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YEAR IN REVIEW: January 2016

By Anthony Dixon, The Daily Observer

New Year's Eve revelers watched a fireworks display at the Petawawa Civic Centre to kick off 2016. The town hosted its 18th annual First Night which included a free skate, a family dance, kids games, and balloon drop and on-ice entertainment from Matt Lemay and his band Sound Droids.

New Year's Eve revelers watched a fireworks display at the Petawawa Civic Centre to kick off 2016. The town hosted its 18th annual First Night which included a free skate, a family dance, kids games, and balloon drop and on-ice entertainment from Matt Lemay and his band Sound Droids.

GODDARD PLEADS GUILTY AND IS SENTENCED: Bryan Goddard was on a drug-fuelled rampage when he entered a Petawawa Point residence and stabbed Danny Pietersma to death, a Pembroke superior court heard last January. Armed with a knife and handgun, the troubled Pembroke man was high on cocaine, speed and marijuana when he sought to take out what he called his “rage and sexual depravity on other people” in a deadly home invasion on the morning of June 28, 2013. Pietersma, a loving 56-year-old father and grandfather, died as a result of massive blood loss from multiple stab wounds, while his 55-year-old wife, Sharlene, was so severely injured that she is now blind. In the moments before the incursion, Goddard had brutally attacked a 17-year-old girl in a nearby household after stalking a 16-year-old female who was his intended victim, the Crown told a hushed court room after the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of aggravated assault. Calling the horrific attacks “shocking in their violence,” Justice Timothy Ray sentenced Bryan Goddard to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 18 years.

FIFTH ESTATE PROGRAM ON MURDERED LOCAL WOMEN: When three women were found murdered in Renfrew County on Sep. 22, 2015, the news quickly spread across the country, with national media attention suddenly focused on the sleepy and bucolic corner of the region surrounding Wilno. The many questions raised by the alleged killer's long history with domestic violence and criminal allegations about the nature of Canada's justice system and how much more ought to be done to protect former abuse victims from their attackers, was the main focus of an episode of CBC Television's The Fifth Estate in January, 2016. In "Why Didn't We Know," journalist Gillian Findlay interviewed families and friends of Nathalie Warmerdam, Anastasia Kuzyk and Carol Culleton, the three women killed in a matter of hours that morning. Facing murder charges is Basil Borutski, a man who knew those three women, and who was known by virtually everybody in the community as a man with a violent temper and a willingness to unleash it.

BORUTSKI IN COURT: Basil Borutski, the man charged with first degree murder in the deaths of three Renfrew County women was ordered to get a lawyer. There was an increased police presence at the Pembroke courthouse when Borutski made a brief appearance to learn that the Crown has received disclosure, or evidence, in his case. Justice Robert Selkirk granted an adjournment until March 3 in order to give the Crown and the accused opportunities to review the disclosure. Borutski is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the killings of three women in western Renfrew County.

NO FEDERAL MONEY FOR HWY. 17 EXPANSION: Area municipal leaders learned in January that there were no federal dollars earmarked to accelerate the expansion of Highway 17 through the region. Renfrew County's Highway 17 Extension Advisory Committee received a briefing on the provincial funding process for public transportation from Kathryn Moore, the Ministry of Transportation's director for Eastern Ontario. The province allocates $3.2 billion for transportation annually, with $2.4 billion of that devoted to highway construction alone. However, there is no funding planned for Highway 17 after this year. Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, chairman of the development and property committee, wanted to know if the election of the Liberal government in Ottawa would finally translate into actual infrastructure funding for the Trans-Canada Highway.

PETAWAWA SOLDIERS COME HOME: It was all smiles, hugs, laughter and tears of joy at Garrison Petawawa as the first wave of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade soldiers finally came home after a five-month deployment in Ukraine. The troops were overseas as part of Operation Unifier, a multi-phase mission that saw Canadian soldiers from a variety of backgrounds and specialities offering training and guidance to members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Over the course of the deployment, soldiers from Garrison Petawawa helped share with their Ukrainian counterparts "live-giving, life-sustaining and battle-winning skills," 2CMBG commanding officer Col. Conrad Mialkowski said.

On the ground, the mission went just as well, according to Capt. Shane Gapp. "Seeing where those soldiers were when they came in and where they were when they left was like night and day," said Gapp, who was second in command of the training company.

CITY WRAPS UP BUDGET: Pembroke council was pretty pleased with itself once it had wrapped up its 2016 municipal budget last January. Despite numerous fiscal pressures, the city avoided increasing its tax levy while approving several big ticket projects, including green lighting the construction of a new fire hall, the reconstruction of Agnes Street, constructing the McGee Street pump station and being ready to proceed with Paul Martin Drive reconstruction. The zero per cent levy increase didn’t mean no increases on tax bills for local ratepayers, though: when one included the 4.75 assessment increase imposed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), and the impact of all municipal taxes, garbage and recycling fees, water and sewer rates, Pembroke residents faced a 2.6 per cent increase in costs on their residential bills.

