OUTLOOK - Well, well, well. Here we are again, friends and dear readers.
Saying goodbye to another year while welcoming a new one that's just arrived.
The same thing is said at the conclusion of every twelve months, but it's also felt all the same: it's nothing short of incredible how fast the time flies. In our line of work here at The Outlook, we certainly feel that more than most. Stories that feel like they were written just a month or two ago have a way of lifting your eyebrows when you come to realize that they're actually a product of February or April. Time just has a way of getting away from us, I suppose. It never stops, it never slows down, and it never speeds up; it just keeps going at the same steady pace. It's up to us to make the time count.
Thanks go out to our readers and advertisers for another year. We hope you'll stick with us because at the end of the day, not only does print still matter, but so does the reliable and credible news media in a world full of one-sided doom and gloomers who only push one agenda.
With that, we bring you our annual Year In Review: a month-by-month look back at the stories that mattered, the stories that connected, and the stories that shone a light on life in this part of the province. Enjoy.
The first-ever Winter Wonderland drive-thru event turned out to be a massive success down in the Outlook & District Regional Park. Held over ten nights leading up to the night before Christmas Eve, the park saw numerous displays from local groups and businesses and made for arguably the most 'must-see' event of the year, drawing people from all over the province and even making the evening news on CTV Saskatoon, with photos sent in by this reporter. The final amount tallied from the drive-thru was an astounding $9,986.50 that was collected from a total of 1044 vehicles coming through the park.
Sommer Green Forages pled guilty in Outlook Provincial Court to violating one count under The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations as a result of a workplace fatality that had occurred in October 2019. As a result, the Court imposed a fine of $50,000, along with a surcharge of $20,000, for a total amount of $70,000. The fatality had taken place near Broderick, in which a worker had become entangled while clearing the teeth on the roller of a baler.
The new outdoor rink located behind the Jim Kook Rec Plex in Outlook had proven to be a hit with people who were looking for any form of recreational activity, what with the restrictions in place due to COVID-19. Officially known as the Co-op Community Rink, plans were in the works to hold a grand opening of sorts for the facility in the near future.
A heavy police presence in the village of Dinsmore resulted in a flurry of online activity on January 6, with people all over social media wanting to know what had created the drama in the small prairie community. RCMP took a lone adult male into custody after it was reported that he was making threats online. The man, revealed to be 35-year old Thomas Zaugg, had barricaded himself inside his residence with weapons and it resulted in a multi-hour standoff with police. After being taken into police custody, Zaugg was taken to hospital for treatment as well as a mental health assessment.
On January 13, a monster of a storm blew through the Outlook and surrounding area, blowing harsh winds and snow all around the Lake Diefenbaker region. The 100 km/hr gusts resulted in power failures in Outlook, Broderick, Dinsmore, Lucky Lake, Coteau Beach, and Beechy, but the wind did its most noticeable damage in the community of Birsay, as the village's old Pool grain elevator saw its two massive storage structures crumpled like a pop can due to the sheer force of Mother Nature.
Outlook resident Joel Peru, an irrigation agrologist since the spring of 2014, was apparently heading in the right direction with his line of work as he was the recipient of the Outstanding Young Agrologist Award courtesy of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists. Peru told The Outlook that he felt honoured to be recognized and that seeing his work contribute to the success of local producers was a feeling that left him humbled.
The Outlook's Shelley Luedtke took a look at love with Valentine's Day around the corner, writing a piece that explored the relationships between local couples Jody and Jennifer Ridgewell, Maury and Marla Ziegler, and Mark and Marcia Rilling. Each couple told stories and anecdotes describing how they'd met one another and what led to the big day when they were brought together in marriage.
The first notable steps had been taken on the road toward realizing irrigation's true potential in this part of the province, as the government announced on February 4 that Regina-based Clifton Associates Ltd. had been selected to begin engineering work for the Westside Irrigation Project. The company's work would encompass the first stage of the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Expansion, the largest infrastructure project in Saskatchewan's history.
Two people sadly lost their lives after a fire broke out in a mobile home in the village of Broderick on February 6. The home was found to be engulfed in flames by the time the Outlook Fire Department had arrived on-scene. The fire was said to have moved fast, and crews worked at fighting hot spots while battling the bitterly-cold elements. Days later, another small fire ended the week prematurely at Outlook High School when smoke was discovered in the building.
