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Settlement reached between Trenton and area residents and Nova Scotia Power

TRENTON – Approximately 350 people living in Trenton and surrounding areas have resolved their claims against Nova Scotia Power Inc. relating to the operation of the Trenton Generating Station.
The residents were represented by Jamie MacGillivray of MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law of New Glasgow. There has not been an admission of liability and the details of the settlement are confidential.
Peter Boyles, spokesman for the Hillside/Trenton Environmental Watch Association which has been fighting to call attention to the emissions from Nova Scotia Power’s Trenton Generating Station, was pleased with the resolution.
“It was never about the money for us,” Boyles said Tuesday afternoon when contacted about the settlement. “We felt that something has to be done about the emissions out of Nova Scotia Power. We hope to work with Nova Scotia Power and the government to see where to go from here.”
MacGillivray expressed satisfaction with Nova Scotia Power’s intention to continue its efforts to minimize emission events and to provide assistance to residents affected. “My clients are very pleased to have resolved this matter and now can put the litigation behind them,” he said.
“The Hillside group will continue to be vigilant and I hope Nova Scotia Power will be responsive to the community’s concern and continue to invest in alternative energy.”
The Trenton Station, which was originally established in the 1940s, is the third largest by generating capacity in NSP’s fleet. It contributes to the local economy as an employer and purchaser of goods and services in Pictou County.
A joint news release from Nova Scotia Power and Trenton Lawsuit Plaintiffs says: “Nova Scotia Power has worked hard to be a good neighbour to the community. The company has made substantial upgrades to the plant, including a $45 million refurbishment in 2009, and has made adjustments to operations and to fuel mixes, all of which significantly reduced fly ash emissions and extended the plant’s operating life. The upgrades included the addition of a baghouse to one of the station’s two units. In addition both units are equipped with electrostatic precipitators designed to capture 99 per cent of fly ash.
“These steps have substantially reduced the number of emission events. There has not been a significant event since March 11, 2011. When emission events have occurred in the past, Nova Scotia Power has responded quickly to address any inconvenience to neighbours, including arranging to have homes and vehicles washed. NSP intends to continue its efforts to minimize emission events and to provide assistance to residents should an event occur in the future.”

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Pictou RCMP capture fleeing impaired driver

PICTOU – RCMP here have charged a 23 year-old Waterside man for numerous offences after an intense few minutes in the Town of Pictou last evening.
At approximately 4:30 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of a hit and run on West River Road. A vehicle had struck a stopped van at the intersection of Haliburton and West River road. The vehicle, described to police as an older Dodge truck, proceeded up High Street and drove into the front step of a home, destroying the steps.
Witnesses say the truck then proceeded onto Welsford Street where it struck a power pole, knocking it over. Badly damaged, the truck drove to a dirt road, where witnesses say the driver fled the on foot, accompanied by his brown dog, and disappeared into the woods.
Police scoured the area and within minutes, an officer spotted a man and a dog as passengers in a vehicle that was headed out of town. The officer stopped the vehicle and discovered that the passenger was, in fact, the driver of the suspect truck.
Myles Dexter Clarke of Waterside was arrested and taken into custody. He is facing a number of charges, including impaired operation of a motor vehicle, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, and dangerous operation of motor vehicle.

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Highland Homecoming at Quay this weekend

PICTOU — Highland Homecoming, commemorating the landing of the Ship Hector in 1773, will be held at the Hector Quay this weekend.
The festivities begin on Friday with the annual Ship Hector Classic golf tournament. This is being held at the Abercrombie Golf Club and each year attracts many golfers from around the region.
On Saturday, there will be free admission all day at the Hector Heritage Quay. Visitors will be able to tour the interpretive centre, walk around the site and go aboard the Ship Hector and see the many improvements that have taken place over the summer. The first stage of the re-rigging of the masts is complete and the new bowsprit was installed two weeks ago. The below deck area has be more fully developed and is open to visitors.
Entertainment takes place on Saturday with the pipes and drums taking centre stage at 3 p.m. followed by a ceilidh that will run 4-6 p.m. These events will take place outside, weather permitting, and people are encouraged to take a lawn chair as limited seating is available.
For further information call the Hector Quay at 485-4371.

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Carnival brings life to memory of little girl

Every year for the past decade, Jodi MacIvor has held a carnival for her birthday.
But it is not so much of a birthday carnival as a celebration of life.
MacIvor shares a birthday with her daughter Molly, who passed away after an accident in 2004.
Each year since, MacIvor has held Molly’s Carnival of Rainbows to celebrate Molly’s life and remind parents to cherish their families and the time they have with them.
“I didn’t want it to be a day of mourning so we had a carnival,” said MacIvor.
“It started just with family, friends, neighbours, and then the community started coming.”
The carnival eventually became so big that after the fifth year they had to begin holding it in the North Nova Education Centre gym. This year, it will be held on September 20 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the NNEC gym with prize bingo in the cafeteria.
The event is called Molly’s Carnival of Rainbows because of a double rainbow that graced the sky when Molly passed away. She was two years old at the time.
MacIvor had no doubt that the carnival would last this long however, and is pleased that it has touched so many people.
“For me it just started as a coping thing. I believe that you shouldn’t just mourn death; you should celebrate their life,” MacIvor said.
During the carnival of rainbows, which is completely free, a donation is taken from anybody who would like to contribute. Each year, the funds from the donation go towards the IWK and a local charity that benefits kids and their families.
So far, the carnival has raised close to $40,000 for the IWK and about $10,000 for local organizations and non-profits.
This year, the Aberdeen Health Foundation is the local organization that will be benefiting from the carnival of rainbows, as well as the IWK.
The event usually draws about 600 people over all with about 70 volunteers to run the event. There will be carnival games where children can win tickets that they exchange for prizes at the prize booth. There will also be a donation at the door, and prize bingo, as well as a bouncy house, and an inflatable slide which they have added to celebrate the 10th year.
“Just hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces,” said MacIvor of her favourite part of the event.
“It’s a memorable day for the families, that’s what it’s meant for. When we started it we wanted families to cherish what time they had together.”
MacIvor’s children who are 15, six and three enjoy the event and all the games. For them it is a reminder and celebration of the sister that the two youngest never had the opportunity to meet.
“I’m sure this is what she would want, and she would be happy that it’s bringing so many families close together,” said MacIvor.
“I think she would be proud of me.”

