No ‘political will’drivingcourt upgrades

No ‘political will’drivingcourt upgrades

What must happen for someone to take notice?

It’s the age old, often overused question, but one that resonates strongly with the current situation at Bendigo Law Courts.

Previous arguments revolving around the court precinct’s out of date facilities have been superseded by the discovery of bullets in a toilet cubicle at the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court this week.

A knife cheap jerseys was also found in the toilets outside a court used for a Supreme Court trial in Bendigo last week.

How those bullets made their way through the security checkpoint, which includes a bag scanner and metal detector, is a grave safety concern.

As a court reporter in Ballarat, I would often cycle to court and, more regularly than I care to admit, would leave my bike pump in my bag.

I lost count of the number of times it was confiscated, to be collected when I left.

Court security knew I wasn’t going to use it, but they took it anyway.

Court security in Bendigo, which has apparently been beefed up over the past 12 months, do not even have radios, just yellow cards, akin to those held by soccer referees, to hold up when they need assistance.

Sarcasm aside, the security threat at courts are palpable ones, and ones that need addressing for the sake of the victims, their families, court staff, and professionals using the court.

Full on court brawls, or worse, are rare one at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in 2015, where two rival families engaged in a physical confrontation and had to be restrained by countless police is the most publicised incident in recent memory.

And it boils down to people feeling safe.

Police informants shouldn’t be relied upon to do all the grunt work if anything does happen.

Bendigo, given its more traditional set up, has the added disadvantage its court house doesn’t back onto a police station, unlike purpose built facilities in Geelong and Ballarat, where police are often at the ready.

Unfortunately for Bendigo, court precincts aren’t cheap Shepparton are currently in the midst of building a new $73 million facility and there does not seem much political wisdom, or will, to allocate such a large section of annual funding to a precinct upgraded just three years ago.

No Need to Pay More for Deed

No Need to Pay More for Deed

A California based company that provides a service aimed at homeowners asks for $87 to send you a copy of your property deed. The company uses a mailing that looks a lot like a bill from a government agency, but don’t be fooled.

One Colorado Springs man recently got the letter. It came to Cayse Ray from the State Record Retrieval Board, saying he owed $87 for a copy of his property deed and complete property profile. The letter had a due date, and stated that he would be charged a $35 processing fee if his payment came after Sept. 20th.

It turns out, even though it might look like a bill, at the bottom of the letter it says it’s not a bill cheap jerseys and that there is no obligation to pay the fee. That brought up a couple of questions for Ray.

“When you’re obligated to pay something, there’s a late fee,” said Ray. “But when you’re not obligated, why would there be a late fee?”

11 News spoke with a representative from the State Record Retrieval Board on Tuesday. Maxwell Stockton, a supervisor with the company, said that the due date is something that they use to encourage homeowners to take action. “Often times, if you don’t have a time frame, you’re not going to do anything,” said Stockton. He added that the late fee is something they will wave 10 times out of 10.

Ray also wanted to know why he would need to pay $87 for something he not only already has, but could get from the county clerk’s office for as cheap as $7.

“What’s this company doing?” said Ray. “What service are they truly providing?”

The company told 11 News that they provide a very valuable service to homeowners. The $87 cost is what they need to retrieve and store the information before sending it to a customer. And that by using the retrieval service, a homeowner can avoid the hassle of getting the deed from the clerk’s office.

Asked if he doesn’t think their approach to consumers is misleading, Stockton said, “It’s not meant to be misleading. We’re a record retrieval service. There’s no malicious intent.”

According to California Civil Code 1716, a company soliciting money is required to state in bold letters above the fold “This is not a bill. You are under no obligation to pay.” When told that the wording on the Record Retrieval Board’s letter is down at the bottom and not stated in bold letters, Stockton said, “But it does say it.” He added that they are always open to taking a look to find better ways to do what they’re doing.

The company also states in a disclaimer on the back of the letter that they are not an official government agency.

