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Do you want to be like this guy:

N.Y. times story on blogger who writes a lot of lies.
N.Y. times story on blogger who writes a lot of lies.

 

Fox Television recruits viewers to help in fight with Dish Network

 

Lakeshore questions zoning for medical marijuana operation

BELLE RIVER — When is a barn too big to be a barn?

That’s what Lakeshore officials will discuss when they meet with owners of CEN Biotech, the proposed medical marijuana grower who wants to start an operation off Manning Road.

After a sternly worded letter was sent to CEN Biotech, company owners agreed to discuss construction plans with municipal officials this week, Steve Salmons, director of community and development services, told town council Tuesday.

At issue is the construction and zoning of a 53,000-square foot pole barn.

It’s the town’s contention that the barn cannot be outfitted with electricity, water, sewer, a vault or even bathrooms under the property’s current agriculture value added zoning. A barn is supposed to be for storage of farming equipment or farming product.

The “value added” designation allows some flexibility for processing of agriculture product, except it’s limited to a 6,000-square foot facility and no more than five employees, Salmons told council Tuesday.

Salmons said he sent the letter to CEN Biotech because the company was putting out press releases and reporting through media stories and in YouTube videos information that contradicted what company officials told the town in meetings before Christmas.

“There seems to be a lot going on that’s inconsistent with a 6,000-square-foot facility,” Salmons said.

The company, which posted a letter on Facebook on Saturday in regard to the zoning dispute, agreed Monday to meet with the town this week.

“Our site is zoned agricultural,” the company said on its Facebook page. “We are growing and picking a plant — yes marijuana is a plant. We are doing nothing different than growing and picking tomatoes.

“We are not making edibles, oils or anything else. We are planting a crop and harvesting it.”

The company post maintained that after discussions with lawyers and the urban planning consultants, “We are agricultural. We are not adding value.”

Coun. Steve Bezaire said he could see the dispute being decided by the Ontario Municipal Board.

Salmons said the company risks receiving stop-work orders if it doesn’t comply with zoning regulations, Salmons said.

“The reason we do that is to protect the integrity of our land use and so that agriculture places don’t become industrial by default,” he said. “Agriculture is a different tax rate and it would be unfair to those paying an industrial rate.”

CEN Biotech has not been licensed by Health Canada to grow medical marijuana. It must build its facility before it can pass inspection by federal regulators and get a licence.

In videos posted on YouTube over the past two months, CEN Biotech CEO Bill Chaaban discussed various aspects of the business with revenue projections of half a billion dollars in three years. He said he expects Health Canada will inspect the site in late April.

“Once you get licensed, we’ll source the seeds,” he said. “We can’t acquire the seeds until we are licenced. I think the first sale will be in seven to eight weeks.”

mwolfson@windsorstar.com or or follow me on Twitter @winstarmonica

 

 

Two rescued, one jumps from Essex apartment blaze (with video)

An apartment suffered extensive fire damage Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at the Maplewood Apartments in the 300 block of Brien Avenue in Essex, Ont. Eight apartments were damaged by fire, smoke or water. Electricity was shut off to two blocks of apartments displacing the residents of 66 units. (MONICA WOLFSON/The Windsor Star)
An apartment suffered extensive fire damage Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at the Maplewood Apartments in the 300 block of Brien Avenue in Essex, Ont. Eight apartments were damaged by fire, smoke or water. Electricity was shut off to two blocks of apartments displacing the residents of 66 units. (MONICA WOLFSON/The Windsor Star)

ESSEX — Two women were rescued by firefighters and one man jumped from a balcony during an early morning fire at a public housing complex that caused $200,000 in damage.

According to residents at Maplewood Apartments, one woman who lived in a corner upper unit next to the apartment on fire was disoriented by smoke and couldn’t find her way out of her one-bedroom apartment. She was rescued by a firefighter as was a disabled woman in her late 70s who lived in a unit to the rear of the burning apartment.

