Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s newest Area O (Lower North Thompson) director is longtime Louis Creek rancher and Barriere Star Journal editor Jill Hayward.
Hayward, 71, believes her own experiences in life, as a rancher, volunteer and newspaper editor in the area has given her the insight needed to understand the wants, needs and dreams of the people she will be representing.
“I think I have something to give back, and I also am willing to learn,” said Hayward, who was elected by acclamation.
With a sister already living in Barriere, Jill moved to the area 30 years ago with her husband Bob, and her elderly parents, from the Fraser Valley. She said they were looking to escape the rat race that her community was becoming down south and traded in their 40-acre farm for two sections of land at Louis Creek. The couple, who have been married 49 years now, still enjoy the property but downsized a few years ago, leasing a portion of the property for 50 cow/calf pairs.
“It’s the best of both worlds. We don’t feel like we don’t have cows, but we have much less work,” Hayward said of downsizing. “We love the ranch and all it has to offer with deer, bears, coyotes and the odd moose. It’s amazing, it’s neverending.”
Hayward, who is also a professional photographer, likes to joke that she literally started in the basement in the newspaper business, working her way up. Hayward did in fact start working in the mailroom of the Barriere Star Journal, then reception, ad production and design and finally to editor, where she has filled the role since 2004.
She said the local newspaper is a place in the community where people often go to have their questions answered. She feels honoured to be able to help residents in that way, and believes her position as director within the Thompson-Nicola Regional District will be similar, though she will keep the two roles entirely separate.
As well as deeply understanding the needs of those in agriculture, Hayward has also been involved in many facets of life in Barriere as a volunteer, serving as the president of the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association, a board member of Rural Crime Watch, Barriere and Area Chamber of Commerce, community planning and health, seniors programs and literacy outreach. An animal lover, Hayward has also been the go-to person for dog obedience training for the past 40 years.
“I have a very full life but I enjoy every bit of it.”
In her position as fall fair president, Hayward has worked with the TNRD on four occasions when livestock needed to be evacuated to the fair grounds due to wildfires in the area. She and her husband also lived through the 2003 wildfire that swept through Louis Creek.
“Our whole ranch burned up in 2003, so I really do understand where people are coming from when it comes to wildfires,” Hayward said, noting wildfire preparedness is an important aspect of future planning in the area.
Hayward will be sworn in as Area O director on November 17.