Top news stories of 2016
2016 was a remarkably busy one for major news events in the Trinity-Conception-Placenta area. There were some happy stories scattered about, but by and large the big ones tended to revolve around tragic events and conflict. Editor Andrew Robinson and former reporter Nicholas Mercer reviewed the biggest stories The Compass covered in 2016 and came up with this list.
1. Bay de Verde fish plant fire: April 11, 2016 will be a memorable date for years to come in the Trinity Bay community of Bay de Verde. The Quinlan Brothers plant was destroyed that day by a massive fire. Coming at a particularly awkward time given it was the start of the fishing season, the company managed to make temporary arrangements for most of its plant workers. Remarkably, Quinlan Brothers expects to have a new plant ready to operate this spring.
2. Quinn Butt murder case: The call to respond to a fire on Hayden Heights in Carbonear proved to be a particularly hard one last April. The discovery inside triggered a chain of events leading to a charge of first-degree murder against Trent Spencer Butt in the death of his five-year-old daughter Quinn. The girl’s death shocked people across the province. A preliminary inquiry is scheduled to begin later this month at Harbour Grace Provincial Court.
3. Spaniard’s Bay firefighters resigns: More than half of Spaniard’s Bay’s volunteer firefighters resigned at a council meeting last January to show support for Sheri Collins, council’s liaison to the department who resigned at the same meeting. Earlier that day, Coun. Brenda Seymour gave an interview to CBC alleging harassment within the fire department. Protests ensued, the Bay de Grave fire chief was demoted, and Bay Roberts provided temporary fire protection services until new firefighters in Spaniard’s Bay were trained and ready to fill out the local brigade. Council is set to vote on a harassment policy early in the New Year.
4. (tie) Bay de Verde Chase the Ace: As- sumption Parish of Bay de Verde couldn’t have imagined how fruitful its Chase the Ace fundraiser would turn out to be. Week after week, the coveted ace remained in the deck. Down to three cards by late September, a group of 10 from the Conception Bay South area finally managed to claim the massive $733,000 prize.
(tie) New Harbour teen killed in crash: The tragic death of 18-year-old Hannah Thorne in a two-vehicle ac- cident will likely remain in the news for months to come. Just over two months after her death in July, two men were charged with street racing causing death. Steven Mercer and Brian King have not entered any pleas, and their next court date is Jan. 4.
5. Arrests made in 2014 murder: For more than two years, people waited for police to make an arrest in the mysterious murder of North River resident Dale Porter. In late September, RCMP arrested two suspects with ties to an outlaw motorcycle gang. Their case returns to court Feb. 17.
6. Whitbourne Elementary saga: There were too many twists and turns to keep track of for Whitbourne Elementary. First the provincial board of trustees voted to close the K-6 school. Then a legal challenge overturned that result. The trustees held another review and vote, once again electing to close. A vocal opponent of the decision runs locally for a seat on the board, is believed to be the winner, and then learns of uncounted ballots that give the victory to another candidate.
7. Harbour Grace courthouse closure: To start off 2016, Harbour Grace Provincial Court moved out of the historic courthouse and into the Babb Building. In the provincial budget, government announces the closure of multiple courts, including the one in Harbour Grace. As a result of lobbying and a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada, government reversed the decision at the 11th hour in July.
8. (tie). Dollarama employee stabs woman at Bay Roberts Mall: Blood was visible just outside the main entrance of the Dollarama store at the Bay Roberts Mall in late March. Police allege Jason King, who reportedly worked at the store, stabbed a woman inside. King is charged with attempted murder. A one-day preliminary inquiry is scheduled for Jan. 23.
(tie) New Placentia lift bridge opens: A sight that residents awaited with baited breath for years, the new lift bridge in Placentia finally came to be Sept. 23. It replaced a temperamental, aging bridge that had given the community countless troubles over the years. The final cost came in at nearly $50 million.
9. Judge finds Evan Fry guilty in home invasion: Evan Fry chose not to go the same route of his alleged accomplice Josh Burton, who was sentenced to over 6 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges in relation to a 2015 home invasion. Following a lengthy trial, the judge ultimately found Fry guilty. The Crown prosecutor is looking for an eight-year sentence, while Fry’s lawyer wants 30 months. A decision is due Jan. 20.
10. A date-gone-wrong in Carbonear: A man from Winterton thought he was out on a typical date one night this fall in Carbonear. But police believe he was lured as bait for an armed robbery. Four people —Adam Stagg, Troy Dobbin, Jennine Porter and a male youth who cannot be identified — face multiple charges. Stagg has pleaded not guilty.
Quinlan Brothers officials and Bay de Verde council members assess the damage to the fish plant.
Quinn Butt died at the age of five.
Former members of the Spaniard’s Bay fire department join protesters outside the town hall.
Hannah Thorne was killed in a twovehicle accident at the age of 18.
Volunteer Alice Green dumps a new bin full of tickets into a basin.
Protesters gather outside a meeting Whitbourne.
An RCMP officer leaves a crime scene at the Bay Roberts Mall.
Harbour Grace Provincial Court.
Allan Potter (left) and Daniel Leonard are accused of murdering Dale Porter.