22. Simmerson was found lying on Coldwater Road near Emily Street with serious injuries Nov. 19. He was taken to Soldiers' Memorial Hospital at about 8:30 p.m., where he died. Police say the man was found by a member of the public. When paramedics arrived, he was suffering from serious trauma. The accused has been held for a bail hearing and is set to appear in Barrie court Nov. 23. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 19, 2020 Collisions in Barrie have dropped sharply during this year’s pandemic compared to last year, but there was an increase in one critical area. There have been nine people killed in vehicle collisions so far this year, compared to only three during the same period in 2019. The city’s police services board reviewed the numbers during a meeting Oct. 15. Overall, 779 collisions were reported to Barrie police from January to September 2019, compared to 464 from January to September this year. The statistics are part of a strategic plan update for the Barrie Police Service. The report states the reductions are likely due to COVID-19 restrictions, which have translated to fewer vehicles on the road this year. Collisions that resulted in injuries fell from 252 in 2019 to 134 this year, which represents a 40 per cent decline. Collision without injuries decreased from 524 last year to 321 during the same period this year. Criminal charges were laid in connection with at least one of the fatal crashes this year. Two teens aged 17 and 19 were charged with dangerous driving causing death after Paige Ferreira, 17, was killed in a crash on Georgian Drive Jan. 29. Police said a collision occurred after two drivers had an “interaction.” That case remains before the courts. Meanwhile, charges have not been laid in connection with the death of 26-year-old Cynthia Cisneros, who was struck and killed by a snowplow while crossing Veterans Drive at Mapleview Drive, at about 12:35 a.m. Jan. 17. Cisneros had moved to Canada from Mexico and was working as a cleaner when she was struck. A co-worker was also injured. Barrie police are attempting some creative measures in a bid to reduce speeding, especially in residential areas. The report says a new initiative known as “Constable Scarecrow” will test if a lifelike cutout of an officer holding a radar gun will reduce speeding. Residents in high-complaint areas will be surveyed to assess their feeling of safety and perception of police response. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance