Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Quantum Leap


Wow. I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted on here. Life gets so darn busy and before you know it months have passed.
Anyway...

I'm not sure how many of the people that will read this post remember the television show "Quantum Leap" which ran for a few years in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
In my opinion it was and still remains one of the best shows of all time.
It starred Scott Bakula as physicist Dr. Sam Beckett and was set a few years in the future.
While Sam was performing a time travel experiment something went wrong and he was lost in time.
Throughout the series Sam found himself "leaping" into other people's bodies in situations that took place in the past within Sam's lifetime.
With the leap into another person's body he temporarily took the place of these other people to "put right what once went wrong". 
Basically, he was dropped into a situation that would have a bad outcome and changed the course of events to change whatever it was that made it bad. 
It wasn't quite the time travel that he sought with his experiment but the result was much nobler.

How many of us have events in our lives that we wish we could just go back and change? Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. 
Perhaps not necessarily righting a wrong but just turning something in another direction to make the future turn out differently.

Don't get me wrong. I do not want to change anything in my life. Admittedly there are things that I could have done better or differently but I love where I am right now and the path my life has taken. 
I love the things that I do and who I do them with. 
I love my home and I love where it is.

But, there are a couple of "things" in my lifetime that I do regret.
Sadly, I can't leap back and change them. Not unless a Dr. Sam Beckett invents a machine that I can use to go back in time and change. Even then I likely would not want to.
However, if a chance ever comes to right what once went wrong I will do it.

I am very fortunate in that a couple of these have happened to me. Both involved some investigative work on my part. 
The first was rather minor and took place almost 15 years ago when I lived in Ontario. 

One day I was going through some boxes of things that I had in storage and I ran across a small stack of very old black and white hockey cards. 
As I looked through the cards it occurred to me that they were older than I was. How the heck did I get these? I couldn't have bought them. They were before my time.
A short while later it struck me. A boy that I had gone to public school with had lent them to me to look through and I never gave them back! I had stolen them from him! I don't know why he didn't ask for them back at that time but that didn't matter.
These cards were not mine. They must have belonged to his father or something.

I immediately went about trying to locate this guy again after 25 years. 
I ended up contacting people that I knew to find out how to contact other people that knew this guy. It was actually harder than you may think.
This was just before the days of Googling and web searching. I did it the old fashioned way.
In the end I did locate him. Fortunately, he lived within the Toronto area. I drove across the city and personally delivered the hockey cards to him. 
He was bewildered at the whole situation and did not remember giving me the cards. I remembered though and gave them to him with an apology that I had not given them back sooner.

This next one may not seem like a very serious event but was one that has stuck in my memory for over 40 years. It was something that my friend and I did to another boy. 
We didn't physically harm or verbally abuse him but we were mean to him. 
Most often I have a very bad memory for things but for some reason I remember this event so well that I can see it in my mind as clearly as the day it happened in the summer after we were in Grade 4.

About a month ago my son T and I were driving and talking about how rotten and mean kids can be to each other at times. It's a sad reality. I wish it wasn't but it is.
I told T the story of that time that I was mean to another kid. 
The boy moved away shortly after it happened and I never did get a chance to say sorry to him.

Then T asked "Did you look for him on Facebook?"
What the heck? I had not used Facebook, Google or Twitter to search for him. 
He had a name that was unique and I had never forgotten. His name is Ephraim S. (I'm not comfortable saying his whole name here so I will just use S for his last name.) 
I decided to do a Google search first. I clicked on the first result that came up. 
It was a web site for a company owned by Ephraim. As soon as I saw the picture of him I knew that this was him. Even 40 years later I could tell that this was him.

I decided to try reaching him through LinkedIn first and sent him a message. I asked if he was the same person who had gone to McNicoll Public School in Toronto all those years ago. 
He replied very promptly and said that he was and asked if we knew each other. 
I asked him to send me his email address so that I could write in detail and was happy that he did. 
If it was me I may not have.

Rather than write it all out again I will paste a copy of my email to Ephraim here. :



Hello again Ephriam.
This is going to seem like one of the strangest things you have ever read but I'll do it anyway. 
As I mentioned you and I were in McNicoll Public School together and I have thought about you many many times over the years since then.
The reason for that may sound a bit odd. 
Earlier this evening I was talking to one of my 14 year old twin sons about how mean kids can be to one other. I told T the story of something that I did to you. It has stuck in my mind all these years as something that I regretted doing at the moment that it happened but had not addressed. Until now.
It wasn't physical harm and was not verbal abuse but it was mean and I should not have done it.
Actually, it also involves another chap named Andy Heywood who was also our classmate. Andy passed away of cancer when we were in our early 20's.
I believe that this took place in the summer vacation between grades 3 and 4 but I'm not positive. It may have been a year prior or the year after. I think your family may have moved away shortly afterwards but I don't remember seeing you again. 
It was a very hot sunny day and Andy and I had decided to go and play in the schoolyard at McNicoll. They had recently cut the grass after a long spell and we were playing around in the huge piles of clippings.
We must have been jumping around a lot because I remember how hot and terribly thirsty I was. Andy was as well. 
We didn't have anything with us to drink and we lived a fair distance away. I don't know which one of us thought of it but we knew that you lived just across the road. We decided to go to your house and see you and you would likely have a drink for us. 
Your mother answered the door and called you. We went into your house. I think that we asked you if you wanted to come out and play with us and you agreed but had to get your shoes on. Before you did that we asked you if we could have a drink.
Most likely my mind exaggerates this but I remember that you gave us the biggest, coldest glasses of milk that I had ever had.
Andy and I finished our drinks and said that we would go outside and wait for you while you got ready.
For the life of me I will never understand why we did this but we took off across to the school yard and jumped behind a huge pile of grass clippings to hide from you.
The bizarre thing about it is that I remember that you and I were friends. I suppose we weren't best friends but pretty good school friends. Why the heck did we do that to you??    
It's funny. I have a lousy memory sometimes which drives my wife crazy but I still have the vivid memory of watching you coming out of your front door and looking for us for a minute or two before giving up and going back into your house. I remember the feeling of guilt that I had and thinking that we should go back and get you but we ended up going somewhere else to play.  
That event has stuck in my mind for all of these years and is one of the biggest regrets that I have from childhood. 
When you think of the horrendous terrible things that some kids do to others, I guess this is minor. But I think that at that moment we made a really nice kid who welcomed us into his house and gave us a fantastic glass of milk feel bad. And that was a lousy thing to do. 
If this type of thing happened to one of my kids it would break my heart. 
After I told the story to T and told him how badly I have always felt he asked if I had searched for you on Facebook to apologize to you. I don't know why I had not thought of that myself. I had not looked you up online.
As I expected, there are a very small number of guys with your name so finding you was quite easy with Google. When I saw your picture I could see the resemblance from all those years ago to the way you look now.  
So Ephriam, about 40 years later I really want to say sorry and that I wish that we did not do that to you.
If you have absolutely no memory whatsoever of this, that's good. 
If you do remember it at all, I hope that this message will possibly erase it a bit from your mind.
It is great to find you again anyway. I really enjoy running into folks from the past. I was looking for our class picture and was going to scan it but for some reason that one is missing from the collection.
If this is all a little too weird for you I understand completely. Lol.

