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CBRM proposal to provide artist grants on hold due to provincial law

A proposal to provide small grants to artists in Cape Breton Regional Municipality is on hold.CBRM council backs the idea, but the Nova Scotia government is not ready to give municipalities that kind of power."In other provinces, they're already running programs like this, so it's not a radical idea," said New Waterford filmmaker Nelson MacDonald. "It's something that's really, really, desperately needed."Local artists just need a little seed money to launch and grow their careers, he said.With...

A proposal to provide small grants to artists in Cape Breton Regional Municipality is on hold.

CBRM council backs the idea, but the Nova Scotia government is not ready to give municipalities that kind of power.

"In other provinces, they're already running programs like this, so it's not a radical idea," said New Waterford filmmaker Nelson MacDonald. "It's something that's really, really, desperately needed."

Local artists just need a little seed money to launch and grow their careers, he said.

With small grants of up to $2,500, they could qualify for further provincial and federal funding.

The COVID-19 pandemic hurt a lot of artists and arts organizations, MacDonald said, but regardless of the pandemic, new artists need a boost.

Similar grants exist in St. John's, N.L., and in some municipalities in Ontario and British Columbia, he said.

"We have a lot of people with a lot of ideas who haven't been able to do work for the past couple of years," MacDonald said. "What better time to launch a program like this than right now?"

In September, CBRM council voted unanimously in principle to consider allotting $50,000 to its regional enterprise network for the project. The REN, as it's known, is operated by an island-wide business group called the Cape Breton Partnership.

But the Municipal Government Act forbids municipalities from granting money to individuals.

CBRM Mayor Amanda McDougall said the plan won unanimous council approval and they made a request in November for a provincial change to the legislation, but that hasn't happened.

"This has been truly disappointing," she said. "We have met with every single MLA, done everything we possibly could at this end. All we need is confirmation that we can work with a third party or get a ministerial order."

A group of artists and other officials have been working to create a transparent set of funding criteria and an application and vetting process, the mayor said.

Distributing grant money to individual artists through the REN would provide a level of accountability, as well, she said.

"It's sad. It's a $50,000 increase to one of our budgets that already exists that could have such a huge impact and it's so frustrating being at the municipal level of government and not being able to use the money that we think would be the most meaningful way."

The program could also help fix an inequity in provincial government arts funding, MacDonald said.

Arts Nova Scotia's website lists 252 grant recipients for 2021.

Of those, 16 went to artists on Cape Breton Island. Seven were in CBRM, five in Inverness County, four were in Victoria County and none were in Richmond County or the town of Port Hawkesbury.

Many of the rest went to artists and organizations in Halifax.

Province to encourage funding applications

Arts Nova Scotia director Briony Carros said in an email that the agency gets a higher number of applications from Halifax because of the concentration of artists and organizations in the capital.

The arts-funding agency plans to get out across the province to conduct in-person information sessions to encourage applications, she said.

Municipal Affairs Minister John Lohr will not say whether he thinks municipalities should have the power to grant individuals money, but said the province will be negotiating a wide range of issues with municipalities under a broad review of the legislation, a memorandum of understanding and a service exchange agreement.

"That's happening this summer and fall coming and literally everything is on the table," he said.

McDougall and MacDonald both said that may take too long, leaving emerging artists to continue to struggle.

"If you think of the artists we could have helped this year with the money, let's say that's 25 artists we could have helped this year, well, that's a real shame," said MacDonald.

MORE TOP STORIES

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

4 St. John's Catholic churches sold and set to close doors by September, parishioners told

Parishioners who attended mass at four Roman Catholic churches in the St. John's area this weekend learned their places of worship have been sold as part of the archdiocese's sell-off of properties, and that they may have to close their doors by September.Catholics were also informed that the plan is to reduce the number of parishes in the capital city from nine to three in the coming months.The move is part of one of the most dramatic shakeups in the 238-year history of the Archdiocese of St. John's, which has been focused on ...

Parishioners who attended mass at four Roman Catholic churches in the St. John's area this weekend learned their places of worship have been sold as part of the archdiocese's sell-off of properties, and that they may have to close their doors by September.

Catholics were also informed that the plan is to reduce the number of parishes in the capital city from nine to three in the coming months.

The move is part of one of the most dramatic shakeups in the 238-year history of the Archdiocese of St. John's, which has been focused on settling massive sexual abuse claims related to the Mount Cashel Orphanage.

