Neighbourhood blight to be demolished in favour of seniors’ residence


city_scope_logo-cmykFor several years it was a pot-mark on the Wellington Street landscape. The burned-out hulk of the former Ramada Inn proved such an eyesore, Craig Geerlinks and Adam MacLeod across the street at Geerlinks Home Hardware wrote a letter to council in December 2015 pointing out “The building has been abandoned for more than a few years. We are concerned this blight on the neighbourhood, and the city in general, will continue with no end in sight.”
They concluded their missive with the fact many customers leave the store “having purchased home improvement materials, those customers look across the street and cannot help but be disheartened that their efforts at improving their properties are offset by derelict and abandoned buildings such as this one . . . Out-of-town visitors attending activities at the Timken Arena and railway museum drive past the remnants of this now abandoned building and must wonder about our community spirit.”

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Base salary root cause of significant numbers in Sunshine Club – St. Thomas police chief


When 41% of municipal employees appearing on the so-called Sunshine List are members of one branch or service, it’s a surefire way to draw the attention – and the ire – of ratepayers who are on the hook.
That was the case in 2016 when 46 of the 113 municipal employees who earned in excess of $100,000 in 2016 were members of the St. Thomas Police Service. That’s a healthy bump up from 31 in 2015.
But every picture tells a story and it wasn’t a healthy amount of overtime or so-called duty pay that pushed those individuals over the $100,000 bar, stressed St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell, it is the reality base salaries for first-class constables are already hovering around that benchmark.

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Move to new home tantalizingly close for St. Thomas Police Service


After numerous studies and consulting reports, dithering over decisions and often rancorous debate, the St. Thomas Police Service is just weeks away from moving into their new digs adjacent to the Timken Centre.
At a reference committee meeting Monday afternoon, Chief Darryl Pinnell apprised city council on the status of the new headquarters on CASO Crossing, with a likely move-in date in April or May.

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There’s specificity in one area, a date in court


city_scope_logo-cmykHeld over for another big year . . . The Sutherland Saga.

Watch the City of St. Thomas and David McGee, owner of Sutherland Lofts, pick up where they left off in 2016 . . . back in court.

That’s right, after issuing another work order late in October against the owner of the four-storey Sutherland Press building, McGee has tossed it back in the city’s corner with the declaration, see you in court.

On October 28, the city slapped a new unsafe building order on McGee with what city manager Wendell Graves called a very specific time line.

“They have until Dec. 15 to provide a detailed work plan and schedule to get the thing remedied and then work has to commence by the 9th of January,” Graves told this corner. Continue reading

Unlike London, carding is not a trending topic in St. Thomas


city_scope_logo-cmykIt was what we called in radio, a cluster-buster.

A Tweet from Police Chief Darryl Pinnell Friday morning sure cut through the clutter.

“Let the @STPSmedia “Collection of Identifying Information in Certain Circumstances” training begin!” proclaimed the message, with accompanying photo.

Sounded for all the world like they’re delving into carding, a trending topic up the road in London.

A phone call to St. Thomas Police media contact, Const. Jeff DeLeeuw, confirmed they were in training but it’s not what you think. Continue reading

Time to come clean: are water bill payments keeping Ascent afloat?


city_scope_logo-cmykA troubling state of affairs when your water bill payment appears to be the only thing keeping Ascent/St. Thomas Energy afloat.

Of much greater concern is the lack of transparency at city hall and the lack of due diligence on the part of city council.

Let’s start in the finance department where we appear to caught director of finance David Aristone in an awkward moment.

Exactly one year ago, when council dealt with the 2014 consolidated financial statements, that document revealed Ascent Group – 100 per cent owners of St. Thomas Energy – rang up an operating loss of $6.8 million. That compared with a $1.4 million profit in 2013. Continue reading

After eight years, where might the money be?


city_scope_logo-cmykComing up to three months since both sides in the Sutherland saga faced each other again at the Elgin County Courthouse. On May 27, city staff and Toronto owner David McGee – along with their legal counsel – left the fate of the 103-year-old Sutherland Press building in the hands of Justice Gorman.

Have we waited an inordinate amount of time for a decision?

Not really, suggests McGee’s lawyer Valerie M’Garry. There is a lot of supporting documents to digest she notes.

“Stacked together they would be a foot-and-a-half high,” M’Garry points out, “so for her (Justice Gorman) to go through them all, which I think she would want to do for whatever decision she is going to render.”

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