Take care,
Tim

Ephraim replied to me the next day:

On 2012-10-19, at 5:03 PM, Ephraim wrote:
Hi Tim,

Wow, thanks for reaching out.  Big thanks to T, too.  You must be proud of your boys.

Tim, your name sounds familiar to me as does Andy Heywood's.  That said, I have no recollection of the event you've described.  The fact that you have struggled with it for so long — in that way we all hopelessly struggle with regrets, reliving events we can't change — saddens me.  But I get it; we've all got some of those.

Your email painted a picture for me opening up a flood of childhood memories from Canada.  You're right, we moved to South Florida after the completion of grade 4, during the summer of 1973.  I lived there until college when I moved up to the Northeastern US.  I've lived up here, ever since.  My memories of early life in Canada are those of a child.  I truly wonder what it was like from an adult perspective.  I've been to Toronto on business multiple times over the years, but not back to North York or McNicoll Avenue.  In fact, I forget: did we live at #158?  160?  I wonder if my mom ("mum", north of the border?) would remember.

Somehow, we survive our childhoods.  I remember Canada and McNicoll Avenue with such fondness.  That said — there's no denying it — we were odd birds, my family.  We moved there in the late 1960's from Israel.  There was no one around similar to us. I grew up feeling my foreignness.  My mom struggled living so far from her parents and siblings.  Man, I loved hockey.  I wanted to play little league ice hockey but that never happened.  I loved playing it in the street and driveways, though.  I liked to tend goal and my idol was Tony Esposito ("Espo") of the Blackhawks.  Ken Dryden was my nemesis.  My next door neighbor Greg (he was  a year behind us in school) and I played all the time. We had sweet, kind and welcoming neighbors all around us.  

What you said in your email is very meaningful to me. Not because I remember the incident, but more because it helps me access a part of my life.  I appreciate the warm spirit you and your son have shared my way.  I would like very much to stay in touch.

All the best,
Ephraim



I was not able to leap back into the past to erase that mean thing that we did to a kind-hearted boy on that summer day but I was given a chance to try and make it a bit better. 
I took a chance in making contact with him and he took a chance in replying and sending me his email address. 

Ephraim and I are indeed staying in touch. We have written each other a few times since then.
I am happy to say that we are new "old" friends. 

I think that our two lives are a little bit better now with another friend in them.

All it took was a leap of faith.

Stay well,
Tim





Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Everyone needs Space

There is one thing that I have loved longer and more passionately than RUSH, and that is everything Space related.
I can remember as far back as grade one that whenever the teacher let us do a project on anything we wanted you could bet your buns that my project would have a rocket on it somewhere.
In fact, while almost every boy that I knew had G.I. Joe or Big Jim figures.
I had this guy. Major Matt Mason by Mattel.


Who was the luckiest?
That's easy. It was me by a long shot. :)
On July 21, 1969 it was only one month after my 6th birthday but I can still visualize our family sitting around our big old black and white television to watch Neil Armstrong take his famous step off of the Lunar Landing Module and become the first human to set foot on the moon.
I don't remember too much else from that time of my life and I don't recall exactly what I was thinking at the time but I think I knew that it was a huge moment in history.
This was the summer before I was in grade one. I still have this aluminum coin that one of the gas stations made to commemorate the landing.


After the Apollo program ended there seemed to be a long silence from NASA and other space agencies. I assume that they were working away on something but for a spacefan like myself it was pretty quiet.

You can imagine how pleased I was when the Space Shuttle program began in the early 1980's.

Everyone in the world shared the horror and sadness on January 28, 1986, when Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after launch due to the failure of the right Solid Rocket Booster, killing all seven astronauts on board.

Special pain was felt for the loss of Christa McAuliffe who was selected from 11,000 others to become the first teacher in space. Her poor family and students watched the whole thing.

Then on February 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated during re-entry, killing the crew of seven, because of damage to the carbon-carbon leading edge of the wing caused during launch.

But NASA persevered and between 1981 and 2011 a total of 135 shuttle missions were launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
This was a pretty good era to be a spacefan.
It was especially cool when my amazing lads of RUSH wrote a song called "Countdown" for their "Signals" album to show their love of the Space Shuttle.

Here are the lyrics:

COUNTDOWN

Lit up with anticipation We arrive at the launching site The sky is still dark, nearing dawn On the Florida coastline

Circling choppers slash the night With roving searchlight beams This magic day when super-science Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams

Floodlit in the hazy distance The star of this unearthly show Venting vapours, like the breath Of a sleeping white dragon

Crackling speakers, voices tense Resume the final count All systems check, T minus nine As the sun and the drama start to mount

The air is charged A humid, motionless mass The crowds and the cameras, The cars full of spectators pass Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife Technology...high, on the leading edge of life

The earth beneath us starts to tremble With the spreading of a low black cloud A thunderous roar shakes the air Like the whole world exploding

Scorching blast of golden fire As it slowly leaves the ground Tears away with a mighty force The air is shattered by the awesome sound

Like a pillar of cloud The smoke lingers high in the air In fascination With the eyes of the world We stare...

Absolutely perfect description, as usual.

During spring of 1982, the band watched the launching of the Columbia Space Shuttle from Cape Kennedy. Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart wrote "Countdown" as a result of the experience. "It was an incredible thing to witness," he said, "truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

You're so right Neil. I wish I could have experienced it too.

One of my favourite people, the late, great Carl Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences.

In 1980, PBS aired Mr. Sagan's 13-part series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage". What an incredibly amazing series it was. Carl's passion in telling the stories was matched by my passion to listen to him tell them.

The series was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until "The Civil War" in 1990.

As of 2009, it was still the most widely watched PBS series in the world and won an Emmy and a Peabody Award and has since been broadcast in more than 60 countries and seen by over 500 million people.

I have no doubt at all that Mr. Sagan singlehandedly created millions more spacefans as a result of the series.

So where would all of these new spacefans be able to go to share the love of space?
It just so happens that also in 1980, Carl Sagan along with Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded a wonderful new group named The Planetary Society.

The Planetary Society has members all over the world and is the largest space interest group on Earth.

Speaking of Earth. I have posted this before on here but will do so again just because it is my favourite passage ever written.

It is from Mr. Sagan's book "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space".
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different.

Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us.

On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.

Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner.

How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.

In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life.

There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.

Visit, yes. Settle, not yet.

Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

—Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
He wrote it to describe his thoughts after viewing this photograph taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from Earth, as part of the solar system Family Portrait series of images.



In the photograph, Earth is shown as a tiny dot (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System. It was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of Carl Sagan.

Sadly, Mr. Sagan left us on December 20, 1996 at the age of 62 after losing his battle with cancer.

I miss him still.



Yes, I am indeed a member of The Planetary Society and have been for many years.