But Ray still felt confused about why he would need to use their service. When Ray called the company to say he already has his deed, and could get a copy from the county clerk for less than $10, Ray said, “She goes, ‘Well, then there’s no need for you to respond to this.'”

Stockton said any time a consumer calls to say they already have their deed, their group tells them what they told Ray. “We almost talk them out of our service,” said Stockton.

No more silence in the library

No more silence in the library

When you can buy books for cheap on Amazon and research anything online from the comfort of your home, it’s easy to dismiss public libraries as dying institutions, crumbling museums for dusty old texts.

But libraries have never been about the books not really. They’re about knowledge, and that’s never been in greater supply. Gone are the days when public libraries were book warehouses where stern librarians would shush you if you spoke above a whisper.

Walk into your local library today, and you’ll probably find a bustling community space as likely to have a digital gaming station as it is to house ceiling high stacks of books. “We want to get away from the old stereotypes of shushing in the library. We want it cheap jerseys to be a vibrant and interactive place,” Kathryn Goodhue, CEO of the Brantford Public Library said. “It’s exciting time in libraries.”

Her southwestern Ontario library features a green screen, a 3D printer, “makers’ spaces” where people create personal projects, and a help desk where librarians will help with any digital task.

Got a new smartphone and not sure how to use it? Bring it to the library.

We’re really talking about helping to build digital literacy in our communities,” Goodhue said.

The Pickering Public Library just outside Toronto is buzzing over its new 3D printer.

“As soon as we put it out, the kids were just watching it and they figured out how to use it in just seconds. And then they were teaching each other, and then they started teaching older people how to use it,” the library’s CEO, Cathy Grant, said.

“Libraries have always been about learning, and this is the type of learning that’s pervasive now. Learning is done through books, and we’re good at that, but learning is also collaborative.”

The transformation from book museum to thriving, tech savvy community space is happening across the country, as many communities ponder what to do with their aging library buildings.

The long time connection with communities has given libraries the clout to innovate through public support.

“They have a keen sense of what’s happening at the grassroots and are very responsive in trying to meet those needs,” Marie DeYoung, president of the Canadian Library Association, said. “Qualified, of course, by funding, which is always a challenge.”

In Ontario, library funding was cut almost in half in the mid ’90s, and it hasn’t returned.

At the federal level, the Conservatives cut 20% of the workforce at Library and Archives Canada in 2012.

That’s forced libraries to find creative ways to raise funds, whether through donations or partnerships.

“We get it. Taxpayers are strapped. and if we can figure a way to do something without having to ask for more money, why wouldn’t we?” Goodhue said.

But more often than not, people will go to bat for their libraries.

The new $57.6 million Halifax Central library is set to open in the fall of 2014. (Handout)

Halifax is slated to open its new state of the art $57.6 million central library, funded by all three levels of government, this fall.

The five floor behemoth will be home to two music studios, two coffee shops, two gaming centres, patios overlooking the ocean and a 300 seat auditorium. “Nobody says, ‘Wow, this not a good use of our money,’ because we did this community consultation and the community told us, ‘This is what we want,'” Bruce Gorman, director of central library and regional services for Halifax Public Libaries, said.

And the new space will even have books. In fact, it plans to double its collection.

Despite the changes, librarians everywhere seem to agree there will always be a place for books at the library.

“I don’t think you’re going to see books disappear in the near future,” Goodhue said. “My 14 year old daughter she doesn’t want an e book; she wants a real book.”

School libraries at risk of extinction

While public libraries have adapted to retain their status as thriving community hubs, school libraries have been undergoing a long, slow death by a thousand cuts.

School libraries rely on school budgets, which rely on provincial education funding. When money gets tight, libraries are among the first on the chopping block.

As of 2013, 56% of Ontario elementary schools had a teacher librarian, down from 80% in 1997, and 11% have no staff at all, according to the Ontario Library Association.

“It’s a concern that we have within our library community the struggle school libraries are facing pretty much across Canada for funding and for simply presence in schools,” Marie DeYoung, president of the Canadian Library Association, said.

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