YEAR IN REVIEW: September 2020

McLeese Lake residents protest outside the Williams Lake courthouse after a rash ofMcLeese Lake residents protest outside the Williams Lake courthouse after a rash of
Rowdies pitcher Nick Surette throws to teammate Lesley Allgrove at first base as Rotten Eggs batter Craig Strayer looks to beat the throw in the Williams Lake Slo-Pitch League’s Year End Tournament at the Esler Sports Complex on Sunday, Sept. 20. In the ‘A’ division the Rotten Eggs repeated as year end tournament champions after beat the Rowdies in the final. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Rowdies pitcher Nick Surette throws to teammate Lesley Allgrove at first base as Rotten Eggs batter Craig Strayer looks to beat the throw in the Williams Lake Slo-Pitch League’s Year End Tournament at the Esler Sports Complex on Sunday, Sept. 20. In the ‘A’ division the Rotten Eggs repeated as year end tournament champions after beat the Rowdies in the final. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Sept. 2, 2020

Sister shares story of brother’s overdoes

A Williams Lake woman whose brother died almost six weeks after a drug overdose hopes to raise awareness about addictions and the need of more supports for grieving families.

Jamie Kohlen was volunteering during an overdose awareness day event hosted by Interior Health in Williams Lake on Aug. 31, sharing her brother 35-year-old brother, Tanner Gene Willburn’s, story. Tanner overdosed at his Vancouver residence the morning of July 8, 2020, and later died in Williams Lake, after a request to be moved to his home community by his family, at Cariboo Memorial Hospital on Aug. 20.

“I think the stigma around it isn’t fair,” Jamie said. “I don’t think there is enough awareness. I don’t think there is enough care for families that are going through this. I don’t want my brother’s death going out as nothing and as a forgotten person. I want to share my story.”

Sept. 2, 2020

McLeese Lake residents rally for justice

McLeese Lake residents were at the end of their ropes this past year, airing their frustrations with the justice system during a protest outside the Williams Lake courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Armed with victim impact statements, protest signs and politicians, a few dozen residents gathered in the parking lot — the same day a man appeared before a judge on charges relating to a theft in the area.

McLeese Lake resident Ian Hicks said thousands of dollars worth of property was taken from his shop and recovered along with other items on a property along Lagerquist Road back in 2019.

Patrick Power, then 25, was arrested in connection with the stolen property and released on conditions. Since his arrest, he has racked up multiple breach charges, according to court records.

“He just keeps getting released and released and released,” Hicks said. “It’s unacceptable.”

Hicks said rural residents feel their sense of security and the right to live peacefully was compromised due to what RCMP said was an increase in property offenses attributable to a handful of repeat offenders.

Sept. 9, 2020

Families jump back into fall routines

The resumption of school looked a lot different in September of 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions set the stage for the year to come.

School District 27 Superintendent Chris van der Mark reinforced the risk of COVID-19 was low, however, said it was important to not be complacent.

“We are very fortunate to live in a rural part of the province, and our lower population density combined with better physical distancing and hygiene has helped keep our region very safe from the pandemic,” he said.

“[We are] encouraging children to avoid direct physical contact, as well as focusing on how children and staff can move around safely in a school environment. Through these efforts, our communities and our schools remain very safe.”

Sept. 17, 2020

Train, vehicle collision claims one life

One persons died as a result of a collision with a train Tuesday, Sept. 15 at a marked crossing on Soda Creek Townsite Road north of Williams Lake.

RCMP received a report at 5:59 p.m. Sept. 15 a Nissan Versa had collided with a CN Rail train at the marked rail crossing.

“The vehicle that was southbound on the Soda Creek Townsite Road, crossed a stop sign-controlled rail crossing and collided with an eastbound train,” RCMP said.

“The collision caused the vehicle to roll and the driver was ejected. Sadly, the driver, a Williams Lake resident, did not survive.”

The RCMP and the BC Coroners Serice did not release any further information on the incident.

Sept. 17, 2020

Gary Muraca appointed Williams Lake’s CAO

Williams Lake appointed Gary Muraca as the new chief administrative officer (CAO), replacing outgoing CAO Milo MacDonald.

Muraca, who was the City’s director of municipal services for six years, said he was thrilled for the opportunity.

“Williams Lake is a great town with great people and the City is a great employer,” Muraca said. “I already deal with all the other relevant government agencies in my role with municipal services and that will carry into my new position.”

MacDonald, meanwhile, had been the CAO since 2016, but left his position in September for a CAO position in Fort St. John, B.C.

Sept. 17, 2020

Cariboo Chilcotin athletes make most of Little Britches Rodeo season

Little Britches Rodeo Association competitors from the Cariboo Chilcotin made their mark during the weekend at the BCLBR Finals in Merritt.

Held Sept. 11-13, the event put the cap on a modified year that saw competitors from throughout the province competing in a less-than-normal LBRA season with COVID-19 precautions in place throughout.

From Williams Lake, Riata Seelhof, Ryan Rife, Renee Seelhof, Tanner Loring, Reid Rife, Denten Russell, Cooper Seelhof, Nate Carnes, Will Roberts, Kagen Russell, Brady Wood, Brandon Loring and Sam Holmes competed.

Capturing the senior boys all around championship buckle was Kagen Russell of Riske Creek, while Tanner Loring roped, rode and tied his way to the junior boys all around title.

Sept. 24, 2020

Cops for Cancer Tour de North goes ‘virtual’ in Williams Lake

Two Williams Lake RCMP constables didn’t let a change in plans put a halt to their tenacious efforts fundraising for this year’s Cops for Cancer Tour de North.

Originally scheduled to be an 850-kilometre, seven-day bicycle ride from Prince George to Prince Rupert, this year’s event was forced to be modified into a virtual event due to COVID-19 precautions. All other Cops for Cancer rides nationally also took place in a virtual format in riders’ home communities. Leaving from the Williams Lake RCMP detachment Wednesday, Sept. 16, RCMP Const. Nick Brown and RCMP Const. Kevin Wiebe took part in the Virtual Tour de North ride through Williams Lake, stopping at landmarks throughout the day, fundraising and spreading awareness.

Both constables reached their fundraising goal of over $3,000, which was put toward leading edge pediatric cancer research to improve cancer treatments, prevent cancer and save lives.

Sept. 24, 2020

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

Williams Lake First Nation inked a first-of-its-kind, government-to-government agreement under section 119 of the Cannabis Control Licensing Act to legally sell cannabis across B.C.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said the agreement supported WLFN’s interests in operating retail cannabis stores that offer a diverse selection of cannabis products from licensed producers across Canada, as well as a cannabis production operation that offers farm-gate sales of its own craft cannabis products.

The WLFN dropped its partnership with cannabis dispensary Indigenous Bloom at 1145 South Mackenzie Ave., and reopend as Unity Cannabis.

Williams LakeYear in Review