Forget Rob Ford, we’ve got the real white stuff


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Down the highway in The Big Smoke, the only white stuff grabbing media attention is the cocaine being snorted by Mayor Rob Ford
Meantime, here in St. Thomas the traditional white stuff – that would be snow – has sharply divided residents into two camps: kudos to city staff for a great job versus whaddya mean two weeks to clear sidewalks.
Granted we were the recipient of a winter’s-worth of snow in one dump, however the Times-Journal has uncovered two facts worth considering.
Dave White, the city’s supervisor of roads and transportation, chose a rather untimely week to use up holiday time and one of three sidewalk plows succumbed to illness at a most inopportune moment.
Nevertheless, 80 to 90 centimetres of snow over a four-day span has taxed the city’s resources, not to mention the patience of city residents.
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What didn’t make the grade is the real story


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The real insight come budget time is not the capital projects that receive council’s stamp of approval, it’s the myriad items that fail to pass muster.
There’s the true indication of how well departments are heeding calls from treasurer Bill Day to haul in the reins.
Here are some gems gleaned from the 2014 Part 1 capital budget that remain in limbo.
How about $400,000 for a baseball practice facility at the Centennial Sports Complex.
Then there’s the $600,000 skateboard park, $102,000 of which would be funded by ratepayers.
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A sorry case of the city bargaining in bad faith


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In the big picture, it’s chump change – $254, which is a miniscule amount to have to go to battle with the city.
But to a tiny sports organization like St. Thomas Thunder Ringette, a couple of hundred bucks is a big deal.
That’s the total of the cleaning bill they faced after their equipment, housed in a storage room in the Timken Centre, turned into a moldy mess over the summer thanks to serious humidity/condensation problems in the eight-year-old facility.
Thunder president Dwayne Foshay felt his organization was fully justified in handing over the cleaning bill to the city.
In a letter to Mayor Heather Jackson, Foshay stressed “We weren’t notified of any water/ condensation issues from the arena staff, but plans were put in place by the same staff to open locker room doors and add fans in the halls for the arena areas that they would look after to deal with the issue.”
Foshay has photos of attempts made by city staff to eliminate, or at least minimize, moisture damage.
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Jason McComb begins his trek to Ottawa


Jason McComb departs St. Thomas city hall shortly after 8:30 on Nov. 12, 2013.

Jason McComb departs St. Thomas city hall shortly after 8:30 on Nov. 12, 2013.

Homeless advocate Jason McComb descended the steps at city hall shortly after 8:30 Tuesday morning to begin his walk across the province to Ottawa to draw attention to the plight of the less fortunate in general and, in particular, those veterans who have been abandoned by the country they served.

He’ll put in 10- or 11-hour days trekking eastward with stops along the way, including Ingersoll tonight and then on to Kitchener and Hamilton, in an effort to shatter the stigma of the homeless.

It’s a daunting undertaking at a time of year when the weather can be most unwelcoming, as was the case overnight Monday.

“I’m going to rough it, like when I first became homeless,” Jason told City Scope last week. “I didn’t know what to expect. It might be a little dangerous, but so was ending up homeless.”

When he arrives in Ottawa, Jason aims to talk to anyone who will listen to his pitch on protecting society’s lost souls. And, we’ve just found out MP Joe Preston will hook up with Jason when he does arrive in the capital.

“Things like preventing homelessness among seniors. I look out for absolutely everybody. I love the push for affordable housing, but let’s take care of the current homeless . . . the here and now.”

We’ll track Jason’s progress across the province, in the meantime you can find more on Jason’s walk here.

UPDATE AS OF 7:30 P.M. TUESDAY, NOV 12:

Jason has been hampered by snow squalls all day and the threat of continued snow late into the evening. He is spending Tuesday night in east London and will head for Woodstock early Wednesday morning. He is cold, but in good spirits and undaunted after a challenging start to his Ottawa trek.

Jason McComb is walking for society’s lost souls


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There’s no doubt Jason McComb can be a thorn in the side of city administrators.
Not only is he an outspoken advocate for the homeless, he has taken it upon himself to patrol the downtown core in his solitary litter crusade – an undertaking that has put to shame the efforts of this city’s parks staff.
Well next Tuesday Jason is leaving town, if only temporarily.
That’s the day he begins his walk across the province to Ottawa to draw attention to the plight of the less fortunate in general and, in particular, those veterans who have been abandoned by the country they served.
He’ll put in 10- or 11-hour days trekking eastward with stops along the way, including Hamilton, in an effort to shatter the stigma of the homeless as panhandlers begging their way to the next bottle of cheap booze.
It’s a daunting undertaking at a time of year when the weather can be most unwelcoming.
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