CBC reporter Brendan Elliott was late for an interview with the Souris mayor.

Desperate for the mayor’s contact info, Elliott sent out a plea on Twitter.

“Literally within five minutes, I had a direct message back with the new mayor’s home number,” Elliott said. “The message came from one of my followers who lives in Charlottetown, but is from Souris.”

Elliott uses Twitter for three things.

“It’s a way to find out what’s going on in my community, a way to let people know breaking news as soon as it happens and a Rolodex of contacts that I can reach out to when a story breaks.”

Twitter has provided Elliott with several story ideas. A recent example was when word broke about Google Maps Street View being available in P.E.I.

“Word spread quickly on Twitter that various spots on P.E.I. could be found.”

Elliott pitched the idea the next morning.

“We were the first media organization reporting on the Street View story.”

He reached out to real estate agent Joel Ives, who was discussing the topic on Twitter and invited him to do an interview on Island Morning.

“All of this was possible because I am active on Twitter.”

Twitter also allows Elliott to let his “followers” know breaking news when it happens.

“I live-tweet from the legislature as well as various city or town council meetings around the province,” he said.

Many of his followers are political junkies who crave news from various arenas. Twitter allows them to get these tidbits almost instantly from Elliott when he’s out in the field, he said.

“I also have my Twitter feed linked through GPS so people can tell where I’m tweeting from when I tweet.”

Some small-town newsrooms are hesitant to start using new media and social networking. Being connected to the community is essential for local media outlets, Elliott said.

“I really feel like I have a sense of community with the people I follow and who follow me.”

Still, Elliott is one of the only CBC reporters who uses Twitter on a regular basis.

“I see it as an advantage over other journalists in the building,” he said. “Essentially, it’s a bit of an exclusive network for me to gather story ideas and to also share stories I have written.”

But developing a personality on Twitter can take some effort, Elliott said. You get out of it what you put into it.

“The more I tweet, the more comments I receive from my followers and the more incentive I have to write more,” he said. “The more I can be relied upon to provide breaking news, the more people will want to follow me. So, it really is only as useful as the person wants it to be.”

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He’s one of the original cast members of CollegeHumor and his sketches are some of the funniest on the website. Check out some of my favorite videos featuring Mr. Streeter Seidell.

How did you get your start with CollegeHumor? Besides act in various skits, what exactly do you do for the site?
I started at CH by writing articles when I was still in college. I used to write a few a day and post them to the site. When I graduated they offered me a job. As for what I do at CH, I do a little bit of everything. I act, write sketches, write articles, come up with T-shirts and do the live shows. But along with Jeff, I run the editorial department of all CH sites which means I co-oversee our whole operation.

What character is your favorite to play?
If I got the chance to ever play Phantom, I think that would be my favorite.

Do you have a favorite CH skit you’ve been in? What would might it be and why?
I really like one Pat and I did called [“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell“]. Pat and I wrote it together after improvising this little scene on the set of a different video and I think it’s really funny. I really like the way it looks, too.

What did you learn while doing the short film Old Man and the Seymour?
I learned that when actors complain about being tired there is actually some truth to it. I was exhausted the whole time and I had always thought that was bullshit.

You’ve done some stand-up comedy in addition to your work with CollegeHumor. What techniques can you use in either domain? What are some challenges when it comes to doing stand-up?
I think the same rules for comedy apply to all different ways of performing or writing. You just need to do what you think is funny. When I have tried to change my voice to fit what I thought an audience wanted to hear, it didn’t work.

Do you have any tips for up-and-coming comedy writers?
You know, I get asked that a lot and I always say the same thing which feels like a cop out, but I really think it’s true. The best thing any aspiring writer can do, of any genre, is get his or her work out there. Nobody is going to come knocking on your door asking if you have any great ideas unless you give them a reason to show up. Everything I’ve done and hopefully will do is a result of just putting my stuff out into the world.

And lastly, after Amir’s latest prank, how do you feel about skydiving?
I still think skydiving is perhaps the most fun thing you can do in the world.

Check out Streeter’s page on CollegeHumor, follow him on Twitter, check out his blog or become a fan of him on Facebook.

“Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but soaking it in brine makes the heart far more delicious.” – Phantom of the Office

To see more Phantom of the Office stuff, check out his phat Tumblr page. Or follow him on Twitter. Or see his videos on CollegeHumor.

Describe your perfect date.
I’m honestly more of a prune man myself, but dates will do in a pinch.

What historical catastrophe, caused by you, are you most proud of?
I might have to say the Johnstown flood. Look it up.

