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Beloved pet helps family see sunshine through rain

Brady, our Yellow Labrador retriever, was a dog and a half in every way. There was always a Brady story to tell and every emotion he demonstrated – from exuberance to affection – registered at the high end of the Richter scale.
Brady was pretty good at the usual commands such as sit, come and shake a paw, but he had a few that were unusual. Perhaps not a great trait for a so-called duck hunting dog but when we would say the word “Bang!”, he would drop to the ground. Even more impressive was his ability to lick up his drool.
Brady would watch intently when we ate, waiting for a morsel to drop. He would salivate profusely with long, stringy drools cascading down from his jowls. All it would take would be one sharp toned, ” Brady, lick up your drool!” and his massive tongue would snap out like a frog catching a fly, sweep from one side to the other and make the disgusting slobber disappear.
One time driving from Antigonish to New Glasgow, Brady became so excited as we neared Pictou County by the time we pulled into my brother’s driveway, he was wrapped around the neck of my husband who was driving. We don’t know yet how he managed to go from sleeping peacefully on Barry’s lap to becoming a fur collar and safety hazard.
Brady was also very much in tune with our feelings and even our whereabouts. Whenever we would be away, whether just out to the movies or on a trip, we would most often leave him with “Gramie”. Without fail, whether we were just coming back from down the street or arriving back via a flight from Toronto, five minutes prior to our exact arrival, he would go to the window somehow knowing we were about to return. He was always right, just like clockwork.
Another Brady ritual occurred every time we would return home from an outing. He would bolt out of the car the minute we opened the door, crouch close to the ground and blast around the house running at warp speed, then return to the doorstep and calmly trot inside. Brady would play with pucks on our outdoor rinks, stick handling with his paws and would retrieve incessantly the rocks we would throw into the woods. He would also retrieve balls or sticks on land and sea until he could retrieve no more.
One of Brady’s most amazing demonstrations of love came from an unexpected situation. Darcy was three years old and the news came that another baby was on the way. We were elated and anticipating an uneventful pregnancy as carrying Darcy had been so smooth. But at about week 13, I began spotting. The doctor remained calm, trying to reassure us that this could be only a minor problem but instead it was a warning of the calamity that was about to follow. A few days later, I went into a miscarriage full force and within 12 hours our second baby was no more. What was just days before the home of a very happy family became a place of devastation and loss. I was crushed and felt I would never feel happy again and was so worried about how could I be a good mother and wife if I were never happy. My husband felt helpless, trying gallantly to look after his family while dealing with his own sorrow. I am sure our toddler was aware of the sadness that engulfed our home and was trying hard to understand the explanation we had given that “the baby had returned to Mommy’s heart.”
But Brady the protector rose to the challenge. Our robust, bundle of energy suddenly would not leave my side. As I curled up on our couch and cried for days, he would drape himself over me and his big brown eyes would look up at me as if to say it’s OK to be sad. He followed me around and hardly left my side for weeks, while providing comfort to Barry in other ways.
As I became stronger and the healing for us began, Brady gradually returned to his typical boisterous self. My husband and son provided such a source of joy and light how could I not be grateful for our blessings rather than focusing on our loss.
Suddenly one day, the sun shone again, both inside and outside our home, and Darcy and his Brady grew into a dynamic duo.

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Jimmy the Janitor at G-Square

NEW GLASGOW – He’s been called “the Dean of Dust”, the Squire of the Squeegee, the CEO of CLR, but mostly he’s been called on to entertain audiences across Canada and the United States for the past 25 years.
Jimmy the Janitor is bringing his PG-rated show to Glasgow Square on Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (plus applicable service charges), available at Glasgow Square Box Office, Big Al’s, or online at (1-888-311-9090)
“Jimmy the Janitor” has eleven comedy CD’s and his comedy feature “Jimmy Live” is heard daily in 70 radio markets across Canada. The jovial janitor has appeared on CBC Radio/Television, CTV and the Comedy Network.

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Federal protection for Russian Hat

A unique sponge commonly known as the Russian Hat received federal protection on World Oceans Day.
Peter MacKay, regional minister for Nova Scotia, announced on Saturday the Federal Government would be closing off two areas of the Scotian Shelf to bottom contact fishing on Saturday. The announcement, made on behalf of Keith Ashfield, minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is in light of the discovery that these areas are home to a rare and unique form of sponge – Vazella Pourtalesi.
The areas to be closed amount to 259 square kilometres on the eastern Scotian Shelf. Forms of contact fishing such as the use of drags, traps, barrels, bottom set trawls, longlines and gillnets will be prohibited. Non-contact fishing methods will be permitted.
“I am pleased that this agreement stems from our work with industry and community partners to conserve our important marine habitat while ensuring Canadians can continue to benefit from the opportunities our ocean resources present,” MacKay said.
The sponge, Vazella Pourtalesi, is a type of glass sponge known to laypersons as the Russian Hat sponge, given its Russian hat-like appearance. Globally, this sponge is only known to live in three areas: Gulf of Mexico, Azores and the Scotian Shelf. The Nova Scotian sponges are unique in that they have a more dense population or sponge ground.
Government outlined the need to protect this odd creature, stating “benthic habitats, composed of species living on or under the sea floor, are essential components of Canada’s oceans enviroments. They provide habitat and food web support; are an important source of biodiversity; and they support many aquatic species that are important to Canadians and our economy.”
Susanna Fuller, who holds a doctorate in the study of sponges, discovered the Russian Hat sponge in a very unlikely location – at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax where one was housed, unidentified, for nearly 70 years. Fuller had the sponge identified in 2000 and was happy to see action taken to protect them.
“It’s exciting because it’s unique to Nova Scotia and we’ve finally taken efforts to protect them,” she said. “We have the largest mono-specific population. They find them in other places but we have the largest mono-specific population which means they form patches with really very little other sponges in the same spot.”

