Top-10 sto­ries for 2013

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With 2014 now just days away, what bet­ter time to look back on the year that was 2013. The ed­i­to­rial team at The Com­pass has sifted through our archives and have come up with what we be­lieve are the Top-10 sto­ries for 2013 in our cov­er­age area.

Here they are.

1. A chang­ing land­scape in ed­u­ca­tion

It was a tu­mul­tuous year for ed­u­ca­tion in the re­gion, most no­tably a ma­jor re­struc­tur­ing of the school sys­tem in the Car­bon­ear area and a bois­ter­ous de­bate over the fu­ture of ele­men­tary schools in Whit­bourne and Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton. A de­ci­sion by the prov­ince to col­lapse all four English school boards in the prov­ince into a sin­gle mega-board also had an im­pact, with of­fi­cials an­nounc­ing the clo­sure of a satel­lite of­fice in Spa­niard’s Bay.

The com­ple­tion of a new kinder­garten to Grade 8 school in Car­bon­ear re­sulted in the clo­sure of Davis Ele­men­tary and Har­bour Grace Pri­mary, and the re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate, St. Fran­cis in Har­bour Grace and Per­salvic in Vic­to­ria. A higher than ex­pected en­rol­ment at the new Car­bon­ear school also forced gov­ern­ment to ap­prove the con­struc­tion of four ad­di­tional classrooms be­fore the new com­plex opened in Septem­ber.

In Trin­ity South, a spir­ited fight by par­ents prompted a re­ver­sal of an ear­lier de­ci­sion to close Whit­bourne Ele­men­tary, while sup­port­ers of Epiphany Ele­men­tary in Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton were not so for­tu­nate. That school closed per­ma­nently at the end of the 2012-13 aca­demic year.

2. Mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions bring change

This re­gion of­fered up some of the more in­ter­est­ing races and out­comes dur­ing the Sept. 26 pro­vin­cial mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, with all eyes on towns such as Clarke’s Beach, Car­bon­ear, Bay Roberts, Har­bour Grace, Spa­niard’s Bay and Up­per Is­land Cove.

The elec­tion in Clarke’s Beach, a town de­scribed by Ma­clean’s mag­a­zine in 2012 as “Canada’s most dys­func­tional mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” at­tracted two dozens can­di­dates, and proved to be a sig­nif­i­cant vic­tory for in­cum­bent mayor Betty Moore. Moore was the only mem­ber of the pre­vi­ous coun­cil to earn re-elec­tion, with five oth­ers los­ing badly.

It was equally bad for in­cum­bents in Har­bour Grace, where long­time mayor Don Coombs was ousted from power by for­mer deputy mayor Terry Barnes, who won by 70 votes. Four other in­cum­bents also went down to de­feat as vot­ers sig­nalled their de­sire for change.

The race for mayor in Spa­niard’s Bay was a hard fought bat­tle, with Wayne Smith win­ning by 12 votes over Brenda Sey­mour on elec­tion night. A sub­se­quent ju­di­cial re­count up­held Smith’s vic­tory, though his mar­gin of vic­tory from re­duced to just nine votes.

A ju­di­cial re­count was also nec­es­sary in Pla­cen­tia, where Wayne Power recorded a four-vote mar­gin of vic­tory over Bernard Power in the race for mayor.

3. CeeBees crowned Herder cham­pi­ons

It was one for the ages. The Eastlink CeeBee Stars ap­peared dead in the wa­ter at the end of Fe­bru­ary af­ter the team jet­ti­soned its high pro­file head coach, en­dured fi­nan­cial strug­gles and low at­ten­dance. The play­offs were not more than a glim­mer in the eyes of the play­ers.

What hap­pened next was noth­ing short of spec­tac­u­lar. Af­ter beat­ing the Gan­der Fly­ers 5-3 on Feb. 10, the team went on a Cin­derella run in the New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League play­offs en route to the cham­pi­onship fi­nal. The CeeBees beat the top-ranked Grand Falls-Wind­sor Cataracts in the semi­fi­nals, earn­ing the chance to face off with the Clarenville Cari­bous in the Herder fi­nals.

The Cari­bous had noth­ing for the CeeBees, as the Har­bour Grace team did the un­think­able and swept Clarenville to cap­ture the cov­eted Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy.

The cham­pi­onship was the team’s first since 2008 and 8th ti­tle in the CeeBees’ his­tory. The Herder games held at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium marked the first time the tro­phy had been con­tested in Har­bour Grace since 1967.

4. Lib­er­als re­take the Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace dis­trict

A by­elec­tion was thrust upon the Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace dis­trict this year af­ter the un­ex­pected res­ig­na­tion of Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MHA and cab­i­net min­is­ter Jerome Kennedy at a time when the party sup­port was the low­est of the three po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

This by­elec­tion was a sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal event to the area, which gen­er­ated plenty of dis­cus­sion on whether the PCs would keep their seat or if the Lib­er­als would re­turn the dis­trict to red af­ter six years.

