Does Navistar expect to take work out of Chatham and have Canadians continue to purchase its trucks?

Talk about a Mexican stand-off — The CAW wants the Navistar plant in Chatham back up and running, with its members back on the assembly line in numbers; the municipality wants the plant operational, even if it’s not pumping out trucks; and the company wants to run a pared-down operation with one-20th of the workforce that once worked there.

Through it all, 5,000 heavy-duty trucks recently ordered by J.B. Hunt Transportation Services Inc. will likely be built in Mexico because the Chatham facility is idled.

Talk about a mess.

About 150 people marched through Chatham Monday and into council chambers to seek help from council. They want to see pressure on the provincial and federal governments to get involved to help entice Navistar get the plant running again, and give people their jobs back.

Council will let the senior governments, as well as the company and the union, know how important it is for Chatham-Kent to have the truck plant operational once more.
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After $62 million and one year, Chatham truck plant is still idle

The Navistar assembly plant in Chatham, which received about $62 million in taxpayers’ money to stay open, has hit the one-year mark without making a heavy truck.

The plant reached the dubious anniversary for non-production today as more workers drift away and their union renews efforts for a reopening.

“It’s sombre,” said Aaron Neaves, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 127, about the mood of employees. “But it’s still somewhat cautiously optimistic.”

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Is the (spin) doctor in at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health?


To paraphrase American social historian and educator Daniel J. Boorstin, some organizations are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.
The latter is the case with Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, which has signed on the services of John Matsui of London, Ont., to address “communication issues” at the Edward Street organization which has cut loose seven employees in recent months and is now inviting proposals for “a physical needs assessment regarding the needs of general space for all ESTPH programs and services.”
When you pare back the bafflegab, they may be looking for new office space.
Matsui, who bills himself as a public relations/ public consultation specialist – dealing in the environment, technology and healthcare, confirmed to City Scope his working arrangement with ESTPH.
You can rest assured his first priority will not be puff pieces on the delivery of health services to St. Thomas and area. The past few months have prompted a litany of questions dealing with management decisions and the corporate direction adopted by CEO Cynthia St. John.
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Our built heritage should be a treasure for future generations

EDITOR’S NOTE: To clarify information contained this week in the Times-Journal, in fact the vote was 4-3 to repeal the heritage designation. Ald. Heather Jackson-Chapman joined Ald. Bill Aarts and Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands to vote against the motion. Ald. David Warden was absent from Monday’s council meeting.

Dear Minister Chan,
We are now at risk of losing heritage status for 96 Moore Street. St.Thomas city council voted 5-2 to notify the public and property owners of its intention to repeal the heritage designation for the entire historic Moore Street property,including the now-destroyed school building and grounds,as covered under the Ontario Heritage Act.Will the ministry of culture step in to protect the chapel,music building and outdoor amphitheatre,or will you stand on the side lines,as did former culture minister Aileen Carroll,and allow the destruction to continue,and take what little remains on this historic piece of land.What will it take for the McGuinty government to opens it’s eyes and see the value in protecting not only historic buildings,but historic properties.Our built heritage should be treasured,so we can pass it down to future generations.Our ministry of culture has no teeth,instead of being a guard dog for built heritage,they are a lap dog for developers,who know very well the Ontario government could careless about built heritage and given enough time,demolition by neglect will do the job for the developer,ensuring they can bulldoze the past,and build a condo building and completely erase our built heritage.We are losing our built heritage at an alarming rate and the McGuinty government needs to step up and protect what little remains,and a good start would be telling the owners of 96 Moore Street ENOUGH IS ENOUGH,the 2 remaining buildings and outdoor amphitheatre cannot be torn down,and keep the heritage designation so future generations will not have to fight this battle again.
Bob Foster

Elgin St. Thomas Public Health retains services of public relations firm


City Scope this afternoon confirmed Elgin St. Thomas Public Health has hired a London, Ont., public relations firm, Makin’ Headlines. Company president John Matsui confirmed he has been retained by ESTPH CEO Cynthia St. John to sort out communication issues.
Matsui is billed on the firm’s website as a public relations/ public consultation specialist – dealing in the nvironment, technology and healthcare.
Success listed include:
= London Health Sciences Foundation/
St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation
Provided executed strategy that won a $15 million dollar grant from City of London.
– Town of Bosanquet
Created publicity campaign that diffused tensions between landowners and native groups at Ipperwash.
Succesfully managed news media and public opinion to allow development of a sanitary landfill site near Ottawa without a single objection.
ESTPH has been the subject of several City Scope posts over the past few months including these stories: Search for greener pastures is costing service to community and When the going gets tough head out on a road trip
Matsui has arranged for a meeting with himself, St. John and City Scope for Monday morning. Full details will be posted on the City Scope blog.

Council set to strip Alma College of heritage designation


Two years after Alma College was torched, the city is moving in for the kill.
When it sits Monday, council will consider a report from city clerk Wendell Graves that calls for repealing the heritage designation on the Moore Street property, in place since 1994.
In December of that year, the property and all key buildings were desginated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The historical significance of the site is also recognized through a provincial plaque, which recently went missing.
This is all possible because in 2007 the city cut a deal with Alma Heritage Estates, owners of the former school for girls since 1998, which allowed the Zubick family of London, Ont., to demolish most of the college.
Under terms of that agreement, the designation bylaw would be repealed and most of the main building, except for a small portion of the facade and belfry tower, would be demolished.
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Search for greener pastures is costing service to community

You would think with seven staffers jettisoned in recent months, there would be plenty of work space available at 99 Edward St., home of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
And with a generous offer on the table from their landlord, the County of Elgin, which would see a 50% reduction in rent with an additional 4,000 square feet thrown in as a bonus, surely office space would be low on the priority scale for the publicly-funded health unit.
Boy, is this corner so not with the game plan.
Elgin St. Thomas Public Health (ESTPH) is now inviting proposals for “a physical needs assessment regarding the needs of general space for all ESTPH programs and services.”
Or, as executive director Cynthia St. John puts it, “The Board is seeking the assistance of a firm to guide us in determining all of our needs with respect to new office space – either in a new building or a renovated one.”
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New affordable housing officially opened today in St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – June 11, 2010) – The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the City of St. Thomas celebrated the official opening of 12 affordable rental units. The two six-unit affordable housing projects are supported by $924,000 in funding through the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program.

Joe Preston, Member of Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and Steve Peters, Member of Provincial Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London, along with Acting Mayor Tom Johnston, on behalf of St.Thomas Mayor Cliff Barwick made the announcement.

“Locally, this achievement gives a hand-up to individuals and families who need safe, affordable housing that meets their needs,” said MP Preston. “Our government is investing in this project to get the economy moving, creating immediate jobs and economic stimulus for the community.”

“These new homes are changing the lives of a dozen families in St. Thomas,” said MPP Peters. “By building more affordable rental units, we are ensuring people in need have a safe place to call their own.”

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Bayham mayor Lynn Acre will not seek re-election this fall

Bayham Mayor Lynn Acre has made it official, she won’t be running in this fall’s municipal election.

“I considered it carefully, discussed it with my family and friends and decided it was time take a breather from politics,” she said Monday.

Acre is on 14 different committees in Bayham, four committees at the Elgin County council level and on the International Plowing Match committee. While members of council are expected to be on committees, Acre is on more than most.

After retiring from politics, she expects to stay involved with some of her favourite committees. These included Museums Bayham and the Wind Interpretative Centre.

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