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Gunning shows what These Hands can do

A new video of Dave Gunning’s These Hands has spread across the Internet, capturing the hearts of many.
Gunning was approached by the IWK Children’s Hospital Foundation after a board member heard his song These Hands at a show in Halifax.
“They planned everything,” says Gunning. “I went down for one day and the video was shot by Scott Simpson.”
Gunning says the video all happened very quickly, but it’s something that has been near and dear to his heart.
About a year ago, Gunning was told he would have to pay royalties to the Canadian Mint for his album that featured the image of the penny. He decided at that time to raise those funds in pennies and make a donation to the IWK.
Following a storm of media attention, the Canadian Mint decided against the request and all of the pennies raised were donated to the IWK and more.
Gunning also worked on a book, These Hands, which part of the proceeds go to the IWK as well.
“It’s funny how it’s all tying in together,” he says. “I’ve been there different times to sing and have taken part in the telethon a few times. They do great work and we are lucky to have them.”
Gunning’s wife is a school teacher here in the county and he says she has had a few students who have had to spend time at the IWK over the years.
“And we’ve got three kids that we are lucky are healthy,” he says.
“Gus our little guy, was taken there this past summer by an ambulance after he fell on the Halifax Waterfront. He was fine, but at the time we were lucky to have a place that specializes in treating kids. It’s amazing what they do.”
Spending the entire day at the IWK, Gunning has grown a great appreciation for what the employees there do.
“It’s a huge eye opener,” he says.
“I was emotionally drained when I left. There are so many things you see. They have this guy who is a clown, but he’s also a highly trained child psychologist; his job is to keep the kids entertained but he’s often called into rooms during end of life situations, and he’s in the video.”
Gunning also notes the nurses and staff that begin working there and how they admit that during the first few weeks they go through a period where they are extremely tired at the end of the day and he attributes that to the emotion.
“I’m just so proud to be involved with the IWK and am happy they contacted me to use the song. I can’t think of a better use. The lyrics and images just came together. I’m glad the song is being used for such an important cause.”
Gunning says the shooting was incredible.
“Scott Simpson did a beautiful job and at the time I had a good feeling about it; you could see the looks in people’s eyes when we shot different scenes.
“Things happened we never could have planned for, it was so beautiful, one of those special things.”
To view the video visit:

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Contributions honoured

Major Donald Creighton (Rt’d) and his wife Shirley of Central West River were honoured at the Pictou County Military Museum in Westville on Saturday.
The Creightons recently made a substantial monetary donation to the museum which allowed for the installation of a floor showcase and the purchase of several large displays of military items. Major Creighton also donated several large artifacts which included shells, plaques and trophies.
Creighton served in the Second World War, the Korean War, as well as Cyprus. In 1959, while a captain, he found himself in the unlikely position of being in charge of the Honour Guard escorting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during a Royal Visit to Winnipeg, Man.
“I was only a captain and I shouldn’t have been commanding the guard, but all our majors had two left feet so they chose me,” he said.
The duty required Creighton to go through six weeks of training and he described the task as “scary”.
Creighton donated the shoulder rank chainmail, belts, buckles, boots, spires, sword and badges he wore on that day to the museum. These artifacts are now displayed on a mannequin wearing a midnight blue uniform similar to what he would have worn in that era. The medals displayed on the mannequin are reproductions, however, as Creighton still wears his medals at military functions.
Shirley Creighton donated an outfit of similar vintage which is also on display.
The Creightons met when Donald was 17 and returned to high school after a period of military service. After a career in the military he attended Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish and obtained a Bachelor of Education.
As for his support of the museum Creighton said, “A lot of people from Westville are veterans and a lot of people served in the forces in the Second World War. My father was in Passchendaele in the First World War.”
It is important as well, he said, to not overlook veterans of the Korean War.
“They’re starting to remember them now, slowly. Part of the problem, I think, was that it was dubbed a police action instead of a war. When people shoot at you and you can get killed, that’s a war.”

