An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Fox Mountain fire. Wyatt Bednarz photo

YEAR IN REVIEW: May

A look back at May of 2018’s top stories in Williams Lake and the Cariboo Chilcotin

Flood forces Nazko residents to evacuate

May 1

Nazko residents were put on evacuation order for the second time in 12 months.

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) declared a local state of emergency for the area on Sunday (Apr. 29), and the Nazko First Nation chief and council followed soon after, issuing an evacuation order for citizens on the Nazko Reserve.

The evacuation order impacted approximately 120 properties, and 50 people registered at the CRD’s Emergency Reception Centre in Quesnel. An evacuation of the area was also ordered last summer due to wildfires.

Sticks ‘n’ Stones honour late teammate in tourney win

May 6

Emotions filled the Sticks ‘n’ Stones dugout Sunday afternoon following the team’s ‘B’ division title win at the Williams Lake Slo-Pitch League Icebreaker Tournament.

Team members played their hearts out throughout the weekend in honour of their teammate, 20-year-old Jerome Myers, who was killed in a vehicle collision March 29 on Highway 20 west of Williams Lake.

In memory of Jerome, the team hung his ball glove and ball cleats along the fence post beside the team’s dugout.

Jerome’s dad Lawrence, and captain of Sticks ‘n’ Stones, dedicated the victory to his late son, who he said loved the sport of baseball.

“Jerome’s smiling down on us,” Lawrence said. “I always said he’s going to be our home run hitter and here we are.

“It’s been a battle, for sure, but this weekend it’s been fun battle getting the team and everyone together.”

First Nations collaborating to rehabilitate forests

May 11

Two Tsilhqot’in First Nation communities are working together to rehabilitate forests and protect themselves from future wildfires.

“We want to manage the fuels, harvest what we can, but we also want to get the forest back up and growing,” said Percy Guichon, former Chief of Tsi Del Del (Alexis Creek). “We are going into those areas where there are low volume stands and dead trees.”

Tsi Del Del has had its own forestry company for more than 25 years.

Two years ago they approached Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nation asking if they wanted to join forces to tackle forestry issues together.

Tl’etinqox agreed and together they formed Cariboo Chilcotin Rehabilitation (CCR) and applied for funding from Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC).

They were successful, but due to the 2017 wildfires were unable to begin work in the forests until February of this year.

In May CCR and its consultants toured the region with representatives from FESBC, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Ministry of Forests to show them areas devastated by the wildfires and to share some of the work they’ve started.

2017 wildfires delay Highway 97 four-laning project

May 15

Commuters were not the only ones trying to maintain their patience as work resumes on the Highway 97 four-laning project near Williams Lake Indian Band.

Earl MacLeod, superintendent of the project for Cantex Okanagan Construction Ltd., said if it wasn’t for the 2017 wildfires, his crews would be adding the finishing touches by now.

Instead, the project started up again on May 7, 2018 after some preliminary work to make the road passable.

It is hoped the project will be completed by fall 2018.

READ MORE: 2017 wildfires delay Highway 97 four-laning project

“During the fires we couldn’t pave and later we had some heavy smoke days and we couldn’t actually put people to work under legal requirements,” MacLeod said. “When we did get back to work it was late in the season and we had our struggles with the asphalt.”

After the fires, the work was restricted, he added.

“It was a mad rush at the end and we were going 24/7 with crews on site. We realize we impacted the local traffic quite a bit.”

Drainage was also a concern.

Because they had built the highway up to a certain point, temporary drainage was required in some areas, and in other areas where they had done bigger excavations.

“We actually ended up laying pavement over some of the culverts and we were hauling materials from Kamloops and Quesnel in -12C and -14C temperatures just to get them work done.”

There were also some minor blowouts of the new pavement during the winter that had to be milled under the direction of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, he added.

The entire construction plan had to be changed as a result of the delays, he said.

The project is now expected to be completed by the spring of 2019.

Former daycare operator convicted of kidnapping

May 18

A jury convicted Zsuzsanna Holland of one count of kidnapping Friday morning in Williams Lake Supreme Court.

Holland, who is in her 50s, represented herself throughout the lengthy trial which saw her cross-examine Crown witnesses, including a police officer who led the investigation into the charge.

Supreme Court Judge Michael Tammen presided over the trial.

The charge stems from a 2014 investigation.

READ MORE: Zsuzsanna Holland found guilty of adbucting a person under the age of 14

A publication ban prevents the publishing of any information that could identify the victim.

Holland ran a daycare for a time in the lakecity out of the former Kwaleen Elementary School in Williams Lake.

She has also claimed to be a minister of children and family with the Chilcotin National Congress.

Fox Mountain wildfire sparks concern

May 30

Within 24 hours of breaking a high temperature record, Williams Lake residents watched as smoke from a wildfire on Fox Mountain billowed into the sky in May.

“I know it scared a lot of people,” said Williams Lake Deputy Fire Chief Warnock whose crews responded at about 4:30 p.m. at the location of the fire — near Ross Road and Fox Mountain Road — which fell within the fire department’s jurisdiction.

The fire, one of the first of the 2018 season, was small but brought back scenes of water bombers over the city reminiscent of the 2017 wildfires.

A quick response by the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) and local contractors stopped the fire from growing larger than a hectare.


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