2020 Year in Review pt1

January

Jan. 2: Kapawe’no Chief Frank Halcrow passes away in Edmonton at the age of 76 years. He was one of Canada’s last hereditary chiefs and served Kapawe’no First Nation for over 50 years.

Chief Frank Halcrow

Jan. 4: The Falher Pirates open 2020 with a 10-3 loss at Grande Prairie. It’s the third straight loss to GP this season.

On Jan. 4, Bernard Maisonneuve, of Guy, won $331,763.60 in the LOTTO 6/49 draw after matching five numbers plus the bonus. He bought his $7 ticket at Freson Bros. in High Prairie.

Jan. 6: A youth admits in High Prairie youth court to his role in setting the old High Prairie Hospital on fire on Sept. 18, 2019. Sentencing is set for Jan. 30.
Jan. 8: Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland visits Peace River. Meetings occur behind closed doors.
Jan. 8: South Peace News reports four High Prairie Red Wings are named to the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League’s All-Star Game including Mikal Chalifoux, Jeremiah Clarke, Tyson Mitchell, and Larry Yellowknee.
Jan. 8: STARS receives its $25,000 annual grant from Big Lakes County.
Jan. 12: Out of the Cold shelter in Peace River opens, offering a place to stay for Peace River’s homeless.
Jan. 13: The Town of Peace River decides to go to a vote to decide the future of the Peace River Regional Airport. The vote is non-binding but will give council direction on how to proceed with the money-losing enterprise.
Jan. 14: High Prairie town council hears concerns at its meeting after fireworks are discharged in town on New Year’s Eve. Fireworks in town are illegal.
Jan. 14: High Prairie town council decides to lower speed limits in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Council proceeds with a bylaw with the intention of implementing the new zone at the start of the school year next fall.
Jan. 14: Lawrence Hawthorne passes away in Edmonton at the age of 78 years. He was a standout goaltender in the NPHL in the late 1960s, and was named Best Goaltender in 1966-67 and 1967-68 while playing for the Fairview Elks, and in 1968-69 while playing for the Peace River Stampeders.
Jan. 15: South Peace News reports a petition asking the Alberta government to tear down the old hospital is gaining momentum.
Jan. 15, 2020: Northern Lakes College reports its new High Prairie Campus is one-third complete.
Jan. 15: South Peace News features Peace River’s John Mark Earle, who began taking daily dips in the frigid Peace River Dec. 16. He is dubbed the “Ice man of Peace River.’

The ‘Ice Man of Peace River’, John Mark Earle, took daily swims in the frigid Peace River.

Jan. 17: Eileen Hilda Cox passes away in High Prairie at the age of 102 years.
Jan. 19: The Peace Country Canadians win a women’s hockey tournament at Innsbruck, Austria.
Jan. 19: Edward Joseph Dietzen passes away in Valleyview at the age of 90 years. He was a grain farmer in the Smoky River region.
Jan. 20: Alberta Minister of Justice Doug Schweitzer writes the Rural Municipalities of Alberta telling them they can defer policing costs to 2021. Earlier, the Alberta government forced all municipalities under 5,000 to pay for policing.
Jan. 21: George Baker is named Faust deputy fire chief.
Jan. 22: Peace River and area celebrates the opening of the Sunrise Medical Clinic.
Jan. 22: South Peace News reports on High Prairie firefighter Jason Cottingham, who was sent to Australia to battle wildfires. Cottingham left Jan. 6.
Jan. 22: Unions rally in Peace River in front of the newly-opened Sunrise Medical Clinic to protest the Government of Alberta’s cuts to health care.
Jan. 22: Big Lakes County adopts tougher rules to deal with unsightly properties.
Jan. 22: A vision for a gated community in High Prairie is shown to interested people at a meeting. Diana Oliver says there are several parcels of lots to choose from.
Jan. 23: Alberta Fish and Wildlife charge 33 people with various poaching crimes after an investigation concludes. It is estimated that over 12,000 pounds of fish were illegally harvested from Lesser Slave Lake and Winagami Lake.
Jan. 24: The Northland School Division board of trustees votes to dismiss Ward 1 trustee Maddy Daniels. The dismissal occurs after it is deemed Daniels violated conditions of censure.
Jan. 24: The Northland School Division board of trustees votes to not close East Prairie Hillview School.
Jan. 24: The Manning Comets defeat the Grimshaw Huskies 6-5 in a shootout. Regulation play and overtime settles nothing so the teams go to a shootout. It takes 16 rounds of shooters to decide the game. Manning’s Jake Halderman scores to win it. It leaves Halderman with the fact he is not credited with scoring a goal so far this season but is credited with one game-winning goal.
Jan. 25: A rifle is used during a robbery at High Prairie Esso, High Prairie RCMP report. An undisclosed amount of cash is stolen.
Jan. 25: The Peace River & District Chamber of Commerce honours several businesses at its annual Davis Awards. The President’s Davis Award is presented to Gord and Barb Drummond, who own and operate the Tim Hortons franchise.

On Jan. 25, 2020, the prestigious President’s Davis Award was presented to Gord Drummond, left, and Barb Drummond, centre, by Peace River & District Chamber of Commerce president Justin Hicks. The Drummonds own and operate Tim Hortons in Peace River.

Jan. 25: Lisa Zabolotniuk’s High Prairie rink wins the High Prairie Ladies Bonspiel after defeating Kay Savill, also of High Prairie, 10-6. Linda Labbe’s Peace River rink wins the B Event and High Prairie’s Brenda Anderson the C Event.
Jan. 25: Tanya Sloan’s rink wins the Kinuso Ladies Bonspiel after defeating Angie Saitz’s rink. Roberta Hunt’s rink wins the B Event and Jackie Neron the C Event.
Jan. 26: The High Prairie Red Wings defeat the visiting Slave Lake Icedogs 7-6 in overtime to complete a weekend sweep. Mikal Chalifoux scores the winner. The previous night the Red Wings defeated the Northern Alberta Tomahawks 6-3.
Jan. 27: Justin Dale Halcrow, 25, of Grouard, is sent to prison for 30 months after being found guilty of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. Halcrow was caught with 72 grams of cocaine valued at $7,200.
Jan. 27: A crane being used to construct the new Peace River Bridge collapses. A cable supporting the arm of the lattice boom breaks causing the accident.
Jan. 27: Peace River town council blames the Government of Alberta for a potential $320,000 deficit in its budget. Cutbacks are the reason cited.
Jan. 28: High Prairie resident Crystal Sturgeon attends a council meeting asking that a bee bylaw be passed to allow her to have bees on her property.
Jan. 29: South Peace News reports Plains Midstream donates $5,000 to the Lesser Slave Watershed Council for its Water Quality Monitoring Program.
Jan. 29: South Peace News reports that Ashley Bell receives the $1,000 annual 2019 High Prairie Elks Memorial Scholarship.
Jan. 29: Professor Wow delights students at High Prairie Elementary School with his tricks using science to explain how they work.