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deCoste fundraiser hopes to be well above par

A new fundraiser for the deCoste Entertainment Centre in Pictou is hoping to reach a new market.
Tickets are currently being sold on the deCoste Masters Draw, where a lucky ticket holder will win a trip for two to the 2014 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Draw date is September 20 and there are only 600 tickets being sold.
Stephanie Mykietyn, a member of the fundraising committee says, “We wanted to reach a new market and show that people who are interested in sports can also support the arts.”
The fundraising committee, which is also comprised of Ellen MacDonald, Helen Buchan and Gwen Tate, is very excited about this new venture. Tickets for The Masters, says Mykietyn, “are next to impossible to get,” and MacDonald adds, “You can’t buy them.”
Even if you don’t golf, this prize package is sure to have appeal.
►Day 1: Make your way from the Atlanta airport to the Ritz Carlton Buckhead and enjoy an evening cocktail.
►Day 2: A police escort will take you to the gates of Augusta National. Visit the hospitality facility before following world-class golfers pursuing the coveted emerald green jacket. At the end of the day, enjoy a buffet meal before attending the presentation ceremony then return to the hospitality facilities for fun and fellowship. At the end of the day, you will transfer to the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia.
►Day 3: Play a round of golf on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Great Waters course opened at Reynolds Plantation in 1992. This 7,073-yard, par-72 layout was voted among America’s “Best Residential Golf Courses” by GolfWeek Magazine.
►Day 4: Meet the group for an early morning shotgun start at The Oconee course. Just a short walk from the lobby at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, this Rees Jones course is quickly becoming a favourite of guests at the Reynolds Plantation.
Included in the trip is round-trip airfare for two from Halifax to Atlanta, accommodations, activities, transfers, meals, fees where indicated as per the itinerary. The prize package is valued at close to $13,000.
Second place prize is a set of TaylorMade golf clubs valued at $3,000 and third prize is a 2014 membership to Abercrombie Golf Club or $1,000 towards membership in the winner’s local club.
“All proceeds are for programming at the deCoste,” Mykietyn says.
Buchan explains, “We want to expand our offerings to bring in new people so we can continue to keep the deCoste vibrant.
“We’re very fortunate to have a centre such as the deCoste in this area,” notes MacDonald.
Tickets are available from board members, at Travel Our Way which is making the travel arrangements, at the barbershop in the Highland Square Mall and at the deCoste. Watch for ticket booths in the Highland Square Mall, Central in Stellarton, at the NSLC in Pictou. Rules and details are available on the deCoste’s website or Facebook page.
In addition to this unique fundraiser, the group is also working to build a large volunteer base.
“We would like to develop a volunteer corps who would help out with events and not just be ushers – anyone interested in helping the deCoste,” MacDonald explains.
“Volunteers are a vital component to the deCoste.” Anyone interested can email

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5,000 reasons to smile

The Hector Arena Fundraising Committee has good reason to smile: Shiretown Dental Clinic in Pictou has donated $5,000 to the Arena’s Capital Campaign.
“For a relatively small business like Shiretown Dental to make a contribution of this size is a tremendous act of generosity and support,” said Shane Sponagle, co-chair of the Capital Campaign.
“This is what being part of a community is all about, people helping people and businesses such as Shiretown Dental coming forward to make a difference.”
The committee’s goal is to raise a total of $250,000 to contribute towards the upgrades at the Hector Arena.
“We are working on getting the necessary commitments from businesses in place and the community fundraising team has done a great job gathering support”, said Sponagle.
“There is still work to be done and we welcome all contributions, both personal and corporate.”
Donations to date and the in-kind services being offered, bring the committee’s current total raised to more than $150,000.
“Shiretown Dental Clinic has stepped up and really raised the bar and we are lucky to have them in our community,” Sponagle said.

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Maritimer of the Week says honour is much ado about nothing

Craig Mercer doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
The Stellarton resident was just recognized as CTV’s Maritimer of the Week for rescuing an injured dog. While he is humbled by the accolades, he is certain anyone else would have re-acted the same under the circumstances.
Mercer was fishing in the Liscomb River area on May 26 with a group of four friends when they came across a dog in desperate need of medical attention.
“His face was full of porcupine quills and he was pretty scared of us,” Mercer explains. “He was pretty weak and pretty thin.”
Mercer knew the dog needed help, so the five fishing buddies tried to lure him closer by offering him hot dogs. The dog got spooked and fled, so they began to search for him. They found the little black dog lying in a ditch not too far up the road.
“He was pretty weak,” Mercer said.
So Mercer grabbed a pair of thick gloves and a heavy coat for protection against a possible dog bite, scooped the little pooch up from the ditch and put him in the back of his truck. He called home to his wife, Kerry Lynn, and asked her to call ahead to alert the vet he was coming in with a dog in dire need of help.
With no identifying tags to be found on the pooch, Mercer told the New Glasgow Veterinary Clinic to “do what needs to be done and send me the bill.”
His good deed did not go un-noticed. The rescue received lots of publicity and offers of financial assistance – from the friends he was fishing with, to other friends, family, co-workers at Investors Group and virtual strangers. The ensuing publicity eventually led to the discovery of the dog’s owner.
Mercer has mixed emotions about that. “I am happy that he was reunited with his owner and her eight-year-old son, but a part of me was hoping…” for a different outcome. He and his wife are both animal lovers; they were quite prepared to bring the dog home to live with them and their two Weimaraners.
Mercer quickly dismisses the notion that he did anything heroic in saving the dog’s life.
“I couldn’t live with myself if I left the dog there,” to die alone in the woods, he says. “And even if I could, once I got home and told my wife, she wouldn’t have been able to live with that either and we’d have gone back to Liscomb looking for the dog,” he chuckles.
Mercer says he is humbled by all the attention he has received. “I find it ironic that there are many people who volunteer their time for hours and hours every week in obscurity, but I did one thing and got Maritimer of the Week.
“I appreciate it, but picking up a dog and putting it in my truck is not a big deal.”

