Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
MILAN — Though the first real snow has yet to fall across much of Europe, ski buffs are imagining with dread a once-unthinkable scene: Skiing in Zermatt in Switzerland while lifts idle across the border in Italy's Aosta valley.The leaders of Italy and France are resisting pressure to reopen ski resorts before Christmas, pushing for European co-ordination so their industries don’t suffer during the pandemic while others flourish. But the Alpine countries of Switzerland and Austria could well be spoilers.Ski resorts were one of the major sources of contagion in the deadly spring surge of COVID-19.So far, restrictions to slow the curve of infections have kept lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. They are warning of irreversible economic damage if they are not permitted to open this season.Both Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte and French President Emmanuel Macron said this week that pre-Christmas openings are unthinkable. While such skiing luminaries as world and Olympic champion Alberto Tomba argue that it is an individual sport conducted in the open air, the leaders point to the risks of contagion in crowded lift lines and lodges, as well as closed cable cars.Top health officials in Italy appeared aghast when they were asked at a briefing Tuesday about the prospects for opening ski season, minutes after they had just reported a resurgence-high 853 deaths in a 24-hour period.“I admit I have a difficult time inside commenting on arguments relating to ski areas and what will happen at Christmas, thinking about these numbers,’’ said Dr. Franco Locatelli, head of Italy’s national scientific council.French mountain industry representatives met with the French prime minister Monday to press to be able to reopen, but apparently their pleas weren’t heard.“It seems impossible to me to imagine a reopening for the holidays, and much more preferable to favour reopening in January, in good conditions,’’ Macron said as he laid out plans Tuesday night for a gradual easing of the current lockdown.Plans for reopening also remain on ice in the eastern countries of Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — although Serbia is prepping for the winter season in full swing, as if COVID-19 did not exist, counting on both domestic and foreign visitors.Austria, whose current lockdown runs through Dec. 6, has been for months saying that it hoped to reopen the slopes this season and rejected Italy’s idea of keeping them closed until Jan. 10. On Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pushed back against calls to write off this year’s ski season because of the pandemic.In Bavaria, Germany’s largest ski destination, Governor Markus Soeder supported the idea, saying that if Europe’s borders are to remain open through the Christmas season there will have to be some sort of a blanket rule on keeping resorts closed.In Switzerland, lifts are indeed in operation on Zermatt, next to the famed Matterhorn, and eastern Davos, near Austria. The famed resort of St. Moritz, a favourite destination for well-heeled Italians, is set to open about 60% of slopes this weekend.But much of the fun of skiing getaways is missing: Zermatt's slopes may be open, but its restaurants are not — meaning a warm cocoa, mulled wine or cold beer at pubs or eateries after mountain runs is out.So far, just 10% of the country’s 250 ski stations are open as only the highest altitudes have gotten enough snow, according to Switzerland Tourism spokeswoman Veronique Kanel. She said she didn't expect a flood of foreign skiers, noting strict travel rules still in place in many countries.An official in the Swiss health ministry said Switzerland plans to join a discussion among officials from Alpine countries in the coming days on co-ordinating a plan for relaunching the ski season.“Clearly the situation is complicated: It’s difficult to have only one country open its ski slopes when others close theirs. There needs to be co-ordination,” said the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.___Keaten contributed from Geneva. Angela Charlton in Paris and Dave Rising in Berlin also contributed.___Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakColleen Barry And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La vice-première ministre de l’Ontario et ministre de la Santé Christine Elliott est en désaccord avec « certains aspects » du plus récent rapport de la vérificatrice générale, dévoilé mercredi. Le document de 260 pages qui porte sur la préparation et sur la gestion du gouvernement Ford face à la COVID-19 déposé mercredi matin par la vérificatrice générale « est à bien des égards une description erronée de la réponse de la province à la pandémie », selon la ministre Elliott. À LIRE AUSSI : Le gouvernement Ford a réagit plus lentement que les autres Le Dr David Williams sous la loupe de la vérificatrice générale Malgré les nombreuses failles soulignées par la vérificatrice à l’endroit du médecin hygiéniste en chef de l’Ontario, la ministre de la Santé continue de se porter à sa défense et de réitérer son appui. « J’ai une confiance complète envers le Dr Williams. Il a plus de 30 ans d’expérience, non seulement au niveau provincial mais aussi local. Il a le savoir de continuer et de nous mener à travers la pandémie. Il a été un vrai leader à travers cette pandémie. » Elle réfute aussi l’affirmation de la vérificatrice générale selon laquelle le Dr David Williams n’a pas dirigé l’intervention du gouvernement face au virus. « Il nous a fourni des recommandations depuis la première journée. » Ce n’est pas vrai que l’Ontario a réagi plus lentement que les autres provinces, a aussi relaté Mme Elliott. Quelques minutes après le dépôt du rapport, le bureau de la ministre a envoyé aux médias un tableau qui compare les données de la COVID-19 de l’Ontario à celles des juridictions autour, afin d’appuyer son argument voulant que la situation en Ontario est l’une des moins pires en Amérique du Nord. La vérificatrice générale surprise par cette réponse Bonnie Lysyk s’est dite un peu surprise par les propos de la ministre Elliott en réponse à son rapport. La vérificatrice a fait savoir en conférence de presse que des bureaucrates de haut niveau du gouvernement Ford ont approuvé son rapport. Elle aussi rappelé que son objectif n’est pas de blâmer personne, mais bien de répondre aux failles mises en lumière par son Bureau.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
Jennifer Heywood's mother is 94 and trying to bounce back from a recent bout with COVID-19.Her adult children are anxious to know if they will be able celebrate Christmas as a family, in person — possibly for the last time."I would like very much just to see her," Heywood said, fighting back tears. "I'm sorry. I would just like to see her."The province is expected to announce guidelines this week for holiday gatherings involving seniors living in long-term care homes.Making matters more complicated, Heywood lives in Toronto. Her bags are packed. But she's hoping the spread of COVID-19 will have stabilized enough in Quebec and Ontario to allow her to come to Montreal.Her mother contracted the virus last month at the Vigi Reine-Élizabeth in NDG, and it's taken a physical toll on her, according to Heywood.Heywood and her siblings weren't even sure their mother would make it to Christmas.Two of her siblings visit their mother regularly, but never at the same time. Heywood is hoping that will change, and bring much needed joy to the elderly patient."Christmas is a big deal to Mum," Heywood said. "She always celebrated it joyously. She always made it beautiful for us. So we've always wanted to make it beautiful for her when she's been in a hospital bed."Risk of outbreaks 'always hanging over our heads'Quebecers are being allowed two get-togethers with a maximum of 10 people in each between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.But there's a quid pro quo.Premier François Legault has asked people to self-isolate in the week leading up to that four-day window and for a week following it. He calls it a "moral contract."Dr. Élise Boulanger, who works at CHSLD Father Dowd, says there is a need for balance when it comes to letting residents celebrate the holidays with family."There is a great proportion [of residents] that are at the end of their life, and this Christmas may be every important for them," said Boulanger. For the most part, she believes people who visit loved ones in long-term care homes are careful about not bringing the virus into the facility, but she stresses the importance of ditching large family gatherings prior to visiting a loved one. "It's always a risk, and it's happening. You still have some outbreaks that are happening in the centres, right now," said Boulanger. "It's always a concern. It feels like it's always hanging over our heads."