When pop­u­lar Car­bon­ear mayor Sam Slade en­tered his name into the race for the Lib­er­als, Kennedy’s for­mer con­stituency as­sis­tant Jack Har­ring­ton for the PCs, lo­cal pot­ter and busi­ness­woman Char­lene Sud­brink ran for the NDPs, it proved to be an in­ter­est­ing race, with mem­bers of both cau­cuses help­ing cam­paign for each can­di­date.

All three lead­ers — Kathy Dun­derdale for the PCs, Dwight Ball for the Lib­er­als and Lor­raine Michael for the NDP — also made sev­eral ap­pear­ances.

In the end, it was Slade who earned the seat with more than 450 votes be­tween him and his near­est com­peti­tor, Har­ring­ton.

5. Area towns deal with grow­ing drug prob­lem

A num­ber of in­stances with il­le­gal drugs and drug para­pher­na­lia made head­lines in 2013. First, there was the dis­cov­ery of a large cache of used nee­dles in a trash bin at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts, then there was the dis­cov­ery of used nee­dles at the newly opened skate park in Bay Roberts, fol­lowed by a day­light ar­rest of a pair of users at the Beaver Plaza.

It was not just Bay Roberts that saw a spike in ac­tiv­ity. It seemed like ev­ery week the po­lice were re­leas­ing de­tails on another case in com­mu­ni­ties all across the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion. The high­light could be con­sid­ered a pair of ar­rests in re­la­tion to co­caine over the sum­mer.

One of the high­est pro­file court cases of the year in­volved Car­bon­ear na­tive Michael Brian Bow­man. Al­though his case stretches back to Au­gust 2012, when he held up a South River phar­macy for pre­scrip­tion drugs with a loaded weapon, Bow­man was not sen­tenced un­til Oc­to­ber. He was sen­tenced to five years.

6. Open­ing of new Jamie Mur­phy play park

One of the more poignant and com­mu­nity minded events of 2013 was the of­fi­cial open­ing of the new Cpl. Jamie Mur­phy Com­mu­nity Park in North River, on the grounds of All Hal­lows Ele­men­tary. In a show of com­mu­nity spirit and pride that some say was un­prece­dented and heart­warm­ing, more than 600 adults, stu­dents and spe­cial guests as­sem­bled on the school grounds June 8 for “build day,” a day-long process that felt just as much like a fes­ti­val as it did a con­struc­tion project.

The to­tal in­vest­ment was es­ti­mated at some $200,000. Some $100,000 was raised lo­cally through cor­po­rate do­na­tions, grants and fundrais­ers, while the Let Them Be Kids foun­da­tion matched, dol­lar-for-dol­lar, all funds raised for the pur­chase of play­ground equip­ment.

The park is named in mem­ory of 26-year-old Cpl. Jamie Mur­phy of Con­cep­tion Har­bour, who was killed dur­ing a sui­cide bomber at­tack on his ve­hi­cle on Jan. 27, 2004. He was the first New­found­lan­der killed dur­ing the war in Afghanistan.

Cpl. Mur­phy’s niece, Kearsty Ryan, spoke on the be­half of the Mur­phy fam­ily.

“I know he would have loved this park and would have been the first per­son out with each child to make them smile,” she said.

7. Per­ma­nent clo­sure of Hant’s Har­bour fish plant

For­mer em­ploy­ees at the seafood pro­cess­ing plant in Hant’s Har­bour were left scram­bling to try and pick up the pieces af­ter get­ting word in March that P. Janes and Sons — a pi­o­neer­ing com­pany in the fish­ery — had sold its as­sets to a com­peti­tor. The sale to the Barry Group re­sulted in the per­ma­nent clo­sure of plants in Hant’s Har­bour, Sal­vage and Jack­son’s Arm.

The news sent shock­waves through­out the Trin­ity South re­gion, where 120-plus peo­ple de­pended on the plant for sea­sonal work. But amid the sad­ness and shock was a glim­mer of hope as op­por­tu­ni­ties with other fish com­pa­nies in the re­gion be­came avail­able, in­clud­ing at the Barry owned plant in Port de Grave. It was also ex­pected that work­ers would dis­perse to plants in Old Per­li­can, Bay de Verde, and New Har­bour.

While the clo­sure was shock­ing to many, it was not un­ex­pected, since ac­tiv­ity at the plant had been drop­ping ev­ery year, a re­flec­tion of the over­ca­pac­ity in the in­dus­try, stiff com­pe­ti­tion be­tween com­pa­nies for raw ma­te­rial, and much less sec­ondary pro­cess­ing of crab.

P. Janes was started in 1929 with a salt­fish pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tion in Hant’s Har­bour, and was the first plant in this prov­ince to process crab.

8.Car­bon­ear boys’ act of kind­ness makes pro­vin­cial head­lines

This year there has been many no­table mo­ments for the youth of the re­gion, but few as prom­i­nent as one that took place this July.

