Last week, Part One of our annual ‘Year in Review’ retrospective piece brought you the biggest headlines and attention-grabbing stories from the first half of 2020, encompassing the months of January through June. This week, we bring you Part Two, highlighting everything that made the news from the second half of the year.
Read Part One at the link below:
The Saskatchewan government made a blockbuster announcement regarding irrigation in the province, in which the ultimate goal was to irrigate up to 500,000 acres of land from Lake Diefenbaker, more than doubling the irrigable land in Saskatchewan. The project was set to begin with an immediate investment of $22.5 million for preliminary engineering and initial construction. The project, first envisioned by the late Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, had many talking in the Outlook area, particularly the possibilities surrounding the town serving as a ‘central hub’ during the duration of the work.
Canada Day festivities in the local area were virtually non-existent due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, forcing Canadians to celebrate their country’s birthday largely at home or with online events. However, July 1 once again served as the date for the opening of the Van Raay & Community Swimming Pool in Outlook for its second year. A lineup stretching out the door and down the sidewalk showed how much local swimmers were anticipating the cool, inviting waters on a hot summer day.
The Lonesome Whistle Exhibition, a showcase of art put on by Calgary-based artists Carole Bondaroff and Stan Phelps, opened up to the public on July 1. The exhibit was hosted by the Cultural Centre located in the village of Loreburn and featured a variety of works, including a unique and quite large railway-based installation in the basement of the building.
For the first time since 2013, the Gardiner Dam spillway down by Lake Diefenbaker was opened up by the Water Security Agency heading into the July 3-5 weekend, drawing plenty of attention from onlookers armed with cameras. This meant that the South Saskatchewan River was expected to see a sizable increase in levels, as much as three to five feet.
The core group of people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to raise funds for Outlook’s new swimming pool – Tony & Betty Peter, Julie de Moissac, Teresa Weldone, and Ashley Austin – met with Derek Ruttle to reunite and reflect on the events that eventually led to the doors being opened on the aquatic facility. Spearheading the efforts to raise north of one million dollars to help pay for the pool, all of them agreed that it was worth the stress in the end.
One of Outlook’s long-time businesses, the Reel Theatre movie theater, announced that it would be reopening after a three-month closure due to the pandemic. Theatre owner Tony Pyette said the cinema would be operating under strict social distancing guidelines that would likely prove to be a learning curve for both management and the moviegoing public, including a 30% maximum capacity.
Information that was intended to remain confidential but came out during discussion of an Outlook town council Health Committee meeting, which was then adopted and passed on to The Outlook for publication, concerned the futures of Dr. Padilla and Dr. Alandary of the Outlook Medical Clinic. Ria Mynhardt, the clinic’s financial manager and recruitment officer, reached out to Derek Ruttle to clarify the facts behind what was presented at the meeting by members of council.
An evening event entitled, ‘A Walk in the Garden’ put a spotlight on the work being done by volunteers of the community garden located at a lot on Selkirk Street in Outlook. A handful of people came out to see in-person the methods and practices being carried out to ensure a bountiful harvest of greens and other veggies, most of which is grown specifically for the needs of the Outlook & District Food Bank.
The Town of Outlook was left without a permanent Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) after Huguette Lutz informed town council that she had decided to resign from her role. Lutz had been CAO since only the fall of 2019 and in the short time in her role, she was commended for her work in the office as well as spearheading the work in helping the Town obtain notable funding and grant monies for several projects. However, town council worked out a short-term contract with Lutz to provide mentorship and financial services while a new CAO was being sought. Lutz’s reasons for resigning were unknown, but it was noted that in three years, the Town of Outlook had now seen five administrators come and go in the role.
A start date for the trial of Greg Fertuck, charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death and disappearance of his estranged wife Sheree, had been selected. The trial for the 66-year old spouse of the missing woman was selected for March 29, expected to last into the month of April. Greg Fertuck was formally arrested and charged back in June 2019 with the murder of Sheree, who to this date has now been missing for just over five years, having vanished seemingly without a trace from a gravel pit near the village of Kenaston on December 7, 2015.