While the Humboldt chapter of Junior Chamber International (JCI) has been disbanded for over a year, the service club’s impact on the city is still noticeable. Rob Muench, Larry Jorgenson, Roger Korte and Amanda Klitch were all members of the service organization. The club ran in the city from 1958 until 2019 and promoted leadership, volunteering, and community event planning for members ages 18 to 40. Many long-serving members of the club over the years made their mark by becoming city councillors and mayors and this still stands as four of the current council are former members of the organization. For Larry Jorgenson, going from the club to the council was a natural move, he said. It was a young person’s club, he said, so once a member hits 40, they are asked to step away. “You spend that time from when you're 20 years old to when you get to be 40 years old basically training to become a leader. Where else can a leader go but take the next step to the city council or to some other organization?” Having JCI members on council has been a tradition since the club’s founding, said Rob Muench, a former mayor and returning city councillor, considering the similarities of both organizations in improving the community. As part of the JCIs, members learn about Robert's Rules of Order, discussing concerns, and making decisions that are good for the community. The same goes for what happens around the council table. “It is part of [the JCI] mandate to make the world a better place and to build leaders. It starts out with 18-year-old people that want to get involved in the community and over the years it certainly has supplied a number of councillors to the City of Humboldt.” Being an international organization, JCIs have chapters all over the world so there are still opportunities for people to remain involved with the organization. While it would be nice to have the chapter back in Humboldt, Jorgenson said the club was not sustainable. “The club has been struggling to find volunteers and new members, and they just couldn't sustain themselves anymore… We'd love to have a chapter back in Humboldt but the people that were on it we're getting burned out, and they just weren't able to revitalize the clubs moving forward.” For more information, visit the Junior Chamber International website at jci.cc or the JCI Humboldt Facebook page, www.facebook.com/jcihumboldt.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
We picked out some amazing gifts from talented artisans and makers across Canada.
Trying to make sense of the shakeup at city hall? It's a bit of a puzzle, but a comparison of the old and new organizational charts - aided by a memo from acting city manager Walter Babicz that was leaked to CKPG - provides a certain amount of clarity. In essence, one half of a department has been scrapped and another has taken on a significantly bigger workload under a COVID-induced revamping at city hall. At its centre, the infrastructure and services department is being eliminated and replaced, in part, with a new civic operations department that will take on five divisions largely related to the public works side of its predecessor: transportation and technical services, project delivery (previously named infrastructure delivery), parks and solid waste, roads and fleet, and utilities. With the move, the old department's general manager, Dave Dyer, has gone into retirement and public works director Gina Layte Liston and infrastructure services director Adam Homes are no longer on the payroll. In turn, the planning and development department has been renamed the planning, development and infrastructure services department and has taken on two divisions previously under infrastructure and services - asset management and infrastructure and planning and engineering. As well, Babicz said in the memo that the environmental services division, previously part of infrastructure and services, has been reduced and split between civic operations through its utilities division, and the development services division within the planning, development and infrastructure services department. The bylaw services division, meanwhile, has been moved to the community services and public safety department from planning, development and infrastructure services department, while the financial services department has taken on the financial management functions for both the community services and public safety department and the old infrastructure services department. In an email, city spokesperson Mike Kellett confirmed that in addition to their roles as acting city manager and acting deputy city manager, Babicz and Ian Wells will continue as the heads, respectively, of the administrative services and planning, development, and infrastructure services departments. Blake McIntosh, who has been manager of the roads and fleet division, is acting director of the civic operations department, while Kris Dalio remains head of finance, Adam Davey head of community services and public safety and Rae Ann Emery head of human resources, now known as human resources and corporate safety. And strategic Initiatives and partnerships, which is led by Chris Bone, now reports to Wells in planning, development, and infrastructure services. Babicz has said the changes were made to reduce costs in the face of a major hit to revenue due to the pandemic. He has declined to say publicly who has lost their jobs as a result but in an emailed statement to the Citizen early this month, he did say six management and four unionized positions were eliminated. One of the management positions was to be refilled and one of the unionized jobs was vacant prior to the changes. Exactly how much savings they will deliver will be known as part of a bigger presentation staff will make to council's finance and audit committee meeting on December 7 at city hall.Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann said Wednesday that its Penguin Random House division is buying rival Simon & Schuster in a megadeal that would reshape the U.S. publishing industry.Penguin Random House, already the largest American publisher, will buy the New York-based Simon & Schuster, whose authors include Stephen King, Hillary Clinton and John Irving, from TV and film company ViacomCBS for $2.17 billion in cash.“Simon & Schuster strengthens Bertelsmann’s footprint globally, and (particularly) in the U.S., its second-largest market,” the Guetersloh, Germany-based company said in a statement.The purchase of Simon & Schuster would reduce the so-called Big Five of American publishing — which also includes HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan — to four.The deal, expected to close in 2021, requires approval from the U.S. Justice Department. No U.S. publisher in modern times would approach the power of the new company. ViacomCBS said Bertelsmann will pay a termination fee if the deal fails due to regulatory reasons.Agents and authors often worry that a concentration of power in publishing could mean less competition for book deals, and lower advances.The Authors Guild, a writers' organization, said Wednesday that it opposed the sale because it would hurt competition, making it more difficult for authors and agents to negotiate with publishers, and said the Justice Department should challenge it.