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Affordable housing reps launch new campaign

Members of the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society have launched a new fundraising campaign.

They say their $250,000 goal is part of their Housing for Hope campaign; money will be used for phase two of their Riverside Estates development.

The total cost of the complex, which will include 10 units and a community room, is estimated to be about $1.6 million.

Colleen Cameron, the society's chair, tells The Hawk the money will benefit community members.

"It'll allow us to keep our rent at a lower rate if we can get our cost down and get this money from the community," she says. "(The) most important thing is to have our rent affordable."

Cameron says they received $100,000 from the Aviva Community Fund, but they need to build on that.

She says the town poses a unique scenario.

"Antigonish is somewhat unique because of our university town and the high student population in the town," she says. "It makes it a challenge for families and individuals to have affordable housing."

Cameron says they have materials in storage, and they're just waiting for the weather to warm up to start construction.

Photo credit: Antigonish Affordable Housing Society


Price of gas drops almost six cents

Pump prices have taken a big drop.

The price of gas fell as much as 5.8 cents a litre during the regular price adjustment at midnight, which means the new range for a litre of regular self-serve in the Quad Counties is between $1.10.7 on the low end and $1.13.7 on the high end.

It's been three straight weeks with no increase in pump prices.

Diesel also took the same big drop, as much as 5.8 cents a litre; that means the new range in the Quad Counties is between a minimum of $1.13.5 and a maximum of $1.16.5.


Reasoning released, convictions overturned against man sentenced after not disclosing HIV status

A man who was sentenced to 30 months in prison for two sex-related offences in Antigonish has had his convictions overturned.

Claude Allan Thompson, 45, was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault bodily harm in January, 2016.

He was accused of not disclosing his HIV-positive status before sex and not using a condom.

Appeal Court of Nova Scotia documents say ''the sole issue'' in the case was whether any psychological harm caused by non-disclosure of HIV status weakens consent to sexual activity; the court says it does not- Thompson was acquitted.

The incidents in question occurred a few months after he moved to Antigonish from Ontario in 2011.

The appeal hearing was scheduled for October, 2017.

The two complainants cannot be named because of a publication ban.


Education minister says board structure changes are coming soon

The province's education minister says changes to the board structure are coming quickly; they're looking at the end of March.

Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development has been in the area to meet with board members and staff.

He says regional offices will still be in place and there will be school advisory council representatives from every school.

Churchill tells The Hawk jobs are going to be affected.

"This is impacting the jobs of the elected board members," he says. "In the central offices however, there will not be layoffs; there will be changing of job descriptions and redeployment of resources back into the classroom to better support the needs of our kids and our teachers in our schools."

Churchill says they've heard mixed feedback from the report by Dr. Avis Glaze- they've had difficult conversations with teachers, principals, community members and parents.

He says there will be time for thoughtful and cautious implementation of the recommendations.

Churchill says it's not an easy time for board members.

"Board members are hurt," he says. "This isn't a commentary on them or their work; this is a commentary that Dr. Glaze has given us on the system itself and how the system has failed all the players within it to a certain extent."

Churchill says he knows there's disagreement and fear, but he doesn't believe illegal strike action by teachers would be in the best interests of students.

He says they believe change within the education system is necessary.

"Status quo is not producing the best result for our front line teachers and principals," he says. "It's not producing the best results for our students."

Churchill says we've consistently performed at or below the national average.


Local vice-principal says she'd step down if Glaze recommendations are implemented

A vice principal and math intervention specialist in the Quad Counties says an upcoming strike vote is needed because they want more discussion with provincial government officials about "Raise the Bar."

Sue Larivière-Jenkins from École acadienne de Pomquet, says there are a variety of issues with what provincial officials accepted in the report with recommendations for the education system by Dr. Avis Glaze.

One of the recommendations is to remove principals and vice principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

Larivière-Jenkins tells The Hawk she'd return to the classroom if that's the case.

"For me, personally, I like to work with the teachers- we work together," she says. "Maybe it continues that way for the next couple of years, but it will eventually change and erode over time- we've seen proof in Ontario and BC, (where) there are more grievances, there are more issues that crop up."

Larivière-Jenkins says provincial officials need to sit at the table and talk to teachers, specialists and administrators in schools.

Robert Lelievre, the president of the NSTU- Inverness Local, says they want to find out what mandate they get- if members are willing to go out on some form of work stoppage, such as a complete walkout or an end of extra-curricular activities.

Lelievre says there's concern about what would happen if principals and vice principals do step down from their positions if they're removed from the union.

"Who do we fill them up with? Business managers? People that don't know what's happening in our schools, what's happening in our classrooms?" he says. "It's just not fair to us in the classrooms, it's not fair to our students- as a principal, they build relationships with students and teachers."

The strike vote is scheduled for Tuesday.


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