Patrick Boyle of the Water Security Agency (WSA) and MLA Lyle Stewart, Minister Responsible for the WSA, sat down at the offices of The Outlook to speak with Derek Ruttle about the excitement being stirred surrounding the recently-announced irrigation project in the province, which carries the goal of irrigating up to 500,000 acres of land from Lake Diefenbaker. Both agreed that Outlook is in a great position to become a central hub of activity and enjoy many economic benefits during the duration of the project, said to be ‘transformational’ for the province when all is said and done.
The search for a missing 35-year old man who went missing in the waters of Lake Diefenbaker in late August ended on the fifth day of searching. The body of Mazen Cruz was extracted from the lake approximately 100 metres offshore near Gardiner Dam. Cruz died after he jumped in the water to save his friend, Victoria Daniels, from drowning, with the strong and heavy current taking him away.
Town of Outlook mayor Ross Derdall and councillor Maureen Applin submitted letters to the editor for our Opinions section that managed to get plenty of people talking with the content of their respective letters. The two wrote in to address a previous letter by resident Justin Turton, who they felt was being overly negative as Turton shared his views on the state of the current town council.
A large turnout of people showed up to a unique outdoor ‘pop-up’ market held in the parking lot of the Outlook Esso service station on Saturday, August 29. Observing the guidelines of the pandemic, attendees wore masks and utilized the hand sanitizer station provided, but everyone still managed to enjoy themselves while taking in all that the market offered, including local businesses of both the brick-and-mortar and home-based type. The theme of the event was ‘Small Business Helping Small Business’ and it seemed to live up to that phrase.
There was plenty of anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the new school year that was set to begin after the Labor Day long weekend. However, educators forged ahead and outlined their schools’ re-entry plans ahead of opening day, including the plans for Outlook Elementary School and Outlook High School.
A small church building located south of the village of Glenside hadn’t been forgotten by a dedicated handful of people, as they intended on raising money and awareness in order to save the Jan Hus United Church. Larry Mikulcik, a member of the committee, spoke to Derek Ruttle about the group’s efforts to preserve the building, which was originally established as the Bohemian Presbyterian Church in 1913 before being renamed after the Czech reformer and martyr Jan Hus in 1929.
The outdoor rink located just behind the Jim Kook Rec Plex in Outlook had started taking serious shape, with the boards installed by Alberta-based company Omni Sport. All that was missing was some winter weather and ice before skaters and hockey players could take to the new facility.
Everything was set up for a fireworks display to be set off behind the Rec Plex in Outlook on Saturday, September 5, but apparently Mother Nature had other plans as incoming winds that evening prompted the Outlook Fire Department to call the pyrotechnics display off. The fireworks were originally postponed from Canada Day on July 1 before being moved to the Labor Day long weekend. They would then go on to be earmarked for a tentative date of December 23 pending availability, but that also fell through. At this point, it looks as if 2020’s intended fireworks show may simply have to be added to the 2021 Canada Day itinerary for an extra long display.
The Outlook RCMP were investigating two separate cases of vandalism that took place in the town of Outlook and the hamlet of Bounty. Windows were seen to be smashed out of the train car that sits at the Heritage Museum in Outlook, while a residence in Bounty had multiple appliances destroyed, windows smashed, and the front door broken in an incident where the damage was estimated at $10,000.
Major infrastructure projects that had gotten the greenlight from the province were headed to Ottawa to seek additional funding. This included the Town of Outlook seeking just under $3 million for its project aimed at enhancing the town’s raw water intake system, as well as upgrades to the water treatment plant. It also included the Village of Elbow seeking $2.6 million for its vision of a multipurpose facility complex to be located in the lakeside community.