“As an organization of writers it’s important to us that the publishing industry (thrives), and that there be multiple, robust outlets to bring the widest variety of books to audiences,” said Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America. “To the extent that efficiencies are garnered through consolidation, it is our hope that they are a catalyst to enable greater investment in authors, books, and outreach to readers.”Bertelsmann's rival News Corp., which owns HarperCollins, also slammed the deal. “Bertelsmann is not just buying a book publisher, but buying market dominance as a book behemoth,” said News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said in a statement. “This literary leviathan would have 70% of the U.S. literary and general fiction market."Penguin Random House Chief Executive Markus Dohle told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Simon & Schuster would retain its editorial independence and that individual imprints within Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster could continue to compete with each other for book deals.Simon & Schuster’s current president and chief executive, Jonathan Karp, will continue to lead the publishing house, Bertelsmann said.Under the new company, authors would range from John Grisham and Stephen King to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Every living former or current American president, from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump, will have published a book with the new company. So will first ladies such as Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.Dohle declined to say whether there would be any layoffs, saying it was too soon to speculate.The German conglomerate, which was founded in 1835 and also owns a broad portfolio of broadcast, music and online businesses, has been the sole owner of Penguin Random House since April.ViacomCBS put up Simon & Schuster, founded in 1924, for sale earlier this year as the entertainment company tries to sell off “non-core assets” to pay down debt, please shareholders with dividends and stock buybacks, and invest in streaming.ViacomCBS owns cable networks Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and Comedy Central as well as broadcast network CBS and movie studio Paramount. It is trying to navigate consumers’ shift from watching live TV on a television set to streaming shows and movies on the internet.___Italie reported from New York. Associated Press writer Tali Arbel in Phoenix contributed to this report.Frank Jordans And Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Gripped by the accelerating viral outbreak, the U.S. economy is under pressure from persistent layoffs, diminished income and nervous consumers, whose spending is needed to drive a recovery from the pandemic.A flurry of data released Wednesday suggested that the spread of the virus is intensifying the threats to an economy still struggling to recover from the deep recession that struck in early spring.The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week for a second straight week to 778,000, evidence that many employers are still slashing jobs more than eight months after the virus hit. Before the pandemic, weekly jobless claims typically amounted to only about 225,000. Layoffs are still historically high, with many businesses unable to fully reopen and some, especially restaurants and bars, facing tightened restrictions.Consumers increased their spending last month by just 0.5%, the weakest rise since the pandemic erupted. The tepid figure suggested that on the eve of the crucial holiday shopping season, Americans remain anxious with the virus spreading and Congress failing to enact any further aid for struggling individuals, businesses, cities and states. At the same time, the government said Wednesday that income, which provides the fuel for consumer spending, fell 0.7% in October.The spike in virus cases is heightening pressure on companies and individuals, with fear growing that the economy could suffer a “double-dip” recession as states and cities reimpose curbs on businesses. The economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, is expected to eke out a modest gain this quarter before weakening — and perhaps shrinking — early next year. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, predicts annual GDP growth of around 2% in the October-December quarter, with the possibility of GDP turning negative in the first quarter of 2021.Economists at JPMorgan Chase have slashed their forecast for the first quarter to a negative 1% annual GDP rate.“This winter will be grim,” they wrote in a research note.Zandi warned that until Congress agrees on a new stimulus plan to replace a now-expired multi-trillion-dollar aid package enacted in the spring, the threat to the economy will grow.“The economy is going to be very uncomfortable between now and when we get the next fiscal rescue package,” Zandi said. “If lawmakers can’t get it together, it will be very difficult for the economy to avoid going back into a recession.”Some corners of the economy still show strength, or at least resilience. Manufacturing is one. The government said Wednesday that orders for durable goods rose 1.3% in October, a sign that purchases of goods remain solid even while the economy's much larger service sector — everything from restaurants, hotels and airlines to gyms, hair salons and entertainment venues — is still struggling. But economists caution that factories, too, remain at risk from the surge in coronavirus cases, which could throttle demand in coming months.And sales of new homes remained steady in October, the latest sign that ultra-low mortgage rates and a paucity of properties for sale have spurred demand and made the housing market a rare economic bright spot.But at the heart of the economy are the job market and consumer spending, which remain especially vulnerable to the spike in virus cases. Most economists say the distribution of an effective vaccine would likely reinvigorate growth next year. Yet they warn that any sustained recovery will also hinge on whether Congress can agree soon on a sizable aid package to carry the economy through what could be a bleak winter.“With infections continuing to rise at an elevated pace and curbs on business operations widening, layoffs are likely to pick up over coming weeks,? said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.The government said he total number of people who are continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits dropped to 6.1 million from 6.4 million the previous week. That figure has been declining for months. It shows that more Americans are finding jobs and no longer receiving unemployment aid. But it also indicates that many jobless people have used up their state unemployment aid — which typically expires after six months.More Americans are collecting benefits under programs that were set up to cushion the economic pain from the pandemic. For the week of Nov. 7, the number of people collecting benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program — which offers coverage to gig workers and others who don't qualify for traditional aid — rose by 466,000 to 9.1 million.And the number of people receiving aid under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program — which offers 13 weeks of federal benefits to those who have exhausted state jobless aid — rose by 132,000 to 4.5 million.The data firm Womply says that 21% of small businesses were shuttered at the start of this month, reflecting a steady increase from June’s 16% rate. Consumer spending at local businesses is down 27% this month from a year ago, marking a deterioration from a 20% year-over-year drop in October, Womply found.The heart of the problem is an untamed virus: The number of confirmed infections in the United States has shot up to more than 170,000 a day, from fewer than 35,000 in early September. The arrival of cold weather in much of the country could further worsen the health crisis.Meanwhile, another economic threat looms: The impending expiration of the two supplemental federal unemployment programs the day after Christmas could end benefits completely for 9.1 million jobless people. Congress has failed for months to agree on any new stimulus aid for jobless individuals and struggling businesses after the expiration of a multi-trillion dollar rescue package it enacted in March.The expiration of benefits will make it harder for the unemployed to make rent payments, afford food or keep up with utility bills. Most economists agree that because unemployed people tend to quickly spend their benefits, such aid is effective in boosting the economy.When the viral outbreak struck in early spring, employers slashed 22 million jobs in March and April, sending the unemployment rate rocketing to 14.7%, the highest rate since the Great Depression. Since then, the economy has regained more than 12 million jobs. Yet the nation still has about 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic erupted.All of which has left many Americans anxious and uncertain. The Conference Board, a business research group, reported Tuesday that consumer confidence weakened in November, pulled down by lowered expectations for the next six months.And the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers reported Wednesday that sentiment declined slightly this month, and remained far below where it was before the pandemic struck. With the resurgence of the virus depressing the outlook of consumers, the sentiment index fell to its lowest point since August.“Gloomier consumer expectations will weigh on spending as the holidays approach,” cautioned Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics.___AP Business Writer Ken Sweet contributed to this report from Charlotte, North Carolina.Martin Crutsinger And Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
