Archive for featured

Elbow draws together for Culture Days

Strongfield’s Sarah Leikam performs a traditional Ukrainian dance at the Elbow arena during the village’s Culture Days weekend on Sept. 30.

By Joel van der Veen

ELBOW — Since last weekend’s Culture Days events in Elbow, two people have agreed to join the Line 19 choir and three more have signed up to learn pickleball.

Not only that, but local musicians, inspired by the camaraderie of the Friday-night singalong, are planning to host monthly jam sessions.

By that measure, Culture Days was a great success, and one that continues to grow.

“This started as a dream,” said organizer Anne Wilson. “It’s just been wonderful. I can hardly talk about it, it chokes me up.”

Elbow was the site of three days of Culture Days events, from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, drawing upwards of 700 people.

The family-friendly weekend is hosted by the Elbow and District Museum and organized by a local committee, with support from various people, organizations and businesses.

Culture Days events are held the same weekend across Saskatchewan and the rest of the country.

“It’s just an opportunity for people all across Canada to get together and celebrate culture,” Wilson said.

Wilson explained that the museum board applied for funding from SaskCulture and Saskatchewan Lotteries the preceding fall to host this year’s events, which are presented free of charge.

As organizer, Wilson said her vision this year was a celebration of Canada on its 150th birthday, with a focus on music.

“Culture isn’t just your roots, it’s a feeling created by like-minded individuals,” explained Wilson. “We’ve got a wonderful community . . . We’re situated in an amazing place with lots to do.”

As such, the events were planned with participation in mind, allowing attendees to play an active role.

Wilson worked with an organizing committee, who in turn enlisted volunteers from throughout the area, including Loreburn, Strongfield, Mistusinne, Central Butte, Hanley and Davidson.

This content is for 12 month online subscription members only.
Log In Register

Second gymkhana buckle for Oliver

Tylar Oliver and her horse Josey receive the high-point buckle in junior B girls gymkhana from Saskatchewan Riding Clubs Association president Kirsten Roy.

By Joel van der Veen

MOOSE JAW — Tylar Oliver has some more hardware to add to the collection after competing in provincial riding club finals last month.

Oliver, a Grade 10 student in Davidson, won the high-point Gymkhana buckle in the junior B girls division at the Saskatchewan Riding Clubs Association (SRCA) provincial finals in Moose Jaw.

She and her horse Josey, a chestnut mare, competed in three events — barrel racing, pole bending and the quadrangle race.

Oliver said she’s been riding as long as she can remember, adding, “My dad started me when we moved here, when I was 2.”

She has been riding Josey for the last three years.

Though the mare was new to some competitive events like barrel racing, Oliver said, “She already had that speed mindset in her.”

This was Oliver’s second gymkhana buckle. In 2014, she was the high-point champion in the junior C girls division. She was also voted the SRCA’s provincial queen that year, taking home a trophy saddle.

Nine riders and horses from the Davidson Riding Club competed in this year’s SRCA provincial finals, held Sept. 22 to 24 in Moose Jaw.

Besides Tylar, two other club members picked up high-point buckles over the weekend.

Valerie Brown, riding Penny, received the high-point buckle for her results in the Pioneer Western Performance events.

Meanwhile, Brenda Clarke and Drifter earned the high-point buckle in the senior ladies Gymkhana division, after placing first in three separate events.

This content is for 12 month online subscription members only.
Log In Register

Sun sets on a tragic summer on Lake Diefenbaker

By Joel van der Veen

ELBOW — Peace pervades Lake Diefenbaker on a late September evening.

Few are out on the water, though a sharp eye can spot the odd boat far in the distance.

A lone paddleboarder makes his way across the horizon. From this vantage point, he is just a silhouette on the brilliant light painting that fills the sky — wispy, orange-tinted clouds against a pale blue backdrop.

The lake is calm and serene, almost deceptively so.

A sudden storm can catch boaters by surprise, and sometimes with fatal consequences.

The sun has set on another summer on Lake Diefenbaker — the deadliest one in recent memory.

Between late July and early September, four people drowned on the lake in three separate incidents.

Of those people, two lived in Loreburn and one was a Saskatoon resident. The fourth was an adult male whose place of residence was not made public.

Only one of the deceased — Ken Houben, 61, of Loreburn — was identified publicly.

After years without a drowning on the lake, local officials say this year’s death toll took them and other residents by surprise.

“We’ve never experienced a summer like this,” said Elbow mayor Rob Hundeby, a lifelong resident of the village. “Obviously, the (village) grieves with them . . . It’s a devastating loss.”

Cpl. Doug Gardiner, commanding officer for the Elbow RCMP detachment, acknowledged that the year had been “extremely unusual.”

Gardiner said he has worked in the region for five-and-a-half years. During that time, he said, there had been no drownings reported on the lake until this summer.

The corporal said he could not comment on the individual incidents as they remained under investigation.

This content is for 12 month online subscription members only.
Log In Register

Craik kids blown away by Tornado Hunter

Connor Watt and Jaden Wall get a close-up look at the truck used by Chris Chittick and the Tornado Hunters crew.

By Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — For Chris Chittick, following his dream has taken him to some close calls.

On May 31, 2013, he and his crew were tracking a pair of tornadoes near El Reno, Okla., when the two twisters merged into one.

The resulting storm was two-and-a-half miles wide, the widest ever recorded.

With their camera still running and thousands of people watching the live stream online, driver Ricky Forbes steered their truck into the ditch — their best hope of avoiding the storm.

The truck continued rolling with debris flying all around them, including a two-and-a-half tonne farm truck.

Chittick caught some air as the truck went over a bump, inadvertently closing his laptop computer and cutting off the stream suddenly.

His mom, who was watching online, called him moments later: “I think it’s time for you to grow up, get a real job, become a teacher, baker, whatever.”

But he said he has no plans to give up the life of a full-time storm chaser, saying that even near-misses like the El Reno storm have only served to increase his curiosity and passion.

Chittick, a member of the team from TV’s Tornado Hunters, visited Craik School on Monday morning.

Students, staff and visitors got to see video footage of some extreme storms, along with firsthand stories from Chittick’s unusual career.

They also got to check out one of the two trucks used by Chittick and his team — outfitted with custom equipment and covered with a bulletproof Kevlar composite material.

Chittick, a native of Michigan who now lives in Regina, has been observing nature’s might up-close for nearly 20 years.

He began chasing storms in 1998 while still a university student, driving west during his summer breaks. He spotted his first tornado in southeast Wyoming in 2000.

“I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said. “I’m a big believer in following your dreams, following your passions.”

This content is for 12 month online subscription members only.
Log In Register

Victim’s mom: tougher action needed on dangerous dogs

Danielle Sweet and her son Dominic stand outside their home in Davidson.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — Without another word, Danielle Sweet dropped her phone, ran out the door and hopped in the car.

There was no stopping her.

She’d been told her son, 12-year-old Dominic, had been bit by a dog. For the moment, she didn’t need to know anything else.

“He’s my baby,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew he got bit.”

Dominic had been playing in the yard outside a friend’s house on Grant Street when someone opened the door, allowing the dog inside — a pit bull-mastiff cross, about two years old — to slip out.

Within seconds, the dog had chased Dominic out of the yard. A man quickly managed to pin the dog, but not before the damage was done.

By the time his mother arrived, a neighbour had driven Dominic to the Davidson Health Centre. He had been bitten twice — once on his upper leg, and a second, deeper bite on his right arm, just below his elbow.

Danielle said her son was treated by Dr. Lang, receiving multiple stitches, inside and out.

More than a month after the Aug. 15 incident, Dominic’s arm is healing, slowly but surely.

“It only hurt for the first couple of days,” he said last week, pulling back his sleeve to reveal the fading but still visible scar.

Danielle said she’s still frustrated and angry about what happened, as well as what she called a slow response by local officials.

“I don’t want people to get hurt,” she said. “It’s not right. If they can’t control their animals, then they shouldn’t have them.”

A number of recent dog attacks have prompted Davidson town council to revisit the town’s animal control bylaw.

Town councillors agreed that the bylaw should be revised to allow faster action on the town’s part when an animal is deemed a threat.

Speaking during Tuesday’s council meeting, Coun. Gord Cross said he’d like to see it strengthened, to “put some teeth in it.”

His colleagues agreed, including Coun. Jessica Foster, who said, “I have zero tolerance for that in a community that’s this size.”

Assistant administrator Donna Bessey told council that town employees have to adhere to the animal control bylaw when a complaint is received about a potentially dangerous animal.

This often requires a hearing, attended by a judge, to determine whether or not the animal in question is dangerous.

The process must be followed unless the animal attacks a person or another domestic animal, in which case the owner is guilty of an offense.

“We are doing what we can,” Bessey told council, adding that she wanted to see changes made “so we can move swifter on it.”

This content is for 12 month online subscription members only.
Log In Register

Town, Kinsmen reap rewards from canola crop

Juri Klotz, a technician at Western Sales in Davidson, is operating this combine that’s straight-cutting the canola crop on the Town of Davidson’s pivot land. Western Sales and Davidson Kinsmen completed the harvest on the community project Sept. 15. Proceeds from the crop will be split between the Kinsmen and the Town of Davidson.

By Tara de Ryk

DAVIDSON — Canola has paid off for the Town of Davidson and for Davidson Kinsmen.

Yields were about 44 bushels to the acre, according to results of the 2017 harvest of the town’s irrigation pivot land, which wrapped up Sept. 15.

The crop made a profit, proceeds of which — about $50,000 — will be split between the Kinsmen and the town.

“This year was fantastic,” said Rob Warkentin, a FieldSmart agrologist with Western Sales in Davidson.

For seven years Warkentin’s been overseeing the agronomy on the town land, which is a joint initiative of Western Sales, Davidson Kinsmen and the Town of Davidson that began in 2011.

It’s become a sort of science project for him and the rest of the team behind the community initiative.

This content is for 12 month online subscription members only.
Log In Register