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So long, 2015! That was the year that was…

So long, 2015! That was the year that was…

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2015: Full employment for Atikokan

This was a year of consolidation in Atikokan, as the gains – or more precisely, the revival – made over 2013-14 settled in.

It had us at the Progress hearing several times, from several different sources, that Atikokan had reached a state of essentially full employment. Who’d have believed that would ever be the case here seven years ago?

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Resolute Forest Products got Canada’s newest sawmill up and running in Sapawe, and spent the second half of the year working out the bugs and steadily ramping up production.

There were a series of challenges at the new Rentech wood pellet operation in Atikokan, too. Some electrical problems and issues with the conveyor system left it behind schedule, though it had produced over 42,000 metric tons of pellets by mid-November. The plant was designed to produce up to 110,000 metric tons per year.

The most expensive of the troika of revivals had the smoothest year – at least until the Auditor-General weighed in.

OPG’s Atikokan Generating Station produced 140,000 megawatt-hours of renewably-sourced power through the first ten months of 2015, including several stretches when its contribution to the grid was vital to ensuring stable service in the region. The plant, converted from coal-fuelled to wood biomass-fuelled in 2013-14, operated safely and reliably, and met all the company’s expectations.

But that wasn’t good enough for Ontario’s auditor-general, whose annual report (released November 30) contained a blistering critique of the governing Liberals’ handling of the electricity system. Her major criticisms centred on the cancelled natural gas-fuelled plants in the south, and the Green Energy Act, which continues to provide generous long-term contracts for solar and wind power producers.

She also decried a breakdown in the overall planning process, and claimed that neither of the coal plant conversions here in the Northwest were needed. (The Thunder Bay GS was converted to advanced wood biomass earlier this year.) The latter point was hotly disputed by the energy task force of Common Voice Northwest.

That was the ‘big picture’ in our town in 2015, but the real stuff – Atikokanites being Atikokanites – are what kept us hopping at the Progress.

Nobody paddled across the country (Mike Ranta aims to do it again in 2016), but we did have an Atikokanite who pedalled across the country (John Hosick).

Several others were recognized as genuine heroes, a few were caught doing stupid things, and many did just plain interesting things.

There were a ton of volunteers, terrific success raising funds for worthy causes, a lot of firsts, a few retirements, and much more… read on, and never say not much happens in Atikokan!

Here, prepared by Jessica Smith from the Progress archives, is a month-by-month look at Atikokan in 2015:

January

  • Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis asks Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro to put a hold on Resolute’s wood supply until the future of the pulp mill there is determined.
  • About 300 hockey fans came out to watch the Old Time Voyageurs alumni players play in what turns out to be a shoot-out, December 27.
  • For most of the previous year, the AGH chronic continuing care unit was at record occupancy, at 90% or higher. Only one month (October) saw the unit at lower than 87% (at 74%) occupancy, meaning that on average, the unit only had one of the eight beds open. Between 2008 and 2013, the continuing care unit’s annual occupancy rate ranged from 39% to 76%.
  • Following a nine-day inspection of the AGH Extended Care in May, 2014, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care issued a year-end report, highlighting about a dozen cases of non-compliance by the unit and its staff, in terms of how care was provided under the Long-term Care Act. The Ministry also issued a compliance order due to a failure to ensure all staff had convenient access to each resident’s plan of care.

“The order and all other suggestions [outlined in the Ministry’s review] were rectified, and reviewed by staff over the summer [2014],” AGH CEO Doug Moynihan told the hospital board.

