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2010 News Year in Review

A look back at the stories that made news in Estevan and area throughout 2010. January The first baby of the new year was born to Lisa and Steve Anderson of Big Beaver, Sask. Ellie Rose Anderson was born at 6:26 a.m. Jan. 3 and weighed in at 9 lb.

A look back at the stories that made news in Estevan and area throughout 2010.


The first baby of the new year was born to Lisa and Steve Anderson of Big Beaver, Sask. Ellie Rose Anderson was born at 6:26 a.m. Jan. 3 and weighed in at 9 lb., 7oz. and was 21 inches long.

After much anticipation, Swanberg Air made its inaugural flight to the Estevan Municipal Airport Jan. 4. The Alberta company had expected to begin commercial flights into Estevan in late 2009 but was held up while safety concerns at the local airport were cleared up.

A pair of Estevan residents had the honour of carrying the Olympic torch during the 2010 Torch Relay. Jessie Doan carried the torch Jan. 6 near Moosomin while Mary Renard carried it Jan. 12 through the downtown core of Blaine Lake, Sask.

Atco Structures and Logistics announced in late January that it planned to open the Atco Lodge work camp east of Estevan in March. The camp can house up to 196 people.

Estevan was selected to be one of the satellite broadcast centres for CBC's Hockey Day in Canada broadcast. The Energy City was featured a number of times throughout the day with a particular focus paid to a girls' hockey tournament that was being played at the same time.

Long-time oilfield veterans Les Avery and Art Wrubleski were presented with the Estevan Oilfield Technical Society Lifetime Achievement Award at the group's annual fundraising banquet. Jim Morgan was also presented with the award posthumously.

Estevan Diversified Services had reason to celebrate Jan. 29 when it announced an expansion of the housing services it provides in the community.

A 26-year-old Melville man was killed in a two-vehicle collision Jan. 31 at the junction of Highways 47 and 361 north of Estevan. Halbrite resident Randy Mack was later charged with impaired driving causing death.


The doctor shortage in Estevan hit a critical level in early February when local doctor Vino Padayachee informed The Mercury that he had to curtail anesthetic services at St. Joseph's Hospital due to a lack of back up anesthiologists in the Sun Country Health Region. Padayachee said due to the excessive workload he had been forced to take on, he was concerned about the safety of patients. The service was restored just a few days later as the region worked to find temporary solutions.

Another Estevan resident had the chance to experience the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver when Donna Laing was one of 300 McDonald's Restaurant employees selected to work at the Athletes' Village.

Figures from Saskatchewan Health confirmed what many had already believed; Estevan is among the fastest growing communities in the province. According to their totals, the city had gained 119 people since 2008, bringing the total population to 11,304.

The City of Estevan announced the construction year had gotten off to a strong start with five permits issues in January that had a combined value of $973,000 which was well ahead of 2009.

Estevan residents again showed their generosity when a Feb. 6 fundraiser to help those affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti generated $19,000.

The much awaitied heavy truck bypass around Estevan handed another delay when it was announced that safety concerns were prompting the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure to conduct another review of the project.

The Vandenhurk family of the Macoun-area was named the Farm Family of the Year at the annual Farm Appreciation Day banquet Feb. 16 at the Days Inn.

Three Estevan students - Blake Hanson, Rachel Mack and Cole Davenport - competed in the Southern Saskatchewan Canwest Canspell Spelling Bee in Regina Feb. 27. Both Mack and Davenport advanced to the second round while Hanson made the third round and finished 19th overall.


The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority announced March 1 that it would be releasing water from the Rafferty Dam and issued a warning to ice fishers and snowmobilers that the release could affect the thickness of the ice on the dam.

An important step was taken towards the possibility of a clean coal project at Boundary Dam when SNC Lavalin-Cansolv Ltd. of Montreal was selected to provide the technology for a carbon sequestration unit at the power station.

After more than two years without a contract, local CUPE members, who are employed by the Sun Country Health Region, decided to make some noise with a protest at the offices of Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles March 5.

The annual Estevan new arena fundraiser was another major success. With hockey legend Steve Yzerman, who was fresh off of helping Team Canada win the gold medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as the main draw, the March 12 event helped raise over $300,000 for the new arena.

