2021 Year in Review: Top stories from July to September

With 2021 coming to a close, the Energeticcity newsroom decided to compile the year’s top stories. Each articl…

With 2021 coming to a close, the Energeticcity newsroom decided to compile the year’s top stories.

Each article covers three months of the year and the top five stories from each month. The first two Year in Review articles were released on Monday and Tuesday.

Here are the top stories of 2021 between July to September:

Ribfest was all the rage in July, seeing around 3000 vehicles stopping by to grab some grub.

Dennis Nephin, with Ribfest, and Patricia Budgell from the Rotary Club of Fort St. John, also dropped off several trays of food from the event to the Salvation Army following the weekend.

The organization received multiple trays of chicken, ribs, beans, pulled pork, coleslaw, biscuits and bags of beverages.

Ribfest has partnered with the local rotary clubs for future events.

Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge RCMP were searching for two people allegedly involved in a theft that occurred in the Dawson Creek area.

RCMP responded to a vehicle reported to be involved in the theft of property and wire from resource sites near Dawson Creek.

While police attempted to stop the vehicle, it fled along a forest service road before becoming boxed in by police cruisers.

After ramming the police vehicle, the truck was rendered inoperable, and three suspects fled on foot into the bush.

RCMP was looking for a female, reportedly known to police, and 28-year-old Jared Holland.

According to the BC CSO,  a Dawson Creek judge heard break and enter charges for Holland in December.

Gordon Comer with the BC Prosecution Service says three bench warrants were issued on November 30th and December 16th. One of the warrants was granted.

“It’s safe to assume that he didn’t show up in court.”

An individual involved in a video of a cat being killed was arrested and released on conditions, according to the RCMP.

Fort St. John RCMP viewed the video after receiving several complaints on July 16th and recognized the suspect from a previous unrelated matter. Mounties also recovered the remains of the animal.

“This is a disturbing discovery as it appears the animal was intentionally made to suffer,” said Cpl Madonna Saunderson, spokesperson for the BC RCMP.

No further details were released by the RCMP.

The BC SPCA Cruelty Investigations Department compiled information sent to the SPCA’s North Peace branch and through the cruelty hotline. Branch manager Candace Buchamer said the SPCA wouldn’t be investigating due to the age of the individuals involved.

“The Cruelty Investigations officers are ready to assist RCMP in any way possible,” said Buchamer.

Many residents confirmed on social media that a video of a cat being decapitated had been circulating among youth in the area.

According to several claims on a local Facebook group, there were multiple children in the video, and it was sent to several other kids through Snapchat.

A couple of locals claim the young male in the video, who conducted the act, was asked to do so by the owner because the cat was sick.

B.C. began accepting applications in July for licensed facilities that want to provide $10 a day child care.

This intake supports the expansion of $10-a-day child care spaces from 2,500 currently to 12,500 by December 2022, said the Province in a statement.

“A key goal under Childcare BC is to implement $10-a-day child care across the province,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care.

“We’re adding nearly 4,000 new $10-a-day child care spaces in communities across the province, and we’re working with our federal counterparts to achieve the goal of inclusive, affordable, universal child care for all.”

The Province tested the $10 a day sites in 32 communities with around 50 Universal Child Care Prototype sites since 2018. None of which were in northern B.C.

Around 4,000 spaces have been accounted for in the 2021 provincial budget and are expected to be available to families in December 2021. As part of the recent agreement with the federal government, another 6,000 spaces are expected by December 2022.

The Government of Canada and B.C. have entered the first early learning and child care agreement on July 8th, moving towards $10 a day child care.

Ottawa will invest $3.2 billion over the next five years.

The Province will invest an additional $2.5 billion over the next three years, building on $2 billion invested since 2018. In total, B.C. plans to invest $30 billion by 2026.

A storm blew through Blueberry River First Nations, Doig First Nation, and Prespatou on June 31st, which many believed was a tornado or funnel cloud

Environment Canada confirmed in November that the suspected tornado that touched down in the summer wasn’t a tornado—it was a very powerful, fast storm.