Carol LaBonte said the man who lived in an upper apartment two doors  from the burning unit threw his cat in a bag, tossed it to a firefighter and then jumped from the balcony.

More than 75 residents were roused from their beds in the 66-unit complex when a fire alarm went off at 4 a.m. After evacuating, residents gathered in the parking lot of Essex public school across the street.

“There were flames shooting out of the window,” LaBonte said. “It melted the siding.”

Three people were treated for minor smoke inhalation and one woman twisted her ankle during the mass evacuation of two  buildings, Essex fire department Chief Ed Pillon said. Eight apartments were damaged, two by fire, six by smoke and water. There was smoke damage down an upper hallway on the other side of a fire door making four more apartments off-limits until the space could be cleaned.

An apartment suffered extensive fire damage Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at the Maplewood Apartments in the 300 block of Brien Avenue in Essex, Ont. Eight apartments were damaged by fire, smoke or water. Electricity was shut off to two blocks of apartments displacing the residents of 66 units. (MONICA WOLFSON/The Windsor Star)
An apartment suffered extensive fire damage Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at the Maplewood Apartments in the 300 block of Brien Avenue in Essex, Ont. Eight apartments were damaged by fire, smoke or water. Electricity was shut off to two blocks of apartments displacing the residents of 66 units. (MONICA WOLFSON/The Windsor Star)

The fire is officially classified as “undetermined,” Pillon said. The fire started on the bed in a second-floor apartment but the damage was so extensive officials were unable to determine the cause, he said.

Pillon said he contacted the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal for a consultation but they decided not to investigate.

Mark Harrison said he was woken by the fire alarm in his ground floor unit but when he opened the hall door he didn’t see or smell smoke. He hit the reset button on the smoke detector unit in his apartment and was about to crawl back into bed when the complex-wide fire alarm went off. He avoided the hallway and left through his patio door.

Harrison was allowed to return to retrieve some possessions. He said water came through the bedroom light fixture like a fountain and soaked his bed, clothes and other items.

“All my clothes are ruined,” he said. “They stink of smoke.”

Restoration workers take a break on the balcony of an apartment that suffered extensive fire damage Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at the Maplewood Apartments in the 300 block of Brien Avenue in Essex, Ont. Eight apartments were damaged by fire, smoke or water. Electricity was shut off to two blocks of apartments displacing the residents of 66 units. (MONICA WOLFSON/The Windsor Star)
Restoration workers take a break on the balcony of an apartment that suffered extensive fire damage Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at the Maplewood Apartments in the 300 block of Brien Avenue in Essex, Ont. Eight apartments were damaged by fire, smoke or water. Electricity was shut off to two blocks of apartments displacing the residents of 66 units. (MONICA WOLFSON/The Windsor Star)

Harrison, who did not have contents insurance because he said the premium was too high, has no place to stay. A social worker with the City of Windsor was making arrangements for him through the Red Cross.

Heather Amlin sat on her back patio with her feet resting on her walker. Her lower-level apartment is to the rear of the one that burned.

“It was pretty scary,” she said. After the fire alarm went off some residents went door-to-door to wake sleeping residents. Amlin said she has retrieved some clothes from her water-damaged apartment. She said she’ll stay with her sister in Amherstburg until her apartment is repaired.

In blistering heat — the temperatures hit 30 C  by 11 a.m. Tuesday and the humidex was 41 — about 75 residents were not allowed to return to their apartments for most of the day as workers tried to restore power and rewire the fire alarm system.

“By the end of the day I just want to get everyone back in or let’s get everyone a spot to sleep,” said Jim Steele, chief executive of the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation, which owns Maplewood Apartments in the 300 block of Brien Avenue.

Late Tuesday Steele said he was working with the Red Cross to find accommodations for residents of  12 units. The other residents were able to return to their homes by 3 p.m. when power was restored.

Maghnieh spent thousands more on library credit card than first disclosed

Monica Wolfson and Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star 04.19.2012

WINDSOR, Ont. — Library board chairman Al Maghnieh admitted Friday he charged thousands of dollars more of personal expenses — including purchases of alcohol and iTunes apps — on a corporate credit card than he first disclosed.

