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Home town Valiant opts for Michigan site over Windsor September 22 2015

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Windsor-based Valiant International has opted for suburban Detroit over Windsor as a location for a new US $33 million plant.

The Michigan Strategic Fund, a state agency, is expected to approve a $2.4 million incentive grant as early as today.

The 187,000 sq. ft. plant will be located in Auburn Hills after Valiant purchases an existing building in the city located north of Detroit.

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Union blames Tory cuts for major back-ups at the border

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Major lack of staffing is being blamed for border delays for motorists and truckers coming into Windsor.

The union representing Customs officers who staff the booths and secondary inspection plazas say the Windsor-Detroit border is short as many as 40 staff.

“There’s somewhere around 40 officers missing right now, Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said from the union’s Ottawa headquarters, when contacted by

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Trucks blocking car lane "frustrating," bridge says

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Don’t be surprised if you’re zipping across the Ambassador Bridge only to come to an abrupt halt a kilometre or so from the Canadian Customs plaza because trucks are blocking the car lane.

Delays in Customs’ processing trucks and resulting trucker frustrations have truckers thinking they can get ahead by moving out of their designated right lane and into the left lane reserved for cars, only to get stuck there, delaying motorists from reaching the plaza.

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County residents will still have quick access to emergency care

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Don’t fear, Essex County residents.

Once the new mega hospital is built you won’t be forced to lose time by driving out of your way into central Windsor to go to the new emergency Urgent Care Centre (UCC).

Despite an emphasis on emergency care at the innovative UCC at the old Grace Hospital site on University Ave. W., if it’s more convenient, residents still will be able to access the emergency department at the new mega hospital, planned for County Rd. 42 across from Windsor airport.

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Law doesn't apply because of Transit Windsor's unique status

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Transit Windsor may look like any other Ontario transit system but it’s not.

It has 112 buses running on 13 routes covering 121 square miles, overwhelmingly in Canada.

But because it operates just one bus route - the Tunnel Bus - across the border to Detroit, it makes all the difference in the world, at least for how the system is governed.

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Knife incident led to Windsor hospital guards' security vests

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Visitors to Windsor Regional Hospital may be taken aback to notice the bullet proof-like vests worn by security staff, similar to those worn by law enforcement officials.

After all, hospitals aren't known as places of violence, are they?

According to hospital staff the vests are a "proactive" measure.

And they’re not bullet proof, and therefore not the same as the vests worn by Windsor’s Finest or those worn by Canada Border Services Agency personnel.

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Marketing cheap exchange rate to tourists not on front burner

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The exchange rate might be highly favourable to our friends across the border but local agencies tasked with attracting shoppers and investment aren’t exactly putting the issue on the front burner.

The dollar is trading over 80 cents but until recently was in the high 70 cent range, making travel to Canada for shopping and dining out a huge bargain for the more than four million people who live in the metro Detroit area, as well as many living further but in day trip range.

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Cuba won't release Windsor man's ashes until family pays up

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A Windsor woman has to raise more than $7000 to bring her dead husband back from Cuba or else the body won’t be returned.

Erica Browne‘s husband Steven Sullivan (pictured left) was vacationing in the island state with friends when he died suddenly of a pulmonary edema Feb. 18.

There is no government assistance to help Browne in this unique and tragic situation so her family had to set up a page on the Go Fund Me website - - seeking money to pay the Cuban government to release Steve’s ashes.

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Often cheaper to fly overseas from Windsor than from Detroit

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Contrary to popular belief it’s sometimes cheaper to fly from Windsor to Europe than it is to fly from Detroit.

For example, fares - all in US dollars - advertised on discount travel sites to European destinations consistently show flying from Windsor through Toronto are hundreds of dollars cheaper than flying out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Example travel dates shows that a return fare May 12 - 16 from Windsor to Frankfurt on FlightHub starting at $842, on Orbitz $1017, Cheap Tickets $1010, Priceline $1010 and One Travel $854 and Smart Fares $841.

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CCAC health staff's top wages as high as $40 to $60 per hour

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Community Care Access Centre case managers who went on strike January 30 are being paid upwards of $42.85 per hour.

Education facilitators and wound care specialists at the highest level - level 6 - make $44.13 per hour.

And nurse practitioners at the highest level earn $59.74 an hour.

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New gov't gambling site won't cannibalize Caesars - officials

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Ontario’s new PlayOLG gambling website isn’t expected to negatively impact Windsor’s casino.

PlayOLG came on line in January and offers consumers Internet gambling - everything from buying lottery tickets to playing the slots and Blackjack.

