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Judge feeds fascination for “an imperfect game”

NEW GLASGOW – Clyde Macdonald’s loyalties have strayed, but his near life-long interest in baseball appears as strong as ever.
Macdonald started as a fan of the game – and the New York Yankees – 60 years ago. But for the last five seasons, he has travelled to Sarasota, Fla. during spring training while accommodating all his family members.
He calls it the Clyde Macdonald bursary.
Macdonald hosts his family members who arrive by car or airplane from various parts of the continent, and then he makes sure they are accommodated and have tickets for all the Grapefruit League games they can attend within a reasonable distance in the time available.
He said his affinity for the sport is a pure one. Despite becoming a prodigious author in recent years, he does not view baseball through a writer’s lens.
“I’m a baseball fan,” he said. “What has always amazed me is that baseball is not a perfect game.”
Macdonald harkens to years with top batting averages barely above .300, such as in 1968 when Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting championship with an average of .301, the lowest figure since Elmer Flick’s .308 mark in 1905.
He marvels about last season, when three perfect games were thrown, then reaches for a baseball autographed by Don Larsen, who pitched the only perfect game in a World Series game during a 2-0 victory for the Yankees in 1956.
Macdonald’s support for the Yankees has waned as he spends more time studying the Tampa Bay Rays, a team with a consistent record over the five years he has attended spring training despite a relatively small player payroll.
He also admires the Baltimore Orioles, whose spring training venue is in Sarasota.
He is impressed with both the knowledge and comportment of all three teams’ field managers – Rays’ Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter of the O’s and the Yankees’ Joe Girardi.
But his most glowing tribute this year goes to former Orioles ironman infielder Cal Ripken Jr. who holds the record of 2,632 games played and still looks as if he could play.
“What amazes me most are the class acts like Cal Ripken,” he said. “He signed a couple dozen autographs on his way into a game and signed the others on the way out. You see the ones who want to sign autographs and those who don’t bother.”
Spring training has not been as popular this year for a number of reasons, Macdonald said. Operators are citing rather cold weather, higher ticket prices, the season’s earlier start and absence for a time of start players due to the coinciding World Baseball Classic.
Macdonald travelled to Lakeland, Fla. where the Detroit Tigers train to see Miguel Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner (leader in home runs, batting average and runs batted in) since Yaz in 1967. Cabrera was away playing at the Classic.
Another phenomenon is the clientele: predominantly retirees at spring training versus men in their 20s and 30s when he goes to Toronto for Blue Jays games in the spring and fall.
“You don’t get the nastiness (from the seniors),” he said. “The older ones appreciate baseball. They appreciate good plays. The sarcasm’s lighter and more sophisticated.”

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Rochon named new Liberal candidate in Pictou East

WESTVILLE – A large crowd gathered to celebrate Westville resident Francois Rochon’s appointment as the Liberal provincial candidate for the Pictou East riding last week at the party’s nomination meeting at the Westville Legion.
Rochon is a Quebec native who moved to Westville 10 years ago, after serving many years in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Rochon told the crowded room of energized liberal members that he is prepared to move forward with the Liberal party.
He currently works at Michelin and volunteers on the Michelin Emergency Response Team, Westville and Alma Fire Departments as well as is involved with organizations including the Lion’s Club, Westville Legion, LORDA, Shriners and much more.
The father of three was not contested in his nomination for Liberal Pictou East MLA prospective.
“I have a secret to tell… I’m a Liberal,” he laughed. “I am a Liberal because they have implemented most of the social programs we have in Canada. The Liberal party cares about the quality of our health care and education systems, they don’t care what side of the track you are from, that is the Liberal way.”
He went on to say he has listened to the concerns of locals regarding jobs, health care and education and told the crowd that the Liberals, “will not stop listening once elected.”
He went on to chastise the local health authority for its decision to switch to processed, frozen dinners for the Veterans at the Northumberland Veterans Unit in Pictou.
“This is not OK,” he said. “It is a disgrace. That idea should have never left the board room.”
Rochon wants to be part of what he calls the party that will lead Nova Scotia into a great place for its children and grandchildren.
“I want to be a part of Stephen MacNeil’s team.”
Guest speaker at the nomination meeting was Zach Churchill, Yarmouth MLA, who gave the crowd that much need boost and reassurance that the Liberal party is the way to go. The last time Pictou East had a Liberal MLA was in 1998, and the hope for the party is that the ‘expected’ election will usher Rochon into that role.
“I am very pleased to see someone with such strong ties to his community as part of our team,” said Churchill. “Serving your community is what being an MLA is all about.”

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Award for Leadership in Crime Prevention goes to local RCMP officer

NEW GLASGOW – Cst. John Kennedy, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has received the Minister’s Award for Leadership in Crime Prevention for his work with the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program.
He was one of 20 people from across Nova Scotia to be nominated by their communities and recognized with the award. The award was presented by Justice Minister Ross Landry as part of a provincial crime prevention symposium held in Halifax on March 27.
In 2000, Kennedy joined forces with Nova Scotia public libraries to create the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program. In his work as a police officer he observed that those who came into contact with the criminal justice system had poor literacy skills. It was his belief, also borne out by statistical evidence, these low literacy levels created a lack of self-esteem and presented few choices in life, which could lead to involvement in crime. Kennedy created the AAL as a way for police, libraries and the community to encourage and mentor children and youth to read often and read well.
Since 2000 Kennedy has organized the Adopt-a-Library into a province-wide crime prevention program involving first responders, libraries, schools, community agencies and businesses. More than 500,000 books have been put into the hands and homes of Nova Scotia children. Through other activities as the WOW! Reading Challenge, where schools make a friendly competition of reading, more than five million books have been read over five years. The result has been higher literacy scores and a new relationship between police, children and youth.

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Third annual Music Shapes series kicks off on Friday

