It was a year marked with achievement, change and even some controversy. The Record invites you to look back at some of the stories that shaped 2006 as we step forward into a new year that promises to be just as exciting.
January 3, 2007 - Don Johnson approved
AMHERST: There is Don Johnson the cup and there is Don Johnson the man.
Don Johnson, the cup, will be played in Springhill in April, while Don Johnson, the man, is currently in Amherst for a few weeks visiting his daughter Catherine Kearley, his son-in-law Dion and grandson Matthew.
The 76 year-old Johnson will be going back home to St. John's, Newfoundland this coming weekend but will return to Cumberland County in April to partake in the games and festivities that bear his name.
"I'm really looking forward to the cup in Springhill. I just really enjoy meeting people. I like to say hello and chit-chat," Johnson said. "When you go up to somebody and say 'Hi, I'm Don Johnson,' they look at you for a minute as if you're nuts or something but after they realize who you are they say, 'Hi, how are you.' I really enjoy it."
Johnson said that he was very pleased when he heard that Springhill would host the cup.
"I don't have any influence on where the cup goes. I try to stay clear of that," Johnson said, "But when I heard Springhill was getting the tournament I made some phone calls to see if it was true. I was very pleased."
Johnson said that it was the presentation by the Springhill committee that proved to be the ace in the hole for the town.
Jan 31 - Stealth optimistic with drill sites
SPRINGHILL: As the keynote speaker at this years Springhill Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year Banquet, Stealth Ventures was able to provide an update of their Cumberland operations for the 100 guests in attendance at annual event on Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Knights of Pythias Hall.
Stealth Ventures Chief Operating Officer Derek Krivak delivered a slide presentation and, along with Stealth's Landman Robert Bell, answered questions from the audience.
The main question on everyone's mind was if Stealth Ventures expects the exploration phase of their Cumberland coal bed project to become a commercially viable project.
"We are encouraged at this point. It's a year and a half in the making and we have budgets set and we're quite happy with where we are, even though I'm sure we'd like to be further ahead than where we are right now," Krivak said. "This testing period tells us a lot about making bigger economic decisions. For us, a lot is riding on the three wells we've drilled."
Bell made clear to those in attendance that all oil and gas developments are a gamble.
March 21 - Library set on fire by young girl
SPRINGHILL: "We got a live fire."
That was the call sent out to area fire departments by Springhill Fire Chief Fred Arsenault upon his arrival at the scene of the Springhill Library fire last week.
"When I arrived I noticed the back door was open and knew fire was inside," Arsenault said.
The urgent "live fire" call sent firemen from Amherst, Southampton and Oxford racing towards Springhill while Arsenault and one other firefighter prepared to attack the flames by themselves.
As flames lapped the entrance to the basement of the library, Arsenault scrambled to get water flowing while the other fire fighter held the nozzle of the hose and waited for water pressure to build up.
"For me it seemed like forever," Arsenault said. "But we had water on the fire in a few minutes."
The fire was called in at 2:56 in the afternoon and Arsenault estimates that they had water flowing within six minutes.
The recipe for disaster was made more potent by the timing of the fire.
"We had three fire fighters on standby in Oxford while members of their department attended a funeral for a young fire fighter who died in Wentworth," Arsenault said.
As other fire departments converged on the scene, fire had time to crawl upstairs to the library itself.
March 28 - Council advised to raise taxes
SPRINGHILL: Springhiller's will soon find their finances watered down even further as the water- mark for tax rates continue to rise.
Come Oct. 1, 2007, Springhiller's could see their quarterly water bills increase from $71.71 to $104.51.
"You have to raise the rates or you are in big trouble," Bill Gates, Engineer for W.H. Gates Utility Consultants and the author of the Town of Springhill Utility Water Rate Study, said.
Gates presented his study to town council during the committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, March 22.
The study states that the tax hikes are necessary if the town is to avoid major financial shortfalls.
