Friday, June 29, 2012

Random Thoughts...: Arts Under the Stars Unveiled

Random Thoughts...: Arts Under the Stars Unveiled: Arts Under the Stars, a series of free arts performances Thursday nights in Clarenville, was started seven years ago by me and Dave Strong, ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Tribute to Reg Pretty - A Community Builder

Arts Under the Stars (AUS), our Town's outdoor summer concert series, starts the first week in July. More on that in a later post.

AUS reminds me of Reg Pretty.  Reg was a stall-worth in the early years of AUS. He was the sound man, the lights man, the spare instrument man, and the goto man. I had the privilege of helping him.

Reg passed away earlier this year after a battle with cancer. It was a loss to his family, the school system where he had taught for years before retiring in 2001 (He was my kid's favorite substitute) and the community. He was one of the, what we call "usual suspects" of volunteers that you know will be there if you need them.

Clarenville was better because of Reg - and we miss him.

Last weekend his family put together a Memorial Concert that served to remember him and to mark the beginning of the Reg Pretty Memorial Scholarship. It was a great celebration of his life and his legacy. I hope you enjoy these selected clips found below - I know Reg would have.

 A Tribute to Reg Pretty - His Boys play some Favorites

A Tribute to Reg Pretty - Newfoundland

A Tribute to Reg Pretty - OPA

 A Tribute to Reg Pretty - Karle Sharpe 

 A Tribute to Reg Pretty - The Legend of Jigger Faced Joe (read by Craig Pardy) 


A Tribute to Reg Pretty - Stephen Pretty - Thunder Road

A Tribute to Reg Pretty - Phantom 4

 A Tribute to Reg Pretty - Finally

Random Thoughts...: Rootin', Rantin' and Roarin' in September

Random Thoughts...: Rootin', Rantin' and Roarin' in September: Last year, volunteer work prevented me from attending the Roots, Rants and Roars Festival in Elliston. And from all accounts, it was a roa...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Handing it to Fred


"...nothing happens in a community unless you (are) were a part of it"
                                                                                                                                                 Mayor Fred Best

His name is synonymous with Clarenville.  He's been mayor forever and he's been on Council before that.   In his previous life he was a teacher, a principal and he and his wife raised their family here.   Fred is know across this province as being the mayor from Clarenville.  He has, quite literally, overseen the growth of this town for close to 40 years (He's been mayor for 31).

Having served on Council, I know that that job is not always the most pleasant and certainly not the highest paid. Regardless of one's political viewpoints of the job, the people in it do their best - because nothing happens in a community without such people's efforts. To do that for 4 decades, like Fred has done, is something worthy of everyone's respect.  His award is well earned and well deserved.

Last fall Fred Best (BA (ED.) 58, BA 65) was honored by Memorial University,  when he received the Outstanding Community Service Award.  He appears in this month's issue of LUMNUS.

Congratulations Mayor Best!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Querying the Quarry

The Shoal Harbour River is a relatively short river by Newfoundland standards.  It's a 19km network that captures water from Shoal Harbour Pond and Andrew’s Pond as it flows into the ocean at Random Sound.

Despite its short length, it is an important habitat for seven species of fish and it is the sole source of drinking water for the 6000 plus residents and 250 businesses of Clarenville.  Its security is vital to our town.

In recent weeks, information has surfaced that there is a proposed quarry development along the river system that Council is going to be asked to consider.  Council (and the public) had been silent on the request until the river’s conservation group; the Friends of the Shoal Harbour River (FOSHR) raised the alarm in the PACKET

This project, located at the start of the river and within approximately 500 feet of it (150 feet minimum), is deemed a “discretionary use” project meaning that Council has the right to turn down the project.  Unfortunately, listening to Council’s June 12 discussion on this it is clear that there is a lot of uncertainty as to what is proposed and where the pit is located
Click to enlarge

AMEC Environmental completed an Environmental Assessment on this project in January.  By my reading of the document, the assessment determined that with proper controls this project would be acceptable “If this is done right.” 

So essentially we’re asked to make a bet on the contractor, the weather, the equipment used and on our health and economic future.  Considering the location of the pit adjacent to Shoal Harbour Pond and the River, any dust or spill would pollute the entire river. 

So, with the facts and considering the risk involved, coupled with the fact that construction aggregate can be sourced from other more suitable sites around Clarenville, I feel that the decision to reject this is a no-brainer.  

Let’s not just hope Council feels the same way, let’s make sure they reject this proposal.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Clarenville Drivethru Project

Over the past couple of weeks I've been experimenting with editing video and playing it at high speed.  You see, I am developing course related videos and this sideline gives me the opportunity to learn new tricks and techniques. 

So, here's my "Pitch to Aways" and "Treat to Tourists".  If you are neither Away nor a Tourist, just sit back and enjoy the ride...


What meets walkers on Shoal Harbour Drive

Sadly, I don’t get to see this town from the perspective of a walker as much as I should.  I don’t think I’m alone either, considering the volume of cars that we see on our streets these days.   Yesterday I had the opportunity to walk from work at the College, up the Wellness hiking trail, up the new sidewalk on Manitoba Drive, and up the side of Shoal Harbour Drive towards home.
The first part of the journey was great.  We have some beautiful trails through town that make you feel as if you are deep in the woods.  I saw one person.  If you get the chance, take the opportunity to explore the Clarenville trail system – I am sure you will enjoy it.