NEW GLASGOW – The third annual Music Shapes New Glasgow is kicking off this Friday with special guests Carmel Mikol and Amelia Curran.
Various east coast artists will grace the stages of Glasgow Square and the Celtic Circle every Friday night through April and headliner and organizer Mikol is very excited.
“I was part of the Music Shapes New Glasgow concert series the very first year as a performer with Dave Gunning,” explains Mikol. “I’m one of the organizers of the event so I try to stay off the stage but I thought Amelia Curran was a really nice fit and a great way to re-introduce myself to the community and say thanks for coming out and supporting this event the last three years.”
Mikol is a guitarist and pianist performing a folky/singer/songwriter style with a Celtic flare, very similar to Curran’s folk guitar style.
Since her last trip to the County for the song writer’s circle, Mikol has been touring North America and working on a large song writers initiative for traditional Celtic music. She has also lent her talents to co-writing songs for her friends’ albums.
“This is the first show of the series and I feel like Amelia and I are very similar stylistically in terms of our approach,” explains the Cape Breton native who currently resides in Halifax. “I will also be emceeing the show so it’s a nice chance to re-connect with the audience.”
Curran is originally from Newfoundland but spent 12 years building her music career in Halifax and is excited to return to Nova Scotia for her very first performance in Pictou County.
“I’m looking forward to a good Maritime tour,” says Curran.
Curran is fresh off the heels of a European tour followed by some Canadian dates, but says it has been a very long time since she has performed in the Maritimes.
“I don’t know about genres because they are so sticky,” Curran explains, “but it’s just me and my guitar, so I guess it’s considered folk. I was a musician in the Halifax circle and I’m excited to return.”
Curran and Mikol have performed together before on the Halifax circuit in more informal settings, so the pair is excited to be reunited.
“I typically play by myself,” says Curran. “Sometimes I talk too much, but it is a very audience-oriented show. I tend to love smaller venues. Once in a blue moon I will play a stadium stage but I get so nervous, this is more my pace.”
Both artists will do a little storytelling throughout the evening and it is sure to be a relaxed show.
“What you will see is very intentionally written,” says Mikol. “Amelia’s songs are very lyrically-rich and poetic and my songs are very much about storytelling so it will be a lyrically packed evening with a Juno award winning songstress who very much deserves her award and is well worth seeing.”
Curran says the Juno award was very heart warming.
“I won (the Juno) in 2010 and it was held in St. John’s that year, so it was particularly special… when something like that happens, it’s lovely and exciting.”
Both artists are currently in the writing stages for new albums, figuring out exactly what they want to say through their music.
“I have a bunch of songs I wrote and am lucky enough to get to travel and share them,” says Curran.
Mikol adds, “I hope everyone keeps an open mind and comes along for the ride. We want people to have that experience with us every Friday through April.”
Mikol says the organizing committee made a concerted effort to include a wide variety of artists including Thom Swift and AP Coleman, Doris Mason and Scott MacMillan as well as Gypsophilia with Pilot Project.
“One of my mandates was to get a gender balance with the headliners,” says Mikol, “while also keeping slots open for local and emerging artists like EB Anderson and the Resolutes and a local jazz band from one of the high schools. It’s great to have these stellar musicians and locals mixed in. This is a great way to be integrated into the community.”
The Carmel Mikol and Amelia Curran show will take place at the Celtic Circle April 5 at 8 p.m. For information visit or

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Guitar legend Matt Andersen prepares for first deCoste show

Guitarist extraordinaire, Matt Andersen, is making his way to Pictou for his very first show at the deCoste Entertainment Centre.
Andersen recently wrapped up a show in Halifax and then made his way to North Carolina before jet setting to Sydney then returning to Pictou County for his local performance.
The deCoste show will kick off a month of East Coast shows before heading into the festival season.
“I haven’t been nervous for a while,” says Andersen, “but I am excited to play the deCoste.”
Andersen is also bringing with him musicians Darren McMullen and Mike Stevens.
“I usually just play solo,” explains Andersen. “So this show we will have some special stuff planned. Playing with Mike is a treat.”
Andersen and Stevens have a few albums together, but as Andersen says, they don’t get the opportunity to perform together very often so it will be something to see.
Most of Andersen’s shows are just him and his guitar, like an intimate performance in your living room with an old friend.
“It’s very relaxed, I like everyone to have a good time.”
And for those in the audience, don’t think you are exempt from taking part in the show.
“I like to get the audience involved,” he says. “I tell stories and anecdotes and try to get the audience to sing along.”
Audience involvement is key for Andersen because he loves feeding off of the energy in the room and sending it right back out there.
“After my East Coast shows, I am taking a bit of a break until June and then I am going to the UK and Ireland for some shows and then home before the summer festivals.”
Andersen has also been doing some writing and will be heading back to the studio in the fall to record his newest album.
Andersen has been playing since the age of 14 and has garnered audiences across the globe with his blues picking and smooth lyrics.
For anyone who hasn’t seen Andersen perform, it’s going to be “a really fun, good time.”
For more information visit Andersen’s website at or the deCoste centre’s website at for ticket information regarding the April 21 show.

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CARMA Awards red carpet affair

PICTOU – The inaugural Carvers CARMA awards took place last Thursday with a gown and tie-encouraged gala.
Brent Minshull (owner proprietor of the eat-and-drinkery) served as red carpet interviewer, quizzing arriving jam-stars on “who they were wearing” and if their hair cuts were “local”(they were). Minshull himself was decked out in a yellow and black checkerboarded, wide lapelled jacket which he claimed was on loan to him for the evening.
“Don Cherry was my clothing advisor and he lent me his favourite jacket. Obviously it’s a special one. Apparently it’s the construction colours over in England so hopefully I don’t get hit by anything,” he said between interviews.
As it happened, black gowns became the unofficial uniform of the ladies while three button high-lapelled jackets were standard issue for the men (even the kilted).
Going into the evening, speculation among the performers and attendees was strong that Pictou’s Corey Chisholm would be walking away with the coveted Fan Choice award. This speculation was fueled by minor controversy as the open online voting for this award made many aware that Chisholm’s support largely came from his mother, her friends and even “an uncle from Ontario”.
Chisholm did, in fact, win the Fan Choice CARMA award in addition to opening the evening by winning the Jammer of the Year CARMA. Voting for this award, unlike the perhaps tainted Fan Choice, was conducted by a closed off group of musical peers as of yet unknown and unnamed to the Advocate.
Chisholm was nonetheless humbled by both awards stating that the Jammer of the Year award was perhaps more weighty as it was awarded by peers.
Chisholm’s young son William Seamus also won a CARMA for Voice of the Future, having attended Carver Jams since the age of a week or so.
Uke-slinger Kent Vodden scored the CARMA for Best New Comer. “I’d never be anywhere (music-wise) if I was living anywhere else,” said the former Torontonian.
James Leslie netted this year’s CARMA for the Broken String Award, a sort of Ironman award for preforming despite setbacks. Genuinely moved by this award, Leslie said that he “didn’t feel like a musician until this. I was just a guy with a guitar.”
Other winners include Krista Schnare for Patron of the Arts, a nonperforming award. Singer-songwriter and unofficial Gretsch endorsee Crystal Mann won the CARMA for Most Instrumental, having played tin whistle, violin and keyboards in addition to her usual guitar. Mann thanked jam-leader Dolores Dagenais and Brent Minshull, saying, “It’s like Cheers. Everybody knows your name.” Though absent, folkster Jim Dorie netted the CARMA Rising Star award. Maria Buck picked up Vocalist of the Year, and Carver’s server Melissa Irving was said to be “honoured” with her winning of the Staff award.
Dolores Dagenais, the only confirmed member of the voting committee, said the categories were decided throughout the year while winners were derived through a complex mathematical system known as “counting”.
Both Dagenais and Minshull seemed assured that there will be a CARMA 2014. “I’d like to do it again. Certainly the musicians deserve recognition.”
The Carvers Sunday Jam takes place on the first and third Sunday of each month at Carvers, 41 Coleraine Street, Pictou.

