2017 Year in Review: April – June


April 1, 2017: The Hospital Gala raises money for the new High Prairie Health Complex. Diana Oliver and Barry Sharkawi are recognized for their efforts to bring the hospital to town.

April 2, 2017: The Treaty 8 First Nations Cup concludes in High Prairie. The Sucker Creek Capitals win the Legends Division, the Whitefish Lakers win the Women’s Division; and the Loon River Stars win the Men’s Division.

April 3, 2017: Sheila Kaus starts her job as Big Lakes County ag fieldman.

April 3, 2017: A Fort Nelson, B.C. man is fined $390 in High Prairie provincial court after pleading guilty to spanking his daughter, 15, as a method of discipline.

April 3, 2017: High Prairie and District Regional Recreation Board recreation director Lori Matthews fires award-winning indoor pool manager Ginger Petersen and her husband, Seth, with full support from the board. The Petersens won two awards as pool mangers in 2016: for Largest Programming Growth in 2015-16, and for Highest Sales in Swimming and Water Safety, in the Municipalities Under 5,000 Population.

April 4, 2017: A Community Drug Awareness and Gang Seminar is held at St. Andrew’s School to inform the public about gang activity and drugs such as fentanyl.

April 5, 2017: Leona Marge Keshen passes away in Edmonton from complications from cancer at the age of 79 years. She worked at the hospital, Park Hotel, Merner’s IDA and Medicine Bottle.

April 6, 2017: The new $228.3 million High Prairie Health Complex opens one week ahead of schedule with initial services.

April 6, 2017: Brett William Jackson passes away at the age of 24 years. He made his living as a welder.

April 8, 2017: David Martinson is presented with the High Prairie Firefighter-of-the-Year Award at the annual Firemen’s Ball.

April 9, 2017: Dorine St. Pierre passes away at the age of 56 years. Born in McLennan, she worked at ATB Financial for over 25 years.

April 11, 2017: High Prairie town council moves to enter into discussions with Big Lakes County to dissolve the High Prairie and District Regional Recreation Board.

April 12, 2017: HPE School News writers welcome Shelley Griffiths as the school’s new librarian.

April 12, 2017: Big Lakes County passes its budget and keeps the municipal mill rate the same as the previous year.

April 12, 2017: Joussard School wins the Handgames Tournament in High Prairie. It is their second straight win.

April 12, 2017: Big Lakes County receives a $180,850 grant to spearhead the Inter-Municipal Broadband Discovery Project.

April 15, 2017: Five High residents and one Whitecourt man are arrested on drug related charges after cocaine is seized at Sucker Creek.

April 18, 2017: South Peace News wins the 2016 Black Press Trophy for Best Holiday Edition, Under 3,999 Circulation. SPN also places third for Best Website.

April 19, 2017: The cards fall right for local cribbage players as the zone playoffs for the 2017 Alberta 55-Plus Fall Games Sept. 14-17 in High Prairie. Robert and Janet Lemay qualify in Doubles Cribbage 55+ Years; while Irene Hoedl and Olga Johnston qualified in Doubles Cribbage 70+ Years.

April 20, 2017: Keith Calahesin accepts the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre’s Volunteer-of-the-Year award at its annual appreciation banquet.

April 20, 2017: High Prairie Elementary School students raise just over $8,400 at its annual Spell-a-Thon.

April 21, 2017: High Prairie hears that no money is set aside in the provincial budget for demolition of the old hospital.

April 21, 2017: Tax concessions are debated to help Tolko re-open its plant west of High Prairie, at the Inter-Municipal Committee meeting.

April 25, 2016: High Prairie town council debates whether or not to take from savings instead of implementing a modest tax hike of 2.78 per cent for business and residential owners.

April 25, 2016: Less than two weeks after unanimously deciding to scrap the High Prairie and District Regional Recreation Board, High Prairie town council rescinds its motion. Instead, council decides on a move to restructure the board.