There were six localized strong wind events on June 30th that caused damage near Moberly Lake, Red Creek Road, Stoddart Creek, Lower Cache Road, Blueberry River First Nations, and Altona. Wind speeds ranged from 145 km/h to 190 km/h.

Multiple residents posted the aftermath of the storm on social media. A slew of videos and photos show damaged homes and multiple trees knocked over. There were also reports of trailers being lifted off the ground.

Around 6,000 BC Hydro customers in the Peace region were without power due to downed power lines during the storm. Some residents were without power for several days, and additional crews from the Lower Mainland, Prince George and Terrace, were brought in to restore power.

MLA Dan Davies wrote a letter asking the Province to come up with a cleanup plan following the storm, resulting in swaths of downed trees on Crown land.

The Fort St. John RCMP warned residents of a new phone scam, claiming there is a warrant out for people’s arrest.

As of August 4th, the detachment said 14 calls were received from people who answered phone calls where a robotic voice claims the Canada Border Services has intercepted a package with their name on it. The voice then claims the package was deemed suspicious or contained illegal contraband, and a warrant has been put out for their arrest.

The scammers are using technology to make it seem like they’re using a different phone number, which is called “spoofing,” according to the RCMP. The call display during these scams shows that the call originated from the Fort St. John detachment.

A group of healthcare workers, long-term care home staff and residents stood in the rain on August 22nd to voice their concern with B.C.’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for workers.

The order, announced on August 12th, took effect on October 12th, making vaccinations mandatory and a condition for employment in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

Local healthcare worker Joanne Culling says while she isn’t against the vaccine, she feels it should be a personal choice.

“There has been a bit of divide in healthcare workers and other people, and this COVID-19 vaccine is a very controversial thing. Most of the people that I’ve talked to, whether they’re fully vaccinated or one dose or not at all, most people feel the mandate is wrong, and we should have a choice,” said Culling.

Many organizations began implementing their own proof of vaccine policies throughout the year.

A local family requested the community’s help with funeral expenses after the death of Micheal Mcphee.

According to Fort St. John RCMP, Mcphee received severe head injuries after a single vehicle incident, where Mcphee was the passenger, in the area of 89th Avenue and 83rd Street. He was transported to Edmonton and was taken off life support by his family due to him not having any brain activity.

The mother of one of Mcphee’s children, Sandra Schlenger, told Energeticcity the family has already raised enough to transport McPhee back to Fort St. John. The family raised over $1,000 to help cover funeral costs and memorial items for his three kids: Kiara, Bentley, and Tayah.

A large police presence was reported in Dawson Creek on August 26th after an individual suffered possible gunshot wounds.

According to Sergeant Chris Manseau with the BC RCMP, shortly after midnight, an individual walked into the emergency room of a hospital with injuries believed to be sustained from a possible firearm.

The individual then made a report of where the injuries were sustained and by whom.

RCMP members went to the location and contacted the emergency response team because of the nature of the incident. After attending, RCMP located and arrested the individual in question.

The health authority first declared the outbreak on August 27th, following four patients and three staff members testing positive for COVID-19.

One of the patients associated with the outbreak passed away, says Northern Health.

The health authority declared an end to the outbreak at the Inpatient Unit at the Fort St. John Hospital on September 28th.

An outbreak was declared at Meadow House at Peace Villa in Fort St. John on November 4th, which ended on December 3rd.

In total, three residents and three staff had tested positive for COVID-19, with one resident passing away.

A few local businesses had to turn away customers on September 13th, resulting in a substantial loss of sales, according to the FSJ Chamber of Commerce president.

Chamber president Chuck Fowler said he reached out to a couple of businesses to see how they handled the first day of the vaccine passport.

Montana’s, Boston Pizza, and OJ’s told Fowler that sales were down by at least 50 per cent. The majority of customers didn’t know that the passport had been implemented already, said Fowler.

“Most of them were vaccinated but just didn’t know Monday was the day, and they needed to have this stuff,” says Fowler. “So, It’s an education piece at that point.”

