YEAR IN REVIEW: August

A look back at the top stories from August of 2018 in Williams Lake

Storm prompts full response from local fire depts.

Aug. 1

Lightning caused six new fires in the Cariboo Fire Centre, including two very close to home for Williams Lake residents on Monday, July 30.

The 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Department and BC Wildfire Service responded to a lightning-caused fire at Mission Road and Felker Roads east of Russet Bluff with two apparatus and 10 members at about 10 p.m. Monday evening, with more volunteers staged at the firehall.

Members of the Williams Lake Fire Department and BC Wildfire Service also responded to a lightning-caused fire along Highway 20, near the Bond Lake Road turn off.

Field of dreams gets grand opening at Sugarcane

Aug. 1

There was grand slam excitement Saturday at the grand opening of the new ball diamond at Sugarcane.

Thanks to a grant from the Toronto Blue Jays Foundation, and incredible local generosity and support, the $158,000 project was completed.

READ MORE: Grand slam excitement at Sugarcane diamond opening

The new ball diamond features a new infield made of crushed brick, a fully irrigated outfield, field lighting, new bleachers, a new washroom and a new backstop.

The Blue Jays Care Foundation attended the event, helping to celebrate the grand opening, including executive director Robert Witchel.

Mudslide closes Highway 97 on four separate occasions

Aug. 8

Mudslides that wreaked havoc for motorists on Highway 97 last week forcing several closures are being attributed to last summer’s wildfires.

Highway 97 was shut down on four separate occasions over the past week including three times during the BC Day long weekend.

Geo tech assessments conducted by ministry staff in the area concluded the slides were the result of unstable hillsides in the region impacted by wildfires.

Neufeld family thankful for support following float plane crash

Aug. 8

Twenty-year-old Williams Lake resident Spencer Neufeld was the pilot and lone survivor of a float plane crash on Tyaughton Lake in Gold Bridge this week.

The float plane crashed sometime around 1 p.m. Wednesday, RCMP said, the lake situated between Lillooet and Pemberton.

Police confirmed a 20-year-old man from Prince George died at the scene of the crash, while the body of a second victim, a 29-year-old man from Aldergrove, was recovered Thursday by the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team.

Family-run Italian restaurant bids adieu after 20 years

Aug. 8

It was the end of an era in Williams Lake when the city’s only family-operated Italian restaurant closed up shop in July for good.

READ MORE: Trattoria Pasta Shoppe dishes up final meals

Just 30 days shy of celebrating their 21st year in business, Carol and Archie DiCecco were busy in the kitchen serving up favourite dishes to their longtime customers of Trattoria Pasta Shoppe since announcing the closure.

New Williams Lake Canadian Tire owners excited to be part of the community

Aug. 8

When Brad and Nancy O’Neill came across the opportunity to buy the Williams Lake Canadian Tire store, they found many reasons to say yes.

The O’Neills purchased the store in mid-April and arrived here in May. They call Ontario’s Niagara region home and moved here from Richmond Hill, Ont., where they also owned a Canadian Tire store.

Cariboo Piglets swim the Fraser River

Aug. 10

Four piglets in the Cariboo recently had an excellent adventure that included escaping a pen at their new home, touring neighbouring farms and swimming across the Fraser River.

The eight-week old Ossabaw Island Hog piglets, described as perfect homestead pigs, originated from Egg and Horsehoe Farm near Kamloops and were purchased by Stephanie Bird from Slow Train Farm on the banks of the Fraser River.

I got them home and put them in the location where we keep our piglets, and they seemed to settle in. We got busy with our market garden and worked all morning,” she continued. “I was in the orchard and heard oinking, ran to look and saw that they had all gotten out.”

The family was busy getting ready for market, and three days later saw on the McLeese Lake community Facebook page that Barb Scharf from Hill Farm Nursery on the other side of the river, had posted that three little pigs had arrived on her shore the day they escaped.

The fourth piglet had another adventure altogether. When the pigs first arrived at Hill Farm Nursery, and the owners were attempting to catch them, one of the piglets ran back into the Fraser River and made it back to the other side. It ended up 10 km south of Slow Train Farm, where it was captured and put in a dog crate.

