By this point, I hope readers know the drill. With the first issue of the new year (and a new decade), it’s time for our annual look back at everything that made headlines over the past twelve months.
I like to think of it as presenting a ‘yearbook’ of sorts to our readers and the public.
The 365-day chunk of time that made up 2019 was, to put it as simply as possible, an interesting year to say the least, whether it was on the national or international stage or right here at home in the Outlook and surrounding Lake Diefenbaker region. There were ups and there were downs, there was good news and there was bad news. All of it helps to tell the story of life here in rural Saskatchewan on the great Canadian Prairies.
With that, let’s take one last look at the sensational stories and high-impact headlines month by month from 2019 in the newest edition of The Outlook’s ‘Year in Review’.
The first few days of the new year proved to be a treacherous one for weather in the local area, with blowing snow and slick ice surfaces making for dangerous driving conditions in the area on January 7.
The LCBI Lady Bisons held their 40th annual Invitational Home Basketball Tournament over January 18/19, welcoming seven teams to the school. In the end it was the squad from Unity that won the tournament by upending Fillmore.
A small but passionate group of people put on their yellow vests and grabbed their signs before holding a protest rally outside the Outlook town offices building on January 26. These supporters of what’s known as the ‘Yellow Vest Movement’ made it quite clear where they stood on issues related to the federal government and the litany of topics surrounding the Canadian political landscape. Though the attendance may have been small, support for the group’s views and beliefs was ample, particularly from passing motorists in Outlook who made a point to honk and give the group a thumbs-up.
There wasn’t the biggest audience at a public meeting hosted by Outlook’s mayor and town council at the Civic Centre on January 30, with the increasingly harsh weather conditions likely being one factor, but the people who did make it out may have gone home with a clearer picture of where their community was headed in the near future. Highlights of the meeting included a PowerPoint presentation on the Town’s finances, as well as challenges that had been met and accomplishments that had been achieved. Though attendance at this late January meeting was sparse, that would certainly not be the case at another public meeting held by the town much later in the year.
The Town of Outlook wound up processing a colossal amount of recyclable materials in the previous year, with the numbers showing 408,621 lbs of cardboard, 87,514 lbs of mixed paper, 36,973 lbs of newsprint, 34,016 lbs of granulated plastics, 24,539 lbs of plastic film, 24,216 lbs of glass, and 19,578 lbs of tin. All of it accumulated a whopping 635,457 lbs of materials processed. The large numbers showed that the Town’s recycling program continued to be a success, at least that’s how it appeared on the surface. The public would find out later that things were not as successful as they seemed as far as the hard numbers were involved.
The Lake Diefenbaker Task Force Against Aquatic Invasive Mussels was looking back on their accomplishments in the previous year and looking forward to bringing more communities and more people on board to continue the fight against invasive species and keep educating the public about the need to protect Lake Diefenbaker, arguably the province’s most important large body of water.
Beloved business owners Royce and Lorna Taylor of Outlook marked 35 years of owning the grocery store in town that is known today as AG Foods. The pair spoke with The Outlook’s Derek Ruttle about what the milestone meant to them, as well as their thoughts on being responsible and neighborly business owners who do their best to give back and help out the community in which they live and serve.
This newspaper reached a special milestone of its own as The Outlook turned 110 years old as of the first week of February. The paper rolled out its first edition way back on February 6, 1909, and more than 110 years later, we’re still here and churning out the news that’s important to you.
The Outlook Blues senior girls’ home basketball tournament over February 8 & 9 saw rosters from Biggar, Eston, Coronach, Eatonia, Kindersley and Saskatoon converge on the court at Outlook High School. The home team found itself in the championship final on Saturday night against the Colts from Coronach, and after an absolute barn burner of a game, Outlook took the victory in their own tournament at a razor-thin score of 60-57.
The Town of Outlook entered itself into the Kraft Hockeyville Contest, looking to win a massive cash prize of $250,000 to use toward arena upgrades for the Jim Kook Rec Plex. The town recreation director, Jordy Jones, submitted the application on behalf of the rink, touching on the importance of the facility and what it means to the community.
Susan Robertson of Outlook certainly had reason to celebrate, as the local sculptor and artist had come back from an event in Halifax known as the Craft East Buyers Expo with an award, receiving the recognition for Best Display. Robert was presented with her award by Nova Scotia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Patricia Arab.
The community of Outlook was encouraged to ‘get out and play’ in a special event where the goal was to do exactly that. The ‘Go Out and Play’ Challenge by Saskatchewan Blue Cross and Sask In Motion saw communities sign up and log their collective physical activity minutes, and the location with the highest number by the end of a ten-day period would win $10,000 to go towards recreational facilities.
Glacier Media Group, owners of Outlook Printers, recognized the efforts of the news and advertising team at The Outlook, including bestowing general manager Delwyn Luedtke with the President’s Club Award for Excellence for the year 2018, his second year winning in a row.
