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House of Cards Season 3 Premiere Review

House of Cards Season 3 is now officially on Netflix, all 13 episodes of the new season. This is an Emmy-winning series and many have been waiting to see the new season for a long time. If you already watch House of Cards, I should tell you what follows may spoil the first episode of Season Three.
The premiere is just as good as we’ve come to expect from the award-winning political drama. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is finally the president of the United States but with a cost; while he’s at the highest possible position he’s doing possibly the worst he could do at it. And it’s interesting to see that because of the first two seasons being him rising to power, now it’s all coming crashing down. Even the opening scene proves why Kevin Spacey is great for this role, and reminds us of Frank’s character.
After nearly being murdered, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is healing and the majority of the episode is focused on his struggle to get better. It’s truly a powerful performance by Michael Kelly and it sets up a big character arc for him this season. Doug’s subplot actually runs a lot deeper connecting most characters in interesting ways.
After spending much more than her deserved time in Frank’s shadow, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) is now trying to get a political position to begin her resume when she wants to run for office. It’s setting up some interesting things and while last season, Claire’s story was not something I cared much about, this season it seems like she’s coming into the spotlight.
This season is starting off great, powerful acting, amazing cinematography. The Season 3 premiere is exactly what we want from a House of Cards episode. The whole season is on Netflix so go watch and I hope you enjoy.

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YMCA Strong Kids Winter Classic set for March 7

Last year’s runaway hit fund raising event, the Strong Kids Winter Classic, is back, bigger, and shinier.
While at its core it remains a friendly game of hockey between the Lady Rockettes and the YMCA member all-stars the Cycle Fitters, this year’s Winter Classic will also feature a snow sculpting contest, an hour-long free swim and a social with a silent auction and music by Greg MacDonald and Jona Currie.
Sculpting, hockey and swimming will take place at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Saturday, March 7 at 11:30 a.m., 12:30, and 2 p.m. respectively while the evening social will occur at Summer Street Industries at 4:30 p.m. Tickets for the social can be purchased at the YMCA front desk.
David Nowlan, a member of the YMCA’s spin class program, helped found the event.
“It is an event to bring together families, youth and members of the YMCA, as well as the greater community,” Nowlan said. “It is also a time for us to show our support and raise funds for the Strong Kids Campaign.”
Last year’s event raised more than $7,000.
“Most people in our spin class are really strong supporters of the Y,” said fellow YMCA member John Tetreault, “and I think Strong Kids is something that nobody really supports. I think David thought if we could throw something together that we could support Strong Kids because it’s a major, major fund raising initiative by the Y.”
Having the event centre around hockey, Tetreault said, seemed like a good fit for the community.
“Pictou County’s a big hockey community,” Tetreault said, “and I think Dave was thinking that’s something that can bring together two groups of people that would never, ever play each other and it seems like something the public would get behind.”
Tetreault said he was “ecstatic” with the amount of support given last year.
Heidi Sinclair, membership services and communications manager with the YMCA, was equally thrilled with the love behind the Winter Classic.
“It is energizing to have a large group of members volunteering to dedicate time and energy to supporting the Strong Kids Campaign,” Sinclair said. “It is truly a member-led event and is a testament to the YMCA community and the work of the YMCA.”
Money raised through the Strong Kids Winter Classic will support the YMCA Strong Kids program which is focused on fundraising initiatives to support programs for children, youth, and families such as day camps, after school programs, swimming lessons, the youth leadership program and homework helpers.

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Martin leads entering pool playoff

NEW GLASGOW – By his own admission, Bill Martin is having an impressive run around the pool table.
Martin has 400 points after five satellite tournaments heading to the next regional playoff for Cue Sports Nova Scotia players in Northern Nova Scotia that will be played on Saturday at Century Snooker Club in New Glasgow.
‘I am actually having quite a year, possibly my best ever,” Martin said on Friday.
Not only has he led the 9-ball, but he’s also won all three of the snooker ranking tours this year which ended on Saturday.
Coming up in snooker will be the AAA Provincial tourney at Shotz on March 28. Century will be paying the entry fees for at least four players and their accommodations.
“We may send six or eight players to that,” Martin said. “The players have decided they would rather have eight guys from Century go to Dartmouth, to Shotz in Burnside, than go to the Open Professional Nationals in Toronto and I agree. We would have a much better time and could actually win that.”
Martin also won the Fallen Member Memorial Tour over the past month ended the first half of the Pictou County Monday Night Pool League season leading in most wins, most points and most clearances.
Snooker Canada has also asked Martin to play in the Richeleur Cup again, which he did last year in Montreal. The event is in May in Toronto.
The top two ranked players – Martin and Chris Kemp – have won a free entry into the A division provincial 9-ball championships on May 2 at Shotz. The top three ranked players have won a fully paid for trip to play in the National Amateur 9-ball championship in Saint John N.B. in late June.
“Century Club will also be paying for a fourth spot for the winner of the Regional 9-ball playoff (on Saturday), so we have at least four representatives from Northern Nova Scotia at the Nationals,” Martin said.”
In the event of a previously qualified player winning the playoff, the fourth spot will come from the ranking list, which would be Nick Kaiser.
Only players who reside in Northern N.S. can play in the regional playoff.
The fifth and final ranking tour played on Feb. 7 was won by Chris Kemp over Herb Watters. Martin was third and Peter Borden was fourth.
After Martin’s 400 points and 320 for Kemp, the top eight ranked players include Borden with 300 points, Kaiser with 290, Jeff Gillin and Watters with 260 each, Archie Best with 250 and William Holmes with 240.
Greg Quinn has 200 points, while John Rushton has 170 to wind up the top 10.
Chris Simmons follows with 160 points, Neil Van Rossum and Kelly MacIntyre have 150 each, Kris Dunbar and Mike Cullymore have 140 each, Nick Turner and Lorne Medley 130 each, Bruce Lilly 110 and Chris Goodie and John Baker 100 each.
Shawn Fequet and Jody Turner have 90 points each, followed by Danielle White with 70, Bill Matheson and Ted Roy with 60, Jeff MacLaren, Toby MacLean and Colin Maloney with 50 each and Percy Gouchie with 30.