The Town of Bay Roberts has awarded a tender in the amount of $316,277 to CanAm Platforms & Construction Ltd. for new ballfield lighting. There was some discussion on whether that tender price would include new dehumidifiers, as the tender was for ballfield lighting and stadium dehumidifier upgrades. “I’m 99 percent sure that’s just the ballfield lighting,” said councillor Dean Franey, who noted the Town had already awarded the dehumidifier upgrade. “I’ll have to check with the director, but I’m pretty sure councillor Franey is right,” agreed Chief Administrative Officer Nigel Black. “What happens is the project name was called Ballfield Lighting and Stadium Dehumidifier. It was all lumped into one project.” Councillor Silas Badcock raised a concern about the awarding of the tender. “This is the company that put up our building at the recreation complex, where we’re having trouble with the roof?” asked Badcock. Black confirmed it was. Badcock said it didn’t make sense to him to award the contract unless the roof was fixed first. Black replied that the company met all the requirements of the tender, which had been reviewed by Municipal Affairs and the Town’s consultant, Crosbie Engineering. “There’s no way in the world we can say, ‘Fix our roof before you get this contract?’” asked Babcock. Black said the roof is being fixed and there is no outstanding claim against the company. “There was an outstanding problem with the roof, and they’re fixing it,” said Black. Councillor Geoff Seymour asked how much interest there was in the tender, and Franey said that there were 10 bids— including one from a company from Nova Scotia. “There’s not much work out there, I’ll put it to you that way. So people are going after whatever they can get,” said Franey. Council voted to approve the tender for the ballfield lighting.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
TEMAGAMI – With COVID-19 not going away anytime soon, Temagami council has begun discussing some options when it comes to winter recreation opportunities at the Community Centre. With all the uncertainties surrounding COVID, and with current arena restrictions, the municipality had yet to determine if the ice plant would be operational for the 2020-21 winter season. Council looked at a pair of options at the November 19 regular meeting. The first option would be for the town to start up the ice plant and have the ice ready for the Christmas season. Staff would ensure that the municipality would continue to follow current health regulations while offering public skating, pick-up hockey, and other events for which revenue could be generated. “To proceed with this option we would need to develop health and safety protocols, cleaning protocols and purchase additional protective equipment,” recreation manager Kelly Hearn wrote in his report to council. “The start-up procedures for the ice plant would also need to be completed.” The second option would be that the municipality does not start up the ice plant this winter. Staff would consider other options for recreational programming for the community to stay active and healthy. “From the operational funds that are not utilized on the start-up, shut down and maintenance of the ice surface, staff would find alternate means of providing recreation to the community,” said Hearn. Hearn noted that staff are also considering the purchase of a made-to-measure, rubberized floor for the arena surface. “This would increase the options of non-ice arena use,” he reasoned. Councillor John Shymko was in favour of the second option, suggesting that the town “could plow a few rinks on Net Lake and Lake Temagami” so that they could still offer public skating. Treasurer-administrator Craig Davidson said he didn’t disagree with Shymko’s idea, but that it might not be something the municipality could do itself based on its insurance coverage. “It might need to be something that’s done at arm’s length (from council) volunteers,” he explained. Davidson added that he has always thought an outdoor rink, along with a bonfire, by the municipal office would be a good idea “as long as the fire doesn’t melt down into the lake.” Shymko then said he wouldn’t mind plowing the potential rink himself. Councillor Margaret Youngs was also in favour of the second option while Councillor Jamie Koistinen said she was leaning towards favouring the first option because of how “depressing” Northern Ontario winters can be. “If we’re removing any kind of recreation from the kids here in town, or even families to have some kind of outings that are safe within the community, then what does that do for the community members there?” she questioned. “Christmas is coming, there’s the two-week (school) break and possibly extensions beyond that. So I tend to think that some families might benefit from going to the arena, especially during a time where you’re not quite able yet to go ski-dooing, you can’t go ice fishing, there’s different things that can’t happen in the community at that time.” Councillor Barret Leudke stated that he didn’t feel the municipality should be encouraging group gatherings of any kind because of the increasing risks and uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. “We need to go into a full lockdown and other municipalities have suggested to stay directly home. I’m not in support of (group gatherings), I see this virus getting worse long before it gets better,” he said. “I want to encourage more distancing and no group gatherings.” Deputy Mayor Cathy Dwyer said she would be in favour of the second option as long as the municipality looks into other recreational possibilities for its residents. She said she has heard from some parents who understand the municipality might not put ice in the arena but were concerned about a lack of activities for their kids this winter. Council agreed on a motion to choose the second option and not start up the ice plant this winter. Hearn said that staff would work on seeking out other recreation opportunities to keep the community active this winter.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Hay River has been denied disaster financial assistance to meet the costs of a 2019 fire at the town's landfill on the grounds the fire does not meet the N.W.T. government's definition of a disaster. A fire burned in an older section of the landfill for several weeks in March 2019, causing the town to declare a local state of emergency. A precautionary air quality warning was triggered. Town senior administrator Glenn Smith last week told councillors a funding application to the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) had been denied, calling it a “disappointment for administration and council.” An incident must meet several MACA criteria to be termed a disaster, allowing the release of funding. The event must be an emergency, damage must affect a significant number of people or properties, and the health, safety and welfare of residents must be at risk. The town must also prove it conducted appropriate emergency operations, advised the deputy minister, the community, small businesses and residents, and made serious efforts to protect property and minimize risk. MACA, rejecting Hay River’s application, said the landfill fire did not meet the threshold for funding. “There was no widespread damage that affected a significant number of people’s properties and the health, safety and welfare of residents were not at risk,” a MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio by email. Mayor of Hay River Kandis Jameson disagrees. Since the fire, she argues, the town has had to