News Digest: March 23 – 26

Catch up on happenings on the Halifax peninsula, as reported by other news outlets.

Trouble Inmate sets herself ablaze at Truro prison (Chronicle Herald)

A women, unofficially identified as Camille Strickland-Murphy of St. John’s, set herself on fire at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro. Strickland-Murphy suffered second degree burns. In November, she was sentenced to 36 months in prison for attempted robbery and breach of probation. According to an anonymous source, the women stuffed her pant legs with paper and using a match or an outlet started the fire. Pamela Goulding, a provincial court judge, said Strickland-Murphy suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. She also has a history of alcohol and drug abuse.

Whalen on N.S budget: Prepare to ‘feel some pain’ (Chronicle Herald)

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Diana Whalen delivered a warning about the upcoming provincial budget. She said the new budget will change the way government does business, including a complete review of department and services in order to cut back. Whalen also announced that the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency would become a Crown corporation led by a private-sector board.

NSCC hikes tuition by three per cent in most programs (Metro News)

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Community College announced that it would raise 2015-16 tuition rates by three per cent for most programs. A three per cent increase, for most students, adds up to an extra $90 in annual tuition costs. Tuition costs for the following programs will not go up: recording arts, health information management, certified welding, gas technician, heavy equipment operator, process operations 4th class, and aviation programs.

Halifax company says industrial snow melters could have conquered Old Man Winter (CTV News Atlantic)

A Halifax company said it has equipment to melt snow. Trecan Combustion builds industrial sized machines to melt snow faster and more efficiently than hauling it away. After the snow is loaded, it is melted in the machine and is driven over a manhole where the water empties into a sewer. Industrial snow melters are currently used at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport and the Halifax Shopping Centre. Halifax Regional Municipality considered using the machines, but ultimately found that they would not be worth the time or money due to high diesel costs.

Assault charges dropped against N.S woman with brain disorder (CTV Atlantic News)

Three charges against a women with an intellectual disability have been dropped. According to police, Nichele Benn allegedly struck an employee with a foam letter and a shoe at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre on Dec. 12, 2013. The Crown decided not to proceed with charges of assault with a weapon.

Extra credit for King’s students on snow day

Students at University of King’s College were paid for their snow-clearing services when the full-time staff couldn’t make it in.

On Wednesday, while Halifax suffered through yet another winter storm, students at the University of King’s College discovered an unexpected way to make money.

Students were paid by the university in exchange for clearing snow from the main walkways and all emergency exits on the King’s campus.

The university was closed on Wednesday and Thursday, after Halifax received between 50-80 cm of snow.

Alex Doyle, the director of facilities at King’s, said it was a unique situation. All of the usual support staff were busy digging themselves out of their own homes and could not make it into work.

Doyle reached out to students through the dons in Alexandra Hall. There was also a notice posted to the“University of King’s College Class of 2018” Facebook page.

The notice called for students to help deal with the fact that “our campus has essentially been buried by what can only be explained as hell actually freezing over.”

Pathway dug out by students that leads to residence housing on King's campus. (Photo credit: Leah Woolley)
Pathway dug out by students that leads to residence housing on King’s campus. (Photo credit: Leah Woolley)

Danielle McCreadie, one of the students who took advantage of the offer, said shovelling “was awesome.”

She said all the students who shovelled went down to the security office underneath Middle Bay beforehand to log their time and sign out shovels.

“I was shovelling with four other friends but there were about 12 to 15 of us out there,” said McCreadie.

She only shovelled for a few hours, but other students continued working throughout the day.

Doyle said that a few years ago, hiring students to shovel used to be a standard practice of the university. He wants to revisit the idea next year and says he has recently been talking to the dean of residence about setting up an official list of students who would want work clearing snow.

“It’s a good idea. It gets students out of residence to make a little money and clear some pathways,” said Doyle.

McCreadie said she would definitely do it again, if the offer came up.

The students were offered minimum wage, which is around $10 an hour.

Small stores stay open during storms

While many stores decided to close for the day during Sunday’s snowstorm, Jubilee Junction and Triple A convenience stores chose to stay open for those in need of supplies and snacks.

As a winter snowstorm rages and the snow continues to pile up outside, Elias Habib welcomes customers at his store in south-end Halifax.

“It’s just a regular work day,” ​said Habib, owner of Jubilee Junction, a dairy bar and convenience store on Jubilee Road.

Halifax suffered another snowstorm on Sunday, adding 15 to 30 centimetres to the remaining ice and snow from previous storms this winter. Because of the dangerous driving conditions, many businesses shut down for the day, including the Halifax Shopping Centre and the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. But many small business owners like Habib chose to stay open.

Habib standing behind the counter at Jubilee Junction waiting for customers. (Photo: Teri Boates)
Habib standing behind the counter at Jubilee Junction waiting for customers. (Photo: Teri Boates)

“If you live close enough and can open, open,” he said.

Habib says that how busy his store gets during storms depends on how quickly the roads and sidewalks are cleared, and until people are able to drive safely, the store only receives foot traffic.

“You’re going to get busy from people that live right next door to you because they don’t really want to go too far, but for anybody to hop in their vehicle … if it’s not safe for them to be on the road, it’s better just to stay home,” said Habib.

Habib drives himself to work every day from his downtown Dartmouth home in a 4×4 vehicle in order to get to work on time regardless of the weather.

Also located and open on Jubilee Road is Triple A, a family-owned convenience store, pizzeria and mini-bakery frequented by students living in the nearby area who use walking as their main mode of transportation.

“We know what students go through,” said Rita Amyoony, owner of Triple A Convenience. “Most students don’t have a car, they all walk. So for them we remain open.”

Jubilee Junction open and ready for business during Halifax's snowstorm on Sunday. (Photo: Teri Boates)
Jubilee Junction open and ready for business during Halifax’s snowstorm on Sunday. (Photo: Teri Boates)

Both stores were open during their regular hours through Sunday’s storm (Jubilee Junction: 8:30am-12:00am, Triple A: 9:00am-12:00am) so that people within walking distance could purchase supplies and snack foods, a bestseller during snowstorms. “Chips and pop,” said Habib. “We sell more snacks.”

Jubilee Junction and Triple A are open every day and plan on staying open even if Halifax is hit with another major storm before the winter is over.

Amyoony recognizes that there are many students living in the neighbourhood by her store, and being the mother of four students herself, she says that she likes knowing that they are being taken care of.

As long as the students are happy and satisfied,” said Amyoony. “It’s called a convenience store, right?”