A fascinated and amazed Ethan Gaschnitz, left, cannot believe he is spinning a plate on a long stick! It was easy once Professor Wow taught him how! Professor Wow visited High Prairie Elementary School Jan. 29 to teach students science.

Jan. 30: Peace River RCMP arrest Mathew Ian Blachford, of Peace River, and charge him with second-degree murder in the death of Jennifer Donovan, 37, of Peace River, on Oct. 8, 2019.
Jan. 30: A boy appears in High Prairie youth court for sentencing for his role in setting the old High Prairie Hospital on fire. Judge R. Marceau refuses to sentence the boy saying he wants more details on the case. Sentencing is adjourned until Feb. 24.

February

Feb. 1: The Falher Pirates lose their seventh straight game to end the regular season after dropping a 5-3 game at Grimshaw. The Pirates place fourth in the NPHL standings and face Grimshaw in the playoffs.
Feb. 1: Nancy Spencer-Poitras begins her job as superintendent at Northland School Division.

Nancy Spencer-Poitras

Feb. 1: The Town of McLennan hands out its annual volunteer awards. Three people receive Volunteer-of-the-Year awards: Philippa O’Mahony, Yvonne Sawchyn and Ann Trotter. The Smoky River Regional Golf Course Society organizes the event.
Feb. 3: Daniel Morin wins the Town of Falher’s byelection after he is the only person to file nomination papers.

Daniel Morin

Feb. 4: Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen apologizes in the House of Commons after making an inappropriate remark to an NDP MP Laurel Collins regarding the sex trade. Viersen asks her if she ever considered sex trade work.
Feb. 4: Literacy programs in Northland School Division get a big boost after Cenovus Energy donates $75,000 to the program. The money covers programs for the 2019-20 school year.
Feb. 4: The Falher Pirates lose the opener of their best-of-five NPHL Quarter-Final series to the visiting Grimshaw Huskies 4-2. Ryley Medvez stops 37 of 39 shots in goal in the win.
Feb. 5: South Peace News reports Northern Lakes College president Ann Everatt announces her retirement effective August 31. She had earlier signed a five-year contract on July 6, 2017.
Feb. 5: It was a “ruff” day at High Prairie Pleasantview Lodge as 15 dogs and their owners visit during the annual event.
Feb. 5: The Town of Peace River holds a non-binding referendum on whether or not to hand over operation of the Peace River Regional Airport to a non-profit organization. The vote passes 133-30.
Feb. 6: The visiting Falher Pirates tie their best-of-five NPHL Quarter-Final series against the Grimshaw Huskies 1-1 after a 5-3 win. Dakota Conroy and Darren Kramer each score twice in the win.
Feb. 7: Big Lakes County opens its animal care facility.

Big Lakes County animal control officer Mary Brust, left, and Reeve Richard Simard pet a dog at the opening of the county’s new animal care facility on Feb. 7.

Feb. 8: Jay Anderson’s overtime goal gives the hometown Falher Pirates a 4-3 win and a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five NPHL Quarter-Final series against the Grimshaw Huskies.
Feb. 9: The High Prairie Legionnaires score 19 goals in winning the first two games of their All Peace Minor Hockey League Midget Tier 2 Division series over High Level. High Prairie wins 8-6 Feb. 8 and 11-3 Feb. 9.
Feb. 10: The Town of Peace River approves a land-use bylaw allowing KFC to install a drivethrough.
Feb. 11: At a special meeting involving the M.D. of Peace, County of Northern Lights, Northern Sunrise County, Town of Grimshaw, and the Town of Peace River, it is decided to turn over the Peace River Regional Airport to a non-profit organization.
Feb. 11: The hometown Grimshaw Huskies blank the Falher Pirates 3-0 to tie their best-of-five NPHL Quarter-Final series 2-2. Ryley Medzez stops all 4l shots in the win.
Feb. 12: Big Lakes County unanimously trashes a proposal to reduce single-use plastic bags in the county’s retail stores.
Feb. 12: Big Lakes County agrees to give the High Prairie and District Golf Club $15,000 annual capital grants for five years from 2020-24.
Feb. 12: The Prairie River Raiders [High Prairie] boy’s basketball team wins its seventh straight to start the season after defeating the visiting Slave Lake Roland Michener Rams 42-36.
Feb. 12: High Prairie RCMP is on the lookout for Bobby Auger and Venessia Cardinal, who are wanted in an investigation into attempted murder at Whitefish.
Feb. 13: J&E Barkhouse Recreation Activities opens in McLennan at Providence School, giving parents with small children a place to meet.
Feb. 13: Mike Bayrack scores twice as the visiting Grimshaw Huskies eliminate the Falher Pirates from NPHL title contention after a 6-3 win. The Huskies win the NPHL Quarter-Final series 3-2.
Feb. 13: The Atikameg Warriors boy’s team runs their prefect record to 6-0 after defeating the High Prairie St. Andrew’s Saints 58-50 in Smoky River Junior High School Basketball League play.
Feb. 14: Driftpile Cree Nation announces a new industrial park project. Indigenous Services Canada approves a maximum $1.940 million for the project.
Feb. 16: Despite -25C temperatures, Family Day is celebrated at the Jean Cote outdoor rink. Hotdogs, hot chocolate and chili on a bun are served.
Feb. 16: The successful three-day St. Isidore Carnaval ends. Many activities and events highlight Francophone culture.

