Tuesday, June 26, 2012

THOMAS MAKES THE GRADE WITH BOMBERS



BY BILL HUNT

HUNT.BILL@DAILYGLEANER.COM
26 JUNE 2012

It’s official.

Jake Thomas is a Winnipeg Blue Bomber.

The 22-year-old Fredericton native and Leo Hayes High School football product, a fourth round draft choice of the Bombers in the Canadian college draft in May, is part of the Canadian Football League club’s 46-man roster which was field with the league Friday night. He’ll travel with the team to Vancouver for Saturday’s season opening game against the reigning Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions in a rematch of the Grey Cup game.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said the soft-spoken, six-foot-two inch, 266 pound defensive lineman, who starred with the Acadia Axemen of the Atlantic University Sport Football Conference, where he achieved all-Canadian status.

Thomas called the realization of his pro football ambition “a dream come true.”

“Watching all my brothers always playing football, it’s something I always wanted to do for life. It’s pretty awesome I can make a living at it.”

Thomas is the youngest of three Thomas boys. His older brother Josh was a star at Acadia before Jake followed in his footsteps. Billy was a running back at Mount Allison University. Thomas will wear number 95 for the Blue Bombers, the number he wore in high school at Leo Hayes and last year with Team Canada at the International Federation of American Football tournament in Vienna, where he helped Canada to a silver medal.

“It was also Josh’s high school number (at Fredericton High School) so I think that’s probably why I picked it back when I played high school football.”

Thomas felt he had “about a 50-50 chance” to make the Bombers’ roster as a rookie.

“I thought I had an OK chance,” he said. “It wasn’t going to be a guarantee by any means. But I was just trying to get better every day...run to the ball and do all the things that didn’t really take skill work but were more hard work...learn the technique, but always have my motor at 100 per cent.”

It paid off. He played sparingly in the Bombers’ two exhibition games, starting on specialty teams and briefly on the defensive line. The Bombers split those games, beating the Montreal Alouettes 22-10 on June 14 and losing a 26-25 heartbreaker to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last Wednesday at home.

Thomas compared the step to pro football from university to the one he made from high school to university ball at Acadia five years ago.

“It’s kind of like that again,” he said. “You get here and everything is faster...everyone’s bigger, stronger, faster. But as the weeks go on, you get used to the tempo. But there’s definitely a learning curve the first few days.”

Thomas completed his first practice with the final 46-man roster Sunday morning. They’ll practise at home for three more days before flying to Vancouver Thurday for the Friday night season opener. The Bombers play their first four games on the road, including a July 6 appointment in Montreal against the Alouettes.

“I hope to play every game and eventually work my way onto the field,” said Thomas, listed third on the Bombers’ depth chart at left defensive tackle in the last exhibition game behind two players who have since been released, including veteran Dorian Smith and Ryan Lucas, both among the final cuts. “I want to make an impact on special teams as best I can.”

Thomas expects to be nervous.

“I get nervous before pretty much every game,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing. I find if I start to get complacent, that’s when I play badly. But I’ll probably be a little extra nervous for this game.”

Thomas signed a two-year contract with a team option for a third shortly after being selected by the Bombers in the draft.





JOBS UNLIMITED HONORS FOUNDER



 BY SHAME MAGEE

MAGEE.SHANE@DAILYGLEANER.COM

24 JUNE 2012

Brad Slauenwhite was committed to inclusion of those with intellectual disabilities and his legacy was marked Thursday night when the organization he founded renamed its office in his honour.

“Brad was a visionary,” said Abdel Belhadjsalah, the executive director Jobs Unlimited, in an interview on Friday.

Jobs Unlimited, a non-profit organization with its office near the intersection of York Street and Priestman Street, was started by Slauenwhite in 1983 as an employment agency for men and women with intellectual disabilities. Slauenwhite has since passed away.

Since it was founded, Jobs Unlimited has helped people with intellectual disabilities to find positions in laboratories, retail outlets, call centres, warehouses, the hospitality industry, manufacturing, printing, and government departments in the area.

