2020 Year in Review pt2

July

July 1: The Crabbie Goat Distillery opens its doors just north of Valleyview, owned by Jamie and Cheryl Gordon.
July 1: South Peace News reports Northern Sunrise County is not happy with the Government of Alberta’s plans for Greene Valley Provincial Park, calling their proposal “troubling.” The proposal calls for parks to revert back to Crown land, which can be sold. Greene Valley is the location of the iconic 12-Foot Davis Monument in Peace River.
July 1: South Peace News reports that Elizabeth Isert delivers the valedictorian’s address at the Donnelly G.P. Vanier Grade 12 Graduation.
July 2: The Alberta government adds 76 new police officers to forces throughout Alberta but High Prairie, McLennan or Peace River receive none.
July 2: Jessica Kirbach passes away at the age of 97 years.
July 3: Driftpile Cree Nation reports its first cases of COVID-19. By the end of the week, eight cases are reported.
July 4: Former Town of High Prairie councillor Brian Holmberg passes away. He was very active in Citizens on Patrol on the local and provincial level.
July 4: A Berwyn man is caught red-handed with stolen goods during a dispute at a self-storage facility by Peace Regional RCMP. Kyle Patrick Neel, 36, is charged with six crimes.
July 6: High Prairie provincial court holds session. Judge D.R. Shynkar levies the first $3,000 fine locally for driving a motor vehicle without insurance.
July 8: High Prairie’s Warren Wright pitches the idea of a tourist attraction. He proposes the world’s largest belt buckle be built.
July 8: South Peace News reports on a High Prairie Heritage Manor resident’s complaint of noise and vandalism near her home.
July 8: South Peace News features Kinuso woman Roberta Hunt’s efforts to raise money for sick children in the Riding to Fight Kids Cancer campaign.
July 8, 2020: South Peace News reports on former Sucker Creek resident Sarah Willier, who accepts an athletic scholarship in women’s fastball at Westcliff University in Irvine, CA.
July 8: South Peace News reports on Falher Ecole Heritage’s Grade 12 Graduation, which features a parade by Villa Beausejour.

The Falher École Héritage Graduation class of 2020! In the front row, left-right, are Émilie Aubin, Veronica Jacob, and Quinn Côté. In the middle row, left-right, Are Ashley Mussio, Amber Guérette, and Gabrielle Velie. In the back row, left-right, are Joel Beaudoin, Kelly Dion, Alexandre Laforest, Thomas Yaremko, Mathew Fischer, Maxime Maisonneuve, and Éric Lavoie. This photo shows more the effect of social distancing during the pandemic.

July 8: The M.D, of Smoky River declares an agricultural disaster. Reeve Robert Brochu estimates 70 per cent of the canola crop has died.
July 8: South Peace News reports Peace River’s Arianna Loogman is a two-time winner of the Alberta Forest Products Association’s Green Dream Bloggers internship.
July 11: Jim Trevors and Marcel Duchesneau rescue two men off the shores of Joussard in Lesser Slave Lake after their canoe capsizes.
July 11: A windstorm rips through Spruce Point Park causing damage to several vehicles and campers, and ripping up trees.
July 13: Former Faust residents Wilf and Ethel Ruecker celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. The couple now reside in St. Albert.
July 14: The Town of High Prairie is open for ‘bees’-ness as it passes its beekeeping bylaw.
July 14: Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk reports dialysis service is still a go for the local hospital, but Alberta Health Minster Tyler Shandro says it may be later that first anticipated. Shandro says it will be competed in 2021 or 2022.
July 14: Big Lakes County presents the High Prairie Fire Department with an ax marking 75 years of service to the rural municipality. It is traditional to present an ax in similar ceremonies.

Edwina Ayles, centre, was voted 2019 High Prairie Firefighter-of-the-Year. Presenting the award are Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk, left, and High Prairie fire chief Trevor Cisaroski.

July 14: High Prairie town council passes its Henkeeping Bylaw, allowing residents to keep chickens in town.
July 14: An angry High Prairie Councillor Michael Long rips Big Lakes County for pulling its $400,000 as promised in 2019 capital grants. He calls them “idiots” and “economic wizards” during his rant.
July 14: Edwina Ayles is named High Prairie Firefighter-of-the-Year.
July 14: Heart River Foundation’s plan to add 20 units to Pleasantview Lodge is endorsed by High Prairie town council.
July 15: South Peace News reports on a pilot project to turn garbage into energy at the Peace River landfill.
July 16: High Prairie’s Carson and Anne Porisky celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.
July 16: Deborah Lee Anderson passes away at the age of 52 years.
July 17: Jeanne Therese Briere passes away at the age of 96 years. She farmed and raised her family in Jean Cote.
July 18: Gayso Matula passes away at the age of 95 years. He farmed in Big Meadow and bought a sawmill to make ends met, and opened up roads with his cat.
July 20: Woodland Cree First Nation resident Shilo Thomas sets up a tent outside the band office to bring awareness to the number of deaths from drugs and alcohol in the area. More than a dozen people have passed away from suicide or overdoses. She vows to stay until “something is done.”
July 22: In keeping with policy, Big Lakes County council denies Imtiaz Ahtkar, owner of Strawberry Service, a tax break despite the fire that destroyed his business April 20.
July 22: South Peace News reports on a recently released High Prairie RCMP survey. Police response times to calls tops the list of public concerns.
July 22: South Peace News reports Big Lakes County fire chief David Sturgeon resigns to take up “another opportunity” at the Peace River Regional District, B.C.
July 22: South Peace News publishes the first of a two-part series on the 1904 Charles King case, in which he murdered Edward Hayward and became the first person to be hanged in the new province of Alberta in 1905.
July 24: Irene Faye Lamoine passes away at the age of 66 years. The Tangent resident volunteered her time locally and at In the Woods Animal Rescue.
July 26: An accident at the High Prairie Royal Bank occurs when a woman steps on the gas instead of the brake and causes a large hole in the north wall. It takes weeks to repair the buildings.
July 26: Matthew Ferris begins his job as Village of Donnelly CAO.
July 28: High Prairie town council agrees to recognize businesses who visually improve their stores with a bouquet of flowers valued at less than $150.
July 28: Ethel Helma Kuefler passes away in High Prairie at the age of 94 years.
July 29: An agreement to cohost the 2021 Alberta 55+ Games is signed between the Town of Peace River and several neighbouring municipalities.
July 29: Organizers of the Golden Walleye Classic announce the popular fishing tournament is cancelled. The COVID-19 pandemic and historically high water levels in Lesser Slave Lake are cited.
July 30: Municipalities across Alberta, including Northern Sunrise County and the M.D. of Smoky River, go to the Alberta Legislature to protest the government’s oil and gas tax. Changing the assessment model, they say, will mean local governments will have to raise taxes or cut services.
July 30: Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration holds its annual Plot Walk near Falher. About 40 producers and industry representatives attend.
July 31: Elaine Porisky passes away at the age of 88 years.