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Hometown Heroes: Dr. Benjamin Cooper focuses on teaching science courses

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

A Pictou County scholar has found his niche in life teaching science at a private school in Windsor, Ont.
Dr. Benjamin Cooper has been teaching four courses this school year at Académie Ste Cécile International School. The courses include Grade 10 science, Chemistry 11 and 12 and International Baccalaureate Chemistry.
“I’m enjoying life in Windsor,” he said. “It gets really hot during the summer but I like it here.”
Cooper graduated from the former New Glasgow High School and achieved an honours science degree in chemistry from Mount Allison University in 2005.
He completed a doctorate in philosophy in chemistry in 2011 at the University of Windsor.
Cooper moved with his family from Oxford, N.S. to New Glasgow when he was in Grade 8 and recalled playing his last junior high basketball game for Oxford Regional High against New Glasgow Junior High.
His father joined MacKay Meters after his mother was hired by Sobeys. His parents still live in New Glasgow.
Cooper tries to visit his parents at least once a year, usually during the summer or at Christmas.
He said his former teacher, Len Pelerine, was a key mentor at a pivotal point in his life. Like Pelerine, Cooper played basketball, teaches science and has been an assistant coach for the boys team at Ste Cécile.
“I was trying to pick my major at Mount Allison and recalled my time with him,” Cooper said. “I’ve ended up doing everything he did, except I don’t referee games like he did.”
During his time at Mount Allison, Cooper did undergraduate research in various fields of chemistry including training in synthesizing and characterizing air and moisture sensitive compounds.
At the University of Windsor, Cooper served on the Graduate Chemistry Club executive.
He was also a seminar instructor and created a seminar dealing with student-teacher relationships and was a graduate student representative for the faculty-wide Faculty of Science Council.
During that time, he also received 10 awards and scholarships.
His research experience over six years at the university included training and collaborating with graduate students on numerous techniques and pieces of equipment.
He was also a chemistry tutor over those six years.
In 2004 he was a group leader at Timber Lake Camp in Shandaken, New York, where he was responsible for 18 children and seven counsellors.
Before joining the Académie Ste Cécile teaching staff, Cooper managed the day-to-day operation of the X-ray diffraction facility at the University of Western Ontario in London.
While Cooper is far from his parents, his brother lives in Amherstburg, about a half hour from Windsor.
Cooper said he enjoys coaching at Ste Cécile.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “It’s interesting to be on the coaching side of things.”

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Getting ready for spring gardening

Spring officially started and is considered to be the Earth’s renewal. Now is the perfect time to usher in the new season and think about what you want to accomplish in the garden.
Properly managing and preparing your garden for spring will ensure it flourishes all year long. After winter weather – check all your plants for snow or wind damage. Damaged plant tissue is an invitation to fungi, insects and molds, which will take advantage of the warm weather and easy access to the plant. After the thaw, pull out any weeds that have crept into the garden over winter and clean off dead perennial leaves. Clean out bird boxes to avoid insect infestation that can harm feathered visitors to your garden.
Arbours and fencing are also easiest to repair in early spring, with less growth to work around and fewer roots to disturb. It is a good time to find a corner in the shed or garage and clean, sharpen and ready tools such as shears, spades and mowers. Getting some of these chores done now allows you to take advantage of the better planting weather later on.
Keep your garden and surrounding areas tidy and free of garbage. There is nothing more appealing than a well- kept garden and property whatever your budget.
It is easy to spruce up your yard. All you need are a few gardening supplies and decorations such as lawn ornaments, outdoor wall art, statues and simple, affordable flowers to plant and you will be on your way to creating a beautiful yard that you will want to show off to everyone.
You can build your flower beds from scratch. All you need is some basic planning. Even planting an annual flower garden that blooms a few weeks each year or embellishing the landscape with various old water cans, vintage cast offs, solar lights or bird baths can make the area more beautiful. Be careful not to clutter. The joy of gardening is that very few gardeners get it right the first time. Mistakes and wrong choices will be part of your garden life until the day you set aside your shovel and digging forks. Let mistakes guide you, not stop you!
Perennial plants are the backbone of the flower garden because they’re the plants with staying power. Old reliables such as foxgloves, hollyhock and pink campion perennials and shrubs form the bores of a garden. They are a few of my favourites. There are many other species from which to choose. I like the rocks and plants combined. Adding a rock garden to your landscape adds colour and interest in the garden year round. Coneflowers and lamb’s ear are excellent choices for rock gardens.
It is fine to constantly move plants, replant areas and putter with colour schemes. Trust me on this one. My husband and I do it quite often.The colours of our garden are a reflection of who we are. Express yourself, enjoy your own creations. Make it a labour of love. Your hard work will pay off, and you will learn new skills that feed your creativity and spark your curiosity.
During spring, summer and fall I love the anticipation of what will bloom next. Plants are amazing in their variety. Like people, each one brings something different and their own special beauty into our lives.
Learning to grow plants is mentally stimulating and continually challenges us to help the environment and enjoy the simple things in life. Great gardens don’t just happen. Commitment, patience and perseverance are all required to grow flourishing gardens. We all have green thumbs. Gardening and digging in the soil gets you away from the TV and Facebook and fills some of your day with gratifying and tangible work. We can all work together to create an invigorating place to live.
Gardens and curb appeal promotes a sense of community pride, increases tourism and generates economic spin off. People want to live, work and visit a place where civic pride and beautification and environmental stewardship are evident. Nurturing-caring for something other than ourselves puts our lives into perspective. A new season brings new motivation – bring your visions to life. Search out a connection with your gardening community.
Whether it’s a neighbour up the street, at your favorite garden centre, we all need someone with whom we can share, complain, boast and exchange new ideas.Gardening isn’t rocket science. You can do it. Dig in and spring it on! The possibilities are endless- and the joy constant . Get inspired and help make a difference in our community.
Until next time. Happy Gardening!

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Nova Scotia is among the highest rates of physical inactivity

To the Editor:
March was Nutrition Month and doctors in the province encourage Nova Scotians to make healthy eating a priority not just in March, but all year.
Although we are constantly reminded of the importance of healthy eating and the positive impact good nutrition has on our health and well-being, many Canadians don’t have a plan in place to help them make the right choices.
Nova Scotia has among the highest rates of physical inactivity, inadequate vegetable and fruit consumption and obesity in Canada. These patterns can lead to a variety of health problems including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and even some types of cancer.
Healthy eating begins at the grocery store. It’s where many consumers purchase most of their food and where we are faced with challenging food choices.
Most grocery stores often have educational sessions for their customers to help them make healthy choices. It doesn’t have to be difficult to make healthy eating a priority. Save time and money by planning your grocery trip with a shopping list.
Think about what meals you’ll be making, scan flyers for specials, check your kitchen’s inventory and make a grocery list. Fill your cart with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, milk products, lean fresh meat and meat alternatives such as legumes. Skip processed foods that are filled with fat, sugar or salt and low in nutrients.
Another tip is to eat before you shop. If you’re hungry, you may be more likely to buy things you don’t need, such as unhealthy foods. Also keep in mind that food on sale is not a bargain if you don’t need it or don’t eat it.
Maintaining an overall healthy diet not only gives your body the energy and nutrition that it needs to function, but offers several health benefits as well.
For more information about nutrition and how to eat healthier, visit
Mike Fleming
Doctors Nova Scotia