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McLellan Cup tradition gets new life

WESTVILLE – Reviving interest in curling for the McLellan Cup has become a goal for Jason LeBlanc.
The famed trophy will be contested twice this month by the Westville Curling Club on March 11 and the New Caledonian Curling Club on March 25 in Pictou.
The pewter cup, introduced in 1887, is considered the longest continuously contested sports trophy in North America.
“Our role is to maintain its tradition and expand on it,” said LeBlanc who is currently trustee and treasurer for the McLellan Cup.
LeBlanc is performing several tasks to help and support the Westville event.
A picture of members of the club who played for the trophy in 1940 has adorned a trophy shelf for years at the club located on Foley Street in Westville.
LeBlanc hopes records will confirm who may have been executive and club members when the photo was taken. Records accompany the encased trophy, which features a deep cup supported on four corners by brooms.
“It’s a real period piece,” he said. “There may be linkages to the club’s executive members over the years. We’ll try to match the names when the records arrive on March 11.
New Caledonian is returning after a long absence from the annual challenge, while Westville has been one of the mainstays on the circuit.
“I’m very pleased Pictou is competing,” LeBlanc said. “To have another local club in the mix is very important.”
Westville curlers could accept Pictou’s challenge at the New Caledonian club if Westville can secure the trophy on March 11 and keep it when they visit Moncton on March 18.
Curling matches last 14 ends and the holder of the trophy keeps it by tying or winning the total aggregate of the matches played. They number two to four matches, depending on the number of curlers and the venue, and are played on Wednesdays.
Matches start at 1 p.m. and the curlers are served a meal after the curling.
Previously, the winning team hosted matches. It was later decided to have the winning team visit the next challenger when it became expensive to keep hosting events and providing hospitality for the challenging curlers.
The challenge was originally among teams in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and later included challengers from Prince Edward Island.

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Curl for Cancer event rebounds

PICTOU – Curl for Cancer is back in a big way at New Caledonian Curling Club.
Thirty teams combined to raise nearly $24,000 on Friday during the 2015 edition of the annual bonspiel to raise funds for cancer research. That’s an increase from 24 teams last year which combined their efforts to raise almost $22,000 for cancer research.
Individually, the fundraising was led by Sheri Reid with $1,498.90, while perennial individual winner George Cameron was second with $1,224.
Members of the Fulmore’s Pharmachoice foursome, that won the Advocate Trophy presented to the team with the highest total of proceeds, occupied the next four spots. Amy Baird raised $1,220, while David Rowan followed with $1,055, Lindy Quann raised $899 and Kevin Forbes raised $870.
Next were Stan Jones with $799, Eddie MacEachern with $610, Valerie Langille with $540, Laura Rowan with $483 and Linda MacLean with $480.
The actual total announced following the five four-end draws of curling was $23,577.05, but the overall total as of Monday was $23,962.05 after online pledges were added to the announced figure on Friday.
Combined with the more than $13,000 raised on Feb. 13 at the Curl for Cancer in Westville, the 70 teams at the two clubs raised close to $37,000.
“I don’t mind not finishing first,” Cameron said. “With everything else going on, we still managed to achieve big numbers. I think it’s a testament to the community.”
Photos were taken of each team to join those taken from past Curl for Cancer events that adorned the walls above the club lounge on Friday.
The event featured an evening of entertainment and a variety of zany costumes worn by the curlers.

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A top marksman and a pro boxer

There’s one thing that becomes a certainty as we grow older: more and more family members, friends and acquaintances pass away, and others get struck down suddenly by one form of illness or another. Sadly, it’s all a part of this thing called life that we can’t avoid. It happens to us all.
In the past 10 days alone, a friend in New Glasgow lost a cousin who was close to her, another friend in Halifax lost an uncle and aunt within days of each other, a long-time colleague learned that his son, not yet 40 years old, has an inoperable brain tumour, and a neighbour landed in hospital with little chance of ever getting out.
Those things all happened during a time when I also learned of the deaths of two Pictou County natives who were prominent in the local sports community a long, long time ago, two fellows I respected a great deal but haven’t seen for many years.
George Harper, one of my classmates at New Glasgow High School in the mid-1950s who was very prominent in sports and army cadets, died in the Ottawa area after a four-year battle following a stroke.
He was 77 years old.
Doug (Slug) Turnbull, a Stellartonian who boxed professionally for a few years in the same decade, passed away at his home in Greenwood. He was 79 years of age.
Harper was an all-round athlete in our high school days. He played rugby for the green and white for four years, and captained the team for his final two years. Twice the team won the Nova Scotia Headmasters A championship. He was also a track star, a member of the tumbling team, and had an interest in just about every sport at the school.
Most of all, though, he had a love for the army cadet corps, especially shooting on the rifle range. He moved up the ranks to become cadet major, the highest position among some 100 cadets. During his lead role, NGHS won the Strathcona Trust award as the top cadet corps in the province.
I hadn’t seen Harper since our graduation class held its 40-year reunion in 1996, but I followed his long career in the air force from afar. During other achievements, he represented Canada at a Commonwealth target shooting competition at Bisley, England, on eight occasions, including once while he was still in school.
He loved being on the shooting range in high school and that love never faltered. As a result, he became a top marksman. He served as adjutant for the Canadian team in 1992 and as adjutant for the Canadian worlds long-range rifle team 10 years later. From his first experience at Bisley to his last, it covered a 50-year period.
He was so outstanding nationally and internationally that he was inducted into the Canadian Forces Sports Hall of Fame, the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, and the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame.
Our NGHS graduation class has been kept informed online for quite a few years, thanks to a classmate, Judy (Stewart) MacKay. It was on the site, since 2010, that we were updated on George’s condition since his stroke. There were low points, there were times when it seemed he was winning the struggle. Like so many, however, he lost the fight in the end. His beloved wife, Azul, told us that “now his suffering is done and hopefully he is in a better place.”
While I was aware of Harper’s illness in recent years, I had lost track of Slug Turnbull in the many years since I left Pictou County. When I read his obituary last week, I had a lot of good boxing memories return, memories of an era when fight cards were commonplace in Pictou County.
I had been attending boxing cards with my father from about 1947 when Stellarton Memorial Rink opened. There were lots of ambitious fighters back then, including the three Paris boxers, Keith, Percy and Sparky. There was Gary Simon and, out of Westville, came the very talented Jackie Hayden. There was a lot of exciting action, thanks to such keen competitors.
It was at that time – in 1954 to be exact – that I saw Slug Turnbull in action for the first time. His career may not have taken off as he might have hoped, but one of the reasons was that he never shied away from a fight, no matter how good an opponent.
For instance, in just his third appearance in the ring, he took on a 16-year-old Cape Bretoner, a kid named Blair Richardson. As any boxing fan would know, Richardson quickly became one of the finest fighters developed in N ova Scotia, of which there were a great many. Turnbull didn’t win that night – and for years afterwards I often wondered if he expected to triumph himself. Richardson won by a fourth round knockout and went on to a tremendous 52-fight career that included 45 victories, 36 of them by knockouts.
From Turnbull’s initial bout – a victory against Len McLean in Stellarton – to his final appearance against Len Sparks in Halifax, Slug Turnbull always gave 100 per cent, even though he never won a championship.
As I said, I lost track of him years ago, but I wasn’t surprised to learn from his obituary that he remained busy in the sports community of East Pictou, including coaching in minor hockey. It was appropriate, after years in several kinds of jobs, that he ended up working at the rink in nearby Thorburn. It wasn’t surprising, either, that he was awarded a pew in the Pictou County hall of fame.
So the list of departed among Pictou County sports people has grown by two more. The sad thing is that, so often in times like this, we don’t get a chance to say goodbye.