  • Paramedics across the district will begin providing more front-line care, with the launch of a ParaMedicine program. The RR District Social Services Board has received one-time funding of $165,000 from the Ministry of Health to train district paramedics in providing extra services primarily to seniors in terms of identifying their specific health care needs and making referrals to other agencies.
  • Matt and Trish Warren are the new owners of Lone Pine Market.
  • Cross-country paddler Mike Ranta has decided to forgo his application for the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest solo canoe trip, after learning he would have to give up ownership of his story for that recognition.
  • The Christmas Cheer Committee received $12,500 and handed out 117 hampers (40 families and 77 individuals) this past Christmas season. The community also donates items through various organizations in town. The hampers are topped up with non-perishable food items donated through the Stuff A Cruiser event, which is run by a number of local agencies, while the Bargain Shop hosted a toy drive and TD Canada Trust organized donations of knitted hats, socks and mitts for the hampers. Christmas Cheer Committee members and other volunteers wrap all the gifts donated to children at the Mall’s Christmas tree. All-in-all, “it really is a combined effort of everyone in Atikokan,” said the committee’s Evelyn Veran.
  • Ian Legaree has earned a humanitarian award from the World Leisure Organization for 30 years of leadership in the development of sport, recreation and leadership in Canada’s North, and internationally.
  • Atikokan’s Air Cadet Squadron hosted 57 cadets from across the region for the Northwestern Ontario biathlon competition, held for the first time at the Little Falls golf course.
  • The Town’s after-school program is keeping about 35 children from both schools active through healthy living programming at North Star School under the direction of coordinator Ruby Hall, and two high school assistants. The program has been running here since 2008 with funding from the Ministry of Health Promotion.
  • New Gold has received the go-ahead for its Rainy River Gold project from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
  • More accessible transportation services, supported housing, and home care would make Atikokan a healthier place, according to a dozen healthcare agencies that came together to create a list of top barriers to good health here.
  • The new community food bank, which will take over from the ANFC in providing the service here, is set to open April 1, at which time, incorporation, charitable status and a location will be in place.

February

  • The Library received an Advocacy in Action: Outstanding Services Award for the Jennifer Garrett Summer Music Program, which it runs in partnership with ACES.
  • Atikokan’s Community Care Access Centre site closed as part of an Ontario Nurses Assoc. strike affecting CCAC offices across the province. Atikokan has only one employee, the in-home and palliative care coordinator. Client calls were being handled from the CCAC headquarters in Thunder Bay during the closure here.
  • As founder and supervisor of the Rainbow Centre for 25 years, Susan Halasz has retired. Kristi Langner takes over as supervisor.
  • Local shopper Eva Shields urges online shoppers to beware of counterfeit websites after being scammed. Her order what was supposed to be a Canada Goose parka for a Christmas gift turned out to be a counterfeit.
  • A cross-country skier who fell and injured her leg was rescued by members of Atikokan Fire Rescue, who used the department’s snowmobile and special bush rescue sleigh.
