Pauline Schmutz, 75, receives her COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurse Donna McKenzie at the Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Pauline Schmutz, 75, receives her COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurse Donna McKenzie at the Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Year in Review: March 2021

Big Lake store, pub completely destroyed by fire

March 4, 2021

Potato House receives $449,000 for restoration work

It’s no small potatoes.

The Potato House Sustainable Community Society received $449,000 in provincial funding to restore and rehabilitate the Potato House, one of the oldest structures in Williams Lake.

The project got underway in June to lift the house to remove the original failing foundation and replace it with a concrete foundation.

March 4, 2021

Former lakecity coach, teacher, releases second book on rugby

Retired high school teacher and former Williams Lake rugby coach Mike Levitt penned his second book about the sport: Rugby Rookies, released this month by Lorimer publishing.

The book tackles the issue of girls playing full-contact rugby, where the story’s protagonist, Maddy, and her friends, are determined to form a girls’ junior rugby team at their high school.

Williams Lake gets a special nod from Levitt in the book, as the high school team is familiarly called the Stampeders — the former name of the Anne Stevenson secondary rugby team — and Williams Lake rugby star Kayla Moleschi of the Canadian women’s sevens team makes a cameo appearance.

Levitt’s inspiration for the book’s protagonist, Maddy, came from recent Lake City Secondary graduate and U Sports national champion Carleigh Walters of the St. Francis Xavier (StFX) X-Women.

March 11, 2021

Charges laid in 2019 fatal crash involving teens

A 19-year-old woman was charged in connection with a vehicle crash that resulted in the death of two teenagers in October 2019 near Williams Lake.

Dallas Margret Judd-Rekunyk of Williams Lake faced 15 charges related to impaired operation and dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and bodily harm.

The charges stem from Oct. 19, 2019, when Williams Lake RCMP and emergency personnel responded to a report of single vehicle crash at 3:38 a.m. on Highway 20 about 15 kilometres west of the city. When they arrived they discovered a GMC pickup had left the road and rolled onto its roof.

In September 2021, she pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving cause death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and was sentenced two years less one day in prison for each death, six months in custody for each count of bodily harm, followed by three years of probation.

March 11, 2021

House fire destroys family home near Williams Lake

A family living in a rural area south of Williams Lake lost their home, some pets and vehicles to a fire on Wednesday, March 3.

Jen Macdonald said she and her parents, Greg and Debbie Macdonald, were at their Knife Creek Road home when they smelled smoke at about 8 a.m.

There was a wood stove in the house and Jen and Greg each thought the smoke was coming from it.

When it started to smell like plastic melting, Greg ran outside and saw five-foot flames coming out of the dog house in front of the home.

Debbie passed away two weeks after the fire.

March 18, 2021

Big Lake store, pub completely destroyed by fire

The rural community of Big Lake in the Cariboo lost its only store to a fire that began Sunday evening, March 14.

Members of the Big Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. responded after a call came in at 10:20 p.m.

The store was built in 1985 by the Harder family and then purchased seven years ago by Dave and Penny Carpenter.

The Carpenters had done lots of renovations to the store, with a new layout, and brought the post office inside.

Since the fire the Carpenters have rebuilt the store and hope to reopen sometime in the new year.

March 18, 2021

Community enhancement project underway at Xat’sull through sawmilling

The sky was the limit for Indigenous students, north of Williams Lake, where Brian Fuller was helping lead them through a 16-week program learning how to cut wood using a portable swing mill.

“I’ve been a part of something like this already with Toosey (Tl’esqox), so you kind of get an idea what you’re getting into, but it’s fun,” Fuller said Thursday, March 11 at Xat’sull First Nation’s Whispering Willows Campsite.

In between walking the 10 participants — all from the Cariboo — through operating two different mills, Fuller also seized the opportunity to show them maintenance tips.

The goal of the community enhancement project is to build a new caretaker home designed by the participants who normally split their workdays between the campsite or doing classroom work at the former Soda Creek Emporium Restaurant.

March 25, 2021

South African doctor joins Atwood Clinic

Williams Lake welcomed a new doctor from South Africa, dividing her time between the Atwood Clinic and the Cariboo Memorial Hospital operating room.

Dr. Mariska Neuhoff is a physician and an anesthesiologist and has hit the ground running since her first day of work on March 1 at the clinic.

“I am already fully booked until the end of March,” she said. “I’m taking over the previous patients of physicians who had to leave. There are many patients in need so I’m grateful to be able assist them.”

March 25, 2021

TRU Williams Lake site for COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus was chosen for the site of a COVID-19 vaccine clinic which opened on Monday, April 12. It remained open until the middle of August, 2021.

In the meantime, a vaccine clinic at the Williams Lake Health Centre, 540 Borland Avenue, opened on March 15 and continued to administer vaccines to the first group of Phase 2 COVID-19, four days a week, by appointment.

March 25, 2021

Williams Lake chief to release second children’s book

It was announced that Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars would be releasing the follow-up to his award-winning children’s book this fall.

More than six years after launching his first book, Dipnetting with Dad, Sellars and illustrator Kevin Easthope teamed up once again to continue Little Brother’s adventures in Hockey with Dad.

The second book, Sellars said, is loosely based on his own family experiences with his children, Cash, Milah and Lewis, as well as his own family upbringing, and continues to promote and celebrate First Nations values, culture, and traditions.

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