April 26, 2017: E.W. Pratt High School student Larkin Stokes wins the Alberta Premier’s Award.

April 26, 2017: Big Lakes County decides to proceed on High Prairie Airport upgrades provided they receive a $500,000 grant form the provincial Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program.

April 26, 2017: Big Lakes County takes $1.5 million from reserves in order to not raise taxes in 2017 after passing its $30.7 million budget.

April 27, 2017: The High Prairie Business Support Network meets and hears that massive job loses once feared with the implementation of a higher minimum wage did not happen.

April 28, 2017: The St. Andrew’s School Howling Wolves win the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division Hand Games Tournament at Manning. The team is coached by Jamie Chalifoux.

April 28, 2017: Lisa Cunningham and Carl Willier are named Bowlers-of-the-Year at the Enilda Mud Bowl banquet. The bowlers with the high singles during the year win the award and $1 per point. Cunningham’s score was 316; Willier’s score was 339. Glen Laderoute rolled a 341 but did not play enough games during the season to qualify for the award. The Chug-a-Lugs win the A Event Rolloff title.

April 29, 2017: Several E.W. Pratt High School students win medals at the zone badminton tournament. Brandon McNabb and Michael Ablog win Senior Men’s Doubles. Teammates Trista Calhoon and Katrina Reade win in Women’s Doubles; while Austin Doan and Taneille Crooks win silver in Senior Mixed Doubles.

April 29-30, 2017: The High Prairie Agricultural Society hosts a two-day Spring Rodeo. Blake Holleis places second in junior bull riding with 70 points.


May 2, 2017: High Prairie town council decides to not take money from reserves to keep the tax rate the same as previous years. The mill rate increases 2.78 per cent for residential and non-residential property owners.

May 3, 2017: St. Andrew’s School students publish the second edition of the four—page St. Andrew’s Times.

May 3, 2017: Jennifer Zatko is elected president of the High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce. Zatko says her main goal is to improve and build relationships with area businesses.

May 3, 2017: The Pin Snappers clean up awards at the Enilda Mud Bowl Day League and Seniors League banquet. The team wins the Monday Day Mixed League and the A Event Rolloff titles.

May 4, 2017: High Prairie Elementary School wins the High Prairie Municipal Library’s Grade 5 Reading Challenge. For the first time, St. Andrew’s School does not participate. Joussard School takes their place.

May 6, 2017: A crowd estimated at over 1,000 attends the Traditional Powwow at the Sports Palace.

May 6, 2017: Prairie River Junior High School’s Avery McNabb and Sarah Cairns win gold medals in Senior Mixed Doubles at the Northwest Zone Badminton Tournament at Grimshaw. The pair wins five games with their only loss coming in round-robin play. Teammate Dave Espina places second in Junior Boy’s Singles. He won five matches before losing the final.

May 6, 2017: Two St. Andrew’s School students win medals at the Northwest Zone Badminton Tournament at Grimshaw. Andres Scarborough wins silver in Senior Boy’s Singles while Jayden Rothwell captures a bronze in Intermediate Boy’s Singles.

May 6, 2017: E.W. Pratt High School sends several players to the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association Badminton Provincials at Red Deer. In Senior Men’s Doubles, Brandon McNabb and Michael Ablog lose in the quarter-finals after winning three straight games in round-robin action. Coach Kim Elliott says the highlight of the trip was that Ablog was offered a scholarship to Kings University in Edmonton. IN Women’s Doubles, Trista Calhoon and Katrina Reade lose three straight matches dropping them to the B Pool. They win their first two matches, then lose to place second. Austin Doan and Taneille Crooks lose all four matches in Senior Mixed Doubles.

May 7, 2017: Just over $6,100 is raised at the annual Hospice Walk, hosted by the High Prairie and District Holistic Palliative Care Society.