About 60 people attended the organization’s annual general meeting on Thursday for a ceremony to rename tHe office on York to the The Slauenwhite Center.

“We wanted to find a way to honour Brad Slauenwhite’s legacy. He planted the seeds we are now reaping and we wanted to do something permanent to recognize his incredible contribution to our city. This is something our organization, especially our dedicated board of directors, has worked hard for,” said Belhadjsalah in a press release.

Members of Slauenwhite’s family were on hand for the event.

“We, his family, are very appreciative of this recognition bestowed in memory of my husband’s contribution,” said Ruth Slauenwhite.

Belhadjsalah said the unveiling of the plaque was emotional for those who attended.

“His work will never be forgotten,” he said.

Belhadjsalah said those with intellectual disabilities are often hidden, but that’s what Slauenwhite actively worked to change — to make them a part of the community.


SEVEN JOBS CUT AT CITY HALL

BY HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN


26 JUNE 2012


It was a tough day at city hall Monday as four city workers were given notice they’ll be losing their jobs.

Another two positions will be eliminated through retirement and one vacant post won’t be filled.

The seven job cuts were part of an organization shakeup at city hall that was anticipated.


Chief administration officer Chris MacPherson was appointed to his post with a mandate to take a look at the city’s organization structure and groom it for the years to come. It’s the first reorganization in 14 years and the first major job loss at city hall since the city’s amalgamation in 1973.

There was a job cut in the city administrator’s office, one from legal, two from human resources, one from tourism, one from community services, and there’s an administration position in the police department that won’t be filled.

“We felt those positions were surplus to our needs,” MacPherson said.

Fredericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight retires at the end of this week, but his post can’t be left vacant. Under the Police Act, the municipality must rehire for that job. Deputy police chief Leanne Fitch will be acting chief until a job competition is held and a candidate is hired.

“The process will be laid out in the next month or two in terms of how that will progress,” MacPherson said.

“We are in good shape right now, but we’re kind of looking to the future and we know our growth will slow down somewhat, so we’re just trying to change structurally to make those changes now before we have to. This was strictly about restructuring and regrouping,” he said.

MacPherson said he has grouped departments that work together. Building inspection and bylaw enforcement, for instance, becomes part of the a public safety department working alongside police and fire departments. Departments that sell the city and economic development and quality of life will be grouped together.

The number of city departments will be cut from seven to six.

Human resources director Joe Lumsden retires at the end of August and some of his workload will be shifted to the finance department. Services to employees, advice, hiring and training will be a separate department.

MacPherson talked to council, the business community and consulted internally with senior staff.

“A lot of the suggestions came from our own staff that wanted to see some changes. After 14 years it was time for some change and people expected some change,” he said.

While he tried to cushion the changes by turning to retirement and attrition, at the end of the day, four people will lose jobs.

MacPherson said departing employees will be offered counselling assistance and will receive legislated benefits and any retirement allowance to which they’re entitled.

“It’s tough. I’d like to think that the city was compassionate,” he said.

Woodside said MacPherson is fulfilling the mandate he was given to review and restructure.

“Today was unlike any that I’ve experienced because it was a good day and a not good day. I believe with all my heart in what Mr. MacPherson has done. He was hired not to just deliver the status quo ... I think this municipality has to retool, reorganized, be lean, be efficient. We’re dealing with taxpayer dollars and we have to give them the best bang for their buck and that’s precisely what we’re doing ... This is the right thing to do,” Woodside said.

The restructuring will streamline municipal government, improve how citizens receive services and meet the city’s needs into the future, Woodside said.

The city will now have the following departments:

• finance and administration;

• engineering and operations;

• community planning and development;

• public safety;

information, improvement and innovation;

• and strategic direction and internal consulting.

The finance and administration department will be responsible for the city’s pension file. Purchasing, payroll and real estate divisions will move to the department under director Tina Tapley. Alicia Keating becomes the new assistant director, with responsibility for the new financial strategy division.