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Budget fails families, youth, economy

To the Editor:
Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have recklessly chosen to put all our national challenges aside in the new budget in order to contrive the semblance of a surplus before the next election. So much for all their claims about Canada’s economic success. By putting politics before real, pressing needs, they are failing our families, failing our youth and failing our economy.
Nearly 225,000 more people are out work than in 2006, yet there is nothing significant in the Conservative plan to create jobs. There is not even a cent to reduce the double-digit youth unemployment that is scarring the careers of the next generation.
Not only are there too many workers without jobs, but there are also too many jobs without workers: employers are scrambling to find skilled workers to fill vacant positions. Yet the budget freezes funding for training at pre-recession levels and merely shuffles around existing money. Its signature training scheme will not be in place for another five years.
In Budget 2013, infrastructure investment falls like a stone, dropping annual funding of the Building Canada Fund from $1.7 billion a year to a mere $210 million a year for the next two years.
Our cities are aging and need new roads, transit and sewers, yet municipalities planning to build them will be forced to wait years for substantial new federal funding.
After promising to improve Canada’s relationship with First Nations, Mr. Harper has failed to close the gap between federal funding for First Nations K-12 education and provincial schools. Young Aboriginals endure the worst education outcomes in the country and the continuing failure to address this federal responsibility deprives another generation—and our economy—of a prosperous future.
The Conservatives also plan to cut $33 million a year from Fisheries and Oceans, endangering our fishers’ future livelihoods. And the budget solidifies ideological changes to the Employment Insurance program that undermine our seasonal industries and seasonal workers.
On top of it all, these supposedly free-market Conservatives intervened in the mortgage sector to push rates up, potentially costing the average homebuyer thousands of dollars.
Canada’s finances are strong enough to allow some flexibility. We need real action to support growth today and return the budget to balance in the medium term—not Conservative economic ‘inaction.’ Peoples’ lives should come before political timelines.
Bob Rae
Leader of the Liberal
Party of Canada

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Foreign policy dangerous when disguised as aid

To the Editor:
CIDA is now being absorbed by DFAIT, and this begs the question, why keep it at all?
The merger is just another step as consolidating power, and as a development professional I’ve seen how dangerous a weapon foreign policy can be when it is disguised as aid.
If the Harper government’s intention is to use foreign aid to ultimately benefit Canadians, and not the 1.4 billion people living underneath the poverty line, then taxpayers, Canadians, are better off donating that money directly to charities and NGOs themselves.
Ariane Cartwright
Ottawa, ON

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New Wellnes Centre second to none

To the Editor:
I was really sorry I missed the opening of our new Pictou County Wellness Center due to health reasons.
The week before last I visited the Wellness Center and I was given a tour of the new facility by a volunteer. It sure is a “Wow” building and even nicer than I dreamed of. I signed up the following week after I had the approval of my orthopedic doctor for light exercises geared not to damage my new hip.
I personally loved using the old YM-YWCA in New Glasgow and I always liked the friendly staff. It was great meeting the same staff plus some new ones as well. The new facility is second to none in Atlantic Canada.
I would like to salute the federal, provincial and municipal governments including all towns and the Municipality of Pictou County, private corporations, groups and individuals that made this facility possible and a very sincere thank you! We are so fortunate to have such a fine wellness facility to use and enjoy.
Some of us old Scots will usually complain about the cost but trust me, as a senior I pay $47 per month plus tax or about the cost of a cup of coffee per day. My own wellness is worth more than $47 per month.
Have you checked the price of a prescription lately? Please don’t let the price keep you from using this great facility. With the YMCA involved special payments can be arranged if it is a question of financial means.
I have always liked the YMCA because everyone is important regardless of who you are or where you came from. This Wellness Center is for all of us and that is what is so great about it. We get great value for our money plus great parking.
The staff are well trained and very helpful and even to me as a new Wellness Centre member.
The equipment is state of the art and even the treadmills have a television screen as part of them and time seems to go even faster.
The two pools look great as well with the shallow one heated and really great for arthritis suffers as they even have jets of heated water to help you. The kids love this as well and it is really great seeing the smiles on their faces. The pools don’t open unless a life guard is on duty and they let you in the pool areas. As a member, you have full use of the whole facility including a nice walking area around one of the rinks.
As Pictonians, let’s make this great Pictou County Wellness Center work as it is ours and let’s all enjoy it.
I must say I like the name as well as; it is our county and we are proud of it and we don’t have to take a backseat to any other area of our province and yes, it is another place we can take our visitors and they are welcome to use it like everyone here in Pictou County. Just maybe they will stay in Pictou County a little longer.
Lloyd P. MacKay
New Glasgow

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Wheels turn the full circle

There is no going back now.
All six municipal councils in Pictou County have agreed to contribute $25,000 each for a municipal governance study, now that Stellarton and Westville agreed to the process at their March council meetings.
The original deal called for the province to match the $150,000 once the six county councils approved their shares.
The towns of Pictou, New Glasgow and Trenton agreed to the study, while Pictou County Municipal Council committed its share only if all five towns agreed to join. We are there now, and it doesn’t much matter how the units achieved this or how long it took.
Stellarton and Westville held out over money. But things change. Last fall’s municipal elections altered each council’s content. We’ve seen the results.
Citizens are way ahead of their councils in feeling we need this study. This recent change of heart in Stellarton and Westville shows how councils have closed some of that ground.
Supporting the study was the easy part. Now it gets hard.
The municipalities need to decide how to conduct this exercise and what weight to give its conclusions.
First, it would be a mistake for any council members who think they can walk away from the end results of this process and let it collect dust like the Graham Report from the 1970s.
People want action. The process may or may not lead to amalgamation. But there are clear opportunities for these six units to share more services than they already do. Water treatment, recreation, police service and bulk buying come to mind. Taxation may be a looming talking point, especially if talk of introducing a municipal income tax regime to either complement or replace property taxes gains momentum.
Second, it would be absolute folly for the province to lead this discussion. One of the reasons for the Liberals’ downfall in the 1990s, when they had everything going for them, was the shotgun weddings they imposed on HRM and CBRM. We don’t need that kind of leadership. We need to own the process, and that’s why this government is showing a particular largesse, not parsimony, by offering to cost-share the study.
The sooner we go from these six units approving the governance study to actually undertaking it, the better.
It’s that important.
Steve Goodwin

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Visual Arts students display work at the deCoste

