UPPER BIG TRACADIE: On January 3, Antigonish RCMP confirmed four people passed away as a result of an incident in Upper Big Tracadie. The victims were 10-year-old Aaliyah Desmond, 52-year-old Brenda Desmond, 31-year-old Shanna Desmond, and 33-year-old Lionel Desmond.

The Nova Scotia Medical Examiner’s Office conducted autopsies confirming all four individuals died as a result of gunshot wounds. Further investigation also confirmed Lionel Desmond’s gunshot wound was self-inflicted.

Family members of Lionel Desmond reported he, a military veteran, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The community and residents rallied around the family and relatives. Municipality of the District of Guysborough Deputy Warden Sheila Pelly said the entire community was devastated with the loss of four lives.

On January 7, the community held a candlelight vigil and a GoFundMe page was created to help pay for the funeral expenses of the Desmond family. Veterans Affairs minister Kent Hehr spoke with the family and Veterans Affairs and the Department of National Defence helped pay for the funerals.

Shanna Desmond

POINT TUPPER: The head of Acadia Drywall, parent company to Cabot Gypsum, said the facility was looking for millwrights.

The Point Tupper plant, which opened in 2010, is Acadia Drywall’s only manufacturing facility.

At the time of purchase, Acadia Drywall had been buying the products it distributed from U.S. manufacturers, but the acquisition of the Cape Breton plant saw Acadia Drywall buying from Cabot Gypsum, instead.

Although he confirmed that Cabot Gypsum increased production, Girouard wasn’t able to say by how much.

HALIFAX: In December, 2016 Bear Paw Pipeline Corporation Inc. received environmental assessment approval from the Nova Scotia Department of Environment for the company’s planned natural gas pipeline. Bear Paw is planning to build and operate a 62.5-kilometre natural gas pipeline from Goldboro to the proposed Bear Head LNG liquefied natural gas export facility in Point Tupper.

Bear Paw and Bear Head strategic and regulatory affairs advisor Paul MacLean called the approval a major milestone for the project because the assessment was the last major permit required for construction.

Aside from finalizing all the permits, MacLean said the company was working on securing a natural gas supply for the facility.

HALIFAX: Dr. Sockalingam Senthillmohan received a reprimand from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia regarding an incident at the Strait-Richmond Hospital in 2014.

Dr. Senthillmohan was a doctor working in the ER at the Evanston hospital in 2014. In early January of that year, stated the decision, he attended to a patient who was complaining of increasing pain in his right shoulder, neck and back, and was finding it difficult to walk. The decision stated Dr. Senthillmohan relied on a history provided by a nurse and did not take a patient history or perform a physical examination. He also did not order an x-ray, as was requested by the patient on the recommendation of a chiropractor.

Instead, stated the decision, Dr. Senthillmohan determined the patient’s issues would be better addressed by his family doctor and contacted a family physician to arrange for an appointment later that evening.

After being released from the hospital and prior to attending the appointment with the family physician, the patient’s legs gave out and he fell backwards, hitting his head and losing consciousness. The patient was transferred back to the ER by ambulance with neck brace and backboard where he was again seen by Dr. Senthillmohan. Dr. Senthillmohan ordered x-rays, and then verbally transferred care to another physician.

The second physician discharged the patient following “a limited assessment,” according to the decision.

Two days later, the patient fell at home, struck his head, and was again taken to hospital by ambulance. The patient was subsequently diagnosed with traumatic incomplete quadriplegia.

Dr. Senthillmohan chose not to reapply for a medical license in Nova Scotia at the end of 2015 and still does not hold one in the province. Dr. Senthillmohan was also ordered to reimburse the college for a portion of the investigation expenses.

Contributed photo
Following winter storms at the end of 2016, the Port Hood Island wharf had seen better days.

PORT HASTINGS: Janine Lock, a Grade 12 student at SAERC, spoke to the Strait regional school board about the Bus Day Care program.

Lock launched the combination of games, songs and activities designed to alleviate boredom and encourage proper behaviour for students on her bus route seven years ago, in response to her personal observations of a long bus trip home in the fifth grade.

Beginning with such basic activities as “I Spy” and “The Alphabet Game,” Lock’s idea grew from a random selection of games and activities to scheduled theme days centering on everything from reading to geography. The Bus Day Care program on Lock’s two-vehicle route incorporates students from Grades Primary to 9, including special-needs students and their teaching assistants.

As a result, Lock told the board meeting that bullying is “virtually non-existent” on her daily bus rides, and added that several students have developed a loyalty to the Bus Day Care program that even extends into vacation periods.

To that end, Lock encouraged the school board to consider implementing the Bus Day Care program across the Strait region, with the possibility of allowing students leading the initiative to receive school credits in the areas of leadership, child studies and personal development.

Photo by Mike Dembeck
The Nature Conservancy of Canada began its work in Atlantic Canada in Cape Breton with the conservation of Sight Point (pictured) in 1971.