Fire and police services will now come under the new department of public safety, which will include the safety and bylaw enforcement division. Wayne Tallon becomes director of the new department.

Fredericton Transit, parking services, fleet, and property services will become part of the engineering and operations department under director Murray Jamer, who was also recently appointed assistant chief administrative officer.

The new department of information, improvement and innovation will handle information technology, the 9-1-1 communications centre, internal communications and innovation projects. Maurice Gallant becomes the director of this department.

Jane Blakely is the director of the new department of strategic direction and internal consulting. The department will include strategic planning and consulting under assistant director Alex Forbes, along with sustainability and labour relations and staffing divisions.

The new department of community planning and development, under director Frank Flanagan, will include recreation and social facilitation; parks and trees; community planning; and building inspection.

The new tourism, economic development and external communications division, under assistant director David Seabrook, will include tourism, sport tourism, culture, economic development, and external communications.

The new structure becomes effective July 15, although MacPherson said it will take several months to fully implement. A transition team will be formed to facilitate the changes.


Thursday, June 21, 2012


ARTIFICIAL LIMBS WORK EARNS AWARD

CHRIS MORRIS

LEGISLATURE BUREAU

20 JUNE 2012

FREDERICTON – A UNB scientist who has been instrumental in moving artificial limb technology into the brave new world of bio-engineering is being recognized with a career achievement award.

Kevin Englehart, associate director of the University of New Brunswick’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, will be given the award at the annual conference of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society in Halifax this week.

      Englehart described the Outstanding Canadian Biomedical Engineer       
     award as “a pat on the back” that he will accept on behalf of his fellow
     researchers at the university.

“It’s kind of awkward to accept something on an individual basis because everything we do is as a team,” he said in an interview at his UNB laboratory on Tuesday.

“I’ve got an amazing group of people I have worked with for years here, so if I can accept on their behalf, then I’m very honoured.”

Englehart is internationally recognized for his pioneering work on bio-prosthetics.

He is at the forefront of researching how the brain communicates with muscles. He and his research team are developing prosthetic limbs that use complex computer algorithms to decode information from muscles to artificial limbs.

The result is prosthetics that are easier and more natural to use.

He has helped develop a highly dexterous bionic arm, has partnered with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and, most recently, collaborated on the development of the UNB prosthetic hand.

“We have really moved to transferring our new artificial limb technology to clients,” he said. “We are in the process of actually fitting this next generation bionic hand, first to our own clients, and then eventually to other clinics.”

Englehart said early reports on the prosthetic hand from clients are very encouraging.

“It’s still at the point where it looks like a lab hand but the way it moves is much more natural than anything out there now.”

Englehart said the most exciting development for him has been the progress in fine-tuning the man-machine connection.

“The way that we decode the information from the muscles has really progressed from something that has been on the engineering drawing board for years to something that is being very widely adopted around the world,” he said.

“For me, personally, that is the really exciting part because it has gone from being just an engineering curiosity to something that other clinics and prosthetic companies want. This probably will be the next big jump in the function of these devices because of this more advanced man-machine interface that we have developed.”

Englehart said work already is well underway on the development of bionic legs as well as arms and hands.

He said an important aspect of the work is finding ways to make advanced artificial limbs more affordable – less than $10,000, for instance, for the bio-hand.

“Our goal was to develop something that retained as much function as possible but at a price point where insurance companies could actually get behind it and make it accessible to anybody who needs it,” Englehart said.

Affordable housing project in Fredericton helping tenants turn around their lives

21 June 2012

Media Contact(s) Mark Barbour, communications, Department of Social Development, 506-444-3730;
Marian Ngo, Office of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, 819-994-2482.

