Thursday, October 21, 2010

A little bit weary I suppose. How are you?

It's always something isn't it?
If work life is going well, then something has to come up in the personal life to screw it up or vice-versa.
In my situation if personal and work are going well then something is guaranteed to arise in the political side to tick me off.
And then sometimes when some negative stars are lined up in just the proper way things go screwy in more than one aspect at once.
I'm certain you know what I mean.
These things have a dramatic effect on my desire and enthusiasm to write a blog post.
I'm at one of those points right now where those stupid stars are working against me and posting is a bit of a chore.

But please allow me to whine for a few minutes.

I'm not going into it too much but I now have to drive an extra 1000 kilometers and 10 hours a week to get to work. And I don't get reimbursed at all for that.

Back when my casual position term with the province was ending they posted two new positions for terms of 3 years for the Fredericton and Woodstock offices.
There were three of us after the jobs and I ended up being the second choice.
The first pick took the Fredericton job and basically threw me out of a job that I had already been doing for 2 years in an area that I had finally become properly familiar with.
I'm not going to detail everything that happened but the way it all went down was shady and not fair in my opinion. In the end it boiled down to this or no job for me.
So I'm in my second week at the Woodstock office.
Woodstock is really a very nice office and better for the fact that all of the little chiefs aren't scurrying around here as they are back in Fredericton.
If only the travel wasn't such a pain in the butt.

What really melts my noodles is that I've had to lose a very important part of my day as a result of this.

When I became a Councillor in New Maryland I found that I can't spend as much time with the boys as I had wanted to or had been spending with them before.
To help overcome this we had decided that I would drive the boys to school in the mornings rather than them having to take the school bus.

It’s not much but we have enjoyed this time together in the mornings.
I would drop them off at the school around 7:55 and be at my office by 8:15-8:20.
I called the school and learned that the earliest time that the students are allowed to be at the school is 7:35. I could have possibly done this and got to Woodstock by about 8:30 if I drove quickly.

The boys decided that they would rather not have to sit in the school cafeteria for a half hour before most other kids started to arrive at the school.

So I have had to give up the morning ride with the boys which makes us very unhappy.

I'm finding that it's difficult to be polite and assist the guy who has replaced me to ease him into the job when I really want to tell him to take a flying you-know-what and figure it out on his own.
But perhaps I'm just being a tad bitter?

As for my political escapades it's a long story.
Read this, and keep in mind that it's one side of the story. -

I’ll try to explain but forgive me if I miss something.

Many years ago when the Village was applying for the Infrastructure funds to build the water tower and upgrade the water system it was decided that the village would include upgrading Baker Brook since they had not had any road work done since the Village was incorporated. The roadway was a mess.

Also, the sanitary lagoon that Baker Brook was on has passed the end of its lifespan and something desperately needed to be done.
We have to take the lagoon out of service and modify the sanitary system to flow the other direction and join up with the sewage system that most all other Village homes are on.
By the way, many years ago the residents of Baker Brook were responsible for the upkeep of their sewage lagoon and the Village wasn’t involved.
At some point before I came to New Maryland the residents came to the Village begging that the Village take over the lagoon for them and the responsibility for it.
They realized that it was falling apart and that something had to be done.
The Village did as the residents asked and has been trying to keep the lagoon working properly.
Additionally, it is logical that we put a water main system down the road at the same time while the road is dug up. The watermain is put in at the same time as the sewer line. Ripping up a brand new road to install a water line at a later date is stupid and a waste of tax dollars.
With the extra water capacity that the new water tower will bring it was possible to add Baker Brook onto the water system.
So these things were added into funding request application.

This was the cost of installing the watermain and sanitary modifications that would come from the Infrastructure funding.
I point out here that when the time comes that a watermain is in the plans for my street and the other Village streets not presently on the municipal water there likely won’t be infrastructure funding for it.
We (the residents that will use the water) are going to have to pay the full cost to get it.

That’s a pretty sweet deal that Baker Brook is getting that the rest of us likely won’t.
The Village did a survey of residents a little while back and it was concluded that the focus for the rest of the extra water capacity from the new tower will be made available for the development of new homes rather than existing homes.
This will also broaden our tax base which is badly needed and will help down the road when more work is to be done.

The Infrastructure application was accepted and granted for what we wanted to do.
However, part of the acceptance on the part of the province is the stipulation that anyone who is hooked onto the municipal water system is forbidden from also maintaining a well and must decommission their well.
This was not our rules but Environment. We won’t be policing that part and have no interest.

At least this is what we were told. Last night before the meeting a representative of the Department of Environment went on the news stating that they have no requirement about the wells.
I'm still trying to figure out what that is all about.