  • Seventy-five riders raised $22,842 at the 37th annual Atikokan Snowarama.
  • The first-ever charge for feeding deer in town was laid; the offense drew a $300 fine, and like a traffic ticket, the accused has the right to plead guilty or not guilty in court. Municipal By-law officer Kitirna Jacobson said most residents (about a dozen or so) have stopped the practice after being warned by the Town.
  • The MNR has contracted a consultant to create a long-term rehabilitation plan for the Steep Rock site. The plan is due March 2016.
  • In response to the fitness centre closure here, Atikokan High School has re-opened its fitness room to the public at a higher cost than in previous years; it is now $400 per year per user, compared to $50 in the past.
  • The Lions Club annual sliding and bonfire party added a new activity: canoe-bogganing. Mike Ranta and others tried (with some success) to navigate canoes down the Bunnell Park hill.
  • Resolute’s Sapawe mill received its first incoming load of rough lumber from the Ignace mill. The mill here will be dressing and kiln-drying Ignace lumber while planning to begin its own lumber production in the Spring.
  • Six additional assisted living spaces are being offered to make 24/7 support available to more seniors here who are living in their homes, but are at-risk for admission to hospital or long-term care. Currently seven seniors receive the service through Assisted Living.
  • The MNR plans to restrict moose hunting here, due to a declining moose population. The Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters calls plans to limit the calf season (in the past, any hunter with a valid tag could take a calf at anytime during moose hunting season) to two weeks and shorten the moose hunting season by one week “overly restrictive.”
  • Resolute Forest Products has signed a memorandum of understanding with six First Nations that sets out a framework for negotiating business agreements related to the company’s sawmills in NWO.
  • Ninety-five people enjoyed an early evening ski and snowshoe over the trails on the Little Falls golf course.
  • MNR conservation officer Joseph Burroughs received the OPP Commissioner’s Citation for Lifesaving for his role in an ice rescue of two stranded snowmobilers from Eltrut Lake during a snow storm. The fishermen, both in their 60s, were suffering from severe hypothermia after the snowmobile had broken down.
  • Cst. Trevor Lind, whose hometown is Atikokan, received commendation from the Thunder Bay Police Services Board for saving the life of a suicidal woman who was attempting to jump from the rooftop of an apartment building. The New Year’s Eve rescue involved him scaling a fire escape to gain access to the rooftop, where the woman then jumped, taking a 12 foot drop to the next level. Lind jumped down after her, reaching her as she attempted to plunge to the pavement 25 feet below. He then escorted her to safety and EMS.
  • The Wilderness Education Assoc. awarded Voyageur Wilderness program founder Guy Savoie with a leadership award for his 55 year contribution to wilderness education at the Savoies’ wilderness program camp on Nym Lake.
  • The Economic Developers Council of Ontario recognized the AEDC for its role in the Heart of the Continent Tourism project with the 2014 Marketing Award for cross-border collaboration.
  • The Sno Ho Club crowns its first Sno Ho King, Zandre DeGagne at the club’s pageant, which opened this year to both genders. The Sno Ho Prince was (also a first) was Jesse Morden. Fellow participants were Stephanie Cornell and Brooklyn Fredrickson.