FREDERICTON (GNB) – A 12-unit affordable housing complex operated by the John Howard Society of Fredericton is helping people who had previously relied on emergency shelters to become productive members of society.
"Investing in affordable housing is a key part to rebuilding New Brunswick together," said Social Development Minister Sue Stultz, who is also the minister responsible for seniors, housing and community non-profit organizations. "These housing units enhance the quality of life of their tenants. They offer these individuals a safe and comfortable place to call home while providing them with a chance to take control of their lives."

The $1.02-million development received $660,000 in rent supplements from the provincial government and $480,000 under the Federal / Provincial Affordable Rental Housing Program to offset construction costs.

"Our government is investing in affordable housing here and across Canada to create jobs and improve the quality of life for those who need it most," said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield, speaking on behalf of Diane Finley, minister of human resources and skills development as well as minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. "The creation of these new units here in Fredericton will provide low-income individuals access to quality and affordable housing while ensuring that they can stay close to their families and friends."

The complex offers safe and secure housing to people who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Through the housing-first approach, the John Howard Society of Fredericton is helping people achieve rejoining the community while decreasing the costs and demand on the health, social and criminal justice systems.

"This project has been a phenomenal experience," said Valarie MacCullam, executive director of the John Howard Society of Fredericton. "We knew, based on research, that such a project had the capacity to improve people's lives and reduce social-net costs. After one full year of operation, this project has demonstrated exactly that. Using a housing-first approach enabled us to provide safe and secure homes for some wonderful people."

Since the complex opened in October 2010, the 12 tenants have worked toward reducing their use of social programs and improving their ability to succeed. For example:

● 11 tenants paid their rent on time without a reminder;
● eight attended all scheduled appointments and meetings;
● two found full-time employment;
● two registered and attend GED preparation training; and,
● one started an online computer repair business.

Under the Canada-New Brunswick Affordable Housing Agreement, funding is available to private non-profit organizations, co-operatives, and community or private developers interested in developing projects for low-income families, seniors, non-elderly single persons, disabled persons and persons with special needs.

This development was built to high energy-efficiency standards and involved consultation with Efficiency NB. Builders of multi-unit residential buildings may qualify to receive incentives from Efficiency NB if the building meets energy efficiency targets.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


HARTY HEADING FOR FRANCE

BY BILL HUNT


19 JUNE 2012

 Jonathan Harty is in French Immersion again.

The former University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds defenceman hasn’t taken French classes since Grade 11. But he’ll be immersed again in August when he joins the Ducs d’Angers of France’s Ligue Magnus, the top league in the country.

Harty signed on as the team’s fifth import, recruited by head coach Jay Varady, the associate head coach with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, where Harty played his junior hockey before joining UNB.

Harty joined the Kalamazoo K-Wings of the ECHL following the completion of his season with UNB — he had three fights in two late regular-season games — but was squeezed out of the lineup for the K-Wings’ playoff run. He’s happy to go to Angers, if you will.

“I trust the coach there ... I’m really excited to go play with him,” said Harty, who will also “make a little bit of money, pay off all my school debt and have a little bit of money to live. Plus, I’ll be able to see Europe. And it’s easier to move up the ranks over there.”

The Ducs play in a league which, to Harty’s understanding, is roughly the calibre of the ECHL, maybe a little higher, he said. Teams play a 26-game regular-season schedule, supplemented by two league tournaments over the course of the season. Another former UNB defenceman, Justin Dacosta, played a pair of games with Chamonix in the same league.

It will be a bit of a transition for the hard-hitting Harty to play on Olympic-sized ice surfaces in Europe, but he has some experience, playing a handful of games in Wolfville, N.S., against the Acadia Axemen over his UNB career.

Harty first considered the move more than a year ago. The Varsity Reds had just wrapped up the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship on home ice — the second of Harty’s career — and he had earned his bachelor of business administration. However, he elected to return to campus to pursue his master’s degree, and another Canadian title on home ice.

He went 1-for-2. He’s finishing up the practical portion of his MBA in Ottawa, working in sales for the Ottawa Senators. His CIS season ended a little earlier than anticipated when the Western Mustangs of London, Ont. upset the powerhouse V-Reds in the Saturday afternoon semifinal of the tourney. The Mustangs went on to lose the final to the McGill Redmen on the Sunday night.