complete regulatory duties like monitoring the local watershed. “These requirements, by nature, are in place for the health, safety and welfare of our residents. That’s why we made the application to the department to begin with,” Jameson said. “That’s my concern: how does this not fit your disaster assistance policy when we don’t have an option. We have to perform these tests.” MACA says disaster funding has been granted on several occasions in the past 30 years, often in response to flooding in communities like Nahanni Butte, Hay River, Aklavik, and Fort Good Hope. The funding was also used in response to a Fort McPherson power outage in 2004 and Sahtu fires in 1995. Expenses related to the fire were initially estimated at around $550,000. Jameson says the total has come in above that. The Town of Hay River applied for the funding in August 2019. MACA says the decision took more than a year as October 2019's territorial election and the formation of a new government delayed the consideration process, as did the N.W.T.'s COVID-19 response this year. Jameson says the town has been told it needs to build a new landfill because the existing one is outdated. A new landfill, however, does not come with a small price tag. “We want to remediate that landfill and we want to open a new one,” she said. “When you’ve got that kind of cost to the taxpayers, you want to make sure it’s an opportunity to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.” The mayor said the town has identified ways to move forward, but needs Maca's support and some funding to make things happen. A meeting between Jameson and MACA's minister, Paulie Chinna, is planned for December to discuss the landfill decision and next steps. Jameson hopes MACA will support a town bid for federal funding to help construction of a new landfill. A MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio the department is aware of the challenges Hay River faces, as there are no other disaster funding programs available. “All governments face unplanned expenditures and needs that exceed their available funding,” the spokesperson said by email. “Maca is aware of the potential financial challenges to the Town of Hay River as a result of the decision to deny the request for disaster assistance for the dump fire, and will continue to provide guidance and support to the town in meeting its financial obligations.”Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
School divisions were unprepared for the announcement that thousands of Alberta students would be temporarily vacating the classroom in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, says Trisha Estabrooks, chair of the Edmonton Public School Board. As announced by Premier Jason Kenney during a public briefing on Tuesday, students in Grade 7 to Grade 12 will move to online learning for three weeks starting Monday. Estabrooks said school divisions received "not one inkling" of advance warning. The first time she heard about the measures was on Tuesday night, as the school board paused its regular public meeting to watch Kenney's news conference. Estabrooks said school divisions should have been forewarned about the changes. "We learned about it at the same time the public did," Estabrooks said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "We didn't get a heads up. We didn't get a quick phone call from the minister, saying, 'Hey, this is what's going to happen.'" Kenney described the new restrictions as a "bold and targeted" attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, as Alberta reported a record 1,115 new cases of the disease and declared a public health emergency. "There's very limited transmission within the schools, but more community transmission is affecting the schools and their ability to operate," Kenney said Tuesday. "Teenagers are much more likely to transmit the virus than younger children. A longer period away from school for these older students will help to reduce broader community transmission." Despite the lack of warning from government officials, Estabrooks said school administrators were quietly bracing for possible restrictions in the classroom. She said the changes ahead are daunting but the school board will be ready to welcome students online on Monday. "I think back to the situation we were in in the spring and ... that was a really quick, and really turbulent, pivot. We learned a lot," she said. "The reality is, we have something like 32,000 students already learning online. In a very short two months, Edmonton Public Schools has got the technology and got our teachers up to speed. "I'm not going to say it's going to be completely smooth, but certainly I know that staff and administration have learned from the experiences of the last few months." I'm supportive of yesterday's decision, as tough as it is going to be. - Trisha Estabrooks The change to online learning for junior-high and high-school students is among a series of new measures that will have an impact on Alberta classrooms. Beginning Nov. 30, all students in Grades 7-12 will immediately transition to online learning until they begin their winter break. In-person learning for all students will be delayed a week until Jan. 11. Diploma exams are now optional for the rest of the school year. Estabrooks said she has no doubt the new measures are the "right decision." Many Alberta schools are already nearing their breaking point. 'A step in the right direction' "I look at the trajectory of the number of cases and the burden that was being put on our teachers, our staff, our entire system over the last couple of weeks. And this absolutely is a step in the right direction. "I'm supportive of yesterday's decision, as tough as it is going to be for all those thousands of junior-high and high-school students." A report from the Edmonton Public School Board on the impact of COVID-19 on the first quarter of the school year showed 10,500 students and 1,075 staff were recommended or required to self-isolate. Cases were found in 111 of the division's 215 schools. Tuesday's public school board meeting was dominated by concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in local classrooms, a lack of detailed data on in-classroom transmission, and an apparent breakdown in the contact-tracing system in Alberta classrooms. School symptoms Estabrooks said school finances are strained. Teachers, students and their families are exhausted. Schools are seeing a "sharp increase" in the number of students and staff in isolation and that's put an added strain on staffing, she said. Last week alone, 3,000 students and 335 staff had been forced into isolation at home, Estabrooks said. On Tuesday, with substitute teachers in high demand, more than 100 teaching positions were left unfilled. "That to me, is one of the one of the symptoms of how COVID-19 is really being reflected in our schools," she said. In a statement to CBC News, the Edmonton Catholic School Division said it supports supports the premier's decision to move older students online and to make diploma exams optional. "In the past few weeks we have seen a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in all levels, including junior and senior high," reads the statement, which will be send to parents later Wednesday. "While this increase mirrors the higher numbers of COVID cases in the community, it places additional pressures on staffing to ensure the continuity of learning for all students. "We agree that elementary students should remain in school as we are better able to serve our youngest learners. "The extension of the Christmas break for students in kindergarten to Grade 12 may provide a necessary break in the transmission of COVID-19." Estabrooks urged Albertans to help contain the spread of the virus. She said community transmission is putting pressure on local classrooms. If the virus continues to escalate, students will continue to face disruptions in their education. "If we have any hope of sending our children back to in-person classes on Jan. 11, let's do our part," she said. "Let's listen to what was announced yesterday so that we can open these schools back up. Because, really, that is the best situation where we can have — students in person, with their friends, with their teachers."
