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Monday, March 8, 2010

Court And Chase Lock Horns Over Peel Plaza - Again

More sparks flying between Mayor Ivan Court and Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase over the controversial Peel Plaza project.
The latest verbal duel came as council dealt with the new capital budget -- a budget without any specific dollars set aside for the police station and parking garage development -- a development Chase says the city can't afford.
That prompted Court to suggest Chase is nothing more than a "bad news bear" - he later apologized.
Chase accepted the apology and reminded the Mayor he believed the Bad News Bears won the championship with Court quipping "with a good coach."

Peel Plaza Report Going To Council Soon

Common council should be receiving a final report on the cost of a public - private partnership for Peel Plaza soon.
City Manager Pat Woods says the numbers from the request for proposals are due in the next day or so.
Woods says the city's finance department will then review the costing on the public-private partnership followed by a meeting of the steering committee on Thursday -- and -- finally a recommendation to council hopefully by next week.
Council will then make a decision whether to proceed in partnership with the developer or proceed with financing the project on its own.
The development will see a new police station and parking garage constructed in addition to a new provincial justice complex.

Council Approves 45-Million Dollar Capital Budget

Common council has nixed 600-thousand dollars earmarked for Saint John Transit to buy a new bus.
Instead -- councilors have redirected the money to help bolster the money allocated for road repairs and upgrades which is a top priority for Councilor Bruce Court -- he's been pushing for more money for roads especially those out east.
Just over 11-million dollars has been allocated for road repairs and upgrades.
Council approved this year's 45-million dollar capital budget after making the change -- the final vote was 8-2 with Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase and Councilor Patty Higgins voting against while Councilor Chris Titus was absent.

Council Giving Proposed Capital Budget A Look

Common council is being asked to set aside money in this year's capital budget to begin preliminary design work for an expansion of the Trade and Convention Center -- the request is part of this year's proposed 45-million dollar capital budget.
City manager Pat Woods says 550-thousand dollars will help move the proposed makeover and expansion to the design stage which should be completed by the end of September.
Woods says by the time tenders are called and awarded -- it will be close to year end so any money spent on the actual work will be included in next year's capital budget.

Visitors allowed again at Loch Lomond Villa

Visitor restrictions have been lifted at the Loch Lomond Villa that were put in place because of the Norwalk virus.
CEO Cindy Donovan tells CHSJ news visiting is now permitted but, if visitors are not feeling then they are discouraged from visiting.
All visitors are encouraged to use hand sanitizers when entering the complex.

Attempted Pin Pad Theft in Quispamsis

Rothesay Regional Police have arrested three Montreal men after they attempted to steal a pin pad from a business.

The business called police as the result of a province-wide alert.

Officers responded at 4 this morning and the men were in a late model rental car on Highway 119 in Quispamsis.
All three were before a judge in Hampton today charged with attempting to commit the idictable offense of theft.

The men will remain in custody until bail hearing on Thursday morning in Sussex.
Police tell us similar complaints are being investigated in other areas and more charges are expected.

A New Face at Saint John Destination Marketing

The former General Manager of Waterfront Development has found a new home at City Hall. Ross Jefferson is the new executive director of Saint John Destination Marketing. How-ever, there is some confusion over the new position. It was just last year in January, that Gail Bremner accepted the job as Executive Director of Saint John Destination Marketing Orginization.

We have a call into the City Hall Communications department looking for clarification.

Lottery Winner Claims His Prize

For the second time in three weeks, a lotto winner is from Saint John. Steve Hannerhan made the trek to Moncton today to pick up his cheque for one million dollars after winning the Atlantic 49 draw on Saturday. Currently working as a health-care professional, Hannerhan says he bought the winning ticket at the Superstore on Rothesay Avenue.

Hannerhan says he and his wife Karen still don't have any major plans for their new found cash and doesn't plan to retire. Atlantic Lotto still hasn't revealed the identity of a man on the West-Side that had a multi-million dollar winning ticket last month.