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Community garden underway

Members of the East River Valley Community Development Association are gearing up for summer.
A group of members met last week to finish preparing the East River Valley Community Garden.
This is the third year for the garden, located on the East River West Side Road, for planting.
“This year, the Hopewell 4-H group is involved and they have planted four of the gardens,” explains Donna Kennedy, member. “The other gardens are open to anyone in the community.”
There are 10 garden beds, compared to the six beds last year.
“Last year we were able to donate more than 30 pounds of yellow and green beans,” explains Kennedy, “to the Pictou County Food Bank as well as donated some beans to the assisted living residents in Riverton.”
The 4-H group will also be donating their yield this year.
“We were lucky enough to get a donation of top soil from Pictou County Excavating which is coming sometime this week.”
Currently the group is looking for donations of any kind.
“If anyone has old tools, wheel barrows, plants, flowers, rakes, shovels, a lawn mower, anything. We are looking for donations of everything right now,” explains Kennedy.
The garden is open to the general population of the East River Valley area and anyone interested in planting a row, or anyone with a donation to make can contact Kennedy at

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Wind towers start coming together

TRENTON – Work has been completed on the first portions of wind towers DSTN is building for a wind farm in P.E.I.
A giant crane transported two of the sections for the 10 towers being built to a laydown area set aside for all the pieces before they’re hauled by truck to the Hermanville and Clear Springs wind project in Eastern Kings County, P.E.I.
Each tower section weighs between 42.5 and 68 metric tonnes and is carried by a mobile crane capable of lifting 110 metric tonnes. They are placed on cradles that are carpeted to protect the towers’ outer membrane.
Once fully assembled, the towers will stand 92 meters high from base to tip.
“We at DSTN are happy with our production progress to this point and are looking forward to continuing this success well into the future,” said Myong-Jun Park who became DSTN’s new president and CEO in May.
“It remains our goal to be a leading supplier of wind towers internationally while working to diversify our product line.”
The South Korean industrial giant Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Ltd. (DSME) and the province have a joint investment in the former railcar plant in Trenton. About 130 skilled workers and office staff are currently employeed at the facility.
The company recently hired more staff to help fill the wind tower order for Acciona Windpower, part of a Spanish conglomerate that was formed in 1997. Some of the merged companies in Spain trace their roots to 1912.
DSTN hopes it can get orders for some or all of the 34 wind turbines Acciona wants to erect as part of the South Canoe project near Vaughn, in Hants County. The project is subject to approval by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board which is hearing the application.
DSTN is also trying to diversify its operations to take advantage of oil and gas, shipbuilding and other opportunities in Nova Scotia and throughout North America.
DSTN is its only affiliated industrial fabrication company in North America.

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Gutsy walkers raise nearly $12,000

The 2013 Gutsy Walk was, by all accounts a smashing success.
The event, known in previous years as Heel ‘n’ Wheel-athon, was held Sunday in Carmichael Park.
Last year, the walk and fundraiser took in $5,600 in support of Crohns and Colitis. This year, the $10,000 goal was exceeded by almost $2,000 to raise nearly $12,000. Some $8,200 was collected via pledges Sunday while $1,800 was raised prior through prize bingo. An additional $1,000 was received from Investors Group.
Mike Hollis founded the original Heel ’n’ Wheel-athon with his wife Nancy. The couple have two sons who were diagnosed with Crohns during university. They are now in their 30s. “Everybody knows somebody or more than one person who is suffering” from one or the other, Mike Hollis said.
He was very pleased with both the funds raised as well as the turn out for the walk.
“We had around 70 people walking and 32 who registered with pledge forms,” he said. “I think one of the things that helped us this year is we had excellent coverage from the media.”
Hollis was also pleased to see a group of walkers from Truro join the cause this year. “They don’t have one over there,” he said. “I guess they must have heard about ours somewhere so they came and joined us.
“It was by all means the biggest to date,” said Hollis. “I would say the biggest all the way around, even with the threat of bad weather.”

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More calls to stop serving of frozen meals

PICTOU – County councillors have resumed calls for better food for local veterans.
They’ve come after Coun. Jim Turple shared more information about the “rethermalized” meals the Pictou County Health Authority is serving residents of the Aberdeen Hospital and Northumberland Veterans Unit.
Council approved his motion asking for the information to be forwarded to the health authority and Premier Darrell Dexter.
Turple presented the items to refute assurances he said he received from Health Minister David Wilson that “only dietary, nutritional healthy foods” are served.
“I couldn’t force myself to eat what (the veterans) were served,” Turple said, recalling the random opportunity he took advantage of last year to sample the NVU meals.
He also noted opposition party leaders Stephen McNeil and Jamie Baillie have pledged to restore the previous meal regime for veterans if elected, although Warden Ronald Baillie later cautioned against bringing party politics into discussions at municipal council.
Turple recalled being told what brand of frozen foods were served (Swansons) and referred to toxic food items being exported from foreign countries while suggesting the food supplier may be unwittingly passing on outsourced food.
He said a consumer relations representative for Pinnacle Foods Group LLC that produces Swansons meals said all its facilities are in the U.S. and manufacturing is governed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Angela Brooks acknowledged some products are imported, but was unable to disclose what countries because it is considered “proprietary information.”
In many instances, specific fruits, vegetables, chicken or fish are not readily available domestically due to climate, quantity of land needed for harvesting and/or high consumer demand, she said.
Ed MacMaster was among councillors who said he’s fed up with callers objecting to the food the veterans are served. “We have to stop this craziness,” he said.
Coun. Leonard Fraser noted how local food items have been offered and spurned, while products from elsewhere in the world are accepted. He also warned consumers to be wary of what they eat and where it comes from.
“We don’t know what we’re eating and we should,” he said.