Approximately ten years ago The Society did something very cool and allowed its members to submit our names to be placed on DVDs that were to be mounted onto the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

I am proud to say that the names of myself, Cheryl and the boys are sitting on Mars at this very moment on the Rovers.



That's not the only cool part of that DVD though.

In the top of those two pictures above can you notice the little dots and lines around the outside of the surface?

It turned out that The Planetary Society partnered with the LEGO company and wrote a coded message on the DVDs. The challenge was to decipher the code and be one of the first people to submit the answers to win prizes.

4039 people submitted their answers. Out of that 1409 correctly solved the Spirit code and 639 cracked the Opportunity code.

The Spirit message was "Wish you were here" and Opportunity was "Explore to learn".

I wish I could say that I was the first one to crack the codes but that was a guy in California who has a PH.D. in computer science and a chess programmer, and a cryptographic systems programmer.

I was however, one of the first ten people who successfully broke the code and won a Planetary Society membership and this truly amazing LEGO model of the Rovers.

I don't remember the exact time it took me to assemble but it was about five or six hours.

The model has 870 parts. Yow... :)



Here is the real thing. Pretty close. :)



These two little Rovers were so exciting to watch and follow on the NASA and Planetary Society websites.

The internet is the best thing that has ever happened to feed my passion for space.

There are videos, pictures and news everywhere about every single thing!

Just a couple of weeks ago on August 6, 2012 I was glued to my computer at 3 o'clock in the morning watching live coverage from NASA of the landing of a new and more amazing probe named Curiosity as we all waited to see if it would survive and land successfully on Mars.

Facebook and Twitter was loaded all night with status updates as it neared the planet.

We were all white-knuckle watching until NASA announced that it had landed and was safe on the surface of Mars.

After all of that excitement and celebration it took me quite a while to get to sleep that night.

This is the most exciting part of this post.

Last year a message went out from the boys' school that they were having a special guest who would be speaking at the school.

It was Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield!

Holy moly!! That's huge!

Seriously, people can meet big politicians and rock stars any time but how often will anyone ever get the chance to meet a real astronaut?? I'm talking about an astronaut who has been into space more than once and is going back up again!

It doesn't get much better than that for a guy like me.

I immediately sent an email to the school principle asking (begging) if it was okay for me to be there at the school when Chris Hadfield was there.

No problem, he said.

I was hanging around the front doors of the school while all of the kids were herded into the gym to await Mr. Hadfield's arrival.

Then he arrived! He was in his blue astronaut jumpsuit and walking towards the front doors.

I can't believe how nervous and starstruck (get it?) I was but I approached him and asked if I could please get a picture or two with him.

He was happy to oblige and we chatted for a minute or so as well.



In the top photo he thought it was pretty amusing when I told him that meeting him was like meeting a rock star to me.

He went into the school and did an amazing talk and answered questions from the kids. It was fantastic.

I was somewhat surprised that no other parents were there to see him.

Five years ago I discovered that just across the border in the state of Maine there is a 1:93,000,000 scale model of the Solar System that runs along US Route 1 from Presque Isle to Bangor. Yes, Pluto is included and always will be in my mind.

It's forty miles (64.4 km) long from Pluto to Sun, and the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the Solar System in the World.

So guess what the boys and I did? We took a road trip to explore the solar system. It was a great outing and fun day out.

Last week the boys and I jumped into the car and did it again. We decided that we will do our trip at least every five years.



In case you're wondering, the boys do share my love of all things space.

Every day I get a tweet on my Twitter account telling me where and when the International Space Station will be crossing overhead. We try to get outside and see it pass overhead as often as possible.

Check out these pictures of T's bedroom. B has a sports theme in his room but enjoys space stuff as well.



This past weekend our family went to Fundy National Park for a little weekend away. My Cousin and her husband have a cottage just outside of the park where he works and they let us use it to get away.

The park was recently designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. On Saturday we saw that several were setting up their telescopes and were allowing members of the public to look through them at the Sun using filters.

We headed over to have a look. The equipment that these folks had was outstanding. So much money invested. I was very impressed.



While the boys and Cheryl were looking through the equipment I had a chat with the chap at the left in the photo above.

It was like I had found a brother in him. We talked about basically almost everything I have written in this blog.

He is a member of The Planetary Society too. He was also glued to his computer to watch Curiosity land on Mars. He also has his name on the DVDs on the Rovers.

We both agreed that after that quiet spell several years ago, the world of the spacefan has become great. With the technology and resources available today we have everything we need.

"Yep" I said, "It's a very good time to be a spacefan". And he agreed.

A couple of hours later we arrived back at the cottage and turned on the news.

I was stunned and saddened when I saw that Neil Armstrong had died that day.

The coincidence was incredible.

My thoughts suddenly returned to that night 43 years ago when I watched him take that huge step for mankind and the effect it had on me ever since.

It became a sad time to be a spacefan.

Rest in Peace, Neil.



Thank you for everything that you did for me and every other person on the Pale Blue Dot.


Stay well,

Tim

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A few minutes

This one is basically a cut and paste entry. The following are the minutes from my final Council meeting on May 16.
Pay special attention to every seconding of a motion. I thought it was pretty clever at the time but it's even better seeing it in black and white. :)
I've bolded the parts I want you to make note of.
You don't really have to read the whole thing if you don't want to. It's rather dry reading.
It is a pretty good idea of what goes on at the meetings though.

By the way, I should mention that I was pleasantly surprised the other day when the Mayor called me and mentioned that she had read my last blog entry.
She called to clarify that the names of people offering to be on Committees will be brought forward by the Committee Chairs themselves and voted on by Council.
It will be in September or so when it's done. That's fine since not much really goes on during the summer months in the Committees.

I'm happy to see that someone is actually taking a look at this blog after all.

Here are the minutes.

VILLAGE OF NEW MARYLAND COUNCIL
May 16, 2012

Present: Mayor Frank Dunn
Deputy Mayor Judy Wilson-Shee
Councillor Paul LeBlanc Councillor Gisèle McCaie-Burke
Councillor Tim Scammell
Councillor Scott Sparks
Also Present: Cynthia Geldart, Chief Administrative Officer/Clerk
Karen Duncan, Assistant Clerk

1. CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Dunn called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.

2. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA
MOVED BY Councillor McCaie-Burke and seconded by Councillor Scammell to approve the agenda as distributed. MOTION CARRIED.

3. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
MOVED BY Deputy Mayor Wilson-Shee and seconded by Councillor Scammell to approve the minutes of the April 18, 2012 regular session of Council as distributed. MOTION CARRIED.

4. DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST
No disclosures of interest were proclaimed.

5. PRESENTATIONS
Mayor Dunn presented Cynthia Geldart, CAO/Clerk with the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators’ Long Service Award. Cynthia received this award in recognition of her 18 years of municipal service in a management capacity. She began her career as Clerk in the municipal office in Centreville in 1994 and joined the New Maryland team in 2000. During her 18 year career she has achieved Level II in the National Advanced Certification in Local Authority Administration, served as the president of the Association of Municipal Administrators of New Brunswick, and helped draft the Local Government Resource Manual. She continues to promote education and professionalism in municipal fields and works diligently on behalf of staff, Council, and our residents.