August

Aug. 3: A severe electrical storm leaves many in the Peace region without power.
Aug. 4: The Alberta government orders all Grades 4-12 students attending school in the fall to wear masks.
Aug. 5: Kimiwan Lake receives special designation in the updated Alberta Wildlife Regulation as a gamebird sanctuary to prevent displacement and disturbance to at-risk trumpeter swans from migratory bird hunting activity.
Aug. 5: Lorraine D. Jaeger passes away at the age of 75 years.
Aug. 6: Plains Midstream Canada donates $3,000 to the High Prairie Health Care Auxiliary. Money will be used to improve patient care at the hospital.
Aug. 6: Hailstones the size of golf balls fall at East Prairie Metis Settlement.

Hailstones bigger than loonies and toonies fell at East Prairie Aug. 6.

Aug. 7: Big Lakes County estimates it could lose as much as $5 million in property tax revenue from the oil and gas revenue under a new tax plan by the Alberta government.
Aug. 7: Denise Lamouche and Dorothy Anderson share the women’s title at the Sir George Bennett Seniors’ Golf Tournament in High Prairie. Vince Cunningham wins the men’s title.
Aug. 7: Kassiandra Hamelin wins the girl’s title and Noah Cunningham the boy’s title at the Frank Carson Memorial Junior Golf Tournament in High Prairie.
Aug. 7: Madeleine Marie Hebert passes away in High Prairie at the age of 98 years.
Aug. 9: Northern Sunrise County deputy reeve Norm Duvall resigns due to “fundamental differences” with council and concern for his own personal health. Bringing the matter to a head was a closed door meeting with council and Peace River MLA Dan Williams. He keeps his seat on council.
Aug. 10: Falher residents are asked to take part in a survey to decide the future of Friendship Hill Park. Council decides to hear first from residents before spending any more money on the park.
Aug. 10: McLennan town council sets a byelection for Oct. 26 to fill vacant two seats after former councillor Tom Henihan moves away from the community.
Aug. 11: High Prairie town council adopts a land-use bylaw paving the way for a convenience store and cardlock to be built in the town’s west end.
Aug. 11: Guy-Donnelly Sportex receives a $25,000 cheque from St. Isidore Co-op from its Co-op Community Space grant program. The money will be used to install lighting over the ice surface, flooring for badminton courts during the off-season, a new compressor for the ice rink and repairs to the roof.
Aug. 11: The Town of High Prairie announces its three $1,000 return to service bursary recipients: Alyssa Belanger, Brandon McNabb and Faith Pardell.
Aug. 12: South Peace News reports on Dr. Robin Laughlin’s concerns that rural communities will suffer from lack of medical service if Alberta Health Services takes over a program funding physician locums.
Aug. 12: South Peace News reports despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, forest companies are doing a booming business. The “do-it-yourself” market explodes as part of the season.
Aug. 12: High Prairie RCMP are investigating an arson case at a residential fire at Gift Lake. The house is empty at the time.
Aug. 12: Vision Credit Union president Alan D. Fielding holds a virtual meeting to inform shareholders that assets grew 16.9 per cent the previous year to over $1.2 billion. The company returns $12,580,000 to members.
Aug. 12: South Peace News reports the High Prairie and District Museum receives a $20,955 COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund Grant from Heritage Canada to offset COVID-19 expenses and loss of revenue from operations.
Aug. 13: A corvette crashes into a Peace River home. Thanks to tips from the public, the owner of the car is found.
Aug. 12: The M.D. of Smoky River defeats a motion 5-1 approving a $50 minimum tax levy on all properties.
Aug. 14: The Town of High Prairie announces that Rod Risling is hired as its new CAO.
Aug. 15: High Prairie E.W. Pratt Grade 12 students celebrate their graduation at the Elks Pro Rodeo Grounds as parents watch from their vehicles.
Aug. 16: Leonard Milbert Burback passes away in High Prairie at the age of 89 years. He ran his own construction and concrete business.
Aug. 17: Nick Masvikeni begins his job as secretary-treasurer of Holy Family Regional Catholic Division.
Aug. 18: Peace River School Division chooses Zdenka Hansen as its 2020 Transportation Award of Excellence recipient. Zdenka is a spare school bus driver and serves as transportation and maintenance shop support worker.

