By Jenn Watt
This week, we dedicate 13 pages to 2015 in all of its triumphs and losses. Looking over the hundreds of pages of stories about local events, it’s hard to reduce a year down to a few pages or a few points, but some themes do stand out. Here are some of them.
Pan Am Games – The Wild Water Preserve held the kayak and canoe slalom competitions and the venue was transformed into a polished gem, complete with stands for the crowds at the finish line. The only problem was not enough local people were able to get in to witness the exciting races and appreciate the beauty of the river.
55+ Winter Games – Held for a second time across the county. Organizers learned from the 2011 games and adjusted plans to make it a truly Highlands experience for the visiting athletes and their families. Besides creating an admirable venue for tourists, the games also showed how accomplished our local athletes are with several gold medals given to our neighbours and friends.
Provincial finalists/medallists – The Highlands again produced teams worthy of competing against the best in the province. We’ve become used to it, with teams regularly attending OFSAA for high school sports and OMHA finals for minor hockey, but it’s worth noting that our schools and sports associations are lifting young people up to elite levels from a tiny local population, relatively speaking. The big wins in 2015 should be read as achievements for the athletes, but also for their coaches, instructors and supporters.
Losses – We had our share in 2015. From the death of 12-year-old Taylor Donaldson in a car accident in the spring to the shooting (still largely shrouded in mystery) of Mike Chapman in August, the community weathered some heart breaking events last year. On top of the shocking deaths we also had to say goodbye to many community members who were active and valued members of society. Without exception people came together to support those coping with loss.
Health care – The pages of the Echo over the last year show that residents are tuned in to news about the health-care system. We received letters about the conditions in long-term care, staffing levels and spending decisions. At the end of the year, the departure of the CEO put the spotlight back on the health corporation. In the New Year, HHHS plans to get the palliative centre underway and continue forward with the geriatric assessment and integration network.
Politics – The country saw a major shake-up in 2015 with the Liberal government taking power in November. Locally, the riding stayed blue, but the MP elected changed. Jamie Schmale, a former radio host and executive assistant to former MP Barry Devolin, was elected handily in October.
Those are just a few of the themes from 2015. What will 2016 bring?