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Some picks for the local story and newsmaker of the year

For publication in The Kamloops Daily News on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009 This is the time when we annually look back and make judgments upon the year just finished. It’s a time of Newsmaker of the Year and Story of the Year. In Canada, newspaper editors picked Stephen Harper as the newsmaker and the proposed coalition government as the big story. In the U.S., of course, it was all about Barack Obama and the election of the first African-American to the presidency. Kamloops and area had some big stories and newsmakers, too. As is often the case, they weren’t always positive. My own pick for Local Newsmaker of the Year would be, hands down, Allen Schoenborn. He’s the Merritt man who stands accused of murdering his three kids, then hiking into the bush where he hid out for two weeks before he was captured by a local hunter. The story brought a herd of national news media into Merritt to follow the sensational events for several days, after which they retreated back to their newsrooms in their respective big cities. My second-place pick would go to someone in an entirely different arena. Cathy McLeod, a complete unknown, was picked as a desperation candidate for the local Conservatives and ended up a clear choice to represent us in Ottawa. On the face of it, McLeod is bereft of any credentials for the job, and has been keeping low after walking into a hornet’s nest in Ottawa over the near-fall of the Harper government just before Christmas. But, she’s also a breath of fresh air after the kind of representation we had in Ottawa over the past several years. If I’m allowed to pick a third, it would probably be Nancy Greene Raine, poles apart (if you’ll excuse the expression) from McLeod in public profile. Greene Raine has been awarded pretty well every honour in the book, and you’d think she would leave something for someone else. But no, now she’s a senator, too.  

From Murphy Kennedy on Some picks for the local story and newsmaker of the year #

Good article, Mel. Although the civic election did not make the cut, it certainly had an impact in my life. Since november 15, I truly have mustered within myself a tad more respect for politicians. Although I still believe a hefty amount of ego lies beneath their claims to serve “God and country”, I now know how difficult (and expensive) running for public office can be for them. I have taken up blogging again. It became a new addiction for me in 2008, and I have now fallen off the wagon. Your critique is always welcome. Have a great 2009. New blog site: http://www.thoughts.com/murphy/blog/murphy-kennedys-thoughts-206888/
 

Let’s not forget people like Kathleen Scherf, the bouncy new president of Thompson Rivers University; Tom Gaglardi, who carried out a remake of the Blazers during the year; and Zophia Cisowski, who continued all year long the quest for the truth of what happened to her son Robert Dziekanski when he died at Vancouver International Airport.

And there was Master Cpl. Erin Doyle, the 32-year-old killed in action in Afghanistan. If you want a pick from City Hall, it has to be Arjun Singh, the councillor who went in with high hopes and flamed out over his treatment of social planning council members and a highly public feud with fellow councillor John O’Fee over emails.

Newsmakers come in all types, from Michael Graydon, the debonaire new chief at the B.C. Lottery Corporation, to David Shearing, the mass-murderer from Clearwater who wants out of jail and forced us all to remember his dispicable crimes.

As for the big story, I lean towards the arrival of WestJet in Kamloops. After nine years of effort, we finally got the phenomenally successful airline to give us a sniff, and it might well lead to even better things at the airport.

In tandom with the WestJet story, of course, is the airport improvement project getting off the ground. And, for sheer silliness and stunning political incompetence, Natural Resources Minister Garry Lunn’s announcement of a $6.6 million federal grant for that project.

An announcement he later retracted, carving $600,000 off the amount and pretending as though that’s what he was talking about the whole time.

It’s said nothing gets our hackles up like an issue that hits us in the pocketbook or in our backyard. So if you want to get really local, the clear winner is the backyard burning bylaw that got residents so hot under the collar that City council backed down, at least a little.

Restrictions on backyard recreational fires raised the whole issue of over-regulation by local government, and even became a minor issue in the civic election.

The surprise announcement by long-time MLA Claude Richmond that he wouldn’t run again, the heart-warming but utimately tragic story of Chase youngster Jorye Yeung, and the approval of the big Tranquille development were, if not story of the year, certainly milestones in another year that further defined us as a region.

No, I haven’t forgotten about the economy. It’s impacting us here at home just like it does everyone around the world to various degrees. This is an ongoing story, carrying on throughout the next couple of years, and will centre on how we deal with it here in river city.

Any list would be incomplete, of course, without a couple of sports stories. Obviously, the local contingent of athletes that went to the Beijing Olympics and did us proud would top the charts.

And right here at home, the drawn-out scandal involving then-Kamloops Minor Hockey Association president Stan Burton’s lapse in jugment by allowing under-age drinking at his home proved adults don’t always act like adults.

So there you go — my picks for the big ones of 2008. I’m pretty sure 2009 will bring us another roster of stories worthy of topping lists a year from now.

About Mel Rothenburger (7710 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on Some picks for the local story and newsmaker of the year

  1. Good article, Mel. Although the civic election did not make the cut, it certainly had an impact in my life. Since november 15, I truly have mustered within myself a tad more respect for politicians. Although I still believe a hefty amount of ego lies beneath their claims to serve “God and country”, I now know how difficult (and expensive) running for public office can be for them.
    I have taken up blogging again. It became a new addiction for me in 2008, and I have now fallen off the wagon.
    Your critique is always welcome. Have a great 2009.
    New blog site:
    http://www.thoughts.com/murphy/blog/murphy-kennedys-thoughts-206888/

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