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The Independent December 12, 2013 : Page 1

Vol. 1, Issue 15 Petrolians offer help after family forced out by fire Heather Wright The Independent Donations are pouring in for a young Petrolia family after their Eureka Street home was extensively damaged by fire. Just before the town’s Christmas parade was to begin, fire trucks raced from the marshalling area to 296 Eureka Street. Fire Chief Lawrence Swift says the Blevins family was downtown doing errands and had stopped to watch the Santa Claus parade unaware that thick black smoke was coming from the home. Swift says when the department arrived there were “some flames coming out of the back door…there was heavy smoke throughout the house indicating the fire was well entrenched in the house. “It’s believed the fire started in the basement area in an extension cord for a hanging light,” he says. A mattress under the light then caught fire. Word of the fire which left the family homeless spread quickly with town hall being flooded with calls to help. Brian Blevins and his wife Andrea bought the home in 2010 and he says it has been “a nightmare” ever since. The couple first found there was extensive mould in the basement and significant problems with the building. For two years the Blevins and their four young children, Elyse, 7, Jonah, 5, Grace, 3, and eventually Bethany, 1, lived in a two-bedroom apartment while they worked to get the home to a living standard. “The inside was all redone, new electrical, new plumbing, we reframed everything…we put a lot of time and a lot of money into it.” Blevins says they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of their church family at Temple Baptist in Sarnia. The couple had only moved into the house in the spring as they continued to put their time into making it a home with a large backyard for their family. “There is a lot of land there…that’s what we bought it for.” The day before the fire which caused about $80,000 damage and claimed the life of 7 year-old Elyse’s pet hamster, the family had another narrow escape. As their pastor was leaving he noticed a gas smell and could feel gas coming from the meter. Union Gas was called in but only after the family left for their safety. Then Saturday, as Blevins and the family stood at the corner of Eureka and Petrolia Line watching the parade, his phone would not stop ringing. It was the OPP trying to reach him to say his house was on fire. SEE NIGHTMARE PG 2 Free of Charge ~ Read and Enjoy! Thursday, December 12, 2013 Looking for green from golden cornstalks Heather Wright The Independent “is this a good enough idea to chase?” They decided it was and the University of Guelph came on board to Seed farmers may soon have a way to figure out how it could work. gain extra revenue from their crop. Over the past 50 years the amount Don McCabe, an Inwood farmer who of corn grown per acre has increased is the vice president of the Ontario dramatically, from about 100 bushels Federation of Agriculture, says a new per acre on a good year to a fairly study by the University of Guelph consistent 250 bushels on some farms shows cornstalks could be the next in Kent and Lambton Counties. That feedstock for biochemical companies. means a lot more cornstalks. But he says farmers will have to band McCabe says those stocks are needed together to create the market. to replenish the nutrients in the ground McCabe says the idea of using the but because there are so many more cornstalks to create the sugar needed now than ten years ago, farmers are in many biochemical processes isn’t struggling to remove some from the unique. DuPont-Pioneer is planning a soil. “What we’re counting on here and plant using cornstalks in Iowa. But he what the research has shown, we’re not says he and officials from Agris Coop going to hurt our soil by removing the and Lanxess met together in Brigden materials,” says McCabe. over a year ago and asked the question And he says it makes sense to make Heather Wright Photo SANTA BABY Abby Kelders, 2, and her five-month-old sister Josie spend a little time talking to Santa at the Oil Heritage District Community Centre Saturday. Santa was a busy guy after the Petrolia parade, greeting children who lined up for more than a hour to say hello and have a picture taken with the Big Guy. use of it. “From a farm gate side, it doesn’t mater what we’re talking about…we don’t have waste, we only have underutilized opportunity… we need to marry technology to get it to the next stages of Don McCabe use.” McCabe says industry is interested in using the sugar produced from the stalks and he says there are several companies, including one from Denmark, ready to build plants which might be attracted to the area. SEE FARMERS PG 2 Feature of the week... 2012 Chev Sonic 5 Door LT 12,731 kms 4219 Oil Heritage Road, Petrolia 2 $ 519-882-1090 • 1-855-864-4962 14,900 -Clean Car Proof -Certified Pre-owned -30 day or 5,000 km Warranty -150 Multi-point Inspection -30 Day Exchange Program

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