If you were stranded on an island, what book, movie and food would you choose to have with you?
Funny you should say that. I was stranded on an island for some time in the mid-Atlantic. All I had with me was a Bible and thank God, because it truly was a miracle. Using its pages, I was able to start a signal fire that could be seen miles out to sea.

It was a cold, snowy, blustery winter night in Sackville.

Three hundred people crammed into Vogue Cinema and waited for the projector to click on.

A Room With a View, an Edwardian drama starring Helena Bonham-Carter, was scheduled for that night as part of the Sackville film society’s line-up.

But the blizzard stalled the movie’s delivery.

Film society co-organizer Thaddeus Holownia hopped into a friend’s four-wheel-drive Jeep and followed a snow plow to Amherst, braving bad roads and low visibility.

Forty minutes later, Holownia returned to the Vogue Cinema, film reel in hand.

“That’s really what film society is about,” Holownia said. “People got together, they came out for the movie and then they were patient enough to wait for me to go get the movie.”

The Sackville Film Society, which currently has about 100 active members, tries to promote the film experience as a cultural and social event.

“That’s becoming rarer and rarer I think, especially in smaller communities,” said Holownia, a photography professor at Mount Allison.

Originally, the society was made up of 70 per cent students and 30 per cent Sackville residents. Now, Holownia said, it’s the other way around. And filling the theatre to capacity is a rare occurrence.

“We’re trying to continue on a tradition that is becoming harder and harder to do.”

The society tries to bring current films, usually of the independent, Canadian, international or documentary persuasion, he said.

“It’s more (about) filling a niche, to provide people with an alternate entertainment that is different from anything else people are going to experience.”

Vogue Cinema manager Jeff Coates said the film society is especially advantageous for university students who want to see what else is available in film.

“Not just a blockbuster movie, but a quality movie.”

Coates added that the society becomes a bit of an addiction once you open up your mind to it.

According to Holownia, the social aspect of the film society adds a special charm to an evening at the movies.

“When you go into the Vogue theatre, you see people you know, you hang out, you talk,” he explained. “Then after the movie, people come out, they go to the coffee shop or to Mel’s or over to Ducky’s and hang out or talk about the movie.”

But the culture of watching movies is changing.

“Unless they’re Hollywood blockbuster movies, the tendency is to download them or rent them,” he said. “Most people don’t (care) about the big screen or the experience of sound and the experience of being engulfed and being in a communal atmosphere within the context of watching something.”

Film society organizers are sometimes criticized for showing edgy films at the society, he said.

“Years ago, that didn’t make a difference. It didn’t matter what we played. We always had people out.”

But this semester’s line-up of films looks promising, he said.

“People have been pretty excited by the series this semester so maybe we’ll revive getting people out again.”

Holownia is looking forward to many of the films in this semester’s series, particularly German drama The White Ribbon.

“The film is shot in black-and-white. I just saw a trailer for it the other day. It’s a very dark film but I think that’s going to be really interesting.”

Holownia enjoys the comments he gets after they show a certain film.

“I’ll meet people on the street or at the coffee shop and people will say to me, ‘Wow. That was the best movie I’ve ever seen.’ And then the next day I’ll meet someone else who’ll say, ‘What are you doing, showing that crap?'” he said. “And that’s great. Just perfect.”

It’s also important to support your local theatre, he said.

“If you think of the alternate – of not having a theatre in town – it would be a real drag. We’re real lucky to have such a jewel of a theatre and have it fixed up and championed.”

There’s going to be a dramatic change in the way films are distributed in the next five years, he said.

“Prints are going to be a thing of the past. It’s going to be all digital,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be the same experience.”

Every film is an adventure, Holownia believes.

“I hope that people will come out, come early, bring the correct change, socialize and continue to enjoy films as light passing through film,” he said. “That’s not going to be around for much longer, I don’t think.”

RCMP are looking for witnesses who may have seen a hit-and-run around 11 p.m. on Monday on Main Street near Jack’s Pizza.

A 21-year-old female university student was struck by a vehicle while walking back to her residence, said Sgt. Paul Ouellette.

“The vehicle didn’t stop and actually accelerated to get away from the area.”

The student is in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The RCMP are also looking for anyone in the area who does auto body work and has been asked to fix a vehicle that could possibly be involved in this incident.

RCMP are asking the driver of the vehicle involved to come forward.

“The situation is serious enough as it is,” Ouellette said. “The longer this person goes without coming forward, the more serious it gets.”

Any witnesses or anyone with information on the hit-and-run are to contact the Sackville RCMP (533-5151) or Crime Stoppers (1-800-222-TIPS).