6. PROCLAMATIONS
Mayor Dunn proclaimed the week of June 4th – 8th, 2012 as Epsilon Golden Games Week.

7. CORRESPONDENCE
The following correspondence was read into the record by the CAO/Clerk, Cynthia Geldart, as per the request of Mayor Dunn:

- a letter to Jacques Hebert, the Director of Spectrum Management Branch, Industry Canada, concerning noise interference in the New Maryland/Fredericton area on the 80-meter band of the radio spectrum;
- an email from Jason Hebert, Transportation Manager for School District 01, regarding school bus use on Daniel Drive;
- a letter from Mayor Frank Carroll, Village of McAdam, concerning an Ambulance New Brunswick policy;
- a letter from Minister Bruce Fitch, Dept. of Environment and Local Government, concerning nominations for the 2012 Environmental Leadership Awards;
- an email from the RCMP relating to the periodic survey of their Contract Partners; and
- a memo from the Department of Environment and Local Government concerning the Municipal Orientation event that will follow the quadrennial municipal election.

8. MEETINGS AND/OR SPECIAL EVENTS
Mayor Dunn noted that he did not attend any meetings and/or special events since the last formal Council meeting.

9. COMMITTEE REPORTS / UPDATES

Planning Advisory Committee

Deputy Mayor Wilson-Shee reported that the Planning Advisory Committee met on May 7th with all members present.
- An update was given regarding the conceptual subdivision plan for NDR Developments.
- The Sunrise Estates subdivision entrance sign was discussed by the committee.
- The Building Permit Report for April 2012 was presented to the committee. A total of 17 permits were issued for the period. The estimated value of construction totaled $168,801 and $1,205 was collected in permit fees. Year-to-date figures to the end of April 2012 indicate that a total of 33 permits were issued with an estimated value of construction totaling $596,123. Permit fees collected totaled $3,670.
- A temporary-use permit was granted to allow a seasonal ice cream stand to be set-up on the property at 210 New Maryland Highway.
- The tentative plan application for Centennial Heights Subdivision 2012 was discussed by the committee. Details of the proposed development have been distributed to the various committees of Council for their review and suggestions. Once feedback has been received, the comments will be compiled and reported back to PAC for final consideration of any terms and conditions that may need to be included to any formal approval of the tentative plan.

MOVED BY Deputy Mayor Wilson-Shee and seconded by Councillor Scammell the adoption of this report.
MOTION CARRIED.

Human Resources & Administration Committee

Councillor McCaie-Burke reported that the Human Resources and Administration Committee met on April 24th and May 9th. April 24th meeting:
- The committee met on April 24th with one member absent.
- An update was provided to the committee regarding the two newly hired staff members.
- A revised version of the committees’ mandate was reviewed and will be brought to the May meeting for one last review.
- The CAO informed the committee that she has provided staff members with a draft of the Attending Physician’s statement form and some feedback has been received. A revised version will be brought to Council at the next C-I-C meeting for discussion and approval.
- The committee is interested in receiving training for the set-up and use of Twitter since the use of social media is becoming more important.
- A possibility of having a part-time communication administrator on staff to do regular updates and maintenance to the Village website was discussed.
- Changes to the forms in the HR Policy manual were reviewed.
- A request from 1 Engineer Squadron to do a Village project was discussed by the committee.

May 9th meeting:

- The committees’ mandate report was reviewed one last time and will be presented to Council at the June C-I-C meeting.
- A social media training session is being organized by the City of Fredericton and our Council and senior staff members have been invited to attend. The date for the social media training session will be announced once it is known. Councillor Scammell has also agreed to help the members of the HR Committee with Twitter training as well.
- The committee discussed at length the fact that communication with our residents is an increasingly important issue and the expectation of residents for the Village to communicate via the website, Facebook and Twitter requires that an appropriately trained staff member works on this issue. It was suggested to hire someone part-time to work on communications projects, so our CAO will begin drafting a business case for a communication position over the next few months. St. Thomas University will also be contacted to determine if a journalism student may be available to work with us this fall.
- The committee reviewed the merit of sending out flyers similar to what was done in the past. Numerous residents have expressed their preference to receive Village information in the form of a flyer as they do not have a computer or access to the internet. Several options were suggested and will be examined further by Council.
- Some amendments to the HR manual will be brought to the June C-I-C meeting for discussion.
- The committee debated and agreed that the sign policy will need to be amended to indicate that the Village has first priority for signs and that there is the possibility that groups could be bumped.
- The committee had a discussion regarding responses to emails from the public, timelines, and who should respond to them.
- The date and time of the next meeting will be announced at a later time.
- Councillor McCaie-Burke stated that she enjoyed being the Chair of the committee for the last 4 years and she thanked those who served on the committee. She also thanked the Treasurer for attending the committee meetings when needed. She expressed her pride for the amount of work that was accomplished in a relatively short period of time and added that there is always room for improvement.

MOVED BY Councillor McCaie-Burke and seconded by Councillor Scammell the adoption of this report.
Discussion:
- Councillor Sparks suggested that RSS feeds on the website should be considered so that people who subscribe to them can receive electronic notifications about areas of particular interest to them.
MOTION CARRIED.

► MOVED BY Councillor McCaie-Burke and seconded by Councillor Scammell the following resolution of Council:
Be It Resolved That the the Council for the Village of New Maryland transfer the sum of $369,383 (three hundred and sixty nine thousand, three hundred and eighty three dollars) from the General Capital Reserve Fund to the General Capital fund for the following purposes and amounts:

$ 5,000 for the equipment for the office; and
$ 364,383 for the office building expansion;
and that these funds were reserved for such purposes.

Discussion:
- Councillor McCaie-Burke explained that Council previously agreed to reserve the funds for the building expansion and associated equipment. The funds were reserved as per the motions of Council, and now need to be moved from the Reserve Fund to the Capital Fund for payment of invoices.
MOTION CARRIED.

► MOVED BY Councillor McCaie-Burke and seconded by Councillor Scammell the following resolution of Council:
Be It Resolved That the the Council for the Village of New Maryland transfer the sum of $8,165.00(eight thousand one hundred and sixty five dollars) from the General Operating Reserve (Acct # 1015-013) to the General Operating Fund (Account # 1020-875) for the Municipal Office Building Expansion project, and that these funds were reserved for such purposes.
Discussion:
- Councillor McCaie-Burke clarified that in December 2011 a motion was made to move the funds from General Capital Reserve to General Operating. The auditors decided that the funds should have been moved to General Operating Reserve instead, before being transferred again, and therefore made an adjustment. Basically, the auditors have decided that the transfer needed to be done in two steps, from General Capital Reserve to General Operating Reserve and then to General Operating. This motion will make the adjustment that has become necessary due to the auditors’ entry.
MOTION CARRIED.