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Role of health care worker much enjoyed by Lynds

Editor’s note: This is the next article in a monthly feature titled Hometown Heroes. On the first Wednesday of each month, we will highlight the achievements of someone who has Pictou County roots. Suggestions for future columns may be directed to Jackie Jardine, editor, 902-485-8014.

Dalmar Lynds has worked his way west to find his way into health care.
Lynds and his family – wife, Sarah and two sons, Lucas, age 4, and Jacob, about to turn 1 – live in Radisson, about halfway between Saskatoon and North Battleford, Sask.
His wife is a hospital pharmacist at Battleford Union Hospital, and he is a nurse practitioner in the emergency room of the hospital. He is also an associate professor in graduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
He has achieved the first certification in Canada for a nurse practitioner as an independent practitioner in the Emergency Department Echo (EDE).
He was born in Charlottetown, where his father Jim Lynds was attending the Atlantic Police Academy.
The family lived in New Glasgow and later in Pleasant Valley, which meant Dal graduated from West Pictou Consolidated School.
He played a variety of sports offered at West Pictou and later earned a physical education degree from Acadia University, specializing in athletic therapy.
He worked as a bouncer at both the Highlander and Wranglers beverage rooms and worked on fishing boats in P.E.I. during the summer.
With few jobs in that field, he migrated west and earned a masters degree and became an acute care nurse practitioner.
“I try to get home once in a year or two,” he said.
“It’s hard to keep in touch with everybody.”
Lynds feels the tug of Pictou County every time he visits.
“When you get off the plane in Halifax, you can smell the salt water,” he said. “It’s a pretty strong thing.”
Lynds recalls working with harness race horses his dad had at the track in Parkdale, as well as bowling at Heather Lanes and going to Melmerby Beach.
Lynds has also been able to rekindle a friendship from his youth with Jason MacDonald, the mixed martial arts phenom who was inducted into the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame in 2014.
Lynds hadn’t seen MacDonald since the latter attended East Pictou Rural High School, until they met three years ago.
“We started talking as if we were in Grade 8 again,” Lynds said. “No matter how high up people get, you find the people are the same.”

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White Tail turning blue on Friday night

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones will be the latest band to serve up hot blues in the name of the Pictou County Blues Society.
Hailing from Rhode Island and currently celebrating their 35th anniversary, the Bluetones are a group with one foot firmly lodged in traditional, electric blues and another tapping time in the present day.
“We’re a harmonica-based, Chicago blues style band. But we’re not a cover band; we play mostly our own material in the style of 1950s-style Chicago blues with our own storytelling and lyrics,” explained vocalist and harmonica man Sugar Ray Norcia.
“It’s fun; some people think blues is going to be a bummer but it’s the opposite. People do listen to the lyrics so they can relate and it’s also really danceable.”
The band’s well oiled sound has earned them their fair share of praise, if the seven Blues Award nominations for their latest release, Living Tear to Tear, is anything to go by.
“I really do like the Chicago Blues, Jimmy Rogers, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy,” Norcia said. “I’m drawn to the realness, the storytelling behind the lyrics. It’s from the heart, that’s the best way I can put it. Emotions through music.”
Norcia described the link between he and his band mates as being “almost telepathic”.
“We’re just a real family, y’know? We’ve known each other since we were young and we’re fast friends. You have to be to spend that much time together. We just communicate so well together, musically. You hate to lose a good thing,” Norcia said. “I think the group we have together today is the best, the hottest combination we’ve ever had.”
The band has had a few minor tweaks to its lineup in its 35-year history and has had a short list of guitarists pass through; however, the band struck gold when they were joined by “Monster” Mike Welch about 14 years ago. Welch made a name for himself at an early age, going pro at 13 and playing venues such as the House of Blues. It was there he earned his nickname when Saturday Night Live alum, former Ghostbuster and noted Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd, described the young hotshot as “a monster!”
Outside of New England, Rhode Island may not have a ready reputation as one of the blues capitals but Sugar Ray will tell you otherwise.
“Actually Rhode Island is kind of a blues mecca. I grew up down the street from many members of Roomful of Blues, so many stars from that band… and the Newport Jazz Festival, Muddy Waters used to play there, Howlin’ Wolf.”
Thirty-five years in the blues business has given Norcia some memories most can only dream of filled with chance encounters, jams and gigs with a who’s who of who you ought to know.
“I didn’t really sit in with him but I got to share stages a few times with the great BB King,” Norcia said. “We shared a dressing room, and the humility of the man, such a gentlemen. He never looked down upon a young, white musician playing the blues. He was the opposite, encouraged us to keep playing the way we do, from the heart. I think BB is one of the great influences.”
While encouragement from one icon would be enough for most, Sugar Ray received praise from another.
“We did shows together and one time in a place in Providence, Rhode Island I finally got the opportunity to play harp behind Muddy Waters,” Norcia remembers. “In the dressing room later he said, ‘Now that’s the way the harmonic is supposed to be played’. That was a great compliment.”
If you want to see what the legends saw, you’ll get your chance on Friday, March 6 at the Whitetail Pub and Grill in Westville at 9 p.m.