Estevan was home to a pair of meetings March 21. First up was the Saskatchewan NDP who held the annual general meeting for the Estevan Constituency that afternoon where NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter was the featured speaker. Later in the day a Say No to Bill 80 rally was held. A sparse crowd turned out to hear speeches from provincial labour officials and Lingenfelter.

Sun Country announced the expansion of the renal dialysis unit had been completed. The expansion allowed the unit to service more patients per week.

A wayward bike ride led to 14 charges for Jack Essary. The Missouri native was arrested near Bromhead after the RCMP received reports that a suspicious individual was riding a mountain bike and wearing camouflage clothing. Upon arresting Essary, the RCMP learned that he had crossed the border illegally and was in possession of two guns and a machete.

At long last, the City of Estevan announced it had reached a settlement with former Estevan Police Service dispatcher Pam Panteluk. Panteluk was fired in 2007 after it was alleged she improperly disclosed sensitive police information. She later appealed the firing and won, which prompted the City to consider an appeal of their own. After weighing the risks against the possibility of success, the City decided to reach a settlement that gave Panteluk one-year's salary. She also received $25,000 for half of her legal expenses.

Spectra Credit Union announced at its March 29 annual general that it posted a $1.7 million loss on operations in 2009.


The City of Estevan announced at the regular meeting of council April 5 that the Golden Garbage Can competition with Weyburn would be returning in 2010.

Glacier Media Inc. announced that the Prairie edition of The Globe and Mail would be printed by Estevan Web Printing beginning in September. The company also announced it was making a $10.2 million investment in a new printing plant.

No injuries were reported after a house fire on Wellock Road.

Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles announced plans to seek a fourth term in the 2011 provincial election at the Estevan Sask. Party Constituency annual meeting April 9.

The federal government announced it was providing over $800,000 to the Estevan Housing Authority for improvement on facilities owned by the EHA such as Yardley Place and Midtown Manor.

The City of Estevan indicated at the April 19 meeting of city council that property taxes were likely to increase by half a mill.

Regina band Library Voices, whose lineup includes five former Estevan residents, had a homecoming of sorts when it held a concert at the Estevan Comprehensive School April 16.

The Estevan Relay for Life committee held a kick-off for the 2010 event April 17 where it announced their fundraising goal for the year was $185,000.

The Active Discharge Room at St. Joseph's Hospital was officially opened April 26. The room is designed for long-term patients of the hospital who need to get used to living on their own again.

Southern Plains Co-op held it annual general meeting April 26 where it announced that profits were down for the previous fiscal year.

The 2010 Women of Today Awards were held April 28 at the Days Inn Plaza. Shawna Irwin was named winner of the SaskPower Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Workplace; Blair Wrubleski captured the Shirley Orsted Memorial Award for Young Women; Heather Pyra won the Ida Petterson Memorial Award for Outstanding Entrepeneur and Maxine Hedin was named winner of the SaskTel Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community.

The Energy City took a stand against violence April 29 with the annual Rally Against Violence in Estevan or RAVE on the lawn of the Estevan Court House.


The Souris Valley Museum took a major step forward when it was announced that Twyla Exner had been hired as the museum's first curator.

Estevan was named the 94th best place to live in Canada according to the annual Moneysense Magazine rankings.

Local organization South East Tour and Trails Inc. announced plans to restore Roche Percee Park to its past glory. The group decided to take action after learning the park grounds might sold by the provincial park. The park was at one time a very popular camping and picnic area.

Concerns were raised about the rise of vandalism in Estevan and area after a pair of costly incidents. Both the Hidden Valley Campground and Civic Auditorium suffered significant damage in separate incidents.

The first Collage Cultural Festival, held May 15 to 17, was a major success with well over 3,500 people estimated to take in the various events and exhibits throughout the three days.

Dawna Cripps, who was arrested in December 2009, was sentenced to 30 months in prison May 17 after pleading guilty to two counts of trafficking cocaine.

Jack Essary also received jail time after entering a guilty plea on the numerous charges levied against him. Essary was sentenced to one day in jail plus time served and was then deported after serving his day.

