It's been a busy year for the area, that has seen many communities come together to overcome some difficult conditions. From the wildfires near Leader, to the Strongfield rink blowing down, this year has tested the people of West Central Saskatchewan in ways they had never been tested before, but ultimately the community mindedness of the people in the region prevailed and we've made it through another year.
Here are some of the top stories we've covered from 2017:
As you may have suspected, number one on our list this year is the story of the wildfires near Leader and Burstall.
It all started on October 17th, when Environment Canada issued a wind warning for gusts of up to 100 km/h. Winds this high are nothing to scoff at and can cause significant damage on their own, let alone in the company of unattended blazes.
At around 2pm, the town of Burstall issued a statement warning of a wildfire that could potentially call for an evacuation.
At 3pm, Burstall residents were evacuated to Leader, due to fires and heavy smoke in the area closing in on the town. They were not safe in Leader either however, and at around 5:30 everyone in the town was evacuated to Kindersley. The town of Alsask was also evacuated, with residents going to Kindersley for shelter.
The situation seemed quite dire around 7:15 pm, when town officials learned that the fire had jumped the river and had put the town of Kindersley and Eatonia at risk of evacuation. During this time the town of Kindersley had also reported a shortage of fuel at it's local gas stations.
To make matters worse, new fires had cropped up in the Biggar, Eston, Herschel and Beechy areas.
Luckily, Eston and Kindersley were not evacuated, and the town of Kindersley declared all fires in the area were under control around 11pm. The next day, evacuees were told they could return to their homes.
Many people in the region are still reeling from the fires, that caused the evacuation of thousands and ravaged farm and pasture land, ultimately killing over 500 cattle.
- Smoke seen in Burstall, SK. (photo: Jackie Penny) Smoke seen in Burstall, SK. (photo: Jackie Penny)
- (photo: Jackie Penny) (photo: Jackie Penny)
- Smoke cover facing the east side of Burstall, SK. (photo: Keldon Koolyk/Twitter @kkoolyk) Smoke cover facing the east side of Burstall, SK. (photo: Keldon Koolyk/Twitter @kkoolyk)
- People from west central Saskatchewan rushed to the AB/SK border to bring water for firefighters as they battled the blazes People from west central Saskatchewan rushed to the AB/SK border to bring water for firefighters as they battled the blazes
- An old home near Hilda, AB is engulfed in flames An old home near Hilda, AB is engulfed in flames
- Firefighters and volunteers worked diligently through the late hours to assure the fires were controlled and not threatening anymore communities Firefighters and volunteers worked diligently through the late hours to assure the fires were controlled and not threatening anymore communities
- Town of Kindersley CAO Bernie Morton and Mayor Rod Perkins deliver good news to residents of Leader Town of Kindersley CAO Bernie Morton and Mayor Rod Perkins deliver good news to residents of Leader
This all started with a crash on Highway 7 east of Rosetown on January 27th, when a van collided with a semi.
The two occupants of the van, a man and a woman, were rushed to the Rosetown hospital, where they later escaped. Apparently they had been searching around town for a phone to use. It was thought that they were attempting to contact someone to come pick them up.
At around 12:20 that day, the two escaped individuals entered the Rosetown Classic Hits station, where staff offered assistance after seeing them in distress.
Shortly later, the Rosetown RCMP arrived at the station to bring word of the two escaped individuals. When the two noticed police outside the station, they began to leave through the rear of the building. RCMP were then informed that the individuals had been in the station and that they could still be there.
Four RCMP cruisers converged on the station and entered to look for the two suspects. The 2 individuals were hiding in the basement of the station, where officers broke down the washroom door and arrested both.
The male was suffering from injuries, which occurred in the crash with the semi and was taken by ambulance to hospital. The woman, 28 year-old Vanessa Kraft from Saskatoon was charged with several offenses.
3. Brad Wall Retirement
On Thursday August 10th, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced his retirement from politics after 10 years as Saskatchewan's Premier.
The announcement came on his Facebook page, where he maintained that after 10 years, it's time for renewal.
He said he believes he is leaving behind a solid legacy of population growth, infrastructure building and the advancement of the energy sector.
Wall was first elected Premier in 2007 and while he saw his popularity decline in his last year, mostly due to deficit concerns, he still left as the countries most popular Premier.
The election to decide the new leader of the Saskatchewan Party will take place on January 27th, 2018.
Goosefest is always a great time in Kindersley and this year was no exception.
People from all different parts of the province gathered for multiple events throughout the town. From the potato peeling contest, to the parade on Main Street, there was something to do for everyone.
Day One began with the potato peeling contest, followed by a goose plucking event that saw certain players from both the Kindersley Klippers SJHL Hockey team and the High School Football team give it a try.
All singers in the area got a chance share the spotlight with a Karaoke contest taking place throughout the day. Later at night, the SJHL Kindersley Klippers defeated the Estevan Bruins in the annual Goosefest game.
On Day 3 of Goosefest, hundreds gathered on the streets for a parade on that used a Canada 150 theme to help celebrate Canada's birthday.
This story started with a break and enter in the town of Kindersley that occurred between October 21st and the 22nd.
Kindersley RCMP officers were called to a report of a break and enter to a residence located on 4th Avenue West Kindersley.
The unknown suspect took British war medals, Harley Davidson memorabilia and various other items. The victim reached out to the community later for help in finding the stolen war medals, which he said were the only stolen items he really cared about.
On October 27th good news came into the Kindersley detachment, when the 9 medals were turned into the station.
The victim of the theft was quite pleased to find the medals in his possession once again.
Thanks again for another great year West Central Saskatchewan!