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Former Lourdes convent comes down

The former convent at Our Lady of Lourdes parish is coming down today.
Marinus Verhagen Enterprises Limited is in the process of dismantling the building.
The convent dates from when three Sisters of Charity arrived at the parish in 1882. The pastor at the time vacated the Glebe House to provide them a residence until the first convent building was ready to occupy in 1883.

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Minor injuries in three-car crash in Trenton

TRENTON – New Glasgow Regional Police are investigating after three motor vehicles were in a collision near the intersection of Main and Forge streets on Saturday.
At approximately 4:50 p.m. police, along with the Trenton Fire Department and Emergency Health Services, responded to the collision.
The driver of a Dodge Ram was travelling westbound on Forge Street when the truck proceeded through the stop sign colliding with a Toyota Corolla and a Toyota Rav on Main Street.
Drivers and passengers of all three vehicle suffered minor injuries and all vehicles suffered extensive damages.
The investigation revealed that a 52-year-old male driver of the Dodge was charged under the Motor Vehicle Act with failing to stop at a stop sign.

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UARB: Amalgamation in best interests of county

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has ruled that amalgamation would be in the bests interests of those municipal units proposing amalgamation.
A preliminary decision released today says the board will render a final decision after the receipt of plebiscite results to be held on
May 28.
The decision states: “All the persons who registered to speak did, indeed, attend the sessions and were able to make their presentations. Opinion was divided among the speakers
between those in support of amalgamation and those against.
On Monday evening, 15 of the 26 persons who spoke were against amalgamation, while 11 supported the application. On Tuesday evening, eight of the 12 persons supported amalgamation, while
four were opposed.
“With respect to the 23 letters of comment, almost 75% were opposed to amalgamation, but many acknowledged they wanted more information respecting the potential benefits and
disadvantages, or were disappointed with the consultation process
conducted by the applicants. Several indicated they were opposed because the towns of Westville and Trenton were not part of the application. Some of the letters of comment were provided by persons who also made presentations at the evening sessions. All those who made presentations or filed letters were passionate in their views, regardless of their opinion on the issue.”
The decision further states: “The board accepts the projections that have been prepared by the MOU Steering Committee as being appropriate for the financial analysis of the amalgamation. The board finds comfort in the expertise and knowledge brought to the development of the projections by the preparers, along with the judicious use of professionals.”

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Jubilee headliners announced

NEW GLASGOW – He has his ‘Own Way to Rock’ and he’s bringing it to the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee this year!
That’s right: True Canadian rock and roll royalty will headline the 2016 Riverfront Jubilee, when former Guess Who front man Burton Cummings headlines the Sunday night show at the 21st annual festival.
As the most recent inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, having already been inducted as a member of The Guess Who, Cummings has also earned a series of accolades including inductions into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, Canadian Walk of Fame, Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and the Prairie Music Hall of Fame. Cummings is also a multiple Juno Award winner, recipient of the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, the Governor General’s Performance Arts Award, and several BMI (Broadcast Music Industry) awards for more than one million airplays of his songs. Cummings is one of the most celebrated rock artists in Canadian music history, and he’s coming to the Jubilee.
“I may be dating myself here, but Burton Cummings was my first cassette tape purchased after years of hearing my dad blast his ‘Guess Who’ vinyl at home,” joked Mike Dunning, 2016 Riverfront Jubilee chairman. “Watching the special tribute to Cummings induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during this year’s Junos was pretty exciting, especially knowing that we’d be welcoming this rock legend to our stage in July.”
Cummings’ show in August at the Moncton Casino has already sold out.
“The whole weekend line-up will be incredible,” said Dunning. “The countdown is officially on.”
Friday night of the 2016 Jubilee will see Kingston, Ont.’s The Glorious Sons, described as an “everyman band”, telling real stories from a blue-collar perspective. The Glorious Sons, who worked with John-Angus MacDonald of The Trews on their first two recordings, are one of the hottest touring rock bands in the country in the past several years. They are also the most-played band at Active Rock in Canada in 2015, ahead of Foo Fighters, AC/DC and Pearl Jam.
“The vibe and this type of music will resonate with a lot of our patrons,” said Carlton Munroe, Jubilee executive director.
Their album, ‘The Union’, was nominated for Rock Album of the Year at the 2015 Juno Awards and they were winners of the Group and Rock Artist of the Year at the 2015 SiriusXM Indie Awards.
Saturday night will feature headliners Arkells, two-time Juno Award winners. Formed 10 years ago at school, Arkells have since become one of Canada’s most successful rock bands, sharing the stage and touring with acts such as Alabama Shakes, The War on Drugs, Metric, The Tragically Hip, Anti-Flag and The Black Crowes.
“Arkells are definitely one of the most sought after and exciting live bands in the country, as evidenced by their sell-out show in Halifax last winter,” said Munroe.
Full details of the total line-up will be shared in the coming weeks as slots are finalized, and more details about tickets, 2016 sponsors and the line-up are available on the Jubilee’s mobile-friendly website www.jubilee.ns.ca.

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Intergenerational conversation to give youth voice in shaping community

WESTVILLE ROAD – Regardless of the MOU outcome, municipalities need to learn how to better involve all generations in community decision-making. This moment in our community presents an opportunity to redesign how youth and other communities of interest can have a stronger voice in a new, unified municipality.
The MOU Steering Committee is hosting an intergenerational forum on Tuesday, May 3, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. The event will include the participation of high school students. People of all ages are invited.
In other intergenerational events that have taken place in Pictou County, youth have expressed the desire to have a voice in community conversations.
The outcome of this forum will be used to inform the participating municipalities as they move forward. This conversation can set the tone for new approaches as our community continues the process of working toward a more collaborative future in Pictou County.
RSVP at bit.ly/RaiseYouthVoice or for more information visit onepictoucounty.ca

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Job seekers come out in hundreds for event

