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Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - July 3, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba A3 WEDNESDAY, JULY 3, 2002 Local GOT A NEWS TIP? You can reach us at 571-7430 or toll-free 1-877-786-5786 E-mail: opinions brandonsun.comCasino rules trouble band By Rod Nickel Brandon Sun The Doer government’s requirement that aboriginal casinos operate on reserves fuels misconceptions and is delaying Sioux Valley’s plan to build in Brandon, says band councillor Ken McKay. “Abolish it,” he says of the requirement. “I wish it wasn’t part of this whole agreement. “A lot of people have to understand what the urban reserve entails. I know people outside the community think aboriginal people don’t have to pay taxes.” To permit a Brandon reserve, the city and band would first have to negotiate an agreement whereby the First Nation pays the city for services through grants instead of taxes. Converting land into a reserve takes about two years. Steve Ashton, minister responsible for the gambling industry, didn’t make himself available for comment on the issue yesterday. His spokeswoman says he will only consider a request for lifting the requirement directly from the band. Sioux Valley must otherwise follow the same rules as other First Nations. Premier Gary Doer is non-committal when asked if the reserve requirement should stand. Like Ashton’s spokeswoman, he doesn’t rule it out. “Let me look at that,” he says, adding he needs to study the issue more closely. “If we were to do that, I’d have to talk to a couple other cabinet ministers. So I don’t want to skeet-shoot something that important.” Sioux Valley councillor Francis Elk says he isn’t sure how lifting the reserve requirement would affect other First Nation casino bids. Headingley and Thompson residents blocked plans for new reserves through plebiscites. “We’re just fulfilling what the province has laid down as guidelines. Our main goal is to have it built as soon as possible.” Although a vocal opponent of urban reserves, Mayor Reg Atkinson says lifting that requirement wouldn’t soften his opposition to a casino. He’s also against gambling in general. “I don’t want it anywhere. A casino is not palatable to me no matter where it is.” Atkinson thinks a binding casino ref erendum this fall is likely. Several councillors have stated support for a referendum but council has never voted on holding one. Atkinson has tried to force a vote on a referendum last month, but council voted instead to withdraw the motion. As mayor, Atkinson doesn’t have the power to move or second a motion, but he expects other councillors to push for a referendum. That would put on hold any decision about whether to agree to an urban reserve. “Who’s to say we’ll have to worry about it?” Atkinson asks. Board will set Centre’s future course By Rod Nickel Cold spring leaves u-pick customers berry impatient By Kyia Duncan Brandon Sun Anxious strawberry pickers have to hold on to their buckets for another week. George Neudorf, owner and operator of Grand Valley Strawberries just east of Brandon, says he has been fielding calls from berry pickers in the last couple of weeks. “It’s a little like a train that runs past here, you don’t know how many cars go by,” says Neudorf. “We just get used to the phone ringing ... it just keeps ringing. There’s lots of calls.” The berries, like most other crops in southwestern Manitoba are late bloomers this year because of a cold spring. “The delay is directly related to the cold spring,” Neudorf says. He says his crop, 23 acres of strawberries, will be ready on July IO, about IO days later than usual. He doesn’t think the delay is going to be a “big factor at all.” He has been growing strawbernes here for more than 20 years and has started them on July 10th before. Despite calls from earnest berry lovers, Neudorf says most pickers are expecting the delay. “I think the word is getting around and people are expecting (the season) to be later because everything else is later ... spring has set everything back," Neudorf says. “I think people are just going to be a little more anxious to get them. “There might be more of a rush, but a week isn’t a big deal.” Neudorf says the cold spring did not have an effect on the quality of his crop, but it may have on the size of it. “I expect it to be a little smaller,” says Neudorf. “There are so many different factors that work in ... I hope it’s not going to be smaller, but I’m always a little pessimistic just before the season starts.” Neudorf says he won’t know how much or if he will lose any crop at all until the strawberries are ready for picking later next week. “When it comes it usually turns out reasonably good,” says Neudorf. When they’re ready, u-pick strawberries will sell for $7 a pail and ready-picked will go for SIO a pail. Grand Valley Strawberries is the only Brandon area producer, but a number of other u-pick strawberry farms can be found near Souris and Portage la Prairie. Brandon already exceeds provincial guidelines City set for new water standards COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Rob Wowk, a junior engineer at the city’s waste water treatment plant, walks past the facilities used to treat effluent from the Maple Leaf pork processing plant (seen in the background). Brandon Sun Keystone Centre directors and management begin assembling a long-term vision today. The seven-hour planning session may be the first of several before the Keystone agrees on both a vision and a three-year financial plan, says president Don Green. “When you want to go on a vacation, you first decide where to go, then what to pack.” Today’s talks will likely determine the general direction of proposed Keystone revenue initiatives such as parking fees, further private development, a charitable foundation and selling naming rights, Green says. Directors will consider feedback from a public forum last month, input from the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, city, province and Provincial Exhibition as well as three-year-old KPMG recommendations. Finances will play a big role in discussions, including how long a commitment the centre wants from governments, Green says. Mayor Reg Atkinson says he’s pleased the centre is finally drafting a long-term financial plan. “I think the Keystone is going to come together pretty nicely.” He isn’t saying if he’s open to increasing the city’s annual