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Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - June 28, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba A3 FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2002 Local GOT A NEWS TIP"? You can reach us at 571-7430 or toll-free 1-877-786-5786 E-mail: opittioti(wJbrandonsun.comMan must pay back former employer for illicit credit card use By Shelley Vivian Brandon Sun A former employee of a Brandon towing company has been ordered to repay charges he racked up on a business credit card after he quit his job. Sheldon Peters, 25, was also handed a six-month conditional sentence in Brandon provincial court yesterday for using the card to accumu late more than $3,500 in charges over 11 months following his departure from RWM Towing. Crown prosecutor Jim Ross said a conditional sentence was in order for Peters, who had no record, but argued the length of time over which the card was used warranted a term of four to six months. To ring up more than $3,500, he would have had to fill up his gas tank at least IOO times over the 11 months, he said. “There’s an element of planning and deliberation ...” he said, pointing out it wasn’t a spur of the moment crime. Defence lawyer Bob Harrison agreed with the conditional sentence recommendation. He told Judge Krystyna Tarwid his client was very remorseful and depressed about what he had done. Speaking on his own behalf, Peters told the judge he wished he could turn back time and reverse the damage he had done. He said he was eager to find a job and repay the money he owed. Tarwid ordered Peters confined to his residence when not searching for employment, grocery shopping or seeking medical attention, and imposed other restrictions. Peters was also ordered to complete IOO hours of community service in the first two months of his sentence. In BriefMen get jail time for assault Two men charged after a young man was beaten up during a house party in downtown Brandon last spring were sentenced to jail terms yesterday. Kenneth Myran and Dexter Stoney pleaded guilty to one count each of break and enter and assault. Myran, 21, was sentenced to the equivalent of eight months in jail while Stoney, 19, received a 10-month sentence. Both have been in jail three and a half months. With time served considered double time, Myran will serve one more month and Stoney will serve another three months. A 21-year-old man was assaulted and several items, including a wallet and jewelry, were stolen during the party, according to police. Two youths were also charged in the incident. Police laid charges after responding to a noise complaint at another residence and finding property they believed stolen from the house party.Engineers to vote on agreement Operatmg engineers voted last night on ratification of a tentative collective agreement. If they accepted, it would resolve the issue behind an intermittent strike that’s taken place at the Brandon Regional Health Centre construction site. Engineers have protested PCL Construction’s leasing of a tower crane and non-union operator. “Everything’s fine,” said PCL district manager Kevin Skinner. “I haven’t heard of any issues at all. We’re going on with operations.” Union spokesman Garth Rice declined to provide details.Scientists devise field formula Five years of research have paid off for a group of Brandon-based agriculture scientists. The Brandon Research Centre has developed a system to make life easier for precision farmers by coming up with a way to get the most out of vari-able-rate fertilizer management systems. In the past five growing seasons, the group conducted field studies on hummocky terrain at the Manitoba Zero Tillage Association research farm north of Brandon. They conducted trials of differences in yields of barley oats, canola and wheat that might be affected by landscape position, soil properties, weed populations and plant disease. They used the information to come up with a formula to make precision farming more cost effective. The $150,000 study was supported by the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council’s Canada Agri-Infrastructure Program. Growth at a Premium in HamiotaResearch making hogs pay By Kyla Duncan Brandon Sun David Rourke is hoping a recent investment in a biotech hog operation pays off. The Minto-area farmer and researcher is eight months into the newest addition to his farm — a $400,000 hog operation. Rourke is founder and operator of Agquest Research. With Agquest, Rourke and staff do contracts for about 30 different countries around the world — everything from the effects of a particular pesticide to how a crop does in certain conditions. Farming “is not as viable as it should be,” Rourke says. “If I didn’t have Agquest, Rourke farms wouldn’t look the same way.” He says his passion though is farming. Rourke has farmed in the Minto area since 1987. Rourke grows barley, corn, canola, flax, wheat, native grasses, potatoes and now raises hogs. He says he keeps his farms diverse to keep it profitable. “Obviously I’m gambling in many different directions. I haven’t put all my eggs in any given basket,” Rourke says. “It’s not for everyone. Some may not be able to tolerate the risk, but we were prepared to take those risks.” Rourke took a risk last October when he invested in his current hog operation, which includes 16 bioshelters. He says having the hogs in a bioshelter, as opposed to the traditional barn method, allows the hogs more exercise and improves their muscle tone. Since December, his operation ships out about 250 fully grown pigs a week. He says he’s pleased with results so far. Hogs have consistently maintained an above average index rating selling in the open market since last December. The market’s index ratmg is currently at IOO. Rourke’s hogs have been getting a rating of 108, a rating he hopes to improve to 112. Rourke brings in his hogs every four months weighing 25 kilograms. He looks for a packer himself, selling them at 113 kilograms. “It’s risky not being tied to anybody else ... any downturn could turn out to be not so nice in a hurry,” says Rourke. Rourke says he is making about $15 per hog right now, but is aware the market price may lower. He says he is also considenng using his barley as feed, which may increase the grain’s worth by IO or 15 cents. COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN An employee of Nexen Chemicals leads a group