March

  • Pay and travel expenses for Atikokan Councillors totalled just over $81,000 in 2014, which was an increase of about $5,000 from 2013.
  • Mike Ranta has agreed to shave his beard (for the first time in a year) and don skates to make an appearance at the annual ice-skating show to support the local figure skating club.
  • The 50th Outers winter program wrapped up with a chilly (-30°C) overnight walk from Niobe Lake to Quetico North. The twelve boys arrived at 7 am, followed by the 15 girls about an hour later.
  • The Heart of the Continent Partnership tourism project is now headquartered in Atikokan, with the hiring of the project coordinator Chris Stromberg. The partnership includes communities and 5.5 million acres of public lands stretching from Sleeping Giant to Fort Frances and International Falls, MN; south to Duluth, and all of Minnesota’s Superior Forests. Over 100 organizations (about a quarter of them are Canadian), including municipalities, First Nations, parks, non-profits and businesses are members.

To date, the partnership’s most visible undertaking is the National Geographic geo-tourism website, which when launched later this year, will offer a vast resource of information on the places and activities that give each region its unique character designed to make trip planning easier.

  • Aging water pipes are the main reason drinking water usage here is much higher than typical for a town this size. Water loss is due to leaking underground lines, and the fact that the Town encourages residents to run their taps when freezing lines, are concerns. It is cheaper to use the extra water than it is to repair frozen lines. However, the end result is additional costs to the municipality of $100,000 per year for chemical treatment and electricity.
  • Capt. Colin Lindsay was commended by Atikokan Council upon his retirement from the 600 Starfighter Air Cadet Squadron, for his 26 years of service, including as trainer and educator.
  • The province will contribute $4 million to the launch of Rentech’s Canadian wood pellet operations in Atikokan (which will receive $1 million) and Wawa. The cost of these two facilities is estimated at $130 million.
  • A $91,586 provincial grant will expand transportation services for seniors, those with disabilities, and people needing to for training or education, and those on a low income. The services will be shared between the nine organizations and agencies which identified the need for the expanded service here.
  • Mayor Dennis Brown asked the federal government to promote the forest industry’s practices and “correct misinformation from misguided special interest groups” like Greenpeace, which has launched aggressive boycotting campaigns against Resolute Forest Products. Brown spoke at the Natural resources standing committee and also said that unfair and untrue public attacks by these organizations, whose influence could also affect new endangered species legislation, could have “devastating effects on fibre supply.”
  • February was Atikokan’s coldest since 1936, according to Environment Canada.
  • Atikokan still has seven working payphones, all indoors.
  • For the first time in almost a decade an AHS band performance was put on by 30 students of the for-credit, extracurricular course.
  • Crime in Atikokan rose from 2013 to 2014, with both an increase in calls for service and double the number (237) of charges laid.
  • Kaden Jay Wood is Atikokan’s first baby of the year. He was born March 3 to parents Jared and Stacey, and big brother Kolby.
  • North Star School hosts its first Festival du Voyageur, a celebration of Métis culture.
  • Resolute Forest products accuses the Forest Stewardship Council of being biased in favour of special interest groups like Greenpeace, after the FSC suspended or terminated its certification in four of the forestry giant’s cutting areas in Ontario.

April

  • This year’s Relay for Life is marking some changes, both to venue (returning to the pool parking lot) and schedule (it will run from noon to midnight, instead of the traditional 7 pm to 7 am).
  • Lightning Fried, Atikokan musician Reno Jack’s new CD, is released by Hwy 11 Records, a first record for Jack’s new recording company.
  • A committee has been formed to plan the Outers 50th celebrations. The event will be much more low-key than the 40th celebration, but will honour alumni, students and staff of the wilderness education program.
  • Council is considering hiring trapper Albert Clement to trap and relocate bears here. Two years ago the MNR stopped providing nuisance wildlife control, which has meant nuisance bear complaints are handled by OPP officers. If police determine the bear is a public safety risk, it is shot and killed. That has led to an informal citizens’ group calling for Council to resume its bear relocation program.

Historically, the Town employed Clement as a wild animal control officer to provide all manner of nuisance bear deterrent strategies, including the use of bangers and bean bags to scare them away, as well as relocation, and if necessary, dispatching the animal.

  • Two Seine River youth are working to re-establish the rare and endangered Lac La Croix pony, through a non-profit corporation called Grey Raven Ranch.
  • FedNor rejected an application for $1 million toward the arena and pool redevelopment project, saying it did not meet its criteria of community economic development, business growth and competitiveness, or innovation. It relented a few weeks later when protests from the Town led to a review of the application, which was designed to meet all FedNor criteria.
  • The Sapawe mill has dressed, trimmed, and graded its first piece of lumber at the planning mill.
  • AGH has earned ‘Exemplary Standing’, the highest level possible, from Accreditation Canada.
  • The province is cutting the number of moose tags for the 2015 hunting season by another 15%. However, the only wildlife management unit locally that will see a reduction in gun tags is 12A, which will have 10% fewer tags.
  • Five Atikokan Air Cadets competed at a provincial marksmanship championship in Trenton. Amy Pitura placed 11th overall, and Claire Poulin placed 11th among the 53 seniors.
  • The Path of the Paddle proposes to create a dozen new campsites, and create or reroute 14 portages from Quetico Park to Clearwater West Lake.
  • The Museum opens By the seat of your pants!, a travelling exhibit on bush plane history, which includes lots of information collected from local pilots.
  • CN is building a new rail crossing and reload yard on Mackenzie Ave. for Resolute Forest Products’ lumber shipments. In the interim, lumber from the Ignace mill is being trucked over to the CN yard in Highland Park.
  • The Sportsmen’s Club unveils its new website (www.atikokansportsmen.ca) and a 20 minute video which features footage of the work of the club during a previous hatching season. The video was produced by Patricia Lambkin.
  • Council approved $4,000 for bear management for the summer.
  • Singer Chantal Kreviazuk wraps up another successful Atikokan Entertainment Series.
  • Author Mackenzi Fisk, a former Atikokanite, has just released Burning Intuition, the second in a murder mystery series.

