Thursday August 21, 2014

YTW's top-10 stories of 2013


Trades Centre funded (October 23)

The news in 2013 for Parkland College's new Trades and Technology Centre really could not have gone much better.

The biggest piece of the puzzle fell into place in October when Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced $10 million in funding from the Province.

Prior to the government announcement, Parkland had received donations of land valued at $3.5 million from the City of Yorkton, $1.225 million from PotashCorp, $1 million from the federal government and had raised $2.6 million in local support through the college's Capital Campaign.

A couple of weeks after the Province's contribution, Mosaic stepped up matching PotashCorp's $1.225 million.

Parkland expects construction on the new centre to begin in January with a projected completion date of September 2015.

Hospital laundry closes (June 5)

Forty-three staff at the Sunrise Health Region laundry located in Yorkton will find their current jobs disappear with the announcement last week the province is opting for a single, privately-operated laundry.

Provincially 220 full time equivalent positions will be lost, said Andrew Will, CEO of 3sHealth, although he said efforts will be in consort with the health regions to find those losing their jobs different positions with the region.

In Yorkton, 43 work in the laundry, representing 21 full time equivalents.

Pearl Blommaert, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local representing the laundry staff said it's not about full-time equivalent, adding you have to translate that into people.

"Forty people (locally) are involved and affected by this," she said, adding the staff "work here, shop here, live here."

As for the possibility of alternate jobs in the region, Blommaert said working in the laundry "was a career choice" for many staff, adding it might be a choice made for a number of reasons, so even a job move will have impact."

Blommaert said local laundry staff had held onto "a little thread of hope" that the government would upgrade the local laundry, but saw that die with the announcement.

The new centralized laundry service will come on stream in about two years, the time needed to build the facility.

Horse races saved (March 27)

Standardbred horse racing would return to Cornerstone Raceway in 2013, after months of uncertainty.

While the province announced it was cutting funding for races in the spring of 2012, the Yorkton Exhibition Association announced in March it would be taking on the full cost of the annual race meet.

"The Board of Directors of the Yorkton Exhibition Association have approved a 12-day Harness Race Meet for 2013," explained Grant Neil the YEA Director in charge of racing.

Shaun Morin, general manager of YEA said the funding for 2013 was being looked at as sort of one-year bridge funding as the association continues to investigate alternate funding options.

In 2012 the government, through the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority had provided a grant of $320,000 used for 16 days of racing, $214,400 for race purses and $105,600 which went to operations.

Morin said with no grants coming their way it left the YEA facing a difficult decision.

"Do we throw in the towel and give up on horse racing … or move forward looking at a large financial loss?" he said.

Morin said the YEA Board of Directors deliberated long and hard before deciding to take on the risk.

"The Board has decided it will support horse racing," he said. "They believe in horse racing, in what it does for our community.

"They're not willing to let standardbred racing die in this province without a fight."

Rhein hit by storm (July 10)

The Village of Rhein was hit July 6 by heavy rains, and what residents at the time termed a tornado.

The storm hit mid-afternoon Saturday, said Mayor James Herman Sunday as he drove through his community assessing damage.

"It was 2:30-3, sometime in there," he told Yorkton This Week. "It was raining and then got worse after that."

Herman was actually visiting family just outside the village when the storm hit. He said when electricity went out he headed home and came upon the devastation.

"Then I seen what happened in town here," he said.

The wind had uprooted trees, tore shingles and more off roofs and created general havoc across the village, said Herman.

Herman said he estimated about 10 homes had roof damage following the event, adding the fortunate thing is no one was hurt in the storm, or resulting damage.

One of the hardest hit was the village's one-time school which has been converted to a residence. Most of its roof was blown away.

"And there are just hundreds and hundreds of downed trees," he said, adding while the east side of the village was hardest hit, "even the other side of town it uprooted big trees."

While the tornado-like winds did most of the damage, Herman said rains, five to seven inches by some accounts, also led to water in some basements. He said in his own case there was water in his basement as a result of the power outage which prevented a pump from operating.

"There was some water in my basement until I got there with a generator to pump it," he said.

The village's sports ground was also hit hard with ball diamond dugouts and bleachers blown away.

Water plant wins multiple awards

In March, the City of Yorkton's new Logan Green Water Management system won a national award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

The Sustainable Communities Award, given in recognition of innovative approaches to environmentally responsible projects, was only the beginning, however.

Over the course of the year, the water plant and 85-hectare park preserve would go on to win four more accolades. The most recent, just two weeks ago, was the Utility Excellence Award for Innovative Technologies in the medium/small utility category from the Canadian Water & Wastewater Association (CWWA).

The facility also picked up the 2013 Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators Willis Award for Innovation; the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan Environmental Excellence Award; and a Saskatchewan Municipal Award for Innovation.

Child abductor sentenced (April 17)

It took nearly two years, but justice was finally served in 2013 in the case of a 10-year-old girl who was abducted from the Yorkton Exhibition in July 2011 by a then-57-year-old man. Melvin Dale Koroluk pleaded guilty in December 2012 to the crime and was sentenced to two years less a day in prison on April 9.

In her decision, Court of Queen's Bench Madam Justice C.L. Dawson cited aggravating circumstances as justifying a custodial sentence. These included the age of the victim, the fact that she was a complete stranger to Koroluk, that he had lured her with the promise of money and that he had put her at further risk by not reporting her missing after she had escaped from his vehicle.

The defence had sought a similar term, but to be served in the community. Although Dawson said she was satisfied Koroluk was a low risk to re-offend among 11 other mitigating factors, she felt on balance she had no other recourse but incarceration.