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Contact East coming to Pictou

Contact East, Atlantic Canada’s performing arts conference, is coming to Pictou Sept. 25 – 28, 2014.
The event gathers arts professionals from across Atlantic Canada and beyond for a weekend of fantastic performances, featuring some of the top touring artists from across Canada. All performances during the event will take place at the deCoste Centre and are open to the general public so the citizens of Pictou will have the opportunity to see world class artists perform in their own back yard.
In addition to the artist showcases, Contact East produces an industry conference with over 250 performing arts organizations and artists from Canada, the US and the UK in attendance. The event is an excellent opportunity for the Atlantic region’s festival and performing arts series organizers to connect with artists, agents, and one another and to discover some new artists to invite to their communities across the region.
Between the artists and the conference delegates, Contact East will be all over town, from every inn and hotel to the Hector Quay and Pictou Lodge.
We are thrilled to be hosting this year’s event in Pictou and can’t wait for delegates from around the world to experience the beauty and hospitality this town is known for! For four days in September, the town will be jam-packed with delegates taking advantage of all that Pictou has to offer.
Pulling off an event like this requires a bit of leg work and lots of help! Contact East is looking for volunteers to help with all aspects of the conference. There is a particular need for shuttle drivers who will transport artists and delegates around Pictou and make runs to the airport in Halifax. This is a great opportunity to meet artists and arts presenters from around the globe and to be a Pictou ambassador. If you are interested in becoming a Contact East volunteer please contact Shannon at info@atlanticpresenters.ca.
Presenters representing venues and festivals from around the world will be in St. John’s to see performances and do business, booking many of the artists showcasing at the host venues. Contact East is known as an event where thousands of dollars are invested in booking artists to perform in theatres and at festivals throughout Atlantic Canada and around the world.
Atlantic Presenters Association acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Province of Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Province of New Brunswick Department Tourism, Heritage and Culture, SOCAN Foundation and FACTOR.

Laurie Gillis is executive director of the Atlantic Presenters Association.

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deCoste plans to expand programs

PICTOU – Big ideas to attract more people to the deCoste Entertainment Centre are being planned, according to the centre’s artistic director.
Future goals in Troy Greencorn’s presentation last week to the Rotary Club of Pictou included a bigger and more diverse audience, new partnerships and projects, the need to grow own-sourced resources as government funding for arts and culture declines and investigating a partnership with the Pictou Library if its new facility is built there.
Growing ticket sales and more fundraising, sponsorship and advertising are goals he outlined to strengthen the centre’s finances.
Three major thrusts to attract youth include spending $10,000 with the help of partners to bring in Canadian poet, author and spoken word performer Shane Koyczan for an event to replicate We Day Atlantic Canada, which is taking place in November in Halifax.
“He delivers a powerful anti-bullying presentation to youth,” Greencorn said. “He speaks to them in their own voice.”
We Day is an annual youth empowerment event that brings young people together to venues around North America to celebrate their actions in their local and global communities and to inspire another year of change with help from world leaders and entertainers.
Imagination Movers is an Emmy award-winning show on the Disney channel. Based on the deCoste’s 420 seating capacity, it would host two shows to reach 800 students.
A two-day Symphony Nova Scotia visit is also being planned for April 2015.
The full orchestra would break up to perform shows for pre-school, seniors and several schools, conduct a workshop for band students and add a public concert at the deCoste.
“It’s a wonderful project,” Greencorn said.
Greencorn asked the club to partner in the youth projects, beyond the club’s annual musicals at the deCoste. He said he was impressed with the club’s 2014 entry, among the first things he saw after joining the deCoste team.
“What I saw was 15 to 20 young people with people of all ages and dancing at a high level,” he said.
Greencorn began his talk by reviewing the centre’s 32-year history, its loyal and long-term audience and staff and a facility that he said is “in the best shape ever.”
Key successes include more rentals, more shows and a wider artistic offering, creation of an endowment fund and a new summer format. This year’s summer festival attracted 2,600 people, up from 2,102 in 2011 and 1,387 in 2013.

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Town council agrees to replace bridge in Stellarton playground

STELLARTON – Town council has approved replacement of a bridge over a creek in a playground along Juniper Street in the Valley Woods suburb.
Council agreed to Coun. Ken Francis’s motion to spend an estimated $3,000 to build a new foot bridge with railings. It will replace one that was taken out earlier this year. The area is currently barricaded.
“I think it would be a loss if we went with anything less than we already had,” Francis said.
Council was responding to a presentation by area resident Rosalie MacEachern, asking for the foot bridge to be restored.
The other option was a culvert, which said “would not add a single thing” to the playground.
“The word I got was crystal clear – bridge,” she said.
Town engineer Bob Funke presented what the bridge or culvert would cost after being asked to do so at the town’s council I meeting in August.
A culvert would have cost about $1,000, while “a basic bridge” would cost $3,000, he said.
He said installing a culvert over the creek would take less time and work.
Council also approved Funke’s plan to apply for funding to hire two co-op engineering students.
Funke cited work the students could do that would include revising town drawings.
Council also authorized the town to sign an agreement to have 23 acres of woodland this fall on MacGregor Avenue, behind the Pictou County Wellness Centre cut down for future development in the Albion Place commercial park.
Funke proposed the idea because it would make money on the wood harvested beyond the cost to the town for cutting it down.
He said his crews are waiting for heritage Gas to finish installing its lines on North Foord Street so that paving and proceed this fall.
Bridge Avenue is to be paved later this month.
Funke said work is ongoing to divert more drinking water over a dam on the East River to produce better quality water before it’s treated and to reduce back water when cleaning lines.