One might think this would be an example of the Government of Ontario, which runs the website, cannibalizing its own traditional gaming industry, such as encouraging people to physically buy lottery tickets or personally visit casinos, which the province regulates and profits from.

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Legion official "surprised" by exemption from smoking ban

No comment from anti-smoking group

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Ontario is banning smoking in all Ontario outdoor bar and restaurant patios effective January 1st with one exception: the Royal Canadian Legion.

The update to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act explicitly states that “all bar and restaurant patios, whether covered or not” will be subject to the ban, which has proved controversial in some quarters.

Meanwhile the Legion will have “an exemption for uncovered patios established by the Royal Canadian Legion – Ontario Provincial Command before November 18, 2013.”

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Iconic, controversial protest mask for sale at local Indigo

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One of the most iconic – and controversial - symbols of recent political protests is for sale at Indigo’s suburban Lakeshore store.

The Guy Fawkes mask has become a common sight worn by protesters at rallies from Quebec student anti-tuition demonstrations to the Occupy movement and beyond.

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Ont. still approves guardrails banned by many U.S. states

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Despite more than a dozen US states refusing to purchase guardrails from a Texas manufacturer the Ontario Ministry of Transportation continues to purchase the products but is monitoring a U.S. probe into their safety.

Thirteen states including Michigan will no longer purchase the guardrails from Trinity Industries of Dallas.

And the state of Virginia says it will actually remove the barriers because of safety concerns.

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Windsor Star historical murals orphaned, can't find new home

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While parts of Windsor, including downtown, are festooned with large and attractive murals telling stories of the city’s history, two prominent ones have been taken down and are seemingly orphaned, at least for the tome being.

The murals, part of the successful Postcards from Home program which employed local artists through a federal government job creation program in 2005, used to be prominently displayed on the iconic Windsor Star building on Ferry Street downtown.

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Women's rights groups still use male-only member Caboto Club

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Two important organizations that advocate for women’s rights continue to use the Caboto Club, which restricts women’s membership, even after a local woman went public earlier this year calling out the club for its male-only status.

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), one of whose purposes is “the advancement of the status of women, human rights and the common good,” recently booked a mayoral debate Oct. 1 at the club in central Windsor, perhaps the city’s best known and most well used venue among banquet halls for public and private meetings and conferences.

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Is there a wall of community mailboxes in your future?

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It might be mailbox overkill.

Mailboxes like you haven’t seen before could be coming to streets and neighbourhoods near you.

Some of the first pictures of Canada Post’s new urban mailboxes aren’t a pretty sight and may spark considerable opposition by residents once they get to see exactly what the boxes look like, according to the union representing postal workers.

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Tessier says he would donate 25 per cent of mayor's salary

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Mike Tessier says if elected mayor he’d donate 25 per cent of the mayor’s base salary to social agencies.

“That’s why I made a promise – and it’s one of the few promises that I will deliver on – that if I’m elected mayor I want to donate a minimum of 25 per cent of the mayor’s base pay to places like Goodfellows, Mission, Salvation Army,” he said.

Tessier has been a fixture at council meetings for well over a decade.

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City/BIA issued tokens help ward off parking meter blues

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One way to beat the parking meter blues is through City of Windsor - issued parking meter tokens.

And city business improvement areas (BIAs) have been helping merchants plug meters - for free - for customers who may not have change or need more time.

The shiny golden coloured tokens have been around for years although some BIAs are more aware of them than others.

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London MPP pledges to look after Windsor region's interests

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London North Central Liberal MPP Deb Matthews says she will make special efforts to represent deep southwestern Ontario in the provincial cabinet following the defeat of the area’s only Liberal, Windsor West’s Teresa Piruzza.

Matthews may be two hours up the highway but she says that won’t prevent her from having Windsor and Essex County’s greatest interests at heart, despite the fact there is no Liberal MPP between here and her constituency.

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Windsor mall store chosen for new upscale fashion boutique May 9 2014

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A little bit of upscale fashion is now in Windsor.

A new boutique has opened at Hudson’s Bay Company’s (HBC) Windsor store: Lord & Taylor.

The fashionable U.S. brand, purchased by HBC in 2012, has parlayed Lord & Taylor’s soft goods – such as clothing – into boutiques at select Bay stores across Canada.

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Tax counter services closure another "big blow" to downtown April 18 2014

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Windsor’s downtown tax office has closed its counter services.

The office on Ouellette Ave. located near the doorway of the Paul Martin building, was in fact closed last October, and used to serve people looking for paper forms, and advice, as they prepare their income taxes.

