Year in Review: A look back at 2021, part 2

Devin Holland winds up for the pitch during a game against 100 Mile House in Barriere. This image was published in the July 15 issue.Devin Holland winds up for the pitch during a game against 100 Mile House in Barriere. This image was published in the July 15 issue.
The kiddos in the District of Clearwater’s Healthy Living program Level 1 swimming class were excited to get into the water. Instructor Juniper Wadlegger led the class for the young ones who were learning how to blow bubbles under water and kick their feet to swim to the other side within the roped-off area. This image appeared in the July 22 issue.The kiddos in the District of Clearwater’s Healthy Living program Level 1 swimming class were excited to get into the water. Instructor Juniper Wadlegger led the class for the young ones who were learning how to blow bubbles under water and kick their feet to swim to the other side within the roped-off area. This image appeared in the July 22 issue.
Eralyn, 4, and Jade, 6, set up a lemonade stand on their street in Clearwater to raise money for the endangered monarch butterfly. This image appeared in the Aug. 19 issue.Eralyn, 4, and Jade, 6, set up a lemonade stand on their street in Clearwater to raise money for the endangered monarch butterfly. This image appeared in the Aug. 19 issue.
Alex Morrissey, who travelled in from Whitecroft, checks the conditions before taking his swing. He was dressed the part to play a round of golf during the Fun Golf Tournament. This image was published in the Aug. 26 issue.Alex Morrissey, who travelled in from Whitecroft, checks the conditions before taking his swing. He was dressed the part to play a round of golf during the Fun Golf Tournament. This image was published in the Aug. 26 issue.
A few members of the Clearwater Secondary School boy’s soccer team were parked in front of Tim Hortons on Saturday morning handing out Raiders stickers to build “Raider pride” in the community. From l-r: Evan Cooke, Jaden Phillips, Lucas Taniguti, Reid Muddiman and Jackson Graffunder. This image appeared in the Nov. 4 issue.A few members of the Clearwater Secondary School boy’s soccer team were parked in front of Tim Hortons on Saturday morning handing out Raiders stickers to build “Raider pride” in the community. From l-r: Evan Cooke, Jaden Phillips, Lucas Taniguti, Reid Muddiman and Jackson Graffunder. This image appeared in the Nov. 4 issue.
Members of the Clearwater RCMP detachment stood out in the chilly weather Saturday afternoon accepting non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Clearwater & District Food Bank. From l-r: Const. Toby Klassen, Const. Cody Lockwood and Sgt. Grant Simpson. This image was published in the Dec. 9 issue of the Times. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Members of the Clearwater RCMP detachment stood out in the chilly weather Saturday afternoon accepting non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Clearwater & District Food Bank. From l-r: Const. Toby Klassen, Const. Cody Lockwood and Sgt. Grant Simpson. This image was published in the Dec. 9 issue of the Times. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Cleo Coates skates around the arena as a happy Frosty, as skaters from the Raft Mountain Skating Club’s CanSkate group, Avery McGeorge, Jade Prime and Rebekah Miller, chase after her. The skating club held a Winter Gala on Dec. 16 at the North Thompson Sportsplex. This image appeared in the Dec. 23 issue.(Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Cleo Coates skates around the arena as a happy Frosty, as skaters from the Raft Mountain Skating Club’s CanSkate group, Avery McGeorge, Jade Prime and Rebekah Miller, chase after her. The skating club held a Winter Gala on Dec. 16 at the North Thompson Sportsplex. This image appeared in the Dec. 23 issue.(Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Olivia Bonnamour says her Brownie promise with district commissioner Cassie Sills. This image was published in the Dec. 23 issue. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Olivia Bonnamour says her Brownie promise with district commissioner Cassie Sills. This image was published in the Dec. 23 issue. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)

Continued from the Dec. 30 issue.

July

After having to shut down in Oct 2020 because of the pandemic, Wells Gray Tours was once again up and running. While they didn’t host any international travellers, 20 residents from the B.C. interior, along with tour guide Roland Neave and driver Ken Clarke, set out for the first tour of the season, up in the park.

Many community members gathered at the Dutch Lake Community Centre for chief administrative officer Leslie Groulx’s retirement, after 10 years with the District of Clearwater. MLA Peter Milobar, Simpcw band chief Shelly Loring, Simpcw council member Tina Donald, and former DOC mayor John Harwood were among those who attended.