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Twelve districts proposed by County Council

PICTOU – Pictou County Municipal County will propose reducing the number of districts from 14 to 12 to the province’s Utility and Review Board.
Council voted 9-4 in favour of the option following some discussion stemming from a power-point presentation that revealed written and oral responses to three options that include keeping the number of districts at 14 or reducing their number to either 12 or 10.
Council will need to tender an application to the UARB for 12 district and council members and its reasons and propose how it would alter the boundaries.
Based on 57 responses at five public meetings, plus mailings and hits on the county’s web site, 63 per cent supported change and 37 per cent backed keeping the 14 districts.
“Very few people in the county are concerned about governance, so we should leave it alone,” Coun. David Parker said.
Coun. Leonard Fraser questioned the worth of reducing the number of councillors to save an estimated $40,000, while Coun. Jim Turple reasoned that the remaining councillors could vote themselves raises to reflect the extra area each one would be covering.
Coun. Randy Palmer, who presented the motion, said proposing 12 districts to the UARB is the best option because 10 districts would be too large.
“I’d love to stay at 14,” he said. “If we stay at 14, I think (the UARB) would reduce us more. Twelve is workable.”
Warden Ronald Baillie agreed that 12 districts would split the difference and reflect respondents’ wishes for change.
“It’s a dice roll, but I think we are showing that we listened,” he said.
Baillie said council would ultimately decide the final district boundaries once the UARB approved the number of districts.

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Council seeks more clarity on Pioneer Coal blasting

STELLARTON – Members of Stellarton Town Council hope Environment Minister Randy Delorey can explain why council has learned only recently about a one-month time frame until Sept. 22 for comments on Pioneer Coal’s blasting application at its surface operation in Stellarton.
Mayor Joe Gennoe agreed to call the minister and follow up with a written request for an explanation why the town was not informed that the department received information from Pioneer Coal Limited regarding its request to blast at the site.
The company has been restricted in how it can extract the coal and other rock in the pit. But it sought environmental approval to blast a hard rock cap to get at more of the coal.
“Public comments regarding Pioneer Coal’s request to amend the Environmental Assessment Approval to permit blasting at the Stellarton Surface Coal Mine will be accepted from Aug. 22, 2014 to Sept. 22, 2014,” the memo said.
“This is one of the more crucial issues council has faced,” Coun. Ken Francis said.
Coun. Denise Taylor wondered if the time line could be extended because the town and its citizens didn’t know the dates to respond.
Council sought a meeting with Delorey at a committee-of-the-whole meeting in May to discuss Pioneer Coal’s application for a blasting permit at its open pit mine.
At the meeting, Francis supported an environmental assessment before any blasting is permitted.
During open forum that followed regular business at the May meeting, there were calls for council to hold the coal company to its original agreement prohibiting blasting, or to post a performance bond and structure an insurance policy that would compensate for any damages to windows, foundations or brickwork – or to be shut down.
The meeting followed an open house earlier in May where the company shared plans to blast the coal.
At the time, Donald Chisholm, president of Nova Construction that operates the coal-mining operation, said rock saws that have been used to get rid of the rock wear down and cause a great deal of dust and force the company to stockpile more rock and coal.
Pioneer Coal has been reclaiming coal from the site on each side of MacGregor Avenue for more than a decade since surface mining began in one phase in 1996, while another phase was approved in 2004.

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The ‘It Factor’ – travelling with Striker

Travelling with Striker is like travelling with a beloved celebrity. He has most of the credentials – an impressive pedigree with royal ancestry. He is unquestionably handsome but doesn’t know it. He is extremely photogenic and always willing to pose. He has golden locks that blow beautifully in summer breezes. He is charming with a distinguished gait, practically floating. He is funny and he is friendly! Striker has the “it” factor. It is a phenomenon difficult to describe but you just know it when someone has it. Striker is not only a “chick” magnet; he is a magnet period – kids, teenagers, seniors, and families – all come at him in droves.
During our recent vacation trip to New England and New Brunswick, it was like being with a movie star. Our presence was an aside – we are just his “peeps”. As we would walk down the lovely streets or scenic vistas of places such as Rockport, MA, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise, ME and Saint Andrew’s by the Sea, NB we were approached by countless dog lovers who wanted to meet Strikes. Of course sometimes, he would take it upon himself to meet them, lunging forward to his new found friends.
It was incredible how many children wanted the chance to say hello and it struck us that many from large urban centres may not have the opportunity to have a dog of their own or if they do, certainly one not as large as ours. In their eyes, this chance meeting is almost like a visit to the zoo or a trip to see farm animals. Every child who asked to approach Striker was very polite and all extended thanks and smiles after the visit. One evening in front of Tucks Candy store on Main Street, Rockport a group of four boys about 9-11 years old asked if they could pat our dog. They wanted to know how old he was, his name, his breed and was he the world’s biggest Golden retriever. One sturdy little fellow with a big smile and wide eyes leaned over and gave Striker a huge hug, draping himself over Striker’s back and nuzzled his head into Striker’s soft coat. I suddenly realized the boy was whispering to Striker and I could hear him saying, “You’re a good dog… a very good dog – yes, I like you, I do.” He then thanked us profusely for allowing him to pat Striker and gave a smile that would light up the whole outdoors at night.
While in Cape Porpoise at a pet friendly restaurant, we were enjoying delicious seafood on a patio with Striker planted firmed under the picnic table when cook from the kitchen came out with a special bowl full of water for Striker and asked if she could give him a dog treat. Striker practically tipped over the table responding to her.
Also one morning at the resort, as we were coming out of our room, Striker was behaving unusually well, sitting regally as we locked the door. There were two hotel staff down the hall admiring him and we overheard them remark, “What a well behaved dog!” One then asked his name and no sooner than she could repeat it, he bolted like lightning towards her. My husband, who had Striker on a leash, nearly fell over clamoring to catch up with him as one asked, “Who walks who in this family?” To make the celebrity status a little more official, we have figured out how to do a selfie with Striker.