According to downtown promoters the closure is another nail in the coffin of the venerable Paul Martin federal building, which already has a years-old construction hoarding around it to protect pedestrians from falling building debris.

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Region's French boards' schools are now bursting at the seams

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Both the Catholic and public French schools board are desperately seeking more classroom space and funds from the government to expand.

“They’re beyond capacity,” Joseph Picard, education director for the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, which runs Catholic schools in southwestern Ontario.

The exceptions are “one or two schools that have a few empty classrooms” in “the further parts of Essex County, so more towards Chatham area,” he said.

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Queue-jumping trucks cause back-ups, impede border access

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Truckers trying to look for speedy access to the border have been holding up traffic generally along Huron Church Road, sometimes considerably in terms of distance and time.

Most trucks heading to the border stay in the centre of three north bound lanes leading to the Ambassador Bridge.

But when traffic builds, often in late weekday afternoons, it becomes a frequent occurrence for truckers to jump the queue, cutting into the lane beside the median used predominantly by regular motorists, and which leads directly to the Ambassador Bridge ramp north of College Ave.

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Many students showed up this week during bad weather days

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Perhaps surprisingly, a substantial number of students showed up at schools this week.

Windsor Essex County may have had the worst weather in 20 years Monday and Tuesday but schools remained open even if school buses weren’t running.

That resulted in some parents complaining.

“We’ve had some concerned voices,” agreed public board spokesman Scott Scantlebury.

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Credit card, solar-powered meters coming to Windsor

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Windsor is joining the 21st century when it comes to paying for parking.

Soon a pilot project will see street parking meters installed that will accept credit cards.

Some 50 meters will be installed in the trendy Walkerville business district.

John Wolf, the city’s manager of traffic operations, says the meters will be installed as soon as some “technicalities” are worked out.

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Prepared take-out dinners could create a whole new industry

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So popular are prepared Christmas turkey dinners that the only local purveyor of the pre-cooked meals sold out some time ago and had to turn away 300 requests.

Now it looks like pre-cooked special occasion meals will become a bigger local industry with the possible launch of a new culinary program at St. Clair College.

Just Jeff’s Gourmet Express has been selling hundreds of the pre-cooked Christmas meals every year.

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UW prof - society must change how it deals with the obese

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Society is taking the wrong approach in its attitude towards obese and indeed fat people in general.

That’s the claim of University of Windsor law professor Bill Bogart (pictured) in a new book.

Society places an altogether “undue emphasis on weight loss” he told, and overweight people are stigmatized through everything from everyday verbal put downs and to a nutrition and diet industry whose underlying message is that being fat is wrong.

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Campaign targets Detroit River coal - burning energy plants

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Two Michigan power plants located along the Detroit River are the targets of a high profile U.S. media campaign by the Sierra Club.

The “DTE Hurts” campaign targets the River Rouge Plant – immediately across from Windsor’s far west side – and the Trenton Channel Plant – across from Amherstburg.

The campaign, using newspaper and TV ads, depicts a child with an oxygen mask and says “DTE’s coal plants contribute to 8,990 asthma attacks a year” and “DTE’s coal plants contribute to asthma attacks, heart attacks, and deaths.”

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Clinics decline as pharmacists are providing more flu shots

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It might seem like an oversight but Amherstburg residents needn’t worry they’re being excluded from flu shot clinics this year.

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit’s online schedule of clinics lists every major municipality except Amherstburg for a series of community clinics beginning Oct. 9 and running until Dec. 11.

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UW gets three C's and a D for protecting freedom of speech

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When it comes to policies and practices respecting freedom of speech the University of Windsor has been assigned three C’s and a D.

The report card was handed out by the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which describes itself as an independent non-partisan organization “advancing and promoting the core principles of freedom and equality through education and litigation.”

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Detroiter wins grant to lure Canadian artists to Motor City

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A Detroiter has received a major grant to show off the Motor City’s “Number 1 asset” - its relationship with Canada.

“A lot of the time when people are visiting Detroit they are unaware Detroit sits on a river that is an international border,” Peter Rozek said.

“I wanted to change this.”

Rozek has received a private Knight Foundation $30,000 grant to bring Canadian artists to Detroit to make “new work here.”

Ft Malden museum closed due to "structural integrity issues"

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Fort Malden‘s 150 year old museum, which was just renovated a couple of years ago, has been closed all summer as an engineering review is carried our because of structural deficiencies.