grant to the centre. This year, the city granted $250,000 to the centre. It’s also committed any property tax revenue from Canad Inns, if the Keystone closes a deal with the hotelier. “I’m not going to go further than the province,” Atkinson says. The NDP government has already paid the Keystone $ MJI),UUU this year and promised to contribute to capital upgrades. The Keystone also needs to decide how to upgrade the facility to capitalize on future events, Green says. If it decides to focus on booking trade shows and conventions, it will need to improve air quality and the appearance of rooms. If it concentrates on agriculture, it may need to upgrade technology to match fhture changes in the idustry. Green says planning will take place behind closed doors, similar to how other organizations plot strategy. The board hasn’t decided when it will open board meetings, he says. The Keystone and Canad Inns are sticking to a media black-out on lease negotiations, with a loose, self-imposed deadline five weeks away. Green and Canad boss Leo Ledohowski say they won’t comment while talks continue. City councillor and Keystone director Doug Paterson says the two sides have met more than once. “Talks are happening,” he says but he’s not aware of another scheduled meeting. He declines comment on the substance of talks. By Curtis Brown Brandon Sun Brandon’s chief water supervisor is confident the provincial government won’t have to tell the city to make huge changes to the way it manages its water supply. “We have a lot of optimism because we’ve done a lot of work,” says George Jago, supervisor of operations for water and waste water management. “We’ve been trying to upgrade since the late 1980s, and I’m sure that we’re below the new parameters set by the province.” The provincial NDP government has introduced the Drinking Water Safety Act in the legislature. After the much-publicized water contamination problems in Walkerton, Ont., and North Battleford, Sask., provincial health minister Dave Chomiak says the government wants to put in place several measures to keep Manitoba water at a healthy standard. “We want to be both precautions and prudent, based on what’s happened in other jurisdictions,” Chomiak says. In Brandon, Jagj) says his department has worked hard to exceed the provincial standard. One way, he says, is by keeping turbidity levels in the city water supply extremely low. The government legislation calls for a turbidity level standard of 0.3, while Jago says Brandon’s water has a reading of 0.1. If the turbidity level is much higher than 0.3, it can lead to problems. “You don’t get good disinfection in chlonnated water if the turbidity is too high. “Then there’s the potential for contamination.” The legislation calls for regular tests for all public and semipublic water supplies. Those test results must be sent to the new (jrovincial office of drinking water. As well, the government will hire 12 water inspectors, bringing the total to 17. These will be running unscheduled and frequent tests on water supplies. The government will also give subsidies for people who want to test private wells. It will also set up “whistle blower protection” for people who report any wrongdoing in the testing process. “This means no job action can be taken against someone who believes there’s been any wrongdoing,” Chomiak says. “People should feel confident that they can come forward.” The process will cost approximately $2 million. It comes from $30 million earmarked for infrastructure improvements. The government hopes to have all drinking water in the province up to standard by fall 2004. “Once it’s proclaimed, we need to staff positions, and regulations will need to be developed,” Conservation Minister Oscar Lathlin says. “We think we’ll need two years from the time this legislation is proclaimed to do that.” MIW i    '    s--y- COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN George Neudorf walks among the rows of strawberry plants at his berry farm on the low road to Shilo. Neudorf has been running the u-pick farm since 1981.In BriefMan recovers after being shot A 31-year-old Sandy Bay First Nation man is in Winnipeg hospital in fair condition after he was shot on the reserve Sunday. James Allan Roulette, 18, and Grant Kirby, 18, and a male youth have been remanded in custody and will appear in Amaranth provincial court July 5. All three have been charged with three counts of attempted murder. Roulette faces additional charges of careless use of a firearm, two counts of breach of recognizance and one count of breach of probation. A warrant has been issued for a fourth suspect. Police say Francis Roulette got into an argument with the suspects while at the beach near the reserve. Later that day suspects pulled up to Roulette’s Sandy Bay home and opened fire three times. A man and a woman visiting Roulette were also injured. They were treated and released from Portage General Hospital.Cash taken from Virden hotel A Vancouver man and a Calgary man are in police custody following a snatch and run robbery at a Virden hotel Saturday afternoon. Patrick O’Neil, 24, of Vancouver, and Michael Spruit, 18, of Calgary, have been charged with theft. Virden RCMP arrested the suspects on a Greyhound bus after approximately $500 was stolen from a restaurant cash register at the Central Hotel. —JBrandon Sun Man must spend time with elder after jail By Dean PRITCHARD Brandon Sun' A Sioux Valley man convicted of slashing another man’s face with a paring knife has been sentenced to 16 months in jail. Allison Elk, 20, was convicted of assault after a trial last May. Court heard Elk slashed the man’s face several times after a dispute over a case of beer March 15. A pre-sentence report prepared for court said Elk showed little remorse over the incident, said Crown attorney Jim Ross. “Mr. Elk needs a lengthy time away from the rest of us to do some thinking,” Ross said. Defence lawyer Merv Hart described Elk as a proud man who doesn’t back down, adding he could benefit from regular contact with a community elder. “He has to learn how to back down with dignity,” Hart said. Judge David Coppleman agreed. “The report says you have no peaceful, positive role models,” Coppleman said. “I think this is one of the things that is preventing you from keeping out of trouble.” Coppleman sentenced Elk to an additional two years supervised probation and ordered him to meet once a month with a recognized elder. ;