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Workers remembered at Davis Day ceremony

STELLARTON – The deaths of more than 2,500 miners were remembered Tuesday during the 2013 Davis Day ceremony at the Miners Monument.
A simple, dignified service featured the G.R. Saunders school choir whose members sang Candle on the Water, while opening with O Canada and closing with God Save the Queen.
Rev. Aidan Kingsbury delivered the invocation, while Rev. Charles McPherson pronounced the benediction.
Wreaths were laid, including those on behalf of the towns of Stellarton, Westville and New Glasgow, the province and Westray families.
Davis Day services in Stellarton date back to the 1925 coal mining strike when New Waterford miner William Davis, the father of 10 children, was shot by coal company police.
“William Davis did not start out to have a day named after him,” said guest speaker Monica Graham, who recalled the working conditions that led to a vicious impasse between management and the miners.
“July 11, 1925 seems a long way from now, but thousands of workers are killed around the world every year,” she said. “Don’t ever think something like this can’t happen again.”
She noted the first miner-related deaths that occurred in Stellarton in 1838, while 2,581 men and boys died in Nova Scotian mines from then to when 26 coal miners died in the Westray disaster in 1992.
The Miners’ Monument was built in 1921 by the Stellarton United Mine Workers following the 1918 Allan Shaft explosion.
Names of local coal miners who have perished over the years are inscribed on the monument.

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One person dies after morning collisions

PICTOU – A woman has died following a motor vehicle collision that occurred Friday morning.
At approximately 9 a.m., RCMP, Caribou Fire Department and EHS attended a single-vehicle crash on the Sunrise Trail in Three Brooks.
The lone occupant, a 63-year-old female, was transported to the Aberdeen Hospital but later died as a result of her injuries.
An earlier collision involved two vehicles and occurred just after 5 a.m., on Highway 347 in Greenwood. RCMP, Thorburn Fire Department and Emergency Health Services (EHS) were on scene. As a result, a 64-year-old woman from Country Harbor and a 34-year-old man from Blue Mountain were transported to the Aberdeen Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Both collisions are under investigation.

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Two-car crash in Alma

Two men sustained non-life threatening injuries on Wednesday evening after a two-car crash in Alma. They were the lone occupants of the cars involved in the crash that occurred at around 8:30 p.m. Both cars received extensive front end damage, and one of the cars caught fire from the collision. RCMP is investigating the crash, although glare from the setting sun is being viewed as a factor.

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Community meeting

Help reset the discussion on rural Atlantic Canada, your community and your role in it.
The Advocate is hosting a town hall-style meeting on Wednesday, June 12 at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton, concerning your community, harnessing the spirit that abounds in it, and working together to make sure it thrives and prospers.
And we are inviting you to be a part of it. Get involved. Join the discussion.
Rural Re-defined is the theme of the first ever Georgetown Conference taking place October 3-5 in Georgetown, PEI. (
Come to the Museum of Industry on June 12 to hear more about the conference and how you can get involved.
The Georgetown Conference is more than a conference. It’s a gathering. A gathering of doers. People from across Atlantic Canada dedicated to moving rural communities forward. You are a small business owner, a volunteer, a single parent, a member of your school’s leadership class, an immigrant, a public servant. You are the face of our rural communities. Most importantly, you are a person who gets things done.
Please take a minute to complete the survey in the link below, and please join us on June 12 to tell us your vision for rural revitalization.

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Cape John Road voted “worst” in region

Saint John, NB – CAA’s third Worst Roads campaign attracted 4,045 votes to identify the region’s Worst Roads. The campaign was launched on May 1, 2013 and wrapped up on May 31, 2013.
“This campaign will help put a real focus on problem and dangerous road conditions in the region,” said Gary Howard, vice president Communications for CAA.
“By doing so we can actively engage all necessary levels of government to encourage repairs and changes.”

The Top Worst Roads within the region are:
1. Cape John Road, River John Road, Nova Scotia
2. Hanwell Road, Fredericton, New Brunswick
3. Two Roads Tied
• New Brunswick 630, Andersonville, New Brunswick
• Forties Road, New Ross, Nova Scotia
4. Foxbrook Road, Hopewell, Nova Scotia
5. Kempt Head Road, Ross Ferry, Nova Scotia
6. Two Roads Tied
• Nova Scotia 203, Kemptville, Nova Scotia
• Ridge Road, Digby, Nova Scotia
7. Rothesay Avenue, Saint John, New Brunswick
8. Balmoral Road, Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
9. Pleasantview Ave, Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador
10. Fredericton Road, Salisbury, New Brunswick

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) is a federation of nine clubs providing more than 5.6 million Members with exceptional emergency roadside service, complete automotive and travel services, Member Rewards, and comprehensive insurance services. CAA also advocates on issues of concern to its Members, including road safety, the environment, mobility, infrastructure and consumer protection.

