Thursday, May 3, 2012

Education Minister Not Commenting On T-Shirt Issue

Education Minister Ramona Jennex is staying out of an issue involving the wording on a t-shirt that led to a student suspension. Department of Education spokesman Peter McLaughlin told CKBW/HANK FM news that Jennex believes its an issue that should be handled by the South Shore Regional School Board. William Swinimer, a grade 12 student at Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin was suspended for five days this week for wearing a T-shirt that says "Life is Wasted Without Jesus." School board Superintendent Nancy Pynch-Worthylake says the wording on the shirt is problematic because it is aimed at the beliefs of others. She says the school has spoken with Swinimer a number of times about the shirt, asking him not to wear it again.

Local Firefighters Attending Parade For Fallen Comrades

Wayne Thorburne
At least three local firefighters are heading to Halifax this weekend for a special ceremony. Bridgewater Fire Chief Wayne Thorburne, Deputy Michael Nauss and firefighter Harry Whitman will take part in a memorial service and parade Sunday to honour fallen firefighters. Its the first time an event like this has happened. Thorburne says its important to show respect to those who lost their lives in the line of duty. The parade is expected to close down some Halifax streets.

Adoption Fair For Abandoned Cats

An animal rescue group will hold an adoption fair for some cats left abandoned at a house just outside Lockeport in February. Out of the thirty cats rescued by Pet Projects, only seven have been adopted, leaving twenty-three looking for a permanent home. Vice-president Shelley Leblanc says the cats are healthy and hopes an adoption fair at the Shelburne Fire Hall next Saturday will help.

"We will have the more adoptable cats, the ones that are ready to go, we'll move them up to the fire hall so people can come in, take a look at them, and if they want to adopt them, they can fill out an adoption form, and we can get that process, hopefully we can find a home for a lot of these kitties."

When the animals were found they were suffering from frostbite, infection and were malnourished, while some of the cats required surgery to be nursed back to health. Leblanc says there have been no more felines dumped at the abandoned house in Shelburne County. Donations and adoptions can be made at

Newly Minted Fire Chief In New Ross

The New Ross Volunteer Fire Department has selected a familiar face to serve as their new fire chief. Lyle Russel was recently appointed to the new post at the departments annual general meeting. Before his promotion, he had been acting as the Deputy Fire Chief in New Ross. Russel has spent the last decade as a firefighter and says he's looking forward to the new role.

"Definitely a lot of responsibilities and being younger than a lot of the other members there will be some challenges. But, I am looking forward to bringing our department forward for the next five or ten years and see what the future brings for us,"

Russel will be officially recognized during a meeting next week. He takes over from Scott Reeves who held the position for the last two years.

Couple & Toddler Homeless After Shelburne Fire

A house fire near Shelburne has left a couple and their 17-month old baby temporarily homeless. They were not home at the time but lost all their belongings and several pets.  The couple and child are now staying with relatives and the Red Cross has been helping them with emergency purchases including clothing, food and infant supplies.  No word yet on a cause of the fire at 2111 Sandy Point Road.

Internet Fraud/Mischief Case Heads To Trial

A South Shore teen will stand trial this year on a charge of misleading police, investigating the death of a person she allegedly invented as part of a fake Facebook profile.  The trial for 18-year-old Jessica Boudreau of Liverpool is scheduled to take place November 29th in Bridgewater provincial court. Boudreau was charged after police looked into the purported suicide of a girl named Clarissa Chistiakov. Police were alerted to the suicide by Cheryl Veinotte, a South Shore woman whose son, Brandon Wentzell, had been supposedly talking with Chistiakov on-line before he died earlier this year of an overdose of vodka and Dilaudid.  Wentzell had never met Chistiakov in person and it later turned out .... the girl did not exist. After her son died, Veinotte told police she received a series of text messages claiming to be Chistiakov's mother, saying the girl had committed suicide after hearing of Wentzell's death.

Tri-County Schools Facing Cuts

Forty-one jobs are being cut by the Tri-County Regional School Board.  Twenty-two are teachers who will be eliminated through retirements, the number of teacher assistants will be reduced by five, two custodial jobs will be eliminated, three library techs dismissed and some administrators will also be gone.  A severe-learning disability specialist position will also be eliminated and a vacant psychologist position will not be filled.  The school board for Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby Counties has approved a 67.4 million dollar budget for 2012-13, which is 2.3 million less than last year and the reason for the cuts.  Three Yarmouth County schools are also up for review this year.

Student Suspended Over Religious T-Shirt

A grade 12 student in Lunenburg County has been suspended from his school for wearing a t-shirt publicizing his religious beliefs. William Swinimer attends Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin. He was suspended for five days for wearing a shirt saying "Life is Wasted without Jesus." Swinimer is a devout Christian. School Board Superintendent Nancy Pynch-Worthylake says the school has spoken with Swinimer a number of times about the shirt, asking him not to wear it. She says the slogan suggests people need to change their beliefs.

"When an expression is based on a student's personal belief, there is no issue whatsoever. Should there be a situation, where an expression or slogan could be interpreted or is obviously offensive to other beliefs, that would be unacceptable."
Pynch-Worthylake says the school tried mediation before suspending him. However, she says the student seems set in his ways and is being defiant. The superintendent says she is exploring a mediated approach that respects the rights of everyone involved.