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Women Alike take the plunge

New Glasgow’s Women Alike Abreast a River participated in an event Thursday evening to spread awareness and raise money – an event for another charity.
Having been challenged by the Moncton Breast Cancer dragon boat team ‘tit Bateau, the women accepted the challenge.
After their Thursday evening practice the women took the, cold, icy plunge.
“Because the community is so good to us we wanted to give back,” said Faye Visser, a member of the team. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.”
The group wanted to do the challenge with a strong focus on the seriousness of ALS and the importance of raising awareness and funds for further research of a cure.
“It felt wonderful!” said Visser immediately after having the ice water dumped on her head. “Not bad actually,” commented Shirley Murray, another member of the team that participated.
The group also collected money for the cause that will be donated to the ALS Society of Nova Scotia, which is located in Dartmouth. Although not all the donations were collected when The Advocate spoke to Visser she estimated that they would have a donation, coming from the women themselves.
“We’ve got to realize that we might be fighting one thing, but somebody else is fighting another thing,” said Visser. “We have to stand together.”

Watch the video from Jon Raven:

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PTSD tour hits home for Westville residents

WESTVILLE – A mother and her daughter found comfort and hope Saturday when they met members of the PTSD tour as it passed through Pictou County.
Virginia Shaw and her daughter Cailey Porter have been following the tour since it left Victoria, B.C. in June on its way to complete a cross-Canada trip that will end later this month in St. John’s, NL.
They greeted the unit members – Steve Hartwig and Scott McFarlane from B.C. and Jason MacKenzie from Saskatchewan, all of whom have endured PTSD – their assistant who goes by the single name Bosko and Nova Scotia PTSD representative Roland Lawless.
“It’s difficult how it affects your loved ones,” Hartwig said.
Shaw’s former partner, Porter’s father, took his own life this summer after years of suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. The tour’s mission is to march about 32 kilometres each day with some rest days while spreading a positive message about PTSD and changing the perceptions and stigmas associated with it.
It noted the 50 recognized Canadian Forces veterans who have committed suicide in the last three years as a result of their tours in Afghanistan.
Shaw and Porter have found it difficult to get information to help them get over their loss, information Hartwig and the others willingly and abundantly shared as the tour stopped for more than a half hour in front of the cenotaph in Westville.
The unit visited New Glasgow’s cenotaph later Saturday and Stellarton’s cenotaph on Sunday before proceeding to Antigonish.
“I was honoured to have met them,” Shaw said. “I carry a burden and overwhelming guilt. I did everything I could. They put me in contact with several different groups of support and care providers, and for this I am so grateful for what they are doing. PTSD is a mental illness, so what they’re doing is awesome.”
Shaw discussed hyper-vigilance that is among the strong symptoms pointing to PTSD from time in military combat. She also noted that there are more resources for PTSD needs in communities where regular forces are based than where reservists are based, such as Pictou County.
“It’s a reserve community here,” she said. “It’s almost like it’s isolated. It’s hard.”
Porter, who is 16, said she’s trying to stay positive through the grieving process and the task of learning more about PTSD and how to overcome its effects on people whose friends and loved ones suffer from it.
“It was rough, but I’m doing better,” she said. “I’m moving on with school and sports. I cherish the good moments and celebrate (her father’s) life.”

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Stegemann to be keynote speaker at Chamber’s achievement awards

PICTOU – The Pictou County Chamber of Commerce is getting a taste of the Dragon’s Den.
The chamber and Scotiabank have announced that Barbara Stegemann, award winning entrepreneur, author and the “top game changer” in the history of CBC’s Dragon’s Den will be guest speaker at the Chamber’s Business Achievement Awards dinner October 16.
Stegemann is the founder of The 7 Virtues fragrance collection, a popular and innovative line of perfumes. The basic materials for The 7 Virtues products come from countries which have significant economic and social challenges. Her business is dedicated to improving the lives of people in places like Afghanistan, Haiti and the Middle East.
“We are very excited about having an individual of her international stature come to Pictou County,” said Chamber Executive Director Jack Kyte.
“We know her presentation will be inspirational for our local entrepreneurs and innovators and we are excited to partner with Scotiabank to make her appearance possible.”
The Achievement Awards dinner, the premier business event of the year, is moving back to the deCoste Entertainment Centre in Pictou and will be catered by Pictou Lodge chef Thomas Carey.
The dinner is being held during Small Business Week, October 16, about a month sooner than last year.
“We owe a lot to our friends at Scotiabank for sponsoring Ms. Stegemann’s presentation and to Eastlink as our event sponsor this year,” Kyte said.
“We anticipate tickets to the dinner will go quickly so we are encouraging people to contact the chamber office as soon as possible if they would like to take part and have an opportunity to meet our guest speaker.”

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Outcry over decision to close turkey processing

PICTOU – Local poultry producers are upset over a decision to stop Gordon Fraser from killing and processing turkeys.
The matter surfaced Sept. 2 at Pictou County Municipal Council when council agreed to write a letter to the Department of Agriculture about the issue.
Since then, a petition calling for the decision’s reversal began circulating last week as the 2014 Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition opened.
Coun. Chester Dewar said Fraser was ordered to stop slaughtering turkeys after receiving an anonymous complaint.
Besides poultry, Fraser has processed pork, beef and lamb at his unlicensed and uninspected operation on a fourth-generation farm in Milbrook.
The Nova Scotia Turkey Producers Marketing Board ordered Fraser to stop accepting turkeys at his operation until he’s registered to do so, board chairperson Lori Ansems confirmed.
She said Sonya Lorette, who works out of the board’s office in Canning, N.S., inspected Fraser’s operation and ordered the slaughtering of turkeys to stop because it contravened the province’s Natural Products Act.
“(The order) came out as a result of a complaint to our board offices, to Sonya, that a processing plant was operating illegally,” Ansems said. “Under the regulations (Fraser) would have to be registered with the board. I would not want to overlook that it’s not a registered, inspected plant.”
The board’s decision has astounded Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane, who said she received numerous calls about the matter. “It negates everything Ray Ivany said in his report about rural communities,” she said, referring to Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy.
“This is a great way to kill local food consumption,” Coun. Robert Parker said. “You can’t allow government bureaucrats to kill jobs and kill local food. It’s time the system was changed.”
Several councillors attested to how clean Fraser’s operation is and how the animals are treated humanely.”
Coun. David Parker agreed that the way the decision to halt the turkey operation without recourse was made, who complained about it and their identities is flawed.
“There’s something profoundly unjust about accusing someone in anonymity,” he said.
Coun. Leonard Fraser said the decision fails to honour Fraser’s long-held record for safe, clean and humane work.
“(Gordon) knows and understands how it’s done,” he said. “His most important time of the year has been taken right out from under him.”
Gordon Fraser said the turkey processing is a minor part of his business and he does it for people who can’t afford to drive far and lack the expertise to kill the birds.
“This is just a little thing I do for people, keep it for people who can’t go far in a clean environment. If all it was is buying a licence I’d do it, but I think there’s a lot more to it. There has to be a solution here.”
Ansems said that Fraser’s customers need to find another place to have their turkeys process until he meet board compliance.