The Outlook ran a story from the Western Producer looking at a Saskatchewan farm family diversifying into the clothing business. Aaron Spence, who created the home business 'Dirt Road Collective', had managed to create something that blended four of her passions - Saskatchewan, farming, hockey, and lake life.
Weeks after a troubling incident in Dinsmore that saw Thomas Zaugg taken into custody after a standoff with police, residents of the community were reporting some bizarre vehicle activity taking place around the village, baffling some and putting others on edge. A reader reached out to The Outlook, informing us that no less than three vehicles seemed to be watching activity in Dinsmore at all times, as well as a vehicle equipped with a camera that was pointed at Zaugg's residence. A public letter from the Village of Dinsmore office shed some light, informing residents that there was no threat to the community and that the RCMP was assuring everyone that the vehicles were present for work purposes.
Outlook Mayor Maureen Weiterman spoke to this reporter about her first 100 days in office, highlighting the work being done by the six members of Council and herself to help steer the proverbial ship towards prosperous waters. Weiterman spoke of her appreciation for the work being done behind the scenes by staff such as the Town's workers who ensured that everything in the community ran smoothly on a daily basis.
TeleMiracle is the province's annual multi-hour fundraiser in March, but in Outlook, another kind of miracle was happening as people of the town and the surrounding area rallied around two-year old Benny Grunerud, who was living with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign launched in the days following Benny's diagnosis caught fire immediately, raising more than $43,000, and further initiatives undertaken by those in the community helped raise more funds that would help ease the burden being faced by Benny and his parents, Robby and Miranda.
Forty-two year-old Melissa Mac Queen was charged with manslaughter in the death of 61-year-old Randy Garrett in an incident that took place inside a residence in the village of Milden. On March 3, RCMP responded to a complaint of a deceased male, found to be Garrett, and Mac Queen was taken into custody.
This reporter decided to do something a little different with his day on March 3, as he packed up his SUV and headed up north to Prince Albert National Park. Armed with his camera gear, he was on the lookout for anything and everything he could find. Among the highlights of the daylong excursion were a family of very large but very peaceful elk, including one that stood in the middle of the road and unintentionally blocked traffic, as well as a striking footprint in the snow that pointed to belonging to nature's most perfect predator - a wolf.
Sandy Shores Resort by Lake Diefenbaker was looking to bring fishing to a new generation as a new, state-of-the-art ice fishing shack was created that was geared to cater to fishermen and families across the board. The goal was to make ice fishing accessible to everyone and the new digs, complete with four sleeping arrangements, a TV, games, a bathroom, and numerous fishing holes, seemed to provide something for everyone of every age.
It was the start of a new ball game for educator Colette Evans, who had just returned from a sabbatical to resume her career at Outlook High School. The former Grade 6 teacher was now the school's new principal, stepping into the role after the news was revealed of Walter Wood's retirement from the education sector. Evans was excited for the new professional challenge in front of her and knew she had a lot to learn, but felt like she was up to the task. Evans would make history with her new role as she would become one of only two women who've been Principal of Outlook High School.
Heartbreak was in the cards for the family of The Outlook's Derek Ruttle as his mother, Lynda Ruttle, passed away in the early morning hours of March 28 while surrounded by family. Lynda was 69 years old. In the aftermath, Derek told of his mother's life and anecdotes from years past in editions of his weekly column, The Ruttle Report. The writing process was a big help in his grieving and the ensuing columns proved to be quite popular with readers, many who had already come to know Lynda over the years.
The Outlook Legion Branch #262 was enjoying some prosperity as well as a little bit of financial breathing room thanks to a sizable and handsome bequeathment that would enable the branch to concentrate on other initiatives, such as the Veterans Memorial Park. On March 17, several Legion members were on hand at the hall to welcome Tom Lukiwski, MP for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan, who was on hand to make the official announcement of $8,287.46 being given to the branch in emergency support funding from the federal government.
Those who had been seeking some form of answers to questions that were asked long ago in the case of the disappearance of Kenaston-area native Sheree Fertuck now had to wait a few months more. Due to factors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder trial that would see Gregory Fertuck, Sheree's estranged husband, brought to court under the charge of first-degree murder, was being moved to September. The court proceedings were expected to last approximately five weeks.
Outlook Elementary School was looking to revamp its playground features and had started to fundraise for new equipment. Principal Darla Thorstad said the goal was to replace all the current structures and in order to do that, the school needed to raise over $200,000, which staff were busy doing by way of applying for grants, asking for donations of any kind, and the school was even considering corporate sponsorship.