A photo contest hosted by the Town of Outlook saw The Outlook’s own Derek Ruttle take top honours and even second place with his sunset images taken in the Outlook & District Regional Park. Taking third, fourth and fifth place respectively were John McPhail and Henry Buys for their striking images depicting the orange bridge and Outlook as seen from high above. Ruttle’s colleague Shelley Luedtke took the opportunity to interview him about his love of photography to highlight the results of the contest.
With the writ dropped, it was officially campaign season in Saskatchewan as the province was headed to the polls at the end of the month. To kickstart his campaign, Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe made a stop in Davidson on September 30 to speak with residents and lend his support to the campaign of local Arm River candidate, Dana Skoropad, whose constituency includes the Town of Outlook.
Shelley Luedtke spoke with Kaitlyn Gifford, administrator for the Outlook & District Regional Park about the park’s recent summer season and how it was affected by the limitations in place due to the COVID pandemic. Gifford felt that the season was a success despite the guidelines that were in place, particularly an outdoor movie night in the park bowl that brought out a sizable, socially distanced crowd, and she was looking forward to the start of the new campsite booking season, which began this past Monday, January 11.
A pair of deer lounging on the grass at a home on the corner of Hall Street and Park Avenue in Outlook were feeling comfy and content, not at all minding the presence of Derek Ruttle and his trusty camera on a gorgeous Friday evening.
The new extension built onto the fire hall in the village of Conquest was completed and to mark the occasion, Doug Lemon and Blair Sinclair of the volunteer fire department hopped in the crew’s vehicles and backed them into the new digs. The new half of the hall added some much-needed space to the building, which was built back in 1978.
The rodeo grounds in the village of Elbow weren’t able to host the lakeside community’s standard Lakeshore Stampede event earlier in the summer, but it was the site of some high school rodeo action by the Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association. Dubbed the Twin Curves Rodeo, the event brought out the best and brightest of young riders over October 3 & 4.
Due to the curling rink portion of the Jim Kook Rec Plex in Outlook being used as a COVID-19 testing facility by the Saskatchewan Health Authority for the foreseeable future, the Outlook Curling Club issued a statement informing the public that a vote had been held and determined that the club would not be having a curling season for the 2020/21 year.
The 10th annual Fall Classic Open Invitational racing weekend hosted by the Outlook Stock Car Association brought out more than 80 cars and a jam-packed audience of racing fans over the Thanksgiving long weekend. With the success of the event, it seemed to live up to its billing as the ‘Biggest Race on Dirt in Saskatchewan.’
As of the October 8 deadline of submitting and/or pulling one’s nomination papers, it was revealed that a total of 13 people were seeking the vote of the public in the Town of Outlook’s civic election. Two people put their names in for the mayoral race, the incumbent B. Ross Derdall and Maureen Weiterman, while eleven people put their names in for the six available seats on town council: Kyle McLeod, Kevin Grotheim, Justin Turton, Thelma McPherson, Ward McNichol, Lyle Rankin, Bob Stephenson, Rick Pederson, Jill Lee, Sharon Bruce, and Ryan Husband.
Profiling candidates running in the provincial election, the NDP’s Cam Goff, a Hanley area resident running in the Arm River riding that includes Outlook, spoke to Derek Ruttle about his intentions and his understanding of the issues surrounding small business and the economy of rural Saskatchewan.
Local police were investigating a fire that occurred at Loreburn Central School during the early morning hours of October 15. Two sheds and a trailer were set ablaze and burned to the ground, which destroyed all of the contents located inside. The RCMP were treating the fire as suspicious and asking for the assistance of the public to aid in the case.
Outlook Riverview Golf Club manager Hannah Taylor spoke to Shelley Luedtke about how the course fared during the season in the midst of guidelines and restrictions related to COVID-19. Taylor said she went into the golf season expecting it to be somewhat of a flop, but she was surprised when it turned out to be an extremely busy season, with more than 15,548 rounds of golf played in Outlook.