99-year old Art Hauberg was the man of the hour at the Outlook Legion Hall on March 8 when the local Legion branch held a birthday party for him to mark such a monumental age. Art was surrounded by friends and family as the venue filled with people serenaded him with ‘Happy Birthday’ before the cake was cut.
The Outlook RCMP revealed a number of crime statistics from the past year, including 2019 occurrences, with 1127 calls for service and 892 traffic offences. There was an increase in theft related calls, going from 41 to 63. One of the more alarming areas was fraud, in which there were 128 calls reported. Focusing on digital and online fraud was one of the key areas the RCMP were paying attention to moving forward.
The Diefenbaker Thunder Female Midget ‘A’ hockey team had the right to sing Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ after the squad won gold in the Saskatchewan Female Hockey League Provincial Finals. The team found itself squared up against the Wood River Ice Cats in a game series, ultimately meeting on March 24 in Lafleche to determine who would leave the ice as provincial champs. In the end, it was the local girls who took the win at a score of 4-3.
Loretta Lyons of Outlook was one of the stars of the evening at the Saskatchewan Sport Awards held in Saskatoon at TCU Place on March 28, having been recognized with the Female Official Award for her numerous contributions to youth track & field over the years in the community. Lyons spoke of her love of the sport and recalled how her late husband Blake also helped blaze a trail as a sport official.
Residents of Outlook and the surrounding area packed the Outlook Civic Centre on April 5 for a live auction event aimed at raising big bucks for the new swimming pool facility in the community. Over 230 people made it out for the lively affair, which included some hot bidding. Among the more popular items to the surprise of no one were baked goods, including two plates of butter tarts that went for $120 each. By the time the numbers were tallied, the auction had brought in over $50,000 in support of the new pool.
Speaking of the new swimming pool, we found out that month what the new facility in Outlook was going to be named. In honoring the massive private donation by Alberta cattle producer Cor Van Raay to the pool back in the summer of 2016 for a whopping $500,000, the facility was officially decreed the ‘Van Raay & Community Swimming Pool’.
The Myrol Brothers Band, one of Outlook’s most well-known homegrown musical acts, was recognized during the Saskatchewan Country Music Association Awards in Saskatoon on April 13. The group received the ‘Legends and Legacy Award’, which highlights the contributions and achievements of the province’s pioneers on the country music scene. Fellow performer Lisa Moen, the daughter of band member Myles Myrol, presented the award to her father and uncles.
The bus drop-off area at Outlook Elementary School was the scene of a unique Transportation Show in early April, in which the Kindergarten students and their teachers got a look up close at over 30 types of transportation used in and around the community, ranging from a skateboard all the way up to a fire truck. The goal was to show kids what the vehicles could do in helping people, whether they were used for construction, safety, rescue, and recreational jobs.
Outlook area resident Roger Pederson was recognized as an inductee into the 2019 class of the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame. Pederson was honored for his strong advocacy for the development and continued growth of Saskatchewan’s irrigation sector, particularly in Outlook and the surrounding area. Roger described his induction into the Hall as ‘overwhelming’ and felt that the potential surrounding irrigation in the Outlook area may still be untapped.
Things became heated between The Outlook and the Town of Outlook over a proposed mayoral questionnaire that the newspaper originally intended to run. Our questions, tough but fair, were emailed to Outlook mayor Ross Derdall on Friday, March 22 after first speaking to him on the phone. Eleven days later, we received a PDF file containing a motion that had been passed at the March 27 town council meeting, which labeled our tactics as “malicious”. The newspaper posted the original questions, the email to the mayor, and the town’s response, at which point the ‘story’ went viral and was picked up by a number of news outlets around the province and beyond. The writing staff of The Outlook responded to the Town in kind, as did a number of readers in the Letters to the Editor section, trying to make sense of what had become a rather non-sensical situation. In the end, ten days after it had begun, the Town answered our original questions, at which point they were posted to our website and published in the April 25 print edition after we had closed for a week due to holidays.
The newest recipients of the Community Appreciation Awards in Outlook were revealed, which spotlight a handful of people and name them the Citizen, Youth, Business, and Group of the Year, respectively. Brent Larwood was named the Jim Kook Citizen of the Year, while Kendyl Stephenson was named Youth of the Year, AG Foods was the Business of the Year, and Outlook Branch #262 of the Royal Canadian Legion was named Group of the Year. All of the recipients were honored with an awards banquet at the Outlook Civic Centre on Thursday, May 30.
It was revealed that one of the Lake Diefenbaker region’s most popular and eye-grabbing hot spots would now be closed off to the public. The sandcastles near the village of Beechy, which includes Sunken Hill, were originally open to the public despite being situated on private land, but increased visitation and the impact left behind by some proverbial bad apples appeared to ruin it for the rest of us, and Tourism Saskatchewan announced that the sandcastles were no longer accessible to the public through the private land area.