Mount Polley Mine and union reach agreement

Aug. 10

Unionized workers at Mount Polley Mine have started to return to work after an agreement was reached with the company last week.

United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 president Brian O’Rourke said 79 per cent of union members voted in favour of a new three-year agreement on July 31 and Aug. 1.

“After the company was notified on Thursday morning of the results, some people started getting called back to work immediately,” O’Rourke told the Tribune Tuesday. “I was in the steelworkers office in Williams Lake on Friday and people were coming in saying they were getting calls already.”

Sixty years celebrated at 4-H Show and Sale

Aug. 15

It was a full house at the 60th Annual Williams Lake and District 4-H Sale held Monday evening at the Williams Lake Stockyards.

Looking out into the crowd, 100 Mile House rancher Bill Hadden gave the opening words and said as a former 4-H leader he’d attended the show and sale many times, and later as a buyer.

“You think of 60 years of history and that works out to about 120,000 kids who have gone through this sale,” Hadden said. “That is a significant number.”

Funding increased to Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin

Aug. 17

City funding to the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is being increased by $24,000 a year for the next two years to alleviate some of the stress caused by last summer’s relocation to the Tourism Discovery Centre.

The fee-for-service amount will be in addition to the $35,000 per year the museum presently receives through the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture function, jointly from the City and the Cariboo Regional District.

“We want to help the museum get over a rough patch caused by us forcing them to move,” Mayor Walt Cobb said during Tuesday’s regular council meeting where council voted unanimously in favour of the increased funding.

Section of Horsefly River closed to angling

Aug. 17

All angling has been closed on the Horsefly River from Quesnel Lake to the Woodjam Bridge to protect rainbow trout from risks associated to rising water temperatures.

The closure is effective immediately until further notice, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development noted in a press release issued Wednesday, Aug. 15.

“When water temperatures rise above 18 C, the mortality of catch-and-release rainbow trout increases,” the ministry stated. “Water temperatures downstream of Woodjam Bridge currently vary from approximately 19 C to 23 C.”

River temperatures will be monitored closely by ministry officials and when they return to acceptable levels it will be re-opened.

Thunder Mountain hosts Doug Larson Memorial Race

Aug. 17

Thunder Mountain Speedway in Williams Lake paid tribute to legendary racing car champion Doug Larson with a memorial race held Friday, Aug. 10.

As dozens of vintage car drivers took turns doing qualifying runs, TMS president Bob Lowen said some of the drivers were in their 80s, late 60s and early 70s, and were vintage themselves.

Williams Lake’s own professional auto racer Trevor Seibert returned home for the event, driving one of the 14 vintage cars Bob Wills from Kamloops brought to the speedway for the event.

Seibert said Larson was every kids’ hero.

“We’d go out and watch him over across the way and as I got older and started racing the cars myself I started racing against Doug,” Seibert recalled, adding one of the most memorable races he ever had was against Larson.

Particulate matter levels in Williams Lake high enough to concern all

Aug. 17

Williams Lake’s smoke level has increased tremendously in the last 24 hours.

Visibility is very poor for driving and some workers and residents have resorted to wearing protective masks.

As of 9 a.m. Friday morning the particulate matter (PM2.5) level, or concentration of smoke, was over 600 micrograms per cubic metre, confirmed Ralph Adams, air quality meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment from Kamloops.

Karen Hill, interim critical care manager at Cariboo Memorial Hospital said Friday there has been a slight increase in patients presenting to the hospital with symptoms related to wildfire smoke.

“Wildfires across the province have resulted in poor air quality in Williams Lake and it’s important that people take steps to seek cleaner air and reduce smoke exposure,” Hill said. “Residents should be aware if they are at a higher risk, monitor their symptoms and follow the recommendations of the air quality health index.”

Roberts receives BCEHS Award

Aug. 22

A woman from Williams Lake received a B.C. Emergency Health Services Good Samaritan Award for assisting paramedics during a motor vehicle accident last summer near Avola B.C., 190 kilometres north of Kamloops.

Roberts, 25, was evacuating because of the wildfires in July 2017 and was en route from Prince George to Kamloops when she came upon the accident scene at about 8 p.m. at night.

“We were the second vehicle on the scene,” Roberts said. “I had my horses in my horse trailer and my dog in the back seat. As I was pulling the truck over I could see that no one else was there yet. We took off to the truck to help.”

