Year in Review

The best and most interesting of the Gazette's stories and photos from 2016.

The Grand Forks Border Bruins are playing a winning year

JANUARY

The co-founders of the Ponderosa Music Festival are stepping up in a big way to help Habitat for Humanity Southeast B.C. rebuild a home for a family in Westbridge. A donation of $5,100 from co-founders Kris Hargrave and Kia Zahrabi will be used for the Winn family rebuild. Habitat announced the donation last week, stating it will be used to help rebuild the Winn family home that was destroyed during the Rock Creek wildfires in August.

The hearing date for city councillor Julia Butler has been set. Butler will have her day in court on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. at the Vancouver Law Courts. On that date, the B.C. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether Butler must give up her position as councillor for the City of Grand Forks. The hearing was brought on by a petition from council to have Butler disqualified from office for being in breach of her oath of office. In May 2015 the city’s law firm Young Anderson found Butler in a direct pecuniary conflict of interest regarding the water meter program.

Grand Forks Secondary School and School District 51 are pleased to announce the winter of the Governor General’s Academic Award from the graduating class of 2015 is Kyra Hogan. Hogan achieved an academic average of 92 per cent during Grades 11 and 12.

FEBRUARY

Questions about recycling in general and Grand Forks’ downtown recycling bins in particular brought out about 15 residents to a meeting with the coordinator of waste management for the regional district. The group met last week regarding the downtown recycle bins, which have since been removed from their location at the fire hall.

Midway police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing Rock Creek resident. Colleen Sylvia Smith was last seen on Feb. 9 at 9:30 a.m. She is a 50-year-old Caucasian with blonde hair and blue eyes with glasses. She was reported missing after not showing up for work and has not been in contact with family or friends since Feb. 9.

MARCH

The Grand Forks RCMP detachment has just received its new commanding officer, and he hails from up north, Sgt. Jim Fenske arrived in Grand Forks in January and is settling in nicely to his role as the officer in charge of both the Grand Forks and Midway RCMP detachments.

Councillor Julia Butler will keep her seat on Grand Forks City Council. The Honourable Mr. Justice Greydell of the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed the City’s application to have the councillor disqualified for conflict of interest and breach of oath of office. His decision came after a month-long reserve in judgment following a hearing in Vancouver.

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The city is citing a clerical error as the reason for two separate versions of the same document released to the public. A CBC radio story, which broke last week, revealed there were two versions of a Freedom if Information document on Dec. 2 where Grand Forks mayor Frank Konrad asks for and receives the Neptune Technology Group water meter contract. In a press release from the city, Doug Allin, CAO, said “we immediately began looking into why the two different versions would be different as we could not understand how this would have occurred.”

The Ombudsperon Office of B.C. has completed an investigation into the goings on at City Hall after receiving several complaints from residents. Although the ombudsperson found some areas in which the city and staff fell short regarding consultation with citizens on the residential water metre program, they ultimately concluded the city took proper steps to improve communications moving forward. The Office of the Ombudsperson is an independent body that can help determine whether public authorities have acted fairly an reasonably and whether their actions were consistent with relevant legislation, policies and procedures. The Ombusperson stated his office focused its investigation on whether the city had adequately consulted with residents in advance of the decision to move forward with the universal water meter program.

With the drought of last year and subsequent water restrictions, water is a hot topic around the Boundary, The Kettle River Watershed Management Plan, which began in 2010 under the direction of project coordinator Graham Watt, is a collaborative initiative supported by a stakeholder advisory group with participation from local and provincial governments. Watt has recently accepted a position at the City of Grand Forks as an engineering consultant and will be stepping down a project manager of the plan. Jessica Mace, who move to Grand Forks over a year ago with her young family, will be taking over. Watt will be staying on as an advisor will the project.

The Reuse Centre at the Grand Forks Landfill will be closing. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Board of Directors voted at the regular board meeting in Trail to close the centre. Also closing at the reuse centres are McKelvey Creek Landfill in Trail and West Boundary Landfill in Greenwood. Alan Stanley, manager of environmental services, said the changes will not occur right away but added the RDKB does not want to wait too long.