It was another ‘green sweep’ in Saskatchewan on Election Night on October 26, with the Scott Moe-led Saskatchewan Party taking a decisive majority win and its fourth straight mandate. The victory was officially declared by CTV just 37 minutes after the polls had closed around the province. In local ridings, long-time MLA Jim Reiter was re-elected in the Rosetown-Elrose constituency, and Dana Skoropad was elected in the Arm River constituency.
The Outlook came away from the annual Better Newspapers Competition with a few awards, including Shelley Luedtke taking 1st Place for Best Feature Story, Derek Ruttle taking 3rd Place for Best News Story of the Year, and the newspaper awarded 3rd Place for Best Front Page.
The Outlook & District Regional Park was the site of a ‘Haunted Walk Through the Woods’ on Halloween, with a portion of the park bowl transformed into a ghoulish exhibit of graveyards and devilish displays, with local businesses taking part and the event designed to support the Outlook & District Food Bank.
The thirteen men and women running in the Town of Outlook civic election were profiled in a special Q&A section that ran in the October 25 edition of The Outlook. The answers by each candidate to the questions posed by Derek Ruttle helped shed light on each person’s views and perspective on where Outlook is headed as a community and how they would work to help ensure the town prospers well in the future. The section hopefully helped the voting public decide who would gain their all-important vote come Election Day.
Outlook resident and celebrated agrologist Laurie Tollefson, who had decided to retire after more than 30 years of working and promoting irrigation here and abroad, was honoured with a very special local distinction on October 28 when the Town of Outlook council arranged to have the town’s Hall Avenue rechristened as Tollefson Drive. The street runs alongside the CSIDC facility where Laurie worked, also known as the school bus road. Tollefson was floored by the honour, which was celebrated with a custom-made cake and refreshments.
The SARCAN recycling facility in Outlook moved to a new home in town, opening back up to the public on November 2 at the north end of Franklin Street. The move was due to an increasing need for more space, with the SARCAN program growing tremendously during the time spent at its former location at Variety Place.
Mother Nature and Old Man Winter teamed up and walloped the province of Saskatchewan with a mountain of snow heading into the morning hours of November 9. In some places, the snow was waist-high on even the tallest of individuals and it all meant that snowplows and additional machinery had to take to the streets of towns and villages everywhere. Due to the severity of the snowstorm, busses in the Sun West School Division didn’t run and parents were encouraged to keep kids at home.
The people of Outlook made their choices known with the results of the civic election, with Maureen Weiterman swiftly defeating the incumbent B. Ross Derdall for the mayor’s chair at a vote count of 703 to 114. The six names voted in to sit on Outlook’s town council were Sharon Bruce, Kevin Grotheim, Ryan Husband, Kyle McLeod, Bob Stephenson, and Justin Turton.
A husband, son, teammate, and friend to many was remembered just prior to the home opener of the Outlook Ice Hawks on November 13 when the team retired the #31 jersey of long-time goalie Brad Barton of Conquest, who sadly was killed in a snowmobile collision back in February.
Maureen Weiterman, the newly elected mayor of Outlook, sat down with Derek Ruttle to discuss her election win and her goals for the next four years, hoping to work with the new council to help shape Outlook into a community that prospers and sets the stage for future generations. Weiterman was quite humble in acknowledging the fact that her victory also made local history, as she will go down as the first-ever female mayor to be elected in the Town of Outlook.
Outlook Branch #262 of the Royal Canadian Legion drew on the technical skills of its members to present a special online edition of the annual Remembrance Day service on November 11. Emanating from the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the program included live readings and previously recorded segments to bring together a unique offering that received many thumbs-up from those watching at home on Facebook.
In-school classes at Outlook High School were suspended for the time being due to a discovery of positive cases of COVID-19. The school moved to Level 4 remote learning on November 24 and there was a best-case scenario of students returning to the building on December 7. However, that date would come and go with kids not back in class and the at-home learning mandate still in place going into the Christmas/New Year’s break.