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Sarcasm at its best

Comedian Derek Edwards will be bringing his unique, quirky sense of sarcasm to the deCoste Centre on March 12.
Hailing from the birthplace of Shania Twain, Edwards said he has long come to terms with the knowledge that even on the best of days he can only be the second sexiest person from Timmins, Ont.
“It’s a heartache I’ve grown used to carrying with me,” Edwards said. “I wish I had her number so occasionally I could call her up and congratulate her one more time. We’re happy for her, I’m honoured to be second place when first place has the bar set so high.”
While Twain may have Edwards topped in record sales, singing talent and poster sales, when it comes to comedy, Edwards has the famously hard to impress songstress, and many others, beat.
Edwards came into comedy full time in the late 80s as a bit of a late bloomer – in entertainment terms – as he was brushing up against his 30s.
“My first time on stage was 28, and that scared me so bad I didn’t go on for another year and it was a year later from then that I quit my day job to throw my hat in the ring,” Edwards said.
Actually making that leap was big and even many years later, the risk and lack of certainty is still there.
“You gotta say, well am I going to give it a whirl?,” Edwards said. “It’s not as if you’ve got a full year’s work in front of you. Calls come sporadically sometimes and sometimes you’re fairly busy but forget a retirement plan, forget having any notion of what you’re doing in six months because there’s nothing on the calender. The whole thing’s very unnerving if you were like an economist or something. There’s that chancy element, but really you’re just rolling dice.”
Coming into comedy with a bit of life experience, Edwards said, gave him a bit of footing and even helped shape his comedic point of view.
“That helps a little, you’re comfortable in your own shoes,” the comedian said. “It doesn’t hurt to have a little life experience. I had many jobs before I got into it, all various types of labourer really. There was no time that I was a dentist or lawyer, just various types of helping out on a job site – moving drywall, driving forklifts, that kind of thing, working in the rail yard. You’re meeting people, real lunchbox carrying, backbone of the country working people. And without a little bit of that, not that I would make fun of or joke about those people, but just to have that someone in the back of your subconscious to draw from as an outlook on life.”
On stage, Edwards said, he is essentially an amplified, adrenaline fuelled version of himself. Still, it took awhile to figure out just how to establish his comedic voice at a time when angry comedy was at its peak.
“It’s strictly trial and error,” Edwards said. “I wish there was more of a formula that would help elucidate your readers but no, you keep trying and eventually something will click and you’ll think, ‘Oh yeah, there’s the attitude to take’. There were certain fellas that would just get on a big rant and they would pick a target and they would just cut the livin’ – just kick the crap out of a given target. People would get on board and they’d holler, not just laughing but also enjoying the fact that that person’s suffering.”
While that approach to comedy worked for many, Edwards sought a more subtitle direction that was a bit truer to himself.
“Is there room for a nuanced remark? Careful phrasing rather than screaming? Somewhere in there you find your way,” Edwards said. “There’s certainly a lot of options there and that’s why comedy is so much fun to watch.”
Even with all that in hand the crowd still brings much to the show and Edwards remembers a past show at the deCoste when a couple of audience members suddenly had their intake of fortified grape juice catch up to them, which spun the show into lively, spontaneous and uncharted waters.
“The biggest mistake you can make is getting comfortable with what you’re doing,” Edwards said. “Don’t get comfortable. It’s a great rule. You don’t know what kind of lunatic is waiting there, just bubbling away and about to blow over. Stay tense. That’s my advice for the youth of today. Stay tense, there’s a tiger in the bushes!”
Edwards will be performing at the deCoste Centre in Pictou on March 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office.

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Governments racking up too much debt

To The Editor:
Nova Scotia has $5.6 billion in “assets” (mainly schools, hospitals and other buildings) and $15 billion worth of debt.
Think about that. The mortgage on the house is almost three times its value.
That’s too much debt.
Our government has been spending beyond their means on the day-to-day costs of running government. It’s called “operating deficit spending.”
It’s like taking out a loan to buy groceries. The problem is that now the groceries are gone, they can’t be sold to recover costs and still haven’t been paid for.
Governments – and all parties have had a hand in it – have racked up over $9 billion in accumulated operating deficits!
While the Liberals like to use that as an excuse for continuing the trend, it has to stop.
Sadly, there is no sign of it slowing down. Last year, Premier McNeil saddled Nova Scotians with another $300 million operating deficit. He talks about tough decisions, but his only clear statement so far is that he must keep taxes high so he can keep spending.
There is no acceptable reason as to why governments keep running up debt.
We haven’t seen any tough talk about balancing the budget. All we have seen is high debt and higher taxes that are stifling job creation from this government.
Join me in sending a message to the Liberals: stop gouging our children and balance the budget now.
Tim Houston
MLA for Pictou East

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Cutting (tourist) services is not the answer

To The Editor:
In the last several days the Liberal Government has made a decision to close the tourist info centre at the Pictou Rotary. And just a few days before that they said that they were not staffing workers at a number of provincial parks.
Now with the tourist season coming in the very near future and now with the Pictou info centre being at a point of entrance, where are the travelling tourists going to get their info?
Not everyone has a GPS or a tablet. And if they did it does not tell you of all the many points of interest here in Pictou County nor will it tell one of the many points in Nova Scotia.
Now, if my memory serves me correctly, the Liberal campaign was on growing the economy and bringing new jobs to the province. Now with these two cuts, I would say that they have just put 73 people out of work, counting the cut to the parks and the closing of the tourist info centre at the Pictou rotary. So I ask, where will it all stop or is this just the starting of cuts to service? So where are all the jobs that they promised?
So in closing, I will say that we have one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada so we should be advertising for tourists to come and not closing services that would help them find points of interest and not putting our people out of work. For when people are working that is what grows the economy.
So I would say it is time for the Liberal Government to take a step back and take a look at just what they are doing, for cutting service is not the answer or the way to go by putting people out of work.
Loyd Murray
New Glasgow

