Our Top 10 web stories so far in 2017

Sisters Danielle and Gabrielle Geertsema hold a sign welcoming The Baroud family to Canada on Feb. 15 at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. They were among the crowd of supporters and volunteers with the Riverlake Syrian Refugee Project that welcomed the family to their new home. (Healey photo)

FALL RIVER: From local crime stories to Bill 75, and the teachers protest against the government, there has been a lot of stories done that have drawn your attention on our website, TheLaker.ca.

Here’s a look at the top 10 most viewed stories between Jan. 1, 2017 and March 31, 2o17 on our new website, which we launched in Sept. 2016.

Keep an eye on TheLaker.ca as we update it often with stories from the community, including online only content.

1. Grand Lake man facing plethora of charges – Jan. 19

A 23-year-old man from Grand Lake faces a laundry list of charges following the execution of a search warrant at a residence by RCMP on Jan. 18.

Cpl. Dal Hutchinson, Halifax District RCMP media spokesman, said RCMP and the Halifax District RCMP Street Crime Enforcement Unit (SCEU) executed a search warrant on Wednesday evening, Jan. 18.

“The search resulted in the seizure of nine firearms (some of which are restricted), 525 grams of cocaine, pepper spray, along with prohibited items and controlled substances,” said Cpl. Hutchinson.

The police activity created a bit of a stir and concern among fellow residents and neighbours in the community.

As a result of the search warrant, Dylan Taylor Kelsey, who appeared in Dartmouth Provincial Court later on Jan. 19, faces 72 charges

UPDATED: Grand Lake man facing plethora of charges

2. Ready to serve the community – Feb. 27

Residents in Fall River have been clamouring for some time for a restaurant/pub for their community. Now, with The Turtleback Tap & Grill scheduled to officially open on March 2, they have it.

To let people from around the community—located in the building which will also be the new home for Fall River Dental Group on Highway 2 across from Burgess Service Centre/Race Trac Gas—get a feel for what they offer, owners Darren Scott and Jaro Schubert held a soft-opening on the weekend of Feb. 25-26. Reporter Pat Healey was invited to the Feb. 26 event.

“It’s big for both of us. We’ve both wanted this for a long time. I think we got it in a great spot in a great community, so we’re happy to do it here.”

The Turtleback Tap & Grill, which will employ 20 people, will have hours of 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, with a weekend schedule opening for brunch on Saturday and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. They will be posting their menu and hours on their website www.theturtleback.ca and Facebook page “The Turtleback Tap & Grill.”

Ready to serve the community

3. Getting hooked up with OffNet – Jan. 21

Ever want to get online but there was no Wi-Fi or Internet service? Well that may no longer a problem for you thanks to a new app built and created by three Fall River youths.

OffNet lets you check directions; weather; tweet; and more all while not needing an online connection or use of data. It is the brainchild of Zack Rooney, Cooper Gagnon, and Lochlan Graham, three Fall River teens with a knack for being tech savvy. The three are all Grade 12 students at Lockview High.

There is one main goal for the creation—and need—for an app like this, Rooney explained.

“In this world we have four billion people without access to the internet, but they do have access to a cell phone or even a Smartphone,” said Rooney. “We want to be that app that brings the next billion users onto the internet. It’s something that we here in North America take for granted.”

He said something as simple as a farmer in Ecuador wondering what the weather will be like for the next few weeks so he can plan out his crops. That’s who OffNet is targeting to help.

“It would change their life exponentially,” said Gagnon. “What Google and Facebook are forgetting is that an Ecuadorian farmer, for example, might have a cell phone, but they won’t have data.

“What we’re trying to do is get rid of data and Wi-Fi altogether.”

Getting hooked up with OffNet

4. Police seek help finding missing girl – Jan. 26

UPDATE: Emma Hutt has been found safe and sound.

New story –http://thelaker.ca/update-lower-sackville-youth-found/

Halifax District RCMP is asking the public to help locate a missing 14-year-old girl.

Police say Emma Hutt was reported missing earlier today, Jan. 26. She left her home at approximately 7:30 p.m. last evening and has not been heard from since.

UPDATE: Missing girl found safe

5. VIDEO: MLA Bill Horne on why he voted for Bill 75 – March 2

Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank Liberal MLA Bill Horne explained to The Laker during an interview on Feb. 28 at his office in Fall River on why he voted in favour of Bill 75. The bill legislated a contract on the province’s teachers.

VIDEO: MLA Bill Horne on why he voted for Bill 75

6. RCMP investigating home invasion in Fletchers Lake – Jan. 7

RCMP are searching for two unknown men following a home invasion in the early morning hours of Jan. 6 in Fletchers Lake.

