2012: The Year In Local News – January to March

Here is a recap of some of the area's biggest stories in 2012 from court happenings to the Jumbo Glacier Resort.

It was a busy year for the newsroom at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, and one the team will not soon forget. Here is a recap of some of the area’s biggest stories in 2012 from court happenings to the Jumbo Glacier Resort, starting with January through March.

• 2012 unfortunately opened with tragedy, when a 21-year-old woman was killed in a New Year’s Day accident on Mission Road. Speed and alcohol were believed to be a factor in the crash. The driver, Ronald Capilo, was later charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and failure to stop at the scene of a crime.

That matter continues to be heard in Cranbrook Provincial Court.

• The City of Cranbrook received a big boost for its wastewater system after Canada’s Gas Tax fund contributed $8.5 million to the project. The money went towards upgrades at the city facility and the spray irrigation system and allowed the city to replace four kilometres of pipe between the storage facility and the spray irrigation fields. That work was completed in the fall.

• Cranbrook senior Margaret MacDonald was still fighting to have charges against her dismissed in January, after the 82-year-old woman was charged with failing to provide a breath sample.

The incident happened on May 21, 2011, when MacDonald was returning home from Jaffray. She was pulled over by police after turning the wrong way on Cranbook Street.

MacDonald was given a breathalyzer, and due to a health issue, she was unable to generate sufficient breath to successfully complete the test. She was charged with failure to provide a breath sample, prohibited from driving for three months, a $500 fine and her car was towed. The savy senior went immediately to the hospital and obtained a blood sample that proved she did not have alcohol in her system. The Solicitor General later ordered a review of the case.

• The Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce honoured citizen of the year, Chris Ayling on January 18, 2012. Ayling was chosen for his efforts in chairing the Cranbrook Connected committee and completing the Connected to our Future sustainability plan.

• MLA for Kootenay East Bill Bennett announced in January that the troubled Purcell mountain caribou herd would be boosted by a transplant of 20 animals. But the plan could not go ahead unless wolves in the area were culled, Bennett said. The animals were transplanted in early March but their struggles continued to make the news through the year.

• A Cranbrook RCMP officer was charged with theft, Chief Superintendent Michael Sekela announced on January 30, 2012. Const. Bryden Hennessey stepped down from the force after an internal investigation revealed he had stolen a laptop. That case continues to be heard in Cranbrook Provincial Coiurt.

• In February Cranbrook city Council heard the first call for backyard chickens – and the debate would continue to pop up on their radar through the year. A local resident brought the issue to the February 6 regular council meeting and it was referred to committee.

• MLA Bennett traveled to France on his own dime in February to speak with potential investors there interested in the Jumbo Glacier Resort. The trip was met with stiff opposition from the Ktunaxa Nation. Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation chair, said the visit sent a message that the decision on the Jumbo Glacier Resort had already been made.

• Cranbrook was introduced in February to tenacious pre-schooler Brooke Willisson. The young girl and her family headed to Cranbrook City Council to have their home expanded to suit her needs. Brooke was born with Proximal Femeral Focal Deficiency which means she did not have all of the bones needed in her arms and legs. The girl was granted her building, but she also captured the hearts of many a Cranbrook resident and all the construction work was done by donation.

• Everyone’s favourite ski racer Josh Dueck was in the news in February for completing the world’s first sit ski backflip. His story went viral, and he even got to stop by the Ellen Degeneres Show to talk about his massive feat.

• Sister Nina Glinski was named Woman of the Year for her contributions to the community through the Marywood Retreat Centre by the Canadian Federation of University Women.

• B.C. teachers moved to strike in February, but were countered when the government quickly tabled legislation to stop job action. The B.C. Teacher’s Federation went ahead with a strike vote, and teachers walked out from March 5 to 7.

• In what was arguably the biggest news story of the year, the Jumbo Glacier Resort’s master development agreement was signed by the provincial government in March after 20 years of intense debate from both sides of the issue. Opponents immediately panned the decision, saying the resort was not a done deal even though the agreement had been signed. The Ktunaxa announced they would consider their options, but said they would not back down.

• The man accused of abducting three-year-old Sparwood boy Kienan Hebert surprised Cranbrook Supreme Court in March when he suddenly pleaded guilty. Randall Hopley pleaded guilty to abduction and a sentencing hearing was scheduled for later in the year.

• Tembec officially changed hands of its East Kootenay operations over to Canfor in March. President and CEO of the company, Don Kayne visited the area to oversee the launch of a new era in forest products in the region.

See the continuation of the Townsman’s year in review in tomorrow’s edition.