on a tour of the company’s recently expanded facilities. Nexen CEO vows to keep expanding February, Turner says. Emissions have been kept to a “very marginal” increase by improvements in the exhaust system. Sodium chlorate is a product used by the pulp and paper industry that is created from salt, water and electricity. Manitoba Hydro estimates it will now reap $ 11 million annually in additional revenue from Nexen. About one tenth of that, or more than $1 million annually, will be returned to the company as a credit against its electricity bill. In exchange, Nexen agrees to accept short-term interruptions of electricity at Hydro’s discretion, likely during cold weather or low river flows. “For the most part, it’s a real win-win situation,” says Hydro chief executive Bob Brennan. Nexen is Hydro’s biggest customer with such a deal, he says. Premier Gary Doer, who has identified Hydro as a cornerstone of Manitoba’s economic development, also approves of the utility’s deal with Nexen. “We get the revenue from Nexen and are also able to maintain our system when we’re under pressure ... It increases their bottom lme and increases our top line for revenue. It’s a very positive contract.” By Rod Nickel Brandon Sun Multi-national chemical giant Nexen Inc. isn’t through expanding its Brandon plant, says chief executive Charlie Fischer. It’s just a question of when to turn sod again. “This is a good place for us to do business,” he says while attending a ceremony for completion of the latest $50-million expansion. “... Its location is outstanding. It’s in the central part of the country so we can meet the needs of our customers. We see very competitive and very stable rates for Hydro and Hydro is a very important cost in generating sodium chlorate. “... As the market changes, we would continue to look at Brandon as a key place to expand.” Demand for sodium chlorate is currently stable. Fischer says he wants to see the market grow and the economy improve before deciding on further expansion. Brandon’s plant is one of seven Nexen owns in North America and is the largest sodium chlorate facility. The 34-year-old plant has already expanded half a dozen times, increasing production 15-fold. It now supplies more than COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Tom Sugalski, president of Nexen Chemicals, listens to speeches during yesterday’s open house celebrating the Brandon plant's recently completed expansion. half of Nexen’s sodium chlorate sales in North America. The latest expansion increased production 70 per cent and created IO jobs. The positions pay well, with eight operators earning between $18 and $25 an hour. The other two positions are engineers. Plant manager Bill Turner wouldn’t disclose their wages. The total Nexen workforce in Brandon is 54 people. “We are absolutely pleased to have a company like Nexen here,” Mayor Reg Atkinson says. “It’s good jobs. They’re such a safe company with a great record.” Air emissions of chlorate dust and hydrogen have remained within required levels since the expanded plant opened in By Kyia Duncan Brandon Sun HAMIOTA — Growth caused by a pork production company has created some hurdles for this small Westman town. “Renewable housing is definitely the biggest issue we’re dealing with now. One of our goals was to attract younger people, but we didn’t anticipate this problem,” says Ed Brethour, economic development officer to the town, an hour’s drive northwest of Brandon. Premium Pork currently has 25,000 sows in its Hamiota operation. The company employs more than 50 people at the barns and creates multiple spin-off employment for local contractors. Hamiota, with a population of about 860, is one of the few rural communities that can boast a steady but slow rise in population over the last two decades. Since the introduction of Premium Pork, a sow multiplying company based out of Ontario, the community has been attracting young workers and their brood. "We’ve been different than other rural communities ... for the last 20 years, we’ve seen a growth of about two per cent,” says Brethour. “The growth has just shifted now, we’re still attracting seniors — but now Duncan Murray polishes one of Premium Pork’s trucks in Hamiota yesterday. The company is responsible for an influx of young families in the community. we’re attracting younger people.” Brethour says the small growth was previously due to retiring Manitobans. “There’s a large number of young families moving into the community,” says Brethour. “We were a retirement community and used to attract a lot of seniors — but now it’s younger families.” The company started in 1996 and moved to Hamiota in 2000, when the town won a bidding war against a neighbouring community. “It’s the largest influx of people to ever come to Hamiota at one time,” says Brethour. Hamiota has seen an increase in its younger generation since Premium Pork moved to town. Brethour says the town is incredibly pleased to attract young families — a challenge for most rural communities. But Hamiota doesn’t have the housing. Families are moving to neighbouring communities and driving into the town. “We are getting anywhere between four and IO calls a week about rental space — we just don’t have it,” says Brethour. Hamiota’s limited day-care spaces are full, leaving parents to find another way of caring for children. “We just don’t have the facilities to support this type of growth, but we’re working on it,” says Brethour. He says town officials are now waiting to hear back from the Manitoba government for assistance in constructing affordable housing in the community and adding day-care spaces. Premium Pork operates in four other Manitoba towns including Russell and Vista. It recently opened another facility in Oakridge.Crews put water in dikes, ditehes A Boissevam manure business is helping dried out farmers. Sid Patterson, owner of Redhand Inc., says his crews have been busy filling dried out dikes and ditches with water. “It’s not a huge money maker, but it helps keeps the guys busy when there’s not much to do. It’s good public relations and it does add some extra income,” says Patterson. Patterson says crews are using manure trucks to fill out dried out ditches near Boissevian and Souns. The trucks go through an intense cleaning each tune they are emptied, eliminating any risk of contamination. Redhand has pumped about 20 dugouts rn the last month. —Brandon Sun KYLA DUNCAN/BRANDON SUN ;