Monday, November 14, 2011

Province Offers Support & Encouragement to Staff of White Point Lodge

Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Percy Paris offered support and encouragement to the staff of White Point Lodge and the surrounding community today,
(Monday, Nov. 14). The main lodge was destroyed by fire over the weekend. Paris applauded the management and staff of the resort, fire departments and volunteer firefighters and community members saying their efforts reflect the feelings people have for the lodge. He says it's an important piece of the tourism industry to the southwestern region of Nova Scotia.  Paris spoke with management and staff after touring the site with owner Robert Risley, general manager Danny Morton and MLA Vicki Conrad. He says he's encouraged by the optimism to rebuild and move on from what is a devastating loss.

Sugar & Spice

Just like a scene from a storybook, there will be over 100 decorated gingerbread men running around the village of Chester. From November 19th until Christmas Chester will once again be filled with Gingerbread houses. It's the annual Gingerbread House Competition and this year gingerbread men will complement the houses on display at various merchants and businesses throughout the Village. Festivities start with the presentation of The Gingerbread Man; The Story of “John Dough” at the Chester Playhouse, noon on Saturday, November 19th. The Grande Finale will be a Family Christmas Party hosted by St. Stephen's Church in the Parish Hall, on Sunday, December 18th, 2-4 pm, at which time the awards for the Gingerbread House Competition will be presented.  Other activities during the Festival will be a Gingerbread Bonspiel November 19th, a Tree Lighting Ceremony November 25th, children's Gingerbread House workshop December 4th and a candle or ornament-making workshop on November 20th. From November 24th through to the 27th, from 10 until 5 pm each day, there will be a Victorian Christmas Craft Sale hosted by the Heritage Society at the newly restored Lordly House.
     For additional information on Chester's Gingerbread Festival please visit the Chester Art Centre's website

Shellfish Harvesting Ban Imposed

A harvesting ban on shellfish in several communities along the South Shore will remain in effect for the remainder of the week. The ban is precautionary because heavy rains on Remembrance Day may have raised bacterial levels in the water. Chief of regulations for the Maritimes region, Rick Young, says waters within three kilometres of the shoreline in Lunenburg, Queens and Digby counties are closed. Officials from Environment Canada and the Food Inspection Agency will conduct tests later this week to ensure the products are safe to eat. Young says officials from DFO have posted signage in areas where the ban applies. The biggest concern is with mussel, clam and oyster harvesting. Scallops can still be harvested.

High Liner Foods Negotiating with Icelandic Group

High Liner Foods is still in talks to complete a deal to secure Icelandic Group's assets but where those negotiations are headed is anyone's guess. High Liner was the successful bidder in a global auction last month to acquire Icelandic's US and Chinese processing and marketing assets. The company has been in exclusive talks with Icelandic ever since. The potential deal would make the Lunenburg based company the continent's biggest marketer of frozen value-added seafood products. However during a conference call last week, High Liner President and CEO Henry Demone gave no assurances that a deal would be finalized any time soon. Should High Liner succeed with the acquisition, it would double its U.S. business. The company had sales last year of $585 million with about half of that total from the United States. Canada's largest seafood processor has its head office in Lunenburg and is a major producer of shrimp, salmon and cod. It employs more than 1,000 people.

Abitibi Bowater Wants to Cut 80 Jobs at Brooklyn Paper Mill

The President of CEP Union Local 141 at Bowater Mersey says 80 jobs are on the line if the membership decides to move forward with the latest proposal from their employer at the Brooklyn Paper Mill. Courtney Wentzell says the latest offer from Abitibi Bowater was presented during a meeting last week in Montreal.  Wentzell called the concessions "huge" and says he will present the entire proposal to the membership at a meeting this evening in Liverpool. "The meeting will happen tonight at 6PM at the union hall, so we're going to present the latest offer and see what the membership want to do with it," The company has set a deadline of January 1st to come up with a management/labour plan to make the plant financially viable. The mill currently employs close to 300 people.

Investigation into White Point Beach Resort Underway

The RCMP and Fire Marshall's Office are beginning an investigation into Saturday's fire at the White Point Beach Resort. The blaze at the popular resort over the Remembrance Day long weekend destroyed the main building. Close to 100 emergency personnel worked the fire for more than 6 hours on Saturday. Sergeant Jeff Wells with the Queens RCMP told our newsroom no injuries are reported. He says officials will be working to determine the fires exact cause this week. The lodge is home to over 100 employees and was due to close in January for renovations.

More Concessions Needed From Union @ Bowater Mersey

Significant job cuts are on the table following a meeting between union officials at Bowater Mersey and their parent company Abitibi Bowater. The two side met last week in Montreal. Union President Courtney Wentzell says the membership is faced with numerous concessions including a reduction in staff. The company also wants to lower the cost of labour from $97 a tonne of paper to $80. Wentzell stated last week that the union has already made big sacrifices. Just over 170 workers have already taken a 22 per cent wage cut in the last two years to help the mill stay competitive. Other concessions are in the works. Queens and Lunenburg are considering lowering municipal taxes for Bowater facilities in each county. Premier Darrell Dexter is expected to continue dialogue with representatives from the mill, union leaders and lumber producers to figure out what can be done to keep the mill open.