Local employers collected resume’s in bunches last Wednesday at the Career Connections annual job fair held at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. This year’s event saw a large crowd of people with Career Connections staff estimating that within the first few hours they had about 500 people come through the doors.
“The goal today was to connect job seekers and employers,” said Heather MacIsaac of Career Connections. This is the third year they have held the event and she noted that it seems to be growing each year, with more employers and more job seekers turning out to connect with one another.
MacIsaac said the turnout about halfway through the event was “unbelievable.” As they had nearly as many people already as they had seen come through the doors for the entire event last year.
Some of the employers that were present at the event included the department of Justice, represented by some of the corrections officers that work there. The department of justice was hoping to recruit or find interested candidates for positions in corrections, administration, building operators and many more positions.
Some of the advice that corrections officer Dale Ross, who was representing the department at the booth, had for job seekers included having a positive attitude, confidence, the ability to assert yourself and for corrections specifically he recommended some ties with NSCC who runs a corrections program.
Local company Lismore Seafoods was also present at the event looking for job seekers who would be willing to work in production and even had an opening for production manager.
“We’re hoping to get some good seasonal full time workers,” said Jean MacDonald of Lismore Seafoods.
MacDonald advised job seekers to not give up on their hunt for employment.
MacIsaac also had some advice from career connections for those looking for jobs. She recommends doing your research, having a good resume, as well as thinking of jobs that will match your skill set. She also noted that the Career Connections Facebook page is a great place to find job postings.

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Crushers clinch MHL honours

The Pictou County Weeks Crushers demonstrated determination and resilience on their way to winning the Kent Cup and the MHL championship.
The Crushers sent a crowd of more than 1,700 fans home happy on Regan Spears’ second goal of the game as they edged the defending league champion Dieppe Commandos 4-3 on Monday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre in the sixth game of their best-of-seven league championship series.
His goal came with the game more even than it had been since the first period, but he had already sent the fans into a frenzy by tying the game 3-3 in the third period, much to the delight and relief of the hometown crowd.
Spears said the Crushers were a different team shortly after a rather inactive league trade deadline and proved their mettle when it counted.
“In the second half, we had a mirror talk and started playing playoff hockey,” he said.
Cole Murphy, a player with Pictou County connections who assisted on the Crushers’ two goals in the first period by Benji Curtis and captain Mike Lyle, said he was glad the team could win the league title at home.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “It’s kind of my second home. So many of my family were here. I’m really proud to win here.”
Murphy said the keys to the Crushers’ winning were teamwork and perseverance.
“It’s how we gelled as a team,” he said. “We were relentless. We knew we were going to win.”
The Crushers positioned themselves to clinch the league title on Monday after Murphy’s second goal of the game snapped a 3-3 tie late in the third period as they took a 3-2 series lead with a 4-3 victory over the Commandos on Saturday in Dieppe.
The Crushers led 3-0 after the first period on goals by Murphy, Garrett Lambke and Regan Spears.
The Commandos responded with two goals within 49 seconds late in the second period and tied the game early in the third.
The Crushers outshot Dieppe 36-24.
The series had taken a sharp turn. The teams traded home-ice victories in the first two games, but the road team has won the next three games.
The Crushers took a 2-1 lead in the series last Wednesday when they shut out Dieppe 7-0, despite being outshot 31-30.
Spears tallied twice and Michael Dill once in the first period for the Crushers. Murphy and Drew Packman gave the Crushers a 5-0 lead in the second, while Curtis and Mike Lyle completed the scoring in the third. Lyle added three assists.
The Commandos tied the series with a 3-1 victory over the Crushers the following night at the Wellness Centre.
Benji Curtis gave the Crushers a 1-0 lead in the first period, but the Commandos tied the game in the second period, took the lead early in the third period and scored an empty-net clincher with 13 seconds left.
The Crushers outshot Dieppe 13-7 in the first period but were outshot 31-28 over the game.
Crushers’ head coach and assistant general manager Doug Doull revelled in the win but said he’s looking forward to the Fred Page Cup.
“To win it in front of our fans like this is just amazing,” he said.
Doull once again alluded to the Crushers’ last home game, when they defeated Woodstock 2-1 in overtime, as a formative moment leading to the Crushers’ success in the playoffs and their crowning achievement on Monday.
“We know Woodstock very well – that game gave us so much confidence,” he said. “We’re not done yet.”

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Boston Marathon like no other

WHITEHORSE, YUKON – Crowds numbering in the thousands, cheering excitedly for you, pushing you to the end… That’s what the Boston Marathon is like.
Running the Boston Marathon is a dream come true for most runners, including Amelia Fraser.
The Pictou woman set her sights on Boston but had to defer a couple of times before getting the opportunity to run it for the first time last week.
This was Fraser’s fifth marathon in total and she says it was the absolute best by far, surpassing the marathon she ran on the Great Wall of China.
“The crowd support is like no other in Boston. You get treated like a celebrity; people go out of their way for you.”
On top of the crowds, there were a number of films being taped at the finish line, including a Mark Wahlberg film.
“I totally get the hype now about Boston.”
Having trained for 22 weeks on a rigorous marathon training plan, Fraser says she didn’t have the race she was hoping for, but she didn’t even mind that much because the crowd was so incredible.
“I was just happy to finish. I had some stomach issues and when I finished I had to go to the medical tent and they said they treated 2,000 people for similar issues. I thought it was just nerves at first and the travelling and heat, but I just had to get that medal.”
She says the weather was in the 20s that day with no cloud cover; the wind picked up half way through for a welcome relief.
But Fraser is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. Three years ago, she broke her back while surfing in Mexico and wasn’t sure if she would ever run again.
“For six months I couldn’t do much,” she says.
“It takes a while before you feel normal again. I could walk and after I had the surgery I could still feel my legs; I knew I would run again, but it took about six months for the pain to go away and about two years before I felt normal again.”
Having overcome that, Fraser believes it has made her more determined.
She flew all the way from Whitehorse to take part in the marathon, coming in at a time of 3:58, which she says wasn’t quite what she had hoped for, having qualified with a time of 3:27.
In Fraser’s age group, 18 to 34, the qualifying time is 3:35, but “you need two and a half minutes faster than that now because of the influx of people applying since the bombing,” she says. “It’s actually more difficult to qualify now.”
She began running seriously in 2010 and speed has been on her side.
“I was living in Vancouver and I signed up for a marathon clinic and it was great, I learned a lot about running and we motivated each other. It made me want to do more.”
She has been doing much more, having recently been nominated as Female Runner of the Year through Sports Yukon.
Fraser says she wasn’t as sore after Boston than she has been in the past, but is prepared to return for redemption.
“I’d also like to do the New York, London and Chicago marathons. There’s lots I would love to do.”
And she will because she set her mind to it.
“I definitely appreciate the ability to run, I don’t take that for granted that I get to run, not that I have to run.”
Fraser completed the marathon in 3:58:50, placing 16,467 overall and 3,721 in her age category.