PICTOU – Taking a look at the inner psyche of a high school student may seem a bit terrifying at first, but International Baccalaureate Visual Arts students at Northumberland Regional High School have shown the beauty in reality.
The seven Grade 12 students in the course put most of their work on display last week at the deCoste Centre in Pictou for their final, end of year exhibit.
“Last year was the first time we used the deCoste as the setting for the show and we were very pleased,” explains teacher Dawn MacKenzie-DeCoff. “Darlene MacDonald and the board of directors are so wonderful and great to work with. They are trying to connect more with youth so it seemed the perfect fit and we enjoyed the space so much that we wanted to come back. There’s such beautiful natural light and such a large space it is perfect for an art exhibit.”
And the students require a large amount of space to showcase at least 15 pieces each in the foyer of the deCoste Centre.
In the IB program, the students need to complete certain community themes such as international concerns, technology and more and are asked to consider the real issues of the world as well as research their own interests based on context, culture, history and visual experimentation.
“This is what leads them to the final show,” says MacKenzie-DeCoff. “This is a very intensive program that runs a year and a half, or 210 hours and each student is very individual in their interest, skills and the personal message each of them wants to share.”
DeCoff says they touch on serious topics like suicide, pain, gender identification, local history and personal media as well as prayer, meditation and post traumatic stress disorder and coping skills.
Honey Dudka is one of the students in the program. She has a 15-month-old son Castiel, and is working on completing her high school degree. Her experiences differ greatly from her peers as does the way she sees the world.
“I have to say a lot of my inspiration comes from my son and the absence of not being with him all of the time. It’s more like a meditation more than inspiration,” she explains. “I deal a lot with nature and morality.”
Dudka says the program has helped her experience more.
“For lack of a better word, it’s grinding but you are more prepared for post secondary school. I hope to continue and go on to learn graphic design,” she says.
She says the IB program has allowed her to experience more of a personal journey compared to the more rigid academic art program.
Mark MacKenzie is also involved in the program and says he signed on to have a different experience.
“It’s definitely given me a different view on classes and the work load you experience in university,” he says. “I’ve changed my thinking patterns because of it.”
MacKenzie says his inspiration came a lot from history.
“I created a dress from the Romanovs and did a lot of research on Stellarton and family history, African heritage month and personal history,” he says.
Morgan Carruthers focused her work on photography, something she had a keen interest in before taking on the IB program.
“It’s really a different learning environment,” she says. “There are no distractions like in the classroom setting and it’s easier to learn.”
Carruthers has her own photography business and plans to continue in the field after graduation.
“My inspiration comes mostly from personal experience,” she explains. “Like bullying and mental health issues which I have my own share of. I want others to see my work. It’s very personal because it’s mostly me in the work and expresses my feelings, but it’s also disconnected because I make it for other people to see.”
MacKenzie-DeCoff says the program shows the students a different way of thinking and understanding as well as creating.
“We read images much quicker than we do words and we see so many images in the span of a day,” she explains. “This gives the students the power to create those images and say what words don’t.”
The art exhibit will be on display in the foyer of the deCoste Centre until April 4.

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Local girl ‘spotted’ at mall, featured in commercial

A typical day of shopping at the Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth turned into the most amazing experience of Raine Langille’s life.
The 11-year-old was shopping with her mother on a Saturday afternoon in mid-September when they were approached by men with a camera asking to take Langille’s picture.
“We were on an escalator heading toward the GAP and we noticed people in front of us with cameras and identification badges so we assumed they were here for the Atlantic Film Festival,” says Langille.
It turns out they were scouting for a Nova Scotia Tourism commercial and felt Langille had what they were looking for.
“They came up to us and introduced themselves and asked if they could take a picture,” she says. “Then they asked if I knew how to ride a bike and how long I have been riding.”
Michelle Langille, Raine’s mother, says, “A few days later they called and said they were interested in doing a Skype interview with Raine. So she did the interview and she got the part.”
On September 27 and 28, Raine was invited to St. Margaret’s Bay where the commercial was filmed on a piece of private property.
“They shot the commercial over two half days,” explains Michelle. “It was a full set with cameras, yelling action, it’s what you would picture a movie set to look like. It was such a good experience for Raine.”
The commercial, which is slated to air in Central Canada, shows Raine riding a bike and feeling the air rush between here fingers and then cuts to a woman who is supposed to be Raine years later doing the same thing in a car travelling down the Cabot Trail.
“She had to ride the bike up and down the hill about 75 times,” laughs Michelle. “And it was a cold morning but it was supposed to look like summer so she was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and in between takes they would bundle her up in blankets.”
Although she admits it was difficult riding up and down the hill that much, Raine says it was “an amazing experience. I’m proud to be able to promote my province.”
Raine is not sure whether there were other candidates for the part, but she was happy she was chosen.
“It’s a brand new campaign for Nova Scotia to try and attract first time visitors to the province,” explains Michelle. “They even invited us to Purcell’s Cove for the campaign launch party.”
Raine adds, “There were lots of people there and news papers, TV cameras, politicians and the boy that was in the other commercial.”
As for the commercial itself, Raine wasn’t sure what to expect but once she saw it she thought it was beautiful.
“The lady who plays her as an older woman really looks like her,” says Michelle. “I was like, t’his is what my little girl is going to look like when she is all grown up. ‘They did a great job.”
Aside from the shaky driving and the cold weather, Raine says her compensation made up for it.
“They paid me,” she says.
And now she has an itch for acting and is hoping another opportunity like this falls into her lap.
“What was really cool was that the bike was from a museum,” says Raine.
Michelle says it was a great experience and everyone treated Raine very well.
Even though Raine didn’t really tell anyone about the commercial, she says all of her friends knew because her mom was very excited about it.
“They are going to send me a copy of it to have,” she says.
Michelle adds, “It really was a magical experience, to be on the set of a commercial and see how it comes to be and all of the different tools they use to check things like light quality.”
To view the commercial visit and search Bike, Nova Scotia Tourism – 2013 Television Commercial.

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Music Festival begins this week

Local musicians and performers will have the last few months of practice culminate as the 75th annual New Glasgow Music Festival begins this week.
The Musical Theatre Classes will take place April 4 through 6 at North Nova Education Centre.
The choral, strings and band instrumental classes will be held April 9 through 13 at several locations including North Nova Education Centre, Trinity United Church, First Presbyterian Church Hall and St. George’s Anglican Church – all in New Glasgow.
Piano and vocal classes will be held at the same venues between April 21 and 26 and the annual Stars of the Festival concert is set for the deCoste Entertainment Centre in Pictou on April 28 at 2:30 p.m.
A 75th anniversary Gala Concert will take place May 25 at 8 p.m., also at the deCoste Centre. Emcee will be Doris Mason, and the concert will feature performances by numerous musicians affiliated with past festivals. More details to follow.
Senior Musical Theatre students are also invited to attend a free workshop on April 5 beginning at 3:30 p.m. at NNEC conducted by Cliff LeJeune.
The full music festival schedule can be found at

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West River group proves it’s healthy: walks more than 25,300 kilometres