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Dispute arises over horse pulls on Hector Arena floor

PICTOU – A draft horse pull that took place Saturday during the 2014 Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition proceeded without incident despite fears from several quarters that it could damage a new rink floor.
Those fears prompted a member of the Hector Arena Commission, Craig Clarke, to resign over concerns about the horse pull and insurance coverage for board members. The commission allowed the horse pull to proceed at an emergency meeting on Sept. 2, after the event was advertised in the exhibition’s program.
Coun. David Parker chairs the commission, which is also represented by Warden Ronald Baillie and fellow Pictou County Municipal Council member Leonard Fraser, as well as Bob Naylor and Lynn Vigneault on behalf of the Town of Pictou.
Jack Ferguson, who chairs the Pictou Agricultural Society that actually owns the rink, also sits on the commission as a non-voting member.
The council members are already insured as elected officials, Clarke said.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Clarke said, regarding the horse pulls, which would be pulling up to 15,000 pounds of weight, plus their own weight. “It’s concentrated weight. Why are we risking a facility for a horse pull?”
He said, during the process of installing the new floor last year, engineers cautioned against excess weight on the floor and equipment to install and remove the earth used for indoor events at the arena.
“It was a difficult meeting,” Parker said. “I’m worried about the impact the horse pulls will have on the facility. We have divergent needs for the facility, but we’ll see what (the floor) is like when the dirt comes out.”
Ferguson said precautions were taken to not harm the floor but he was unable to get assurance from the project engineer when the new three-feet-thick floor was being poured that it would take the weight of horses and what they would be pulling.
“That was the objective from day one,” he said.
Ferguson said provincial exhibitions prefer the horse pulls indoors for safety reasons because hockey rinks are safer for spectators and the animals, should the horses spook and tear free from their harnesses.
He also said the society could not get liability insurance to conduct the pulls outside.
The pulls are among the exhibition’s big draws. The competing horse teams came from all around Nova Scotia and drew about 1,000 spectators.
Among the precautions, different parts of the rink floor were used for the weight the horses pulled, Ferguson said.
Royce Williston with Higgins Construction which poured the floor, said the quality of the floor and the immense amount of gravel brought in to support it would allow for the horse pulls.
“It would be well-known by the designer that the floor would be used for that,” he said. “Those floors are designed for multi-use. It was a high quality concrete and one year after it would be a good, strong floor.”
Pictou Minor Hockey Association president Shane Sponagle wrote Parker about its objection to the horse pull.
“As someone who worked to raise money for the rink commission, on behalf of minor hockey, I am surprised that the decision makers would allow this to happen considering the potential downside,” Sponagle wrote.
Players and volunteers with Pictou Minor Hockey picketed near the rink’s main entrance around noon on Saturday to protest the decision.
Parker said he regretted not having discussed the horse pulls earlier.
“Hindsight tells us we should have had a meeting in May,” he said. “This is a precedent for us.”

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Council closer to increasing setbacks for wind turbines

PICTOU – County Council has scheduled its public hearing on proposed amendments to its wind setbacks for Sept. 29 starting at
7 p.m. at the Plymouth Fire Hall.
The venue was seen as central and having a speaker system needed for the hearing.
Council will allow anyone attending to speak for up to 10 minutes and will try to focus discussion on the proposed amendment to increase its current setback from 600 metres to 1,000 metres.
Council chambers were bulging with spectators last week over proposed amendments of its proposed wind turbine setbacks. They were anticipating a decision but began emptying chambers after discovering only a notice of motion took place.
Council’s financial services committee recommended at its Aug. 18 meeting a planning advisory committee proposal to include a rider to a new 1,000-metre wind setback. Besides the recommendation to increase the setback distance from 600 metres to 1,000 metres, a clause recommended by the municipality’s planning advisory committee would allow for shorter setbacks if nearby residents agreed with them.
The scenario after the hearing would include second reading at council’s regular meeting on Oct. 6. Provincial approval would follow the adoption of the amendment.
County CAO Brian Cullen clarified that, while councillors must attend the hearing to be permitted to vote on the amendment on second reading, the amendment only needs a majority of eligible voters present on Oct. 6 to pass.

