Monday, December 10, 2012

NS Gov't Announces Mega-Deal With Resolute

The Nova Scotia government has announced it has acquired 220,000 hectares of woodlands, Brooklyn Power Corporation and the former Bowater Mersey mill site. Premier Darrell Dexter announced the mega deal through a media release on Monday night. The land and assets were acquired from Resolute Forest Products. The Montreal-based company closed the former paper mill near Liverpool in June, throwing about 320 people out of work. Under the terms of the arrangement to take over the assets, the province is acquiring the shares of Bowater Mersey for $1 from Resolute and the Washington Post. However, with those shares come worker pension and severance liabilities that the province says are estimated to be $118.4 million and have to be repaid as the pension is wound up. In addition, Paul Black, director of policy and community planning in the premier's office, said that the acquisition will add $117.7 million to the province's $13.3 billion debt.

Other details of Resolute/NS Gov't Deal - in purchasing the shares of the company, the province now controls:

--  555,000 acres of commercial and protected woodlands, including the Medway, Rossignol and St. Margaret's Bay districts. The land's fair market value is pegged at $117.7 million or $212 per acre. The province issued an expression of interest earlier today, and is exploring opportunities for a Mi'kmaw forest initiative with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs.

-- The former Bowater mill site in Brooklyn, including bio-refining machines, valued at $5 million. The site will be transformed into a research, demonstration and development centre of excellence and innovation in cleaner energy, bioenergy and forestry products and technology.

-- Brooklyn Power Corp, a 30-megawatt biomass generating facility.  The province will sell Brooklyn Power to Emera for $25 million in order to protect ratepayers from the termination of the current Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which expires in 2025.

The value of the assets acquired by the province, including the woodlands, Brooklyn Power, the mill site and fibre inventory, cash and tax credits total $150.4 million.

Total liabilities are $136.4 million, including $118.4 million of the company's assets funding the pension liability and severance, and the extinguishing of a portion of the company's debt at $18 million.

Bridgewater: Nauss Elected New Fire Chief

The town of Bridgewater has a new fire chief. Michael Nauss was elected Monday night by acclamation to take over the position from Wayne Thorburne, who stepped down because he was elected to town council. Nauss, who has served the last eight years as Deputy Chief, says Thorburne is irreplaceable.

Nauss says its nice to know the department's membership believe he's the best choice to serve as chief. Andy Wentzell will serve as Bridgewater's deputy fire chief.

Park View Looking To Cash-In On Provincial Funds

The province has set aside $500,000 to study potential projects at seven different schools including Park View Education Centre. The funds will be used to help the local school board hire consultants to prepare business cases. Director of Operations, Steve Prest, says the high school is in its mid-life stage right now, and could use a refurbishing. He says they want to design a project to extend the building's life by 15-20 years.

Prest hopes the study can happen early in the new year.

Local Groups Receive Provincial Grants For Seniors

A pair of local groups are reaping the benefits of provincial grants for seniors. The Aspotogan Heritage Trust Society in the Municipality of Chester and the Dayspring and District Fire Department each received $10,000. The money will help the Trust Society create two-to-three minute videos capturing the process of building an ageless community. The Fire Department is working on a project outlining success stories in volunteering, learning and developing research within Lunenburg County fire agencies. The funding was announced in Hubbards today by Seniors Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse.

Bridgewater Curling Club Seeks Loan For Repairs

The Bridgewater Curling Club will seek a loan to replace an aging piece of equipment that is crucial to its entire operation. President Lloyd Tancock says they need roughly $225,000 to cover all the necessary upgrades at the curling rink. Their most pressing need is to replace the club's ice making and refrigeration system. Tancock says they have already applied to access various grants to help lighten the borrowing amount.

He says they also need to replace its sprinkler system before next May. The club's membership authorized the executive to explore borrowing the necessary money for the upgrades during a meeting on Sunday.

Bridgewater Toy Drive Helps The Salvation Army

Empire Theatres in Bridgewater is full of toys! It's part of a toy drive to help the Salvation Army with its Christmas hamper program. The annual event helps struggling families in the South Shore receive gifts for their kids. Daniel Bonner, spokesperson for The Salvation Army says with the need getting higher community members are doing their part. However, Bonner says there is a new type of poor needing help.

Roughly 250 families in Lunenburg County were given toys last year through the help of Empire Theatres and Salvation Army. Donations will be accepted until December 23rd.

Bowater Transition Team Releases Final Report

It's considered a step in the right direction for Queens and Lunenburg counties. The Bowater Transition Advisory Team released their final report with recommendations late last week to help boost the local economy and attract families to the region. Some of the recommendations include capitalizing on regional advantages in seafood and agricultural production and greater marketing for tourism. Queens Mayor Christopher Clarke says the report is a good beginning.

The province is expected to provide resources to hire two or three project officers to pursue ideas in the report. It's not known when the officers will be hired. To see the full report, click here .