Zdenka Hansen, centre, received the Peace River School Division 2020 Transportation Award of Excellence on Aug. 18.

Aug. 20: Glen Mitchell is named new president and CAO of Northern Lakes College. He assumes the new job Sept. 1.
Aug. 20: Peace River School Division Supt. Paul Bennett announces he is retiring on Aug. 31, 2021 – one year ahead of time!
Aug. 21: After not being on the air for more than two years, CKRP-FM in Falher celebrates its relaunch. The company reveals a new name [Nord-Oeust FM CKRP 95.7] and logo.
Aug. 21: An adult male and adult female are charged with drug crimes after a police pursuit at Driftpile. Names are not released.
Aug. 21: Marie Cecile Kjos passes away at the age of 78 years.
Aug. 23: Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen congratulates Erin O’Toole on his Conservative Party of Canada leadership win and says he is looking forward to working with him.
Aug. 24: Holy Family Catholic Regional Division re-elects chair Kelly Whalen and vice-chair Brian Hill at its organizational meeting.
Aug. 24: Misery Mountain Ski Club and the Town of Peace River renew a multi-year lease.
Aug. 25: Const. Scott MacLeod and his German shepherd dog Jago arrive to work for the RCMP based in High Prairie. MacLeod is the long-awaited dog handler and chooses to make his home in Faust.
Aug. 25: Town of High Prairie CAO Brian Martinson attends his last council meeting. He worked for the Town for 29 years. He is presented with a gift from council.
Aug. 25: High Prairie Councillor Michael Long proposes increasing water rates to Big Lakes County residents to recoup $407,000 in grants revoked by the County.
Aug. 25: As promised earlier in the year, High Prairie RCMP S/Sgt. Warren Wright attends High Prairie town council’s meeting with a cake with a picture of a dog on top. The cake signifies the announcement of a dog handler being stationed locally.
Aug. 25: The High Prairie Friendship Centre elects its new board of directors. Ryk Badger is re-elected president.
Aug. 26: Big Lakes County decides to allow fences up to six-feet high in hamlet residential areas. Administration recommends the maximum height be three feet. “We could find no valid reason for having a six-foot high fence in a front yard,” writes Pat Olansky, director of planning and development.
Aug. 26: Big Lakes County names the Jim Sheldon family of Kinuso as its 2020 BMO Alberta Farm Family.

The Jim Sheldon family, of Kinuso, won the BMO Farm Family Award. Standing, left-right, are Jim Sheldon and Cheryl Sheldon. They are holding a nomination certificate from Big Lakes County.

Aug. 26: Big Lakes County awards its annual $3,000 Return of Service Bursary to Sydney Saitz, of Kinuso. She is attending her fourth year at the University of Alberta with a goal of being a teacher.
Aug. 26: Elizabeth Green starts her new job as Peace River Springfield Elementary School principal.
Aug. 26: South Peace News reports on the efforts of Northern Sunrise County deputy fire chief Julien Bergeron, who runs to raise money for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Association.
Aug. 26: The driver of a vehicle involved in a head-on collision with a cattle hauler dies at the scene, Valleview RCMP report. The accident occurs on Highway 49, just south of the old High Prairie road. Name of the deceased is not released.
Aug. 26: Pamela-Ann Medlicott, 53, of Valleyview, is arrested and charged with stealing $340,000 from the Valleyview ATB branch.
Aug. 27: Police respond to an attempted break and enter at Ruby’s Gas Bar at Sucker Creek.
Aug. 29: About 15 people attend the Rally for Freedom protest at the Peace River Provincial Building. Organizer Bob Blayone says the Alberta government’s emergency health orders and Bill 10/24 are unnecessary and that the COVID-19 pandemic is overblown.
Aug. 29: Red Earth Creek get more than they bargained for after responding to an accident on Highway 88 south of the hamlet. During the investigation, they seize prescription narcotics and later charge Mohamed Abdulle, of High Level, with several crimes.
Aug. 30: Katherine Strebchuk passes away at the age of 94 years. She homesteaded in Sunset House region.
Aug. 31: Peace Country Mobile Dental Hygiene, owned by Alexandria Yardley, moves into the Trade-Wind Plaza in space formerly occupied by The Pin Cushion Boutique.