The Conquest Fire Department announced that it was raising funds for an addition onto their existing fire hall. Titled the ‘Legacy Project’, the estimated cost for materials to build an extension to the building was approximately $40,000, with the firefighters volunteering their skills for labour. The goal was to raise as much as possible without having any impact to ratepayers in the village of Conquest and the RM of Fertile Valley.
The offices of The Outlook welcomed its newest ‘employee’ who just so happens to have four legs, a tail, and A LOT of hair. Weiss, a big and lovable St. Bernard who lives with Delwyn and Shelley, became a fixture at the newspaper and, depending on who you ask, has quickly become one of the more popular employees.
A town-wide food drive held in Outlook on May 14 by the Outlook & District Food Bank turned out to be a huge success, with residents doing their part to stock the shelves, or rather overstock them to the point where grocery bags full of goods had to be stored temporarily on the floor.
There was a new way to get some ‘grub on the go’ in Outlook as the staff from the Locker Plant took to the streets in a new food truck to serve up hot food such as burgers, fries, and even fried catfish. If that wasn’t enough, dessert was also on the go as Darrold Sincennes started up an ice cream truck that could be found in different spots in the area.
Volunteers were being encouraged to come out on May 23 to a lot on Selkirk Street in Outlook that had been designated as a community garden area. The plot had been worked up and fertilized and was ready to go, and all it needed was a lot of green thumbs to help with the planting and tending.
Dwayne & Lorraine Preus of Outlook decided to finally retire – this time for good – from Preus Electric, their family’s business that has been in the community for multiple generations. Dwayne sat down with The Outlook’s Derek Ruttle and discussed the history of the business, but also opened up about his life experiences and gave him a tour of their family home and land. The ensuing story that came out after an entire morning spent at the Preus home is one that may be simple in theory – a life’s journey as told by a man pushing 90 years of age – but it spoke volumes about the trials and tribulations faced by people of their generation, and perhaps some of today’s generation could learn a thing or two.
The Outlook’s Shelley Luedtke profiled the schools of Outlook Elementary, Outlook High, and LCBI High School, speaking with educators on the past year and what lay ahead in the future with a new school year to come in the fall.
A recent water restriction put in effect by the Town of Outlook on June 4 may have ruffled some feathers of residents, but it shone a light on the problem of severe drought that had been affecting the entire regional area in the early summer. The Town’s raw water intake system in the South Saskatchewan River, for example, was sticking high and clearly visible out of the water, which is not a usual sight or a welcome one. As well, the floc chambers at the water treatment plant had become covered in algae that forms when the river is low.
The future of Outlook’s cannabis retail outlet seemed to go up in smoke after the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority apparently denied Dr. Jean Paul Lim’s application to open up for business. The BC-based Lim had three permits in three communities at the time to sell marijuana and related products (Melfort and Rosetown in addition to Outlook), but he didn’t meet the criteria in the SLGA’s final vetting process, and he cut ties to his proposed businesses in Saskatchewan altogether.
At an outdoor barbecue event held behind the Jim Kook Rec Plex in Outlook on June 13 attended by a few hundred people, it was announced that a new outdoor ice rink would be constructed in the same location. The Federated Co-op’s Community Spaces program contributed an impressive $128,400 to get it off the ground, with Riverbend Co-op GM Greg Sarvis and Board President Brian Bartel making the special presentation to Rec Director Jordy Jones and Outlook Fire Chief Dalas King. As well, Riverbend Co-op announced it would be donating the supplies needed for the water slide at the new swimming pool, which amounted to around $15,000.
LCBI High School’s Drama Club roared with its production of ‘The Lion King Jr.’, which adapted the blockbuster Disney movie into a school musical. The costumes were top-notch, the performances were fun and energetic, and the three-show run from June 13-15 inside the LCBI student chapel left audiences feeling ‘Hakuna Matata’ for the rest of their day.
On June 18, a vehicle stop made by Rosetown RCMP turned into a major drug bust in the tiny community of Zealandia, leading to the arrest of a 35-year old male and the discovery of one kilogram of cocaine and a pair of brass knuckles. The man, whose name wasn’t released, was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, trafficking cocaine, and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.
A public meeting held at the Harbor Golf Club in Elbow on June 18 and hosted by the Lake Diefenbaker Tourism organization discussed what could be done to better promote the lake area and try to further tap into the potential of the region. Representatives from Tourism Saskatchewan were on hand to listen to feedback and answer questions, and some of the ideas ranged from increased promotion to more interactive avenues such as encouraging tourists to rate and describe their experiences in the lake area.
After years of no substantial news in the disappearance of 51-year old Sheree Fertuck of the Kenaston area, police arrested her estranged husband Gregory Fertuck on June 24 without incident outside of Saskatoon and charged him with first degree murder, as well as a charge of causing an indignity to human remains.