Small Town Nurse Makes a Buzz

Many would shy away from starting a new infection-themed job during a pandemic. Castlegar, British Columbia’s Olga Hallborg, however, does not shy away from a challenge. As a registered nurse, mother, student, wife and volunteer, she is a busy bee. Olga works at Trail’s Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital as an Infection Prevention and Control nurse, and occasionally, she still works at her previous nursing job with elderly patients in long term care at Nelson Jubilee Manor. 

Olga, originally from Ukraine, lives with her husband Murray and 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. The family moved from Saskatchewan to Castlegar for Murray’s job at Castlegar’s Celgar pulp and paper mill six years ago. After living and working in the Kootenays for only two years, Murray lost his job unexpectedly, and the family faced some challenges. For the past four years, he has driven weekly to Vancouver to work as a mechanic at the Swiss Water coffee company plant. Murray still applies to Kootenay jobs regularly.

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Check Up on Medical Professionals One Year into the Pandemic

Do Unto Others

Dr. Kyle Merritt is what you call a busy person. He works part-time in the emergency department at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, British Columbia, where he happens to be the current department head. Kyle also has a group practice. That means looking after patients in the clinic and hospital and long-term care settings. On the side, he teaches University of British Columbia residents and students. Not to mention spending time with his wife Courtney and three children, Brynn, Leah, and Caleb.

Kyle is family-oriented, born and raised in Castlegar, with his two sisters. His mom was a teacher, and his dad a family doctor who still practices in Castlegar today. Kyle grew up going to the United Church in Castlegar and still occasionally attends with his parents, who are active members. Their church is a vibrant, engaged community. 

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Salmo River angler casts a line to the future of fishing

“I remember thinking: it looked like a good trout river.”

So thought James Baxter, a West Kootenay angler, when he first drove over the Salmo River in 1997. Little did he know then that he would come to spend the next 24 years of his life working, playing, and fishing on this river.

The Salmo is a 60 kilometre river born from the Selkirk Mountains. It winds through stands of cedar, hemlock, and Englemann spruce, and it is visited by foraging grizzly bears and breeding Harlequin ducks.

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Small Farms Feed Community in Big Ways

The best piece of relationship advice that Geoff Beech ever received was on the day of his wedding when a friend told him a simple secret to a long lasting marriage:

“Find something that neither of you have done before and do it together.”

In their thirties, Geoff and his wife Terri Austin-Beech learned to ski together. Now that they have reached retirement, they are pursuing a dream 40 years in the making; they are learning to run a farm together.

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Shifting into Electric Gear

Steve Elder was born in New Zealand and lived there until he moved to sunny Los Angeles in the 1970s, eventually finding his way north to greater Vancouver, which he now calls home. However, summers spent vacationing at Christina Lake with his family is something that always brings back good memories for Steve. 

Perhaps that is why three years ago, Steve purchased the old Mercury shop truck that spent many years parked beside the workshop at the Christina Lake Service Station.  As a car enthusiast and career mechanic, he has big aspirations for the truck: Steve dreams that one day he might be able to electrify the 1954 pickup. It’s an ambitious undertaking, yet perhaps he is on to something much bigger.

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You can always find moments of happiness

This has been a hard year. One might say, this has been one of the most difficult years we have ever had to face. 

Collectively, we have experienced one of the most challenging times in modern history.  

And yet, here we are. 

For some of us, this year has not come without loss. There are many people who are grieving right now. 

Still, joy and grief can live simultaneously. 

This year has been hard but if you look closely you can always find moments of happiness, even if it’s just in the little things. 

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Bartender Builds Home from the Ground Up

If You Build It

You may recognize Carlos Köppen as the head bartender at Jackson’s Hole & Grill in Nelson, British Columbia. He’s worked there for 12 years. What you might not know is that he is building his family a house with the same two hands that serve up Caesars on Wing Night to local residents. 

Carlos lives with his partner Julia, the wholesale manager at Kootenay Bakery, and seven-year-old daughter Aria in Krestova, BC. When Carlos first moved to the area, he lived in Nelson before buying a two acre property in Krestova in 2012. 

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Nakusp’s Jean Hewat is a champion for champignons

When you imagine a mushroom picker, who comes to mind?

Is it the scruffy, hermit-type you saw hitchhiking along the highway last week? Or maybe you remember that long-haired nomadic couple you met in university, the ones jazzed on all things fungi, mostly the mind-altering varieties. Then there is the bartender at your local legion. The one you went to elementary school with. The mother who cringed in unison with you when the hockey team your teenagers both played on was crushed by the visiting bantam league. 

In comes Jean Hewat. Since 1993, she has been the sole owner and operator of Jean’s Mushroom Station, one of a small handful of mushroom buying operations nestled in the idyllic British Columbia mountain town of Nakusp.

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Digital Nomad Women Work for the Greater Good

A local businesswoman, Karen Kornelsen, is running a business that has goals beyond maximizing profit. Karen is a newer business owner based out of Nelson, British Columbia. Her business, KG Creative, is a digital agency that works to create “professionally-designed, strategic content with on-brand marketing.” Karen lives out her social mission by choosing to work only with “women entrepreneurs who are truly making a difference in the world and non-profits who are also making a difference in their communities,” she says. 

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Why a family man in Trail traded his pickup truck for an e-bike and hasn’t looked back

Glen Byle is a family man, active church member, and the only biomedical technologist in the West Kootenays who specializes in ventilator repair and maintenance. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made working from home, and sometimes working less, the new normal for many people, it has been an especially busy year for Glen. Adding to his already full life, during the recent BC election he was also campaigning in the Kootenay West riding as the Conservative Party of British Columbia candidate. It all relates to his efforts to be intentional with where and how he spends his time, his money and his efforts to have a positive impact.

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