A trip from the West Kootenays to the East Coast is lengthy no matter how you want to measure it. But when a series of airport delays kicks in like a movie script, a traveler, like Castlegar city councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, can only tilt her head and laugh it off.
The main reason it’s easy to shrug off the extended travel marathon is that her city won an international award at the annual Communities in Bloom presentations this past weekend in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Pictured in archival photo at left, Communities in Bloom committee members (from left) Darlene Kalawsky, Kari Burk, Gail Hunnisett, Kathy and Mac Gregory, Mielle Metz (front), Roxy Riley, and Pam Johnston pose with the national award and the banner. Missing: Denise Talarico, Angie Zibin and Marilyn Pearson.
Coming and going, it seemed every kind of mix-up that could happen with airline schedules… did. It was exhausting to even hear about.
On the bright side, though, the award in the International Challenge (Small) was indeed won by Castlegar.
“After ten years in this program we are thrilled to be awarded the highest Level of recognition possible in the International Small Challenge category,” Communities in Bloom Committee Chair stated in an email.
“As chair, I would like to thank all committee members, the Citizens of Castlegar, City Senior management, & Mayor and Council for their support. The transformation that has occurred in Castlegar, as a result of this program during the past ten years has been truly remarkable!”
The announcement of the win triggered a moment of disbelief for Heaton Sherstobitoff.
After an ordeal of a day and a half that caused her to miss many of the events she had looked forward to, the Castlegar rep snuck into Charlottetown in the wee small hours, long after her expected arrival time.
When she walked to the podium to accept the award, she truthfully told the crowd she had nothing prepared in the way of an acceptance speech. She told the Castlegar News she winged it, because she really thought it would take a few years of trying before her city could earn a win.
But win, it did. Leading to a euphoria that not even jet lag and sleep deprivation could spoil.
“We go up and got our big granite award. I said a few words on behalf of the city,” Heaton-Sherstobitoff recalled. “I just kind of made them up because I actually was not expecting that we would win. I said ‘We have 8,200 people in our community. The heartbeat of our community is volunteers, and you really notice that when volunteers stop volunteering, your community starts slowly dying like a flower in fall when it gets frost.’”
There will likely be more to this saga, but for now, suffice to say that the councillor and her accomplice, Roxy Riley-Poznikoff got what they went for.
Congratulations volunteers, including, of course, the vacationing Darlene Kalawsky, whom the Castlegar News was unable to connect with in time to include her comments with this write-up.