"With the end of the fiscal year for 2006-07, the town ends up with a slight surplus," Gates said. "Next year you will end up with a deficit of $247,000.00."
Gates said deficits will continue to pile up year after year if the problem isn't nipped in the bud.
"It gets even worse over time," Gates said. "The deficit will increase to $714,000 then $1.2 million."
Apr 4 - Stealth applies for production
SPRINGHILL: Stealth Ventures continues to pump up hopes for a major coal bed methane play in Cumberland County.
The junior exploration and production company from Calgary has applied for a production permit from the Nova Scotia Government in order to replace its existing exploration permit.
Is the application needed just in case the play proves positive in the future or is it the result of progress being made right now?
Vice President of Operations for Stealth Ventures Derek Krivak says it's a little bit of both.
"The application is a 300 to 400 page document and it took eight months to compile," Krivak said. "To sell the gas we need a production permit. It's prudent to have it in place beforehand. We are being pro-active in that sense."
With that said, Krivak added Stealth has a way to go before they determine whether or not the Cumberland coal bed play is a commercially viable project.
"We've seen promising results from the reservoir" Krivak said. "We have not seen the production levels we are after but we have seen technical aspects that prove positive. Put it this way, we are not discouraged."
April 11 - Home of the pro
SPRINGHILL: Software giant Microsoft announced this month Springhill is home to one of its Most Valuable Professionals.
Fewer than 50 people in the world can say they are one of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professionals in the field of Visual Developers using the utility FoxPro, but Springhill's Ken Murphy has defied odds and convention, taking claim to one of the coveted titles.
"Typically, your first nomination, you don't get it," Murphy said. "It's a pretty exclusive club."
The MVP title welcomes Murphy into that exclusive club and opens the doors to Microsoft's vast network of professionals. For Murphy, who has networked with these specialists for over fifteen years, he is recognized amongst his peers. For those learning the ropes and entering the business, it gives them the face and name of someone who has the right stuff amongst thousands of professionals.
Murphy, who works with Christian Child Care International here in Springhill, has a visual database career spanning fifteen years and now specializes in using the software program Visual FoxPro. A self-professed high-tech missionary, Murphy has been at the forefront of trouble shooting on the website Foxite.com -- a Visual FoxPro network for users-- and bringing charitable organizations to terms with modern software. It was just a matter of time before Microsoft's MVPs took notice Murphy was holding high ranks for his work and solutions in the Visual FoxPro community.
It was up to the existing MVP's to put nominations forward, Murphy said, before his name could even move before a worldwide board for consideration.
Longstanding FoxPro consultant and MVP Andy Kramek called personally to inform Murphy he received a unanimous nomination.
April 18 - The fast times of the Don Johnson Cup
SPRINGHILL: The Cool Blues were burning on all cylinders but unfortunately they came shy of providing their fans with the miracle on ice they were hoping for.
Blues were shut out by a score of 2-0 during their championship game against the East Hants Penguins.
"When the Blues play a team like East Hants and they're down 1-0 going into the third period, that's quite an achievement," Doug Williams, co-chair of the Don Johnson Cup said. "No other team has shut the Penguins down like that all year. I can only imagine what was going through the player's minds when they came out for the final period.
"For fans in Springhill to witness such a great game in a great arena was incredible," Williams added.
Terry Noiles, the other co-chair of the Don Johnson Cup, couldn't agree more.
"It was some exciting hockey," Noiles said. "The boys certainly gave everything they had."
Noiles also can't say enough about the fans.
"People from other provinces who had been to several of these tournaments said that this was the best Don Johnson Cup they have attended," Noiles said. "They said the fan support was outstanding."
So long and farewell, HGI
PARRSBORO: After raising many hopes, Headz Gamez International and Griddly Headz are names many Parrsboro residents will not soon forget after filing bankruptcy late last year and ending the dream of drawing 1,500 jobs to the community.