"On Friday afternoon, we were told by the archbishop that St. Pius church and [the former] St. Pius school has been sold," Father John Sullivan, a Jesuit priest who ministers at the church on Smithville Crescent, told those attending a Sunday that was broadcast on the parish's Facebook page.

Sullivan made the announcement on the same day the parish was celebrating its 60th anniversary, a coincidence he described as "a little awkward and a little weird."

Parishioners also learned that unknown bids submitted for St. Patrick's church on Patrick Street, Mary Queen of Peace church on Torbay Road and St. Francis of Assisi in nearby Outer Cove were accepted by Ernst and Young, the firm overseeing the court-monitored sale of church properties.

CBC has confirmed that the congregations at St. Pius, St. Patrick's and Mary Queen of Peace did not submit bids on their churches. It's not known if that was the case for St. Francis of Assisi, although one source said St. Francis of Assisi is being acquired "by a developer."

"While I am deeply saddened by this news, I think our parish made the best decisions we could have made with the time, resources, and support we had available," Father James Fleming of St. Patrick's wrote in a letter to parishioners on Saturday.

We can now look to future, priest says

The Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court will need to approve the sales, but Fleming wrote "it seems likely that the sale of these properties will proceed as outlined above. If there is a note of encouragement here, it may be that a difficult decision has been made for us, and we can begin looking together toward the future."

Sullivan said he expects St. Pius will close at the end of the summer, and "a movement would be required to one of the new identified parishes."

More than two dozen properties in the St. John's region are being sold to the highest bidder as the archdiocese liquidates its holdings in an effort to raise money to compensate victims of abuse.

The claims for victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage, and those assaulted by parish priests, is expected to be in the range of $50 million.

The deadline for bids was June 2, and details about the sales process have been slowly trickling out.

A spokesperson for Ernst and Young said Tuesday a full report should be published by the end of June.

The most prominent parcel up for grabs is the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a complex which also includes a private school and a skating rink.

Three organizations with deep roots in the Catholic faith revealed last week that their joint offer of more than $3 million was the successful bid for the basilica complex, which means the buildings will continue to serve their intended purposes.

CBC News has also confirmed that a group of parishioners at Holy Rosary in Portugal Cove have successfully bid on the church, while a new Portugal Cove arts, wellness and heritage committee submitted the winning bid on the Holy Rosary rectory, parish hall and most of the property.

In some cases, the amounts were so close that Ernst and Young asked the bidders to increase their offers, CBC News has learned.

Meanwhile, Sullivan said during mass on Sunday that the number of parishes in the capital city will shrink to three in the coming months as churches are sold off and a restructuring is undertaken.

The western area of the city will be served by either Corpus Christi on Waterford Bridge Road or St. Teresa's on Mundy Pond Road, depending on the outcome of the bids.

Catholics in the centre of the city will attend the Basilica, said Sullivan, while it's likely the eastern parish will be located at St. Paul's church on Newfoundland Drive, which is attached to a junior high school. It did not receive a bid.

"But we can be rest assured that there is no jeopardy whatsoever with regard to you having a place to gather in your Catholic Christian faith," said Sullivan.

In his letter, Fleming described the sales process as "painful and frustrating."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terry Roberts is a reporter with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, and is based in St. John’s. He previously worked for The Telegram, The Compass and The Northern Pen newspapers during a career that began in 1991. He can be reached by email at: Terry.Roberts@cbc.ca.

Canada and Nova Scotia invest in new community wellness centre to support the health and wellbeing of New Waterford residents Français

NEW WATERFORD, NS, May 24, 2022 /CNW/ - Investing in recreational infrastructure brings communities together. The governments of Canada and Nova Scotia recognize that strategic investments in public infrastructure play a key role in supporting healthy communities while growing the economy and creating good jobs that support the younger generations.Today, Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, ...

NEW WATERFORD, NS, May 24, 2022 /CNW/ - Investing in recreational infrastructure brings communities together. The governments of Canada and Nova Scotia recognize that strategic investments in public infrastructure play a key role in supporting healthy communities while growing the economy and creating good jobs that support the younger generations.

Today, Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Brian Comer, Minister Responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, Minister Responsible for Youth and MLA for Cape Breton East, on behalf of the Honourable Kim Masland, Minister of Public Works; JoAnna LaTulippe-Rochon, Executive Director, Cape Breton's Family Place Resource Centre, and Dr. Peter Littlejohn, retired family physician and clinical lead representing New Waterford with the CBRM Healthcare Redevelopment Project, announced over $6 million in joint funding for the New Waterford Community Wellness Centre.

