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TRICOUNTY VANGUARD YEAR IN REVIEW: August 2018

An early morning fire in Weymouth has destroyed two buildings and damaged a few near by. PHOTOS BY Jonathan Riley and Amanda Doucette
An early morning fire in Weymouth has destroyed two buildings and damaged a few near by. PHOTOS BY Jonathan Riley and Amanda Doucette

A sampling of some of the news from the month.

 Shelburne Roseway Hospital. (Tina Comeau)
Shelburne Roseway Hospital. (Tina Comeau)

Latest ER closures were ‘going well beyond anything that’s acceptable,” Shelburne mayor said

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The latest round of emergency room closures at Roseway Hospital in Shelburne that had the ER closed a total of 104 hours between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7 was “going well beyond anything that’s acceptable,” said Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall. “I don’t even know what you can say about something like that,” she said. “It makes me say what are the decision-makers thinking? We’re talking about people’s lives here. We’re not talking about a closed store. It’s over 100 km to access the nearest hospital.”

She said while Shelburne had great paramedics and a helipad, this “shouldn’t be your first recourse.” The reason cited for the latest ER closures again was lack of physician availability. In Digby, ER closures during the first week of August added up to 28 hours and lack of physician availability was attributed as the reason. Mattatall likened the various problems facing the health-care system to a disease, with ER closures being one of the symptoms.


Dry conditions this past summer.
Dry conditions this past summer.

Dry conditions were perhaps ‘sign of the times,’ said one of the region’s EMO officials

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Emergency preparedness people and municipal officials were keeping an eye on the dry spell, hoping it wouldn’t end up as severe as the drought of 2016. Janine Muise, EMO co-ordinator for the Municipality of Argyle, said this sort of thing – a drought in southwestern Nova Scotia – hadn’t been on their radar just a few years earlier, but the drought of 2016 had changed this, Muise saying it was a learning experience.

“We already have a list of our resources that we used in 2016, so we’re a little ahead of the game this time,” she said. The Municipality of Argyle had been among the areas hardest hit by the drought of 2016, along with the Municipality of Barrington. Eddie Nickerson, the Barrington warden, said the issue was to be discussed at an Aug. 13 council meeting. So far, he said, they hadn’t heard much from residents about the dry conditions, “but there’s certainly some concern.”


More than $50,000 worth of lobsters were seized in New Edinburgh during routine inspection

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Lobster seizures were in the news. One of them saw more than 100 crates of lobsters seized from a distributor in New Edinburgh, Digby County. It happened during a routine inspection by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “The lobsters were seized based on the belief that they were purchased and sold without authorization, in violation of the fisheries general regulations,” said Chris Sperry, DFO’s area chief of conservation and protection for southwest Nova Scotia. The matter was under investigation.

Over the next week or so, DFO continued regular inspections in the southwest region, with 47 traps seized and 774 lobsters released back into the water. DFO posted on Twitter that the violations included size limit, illegal use of bait, blocked escape vents and untagged or invalid tags on traps. Details regarding the precise dates and locations were not disclosed, but a DFO spokesperson said the seizures were in Digby County.


Province was looking into bacteria problem at Port Maitland, Mavillette beaches

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The Department of Natural Resources and Department of Environment were looking for the cause of high bacterial levels at Port Maitland Beach and Mavillette Beach. Both beaches had been closed since Aug.13 due to high levels of bacteria when tested by the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service (NSLS). Testing now was being handled by the province’s natural resources and environment departments.

Bruce Nunn, a spokesman for the province, said officials were at both beaches Aug. 24 to make observations, including using a helicopter to look beyond the beach for potential causes. He said various factors can affect water quality, including weather conditions, rainfall and tidal action. He said high bacterial levels usually go back to normal in a fairly short period of time. “In the case of Mavillette and Port Maitland Beach, this has not yet happened so we are looking into the situation,” he said. The NSLS had closed five saltwater beaches in the province earlier in the summer. All had since reopened except for Port Maitland and Mavillette.