The three storey museum was renovated in 2011 which was part of a general park reconfiguration and upgrade, which included a new cordoned off area where visitors now paid to visit the museum as well as a parade and barracks.

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Canadian eyes $1 billion downtown Detroit complex

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Toronto developer Steve Apostolopoulos knows a good deal when he sees one.

And, since 2009, many of those deals have been in the Motor City.

Apostolopoulos, managing partner of the Triple Group of Companies, has snapped up two million square feet of properties in downtown Detroit, making him second only to U.S. mortgage company lender Rock Financial’s CEO Dan Gilbert – who moved his firm’s headquarters downtown from suburbia a few years ago and now owns more than 30 properties, which are quickly being renovated.

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Essex County's first brewery to sell craft beers later this year

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Essex County’s first brewery is expected to open later this year with a full brewpub on the premises by next spring or summer.

The brewery, called Lonsbery Brewing Company, is the brainchild of Karl Lonsbery, the winemaker at Mastronardi Estate Winery and former winemaker at Viewpointe Estate Winery, both in Essex County.

In fact the brewery will be located just down the road from Viewpointe on County Rd. 50 at the Lonsbery family farm, of which Karl is seventh generation.

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Free Wi-Fi finally coming to Windsor International Airport

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Windsor Airport is joining the 21st century with free Wi-Fi being offered to passengers later this year.

Despite “millions” of investments in the airport – from upgrades to the passenger waiting lounge to runways – since the city took over the airport in 2007 from Serco Aviation, passengers still have to pay to get an Internet connection.

A traveller, accustomed to free Internet at other airports, will find they have to subscribe to a connection called Boingo at $11.95 a month.

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August bike event will link our region to the rest of Ontario

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It’s being billed as a breakthrough cycling event that will firmly establish the bicycle as a fixture in Windsor and Essex County.

Come August the region and southwestern Ontario will take part in the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure.

The ride kicks off at Lighthouse Cove August 11, runs through Windsor August 12, and then goes around the rim of the county through Amherstburg, County Rd. 50 along the lake, and eastward, eventually ending after seven days in Fort Erie.

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Local agricultural practice is implicated in huge algae bloom

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A farming practice that has been promoted heavily in southwestern Ontario is a culprit when it comes to polluting Lake Erie.

No-till farming is cited as one of the reasons why a record-setting algae bloom developed in the great lake in the summer and fall of 2011.

At its peak the blooms covered more than 5000 square kilometres, more than three times greater than any other bloom on record.

Researchers at the Carnegie Institute for Science, which studies issues related to climate change, concluded a number of factors were responsible for the algae.

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Upgrade coming to downtown's inconsistent free wi fi system

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A much improved free Internet service is coming to the downtown core, and should be up and running “within this year,” according to Larry Horwitz, chair of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA).

The current wi fi, which went online about two years ago, is plagued by weak connections and gaps in service.

It also doesn’t serve the fringes of the DWBIA’s official boundaries very well, business owners say.

“We’re working to improve it and make it so that there are no issues in terms of people not getting it or it not going into certain areas,” Horwitz said.

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Gift to city "Nature Bridge" targeted with major graffiti

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A $4.3 million gift to the city of Windsor – and an architecturally striking structure – is covered with graffiti.

The pedestrian bridge over Huron Church Rd. has graffiti scrawled on virtually every section – from panels of glass to concrete.

It’s apparently an ongoing problem which the city addresses several times a year, but to little avail.

The bridge, which was paid for by senior government border funds to help ease congestion in Windsor, was completed in 2005 and turned over to the city to aid pedestrians crossing busy Huron Church.

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First public car plug-in stations coming to city aquatic centre

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The City of Windsor is investing in its first electric car charging stations at the new family aquatic centre with the possibility of more at city facilities in the years to come.

There will be two stations located in the narrow 20-25 spot parking lot on the west side of the aquatic complex, now under construction and scheduled to open this summer.

They could be the first of several the city installs on its own properties or jointly with other organizations depending on need and desire for promotion, officials say.

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Groups' anti-porn protests cite female - and male - exploitation

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For almost three years a small group of men have been picketing outside a Windsor adult video store.

Over the past year they’ve been joined by a group in LaSalle who are also protesting the fact pornographic videos exploit not only women but the men who mostly watch them.

Late Friday afternoon in front of Adult Video on Dougall Ave. – one of the coldest days of winter so far – the men walked up and down the public sidewalk in front of Adult Video.

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Province's new Drive Clean test could take you to the cleaners

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The Drive Clean test has gone high tech but that could mean more money out of your pocket.