Le feuilleton du redécoupage électoral qui a occupé Rimouski pendant des mois vient de prendre fin, et son épilogue soulagera les résidents du Bic : la Commission de la représentation électorale (CRE) a décidé que ce district conservera ses limites actuelles, qui sont celles de l’ancienne municipalité annexée par Rimouski en 2009. Pour justifier sa décision, la CRE dit avoir considéré « les commentaires émis par les électeurs du district numéro 11 du Bic relatifs au sentiment d’appartenance à leur quartier ainsi qu’au respect et à la préservation de l’identité villageoise et patrimoniale du Bic ». L’éloignement entre Le Bic et le centre-ville de Rimouski a également joué dans la réflexion des deux commissaires Pierre Reid et Serge Courville. Si le caractère villageois du Bic a été largement évoqué tout au long des consultations sur la nouvelle carte électorale, les résidents du district voisin de Sacré-Cœur ont également fait valoir leur sentiment d’appartenance depuis le début de cette saga. Eux aussi peuvent souffler : la CRE considère que les districts de Sacré-Cœur et du Bic forment des communautés naturelles distinctes, et qu’on ne peut donc transférer une partie rurale du premier vers le deuxième. « Il a été démontré que les liens socioéconomiques des citoyennes et des citoyens du district numéro 1 de Sacré-Cœur sont davantage tournés vers les secteurs centraux de la Ville de Rimouski », écrit la CRE dans sa décision. Cette décision porte l’écart de population entre le district du Bic et la moyenne des autres districts de Rimouski à 34,4 %, bien au-delà de la limite de 15 % prescrite par la loi. Du côté de Sainte-Blandine/Mont-Lebel, autre district rural particulièrement affecté par le redécoupage, la CRE a entériné la proposition de la Ville de Rimouski. Celle-ci agrandit le territoire du district tout en lui conférant un statut d’exception, puisque l’écart de population avec la moyenne des autres districts est de 25,8 %. Défaite pour la Ville Avec cette décision, la CRE a infligé ce qui a toutes les apparences d’une défaite cinglante à la Ville de Rimouski, tant celle-ci s’est obstinée pendant des mois à défendre l’agrandissement du district du Bic en dépit de l’opposition des citoyens. De nombreux avis publics et présentations ont été produits pour défendre coûte que coûte ce projet alors qu’il ne s’est jamais trouvé aucun résident de Rimouski pour donner son appui aux différents redécoupages proposés. Cet épisode laisse surtout l’impression d’un gâchis de temps et de ressources, puisqu’on en revient à une situation très proche du statu quo en faveur duquel avaient voté deux conseillers début mai, Grégory Thorez (Sainte-Odile) et Virginie Proulx (Le Bic). La conseillère du Bic s’est réjouie de ce dénouement sur sa page Facebook ce matin, tout en félicitant les citoyens qui se sont mobilisés au cours des derniers mois. « C’est une victoire pour la démocratie, une victoire qui montre encore une fois la pertinence de consulter ses citoyens en amont des décisions au bénéfice de tous », écrit-elle. Mais il est clair que c’est aussi une victoire personnelle pour elle : elle fut la seule à s’opposer au règlement actant le redécoupage et le déplacement de la frontière Bic/Sacré-Cœur, tout comme elle fut la seule à informer de manière proactive les citoyens de son district sur les impacts du redécoupage et sur les manières de le contester. Incidemment, on peut conclure de la décision de la CRE qu’il existe bel et bien une corrélation entre le district électoral et le « district d’appartenance », contrairement à ce que prétendait le maire de Rimouski Marc Parent lors de la consultation publique de la CRE. « Lorsque les conseillers et les conseillères siègent au conseil municipal, c’est d’abord et avant tout pour la Ville de Rimouski qu’ils siègent, et non pas pour les électeurs qu’ils représentent dans leur district », avait même déclaré M. Parent, contredisant ce qui est écrit dans le Guide d’accueil et de référence pour les élues et les élus municipaux du gouvernement du Québec. Finalement, c’est peut-être cela que la saga du redécoupage aura permis de rappeler : le rôle d’un conseiller municipal est avant tout de représenter son quartier et ses habitants, avec leur diversité mais aussi leur histoire commune.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
Giant dumps of snow are nothing new to people in the Big Land, but even by Labrador standards the snowfall over the last 24 hours was a doozy. Snow began to fall Monday evening and by 11 a.m. Tuesday 60 centimetres of snow had fallen, with 25-30 more expected before evening. SaltWire Network meteorologist Cindy Day said the storm, the first blizzard of the season for Labrador, tracked across Ontario and Quebec, bringing significant snow across those provinces, and was just off the Northern Peninsula Tuesday afternoon. “The system really is a two-season system. North of the storm it’s a blizzard, snow and wind and significant windchill. On the south side of that low-pressure system it's extremely mild, but also very windy. So, depending on where you are, there are either spring-like conditions or deep into winter.” Day said it’s interesting to note that as of 11 a.m. Tuesday Gander was the hot spot in the country, while there was 60 centimetres of snow in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, about 840 kilometres away. Schools and many businesses closed for the day in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, but some remained open or were slated to open after lunch. All town facilities, including the town hall and the E.J. Broomfield Arena, remained closed for the day, and the scheduled town council meeting was moved to Thursday. Canada Post announced it would not deliver mail in the region Tuesday due to the weather. The average snowfall for the month of November in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is 56 centimetres, Day said, so Tuesday alone will top that. There has already been a record amount of snowfall this month, she said, but depending on how the calculations are done it could also be a new one-day record. The previous record was set, she said, on Jan. 16, 1985, when 71 centimetres fell in one day. “It’s going to be tricky how they add these numbers, since it will have fallen on the 23rd and 24th, so we’ll see how that comes out, but it’s on track for a record,” she said. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
