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News Briefs: Friday, August 16, 2013

Ticket dismissed

Jean Labrecque, the Boston businessman who received a $1,700 fine for attempting to cross the Deh Cho Bridge without paying the toll, had his fine dismissed by the Department of Transportation. Labrecque told Yellowknifer in an e-mail that the ticket was dismissed last week. Labrecque said he didn't have to pay the toll because his truck and trailer were privately licensed, as he is an independent salesman.

He was originally told due to the graphics on his trailer and his intent to do business in Yellowknife, his vehicle was commercial and he had to pay the fine.

- Candace Thomson

Bison season begins

Drivers are being warned to watch out for bison on highways. Transportation Minister David Ramsay reminded drivers to take care, particularly after dusk, while driving between mid-August and mid-December in a press release yesterday. There's been a drop in bison collisions since 2008, when 31 were reported. In 2012, there were 16 reported collisions and this year there have been four. Bison can be encountered as close as 20 kilometres from Yellowknife on Highway 3. The department warns against driving too fast, especially at night.

- Daniel Campbell

Prospects North preliminary schedule

A preliminary schedule for Prospects North, a conference for businesses in Northern Canada, was made available on the event's website yesterday. The conference, scheduled for next month at the Explorer Hotel, is set to feature presentations from Premier Bob McLeod, Industry Minister David Ramsay as well as various high-ranking officials from Northern businesses. Prospects North is scheduled to run Sept. 9 through Sept. 11, with more details available on the event's website.

- Graeme McNaughton

City gets high rating

The City of Yellowknife has received an Aa2 rating from Moody's Investors Service, according to a Monday news release. The high rating means that investing in the city's debt is a safe investment.

The city was unable to achieve the highest rating, AAA, because of the large amount of money it is borrowing to fund capital expenditures.

- Graeme McNaughton

News Briefs: Thursday, August 15, 2013

Territorial park remains closed

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) is continuing to work on forest fires located near Sambaa Deh Falls Territorial Park.

The park has been closed since July 19 and will remain so until further notice. The fires are the only ones in the Deh Cho the department still has resources on, said Carl Lafferty, the department's regional superintendent.

As a result of higher humidity in the evenings and cooler night temperatures, there has been a slight downturn in fire activity in the region, he said. With continuing dry conditions, the forest fire season could last into September, said Lafferty, who is cautioning residents to be careful with fires.

Smoky conditions in Fort Simpson over the past week have been the result of localized smoke from forest fires mostly to the southeast of the village, he said.

Black bears more active in Fort Simpson

Fort Simpson residents are being reminded to follow bear safety precautions.

Since the start of this month, there has been an increase in reported bear activity in the village, said Carl Lafferty, the regional superintendent with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The spike in activity happens yearly around this time, he said, adding there are many ripe berries around the village. Residents are advised not to walk alone in the evenings or mornings and to remain aware of their surroundings by not using devices such as iPods.

The department has killed five bears this month and an additional three since the beginning of May. Two of the bears were cubs.

Graduation ceremony in Fort Providence

Deh Gah School will be celebrating the achievements of eight students on Aug. 16. The school is holding a high school graduation ceremony at 3 p.m. in its gymnasium. A dinner and dance will follow at 6 p.m. The events are open to the entire community.

Digital photography workshop

The Deh Cho Friendship Centre is hosting a digital photography workshop in Fort Simpson.

Two representatives of the Frozen Eyes Photographic Society from Yellowknife are sharing basic photography skills from Aug. 12 to 16. The workshop is open to participants between the ages of 12 and 24.

The sessions are free and cameras are provided. The sessions will run daily from 3 to 6 p.m. and 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Arson suspect pleads not guilty

An Inuvik man charged with intentionally setting two broken-down buildings on fire in late July pleaded not guilty in territorial court in Yellowknife on Aug. 6.

Mike Patrick McLaughlin, 49, is charged with two separate counts of arson causing damage to property— one for a smaller fire set July 20 and another for a larger fire set on July 22.

The buildings were derelict, but being used by squatters. McLaughlin was arrested at the scene of the second fire. He's also charged with two counts of failure to comply to direction for the time he was at large following the two fires.

McLaughlin elected to be tried by judge and jury in the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories. He agreed to be held in custody until his next court appearance, set for Aug. 27.

– Daniel Campbell

Gwich'in to host conference

The Gwich'in Tribal Council (GTC) is getting set to host a self-government conference, which will be held Sept. 10 to 12 at the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex.

At a committee of the whole meeting Aug. 12, representatives of the GTC asked the town to consider reducing the rental fees to $5,000 from $15,420. They also asked if the town might be interested in becoming a sponsor, as is the GNWT.

Premier Bob McLeod is expected to attend the event, which will be open to all residents of Inuvik and Aklavik. A decision is expected to be made at the Aug. 14 council meeting.

Gas contract ending

The franchise agreement between Inuvik Gas Ltd. and the Town of Inuvik will end in August of 2014.

Both parties have provided notice that they will not renew the franchise agreement .

"Inuvik Gas is and will continue to work directly with the Town of Inuvik and the Government of the Northwest Territories over the next year to explore options that continue to use the existing distribution system that has delivered safe and reliable energy to heat customer’s homes and businesses," said general manager Kevin MacKay. "Without local access to natural gas or a long-term fuel supply solution, Inuvik Gas is unable to enter into a new long-term franchise agreement."

Last winter, Inuvik Gas introduced a new synthetic natural gas (SNG) system as an alternative to the swiftly-depleting Ikhil natural gas field outside of Inuvik. The cost for heating nearly doubled under that scheme, causing controversy in town.

MacKay said further updates will be provided at a town hall meeting tentatively set by the town of Inuvik for September.