Search and rescue group makes funding pitch to town

PORT HAWKESBURY: With its first-ever central operations centre now operating in Monastery and membership on the rise, Strait Area Ground Search and Rescue (SAGSR) is thanking local municipalities for their support but also requesting additional funds to assist with their new building’s upkeep.

SAGSR representative Tanya McChesney made a brief appearance at this week’s meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council, to request a contribution of $3,000 to be directed towards the maintenance of the rescue group’s new headquarters at the former Delorey Brothers Bingo Hall.

“Our costs are going to continue to keep going up,” said McChesney, whose group is also approaching the council tables in the Town and County of Antigonish, the Districts of St. Mary’s and Guysborough, and the Town of Mulgrave.

While the president of the 38-year-old volunteer organization, Cecil Cashin, had warned last summer that SAGSR could fold if it failed to meet a mid-December purchase deadline for its new building, McChesney painted a brighter picture during the April 4 town council meeting at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre’s Shannon Studio.

“Since we have purchased the building in December, our membership has gone up, which is really good,” said McChesney, who noted that the launch of a central operations centre has already positively impacted the 80-member team’s efforts.

”Before, we were going to five or six houses and grabbing our equipment before heading off… The efficiency of our [relationship with local] emergency responders has increased, because now all of our equipment is located in one building.”

Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton told McChesney that town officials will review the SAGSR request during its upcoming budget deliberations, as confirmed by the town’s Director of Finance, Erin MacEachern.

“Council will probably be meeting later in April to prepare a draft, so at that time we can look at the request,” MacEachern added.