Meldrum Creek residents Bailey Stowell, 13, (left) and her mom, Liz Verges, cuddle up with baby Tijmen who was born in the front seat of a car while travelling down the Sheep Creek Hill en route to the hospital in Williams Lake. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

YEAR IN REVIEW: February 2019

Highlights from the pages of the Tribune

The second month of 2018 saw a homeless man and his dog helped by the community, a popular boys’ dance class, a woman give birth in a car on the Sheep Creek hill and a former NHL goaltender share mental health struggles with local students.

Homeless man grateful for warmth of Williams Lake

Feb. 1

A 65-year-old homeless man is astounded by the generosity and support shown to him and his dog, Jake, in Williams Lake.

Up until last Saturday evening Brian Owen had been living in his pickup truck in city limits.

But when temperatures began dipping to near the -30C mark and a Williams Lake resident and her husband expressed concern for his wellbeing on social media, a chain of events transpired resulting in him being housed in a local motel and being reunited with his half sister on Vancouver Island.

“It wasn’t something I was even remotely considering happening,” said Owen, who grew up and attended school in Williams Lake before moving away to the Lower Mainland for school in the 1970s.

All-boys class brings fresh new energy to Dance in Common

Feb. 9

This year for the first time ever, Dance In Common is proud to hold its first boys-only dance class.

Owner and operator of the dance studio, Corinne Stromsten, has long wished to be able to offer and run this class in the lakecity. Due to traditionally low engagement numbers, in the past, she’s mostly had interested boys dance with the girls, until now.

Designed to expose boys to the dance world, the class covers a wide variety of genres and styles of dance from jazz, ballet and hip hop, to choreography where they’ll learn how to create their own dance routines.

“Even though some of them are quite young, they all are very creative and they all have something to offer. It’s not just me telling them what to do, it’s a really good group of kids,” Stromsten said. “We currently have 11 males in the studio and in the boys’ program we have seven to eight. The girls sometimes come early to watch the boys in the back window and are a little bit envious of their program.”

Biologist to open microbrewery in former bus station

Feb. 15

A Williams Lake fish and wildlife biologist is casting his sights on opening a microbrewery in the former Greyhound Station on Donald Road.

Dave Reedman, president of Fox Mountain Brewing Company, said he has a number of shareholders working on the business development with him.

“I have been brewing for about seven years and took a professional brewing course in England about four years ago,” Reedman told the Tribune. “I got my diploma in brewing technology and plan on being the head brewer.”

In addition to the brew area, a lounge, restaurant and on-site storage are also part of the plan, although Reedman said he is still figuring out what the restaurant will be.

“I want to have appetizers, and small plates, but it won’t be fine dining or a large menu, anything like that.”

Former NHL goaltender shares mental health struggles with lakecity students

Feb. 22

You are not alone, and there is help out there.

That was the message delivered from former National Hockey League goaltender, Olympic silver medalist and former Kamloops Blazer Corey Hirsch Tuesday during a presentation at both Lake City Secondary School campuses focused on mental health.

Brought to Williams Lake by United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo, Hirsch — now a broadcaster for Rogers Sportsnet — fought a battle during his playing career with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder that nearly took his life.

“I was 21 and it was so much fun playing in the NHL,” he said. “I was living the dream, but I remember that moment in time for me when things kind of just stopped. Thoughts were screaming at me. Loud. And when you’re a pro athlete and you have a physical injury there are protocols in place.”

The year was 1994. Hirsch, 21 years old at the time, was the third goalie for the New York Rangers, the winners of that year’s Stanley Cup. Hirsch was struggling, in silence, with mental health issues.

Baby makes surprise arrival on Sheep Creek Hill

Feb. 22

Two women and a 13-year-old girl are still a bit shocked but feeling exhilarated after one of the women gave birth in the passenger seat of a Prius as the trio headed down the steep hair-pinned Sheep Creek Hill en route to Williams Lake hospital in the early hours Tuesday.

“It was intense,” Liz Verges said as she held her newborn son, Tijmen Stowell, in her arms at Cariboo Memorial Hospital Wednesday afternoon. “I kind of knew where we were as it was happening, but it is kind of blur now.”

Liz and her family live at Meldrum Creek about 45 kilometres west of Williams Lake.

Verges’s teenage daugther Baileigh contacted their neighbour, Shari Suter, who was on standby to drive them to the hospital in Williams Lake, and told her that Liz’s contractions were three minutes apart.

Shari told Baileigh to call the hospital and the nurses said since they were an hour away they should come then and they’d get a hospital room ready.

As they headed down the Sheep Creek hill with neighbour Shari Suter driving, Liz said the baby was coming, but Suter did not want to pull over where there was no room on the side of the road and have someone slam into the back of the car.

“I said, I was going stop and then all of a sudden I heard a cough and then ‘waaaaaaa’ and she pulls this baby out,” Shari said. “I pulled over into the runaway lane right at the hairpin curve.”

Shari took a big duvet in the car and wrapped around the new baby and mom.



news@wltribune.com

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Brian Owen and his dog, Jake, are comfortable at the Lakeside Hotel currently while they wait for the pickup truck he’s been living in for the past five months to receive some necessary repairs. Owen said he’s thankful for the support he’s received from the community after a concerned resident made a Facebook post about his well being as temperatures hovered around -30C this week. (Greg Sabatino photo)

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