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VIC closure unsound decision

We know the visitor information centre in Pictou is closed for the winter. We couldn’t get to it if we tried.
Now we’ve been informed that it will not reopen this season. In an array of suspect moves by the current government, this one defies reason.
The Liberals under Premier Stephen McNeil appear at least to have sufficient grasp of the English language to make a decision that represents a body blow for the tourism industry and the general economic well-being of Pictou, Pictou County and northeastern Nova Scotia.
That’s how amputating a service to visitors is called change. And people can draw the conclusion that, when something will not reopen this season, it means it will likely never reopen.
This government has tasked itself with fashioning Nova Scotia as a province that lives within its means. It has also performed courageous acts that will never achieve much political return, such as McNeil’s formal apology last October to former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. As another February passes, and with it celebrations of our African Nova Scotia heritage, that gesture made those celebrations more meaningful.
The province considers ferry service in Yarmouth essential, whatever kind it might be.
Contrast that with closing VICs in Digby and Pictou. The former is in a Liberal constituency. Perhaps the Grits feel they can control the damage there. It’s out of control here for them. They haven’t elected a Liberal member in Pictou West in more than 25 years, in Pictou East in around 20 years and in Pictou Centre in more than 40 years – and this is how they restore fertile ground in a political wasteland?
The mounting groundswell of support for the Pictou VIC and opposition to keeping it closed may well compel this government to change its mind and keep it open.
Now that the deed is done, it won’t restore any political capital to undo it. But it beats the alternative for the Liberals, the Pictou VIC, the people who have worked there and the people it has served year after year.
Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane is right to suggest keeping the Pictou and Digby VICs open and find other ways to secure the relatively meager savings closing them would achieve.
She and Cindy MacKinnon from DEANS are right when they say new ways of trip planning on line are fine but are no substitute for face-to-face contact.
They are also right to point to a stated goal in the ‘Now or Never’ commission on the rural economy to double tourism.
Pictou County merits a place in that mission.
Keeping the VIC at the Pictou Rotary is essential to meeting its share of that target.

Steve Goodwin

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Seniors the focal point of recreation seminar

STELLARTON – Recreation directors and volunteers have left a recreation seminar filled with ideas on how to make life better for seniors.
The event took place through Wednesday and Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express in Stellarton and drew delegates from throughout the Highland Region, which encompasses municipal recreation departments in Pictou and Antigonish counties and the District of St. Mary’s in Guysborough County.
“It was fantastic,” said Michelle Young, co-ordinator for Pictou Recreation and Parks. “We had a lot of takeaways from the two days, some solid actions each area is taking back with them.”
Senior planner Roland Burek, who serves the towns of Stellarton, Trenton and Westville, shared a presentation on planning and aging which, Young said provided ideas for delegates.
“Roland’s presentation really hit home, sharing examples of things that are already working,” she said. “For recreation professionals, it’s not just providing programs. Our regions and our counties can go beyond that.”
Burek began by outlining age demographics in the province and each of its regions to emphasize how necessary it is to achieve recreational and physical planning in Highland Region.
Charts showed Antigonish County’s population at nearly 20,000 and having risen by four per cent from 2006 to the latest census done in 2011.
Pictou County’s population was nearly 46,000 and down by 1.9 per cent, while Guysborough’s fell by 10 per cent.
Nova Scotia’s population stood at 921,727, up .9 per cent and due mainly to growth in HRM.
Antigonish County’s median age was 42, compared to 43.7 for the province, 46 for Pictou County and 52.3 in Guysborough County, which is the highest in Nova Scotia. Canada’s median age is 40.6, higher in Atlantic Canada and lower in western Canada.
“The Highland Region as a whole is experiencing a net loss of population, probably due to aging as well as out-migration,” Burek said.
“There is no ‘quick fix’, nor is this trend expected to reverse itself anytime soon.”
Health issues rise with age but regular exercise can reverse the trend, he said. Age-friendly surroundings can also make a difference.
Challenges to activity among older people include isolation, safety and security, planning and neighbourhood design. He noted how even moderate fitness can cut in half the likelihood of placement in long-term care.
Planning needs to solve the health epidemic of obesity and its related outcomes by encouraging human activity and movement, he said.
Solutions already exist in Pictou County, he said. As examples he cited community gardens, the Samson and Albion trail network, Ivey’s Terrace and its proximity to Steeltown Park in Trenton, High Crest Place in New Glasgow and the Jubilee Park Apartments in Stellarton with its curb appeal, patios and balconies.
Among other local presenters, Allison Smith described life at the Maritime Oddfellows Home in Pictou and Terry Donovan spoke on behalf of New Horizons in Pictou, whose membership has grown from 140 since he joined in November 2013 to 215 members, some from as far away as Westville and River John.
“We see what people like to do and we adapt,” Smith said, noting the community garden located near the Home.
New Horizons is busy and boasts a wide variety of varied programs and activities, Donovan said.
The facility is planning to a destination point for the roughly 10 cruise ship visits Pictou expects this year.

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Black history discussion deals with names, places

NEW GLASGOW – Two local residents shared their studies of black history in Pictou County during a talk that drew more than 20 people last Thursday to the New Glasgow Library.
Artist and historian John Ashton accounted numerous surnames familiar in the African Nova Scotian community that have evolved from more original ones from a time before they arrived as black Loyalists from the U.S. during the American Revolution to escape slavery.
“A lot of black Loyalists took their names from their plantation owners,” Ashton said, while citing Jim Izzard as an example of the surnames used. “We can trace Jim Izzard’s people back to South Carolina. When I told Jim, he said, ‘I told you I was from the U.S.’”
Ashton described the hardship the black Loyalists endured after arriving first in Port Mouton, N.S., then moving to an area outside Shelburne and later to Guysborough and Tracadie.
“If you don’t save history, you lose it,” he said, while noting how little is known about the migration of African Nova Scotians to Pictou County.
One clue is a community called New Babylon from 1834 that was located on what is now the East River Road along Potter’s Brook. There is no data to confirm it was an African Nova Scotian community, he said.
A defining moment in African Pictou County history came in 1887 when 200 blacks from Tracadie were brought to New Glasgow to lay lines under streets for much lower wages than whites would have been paid.
They also were retained to build a dam in Churchville in 1912 to establish New Glasgow’s water supply, while records also confirm some of them working in the Albion coal seams in the 1930s.
The number of African Nova Scotians in Pictou County rose from about a dozen in 1881 to more than 100 by 1891.
Ashton, with the help of displays, illustrated how important the constitution of Second United Baptist Church in 1903 was in the life of African Nova Scotians in New Glasgow.
What Ashton and Paris shared covered a period of the African Nova Scotian presence in Pictou County up to the 1930s, while the study from then to the present remains a work in progress.
Paris said the process of discussion and sharing history is evolving and is important for African Nova Scotian heritage.
“It’s important to learn our cultural roots and share our discoveries with others,” she said. “We’re just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure we’ll unfold many more things.”
She noted references to race in all of Nova Scotia’s statutes remains until 1954, but that didn’t end racial discrimination, she said.
“There are people in this town who know the sting of racial discrimination,” she said. “We need to get better at what we do.”