ALSO READ: District council, staff and community gather for retirement send-off for Groulx

Local rookie Madyson Clark won the first race during the Clearwater Speedway’s re-opening weekend. The spectator’s area was filled with those eager to watch the cars race around the track again after a 15-year hiatus. Organizers expressed their excitement that spectators would be allowed to attend, an announcement made just days before the big day, a decision made by the provincial government as COVID cases decreased over the summer.

As vaccination rates increased and coronavirus cases declined, the government announced the province would be moving into Phase 3 of the re-opening plan, meaning residents within B.C. and all over Canada are welcome for recreational travel. The boost to local tourism was noticed and many were excited to welcome visitors to the area once again.

A mild winter was noted as one of many factors in fueling the wildfire season over the summer. The Embleton wildfire was one of many that devastated communities, forcing hundreds to leave their homes, leaving many more on an evacuation alert in the Whitecroft and Sun Peaks areas. Other threatening wildfires would affect hundreds of people, including the Sparks Lake north of Kamloops and Momich Lake northeast end of Adams Lake. Firefighters from Canada, USA, Mexico and Australia would arrive in B.C. to fight the wildfires.

Heli-skiing industry legend Mike Wiegele died at age 82. The ski-enthusiast and entrepreneur started the heli-ski business in 1970 in Valemount before moving the operation to Blue River four years later, where it now resides. His passing wasn’t a shock to or unexpected by family members. Co-workers of Wiegele said “he lived a good life.”

August

Live music came back to the valley for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020. Kamloops’ Sabrina Weeks and Mike Hilliard opened the first of five shows put on by the Wells Gray Lively Arts Society at their summer stage event. People from all over came to watch the event, bringing lawn chairs and enjoying the live shows in the summer evenings.

Paddlers from all over gathered in Clearwater for the Clearwater Kayak Festival, taking part in all kinds of events, including camping, live music, yoga and whitewater kayaking. Due to the washout on the Clearwater River Road, kayakers accessed the Clearwater River through the Kettle put-in.

New DOC chief administrative officer John Thomas arrived in Clearwater, excited to take over the position left behind by Leslie Groulx after she retired just weeks before. Thomas came to the area from Faro, Yukon, a town of about 900 people.

A Clearwater family experienced a hawk rescue after finding the injured bird on the side of Highway 5. Alexis Pearce brought the bird to OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) volunteer Sandra Di Stefano who transported the bird to a rehabilitation facility. A few weeks later the family witnessed the release of the red-tailed hawk at Dutch Lake.

ALSO READ: Hawk rescue a very unique experience for North Thompson family

The Military Police Motorcycle Relay made a stop in Clearwater on their journey through B.C. to raise money for the Military Police Fund for Blind Children. The pandemic kept the group to travelling in the province, but 12 days into the trip treasurer and pilot car driver Sandra Tucker estimated the group had already raised $20,000 with just a few days left until their final destination.

Two local youngsters raised $169.75 to help save the monarch butterfly by selling lemonade on a hot summer day. Eralyn, 4, and Jade Prime, 6, wanted to do what they could to help the butterflies after reading a book about the species. The money raised was given to Nature Conservancy Canada to help plant more milkweed.

The Sparks Lake wildfire grew to an estimated 95,980 hectares, putting homes from Darfield to McLure, as well as the District of Barriere on evacuation alert. The out-of-control wildfire had forced hundreds of people and animals to leave their homes. Firefighters from Little Fort and Blackpool assisted many homeowners with structural protection. The evacuation alert would be rescinded on Aug. 20.

The government of B.C. announced funding for an additional 20 rental units at Evergreen Acres. Volunteers were busy moving garden boxes to the centre of the complex to make room for the construction of the new units, which are expected to be completed in 2022.

A snap election was called by the Liberal government on Aug. 15. Cathy McLeod, who held the seat for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo since 2008, announced earlier in the year she would not seek re-election. Voters would head to the polls and select a new MLA on Sept. 20.

September

Many restrictions on gatherings in the Interior Health region were relaxed as the provincial vaccination card program took effect. The restrictions had been established in the Interior after a spike in COVID-19 cases in the region. The requirement for proof of vaccination negatively affected many groups in the region, including the Clearwater Speedway.

Conservative candidate Frank Caputo was elected in the riding, beating the NDP’s Bill Sundhu by more than 9,000 votes, to succeed Cathy McLeod as the new Member of Parliament. The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding had eight candidates for voters to choose from, one from each of the parties, as well as a handful of independents.

Parole was denied for the man who killed a family of six near Wells Gray Provincial Park three decades ago. David Ennis, formerly Shearing, was denied parole for the third time. He is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of the Johnson-Bentley family in 1982.