Former Estevan resident Kaylyn Mack captured first place in the hairstyling division at the 2010 Skills Canada competition in Waterloo, Ontario May 21.


June began with communities throughout Saskatchewan, including Estevan, vying to become Riderville. Held in recognition of the Saskatchewan Roughriders 100th anniversary, the competition had a first prize of $25,000 for minor sports in the successful community.

Estevan took a strong run at the Riderville title with a number of events including a parade that was very well attended.

The doctor shortage in Estevan was in the spotlight again after staff at St. Joseph's Hospital announced it may have to cut emergency room services. The public was asked to not use the ER unless it was a true emergency.

Council officially voted to raise taxes by one mill, or roughly six per cent, at the June 7 meeting. It was also announced a health levy of .35 mills would be collected from property owners.

The City also announced it had reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees which represents all unionized City workers.

The annual Relay for Life, held June 12, was another smash, raising just over $144,000.

A scary situation had an all too rare happy ending June 19. Ten-month-old Kate Johnston was buried under a wall of sand at Rafferty Dam after an embankment collapsed on her and her mother Danielle. After a frantic search that included Danielle and some nearby good Samaritans, Kate was located and then resuscitated by her mother. She was then taken to hospital in Weyburn but had no long term damage from the ordeal.

Although it was noted Estevan made some significant gains, the Golden Garbage Can went to Weyburn. The number of junk vehicles and discarded appliances in Estevan back alleys was blamed for the loss.

Despite a number of rain-induced challenges, the 2010 Estevan Fair was a success. Estevan was hit with a significant amount of rain in the days before the fair, forcing organizers to move the midway to the parking lot of the Civic Auditorium.


The month got off to a scary start for Benson residents after a storm village in the early morning hours of July 2. A number of trees were uprooted and a grain bin was thrown a significant distance and struck a house before coming to rest.

It was announced that the RCMP had joined the hunt for missing Estevan resident Courtney Struble. The RCMP's historical crime unit, which had previous success in similar cases, said it was going over the case history and hoped to dig up some new leads about the whereabouts of Struble who went missing July 9, 2004.

The four-person council remuneration committee recommended a raise of almost $11,000 for the mayor at the July 12 council meeting. A slight raise for councillors and penalties for missing meetings were also part of the recommendations. Council approved the changes later in the month.

At long last, Estevan's new arena had a name when Spectra Credit Union announced the under construction facility would be called Spectra Place July 20.

Students at the Academy of Learning were given an unwelcome surprise when the provincial government announced July 21 the Estevan campus was closed due to non-compliance issues by the operator. Provisions were later made to allow the 18 students to complete their education.

Creighton Lodge celebrated its ownership change from the Sun Country Health Region to a consortium of rural municipalities July 30.


The August long weekend was celebration time for current and former residents of the RM of Benson. The RM held a well attended 100th anniversary part in Benson.

A fire created some tense moments in Bienfait. The blaze, which broke in a building next to the town's lone gas station, was extinguished by firefighters from Bienfait and Estevan. Due to strong work by both departments, the fire did not spread to the adjoining buildings.

Estevan was turned into a classic car lover's paradise Aug. 8 when the Coasters Car Club spent the night in Estevan. The Coasters were in the midst of their coast to coast tour which they do every 10 years.

Local firefighters remained busy when they were called to another blaze Aug. 12, this time in the Willow Park Greens, a trailer park. A vacant trailer was started on fire by young children who were playing with matches.

The Sun Country Health Region announced that embattled Chief Financial Officer Hal Schmidt had resigned from his post. Schmidt had been under scrutiny for lying about being a chartered accountant in a previous job interview and also for giving himself a $75,000 loan while he was employed at a hospital in B.C.

Another local RM had reason to celebrate in August as the Rural Municipality of Estevan hit the 100 year mark. The RM held a celebration Aug. 14 that included a number of local and provincial politicians.
An Estevan resident took his protest of proposed speed limit changes on Fourth Street to city council Aug. 23. Trent Knobel went before council to voice his objections to a proposal to drop the speed limit on the section of Fourth Street from 14th Avenue to Souris Avenue to 40km/h. Knobel also presented a petition that included over 1,700 signatures.

