Editorial – One top story is still kicking

Jeff Burgar

Most viewed story at our online edition [southpeacenews.com] was Leonard Willier scoring over $100,000 early last year in a lottery win.


Second most viewed story online of last year was the firing of High Prairie Regional Aquatic Centre manager Ginger Petersen. Both stories might be continuing to this day.

The Willier family might still have a few dollars left. And some memories of the Las Vegas trip on which Leonard said he would be taking his wife.

Meanwhile, the Aquatic Centre news continues. When it comes to money at the centre, most news these days is bad.

It has to be noted here, it seems when people do an outstanding job working for the High Prairie and District Regional Recreation Board, which primarily manages the Aquatic Centre and two ice arenas in High Prairie, they can easily get fired.

Tall poppies, those who perform much better than average, are just asking for trouble. Hence the name, “Tall Poppy Syndrome.” Supposedly, it came from the habit of farmers who wanted their crops to look nice and neat, so they lopped off the heads of those plants which grew faster, stronger and taller than the rest. Dumb move, but in keeping with being average.

Average performance, in the best tradition of civil servants and large organizations everywhere, is the norm. Stick out from the crowd and you will often get the wrath of fellow workers – “Don’t be a keener. It just makes the rest of us look bad.”

Have you heard that before?

Fortunately, there are strong-minded and determined people who believe in performing at the best of their ability.

And then there is the recreation board. Not completely bad. Just sort of, well, “average”.

Good recreation directors over the years usually saw this writing on the wall. Which is, the government members of the board, two from Big Lakes County, and two from the Town of High Prairie, never had much interest in high performance. Three outside professional reviews of the Town of High Prairie said there were issues.

One tall poppy that met her seemingly inevitable culling not so many years ago was Paula Cowell. “New ideas? Making waves? Stirring people out of their ruts? Well, we just can’t have that, can we? Off with her head!”

Cowell worked hard in many areas. Especially, she tried hard to make the jewel known as the High Prairie Regional Aquatic Centre less of a money pit, and more of a business, and a profitable business at that. So did Ginger Petersen. Both made big progress. It isn’t rocket science.

Yet, it still seems beyond the thinking of the average recreation board member. Last month, at a town budget meeting, recreation board members tried to convince the rest of High Prairie council that, “when the town takes over the rec board” new hiring and spending will make everything and everyone happy, happy, happy.

So far, the rest of council says taxpayers can’t be expected to pay to get out this hole. This might be a big story again in 2018.


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