September

Sept. 1: Students return to Prairie River Junior High School in High Prairie one day later than scheduled, after an individual who was at the school tested positive for COVID-19. Precautions are immediately taken.
Sept. 1: Glen Mitchell begins his job as new president and CAO of Northern Lakes College.
Sept. 1: High Prairie’s Misty Gaudet joins the Grassroots Realty team as an associate broker.
Sept. 1: Douglas Aird begins his new job as secretary-treasurer of Northland School Division.
Sept. 2: Peavine Metis Settlement receives a $1.6 million grant to upgrade the Duck Lake Road. The grant comes from the Investing in Canada Program.
Sept. 2: South Peace News reports on a slide at the High Prairie raw water reservoir south of town. It occurs in August and repaired before the end of the year.
Sept. 2: South Peace News reports on High Prairie author Lisa Rudkin’s new children’s book: Campfire Bedtime Stories.
Sept. 2: Alberta Health Services reports a late algae bloom at Winagami Lake.
Sept. 4: Rene Simard, of Grande Prairie, catches a 22-pound, 43-inch long northern pike at Shaw’s Point on Lesser Slave Lake.
Sept. 5: Casey Szmata organizes the annual Always Find a Reason to Smile Suicide Awareness and Prevention “Welcoming the Light” walk as Lac Cardinal Provincial Park. Szmata lost her daughter, Morgan Szmata, to suicide. Over 100 attend.
Sept. 6-7: Former Alberta premier and current NDP Leader Rachel Notley tours the Lesser Slave Lake region.
Sept. 7: Ryan Austin and his dog are killed in a hit and run near Reno. Police says both were stuck by a moving vehicle.
Sept. 7: Gerda Krohn passes away at the age of 79 years.
Sept. 8: The Town of Peace River discusses results of a survey regarding public input for the mask bylaw. The survey shows people are clearly divided on the issue. During debate, Mayor Tom Tarpey tells Councillor Colin Needham to “shut up” because he did not have the floor but he apologizes at the next meeting.
Sept. 8: The High Prairie Red Wings appoint Kevin Hopfner as head coach. Hopfner played for the High Prairie Regals in the 1980s helping them win several titles.
Sept. 9: Long-time Village of Girouxville Councillor Carmen Ewing resigns after serving almost 25 years.
Sept. 9: The Village of Donnelly hires a new auditor, Al Scherbarth Professional Corporation, of Edmonton and estimates it will save council about $7,500 a year during the three-year contract.
Sept. 9: Big Lakes County agrees to add Kinuso volunteer Roberta Hunt to its Wall of Fame.
Sept. 9: Julie Bellerose starts her job as the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre’s new executive director.
Sept. 9: Excitement overcomes Falher when a mother bear and her three cubs roam near the M.D. of Smoky River administration building. The bears are quickly caught and taken away by Alberta Fish and Wildlife.
Sept. 9: South Peace News reports Kinuso’s Roberta Hunt raises over $3,600 during the August Great Cycle Challenge for the Riding to Fight Kids Cancer campaign.
Sept. 9: South Peace News reports that Nampa hobby farm owner Lydie Watters is being investigated by SPCA. Pardell welcomes the investigation and says she has nothing to hide.

Lydie Watters with her farm animals, including donkeys Johnny and June, Loki the tam, goats Bilbo and Fabio, sheep Ivy, Bean and Stevie. Watters, who runs a hobby farm near Peace River, was being investigated by the SPCA in early September.

Sept. 9: The M.D. of Smoky River discovers it has 341 outdated bylaws on its books. Council begins the process to remove them.
Sept. 9: M.D. of Smoky River ag fieldman Normand Boulet reports that clubroot, a disease devastating to canola crops, is found in the district.
Sept. 9: Heart River Foundation CAO Lindsay Pratt attends a Big Lakes County meeting with a proposal to expand High Prairie’s Pleasantview Lodge. In the next few weeks, Pratt visits other municipalities. By the end of the year, the project proceeds.
Sept. 9: The Government of Alberta appoints Peace River MLA Dan Williams to a group to consult citizens on how to best allocate $14 million for palliative care over the next three years.
Sept. 11: The Town of Peace River celebrates the grand opening of its $2.7 million reservoir, which is part of the Town’s infrastructure renewal program.
Sept. 13: The Town of Peace River lowers its flags at municipal facilities in honour of Firefighters’ National Memorial Day. Members of the Peace River and Northern Lights Service departments hold a short ceremony at the main fire hall in downtown Peace River.
Sept. 14: High Prairie resident Louis Bellrose appears in court on fish poaching charges and hears there are over 1,000 pages of disclosure in the case.
Sept. 14: Four citizens file nomination papers to run for the two vacant seats on Town of McLennan council. Included are Terry Calliou, Luc Dubrule, Margaret Jacob and Nathan Wilson. Calliou and Dubrule win the Oct. 26 byelection.
Sept. 14: The Town of McLennan agrees to hire a part-time administrative assistant. Advertising for the position begins immediately.
Sept. 14: The Town of McLennan agrees to try and reach a deal with the owner of the old McLennan Hotel, in efforts to demolish it because it’s a fire hazard.
Sept. 14: The Town of Falher agrees to open the Falher Regional Recreation Complex despite the pandemic.
Sept. 18: The High Prairie and District Food Bank receives a donation of more than $2,000 in groceries from Wholesale Market.
Sept. 20: Four cases of COVID-19 are reported at Peace River’s Springfield Elementary School.
Sept. 21: Jason Cottingham becomes Big Lakes County’s new fire chief. He brings more than 20 years of experience to the job from the High Prairie Fire Department.
Sept. 23: Dawn Knapp is charged with careless driving after the bus she is driving is involved in an accident near Valleyview. Her court date is set for Nov. 19.
Sept. 23: South Peace News reports on plans to open a peat moss farm at East Prairie Metis Settlement. Settlement administrator Gerald Cunningham says the venture between East Prairie and Sun Gro Horticulture Canada Ltd. will create much-needed local employment and revenue.
Sept. 23: Northern Lakes College reports its new High Prairie Campus is 84 per cent complete.
Sept. 23: For the first time in many years, High Prairie Elementary School will not run its Safety Patrol program due to the pandemic, it is reported in school news.
Sept. 23: Casey Szmata is nominated by Peace River School Division for its Friends of Education 2020 Award. Szmata is the founder of the Always Find a Reason to Smile suicide prevention movement. At the same time, it is announced that $23,821 is raised for suicide prevention through the Peace River Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Campaign.
Sept. 23: Big Lakes Country agrees to provide $14,682 to the museum at Kinuso to repair heating and cooling systems. The upgrade preserves the building and artifacts.
Sept. 23: Sixties Scoop survivors are given COVID packages at the Peavine Inn & Sites.
Sept. 24: Antoine Brochu passes away at the age of 85 years at McLennan. He farmed and operated a custom baling service.
Sept. 28: Peace River town council passes a bylaw allowing Peace Valley Funeral Homes to open in the town.
Sept. 29: The High Prairie and District Museum receives a unique gift from South Peace News: all copies of the Grouard News [658 pages] which operated between 1912-15. All but 10 pages [missing] are presented to the museum.
Sept. 30: South Peace News reports Bob Blayone, a protestor against the Alberta government’s approach to COVID-19 that includes wearing a mask, stands firm despite the fact a family member tests positive for the virus.
Sept. 30: The results of the recreation survey in High Prairie indicate that a multiplex and splash park are the top priorities.