May 9, 2017: One week after announcing a small tax increase, High Prairie town council revises it tax bylaw. Treasurer Terri Wiebe says an error which did not include $8 million in assessment was not counted. As a result, the 2.78 per cent increase is changed to a 1.77 per cent decrease.

May 10, 2017: Big Lakes County passes a policy deeming that anyone wanting to appear before council as a scheduled delegation must complete an application form. The public session at 11:45 a.m. the day of each meeting remains.

May 10, 2017: Big Lakes County renews its memorandum of understanding for enhanced policing until Aug. 31, 2019.

May 10, 2017: Gerald Louis Rich passes away at the age of 87 years. He worked on building the Alaska Highway before working at Ike’s Garage, Prairie Farm Assistance, as a crop insurance adjuster, and Alberta Rural Development Association.

May 12, 2017: Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee cut the ribbon to officially open the $228 million High Prairie Health Complex.

May 15, 2017: Judson Mayes joins Big Lakes County as its first bylaw enforcement officer.

May 15, 2017: Northland School Division votes to keep East Prairie Hillview School open for at least two more years despite low enrolment.

May 17, 2017: Long-time Kinuso resident Cecile Tanasiuk passes away in Edmonton at the age of 77 years.

May 23, 2017: Marie Brulotte is appointed to the High Prairie Library Board by town council.

May 23, 2017: Victoria Pegg joins Big Lakes County as its first communications and projects co-ordinator.

May 23, 2017: The High Prairie and District Community Band holds a season ending concert to conclude its second year.

May 24, 2017: South Peace News publishes a photo of the tulips eaten by deer. The tulips were planted by the High Prairie Community Beautification Association and volunteers in support of Canada’s 150th birthday.

May 24, 2017: South Peace News reports that Kaylee Ferguson’s poem wins Honourable Mention at the Legion district level. She is asked to read her entry at the Remembrance Day service.

May 24, 2017: Big Lakes County hears good news that a bridge project at Strawberry Creek comes in about 11 per cent below budget. Carmacks Enterprises of Nisku is awarded the $1.054 million contract.

May 27, 2017: Sgt. Sheldon Anderson is awarded the Top Cadet Award at the High Prairie Air Cadet Squadron’s 66th Annual Ceremonial Review.

May 31, 2017: The Lesser Slave Watershed Council holds its annual barbecue to highlight is programs and distribute information.


June 1, 2017: Prairie River Junior High School athletes set four records at the annual track and field meet. Anna Milsap in Junior Girl’s Shot Put, Mackenzie Calhoon in Intermediate Girl’s Discus, Kelly Stewart in Intermediate Girl’s Shot Put, and Rae-Anne Gill in the Girl’s 1,500-metre race, set the marks.

June 1, 2017: Students at High Prairie Elementary School and St. Andrew’s School plant flowers as part of the MacIntyre Revitalization Project.

June 2, 2017: East Prairie Metis Settlement asks for co-operation from High Prairie town council to lobby for a second road leading from the settlement toward Swan Hills.

June 3, 2017: Brendyn Larson wins a silver medal in the Intermediate Men’s Long Jump at the Alberta Schools’ Athletics Association Track and Field Championships in Edmonton. His leap is 6.37 metres.

June 7, 2017: South Peace News reports that Big Lakes County receives $4.6 million to complete three bridge projects. The provincial government provides the money under the Alberta Municipal Water and Wastewater Partnerships Program.

June 7, 2017: Joussard School’s news writer reports the school raised $2,421 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation at the annual Jump Rope for Heart.

June 7, 2017: The franchisee for Tim Hortons applies for a development permit to build in the town’s east end.

June 8, 2017: The High Prairie Community Beautification Association celebrates the planting of its tulips to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. However, many of the tulips that sprouted were eaten by deer.

June 9, 2017: High Prairie Forest Products announces $55 million will be spend on modernizing its High Prairie mill.