The Village bylaw does state that when a water line or sewage line goes by a property the property must hook onto it. That has been the rule for years and is the same in most municipalities.
If a property owner refuses to hook on then the line will be stubbed off at their property line and they must pay an annual fee.
If they hook on now the village will take the line right to the outside wall of the home. If the property owner changes their mind later and wants to hook on they have to pay to take it from the property line to the house.

It was decided that we did not want to be responsible for breaking through the wall in the event that a crack or something occurs and water enters the house (for example) we could be held responsible.
One thing the taxpayers don’t fully realize is the huge amount of money (resident's money) that is wasted defending frivolous and stupid actions that are brought against us. We do win in court but the costs to defend are never recouped.
It was felt that this potential type of claims are best to avoid completely.

I’m going to wrap this up since I could go on forever.

What it boils down to is that the people on Baker Brook are getting a new road (not totally covered by the Infrastructure funding but by Transportation budget), new sewage system and municipal water. Their cost is for the plumber to get the line connected into the house and to decommission their wells. But we don’t care if they do the wells or not. The province does.
Keep in mind that when this is done their house values are going to increase dramatically.

To help the Baker Brook residents with their costs Council proposed to them that we will try to find a plumber to do all of the houses for a volume rate and pay for it with the amounts owed by them put into their accounts as owing to the Village for 2 years with no interest.
The people who can’t afford the amount now will have 2 years to deal with it with no penalty.

Will I be so lucky when the time comes to hook onto the Village water? I don’t know.

This was published a couple of days after the first article.

Last night we had our monthly open Council meeting and the Baker Brook folks were on hand again.

This is what the radio stations reported in their newscasts this morning:

"New Maryland homeowners upset with village council

Homeowners from Baker Brook Court in New Maryland are frustrated and fed up with what they are calling spotty information and poor communication from village's council. As road work is being done, those people are being forced to either connect to the village's water system, or pay a $1,240 fine every year. Homeowner Tim Stewart says most of his neighbours are okay with making the switch. But what has everyone upset is that the old wells must be decomissioned. People were given a letter from the village but are unsure why the wells have to be shut down. About a dozen people from the street attended Wednesday's council meeting and spoke with councilors for over an hour before storming out in frustration. Councilor Paul LeBlanc made a list of other problems raised during the meeting, and says village staff will look into them."

I agree that there has been some issues with the manner and timeliness that they have had their questions answered but I'm having a problem with their attitude that they are getting picked on and how they are making Council out to be nasty and heartless.

As I told them last night, we as Council have to rely on the information provided to us and the expertise of those that are paid for that purpose.
If we are all told something that turns out to be incorrect or was misunderstood by the individual reporting to us we will certainly make sure that every step is taken to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

But what about if one of the people reporting to us is doing everything humanly possible to keep up with a constant barrage of emails and phone calls from a number of residents, PLUS try to continue with the other part of their job which usually fills a work day?
This person is talking to every available source to get all of the answers for the residents as well as Mayor and Council as fast as possible.
How can someone lay an ounce of blame on this person who thought the information was accurate and reported accordingly?

I can't and I won't.

Last night I felt that some who were present were trying to point fingers in that way.

Anyway, I'm stopping here. I'm tired.

Stay well (well! get it?) hardy har har


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rules of Engagement

Do you remember this post that I did last year?
If you didn't please take a moment to read it right now.
Go ahead, I'll wait. :)

You see that I was talking about valuing the opinion of a friend who I was quite certain is very knowledgable in politics and the political "rules of engagement".
If this friend didn't understand and know what he does know then he surely wouldn't be where he is.

Guess what?
Last week that friend became the new Premier of the province of New Brunswick.
Yep, David Alward certainly knows a few things about what makes a good politician.
He knows how make a great team too.
Two weeks ago David and his fellow PC candidates soundly defeated the Liberals in the provincial election to take over power in New Brunswick.

David has so many great people to choose from to create his cabinet.
I'm looking forward to seeing who is chosen for which portfolios.

They've got their work cut out for them but I'm very confident that they're up to the task.

That's all for now.

Stay well,

Tim Scammell, PTech

Monday, October 4, 2010

Oh geez, you've got me again

Do you remember how emotional I was feeling about seeing Toy Story 3?
I correctly predicted in the blog that seeing the movie would be a very emotional experience for me.
I'm getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it, for crying out loud...

I have to point out that the flood of emotion was not only due to the memory of Mom and Hayley but from the content of the movie itself.
At the end of the movie (spoiler alert) Andy, who has owned the toys almost his entire life is heading off to college and has packed up his car.
He takes a box with all of his best toy friends to give them to a sweet little girl who will play with them and love them as he has always done.