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Literary community up in arms over proposal to re-instate tax on books

A report put out in November is stirring up some controversy across Nova Scotia and in Pictou County.
The tax and regulatory review, written by Laurel C. Broten, is raising concerns from Nova Scotia’s literary community after the recommendation to reinstate the provincial tax has been made, which will cause the tax on book to go from five per cent to 15 per cent.
The concern was recently brought forth at a Westville Town Council meeting as well as a Trenton Committee of the Whole meeting after a letter of correspondence from New Glasgow town councillor Troy MacCulloch was read, outlining the severity of the situation to local libraries. MacCulloch sits on the library board.
“That would mean a 10 per cent ($12,000) reduction in our book budget and at the same time we’re being told that there is also no new money for the library,” said Eric Stackhouse, chief librarian for Pictou Antigonish Regional libraries and board secretary.
Stackhouse said the increase in tax will have a strong impact on book sellers, libraries and authors.
“From where I sit it’s not a good thing,” said Jennifer Hatt, author of the Finding Maria Series and co-owner of Marechal Media Inc., a publishing company.
“The money that the province would gain from this would be very small compared to what it would cause.”
According to the report, reinstating the HST on printed books as well as other items will result in a little less than $130 million.
“As noted previously, Nova Scotia rebates the provincial portion of the HST on printed books; children’s clothing, shoes and diapers; feminine hygiene products and home energy use through the Your Energy Rebate program, as well as a portion of the HST on first-time home purchases. Fully eliminating these exemptions would generate approximately $128 million in new revenue for the province annually,” according to page 30 of the report which is available on the Nova Scotia government website under finance.
“One way an author earns a living is royalties’,” said Hatt. “If book sales are affected then authors are affected.”
Recently, Stackhouse met with Minister of Finance Diana Whelan in Antigonish to air his concerns about the problems that the additional tax would cause for libraries.
“We did not really get a concrete answer either way,” said Stackhouse about the final outcome of the meeting.
”It’s pretty important and I think a lot of people just don’t realize,” Stackhouse said. He is hoping that along with the letters calling for support from the towns, which each contribute part of the funding for their local libraries, that citizens will step up and contact members of government to bring attention to the matter. Stackhouse recommends contacting your local MLA, Minister Whelan as well as Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage Tony Ince, whose department provides funding for libraries.
“Books are an essential ingredient; you need them to learn and to share and preserve your history,” Hatt said.
“If people don’t have access to reading materials how is the province supposed to grow and prosper?” asked Stackhouse.

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Group hopes partners can help save school

RIVER JOHN – Another meeting with school board officials has passed.
But supporters of the Hub community model for River John Consolidated School feel they have allies whose expertise and help will make their model too good to pass up.
Committee member Sheree Fitch noted contacts with several groups that would help it get much needed repairs on the school’s roof completed, while saving money for the school in the short and long term.
Fitch said she has contacted officials with the Construction Engineer Flight 144 Pictou about replacing the school’s roof.
The CEF has sought applicants for projects, which could include the school’s roof, she said.
The school is living on borrowed time as it faces closure by the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board. River John Consolidated is one of three schools trying to stay open by getting a Hub model approved. The others are in Maitland and Wentworth.
Part of the River John group’s pitch is hosting a Small School initiative conference for all Atlantic Canada on May 30.
The group met most recently with the board’s operations and education services committees at a joint session on Feb. 24 in Truro. The group has until the end of March to hand in a completed 45-page document containing its business case for keeping the school open.
“We did our very best,” she said. “We’ve been working so hard.”
She said the mindset for either closing the schools or keeping them open should resonate with education, as well as other provincial departments, such as community services and economic and rural development and tourism. But for now it’s the school board that will decide that fate, she said.
“We’re in the hands of an elected board,” she said.
“Like to think this elected board is in the business of education and not making education a business.”

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Union workers support appeal

ABERCROMBIE POINT – Union workers at Northern Pulp are helping the pulp mill’s operators make their case against provisions contained in its recent industrial approval.
Representatives of Unifor, the union local’s bargaining, and company personnel asked Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill last week to broker a meeting with Premier Stephen McNeil to soften the rules in the industrial approval that the company and workers say they will make the pulp operation unviable.
Northern Pulp General Manager Bruce Chapman said the meeting was between the union representatives and Churchill and that the company provided technical expertise.
“”Unifor had concerns with the IA,” Chapman said. “They have concerns, as we do. This is a flawed IA that placed our business’s long-term viability in jeopardy. We know we need to improve our environmental standards the standards they are imposing are unreasonable.”
Chapman said the province needs to reveal the science behind the rules contained in the industrial approval, which includes reduced particulates in the smog that envelopes parts of Pictou County, depending on which way the wind is blowing, by May 30. That’s the province’s imposed deadline for the mill to complete construction and start operating a new precipitator that has been under construction since last year.
The document also has phased-in reductions in water use and effluent over the five years that the approval takes effect.
“They have to provide the science to prove their claims,” Chapman said. “The ball is in their court.”
Chapman said the company and union representatives share frustration that the Department of Environment and its minister, Randy Delorey, won’t change the industrial approval’s provisions.
“The union wants to meet with the Premier and for Churchill to broker that meeting,” he said. “We firmly believe we have an impasse with Nova Scotia Environment.”
Environment spokesperson Heather Fairbairn said department issued the approval on Jan. 30 and in a press release on Feb. 5 corrected an error related to the location of study required to identify future options for improving the effluent going into Boat Harbour.
“No other changes will be made to the approval,” she said.
She said the amended approval will be issued to Northern Pulp and posted on its web site on March 9.
The mill, the public and other stakeholders will have 30 days from that date to file an appeal.

