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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dr Jim Parrott Hospitalized For Surgery

Renowned heart surgeon Dr. Jim Parrott underwent quadruple bypass surgery at the Saint John Regional Hospital, missing today's throne speech because of the surgery.

Provincial Health Minister Hugh Flemming said he was asked by Parrott's wife to inform members of the legislature that their lone Independent member was undergoing surgery. 

Dr. Parrott was elected in 2010 as the Conservative M-L-A in the riding of Fundy-River Valley but was ejected from the party's caucus in September due to clashes over healthcare. He got into trouble for suggesting his own government wasn't listening to doctors when drawing up health care policy.

Flemming said Dr. Parrott had completed his surgery but couldn't comment further on his condition.

'Murphyville' Will No Longer Be An Xmas Tradition

A beloved Saint John landmark and Christmas tradition won't be lighting up this year or ever again.

Christmas icon 'Murphyville' will no longer be maintained by Donald Coholan.

Karen Bethune tells CHSJ news every Christmas Eve since the 1960's she's gone to see the holiday display and now takes her own kids there. She says she's disappointed it will be gone, but understands it's a lot to take care of. 

Bethune says her late uncle donated a picture of the Agony in the Garden in memory of his wife, and she was contacted by the Coholan's to see if she would like it back.

The display was built over 40 years ago by the late M-L-A Lou Murphy. Bethune remembers going to church with Murphy and says Murphyville is a legacy to a great man.

A Facebook page called "Save Murphyville" has since been created, where people can share their memories and show support.

Libs Still Against Shale Gas

With the third session of the 57th provincial Legislature kicking off today, Liberal Energy and Environment critic Chris Collins says he's looking forward to spirited discussions on shale gas.

Collins says a moratorium is necessary until legislation that protects the environment is put into place. 

The Liberals say they've been clear from the start........They want strong regulations that take into account research from around the globe. 

There were both pro-shale gas and anti-shale gas demonstrations held outside the Legislature.

Rita MacNeil Gives Special Christmas Concert Tonight

Two legendary Canadian performers are coming to the Imperial Theatre tonight.

Rita MacNeil and Frank Mills will be performing at the Imperial in a concert titled “Sharing Christmas”.

They'll perform both classic material from both their repertoires in addition to a number of songs performed together. MacNeil is known for her strong vocals, while Frank Mills is a renowned composer and pianist.

Tickets are $65 and available at the Imperial Theater Box Office at 24 Kings Square. Call 1-800-323-7469 for more details.

Cats Get Early Christmas Present

With winter now upon us, stray cats in the city don't have it easy.

In response to the influx of unwanted cats in city shelters, Councillor Susan Fullerton is spearheading a spay and neuter program called Operation Catnip which "nips" the problem in the bud.

Operation Catnip will partner with the P-E-I Vet's College and other institutions to spay and neuter 30 cats in the shelter before Christmas at a discounted rate. Fullerton hopes it will become an ongoing initiative.

Making Parking Easier

Parking in Saint John is a lot clearer.

The Uptown is covered in fresh, new parking signs that now clearly indicate where you can and can't park throughout the month. The 600+ signs replace the 6 year old ones that only stated where you can't park.

City traffic engineer Tim O'Reilly tells CHSJ news the new signs will make parking rules easier to understand in hopes of issuing less tickets. He says they have received many complaints that the old signs were clear as mud.

2 hour parking on certain uptown streets change from one side to the other side halfway through the month.

The parking commission says $17,000 was set aside in the 2012 capital budget to install them.

Union Reps Speak Out on Pension Situation

With the startling news the city's pension deficit is actually sitting at 345.5 million dollars, New Brunswick Police Association Vice-President Jamie Hachey tells CHSJ News the city clearly needs to consider switching to the shared risk model.

Hachey says the Task Force brings a lot of expertise to the table and council needs to do its due diligence when it comes to weighing the information.

Paul Stackhouse of the Firefighter's Association agrees, saying he's glad the Task Force is assisting. Both Hachey and Stackhouse held off on further comments before next week's vote.

The unions and Common Council need to agree on any changes to the pension plan before they can be adopted.

The Trades Are Being Revitalised In High Schools

With an aging population, skilled trades instruction is becoming more of a necessity in our local high schools.

That, according to the Coordinator of Technology & Skilled Trades for Anglophone South Moira Sherwood who says it has become crystal clear there is a need for skilled trades people across the province.

She warns the shortages will only get worse with an aging population and more boomers retiring.

Sherwood says some courses like carpentry and cabinet making can use the hours spent in a classroom towards hours in an apprenticeship.

"Q" League Commissioner Not Happy With Lockout

The "Q" League Commissioner stopping off in Saint John and says there are no plans for expansion. Gilles Courteau says 18 teams are are enough.

He acknowledges the league is getting more exposure because of the NHL lockout but on the other hand it's not good for the game in general.

Courteau also says not having the NHL is hampering the further of development of players like Jonathon Huberdeau of the Sea Dogs who would otherwise be in the NHL.

He's suggesting there could be more junior hockey shown on national television if the NHL season gets cancelled in its entirety.

KV Mom Irate Her Son Was Kicked Off His Bus

It's a cold day for a long walk and even worse without gloves or a hat. That was the case for a 13-year-old Quispamsis Middle School student who was kicked off the bus yesterday and walked almost an hour home.

Nick Sewell-Boudreau's mother Nicole Boudreau was not informed by anyone at the school.

She tells CHSJ News in her experience her son can't leave the school unless signed out by a parent or guardian indicating the time and where he's going.

She says the school just allowed him to leave and when speaking with the school board this morning the person she talked to referred to the incident being 18 to 24 hours ago. Boudreau takes that too mean if her son was kidnapped or grabbed yesterday that no one cares.

Boudreau tells us she is baffled and can't believe she wasn't informed by the school that her son was kicked off the bus.

Our newsroom has left a message with the Anglophone South School District.

"The Worst Situation Saint John Has Ever Faced"

Saint John's financial situation is even worse than many of us may have thought.

Susan Rowland, Chair of the Pension Task Force, explained last night at Common Council that the pension deficit is actually $345.5 million, which paints a very different picture than the $195.9 million estimated in the f
inancial report the city filed earlier this year with the Superintendent of Pensions.

In light of the re-calculation, the Pension Task Force is strongly advocating the switch to a shared risk model, which in broad terms means city employees pay more and the city less. 

Mayor Mel Norton tells CHSJ News the Shared Risk Model might be far less expensive than the current payment, but getting the funding in anything approaching reasonable shape would still be a long process. Common Councillor John MacKenzie referred to the shared risk model as "the best of the worst."

Councillor Susan Fullerton disagrees, saying the shared risk model places too much of a burden on taxpayers who are not members of the plan. Further complicating matters is the need to have all unions on board before the transition could, in theory, proceed.

Council will take a week to reflect and receive input before voting on the next step Monday.