It did little to mar Harty’s fine season on the UNB blueline though. He was named the team’s top defenceman, the school’s male athlete of the year, a first team AUS all-star and second-team all-Canadian, as well as to the tournament all-star team at the CIS championship tournament.

Harty got a brief taste of pro with Kalamazoo — always among the most robust of the V-Reds’ blueliners, he fought three times — and then appeared in a pair of playoff games for the K-Wings, who were eliminated in the Eastern Conference final by the eventual Kelly Cup champion Florida Everblades.

“It could have gone a little better,” he said. “I could have got some ice time and could have proved myself. But I still gained a positive experience from being there and practising with the players and working out, and finding out what the pro life is actually like.”

Harty’s going to France with an open mind. He doesn’t know any of the other four imports on the team roster, speaks a little French, but is excited for the experience.

“Right now, I’m on a one-year program” he said. “I’ll go over there, pay off some debt and see where I am at the end of the season. If I have a really good season and I enjoy myself, maybe I’ll try to move up to a higher level over there. If the AHL comes knocking and there’s an opportunity to come back and play in the AHL, I’d take that under consideration.”

The Olympic-sized ice surfaces won’t deter Harty.

“I think the rules are a little more strict on the hitting,” said the 5-foot-11, 215 pounder who laid many a big open ice hit on AUS forwards over his career.

“I’m going to play my game, and if I start taking too many penalties, I’ll have to adjust accordingly,” he said. “But I am who I am, and I play how I play.”

He’ll look back fondly on his UNB years — four seasons, during which he totaled 20 goals and 52 assists and 263 PIM in 98 regular season games.

“I hadn’t been back home to New Brunswick in three or four years when I came back home,” said the 24-year-old who wore the number 40 for the last couple of years of his career in tribute to his Oromocto roots — the town of four O’s.

“So it was good to get back and get back in touch with all my friends and make new friends. School-wise, I could get injured my first game in France and have my MBA to fall back on. I’m set career-wise. Hockey-wise, I played with the best Canadian university hockey team and won two national championships, and last year, I came back and got some personal recognition. It really furthered me in all three aspects of life...personally, career-wise and hockey-wise.”



PARALYMPIAN HOLDS WHEELCHAIR TENNIS COURSE

BY JUSTIN MARSHALL FOR THE DAILY GLEANER
     19 JUNE 2012

A wheelchair tennis coaching clinic was held in Fredericton on Sunday at Wilmot Tennis Club involving over 15 participants with one goal on their mind — to coach tennis to people with physical disabilities.

Kai Schrameyer, national development coach with Tennis Canada was in town showing future coaches how to teach people with a disability the technique to play wheelchair tennis and have fun doing it.

“It’s great to see how the guys get into it,” said Schrameyer. “It’s a different coaching and playing experience because it’s tennis, but it’s from a different position with the difficulties of coordinating the strokes with the mobility, so you can see on how they’re finding whole new ways to play.”

Schrameyer made all the participants learn from the comfort of a wheelchair so they can see the difficulty a person with a physical disability has hitting the ball and moving around to hit the shot.

“We’re hoping at the end of the day all the future coaches can learn the techniques and apply them to the beginners they teach,” he said.

Kenzie Vincent from Regina, Ssk., who recently moved to Fredericton, was one of the coaches who got his certification to coach wheelchair tennis.

“I tried it out last year in a wheelchair when Kai was in town and I fell in love with it,” said Vincent. “It’s so much fun to wheel around, spin and move your body like you do — it’s pretty cool.”

Vincent said in two weeks he’ll be taking over the wheelchair tennis program Tuesdays at Wilmot Park.

“What interests me in the sport so much is it’s really inclusive everybody can play it,” he said. “To get people out playing tennis like this is phenomenal, I have so much fun I can’t wait to make them have so much fun.”