The final scene has Andy driving away in his car with Buzz, Woody and the others watching him leave. That dang lump in my throat hurt so much I thought I was going to choke. I freely admit that I've always been a big wimp when it comes to these things.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am not one who takes goodbyes and kids growing up very well.
I wish that I could make time stand still sometimes. Oh man do I wish that.
But I know that's not possible and I try my teary-eyed, lump-in-my-throat best to deal with it as time passes by like a speeding locomotive.

Just this past weekend I had another of these experiences.
Cheryl has been away in Ontario because of the passing of two family members.
This left the boys and I to have what we call "Man Time".
On occasions when Cheryl is away for a night or two we have a tradition of our Man Time.
Man Time usually consists of ordering in a pizza and watching "The Magnificent Seven" together. Don't ask me how we landed on that movie but a few years ago I bought the DVD and it stuck. It just felt like a great manly movie for us and the lack of swearing and excessive bloodshed made it appropriate to me.
We've done this for a couple of years now and I totally love it. B made a comment the other day that The Magificent Seven is getting a bit boring to him but I'll pretend that I didn't hear that. He'll be okay. :)

Anyway, the guys have been great little guys while Cheryl has been away. They are helping to keep the house neat and everything else that shows how responsible they are.
I am very proud of them.

On Friday I sent Cheryl an email suggesting that I reward the boys with a day at Crystal Palace indoor amusement park in Moncton and stay in a hotel with a pool.
She agreed that was an great idea so off we went on our Man trip.
It turned out to be a lousy weather day on Saturday so I had made a perfect choice with an indoor activity.
We had a great time. I didn't do any of the rides but the guys must have done that roller coaster 50 times! They would come off and go right around into the line again and right back on!
It wasn't too crowded so waiting in lines was not an issue.

As they were riding I had a look around Crystal Palace at the other rides.

I remembered the first time we had gone there about 7 years ago. The boys were still so small back then. At least to me they were.
I looked at the little truck ride Convoy and remembered them going slowly around that little loop.
I remembered when they went on the Undersea Adventure ride which was so wild to them back then. Now they could barely fit into it.
And that great little train ride which goes slowly round and round where the kids can ring the bell. They loved that thing.

Now they are at the stage where wild roller coasters and things that spin around like tops are what amuses them.
In the old days I was allowed onto the little train and the Convoy with them. That was great. That was about my speed.
Now, I just watch.
I can't do the roller coasters like I could when I was young.

A couple of months ago I went on the Thunder Run coaster when we were at Canada's Wonderland and felt awful when it was done. That's a pretty mild roller coaster by coaster standards. Dang.
At least I tried.

I guess the important thing is that the boys still enjoy themselves. I enjoy them enjoying themselves.

At Crystal Palace I mentioned to T about the rides they loved when they were small and how they had outgrown them.
I said that one day, maybe not too far away from now, they were going to outgrow all of the rides there. Even the roller coaster.
I think he could tell that I was getting kind of misty and melancholic about it. After a few moments said that they would never outgrow Crystal Palace.
He was doing his best to make me feel better. Bless his heart.

We stayed at the Super 8 hotel in Dieppe on Saturday night.
Check this out.
We were at this hotel several years ago when Cheryl was with us. She had done some business with the hotel and they had given us a good price for the room.
We stayed in the Harry Potter room which is a pretty cool concept.
The main room is normal and has a queen bed but off of it is a smaller room for kids.
There is a bunkbed and the decor is done up in a theme from the Harry Potter movies complete with a witches hat, movie poster on the wall and a plastic broom that they rode in the movie.
When we were here before the boys both wanted to sleep in the top bunk. Fortunately we stayed for a couple of nights and they both had a turn.
This past weekend we happened to get the same Harry Potter room again.
This time was the different and neither of the boys wanted to be in the top bunk.
They said it was too small and were afraid of bumping their heads. :D
T ended up sleeping up there and it all worked out well.

We had a really great time. It would have been better if Cheryl was there but we'll be back there again.

This morning a friend of mine posted a link on Twitter saying that he wanted this awesome picture framed.
I clicked on it and there was that big old lump in my throat again.

Calvin and Hobbes was one of my favourite comics of all time. It was always the funniest, saddest, smartest comic that I had ever read.
It is easily among the legends of the comic world up with Charlie Brown and Peanuts.

What I really loved was that the little guy Calvin was always just that. A little guy living in his little world doing what little guys do.
In this picture he's all grown up waving to his old pal Hobbes the tiger as Hobbes goes off with Calvin's little girl to find new adventures.
I guess you can see how this hits me right in the heart.

There's no way that I can stop or slow down this wild ride called life but I'll try to speed up to keep up.
If you ever happen to see me fallen in the dust when I couldn't please stop and help me up.

Stay well,