Where did the health money go?
have been done last year! Many other areas of the province have similar big needs.... Why was the money left unspent? What was it spent on instead?
The reason the number even came to my attention was because I asked Minister Leo Glavine about this year’s plans. In the five-year plan for capital construction, which the Department of Transportation publishes, it shows a dialysis building for Valley Regional this year, 2016-2017. Where was that money showing in the budget? The answer: in the $34.144 million budgeted for this year in hospital infrastructure. That answer called my attention to that line, which showed last year’s budget and actual spending too.
Given how little of last year’s budgeted money was actually spent, one can only wonder what will really get done with this year’s $34 million. What good is a plan or numbers on a page, if you don’t actually plan to do what it says? All in all, a shocking revelation of how poorly managed our department of Health and Wellness really is.
Everyone continues to watch the giant wildfire in the Fort McMurray area after that huge evacuation. It brought back memories of another forest fire tale I heard as a cub reporter at the Hants Journal.
In those days, I loved an excuse to get out of town and meet some of the grassroots residents of the county, so I headed out Highway 14.
Back in the 1970s, the Hants Journal correspondent for Upper Vaughan was a woman who made eight apple pies in an afternoon just because she had the apples. Viola Smeltzer taught me that forest fires were not uncommon in interior Nova Scotia in the era when the major employment was lumbering and milling. Hants County was no exception.
So I learned first hand about a huge forest fire that took place during the dry summer of 1917.
Smeltzer recalled the fire began behind Falls Lake. She and her husband, Wallace, were both working at a lumber camp along the Chester Road at the time.
“We had seen it in the morning, but there was no phones then to contact anybody,” the 83-year-old said.
“We didn’t know what to do so the next thing we did was to load a trunk on my brother-inlaw’s wagon. Finally as things were getting worse I took my two-year-old son and drove a white horse to Windsor Forks.”
Later, her husband, driving another wagon and holding a young pig, arrived at Windsor Forks. The fire burned all the way to Falmouth. It destroyed all the Smeltzers’ belongings, which were not on the first wagon, and a whole winter’s wood at the camp.
The Smeltzers also recalled a woman who escaped the fury of the fire by standing overnight in one of the several lakes in the vicinity.
In the era before the forests were all cut over, Smeltzer regularly fed 40 men every day as the cook in the lumber camp. No wonder eight pies were a breeze for her. Her husband earned a dollar a day in the woods at that time.
Smelter’s granddaughter, Nancy Maxner, of Windsor, was also remembering that family tale this past month.
“As I recall, Grammy was pregnant with my uncle George. The little boy was my dad. Grammy saved her family bible. My dad saved a wooden horse that was carved by a worker at the camp. It was his only toy, so he was holding it in the escape.”
We all heard about what sometimes strange things folks in For Mac grabbed when they had to evacuate town in a hurry. Nancy said her brother has that toy horse today — a piece of memorabilia with an amazing provenance.
“They always talked about the fire on Hemlock Hill. Mother Nature is a cruel and kind mistress,” Maxner said. So true.