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Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Fallout Over Neighbourhood Crime Fighting Program

A recent court ruling is causing waves of problems for the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods program - Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors says program investigators have been called in to review their responsibilities - and - he says an internal review is underway.
The program - which was in danger of losing its funding earlier this year - allows for the eviction of suspected drug dealers and other criminals without being convicted of any crime.
A recent court ruling was critical of the way investigations and evictions in Saint John were handled - the judge called investigations inadequate.

Widespread Internet Outage Throughout Maritimes

If you can read this, you're one of the lucky ones.

According to a Bell representative it's not's them. Customers have been complaining of no internet service all over the Atlantic provinces. The representative was unable to say how many customers are affected but confirmed it's a significant number.

Bell says it's working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. In the meantime, you can stop desperately re-setting your router and spending your precious time on tech support.

Distracted Driving Pays High Price

Jim Morrison was right when he sang "keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel."

CAA is warning you that cellphones and texting aren't the only dangerous distactions to drivers. Gary Howard of CAA tells CHSJ News anything that takes your attention of the road dramatically increases your chances of having an accident, including audio books and even your onboard GPS.

A University of Utah study found drivers had slower reaction times, compromised brain function, and less awareness of cues like stop signs when they were distracted by a GPS system or listening to an audio book.

Howard points out phones conversations are more distracting that those you might have with passengers in the vehicle, because the person on the other end of the line can't see whether you're doing a tricky lane change or coping with difficult road conditions, and don't adjust their conversation accordingly as would a passenger.

Pensioners Still Demanding Answers

Switching to the Shared Risk Model is an attempt by the provincial government to offload the pension deficit onto the shoulders of pensioners, according to Clifford Kennedy of the NB Pension Coalition.

Kennedy tells CHSJ News the members are considering legal action, but it's difficult where  there's no other case they can find when a guaranteed plan has been switched to the Shared Risk Model over the objections of the plan members.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has said despite the plan's strong returns in the past year, the changes are going to go ahead; however, Kennedy calls it "damning" that the government hasn't released to the pensioners the actual amount of the deficit.

Security Exercise At Lepreau

Point Lepreau will be conducting a security exercise today.

It involves  the Nuclear Response Force team and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission testing security procedures.

Residents may see emergency vehicles in the community and hear radio communications simulating a security event at the station.

Graduation Ceremonies Tomorrow At R-N-S

It will be a day of pomp and ceremony tomorrow at Rothesay-Netherwood with 60 students graduating with all of them moving on to various universities. This will be the school's 136th graduation.

 Head of School Paul Kitchen tells CHSJ News once they leave, it doesn't mean Rothesay-Netherwood forgets about them. They're tracked while at university to see how well they do and if Rothesay-Netherwood did a good enough job in preparing them for higher education.

Kitchen says he always has mixed feelings at graduation because, while being proud of what they have accomplished, there's a certain sadness at seeing them go. He's sure all of this year's grads will make a mark in the communities where they settle. 

Student Numbers Drop

Fewer students in the Anglophone South School District in the school year just ending means fewer teachers.

Enrollment numbers are down by 650 and Superintendent Zoe Watson says the one place where there had been increases, the Kennebecasis Valley, the numbers have levelled off. 

On the other side of the coin the number of foreign students this year at 15 schools exceeded 500. They're here from China,  Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Europe.

The school district is hoping the foreign student programme will be expanded next year to 20 schools.

No Change In Province's Position On Pension Reform

Provincial Finance Minister Blaine Higgs says the Alward Government will move ahead with pension reform and the shared risk model for provincial retirees.

This, despite strong returns in the past year by pension plans for the province's public service, teachers and judges. Net assets for the plans reached an all-time high of 10.1 billion as of March 31st, up from 9.4 billion a year earlier.

Higgs says despite the good returns, 140 million in special payments had to be made to the plans and the government has to get to the point where those extra payments aren't needed. 

No Decision Made In Doctors' Lawsuit

It's now up to Court of Queen's Bench Justice Judy Clendenning who reserved decision in the lawsuit launched by the New Brunswick Medical Society against the provincial government over Medicare cuts and cap on billings by doctors. A written decision will be issued at a later date.

The provincial government argued in court it has the right to cap medicare payments to doctors and claimed the cap is just a target.  

The Medical society calls it a violation of the agreement doctors earlier reached with the province that doesn't expire until March of next year. Medical Society President Dr. Robert Desjardins says the case is all about the government adhering to a deal it agreed to.

Slight Rise In Gas Prices

You'll have to pay a bit more for gas after the weekly setting  but not alot more. 

Prices have risen by a cent a litre. 

In the city, self serve regular is at $1.25.6. Diesel is a bit more expensive at $1.27.2 a litre.

Power Outage In Valley

NB Power reporting an outage this morning in Rothesay around the Dolan Road Circle K affecting over a thousand customers. 

One of our road warriors telling CHSJ News the area affected is between the Marr Road and the Fox Farm Road. 

The power disruption was reported shortly after 3 this morning and NB Power estimates the electricity should be restored between 5:30 and 6:30.

Controversy Over Removal Of Principal At Saint John High

A group of Saint John High students is planning a protest tomorrow morning in front of the School District office in Millidgeville over the status of their principal Marijke Blok. 

Her contract as principal will not be renewed but she will return to the school as a teacher. 

Anglophone South Superintendent Zoe Watson is well aware of how the students feel but she can't elaborate because it's a personnel issue. The District Education Council also declined to discuss the change in a public forum. The School District is advertsing for her replacement. 

Meantime, the District Education Council has been told it wound up the year with a small surplus of 350 thousand dollars on a budget of 216 million and Watson's contract as Superinentendent has been extended for a five year term.