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Linthorne hopes to run Boston again

STELLARTON – Walter Linthorne says it was a learning experience to run and finish the Boston Marathon.
Linthorne ran only his third marathon on April 18 by completing the famed suburban and downtown course in three hours, 22 minutes and 12 seconds. He said the atmosphere was as gratifying as finishing the marathon.
“It was a WOW experience,” he said. “The atmosphere was overwhelming. All along the course there was someone cheering you on. I think I high-fived every kid on my left side. It was the most incredible experience ever.”
His other two marathons were during the previous two editions of the Johnny Miles Running Event Weekend in New Glasgow. He placed eighth both times and was second local finish both times when he finished in 3:08:18 in 2014 and 3:01:31 last year.
“The two Johnnies are the only marathons I’ve run,” he said. “I know what to expect next time I run Boston. I won’t go next year but I’ll go sometime.”
Linthorne and his family stayed in Newton, which is located toward the end of the course. He said he didn’t take time to survey the course before running it.
He found the Boston course to be challenging and suffered from the same subtle obstacles, including Heart Break Hill that have inflicted pain on past marathoners near the end of the course. He said he kept a running pace he wanted to for most of the run.
“My brother (James) said to hold back,” he said. “My first 10 kilometres was 44 minutes, which is about average. My opening half was 1:36, but then at mile 24 or 25 I just stopped. Right after Heart Break Hill, there were two little inclines and my legs were gone. But I was able to finish.”
Linthorne said he found race day long and it was a warm day for running.
Getting up at 4 a.m. and getting on a bus at 6 a.m. for a run starting four hours later was kind of tough” he said. “The next day it was 10 degrees and overcast, which would have been ideal.”
The Linthorne family made the most of the trip, attending the runners’ exposition and watching a Major League baseball game featuring the host Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Linthorne’s other credits in 2015 include second in the Nonnie Morgan five-mile race at the Joe Earle Memorial Day races and third overall and first in his age group in the Westville Hawboldt/Lays five-mile race.
Linthorne’s future plans include running the 2016 Johnny Miles marathon in June.
A team has also asked him to run a leg of the Cabot Trail Relay on May 28.

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Nighthawks set for U-15, U-13 provincial volleyball finals

STELLARTON – The Pictou County Nighthawks will contest the Volleyball Nova Scotia Under-15 and Under-13 girls’ championships this weekend.
The U-15 girls will be at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax, while the U-13 Nighthawks will be in Truro.
The U-15 Nighthawks have enjoyed a successful season. They have more than held their own against the top U-15 and U-16 teams in the province and elsewhere and included in their training period games last weekend at a tournament featuring U-16 teams in Dartmouth.
There, the Nighthawks went undefeated in their six preliminary matches, won both their quarter-final and semifinal matches in straight sets and defeated the Halifax Hurricanes 25-16, 25-8 in the championship game.
The Nighthawks’ roster was the only U-15 one, while the others were U-16 teams.
“We were warmed up and ready to play,” Nighthawks head coach Keith Melanson said.
The U-15 Nighthawks are seeded first this weekend after being fifth overall among U-15 and U-16 teams and the only U-15 team in the top 10 during the recently completed winter and spring Super Series. But Melanson remains cautious of the outcome, despite how well he says the team has played.
“We’re after our third straight provincial championship, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park for us,” he said.
Before the Nighthawks’ trip to Dartmouth, they won at a U-16 tournament the previous weekend in Kensington, P.E.I., defeating the host team 25-18, in the championship match. They won their three preliminary matches, defeated Summerside in the quarter-final and ousted Kinkora, P.E.I. in the semifinal.

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Sports followed him into political office