Mark Thibault, executive director of Tennis New Brunswick, organized Schrameyer to visit and provide the coaching course.

“We started the Tuesday wheelchair tennis program but unfortunately we didn’t have coaches that were certified to work with the individuals,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity to get some coaches in the sport around the area and when we start up again on Tuesday they will have a little more knowledge on what kind of drills and things they can do to teach the participants.”

The participants who took in the course Sunday were from Moncton, Saint John, Saskatchewan and Fredericton.

Schrameyer, originally from Germany, participated in three Paralympic Games winning silver in men’s singles and bronze in men’s doubles at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. He also won bronze in men’s doubles in Sydney in 2000.

Schrameyer lost his right leg from bone cancer when he was 15 years old. When he was first introduced to wheelchair tennis after his injury he didn’t like the sport because he said he wasn’t exposed to the best wheelchair tennis players at the time.

“I had the moment of enlightenment when I saw the best wheelchair tennis players in the world make some crazy shots and see how good he was that is when I got hooked,” he said.

Schrameyer said when one door closes in life so many others open.

“It’s up to you whether you want to step through that door or if you want to remain standing in front of the door that’s shut and my choice with the help of sport is my life can be just as good as an able bodied person.”

JOEL PLASKETT TO HEADLINE CANADA DAY PARTY

 EXCERPTS OF ARTICLE WRITTEN BY ADAM BOWIE


19 JUNE 2012

    The organizers of Fredericton’s annual Canada Day party have booked one of the most 
     popular rock groups in the Maritimes to headline an outdoor concert in Officers Square.

Joel Plaskett is a Halifax-based singer-songwriter who has earned multiple East Coast Music Awards, has been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and has been recognized with awards and nominations from Canada’s Juno Awards.

He will cap a full day of free musical entertainment in Fredericton’s downtown green space when he takes the stage at about 9 p.m. on July 1 with his rock and roll trio, The Emergency.

With help from the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and presenting sponsor Worrall’s Furniture and La Z Boy Comfort Studio, the Fredericton Canada Day Committee was able to line up a special performance from the red-hot rock group, which will unleash its potent mixture of catchy hooks and grooves leading up to the city’s fireworks spectacle.

“We started working on bringing in Joel for Canada Day three years ago when he played the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival,” said Charles Barry, co-chairman of the Fredericton Canada Day Committee.

“He said, ‘I’d love to play. When you’re in a position to do it, get in touch with my people and we’ll make it happen.’ So, I saved my pennies for the last few years and this year we felt like we had the right sponsors willing to help us out. We got in touch with Joel’s people and they helped us work out the details.”

Because Plaskett and his bandmates were already scheduled to appear at this year’s Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, the Canada Day committee had to approach Harvest for permission to feature one of its headlining acts so close to the fall festival.

Harvest chairman Ken Critchley said the organizers of Fredericton’s top musical event agreed to modify their performance contract with Plaskett so he could add the Canada Day showcase.

“Harvest understands the importance of being a good community partner and doing what we can to help the development of our sister festivals”, said Critchley in a news release.

“Canada Day is important to the community and we share the committee’s aspiration of making the event bigger and better, so we altered the terms of our contract with Joel to allow him to play Canada Day in Fredericton.

“We’re happy to help facilitate the growth of the Canada Day celebrations in our community. It’s going to be a great Canada Day and a perfect snapshot of the show he’ll do at Harvest in September.”

While the Joel Plaskett Emergency may be the biggest draw on the bill for Fredericton’s Canada Day concert, it certainly won’t be the only talented act to appear.

Barry said the organizing committee makes an effort each year to provide acts that will appear to a wide variety of music fans.

“We definitely try our best to make sure that we have a diverse musical spectrum on stage,” he said.