APRIL

After a season that saw the Grand Forks Figure Skating Club ceased operations midway through the year, the members elected a new executive at the club’s annual general meeting. The new boar includes Shaylene Campbell as president; Chris Sterlind as vice-president; Rachelle Sterlind as treasurer; and Vendela Villanueva as secretary, although she has since stepped down. Directors are Donna Semenoff and Tinaya Jorjenson. All positions were by acclamation.

Telus is investing $8 million to connect Grand Forks homes and businesses directly to the advanced fibre optic network. Direct fibre connection will dramatically boost data capacity, providing local homes Internet speeds of up to 150 megabits per second; enhanced wireless coverage and speed; and even faster Internet speeds for businesses, health care providers and schools.

Grand Forks residents will have a choice of seven candidate in the upcoming byelection, which takes place May 28. The candidates are Zachary Eburne-Stoodley, Ken Johnston, Cathy Korolek, Patrick O’Doherty, Kyle Piper Brian Taylor and Bev Tripp. The byelection is for one position left vacant by the departure of Michael Wirischagin in August 2015.

MAY

Boundary Invasive Species Society will receive $31,000 thanks to government grant. The B.C. Government is distributing over $1.7 million through 31 grants to help control the spread of invasive plants in the province, Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson and Parliamentary Secretary Donna Barnett announced last week.

The Grand Forks Border Bruins Association is pleased to announce the team has reached a multi-year agreement with head coach and general manager Emery Olauson. In his first year coaching the Bruins, Olauson led the 2015-16 team to their first playoff appearance in 19 years. The Bruins had a season record of 23-24-5, finishing third in the five-team Neil Murdoch division. Olauson was selected by his peers as both the Neil Murdoch division and KIJHL Coach of the Year.

The Boundary Museum Society held its annual general meeting on May 14 at the Boundary Museum and Interpretive Centre, appointing new board members and inviting the public out for a dessert tea. Before the meeting, Lawrence Radford announced the opening of Bob’s Workshop, a new exhibit of hand tools for the public dedicated to Bob DeMaertelaere, a former vice-president of the museum who passed away in April 2015. The tools in the exhibit were his gift to the museum.

JUNE

Grand Forks Council votes in favour of supporting the development of a Tim Hortons, among other businesses on the vacant lot east of Kal Tire at the May 30 council meeting. Council approved with four councillors in favour and Councillor Colleen Ross the lone vote against the motion.

Bev Tripp will be the city’s newest councillor after winning the May 28 byelection of a single open seat on Grand Forks City council. Seven candidates ran for the seat, which had been vacant for the past nine months. Tripp came away with a total of 280 votes, or 31 per cent of total votes cast. Following her were Brian Taylor with 211 votes and Cathy Korolek with 179 votes.

The BMX track at City Park is getting a face lift, with new curves being added to the decades-old track. Bruce Laird, the president of Grand Forks BMX, said the track was being re-done to come closer in life to the competitive standards of BMX Canada and other tracks in the area.

The Boundary Community Archives have once more opened their doors to the public at Grand Forks City Hall after a fire at city hall had kept them close since 2013. Sue Adrain, archivist with the Boundary Museum Society, which administers the archives, works three days a week getting them back up to speed after spending the last several years in storage.

The Downtown Business Association is being revitalized. In mid-May, a dedicated group of businesses including a representative from the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and the City of Grand Forks, met to resurrect the committee for the third time at the request of the chamber.

Council approved a controversial code of conduct policy for councillors at the regularly scheduled June 28 meeting, despite the motion being previously tabled to the July 8 meeting and the absence of a councillor. Policy 308 is a city Code of Conduct for councillors that states “members shall refrain” from criticizing members of council, staff and management in public and to the media.

JULY

The Seattle Studs capped off an unbeaten tournament with a 2-1 victory over the Burnaby Bulldogs on Sunday in James Donaldson Park to win their fourth annual Grand Forks International title and became only the third team in the GFI’s 35-year history to win back to back tournaments.

With the Reuse Centres closing earlier this year, many Boundary residents predicted an increase in illegal dumping, and the problem is becoming more visible than ever as residents hit the trails for the summer months.

Throw a blanket in your car and grab your keys because Grand Forks officially has a drive-In theatre. Don Lindeman and Lise Tunold made the summer’s worth of work a reality in July.

The City of Grand Forks</spa

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