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Good people ride into the sunset

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Tomorrow is the final day of work for Gail Bagnall, and I'm wondering if the sun will always be shining in Selkirk when I phone her successor.

Bagnall is Manitoba's senior school superintendent, 17 years as head of Lord Selkirk School Division, and when she was hired in 1993, the only woman holding down a chief superintendent's job.

Whenever I had occasion to call Bagnall, she would always start the conversation by asking if it was sunny in Winnipeg, because it was invariably sunny in Selkirk.

She was reminiscing earlier this week, and pointing out that superintendents aren't staying on the job anywhere as long these days. About a dozen retired a year ago, and there are seven retiring tomorrow when school closes for the year.

One of those is Gordon Shead of Frontier School Division, who, like Bagnall, has been exceptionally helpful over the years I've covered education, always forthright and cordial.

They'll be missed.

And elsewhere in public education.....

Is it just I, or has anyone else noticed that the Selinger government has not announced its public schools capital funding yet?

No promises of new schools, no new gyms, no science labs, no list of dozens of schools getting a new roof or a new heating system, or new windows, or a special needs elevator, or an addition to replace portables.

Nancy, what's up with that, eh?

And furthermore......

I was reading the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association board minutes the other day, and saw an item in which the directors expressed consternation about the stadium project at U of M's possibly adversely affecting future provincial track and field championships, held in the current stadium.

Not wanting the stakeholders to spend the summer all flustered, I employed all the super technology at my disposal and conducted state-of-the-art 21st Century extensive research and mindboggling due diligence.....OK, so I phoned John Danakas, the public affairs director at U of M, and he said that the new CFL stadium won't affect the current facility next door, and the track meet should be fine for years to come.

Glad to be of service.

In other matters......

When I was researching my recent story on school newspapers, I was at SJR, where one student journalist asked me if I'd be submitting my story to them prior to publication, and I had to explain, no, in the real world, we --

Dang. hang on, my phone's going, I've got to get this.....Oh, hi Greg. You're OK with the changes I made? Yes, I got the list of story revisions from the minister, and no, we won't be quoting Hugh. But on the other story, Sam is still going over it, and Stephen's people got back to me with a list of changes they want. Yes, including changes to the quotes from people opposing, of course......OK, thanks. Bye. Click.

OK, I know I was on my high horse there being self-righteous about something, but I can't quite remember....

And again switching topics.....

I was doing pre-game checks last night, and asked everyone if they were in a good mood, and the coach said, no, he wasn't, he's from Chile, and I countered by telling him that I'm from England, and he said that I'm obviously a lot worse off than he is.....

Sigh.

The officials were where they were supposed to be, but that's not the point, the point is that video review would have given England the goal. The AR was where he was supposed to be, even with the second-last defender, who was in Lampard's face.....

None of which changes just how awful the lads looked. Rooney looked lost and petulant, and how can England not produce a second superior striker, not even asking for a second star striker -- but oh, for a 25-year-old Alan Shearer, or Michael Owen with two good knees. And these guys looked as though they'd never practiced together before, no cohesion, no Kaka or Messi or Figo or Totti in the middle running the attack, no young talent.....

Hey, as a proud citizen of Leafs Nation, I know how to delude myself. Newcastle United opens its Premier League season in a few weeks, and it's not that long until qualifying for Euro 2012, and I can dig out my England shirt again and try to remember the words to Rule Brittania......

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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