Here’s this year’s lineup:

•12-12:45 - Scotty and the Stars (Children’s)

•1-1:45 - Filipino CommUNITY (World)

•2-2:15 - Opening Ceremonies, ft. Alexander Good singing O Canada

•2:30-3:15 - Calithumpians (All-ages)

•3:30-4:15 - Jaclyn Reinhart (Pop/Folk)

•4:30-5:15 - The Belle Comedians (Indie-Rock)

•5:30-6:15 - Southern Drive (Country)

•6:30-7:15 - She Roars! (Pop/Rock)

•7:30-8:15 - The Westerbergs (Rock/Folk)

•9:00-10:30 - Joel Plaskett Emergency (Rock)

•10:40-11:00 - Fireworks

Barry said there should be something for everyone. And though he’s excited about all of the acts slated to take the stage, he thinks performances by local rock groups The Westerbergs and She Roars!, who played an energetic, fun-filled set at last year’s Canada Day party, will warm up the crowd for Plaskett’s headlining set.

The event is made possible thanks to assistance from a number of community sponsors, from Heritage Canada, a partnership with the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and through funding and support from the City of Fredericton

Friday, June 15, 2012


MACPHERSON ON FAST TRACK

BY BILL HUNT


15 JUNE 2012
Sarah Macpherson and Adam Gaudes will enjoy a quick reunion in Calgary later this month.

Emphasis on the quick.

The Fredericton Fast Tracks athletes — a happy couple for the past three-and-a-half years despite the demands of school and scheduling that confronts elite track athletes who are each pursuing biochemistry degrees at separate universities — both met qualifying time standards for their events and will therefore get to compete at the Canadian Olympic team trials June 27-30 in Calgary.

MacPherson, the 21-year-old Fredericton native, who finished her third year at the University of Tulsa this season, lowered her personal best time in the 1,500 metres to 4:25.86 at a meet in Arkansas in May, while Gaudes, the outstanding male track athlete in Canada West in his sophomore season at the University of Victoria, met the Olympic qualifying standard in the men’s 800 metres.

Macpherson had run a 4:28 at a meet the previous week. But in one of their daily conversations — “we Skype a lot,” she said — Gaudes informed Macpherson that the Olympic qualifying time was 4:27.

“He told me that I should hit it so we could both go to Calgary,” she said.

Inspired by that, and her mom Susan’s desire to visit a sister who lives in Calgary, Macpherson met the standard with something to spare at the meet in Arkansas the next week.

The time, the fourth fastest in school history, was also good enough for her to qualify for the NCAA West Regionals in Austin, Texas, a personal goal she had set at the start of the outdoor season, and an ambitious one, considering she had missed the entire indoor season with a series of nagging injuries.

“My coach didn’t think I would, but I did,” she chuckled.

That meet happened May 24-26 and delayed her return to Fredericton until last week. But there’s no rest for the weary: she’s been training with head coach Greg Allan and the Fast Tracks club pretty much since.

“I find it fun, because he keeps it interesting,” she said.

After the Olympic trials, both her boyfriend and her mom have their eyes on the NACAC U23 championships in Mexico in mid-July. She has to run in the 4:22 range to qualify there, and she’ll get a chance to do that at a meet in Quebec in a couple of weeks.

“It’s not out of reach,” she said. “I can drop three or four seconds. That’s the plan.”

You might say she’s right on track — has been since Grade 3 in fact, when she was the fastest kid in her elementary school class as an eight-year-old.

“I was winning my races in elementary, so my mom encouraged me to stay in it,” she said. “But no one would train me because I was so young. When I was in Grade 8 or Grade 9, Greg started coaching. We had heard about him and he said he’d train me. I was one of the first ones he trained.”

It’s paid off handsomely. Not only has it helped provide her with a quality education — she chose Tulsa over more than 20 other schools, including Harvard — but she got a boyfriend too. She and Gaudes push each other.

“He joined Fast Tracks about a year after I did,” she said. “We had been running together the whole time, and been in meets together and trained together. I used to be able to run with him when he sprinted. But then he got a lot faster.”

She was in Grade 12 and he in Grade 11 at Fredericton High School when they began dating four years ago in October.

