Mayor feels 2013 was a positive year for Rainy River

By Ken Johnston

Rainy River Mayor Deb Ewald felt 2013 was a positive year for the community.
In an interview last Thursday, Ewald pointed to the steady progress the town is making in updating the community’s infrastructure.
“We completed the replacement of water and sewer lines on First Street, which follows the recent major work to the town’s sewer lagoon, lift station and the water and sewer lines along Hwy 11 in recent years.”
Ewald noted that with 100+ year old infrastructure in the ground in places, there is no point in repaving streets until it is replaced. “We are working towards doing Main Street (Fourth) in 2015,” she added.
In 2013 they had applied for three projects and ended up getting approval for their third choice; First Street. The grant they are looking at for Main Street, if approved, will be 90% paid by the government. “If we get it we will replace all the lines in the ground, new sidewalks, redo the pavement and put up new street lights.”
Of course that project could be put on the back burner if the next council so desires to do so. Elections are this fall and so far Mayor Ewald is not saying if she will run again. “A year ago I was leaning to not running. But with the new council size (from four to six) coming this fall and two more bodies to divide the workload up I am thinking about it. I love the job, but the workload is tough with only four councillors, especially when some of them work full time, myself included.”
Ewald said that with the locum house open now, she is finding the doctor situation seems to have stabilized. The house was built to offer locum doctors a nice place to stay while working here, in the hopes of attracting a steady flow of locums to supplement full-time doctors Ennett and Singleton. “I believe we are already booked with full locum coverage for all of 2014!”
Ewald said the town also added a part-time dentist in 2013. “Have had very positive feedback on him and everyone is quite happy with him.”
On the negative side council had to raise water rates 6% in 2013. “It irks me when they go up, but it is not council’s fault. The province mandates what needs to be done at the water treatment plant and it is cost recovery... not for profit.”
A Trim Chlorinator for the water plant was council’s #1 choice for funding in the above mentioned projects list for 2013. However, it is now in the works for this year. It is a device that sees chlorine added to the water treatment process just before it leaves the plant. Previously it was added earlier in the process and the water would sit chlorinated in the plant for a period of time. That caused a spike in THMs that the town wants to reduce.
Last year the Mayor said the town was hoping to hire an economic development officer (an intern). “We did not feel we were ready for it last year. We have now completed a study on setting up an agri-business here.” They may hire an intern this year as they feel they are better prepared to work on attracting jobs here. “It would be really nice to have some type of business here to create jobs,” said Ewald.
She noted that they have maintained contact with mining companies in the area extolling the virtues of Rainy River.
Ewald complimented the library board noting that circulation and usage of the RR Library keeps on growing! Last year she talked about moving the library to the north side of the town garage. “We just didn’t have time or money to complete the renovations there. We are still working towards that goal, especially now that their rent has gone up substantially.”
The mayor also had praise for the Recreation Board and its staff. With a full slate of programs and activities always on the go there, she said the only thing lacking there is board members. “They need some more board members.”
Ewald gave both the inside and outside staffs two thumbs up on their work over the past year. “We are saddened that we are losing Dan Godin, (who is moving away). We will miss him.” They do plan to replace him.
In closing Ewald said, “I think the town is in a better place than a year ago. Each year we move forward a little bit!”