The Town of Mulgrave put on a different Easter celebration in April as the Easter Bunny was given a drive courtesy the Mulgrave Volunteer Fire Department to raise the spirits of residents in the midst of the pandemic.

ANTIGONISH: An employee at the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish tested positive for COVID-19.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Strang told a press briefing in Halifax all residents and staff in Antigonish were tested, and all results were negative.

Leroy McKinnon, senior specialist in corporate communications with the Parkland Fuel Corporation, told The Reporter on Mar. 29 that their Ultramar Retail Station on Reeves Street in Port Hawkesbury was closed temporarily.

Days later, McKinnon confirmed that the business – which includes a gas station, convenience store and serves as a Maritime Bus depot – re-opened after ane employee’s test result came back negative.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s (NSHA) Public Health Office said a potential exposure took place on Mar. at the Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre in Antigonish during the Bantam AAA Provincial Hockey Championship.

The Ultramar Retail Station on Reeves Street in Port Hawkesbury was closed temporarily last April.

POINT TUPPER: The last major mill in the province stopped accepting wood deliveries.

The decision came as Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) dealt with the declining market and the added effects from the pandemic.

In a statement, the company said it would continue to monitor and adjust operations as required.

The decision will directly impact sawmills across the province, a number of which were sending their wood and wood chips to the paper mill since the closure of Northern Pulp.

With the shutdown of Northern Pulp, officials with Port Hawkesbury Paper temporarily agreed to take on wood chips and pulpwood from the mainland to help alleviate impacted woodlot operations.

MULGRAVE: The Strait of Canso Superport Corporation announced it was restricting public access to its Mulgrave office and added a number of procedures for working alongside or boarding a vessel.

Because there are many people in Port Hawkesbury particularly vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the town formed a group of volunteers to help those most in need. The needs in the community are evolving daily but this includes picking up and dropping off prescriptions and groceries, food bank tasks, and dog walking.

PORT HOOD: The Municipality of the County of Inverness Coronavirus released its COVID-19 pandemic plan to guide council and staff.

The Port Hood administrative building, the infrastructure and emergency services facility and the Kenloch Transfer Station were all closed to the public. All recreation and cultural programs offered through the municipality were cancelled. Foyer Père Fiset, Inverary Manor, Port Hood Small Options and Koster Huis were closed to visitors. All non-essential municipal meetings were cancelled, and staff worked from home when possible.

The municipality also developed a COVID-19 information package for residents.

PORT HOOD: The Municipality of the County of Inverness and Seaside Communications – in cooperation with the Strait Area Centre for Education’s SchoolsPlus Program – teamed up to provide vulnerable residents with food resources.

Through funds from Seaside, staff from the municipality and volunteers with the SchoolsPlus Program distributed 130 food hampers to families throughout the county.

Schools participating in the SchoolsPlus program include: Whycocomagh Education Centre; Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre; Inverness Education Centre; and Bayview Education Centre in Port Hood.

Hampers were delivered with the help of Strait Area Transit. The donation by Seaside also allowed additional food to be distributed to local food banks.

HALIFAX: A patient at a hospital in the Eastern Zone became Nova Scotia’s first COVID-19 death.

On Apr. 6, a woman in her 70s with underlying medical conditions died in hospital in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Eastern Zone as a result of complications related to COVID-19.

Steinhart Distillery switched their production from batches of alcohol to brewing batches of hand sanitizer.

ARISAIG: A resourceful craft distiller pivoted from distilling batches of alcohol to brewing batches of hand sanitizer.

On Mar. 16 a shipment of 8,000 bottles arrived at the Arisaig-based, Steinhart Distillery as they began transitioning to the production of hand sanitizer. A few days later they received a shipment of 100,000.

Their transition to sanitizers allowed the distillery to stay in business and keep his employees. It was one of his five winter season employees who came up with the idea of making hand sanitizer.

After receiving a permit to produce sanitizer on Mar. 13, Steinhart Distillery hit the ground running. Employees worked in two shifts just to get the bottles filled.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Town officials projected a $100,000 loss in revenue for the month of April, and in a “best case scenario,” a total of $300,000 in losses over the next six months.

Outlining current and potential losses from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, Erin MacEachen, Port Hawkesbury’s finance director, said the projected loss affects the town differently due to the amount of revenue they generate from sales and services.

Following the regular town council meeting on Apr. 7, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said about 10 per cent of the town’s revenue is dependent on sales and services.

PORT HAWKESBURY: For the first time in its history, the Town of Port Hawkesbury hosted its first ever virtual council meeting Apr. 7 on the GoToMeetings application.

The regular monthly meeting featured a council chamber not at the regular site of Shannon Studio in the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre – due to social distancing protocols – but rather in the living rooms and home offices of local elected officials.

Other than a staff member occasionally forgetting their mic had been muted, everything ran smoothly.