Funding for this project will support the construction of a new 10,400 square foot wellness centre that will be added to the existing New Waterford Hub that is currently under construction in the community. The New Waterford Wellness Centre will provide improved access to wellness and recreational programming, allowing residents to participate in year-round activities, clubs and social events, while also providing new employment opportunities for youth and community members.

The New Waterford Community Wellness Centre will provide space for programs to support youth, families and seniors by offering a safe space for learning, socializing, physical activity and more.

The Government of Canada is investing over $3 million in this project through the Rural and Northern Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, while the Government of Nova Scotia is contributing more than $3 million.

Quotes

"Recreational facilities like the New Waterford Community Wellness Centre play a key role in bringing communities together and promoting active lifestyles. This new facility will expand access to healthy living and wellness activities and have a positive impact on local youth. The new centre will help promote New Waterford as a place to live, grow, and invest."

Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

"The New Waterford Wellness Centre will provide much needed community space to support social, cultural, and recreational activities. It will encourage healthy, active lifestyles and will help bring communities closer together. Facilities like these are the cornerstones of our neighbourhoods, and the foundation of fond memories for many Nova Scotia families."

Honourable Brian Comer, Minister Responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, Minister Responsible for Youth and MLA for Cape Breton East, on behalf of the Honourable Kim Masland, Minister of Public Works

"Cape Breton's Family Place Resource Centre will use the community wellness centre to deliver more programs in New Waterford and surrounding communities, to help make a difference in people's lives. We will be able to provide a safe space for families to help break the cycle of poverty that will impact future generations for years to come."

JoAnna LaTulippe-Rochon, Executive Director, Cape Breton's Family Place Resource Centre

"This announcement today is proof that all levels of government are truly committed to this project here in New Waterford. We have been through some tough times over the last several years but with all this amazing construction taking place people are once again showing great community pride. Thanks to everyone who helped make this announcement possible and for investing in this incredible project."

Darren O'Quinn, Councillor for District 11, Cape Breton Regional Municipality

Quick facts

Associated links

SOURCE Infrastructure Canada

For further information: Jean-Sébastien Comeau, Press Secretary and Communications Advisor, Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, 343-574-8116, Jean-Sebastien.Comeau@iga-aig.gc.ca; Deborah Bayer, Communications Advisor, Government of Nova Scotia, 902-225-4982, Deborah.Bayer@NovaScotia.ca; Media Relations, Infrastructure Canada, 613-960-9251, Toll free: 1-877-250-7154, Email: media-medias@infc.gc.ca

'Mass exodus' of psychologists from Eastern Health leaves high vacancy rate and patients waiting

Dr. Tanya Lentz says it was ‘unethical’ to continue role working for health authority Eastern Health is facing a nearly 45 per cent vacancy rate in psychology positions after a "mass exodus" of specialists for private practice. Some psychologists say the Newfoundland and Labrador government and health authority were warned it would happen but failed to rectify long-standing issues.CBC News spoke with several psychologists — both on the record and on background — who have left their jobs with ...

Dr. Tanya Lentz says it was ‘unethical’ to continue role working for health authority

Eastern Health is facing a nearly 45 per cent vacancy rate in psychology positions after a "mass exodus" of specialists for private practice. Some psychologists say the Newfoundland and Labrador government and health authority were warned it would happen but failed to rectify long-standing issues.

CBC News spoke with several psychologists — both on the record and on background — who have left their jobs with the health authority for the private sector.

The demand for psychologists in the Eastern region has grown so much, they say, that even private practice clinics have few appointments to spare, adding it's the patients who will bear the brunt of health officials' inaction.

Eastern Health says that as of this month there are 25 vacant funded clinical psychology positions — nearly half the total number of positions.

The health authority says it is actively recruiting to fill those jobs.

Neuropsychologist Dr. Tanya Lentz tendered her resignation from Eastern Health in July 2021, after six years on the job. She said it became untenable to stay and work at the health authority.

"I felt as though my role was now becoming unethical because I was leaving people on wait lists for three to four years because I couldn't physically get to them just because of the demand," Lentz said.