It was an afternoon towards the end of 1972. I had gone to the premier’s office to interview the man in charge.
“Take a seat, Mr. Townsend,” the woman behind the desk said. “The premier will be with you in a moment.”
I was just two months into my new assignment as sports editor of The Chronicle Herald. Premier Gerald A. Regan was 801 days into his first term as the province’s political skipper.
It wasn’t our first meeting. A decade earlier, I was the Nova Scotia scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Regan held the same position with the Boston Bruins.
In those years of the 1960s, he and I would spend evenings in cold arenas, including New Glasgow Stadium and Stellarton Memorial Rink, looking for players who might be prospects for the National Hockey League organizations we represented.
We sometimes sat together watching the action. Occasionally, we would later go downtown to have a post-game chat at the Coffee Pot, a popular late-night haunt in those times. Evening News sports editor Ricky Fraser often came along.
We talked hockey, but always avoided saying much about the players who were catching our attention. They were fun times.
Gerry signed Halifax’s Wayne Maxner to a Bruins form. I landed Brookfield goalie Lyle Carter after watching him with a Trenton junior team. Over time, I also signed three members of the New Glasgow Rangers, Bob Judge, Jules Gagne and Rene L’Ecuyer, as well as Hal Dobson and Fred Malcolm of New Glasgow High School. Unfortunately, Gerry and I both missed out on Thorburn’s Lowell MacDonald, who I still maintain was the best player ever developed in Pictou County.
Regan was scouting when Lowell was tearing up minor and school hockey in the county, but lost out on the scoring star when a technicality resulted in an NHL ruling that MacDonald would be the property of the Detroit Red Wings. I didn’t get Lowell either, simply because he was already in Hamilton, playing major junior, when I joined the Leafs.
In my new position with the provincial paper, I was anxious to talk with Gerry about the road that took him from sportscasting to leading the government. The conversation was enjoyable.
By then, Regan was 43 years old and, like many old jocks, enjoyed recalling his days as an athlete. He had played hockey, played baseball and, perhaps more than anything, played pretty good tennis. He grew up in Windsor, a town known for its great tennis interest. Among other achievements, Gerry was runner-up in junior tennis as a teenager.
Though 10 years apart in age, he and I had one significant thing in common. We both loved talking sports. We shared something else – a very early affection for sports from a media perspective.
Both of us got involved during our high school days. He went into radio, becoming a very respected sportscaster and, while at university, his radio future looked bright when his announcing became familiar to listeners in Halifax.
His radio days didn’t last.
Instead, he studied law, entered the legal profession and was becoming more and more interested in politics.
And so, almost 10 years after we were scouting hockey players, we were in his office putting sports ahead of other matters.
He still had a sports passion.
When he and the Liberals won the 1970 election, he formed a cabinet that included a former Nova Scotia baseball star, Garnie Brown. Garnie had a reputation of being able to hit balls the proverbial mile. Not a Hank Aaron or Mickey Mantle perhaps, but you get the idea.
Together, Gerry and Garnie had another mission – forming a provincial recreation department.
For them, it was a natural.
Regan always believed people of all ages should be active in recreational activities. His long-time presence on tennis courts confirmed that kind of thinking.
When Gerry and I chatted, the recreation department was just days from becoming reality. No surprise, Garnie Brown became its first minister.
Though it has taken on new identities over the decades – it’s now the department of health and wellness – it is still a very important part of the provincial government.
Oh yes, baseball was always another love of Gerry’s. He was a confessed Cincinnati Reds fan since childhood and one of his favourites was Pete Rose. The year before we talked, Gerry attended the World Series, a guest of the Reds.
Interestingly, less than a month after our get-together, Gerry was a head-table guest at the first-ever Kingsmeadows sports dinner in Halifax. Also at the head table was Pete Rose. I bet they had quite a discussion.
Thinking back to those times, it’s amazing how sports in Nova Scotia have become more and more organized at the provincial level.
In 1970, Sport Nova Scotia came on stream. It was considered a major – and much needed – organization to bring Nova Scotia’s sports governing bodies under one umbrella. There was some concern the recreation department might replace Sport Nova Scotia. However, these 43 years later, both are continuing to play major roles.
Regan, meanwhile, never went back to sportscasting and, as far as I know, he never returned to scouting hockey players.
But he kept on the move.
He was premier until 1978, then turned his attention back to federal politics, where he had been a member of Parliament in the mid-1960s. In 1980, to no one’s surprise, Canada’s first Prime Minister Trudeau named him to the federal cabinet. The portfolio? Minister of sport, of course.
It’s hard to realize – having known him for so long – that he’s now 88 years old. Or, as he would insist, 88 years young. And he would probably be surprised to know how old I am.
And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he still plays tennis.

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Pie fundraiser bigger than anticipated

The third annual Pizza Festival of Pictou County was bigger and better attended than anyone could have expected.
Taking place this year at the Pictou County Wellness Centre after two years at Glasgow Square Theatre, the festival saw around 300 attendees, up from last year’s 225. It also saw participating pizza vendors increase to eight, along with Uncle Leo’s craft brewery.
“That’s pretty much our max because of the room set up,” said event co-chair Gary Hollett. “Next year, not to get ahead of ourselves, but we’ll probably add another craft brewery. Eight (pizza vendors) is probably enough but we’d like another craft brewery.”
Hollett said the move in location was triggered in part but the growth and support the festival has received. It also allowed for the event to include live entertainment.
Of the eight pizza vendors taking part six– Crossroads Country Market, Acropole, Pictou County Pizza, Greco, Original Sam’s Pizza, and Cafe Italia– were returning. Jessy’s Pizza was taking part for the first time while Sobey’s West Side was returning after a one year absence.
Notable changes to this year’s festival included a “Chase the Pizza” trivia contest which will see the winner receive a year’s worth of pizza from the vendor of their choice and the discontinuation of the Judge’s and Public favourite titles. Hollett said that dropping the competitive angle made the event more of a true celebration of pizza.
Approximately 75-80 per cent of tickets were sold in advance with the remainder being picked up at the door.
“The numbers that are here tonight are very pleasing,” Hollett said, “we’re very happy with that. We had some great support from our sponsors. Our Platinum sponsor was the Advocate, and right on down everybody supported us.”
Proceeds from the event will go to the New Glasgow Rotary Club in support of its ongoing projects.
“Our objective is to raise around $12-15,000,” Hollett said, “and all of that money goes back into the community and community projects and we also do some international causes.”

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Gardeners digging in for provincial conference in Pictou County

The Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs will be holding their provincial conference at the Pictou County Wellness Centre June 3 and 4.
Approximately 200 gardeners will be meeting during the weekend to learn more about gardening. The theme of the conference is Touched by a Garden, and after May 1, the general public is invited to register.
On June 3, activities will begin at 1 p.m. with registration. Self-guided tours will occur at three spectacular and nearby gardens. Vendors will be open 2-9 p.m. From 6:30 to 7 p.m. the official opening address will be given by Don Butler, convention chair, and a special welcome will be given by Municipality of Pictou County Deputy Warden Andy Thompson. Patsy MacKenzie, chairperson for the association, will also offer her remarks. At 7 p.m. Denise Adams will be delivering her topic, Embracing Native and Naturalized Plants. The reception at 8 p.m. includes entertainment, social time and a cash bar.
On June 4, registration will be 8-10 a.m. Vendors will be open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Anyone can visit the vendors during their open times without registering for the convention. From 8:45 until 9:45 a.m. the annual general meeting will occur and special door prizes will be drawn. At 10:15 a.m. Randy Lauff will speak on, Not all Insects in your Garden Should Bug You.
Lord Abbey will then speak on Horticultural Therapy – Therapeutic Benefits of Plants and Their Use, Past, Present and Future at 11:05 a.m. Lunch will be served followed at 1:15 p.m. by Dawn Westhaver speaking on, Sharing My Happy Place and What’s New With Milkweed and Monarchs? At 1:20 p.m. Michael Overmars will speak on Experiences of a Beginning Market Gardener at 2:35 p.m. followed by Philip Ruiz speaking on Ergonomics for the Garden: Back to Basic. Further door prizes will be drawn and the banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Banquet speaker will be Carol Goodwin who will speak on Touched by a Garden.
Price for the two days for the general public will be $45 which includes Friday evening reception, all presentations, Saturday lunch and refreshment breaks. For additional information or questions telephone David or Angie at 902-485-6369 or e-mail nsagc2016convention@gmail.com.
Submitted by John Carter

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One night: 40 years of material

If you have the chance to chat with Murray McLauchlan you’d be well advised to take it.
McLauchlan will spin wide ranging, weaving narratives from encounters with a pre-outlaw Waylon Jennings, to opera, Italian art and wine, haunted guitars and causal name droppings of old friends like the late Warren Zevon.
McLauchlan will be performing at the deCoste Centre on Friday, May 6. This tour, and the short tour last fall, represent a return to solo shows for McLauchlan after spending a number of years focused on the singer-songwriter supergroup Lunch At Allen’s.
“Quite frankly, I guess, if I had to look hard at it, I got a longing to get out and play music of my own,” McLauchlan said. “I wanted to return to the concert stage. Essentially retirement just wasn’t working out so hot.”
The show’s format, McLauchlan said, will be similar to that of his 1975 live album Only the Silence Remains – however, this time around the electric bass will be replaced by an (occasionally bowed) stand up bass, courtesy of Victor Bateman.
McLauchlan said while he enjoys playing with other guitar players the prospect of doing so on tour seemed redundant.
“I spent several months living in Italy in 2013,” McLauchlan said, “and did very little else other than see great works of art, drink really good wine and sit and play the guitar and kind of discovered that I really loved the sound of the thing and as a result I discovered many new ways of playing. I could play along with Freddie Green and the Basie boys now, so I don’t really need another guitar player.”
His stage guitar – a white on black jumbo Yamaha he’s long forgotten the model name of – has been his live mainstay for 30 some years, but it’s far from the only guitar he has at his disposal, including the aforementioned “haunted” guitar.
“(It was) built in 1938 by a Toronto luthier. It’s the only guitar that’s on the Human Writes album and I swear it’s haunted. But I can’t take that one on the road, it’s way too fragile. It likes to be in the studio and it likes to be played softly and gently.”
McLauchlan was hard pressed to say what exactly makes the instrument haunted but built a solid case for it nonetheless.
“It’s hard to describe,” McLauchlan said. “You put your fingers on it and it seems to want to sing. It has a history. It was briefly in the pit band at the Royal York Hotel in the hands of a musician during the era when people like Nelson Eddy were singing. It’s quite a colourful little machine. I found it, it’s almost cliché, on the wall of a pawn shop.”
McLauchlan’s most recent album to date is 2011′s Human Writes, but he has found himself – much to his own surprise – riding high in the US charts as a songwriter, due to a cover of Honky Red by the band Widespread Panic. McLauchlan first recorded the song in 1971 and it’s the type of thing that makes bottling 40 years of material down to a set list difficult.
“It ain’t easy, I don’t mind saying,” McLauchlan said. “The repertoire rotates just because it occurs to you that you haven’t played something in a while or something’s going on in your life and the song takes on a specific meaning again or because you’re just jamming it one night and it sounds good to you.
“There are certain songs I think that I have to put into a concert or fans would kill me if I didn’t play … There’s a certain repertoire of songs that I think people want to hear, expect to hear and I’m more than happy to play them for them.”
The other tricky factor in selecting a set’s worth of songs is that McLauchlan’s whims as a songwriter led him to follow whatever style of music he felt like following.
“I’m a great advocate of the non-siloing of music,” McLauchlan said. “For a while there it just seemed like what kind of music you liked was like what political party you belonged to or what kind of cigarettes you smoked. My tastes in music are really, really wide ranging. I find the only caveat is to resist the temptation to want to write in whatever mode I’ve just been listening to that’s really blown me away.”
McLauchlan explained his genre-jumping in greater detail via a detour of favourite and far-flung artists. The picture becomes clearer the murkier the waters get.
“You sort of have to find your own voice, whether you’re a songwriter, a writer of books, or whether you’re a person for that matter. The whole purpose of life is to grow into your paws and become authentically yourself.”

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May 28: A day to get better, not get even

To the Editor:
The upcoming May 28 plebiscite is an opportunity to embrace unity and success. Local decline in population and in property values are a reflection of our lack of a coordinated approach to economy building and an impossible decision making process. I.e. Six councillors required to decide to gravel the Pioneer Track parking lot as we host the biggest track event in County history (The News April 16) – a great opportunity to showcase our county thanks to the hard work of Pat Carty and Pictou County Athletics.
I have on my own behalf, as a taxpayer in Stellarton and the county, studied the savings of amalgamation ($1.3 million/year) to provide a five-year assurance of no tax increases. That, along with the provincial government commitment of funding (if we amalgamate), allows $69,000,000 of infrastructure spending, much of which we will effectively lose if we fail to unite. I am convinced the MOU information is accurate and the plan will work.
This is not the time to let old rivalries and divisions cloud our judgment as to what is best for our future. This plebiscite vote should be about the future, not the past. Many young people are urging all of us to support the cooperative way forward. They say do not let the past spoil our future and a YES vote is a vote for unity, for a better future in an even better county.
The mayor of the amalgamated Liverpool Queens spoke to us of efficient decision making, a regional plan, attracting 41 new companies to his area combating the catastrophic paper mill closure in Liverpool. Chris Clarke reported voluntary amalgamation is working in Queens – it will work here.
May 28 is not a day to get even; it’s a day to get better. This new centralized governance platform will allow our Municipal Representatives to do a better job for us. We will have a Regional Development Plan. We will have a county vision. We will have faster decision making, and we will have regulations that encourage rather than discourage others to come.
I urge all to check the information for yourselves before you choose. Visit the onepictoucounty.ca website, attend MOU information sessions, or visit the Friends of Pictou County office at the Highland Square Mall to get the facts.
Inform yourself and vote on May 28.
I have children and grandchildren and my Yes vote is for them.
John Hamm
Stellarton