The Milden Hotel establishment was in the midst of a fight against the government over COVID-19. The bar had received a second fine of $14,000 for reportedly violating the province's masking and health orders related to COVID-19, following a first fine of the same amount given in December. Rebel Media, based on Ontario, said it had offered to take on the fight in court on behalf of the Milden business.
The Outlook staff found themselves in the running for five awards in the 2021 Better Newspapers Competition, held yearly by the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association. Reporter/columnist Derek Ruttle landed nominations for Best Business Writing and Best Government Coverage, while columnist Shelley Luedtke was up for Columnist of the Year, Best Saskatchewan Arts or Cultural Series of Stories, and Best Health/Healthcare Coverage. The awards would be unveiled later that spring.
The Town of Outlook's newest Chief Administrative Officer was getting himself quite familiar with the area and saw a ton of potential for the riverside community. Kevin Trew, hailing from Carrot River, had just started his new job on April 6, but with an abundance of administration experience under his belt, he was already feeling that the town was on a growth curve that could tilt upwards in the coming years ahead. Having already researched Outlook for a number of years, Trew felt very good about now working in the community in a leadership role.
Following the retirement of Darlene Herman, the newest head librarian at the Outlook Public Library was Susan Kasper, joining Diane Bennett in keeping the community institution running smoothly. Among the activities running at the library, they were excited to start a new book club and a coffee center.
The Outlook Rec Plex was set to soon become a center of multiple activities being offered, as Recreation Director Megan Anthony was excited to open up the floor to things such as volleyball, pickleball, hockey, basketball and more, with the main floor of the rink surface being divided up by tape, showing the surfaces that many types of sports could be played on. It was to be a very welcome addition to the town's recreational offerings, especially for those ready to get out and get active.
Pedestrians looking to cross the busy intersection of Saskatchewan Avenue and Franklin Street in Outlook would now have some attention-grabbing help in the form of new solar-powered crosswalk lighting. With the spring weather now in full form, a lot more people were going to be out and about enjoying the much nicer conditions, so the timing worked out just right for the new equipment's arrival and installation.
Longtime hockey player and Outlook native Andrew Sarauer spoke to The Outlook about his interesting hockey career. Sarauer had been enjoying hockey from the international side of the sport, as the 36-year old left wing played for the Fehervar AV19, a Hungarian team that competed alongside ten other squads in the International Central European League, also known as ICE.
No injuries were reported in the aftermath of an embarrassing crash that took place in the entrance of the Subway restaurant in Outlook. Sgt. Mark Langager said that a young girl described as a new driver had accidentally run into the building that caused damage to the windows. It didn't affect business in any way, as Subway continued to run with wood boarding up the windows for the time being.
For over a year at that point, the village of Elbow had been moving towards the idea of raising substantial money for a new multi-purpose facility. However, those who wished progress to halt on the project in favor of asking more questions and perhaps exploring alternatives brought forward a petition for the people of the lakeside community to have an official say. Just over 110 signatures were said to be collected on the petition at the time.
Thousands of dollars were raised online for one of the most iconic faces of the Conquest Merchants hockey team as Terry Joyes, known simply as Jerome to friends and family alike, was in the fight of his life against cancer. As well, in addition to this, his farm had recently suffered a fire and caused damage. Because of this, Connor Ogilvie decided to launch the fundraiser that would go on to raise more than $9,600.
Putting a spotlight on local writers whose books are available at the offices of The Outlook/Outlook Printers, Tony Peter spoke to Shelley Luedtke about developing his talents and craft as an author. Peter's book series 'The Crystals of Goern' were available at our office, and for him, being an author was simply about having the opportunity to tell stories that people would hopefully want to read.
During the live streaming broadcast of the Better Newspapers Competition, The Outlook's Shelley Luedtke nabbed 1st Place in the Best Saskatchewan Arts or Cultural Series category for her article, 'Saskatchewan's first Black settlement holds stories to learn from'. As well, Derek Ruttle's articles on marina plans for the Sandy Shores Resort on Lake Diefenbaker and an interview with newly-elected Outlook mayor Maureen Weiterman placed 3rd, respectively.
Once refugees, two sisters had new 'family' in Outlook as Selam and Asmeret Measho Tsehaye spoke to The Outlook about coming to Canada as teenagers. Having begun life in a refugee camp, they eventually found themselves here on Canadian soil and began their new life, meeting the challenges of building new relationships in a new country and growing into beautiful and caring young women.