Beginning Jan. 1 Ontario introduced a computer-based Drive Clean test that replaces the former tail pipe exhaust emissions test.

Drive Clean outlets are in the middle of converting their old equipment to the new equipment, which consists of computer monitors and leads which connect to the computer of your car.

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Hospital's dialysis expansion likely to begin this month Oct 6/15

Expect an update any day on construction of Windsor Regional Hospital’s expanded nephrology program, according to hospital spokesman Ron Foster. Seven contractors submitted bids that closed late last month. The work, which was scheduled to begin in early October, will take about a year to complete. Construction will take place at WRH’s Ouellette (Hotel-Dieu) campus. To cope with increasing demand to treat kidney disease the hospital is creating additional dialysis space in the adjacent so-called Bell building (above). The hospital says its renal program has grown by 45 per cent in the last five years.

Tunnel bus and bikes just don't compute August 19/15

Windsor cyclists who want to take part in Detroit’s increasingly busy bike touring scene - Slow Roll Detroit, for example, offers regular Monday evening events - will likely have to take their bikes to the Motor City in a car. Transit Windsor, which offers bike racks on 90 per cent of its fleet, can’t take bikes across on the tunnel bus. There are several reasons. One is requiring a licence because bike racks actually extend the vehicle’s length. Transit Windsor has such Ontario licencing but not from Michigan. As well, getting through the tunnel and into downtown Detroit requires some tight maneuvering which a longer bus makes more difficult. Finally there’s U.S. Customs “who are not overly supportive of it,” transit GM Pat Delmore says. That’s because disembarking passengers have to bring all their belongings, including their bikes, with them into the small indoor Customs inspection facility. However, cyclists can brings a bike on board the tunnel bus, so long as they keep it in a bike bag.

Maroun's family an early victim of Ambassador Bridge June 26/15

Detroit billionaire Matty Maroun’s family had humble roots. But few people probably know that many of them were right here in Windsor and Essex County and that his family was an early victim of, yes, the Ambassador Bridge, which the controversial businessman now owns. According to Maroun’s grandfather moved the “poor family” from Quebec City to River Canard and lived “next to the historic St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.” Then the family relocated to Comber where they operated a grocery store. Later, they moved to Huron Church Road, directly across the street from Assumption Church. But, says the website - which celebrates Windsor-area Arabic entrepreneurs and professionals - Maroun’s father, “was forced to sell the home in 1924 to make room for the Ambassador Bridge that would span from Windsor to Detroit.” The family then chose to move to Detroit where Matty was born in 1927. Ironically, Maroun currently seeks to build a new bridge next to his current span and his company has expropriated some 120 nearby homes that would be on land needed for the proposed development, still waiting for government approvals. But the boarded-up deteriorating homes along Indian Road are a source of controversy, after the City of Windsor ordered the company to repair them. The company says it’s under federal jurisdiction and the city has no authority. The case remains in litigation. - 26/6/15

Email income tax scam May 27/15

Got an email from Canada Revenue Agency indicating you’ve recently got a refund? The email is fraudulent. It looks - kind of - official, with a date and “Our Ref” and “Your Ref” numbers with the title Notice of Tax Return for Last Year. Then it’s “Dear” to your email address. “After the annual calculation of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax return of: CAD 290.00. To receive your return, you must have a Government Gateway account" and then tells to click to register for a refund. “ Our head office address can be found on our web site at Canada Revenue Agency:" There is even a copyright by the CRA and the statement “Unless expressly authorised by us, any further dissemination or distribution of this email or its attachments is prohibited.” But, says CRA spokesman Neil Shalapata, no official correspondence from the agency is done through email. “We simply don’t do that,” he said. “If you had a balance owning we might telephone you after sending you letters but it’s usually through a letter,” he said.

Overpass stick-like figures reflect nature Apr 10/15

Ever wonder what those stripes or stick-like figures on the walls of new overpasses and tunnel tops on the Herb Gray Parkway represent? They’re part of an overall Parkway graphic theme that will become more apparent as the final parts of the six lane border highway are put in place before an official highway opening later this year. They’re designed to resemble the grasses found in the nearby Tallgrass Prairie landscape. While the stripes, drawn at various angles (just like grasses), are embedded in gray concrete on overpasses and retaining walls, a more colorful ochre look - representing Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savannah - is depicted on noise barriers. Meanwhile the tunnel top walls will literally give way to genuine plants because the long tunnel surfaces will feature natural environments with walking trails.