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Celebrating women in the arts

On Sunday, March 8, Forbes Street Presenter’s Society will present an afternoon luncheon featuring “Women in the Arts” during their International Women’s Day Celebration.
International Women’s Day is celebrated globally each year where focus is given to gender equality and women’s rights. It’s a time to reflect on progress made and to mobile our community of women. It’s a gathering for women of all ages.
This year’s celebration starts at 12 noon with guests including the insightful and funny Newfoundland writer Donna Morrissey, the powerful bluesy vocals of Annette Drapeau-Reynolds, a multi-cultural fashion show with Nanda Shirke representing the diversity of Pictou County. Again this year, the event will be hosted by well-known singer/songwriter/keyboardist Doris Mason.
Morrissey is the award-winning author of Kit’s Law, Downhill Chance, Sylvanus Now among others.
“My mother always said that we are of our own making, and that we all have our own story,” the author said.
Morrissey grew up in The Beaches, a small fishing outport in Newfoundland and now lives in Halifax.
Enjoy lunch, celebrate music, poetry, readings, comedy and culture. Men are welcome.
Tickets $20 are available at the White Lotus, Big Al’s.
Women in the Arts – International Womens Day, Sunday, March 8, 12 noon to 3 p.m. at The Celtic Circle, 195 Forbes Street New Glasgow.

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Lunch, trade fair, entertainment all planned to mark Women’s Day

International Women’s Day will be coming just a little early to Pictou County, with a special trade fair and luncheon celebrating Women in Business.
This event will be held at Summer Street Industries on Friday, March 6. The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition, representatives of both Pulse Pictou County and Pictou County 2020 will be making key note speeches.
Susan Whistler, community development co-ordinator with the Pictou County Women’s Centre, explained that while the event will support the Women’s Centre it is not a fundraiser; it is more about creating awareness and connections within the community.
“The luncheon is something that we do yearly and it’s an opportunity to for us to celebrate International Women’s Day and to celebrate one another’s achievements and to come together and get to know some of the other women in the community,” Whistler said.
“What it’s going to be is a trade fair where we have a number of vendors coming into showcase their businesses,” said Whistler.
Vendors will be from a range of industries, from home-based direct sales to creative services or health and wellness practitioners.
In addition to the trade fair element as well as the keynote speakers, the Women’s Centre will be making a special announcement and while Whistler could not go into full detail, she did reveal that the announcement will have to do with a change in the centre “that will be a positive expansion to the services” available to women in the community.
As for the afternoon itself, Whistler said, “It’s a great time, delicious food, lots of good information.”
The menu will consist of tomato basil soup, chicken and vegetable wraps with a fusion salad, with a dessert of apple crisp. Whistler noted that persons with dietary concerns will be catered to and anyone with food conflicts should let the centre know when purchasing their tickets.
“We do have something we encourage people to think about,” Whistler said. “If they’re buying a ticket for themselves we ask that you might consider buying a ticket to donate, that way a woman in the community who wouldn’t otherwise get to go would get to go.”
Tickets for the International Women’s Day trade fair are $25 and should be purchased in advance by contacting the Women’s Centre at 902-755-4647.

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“Twitter” Johnston brought to life with artifacts at McCulloch Centre

PICTOU – Members of the Johnston family gathered on Friday to celebrate once more the display of artifacts on behalf of George “Twitter” Johnston at the McCulloch Heritage Centre.
Born in Pictou in 1889, Johnston is remembered for having started clowning as a teenager. He became a nimble tumbler who hosted shows for more than 50 years and collected a wide variety of memorabilia, some of which is housed in the centre’s main gallery.
The centre plans to feature the display until June.
Johnston’s grandson, Kelly Johnston, has provided some of the items in the display, such as family photos, a passport and two seats from a ferris wheel. “Twitter” Johnston died at the age of 73 when Kelly was five, so he has a vague and limited memory of his grandfather.
“The items in the display have a lot of personal value,” he said. “I’m glad they can leave it up. It’s wonderful what they do (at the centre). Any family history, somebody is going to see it.”
While Kelly Johnston remembers little about his grandfather, others have stories about his personality and how multi-talented he was.
“He was a carpenter and an artist,” he said. “He was known for his one-liners.”
Johnston recalled “an older gentlemen” named Gordon Shea who told stories about his grandfather, including one at a train station somewhere far from home in Pictou.
“My grandparents were at a train station after one of his events was rained out,” he said.
Johnston’s grandparents had one of their infant children when them.
“My grandmother apparently said, ‘We didn’t make any money.’ My grandfather said, ‘You just start crying.’”
His grandfather went to the washroom briefly and came out, hat-in-hand, watched others gathering around the mother and child, thinking they were penniless and trying to get home on the train. He started passing his hat around to the group and ended up with a decent amount of money.
“That’s the kind of character he was,” Johnston said. “We have him in our hearts and minds. He’s always there.”

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Foundation has ‘exciting’ year, is ready to embrace change

The Aberdeen Health Foundation celebrated another year of helping the community during their annual general meeting last week.
Special presentations were made by Frances Campbell, president of the Women Alike Breast Cancer Survivors Society, and Rick Muise, vice-chair of the Pictou County Prostate Cancer Support Association.
The guest speakers talked about their organizations and how they benefit the community through support groups and funding for the hospital, as well as other methods. Each presentation also gave a nod to the health foundation for providing equipment that allows their members to be treated locally rather than travelling back and forth.
“Because we’re part of the community we like to be treated locally,” said Campbell.
News on the business end of the Aberdeen Hospital Foundation included the resignation from the board of Jack Kyte who will stay on as a committee member. The committee then recommended Murray Hill to replace Kyte.
Getting into the financial side of things, the foundation showed an increase in funds from operations of $9,728,485 to put their fund balances at the end of 2014 at $39,066,728 compared to an increase of $4,195,841 and end of year fund balance of $29,338,270 in 2013.
Other exciting notes for the end of the year included an
$8 million donation from the Frank and Irene Sobey Trust, as well as a new strategic plan that was adopted this year and will take a few years to fully implement.
“It was an exciting year with the upcoming changes,” said Susan Green, chair of the foundation. In light of the announcement to change the health authority districts in Nova Scotia from regional factions to a larger provincial wide health authority, the foundation will face some changes in how they operate in the next year.
“There’s a lot of unknowns,” said Green. “Now that the Pictou County Health Authority is no more we take that role even more seriously, to strive to be a champion for health care here.”

