As we prepare to say goodbye to 2016, BattlefordsNow.com is taking a look at some of the top news items that made headlines and newsmakers over the past 12 months.
As students began to head back to class there was good news on the education front. A program aiming to improve graduation rates of First Nations and Metis students at North Battleford Comprehensive High School was seeing some positive results. Graduation coach Jess Armstrong says the rate of graduation for First Nations and Metis students has roughly tripled since 2012. When Education Minister Don Morgan visited the high school, he said he'd heard a lot of good feedback about the program, which is taking place in schools across the province. Meanwhile Superintendent Duane Hauk said there was 4,700 kids registered this year, roughly a dozen more than last year.
As the area continued its slow recovery from the Husky Oil spill, the authors of an independent study into the Husky oil spill asked the company to release all of its test results to the public. The study was commissioned by groups that include Idle No More and the National Aboriginal People's Circle. It says Husky should have acted more quickly after the July spill. Ricardo Segovia worked on the report for Utah-based e-tech and Resurgence Environmental. He says the air quality should have also been a priority. But Husky says it is monitoring air quality, and following all the required safety procedures. The company also says it acted quickly, and it's shared all of its data with the affected cities and the regulator.
A local woman hit a big casino jackpot in the Battlefords. Jenifer Kryzanowski hit the big prize on the Rider Nation progressive slot at the Gold Eagle Casino, for a jackpot of just under $100,000. The progressive prize linked together 32 machines in the six SIGA casinos with the top prize of $100,000.
As students headed back to class, voters in the region would begin to prepare for their second election in the last year. Following April’s provincial election, candidates began lining up for the October civic elections and there was no shortage of drama. Early in the month, North Battleford Mayor Ian Hamilton announced he would seek a third term for the top city post. Weeks later he announced that he was withdrawing his name from the ballot siting wanting to spend time with family as the reason for his change of heart. Councillor Ryan Bater announced he would seek the mayoralty and was later acclaimed when no one else let their name stand.
There would however be an election in Battleford following Mayor Derek Mahon announcing 16 years in municipal politics was enough. Current town councillors David George and Ames Leslie have both submitted their papers to run for mayor. Voters would have no shortage of individuals to choose from for council. In Battleford, eight people were running for six seats, while in North Battleford 15 candidates were vying for six seats.
There was plenty of optimism as the Battlefords North Stars got set to embark on the 2016-17 SJHL season in September. The team had a magnificent regular season one year ago, yet fell short in the playoffs, bowing out in the second round losing a heartbreaking series to Flin Flon. The team begins the season with a new head coach in Nate Bedford, 11 new players and high expectations to repeat its success.
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