Francophone culture was in the spotlight at the 38th annual Carnaval de St. Isidore on Feb. 14-16. In the photo, Lily Martin, 11, of Peace River, walks out of the entertainment gazebo between two snow sculpture frosted mugs with emoji images.

Feb. 16: The High Prairie Red Wings defeat the visiting Northern Alberta Tomahawks 9-5 for their second straight win, after losing three straight.
Feb. 16: The Smoky River Runners hold their third annual Frosty Fun Run at McLennan. Twenty runners brave cool conditions.
Feb. 17: Family Day is celebrated in High Prairie with various activities at the fire hall, Gordon Buchanan Recreation Centre, Sports Palace and Golden Age Centre.
Feb. 17: Norman Shaub passes away at the age of 72 years at McLennan Hospital. He was a heavy equipment operator and farmer.
Feb. 18: The Government of Alberta’s “Fair Deal” panel gets an earful from residents in Peace River. Although only eight attend, views expressed are strong that Alberta needs a better deal from Ottawa.
Feb. 19: The hometown High Prairie St. Andrew’s Saints boy’s basketball team defeats crosstown rival Prairie River 60-51 to knock them from the ranks of the undefeated in Smoky River Junior High School Basketball League play.
Feb. 19, 2020: The High Prairie St. Andrew’s Saints girl’s basketball team whips crosstown rival Prairie River 61-16 to extend their Smoky River Junior High School Basketball League winning streak to 27 games. Their last loss was to Kinuso Nov. 30, 2016.
Feb. 19: High Prairie E.W. Pratt High School’s Mixed curling team wins the Peace Zone title at Fairview. Rink members include lead Emily Norgaard, second Tommy Blacha, third Amy Zabolotniuk and skip Anthony Ogg.
Feb. 20: Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen is one of four Conservative colleagues to sign the “Buffalo Declaration” demanding separation if Alberta does not get a better deal from Ottawa.
Feb. 22: The hometown High Prairie Legionnaires whip the visiting High Level Stars 6-1 to win their best-of-five All Peace Minor Hockey League Midget Tier 2 Division semi-final series 3-2.
Feb. 22: Daniel John Girouard passes away at the age of 100 years in Calgary.
Feb. 22: The family of the late Grant Gaschnitz creates a memorial award in his honour. The first recipient of the award is High Prairie’s Dyanna Monteith.
Feb. 22: The High Prairie E.W. Pratt Lady Chargers place third in a women’s basketball tournament at La Crete after defeating Fairview High 97-39.
Feb. 23: Falher Pirate Pat Rowan wins the NPHL’s Most Gentlemanly Player award. Grande Prairie’s Kiefer Smiley wins MVP. Morgan MacLean is the only Pirate to make an All-Star Team after being named to the first team on right wing.
Feb. 23: The Twilight Figure Skating Club at McLennan holds its annual season-ending carnival with the theme “Winter Wonderland Showcase”.

Janelle Lanctot shows the form that helped her win the Star Skate Award. She skated at the Twilight Figure Skating Club annual season-ending carnival with the theme “Winter Wonderland Showcase” on Feb. 23 at McLennan.

Feb. 24: A boy appears in High Prairie youth court for sentencing for his role in setting the old High Prairie Hospital on fire. The judge sets a sentencing hearing for March 9. The matter was previously set for sentencing Jan. 30 and Feb. 24.
Feb. 24: Rotary House in Peace River celebrates its first anniversary with virtual tours. The facility is used by specialists and locums, and leased to nurses and others.
Feb. 25: Town of High Prairie Councillor Donna Deynaka responds to comments from fellow Councillor Brian Gilroy after he says, “I don’t think our community is being well-served at all” regarding policing. Deynaka suggests inviting S/Sgt. Warren Wright to a meeting to hear concerns.
Feb. 25: High Prairie Councillor Michael Long proposes a barrier at the town office to protect staff. Despite Long’s insistence it is a safety issue, no action is taken.
Feb. 26: Peace Energy Co-op celebrates the grand opening of its Peace River office.
Feb. 26: South Peace News reports that Mercer Peace River makes the Top 75 list of Alberta’s top employers.
Feb. 26: Big Lakes County says it wants High Prairie RCMP to speed up response times. High levels of rural crime was another top concern cited.
Feb. 27: High Prairie’s Shady Orchard & Winery wins the Farm Direct New Farmer-of-the-Year award from the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association.

Willy and Kristie Gordon, owners of Shady Orchard & Winery, show the Farm Direct New Farmer of the Year award they recently won from the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association.

Feb. 27: Big Lakes County announces the new water treatment plant at Joussard is making water.
Feb. 28: Falher hosts a full day of carpet bowling, cribbage and pool at Club Alouette.
Feb. 29: Volunteers, residents and staff at High Prairie Pleasantview Lodge make more than 450 apple pies during their annual fundraiser.
Feb. 29: Edmonton rink Ed Kryzalka wins the High Prairie Men’s Bonspiel after defeating High Prairie’s Mark Zahacy 7-4 in the final. Peter Blacha wins the B Event and Jeff Copeland the C Event.
Feb. 29: Rudy Lubeseder is selected as Honourary Ukrainian at the annual Zabava celebration.

Rudy Lubeseder, left, accepts a gift as Honourary Ukrainian of the Ukrainian Cultural Society of High Prairie at Zabava Feb. 29. Presenting the gift is president Leigh Blackhurst, right. The young girl behind is Isla Marx, a pre-kindergarten dancer.

Feb. 29: A wave of protests against the Feb. 27 provincial budget occurs in Alberta, including Peace River and Slave Lake.
Feb. 29, 2020: The High Prairie E.W. Pratt Lady Chargers win the High Prairie School Division senior high basketball title in Wabasca after defeating crosstown rival St. Andrew’s 58-20 in the final.
Feb. 29, 2020: The High Prairie E.W. Pratt Chargers win the High Prairie School Division senior high men’s basketball title in Wabasca after defeating the Slave Lake St. Francis Falcons 102-71.
Feb. 29: The High Prairie St. Andrew’s Saints win their third straight Smoky River Junior High School Basketball League girl’s title after defeating crosstown rival Prairie River 50-8 in Wabasca. The win caps an undefeated season in league play.
Feb. 29: The Atikameg Warriors win their first boy’s title in Smoky River Junior High School Basketball League history and cap an undefeated season in doing so.