On Apr. 12 the remaining board games stored in Parrsboro were loaded up and taken to Toronto, Ont. Two tractor trailer arrived at the residence of Jerry Taylor, where the board games had been in storage awaiting distribution since their arrival last fall.
However, due to Headz Gamez International declaring bankruptcy the games became the property of the bankruptcy firm. The games are now the property of Interstate Batteries, who recently purchased the board games from the bankruptcy firm.
"I'm not sure what the plans are for the games, I'm just here to make sure they get loaded up," Doug Miles, a representative for Interstate Batteries, said.
Miles confirmed Interstate Batteries was in Parrsboro during Headz Gamez International publicity events last September, selling Nascar memorabilia.
Although Miles wasn't sure of the value of the games in Parrsboro, Taylor estimated market value for the games loaded up on April 12 to be somewhere in the range of $200,000.
May 2 - Tidal energy could come in 2009
PARRSBORO: Although there are eight potential sites for development of in-stream tidal energy off the shores off Nova Scotia, Provincial Dept. of Energy representatives Nancy Rondeaux and Sandra Farwell said the waters off Parrsboro remains the top contender with the most potential to harness the in-stream energy.
There was standing room only as Parrsboro residents gathered at the Fundy Geological Museum on April 24 to hear what the development of in-stream tidal energy could mean for Parrsboro.
There are currently three tidal power plants in the world, one of which is already in the province's back yard of Annapolis Royal. These are all barrage plants that use dams to hold the water before releasing it through a generator, similar to conventional hydroelectric plants.
"It's an opportunity for us to become a leader in this developing this new form of renewable energy," Rondeaux said. "There are three reasons why we should be looking at in-stream tidal energy: the first being tidal energy has greater power density, second is tides are predictable, third, in-stream tidal technolgy is available."
One hundred billion tons of seawater flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy each day - more than the combined flow of the world's fresh water rivers. Research from the US-based Electric Power Research Institute identifies the Bay of Fundy as perhaps the most potent site for grid-connected tidal power generation in North America.
When fully developed, this technology has the potential to generate 300 megawatts of green, emission free energy from only eight small locations in Nova Scotia, which is enough energy to power close to 100,000 homes.
May 30 - Parrsboro first to claim special award
PARRSBORO: Five years of hard work has finally paid off for Parrsboro schools. Parrsboro Regional Elementary High School is the first school in the province to receive accreditation under a new school improvement program.
This achievement marks five years of hard work by the small, rural school to set higher standards, increase student achievement and improve the school's overall performance.
Initiated by former Parrsboro Schools Principle Dave Dinaut in 2002, Parrsboro Schools approached the accreditation process with a full steam-a-head mentality.
Parrsboro was one of eight schools selected in 2002 to pilot the Nova Scotia Accreditation Program, a province wide school improvement process identified as a priority in Learning For Life II, the province's multi-year plan for education. There are now 130 schools working on accreditation plans. Every school in the province will be working on accreditation by 2010.
June 13 - Bill Casey kicked out of caucus
CUMBERLAND COUNTY: On Monday, June 4, he was the Conservative's senior member or Parliament. By the end of Tuesday he was ejected from caucus and referring to himself as a member of the "flat earth party" on Wednesday. By Friday he was sitting as an Independent Progressive Conservative.
Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Bill Casey made headlines across the nation after voting against his party's budget last week, saying amendments to the Atlantic Accord within the bill, a signed agreement between the province and Canada that Nova Scotia would retain offshore gas revenues without penalization to equalization funds, would cost his province money in the long run.
"I wrote the Prime Minister and I put it right in his hand and said, "We're not making any headway with this by working behind the scenes. I'm going to start speaking out publicly,"" Casey said in Parliament last week following his ejection from the Conservative Party. "I cannot support this bill because it breaks a contract between the Government of Canada and the government of Nova Scotia and I will not vote for it."