The Town of Outlook issued a statement related to COVID-19 that included a number of measures designed to help combat the disease, including the mandatory practice of wearing masks at the Jim Kook Rec Plex that had a three-strikes rule.
A local orchard and food company start-up looked to be on the road to success after winning an award. Husbandry Farms, owned and operated by Ryan & Alicia Husband of Outlook, received the Young Promising Entrepreneur Award at the 23rd Business Builder Awards in Saskatoon on November 24, hosted by the North Saskatoon Business Association. The couple told The Outlook’s Derek Ruttle that local consumers in Outlook and area could expect products from Husbandry Farms to be made available to them in 2021.
The provincial government released a number of new measures to try and combat COVID-19, including expanded the mandatory masking order, limiting both public and private gatherings, and suspending all team/group sports and activities. The new guidelines were certainly a hot topic in the public eye, with many wondering what kind of impact it would have on their Christmas plans.
For one very special and enchanted evening, the village of Elbow may have very well become Christmastown as the lakeside community hosted a night of festive holiday lights, displays, treats, and even a few fireworks on December 5. Dozens of vehicles poured into town to check out Elbow’s ‘Flip the Switch’ event, which saw the lights and displays of residences get ‘flipped on’ precisely at 6:00 pm. Whether it was grabbing a hot chocolate and treats in a drive-thru at the Harbor Golf Club or just strolling around Elbow to take in the sights, it was a night many would remember during a very different Christmas season.
Shelley Luedtke followed up her earlier story on Shiloh, the province’s first Black settlement from September by speaking with those who held a connection to it. Dr. Charlotte Williams, a descendant of Shiloh settlers, spoke of what brought her great grandparents to Saskatchewan, and Elwood Mayes, who actually lived at Shiloh, shared his memories as a child there, including the people, the farm life, and attending Sunday School in the church.
Chief Darcy Bear of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, located just south of Saskatoon on Highway 219, was one of the newest appointees to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours. Chief Bear was recognized for his visionary leadership of the First Nation, as well as creating economic and social development opportunities for the region.
Nicole Hermanson, Vandana Luedtke, and Cheryl Lyons spoke with Shelley Luedtke about what Christmas was going to be like spending the holidays in multiple parts of the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It would certainly be different, and it would be away from their families at home, but all three touched on how Christmas would be unique and special in its own way.
The Outlook & District Regional Park played host to perhaps the biggest crowd-favorite event of the year with its ‘Winter Wonderland’ drive-thru attraction, in which motorists strolled through the park’s campsite checking out dozens of Christmas lights and displays from participating businesses, organizations, and even private citizens. The event ran for ten straight nights and asked for monetary donations at the gate, and by the end of the exhibit’s successful run, a massive total of just under $10,000 had been donated. The popularity and success of the event undoubtedly assured that it would return next Christmas season.
A project near and dear to the hearts of many was officially given the greenlight as Outlook Branch #262 of the Royal Canadian Legion started its campaign to raise money for the future Veterans Memorial Park, set to be constructed at the greenspace in Outlook located at the corner of McKenzie Street and Saskatchewan Avenue. John McPhail, President of Branch #262, spoke with Derek Ruttle about his passion for the project and the financials involved with it, including a budget of approximately $58,000. Work had already begun on trying to obtain funds, including pending applications for corporate sponsorship, and McPhail noted that the Legion was hoping to raise $10,000 locally from the community. The Veterans Memorial Park project is a joint venture between Branch #262 and the Town of Outlook, with work hoping to commence in April of this year and an official opening to be held later, perhaps in September.
It was certainly a very busy year in Outlook and the surrounding regional area, despite a viral pandemic occupying so much of our daily lives. We hope the headlines and stories are just as plentiful in 2021, and that we start to see much more optimism and silver linings in the weeks and months ahead!