October

Oct. 2: Amos Edwin McKechnie, 36, is found guilty of threatening police officers after a trial in Peace River Court of Queen’s Bench. Sentencing is set for Nov. 18.
Oct. 4: The High Prairie Native Friendship Centre hosts the annual Sisters in Spirit Walk. Other walks are held in Peace River, Driftpile and Slave Lake. Hundreds attend.

Yvonne L’Hirondelle is lost in grief at the High Prairie Sisters in Spirit Walk Oct. 4 while holding up a sign in memory of a lost loved one.

Oct. 4: High Prairie RCMP charge six people after a drive-by shooting at Gift Lake Metis Settlement.
Oct. 6: Blue Wave Media installs two sector antennas at a tower at the new Heart River Housing offices. It’s the first steps in providing better Internet service in High Prairie.
Oct. 6: Long-time Holy Family Catholic Regional Division trustee Carmelle Lizee passes away at the age of 78 years. She was also a long-time librarian at High Prairie St. Andrew’s School and very active at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church.
Oct. 7: The Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association dissolves the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre board of directors citing several concerns. The newly-elected board has no chance to deal with concerns.
Oct. 7: South Peace News reports Fresh Inspirations in High Prairie has expanded into the space formerly occupied by Lyn-Mar Travel effectively doubling her space.
Oct. 8: Peace River RCMP investigate a break and enter at the Peace River Vet Clinic. Medications and equipment are stolen. Th medicine is extreme dangeorus to human beings.
Oct. 8: A vigil is held in Peace River to mark the one-year anniversary of Jennifer Donovan’s death. The man charged in connection with her death, Mathew Blachford, is free on $50,000 bail and scheduled to return to court in March.
Oct. 9: A tree falls on a power line in the Triangle area west of High Prairie causing a power outage in the town at 6:10 a.m. that lasts two hours.
Oct. 10: Lakeshore Regional Police Service seize meth and other drug paraphernalia after a search at a Driftpile home. One adult female faces drug-related charges. Her name is not released.
Oct. 10: Garry David Welch passes way at the age of 74 years. He worked in the oil and gas industry in Alberta and Northwest Territories, and retired working for Husky Energy.
Oct. 11: A statue of Darcy Haugan is unveiled at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River. Haugan was killed in the bus crash that killed 16 people of the Humboldt Broncos April 6, 2018.
Oct. 14: The M.D. of Smoky River approves three drainage projects totaling $2,019,735 including the Storm Water Drainage Channel Enhancement Flood Mitigation for Desilet, Gervais and Jean Cote North Drainage Channel projects.
Oct. 14, 2020: Big Lakes County decides to close the Enilda Waste Transfer Station at the end of the year. By the end of the year, residents launch a petition opposing the decision. The County cites theft, vandalism and misuse as some of their reasons, plus an annual savings of $77,000.
Oct. 14: South Peace News reports on the closure of the Joussard Post Office effective Oct. 13. Canada Post cites staffing concerns and asks that customers go to Enilda.
Oct. 14: South Peace News reports the Alberta Federation of Labour calls for a boycott of businesses that contributed to the UCP campaign. The Peace River and District Chamber of Commerce and the Alberta Chambers of Commerce oppose the action saying it will harm local business.
Oct. 14: The Village of Donnelly re-elects Myrna Lanctot as its mayor for the coming year.
Oct. 14: The Village of Donnelly agrees to pursue funding to repair and/or build a new wading pool at Winagami Lake Provincial Park after the Alberta government announces $43 in funding for Alberta parks.
Oct. 14: Major theft is identified as the Village of Donnelly’s top priority after being asked by local RCMP. Minor theft and prolific offenders follow.
Oct. 14: The M.D. of Smoky River denies a request to amend the rules regarding a wind energy project. As a result, the project proceeds.
Oct. 14: Big Lakes County amends its Joussard Area Structure Plan thereby opening up a 55-acre parcel in the east end for development. The land is the former Alberta Trubeam Ltd. site.
Oct. 14: The M.D. of Smoky River decides to not increase its snow removal fees for the coming winter. The fee remains at $25.
Oct. 15: A gravesite at Kapawe’no Cemetery is destroyed after a man drives through the fence. The man is charged with mischief to property.
Oct. 15: East Prairie’s Ernest Patenaude receives Holy Family Catholic Regional Division’s Indigenous Education Award. He receives a plaque and a $500 prize, which he donates to High Prairie St. Andrew’s School.
Oct. 16: For the second straight Friday, a tree falls on a power line, this time north of High Prairie, causing a power outage in town and west to Guy. The outage lasts less than two hours.
Oct. 16: The High Prairie Red Wings honour Jim McLean for his contributions to local hockey at their home opener. They present him with a Red Wings sweater and let him drop the ceremonial puck to start the game.
Oct. 16: High Prairie referee T.J. Walker is presented with his 2019-20 Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League Referee Rookie-of-the-Year award at the High Prairie Red Wings home opener.
Oct. 21, 2020: Northern Lakes College reports its new High Prairie Campus construction is in its final weeks. Work would be completed by the end of the year.
Oct. 21: South Peace News features a story on ongoing negotiations between the five Smoky River area municipalities over the fire services agreement. Currently, the M.D. of Smoky River pays 75 per cent with all others paying 25 per cent. The M.D. wants the split to be 60-40.
Oct. 25: Sucker Creek’s Lorne Cardinal, who played Sgt. Davis Quinton on the award-winning TV series Corner Gas, wins the August Schellenberg Award for Excellence from imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.
Oct. 26: High Prairie’s Dr. Robin Laughlin is recognized for his 45 years of service with a Long Service Award.
Oct. 26: Terry Calliou and Luc Dubrule win the Town of McLennan byelection with 86 and 85 votes respectively. Nathan Wilson receives 39 votes, Margaret Jacob 24. Two seats were available.
Oct. 26: Healthcare workers join wildcat strikes in High Prairie and Peace River to protest the Alberta government’s decision to outsource 11,000 laundry and lab tech jobs.
Oct. 27: Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk says efforts to build a helipad at the High Prairie Regional Health Complex are on “life support” and “not looking good.” Councillor Arlen Quartly proposes charging Alberta Health Services for landing at the airport.
Oct. 27: Town of High Prairie Councillor Debbie Rose resigns. Her move to Joussard deems her ineligible to serve.
Oct. 27: A mandatory face covering [mask] bylaw stalls at a High Prairie town council meeting after councillors Brian Gilroy and Judy Stenhouse vote against going to unanimous consent for third reading.
Oct. 27: Ken Matthews is elected reeve of Big Lakes County at the organizational meeting, replacing Richard Simard, who replaced Matthews as reeve one year earlier.
Oct. 27: Carolyn Kolebaba is re-elected reeve of Northern Sunrise County.
Oct. 28: A fire at Marczyk Stake and Lath just north of High Prairie destroys the main building. Co-owner Marlene Marczyk says everything was lost in the main building. She added she received a call at 1:13 a.m. informing her of the fire. Later, she advised the fire inspector reported the forklift started the fire, there were no suspicious preliminary findings.