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Exhibition builds anew

The Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition is back.
That would be achievement enough for the event that began on Wednesday and ended on Sunday. Ever since renovations at Hector Arena forced the exhibition to be cancelled last year, doubt lingered about its future.
Some doubt remains, perhaps, but the underlying message from these five days is that a lot people liked what they saw at the exhibition, and they want more.
People came, they took in the entertainment, they viewed the animals and displays – often as families – and they gathered together.
The exhibition celebrates agriculture like few events can. It draws on the hope that the nearly 200 members of eight 4-H clubs in Pictou County will be better people for their involvement in 4-H and in the exhibition and that some of them will give back to the industry.
Motorized events that have heightened the exhibition’s appeal sustained themselves. Just two demolition derbies that lasted a matter of minutes drew more than 1,100 spectators.
Moreover, the exhibition is a microcosm of Pictou County. A tide of concern over having heavy horse pulls on the new concrete ice pad rose and subsided. The pulls proceeded as scheduled, some precautions were taken and initial reports indicate no damage.
What ill will remains can be healed and needs to be healed. But right now we have groups that need to work together, see the big picture and ensure there is enough energy, a common vision and sound succession planning for organizers of all facets of the exhibition for the event to succeed in the future.
This is not a time for urgency. It is a time of opportunity.
It has been a sometimes touchy relationship among the Pictou Agricultural Society that owns the arena and the grounds where the rink and associated buildings and outside facility are located, the Hector Arena Commission that operates the rink and the Pictou Minor Hockey Association that organizes hockey from around November to March.
There is reason for joy. The event got done. It went reasonably well. There will be some things to consider for next year, and collective wisdom will make that process easier.
One day, all the people on all the committees will need to yield to age and the challenges that come with it.
People who may be younger and still appreciate how they feel about being at the exhibition will come forward to helm its future.
The Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition is not a five-day thing. It’s an everyday thing. And that preparation can be as tedious, or as rancorous as people want it to be – or it can be hugely rewarding.
Let’s embrace the moment because a lot of people felt good about being at the exhibition again.
Steve Goodwin

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Northern Pulp: Negative attitudes and publicity are also toxic

To the Editor:
Again this week we see a full page ad in the Pictou Advocate (Sept. 3/14) featuring a youngster with the pulp mill in the background. (If the photographer had panned a little more to the left and refocused he may have also captured the NSP Trenton Generating station in the distance. For emissions, it has been as bad, if not worse, than the mill. Since CO2 is invisible and odourless it doesn’t seem to rate mention in the Clean the Air campaign). The caption on the photo is obviously intended to instill fear. For me the picture of the young lad brought back memories of my younger years when I worked at the mill. That was where I earned the money to buy my first “brand new” car.
Try to imagine how many cars, homes, furnishings, cottages, boats, university degrees and other commodities that the mill has funded since 1967. Also consider the stimulus to the trucking/export industry and its spin-off benefits.
Reference to “anecdotal evidence” seems to be favoured by at least two MDs recently. Dr. Dan Reid will deliver a speech on September 9 based on “anecdotal evidence”.
I wasn’t sure of the exact meaning so I checked on Google and I found the following:
“Anecdotal evidence is often used in place of clinical or scientific evidence, and may completely ignore research or harder evidence that points to an opposite conclusion. Types of anecdotal evidence include claiming non-factual information based on the experiences of a few people, stories that would seem to contradict factual information, and word of mouth recommendations.”
The preceding description could be condensed to one word familiar to all – gossip.
It is frustrating and discouraging to see professional people reporting to sensationalism in an effort to support a cause. Rational people prefer to see actual facts based on something other than gossip and expect better from health care professionals.
More than 500 years ago Paracelsus, a physician, botanist, alchemist and astrologer declared: Dosis sola facit venenum: “The poison is in the dose.” This basic principle is ignored by the media on a regular basis when reporting on environmental issues.
In the case of the pulp mill it has been declared toxic, end of story. Really! Can we not have some details, such as the type of toxins in the emissions, the concentrations and the acceptable limits of exposure?
Water can kill you, if you drink enough. Rat poison can save you, in appropriate doses.
Some friends mentioned being told by relatives in the Annapolis Valley of news stories being circulated by the media in their area describing Pictou County as “a dangerous place to live.” Another person spoke of travelling on PEI and being asked by a tourist if it was safe to cross on the ferry and drive through Pictou County. The tourist referred to news coverage of the pulp mill.
This is a prime example of how negative publicity and toxic attitudes are working to impact the reputation of this area. Why would anyone want to vacation or purchase a retirement property here?
Constant demands for government action will solve nothing in the short term. The government created the whole mess through their apparent ignorance of the industrial world. There is no reason to expect their expertise to change overnight. They have issued a directive which Northern Pulp must respect, that is about as much as can be expected.
A positive attitude and support for the efforts of Northern Pulp in the months leading up to the May 2015 shutdown would certainly be more acceptable than the continued negativity and spread of misinformation that we have been forced to endure.
Most people living in this area understand the situation, the options and reality.
Those publishing comments and criticisms must at the very least respect the thoughts, feelings and judgment of the people and businesses depending on the mill for their survival.
Kent Bingley

PS – An accurate history of the evolution of the pulp mill can be found on Google: Toxic legacy – The Story of Boat Harbour.

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Pictou girl hurt on midway ride

PICTOU – Tara Lynn Steeves is thinking twice about midway rides following injuries she sustained on Saturday at the Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition.
Steeves, who is nine years old, did not go to school on Monday. She stayed home so that she and her grandmother, Sherry Rondelet, could see a doctor in case there are more injuries than the wrenched right shoulder and upper arm bruises she suffered when the ride she was in upset.
“She can’t move her right arm very well so we wanted to get it checked,” Rondelet said.
Steeves was in the lead seat of a multi-seat ride she called a Space Train that goes on a track. She was strapped into it and, somehow, it upset on her before the ride operator came along to set it upright with her still strapped in it.
“It goes super, super fast,” Steeves said.
“My hair was being swept right back when I went in it. (When it upset), I shut my eyes. I didn’t want to see what happened.”
Rondelet said she was disturbed with midway staff’s response to the incident.
“I’m concerned,” she said. “All they did was put a bolt in it and put younger kids on. Someone could have been hurt worse.”
Rondelet’s husband Lawrence was also present and intervened when midway operators moved Steeves before her condition was checked.
“I was still buckled in,” Steeves said. “I tried to unbuckle myself.”
First Aid personnel at the exhibition eventually examined Steeves and could not detect any broken bones, Rondelet said.
Steeves is feeling better but she had a difficult night sleeping  Saturday after the crash.
“I’m scared to go on any ride,” she said. “I had a nightmare that I was on a bigger ride and got hurt really bad. I couldn’t go back to sleep.”
Steeves’ grandfather, Lawrence Rondelet, discussed the incident with exhibition board president Jack Ferguson, who acknowledged the crash took place.
“There was an incident and it’s being dealt with,” he said. “I feel sorry for the family involved. I feel sorry for both parties.”
Her grandfather also notified Pictou RCMP. Calls directed to Sgt. Kevin Dunlevy were not returned.
Skot Gallant of G & G Amusements that operated the midway had no comment when asked about the incident.