Harvest Showdown celebrates 25th ( Oct. 30 )

Agriculture Week and the start of the 25th anniversary edition of the Grain Millers Harvest Showdown were marked with a ceremonial branding ceremony Oct. 28.

The brief event was a joint undertaking of the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce, the City of Yorkton, and the Yorkton Exhibition Association.

"This is the 25th edition (of the Showdown)," said John Simpson president of the Yorkton Exhibition Association which hosts the event. "We're very pleased to be celebrating the 25th anniversary."

Simpson, the only exhibitor to attend every Showdown, said hitting 25 years "is very gratifying."He said when the idea for Harvest Showdown arose it was a case "of a lot of good ideas, but we weren't sure what direction it would go."

Some of the early years were challenging as the Showdown was a much smaller show, with a less defined focus, but Simpson said he is glad "we spent the time and initiative to make things work."

Today, Simpson said the event has a solid foundation based on its commercial cattle and grain shows which cover two main areas of agriculture, the trade show which is more business-oriented, and the indoor rodeo which anchors the entertainment provided.

Juanita Polegi, manager with the Chamber said both Agriculture Week and Harvest Showdown is for people to acknowledge the importance of agriculture to Yorkton and area.

From a Chamber perspective "60 businesses are directly involved in serving the agriculture and ranching industry," said Polegi, adding that simply illustrated that agriculture "has a significant role to play in the economy of Yorkton."

Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney picked up on the theme of agriculture being important to the city.

"It's (agriculture) a significant part of our provincial economy," he said, adding farming has always been integral to the city. "… Yorkton is here because it's a service centre for agriculture … Agriculture caused Yorkton to be here."

Yorkton-Melville riding grows (August 28)

The controversial battle over Saskatchewan's federal electoral boundaries came to an end August when the Saskatchewan Electoral Boundaries Commission finalized the constituencies for the next 10 years.

The new boundary for Yorkton-Melville expands the riding east and north picking up new territory stretching almost to Humboldt in the east and past Lenore Lake in the north. It includes the towns Quill Lake, Watson, Naicam, Englefeld, Muenster, Lake Lenore, St. Brieux, Annaheim, Leroy and Spalding.

The area was formerly part of the Saskatoon-Humboldt riding. The remainder of the former Saskatoon-Humboldt district will combine with parts of four other ridings to form a new Kindersley-Rosetown-Humboldt rural riding.

The new Yorkton-Melville will also lose a small area of agricultural land just east of Melville bounded by Hwy 15 to the north and Hwy 10 to the south.

The expansion of Yorkton-Melville was necessitated because the commission felt Saskatoon and Regina required urban-only ridings.

Nine years for murder attempt (May 29)

On July 27, 2010, Rodney Hanishewski shot at Greg Bugeria 10 times using two different rifles while the latter was swathing hay on land owned by Clarence Hanishewski, Rodney's brother. The first bullet, from a Remington .306, shattered the windshield of Bugeria's tractor and ripped a nine-inch hole through the man's left shoulder.

Nine of the 10 shots hit the tractor and as Bugeria tried to flee, Rodney tried to follow, but muddy conditions prevented his Pontiac Grand Am from traversing the field. Rodney left and Bugeria was able to call for help on his cell phone.

Nearly three years after this bizarre incident, Hanishewski was sentenced May 24 to nine years (less time-served) for attempted murder.

Judge Patrick Koskie cited numerous mitigating circumstances including mental health issues and alcoholism, but sided with the high end of the Crown's sentencing recommendation.

"I have decided this range is appropriate due to the nature and manner this offence was carried out," Koskie said. "It was not a spur of the moment act. He used two guns and took ten shots. The message must be clear this action will be treated seriously by our society."

The judge did, however, consent to defence counsel's request that Rodney serve his time at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.

Local business on Dragon's Den (Jan. 9)

A local area honey farm had an opportunity to make a pitch to bring new capital and a partner into the fold when they appeared on CBC's Dragon's Den Sunday, Jan. 13.

Wendell Estate Honey had been a family-ran operation at MacNutt since it was established in the 1940s by John Wendell. Tim and Isabelle Wendell now operate the farm which runs some 3,000 hives spread across a 200-mile radius of MacNutt.

To diversify their sales Neuhofer said he wants to develop a line of Wendell Estate Honey products for the high-end consumer market both domestically and abroad.

The business had already undertaken its first run of product, soft-creamed-honey presented in jars, with sales in Canada, as well as Japan and China.

Looking ahead, with some Dragon help, Neuhofer said he was confident they will sell a large amount of jarred honey.

That is where the idea to try for a spot on Dragon's Den began to percolate for Neuhofer.

"We analyzed the show," he said, adding the primary interest was to garner publicity for the product through an appearance.

They applied and were among 200 auditioning at Winnipeg earlier in 2012. Neuhofer said he left for the audition at 5 a.m. and put together his pitch while on the highway driving.

The MacNutt, SK.-based honey producer appeared on Dragon's Den seeking an investment of $200,000 to help them produce and market an upscale honey product.

Neuhofer made the television pitch and drew offers of investment from three dragons; Kevin O'Leary, Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving.

Neuhofer would eventually accept Trelving's offer of $200,000 for 25 per cent ownership of the business, with the added caveat he would be a 50/50 partner in terms of future business decisions.

Neuhofer said garnering three offers was more than he had imagined.

"I was unprepared for that," he said, adding "I had prepared myself for a lot of negativity."

The three offers left him in a conundrum who to take on as a partner.

"I was stumped who I should chose," adding he really had not researched the individual dragons to know who would be the best strategic partner. "I was a bit out of the loop on that.

"I was not prepared for the positives."



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