A fire in the early morning hours of Oct. 28 has destroyed the main building at Marczyk Stake and Lath north of High Prairie.

Oct. 28: Emma King wins the Village of Donnelly byelection. She is acclaimed after no one else files nomination papers by the deadline.
Oct. 28: South Peace News learns that St. Anthony Church in Faust is torn down the previous week.
Oct. 28: South Peace News reports that the Town of Falher has made possible for its residents to get water bills by e-mail.
Oct. 28: South Peace News reports on two recent lottery winners in the region. Wilma Owinose, of Driftpile, wins $14,113.50 in Poker Lotto after buying her ticket at the Fawcett [AB] Petro-Canada. Wilma Cloutier, of Grouard, wins $21,000 in Zing Blackjack after buying her ticket at Bigway Foods in Grouard.
Oct. 28: The Lesser Slave Watershed Council announces it is waiving its membership fee.
Oct. 28: The Regional Environmental Action Committee announces it is embarking on a five-year Plastics Re-manufacture Project to investigate how rural and remote communities can turn plastic waste into usable objects within the community.
Oct. 28: Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen is one of only seven Conservative MPs to vote against a ban on conversion therapy. The therapy is the debunked practice of forcing children or adults into therapy that claims to change or “cure” a person’s sexuality or gender identity.
Oct. 28: Big Lakes County agrees to amend its bus schedule to transport seniors in High Prairie on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Local seniors are thrilled with the decision saying it will enhance service.
Oct. 28: Former Sucker Creek First Nation chief Ray Willier passes away at the age of 68 years. Along with partners, he built the Dreamcatcher Inn, and later Ray’s Gas Bar. He also operated a store at Enilda while Bissell Bros. Lumber was open.
Oct. 31: The wildfire season ends in Alberta. Wet weather results in a quiet year for fires. Wildlife information officer Leah Lovequist says 80 per cent of wildfires were caused by man.
Oct. 29: Driftpile Cree Nation unveils signs remembering missing and murdered Indigenous people at the east and west entrances on Highway 2.

November

Nov. 2: Horizon Bus Lines begins service in the Lesser Slave Lake area with regular trips to Edmonton via Slave Lake.
Nov. 2: Plains Midstream donates $50,000 to the new High Prairie Northern Lakes College Campus. In recognition of the donation, a trades lab will be named in the company’s honour.
Nov. 2, Perry Dennis Olsen, of no fixed address, is sent to federal prison for two years after pleading guilty in High Prairie provincial court to several drug charges. His actual sentence of 900 days is reduced to two years due to time already spent in custody.
Nov. 3: The High Prairie RCMP detachment is presented with an eagle feather, which will be used as a way to swear in statements made by Indigenous people, the same way a Bible is used. It is part of the Eagle Feather Protocol Initiative. Sucker Creek’s April Willier, owner of Fine Indian products, provides special beadwork on the feather.
Nov. 3: Russell Ronald Lochhead passes away at the age of 60 years. He earned a diploma in social work but eventually opened and operated several vending machines, and ran a school cafeteria.
Nov. 4: South Peace News reports Darcy Lane Joseph Weesemat, 27, of Atikameg, is charged with manslaughter in the death of Christopher Lyle Cunningham, 35, on Oct. 20, 2019.
Nov. 4: South Peace News reports arson charges are laid against Brett Blackhurst, 23, and a male youth, 17, in connection with a fire at Peavine Metis Settlement Aug. 24. By the end of the year, all charges are withdrawn.
Nov. 4: South Peace News reports that “little libraries” are popping up in Peace River as part of the Little Free Libraries program. It is a book sharing non-profit organization that promotes sharing books in the community.
Nov. 4: South Peace News reports Donnelly G.P. Vanier student Debra Isert wins the Governor General’s Academic Medal for the highest grade point average in the school.
Nov. 5: Driftpile Cree Nation celebrates No Stone Left Alone at a ceremony at the local cemetery. Toni Giroux places a homemade wreath in honour of her grandfather, Peter Willier, one of eight Driftpile residents who died in service.