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We need change that will make us winners

To the Editor:
Pictou County has a long and proud history as a strong and entrepreneurial region in our province. Much of our success can be traced to people who saw and seized opportunities, who capitalized on our strengths, with forward thinking and imagination. Have we lost that ability to look forward, to imagine and to build on our strengths?
If that entrepreneurial spirit is still alive in Pictou County, it is not obvious in many of our actions of the past several years. Looking around, it seems we have become victims of what I call “me-too-ism”. Our neighbours have farmers markets, wellness centres, business parks, marinas, entertainment centres – “me too”, let’s build one too. What that accomplishes is nothing more than to make us the same. Our ancestors looked around, asked what makes us different and built on that. They were leaders and innovators, building to strengths, not simply playing defense.
This amalgamation question is just one more example of “me too”. Others have tried it and failed, so let’s do that too. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we ask “what do we want”, and then build a “made in Pictou County” model – a model that is a leader in innovative thinking – to get there?
Does anyone really believe the MOU’s letter of intent is unique and the result of hard negotiation? Compare it to agreements covering the recent town dissolutions – the only changes are names and amounts to reflect differences in size. Does anyone really believe this amalgamation is a new idea? It’s been talked about for at least 50 years – the only thing unique about this one is that it excludes two municipalities – not an idea that anyone could characterize as innovative.
There are two approaches to this world – “me too” and “we’re different”. “Me too” simply keeps you in the game. “We’re different” makes winners. It worked for our ancestors; if we give it a chance, it can work for us, too.
I believe that we need change that will make us winners. The first step down that path is to say NO to the “me too” amalgamation.
Brian W. White, Chair, Amalgamation No Thank You

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MOU: A plan that respects the needs and priorities of rural citizens

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next several weeks, The Advocate is happy to bring a series of
information columns from the MOU Steering Committee on a variety of topics related
to the proposal.

In a stronger, unified municipality, rural residents will benefit from lower taxes for rural services, infrastructure improvements, projects that celebrate community identities and fair representation.
In the new municipality there will be separate rural and urban tax bills. Rural bills will continue to be less than urban bills and everyone’s taxes will be lower. Lower taxes are possible because expenses for the New Municipality are projected to decrease by $1M per year. Rural ratepayers will only pay for services they receive. There will be no change in farm or forestry property taxes. Farm exemptions and forestry rates are set in provincial legislation.
County residents are not responsible for town debts and County savings (also called Reserves) will be used for County projects.
Our plan has secured funding for both rural and town infrastructure projects. This is quite distinct from recent Nova Scotia dissolutions, in which towns become part of the surrounding County government. Upon dissolution, provincial funding has been provided to the dissolving town and no support has been provided to the receiving County.
The five-year $69M capital budget includes County projects, including central drinking water systems, stormwater and wastewater installations and improved road access to the regional hospital. We will pay for these improvements with external funding, existing reserves and modest amounts of long-term debt and operating funds. The external funding, a total of $30M, allows for the completion of rural projects that have been on the books for many years, without burdening the County taxpayer.
Representation will be fair and proportionate, with: five councillors representing rural communities, three councillors representing urban communities, two councillors representing a mix of rural and urban communities, and one mayor elected at large who could be from anywhere in the New Municipality. Each district Councillor represents an average of 3,000 voters. Reducing committee responsibilities and shifting the priority of councillors to constituency work will ensure citizens continue to have ready access to their elected officials.
Our communities will keep their character and traditions. For example, the 18 rural fire departments will continue as is – they are an important part of our community fabric. The proposed staffing structure of the new municipality calls for rural community development workers, and the budget includes an expanded community identity signage program.
There has been no co-ordinated approach to economic development in Pictou County since 2013. By coming together as one united municipality, we will improve our odds of attracting new businesses that will bring new jobs and families to our communities. Amal-gamation means we can deliver services to citizens more affordably and efficiently. With the stability of improved finances, the new municipality can focus on plans to ensure greater quality of life for everyone.
To learn more about the proposal to amalgamate, please visit onepictoucounty.ca.

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Status quo is simply not enough