Despite a statement made earlier by Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay the Conservatives would not fire members of the party for voting with their conscience, Casey was removed from caucus, stripped from the federal Conservatives website and temporarily denied access to constituent files within hours of siding with the Liberals and the NDP against the reading, which passed with Bloc Quebecois support.
Maybe not a popular move with the Conservative's hemisphere, Casey decision drew praise from all walks of political life in both Nova Scotia, Canada and his riding of Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
"I spoke to Bill over this issue leading up to the vote," Cumberland South MLA and Minister of Justice Murray Scott said. "For him, I know it's been a really hard decision."
Scott's government, lead by Progressive Conservative Rodney MacDonald, had been in quiet negotiations with the Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the Conservatives over the budget. Up to Casey''s vote against the budget, Flaherty and the Conservatives maintained they could come up with a deal acceptable to the province but, as Casey said, not the Atlantic Accord. Watching his federal colleague break ranks and stand against his party was hard, Scott said, but not surprising.
"I believe he made the decision he felt was right for his constituents. I felt bad the way Bill was forced into it but I still think he'll be a successful politician," Scott said. "Bill's been successful even when he was in opposition and it has to do with the fact he's well respected by Parliament."
July 11 - Doomsday clock is ticking
Pugwash: The Doomsday Clock in Chicago now sits at five minutes to midnight making the times we live in one of the most dangerous in the history of mankind.
Pushing the clock backward to a more comfortable position was the hope of people attending the 50th Anniversary of the Pugwash Conferences held in Pugwash last weekend.
During an informative debate, of which Senator Romeo Dallaire was the moderator, Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, a former United Nations Under Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs said, "Our obligation is to strive without expecting results."
Striving to reduce or eliminate the world's stockpile of 26,000 nuclear weapons is a daunting task but a task that we must work towards added Dhanapala.
"The nuclear weapon buildup has gone way beyond what's needed for the purpose of deterrence or the purpose of first strike capability," Dhanapala said. "Countries with Nuclear weapons think nuclear weapons are the equalizer but what kind of an equalizer is a weapon that decimates all life."
Senator Dallaire, who witnessed the machete-perpetrated genocide in Rwanda during his role as the Commander of a United Nations Observer Mission, echoed those thoughts.
"Nuclear weapons and human rights are at odds," Dallaire said. "There are no human rights when you know you can have the total annihilation of the people. 150,000 machetes in the hands of a whole bunch of people is a path to destruction. So are nuclear weapons."
July 25 - Crowd says raising taxes stinks
SPRINGHILL: Residents speaking at a public hearing into raising Springhill's water rate are not willing to pay more for a service they say is less than satisfactory and already costly.
The Town of Springhill made it's case before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board [UARB] last week to bump water bills up to more than $100 quarterly last week and when the technical talk was concluded citizens voiced concerns insufficient water pressure, an unpleasant odor and recent rate increases warranted the board holding off on the Town's application.
"When you fix the problem you can charge me accordingly," Darrell Babineau told UARB chair K.S. Dhillon.
Babineau, who told the chair he installed a water pump at his own cost to supply sufficient water pressure to his home, said he did not mind paying the proposed rate increase provided service improved in his neighbourhood.
Some, however, were not willing to humour any rate increase at this time.
"My water stinks, I've lost my pressure and that's not right," former Town Councilor John Henderson said. "As far as the $100 quarterly goes, that be fine if that's all we're paying but there are many things that are happening."
Henderson called on Springhill mayor Guy Brown and Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott to ask the province to conduct a forensic audit of the town's water utility before the board approved any increases.
A forensic audit, Mayor Guy Brown said in an interview following the hearing, is unlikely.
"I'm opposed to the issue of a forensic audit," Brown said.
A forensic audit is a serious charge, Brown said, and will not support one without first seeing evidence.
"However, council has already passed some months ago a request for an operational audit of all of the departments. If the operational audit come back and it says we should look at thing s deeper then we'll consider a our options," Brown said.
