By Don Norman
We took some time to look over the biggest local stories of 2019. Here are the results.
January 2019 started out with one tragic story after another. On January 2, Powerview RCMP responded to the report of a building engulfed in flames on the grounds of the old mill site. The next day investigators found human remains in the fire that turned out to be a man from Sagkeeng. On January 4, a woman from Beausejour was killed in a two vehicle accident on highway 304, south of Powerview-Pine Falls. The three occupants of the other vehicle were from Hollow Water and they sustained serious injuries and were taken to hospital. Then on January 11, a family lost everything when their home on Annette Avenue in St. Georges burned to the ground.
As the days got longer, the outlook became brighter as well. In February, we saw another successful installment of Winterfest celebration in the communities of Powerview-Pine Falls and St. Georges. The festivities included poker derbies, tobogganing and fireworks!
March saw the town of Powerview-Pine Falls host it’s first ever provincial hockey tournament. Eight teams comprising the Female Atom Rural A Division descended on Sunova Arena in Pine Falls to determine the provincial division champion. According to Vince Clark’s article, “the arena was packed to the brim all weekend, and the tournament went very smoothly.”
The big news in April was the Sagkeeng election. As expected, Chief Derrick Henderson was re-elected with 692 votes. However, unlike in the 2017 election, where Chief Henderson’s defeated his closest challenger by over 400 votes, only 82 votes separated him from the 27 year old, Former CFL offensive lineman, Tchissakid (T-Dre) Player, who wound up with 610 votes.
The spotlight stayed on Sagkeeng in May when newly minted councillor Dylan Courchene posted a couple of videos, widely circulated on social media, documenting the eviction of two suspected meth houses by order of Chief and Council. Two weeks later, the houses were torn down. The episode was considered a huge victory for the community that had been troubled in recent years with increasing addiction and crime.
A heat wave in June provided the Advocate with its biggest headlines of that month. On June 7, an intensely hot day turned the east beaches into a tinderbox and a fire broke out that burned homes in Traverse Bay and Sagkeeng. Later that day, a phenomenon meteorologists call a “micro burst” opened up over the Pine Falls Golf Course uprooting 100 year old elms and making a huge mess of the course.
All that hot weather talk is enough to make you thirsty, am I right? At least the residents of Great Falls were able to quench that thirst. On Friday, July 5 after fourteen years the boil water advisory they had been under, was finally lifted. Local politicians, community leaders and residents gathered in Great Falls to unveil the brand new water treatment plant.
Festival Season (Jul & Aug)
And of course, with summer, the Festival Season was upon us. Canada Day celebrations were held all over, with the biggest of course being the Lac du Bonnet Lions event. The third week of July saw Randy Bachman draw huge crowds to the Victoria Beach festival site. Then came Sagkeeng Treaty Days, the Boreal Shore Arts Tour, the Fire and Water Festival and the big finale with the 4P Festival. At the 4P Festival, visitors to St. Georges finally got to get a peek at the new Winnipeg River Heritage Museum building.
In September, the IERHA announced that they had hired three new physicians for Pine Falls Primary Care Complex in Pine Falls. Dr. George Georges, Dr. Carey Ramsay and Dr. Chinyere Wachukwu were named as the new Doctors.
In October, it was once again the weather making the headlines. A major storm that blasted through Manitoba in mid October, caused significant problems for the region. Power outages affected a number of areas – the beaches region was the hardest hit with many residents left without power for 2-3 days.
Tragedy struck again in late October when a plane flying out of Bissett for Blue Water Aviation went down near Little Grand Rapids. That story and the ensuing search continued to make waves into November. The pilot from Bissett was highly experienced. He and the two passengers on board were killed.
And finally, December. Last month the big news was the frustratingly slow freeze for fans ice fishing. Two trucks and a trailer went through the ice on Balsam Bay on December 9. No one was seriously hurt. The thin ice issue continues, so please be careful out there!