PEMBROKE FEATURED ON TELEVISION: Pembroke and the Ottawa River were featured on a television program about recreational boating. PowerBoat Television, which is described as North America's premiere boating lifestyle show, featured Pembroke, Petawawa, Deep River and Mattawa on Global TV in an episode on trailer boating on the Ottawa River. The episode was also made available online two weeks after its initial broadcast at Mike Gridley, the host and producer of the show, said the show has been on the air for more than 25 years, with this past season being the 26th, and it has attracted a large audience of some 14 million viewers.

CITY OK’S PLANS FOR PAUL MARTIN DR. WORK: Pembroke council gave the green light to the design work for the reconstruction of Paul Martin Drive. During an operations committee meeting, council members unanimously agreed to award the tender for the work to McIntosh Perry Consulting Engineers Ltd. in the amount of $139,940 plus HST. Late in 2015, the city decided to make reconstructing Paul Martin Drive its major project of 2016, as long as it could get grant money from Ontario.

PEMBROKE TO GET HOMELESS SHELTER: Pembroke's planning and development committee agreed to allow a three-bed shelter to be set up in the city's downtown for the next two years. The shelter is to be operated out of the back of The Grind Coffee House at 122 Pembroke St. West and is to provide short-term and safe shelter for people in trouble or down on their luck, to give them time to link up with services they may need.

MARIJUANA FOR COMBAT TRAUMA: Soldiers in the Ottawa Valley had improved access to alternative medicine to help them deal with the trauma of combat. Marijuana For Trauma (MFT) opened up a new chapter in Petawawa in January, its first in Eastern Ontario, to provide these different medical solutions to members of Canada's Armed Forces, veterans and civilians.

SIU INVESTIGATES AFTER MAN STABS HIMSELF: The civilian police watchdog is investigating after a man who was wanted by police in the theft of a truck stabbed himself inside the washroom of a busy west-end Chapters in Ottawa while interacting with police.

The suspect was described by Upper Ottawa Valley Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as an 18-year-old Pembroke man. Ottawa police began looking for the suspect in an Eganville auto theft around 11 a.m. after OPP managed to ping his cellphone signal. That cellphone signal alerted authorities that the suspect was in the area of the Pinecrest Chapters. Police found him there and while talking with officers, the suspect then stabbed himself repeatedly in the chest.

LUMBER KINGS OWNER MEETS WITH FANS: The Pembroke Lumber Kings invited season ticket holders to a special meeting at the Pembroke Best Western to "clear the air," in the words of owner and then head coach Dale McTavish. "I know you're frustrated," McTavish told the dozens of die-hard fans who attended the meeting, "and we're frustrated this year as well. I think it's important to clear the air." While the Kings had avoided maintaining a losing record in late 2015, early 2016, they did find themselves in the bottom levels of the standings, facing the potential of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

CAREFOR MACKAY CENTRE OPENS: The Carefor Mackay Centre formally opened its doors in January dedicating a facility that offers specialized living and supportive housing for seniors and aging adults. It was a proud moment for Carefor Health and Community Services, which acquired the former Marguerite Centre site at 700 Mackay St. from the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (GSIC) in November 2014. From the beginning, the plan was to use the building to offer new and innovative services to meet the needs of the citizens of Renfrew County, including Palliative care and outreach programming.

MENTAL HEALTH AND THE MILITARY: Hundreds of soldiers gathered at the 1RCR drill hall for a panel discussion on mental health issues in the military, part of the nation-wide Bell Let's Talk Day initiative. Moderating the panel were CTV news anchor Kevin Newman and Canadian Armed Forces member Capt. Alex Munoz. Featured speakers included Great Big Sea founding member and Bell Let's Talk ambassador Séan McCann, psychiatrist Maj. Janice Magar and social worker Maj. Michele McCashion (both from 2 Field Ambulance), Master Warrant Officer Anthony Jones (1RCR) and Sgt. Bjarne Nielson (Joint Personnel Support Services).

COUNTY PASSES BUDGET: Renfrew County council almost unanimously approved its 2016 budget. The $40.7 million budget implemented a three per cent increase in the tax levy that will take in an additional $870,687 in revenue. For homeowners with residential properties assessed at $259,425, the county average, their taxes rose to $895.87 when you included the education portion of $195.

ONTARIO NORTHLAND BUS SERVICE ARRIVES: People looking for ways to get from the Ottawa Valley down to Ottawa proper had another option in addition to the daily Greyound route. In January 2016 Ontario Northland started operating its Sudbury-Ottawa line, making stops all the way down the Highway 17 corridor through Renfrew County.

CNL EMPLOYEES EXCEED FUNDRAISING GOAL: Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced that charitable contributions through their Chalk River United Way campaign totalled $140,150 exceeding their goal of $130,000. This outstanding result placed CNL once again as the single largest campaign fundraiser for the Renfrew County United Way (RCUW).  

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