2020 was a year many may just want put behind them and forget.
It was a year that was described with many creative metaphors, such as likening it to orange juice and toothpaste flavoured potato chips or calling it one big dumpster fire.
However, there were some highs mixed in with the lows and among it all, a sense of community spirit and resiliency can be discerned.
The following are a few of the top stories Ponoka News covered throughout the year.
– Markus Harrison Zekveld, born on Jan. 4 to Shanae and Levi Zekveld, was the first baby of 2020.
– Former Ponoka News editor and longtime writer of Reflections of Ponoka and a weekly opinion column, Mike Rainone announced his complete retirement.
– The Ponoka Mat Program, a new initiative to provide overnight shelter, started up.
– Ponoka Minor Hockey Association hosted the first-ever 24 hour hockey game in Ponoka Feb. 7 and 8.
– The provincial government ended their agreement with Alberta doctors Feb. 20, marking the beginning of tensions between physicians and the UCP.
– The proposed provincial budget was handed down Feb. 27.
– Racist tensions led to a hold and secure at Ponoka Secondary Campus Feb. 28
– Schools closed March 15 and shutdowns began.
– The Four Nations of Maskwacis declared a state of emergency March 24.
– Funding was cut for Parent Link centres March 31.
– The Town of Ponoka approved various property and utility tax initiatives.
– Play structures were closed around the time Ponoka County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.
– Siding 14 Brewery began making hand sanitizer as locals sewed masks.
– Ponoka Child Care Centre reopened for essential workers.
– The 2020 Ponoka Stampede was officially cancelled April 29.
– Golf courses were allowed to reopen May 2.
– The medical community and first responders of Ponoka showed their appreciation to the community with a vehicle parade May 6.
– Community agencies formed a Vulnerable Population Task Force.
– The Ponoka and District Health Foundation announced the 2020 Festival of Trees was cancelled.
– Graduation ceremonies were postponed.
– Prominent community member Bob Hepp passed away.
– Country artist Tim Hus performed pop-up concerts sponsored by Direct Energy for Ponoka seniors May 28.
– Parks, playgrounds and town courts reopened.
– Broncs football players, junior and senior, took part in a virtual camp.
– Maskwacis celebrated its third Pride Day June 10.
– The Ponoka Jubilee Library reopened for in-person browsing on June 22.
– The Ponoka Youth Centre opened for school-aged care.
– A feature ran on the new cardiac monitoring cubes at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre.
– Ponoka Elementary School held a drive-thru farewell to students June 19.
– Although town events were cancelled and there was no Stampede, fireworks were still set off over the Stampede grounds on Canada Day, July 1.
– The Ponoka splash park opened for the season with COVID-19 measures in place.
– The town announced its intentions to transfer land to the Ponoka Stampede Association.
– Wolf Creek Public Schools committed $400,000 to their school re-entry plan.
– A traditional Dutch ring riding event was held in downtown Ponoka July 25.
– The Ponoka County Regional Fire Services East District fire department and the Town of Ponoka sponsored a pop-up splash park at Westview Park on July 28.
– A candlelight vigil was held in Samson Cree Nation for a young boy as well as other community members lost since the beginning of the year.
– Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon gave an interview on the proposed changes to Alberta parks.
– Ponoka physicians expressed their sadness over the killing of Red Deer physician Dr. Walter Reynolds.
– Community builder and long-time chamber member Inger Laing passed away.
– Several anti-racism protests and counter-protests were held, coming to a head at a press conference on Sept. 10.
– Local representatives came together to speak at a peace rally at Centennial Park on Sept. 16.
– The town hosted a free drive-in movie on Sept. 25.
– St. Augustine School 2020 graduates celebrated at a belated, physically-distanced graduation ceremony Sept. 26.
– Bob Hepp was remembered with a dinner Oct. 2 and a culinary scholarship was created in his name.
– Ponoka families were still waiting for refunds from the cancelled Broncs World Tour Europe trip.
– Ponoka Secondary Campus 2020 grads walked the stage Oct. 9.
– General Support Services workers went on strike at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury Oct. 26.
– As cases began to rise in Ponoka and Ponoka County, town council discussed confusion over how the case numbers are displayed. Ponoka County was placed under enhanced watch status.
– Old MacDonald Kennels was overwhelmed with cats.
– Battle River Medical Clinic continued to struggle with doctor retention and recruitment.
– The Ponoka Legion Branch No. 66’s Remembrance Day ceremony was live-streamed.
– Almost Midnight Madness went ahead without the Santa Claus Parade, which was ultimately cancelled due to public health measures.
– The town announced it was creating a new downtown skating plaza. A delayed town tree lighting was held on Dec. 4.
– Wolf Creek Public Schools urged the province to honour commitments to Indigenous peoples in regards to proposed curriculum changes.
– The Old Iron Horse restaurant gave away 150 free Christmas meals.