S. Ontario straw becomes Ford Flex storage bins


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Research at the University of Waterloo has led four southern Ontario farmers to send straw from soft, white winter wheat to an auto parts plant in Ohio for plastic production that is ending up as third-row storage bins in the Flex crossover vehicle in Oakville.

In an industry that is quickly developing and manufacturing so-called green interiors, Ford says it is the world’s first automaker to develop and use straw for plastic in a vehicle.

Jumping to conclusions about queue jumpers


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In a city wrestling with the prospect of a crippling transit strike, you would think there would be plenty of fodder floating about in London to preoccupy the media.
Instead some elements are getting themselves in a lather about queue-jumping police officers at the St. Thomas flu clinic in the Timken Centre.
Talk about a slow news day.
A chat on Thursday with Chief Bill Lynch, who should have been consulted before this story ever hit the light of day in the Forest City, reveals city police were simply following the direction of Laura McLachlin, director of health protection for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
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Closed Sterling plant could be going green


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Former Sterling Truck plant in St. Thomas


A deal is in the works to turn the closed-down Sterling Truck plant in St. Thomas into a green energy manufacturer, the area’s MP says.

A national Canadian manufacturer has signed a memorandum of agreement to share technology with another industry that develops green energy platforms, including solar energy, with the intention to manufacture at the St. Thomas plant, MP Joe Preston (PC — Elgin-Middlesex-London) said yesterday.

“We are not at the point where we can say it will happen,” Preston cautioned. “But memorandums of agreements have been signed. There is interest out there. It feels good. We have to start sharing any good news, anything that is positive.”

The new manufacturer has “elements of many different types of green energy,” but solar panel production is a big part of it, he said.

London seeking $150 million offered Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant


Posted by Ian: St. Thomas and Elgin county lose the Ford plant and as a result the economic impact will be compounded via support operations like Lear Seating, trucking companies and CN who relied heavily on the St. Thomas Assembly Plant and yet London wants the entire $150 million offered by the province for its own benefit. It’s bad enough we have to deal with the London-centered school board and St. Joseph’s Health Centre for psychiatric services. However, you can ask the question, why didn’t St. Thomas staff and administration beat London to the punch? Or is that because they have no long-term economic plan in place. Where is the Economic Development Corp. and the Chamber of Commerce in this dark chapter? London is taking concrete steps to diversify its economy (read agri-business and digital media), while in St. Thomas we’re still trying to entice an automaker to locate here. Following is the full story from the London Free Press …

The City of London is going after $150 million the Ontario government is believed to have offered to save Ford of Canada’s St. Thomas assembly plant, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best said.

The city and region could use the cash to fund a host of ambitious economic development schemes, she said.

“We continue to be impacted in a severe way. If there is money for the plant, then surely there must be money to invest in initiatives we are looking at.”

Ford Motor Co. will close the St. Thomas plant in September 2011, cutting 1,600 jobs when it ends production of the Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria.
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Elderly man loses out in vehicle-pedestrian conflict on Elm St.


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City staff have come up with a solution to unsafe crosswalks dotting the city … get rid of them.
Supervisor of Roads and Transportation David White will stand before council Monday to recommend “the removal of the pavement markings at existing Courtesy Pedestrian Crossings (17 in total including the one in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital where an elderly pedestrian was struck and killed in September).”
Instead, White urges council to approve the installation of additional Pedestrian Ahead signs for advance warning.
What his report confirms is these crossings, assumed safe passages by those attempting to cross the street, are nothing more than “courtesy crossings.”
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A future without Ford – the new reality


By Kyle Rea
St. Thomas Times-Journal
As fallout continues from the news that Ford’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant will shut its doors in fall 2011, three of the biggest casualties locally — Southwold township, the Lear Seating plant and the Elgin-St. Thomas United Way — are taking a look at a future without the plant.
Last Friday, leaders of the Canadian Auto Workers union confirmed what has long been suspected, that the St. Thomas Ford facility will shut its doors in September, 2011, as the company looks to phase out production of the large cars manufactured there — the Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car and Grand Marquis. When that happens, 1,400 people will lose their jobs.
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Elgin county Warden adds voice to those calling for moratorium on hospital cuts and closures


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The Ontario Health Coalition; Friends of Four Counties Hospital; Mayor of West Elgin and Warden of Elgin-County, Graham Warwick;and former city councilor of Newbury, Monte McNaughton criticized the McGuinty government’s plans for its Rural and Northern Health Panel for lack of public consultations. Noting that many devastating cuts and closures are already underway, the group called for a moratorium pending proper public consultations and a review of the current cuts.

The government announced the Panel in response to a major protest against hospital cuts and closures, involving thousands of residents from small and rural communities in front of the Ontario Legislature last April. However, when it finally released the Terms of Reference for the Health Minister’s Panel on Rural and Northern Care, there is not a single mention of hospitals. In addition, there are no plans for public consultations until after the panel completes its work this winter; too late for many of the small and rural hospital cuts and closures now underway.
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Ford’s closure of St. Thomas assembly plant to affect thousands of spinoff jobs


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TORONTO — The impact of the closure of a Ford assembly plant in southwestern Ontario will extend far beyond the plant itself, costing the region thousands of spinoff jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue, according to union officials and local politicians.

Ford (NYSE:F) announced Friday the plant in St. Thomas, near London, will close in 2011 due to a lack of demand for the full-sized sedans it produces.

The closure of a major manufacturing facility can be disastrous to the region in which it’s located, and Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza estimated that 6,000 spinoff jobs will be lost above and beyond the 1,400 workers directly employed by the plant.
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Ford turns up nose at unprecedented offer to save St. Thomas Assembly Plant


In a last-ditch effort to save the St. Thomas assembly plant, the province and Canadian Auto Workers made offers of cash and unprecedented concessions — but Ford Motor Co. said no.

The province offered as much as $150 million and the union told the company to cherry-pick details of any collective agreement and put it on the table, CAW national president Ken Lewenza said yesterday.

“(Ford of Canada vice-president) Joe Hendricks told me directly he could not get a better deal from any government than the one the Ontario government was prepared to put in front of Ford Motor Co. He was clear about that,” Lewenza said. “They were prepared to do more than any jurisdiction in the world. The Ontario government was prepared to be a major player.”

Instead, Ford will close the St. Thomas assembly plant in September 2011, cutting 1,600 jobs.

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