Recreation and Leisure Services Committee

Councillor Sparks reported that the Recreation and Leisure Services Committee met on April 30th with two members absent.
- The Development Officer attended the meeting to make a presentation to the committee regarding a proposed subdivision plan and sought the committee’s input regarding the 8% land dedication. The committee discussed the bikeway and trail that leads into Athletic Park and how it relates to the tentative subdivision plan. The committee recommended that no decision would be made until all members of the committee are present to discuss the matter.
- The Recreation budget was reviewed and an update for the Capital Project Summary was given.
- A request from 1st Engineer Squadron to work on some small projects this fall in the Village was considered by the committee. The committee came up with some suggested projects for the squadron to complete.
- The Day Camp Financial Assistance Request Policy was discussed by the committee. The committee made the decision to address the issue again in September. In the meantime inquiries about financial assistance will be directed to the Lions Club as they sometimes sponsor or donate resources to families in financial need.
- It was brought to the committee’s attention that the residents of Sunrise Estates would like the mounds of dirt that are currently in Sunrise Park to be flattened. They are posing a potential danger as recreational vehicles have been driving on them. The Recreation Department will look into the cost of flattening or removing the mounds of dirt.
- The Spring and Summer Recreation Guide has been uploaded to the website and has been sent out in the mail.
MOVED BY Councillor Sparks and seconded by Councillor Scammell the adoption of this report.
Discussion:
- Councillor LeBlanc stated that he felt it is very important that we have a Financial Assistance Policy in place so that children do not miss out due to financial reasons.
MOTION CARRIED.

Transportation and Protective Services Committee

Councillor Scammell reported that the Transportation and Protective Services Committee met on May 8th with two members absent.
- The previous month’s session notes were approved by the committee.
- The Statement of Expenditures to the end of March 2012 was reviewed and it was noted that some accounts in the ERP budget were over-budget. It was felt that this may be due to the amounts being posted to the wrong accounts. This concern will be brought to the attention of our Treasurer.
- Research into the purchase of a sidewalk snow removal machine is ongoing and an update will be given as it becomes available.
- The April 2012 Fire Department Report was distributed to the committee prior to the meeting with no items of concern being noted.
- The April 2012 Transportation Report was reviewed as circulated. Our Public Works Supervisor informed the committee that Council wants boulevards to be installed between the sidewalk and the street wherever possible and in situations where they cannot be installed, Council wants an explanation why they cannot be. The plan for sidewalks has been changed so that boulevards will be accommodated in every location except one, and a solution to that problem is still being worked on. Our engineering firm is working on the tender document for the work on Bismark, Loddington and Newman Streets and will add on the other street if a solution can be found that will be to Council’s satisfaction.
- The budget for street sweeping is over budget this year because we did not have enough rainy weather for Public Works staff to sweep the centre of the streets as they have done is past years. This resulted in the contractor doing more of the work.
- The Animal Control Reports for March and April 2012 were reviewed with no items of concern being noted.
- Public Works staff members met two Corporals from 1 Engineer Squadron, who are based out of downtown Fredericton. They have approximately 25 to 30 cadets who will be available to volunteer their time and skills to work on projects in the Village after they return from training. The cadets have skills in basic carpentry, clearing brush, chain-saw work and are looking for a project that they can start and finish in one weekend. All committees are being asked to submit their ideas to Rockland, who is planning to meet with the Corporals again at the end of May with a list of suggested projects. The Corporals will advise Rockland which projects can be done and then they will train their cadets for the particular task.
- A tentative subdivision plan was reviewed by the committee. The plan has been previously reviewed many times by the Public Works Supervisor and the Development Officer, and they have recommended changes to the proposed street structure. Overall, the committee agreed with the suggested changes that were brought forward. The committee also suggested that rather than building townhouses on the corner lot as proposed, the developer could build a field house or a community centre and felt this suggestion should be taken to the developer for consideration.
- The committee was informed that NB Power is looking to expand the installation of LED lights and a new program is being developed now which will be rolled out provincially in the future.
- The committee bid farewell to Councillor Scammell as Chair of the committee and as a member of Council. Councillor Scammell advised that he would like to remain on the committee as a volunteer member with the Mayor’s approval. He thanked the committee members and staff for all the work done over the past 4 years.
- The date and time of the next meeting will be announced at a later time.
- Councillor Scammell took a moment to thank the committee members, members of Council and Village staff for their hard work, dedication and support.
MOVED BY Councillor Scammell and seconded by Councillor McCaie-Burke the adoption of this report.
Discussion:

- Councillor McCaie-Burke commented on the over-budget items in the ERP budget. She has discussed this with the Treasurer and this has been corrected.
MOTION CARRIED.

Emergency Response Plan Committee

Councillor McCaie-Burke reported that the Emergency Response Plan Committee met May 15th with nine committee members, five staff members and three guests present.
- Councillor McCaie-Burke announced that the committee representative from Horizon Health, Debbie Giffin, has resigned from the committee due to work commitments.
- Dr. Cristin Muecke, who is the Regional Medical Officer of Health, Fredericton and Central Region, Dept. of Health, made a presentation to the committee regarding food and water borne illnesses.
- The committee practiced an emergency scenario led by our EOC Director. The scenario concerned municipal water contamination which related to the presentation made by Dr. Muecke.
- The Fire Department recently had four of its volunteer firefighters complete Emergency Operations Centre training.
- The Town of Oromocto will hold a 2-hour training session for Sentinel on May 30th from 10:00 am to 12 noon.
- The committee held a follow-up discussion regarding the public presentation of the Sentinel Emergency Alerts that was held on May 10th. Overall the committee was very pleased with the event but felt it would have been better if more residents attended. The Public Information sub-committee will meet soon to discuss the continuing promotion of Sentinel. Councillor McCaie-Burke acknowledged the hard work of the committee members and staff members who helped with the promotion of Sentinel to New Maryland residents. She also thanked Council for their continued support on this matter.
- The committee was informed that Industry Canada has responded to our previous letter that requested their assistance with improving the 80-meter amateur radio band signal in the Fredericton and New Maryland areas. Industry Canada has stated that their office is willing to assist us by providing direction and information on method use to isolate and mitigate transmission interference.
- Councillor McCaie-Burke was the guest speaker at the City of Fredericton’s EMO Committee meeting which was held earlier this month. At the meeting she spoke about our committee structure, the 5-year ERP Master Plan, and the promotion of the Sentinel System. Fire Chief Farrell also attended the meeting and spoke about the benefits of the Sentinel System for the fire department. The possibility of sharing a volunteer coordinator position between Fredericton, Oromocto and New Maryland was also discussed at the meeting. A resident has stepped forward and expressed interest in volunteering for the position.
- Certificates of Appreciation were presented at the meeting to Dick Rogers, who was the first Chair of the committee when it was established back in 1999; Connie Storr, who was instrumental in the development of the Village’s Pandemic Plan; and Rob Pero, Development officer.
- The date and time of the next meeting will be announced at a later time.
- Councillor McCaie-Burke stated that she has enjoyed being the Chair of the committee for the last 4 years. She felt that the committee has accomplished much which is due to the hard work and dedication of its members.

MOVED BY Councillor McCaie-Burke and seconded by Councillor Scammell the adoption of this report.
- Councillor LeBlanc suggested that brochures for the Sentinel System should be sent out in the mail with the next water and sewer billing in July.
MOTION CARRIED.