Big Plans for Highway One

                      (Premier Shawn Graham)
                              (File Photo)

Dexter Construction has been chosen by the province to be in charge of twinning the rest of Highway One from Saint John to St. Stephen, all 55 kilometers which will also include more than 100 kilometers of wildlife fencing. The final agreements on the privatised deal still have to be negotiated. Premier Shawn Graham also announcing upgrades will be done in the Saint John area itself.
Construction begins this summer with completion set for the end of July in 2013. Dexter will also be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the highway from St. Stephen to River Glade until 2040.

Rothesay MLA Taking Heat over Assessments

(Rothesay Conservative MLA Margaret Ann Blaney)
                      (File Photo)

Home-owners in Rothesay continue to vent their frustration over this years property assessments. MLA Margaret Ann Blaney tells CHSJ News, she has been swamped with calls since letters starting arriving at homes last week and the problem should have been dealt with by the Graham Government last year.
Blaney adds one of the home-owners in her riding, who live in a very modest home, had their assessment increase by 118% from last year.

Quispamsis Mayor Talks About Property Assessments

(Quispamsis Mayor Murray Driscoll)
               (File Photo)

The provincial government is blaming municipalities in large part for the big increases in property bills that homeowners are angry about. Quispamsis Mayor Murray Driscoll points out the tax rate in his town has been going down.

Driscoll also says the real estate market in Quispamsis has been hot with rising prices and that is a factor in higher property assessments.

Robbery and Fire

It was a busy weekend for Sussex RCMP. It was just before two this morning when officers were called to a business on Park Street for a break and enter. A thief or thieves got into the building through the roof and managed to get a safe full of cash out of the business. Officers are going over the surveillance tapes for clues.

Also, the search is on for someone who likes to play with matches. Officers were called to Hatfields Point Saturday night to find a fishing shack on Bellisle Bay on fire. An ATV was spotted driving away from the shack with it's lights off but fire crews were able to save the ice fishing home. Close to $150 dollars in damage was done.

Cigarettes Stolen in St. Martins

A store in St. Martins is shy plenty of smokes today.

Hampton RCMP tell us someone broke into the Huttges General Store after midnight and got away with close to $2000 dollars worth of cigarettes.

Attempted Holdup Under Investigation

Two youths are behind bars after what City Police describe as an attempted robbery last night on Paddock Street. Police believe a weapon was used but the intended victim wasn't injured.

Costco Job Fair Ends

(Job Fair At Costco)
(File Photo)

One thousand people were interviewed at Costco's three day job fair which ended yesterday afternoon. Costco's Director of Human Resources for Atlantic Canada, Tracy Knocker estimates close to 2 thousand people showed up but not everyone was able to be interviewed one on one. Now the hard part starts........Who to choose? Costco is hoping to have its hiring complete in the next 2 to 3 weeks. The lucky ones will be starting work in early May. The store's official opening is scheduled for May 27th.
There are about 100 jobs to be filled.

On The Vine Setting Up Shop In The K-V

The former Brookside Market is getting a second lease on life. In what might be the worst kept secret in the Kennebecasis Valley, On the Vine is setting up shop along the Old Hampton Road in Rothesay. Owner Sean Fillmore tells CHSJ News  they have been eyeing this location since the property became available.

This is the second attempt for On the Vine in Rothesay after a short stint near the entrance to K-Park with a store a few years ago. Fillmore says he will hire over 30 employees for now and hope to have the store open by the end of this month with renovations on-going. This new location is owned by Fillmore and his wife Mandy.  

International Women's Day Being Marked

Over 100 years since the first International Women's Day and thye Canadian Union of Public Employees thinks women in this province are still fighting for equality. Maureen Michaud of CUPE tells CHSJ News the federal government is stifling the progress of women. She cites the failure of Ottawa to establish national childcare. CUPE also takes issue with the Provincial Pay Equity Act which comes into force on April 1st but covers public sector workers only. Michaud adds CUPE believes a number of challenges face women this year including the continuing promotion of privatization which the union charges is an attack on women and other equality-seeking groups.