"A lot of times it was, 'Do your best,' or, 'You need to learn how to manage your caseload better.' So a lot of, kind of, gaslighting, essentially, is what we were getting from management."

Lentz arrived in the province from British Columbia in 2014 to work as a neuropsychologist at the Janeway children's hospital, providing assessments and treatment for children who have learning disabilities, brain injuries or any sort of neurological condition.

She said she worked the equivalent of two and a half jobs, and often worked unpaid overtime.

A delay in assessment or treatment for someone with a brain injury could be detrimental to their health, she said. It can lead to compounding mental health problems later down the road.

Replaced by social workers

Lentz said she and her colleagues felt a loss of autonomy. She said it was apparent psychologists were seen as interchangeable with social workers — another highly skilled professional, she said, but not one who can replace years of training as a psychologist.

"A lot of psychologists who have left have talked about the heavy caseload, the lack of any sort of acknowledgement from management, the lack of appreciation from management," she said.

"They're not they're not really valuing the role of psychologists. And a lot of times we're told, 'Oh, well, other people can do the same job.' And that can be really demoralizing over time."

Eastern Health did not respond to CBC's questions about how often social workers are used to backfill the roles of psychologists.

Dr. Lisa Moores, a registered psychologist and associate professor at Memorial University's residency program, co-authored a report for the Association of Psychology in Newfoundland and Labrador, and presented it to Health Minister John Haggie nearly a year ago.

Moores's report — titled Changes to Provision of Provincial Mental Health Service — outlines concerns psychologists in the province have with the implementation of the stepped-care model. The details stemmed from a survey conducted in 2019.

Stepped-care, first introduced in the United Kingdom, was developed to match a person with the most appropriate care they need. It has been lauded repeatedly by the provincial health minister in the House of Assembly as a success that has improved access to services.

In 2017, the provincial government began using Stepped Care 2.0, which was developed by psychologist Dr. Peter Cornish and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Moores said the psychologists surveyed agreed stepped-care has its advantages and that they support the model in principle.

But Moores said it should not come at the expense of longer-term mental health treatment.

"I think at this point we'd have to say it's a mass exodus from the public system. And this is something we saw coming," said Moores in an interview.

"We've seen a real emphasis — a strong emphasis — on programs or models being the thing that will fix all of these problems. Programs don't treat mental health, professionals treat mental health."

Psychologists indicated their clinical time was being reallocated from their more intensive work with clients to run same-day and single session programs, the report said.

Stop psychologists from leaving first: Moores

Ten recommendations were put forward from the report, including the need for increased resources and to improve the stepped-care process.

Moores cautions that before Eastern Health focuses on recruitment, it must stop the hemorrhaging of psychologists from the public sphere.

Moores said she has not heard back from the health authority or the health minister following the meeting in the summer of 2021.

Haggie declined an interview.

Asked during a recent mental health news conference about the vacancies, he pointed to the success of the stepped-care model, which he had lauded during question period in the House of Assembly on May 4.

"The stepped-care model developed and pioneered here at Memorial University and now accepted by the federal minister of mental health and addictions as a potential national standard speaks to those middle grounds of steps for those people who require more support than intermittent counselling and yet don't require in-patient treatment," Haggie said in the legislature.

However, in a statement, the department appeared to distance itself from the stepped-care model that was introduced in 2017 at Memorial University.

It said the province is moving forward with its own model of stepped care.

"From lessons learned during this demonstration, the province chose to develop its own model," said a spokesperson for the department.

However, the new provincial stepped-care model has not been "fully released or implemented."

Kaiden Dalley moved to Newfoundland and Labrador from B.C. to be closer to family in 2017. Since then, they say they have been bouncing around the mental health system.

Dalley said they had been on a wait-list for over a year before getting a call about the possibility of seeing a psychologist in the public system. By that time, Dalley had been hospitalized due to mental health issues and had been assigned a psychologist.

"I was told that there had been staffing issues for the Eastern Health team that I was referred to, and so that played a big part in the wait," Dalley said.

"There's a need for same-day services, but there's also a need for long-term services. I've heard a lot of people say the same thing, [that] short-term services are good in certain situations, but we don't have any long-term care for people who need long-term care."

Dalley is part of a group that has been on a campaign calling for better long-term mental health services and demonstrating weekly outside of the Confederation Building. They don't expect to stop any time soon.

For Lentz, the first step to improving the system is to admit there's a problem.