The West River Valley Health Challenge wrapped up last weekend at the Durham Community Hall. As readers may recall, this year the group set out to do 25,000 kilometres worth of exercise, a distance equal to a round trip to Easter Island off the coast of Chile.
The group beat its goal, covering the equivalent of 25,339.81 kilometres. It was a nail-biter to the end as the group was just under its goal until a few minutes prior to announcement time when the last set of participation figures came in.
While participants were able to include time spent exercising, playing team sports, or other fitness or social activities, walking is the lead activity and many choose that fitness route.
“Most of the people are in their 50s and early 60s and most people are still walking,” said Challenge driving force Janet MacKenzie. “We also had chair exercises this year. Those ran for 12 weeks and we had 10 people participating in that. We also have the jam sessions every Wednesday night. People who came to play and sing included that in their count.”
In all, 102 people from ages five to 93 took part. “We have great people doing great things,” said MacKenzie. “I’m very impressed.”
Given that the wrap up fell on the Easter weekend an Easter egg hunt was incorporated into the festivities. Originally it was thought that participants would search for the eggs along the walking routes within the community, however, at the last minute this plan was changed to an indoor egg draw. “We thought this would be kind of fun, being Easter weekend and the goal was Easter Island and back.”
Plastic eggs were packed either with mall items or a number corresponding to a larger item. “Some of them are quite nice items and some are just little tiny items but they’re all good,” MacKenzie said. Largely the items were fitness related and were donated by local businesses and groups.
Fitness, however, was not left out of the equation and after the egg draw many of the 40-some participants who were on site walked their choice of a one, two, three, four, or five kilometre route.

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Unique mobile food truck driving into county

Get ready Pictou County: A mobile food truck like those spotlighted on The Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race will be coming here soon.
“It’s awesome. I’m over the moon about it. I’m excited, and scared, and nervous and everything all in one. It’s pretty cool,” says Paul Heighton.
“And to be able to do it here in Pictou County… I’m just pumped to be able to do it in Pictou County. The time is right I think. People here are ready for it,” says Heighton. The Stellarton resident and chef will soon be adding ‘owner/proprietor’ to his CV and is excited for his new business venture – Amby’s Eats – a mobile food truck set to begin serving Pictou County very soon.
Currently the truck is being built to Heighton’s exacting standards in Ontario by an outfit called Kitchens On Wheels Canada.
“Mine will have a 100-pound smoker, a 36-inch griddle, four-burner range and oven, a fryer for sure and a three-well steam table to keep things warm,” says the excited chef.
Heighton says he has dreamed of running his own restaurant since gaining his cooking certification in 1999.
“I worked at restaurants before but this is the first time I’ve been out on my own with my own foods and my own place,” he says. As for not having a set location and a room full of tables and chairs, Heighton says the food truck is just in touch with the spirit of the age.
“Today, in this day and age, it’s more economics than anything. It’s a lot cheaper, it’s a lot easier to get into a food truck and get your food out there. It’s a simpler process than to try to find a location and an entire restaurant. The overhead is significantly less,” Heighton says.
“And they’re getting popular too, they’re all over the States and on the West Coast. Calgary has a pretty big food truck population and following. Toronto and Halifax are starting to get into it. I just thought, ‘Why not Pictou County?’”
Heighton says shows like the Food Network’s Eat Street have helped bring the idea of upscale food offerings from food trucks to the general public. “The people that are running them now are really talented chefs. It’s gourmet food, it’s not fast food by any means,” he says.
His truck and his menu will follow this notion of offering something a little different from other venues already established in the area. His current menu – the one he’ll start with in anyway – will feature four different hamburgers including a COVE Burger with bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and pear compote, as well as a Hot Pepper Burger with hot pepper paste, grilled jalapenos, pickled onions, and pepper jack cheese in addition to the more conventional cheese burger and hamburger. The burgers, he says, will be made from scratch using locally grown meats.
The menu will also include offerings such as Pulled Pork Ciabatta, Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, and Maple Apple Salad along with various soups of the day.
The idea, he says, is to be different – but not different enough to scare off the timid.
“I’m going to try and open up some new ideas with food in Pictou County but not go crazy right away,” Heighton says, “Something different but also something familiar.”
An example of this, he says, is his Arancini which is a battered and fried risotto ball which he will pair with a Pictou County style brown pizza sauce.
“We have our comfort zone, our little bubble of food. What we like is what we like,” Heighton says.
“That’s why I want to have my food truck here. There are a lot of foodies here. People love food in Pictou County. And they know about it. They grow their own food and they love it.”
Should things take off, Heighton says he may offer some seafood choices such as a salmon burger or fish tacos, perhaps as a monthly special.
Amby’s Eats is already booked to serve food at the Apple Blossom Festival in the Valley as well as the Riverfront Jubilee.
Locally, although his schedule and locations still have to be finalized, Heighton will be serving Downtown New Glasgow a few days a week as well as Stellarton with hopes to expand into other areas of the county if things look successful.
Although the location will fluctuate, Heighton plans for his truck to be a fixture on the Pictou County food scene.
“I plan on operating year round. If people are willing to walk up and get some good food in the winter I’m definitely going to be open.”

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Better forest practices needed, Bancroft says

SCOTSBURN – Forests need to be treated in a way that preserves wildlife habitat, Bob Bancroft says.
The well-known conservationist and wildlife biologist from Pomquet shared ways to ensure a thriving forest industry without destroying habitat during his keynote address on March 23 to those attending the Friends of Redtail Society’s annual general meeting at the Gammon Centre.
His presentation began with evidence about how current clear-cutting practices are damaging Nova Scotia’s forests beyond repair and forcing wildlife to adapt to those consequences for survival. Flooding and soil erosion are among the results of clear-cutting, while replanting of single species has caused insect epidemics, he said.
“This is not natural,” he said. “We’ve created waterways that flush like toilets.”
Forest preservation on its own is not a solution, he said, while scolding the province for continuing to allow clear-cutting for pulp mill operations.
“Preserving forests raises the pressure to cut somewhere else,” he said. “We have industrialized politics, policies and politicians. To government, sustainable means maintaining a steady supply of wood for the mills. The government and industry have ignored us and ignored the science.”
Bancroft shared maps showing how climate change at its present pace means most of North America will be arid by 2050. He also noted how Prince Edward Islanders resolved over time to reforest much of the province that had hardly any forest in 1900.
He cited Nova Scotia’s provincial tree, the red spruce, which takes 200 years to mature and has a life expectancy of 400 years.
“Why do we cut them at 30 years?” he said.
Bancroft also rebuked the province’s claims that biomass electrical generation at the Port Hawkesbury pulp mill will produce enough electricity to heat 30,000 homes. “That volume is what the mill will use,” he said.
Bancroft has done extensive work on his property to produce healthy waterways and encourage forest habitat. He put up a wooden box in a tree when he noticed a barred owl kept returning to his property but never nested. Now it’s producing offspring. Otters regularly bask on a wharf at his pond. White ash and other tree species are thriving.
But Bancroft had a major disaster on his hands when a neighbour uphill from him cleared his land of wood, resulting in water and silt to clog a stream running through Bancroft’s property.
The overcutting has to leave larger woodland for songbirds, he said.
“Any songbird’s territory is 100 square metres, but we don’t need to ban forestry,” he said. “We just have to be careful.”
During its AGM the society elected board members that include: chairman Charlie Kennedy, vice-chairman Volker Klum, secretary Candace Sweet and treasurer Michelle Ferris, as well as directors Joella Arsenault, Ursula Klum, Tom Miller, Billy MacDonald and Bernadette Romanowsky.