Maghnieh, a Windsor city councillor, said Friday after reviewing his chequebook, he probably spent around $5,000 on personal expenses ­— $2,000 more than he said Thursday — on the board-issued credit card he had from December to mid-March.

“I treated the credit card like it was mine and not the library’s,” Maghnieh said. “I have nothing to hide. It was a very big mistake. I didn’t take it seriously enough. I wasn’t 100 per cent familiar with the policies.”

But library vice-chairman Hilary Payne told The Star Friday the board was told Maghnieh had spent even more, charging $6,000 in personal expenses.

Library policy prohibits the use of a corporate credit card for personal use.

Maghnieh said it was convenient to use the library’s credit card because his own personal cards had been cancelled when he lost his wallet. He also mistakenly assumed he would receive the credit card bill at his home, pay it and seek reimbursement from the library for business expenses.

The credit card bill instead went to the library, which automatically paid it. Administrators notified Maghnieh in January that he should come to the office and pay the library back for personal expenses.

Maghnieh said he used the card to pay for expensive dinners with alcohol, taxis and baggage fees, but reimbursed the library for all those charges because he thought they weren’t appropriate even though he accrued them on library business.

“We would go on iTunes and test out some apps and figure out which were the best ones,” Maghniegh said. “I was very involved in that. I would use the library’s credit card because it was programmed in iTunes but at the end of the day I paid for the apps because they were downloaded on my phone.”

Maghniegh also travelled extensively on library business.

“I go to libraries everywhere,” Maghniegh said. “I find interesting libraries across North America. I visit them and learn about what they are doing.”

After reflecting a day on Maghnieh’s actions, Payne said he’s become more upset.

“I know Al is hoping this will go away quickly and I don’t think it will,” Payne said. “It’s an extremely serious matter.”

Payne believes Maghnieh has fully paid back the money, “but it begs the question if you can pay it back, why do it in the first instance? This is borrowing taxpayer money and that’s very serious.”

Maghnieh is new on city council, but has long been involved in politics having served as a top assistant to Ontario’s finance minister and local MPP Dwight Duncan (L — Windsor-Tecumseh).

Coun. Drew Dilkens wants to see all the paperwork on Maghnieh’s credit card use to clear the air.

“Just release the full audit,” he said on Friday. “In terms of transparency and accountability, just release all the documents so there are no further questions. Put everything on the table.”

Payne wants city council to recommend that no credit cards or purchasing cards be issued to boards or committees under the city.

The Star has filed a Freedom of Information request with the library board to see all credit card statements issued since Maghnieh joined the board a year ago. Maghnieh said he has no control over the release of documents.

Maghnieh appears to have contravened a board policy that’s been in effect for at least three years.

Staff have not been allowed to use public funds for personal use since a policy was passed a few years ago clarifying the use of company credit cards, said the board’s former chairman.

Coun. Alan Halberstadt, who was board chair from 2008-2009, said the board specifically passed a policy banning use of library credit cards for personal use since an accounting firm alerted the board to an employee using his company credit card to buy gas on a weekly basis and paying the library back at the end of the month.

“KPMG alerted the board because they didn’t feel it was an appropriate practice,” Halberstadt said. “It was my sense the (credit card use) policy was already there.”

Library Chief Executive Officer Barry Homes did not return phone calls from The Star on Friday.

As chairman of the library board Halberstadt reviewed the chief executive officer’s monthly expense reports.

“It took time to go over those expenses,” Halberstadt said.

Maghnieh said the finance committee reviewed his expense report but never saw the credit card statement.

When Halberstadt was chair, he didn’t have a credit card and had few, if any, expenses.

mwolfson@windsorstar.com or 519-255-5709 or Twitter.com/WinStarMonica

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The Washtenaw Community College course held on Tuesday nights in the winter semester of 2015.

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