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All’s not ‘well’ with wellness centre

To the Editor:
Wellness Centre! Just what is it anyway? Another bill of expense for the taxpayer of Pictou County.
I have said from the very first that it will turn out to be a burden to the taxpayer. Now it has not been opened a full year and already the centre has run up a deficit of close to a million dollars. Once you run up a deficit, you can never get rid of it.
Now just stop and think for a moment. Just what do they have to offer that the other arenas do not have…. a swimming pool and the reason for that is because they closed the YMCA in New Glasgow and moved it to the centre and are now trying to close the Y in the town of Pictou. But the people are fighting back to keep the Y in Pictou.
The centre was to be the best thing since sliced bread buttered on both sides.
Well, sorry I do not see it that way.
In closing, if I want to get well I go and see my doctor or go to the E.R. at the hospital, and not to the Wellness Centre for there is no way that one can get well there. Just pay a big cost to use it.
Loyd Murray
New Glasgow

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Power of youth display was truly inspiring

To the Editor:
I am delighted to hear there has been such a tremendous response from Friday’s event. It was amazing to be part of such an amazing platform in Pictou County, particularly as it is just the beginning of so many great things in the region.
It will be wonderful to see youth engage in service throughout the community and we can hardly wait to welcome many of them at our first We Day Atlantic Canada this fall. Congratulations again on such a tremendous event!
I was blown away by the passion and energy in the Pictou County YMCA arena last week at Strong Song! To see over 1,500 students come together to celebrate the power of youth was truly inspiring.
You are the students who have stepped out of your comfort zones and into leadership positions. You are the students who overcome challenges and embrace opportunities. You are the students who care about the world’s problems and find ways to solve them.
You have shown that change IS possible when we unite together. With courage and compassion, I know you will continue to do great things and make a difference in your schools, your community and our world.
Keep being the change!
Craig Kielburger
Free The Children

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Comments re: school confusing to some

To the Editor:
I am writing in response to a letter/news release issued by the MLA for Pictou West and distributed to residents in the River John area. The letter/release has a headline “MLA Calls for New School to be Built in River John”.
A resident concerned about the fate of the elementary/middle school would be extremely confused if they continued to read beyond the headline. Let us not confuse rhetoric with action. An MLA writing a “suggestion” for a new school to a task force making non-binding recommendations to government is not taking action – he is writing a letter.
If, after four years in government, the MLA has a brainstorm for rural economic development involving schools, parents might hope he forcefully fought for that idea at the cabinet table with his colleagues and the premier. Even better, he might have fought this battle before voting with his government to cut more than $60 million from school boards across the province.
Residents of River John, and elsewhere, deserve better. A Liberal government will restore the more than $60 million (cut by the NDP) to Primary to Grade 12 education. That is real action.
Glennie Langille
Central Caribou
Liberal Candidate-
Pictou West

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Seeing meals not same as tasting them

To the Editor:
I understand that recently two local MLAs visited the Northumberland Veterans Unit in Pictou and while the visits occurred on different days they both occurred at meal time.
One MLA was apparently overheard saying that the meal looked good and that he could eat it himself. I wonder why he didn’t ask to try one of these meals. Could it be that he is waiting for the new local prison to open so he can partake of a properly prepared home cooked meal which he can enjoy with the inmates rather than struggling through a tasteless re-thermalized meal with our honoured veterans?
The second MLA purposely visited the Veterans Unit at meal time in order to sample a re-thermalized meal being served our veterans. Prior arrangements had not been made as this MLA did not want preferential treatment but wanted to receive the same meal as our veterans.
On April 22, 2013, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs at the Nova Scotia Legislature, the governing NDP indicated it would be monitoring the meal situation at the Veterans Unit. This surely would be a good test as re-thermalized salisbury steak was on the menu. Staff on the Unit was informed of this supper guest, the MLA took a seat and awaited his meal. It was not to be, this elected member of our Provincial Government would have to get his supper elsewhere as he was not served at the Veterans Unit.
It must be noted that the Pictou County Health Authority is blaming the governing NDP for the financial restraints placed on them which, in turn, are forcing this Health Authority to serve our veterans and hospital patients these re-thermalized meals. Now one must ask who made the decision not to serve this meal to this NDP member of the Legislature and why? Was it for fear that he would find out first hand the poor quality food being served? Who at the PCHA had such power as to refuse a member of our Provincial Government?
I applaud this MLA for attempting to sample one of these meals, but must question why he remains silent on this issue.
We all know that a provincial election is just around the corner and our elected MLAs need to step up to the plate and correct this injustice being done to our veterans.
If our three elected NDP members as well as the PCHA think this issue can be ignored and it will go away, they are wrong. It will go away only when they do the right thing. Table cloths and music will not solve the problem!
To all Pictou County residents: I urge you to stand up and fight for our veterans like they fought for you. Write your MLA; your MP and Mr. Lee, the CEO of our Health Authority, and voice your disapproval of the meals being served our veterans.
Michael LeBlanc