The Tantramar Family Resource Centre now has a home at 94 Willow Lane.
TFRC’s early childhood and development co-director Sharon Hachey said having a physical space for the resource centre will allow for growth in terms of resources.
“Our goal of having a physical space is to have more visibility in town, to get more people talking about some of our goals and how they can contribute to it, whether through volunteering or financially.”
Although the space is small, it will allow for parents to drop in and also offer other services, Hachey said.
“The services will be contingent on different project funding and different partnerships with other agencies.”
For instance, the resource centre currently partners with the VON to deliver a prenatal program for parents, she said.
“There’s also an opportunity there to do a Rock ‘n’ Talk, which is a program for parents and their new babies.”
The family resource centre can also provide a washroom downtown for parents who have little ones, she said.
“It’s a small need, but it’s a need, especially if you’re trying to train them.”
For more info on the TFRC, visit http://www.tantramarfamily.ca or call 939-TFRC (8372).

(Published in the January 27th, 2010 edition of the Sackville Tribune-Post.)

As a kid, local indie musician Julie Doiron was on the field hockey team and the softball team and the high school soccer team.

“I used to play squash, but that’s not really a team sport,” she said. “It’s more of an individual game.”

Doiron also considers swimming a very big part of her life.

“I want to swim across the Northumberland Strait. I know that’s been done, and I would love to try it.”

Doiron said she’d also like to do the Sackville triathlon within the next two years.

“I love playing sports, but I don’t do it that much,” she said. “But I would like to start. As I get older, I guess I’m realizing that it’s actually pretty fun.”

The Sackville native has been chosen to represent New Brunswick at the Vancouver Winter Olympics next month.

Doiron, currently on tour, said being able to perform at the Olympics is a great opportunity.

“It’s going to be super cool.”

She will be performing at least three or four shows, she added.

“I’m (also) doing a Neil Young tribute night.”

Doiron said she hopes to score some tickets for a sporting event while she is there.

“I guess it would be fun to see anything – but I’d really like to see a hockey game.”

Among the list of other New Brunswick performers going to Vancouver are David Myles, DJ Bones, Edith Butler, Grand Theft Bus, Jessica Rhaye, Matt Anderson, Measha Brueggergosman, Ode A l’Acadie, Radio Radio, Ryan LeBlanc, Samantha Robichaud and The Olympic Symphonium.

(Published in the January 27th, 2010 edition of the Sackville Tribune-Post.)

Nancy Swift recommends trying curling if you’re looking for a way to get to know people in a community.

“When you go out on that ice, all anybody cares about – and everybody out there is the same way – they just want to have some fun,” Swift said. “They want to stay warm and they want to learn the game.”

Swift is one of the organizers for this year’s local Curl for Cancer event, which is to be held at the Sackville Curling Club on Saturday, Feb. 6 starting at 8 a.m.

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Sackville event.

“I think it’s quite a thing for a little town like this to have 20 years of an event like that. We’ve raised a fair amount of money,” Swift said. “We’ve been so well-supported.”

Over 30 teams have signed up for the tournament so far, she said.

“We hate to turn anybody away. We turn ourselves inside out not to turn anybody away.”

Each individual player or team has a pledge sheet and they all raise their own money.

“It all goes to Curl for Cancer. We pay for nothing out of that money to sponsor the event. All the money, every cent, goes to the Canadian Cancer Society. Everything is donated.”

So far, the committee has never had to turn down any teams – and they don’t plan to start.

“You can’t just say, ‘No, I’m sorry. You just can’t curl.’ They just want to donate and curl for the cause,” Swift said. “So, we don’t know (how many curlers will participate) until the very end.”

Even those who don’t know a rock from a broom are encouraged to take part in the fundraiser, she said.

“We have experts there – seasoned experts – who will show them what they have to do or guide them.”

Tape is sometimes applied to the shoes of novice players to help them slide, Swift explained.

“We do stress safety, but we’re geared for that for sure.”

Spectators and children are also welcome, she added.

“I think it’s important that kids realize that you have to put back into the community.”

As per tradition, there will be refreshments, food and local entertainment at the event as well as a guest speaker, she said.

“Usually, we have someone who is a survivor or that cancer has touched one way or another. It touches so many people.”

This year’s guest speaker is Jack Stewart, the chief scientific officer for BioProspecting NB, Inc., a local drug discovery and development company conducting research into new cancer treatments.