March

March 1: The High Prairie Legionnaires win their second straight 3-2 game over the hometown Valleyview Ice Bears to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five All Peace Minor Hockey League’s Midget Tier 2 Division. Earlier, the team lost captain Harlan Noskey to a rare disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, where his immune system attacks nerves.
March 1: The Peace River Skating Club holds its annual ice show themed “So You Think You Can Skate?”

Hayden Harpe was impressive while performing her Star 4 solo at the Peace River Skating Club annual ice show themed “So You Think You Can Skate?” March 1.

March 4 South Peace News reports on the controversy sparked by the Jennifer Donovan memorial in Peace River. The Town of Peace River says they received two complaints, but details are confidential.
March 4: Northern Lakes College reports its new HP Campus is 37 per cent complete.
March 4: Grace Bramwell passes away at the age of 81 years at Grouard. She worked for Hudson’s Bay and Opportunity Corps.
March 6: Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn receives a petition from High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce president Barry Sharkawi asking that the Government of Alberta tear down the old hospital. In all, 527 sign. Brian Gilroy was the only High Prairie town councillor to sign.
March 6: Winston Derksen and Deidre Lafferty are jointly charged with first-degree murder in the death of Faisal Fadul Aden, 24, of Edmonton, near Red Earth Creek Dec. 4, 2019.
March 6: Any fear there was no money to complete the Northern Lakes College Campus in High Prairie is alleviated as money is set aside in the Alberta budget to complete the project.
March 7: Revolution Auto Group neither confirms or denies a rumour the Ford and GMC dealerships in High Prairie are for sale.
March 7: The High Prairie Legionnaires defeat the visiting Valleyview Ice Bears 6-3 to sweep the best-of-three All Peace Minor Hockey League Midget Tier 2 Division in three straight.
March 7: Frosthill Rink wins the A Event at the Kinuso Men’s Bonspiel. Ken McLaughlin wins the B Event and Leon Giroux the C Event.
March 8: Fox Creek is granted a franchise in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League joining High Prairie, Slave Lake and Northern Alberta.
March 8: The High Prairie Peewee Tier 2 Team wins the All Peace Minor Hockey League title after defeating the visiting Valleyview Ice Bears 9-4 to sweep the best-of-five series.
March 9: A boy appears in High Prairie youth court for sentencing for his role in setting the old High Prairie Hospital on fire. The matter is delayed until Nov. 10 for sentencing. The matter was previously set for sentencing Jan. 30, Feb. 24 and March 9.
March 9: Three citizens file nomination papers for the April 20 Town of McLennan byelection including Terry Calliou, Margaret Jacob and Tammy Stout. The seat is vacant after Isaac Kacherla resigns after moving out of town.
March 10: A proposal to more than double Town of High Prairie councillors’ pay is denied after an outcry from the public on social media and a delegation at their meeting.
March 11: The World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 virus to be worldwide pandemic.
March 11: High Prairie St. Andrew’s School holds its annual Oratorical competition. Carley Cox, a Grade 5 student, wins Overall Elementary for the third straight year.
March 11: South Peace News reports High Prairie Elementary School student Keya Willier wins a gold medal at the Slave Lake Archery Tournament.
March 11: South Peace News reports Falher Ecole Heritage student Katelyn Lambert is awarded a Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program Scholarship.
March 11: Big Lakes County Faust Councillor Robert Nygaard suggests council hold its annual barbecue in Faust but his plea falls upon deaf ears. It’s the second straight year Nygaard makes the proposal.
March 11: Big Lakes County council denies a lease to develop the former Osmose site in the hamlet.
March 11: The Dawson Creek Canucks defeat the Grande Prairie Athletics 3-0 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven NPHL Final. It is the last game played due to the COVID pandemic leaving the NPHL with no champion. The game also tied two NPHL playoff records: two shutouts in a final series, and the fact that the first three games of the final were decided by at least three goals.
March 11: Roger Lionel Beaudoin passes away at the age of 89 years. He worked in various lumber camps, operated heavy equipment, and farmed.
March 13: Hockey Alberta cancels all minor hockey for the remainder of the 2020-21 season prompting huge disappointment from players, coaches and fans alike. The NPHL also shuts down as does the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, North West Junior Hockey League, and All Peace Minor Hockey League.
March 13: Smoky River Palliative Care is the big winner in McLennan’s Chase the Ace fundraiser. The Ace of Hearts was not drawn so the society received $3,528.

Members of the Smoky River Palliative Care Society receive a $3,528 cheque from McLennan Recreation Board president Marie-Anne Jones. Left-right are Rachelle Bérubé, Irene Brassard, Diann Rondeau, Cecile Aubin and Jones. Absent from the photograph are Lucille Leelerc and Cecile Turcotte.

March 13: Leona Emma Kieffer passes away at the age of 77 years in Grande Prairie.
March 14: The second of two mystery murder dinner theatre shows concludes as Local Actors Having Fun hosts Bumped Off on Bourbon Street at the Jean Cote Community Centre.

The Local Actors Having Fun [LAHF] Troupe wowed the crowd with its murder mystery dinner theatre Bumped Off On Bourbon Street on March 7 and 14 in Jean Cote Community Centre. Above, Helene Hausler played the part of Mme Leveau.