June 10, 2017: Jeff Burgar’s editorials earns South Peace News first place in the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association Better Newspapers Competition. It is the 11th time SPN wins AWNA editorial awards since 1990.

June 12, 2017: A new gift shop is opened at the High Prairie Health Complex. It is operated by volunteers from the High Prairie Health Care Auxiliary Society.

June 12, 2017: A murder charge is withdraw by the Crown against Patrick Wayne Letendre, 24, of Gift Lake, in connection with the death of Jake Gladue Jan. 14.

June 12, 2017: Author Cecile M. Gannon shares stories from her book Cream Can Romance at the High Prairie Municipal Library.

June 13, 2017: E.W. Pratt hands out its athletics awards. Winners are as follows: Grayce Keay wins top Grade 10 female athlete; Cole Isaac wins top Grade 10 male athlete; Trista Calhoon wins top Grade 11 female athlete; Brendyn Larson wins top Grade 11 male athlete; Julia Isaac wins top Grade 12 female athlete; and Brandon McNabb wins top Grade 12 male athlete. The first Francis Lessard Sportsmanship Awards are presented to female recipient Katrina Reade, and male recipient Hunter Bissell.

June 14, 2017: Owners of Shaw’s Point resort attend a Big Lakes County meeting asking that the road be paved into the popular facility. Cost to pave the road is estimated at $1.5 million.

June 14, 2017: Plans by Big Lakes County to upgrade the High Prairie Airport’s runway are grounded after a provincial grant is not secured.

June 14, 2017: Hundreds attend a customer appreciation barbecue at Martin Deerline.

June 14, 2017: The first patients are received at the High Prairie Community Health and Wellness Clinic in the new High Prairie Health Complex.

June 14, 2017: Big Lakes County agrees to a phase-in tax break for Tolko Industries to help with their re-opening.

June 15, 2017: St. Andrew’s School holds its Celebration of Learning. Winning the Christian Leadership Awards are Grade 9 student Hope Keshen and Grade 12 student Alix Lamothe.

June 16, 2017: High Prairie TD Canada Trust makes a $1,000 donation to the High Prairie Community Beautification Association to help with improvements at MacIntyre Park.

June 17, 2017: Marigold Enterprise holds its second Princes and Princesses Royal Ball at the Legion Hall.

June 18, 2017: Lighthouse Community Church Pastor Pat O’Rourke passes away at the age of 65 years from cancer. He served as a pastor in High Prairie for 32 years.

June 19, 2017: Heather Nanninga begins her job at Big Lakes County as director of corporate services.

June 21, 2017: South Peace News reports that local dart players will be competing at the 2017 Alberta 55-Plus Fall Games Sept. 14-17 in High Prairie after qualifying at zone playoffs including Wendell Ebbett, Evelyn Lesiuk and Bill Lesiuk. Ebbett qualified in the Men’s 70-Plus Years category, while the Lesiuks qualified in the Women’s and Men’s Under 70 Years categories.

June 22, 2017: Big Lakes County adds three names to its Wall of Fame including Ruth Brassard, Diana Oliver and Anne Porisky.

June 24-15, 2017: Two days of fun in the mud conclude at the Triangle Demolition Derby and Mud Bogs.

June 26, 2017: High Prairie Cpl. Anita Doktor is charged

with impaired driving. She pleads not guilty. Her trial is set for Feb. 21, 2018.

June 26, 2017: High Prairie resident Darlene Johnson collects $364.32 during a one-minute shopping spree at High Prairie Super A.

June 28, 2017: South Peace News reports that East Prairie Metis Settlement receives a $50,000 Taking Action Against Elder Abuse grant. East Prairie is one of 31 recipients across Alberta.

June 28, 2017: The proposed Tim Hortons store in High Prairie hits a snag when it’s discovered that an underground transformer at a nearby property will affect the power supply.

June 28, 2017: Just over 180 players celebrate the end of the High Prairie Minor Soccer Association’s season.

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