BADDECK: The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) embarked on its first large-scale conservation project in Cape Breton, with the goal of protecting 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) of ecologically-significant land in the central part of the island over the next 10 years.

The charitable land trust wanted to acquire private land containing outstanding natural features found around the Bras d’Or Lake and in the Margaree River Valley. NCC Atlantic director of communications, Kathryn Morse, explained the areas of particular interest included River Denys, Marble Mountain, Margaree Forks, and Baddeck.

ANTIGONISH: The People’s Place: Antigonish Town and County Library hosted the first official joint meeting between Antigonish Town and Antigonish Municipal Councils on January 10.

Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said the town and county met over the last number of years in informal settings. Boucher said the councils wanted the public to be able to see what both groups were discussing and meeting about, so the CAO from the town and the clerk treasurer from the county met to hammer out terms of reference for the meetings.

The councils plan to meet the third Wednesday of November, February, June, and September. Quorum will require at least half of each council.

Antigonish Warden Russell Boucher said he felt the first meeting, which included discussions about the exhibition grounds and the arena commission, went well. He said the joint council meetings will serve some of the same purposes as a regular committee that reports back to council.

Contributed photo
Antigonish Town and County Councils met for the first of a series of joint council meetings on January 10. Seen here are representatives from both elected bodies.

PORT HOOD: Inverness Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie said council received a number of e-mails from locals, all relating to the pounding the area received during winter storms last January.

Many of those e-mails had photos attached showing the state of the Port Hood government wharf, the wharf on Port Hood Island, the Port Hood breakwater, and Murphy’s Pond.

Some of the repairs the municipality made include fixing concrete sections and installing and maintaining floating docks. The wharfs serve to connect Port Hood to Port Hood Island, where 43 seasonal home-owners have properties.

Councillor Laurie Cranton, representing Margaree and area, said that he’s dealing with a coastal erosion problem as well. Cranton said one resident’s house and lawn is being eaten up by a stream coming off the Margaree River.

Contributed photo
This picture was taken at Murphy’s Pond in Port Hood following a mid-December storm surge.

STRAIT AREA: Following a technical briefing late last January, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan said tolls for sections of highway between Port Hastings and Port Hawkesbury, as well as St. Peter’s to Sydney have a poor financial viability.

The highway sections being looked at include a 37.8 kilometre (km) section of Highway 104 from Sutherlands River to Antigonish, a 38.4 km section from Taylors Road to Auld’s Cove, a 6.75 km section from Port Hastings to Port Hawkesbury, and a 80 km section from St. Peter’s to Sydney.

A provincial feasibility study lists the cost of twinning at just over $285 million for the Sutherland’s River to Antigonish section, $279,200,000 for Taylor’s Road to Auld’s Cove, $87 million for Port Hastings to Port Hawkesbury, and $491 million for St. Peter’s to Sydney.

The study also listed the average daily traffic (ADT) at around 8,000 for the Sutherland’s River section, and suggested a toll range of $2.27 to $3.78. It also listed the ADT for the Taylor’s Road section at 8,000 and a suggested toll range of $2.37 to $3.95. The ADT for the Port Hastings section is also 8,000 and the toll range is $0.42 to $0.84, while the ADT for the St. Peter’s section is 2,000 and the toll range is $5.03 to $21.81.

ANTIGONISH: On January 20, the Antigonish District RCMP Street Crime Enforcement Unit, working with the RCMP’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit and Technological Crime Unit, searched a home in Antigonish.

Child pornography was discovered as a result of the search, a 69-year-old man was arrested without incident.

John Robert MacIsaac of Antigonish was charged and released from custody on strict conditions.

GUYSBOROUGH: Late last January, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough expressed interest in being a part of the proposed Atlantic Link project.

On January 11, Emera Inc. began seeing interest for providers for the 900 Megawatts of hydro or wind energy it hopes to package as part of the $2 billion Atlantic Link. The proposed link, a 563 kilometre transmission line, would carry energy from New Brunswick to the United States.

On January 16, the municipality issued a press release touting the benefits of a wind farm in the Melford area, noting, among other things, its proximity to the transmission system.

ANTIGONISH: The lawyer for William Roger MacLellan appeared before a judge in chambers at the Antigonish Justice Centre on January 3 to make a motion for the appeal and set a hearing for April 18.

A notice of appeal issued on December 5 claimed that the trail judge erred in applying the law of identification of evidence, in applying the law of voice identification evidence, that the verdict is unreasonable or cannot be supported by the evidence, and other grounds for the appeal.

Judge Laurie Halfpenny-MacQuarrie found MacLellan guilty of sexual assault on November 4, 2015. The judge heard final arguments on the case on August 30, 2016 in Truro Provincial Court. Both the crown and defense entered an agreed upon statement of facts in regards to a surveillance video offered as evidence in the trial.

On January 19, 2016, the prosecution decided to no longer pursue one of the two sexual assault charges MacLellan previously faced.