►MOVED BY Councillor McCaie-Burke and seconded by Councillor Scammell the following resolution of Council:
Be It Resolved That the Council for the Village of New Maryland, as per the recommendation of the Emergency Response Plan Committee, adopt the amendments to the Emergency Response Plan as attached hereto in “Schedule “A”.
Discussion:

- Councillor McCaie-Burke explained the amendments include updates to the EMO fanout and the resources lists as well as the addition of a disaster scenario entitled “Heat Wave”, and the MOU with Faith Baptist Church.
MOTION CARRIED.

Water and Wastewater Committee

Councillor LeBlanc reported that the Water and Wastewater Committee met on April 25th.
- Some minor corrections to the previous month’s session notes were noted.
- An update was given on the expropriation status with Armco Capital for Well 3A. Councillor LeBlanc explained that since that meeting an additional update has been received and he read an email from our lawyer. The notice of objection from Armco has been withdrawn so we can now proceed with the preparations for the filing of the notice. This means that once the Village takes official ownership of the property, the Village can proceed with their plan for Well 3A without delay.
- The financial reports were presented and discussion took place regarding the $5 fee charged for the water meters and where the funds collected should be spent.
- The Water System Development Master Plan sub-committee presented some documents for the committee to review and discuss at the next meeting.
- The discussion of a proposed development was postponed as there was no information to present at that time.
- Flushing of water mains began this week and will continue into next week.
- The committee was informed that the New Maryland Esso property will be connected to the municipal sanitary system at pump station 3.
- It was brought to the committee’s attention that it would be to our benefit to start sampling Baker Brook on a quarterly basis in preparation for the new CCME guidelines so we know how the brook is functioning and if we have an impact on it. The Baker Brook lagoon is in the process of being decommissioned.
- Councillor LeBlanc, committee member Bob Landine, Public Works Supervisor Rockland Miller and Opus consultant Stephen Pyke visited the water treatment facilities at Shediac and Memramcook. Both facilities use the Maganzur treatment process which is one of the processes that Opus is proposing for Well 3A.
- Filling of residential pools is still not permitted under our by-law even though the water tower has been completed. An amendment to the by-law would be required in order to permit that.
- The Strategic Plan was reviewed.
- The website was reviewed and it was suggested that we may want to to have a banner moving across the home page that will announce new events to residents. - The next committee meeting will be held on May 23rd.
MOVED BY Councillor LeBlanc and seconded by Councillor Scammell the adoption of this report.

Discussion:

- Councillor Sparks commented that the sampling of Baker Brook is an excellent idea. He added that the Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission samples Baker Brook where it enters their property and just before it exits the property so it can be determined if actions on the landfill site have an impact on the brook. He suggested that it may be beneficial for the Village to sample Baker Brook in a similar manner so in the event that something happens to the brook, it can be known whether or not it took place within Village boundaries. Councillor LeBlanc agreed and stated that for the time being the data collected will be for internal use.
MOTION CARRIED.

►MOVED BY Councillor LeBlanc and seconded by Councillor Scammell the following resolution of Council:
Be It Resolved That the Council for the Village of New Maryland adopt the document entitled Municipality of the Village of New Maryland Five-Year Capital Investment Plan (2011 – 2015).

Discussion:

- Councillor LeBlanc explained that Council decided quite some time ago to put the Gas Tax Fund money towards the development of Well 3A for the next term of the program. Each year we are required to submit a revised Five-Year Capital Investment Plan, and this motion reflects that requirement.
MOTION CARRIED.

Finance Committee

Deputy Mayor Wilson-Shee reported that the Finance Committee has not met since the last Council meeting.
►MOVED BY Deputy Mayor Wilson-Shee and seconded by Councillor Scammell the following resolution of Council:

Be It Resolved That the Council for the Village of New Maryland adopt the 2011Village of New Maryland Audited Financial Statements as prepared by the chartered accounting firm of Grant Thornton LLP and as reviewed by the Finance Committee and Council on 11 April 2012.
MOTION CARRIED.

10. APPROVAL OF THE TREASURER’S REPORT
MOVED BY Deputy Mayor Wilson-Shee and seconded by Councillor Scammell to approve the Treasurer’s Report as follows:

(1) Cheques and direct payments from the General Operating account for April 1 through 30, 2012 in the amount of $331,724.94;
(2) Payments from the Water and Sewer Operating account for April 1 through 30, 2012 in the amount of $29,649.07;
(3) Payments from the General Capital account for April 1 through 30, 2012 in the amount of $11,761.58; and
(4) Payments from the Water and Sewer Capital account for April 1 through 30, 2012 in the amount of $15,512.64.
MOTION CARRIED.

11. PUBLIC INPUT / INQUIRIES

No items were brought forward by the members of the public that were in attendance.

12. NEW BUSINESS

Presentations by Mayor Frank Dunn and Cynthia Geldart, CAO/Clerk

Mayor Dunn presented Councillor Scammell with a token of gratitude on behalf of Council and staff, and thanked him for his hard work and commitment serving on Council for the past 4 years.

On behalf of Council and staff, Councillor LeBlanc presented a gift of appreciation to Mayor Dunn for his leadership and enthusiasm serving as Mayor of the Village for the past eleven years. He added that he is pleased that he will be able to work with him for another 4-year term as a colleague on Council.

13. DATE, TIME AND LOCATION OF NEXT MEETING

The Swearing-In Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the New Maryland Centre.

14. MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT

MOVED BY Councillor LeBlanc and seconded by Councillor Scammell to adjourn the meeting.
MOTION CARRIED.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.


The Transportation Committee section didn't go into detail of my little speech but it's in this blog a couple of entries ago.

I hope that your summer is going great.
Stay well,
Tim

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hi there

It's summer, I'm doing stuff, and I really don't have much to blog about right now. The boys are in volleyball camp this week which is great for them. A few of their friends are there to keep it fun. Next week will be interesting for them. This year they are too old to participate in the New Maryland day camps that they've loved since they were small. However, now they are the exact age that they can now become Counsellors (not Councillors, hehe) In Training at the camps. They don't get paid to be CITs but it should have them in line for the real jobs of Counsellors next summer. They're doing it for a couple of weeks over the summer. I know they'll have a lot of fun. Other than that. Things are quiet with me. I can't believe how much time I have now that I'm not on Council. There are so few emails and no meetings anymore. Apparently I'm not invited to be on any committees yet since the new mayor has to mull it over for the summer as to who will be joining the committees where there are openings. That strikes me as odd since the committees are still meeting over the summer. Why wait to fill the spots? It seems a no-brainer to me that if you have a volunteer for a committee who knows the stuff pretty well you should take advantage of the offer and use them. When I was on Council we were begging people to join committees. I'll let you know how this works out. The lads are playing AA baseball in Fredericton this season which is going pretty well. They're not getting to play the positions that I know they would be best playing too often. I think there may be some politics involved as to where certain players are from or who their parents are but this isn't Rec ball anymore and the rules of Fair Play don't apply. A couple of weeks ago one of the boys sat the entire game out and the coach said it was an accident and he forgot to put him in. Hmm. As long as they have fun that's all I care about but I don't think they're both enjoying it as much as previous seasons. I could be wrong. Summer has only just started. Stay well, Tim

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Farewell to New Maryland Council (The Mooning)

This is another long one so pour a coffee and get comfortable before reading it.
I know several people that are going to be disappointed when they read this that it is not quite what they expected but I would like to point out that I am considering an attempt for a Council position in the future.
Of course that is a long way off and many things can change by then but I don't want to burn bridges regardless.

