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Battle brewing over hockey schools

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Dave and Mike Allison want to run a “AA” developmental hockey camp here for the weeks of July 19-23 and July 26-30.

In fact, they’ve already booked the ice time with Community Services manager George Bell.

There’s just one problem. Terry Mihichuk, owner/operator of the existing Borderland Hockey School, has a three-paragraph letter dated Jan. 13, 1995--under “Office of the Mayor” letterhead and signed by Mayor Glenn Witherspoon--that says his school is the only one permitted to run here during the summer months.

According to the letter, addressed to Lloyd “Gus” Lindberg, president of the Borderland Hockey School at the time, an agreement with then arena manager Metro Wowchuk, made several years previous, stated the “only hockey school that is permitted to be operated in the summer months in Fort Frances is the Borderland Hockey School.”

“This policy will remain in place and your prospective buyer can be assured of having the only summer hockey school to be held at the Memorial Arena,” the letter continued.

Lindberg later sold the Borderland Hockey School to Mihichuk for $12,000.

Trouble is, Bell didn’t know about the letter. It’s all but certain the Allisons didn’t know about it. And Coun. Deane Cunningham, who sat on the previous council in 1995, said yesterday that he couldn’t recall it, either.

Mayor Witherspoon said yesterday the letter was written to help Lindberg sell the school to Mihichuk in 1995. But he admitted he was unsure as to “how much weight the letter holds” and if it would be considered “null and void” today.

Meanwhile, Mihichuk, who plans to runs his hockey school Aug. 2-6 and Aug. 9-13 this year, was vehement that the mayor’s letter should hold up. In fact, he’s amazed the town would even consider allowing another hockey school here during the summer and figures it’s a “no brainer” regarding its validity.

He refused to comment further until after the regular Community Services meeting slated for 4 p.m. today. And Dave Allison, when contacted at his home here yesterday afternoon, chose not to comment on the situation until after that meeting.

Bell also refused to comment on the situation when contacted by the Times last week. Instead, he directed any questions regarding the ice time given to the Allisons to the mayor’s office.

Lindberg could not be reached for comment as he was attending the world junior hockey championships in Winnipeg.

The Times had gone to the Civic Centre for a copy of the letter Monday afternoon after Mayor Witherspoon last week said it was all right to do so.

But after staff there first could not find it, Clerk Glenn Treftlin, following a discussion in CAO Bill Naturkach’s office, came out and said the letter would not be disclosed.

When contacted yesterday, the mayor confirmed the letter would not be made available at this time.

The Times has since obtained a copy of the letter.

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