Cpl. Dal Hutchinson, spokesman with Halifax District RCMP, said late on the afternoon of Jan. 6 that police received a call at 2:30 a.m. of the incident taking place at a residence on Lorne Paul Drive, which is off of Holland Road.

“Initial investigation indicated that two unknown males forced their way into the residence while two other males were at home,” said Cpl. Hutchinson. “One of the occupants ran from the home to call 911 while the other had a brief struggle with one of the suspects.”

Both suspects fled from the scene, Cpl. Hutchinson said, adding no one was injured during the incident.

RCMP investigating home invasion in Fletchers Lake

7. An unforgettable night – Feb. 15

It was an night that Lockview Dragons boy’s hockey head coach Tom Myketyn—or his players—won’t soon forget.

The Dragons, with permission from the NSSAF and the school, donned their traditional Lockview hockey colours and suited up against Sir John A MacDonald Flames before a mostly pro-Lockview crowd on Feb. 14, at the Sackville Arena.It was a Hockey Nova Scotia Midget X League game.

As the national anthem was sung by regular Halifax Mooseheads announcer Peter Baylis, the Dragons locked arms in solidarity for their beloved coach.

On each road trip the Dragons would take, Myketyn traditionally hits play on the movie surrounding the real-life events that made Coach Ken Carter garner headlines.The movie, aptly titled Coach Carter, focused on events that happened while Carter was coaching his former high school basketball team, Richmond High, in 1999. The California-based school team had an unblemished record until he benched the team because players were doing poorly academically. The benching was lifted once all 45 players had grades which met expectations of the academic contract each player had signed before the season began. It made headlines from coast-to-coast.

Myketyn has much the same coaching philosophy as that of Carter. So when word came that Carter was going to be in Halifax for a couple of speaking engagements, one parent from Lockview High made a few calls to tell them about the similarities between the two and the recent diagnosis.

It was shortly after hearing the story that Carter agreed without hesitation to attend, meet, and unbeknownst to Myketyn, present a banner recognizing his Excellence in hockey for the past nine years as head coach of the Dragons hockey program.

An unforgettable night

8. Wellington Connector gets green light – March 3

Commuting in the Wellington and Fall River area is about to get a little easier.

At a quickly-arranged funding announcement on March 2, Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook Liberal MP Darrell Samson, along with Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank Liberal MLA Bill Horne, announced the two governments have partnered to fund the construction of the five-kilometre Wellington Connector. The price tag for the project is $21 million, with the feds providing $10 million and the province chipping in $11.2 million. Central Nova Liberal MP Sean Fraser was the emcee.

What’s even better? Construction on the project is expected to begin late this Spring, and could be completed by late 2018, said Samson.

A TIR spokesman clarified to The Laker on March 6 that the dates for work starting is forcasted to be June 2020, with completion by October 2022.

“It’s going to open a lot of new land, make it available for people to work at the airport and they’ll only have a five minute drive,” said Horne after the announcement. “It will make a tremendous difference because we can now have development of new houses, and subdivisions probably, or extensions of other ones plus the opportunity for businesses to come here.

“It could really set the economy off in this community.”

UPDATED: Wellington Connector gets green light

9. Opinion: Teacher pleads with Premier to do the right thing – Feb. 13

Dear Premier McNeil,

I am a 20-year veteran teacher in Nova Scotia. I implore you to listen to what I am and my colleagues around the province are saying. I realize you are not solely responsible for creating the mess NS schools are in. Buchanan stole from our pension funds, Savage rolled back days, and Dexter cut massively. Regardless of political party, all of them implemented neo-liberal ideology. I know you are getting inundated with what teachers and parents say we really want, so perhaps I’ll leave that part out, and let them speak for me.

Opinion: Teacher pleads with Premier to do the right thing

10.Warm welcome for the Baroud’s – Feb. 16

It was such a simple gesture, but it said everything that needed to be said.

Surrounded by many after their arrival at Halifax Stanfield International Airport (HSIA) on Feb. 15, little Leen Baroud reached out with her small fingers and touched the small fingers of Isobel Fillier, wrapping them around that of Isobel’s. It may not have been noticed by many, but those that did see it saw it as a the bond of new friendships being formed.

Leen and her family, dad Wassem, mom Nour, brother Bodi, and grandmother Huda were welcomed to their new home in Canada with much fanfare from the many community volunteers with the Riverlake Syrian Refugee Project that made it possible for them to leave the war-torn destruction of their former homeland in Syria.

“I’m happy now,” said Wassem after picking up the family’s luggage. “I like being in Canada.”

Warm welcome for the Baroud’s

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Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!