Nov. 5: The home where Louis Bellrose and Pearl Sandor reside is destroyed by fire in High Prairie. The quick action of a High Prairie RCMP officer is credited with saving lives.
Nov. 5: In-person classes are suspended at Peace River Glenmary School due to new COVID-19 cases.
Nov. 6: A Cadotte woman, 24, passes away during a single-vehicle rollover near Little Buffalo. Her name is not released.
Nov. 7: High Prairie Elementary School students place poppies on the graves of veterans at High Prairie St. Mark’s Anglican Church Cemetery during the No Stone Left Alone ceremony.

High Prairie Elementary School student Alaina Stecik places a poppy on the grave of James Warren Randall on Nov. 7 during the No Stone Left Alone ceremony.

Nov. 7: Larry Yellowknee scores three goals, including the overtime winner, as the visiting High Prairie Red Wings win their fifth straight game, 6-5 over the Fox Creek Ice Kings, to take over first place in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.
Nov. 8: The new $162 million Peace River Bridge opens to vehicle traffic.
Nov. 9, 2020: The Town of McLennan is pleased to hear overall crime is decreasing. McLennan RCMP detachment Sgt. Mark Hall delivers the good news. He adds a program is also being developed to replace the DARE program with McLennan slated to be one of four pilot projects in Alberta.
Nov. 9: Francis Lessard, president of Smoky River Tourism, attends a Town of McLennan meeting to pitch a regional tourism proposal. His request for more money is tabled to budget deliberations.
Nov. 10: The Town of High Prairie passes its mandatory face covering [mask] bylaw. Masks are required to be worn when the number of COVID cases in the Big Lakes County region reaches 15.
Nov. 10: A youth pleads guilty to one count of arson for his role in setting the old High Prairie Hospital on fire Sept. 18, 2019. He is sentenced to 18 months of probation under several conditions, and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service work.
Nov. 11: South Peace News reports that a mystery is solved! Robin Barnes has “dressed up” the 12-Foot Davis Statue each Halloween at Batman to have a little fun.
Nov. 11: South Peace News reports Kinuso and area residents are petitioning to keep the local ATB branch open.
Nov. 11: The annual Remembrance Day service takes on a different look in High Prairie at the Legion Hall. Under 30 invited guests attend the service but South Peace News delivers the service online for anyone interested in viewing. Meanwhile, the entire High Prairie Legionnaires midget hockey team attends to pay respects before the service and lays a wreath, much to the appreciation of the Legion.
Nov. 11: Five communities in the Smoky River region hold outdoor Remembrance Day services.
Nov. 11: The Peace River Legion holds its Remembrance Day service. Legion members stay inside while others stay outside in their vehicles.
Nov. 12: Lakeshore Regional Police report an ATM is stolen at Ruby’s Gas Bar at Sucker Creek. The suspect cuts through the steel door and uses a tow rope to steal the machine.
Nov. 12: Northern Lakes College announces it is opening a campus at Fox Creek. It will be the first post-secondary institution in Fox Creek’s history.
Nov. 16: Paul Trindle pleads guilty in Peace River Court of Queen’s Bench to manslaughter in connection of the death of a man in Peerless Lake June 25, 2018. Sentencing is set for Dec. 7.
Nov. 16: Peace River begins its annual Adopt-a-Grandparent campaign, which delivers gift bags to seniors in Peace River, including residents at Heritage Towers, Points West Living and Sutherland Nursing Home.
Nov. 17: A Slave Lake man passes away in a rollover at Sucker Creek. His name is not released.
Nov. 17: Barrhead RCMP arrest Lorne Kyle Jack Harris, 33, of Barrhead, in connection with the theft of the ATM from Circle K on Nov. 21, 2019 in High Prairie.
Nov. 18: Northern Lakes College and the Town of Drayton Valley announce a new education partnership. Starting in January 2021, NLC will offer services at the Drayton Valley Clean Energy Technology Centre.
Nov. 18: The Town of Peace River passes its mandatory mask bylaw.
Nov. 18: South Peace News reports on a firestorm erupting from Town of Slave Lake Councillor Joy McGregor’s comments regarding the homeless. Her comments are viewed as racist by many parties. Driftpile Cree Nation calls for a boycott of Slave Lake, which is later removed after apologies are issued. Most troubling was McGregor’s comment that, “We need to stop being so nice to them, we need to stop feeding them and need to stop doing all these wonderful things” for Indigenous homeless, while referencing local First Nations. The Town of High Prairie agrees to issue a carefully-worded statement condemning McGregor’s comments, but her apology occurs before it is issued so they decide to do say nothing.
Nov. 18: The Village of Donnelly decides to seek a legal opinion regarding the possibility of going to arbitration with the M.D. of Smoky River regarding the Regional Fire Protection Agreement, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
Nov. 19, 2020: Peace Regional Police Const. Roxanne Noss receives the 2020 Alberta Community Justice Award for her work in preventing crime and promoting restorative justice.
Nov. 19: Rosanne Ochran is elected by acclamation to serve as the High Prairie trustee on the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division board of trustees.
Nov. 23: The Town of Peace River signs a new airport agreement with an undisclosed party. Administration’s goal is to have the transfer of the airport competed by Dec. 15.
Nov. 24: High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk predicts a physician crisis is looming in the region. The matter is placed on the agenda of the Northern Alberta Elected Leaders meeting Nov. 27.
Nov. 24: A search finds a missing Whitefish River man who had passed away. Everett Allen Auger, 48, was found in a wooded area.
Nov. 25: Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen proposes a special national suicide prevention 988 hotline similar to 911. Such hotlines are already available in other parts of the world.
Nov. 25: South Peace News reports Gilbert “Tippy” Jacobsen passes away at the age of 94 years. He was an active member of the Elks and helped introduce the pro rodeo to High Prairie.
Nov. 25: Lorene Rose is elected president of the Joussard Community Association after defeating Cathy Wilcox 51-47.
Nov. 27: Robert Wayne Beamish passes away at the age of 66 years. He worked in heavy construction and meat cutting, and on a farm.
Nov. 27: High Prairie Light-Up occurs without the usual festivities due to COVID-19. All activities are cancelled except for the Santa Claus Parade, which now winds its way through High Prairie to residents’ homes instead of gathering downtown.
Nov. 30: Big Lakes County launches Voyent Alert! which provide up-to-date information during emergencies as well as day-to-day notifications.

