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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Police Force Faces Budget Challenges

Saint John Police Chief Bill Reid says budget challenges are ahead but that won't stop the force from delivering top notch service.

City Hall has capped the force's budget to a 1 percent increase per year for the next two years.

Reid tells CHSJ News it's a juggling act but he's up for the challenge.

He says citizens will not notice any overt changes to the quality of their police service and all public safety needs will be met.

Quispamsis and Rothesay To Talk About Amalgamation In New Year

Both Quispamsis and Rothesay are willing to meet for exploratory amalgamation talks but Quispamsis councillor Daryl Bishop is still lukewarm to the idea.

He tells CHSJ News tax rates usually go up when you amalgamate.

He estimates there would be a 13 cent tax increase if the towns were to merge at this time.

However, he concedes that amalgamation will probably happen sometime down the road.

Local Band Holds Fundraiser

In the spirit of the holidays, a fundraiser is being held tonight to support Ronan Boyd, a nine year old with aggressive liver cancer. 

Chuck Teed is a family friend who says his band decided to have the fundraiser to help cover the cost of Ronan's treatment. 

Teed's band, The Penny Blacks, will be performing along with Jessica Rhaye and Richard Kidd. 

Teed says there will also be a 50/50 draw and a live auction. 

The fundraiser starts at 7pm.

City Closer Than You Think To Treating All Of Its Raw Sewage

There is light at the end of the tunnel and the day is not that far off when all of the sewage generated in the city will be treated.

So says Paul Groody, the head of Municipal Operations, who points out 98 per cent of raw sewage in the north end, 76 per cent on the west side and 43 per cent out east is already being treated.

Groody acknowledges alot of taxpayer dollars have been spent but, on the other hand, these systems will last for the next hundred years.

He goes on to say Saint John will be in a better position to comply with stricter federal wastewater regulations that are coming down the pike than Moncton, Halifax and St. John's.

Collision On Highway 7

There was a big traffic backup this morning along Highway 7 for half an hour or so on the west side following two separate collisions involving a Ford pickup, a garbage truck and car.

The car smashed into the rear of the garbage truck by the Ocean Westway exit.

One woman was taken to hospital.

Weather Blamed For Highway Death Outside St. George

Poor road conditions caused by Monday's winter storm being blamed for the death of a 71 year old woman from Manchester, New Hampshire along Highway 1 west of St. George.

The RCMP say she died in a collision after going out of control  because of the slippery road conditions at the time.

Her name is not being released until her family has been properly notified.

Early Morning Fire Under Police Investigation

Firefighters were called out early this morning to a blaze in a vacant house at 1050 Sandy Point Road.

District Chief Joe Armstrong says the job of putting it out was made more difficult because there are no hydrants in that area and conditions were slippery with the cold temperature and wind chill.

Armstrong says the cause appears to be suspicious and is being investigated by both the fire department and city police.

Deputy Mayor Confident Province Will Play Ball On City Pension Plan

The Chair of the city's Finance Committee says Common Council needs the province's permission to include a one year pension deferral in this year's budget. 

Stephen Chase tells CHSJ News the timeline is a concern but council is confident the provincial government will agree to the deferral which would allow the pension plan payments to be made over 25 years instead of 15 years.

Mayor Ivan Court points out Saint John is not the only city in the province asking for pension help. The Province had to inject an estimated 325 million dollars into its own plan.

Premier Maintains Energy Has Not Been Put On Shelf

Premier Alward denies the Energy Minister and his staff are sitting idly by awaiting a report early next year from a recently appointed energy commission.

In a year end interview with CHSJ News, Alward says department staffers are providing support to the commission.

Alward also says he believes in the concept of the energy hub here in Saint John but thinks there is a great opportunity for the province, as a whole, to become an energy hub with our strategic location between the New England market and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
N-B Power is still gathering additonal information requested by the Prime Minister on delays with the Point Lepreau upgrade. Alward says the main priority is getting the upgrade back on schedule.

School District 8 Happy About 2010 But Apprehensive Going Into 2011

The chair of the District 8 Education council thinks 2010 was a good year.

Rob Fowler tells CHSJ News one of the reasons is the improvements in assessments scores. Fowler credits the Great Math Attack initiative for that.

Fowler adds 2011 will be challenging for education given the cuts required by the province to try to find savings. Education Minister Jody Carr wants to keep those cuts from the classroom but Fowler admits that will be difficult and it's likely programs will be cut.