Students adjusting to temporary school, 2 months after Milltown-Bay d'Espoir fires

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Students adjusting to temporary school, 2 months after Milltown-Bay d'Espoir fires

It's been two months since the school, town hall and RCMP detachment in Milltown-Bay d'Espoir were either completely destroyed or damaged by a fire, and the mayor says people are adjusting to their new reality.

In particular, Mayor Jerry Kearley says students who are now at a temporary school are managing well.

"They're doing rather well, and I speak from talking to my own grandkids who attend the school, and they talk to their friends of course and they tell me that, we wish we had our school back, we really miss it," said Kearley.

"But they're coping well in this school and their hopes are that they will get a new school, and I think that's what they're looking forward to. It's sort of a distraction from the sadness of the event from the beginning."

Donald Craig MacHaight, 48, is facing three charges of arson in relation to the fire that destroyed the elementary school portion of Bay d'Espoir Academy, as well as damaged the town hall and local RCMP detachment.

MacHaight is next scheduled to appear before a judge in April.

Kearley said work is continuing on the town hall, which also housed the local fire department.

He's hopeful the town hall and the RCMP detachment will be repaired and ready to reopen by mid-summer.

'People are still awed'

But he said the town is still abuzz with news that it was an alleged arsonist who caused the chaos his town witnessed in January.

"It's been a little unsettling of sorts. People are still awed by the fact that this can happen in a small town in Newfoundland. Quite shocking," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Kearley was in Quebec for work when the fires started, and got the news from his wife

"This is not something we're used to, it was like I was hit in the gut with a huge fist. It's difficult," he said.

In the meantime, students are getting their classes done at the former school building in St. Alban's.

Kearly hopes last week's infrastructure announcement from the provincial government will mean a new school for his community.

The high school is still standing, with "not too much damage," and he hopes it can be reconnected to a new elementary school.