Transit requires “significant" cash Feb 12/15

Transit Windsor requires a “significant investment” if it’s to lower fares, improve scheduling, make routes more efficient, and create shorter passenger trips. That’s the conclusion from a report going before the city’s Environment, Transportation & Public Safety Committee. The report compares Transit Windsor’s 2013 operating stats to other urban transit systems in cities with 150,000 to 400,000 people. It found that riders per capita “is low” due in part to lower municipal funding, higher fares, “and service not meeting customers’ expectations.” It says “a common complaint … is that the service is overcrowded, late, and not frequent or direct enough to make it attractive.” It added Transit Windsor “does not have sufficient service to maintain its advertised schedules.” City council “has recognized these challenges” and provided some additional funding in 2014-15 but this “does not address the expansion that is required to make the system more effective,” the report by Transit Windsor executive director Pat Delmore says.

Border officers now asking Ebola questions Nov 11/14

Canadian border officials, including at the Ambassador Bridge and tunnel, are now routinely asking travellers entering the country whether they have visited West Africa in light of the Ebola outbreak. “Border services officers are now asking additional questions of all persons arriving in Canada,” Canada Border Services Agency said in a response to a query. “These questions relate to the person’s travel history over the past month and their general health.” Those “identified” with having been in that region will be “automatically referred to a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Quarantine Officer for a mandatory health assessment.” As well the officer will assess a person “feeling ill, or who may have been in contact with an ill individual from an affected country.” This isn’t a first for CBSA. Part of its normal duties are to “regularly” assess people “for signs of illness,” the agency said. Moreover, “Every person arriving in Canada is required to disclose under the Quarantine Act if he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect that he or she may have, or has been exposed to, a communicable disease.”

U Windsor reviewing travel in light of Ebola Oct 22/14

The University of Windsor is reviewing its travel protocols in wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. University spokeswoman Lori Lewis said she spoke with Robert Orr, Acting Provost and Vice President Academic, and he indicated “that UWindsor has begun to review the issues related to student and faculty travel to countries with Ebola outbreaks.” In the U.S. various universities have started to tighten travel to West Africa for research and humanitarian purposes. asked the university in light of the Ebola outbreak if any conditions were being imposed on travel for university staff and students - including those from West Africa who might attend UWindsor as students.

City set to announce museum plans Oct 15/14

The City of Windsor Friday will announce details to expand the Art Gallery of Windsor and modify the Francois Baby House as part of a plan to upgrade city museum attractions. Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects is doing the design work and Thornhill-based MMM Group Ltd. is the consulting engineer. Five construction firms have bid on the project with Amico Design placing the highest bid at $3.5 million and Oscar Construction the lowest at $3.3 million. The plan includes a long-desired stand only museum on the ground floor of the art gallery and the gallery operating from the building’s upper floors. The Baby House a block away on Pitt St. has long exhibited artifacts of local interest.

Batman booted from Caesars Windsor June 12/14

When it comes to questionable gambling even movie stars are suspect. Ben Affleck, aka Batman and notorious gambler, got the boot from Windsor’s casino in late May. He apparently has a reputation as an “advantaged” gambler. If Star magazine can be believed the “Batman v Superman” star was asked by security to leave Caesars Windsor May 31. A source said Affleck was spotted at the high rollers table playing hands of $5000. “He sat down and played for roughly 20 minutes before security heard he was there,” said the witness. “They made the dealers stop what they were doing and asked him to leave. Ben seemed pretty mad.”

County librarian Woodbridge retiring May 13/14

Janet Woodbridge, Essex County chief librarian for eight years, will be spending more time, ironically, reading, once she retires Sept. 30. Woodbridge joined the award winning county system after a stint of 23 years at Windsor Public Library, where for a period she managed the main branch or Central Library. An advertisement running through the Canadian Library Association advertised the job with a 2014 salary of between $105,813 - $129,910 with deadline for new applicant submissions mid-April. Woodbridge said an announcement by the library board, which makes the hire, should be made by the end of June. Woodbridge and the new librarian will spend a few months overlap so Woodbridge can “get them up to speed”. The library excels in developing new electronic materials and has been a “mentor” to other library systems, she said. Woodbridge, born in England and who grew up in Toronto, now lives on a farm outside Harrow. “Obviously I’ll get a chance to a lot more reading,” she said. “I’m planning to still be an advocate for public libraries because I firmly believe in the crucial role of libraries.”