The restaurants that spoke with Fowler said there were no major altercations, however, there was a bit of tension with some customers.

After the first week of the newly implemented vaccine passport, the result remained the same — sales were down 50 per cent for the restaurants Fowler had spoken with on September 14th.

A GoFundMe account was set up to help a local family after a husband and wife were hospitalized for COVID-19.

According to the GoFundMe, Tasha Lusk was flown to the hospital in Prince George on September 5th after developing a severe case of pneumonia and COVID-like symptoms, which was later confirmed to be COVID-19.

Lee Bazinet., Tasha’s husband, was later hospitalized after receiving the news that he was also positive for COVID-19.

Tasha was in the middle of a career transition and was days away from starting her new job when she was hospitalized.

The fundraiser had a goal of $8,000 and, as of December 21st, $5,805 has been raised.

As of September 21st, Tasha returned to FSJ, however, Lee was still in a Prince George hospital.

A friend of a Fort St. John resident who had passed away from COVID-19 was raising funds for his family.

Organizer of the GoFundMe page, Chelsy Southwick, originally created the fundraiser to help Stacy Petuh’s family financially while he was in hospital.

Unfortunately, Petuh passed away at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton on September 16th.

Petuh was admitted to the Fort St. John hospital on September 4th with a positive COVID-19 result. According to Southwick, Petuh stayed the night as the doctor wanted to monitor him closely for a few days. The next day he was transferred to the Inpatient Unit.

Southwick says Petuh’s condition worsened to the point of struggling to breathe and keep his oxygen levels up.

He was transferred to Edmonton two days after being admitted in FSJ.

Petuh was on a ventilator and heavily sedated with his younger sister Shae by his side until he passed away, according to Southwick.

As of December 21st, over $5,000 has been raised out of a goal of $10,000.

A driver passed away after a single-car collision on Rose Prairie Road in the Montney Coulees on September 21st, according to BC RCMP.

Around 1:45 p.m., RCMP received a report that a vehicle had veered into a median while travelling through the coulees, and eventually drove into a berm.

Cpl. Madonna Saunderson, of the North District RCMP, said witnesses on the scene administered first aid to the driver, but to no avail. The driver had passed away at the scene.

There was a lone passenger in the vehicle at the time. No injuries to the passenger were mentioned in the police report.

Dr. Paul Mackey and his wife, Lori Bonertz, say they never wanted a letter they sent to the Fort St. John Hospital board to go public.

The letter sent aimed to inform the board and push for the resignation of their executive director, Niki Hedges, after she was seen at a protest against BC’s vaccine passport outside city hall on September 13th.

“We felt the foundation should be aware of this, as someone who’s an executive director, you have a fiduciary duty to uphold the mission, vision and values of the organization to represent,” says Mackey.

While the couple awaited a reply from the board, a local media outlet had gotten a hold of the letter.

“Someone from the Foundation passed on that letter,” says Mackey, noting that they only sent the letter to the Foundation and no one else.

The board replied to Mackey and Bonertz this week, stating they’re seeking legal advice to decide how to proceed. Some of the board members were also allegedly unaware of Hedges’ participation in the protest until they received the letter, Mackey notes.

It’s no secret that over the last couple of years, as the executive director, Hedges has helped raise millions of dollars through the Foundation. Mackey agrees, saying Hedges has been an excellent executive but believes there are specific responsibilities the face of an organization must take on.

“All this fuss is distracting from what’s necessary. What we need is for every eligible person in Fort St. John to be vaccinated. It’s simply the endpoint that’s required. And everyone who has a public persona or is in a position of authority should be working towards that same goal.”

“If you want to protect our nurses, the answer is get vaccinated. If you want to maintain hospital services, the answer is to get vaccinated. If you want to keep our schools open, the answer is to get vaccinated. If you want to protect businesses in the community, the answer is to get vaccinated. That should be the message of coming from anyone and everyone.”

Hedges later resigned from her position with the Foundation.

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