Station House Gallery executive director Diane Toop was proud to celebrate the gallery’s 100th birthday this year. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Station House Gallery executive director Diane Toop was proud to celebrate the gallery’s 100th birthday this year. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)


Some of July’s highlights in the Williams Lake Tribune

Thunder Mountain Speedway Hit to Pass a crowd pleaser

July 3

Gordan Bettles emerged the winner of Friday’s night’s Hit to Pass at Thunder Mountain Speedway, which drew hundreds of spectators of all ages.

“I couldn’t be happier with this one today,” he said after the race, saying he had no major problems.

Coming in second place was Adam Van Riesen who won first place in the Hit to Pass Heat Race earlier in the evening.

By the time Van Riesen finished the Hit to Pass he had to crawl out the passenger side window of his truck.

Lincoln Astleford came in third.

There were only two contestants in the smoke show — Josh Lethbridge and Arnie Kunka.

When it came time for the crowd to cheer for the winner of the smoke show contest, Lethbridge had a huge grin because the amount of smoke his truck generated was not as much as Kunka’s .

In fact, Kunka’s vehicle was not even visible for a few moments because there was so much smoke.

Rustlers celebrate 40 years of Stampede Rugby Tournament

July 3

Forty years of tradition and rugby were celebrated during the weekend at the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club’s 40th Annual Williams Lake Stampede Tournament.

Camraderie, friendship, socializing, sportsmanship and competition were the overarching themes for the weekend as close to 500 players — both men and women — travelled from throughout the province to form just shy of 30 teams to compete in men’s competitve, women’s competitive, men’s social and old boys’ divisions.

“It was a great weekend and a great showing [from our local teams],” said Rustlers men’s coach Braden McCallum.

The Rustlers men’s side managed to qualify for the final in the social division where they, unfortunately, fell to Les Coques in a competitive championship.

The Williams Lake Hustlers women’s team, meanwhile, was ousted from the tournament title contention after falling in the semifinal to Capilano, 22-10. Prior, they downed Burnaby, 31-12. In the final, Capilano defeated Abbotsford in an extremely competitive game to claim the buckle.

Thousands awarded after final pro rodeo at Stampede

July 3

It was another historic year for the 93rd Annual Williams Lake Stampede.

Tens of thousands in prize money will be paid out with some lucky, and skillful, cowboys and cowgirls from throughout North America riding away with some extra change lining their pockets.

One bout of heavy rain overnight Friday did put a bit of a damper on Saturday’s rodeo for competitors, but Williams Lake Stampede Association President Tim Rolph said all the volunteers stepped up to make sure the grounds were in as good a condition they could be for Sunday’s rodeo, where everything, once again, ran smoothly.

“I heard close to two inches fell in 12 hours,” he said. “But we’ve got a great group of people here and we just worked through it. Garth Brooks talks about it in one of his songs — The Mud and the Blood — [those are] the challenges of an outdoor sporting event.”

Stampede association directors name announcer’s booth the Willie Crosina Pavilion

July 7

Before a sold-out crowd at the beginning of Saturday’s 93rd annual Williams Lake Stampede rodeo, 95-year-old Willie Crosina was surprised by his fellow Stampede directors of their plan to dedicate the log rodeo announcer’s booth in his honour.

It will be called the Willie Crosina Pavilion.

“They sure had me fooled,” Crosina said Sunday morning. Crosina was already back down to work at the Stampede Grounds, which is where the Tribune caught up with him.

“I was going by the schedule and all of a sudden they called me out. I was in the wagon — they always acknowledge the Cowboy Hall of Fame. And that’s when they told me.”

The crowd, meanwhile, cheered wildly for Crosina, who was one of the founding members of the BCRA, a former rodeo clown and mentor with high school rodeo since the early 70s.

Taseko Mines pursues court injunction against B.C. First nation for exploratory drilling

July 7

Taseko Mines Ltd. is seeking an injunction after the Tsilhqot’in Nation blocked the company’s contractors from hauling equipment to do exploratory drilling for its proposed New Prosperity Mine project 185 km southwest of Williams Lake.

On Tuesday, July 2, a flatbed truck with equipment was turned away at around 6 a.m. from travelling on the Farwell Canyon Road off Highway 20.

Members of the Tsilqot’in Nation had set up a peaceful protest camp at the site the evening before.

Finn Conradsen, mine project manager for Taseko met the protesters later that morning and verified with Chief Joe Alphonse, Tshilqot’in National Government tribal chair, that Taseko would not be permitted to bring equipment through.

The protest camp was taken down that same evening.

Kunka opens Tri-City Race Series with home track win

July 7

Williams Lake’s Arnie Kunka captured the checkered flag at Thunder Mountain Speedway to be crowned the first Tri-City Series Race champion of the season.

Held at Thunder Mountain Speedway after a successful Hit to Pass, Smoke Show and King of the Hill Friday evening, Kunka and fellow Tri-City Series drivers, along with bone stock, pro mini and street stock classes, hit the track for the second consecutive night of racing at the local speedway.

And when the dust settled it was Kunka, in his No. 27 car, pulling together a successful night of racing, qualifying second, winning the heat and going on to win the main event — in what proved to be a rambunctious field of drivers.

In all, 23 cars took part in the first Tri-City event of the season.

Station House cuts cake on 100 years of history

July 10

This past summer in the Station House’s Main Gallery lakecity locals were invited to learn about and visit the building that celebrates its 100 year birthday this year.

At the show’s opening early July the occasion was marked by dozens of lakecity art lovers, dignitaries and citizens with the cutting of a specially made cake by Taylor Made Cakes and Sweets, along with other good food and drink. It all contributed to making the Station House the bustling community heart of Williams Lake it’s been for just over a century now.