March 14: A benefit concert for Peace River resident Sandi Smith raises just over $1,000. Smith is battling Stage 3 lung cancer.March 14: The team of Erin Adams and Gordon Adams wins the 27th annual Joussard Ice Fishing Tournament. They win $1,777 and bragging rights for the year for their efforts.
March 15: The Government of Alberta closes schools in the province as the buzzword of the year begins to circulate – COVID – as the pandemic begins. In the days following, countless public facilities in towns also close. Churches also suspended services.
March 15: Bernie Poloz skips his High Prairie rink to the A Event title at the High Prairie Mixed Bonspiel after defeating Gayle Brulotte 7-3. It is his 20th title. Rod Marx wins the B Event and Al Butterfield the C Event.
March 16: The first case of COVID-19 in the area takes to social media to clear the air. Shawn Auger, of Grouard, explains how he was told he contracted the virus. He would later die of complications of the virus on March 30.
March 16: High Prairie RCMP arrest Bobby Fawn Auger, 30, who is charged with attempted murder and other crimes. A co-accused, Venessia Katelynn Cardinal, 26, is still at large.
March 18: Big Lakes County opens its emergency centre to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 18: South Peace News reports that Peace River dancer Rachel Greidanus is selected to be part of Team Canada Dance, which is competing at the World Dance Championships in Ossa, Poland later in the year.
March 18: The Village of Donnelly agrees to continue its lobby to upgrade and/or replace the wading pool at Winagami Lake Provincial Park. Council co-ordinates a letter with several nearby municipalities to lobby for the project.
March 20: The week ends with various municipalities posting information on COVID-19 on its websites.
March 21-22: Sometime over the weekend, thieves break into the Village of Nampa’s public works yard and fire hall. Tools were stolen from public works, while at the fire hall tools, a First Aid kit, and small tools stolen.
March 22: Sucker Creek First Nation declares a state of local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 23: Peace River town council passes its $26.75 million operating budget and its $7.69 million capital budget. A tax increase of about three per cent is implemented.
March 24: A motion stopping vendors from doing business in High Prairie is defeated by council, who say they are open for business.
March 24: The Town of High Prairie holds its first virtual meeting. By the end of the year, during intermittent periods, virtual meetings are held elsewhere in the Peace.
March 24: The Town of High Prairie refuses to declare a state of emergency due to the COVID pandemic, saying there is no benefit in doing so.
March 24: High Prairie town council decides to ask for the public’s input on allowing bees and chickens in town. By year’s end, council passes strict bylaws allowing both.
March 24: Peace River’s “Iceman” John Mark Earle completes his 100th dip into the frigid Peace River.
March 25: As COVID fears grip the area, High Prairie stores sell out of toilet paper.
March 25: South Peace News reports Out of the Cold Shelter in Peace River will continue to operate despite the pandemic.
March 25: Northern Lakes College reports its new High Prairie Campus is 46 per cent complete.
March 26: Peace River confirms its first case of COVID-19. Valleyview also confirms one case, High Prairie has five.
March 29: Denise Winnicky passes away at her home from cancer, age not disclosed. She worked as a registered nurse in High Prairie, Peace River and Grande Prairie.
March 30: Grouard’s Shawn Auger dies from COVID-19 complications in Grande Prairie. He is remembered as a loving husband, father and Alberta’s youngest victim to date to die from the virus.

Proud father Shawn Auger poses with his two girls, Neriah, left, and Shealynn, right, after winning the Alberta Atom Female Native Provincial title in 2016. Auger died from COVID-19 complications in Grande Prairie March 30.

March 30: Falher Dr. Grevisse U. Owanga writes South Peace News telling the public there is no truth to the rumour he has tested positive for COVID-19.
March 30: The M.D. of Smoky River hires Mitchell Visser as municipal intern for one year.
March 31: Northern Sunrise County receives a $107,000 grant to cover expenses while developing a framework to collaborate with the Town of Peace River.
March 31: South Peace News reports one person passes away and two more cases confirmed of COVID-19 at McLennan’s Manoir du Lac.

March 31, 2020: Pauline Kushner, of High Prairie, passes away at the age of 92 years in High Prairie. She homesteaded in 1948 with her husband, Peter, north of High Prairie where they farmed.

April

April 1: South Peace News reports on former Sucker Creek resident Melissa Calliou’s new books entitled Wishing You Well and In the Eyes of Peyak. Both books deal with the cycle of abuse among First Nations people stemming from residential schools.
April 1: South Peace News features McLennan’s Nora Dubrule and her passion for the sport of skateboarding. Dubrule earlier qualified for the Arctic Winter Games in the sport.
April 2: High Prairie RCMP and Lakeshore Regional Police Service hold a parade at the High Prairie Health Complex to show support for Alberta Health Services workers.
April 2: High Prairie RCMP arrest Dion Ray Mitchell, 27, of Whitefish Lake, and charge him with several crimes including attempted murder, after an incident at Whitefish River. Police allege Cardinal fired a shot at a grader operator.
April 3: Maurice Joseph Duchesneau passes away at the age of 56 years. He worked at Northern Lakes College for more than 20 years.
April 6: The High Prairie Elks cancel the Elks Pro Rodeo due to the COVD-19 pandemic.
April 7: Peace River liaison Roxanne Noss organizes Emergency Services Parades at Grimshaw and Peace River to thank Alberta Health Services and first responders for their services.
April 7: High Prairie town council debates on whether or not to give a tax break during the COVID-19 pandemic. They agree the tax break must be fair to everyone. Some businesses lease space and would not qualify.
April 8: South Peace News reports on Peace River Dr. Heather Shonoski, who says changes in the way the Alberta government allows doctors to bill will damage the healthcare system.
April 8-9: Thieves target the Harmon Valley Fire Hall. Items worth about $25,000 are stolen.

