(L-r) Clearwater and District Citizens of the Year are Jean and Lloyd Strickland. Congratulating them are Mayor John Harwood and Peter Milobar, MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson. They were taking part in Clearwater and District Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet held Friday evening, March 23 in Clearwater Legion Hall.

UPDATE: Jean and Lloyd Strickland are Citizens of the Year

Over 60 individuals, organizations and businesses nominated in eight different categories

By Keith McNeill

Clearwater’s Citizens of the Year for 2018 are Jean and Lloyd Strickland.

They were named to that honor during an awards banquet put on by Clearwater and District Chamber of Commerce on Friday evening, March 23 in Clearwater Legion Hall.

The Stricklands came to the North Thompson Valley in 1965. He has been the pastor for several different churches and organizations, most notably Clearwater Christian Church.

Their nomination notes that, although now retired, the Stricklands continue to mentor others: youth leaders in our community, fellow rockhounds, gardeners, Bible study groups, and so on. While some of their acts of kindness are public, more often they have served in relative obscurity and sought no recognition: visiting the sick, comforting the bereaved, encouraging the lonely, counselling couples, being there for families in crisis, facilitating reconciliation and so much more.

Many years ago, when Star Lake School shut down, the Stricklands had a dream that the building would one day become a community outreach centre. In 2017 Clearwater Christian Church purchased the building and it now hosts youth groups, Bible study groups, a cafe, Girl Guides, dance classes, and regular church services by CCC and Seventh Day Adventists. The site also hosted a tent city during last summer’s wildfire crisis and has hosted several funerals (no church affiliation required).

READ MORE: Seventeen nominated for Citizen of the Year (Mar. 6, 2018)

READ MORE: Citizenship papers go to 12 local residents (Apr. 5, 2014)

Other awards given out during the event included:

• Tourism Accommodation of the Year – Wells Gray Inn

“Service excellence at its finest,” was how its nomination described Wells Gray Inn. It noted that owners Bonnie and Jeff Ruttan, plus their staff, are constantly considering the subject of community and they support all manner of charities and service clubs.

“The staff was put to the test during the summer fire season, as many local folk needed accommodation and food services,” the nomination read.

• Tourism Service of the Year – Interior Whitewater Expeditions

“What can I say? Thank you for providing one of the most exciting excursions in the community,” said the nomination. “Great guides! Great service!”

• Tourism Restaurant of the Year – K&A Gateway Grill

The nomination noted that business owners Kalen and Amanda Jones held several fundraisers in 2017 for wildfire disaster relief and to help a local boy attend post-secondary eduation.

During last summer’s wildfire situation, they went above and beyond to make sure the firefighters were fed.

“Excellent food, great food and a nice evening out for dining in Clearwater,” read the nomination.

• Business Service of the Year – Kal Tire

“Love the folks at Kal Tire. Always fantastic service! Helpful, quick, courteous, and with a smile. Always willing to back their products and services,” read the nomination.

• Business Rookie of the Year – Kathy’s Market Place

Kathy Downey has done an amazing job with opening Kathy’s Marketplace, according to her nomination.

“She has done a great job in giving the community a place for small businesses to sell items on consignment,” it said.

• Retail Business of the Year – Mystic Dreams

“Flo (Amundson) is a generous soul who opened her shop to many during the summer fire season so they could register through her Internet code, offering a coffee and a listening ear as they negotiated their way through the registration process,” said the nomination.

The store offers unique gifts and great clothing selection for all manner of tastes. It also helps fundraise for various groups through its fashion shows and other events.

• Employee of the Year – Stacee Sollows, Interior Savings Insurance

“You can’t walk into Interior Savings without hearing her laughter or seeing her smile,” said her nomination, which went on to note that, when the local office was short-staffed, Sollows cancelled days off and holidays, and worked with out-of-town help to make sure her clients were taken care of.


Mayor John Harwood and MLA Peter Milobar congratulate Wells Gray Inn owner Bonnie Ruttan for winning tourism accommodation of the year.

Mayor John Harwood and MLA Peter Milobar congratulate Kathy Downey, owner of Kathy’s Market Place, for winning rookie business of the year.

Mayor John Harwood and MLA Peter Milobar present Scott Thomas of Clearwater Kal Tire with the service business of the year award.

Owners and staff at the Gateway Grill accept the tourism restaurant of the year award. Photos by Keith McNeill

Flo Amundson gives a V-sign as she accepts the retail business of the year award from Mayor John Harwood and MLA Peter Milobar.

Mayor John Harwood and MLA Peter Milobar congratulate Stacee Sollows for being named employee of the year.

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