Yarmouth resident Sandy Dennis reads a card and holds a gift that someone sent to her to show their support. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Yarmouth resident Sandy Dennis reads a card and holds a gift that someone sent to her to show their support. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Yarmouth town councillor living with terminal cancer was still thinking of others

"I FEEL BLESSED": READ THE STORY

One of the leaders in an effort to have cancer radiation services available in southwestern Nova Scotia was battling cancer herself, but, in a way, she said she saw her disease as a blessing, given that it had enabled her to help others.

Sandy Dennis, a Yarmouth town councillor, said she had developed a better appreciation for what cancer patients have to deal, notably the travel and costs associated with treatment.

“I would never have known what people go through,” she said, “and I wouldn’t have been able to advocate for them.”

Early on in her cancer journey, Dennis had brought a motion to the town council table that the town contact the Nova Scotia Health Authority and urge it to consider Yarmouth as a location for radiation services. Later, she had watched and participated as a grassroots movement took shape on Facebook – the Western Nova Scotia Cancer Support Network – where people with cancer and their loved ones shared stories of their physical, emotional and financial hardships.


Blood collection resumed in Barrington in temporary location at MLA’s office

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Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d’Entremont made room in his Barrington Passage constituency office to accommodate blood collection services. D’Entremont’s office had been the location for the Barrington Community Health Clinic prior to it being moved to the No Frills location, but that location had been closed since June 14 while environmental testing took place after staff there noticed an unusual smell. With the closure ongoing, d’Entremont said he started making inquiries and contacted the right person.

“Since my office was the old blood collection (location), why couldn’t we just move it temporarily into my office and we made it actually work, so they are going to be there until they make a decision what they’re going to do with the clinic over by No Frills,” d’Entremont said.


Big rigs roll across the Cape Sable Island Causeway in a memorial convoy for the late Roger James Comeau of Barrington on Aug. 24. Described as a legend, Comeau was on one of his weekly hauls to New York City and New Jersey when he passed away suddenly on Aug. 14 .  KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO
Big rigs roll across the Cape Sable Island Causeway in a memorial convoy for the late Roger James Comeau of Barrington on Aug. 24. Described as a legend, Comeau was on one of his weekly hauls to New York City and New Jersey when he passed away suddenly on Aug. 14 . KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

‘He was a legend’ – fallen trucker was fondly remembered in Barrington

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More than 50 big rigs rolled into Barrington to give one of their own a sendoff in style. A memorial convoy travelled through the community Aug. 24, followed by a celebration of life at the Barrington and Area Lions Club hall, where music played, stories were swapped, a meal was served and toasts were made to the late Roger James Comeau. Born in Digby but a Barrington resident since the early 1990s, Comeau, 67, had been on one of his weekly hauls to New York City and New Jersey when he passed away suddenly on Aug. 14.

Comeau had started driving a truck when he was 18 and, about a dozen years later, started his own trucking company, High Roller Transport. Said Donna Crowell, one of the volunteers helping to prepare the meal that was part of the day honouring Comeau, “He was a legend. That is how they described him in New York and New Jersey. That’s not an easy run to do and he was a beast”


Door remained open on maintaining Yarmouth fire dispatch service

READ: FIRE DEPARTMENTS HOPED TO MAINTAIN DISPATCH SERVICES

READ: TOWN OF YARMOUTH PROPOSES FUNDING OPTIONS

There remained hope that the Yarmouth fire dispatch service would be maintained after a late-August meeting organized by the Yarmouth County Mutual Aid Association. Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood, who attended the session, said the town might be prepared to look at the issue again. She asked the fire departments to have a letter written on their behalf and sent to the town for its consideration. Among other things, the departments were concerned about a Sept. 24 deadline that had been set by the town. By that date, the town wanted to know which fire departments intended to stay with the Yarmouth service and which would seek service elsewhere.