April 9: Alberta Health Services announces there are six cases of COVID-19 at J.B. Wood Continuing Care, and now two deaths at McLennan Manoir du Lac.
April 9: Big Lakes County extends the contract to Veterinary Services Inc. for $42,000 to complete the 2020 VSI year.
April 12, 2020: The Town of High Prairie hosts an Easter Parade, in which they take the Easter Bunny around town to greet children as they drive by.
April 14: McLennan town council cancels its byelection scheduled for April 20. The safety of electors, candidates and election officials is cited during the ongoing pandemic.
April 14: High Prairie town council decides to not pass its $10.9 million budget despite a zero increase in spending. Instead, they will try to find ways to cut spending to lessen the burden on taxpayers.
April 14: High Prairie town council gives its peace officers more authority after passing a bylaw allowing them authority on one- and two-digit highways in Alberta. So if you are speeding, slow down!
April 14: McLennan town council decides despite the ongoing pandemic, to not allow payment deferrals for all utilities including water, wastewater recycling or garbage.
April 14: Falher town council passes its $3.3 million operating budget. Of note, they decide to not open the outdoor pool in 2020.
April 15: South Peace News reports the Town of Peace River will not declare a state of local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 15: Sometime earlier in the week, Town of High Prairie Councillor Debbie Rose announces on Facebook she is not seeking re-election.
April 15: South Peace News reports a proposed solar project at the Peace River Regional Airport is denied grant funding.
April 15: South Peace News reports on the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the Peace County beekeeping industry. Border closures and reduced air flights are prohibiting bees and workers from entering the country.
April 15: South Peace News reports on the increase in scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fraudulent merchandise sales top the list, say RCMP.
April 17: Alberta Health Services takes over operations of Manoir du Lac at McLennan. South Peace News reports management had three non-compliance violations since 2019.
April 17: A driver walks away unharmed after a single-vehicle rollover near Faust.
April 17: Honey Bunny, a business in Guy, AB is nominated as a finalist for the 2020 Alberta Business Awards of Distinction.
April 18: A “larger than normal” snowpack causes the Pat’s Creek flood in downtown Peace River. A surge of water and debris coupled with an ice jam causes a back up of water into the town. A report is later compiled and presented to Peace River twon council.
April 20: High Prairie town council holds a virtual town hall meeting. High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce president Barry Sharkawi says the Town should slash taxes by 30 per cent.
April 20: A fire at Strawberry Service near Kinuso, destroys the building. The fire is later deemed accidental.
April 21: Horseshoe Canada Association awards High Prairie the 2022 Canadian Horseshoe Pitching Championships. High Prairie was scheduled to host the 2020 event, but it was cancelled.
April 21: Cassidy Yasinski, a teacher at Peace River Glenmary School, is chosen as Holy Family Catholic Regional Division’s Edwin Parr Award nominee. The award is presented to exceptional first-year teachers.
April 22: Big Lakes County proposes a minimum property tax of $50 on land parcels.
April 22: South Peace News features Britney Supernault, who is stuck in England because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 22: South Peace News reports on the problem of discarded gloves and masks on High Prairie’s streets.
April 22: South Peace News reports on The Green Goddess, a business owned in Peace River by Sarah Keates. The natural cosmetics company switches over to making hand sanitizer during the pandemic.

April 22: High Prairie’s Zack Shantz, 15, is chosen in the third round, 66th overall, by the Prince George Cougars in the Western Hockey League Bantam draft.
April 22: Northern Lakes College reports its new High Prairie Campus is 52 per cent complete.
April 22: High Prairie RCMP S/Sgt. Warren Wright tells High Prairie town council the long-awaited dog handler will be stationed in High Prairie and arrive by fall.
April 22: Jeanette Bamping passes away at the age of 75 years.
April 23: High Prairie town council passes its operating budget. Spending decreases 5.6 per cent, so taxes should be lower, say council.
April 27: Municipalities in the Smoky River region write Alberta Minster of Health Tyler Shandro warning him a physician crisis is looming in the region. In mid-July, they warn, only two doctors will be serving the region at Sacred Heart Community Health Centre in McLennan.
April 27: The Town of Peace River passes its mill rate bylaw which will see a slight increase in taxes. Taxes for single family homes increases 2.7 per cent while the non-residential rate increases 5.4 per cent, but a decrease in assessment evens the total bill.
April 27: Super A Foods in High Prairie is history as the business now operates under Wholesale Market.
April 28: Town of High Prairie Councillor Michael Long asks colleague Debbie Rose for an apology following her remarks on a staff member at their April 14 budget meeting. Rose said she did not want any staff member trained by former treasurer Terri Wiebe to handle matters relating to tax payment plans. Rose said she “reached out” to Mayor Brian Panasiuk and the matter was dealt with and resolved.
April 28: The Town of High Prairie re-opens its walking trails during the pandemic. Councillor Michael Long opposes saying expert advice is telling people to stay home and self-isolate.
April 29: South Peace News reports there were 10 deaths, four since the AHS takeover at Manoir du Lac, and 29 cases of COVID.
April 29: South Peace News reports that after 41 years, the North Country Fair is cancelled because of COVID. Like many other events, the fair falls prey to the pandemic.
April 29: South Peace News publishes photos of various flooding around the region.
April 29: Big Lakes County discusses taking a pay cut during a budget meeting. Gilwood-Triangle Councillor Ken Matthews proposes the 10 per cent cut. It is later refused by the majority of council.
April 29: Big Lakes County adopts its $35,040,600 million operating budget. Included is a 1.5 per cent tax increase on residential homeowners while business tax remains unchanged.
April 29: Harold Noel Bellerose passes away at the age of 83 years in Edmonton. He worked on the rigs, drove bus, taught carpentry, and served on the East Prairie Metis Settlement council.
April 30: The Sagitawa Friendship Society takes over operating the Peace River Out of the Cold Shelter.

May

May 1: Paul Ferdinand Bedard passes away at the age of 75 years. He was the founder and operator of Paul Bedard Trucking in High Prairie.
April 30: Burnice Bamping passes away at the age of 88 years.
May 1: Elizabeth Anne Reade passes away at the age of 80 years. She worked at Boyt’s and Rexall Drug Store for many years.
May 3: A fire breaks out at the old Alberta Forestry building in Peace River. The building was unoccupied for many years.
May 4: The Triangle Pioneer Threshermans Association cancels Canada Day celebrations, the Triangle Mud Bog, and Hoedown Jamboree due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

May 4: Big Lakes County writes the Town of High Prairie telling them their 2020 capital grant funding and unused portion of 2019 funding is eliminated. Later, town council objects to the 2019 portion being eliminated.
May 5: The Town of High Prairie grants a one-month tax relief program at its meeting. The tax relief only applies to the municipal portion of taxes. Later, High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce president Barry Sharkawi calls the break “not enough” and calls for a 30 per cent reduction.
May 5: High Prairie’s last chief of police of the High Prairie Municipal Police Force, Charles Edward Buchta, passes away at the age of 100 years.
May 5: Gerald Doerksen passes away at the age of 84 years.
May 6: South Peace News reports charges are stayed in the Douglas Ben Lang case. Lang, a former teacher at E.W. Pratt High School in High Prairie, was charged with two counts of luring a child and making sexually explicit matter available to a child.
May 6: South Peace News reports Northern Sunrise County passes its budget without raising taxes. Reeve Carolyn Kolebaba says the reason is they have been in a strong financial position the last few years.
May 6: South Peace News reports the M.D. of Smoky River says about 30 roads were damaged during April flooding.
May 7: Big Lakes County Fire Services quickly douses a fire in a truck traveling east of Faust.
May 7: Peace River Ford donates 200 face shields [masks] to Alberta health Services.