When three boys from Car­bon­ear de­cided to fix a child’s go­cart af­ter it was van­dal­ized, they had no idea what their act of kind­ness would gen­er­ate. In less than a week, the story of Josh Grif­fin, An­drew Green and An­thony Grif­fin was mak­ing pro­vin­cial head­lines about their self­less deed.

Nei­ther of them ex­pected the at­ten­tion, since they only wanted to help Ben Clarke get his go-cart into us­able con­di­tion. It was never about the pub­lic­ity.

The ac­knowl­edg­ment grew when the boys earned tick­ets to “We Day” — a con­cert to cel­e­brate youth that help in their com­mu­ni­ties — in Halifax this Novem­ber, where they stood side-by­side with celebri­ties, mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers and other stu­dents who have given their time to help oth­ers in need.

9. S.S. Kyle cel­e­brates 100 years

2013 marked the 100th birth­day for the S.S. Kyle. The ven­er­a­ble ship was known as the Bull­dog of the North since its launch in 1913.

A mem­ber of the Al­pha­bet Fleet, the Kyle was an ice­breaker and an in­te­gral part of the early lives of many a New­found­lan­der and Labradorian. It made nu­mer­ous trips up and down the Labrador coast, build­ing its leg­end ev­ery step of the way be­fore she was grounded in River Head, Har­bour Grace in 1965.

This sum­mer a weekend of events were planned to com­mem­o­rate the 100-year an­niver­sary of the launch of the Kyle. There was the an­nual recit­ing of the “Smoke­room on the Kyle” by Kelly Rus­sell from the deck of the Kyle it­self, along with other his­tor­i­cal reen­act­ments.

10. Har­bour Grace arena project un­der­way

Af­ter many months of dis­cus­sion, de­bate and an­tic­i­pa­tion, the green light was given to the Town of Har­bour Grace in March for a new arena to be built in the town.

Dur­ing the fi­nal game of the Herder cham­pi­onship, for­mer Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy for­mally an­nounced the ap­proval for 80 per cent fund­ing for the $21 mil­lion sta­dium.

The town wasted no time, and im­me­di­ately put in place a com­mit­tee — chaired by lo­cal busi­ness­man Joey Ge­orge — to de­ter­mine the needs of the fa­cil­ity and pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions.

Over the past nine months, a site was cho­sen, de­signs were de­ter­mined, ten­ders have been sub­mit­ted by con­tract­ing com­pa­nies and the town is ready to hire a com­pany to be­gin con­struc­tion. A new fa­cil­i­ties man­ager — Jen­nifer Janes — be­gan work at the S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium Dec. 2, and it was an­nounced she wil l run the new fa­cil­ity once it is com­pleted.

An ex­pected com­ple­tion date has been set for Septem­ber 2015, and a sod turn­ing for early 2014.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Mem­bers of the CeeBee Stars pose with the Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy fol­low­ing a cham­pi­onship se­ries vic­tory in Har­bour Grace.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Those elected to coun­cil in Clarke’s Beach on Sept. 26 in­cluded, from left, Ge­orge Janes, Wayne Snow, Danielle De­laney Bussey, Betty Moore, Crys­tal Brett, Kelly Ka­vanagh and Nor­man Hillier.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Mil­ton Peach is pic­tured at a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing in Blake­town on Wed­nes­day, June 19, 2013. Peach, of Car­bon­ear, was chair of the East­ern School Dis­trict board of trustees at the time. Peach has since been named chair of the new New­found­land and Labrador English School Dis­trict board of trustees.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Lib­eral can­di­date for Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Sam Slade cel­e­brates his vic­tory in front of his head­quar­ters.

Sub­mit­ted photo

This large quan­tity of used med­i­cal sy­ringes found at the Bay Arena prompted the Town of Bay Roberts to pur­chase a new se­cu­rity sys­tem for the fa­cil­ity.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Harry and Mar­garet Green worked a com­bined 74 years at the seafood pro­cess­ing plant in Hant’s Har­bour. They were dis­placed in March af­ter it was an­nounced the owner, P. Janes and Sons, had sold its as­sets to a com­peti­tor.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Alice Mur­phy (cen­tre) is com­forted by Sgt. James But­ler (left) and Lt.-Gov. Frank F. Fa­gan dur­ing the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Cpl. Jamie Mur­phy Com­mu­nity Park in North River on June 8.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Joey Ge­orge chaired the com­mit­tee that as­sisted in de­ter­min­ing the needs and lo­ca­tion of a pro­posed new sta­dium for Har­bour Grace.

The S.S. Kyle, shown here grounded in River Head, Har­bour Grace, cel­e­brated its 100th birth­day in 2013.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Jen­nifer Clarke (left) was so happy Josh Grif­fin (cen­tre), An­thony Grif­fin (sec­ond from right) and An­drew Green (right) re­stored her son’s go cart af­ter it was van­dal­ized.

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