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Hockey finalists wait for voting’s outcome

PICTOU – Both local finalists in the Kraft hockey contest are eager to find out if they are in the money.
Craig Clarke of Pictou and Gus Fahey of Westville were among the top 100 finalists from the contest who recently received a massive number of votes over two days, and who are anticipating the results of the voting when they are announced tonight.
Kraft has said the results for the top five vote getters will be announced during the televised NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers. The entire results will be posted following the announcement.
The top five nominees represent one from each region who received the most votes and who will be recognized for their contributions with $100,000 each, to be awarded to their selected Hockey Canada-affiliated minor hockey association.
The next top 20 nominees, or four from each region, with the most votes will receive a $20,000 donation to their selected minor hockey association.
An additional $100,000 has been dedicated to Hockey Canada Learn to Skate programs.
Clarke has named Pictou Minor Hockey as the recipient of any award he receives, with proceeds going toward much needed repairs at the Hector Arena.
Fahey has designated Westville Minor Hockey, with proceeds going to the town’s hockey rink.
“It’s captivated the county’s interest,” Clarke said. “The best probability is that both associations get a good result from this. It would be a home run in my mind.”
Clarke is part of a group trying to raise $150,000 in private group donations as part of a major project to repair and improve Hector Arena.
“I think the story about the rink is compelling,” he said. “To get people thinking about the rink this way, it’s accomplished that. Regardless of what happens, it has been an incredibly positive experience.”
Fahey has selected Westville Minor Hockey for the proceeds he may receive. He praised the work by Heather Bates and Liz Curry for recognizing him.
“I didn’t know these two ladies,” he said. “They just saw me on the ice and said they should nominate me. For two people who didn’t really know me, it was really neat. Without them, this never would have happened.
Fahey said he was pleased with how the voting for him validated his dedication to teaching hockey to kids.
“I really appreciate the support from Westville and the other areas of Pictou County and the country,” he said. “If we don’t win it won’t be from lack of effort. I’m hoping things go well.”
Once the winners are announced, the full list of the top five finalists and top 20 secondary prize winners can be found on Kraft’s Facebook page,

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Hartling releases slice of life LP

Trenton native Aaron Hartling showcased his recently released LP Saturday night at the Trenton Legion, with fellow Trenton artist EB Anderson opening.
The disc, “Trenton EP”, is a collection of self-penned tunes about his hometown which Hartling released under the Heartbreak a Stranger moniker. “Aaron Hartling isn’t very sexy as a stage name,” he explained with a laugh. “The first half is alright anyway.”
As a recording artist Hartling is something of a late starter, having worked and eventually dismissed a number of jobs and career paths.
“I decided to pursue music full time,” he said. “As a professional as opposed to trying to be a hobbyist. It comes down to that I did enough straight jobs that I didn’t like and there wasn’t a career in anyway. You get to a point in life where you pursue your passions and put your time and energy into them.”
Having grown up in Trenton, Hartling found he eventually had to move on, not seeking fame and fortune so much as just looking for work. His family, however, remained in Trenton so he still had plenty of reason to visit. As the years went by he began to notice changes in town the way a visitor would, that is, all at once. The steady background noise of industry died out, buildings went missing and more changes appeared.
“When I moved away, I’d come back and there’d be less and less work. There’d be waiting for government funding, companies pulled out/waiting for another buyer,” Hartling recalled. “When I’d come back I’d see the changes. Every time I’d come back Main Street would be different. Something would change. The buildings I knew are no longer here. I only know of two buildings that had ivy on them: one was Wrigley Field and the other was the town office.”
The disc, however, isn’t a cheery and sentimental trip down memory lane; rather it is a slice of life from a town that in some ways no longer exists. It’s a letter from home rather than a glossy souvenir postcard.
“Machinery that used to be across the railway is now on Main Street. They’re artifacts, they’re museum pieces. It’s sort of disheartening. It’s a sad thing to see in the town you grew up in,” Hartling said. “We don’t own the airport anymore, Sobeys owns it. The building that’s iconic, it’s not there anymore.”
Hartling himself describes the LP as a concept album. “It’s a concept record, I wrote the songs and sequenced them to tell a story. I wanted all the songs to tell a different story, from a different angle. And they all run together.”
The songs flow with a universal theme and sense of time and place rather than a ridged storyline wedged into song. It’s more akin to the Kinks’ The Village Green than Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Musically the songs are sharp and well crafted. Instrumentation is by times quite sparse while the production remains huge, but open. Leslie-tinged organs provide a swirly backdrop for Hartling’s own wind-chimey Gibson guitar while spacey slide-lines add sonic spice. Lead guitar lines meanwhile, courtesy of Jason Mingo, sound not dissimilar to Tom Petty’s Mike Campbell channelling his inner David Gilmour. Which is good.
In many places the collection boarders on despair, a certain sense of loss competes with a desire to break out blanketed with the tedium of familiarity. The LP, however, ends in a sunnier mood with the track “Arise/Alive” which serves as something of hymn to the working class spirit of Trenton.
Aaron Hartling’s “Heartbreak a Stranger Presents: Trenton EP” is available for purchase at live shows or by contacting the artist’s webpage at

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Wind power commissioning ceremony to be this month

NEW GLASGOW – The commissioning for New Glasgow’s wind turbine in Forbes Lake is expected to be completed so that it can be fully operational early this month.
The turbine was installed more than a year ago with help from Dartmouth-based Seaforth Energy and has undergone test operations, but the town decided to hold off generating electricity from it full-time until its successful application under the province’s Community Economic Development Investment Fund (COMFIT) initiative.
The turbine was not hooked up to the province’s power grid until the COMFIT agreement between the province and Nova Scotia Power Inc. was in place.
The Forbes Lake project was among the first community renewable energy projects the province launched on March 19 in Stellarton.
Premier Darrell Dexter joined Mayor Barrie MacMillan of New Glasgow and other municipal officials and Pictou County’s three MLAs at the announcement.
The wind turbine is located near the monitoring station beside Forbes Lake, but the town also owns land on the opposite side of the lake that has potential for erecting smaller and larger-sized turbines.
Renewable energy generation is seen as an additional revenue stream for municipalities challenged with providing reasonable service to its taxpayers within the limits of their tax rates.
Energy produced by the turbine will be transferred directly to the electrical grid to achieve a higher COMFIT rate.