On May 7, Peace River Ford donated 200 face shields [masks] to Alberta Health Service in Peace River. Left-right are Peace River Ford parts manager Ryan Kowalski, Alberta Health Services Peace River director of operations, Lynn Gaydosh, Peace River Ford dealer principle Kelly Whalen, and Peace River Ford sales Kane Cartwright.

May 7-8: Welcome signs at the east and west entrances of High Prairie are installed.
May 8: Northern Lakes College cancels its 2020 convocation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 8: Fred Wesley Giroux, 29, of High Prairie, is charged with stealing a John Deere tractor near High Prairie.
May 9: High Prairie E.W. Pratt High School staff place signs in front of the school of each Grade 12 graduate.
May 11: The Town of Falher agrees to let residents pay taxes and utility bills after the deadline without penalty, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Administration is directed to work with each ratepayer on an individual basis.
May 11: Big Lakes County launches the Alternative Land-Use Services program, after receiving at $148,700 grant from the Alberta government’s Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program. Kendra Kozdroski co-ordinates the program.
May 12: High Prairie town council forms an ad hoc committee to begin the search to replace retiring CAO Brian Martinson, who retires Aug. 31. Martinson says “quite a few” have applied for the position but does not disclose a number.
May 13: The Village of Girouxville decides they will not allow payment deferral of property tax bills despite the COVID-19 pandemic. It also passes its operational budget of $797,444.
May 13: Big Lakes County discusses potential plans for trails with Alberta Environment and Parks after hearing the former Osmose site is clean and safe. Contaminated areas have been capped with clay, they are told.
May 13: South Peace News reports the Metis Nation of Alberta and Rupertsland Institute donate 175 Chromebooks to support online learning for Northland School Division students.
May 13: South Peace News reports that demand for hampers at the High Prairie Food Bank has “skyrocketed” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic March 11.
May 13: M.D. of Smoky River councillors unanimously agree to take a 10 per cent pay cut. Reeve Robert Brochu says council must show leadership during tough economic times. The same day, Big Lakes County council refuses to take a similar 10 per cent pay cut. Councillor Ann Stewart says council has not had a raise in seven years, which is later proven to be false.
May 13: Big Lakes County denies a request for a special $1,000 grant for seniors bowling at Enilda twice a week.
May 13: Village of Donnelly agrees to work with residents on a case-by-case basis regarding deferral of tax and utility bills due to hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 13: Big Lakes County extends school zone speed limits to 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. throughout the county.
May 14: Northern Lakes College reports its new High Prairie Campus is 59 per cent complete.
May 14: High Prairie School Division adopts its $49,385,970 balanced budget which is down from last year’s budget of $51,561,745.
May 17: Vernon Wayne Laboucan is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Christopher Valiquette, 34, of Swan River First Nation.
May 19: Village of Donnelly passes its budget and announces a four per cent mill rate increase for residential and non-residential ratepayers. Operating expenses are set at $723,746.
May 20: South Peace News reports Northern Sunrise County and the Town of Peace River are conducting a survey to identify local rural crime concerns.
May 20: South Peace News reports that Peace River’s Rotaract continues to feed families despite the pandemic. The newly-formed organization reports it has nearly reached its goal of providing 2,500 meals.
May 20: Driftpile Cree Nation begins using a mobile app to connect with its members. It allows administration to share information quickly with band members.
May 22: High Prairie St. Andrew’s School staff reconnect with students after the school closure March 16 by lining up outside the school and greeting students and their parents and/or guardians as they drive by.
May 23: The High Prairie Red Wings draft two local players with its first two selections in the annual draft: Dayton Shantz and Blake Anderson.
May 25: Irene Carlson passes away at the age of 81 years. She worked for Fish and Wildlife in Edmonton before marrying and moving to High Prairie to farm.
May 26: High Prairie town council agrees to lend labour and equipment to St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church cemetery committee to repair graves and headstones which have shifted.
May 27: Big Lakes County provides $1,000 to the Faust Community League to help maintain the Faust Cemetery.
May 27: South Peace News features a report from High Prairie RCMP, who is alarmed over the number of incidents involving fake firearms.
May 28: Lakeshore Regional Police Service executes a search warrant at a Driftpile home and seize meth and drug trafficking material. One adult male and one female are arrested.
May 28: Peace River School Division passes its $53,717,450 million budget.
May 29: Red Earth Creek RCMP charge two Peerless Lake residents and two Trout Lake residents with various drug trafficking crimes after a routine traffic stop. Police seize meth, cocaine, heroine, various guns, cash and other weapons during the arrest.
May 30: Lakeshore Regional Police Service executes a search warrant at a Driftpile home and seize meth and drug trafficking material. Three adult males and one female are arrested.
May 30: A quick-thinking teen saves his father’s life after an accident. The father was working on a truck when the vehicle moved and pinned him. Names were not disclosed.
May 31: Shots are fired at High Prairie RCMP officers sparking a massive manhunt in the hours before noon. The incident begins at around 2 a.m. and later results in the arrest of three people.

June

June 1: Northern Lakes College launches its drive-up Wi-Fi service at each of its campuses.

Northern Lakes College president Ann Everatt welcomes NLC students to use the drive-up Wi-Fi service at its campuses effective June 1.