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Cash awards for information

To the Editor:
It has been interesting to read and listen to comments recently regarding the money paid for information in solving an unsolved murder in Nova Scotia years ago. The money seems to have been the incentive to encourage someone to come forth with the vital information that solved the crime and put the criminals behind bars. Offering money as an incentive or a reward has been part of the Crime Stoppers program in Nova Scotia for more than 25 years. In fact, we celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2012.
We are all familiar with the slogan, “We want your information, not your name.” This is the premise of our organization. We are a volunteer organization with boards all across the province and all across the country. In fact, there are over 1,700 volunteer programs worldwide. All programs are run in the same way and rely on volunteers to promote the program and help police agencies solve unsolved crimes. The program is based on the guarantee of anonymity in dealing with each crime. If someone has information on a crime of any sort, they can call our Crime Stopper number 1-800-222-TIPS(8477) and provide the information they have. They will also be asked some specific questions but at no time will they ever have to give their name. The information will be passed on to the appropriate police or RCMP department to be investigated. The tipster will be given a tipster number and they will have to call the Crime Stopper number at a later date to see if the information has led to an arrest or a conviction. This is because the only information Crime Stoppers has for the caller is their tipster number.
Pictou County and indeed all of Nova Scotia have been very supportive of the Crime Stopper program. In August, local police agencies have received 19 calls regarding unsolved crimes. Since January 2014, Pictou County Crime Stoppers have received and directed 147 calls. These calls may give police information that could be helpful in solving crimes. The call may supply an important piece of information that could help solve a crime. Calls may supply information about drugs, arrest warrants, assaults, arson, illegal tobacco, underage drinking or any other unlawful activity.
Over 150 tips were received in a murder case in Pictou County a few years ago. It is interesting to note that many tipsters in Nova Scotia are eligible for cash awards but choose not to take them. They feel it is part of their civic duty as good citizens to help the police in the important work they do across the province.
Across Nova Scotia, 2,668 calls have been received to date this year. Property recovered across Nova Scotia so far in 2014 is valued at $25,044 and drugs seized so far this year are valued at $445,190. These are just two examples of how volunteers in the Crime Stoppers program can help the police in their area. Pictou County Crime Stoppers will be holding monthly meetings at their office in the Westville Police Dept.
Starting in September, we will be recruiting new volunteers who share our passion and interest in helping local police agencies with this type of work. If you share this interest and passion, please consider becoming a Crime Stopper volunteer. It is a very rewarding and satisfying way of making and maintaining safer communities right here in Pictou County.
Margie MacDonald
Chair of the Pictou County Crime Stoppers program

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Health problems continue to plague homeowner

To the Editor:
I bought a house in Pictou six years ago and since have had health problems  consistently, but before always had good health.
I lived in England and France for 40 years – often have European visitors who are alarmed by the air quality.
On July 9, my adult daughter came to visit  but felt unable to stay long as this year she has undergone treatment for breast cancer. I think it is unfair that this beautiful area should be obstructed in developing here the wonderful thriving tourist area that could be for all citizens instead  of being part of the province to avoid.
Marie Taylor

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Food, glorious food

To the Editor:
Sunday August 31, 2014 the New Glasgow Farmers Market held their second Community Dinner at the market dome with the Kilted Chef, Alain Bosse preparing the feast.
The five-course meal featured 98 per cent local food with a family atmosphere reminiscent of being at ‘Grandma’s house’ as groups of ten gathered at the tables. Corn bread was cut and passed around followed by bowls of roasted corn and mussel chowder that were ladled out and passed along. There was a salad of baby spinach with roasted beets with a sprinkle of goat cheese and pickled quail eggs topped of  with citrus honey vinaigrette. There were platters passed with roasted baby potatoes with butter and fresh parsley and one with roasted baby carrots and honey. The vegetables were in the ground in the morning and on our plates in the evening…one could not get anything better than this, in my opinion.
We had slow cooked beef tenderloin from our local producers served with an onion blue cheese sauce…yum. Dessert was wild blueberry shortcake served with maple whipped cream and a cup of tea or coffee. There were bottles of red or white wine to enjoy with dinner along with the option of local beer or a cold blueberry basil drink.
After dinner, individual packages of chocolate were  passed around concluding a delicious meal shared with others who enjoyed the ‘real’ local food.
I hope there are plans of a third community dinner at the NGFM next year.
This was a wonderful way to kick off the first 50 per cent Local Food Club for September, a month-long initiative to increase consumption and purchasing of local foods in Nova Scotia.
How many people know where their food comes from?
This is an opportunity for each of us to support our local food producers and farmers, strengthen the local food movement in our province, and simply celebrate food. I encourage you to check this out http://nslocalfoodclub.wordpress.com/.
Quality food and good nutrition are important, you are what you eat.
September is the perfect time to increase awareness as we are into harvest time for so many crops. It is time we change the way we look at food which is so vital to our lives.
It is time our hospital takes a close look at what they are feeding people who are patients trying to regain their health. The re-thermalized food does not get a passing grade and must change. Patients complain about the food but they must make those who have the decision making power know they are not happy, contact your MLA.
Support local is what it is all about, real food…yum!
Brenda Sterling-Goodwin
New Glasgow

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Our weakness is inability to constructively criticize