ARICHAT: On Apr. 10, St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre announced that its emergency department was designated as an Urgent Care Centre that will retain some emergency room responsibilities, but will no longer accept Emergency Health Services cases, suicide or homicide threats, chest or abdominal pains, or respiratory complaints.

The facility will continue to care for minor conditions which will be assessed through its triage system.

St. Anne CEO Annette Fougere said the changes were temporary and were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Jake Boudrot St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre in Arichat underwent some changes last April.

ANTIGONISH: As a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the town changed the way residents pay their bills.

In addition to waiving interest on any outstanding tax balances until June 30, the town also waived the interest or penalties on any past due water and electric amounts until June 30, and suspended any disconnection of services for non-payment for town-owned utility customers until June 30.

With town hall closed, water and electrical bills could be paid through on-line banking or credit cards. The town also had a secure drop-box located at the front door of town hall where payments in the form of cheque or money order were accepted.

PORT HAWKESBURY: A former Port Hawkesbury town councillor was disappointed some of his former colleagues didn’t extend his term in office.

Trevor Boudreau had his application denied during a special council meeting on Apr. 14. The vote ended in a 2-2 stalemate, with councillors Hughie MacDonald and Mark MacIver voting against the motion.

Boudreau applied for the extension on Mar. 24, when he no longer was an ordinarily resident of the Town of Port Hawkesbury, after moving outside town limits deemed him ineligible to serve on council.

It’s Boudreau’s belief that there was consensus from both the town’s solicitor and the Department of Municipal Affairs that there was a legal avenue to grant his request, but others on council did not see it that way.

Trevor Boudreau

HALIFAX: According to information released by the province, the Strait area had among the lowest COVID-19 rates in Nova Scotia.

During a briefing on Apr. 14, chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang released statistics from Community Health Networks across Nova Scotia.

It showed that only the Eastern Shore-Musquodobit and West Hants regions had fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19 than the counties of Inverness, Richmond, Victoria, Guysborough, and Antigonish.

According to a graph presented by Dr. Strang, there were more cumulative cases in the Annapolis-Kings, Bedford-Sackville, Colchester-East Hants, Lunenburg-Queens, Cape Breton, and Pictou County regions, than in the Strait region.

ANTIGONISH: During their monthly regular council meeting on Apr. 20, Antigonish Town council approved its business continuity pandemic plan.

Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said staff set up the plan as a resource for when a pandemic, such as novel coronavirus (COVID-19), occurs.

Additionally, town council also voted to distribute the remaining 2019-20 Council Discretionary Funds among the Antigonish Food Bank, Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and the Antigonish Emergency Fuel Fund – donating just over $4,230 to each group.

Recreation facilities such as the town’s new Skatepark, Columbus Field, Chisholm Park, Central Field and the Challenger Baseball Field were closed and the RCMP had the discretion to fine any residents using these facilities.

OTTAWA: The opening of the lobster season for fishermen in Antigonish and Inverness counties was delayed.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed that the 2020 season for Lobster Fishery Areas 26A and 26B, covering the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, was rescheduled to May 15.

The season for LFAs 28, 29, 30, 31A, and 31B, off Richmond and Guysborough counties started on May 1.

Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway said he spoke with constituents and local leaders, and among fishermen and their groups, opinions were divided.

All processors in Nova Scotia agreed to delay the season while procedures and protocols were implemented, and workers are trained.

Cst. Heidi Stevenson

STRAIT AREA: As people around the province, the country, and the world tried to come to grips with what happened on Apr. 18 and 19 in central Nova Scotia, so too did local residents.

Cst. Heidi Stevenson was killed in the line of duty on Apr. 19 in Shubenacadie while attending the scene of an active shooter. She left behind a husband and two children.

Born in 1971 to parents Avon Brophy and David Burkholder, Cst. Stevenson grew up in Antigonish.

The future mountie graduated from Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional High School in Antigonish in 1989 and according to her yearbook, was known for her “unmistakable laugh.”

Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron said Apr. 18 and 19 will go down in history as two of the most devastating days Nova Scotia has ever endured.

In particular, the warden shared words for the family and Cst. Stevenson’s colleagues, noting that “Constable Heidi Stevenson formally called Antigonish home and we grieve along with you.”

After word of the mass murder travelled around the region, municipal councils, RCMP detachments, provincial and private offices, post offices, residents, and businesses lowered their flags out of respect for the 22 victims of Canada’s worst mass shooting.

In days following the shootings and fires, residents around the Strait area participated in vigils, sent on-line condolences, reached out to friends and family in the affected areas, and volunteer fire departments participated by running the lights on their vehicles, all in tribute to the victims, families and communities impacted by this tragedy.

Strait area RCMP detachments also participated in the Apr. 24 tribute to Cst. Stevenson.