May

  • The Town unveiled a ‘proud home of Mike Ranta and Spitzii’ sign at a special evening celebrating the solo cross- Canada paddler’s journey, hosted by the youth centre and legion.
  • Nine individuals, seven organizations and four businesses were nominated for the Chamber Business Awards.
  • Long-time Atikokanite Anastasia O’Neill celebrated her 100th birthday in Kenora.
  • “We have a lot of work to do,” says the Minister of Transportation in response to the Auditor General’s winter highway maintenance report which revealed that the safety of motorists had decreased since 2009. That’s when the province began tendering road maintenance contracts to the lowest bidder.
  • The AEDC signed off on 20 loans totalling over $642,000 in 2014, up nearly 50% from the year before, and evidence that there is renewed faith in Atikokan’s economy, said executive director Garry McKinnon.
  • Declining enrolment and decreased funding is forcing the RR district school board to consider creating one facility to house Kindergarten through Grade 12 students in Atikokan.
  • AHS student Kory Coulson is the first student here to complete the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, as a truck and coach technician apprentice with Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting.
  • Five Atikokan firefighters braved the icy Nym Lake waters for a day of water rescue training, the third such session here in recent years.
  • Since the Atikokan Generating Station was converted to wood biomass a year ago, it has produced over 82,000 megawatt hours of electricity.
  • The 2015 Atikokan Chamber of Commerce business award winners were: Brittany Savoie (Customer Service), Atikokan Foodland (Business Excellence), Sportsmen’s Conservation Club (Not-for-profit excellence) and AHS Outers (Health & Safety).
  • Barb Kwasinica is Atikokan Community Counselling’s new manager, replacing the retiring Susan Girard.

June

  • Sapawe-based prospecting sisters Jessica, Ruth, and Veronique were named the tradeswomen of the year at the Influential Women of Northern Ontario awards gala in Thunder bay.
  • As part of a North American tree planting blitz which set a new world record for most trees planted in one hour (over 200,000 planted by 1,100 across the continent), 118 Resolute Forest Products tree planters in northwestern Ontario planted 39,000 tree seedlings.
  • Atikokan’s Legion Branch 145 is celebrating its 75th year this summer.
  • The family of Florent Trottier, a 89-year-old Eva Lake man who went missing from his home May 11, continue to search for him and thank the communities of Eva lake and Atikokan for their outpouring of help and support.
  • Gail Barry rescues an orphaned baby bear cub on the highway near Brown’s Clearwater West Resort.
  • Path of the Paddle Assoc. general manager Carrie Nolan and husband Jon are paddling from Thunder Bay’s Fort William Historical Park to Whiteshell, MB to research, document and conduct trail maintenance along the 1,100 km route that is being developed as a tourism attraction. The trip will likely take 10 weeks.
  • Heavy rain didn’t dampen the generosity of Relay for Life volunteers who raised $28,200 for the Cancer Society.
  • Fifty years since it ended production, the Sapawe Gold Mine has dissolved.
  • Atikokan Fire Rescue tackled two garage fires in May and June.
  • A dog is diagnosed with the first confirmed case of Canine Heart worm in Atikokan.
  • Despite major concerns expressed by the MNR in the final environmental assessment document related to the agency’s perception that Canadian Malartic is downplaying the actual ecological impact of a Hammond Reef gold mine, the mining company is clear in its written response that it will push ahead in seeking both provincial and federal environmental approvals.
  • Council has put off replacing the street lights here, given the cost of replacing 163 wooden poles would be between $80,000 and $200,000.
  • New technology for heart monitoring and telemedicine are improving patient outcomes for emergency situations. A regional critical care response program, which uses telemedicine technology, allows ER staff access to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre specialists within six to seven minutes, said AGH chief nursing officer Esther Richards.
  • An Atikokan man who was charged by the Town for feeding deer has agreed to plead guilty to a lesser fine. It is the first charge laid here for the offense. The Town by-law specifies fines of up to $400 for failing to remove deer attractants from property and up to $300 for intentionally feeding wildlife.
  • 130 Air Cadets from across the region tested their mettle in the first Survivair training camp hosted by Atikokan, and held in the Charleson Rec Area. Local Squadron 600 took the overall Survivair title for the weekend, as well as winning three of the 11 events.
  • Council approved a balanced 2015 budget, which will include a 3.5% property tax hike for most residents.
  • Quetico College School hopes to introduce hands-on, real world skills through ‘project-based learning’ at its private boarding school. Owner Michael Heaton continues to market the facility in hopes of attracting at least six students to gain Ministry of Education recognition.
  • Thirty-three students graduated Grade 8 this year, 24 from AHS Junior and nine from St. Patrick’s.
  • The 50th Outers ended their 12-day canoe trip to a welcome canoe of Outers from past decades, including Mike Ranta and Spitzii.