Students at Vavenby Elementary were surprised and excited to see a new playground has been installed over the summer. Grade 5 student Kelsey Rexin said everyone rushed to play on it as soon as they could. The Parents Advisory Committee worked for four years to fundraise for the project.

The Raise-a-Reader adult spelling bee made a return after a year hiatus. Three teams went head-to-head to be crowned the best adult spellers (though no one could figure out how to spell syzygy). The event raised $2,362 for the Raise-a-Reader campaign, which was matched by the provincial government.

October

Many Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community gathered in the field behind the Dutch Lake Community Centre to honour the inaugural Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30. Roughly 100 people gathered on the lawn and took part in the ceremonies and drumming, as well as various arts and crafts for the children.

Thompson-Nicola Regional District Director for Area B Stephen Quinn called on Premier John Horgan to take action against the Tiny House Warriors, who have occupied a large area in Blue River near the TransMountain workers camp for more than three years. A violent altercation that sent a few people to hospital is what pushed Quinn to once again bring up the concern at a TNRD board meeting. A motion to send a letter to government officials was passed.

ALSO READ: TNRD director calls on Premier to take action against Tiny House Warriors group

The residents of Blue River said no to plans by the TNRD to add chlorine to the drinking water. An open house was held at the local community centre with members of the TNRD and Interior Health in attendance to answer any questions residents may have about the plans. The move to chlorinate is required by Interior Health in order to meet healthy drinking water guidelines.

Numerous closures to the emergency department at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital were being felt by residents in and around Clearwater. The ER was closed over the Thanksgiving weekend, in addition to various evenings and nights throughout August to October. The closures were due to staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic and stemming from numerous issues including a insufficient housing, burnout and lack of workforce.

The Clearwater Secondary School boy’s soccer team made into the provincial final tournament for the first time in the school’s history. The town was buzzing with excitement as the boys prepared for the three-day tournament in Burnaby. Local businesses and individuals showed amazing supports as the team was able to fundraise the fund needed in just a few days. After Mayor Merlin Blackwell tweeted about the team, the Vancouver Whitecaps reached out, and purchased new equipment for the boys.

November

A new vaccine mandate covering volunteers of youth sports had many parents and coaches concerned about the upcoming season. While there was little interruption of tournaments and games at the North Thompson Sportsplex, some teams lost players and coaches due to the mandate.

After almost two years of planning — and waiting — the Men’s Shed finally opened its doors in Clearwater. Led by Ray Harms and Bob Foulkes, the group is now operating every Tuesday and Thursday, providing a space for men to go to work on hobbies, complete projects or just have a cup of coffee.

A few cases of COVID-19 at Raft River Elementary caused as stir in the community. Potential exposure events at the end of October and into November were noted on the Interior Health website.

After an exciting few days in Burnaby, the Clearwater Secondary School boy’s soccer team finished 14th in the province. They played five games against other top teams in the province, finishing the tournament with a 1-3-1 record.

The pipeline boom in the region means very few rooms available for tourists and those visiting for sports tournaments. Mayor and council raised concerns at a regular council meeting, with Counc. Lucy Taylor noting the lack of accommodation could have long-lasting impacts. The mechanical completion of the TransMountain pipeline is expected near the end of 2022.

December

The Clearwater RCMP detachment gathered 1,040 pounds of food, $1,550 in cash and $210 in Buy-Low gift cards for the local food bank. Members were parked in front of Buy-Low Foods collecting donations for their Cram the Cruiser event.

New cases of COVID-19 reached double digits in the North Thompson Local Health Area for three weeks straight. Cases of coronavirus had been steadily increasing as the Omicron variant started to spread throughout the world.

The TNRD brought in a mandate requiring vaccination of all volunteers, contractors and staff by February 2022. While many volunteer fire departments in the regional district are able to comply to the mandate, a couple were concerned about the number of members they would be losing.

ALSO READ: Vavenby Volunteer Fire Department members question new vaccine policy

Two Clearwater Girl Guides were excited to finally accept their Lady Baden-Powell awards after waiting 18 months, due to COVID-19. The award is the highest a Guide can achieve. The two teens were also inducted as Pathfinders, next level in the program.

The annual Christmas Eve dinner, organized by Shelley Sim and put together by dozens of volunteers and donors, was another success, delivering over 575 meals to individuals and families throughout the area. The Raft River Elementary Grade 6/7 students also helped, decorating hundreds of gingerbread cookies for the dinner packages.



newsroom@clearwatertimes.com

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