“He keeps me focused,” she said. “We push each other, because we like to work a lot outside of what everyone else does. It keeps us motivated. We talk about running all the time. We catch ourselves sometimes and say, ‘Let’s talk about something other than running,’ ” she laughed.

And yet, her goals for next season are already clearly defined. She wants to crack 4:18 in the 1,500 and be among the top two in Canada at that distance in order to qualify for the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, next July and make the NCAA national championship meet next year.

Macpherson will graduate on schedule next year — academics have never been a problem — and is being tugged in opposite directions. Her dad, Bruce, wants her to come back to Fredericton. Her boyfriend wants her to join him in Victoria. At some point, she’ll write the MCATS (Medical College Admissions Test) exam and decide whether or not she wants to go to medical school.

“I still have to figure it out,” she said.

Running will remain a part of the equation.

“If I hit my goals that I’ve set and I’m running well, I probably won’t stop,” she said. “If I’m running below 4:20, I’ll keep running. I’ll have to set more goals then. I’m not sure what, but it will always be important to me.”

The attraction is simple, and yet complicated.

“I like succeeding,” she said. “I like surprising yourself. Sometimes, you don’t realize you have it in you, and you do. And it’s nice to hit your goals.”

TINFOIL IS FOR BAKED POTATOES, NOT TREES” FORESTER

BY HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN


15 JUNE 2012

Fredericton’s city forester and manager of parks and trees cringes when he sees tinfoil, slathered in Vaseline, wrapped around the trunks of trees in the city.

The remedy is often used by people trying to ward off forest tent caterpillars from crawling up a tree to the leafy branches, which they then defoliate.

“It’s probably something that’s been traditional and they think it’s preventative maintenance,” said Don Murray. “I have seen one (forest) tent caterpillar this season. We haven’t seen any damage and we saw some virus in the population of tent caterpillars last year, so I think we dodged a bullet there last year and nature kind of looked after itself.

“The problem with wrapping tinfoil or other products around the stems of the trees is you change the temperature of the bark or you can actually smother the bark. The bark is a living organism that has to breathe, so if you smother it with tinfoil and Vaseline or lard or whatever you put on it, you run a real high risk of killing your tree.”

Murray said he has yet to see a tree die from caterpillar infestation, but he has seen tries die due to use of tinfoils and other things.

“We ask people to keep their tinfoil for their baked potatoes,” Murray said.

A bigger pest this year will be the European Chafer beetle that has landed in Fredericton, probably imported on out-of-province nursery stock.

A mild winter meant the beetle population wasn’t hit hard. Damaged lawns are appearing around the city again, as they did last year in Sunshine Gardens.

“This spring a lot of people had lost a lot of their lawns and they have actually stripped all of the sod off and they’re either putting new turf down or putting in alternatives,” Murray said.

“If we don’t get a traditional cold winter with deep frost, we may learn to live with this pest.”

The European Chafer, Rhizotrogus majalis, is a serious pest of turf, horticulture and field crops in eastern North America. In 2001, it was found in British Columbia in lawns and boulevards.

The adult beetle is tan-coloured and resembles a small June beetle. It’s about 12 millimetres long.

According to B.C.’s Department of Agriculture, which has issued a fact sheet on the insects, eggs hatch around mid-July and the grubs moult twice over eight weeks. The mature grubs are well adapted to cool, moist conditions and feed all fall.

During the winter, they dig down during periods of freezing conditions, but otherwise remain within five centimetres of the surface.

They feed in the spring until April, when they become pupae. Adults emerge in late May, fly to nearby deciduous trees to mate and feed, and subsequently females deposit up to 50 eggs each.

The grubs are the damaging stage. They feed on all types of grass and, if food is scarce, may move into vegetable plantings to feed on corn, potatoes, blueberries, strawberries, conifers and other crops.

Apart from the damage the grubs do themselves by feeding on the grasses, they tend to attract skunks and birds who will dig up lawns to feed on larger grubs.