The audit will cover all departments including town hall, Brown said, and is a step the town must complete to pave the road for the hiring of a Director of Corporate Services.
The town's water woes, Springhill resident Les Nash said in his comments to the board, go back as far as 1974 when the Town of Springhill was advised the best solution was to use the Leamington Brook and a water treatment plant.
Aug. 8 - Baseball time capsule planted
SPRINGHILL: Bound by a promise to reunite 31 years from now, five Springhill youth will unearth a time capsule preserving the community's baseball history and that of its beloved team, the Fencebusters.
The summer of 2007 has been a good year for Springhill's Minor League Baseball, marking its tribute to the historic Fencebusters with replicas uniforms bearing the names of the team that rivaled all comers for thirty-one years in the lead of the Twentieth Century. Caching the community's history for thirty-one more years made sense, Springhill Minor League Baseball President and Coach Jim "Pokie" Melanson said.
Lucas Porter, Forrest Gallagher and Jordan Chambers - descendants of Fencebusters Nudie Anderson and Red Gallagher - will join Melanson's grandson James in unearthing the time capsule that was buried near the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre last week. Inside, Melanson said, will be a number of items linked to the community's baseball past, including newspaper clippings, a baseball signed by three Fencebusters, videotapes, articles and much more to add to the anticipation of unearthing the time capsule on July 31, 2038.
Time might be tight for the group when that day comes for the avid ball players.
"In 31 years we'll all be playing for the Toronto Blue Jays," Gallagher said.
Aug 15 - Andrew Wagstaff named Citizen of the Year
PARRSBORO: Not many Citizens of the Year have the band Big Deal providing music during their award ceremony and not many Citizens of the Year are fans of the band Metallica.
But Andrew Wagstaff isn't your typical Citizen of the Year. He's much younger than most.
Though not long in the tooth, the reporter for the Amherst Daily News and the Citizen is long in the list of contributions he's made to Parrsboro and the surrounding area.
The energy and devotion he brings to his community was rewarded when Wagstaff was honoured as Parrsboro's Citizen of the Year for 2007 by the Board of Trade on Saturday, August 11, at the Parrsboro Fire Hall.
A full house was on hand to enjoy music, food and a few good-natured jabs thrown Wagstaff's way during his night in the spotlight.
"If I recall correctly, he came into my office 12 years ago with shoulder length hair and an earring," Wagstaff's first and former employer at the Citizen, Jennifer Dempsey said. "He was 21 and I was 31 and I thought, 'OK, I've got my work cut out for me here."
"Andrew has matured as a person and a journalist," Dempsey said. "His commitment to the industry, his undying loyalty to the readers of Cumberland County and the quality of his editorial content is evident to this day. He is an inspiration for the next generation of community leaders."
Aug. 29 - Bill Mont passes away at 85
SPRINGHILL: Funeral services were held for Bill Mont, one of Springhill's longest serving mayors, at the Springhill Baptist Church on Saturday, August 25.
Mont, who served as the Mayor of Springhill for 23 and a half years, passed away Wednesday, August 22, at the age of 85.
Many dignitaries attended the funeral including former Premier of Nova Scotia Gerald Regan, Mayor of Springhill Guy Brown, Mayor of Parrsboro Doug Robinson and Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter.
Word of Mont's passing quickly spread through town and everybody was quick to heap praise upon him.
"I consider Bill Mont an icon in our community," Deputy Mayor of Springhill Doug Dobson said. "He served for over 20 years with pride and distinction. He was mayor during some hard and difficult years when mine disasters and fires brought our town to a standstill. His leadership and perseverance helped bring our town back from despair to hope and his legacy will be remembered. He did whatever he could for the Town through some real hard times. He brought his family up in Springhill and he remained in Springhill. He was a Springhiller through and through."
Mont held court as Mayor during some of Springhill's most tumultuous periods.