Last night was my last formal New Maryland Council meeting as a Councillor (for now anyway). Prior to the meeting I was under the impression that I would be required to be at the June Council in Committee meeting so I figured that I still had two meetings to go.
However, during the meeting last night Council decided that the swearing-in ceremony would take place prior to the June CIC so last night was officially my last meeting. That sounded just perfect to me.
It's funny that I had been looking to this moment so much but when it was finally upon me I started to feel a little sad.
When I think back over the four years of my term there were so many events and emotions that had taken place. I may not have enjoyed them all but they certainly have been memorable.
Try thinking back to something that you did four years ago and see how long ago it feels like.
Even when I was away somewhere on vacation or otherwise it was often somewhere in my head that I was a Councillor with work to do.
You may recall that in 2008 as I was sitting at my mother's bedside in Ontario just prior to her passing I used some of this time to send a detailed letter to Council from my Blackberry.
It was a full-time job really. If people wanted to reach me they would send emails to me or call me at home. There was no such thing as office hours.

But, as trying and frustrating as being a Councillor may be at times there will always be something inside me that loved the experience.
I'm thinking that part of it is the satisfaction that what we did or tried to do was in some way making our Village a better place.

Before I go further I want to mention that the election results from Monday night were exactly what I was hoping for.
The Councillors that have served with me, Scott Sparks, Gisele McCaie-Burke, and Paul LeBlanc were all re-elected. I am very pleased with this. Our Mayor Frank Dunn had decided not to seek another term as Mayor and ran for a Council seat instead. He was successful. I am pleased with this as well.
It was mentioned to me that the election results were a good indicator that the voters were satisfied with Council and the job that we were doing.
The exception to this are the residents of Baker Brook Court who will likely never be satisfied at anything no matter how much is given to them on a platter.
I was saddened to hear that a couple of the incumbent Council candidates placed campaign signs on Village property near the entrance to Baker Brook Court only to have these signs disappear within a few hours.
If the person(s) responsible for this ever happen to stumble onto this blog I want to point out that no matter how much you loathe somebody, removing a campaign sign from public property is against the law.
Smarten up and grow up. Get over it.

The Deputy Mayor Judy Wilson-Shee ran for Mayor and was acclaimed as no-one ran against her.

A chap by the name of Peter Wiggins was elected and will likely be sitting in my old seat in Council chambers.
Peter has been on the Recreation Committee with me for a while now and has prior municipal Council experience from where he used to live. He's a smart, likable guy and I know he'll do well. I was rooting for him in the election.

None of the candidates that I referred to in my last blog post were successful but I'm sure that they gained a fair amount of insight during their campaigning.

All righty. Back to last night.

Usually when I'm going to a meeting I have dressed fairly casual. Usually blue jeans and a fairly nice shirt.
Scott always wears a suit but I think that's usually because he doesn't have much time between his day job and the Council meetings so he doesn't get changed.
Paul usually wears blue jeans which was a perfect idea to me so I usually did as well.

While I was getting dressed for last night I decided to wear a dress shirt with a tie and beige pants with dress shoes. I figured that I should look nice for the last big meeting.

Part of this was also that I was hoping that some media may be present when I read my finale that I had planned. I should look nice for that, shouldn't I?

Sadly, the media never did show up. We've sort of gotten used to that in New Maryland. It's nice when someone does show up but it's usually because there is a hot topic on the agenda and there will probably be someone there who is ticked off about it.
No matter.

I guess I should have spotted it prior to the meeting but there was something on the agenda right near the end of the meeting. It was a presentation by Mayor Dunn and the CAO Cynthia Geldart.
This didn't initially get my attention. From what I could recall when someone had been leaving a Council position there was something special for them but I thought that it took place later than this after they had left the spot.

It turned out that the special presentation did involve me and during the meeting my wife and two handsome lads came into the Public Gallery to be there for it. Yes, I was surprised. :)

What I didn't realize was that they were in the hallway for a while and heard me when I gave my final Committee report and farewell.

Now, about that report and my farewell.

For regular sessions of Council each Councillor provides an update and report of what transpired at the committee meeting that they chaired. If there were any motions coming from a committee they were read following the committee report being read and moved, seconded and approved by a majority vote. (This sounds like much hoohaw but it's really a very smooth process).

Here's something really cool. Usually the seconder of a motion will be any member of Council except the person who made the motion. It's really just who happens to say it first.
Last night before the meeting I suggested to the others that I will second every single motion of the night except for my report which I was moving. As the meeting went on my family and the others in the public gallery caught on to what was going on and it was pretty amusing.
I'm looking forward to seeing the final minutes of the meeting with my name seconding everything.

I was somewhat nervous as my turn got closer. This was my big one. The last one is the one people usually remember right? I think much of being nervous was worrying that I wouldn't choke up while reading. I had heard a clip on the radio of my pal Jordan Graham doing his farewell at Fredericton Council the night before. He really had a hard time getting through it.

When it came my turn I read my summary of the Transportation meeting of the week before.

Then I read this:

"I’d just like to say a couple of words as this is my last formal session as a New Maryland Councillor.
First, I salute the Village staff for all of their hard work and for putting up with me for the last 4 years. Especially Cynthia for being my brain when my own wasn’t keeping up with the task at times.
I also thank my fellow committee members for caring enough about the Village to dedicate their personal time.
As I have mentioned in the past, I would like to continue as a member of committees as a public member.
To my fellow Councillors and Mayor Dunn, the last 4 years have been much more educational than I expected them to be. Thank you all for being such a great team and making the lessons go smoothly.
Congratulations to you all for being re-elected, to our incoming mayor Judy Wilson-Shee and to Peter Wiggins for his victory.
I wish you all nothing but the best of luck for the next 4 years.
Also, congratulations to the other candidates for all of their hard work and efforts.
I have learned that even though our group has a diverse background, we all have the best interests of New Maryland at heart which is all that matters."

This next part was fun. Here comes the moon.:

"I am now going to do something that several of my Twitter followers and Facebook friends have told me to do. I am mooning you all."

And held this up.


Everyone got a good chuckle out of that.
Then I continued. This is where I choked up but I got through.

"The reason for this choice is that the moon is like us.
For years it was struck by objects which left all of these craters and marks. This was due to no fault of its own except that it was where it was at the time.
As members of Council, over the years we have also taken numerous hits. Some justified. Some unjustified. But we took them for the simple reason that this is where we are at this time.
Our craters aren’t visible like those on the moon but some impacts do leave marks on us.
However, just like the moon, we have continued in our orbits and stayed on the paths that we have chosen to be on. And for that I am proud to have been a part of this group.
And with that I move acceptance of my final report."