I emerged from the trail at Gladney Street and crossed Manitoba Drive at the lights to pick up the new sidewalk.  I was great to be able to walk up there on a nice day.  Our town is bustling!  Again, if you get the chance, use the town’s growing network of sidewalks.

Finally, the sidewalk came to an end and I was forced to literally pick my way up the side of Shoal Harbour Drive.  It too is a busy street and it is getting built up quickly. 

BUT the lack of a sidewalk or even the lack of a crushed stone path on one side, makes Shoal Harbour Drive a dangerous spot for walkers.   We see sidewalks installed in new subdivisions straight away, but commercial areas do not have the same requirement – I find that really odd!  I’ve seen many people stumbling their way up the side of Shoal Harbour Drive; I’ve even seen some brave, but silly souls, walking up the roadway - either way it is dangerous.   

My message is we need sidewalks on Shoal Harbour Drive soon – and in the interim, developers and the Town need to make frontages safe for walkers by removing obstacles and adding a strip of crushed stone. 

Clarenville is a great place to walk – let’s just make it safer for walkers.        

Friday, June 15, 2012

Water - What's the Message?

On Thursday’s edition of CBC’s Here & Now, Mayor Fred Best appeared in a story by reporter Lee Pitts saying that Clarenville is nearing its limit in the supply and distribution of water.  This despite that fact that it was only in 2008 that Clarenville opened its new $14 million state-of-the-art water treatment facility. (with an improved distribution system)
The negative implications of a potential water shortage to possible investors are tremendous.   Developers need a ready water supply to develop and companies/retail stores contemplating establishing themselves in Clarenville need water to ensure proper fire protection and operation.  
If we have a serious water issue we better work to get it fixed soon.  Without the fix, investors will be scared off and even though choking development might help resolve a water problem - that’s not a solution we want to see.    

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The finish line for students and us ‘teacher types’ is getting close.  One of the great things about the end of the school year is the annual school concert.  This year’s final school concert at Clarenville High School provided the live audience (and now you!)  the opportunity to see the vast array of musical talent that is being fostered in our school system. 

Music teachers like Ann Lundrigan, Lisa Drover, Rod Drover, Michelle Bennett, Charlene Sawlor, and Amy Warren (as well as a host other regional musical talent that I have not named) have created and developed a   tremendous pool of talent –  our thanks to them.  

Here’s a slice of the concert – the tribute to QUEEN – enjoy our talent! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Deputy Mayor Fraser Russell is right to raise the issue of (better managing) traffic flow on Manitoba Drive.  ( See Trials of travelling Manitoba in this past week’s edition of the Packet )

Roads & traffic problems have become a perennial issue in Clarenville – Overpasses and Manitoba Drive this year, Huntley Drive last year, before that it was Balbo Drive and on it goes.  The real problem is that, as a town, we have not addressed the issue of growth and the associated growth in traffic with a well though out long term plan.   

It seems as if each year we identify a new traffic problem and each year a host of people (myself included) come up with an ad hoc solution to that problem that may or may not address the problem in the long term.  

Coupled with this, each year we also hear the cry for a professional traffic study to be conducted by the Town to address the street / development planning issue.  
To the best of my knowledge despite the talk, such a traffic study has not been conducted.  

A properly conducted study could and would help to quantify the traffic issues and provide solid evidence to support a particular course of action.   Such objective evidence is critically important in helping to convince the people who write the cheques (at the three levels of government) that we have a problem that needs addressing.  Don't blame them for be stingy sticklers - it’s our tax money they are spending and they are obliged to spend in the most efficient and effective manner possible.  It's our job to convince them that we have a worthy cause.

It’s time to stop this annually debate and  get a proper & comprehensive traffic study done.  Once we have it, Clarenville will be in a much better position to plan and prioritize our roads spending and we'll be in a much better position to lobby the Feds and the Province to help us.      

Friday, June 1, 2012

See No Evil - Speak No Evil - Illegal Dumping

The Clarenville Dump - Where Trash should end up...
So what are we to do with our trash?  That’s a common problem that confronts many of us. Most of us dispose of it properly.  Unfortunately some people do not.

Thank goodness for the Ross Mair and the Packet who reported on the problem in this week’s edition of the paper (Resident Points to Problem p. A3).  Without the Packet reporting on illegal dumping,  the Town of Clarenville would remain blissfully unaware of the problem.

It seems as if a few people only get their trash as far as the dump road, and that’s as far as it goes, they then give it the heave.  I find it incomprehensible that our town’s CAO claimed in the story that the Town is not to be aware of the problem, especially in light of the fact that the Town’s dump contractor says that illegal dumping is quite a problem.  There’s a real disconnect here that the Town has to answer for. 

In greater St. John’s, CBS has installed hidden cameras in areas known for illegal dumping (that were by all accounts cheap and effective) and an individual there has been photographed and charged with illegal dumping. 

That’s really all that is  needed – first a recognition of the problem and then a strong message that it will not be tolerated.