July

  • Sweet StellaZ’s (formerly Voyageur Books & Gifts) opened its new O’Brien St. location, with a greatly expanded sweet shop.
  • Outers past and present gathered to reunite, remember and celebrate the 50th year of the program.
  • Both joy and sadness marked this year’s AHS graduation, with celebration for the 38 graduates, tempered by the memory of two students who didn’t see this day, Jessica Johnson who passed away in 2014 and Samara Hayes (2004). Brette Warren was valedictorian and 1999 alumni Trevor Johnson gave the address.
  • In response to the Auditor General’s winter road maintenance report, the MTO details how it will “continue to improve” winter roads by educating drivers to conditions and increasing the safety of roads through more oversight of contractors and investments in new equipment.
  • The arena/pool fundraising campaign is confident it will reach its goal of $500,000.
  • Jeff Klimpton and Jennifer Comins have taken over ownership of PJ’s from Pat Winters.
  • Cousins Ryan and Steve Bryk teamed up to win this year’s Lac La Croix bass tournament.
  • Six motor vehicle collisions with moose between Atikokan and Shabaqua have prompted the OPP to remind motorists to exercise caution and avoid driving at night if possible.
  • Angela Asselin is the new Aboriginal Health Outreach Worker at the ANFC.
  • Twenty-one year old equestrian Katelyn Stromgren visits Atikokan on her journey across Canada on horseback.
  • Canadian Malartic aims to wrap up the EA process by May 2016, and hopes for a rebound in gold prices to make mine-building possible here. At $1,100 per ounce, prices are too low.
  • Cross-Canada cyclist John Hosick rolled into his hometown, July 10, for a week of rest before continuing his journey.