And that was that. It felt good to be done but sad at the same time.

When the reports were finished Mayor Dunn stood up to the podium and read this. I could see that Cheryl was a little teary and I was feeling it too:

"As many of you know, Councillor Tim Scammell decided not to re-offer in the recent municipal election, and therefore tonight will be Tim's last official Council meeting as an elected official.

On behalf of my collegues and Village staff, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tim for his hard work and dedication while serving as Councillor for the past four years.

Tim was elected to Council in 2008 and during his term has served as Chairperson of the Water & Wastewater Committee and the Transportation Committee, as well as Vice-Chair of the Recreation Committee, and a member of the Community Council of Policing Committee. He was an active participant in our development strategy, strategic planning, the Sidewalk Installation Plan, and the establishment of the Trails and Bikeways Master Plan currently under review. Tim has worked hard on behalf of our residents and the Village benefited from his experience and expertise. He always represented the Village with professionalism and enthusiasm. Tim also brought a great sense of humor to our meetings which helped provide a positive and creative work environment.

We are definitely going to miss having Tim around the Council table. However, we understand the dedication to his family. His family is extremely busy right now with his twin sons being involved in various activities and groups. Due to the time commitment required of a council member, Tim has missed a number of important events with his family over the past few years, and made the decision to ensure thay are his first priority.

Tim has graciously offered to serve on our various committees as a resident, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and benefit from his knowledge and skills.

It gives me great pleasure to present a small token of our thanks and gratitude to Councillor Tim Scammell."

Mayor Dunn then presented me with a gift box from Aitken's Pewter containing this awesome desk clock.



The inscription says "Tim Scammell, Councillor, Village of New Maryland, 2008-2012".
What a wonderful gesture.

Mayor Dunn was also presented with a gift for his years of service as the Mayor.

It was a great evening.
I'm going to miss those folks.
Four years may creep up quickly and it will again be time to decide what I'd like to do and what would be best for my family.

What am I going to do until then with all of my spare time?

Not to worry. I'll be around.

Stay well,
Tim

Monday, May 7, 2012

Clear conscience? Yes indeed.

For a few weeks I've been stewing over some things in my head about next Monday's Municipal election day here in New Brunswick. I've been reading things from candidates in the newspaper and hearing things on the radio and television.
I can get past the people who aren't currently in office saying things like "we need open access to members of Council which we don't have."

Personally, this ticks me off a bit. I suppose that the evening phone calls or messages that I have promptly returned from my home don't count as access?
What of the multitude of emails from residents that I have received during my term that I replied to as soon as I was able to? I suppose if a reply is not instantaneous some may deem that unacceptable.
Oh, let's not forget on more than one occasion that someone has contacted me requesting that I attend their property to see something.
If I could I went right away.
There were instances that I contacted these people to advise that I was asking a member of staff or other to attend on my behalf as they were better suited to address the topic.
I guess that could be seen as my not being accessible.

Now I know that I can't speak for the other members of Council. Perhaps there were times that they didn't reply to or ignored something.
It just annoys me when there are broad brush strokes though. I tend to take it personally.

Let's just say that I am going into my last week as an elected representative of the Village of New Maryland with a clear conscience.
I believe that I have done all that I could and what I said I would do to keep New Maryland as an awesome place to live and raise a family.

There was a letter to the editor the other day from an elderly lady which seemed to imply that most of Council has failed to do any of the things that they promised before the last election.
I honestly don't have time to go into everything that was screwed up with that letter but it was full of misinformation and confusion.
She praised one member of Council for being a champion of the people and standing up against the rest of us.

No-one has ever properly explained to these people that when things like the Baker Brook construction came to Council for decisions the votes were unanimous. Who opposed them? No-one.

Council all agreed that the poor residents of Baker Brook had lived with a goat path of a road for long enough and we were going to do right by them and throw in a big bonus of municipal water and drainage while we were there. At no cost to them except to decommission their wells. What a great deal that was.
All of us felt great that we were doing a great thing.
ALL of us.

I wish that more people would take the time to go to the Village web site and read through all of the posted committee and Council minutes and see what really went on and who voted for what.
That would be very time-consuming but man, it would bring so much clarity.

While you're in there, have a look at the minutes from committee meetings and see what Council candidates were really part of what committees as they have stated in their campaign literature.

I understand that attending one committee meeting and then resigning shortly afterwards officially could be considered "being on the committee" but feel it is misleading.
The reader of the campaign literature would read that someone was "on" the committee and must have gained some great knowledge and experience from it.

In reality, one meeting really gives a person little experience.

Then there was a candidate who was a part of the construction of the walking trails behind the New Maryland Centre.

Myself and my entire family were involved in that project from its absolute start to the last day and I don't recall seeing this individual on site at all. I guess he may have been there on a day that I had to miss for some reason.
Or perhaps he was a part of the planning phase at a time when I was not? That seems unlikely though. I recall that very first meeting at the Village offices when we met to start planning the trails.
This was a few years before I ran for a Council position. My father was also at that meeting and was a large part of the construction too.

When I set up my campaign four years ago I listed the board and committee experiences with complete confidence.

When I said that I had been a member of the Water and Wastewater Committee I was talking about being at almost every single meeting for the previous four years.
That's what being a member of a committee really is. Not popping in for one meeting and skipping off again.

Prior to that last election I had sat in the public gallery on the Council chambers for over a year to see what went on and to get a feel for what Council is about.
While I was there I took that opportunity to do a Home and School report from New Maryland Elementary School. I was the president for a few years and felt that it was a good idea for Council to be aware of what was going on at the school.

I clearly realize now that there are things that a member of the public will not know that Council members and Village staff do.
In honesty though, these things are few in number and the reasons for privacy are clear to me.
Eventually all comes out to the public though. Once minutes are approved by Council they become public.

I really want to mention as well that every meeting of any committee or council session is open to all members of the public at all times unless there is a reference to a specific individual or property being made.
We have to adhere to privacy regulations for those cases and ask members of the public to step out until the discussion is over.

I can't recall a single time that this has happened though because no-one ever attends any meetings.

People complain that they can't get information or that things are being kept from them but everything is right there in front of them.
There is so much information for so many people to see, yet nobody takes a moment to see it and decides that it's easier to complain.

Ah well. This rant is nothing new.
I have told people this over and over again.
If you REALLY want to be a part or have input in what goes on. Step up!
Put your money where your mouth is!

When my term is done in the next couple of weeks I hope to remain on the Recreation and Transportation committees as a public member. If the new mayor and Council will have me.

If they decide that they don't want me there anymore I'll accept that and ride off into the sunset with my clear conscience and the satisfaction of a job well done.

At least until the next election.
But that's a blog post for another day. :)

Oh, I should mention that the Public Gallery will be a sweet place to be if I happen to have something to raise at a future Council meeting.
I'm just saying.

Stay well,
Tim