The Station House originally opened back in 1919 and quickly became a touchstone of the early Williams Lake community, especially whenever the weekly train came to town. Largely run down by the sixties, it was nearly demolished before a group of concerned citizens rallied together and saved the building. Since the early eighties, its enjoyed a new life as an art gallery and has showcased over 550 exhibitions for the lakecity, once more becoming the centre of culture and community.

New Toop Road intersection opens on Highway 97

July 10

The new Toop Road intersection on Highway 97 in Williams Lake opened on Monday, July 8.

Peterson Contracting said there will be appropriate signage posted for the detour as work continued on Carson Drive. The detour was also posted up on the message boards at each end of the construction zone.

Blue Fins compete among B.C.’s best at provincials

July 12

The Williams Lake Blue Fins returned from the Summer Provincial Championships in Victoria with some impressive results against the best in B.C.

Four out of six attending swimmers qualified for finals at the meet, with another eight club records and 14 finals — Taylor Fitzgerald, Morgan Langford, Gabby Knox, Cristelle Panida and Peyton Bailey — swam their way to another great meet with lifetime performances, said Blue Fins head coach Chad Webb.

Jayden Johnston, meanwhile, qualified for finals in almost every swim he competed in, despite racing against swimmers a year older, while Fitzgerald had to manage in an open age group category featuring national team members swimming beside her.

Lakecity well represented at soccer provincials

July 12

Williams Lake soccer teams and players made their marks early July at their respective ‘B’ Cup provincial championships.

The Williams Lake FC sent girls’ under-18 and under-15 teams to the provincials in Burnaby, while two players, who suited up for Quesnel’s under-16 team due to not having a team in Williams Lake, also attended to achieve exceptional results.

The Williams Lake FC U18 girls placed fifth, while the U16 girls were first, and the U15 girls finish fourth.

CRD estimates 47 properties impacted by flooding in the Chilcotin

July 12

It is estimated 47 properties were damaged by flooding in the Chilcotin, mainly in the Big Creek area.

Of those 47 properties, 18 are residential, 23 are ranching or farming properties, and the remaining six are tourism operations, said Cariboo Regional District communications manager Emily Epp.

“That doesn’t include title lands, the Tsilhqot’in National Government emergency operations centre is reporting on those.”

Damage to residential homes was minimal, and the majority of impacts were to hay fields, fencing, irrigation systems and driveways.

Williams Lake rugby players bring home silver from PRCs

July 17

Four rugby players and a coach from Williams Lake are celebrating a silver-medal victory over the Canada Day weekend at the under-16 Provincial Regional Championships.

Held at the UBC Rugby Fields from June 29 to July 1, players Jade Meldrum, Grace Turner, Abby Urquhart and Kaycee Sapp, along with their coach, Lake City Falcons graduate and Acadia University Axewomen alumni Natasha Johnson, helped form the Thompson-Okanagan Rugby Alliance (TORA) team at the tournament over three days in gruelling-hot sun.

From PRCs, Meldrum and Turner were chosen to compete for Team BC in the under-16 and under-15 Western Nationals, respectively, later in the summer. Turner was unable to attend western nationals due to a previous family commitment.

Williams Lake Minor Fastball team brings home bronze

July 17

It was an exciting weekend of ball July 6-7 when two Williams Lake Minor Fastball teams swung for the fences at the BC Minor Fastball Provincials.

Eight teams, including under-14 and under-13 Williams Lake Prospects teams from the lakecity, took to the park in Barriere for the event that included teams from Prince George, Clearwater, Terrace, Merritt, 100 Mile House and the host, Barriere.

The U14 Prospects team of Boston Pierce, Wilson Wedel, Will Roberts, Ryan Rife, Jackson Altwasser, Jake Worthington, Cole Skerry, Kai Hilton, Kagen Russell and Kolby Croswell, along with coaches Liselle Pierce and Mike Rife, finished the tournament with five wins and two losses — earning them a bronze medal at the event.

Minister Dix seals deal on $218 million Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan

July 26

Williams Lake’s hospital redevelopment business plan has been approved to upgrade the 1963-era Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH).

The next step will be to finalize design with construction slated to begin 2021 for a new addition, followed by renovations of the existing facility.

Under sunny skies and standing on the cafeteria deck of CMH, Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced the $217.75 million capital project Wednesday, July 24.

“You are going ahead,” Dix said, adding it’s been a long process as discussions began for redeveloping the site back in 2009. “We are increasing the number of beds from 28 to 42, and building 10 spaces for further beds to allow us to increase the capacity to 52 without having to do a new project.”

Other details of the upgrade include a three-storey, plus basement building, approximately 9,500 square metre new addition to the hospital, as well as renovations to current parts of the facility.

There will be a larger emergency department, more room for ambulatory care, a mental health and substance abuse inpatient unit and a maternal services unit where new parents stay in the same room with their babies until they are ready to go home. There will also be a University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine space and 71 new parking spots.

First ever Pride in the Puddle festivities a resounding success

July 31

Community members took to the streets to support the first-ever Pride in the Puddle event late July.

The parade was led by the RCMP and saw dozens of people and floats adorned in a bright rainbow of colours to celebrate inclusion in Williams Lake.

Following the parade, many gathered in Boitanio Park where there was cotton candy, popcorn, food trucks and more.

Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars and School District 27 trustee Mary Forbes both took part in the parade and celebrations.

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The Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Team celebrates four decades in Williams Lake with annual Stampede tournament. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Team celebrates four decades in Williams Lake with annual Stampede tournament. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)