“Community events such as the Curl for Cancer achieve so much. First, they raise money for research into solving the cancer mystery. Second, they build and renew community,” Stewart said. “Third, they are a hell-of-a lot of fun.”

Last year’s Curl for Cancer event raised $16,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Curling Terminology

For those of us who don’t follow curling, there are a lot of terms that might be unfamiliar. Here are a few basic terms to know.
bonspiel – a curling tournament
delivery – the act of throwing a rock
end – a division of time in a game; like a period in hockey
house – the round scoring area
skip – the player who calls the ice and determines the strategy
sweeping – using a brush to polish the ice in an effort to alter the action of the rock

Photo by Jillianne Hamilton

The autopsy results for a male victim involved in a fiery collision on Tuesday are expected to be released later this week.

RCMP investigators have several leads as to the identity of the man; however, they are awaiting further details before officially identifying the victim.

“Results are due tomorrow afternoon or Friday morning,” said District 4 RCMP officer Sgt. Paul Ouellette, who added the autopsy will be conducted tomorrow in St. John.

Around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, local emergency personnel were called to the scene of the fire after a vehicle struck a fuel tank beside the town of Sackville’s public works garage, located in the industrial park. The fire burned for more than an hour and cut off electricity to several businesses in the area as it burned through electrical wires.

Rolling black clouds of smoke could be seen from miles away in every direction.

The vehicle was traveling east on Crescent Street and didn’t make the turn, Ouellette said.
“Then the vehicle drove straight into one of the fuel tanks. I’m not going to speculate right now why that happened.”

The RCMP used information they gathered from the charred vehicle to track down the owner, he said.
“Based on that, we know there is a gentleman from Sackville who is missing. We presume that it was him that was in the vehicle.”

Dental records will be used to confirm the identity of the victim, he said.
“We’re not prepared to release the name in the meantime.”

Sackville Fire Chief Craig Bowser said 28 to 30 firefighters responded to the fire.
“It took about an hour to knock it down until it was safe for us to move in closer,” he said.

The public works building wasn’t damaged in the fire, he said.
“There was significant damage to the gasoline tank that was hit and ruptured and the diesel tank next to it. It sustained some heat damage.”

The fire department responded to the call in under four minutes and was not impeded by the traffic caused by industrial park employees evacuating the area, Bowser said.
“That’s a very good response time for a volunteer fire department.”

(This article was written and published on the Tribune-Post website on January 20, 2010.)

This article appeared in the January 13th, 2010 edition of the Sackville Tribune-Post.

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Sackville pharmacist George Murray, shown here giving a seasonal flu shot, is one of the first pharmacists in
New Brunswick to be certified to prescribe and alter medications and immunize patients. (Hamilton)

Local residents can now have their prescriptions refilled easier, thanks to changes that went into effect recently under the New Brunswick Pharmacy Act.

George Murray, a pharmacist at Tantramar Pharmacy, is one of the province’s first accredited pharmacists permitted to alter or refill prescriptions, administer vaccines and prescribe medications in an emergency.

Murray took a two-day training session in Moncton before applying for his licence.

“The first day was an injection how-to and there was a 15-hour online course as well that had to be completed before the hands-on training.”

Murray also did CPR training.

Accredited pharmacists can now administer most types of vaccines, including those for H1N1 and seasonal flu, Murray said.

“The timing was good with the H1N1 outbreak. More people are scrambling for people who have the ability to provide immunization.”

Certified pharmacists can now also refill most prescriptions, Murray said.

“It’s to help continue the care of people who’ve already been diagnosed and are on existing treatment that are either having difficulty getting to physicians or have run out temporarily or need an extension.”

Accredited pharmacists can also alter prescriptions as well.

“If a doctor has written something – like a strength that doesn’t exist – we can change it without having to go back to the doctor,” he said.

“We can change capsules to tablets and those kinds of things. It’s mostly a continuation of therapy.”

These new privileges are not meant to replace physician care, Murray said.

“It’s not an independent venture. We want to work with doctors and make sure what we’re doing fits in with the care they’re giving as well.”

It’s all about patient care and accessibility, Murray said.

“Pharmacies and pharmacists are accessible through the week. It allows people more flexibility and access to get treatment when they need it.”

Murray has 50 seasonal flu shots for adults available at the Tantramar Pharmacy. People wishing to get one of these vaccines are instructed to call the pharmacy and make an appointment.

“It’s not too late for seasonal flu shots,” he said.

The amendment to the New Brunswick Pharmacy Act came into effect in October 2008. New Brunswick was the second province in Canada to initiate these changes. Alberta pharmacists were given these types of privileges in 2006.