Estevan residents Mike and Leah Kraus won $1 million on a $10 scratch and win lotto ticket.

The Estevan Police Service stepped up its efforts against the city's drug trade in late August, arresting seven people in three different busts.


St. Joseph's Hospital was battling its way through the doctor shortage in September. It was reported that the strain on the ER had eased but also that the hospital was not out of the woods quite yet.

The start of the school year produced some interesting numbers to analyze for Estevan schools. It was reported that enrolment was up at a number of local schools, in particular, the Estevan Comprehensive School which had an increase of 50 students.

Sun Country's summer of discontent continued when the board of directors announced Sept. 10 that CEO Calvin Tant had been fired. The board said it had lost faith in the CEO and had no choice but to make a change.

The proposed changes to the speed limit on Fourth Street were officially defeated at the Sept. 13 meeting of city council. The public outcry against the changes was given as the primary reason why council voted against the motion.

The official re-opening of Roche Percee Park was held Sept. 18. A number of people showed up to celebrate the opening and to learn about the future plans for the park.

Showcase, Estevan's annual business expo, was another success. Held from Sept. 24 to 26 at the Souris Valley Aquatic and Leisure Centre, the event was a sellout with over 90 exhibitors showing off their products and services to the public.

Estevan lost one of its top civic boosters in late September when former mayor Gregg Trout passed away. The former businessman served as mayor from 1968 to 1970 and was also heavily involved in the local education system.

Three drug-related arrests were reported Sept. 29 when three men were arrested after a traffic stop north of Estevan. All were charged with a variety of charges.


The Estevan Elks lodge kicked the month off by celebrating its 85th anniversary at its location on Souris Avenue. David Hurley, the Grand Exalted Ruler of Canada, was on hand for the anniversary.

The City of Estevan announced in October that leisure services manager Helen Fornwald had resigned her position and taken over as the City's safety co-ordinator.

The Canada Mortage Housing Corporation announced that housing starts were up in Estevan through October. There were 34 new homes built or currently under construction in 2010, up by 40 per cent over 2009.

The Estevan United Way had another fantastic year, raising $350,452. The total was well over their goal of $300,000. They were also the first United Way in Canada to hit its goal for the 33rd time in 34 years.


The Estevan Police Service issued a warning to local drivers to ensure they are following the rules of the road around school buses. A number of incidents had prompted the warning and EPS Chief Del Block said his officers would be stepping up enforcement.

No injuries were reported after a car caught fire in the parking lot of the Estevan Comprehensive School. The fire destroyed the vehicle where the fire started and a neighboring car.

The Saskatchewan Southeast Enterprise Region announced it was leading a new effort to solve the housing shortage in the area.

A local surveying crew received quite the surprise when they uncovered a Second World War-era mortar shell south of the city. The crew turned it over to Estevan police who brought in the RCMP explosive disposal unit from Regina. It turned out the shell was a training round and posed no risk.

Estevan firefighters were called to a fire at Sholter Horsman Furniture Nov. 15. The fire destroyed a handful of warehouses and the company's steel shop.

An Estevan family received some great news when the provincial government announced it would pay the medical expenses for Jeff Lukye's risky cancer surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The family had initially feared it would be on the hook for the costs until the government stepped up.

Estevan residents again showed their generous nature in late November when a benefit cabaret for Lukye and his family raised roughly $130,000 to help cover non-medical related expenses.

Local firefighters were back in action Nov. 25 when a Bienfait area business caught fire. The building that housed Estevan Plastic Products was destroyed, but the employees were able to escape unharmed.


It was announced at the Dec. 6 meeting of city council that a developer was eyeing Estevan for a possible new subdivision in the area north of Wellock Road.

Council also began budget deliberations Dec. 5. It was noted there would be some tough decisions to make with a lot of work needed in the city and, as always, not enough money to go around.

As the year came to a close it was noted by the City that work on Spectra Place was gaining steam and they were hopeful it would be ready to open in March.

SaskPower announced that it was moving forward with plans to refurbish Unit 3 at the Boundary Dam Power Station. It was also announced that a possible clean coal project was not dead but SaskPower was awaiting word from the federal government about new emission standards.

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