To the Editor:
I write this letter in response to the letter published September 3, 2014 titled “Let’s Count our Blessings”.
Ms. Elva Roy finished her article asking readers to share their opinions on what she considers the best place in the world. Speaking to many immigrants to this nation, I have been told many times that being born here is like winning a lottery, you are very lucky to be here, you have no idea how good your life is here, etc. I agree that  we have much to be thankful for.
Being born and living in Pictou County could be considered winning the lottery, albeit winning tag or $10,000 on a scratch ticket. Pictou County has a lot of civic pride and is a tight knit community, the nature surrounding the towns themselves is amongst the most beautiful and some of my favourite areas in this country. These are the things I love about Pictou County, but I pull no punches when it comes to what is wrong with the area.
The most acute problem the area faces is the environmental impact of hundreds of years of industrial activity. The current operating conditions of Northern Pulp are appalling. The local business community, those who financially benefit from these operations and encouraging the community to keep the wool pulled over their eyes, are even more appalling.
Local politicians easily dismiss consistently bottom of the barrel rankings in Money Sense Magazine.
I agree, we should not base the entirety of our policies on one magazine article. That said, we should not easily dismiss these observations of our community.
Herein lies Pictou County’s greatest weakness, we have no will or ability to constructively criticize ourselves.
All is not perfect here; we cannot continue to dismiss pollution as not that bad when our citizens are unable to breath. We cannot promote this area as a great tourist destination when tourists are fleeing in disgust and in fear for their health. We cannot call ourselves a great place to do business when many others say we are not.
Perpetually burying our heads in the sand and towing the same old lines does nothing but hurt ourselves.
I agree with Ms. Roy in a sense. We COULD be one of the best places in the world, but currently we are not.
We can do better but we need to accept our faults and work at making them right. Until then, Ms. Roy, and many others like her are simply not living in reality.
Mark Ette
Egypt Road, Trenton

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Convergys to stay in New Glasgow

(Editor’s note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed here. They  first spoke to The Advocate in June when the call centre announced it would be closing. They were afraid they would lose their jobs if they spoke to the media.)

NEW GLASGOW – News that Convergys will continue to operate here through 2015 has many employees breathing a sigh of relief.
“A load was lifted off my shoulders that day,” said ‘Mary’ (not her real name). “The worry came right off my face.”
She, and more than 200 other Convergys employees in New Glasgow, were informed on Friday that the call centre would not be closing its doors at the end of this month.
A spokesperson for the company, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, confirmed on Monday that the contact centre in New Glasgow will remain throughout 2015.
“Convergys is delighted to have the opportunity to extend employment and keep our contact center open in New Glasgow,” Convergys’ media relations specialist Brooke Beiting said.
“Convergys has secured additional business with an existing client served out of the New Glasgow site. This will result in a continuation of service and employment from this facility.”
‘John’ is equally thrilled.
“I was considering what to do next. Go back to school, apply for other jobs… I wasn’t sure what to do.”
He is thrilled that his job at Convergys will continue.
“It’s a full-time job – with benefits. And the benefits are the big thing for me.” A home owner, ‘John’ now has at least an additional 15 months to be able to save and continue to pay down his mortgage.
“I’d say about 98 per cent of us (Convergys employees) were happy with the announcement. They told us they would be open to the end of 2015 and possibly beyond.”
Convergys was scheduled to close at the end of the month and some of the employees had already begun leaving to look for work elsewhere. Others, he said, were in the process of registering for school or other courses.
“It was looking pretty grim,” admitted ‘Susan’.
“I personally met with the great people at Career Connections and at NOBL with the thoughts of either going back to school, starting my own business or pounding the pavement with an updated resume. Now I realize that this contract extension is just a reprieve, or prolonging the inevitable but it also gives anyone who is interested a better window in which to prepare for the future. We’ve been very fortunate with this call centre. Most of them only last about five years. This one has been open for 13 years and I can now say 13 years and counting!
“I feel bad for some of the people who left, but we all had exactly the same options. Either jump ship or go down with it. Kudos to those who took the leap of faith and moved on to new ventures. I wish each and every one of them success. The rest of us may well be in their shoes in 15 months.”
Beiting said the New Glasgow facility is able to operate with remaining 230 employees and does not plan to recruit more.
“We didn’t lose that many people,” she said. “We have the right amount of folks we need.”
Convergys has operated in New Glasgow since September 2001. It is among the larger employers in New Glasgow.
“We have an exceptional and talented workforce in New Glasgow,” Beiting said. “Their work has played a key role in securing the additional business. We are proud to remain an active member of the New Glasgow business community.”

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Ex draws big crowds

PICTOU – People knew what they were missing from the Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition after a year’s absence. Hundreds were drawn to some events, and several events drew upwards of 1,000 spectators as the ‘Ex’ marked a return to the Hector Arena and the exhibition grounds. “The weather was on our side,” said Jack Ferguson, president of the Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition board. “The gate attendance was satisfactory. It was an interesting week. If anyone says the longer you do something the easier it gets, it’s not like that. But we’re back to the exhibition tradition.” Ferguson said it’s too early to tell how the exhibition went financially, but he’s optimistic. “We should be in a good financial situation if we don’t get any surprises,” he said. Betty Lou Scott, corresponding secretary for Pictou County 4-H, completed her 36th year with 4-H at the exhibition. She estimated about 180 members from eight local 4-H clubs took part and achieved a high standard of excellence with their livestock and non-livestock presentations. “There was good participation by 4-H families, and the weather was amazing,” she said. “It was standing room only in the demonstration room for non-livestock events.” Food sales at the 4-H canteen were huge, Maureen Fraser said, noting the 35 tubs of ice cream and 150 pounds of beef consumed by customers’ sales. “We’ve been busy,” she said. “The turnout was really good. We’ve had a real good year.” Kent Corbett, who co-ordinated the motorized competitions, said they draw varying amounts of fans and were generally well-received. “We had good crowds, more than 1,100 at the demolition derby,” he said. Motocross racing replaced mud bogging, which Corbett said was a letdown for the mud bog participants. There was not much reaction from the crowds, he said. Motorized events also included modified and stock lawn tractor pulls, stock and altered lawn mower races and 4X4 truck pulls.

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