August

  • The federal and provincial governments have committed $4.2 million (about two-thirds of the cost) to upgrade the town’s sewage plant.
  • A dozen years in the planning, the shovels finally hit the ground for the $11.3 million hospital renovation and expansion.
  • Fifteen year old Bryan Ribey was runner-up in the Fort frances Quest for the Best musical competition, taking home $700 in prizes for his performance of Don’t Stop Believing.
  • Forty Atikokan youngsters took part in a Town-funded three-day gymnastics workshop here, taught by Thunder Bay’s Giant Gymnastics.
  • OPP are searching for an ‘extreme survivalist’ in Quetico Park. The 26 year-old US resident was seen walking barefoot and police are concerned he doesn’t have the resources to support himself in the challenging environment.
  • The prestigious international paddling publication, Canoe Kayak Magazine, recognizes Mike Ranta with its Expedition of the Year award for his 2014 cross-country canoe trek.
  • Council agrees to support the AEDC’s Tourism Atikokan promotion project.
  • The AHS will get a new entrance, foods classroom, and adjacent cafeteria this summer.
  • The Chamber of Commerce welcomes its new manager Ange Sponchia.
  • Ivan Karst – who divides his time between Turkey (where he is a university music teacher), and the Ukraine (where he is a music director) – returned to his Atikokan summer home, and helped some youngsters learn the basics of stage performance through the Library’s summer children’s programming. The workshop wrapped up with a production of the classic Robert Service tale, The Cremation of Sam McGee.
  • The ‘extreme survivalist’ in Quetico Park was located safely by the OPP after a US outfitter spotted him and contacted authorities with a satellite phone. The man, who was most recently living in Ely, was found on Sturgeon Lake, 10 days after paddlers spotted him wandering shoeless near Bent Lake.
  • Author of the One Our Father, Sophie Fogg recounts a harrowing childhood growing up in the Rainy River district and holds book signings in Atikokan and Fort Frances.
  • Atikokan Bass Classic 2015 champs are past winners Trevor Zimak and Glenn Leroux of Thunder Bay, with a two-day weight of 41.51 lbs.
  • After a hiatus of several years, the Mudfling makes a solid comeback with over 40 trucks participating.
  • Cst. Kevin Maggrah joins the Atikokan OPP detachment.
  • Quetico Park hosted the graduation ceremonies for 54 First Nation youth who graduated from the 7 week Summer Employment program, hosted at two training camps, the park’s Mink Lake camp and Ignace’s Sandbar Provincial park camp.
  • Quetico College School drew riders from across the region to its BMX Camp.
  • The Family Health Team is searching for a new location, citing privacy concerns, shortage of space, and heating and cooling issues with its current clinic location.
  • The Family Health Team is launching a same-day urgent care clinic, with a goal to reduce wait times and waiting room congestion.
  • Due to a lack of qualified staff and low enrolment, the 2-3-4 Playgroup will not run this fall, after over 30 years of providing activities for pre-school children here.
  • Six Toronto high school students visited Atikokan before a Quetico canoe trip as part of the Quetico Foundation’s annual Ridley Wilderness Youth Program.

September

  • Equipment challenges for the AGH this summer included the temporary failure of a walk-in freezer, some downtime on electronic medical records system, and the need to replace its main X-ray machine.
  • CIBC employees Crystal Lafond and Candice Zalizniak put their best faces forward for the’Whip Cancer in the Face’ fundraiser, which raised $637 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
  • The Silver Bullets take the 2015 Atikokan SloPitch title.
  • The Alan Williams Memorial Golf tourney raised $4,300 which will be split between the AGH and the pool-arena redevelopment fund.
  • Thunder Bay Hydro is encouraging Atikokan, Fort Frances, Kenora, and Sioux Lookout to consider merging to form one northwestern Ontario utility.
  • Lyme Disease has infected several dogs in Atikokan and the district due to the increasing deer tick population.
  • The ANFC hosts a wooden bow-making workshop here.
  • Thunder Bay-Rainy River candidates are in place for the upcoming federal election: Liberal Don Rusnak, Conservative Moe Comuzzi, and the Green Party’s Christy Radbourne, will challenge New Democrat incumbent MP John Rafferty.
  • Yurts – canvassed-covered structures with heat and power at the Dawson Trail campground have reached the end of their life and are now being converted into rustic cabins for users.
  • Five Atikokan men were fined a total of $10,500 for an illegally shot moose.
  • To ensure public safety, the MNR is working to secure all the former mine shaft and tunnel openings at the former Steep Rock Mine site.
  • Steve Bryk and Arla Smitsnuk win the Perch Lake Bass Challenge.
  • The MTO has refused the Town’s request to pave Highway 622, saying it is still a low-volume roadway, despite more traffic from Resolute and Rentech trucking.
  • MX racer Jimmy White capped off a successful 2015 season with top racing honours as the Superior Dirt Riders’ School Boy and MX3 Junior champion.
  • Eighty-one machines driven by riders from town, Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Red Lake and Winnipeg made the first-ever 65 km ATV poker ride here a big success for the Legion.
  • The AEDC’s Tourism Atikokan project is asking local shutterbugs to help promote the town by sharing their pictures.
  • Atikokan’s Sno Ho Club has received the OFSC Ted Day Memorial Award for its outstanding snowmobile promotion.

