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Jim Cumming - From the Publisher's Pen

Jim is the publisher of the Fort Frances Times Ltd. He writes a weekly column and can be contacted at jcumming@fortfrances.com

Christmas is all about memories and family

We put up our Christmas tree this past Friday and Saturday.

When our boys were young, we would go out on a tree-finding afternoon—often at my cousin's farm on the River Road. We would march through the bush, usually with one of the boys being pulled on a sleigh while the older son walked on the broken trail through the bush.

It was a full afternoon exercise before the appropriate tree was found and then brought back and tied on the roof of the van.

What does affordable housing mean?

One of the more interesting issues facing young people today, whether they live in a large city or smaller rural community, is the cost of housing.

Everyone is looking for affordable housing, but that means different things to different people and has different pricing whether in an urban or rural centre.

Affordable housing changes on the medium incomes earned in the home.

Here in Fort Frances, the Rental Housing Index indicates the average cost for rent and utilities amounts to $726. In Kenora, the amount is $872 while in Dryden, the figure is $818.

Saving time doesn't save money

Busy family life is bringing about huge changes in the food industry.

Where once sitting down with the family for an evening meal was commonplace, today mothers and fathers and grandparents are running in multiple directions taking children to hockey, basketball, dance, Guides, Cubs, and all types of youth activities as soon as school is out and lasting well into the evening hours.

Slow cookers and multi-use cookers were the hoped for salvation of family suppers but alas, even though millions have been sold, they have not stemmed the home-cooked family supper.

The long build-up to Christmas has begun

As any young person will tell you, Christmas takes a long time to arrive. Parents, on the other hand, will tell you that even with all the planning and work, Christmas arrives too quickly.

Those preparations take a long time.

For the past two weeks, I've been putting up our traditional white lights around the yard. When we used the incandescent bulbs, you could see in daylight how well you were distributing them through the trees and shrubbery.

LED lights really only show their whiteness at dusk or at night.

Action need to fill job vacancies

Last week's Times had 59 job vacancies being advertised. The newspaper averages more than 40 openings every week.

At one time, there was a surplus of people and any job opening had 50 or 60 applicants. Not so now. Life has changed here in Rainy River District.

Almost every restaurant and fast-food operation has openings for servers and cooks. Almost every retailer in the district continues to look for salespeople to serve customers.

People can now shop for jobs.

Meanwhile, doctors are being sought to fill requirements in both Fort Frances and Emo.

We must remember those who served

November 11, 11 a.m., 1918 marked the silencing of guns in France as an armistice was reached. The war to end all wars was over.

This Sunday, our community will meet at the cenotaph to mark the 100th anniversary of that moment. From Canada, a nation of seven million people, 450,000 left for Europe and 60,000 failed to return. It had a huge impact on us as a nation.

Hope, energy always follow

All the leaves have almost fallen. Nothing but the black skeleton of the branches remain in a lifeless pose.

It is a bleak season where all the colours and shades of flowers and shrubbery have disappeared, leaving only blackness and the grey shadows of the coming winter season.

The last of the leaves still need to be raked, having fallen with the drenching rain of the past week. It is one more chore to complete prior to seeing falling snow again.

We need to stop judging people

Has divisive politics entered into our municipal and school board elections?

Until Monday morning, when I was confronted by a posting from a mother questioning the bullying on Facebook of a school board candidate, I would have said that it was impossible. The posting by the mother has shaken me.

I only have to look to our southern neighbours to see how politics has divided people between black and white, Christian and non-Christian, lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender to watch bullying and hate manifest itself.

Questions to be answered

The Northern Policy Institute recently released a paper entitled “Exploring the Need for a Northern Newcomer Strategy.”

It may have come to many as a shock but having watched census databases over the past two decades of the numbers and the reduction of population in the Rainy River District, it was not surprising.

Yes, Rainy River District has seen its population decline by 13.2 percent over the last two decades. Yes, the population of Rainy River District has become much older than the provincial average.

Good for district is good for town

One of the candidates at last Tuesday night's forum made a statement that what is good in the district is good for Fort Frances.

All too often we forget the value that district businesses contribute not only to the economy of the host community but also to the economy of Fort Frances.

Since its opening first as Voyageur Panel, then later as Ainsworth and now Norbord, many of the employees live within the boundaries of Fort Frances. Throughout the area, most of those employees shop the stores and use the restaurants of Fort Frances.