Sellars wins WLIB election for chief

Aug. 22

Willie Sellars was elected chief of the Williams Lake Indian Band, after voters went to the polls Thursday.

The 34-year-old has been on band council for three terms and will replace Chief Ann Louie who held the position for the last decade.

“I’m excited and pretty humbled by the amount of support I got,” Sellars told the Tribune Friday morning. “The legacy of former Chief Ann Louie and what she’s done for our community in the last 10 years means I have some big shoes to fill.”

Campsall wins world championship in archery

Aug. 22

Already a multi-time Canadian and B.C. archery champion, Cariboo Archer Al Campsall can now stake claim to the title of world champion.

Campsall joined 400 archers from more than 50 countries in Lausanne, Switzerland last week where he shot to a gold medal in field archery at the World Masters Championships.

“It was a mountainous and very technically challenging course,” Campsall said. “However, since one half of the course involved ascertaining the actual distance to the targets, my experience in 3D really helped me to know at which distance to set my sights for each shot.”

Seniors Village celebrates strength

Aug. 24

Several residents at Williams Lake Seniors Village still get emotional when they talk about last year’s wildfire evacuation.

On Wednesday, Aug. 22, residents enjoyed a party to celebrate the one-year anniversary when the 240 residents all returned safely home, recalling how they evacuated from the complex on July 9, 2017 and had all returned by Aug. 22.

Memorial awareness walk planned to bring attention to unsolved homicide

Aug. 24

Friends and family of the late Gerald Supernault, a Sugar Cane man who was killed 10 years ago, will be gathering on Saturday, Aug. 25 for a memorial awareness walk to bring attention to the case, which has gone unsolved for a decade.

Silver Supernault, Gerald’s niece, has been organizing the event, saying it’s an opportunity for friends and family to gather in remembrance, while also bringing attention to the fact that the case remains a mystery.

“For the majority of us, it is a memorial, but also a celebration of life,” said Supernault. “We want to do it in Gerald’s honour to reinforce the fact that we still think about him on a daily basis. We’re hoping that it will also help all of us get some answers and some closure.”

Vera Witte Bonner turns 100 years old

Aug. 29

In a corner of the Elks Hall in Williams Lake last Saturday, surrounded by a backdrop of old photographs, balloons and memorabilia, Veera Witte Bonner greeted a stream of well-wishers. August 25th was her 100th birthday, and a large group of family and friends gathered to help her do it up right.

Throughout her years Veera has dedicated her life to documenting and recording the history and stories of the Chilcotin. She also safeguarded a rich collection of photographs, some dating back to the 1800s. A gifted photographer in her own right, she added many of her own spectacular images to this collection.

Latest lakecity mural reflects artistry, history

Aug. 29

Mural artist Dwayne Davis and mural concept creator and local artist Al-Lisa Tressiera-Mckay have joined up to work on the latest wall art on the corner of First Avenue and Oliver Street, home of Dance in Common dance studio.

Davis has been mentoring Tressiera-Mckay in the intricacies of mural painting, with the finished piece looking to boast both her artistic expression and the experience and mentorship of Davis.

The two themes of the project, when completed, Mckay said are to represent the First Nations People and the importance of salmon to the area.

The mural also celebrates Indigenous arts and culture, making it a wonderful addition to the downtown collection.

Former chief acquitted of sexual interference

Aug. 31

Former Xeni Gwe’tin Chief Roger William was acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16 after a two-day trial in Williams Lake Provincial Court which ended Tuesday.

William, 53, was facing the charge in connection with an allegation said to have occurred on May 12, 2017.

West Fraser Road closed until at least 2020

Aug. 31

West Fraser Road, which travels south from Quesnel towards Williams Lake, has been closed since parts of the road was washed out in April and May 2018.

The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) notified ?Esdilagh First Nation (Alexandria) in a letter dated July 26, 2018, that construction on West Fraser Road won’t begin until summer 2020.

“Design options are planned to be available fall 2018. Detailed design planned to be completed spring/summer 2019. Project tender is anticipated to occur in late fall 2019 or early 2020, with construction work to commence summer 2020,” reads the letter.


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