St. John's city councillors are finally speaking about recent municipal job cuts and a reduction in Metrobus service — both which have put people out of work or will see their shifts reduced. A week ago, the city outlined its plan to eliminate 16 full-time positions within municipal operations, and an additional five full-time jobs at St. John's Sports and Entertainment, in addition to two part-time ones. Few details were provided.One day later, CBC News reported Metrobus was paring back service levels due to an $800,000 budget cut from the City of St. John's. "This decision has me torn up honestly. I don't like that we are doing [this] … but there are a lot of challenging decisions that have to be made," Coun. Dave Lane, who chairs the finance committee, told reporters Wednesday. After the cuts and Metrobus reduction were announced last week, no member of council, including Mayor Danny Breen and Lane, would do an interview or answer questions on ether of those topics, city spokesperson Kelly Maguire told CBC News. Now several are speaking out. Lane said routes, 1, 2, 3 and 10 will be most impacted, with longer wait times between rides, analogous to the usual summer schedule.He said moving to a reduced schedule seemed like a better option than another proposal, which was to raise fares. However, he warned that a network-wide review would be needed next September, to see where ridership levels end up. Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary told The St. John's Morning Show that cuts are necessary, since municipal governments can't run a deficit. "So that means that in every single department, everybody has to look for efficiencies. And I think that that's, you know, a common goal of everybody. Nobody wants to see their taxes raised. However, services are really important, especially at this point in time," she said. Not all councillors support Metrobus service reductionCoun. Maggie Burton also said she doesn't support the changes, particularly because they "will have a real impact on some of the most vulnerable residents in the city."She said retail and food industry jobs are usually shift-based and people will have fewer options to get to and from work, and will have to wait longer for a bus. "I hope that people can use this time before Dec. 7 to let council know whether or not they support a permanent reduction of $800,000 in the annual budget to Metrobus," Burton told CBC News on Wednesday afternoon. Coun. Ian Froude tweeted Tuesday that he doesn't support the cuts to Metrobus service. Lane said he respected dissenting opinions, but ultimately, a financial plan needs to be approved."I don't like everything in the budget, but we need to pull something together that balances the budget, [that] doesn't have undue pressure on the public," he said. Other councillors were asked to comment by CBC Radio's On The Go on the cuts, including Jamie Korab, Debbie Hanlon and Breen. They either didn't respond or said they were not available. Missed money from OttawaIn July, the federal government earmarked $19 billion to assist provinces and territories, including municipalities, with restarting their economies amid COVID-19.At the time, it was stated N.L. would receive $146 million of that amount, to be funnelled into everything from COVID-19 testing to personal protective equipment to child-care spaces, and to municipalities in need.However, there was an exception: provinces and territories could also apply for extra money destined for public transit, to offset pandemic losses.Newfoundland and Labrador did not apply for that money. Though it was a provincial government decision, at the time, Breen said any transit losses it experienced were minimal compared with larger cities."We wouldn't have a significant enough loss to make value of that," he said in July. Breen has not responded to recent interview requests from CBC. In July, the city had collected $18 million less in taxes than in the same month in 2019. The monster blizzard that stalled the city for over a week in January also dealt a massive blow to the city budget, leaving an estimated $7-million bill in its wake.Metrobus ridership downSince September, ridership levels have hovered at about half of what they normally are, according to Metrobus manager Judy Powell, who also refused to do an interview. While regular service was reinstated this past September, a combination of people working from home, plus Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic moving to online classes, added up to fewer people taking the bus. Uncertainty will persist for drivers. Those who don't have a shift effective Jan. 4 will get a record of employment so they can file for employment insurance."However you will remain on the recall list and called to work on an as needed basis," Powell wrote in a letter to drivers obtained by CBC News.The municipal budget will be tabled Dec. 7. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CALGARY — A Canadian company developing new control products to improve efficiency and performance in electric motors and powertrains is aiming to raise between $30 million and $36.5 million through a public offering of its shares.Exro Technologies Inc., which closed a lab in Victoria and opened a new innovation centre in Calgary over the summer, says it has priced the shares at $3.25 each.The offering is to be conducted on a “best efforts” basis by a syndicate led by Raymond James Ltd. and Gravitas Securities Inc., with an overallotment option of up to 15 per cent. The offering is to close on or about Dec. 8.The news comes a few days after Exro reported the engineering validation of its 100-volt coil driver, which it said was a "key milestone" for its entry into supplying commercial products to manufacturers in the electric car market.It said it is on schedule to deliver a prototype to Potencia Industrial, S.A. DE C.V., a Mexican manufacturer of electrical motors and generators.In a recent interview, CEO Sue Ozdemir said the company relocated to Calgary because of its relatively low cost industrial space and availability of engineers, some of whom are former oil and gas workers, as employees. She said the company has doubled its staff count to about 20 since last year and is still hiring. “We’re a publicly traded company so we were on a tight budget. We wanted a large space to be able to welcome in customers and shareholders to be see our tech and how it works," she said.“Calgary had that opportunity with commercial rates that are less than Vancouver and Victoria and we knew there was a big engineering base here so we thought we would be able to pull in and train people and so far so good.”The proceeds from the offering are to be used for research and development of the company’s battery management system and electric vehicle programs, as well as other corporate purposes.Exro says its coil driver controller makes electric motors "smarter" by enabling multiple power settings in a single motor and can potentially be used in a wide variety of applications including electric bicycles, buses, generators, appliances, elevators and fans.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020Companies in this story: (TSXV:EXRO)The Canadian Press