During his first term as mayor, which ran from 1967 to 1979, Mont rallied governments to help rebuild the Town after the fire of 1975 consumed most of Main Street.
"I worked with Bill after the fire," current Mayor of Springhill Guy Brown said after hearing of Mont's passing. "He was on a cabinet committee with the Nova Scotia Government when Gerry Regan was Premier."
"The committee was successful in negotiating a good deal for the Town of Springhill with regards to infrastructure such as a new Main Street, water and sewer, a new Town Hall and a new medical centre," Brown, who was MLA for Cumberland South at the time of the fire, said. "Bill always did what he thought was best for the Town of Springhill."
Sept 5 - Could coal mining make a comeback?
SPRINGHILL: Officials from China have visited Springhill with an eye towards mining coal from the Cumberland Basin.
"They were here to look at the energy source we have," Mayor of Springhill Guy Brown said about the mid-August meeting. "They were looking for more information on the volume and the chemical make up of the coal resource in the area."
Brown said he contacted the Nova Scotia Department of Mines and asked them to forward the information to Atlantic New Technology Developments in Toronto, the company who came to visit the Town.
"This is still very much in the beginning stages," Brown said. "There are a lot of things that still need to be looked at besides the molecular and chemical make up of the coal.
"They also have to look at many environmental factors," Brown added. "It's not like it was fifty years ago."
Brown said if coal were to mined somewhere down the road, the mining would take place outside the Town of Springhill.
"They are looking at the coal resource outside of Springhill, in the Cumberland Basin," Brown said.
What coal mining technique would be used in the Cumberland Basin?
"I gathered from the conversation with them that they would go underground," Brown said. "I don't think it would be surface mining, but this is still very much in the beginning stages, they were introducing themselves and making preliminary inquiries."
Nov. 7 - Water taxes go up in Springhill
SPRINGHILL: Despite hesitations and a number of concerns, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has approved the Town of Springhill's application to raise water taxes, effective Nov. 1, and no sooner had the board given its ruling the Town began mailing out the new bills.
Residential water bills are now $102.19 quarterly, almost thirty dollars more than before the Town made its application. Water rates will then rise again on Apr. 1, 2008, to $104.94, and then to $110.67 on Apr. 1, 2009.
In his finding, board chair Kulvinder S. Dhillon noted a number of anomalies in the Town's application, like the original estimated cost of operating the community's water treatment plant compared to the actual expenditure after six months of operation, but given the overall findings gave the application the board's seal of approval.
"Given the magnitude of the revisions, and the increases in all of the operating expenses items, the Board has some concerns with respect to the accuracy of the projected costs," Dhillon wrote in his findings. "However, based upon the information provided, it is difficult to warrant any further adjustments by the Board and the Board accepts the operating expenses as proposed."
In the future, Dhillon wrote, the Board directs the water utility to closely monitor its operating expenses. The water utility's largest expense was the water treatment plant, which is necessary for the Town to comply with provincial legislation.
The operation of the water utility came under heavy scrutiny during a public hearing into the water rates. Members of the audience argued, at that time, a foul taste and odor made the water unbearable. That matter, however, has since resolved.
Nov 28 - Transcontinental Media picks up the Record
SPRINGHILL: As the clock struck three on Fri, Nov. 23, ownership of The Record was handed to Transcontinental Media from Advocate Media in a sale both say will benefit readers and advertisers alike.
Transcontinental Media, a family operated public company with now 170 weekly papers across Canada, says readers will see very little change in the weekly coverage they've come to know.
"I don't think the average reader will see any change, particularly in the editorial content," Publisher Richard Russell said. "There's no plan to redesign the paper but you will see some tweaking here and there but with local input in the process."
The acquisition was a strategic one for Transcontinental, Russell said. Springhill sits in between Transcontinental's existing markets, he says, and the history The Record holds in Springhill and Cumberland County is a strength the company can build on.