Roundup: Organist raises $26K for Ukraine, masks remain mandatory at StFX as COVID continues, Stellarton sports complex in jeopardy

Queens County musician Xaver Varnus recently performed three concerts to raise money for Ukraine. Photo: Submitted

Plus: A pair of local podcasters help Nova Scotians rediscover their province

South Shore organist Xaver Varnus has been busy travelling and performing over the last few months, raising money for Ukraine as the Russian war on the country continues.

With recent shows at home in Queens County, in his native Hungary, and in Ottawa, Varnus has raised about $26,000. His experiences in Eastern Europe 30 years ago, as war then ravaged the former Yugoslavia, inspired the effort.

“At the beginning of the 1990s, I was playing a concert with about 2,000 people attending,” he recalls. “During the soft pieces you could hear very clearly the bombings in Croatia,” said Varnus. “Now, in the last 30 years a new generation has grown up and when I talked to them about it, they did not believe me. The same story starts again.”

Kevin McBain reports for LighthouseNow.

Amanda Cockshutt. Photo: Submitted

Masks mandatory at StFX as COVID continues
Premier Tim Houston has ended most pandemic protections, but when students return to St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish next month, they’ll have to wear masks in all academic and instructional spaces.

“The university is going further than public health,” says vice-president Amanda Cockshutt. “A lot of people within the community feel the lack of restrictions from the province is insufficient and where we are such a high-density operation, this is something that’s easy to do and it’s cheap and it brings quite a high level of protection for people.”

The provincial government is now withholding most pandemic data, only releasing monthly epidemiologic reports, so it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the current state of the disease in the province, but World Health Organization officials report 939,703 confirmed new COVID cases around the globe in the last 24 hours. So far, COVID is known to have killed at least 6,401,046 people, including 42,681 in Canada and 463 Nova Scotians.

Read more in the Reporter.

Stellarton sports complex in jeopardy
After two years of bookings lost to pandemic closures, the William M. Sobey Indoor Sports Complex is facing a financial crunch. Administrator Andy Kenny won’t give numbers, but says that without long-term funding, operations are unlikely to continue.

“It is a dire situation,” he says. “It’s more a matter of budgeting. We don’t have enough money to cover our expenses. Some or our expenses doubled, like fuel oil.”

The complex is hosting a fundraiser on Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Steve Goodwin has the story for the Pictou Advocate.

Travel Mug hosts Meggan (left) and Jenn. Photo: Submitted

On the road again
Re-exploring Nova Scotia after a long pandemic pause? From the ongoing threat of COVID to the myriad attraction changes over the last couple of years, there’s a lot to process as you journey.

The Travel Mug podcast is a handy source of encouragement and information. Based in Nova Scotia, hosts Meggan and Jenn provide tips for staycationers, plus firsthand advice for people venturing further afield. Recent episodes include advice on COVID-safe travel and a guide to the Fundy and Northumberland shores. 

Read more in the latest issue of Unravel Halifax.

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