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on Tuesday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying on it a new batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit for the Starlink internet satellite constellation system. (Nov. 25)
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. — It's barely a town anymore, battered by time on the windswept prairie of northwest Kansas. COVID-19 still managed to find Norcatur.Not much remains of the rural hamlet, save for a service station, a grain elevator, a little museum, and a weekend hangout where the locals play pool, eat pizza and drink beer. The roof has collapsed on the crumbling building that once housed its bank and general store. Schools closed decades ago and the former high school building is used for city offices.But for the 150 or so remaining residents, the cancellation of the beloved Norcatur Christmas Drawing has driven home how the coronavirus pandemic has reached deep into rural America.“Due to individuals who have COVID and refuse to stay home and quarantine it has been determined it is not safe for the citizens of Norcatur and the area to proceed,” read the notice tucked in the town’s newsletter and posted on its Facebook page. It blamed “negligent attitudes of lack of concern for others” for the cancellation.In a decades-old tradition that evokes Norman Rockwell nostalgia, the whole town typically gathers for a potluck dinner at Christmastime. Its namesake drawing features a plethora of donated meats, crafts and other goodies so every family can go home with prizes. The local 4-H Club puts on its bake sale. Santa Claus comes riding the firetruck.Decatur County has fewer than 3,000 people scattered across farms and small towns like Norcatur. As of Wednesday, the county had reported 196 coronavirus cases and one death, although medical providers say there have been at least four more local deaths that have yet to be added to the official toll.Carolyn Plotts, a 73-year-old Norcatur resident who never had symptoms and only found out she was positive for COVID-19 when tested for a medical procedure in October, said two of her former high school classmates who live in the county died because of the virus. Her husband also tested positive.“It's been very real to me,” she said.Plotts wondered whether the cancellation notice was maybe “talking about me.” During her quarantine she would only leave her house — with her doctor's permission and wearing a mask, she said pointedly — to care for a housebound friend who still believes the pandemic is a hoax.Carl Lyon, the Norcatur mayor who takes on the annual Santa role, said while most residents are “pretty good” about social distancing and wearing a mask, some have caught the virus.“I know a couple of people had it and they were still kind of running around and whatnot,” Lyon said. “Didn't seem to bother them that they infected everybody else.”Decatur County Sheriff Ken Badsky estimated that 5% of county residents who should quarantine violate the restrictions and go out. His office has called some and “insisted they do what they are supposed to do,” but has taken no legal action.“I have so much other stuff to do. I don’t have time to follow people around,” Badsky said. “We have 900 square miles, we have three full-time officers and a part-time to take care of that and we are busy with everything else.”Medical providers have been growing increasingly concerned, as coronavirus cases are surging and it's getting more difficult to find beds for their sickest patients at hospitals across the state.“We need some backing to stop this virus and we are looking to people that need to do their job to do it, and so otherwise this thing is going to run rampant and it is going to put more pressure on our hospital,” Kris Mathews, the administrator of Decatur Health, a small critical access hospital in Oberlin, just 19 miles (30 kilometres) west of Norcatur.Stan Miller, the announcer for the Christmas Drawing for more than 25 years, has mixed emotions about the decision to forgo it this year. The 63-year-old Norcatur resident said he understands there are elderly people who you don't want to get the virus. But it's also disappointing.“I like to see all the joy, especially the little kids,” Miller said. “We have Santa Claus after the drawing is over and to see them sit on Santa's lap and tell them what they want for Christmas, you know, always puts a smile on my face."Roxana Hegeman, The Associated Press
ESKASONI, N.S. — An Eskasoni Red Tribe boxing card has been postponed until further notice because of the recent rise in COVD-19 cases in the province. “Things can be moved around and rescheduled, but a life can’t be rescheduled, we have to look out for our safety,” said Barry Bernard, Eskasoni Red Tribe boxing owner and coach. The card was originally scheduled for Dec. 5 at the Sarah Denny Cultural Centre in Eskasoni and would have featured 14 amateur bouts with fighters from across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Because of the increase in active COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Bernard thought it best to reschedule. The card would have excluded audience members but would have been streamed on YouTube and the Eskasoni television channel. The main event fighters would have been Oromocto Boxing Club’s Josh Melvin and Eskasoni’s Israel Regalado. The 20-year-old Regalado made his boxing debut in October during the Lights Out drive-in boxing card which saw audience members watching the fights from the safety of their cars while the fights streamed on a 30-foot screen. Regalado won that fight against Crandall University boxer Jacob MacCallum. Headlining a card would have been special but Regalado understands safety comes first. “In the beginning, I was kind of sad but then when I thought about it, it was the best option we had,” said Regalado. The young man identifies as half-Aboriginal and half-Spanish and grew up in both Eskasoni and Guatemala. He spends most of his days training and says it has been his focus. He trained for an entire year before making his amateur debut and was glad to display his skills. Regalado spends most of his time training and with his girlfriend and he thinks boxing in Eskasoni helps keep people grounded. “I feel like it helps young people that don’t know what to do,” said Regalado. And he said he will keep training until the next card is scheduled. It is that drive that impresses his coaches, like Bernard. Bernard says Regalado has a strong character and work ethic and believes headlining a card will mean a lot for his future, something he hopes will happen sooner rather than later. Ideally, he’d like to have the next boxing card in January, but it all depends on the pandemic. “We have to take care of our community first,” said Bernard.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post