To the Editor:
The issue of Amalgamation certainly has evoked passion from both sides. At times I’ve been concerned at the tone of the debate as neighbours and friends turn on each other like shoppers on Christmas Eve fighting over the last toy on the shelf at Walmart. Let’s keep it respectful. When this is all over we’ll still be seeing each other at the grocery store.
I don’t have any facts and figures to spout at you, and I haven’t earned a degree in amalgamation studies like some of you have. But here’s what I know: We need change. The status quo is not enough. I moved home 2.5 years ago after having lived on three continents. Like many people my age who grew up here and have young children, we wanted to be closer to family. So we packed up our lives, bought a house in Pictou and hoped for the best.
In some ways it has worked out. We can drop in on my parents and they can drop in on us. We have great Sunday lunches with the family. I’ve renewed old friendships and made new ones. The kids are getting a great education and doing better in school now than they ever have done. We feel safe.
But in other ways, the lenses of my rose-coloured glasses are now cracked. I see empty stores at the Highland Square. There are “for sale” signs on the restaurants in my town. Young people lucky enough to find work are often hired on as ‘casuals’ and it’s a long, hard road to making ends meet, not to mention job security. In my old life I used to tell young people to look for a job that would pay the bills and make you happy. Now I find myself telling them to take whatever they can get.
Perhaps the most worrying thing though has been the sense that people who are like me, who had lives elsewhere and have come back with their families, feel as though they’ve had to sacrifice something to be here, as though in order to make a life here they have to give something up. I hear them saying that if they hadn’t come back they’d have more money in the bank, or they’d be further along in their careers if they’d stayed away.
Life is about trade-offs. Many of us would gladly give up those things for the quality time with family that we now enjoy. But that’s because this is home. Ultimately our success depends on attracting new people. We need folks who will start businesses, who will bring their children, who will inject our community with vibrancy and life. And they’re not going to come to a place where they have no history, unless we are attractive to them, unless they feel that Pictou County presents them with an opportunity. If they feel like they have to give something up to be here, why on Earth would they come?
The “yes” side thinks that amalgamation will make us more attractive. Many of our councillors are even willing to put their jobs on the line to bring about an amalgamated council much reduced in size. They wouldn’t do that if they weren’t absolutely convinced that the benefit to our community is of greater importance than their own self-interest.
The “no” side disputes this, as is their right. But if amalgamation isn’t one answer to the challenges we face, what is? What are they putting on the table? What is their ‘big idea’?
On April 14th I had the opportunity to hear the mayor of the Region of Queens, Christopher Clarke, address the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce. He presented what I thought was a compelling case for amalgamation. He also had some wisdom for our political leaders to make the process less painful should amalgamation proceed. Change is always hard. But change we must. And since I see this debate as a split between “Do something” and “Do nothing” I’m casting my lot with those who wish to do something.
Stacey Dlamini
Pictou

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Liberal budget lacks vision for future of NS

To the Editor:
On the surface, Tuesday’s budget appears to be reasonable. However, after having the opportunity to look closely at their estimates, I feel they produced a budget that attempts to fly under the radar and not rock the boat.
It is a document suggesting that the government is heading in the right direction, that everything will be okay.
In other words, it is a feel-good budget.
If you have the opportunity to look at the details in each department, you will quickly realize they do not have a plan for job creation and growth. It is not likely we will see the kind of job creation or wage increases to make people want to stay in this province.
The Liberals did not indicate that real tax relief was on the horizon. Nova Scotians want jobs and at best, a modest decrease in the amount of tax dollars that leave their pockets.
Their revenue projections were very healthy. They believe they will receive an extra $146 million in income tax revenue. Can Nova Scotians be expected to pay more? Their financial projections are created around assumptions. In fact, the Finance Minister stated that his projections are based on information that is presently available.
We all know that information can change overnight.
If anything goes wrong within any department, such as the Yarmouth ferry, health issues or with transportation as examples, their net surplus of $17.1 million will disappear in a flash.
Risky projections are not the way to govern. We must balance our need for fiscal sustainability through creating conditions for real job growth.
The budget does not assist in improving our roads, helping businesses nor does it help the film industry. There is no mention of improving our railway system. Nova Scotia libraries are once again ignored and left to fundraise in order to provide their communities with much-needed and much-appreciated services.
Can you imagine a budget where health care spending is basically flat? That is what this government has delivered.
The Liberals’ election campaign promise to break the electricity monopoly, help grow business and improve our highway system has been forgotten.
We can support the Food Bank Tax Credit for Farmers that our party introduced last fall and the mental health programs in schools. However, major attention must be given to address the extensive flaws in the health system. We need a plan to address the systematic issues with services in the province.
Does this budget improve the lives of Nova Scotians? Have they decreased small business taxes to spur investment? The answer is simply ‘no’.
Pat Dunn
MLA Pictou Centre

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Town could win the MOU lottery

To the Editor:
Thank you very much. You (expletive) disturbing people, you are finally managing to rip our county in half.
Did you ever think when you started to ram this MOU agreement down the throats of the common people it would result in a big feud, not unlike the Hatfield and McCoys? You have managed to take a peaceful community and transform it into a hateful place to live. You cannot get away with this. We will not let a bunch of money grubbing dreamers drive a wedge between the good people of Pictou County. If you people don’t like it here get out and move to Halifax where there is a shooting every week or so. Take the useless centre and its large deficit with you when you go.
This is Pictou County, strong and true. Pictou County is made up of all our towns and villages, or it was before you people started all this fighting. Why are you so set on ruining our peaceful lifestyle? If you people want to separate, move to Quebec and join up with some that want to ruin our country.
It is a good thing I believe in the good people in Pictou County or I would not be fighting so hard to make sure these dreamers don’t get their way and take our way of life away from us. Please get out and vote and stop this for good.
Gary Heighton
Meadowville

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Residents face growing challenges

To the Editor:
While our region has much to offer, with some of the best beaches, community spirit and hard working people always ready to take on new opportunities, Pictou County as a whole is facing real and growing challenges. A struggling economy, a declining and aging population, a tax base that is shrinking and a saturated real estate market where the equity many have built up in their homes is at risk.
I was born and raised here in Pictou County and I am lucky to say I was able to find employment in the place I love and call home. Unfortunately for many of my generation that just is not the case now. Young people like myself want to live in Pictou County, they want to start and raise their families here, but without meaningful economic development, staying in Pictou County just isn’t a realistic option.
In May, the residents of Stellarton, Pictou, New Glasgow and Municipality of Pictou County will have an opportunity to change course and move forward together. The proposed amalgamation is a vital first step in creating the economic conditions for growth. This proposal, while detailed and technical will cut the number of politicians from the current 31 to 11, ensure a stable and lower tax rate for all residents and most importantly allow the new municipality to work together, instead of competing against each other for economic development and investment here at home.
No-one can promise that amalgamation will fix everything, but doing nothing is not an option. Magically hoping that things will improve without change is not an economic policy, it is a surrender to the status quo. With a declining and aging population in Pictou County, the old ways of doing things is a recipe for higher taxes, reduced services and a real estate market that is measured in years on the market and not days or months.
I am the first to admit this process may not have been perfect but the upcoming vote should not be about past battles, personal feelings or unfounded fear. This vote should be an important first step for a better, more prosperous Pictou County together.
Tyler Cameron
Plymouth