The hiking trails in and around the village of Elbow already drew people out and about when the spring weather was attractive, but now an interesting addition was getting attention as a 'story walk' was installed. Along the walking path, people could read a story that unfolded on their journey, as well as take part in family-friendly activities. The project was spearheaded by Ashley Stamnes of the Loreburn Central School library.
The message that was posted on the upcoming events sign at Outlook Elementary School produced a flood of emotions from people not only in this community, but it also saw a flurry of reactions online across the province. The sign had read, 'Farming Affects Oceans. Chemicals Hurt Habitats & Species. They Also Decr Oxygen Levels.' The message had come from the school's in-class lessons in positive environmental choices and sustainability, particularly related to oceans, and the bluntness that the message seemed to give off may have been the result of trying to whittle down a message to a few choice select words. Regardless, the backlash quickly produced a fever pitch, with Conservative MP Andrew Scheer even giving his two cents on the matter. As such, the sign was changed by the following day, reading, 'Agriculture - The Most Healthful, The Most Useful & Most Noble Employment of Man. Washington'.
Tom Lukiwski, Member of Parliament for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan, which includes Outlook, announced that he would not be running in the next federal election. The longtime politician was elected in 2004 and said that seventeen years was a long time to be in the role. Lukiwski said that it had been the greatest chapter of his life, but also that every chapter must end.
The RM of Fertile Valley was making the public aware that the tiny hamlet of Bounty was predominantly comprised of private properties. As such, the RM declared that there was to be no trespassing in the area. The area had seen change in the last number of years, namely with the removal of the legendary Bounty Hall, which had been moved over to Outlook in August 2014.
Janet Akre and Susan Robertson, local Outlook artists, spoke about their excitement over the first-ever River and Rail ArtVenture, a two-day event featuring painting, pottery, jewelry, photography, carving, music, woodwork, metalwork and so many more artistic expressions from creators in Outlook and the Lake Diefenbaker area. The tour would take the public not only to locations in town, but to communities around the regional area to see what kind of creations could be found along the way.
The graduating class of 2021 at Dinsmore Composite School got the rock star treatment for their big day as they were literally paraded around the community in a vehicle parade. The warm summer temperatures provided a great backdrop to a Friday night in small town Saskatchewan, as graduates Troy Banks, Hayley Christiansen, Samuel Friesen, Wyatt Jones, Hailley Mann, Logan Meyers-Marchuk, Mason Meyers-Marchuk, Eric Thomson, Paige Thomson, and Jacey Facca were escorted around Dinsmore as residents of the community waved, cheered and wished them well in their future endeavors.
As well, the graduating class from Loreburn Central School were also on display for the community to congratulate as the students stood out in front of the school and waved to motorists passing by to give their congratulations. Kayla Zacharias, Kaitlyn Hovland, Emmitt Hundeby, Brennan Graham, Rhian Dorward and Jessica Sabraw, decked out in suits and dresses, were the stars of the show as a long cavalcade of cars, trucks and vans packed with well-wishers strolled by on a Friday evening after school had let out.
Former educator and principal of Outlook High School, Bob Braybrook was the recipient of an award handed out by Hockey Canada. Braybrook, who served as both Vice Principal and Principal of OHS and whose teaching career began in Outlook in 1987, was the recipient of the Gordon Juckes Award. The honour was in recognition of a person that had put forward an outstanding contribution to the development of amateur hockey in Canada at the national level.
A public meeting held outdoors in Elbow surrounding the possible future Line 19 multi-purpose facility produced a wave of opinions that touched on both sides of the proverbial fence. While things such as a petition with close to 200 names were discussed, as well as the "flabberghasted" feelings of some who felt that Elbow's village council should've held a referendum, there were also those who felt it was high time that Elbow enter into the next century with a brand-new facility instead of trying to depend on the current infrastructure. As well, there were those such as resident Shantel Bristow who said that a facility such as the one being envisioned would be for everyone of every community along Highway 19.
A dedicated and longtime official in baseball was surprised by some recognition that he received from the Outlook River Hawks before a home game against the Rosetown squad, as umpire Trevor Drury, who had received the Dick Williams Memorial Award for Umpire of the Year in 2019, was recognized by the Outlook team with a commemorative bat. Due to the restrictions surrounding COVID-19 at the time that Drury had won the award, there were no official celebrations or presentation at the time, so the River Hawks made a point to finally recognize Trevor for his commitment to the game of baseball.
Look for Part Two of our Year In Review next week!