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No time to be a good servant

Politics has been tarnished so badly in recent times that one wonders if the honorable pursuit of public office will ever recover from the damage.
The array of bad appointments and the bad decisions made by those so appointed is becoming an exhaustive list.
So let’s just limit this discussion to former journalists, starting with senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
Based on what these two are being asked to fess up about, one would conclude that this is no time to be a politician. A lot of working journalists aren’t feeling very good either, knowing Duffy and Wallin once were.
Their sins are sins of entitlement. But one wonders how anyone, much less former journalists, would see the tar on others’ shoes and walk into it anyway.
“I’m entitled to my entitlements,” said former Liberal cabinet minister and senior civil servant Dave Dingwall as he helped disable the Liberal brand and absolve the highest career person and the lowest beggar of dishonesty.
Duffy and Wallin would be all over that as journalists. One would not know them to do anything else. Now they’re walking self-righteously onto the red carpet when it’s their turn to come clean.
What they – and other senators so accused – have done by filing expense claims that are being deemed false and exaggerated has far-reaching consequences. Duffy and Wallin were appointed by the prime minister. Their antics have shaken the Conservative Party of Canada from top to bottom. They have prompted those opposed to the Senate, more than ever before, to have it abolished. To us, they’re saying so what?
This is “what.”
As senators they can’t be fired. Their one final, honorable deed would be to leave. Now.
Now let’s turn to another journalist who has lost his basic instincts: Peter Kent. What kind of person, who in his past life was a journalist, would accuse groups of laundering funds raised to fight environmental degradation they think the Keystone and Northwest pipeline schemes would cause in the face of the billions of foreign investment being poured into those projects and the tar sands that would flow through them?
It is the kind of person who has forgot himself once given the levers of true power.
Journalists – and former journalists – need to examine themselves.
This country and some of its cherished and vital institutions just might be saved as a result.

Steve Goodwin

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Veteran pilot at deCoste’s helm

There’s a new creative director in town.
With John Meir’s “official” retirement in December, Stanfest veteran Troy Greencorn is looking to pilot the deCoste Centre into its next era of culture and entertainment.
In addition to his time in municipal government and working with the ECMAs, Greencorn has been with Stanfest for the past 17 years filling the role of artistic director since its inception.
“Myself and a small group of colleagues at the time created the festival and I’ve been in that leadership role since. The label is artist director but it’s really not that defined. It’s everything from booking the talent, raising the funding, building the site and tearing it back down,” he said.
“It’s the kind of project that if you’re lucky happens once in your life. When the festival started, Canso was probably in its deepest, darkest point in its economic history and that’s largely why we started the festival. Just pulling it off the first time and being able to grow it and to survive… it’s hard to believe we’re actually starting to plan for our 20th anniversary.”
Greencorn said he was drawn to the deCoste for the challenge it represented. “Presenting culture in a theatre setting is one of the few things that I haven’t done so far. I’ve done the festival, I’ve done the large regional industry association stuff, I’ve done the ECMA which is a major conference and festival so this opportunity to be part of the leadership team in a small community theatre was attractive,” he said.
“Over the years I’ve kept an eye on the deCoste. I’m very close friends with Dave Gunning and I’ve always heard from Dave the sort of things going on here. So it’s always been on my radar. I was very much convinced that there would be significant synergy in terms of the relationships I’ve built in the industry. That’s already allowed me to get to work quick.”
Although Greencorn has officially been creative director of the deCoste since April, outgoing director John Meir has been showing him the ropes, both literal and figurative. “Technically John retired in December but he’s stayed on in a pretty big way to bridge the transition and also to ramp up the new creative director. It’s been wonderful. I’ve been able to sit down with John for hours and hours and talk about what’s been done in the past, what’s worked well and what hasn’t worked. He’s been mentoring me in all facets of the job.”
Much like his work with Stanfest, Greencorn said that working with the deCoste can be a very hands-on job and he finds himself filling the roles of roadie, technician or custodian when needed although, as he said, that’s how he likes to operate.
“This theatre has been very successful for over 30 years and there’s a lot of momentum that gets built over that time,” he said, although he recognized the theatre’s “a desire to shake up the programing somewhat and to bring some diversity into the mix and also some larger productions, larger shows. Going through the selection process with the staff I’ve really gotten that same communication that the organization is eager to embrace change.”
That change Greencorn said may take some time to show itself as approximately 65 per cent of next year’s shows have already been set, although he is eager to imprint himself on the other 35 per cent.
“It would be safe to say it’s actually in year two where the community will see a more pronounced change in the theatre’s offering,” he said. “(However) a large part of what’s happening here is working extremely well. And of course that will still be part of the mix.”