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Landry eyes job potential in foundry process

NEW GLASGOW – Justice Minister Ross Landry says he does not rule out funding for Maritime Steel.
He was responding to the latest information supplied by foundry owner Abbas Jafarnia regarding potential work for the idle plant so he can get provincial funding to give him cash flow.
“If he has that on the books, I’m sure we can find a way to support him,” Landry said. “It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs for me. If he can provide this I’m all for it.”
Jafarnia has at times questioned Landry’s support for the plant, which has been virtually shut down this year while he tries to find money to operate it and pay his workers.
His most recent potential work order is for castings for a firm in New York State. The order specifies 500 castings a day weighing 35 and 40 pounds and 125,000 per year for three years.
Jafarnia said the firm is a previous customer from a time when he worked at the plant and before he bought the operation in August 2011.
“They came to me,” he said. “I told them the situation, asked them to send the inquiry so the government might change its mind.”
In the meantime, Jafarnia had disconnected the power at the foundry and its offices while he waits for word on his request to the province for funding.
He said he had meetings last Wednesday with ACOA officials to explain his circumstance.
“There seems to be some kind of political problem,” he said. “The only way we can fix this is by providing businesses with a way to hire people. I’m not stopping but it takes time while I wait for the government. I haven’t lost my hope but I hope the government does the right thing.”
Jafarnia opened the plant after his $1.25 million bid to purchase it from its receiver was accepted. But he has claimed the province has denied him a loan and he has been unable to secure funds from investors in his native Iran.

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Community rallies to help sick girl

Chelsey Livingstone-Rector was just two years old when she was bitten by a tick. That bite changed her life.
Her parents took her to the hospital as she had a high fever, trouble focusing and a bulls eye rash around the bite. Her mother, Angela Rector, says they were told not to worry about the bite as there was no Lyme disease in Canada.
Chelsey’s Lyme disease went eight and a half years before finally being diagnosed, leaving the girl – who will soon turn 13 – in severe daily pain.
“There’s no amount of pain medication I can give her. It’s a sin. Pain for her every day on a scale of 1 to 10 is plus 10. She’s had a headache since January that just doesn’t go away,” her mother says.
Part of the trouble, in terms of diagnosis, Rector explained, is that Lyme can interfere with every organ of the body which can lead to misdiagnosis. It also leads to additional suffering.
“Her kidneys are starting to be attacked now. Her appetite is very, very slim right now. She really can’t eat a lot of meat anymore because she can’t digest it. The lining in her small intestine is gone now so it’s hard for her to actually digest.”
Treatment for Chelsey has been complicated as she happens to have an allergy to antibiotics, meaning the usual treatment program causes even more pain and more complications. Additionally, her mother says, Chelsey may in fact have two different strands of the disease.
Treatment has also been difficult within Canada’s medical system. As she was told eight years ago, Rector has often been told there is no Lyme in Canada and doctors have been reluctant to treat something that ‘doesn’t exist’.
“I understand that doctors have limitations and that they’re only allowed to do a certain amount of things but maybe someone higher up has to be involved,” she says.
With few options in Canada, Chelsey will soon began a series of consultations with Canadian-born Dr. Maurine McShane who is based in New York. But it will be costly.
On Saturday, Rector and some supporters held a bottle drive at the East Pictou Middle School. An hour into their bottle drive, they had approximately $600, which is a start but barely a dent.
“We’re hoping to reach $10,000. We do have to travel down there quite a bit for the next six months. Our insurance companies don’t help with that. For her very first appointment that’s going to be $2,500. That’s just to see the doctor and get blood work done. That doesn’t count our travel, our meals and hotel cost,” Rector says.
“Because we’re in Canada the doctor is wanting to set up a Skype interview with us. That’s a 30-minute interview and can cost as much as $370 for the interview. It’s very, very expensive. For her to email us it’s $75 for the first 15 minutes of an email.”
Previously, Rector sent tests to a lab based in California. Those services cost $2,100 but were felt to be necessary as proper testing for Lyme and its related issues is either unavailable in Canada or simply not understood.
“I don’t understand why they can’t help us,” she says. “If there was a treatment here in Canada we wouldn’t have to go to the States.” Additional lab work could cost $1,200
In addition to Saturday’s bottle drive, stock car driver Darren Wallage will be wearing a Chelsey ribbon on the hood of his car in place of the usual sponsor logo to help raise awareness for her cause. The driver also contributed an entire van full of bottles to the bottle drive.
Anyone wishing to support Chelsey with a donation may do so at the Scotiabank on Provost Street, New Glasgow where a trust has been set up for her.

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Forum provides opportunity for disabled to voice concerns

A public forum took place last Saturday at the Museum of Industry, put together by the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO or LEO). It was an opportunity for disabled members of the community to voice troubles, concerns or issues they may have in their day to day lives.
Olga Gladkikh of the Coady Institute in Antigonish facilitated the forum while Michelle Herbert-Boyd and Mary Jane Hampton spoke on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia and presented its “Putting People First” document. In addition, a full panel was comprised of representatives from Nova Scotia Rural Community Transportation, Independent Living Nova Scotia, People First, Nova Scotia Association for Community Living, Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission, Canadian Council of the Disabled, Provincial Disability Strategy, Disability Employment Table, Deafness Advocacy Association Nova Scotia (DAANS), Canadian Council of the Blind, National Educational Association of Disabled Students, and NSLEO.
Gladkikh explained the event is “an opportunity for LEO to really reach out to rural populations of people living with disabilities and to come out from the Metro area and identify what are the key issues that are affecting people with disabilities in rural areas so that they have a voice, a forum in their own communities.”
Ralph Ferguson of Pictou and chair of NSLEO, explained his group’s role. “We try to be the voice of disability here in Nova Scotia. As you can imagine there are all kinds of disability; 21 per cent of our population in Nova Scotia has a disability. That’s the equivalent of five counties: Guysborough, Pictou, Antigonish, Colchester, and Cumberland counties.” That 21 per cent, he said, is high compared to other provinces and he attributes it to Nova Scotia’s aged population.
Ferguson feels that forums such as this one are important in rural Nova Scotia as the population tends to be spread out.
“It’s a huge population,” Ferguson said. “They’re all different disabilities and they’re scattered. We talk about the disability community but really there isn’t one. But we still have the same problems, common issues, common concerns with housing, transportation, wheelchairs.”
Previously, NSLEO was able to help fund the installation of a disabled bathroom in the New Caledonian Curling Club. Since the installation a number of disabled persons have been able to use the facility and participation in stick-curling has taken off among both the disabled and non-disabled alike.
“One of the problems is people who grow up with disabilities are quite often sheltered,” Ferguson said. “They’re not used to being part of the community. They weren’t part of boy scouts, girl scouts, this sort of thing so they didn’t learn leadership skills.”
To help learn these life skills, Ferguson said his group encourages sport and recreation activities such as stick-curling or archery.
Some of the challenges disabled persons might face are less obvious than bathrooms or access ramps. Ferguson, who is wheelchair bound himself, said it can be hard to acquire clothing that fits or suits correctly. Likewise, not all disabilities are as obvious as diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and deafness all fall under the scope of disabilities.

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