"It's something where I think until we get potentially a minister of health that actually has an understanding of mental health services or more openness to getting feedback from providers and clients, I don't know if we're going to get there," she said.

Eastern Health declined an interview.

However, an internal memo released through access to information spells out what Eastern Health knew about concerns expressed by psychologists.

The document points to several issues, including a perceived lack of autonomy and respect for the psychology discipline as well as social workers doing the jobs of psychologists.

Pay was flagged as the biggest issue.

"Uncompetitive wages in a market where higher compensation can be sought elsewhere, contributes to inadequate resources, retention issues, burnout, quality of care concerns, recruitment issues, and significant wait times for services [and] psychological assessments," said the memo, dated April 2021.

A briefing note prepared for the Eastern Health executive team in March by a psychology retention and recruitment task force reaffirms those concerns, and notes that pay is not competitive with rates offered in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

"The inability to recruit and retain clinical psychologists has impacted wait times for client services and significantly increased workloads for the remaining CPs, as well as other classifications trying to bridge the gap," the memo said.

In a statement, Eastern Health said it is recruiting for the vacant positions through advertising and networking with universities as well as reviewing the compensation package and offering bursaries.

Lentz acknowledges private practice is far more lucrative than working for a health authority but said it was not the primary reason for her leaving.

"Honestly, money was the furthest thing from my mind when I was working in the public sector. It's about feeling valued, feeling heard. Being able to provide ethically sound treatment for people. And that doesn't take a lot."

The psychology shortage extends beyond eastern Newfoundland. Western Health reported seven clinical psychology vacancies as of April. Central Health had five vacancies during that same time period.

Labrador-Grenfell Health reports that its two psychology positions in its mental health and addictions department are both vacant — one since July 2020 and the other as of last month.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's. She is working as a member of CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit.

Doctors Nova Scotia to expand upon physician’s mentorship program

After seeing the success of one physician’s initiative to mentor international doctors who come to Nova Scotia, Doctors Nova Scotia is working to develop its own initiative.Dr. Emmanuel Ajuwon has taken the lead to help recruits get settled in because he knows there can be many adjustments, both personally and professionally, when relocating to another continent.He’s been a doctor for more than 22 years after graduating from ...

After seeing the success of one physician’s initiative to mentor international doctors who come to Nova Scotia, Doctors Nova Scotia is working to develop its own initiative.

Dr. Emmanuel Ajuwon has taken the lead to help recruits get settled in because he knows there can be many adjustments, both personally and professionally, when relocating to another continent.

He’s been a doctor for more than 22 years after graduating from university in Nigeria before moving on to the U.K. to complete post-graduate studies. But he eventually found himself in New Waterford, N.S., and hasn’t looked back.

“It was supposed to be just a site visit but a site visit ended up being a stay,” he tells Global News. “It was supposed to be a stay for one year, but it ended up being a stay for eight years and counting.”

But with that experience, he’s now paying it back to other new recruits who might be following similar paths.

“I just decided to make myself available and offer my time to actually show them the ropes and guide them on what I have passed through — which they might pass through — and how to navigate those challenges,” he says, “and to let them know that when they are going through issues that feels kind of overwhelming, they always have a support that they can reach out to.”

International medical graduates (IMGs) need to meet several requirements before being able to practise medicine in Canada. That’s where Ajuwon wanted to help, both personally and professionally.

Dr. Stephanie Ofoegbu, who is also from Nigeria, wanted to move to Canada to provide a better life for her family. She came to Cape Breton in September of last year through Nova Scotia’s Practice Ready Assessment Program, and says she’s greatly benefited from Ajuwon’s support.

“He knows what we went through and what we’re going through because he went through it with his own family and it really does help that we have him to go to,” she says from the collaborative care clinic in New Waterford. “It’s a family here and it has really, really helped.

“But like I would always say, there’s room for a lot more; we need more doctors.”

Doctors Nova Scotia told Global News Monday the organization is in the process of creating its own mentorship program after seeing the success of Ajuwon’s work.

A spokesperson says IMGs can go through other pathways to get assistance and ensure they’ve got the required certifications to work in Canada, but making a one-on-one mentorship program available to those who want it would be beneficial.

Ajuwon says the work is helping to recruit and retain physicians, but that more needs to be done. He’s proposing a task force be set up to ensure all new physicians have someone to check in with, and to ensure doctors’ families are assisted when possible in getting settled into their new community.

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