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Jon Raven headlining carnival

“I always had a notion about the raven; I always knew it was part of me.”
Jon Raven Visser is an interesting soul. His love of music and drive for success have brought him from Pictou County across North America searching for success with his spiritual guide, the raven.
The raven bears a strong spiritual significance for Jon Raven, who is preparing to move back to Nashville and focus on his music career.
“I lived there for eight years, from 2006 to 2011 when I moved home because my father was sick,” he explains.
Since then, much has changed in Raven’s world and he is on his way back to his musical muse, Nashville.
“I plan on spending half of my time there and half of my time in Pictou County,” says Raven, “just playing live, writing songs and recording; trying to push myself into the industry.”
Raven found it hard while being away chasing his dreams; missing out on life unfolding back home with his family.
“When you are trying to be an artist and follow your dreams, you kind of get lost in it and miss a lot of those special family moments,” he says.
Hence the split time between Nashville and home.
Before leaving for Nashville, Raven performed at the Radio for Relay at the Highland Square Mall and is gearing up for a performance at the Pictou Lobster Carnival, with magazine interviews and festivals in between.
“I try to immerse myself in the festivals here with my country/folk/Americana style,” he says. “They are the bread and butter of live performance.”
After graduating high school, at 17, Raven moved to Toronto where he studied audio engineering in order to record his own music and then worked booking bands for clubs.
A change of pace brought him back to school for graphic design and he began travelling to Nashville in 2003, before moving there in 2006.
Raven says moving to Nashville, “hugely helped with the progress of my music. You learn the rules of song structure and poetic lyrics without being too poetic. County and folk music comes from the heart. It’s down-home understandable.”
While in Nashville, Raven had the opportunity of running into idols and eventually working with people he never dreamed of working with.
“Right now I’m working with people like the bassist of Fleetwood Mac and the drummer from the Counting Crows and Kenny Loggins. My producer, Ray Kennedy, produced legendary artists like Steve Earle and many of the other stars in his specific genre. That type of caliber of people allowed me to hone my craft and be mentored subliminally by them. I just hope to one day have the chance to be at that level.”
With the variety of bars and performance venues, it’s not uncommon to have someone famous walk in while you are playing, or see them at the post office and while you are getting gas, he says.
“You learn the rules of song writing so you can break them,” says Jon Raven. “I’m not really country, I’m not really folk and I’m not rock. I’m in between. Coming home to Pictou County was good for me because I am back to writing… what I want to hear. I have a lot of different genre influences and they all come out.”
Raven will be headlining the main stage of the Sunday night of the Pictou Lobster Carnival, which will be free of charge.
“My musicians will get paid, but my time I am donating. We can’t lose the carnival, it’s the only thing that gets us through the long winters. With all of the younger people moving out West, there has to be a reason for them to come home. I can’t emphasize enough, if we lose that, what’s next? It’s something that is culturally driven, organic.”
For anyone who hasn’t seen Jon Raven perform, or who hasn’t for a while is in for a treat.
“I try to perform every show as if it’s my last show,” he says. “So I give it my everything. I don’t sing a song the same way twice so that every show is new and keeps the audience’s attention. I’m a really big singer and I will have some of the best Pictou County artists backing me up (at the carnival).”
Raven believes in staying local with his bands.
“That’s what the festival is all about,” he says. “It will be a heartfelt show. I love to play my original music. The show will be full of human spirit, soul and heart.”
Jon Raven says his songs are all based on stories that most people have probably lived.
“They are stories people can relate to. I like to tell a little story explaining each song as well, which I think makes it more personal. They are stories from the different places I have lived. I try to give that vicarious journey in the three and a half to four minute song.”
For more information visit

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Council debates merits of county Wellness Centre

STELLARTON – A robust discussion ensued regarding the debt accumulated by the Pictou County Wellness Centre and the merits of keeping the Stellarton Memorial Rink open.
Stellarton resident Fred Vienneau broached the subjects on Monday during open forum that generally follows regular town council business.
Council members had received for information copies of the Wellness Centre’s financial reports from March and April, as well as its budget and operating plans for 2013-14.
He questioned the expense of building and operating the Wellness Centre and the deficits the Memorial rink runs each year.
He said council should follow New Glasgow’s lead when it announced last week that it will be closing the John Brother MacDonald Stadium in September.
“I can’t see how (the Memorial rink) is ever going to make money,” he said. “I hope Stellarton makes the hard decision like New Glasgow did.”
Vienneau also questioned whether town council didn’t do “due diligence” about the share of operating costs the Wellness Centre would incur.
“It’s a first-class operation but we can’t afford it,” he said.
Coun. George Megeney repeated his opposition to the town’s participation in the construction and operation of the Wellness Centre, including what it must pay toward the current operating deficit, and the funds the town is raising through its deed transfer tax.
“I said it would be a millstone around our necks,” he said. “We were bullied into agreeing to it.”
Mayor Joe Gennoe said the facility was built to take advantage of the $22 million in federal and provincial funding to help build it.
“If we passed up on that $22 million everyone would be throwing knives at us,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Denise Taylor said the Wellness Centre is among facilities Pictou County needs to attract people to move and stay in the area.
“I think we need to look at the big picture here,” she said. “We all agreed to it. We’re in it together.”
Regarding the Memorial rink, Vienneau suggested a town plebiscite to gauge support for keeping it open, and allow its supporters the opportunity to operate it privately.

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