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Entrepreneurial fair coming up at NSCC

An initiative by Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus, is bringing Entrepreneurs’ together from all across the county to promote local businesses and entrepreneurism.
‘Create tomorrow today’ is the slogan of the entrepreneurial fair that will have booths set up for local businesses and artisans as well as guest speakers and entertainment for the event.
The Entrepreneurial class at NSCC is hosting an event on March 10, taking place from 1 to 6 p.m., as part of their course. It will be held in the commons, or foyer of the Pictou Campus building.
“They try to do something like that as part of our course,” said Kyle Daley, a student in the class that is helping organize the event.
“We’re also going to have some entrepreneurs speaking as well,” said Daley.
The event will see 16 local business booths for guests to interact with and browse. The guest speakers for the event will be local business people or entrepreneurs who are able to speak on any topic they like or have open discussions with the audience.
“It’s open to the community,” said Daley who hopes that they will get a strong turn out to support buying local.
“I’m really just excited for the chance for local entrepreneurs to get the word out there,” said Daley. “It’s hard to compete with big box stores.”
Daley also hopes showing so many people in the community all that the county has to offer will also help to shed a positive light on the county and all of the thriving businesses.
About 16 students and two of the staff are working to put the fair together with some help from Your Entrepreneurial Self, a group that promotes entrepreneurs in the NSCC community, which provided some funding for the event.
“Come out and see that there’s so much more to Pictou County.” said Daley, “Come out and see all the small businesses.”

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Stellar lineup announced for Lobster Carnival

The entertainment schedule for this year’s annual Pictou Lobster Carnival offers something for everyone.
The lineup, announced this week, has a little bit of rock, some gospel, Celtic rock and everything in between.
This year’s event will run July 10 to 12 and all entertainment can be enjoyed at the CN grounds. Entertainment will begin on the Friday night with Ashley George followed by Mike and the Macphersons. A fireworks display will bring a break in the music before the first day of the 2015 carnival comes to a close with ScotiAL Scene followed by The Fourth Well.
The mainstage will begin offering entertainment late in the morning on Saturday, starting off with Shelly Bean, Everything Fitz (Trickshow), Raymond Macdonald, Hush, Olovus and Full Circle Blues Band. Sam/Minglewood (Full Moon Minglewood Rising) will bring Saturday night to a close.
Sunday will also see entertainment begin before noon. Filling out the schedule on the final day of the carnival will be Gospel: Brian Bowden and Friends, Pat Spalding, Decota McNamara, Nikki V, Spyder, Next Exit and Emi Sunshine and the Rain before the carnival comes to a close with Everything Fitz.
These are the performers and days. Specific time slots are to be determined:

FRIDAY
Ashley George
Mike and the Macphersons
Fireworks 10-10:20 p.m.
ScotiAL Scene
The Fourth Well

SATURDAY
Shelly Bean
Everything Fitz (Trickshow)
Raymond Macdonald
Hush
Olovus
Full Circle Blues Band
Moon/Minglewood (Full Moon Minglewood Rising)

SUNDAY
Gospel: Brian Bowden and Friends
Pat Spalding
Decota McNamara
Nikki V
Spyder
Next Exit
Emi Sunshine and the Rain
Everything Fitz

Also On Sunday night, A Tribute to Fleur (kitchen party) will also be held.
The Lobster Carnival beer gardens will run from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 2 until 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Weekend passes will be available at a later date.

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GM says Lodge relying more on local business as tourism declines

BRAESHORE – Local patronage is driving business at Pictou Lodge Resort more than tourism, general manager Wes Surett says.
Surett cited weddings, corporate business and family gatherings as examples of rising revenue sources for the lodge as tourism declines.
“We’re thankful people are getting married,” he said. “Weddings, corporate business and family reunions – it’s the backbone of our business. It’s not tourism anymore.”
The lodge hosted 33 weddings all last year and has booked 32 weddings already this year, he said.
Surett does marketing for Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores but was commenting as a resort operator who has seen the pattern for government support for tourism change, including the province’s most recent decision on Friday not to reopen the visitor information centre at the Pictou Rotary.
“For tourism operators, it’s extremely disappointing,” he said. “Every other area has seen increase except the Northumberland Shore. We’re trying to market the area, they’ve pulled the rug out from under us. I just hope we can regroup.”
Surett said the province’s decision to market “winners” like Peggy’s Cove and Cape Breton is coming at the expense of Pictou County and other areas.
“It doesn’t add up with every other challenge we have at this time,” he said. “It’s tough.”

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Police chief awarded Holland College Distinguished Alumni Award

Friday was a red letter day for New Glasgow Regional Police Chief Delaney Chisholm.
He was awarded the Holland College Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award for his exceptional professional achievements and his contributions to his communities. The ceremony was held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Chisholm joined Susan LeFort, business development officer for the Aerospace and Defence sectors with Innovation PEI, and Norma Lee MacLeod, host and producer of CBC radio’s Maritime Noon, as those recipients who have made substantial marks in both their chosen careers and their communities. Chisholm was told his dedication and accomplishments serve as an inspiration to current Holland College students.
Delaney Chisholm began his career in 1973 as a 20 year-old recruit with what was then the New Glasgow Police. Since then, he has served his force in a number of different capacities from patrol to major crime investigation supervisor to deputy chief of Police Operations. Today, he is the chief of police with New Glasgow Regional Police.
“I credit my appointment as chief of police for my communities to the support and influence of past police academy alumni and the training and skills that I received from the Atlantic Police Academy,” said Chisholm. “Holland College gave me skills and knowledge that have benefited my career.“

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