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Richmond Co. warden updates status of forensic audit, Ombudsman's report

The warden of Richmond Co. says people will get to see the full results of a soon-to-be released forensic audit, unless the auditing firm decides against sharing certain parts.

At Monday night's regular council meeting, Victor David said that the five-year audit of municipal expenses being undertaken by Grant Thornton should be done by Friday.

He also said that he should also get the provincial Ombudsman's report on municipal expenses in the first week of October.

After the meeting, David told The Hawk that people in Richmond Co. will get to see the audit after it's received.

"As far as I'm concerned, unless there's something in there that Grant Thornton feels that shouldn't be shared, it will be said, probably something about personnel issues or something like that, but whatever it is," he said, "but everything else will be shared. It will be given to the public; it is a public document."

David said that only the correspondence between Grant Thornton, municipal officials and their lawyers is confidential.

The audit is being sent from Grant Thornton officials to the law firm retained by the municipality, as municipal officials are subject to the audit.

Councillors passed a motion to conduct the audit in March, three months after rejecting such a motion.


Richmond officials discuss funding of community outreach support

The warden of Richmond Co. says municipal officials should try to retain a community outreach support worker past November.

Jenny Comeau's position at the Richmond County Literacy Network was cut in early September, before the organization received interim funding from provincial officials that will last until Nov. 4.

Literacy Network representative Millie Hatt gave an update on the organization at Monday night's council meeting.

Councillors passed a motion to ask the municipal finance department to look into the possibility of paying $2,500 a month for the service.

Hatt suggested that municipal officials could fund the service on a monthly basis; they could stop funding if they are not satisfied with the service, provided they give three months' notice.

After the meeting, Warden Victor David told The Hawk that council should try to maintain the support worker position.

"I am not sure exactly how it will go, but I think as a councillor, we have to look at funding it," he said. "It is a very important function in the community, so we have to help the people in need."

David said the support worker helps a wide variety of people.

According to Hatt's presentation, 388 people have made use of the service since it was introduced two years ago.


Man missing in Inverness Co. found

RCMP say a man reported missing in Inverness Co. has been found.

They say Mark Pawson, 54, left a home where he was staying on East Big Intervale Rd. in Margaree Valley and didn't return Monday.

Police say he's been found, and has been sent to Halifax for medical treatment.

They have not released any other details.


Strait Area Transit officials ask Richmond Co. councillors for more funding

The warden of Richmond Co. says Strait Area Transit service has not been reduced in their municipality because of lack of interest.

SAT officials made a presentation to councillors at September's regular municipal council meeting Monday.

The service was scaled back in Richmond Co. in the summer; municipal officials provided no additional transit funding in their latest budget.

The total hours of service in the county dropped from 60 to 20 per week, while the route was reduced to the Isle Madame-Port Hawkesbury corridor.

SAT officials announced, through negotiations with Richmond Co. officials, there would be service along Hwy. 4 between Louisdale and St. Peter's Sept. 16.

Councillors passed a motion to have officials in their finance department explore the possibility of funding more service at Monday's meeting.

After the meeting, Victor David, the warden of the municipality, told The Hawk the buses have consistently been popular in the county.

"We've always filled the buses," he said. "Our numbers still show that for every one passenger coming out of Inverness (Co.), Richmond (Co.) is putting one-and-a-half passengers on there."

Jim Mustard, the board chair of SAT, said they'd like to get an answer on funding from municipal officials within a few weeks.

Municipal officials currently pay $3,700 per month, or $44,400 per year, for the service; SAT officials say they hope for an additional $63,000 per year for the service to be increased to former levels.

David said many people were affected when service was reduced.

"I have gotten an exorbitant number of calls from community people who were quite upset that Strait Area Transit had been cut back," he said. "You have people who had jobs in St. Peter's and couldn't go to them, or people waiting for their home care workers to come in from L'Ardoise, and they weren't coming in because transit isn't going there anymore."

Transit officials launched a two-year pilot project in an agreement with municipal officials in Inverness Co. and Richmond Co. in Oct. 2014.


Municipal candidates' forums centred on factors impacting health

One of the organizers of a pair of municipal candidates' forums says she wants to get people talking about factors that can affect their health.

There will be a forum at Richmond Education Centre/Academy at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; it will focus on affordable housing, food security, poverty and seniors; candidates running for municipal council will have the opportunity to speak before they answer questions from members of the audience.

Celeste Gotell, who is part of both the Seniors Take Action Coalition and the Health Equity Action Resource Team, tells The Hawk the events will hopefully get people talking and thinking about how certain issues are connected to health.

"The end goal is to raise awareness about these issues," she says. "(It's) to start to create a forum and an opportunity for there to be dialogue that peoples' health outcomes are affected by issues like food security and income and affordable housing."

Gotell says all are welcome to attend.

There will be another forum in Port Hawkesbury for town council candidates Oct. 5.


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