We're not number one March 10/14

The oft-repeated phrase that the Windsor-Detroit border is North America’s busiest commercial crossing just took a hit in a Sunday article in the Detroit Free Press. The story, which looked at why it might be difficult for the U.S. Government to cough up the $250 million for a new border bridge customs plaza, quoted 2009 U. S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reporting that Laredo, Texas was the busiest trade crossing. The 14-lane World Trade International Bridge (pictured), is only one of several crossings in that city, and is dedicated to commercial traffic only. Windsor - Detroit? We’re number two. The article suggested the teeming U.S. - Mexican border was more a priority for Washington lawmakers than the Canada – U.S. border, despite the often stated importance of a new bridge and access roads between Detroit and Windsor. The overall busiest border U. S. crossing? San Ysidro, Cal., with 20 million vehicle passengers a year.

Kouvalis now working on Tory campaign Feb 26/14

Nick Kouvalis, a one-time locally-based Conservative campaign official and then manager for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s first election bid, has now joined the campaign of one of Ford’s rivals, John Tory (pictured). Tory was Ontario PC party leader from 2005 to 2009. “Mr. Tory’s campaign has been marketed as a ‘big tent’ coalition, with Liberal insider Bob Richardson and Conservative strategist John Capobianco at the forefront,” the National Post reported this week. “It includes Nick Kouvalis, the brains behind Ford’s last mayoral bid, who is expected to bring much of his 2010 team with him.” Kouvalis might be remembered locally for an incident in 2005 during which he allegedly uttered a death threat against current Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson. He was then serving as campaign manager for Conservative candidate Rick Fuschi. But Judge Lloyd Dean acquitted him, saying the words were uttered in frustration during the heat of the political moment.

Tack welding not cause of Parkway girder removal Jan 29/14

It wasn’t tack welding that was the cause of the removal of deficient girders from the Herb Gray Parkway project it was the fact the building of the girders didn’t follow technical plans. Tack welding has been raised as a major reason for why the girders were badly fabricated by European manufacturer Freyssinet. The company set up a temporary yard near the west end of the 11 km border highway, which will connect Hwy. 401 to a new Windsor-Detroit bridge. But a news release from the consortium building the road, Windsor Essex Mobility Group, states explicitly that the decision to remove the girders “is unrelated to the use of tack welding.” Indeed, it says, the much-maligned tack welding “is a common means and method that has been used in the fabrication of girders used in bridges for many years.” Testing under the government review process “has thus far supported the evidence….that the tack welding in the Parkway’s girders did not impact the structural strength of the steel used for the girders.” Rather, the reason for replacement “is based solely on this discrepancy between the documentation and the product delivered, which forms an important part of our quality control process.” Destructive testing found “unauthorized use of materials..…and other fabrication issues which were not adequately and accurately documented in Freyssinet's quality control documentation,” the release says.

Mail is still getting through - in spots Jan 7 2014

The severe cold hasn’t been preventing the mail from getting through. Depending, that is, on where exactly you’re located. A Canada Post official admitted delivering Monday and Tuesday was spotty or non-existent depending on local weather conditions in southwestern Ontario. “Our delivery today (Tuesday) for instance there was a break in the wind and our delivery agents in Windsor were out for delivery,” Eugene Knapik said. Knapik said not only are conditions affecting home delivering but the post office also considers the logistical chain of getting mail from one city to another. “We assess the conditions locally and nationally daily and we look to see if it’s reasonable and safe to send our people out,” he said. “And if we just can’t deliver, well, we just won’t deliver.” Knapik said while letter carriers are equipped with “good quality layered warm” clothing “more and more” of them are using the Ford Transit Connect electric vans (picture above) to do “park-and-loop” delivery. The vans were introduced in 2010. “So they have an opportunity to warm up in their vans which is quite helpful.”

AGW security upgrade to cost almost $400 K Dec 10 2013

It’s going to cost almost $400,000 to upgrade the security of the city’s art gallery as it makes way for a new community museum. City Council will vote next week to approve $363,608 plus HST to improve security cameras, intrusion alarms, card access and even the building’s HVAC system. Mid South Contractors got the job with another bidder being non-compliant. Tom Graziano, manager of facility operations for the city, said the money was approved when council decided to take over the art gallery. Click to read more

Ont students qualify for in-state tuitions Oct 24 2013

Even though it’s not labelled on the accompanying university map and even though Ontario is not a state, Detroit’s Wayne State University is offering provincial students the same deal as Michigan students. Undergraduates in neighbouring Great Lakes jurisdictions including Ohio, Minnesota and New York as well as Ontario can take advantage. The appropriately called Great Lakes Tuition Award will see Ontarians pay the same tuition – along with a 10 per cent fee - as in-state students. Students who take 15 credit hours per semester will save a “substantial” average of $11,633 a year, the university says. In addition, they’ll be eligible for all five merit-based WSU scholarships, which can save students an additional $11,500 each year. “We look forward to giving a broader array of students the opportunity to take advantage of a very reasonable tuition base to attend this top research university,” Provost Margaret Winters said in a statement. The university is fighting a decline in enrolment. The average in-state tuition is $9,780 and the average for non-Michiganders is $23,070.