October

  • The Family Health Team offices will relocate from the clinic building into the former Tramin offices on Zuke Rd at Mackenzie Ave.
  • Cloey Brigham has participated in the Amethyst Junior Curling Camp in Sudbury for the second consecutive summer. The camp helps young curlers (ages 13-18) hone their skills.
  • The province is contributing $1 million to the arena-pool project. The fundraising committee is hopeful of receiving a similar amount from the feds, along with $3.4 million from the town and $600,000 from donors, to fund the $6.2 million project.
  • The Emo area New Gold project is on schedule to begin production in 2017.
  • Hospital CEO Doug Moynihan asks Council to consider aligning Atikokan’s time with either Fort Frances or Thunder Bay to be make it easier for patients here dealing with an evermore regionalized health care service.
  • The Town has expanded accessible transportation to include a low-cost contracted service for those with low income or disabilities.
  • Grade 5 North Star student Caryss Kehl won the 2 km race at Dryden’s Turkey Trot, and followed it up by taking the cross-country district title for grade five students.
  • After 18 months of disruption, Willow Rd. residents can now enjoy the smoothest ride in town with the completion of a road rebuild.
  • After the Kiwanis Santa Claus Parade was almost cancelled due to a lack of participation, 12 organizations have stepped up to save it.
  • Four young women are competing in this year’s SnoHo pageant: Ashley Nash, Payton McMullen, Kaitlyn Gouliquer and Marla Larson.
  • A local committee is seeking to raise approximately $24,000 to bring a Syrian refugee family to Atikokan.
  • Construction of the $65 million Sapawe mill is 98% complete, says Resolute.
  • Joe Lecuyer claimed the Canadian Powerlifting Federation’s Ontario Amateur Championships in Newmarket, by setting national records for combined squat, bench press and dead lift.
  • Jen Wiens is the new CEO at Atikokan Hydro, replacing Wilf Thorburn who has headed the company since 1990.

November

  • The spring bear hunt is returning across northern Ontario with a two-year pilot project.
  • Atikokan has lost a Main Street business pioneer, with the passing of Walt Beyak, age 90.
  • Once again, Council has decided to leave’Atikokan time’ unchanged.
  • Grade 11 exchange student Juliette Champsaur – from southwestern France – is being immersed in Atikokan culture for three months, while staying with the Vos-Marohnic family. Reisha Vos will head to France to live Juliette for three months in 2016.
  • Rentech aims for full production at its Atikokan wood pellet plant by the end of February.
  • A large, oil-fired engine used to power the old Sapawe-Upper Seine gold mine has been relocated to Alberta, where it will be restored and displayed at the Central Alberta Antique and Model Club.
  • For the first time in its 75 year history, there wasn’t a WWII veteran able to attend the Legion’s Remembrance Day ceremony.
  • Atikokan will likely switch to a single public school to house Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, the RR School Board advises.
  • Successful Liberal candidate Don Rusnak was sworn in as the new MP.
  • Four St. Pat’s students (Courtney Mason, Kendra Pfeifer, Emily Warburton and Mackenzie Cairns) joined 1,600 youth for the annual We Day (humanitarian organization) event in Winnipeg.
  • It was a hectic and thrilling few weeks for the AHS senior boys volleyball squad, who were eliminated by the eventual gold medalist team from Belleville at the OFSAA tournament in Toronto.
  • The AGH Foundation is donating $100,000 toward the purchase of a new X-ray suite.
  • Quetico North opens Main St. Christmas gift shop, Candy Cane Corner.
  • St. Pat’s volleyball team took the grade 8 boys title at the Gord Savoy Memorial tournament here, and then went on to win the Thunder Bay Catholic Elementary championship title.
  • AHS Junior girls volleyball teams won both the grade 7 and 8 girls titles at the Savoy Tournament.

 

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