December

Dec. 2: South Peace News reports the Government of Alberta has eliminated the $5 fee to cut down a Christmas tree. A permit is still required, however.
Dec. 4-7: Three strands of Christmas lights are stolen from the McLennan Kimiwan Birdwalk gazebo.
Dec. 7: Peace River town council meets the non-profit Peace River Regional Airport Association Ltd. at its governance and priorities meeting. They hear all members are local and will be taking over operations of the Peace River Airport.
Dec. 9: South Peace News reports on settlements with Driftpile Cree Nation and Sucker Creek First Nation regarding the Agricultural Benefits Specific Claims [cow and plows] with the federal government. Driftpile begins distributing money Dec. 4 and Sucker Creek “by Dec. 12”.
Dec. 9: Big Lakes County receives a petition from 88 Enilda and area residents asking council to keep the Enilda waste transfer station open. Closure is planned for the end of the year.
Dec. 9: South Peace News reports on the near completion of the new hall at Spruce Point Park near Kinuso, which will be used mainly for equine activities.
Dec. 9: South Peace News reports St. Augustine Mission residential school near Peace River is receiving a $34,000 upgrade, thanks to a grant from the Commemorating the History and Legacy of Residential School component of the Celebration and Commemoration program from the federal government.
Dec. 9: South Peace News reports Peace River MLA Dan Williams says constituents want a toll bridge at Tompkins Landing.
Dec. 9: For the first time since the 1953-54 inaugural season, the NPHL announces it will not operate during the current season. The Alberta government’s announcement that arenas would not open until Jan. 12 thwarts any plans to have a short season.
Dec. 9: Big Lakes County redistricts property near Kinsuo where the former Strawberry Service restaurant was located. The decision allows owners to rebuild after the fire that totally destroyed the business on April 20.
Dec. 9: Big Lakes County agrees to write a letter to Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro citing the need for more physicians in the north.
Dec. 9: Big Lakes County agrees to increase water fees 11 per cent in the new year. Reeve Ken Matthews says the fee should be higher as it still does not recover all costs to provide the service.
Dec. 13: Holy Family Catholic Regional Division confirms a case of COVID-19 at High Prairie St. Andrew’s School.
Dec. 14: Town of McLennan Councillor Dwayne Stout says Alberta Municipal Affairs “can kiss my ass” over forced training as part of being a councillor. He adds he never signed up for a full-time job as councillor, only as a volunteer to serve his community.
Dec. 14: McLennan town council pitches the idea of selling the H.W. Fish arena during future discussion of park improvements.
Dec. 14: Falher town council hears that Citizens on Patrol may be formed in the area. RCMP detachment Sgt. Mark Hall says 22 people attended a virtual meeting and that “people want to be part of the solution.”
Dec. 15: The Town of Falher posts on its website the winner of the annual Light Up Your Business Campaign: East Peace Gas Co-op.
Dec. 16: Tolko Industries donates $17,000 plus oriented strand board to Northern Lakes College. As a result, NLC names a space in its new High Prairie Campus dedicated in E-learning the Tolko ELearning Suite.
Dec. 18: The Falher Medical Clinic announces that nurse practitioner Stephanie Barker is starting work at the clinic on Jan. 11, 2021.
Dec. 18: A fire breaks out in the fireplace of Peter Clarke’s High Prairie home. The fire causes minor fire and water damage on the main floor and basement.
Dec. 22: A case of COVID-19 is reported by Kapawe’no First Nation. The band issues a statement to residents on protocol to follow.
Dec. 23: South Peace News reports that Alberta’s chief judge of the Province of Alberta, Derek Redman, is urging people to stay away from court and deal with their legal matters in other ways. He says too many people are attending court thereby increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. High Prairie is the third busiest court in Alberta.
Dec. 23: South Peace News reports that Big Lakes County is making power. A news release says the County Shop Solar Project was commissioned on Oct. 20. The project makes power to run the administration building and shop, with excess power sold to the grid.
Dec. 31: Town of Falher CAO Adele Parker retires. James Bell, CAO-in-training, takes over the job. Parker served as CAO since June 2010.

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