Final touches being put on the new jail Oct 9/13

It may look gleaming and ready to open but the new Windsor regional jail – officially called the South West Detention Centre – located alongside Hwy 401, still needs to be commissioned before a planned opening in the spring. Staff training still needs to be done as well as “inmate programming” and discussions completed with other agencies and “stakeholders” for delivery of services to the jail. “Some finishing work is underway to complete the project and move to the commissioning stage,” Andrew Morrison of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said. A prisoner transfer plan to and from courts and the jail still had to be worked out with local police, OPP and provincial Bailiffs, he said. Testing of automated security systems and equipment is now taking place. As for the future of the old Windsor Jail on the city’s west side Morrison said there have been “no further discussions” on what will happen to it after it closes. Some in the community have called for it to be turned into a community museum. “Infrastructure Ontario will determine any future use of the facility,” Morrison said. The new 315-bed facility will result in “an increase” in correctional service jobs, the ministry said in an earlier fact sheet. Major construction of the $247 million building started in September 2008 and wrapped up in August.

No pay for workers who refuse to cross university picket lines Sept 11/13

University workers who refuse to cross picket lines to honour a strike by CUPE Local 1393 will not be paid. University spokeswoman Holly Ward said: “If an employee chooses not to cross the picket line, they must inform their supervisor of this decision and they will not get paid.” Many non-striking staff have refused to cross lines, respecting the pickets in union time-honoured tradition. But Ward said she did “not have any information on how many have chosen to do so yet.” CUPE Local 1393, representing 282 staff including everyone from trades to computer programmers to student health service nurses to ESL instructors, hit the pavement Sunday morning just as classes for another academic year were about to resume. The union says it’s on strike for job protection. “The administration entered our contract talks with an agenda of concessions that would make it easier to lay us off and contract out our work and over months of bargaining, it has not moved from that goal,” CUPE says in a bulletin. “We think University of Windsor students — and the surrounding communities — deserve better.”

Bridge toll increasing Aug 12/13

The Ambassador Bridge is raising its tolls again – just over a year since its last toll increase. The new $5.00 per crossing toll takes effect August 15, according to the bridge’s website. Last summer the bridge raised the toll from $4 to 4.75, which was the highest for all major bridge crossings between Canada and the United States. Bridge management did not return requests for comment. Last year the bridge’s toll increase made the Ambassador’s toll almost 50 per cent higher than most other international crossings. The next highest was the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which is now $4.50 Windsor to Detroit and $4.75 Detroit to Windsor. Both the tunnel and bridge offer discounts with special travel cards. Prior to the previous bridge increase all major crossings in Ontario were under $3.50 with the cheapest being the Thousand Islands Bridge near Kingston at $2.50. According to the Public Border Operators Association 4.8 million passenger vehicles crossed the bridge last year. Year to date traffic until June showed traffic had increased 2.87 per cent – or more than 66,000 vehicles - over the first six months of 2012.

Bridge owners "thuggish" - Norton July 11/13

Canada’s Consul General in Detroit, Roy Norton, described the Ambassador Bridge ownership as “thuggish” during a local presentation before a largely American group of urban experts. Speaking in May at a one day session in Windsor about the Herb Gray Parkway and a new border link between Canada and the U.S., Norton, during a slide presentation to Urban Land Institute (ULI) delegates, said legal challenges by the Marouns over the development of a new bridge were “characteristic of the thuggish nature of the Ambassador Bridge folks.” He was referring, among other things, to a company claim that the bridge had the almost 100-year-old “exclusive and perpetual right” to provide transportation across the Detroit River. “Like everything they do one can assume that there was an element of intimidation in filing (the claim) scaring the state department away from issuing the permit for fear that any action that they took would subsequently be overturned in court,” Norton told the audience. “We’ll never know for sure (whether) it actually worked in slowing down the process (of obtaining a presidential permit for the new bridge). But the mere fact that the permit was issued suggests that the state department satisfied itself of the frivolousness of the Maroun lawsuit.” Obtaining the permit, issued by the U .S. Department of State in April, was one of the last hurdles before construction of the new bridge can begin.