Over the next two weeks we present our Top 10 Community and A&E stories from 2019 as assessed by The Interior News editorial staff. This week numbers 10 though 6.
10. May 15 – Muheim gets new accessible playground
Muheim Elementary School got a new accessible playground this summer.
“We received $125,000 to put a new playground in and the government decided on Muheim,” said Dave Margerm, secretary treasurer for School District No. 54 – Bulkley Valley (SD54).
Director of facilities with SD54 Tim Bancroft said that the biggest change in the playground is that the equipment is designed to be more accessible for children with physical or mobility issues.
“We’re going more and more to accessible [playgrounds] so kids who have some physical challenges, mobility challenges, they are able to participate as well,” said Bancroft.
He adds that a feature of the new playground will be a zipline that runs parallel to King Street.
In addition to the changes, many parts of the old playground that are no longer up to safety compliant codes, such as the older monkey bars and pressure-treated wood, will be ripped out and disposed of.
The funding was announced last May by Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson and is part of a Playground Equipment Program spearheaded by the NDP that provides funding to school districts to purchase new or replacement playgrounds.
9. Aug 11 – Celeb golf raises $125K
The 2019 Smithers Celebrity Golf Tournament (SCGT) featured a diverse group of 35 celebrities and raised an estimated $100,000 for the Bulkley Valley Hospital Foundation and the Smithers Community Cancer Care Team, said Kent Delwisch, the lead organizer of the tournament.
“It was great,” he said. “We got lots of positive feedback, so I guess we have to count that as a win.”
Two years ago, the tournament, which is a bi-annual event, was a major contributor to the CT scanner project, which came to fruition July 9 when the new scanner went into service at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital.
Elena Raykov is the operating room manager at the hospital and volunteered as a score-keeper at the second hole Saturday. She said the scanner has already been a boon to the community as will new surgical equipment, which is what some of the proceeds this year will go toward.
“The fact that the community wants to help out and raise money for our work means a lot,” she said. “We do try and bring more services closer to home, that’s our goal, so because of a tournament like this one and the support of the BV [Health] Foundation we’ve been able to do great things in the community.”
8. Nov 20 – Business and community awards
The Bulkley Valley Credit Union was named Business of the Year at the annual Smithers District Chamber of Commerce Community and Business Awards gala Nov. 16.
Winners were determined by a vote of chamber members.
The other top award, Business Person of the Year went to Avi Ranjan, owner of Subway.
The gala itself was a record-breaking night for the chamber.
The event, dubbed the “Blue Carpet Gala” saw more people attend than ever before and the chamber received more nominations for awards than they ever have.
Chamber manager Sheena Miller was happy with how the evening turned out and pleasantly surprised with how many younger faces were in attendance. She said more than 200 people showed up. Last year, 140 attended.
There were 12 awards presented and three special awards.
The Major Contributor to Arts and Culture went to Dolly Alfred for her Witsuwit’en Wednesday, a Facebook page dedicated to the revitalization of the Witsuwit’en language. Every week she shares a word and its translation from her traditional language.
The Young Entrepreneur of the Year was handed to Jennah Gainer of Telly’s Grill. She co-owns the restaurant with Peter Karnouskos and runs the front end.
Gainer said she was very humbled to win.
Home-based Business of the Year:
Rustica Wood Fired Bakery
Family Friendly Business of the Year: Bulkley Valley Bright Beginnings
Environmental Business of the Year: Nature’s Pantry
Citizen/Volunteer of the Year: Mark DeHoog
Public Service Excellence: Smithers Fire Rescue
Tourism Excellence: Smithers Brewing Company
Customer Service Excellence for an Individual: Duane de Vries of Bulkley Valley Credit Union
Customer Service Excellence for a Business: Bulkley Valley Wholesale.
7. January 9 – Northern B.C. Indigenous couple inducted into Dance Hall of Fame
Chief Ken Harris, Gitxsan, and Cree elder Margaret Harris were inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame this year.
The Harris family were leaders in reviving Indigenous dance on the West Coast.
Chief Ken Harris and elder Margaret Harris formed the Dancers of Damelahamid in 1967, a dance company that continues to share First Nations culture from Vancouver and across the world.
The couple met in Prince Rupert and moved to Vancouver when the mill Ken worked at shut down.
While in Prince Rupert, they helped to organize the first Indian Day where salmon and traditional Indigenous foods were served, but there was no dancing. The second year, the Harris family invited the Chilkat Alsaka Dancers to perform.
“When I saw the Chilkat dancers and we had our first Indian Day I thought, well you know, we should teach our children and that’s when we started teaching the children and then all the other groups wanted their children taught too,” Margaret said.
She was inspired to organize the Kaien Island Dancers. The Harris family stitched the dresses, the dance steps were taught by the grandmother, and the songs were based on the legends of the family.
When the family moved to Vancouver they brought their culture and dance to the south.
Over the years, the Dancers of Damelhamid have performed in Ottawa, New Zealand, Shanghai, Peru and Tokyo.
Ken Harris, passed away in 2010, and Margaret moved to Kitwanga last year. She is 87 years old and has two daughters, two sons and 17 grandchildren.
6. February 27 – Telkwa Library turns 100
The Telkwa Reading Centre turned 100 years old this year. The library, located on Riverside Drive at Madison Avenue celebrated the anniversary on Sept 14 with a tree and a plaque commemorated the centennial celebration.
“It shocked me when I heard earlier in the year it was 100 years, said Brad Layton, Telkwa mayor. “I didn’t realize we were at our 100 years for them and that’s phenomenal for the longevity of a library and reading centre.”
The library welcomed 850 visitors in 2018 and averaged 200 books per month in loans.
Next week, we present our Top 5.