June 1: Gift Lake’s Flarry Laderoute is recognized by the Alberta Amateur Baseball Council as its weekly winner of the Passion for Baseball program.
June 2: McLennan Parks and Recreation delivers care packages to residents at McLennan Manoir du Lac.
June 3: Smoky River FCSS delivers potted plants to Smoky River area seniors as part of Seniors’ Week activities. Demand is more than expected.
June 3: With horns blaring and sirens screaming, High Prairie seniors at Pleasantview Lodge and residents at J.B. Wood Continuing Care are treated to a parade featuring vehicles from various fire departments, police forces and Alberta Health Services. It’s done to recognize them for their efforts while celebrating Seniors’ Week. The parade is well-recevied.
June 3: Daniel Raymond Dusseault passes away at the age of 70 years in Edmonton. He farmed near Girouxville in both grain and cattle and owned and operated Falcon Carriers.
June 3: Peace River paramedic Tyne Lunn is awarded the 2020 RhPAP Rhapsody Health-care Heroes Award, which is presented to individuals and/or organizations that make significant civic and health-care contributions to rural Alberta.
June 4: Rita Maure leaves her job as CAO for the Village of Donnelly to become treasurer for the Town of High Prairie.
June 5: Former High Prairie mayor Don Lorenz passes away at the age of 73 years in Kelowna. He served as mayor from 1986-89.
June 6: A Back Lives Matter protest is held at Falher after the George Floyd killing by a police officer at Minneapolis. Peace River also holds a protest.

Falher Black Lives Matter organizers Alexis Cloutier, left, and Katelyn Kruger lead a march down Main Street in Falher June 5.

June 8: An earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter Scale strikes southeast of High Prairie at 8:58 p.m. on East Prairie Metis Settlement.
June 8: Falher town council decides to upgrade and pave Central Avenue between Main Street and Second Street West, and 1A Street Southwest between Railway Avenue South and Central Avenue Southwest. The $603,830 tender is awarded to Raiders Site Services Ltd.
June 10: South Peace News reports the Town of Peace River delivers 135 gift bags to local seniors with the help of the Peace River Fire Department and Northern Lights Regional Fire Service.
June 10: Big Lakes County supports efforts by Northland School Division to build a new school at Grouard.
June 10: In a tie vote, Big Lakes County denies a request by some Joussard residents to have more than two recreational vehicles parked on their lots.
June 10: South Peace News places third in Best Front Page category in the Alberta Weekly Newspapers’ Association competition. It is the 92nd provincial and national award won by the paper.
June 10: Big Lakes County ditches its Faust trail project located on the former osmose site.
June 10: Efforts to repair or upgrade the Winagami Lake wading pool fail. Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon writes the Village of Donnelly, Town of McLennan and Big Lakes County with the news. “Unprecedented economic challenges” with the COVID-19 pandemic are cited.
June 11: Kapawe’no First Nation has a sod turning ceremony for the new $11.2 million Kapown Rehabilitation Treatment Centre. It will be named after former Chief Frank Halcrow, who passed away Jan. 2.
June 11: High Prairie Community Beautification holds its annual Dlugosz Dig at MacIntyre Park. Instead of school children planting flowers, Town of High Prairie public works summer students do the honours.
June 15: A Peace River teen who tested positive for COVID takes to social media to urge others in contact with him to get tested.
June 15: Holy Family Catholic Regional Division announces that Victoria Cornick will be the new principal at Good Shepherd School in Peace River starting in September.
June 17: South Peace News reports that sometime the previous week, solar-powered crosswalk lights are installed at Joussard at the intersection of Peace River Avenue and Lakeshore Drive.
June 17: High Prairie Elementary School staff reconnect with students during a driveby. Schools had closed since March 16 and teaching occurring online.
June 17: Northern Lakes College reports its new High Prairie Campus is 62 per cent complete.
June 17: Slave Lake trustee Steve Adams is elected chair of High Prairie School Division. Falher – Donnelly trustee Karen Scholl is elected vice-chair by acclamation.
June 17: Marie-Ange Boivin, long-time resident of Tangent, passes away at the age of 83 years at her home in Falher.
June 18, 2020: High Prairie School Division announces that Landon Fink, a teacher at Kinuso School, is chosen as their Edwin Parr Award nominee. The award is presented to exceptional first-year teachers.
June 19: Holy Family Catholic Regional Division announces that Krista Veitch is leaving her job as principal at McLennan Providence School to take on a similar role at Holy Family School in Grimshaw.
June 19: Kevin Richard Boulanger passes away at the age of 23 years.
June 21: Mark Holzworth and Robert Cruel from Lethbridge win the Larry Dahlgren Memorial Walleye Tournament at Spruce Point Park near Kinuso.
June 22: Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen introduces a private member’s bill to explore options for creating a volunteer corps of some kind to assist law enforcement in Alberta.
June 23: High Prairie town council decides to seek a legal opinion on whether or not Big Lakes County can take away a portion [$400,000] of its 2019 capita grant as promised.
June 23: High Prairie town council decides to not take part in a circuit where electric car drivers can recharge their vehicles.
June 24: A La Crete man is charged with human trafficking. As far as Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen knows, it’s the first official case of human trafficking in the riding.
June 24: Big Lakes County declares an agricultural disaster, which means local farmers could be eligible for assistance programs. The extremely wet conditions occur an estimated every 25-50 years.
June 24: Holy Family Catholic Regional Division announces Lauri Goudreault will be the new principal at McLennan Providence School in September.
June 24: Northland School Division announces Rosalind Best will be the new principal at East Prairie Hillview School in September.
June 25: Hope Keshen delivers the valedictorian’s address at the High Prairie St. Andrew’s Grade 12 Graduation.
June 25: High Prairie RCMP arrest two men but Bradley Duff remains at large, and evades police for 23 days before being arrested in Grande Prairie. Police do not release the names of the two men arrested.
June 25: High Prairie School Division announces Etta Viens is appointed principal at High Prairie E.W. Pratt High School in September.
June 25: Peace River School Division re-elects chair Darren Kuester. Trustee Crystal Owens becomes the new vice-chair.
June 26: Jessica Villa opens Jessthetics in High Prairie. The business serves bubble tea as its specialty.
June 26: A wild goose chase occurs on Highway 2 in High Prairie resulting in the arrest of Dustin Tyler John St. Laurent, 34. A portion of the chase is caught on video and posted on social media.
June 26: Northland School Division nominates Cenovus Energy for its Friends of Education Award.
June 29: Peace River Metis woman Celeigh Cardinal wins a Juno Award for Indigenous Artist-of-the-Year.
June 29: Two police vehicles are rammed but Peace Regional RCMP finally catch and arrest Trevor Ryan Unrau, 37.

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