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Time for opposition to present sessions

To the Editor:
On Wednesday evening I attended the information meeting for the citizens of Pictou at the deCoste Center regarding the MOU. The meeting was very informative and the long-term plan along with facts and figures were presented.
Mayor Joe Hawes and councillor Cam Beaton gave great presentations. The meeting was well run with all in attendance being respectful of different opinions, thanks to the moderator Craig Clarke.
There are two sides involved in this major decision for our county and the communities involved have put in tremendous time and effort to show the positive side of amalgamation. For those opposed, perhaps it’s time to present information sessions and give an alternative plan on amalgamation. Just food for thought.
Bernie Currie
Pictou

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See plebiscite as an opportunity to be in control of the future

To the Editor:
“One does not discover new lands without first consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – Andre Gide, novelist.
Reading the book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes you Lose (Learn) for Teens by John C. Maxwell, several chapters jumped out to me as they addressed many of the feelings residents in Pictou County have expressed in response to the debate regarding the MOU plebiscite. The most notable is the section that explores why we resist change. Maxwell notes that “Change feels like personal loss, it’s awkward”….but the most resounding was “most people won’t pay the immediate price to change and end up paying the ultimate price for not changing.” Change can be scary when we don’t have all the answers in advance; but with the right approach, we can make finding the answers together an opportunity for growth and development with results that may have never been possible if we stayed on the other shore.
I want residents to see the plebiscite as an opportunity to be in control of the future of our community. Come out and vote… for either side. Really, my fear is for residents to be disengaged and sit back, sigh “it doesn’t matter” and let these decisions, which will impact their daily lives, be made by others. Regardless of the outcome, there will be an opportunity in the fall to once again participate in the democratic process and CHOOSE the leaders we want to guide our community.
I have great hopes that this MOU exercise has been a catalyst to spark interest in the importance of citizen engagement in municipal government.
The status quo is just that – static. Not moving forward, and in some cases could be argued that we’re moving backwards. What is being proposed is more than a new governance structure, it’s saying yes to a new perspective on the world and taking control of our future.
We have an opportunity on May 28 to set a new direction for our community. Let’s enter this next phase together. Supportive and positive… uncovering new possibilities for growth and improved practice. I’m willing to pay the immediate price for change now.
Rae Gunn
Scotsburn

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All the ways to ruin it all

People listened to Doug Griffiths on Monday.
The rancher, educator, member of the Alberta legislature, consultant and author is commanding wide acclaim for the book he co-authored with Kelly Clemmer called 13 Ways to Kill Your Community.
Griffiths was in full force at the lunch and learn hosted by the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce. He stepped away from the microphone and moved around the more than 60 people who came to hear him describe how the structure for his book was previously exercised in school.
Before writing 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, Griffiths asked his students in the classroom one day to ask themselves what it would take for them to ruin their lives forever.
“Pretend that’s your goal – where do you want to start?” he asked. “Everyone does things every day that undermines their hopes and dreams.”
One can appreciate how Doug draws crowds. Those at the event were seniors or represented professions, business, municipal government and members of groups such as Pictou County 2020 and Pulse Pictou County.
Of all the things Griffiths discussed, not once did he utter the word amalgamation. That’s for others to figure out, as is happening in the current debate over the memorandum of understanding among four participating municipalities that might lead to amalgamation.
In a matter of weeks, the Chamber has had as guest speakers who, in different ways, have made those who attended their talks laugh a little and think a lot about their futures and the future of their communities.
Region of Queens Mayor Christopher Clarke was able to speak as a long-time municipal council member and illustrated how things are not all peaches and cream in Queens, but they are better than they were and in his mind much better than they would have been.
Griffiths emphasized that communities like those in Pictou County are not alone in their challenges. What is common about those challenges are described by the titles of the 13 chapters in his book.
Pictou County’s youth are leaving. There is no concerted effort to bring them back. We aren’t attracting business. We are shopping elsewhere. Many Pictonians are living in the past and holding grudges that are eating holes in their hearts. Pictonians have become complacent and don’t feel responsible for what’s wrong here.
Some people want to do something about it. All Griffiths did Monday was confirm it.
Amalgamation may not deliver all Pictou County’s hopes and dreams, but it’s what the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has on its plate. There is no Plan B because the process is not one where the UARB gets to choose from a menu. This is the plan. This is the opportunity.

Steve Goodwin

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MORE proclamation signed prior to run

STELLARTON – Students and community leaders gathered last week for the signing of the official Marathon Of Respect and Equality (MORE) proclamation.
The gathering was held at G.R. Saunders Elementary School and welcomed students who will be participating in the run.
This year’s theme of Everyone is Someone was prevalent during the ceremony which kicked off with comments and welcome from Stellarton councillor Denise Taylor and this year’s co-chairs.
Terry Curley was the first up to the microphone, noting that he was grateful to be there.
“Unfortunately we live in a very judgmental society,” he said, going on to note that this event, which stemmed from the Run Against Racism started by Henderson Paris, was a source of inspiration and that he sees change in the community as a result of this. He also noted that having the students and staff of schools involved is important as the kids are the future of the county. Curley also talked about his own childhood and his problems with confidence and how regaining that confidence has helped him greatly in life.
“Everyone has the ability to achieve something great,” Curley said finishing his remarks.
Co-chair Henderson Paris mentioned that this is the 27th year since he began his original Run Against Racism.
“When we set out 27 years ago, our goal was to help young people,” said Paris who is happy that the schools have such a strong involvement in the event.
“It should not be a message and something that we have to talk about in 2016,” he continued. He went on to say that awareness must be raised in order to eliminate discrimination.
“You are, we are, someone,” said Paris.
Chair of the MORE run, Peter White, noted that the engagement from the schools has been strong so far and that the event is essentially part of their calendar of events now.
“I think young people get it much more easily and readily,” White said.

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