The departments said this timeline was too tight. The town had indicated in the spring it was looking into outsourcing the dispatch service, saying the existing model had the town paying a disproportionately high percentage of the cost. But the fire departments wanted the town to consider the value of the mutual aid service it received from them.


An early morning fire in Weymouth has destroyed two buildings and damaged a few near by. PHOTOS BY Jonathan Riley and Amanda Doucette
An early morning fire in Weymouth has destroyed two buildings and damaged a few near by. PHOTOS BY Jonathan Riley and Amanda Doucette

Weymouth fire levelled two buildings, damaged two others; New France artifacts destroyed

READ: 'I've never been this close to a fire in my life'

Two buildings were destroyed and two others were damaged in a major fire in Weymouth. Firefighters from 11 departments responded to the blaze. There were no reports of injuries. Among those interviewed the morning of the Aug. 29 fire was Pat Comeau, owner of the Goodwin Hotel, across the street from the fire, who woke up at 4:30 a.m. and thought she heard construction work outside. A look out the window revealed what was really happening. Comeau, her family and hotel guests had to evacuate the building, which suffered some damage. “I didn’t think about anything else, just getting out safely,” she said.

Another structure, the Mazel Musical Arts Society building (a former bank), was severely damaged. The fire also destroyed artifacts pertaining to New France’s famed Electric City. These items were to have been the heart of an interpretive centre celebrating New France, which had been founded by the Stehelin family and was dubbed Electric City. “It’s a major setback,” Hal Theriault, one of those involved in the project, would say later when interviewed about the fire, “but it’s not going to defeat us.”

READ: FIRE DESTROY ELECTRIC CITY ARTIFACTS


Paul Britain points to a crumpled fender resulting from one of five deer collisions on Cape Forchu.
Paul Britain points to a crumpled fender resulting from one of five deer collisions on Cape Forchu.

Oh deer, be careful

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If you’re travelling through Cape Forchu in the wee hours of a foggy morning, you’d best be sporting a protective grill on the front of your vehicle. Just ask Paul Brittain. The Yarmouth County resident hit five deer in the past year while delivering papers in his ’03 Toyota Corolla.

The car, which has more than 500,000 km on it, has fenders so crumpled and dented from hitting deer, the ride could now be referred to as the battered buckmobile.

Brittain says he’s talking to the deer with his windows down as he drives the route at 3 and 4 a.m.: “Get out of the road you stupid deer!”


Cape Sable Island fisherman Rodney Ross holds up a clipping from the a July 1976 Yarmouth Vanguard issue that chronicled the story of the encounter by five fishermen aboard three fishing boats with a mysterious sea creature.  KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO
Cape Sable Island fisherman Rodney Ross holds up a clipping from the a July 1976 Yarmouth Vanguard issue that chronicled the story of the encounter by five fishermen aboard three fishing boats with a mysterious sea creature. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

Cape Sable Island fisherman recalls 'sea monster' encounter from 42 years ago

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The 1967 Shag Harbour UFO crash is not the only strange, unexplained occurrence that has happened in Shelburne County over the years.

Shag Harbour UFO Festival goers were treated to an eye witness account of a sea creature encounter, experienced by Cape Sable Island fisherman Rodney Ross in July 1976, while fishing with his father on the fishing grounds known as Pollock Shoal. The opening night of the UFO Festival (Aug. 3) was only the third time that Ross has told the story to an audience. He is the last of the five fishermen aboard three different boats that saw the creature during a one-week period 42-years ago.

“Some like to call it the South Side sea monster and I think I probably agree it looked like a monster,” said Ross.

“Everything got right quiet” except for a “swishing noise. I couldn’t see very far in the fog, so I kept listening and by and by seen this thing in the water. I thought it was something adrift in the water. I looked, and it was moving like a hump with big huge eyes on the top of its head. I mean huge, probably 10 inches across,” likening it to a crocodile.

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