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Stuart MacTaggart of Boss Hog’s Smokin’ Chophouse barbecues a rack of ribs during Saskatoon RibFest.
More than 20,000 people attended the four-day event, according to organizers. (Photo by Sandy Hutchinson)
Mr. Jackson was a war hero

If you were at the main office at Aden Bowman Collegiate in 1970 and headed south, Thomas Jackson’s room was down a short flight of stairs and the first door on the left.
Students in Mr. Jackson’s math class knew he had been in the Second World War, but had no idea of his role and his heroism.
Some students said Mr. Jackson was shellshocked and would drop textbooks to see if he would jump. None of students in my class ever did that, but I remember hearing the stories and the laughter. I hope I didn’t laugh.
The reason I am sharing this is because of the compelling feature Bob Florence wrote about Mr. Jackson in an edition of last week’s StarPhoenix. I had no idea until near the end of the story that Bob was writing about one of my high school math teachers.

Folkest 2017
Long-time volunteers important to success

There are many reasons for the success stories of Saskatoon’s Folkfest.
Originally designed as a one-time festival in 1980 to share in Saskatchewan’s 75th anniversary, Folkfest has grown into a full-fledged entertainment package that generates the distribution of 28,000 passports which can be used multiple times at all pavilions.
Supporters have found favour with the multicultural experiences, the exotic explosions of food and drink, the locations and the sizes of rooms and the overwhelming enthusiasm of volunteers who give everything they’ve got for three days.
And how about the staying power?
Five pavilions — operated by the German Cultural Centre, the Koimisis Tis Theotokou Hellenic (Greek) Community, the India Canada Cultural Association, the Filipino Canadian Association of Saskatoon and the Ukrainian Tryzub Society — have never missed participating in the annual August celebration.

I refuse to let Facebook rule my life

Are you on Facebook?
I was a latecomer. Very, very late. I think I’ve been on there just a few months.
I resisted like crazy because:
• I thought I wouldn’t have enough friends.
• I thought the whole world, or at least friends if I could find them, would know way too much about me.
• I thought I would spend far, far too much time on there, if indeed I could find friends.
• I thought I would get spammed incessantly.
But I caved. I have reasons for that, too:
• My sister always knew way more about what was going on in the family than I did. It was starting to bug me.
• I wasn’t doing a good job of keeping in touch with family and friends (if, indeed, I had any.)

Every one of us can make a difference

I miss the days of idealism, the days when a single person believed he or she could make a difference.
I remember being 15 and feeling that way after I listened to a speaker from the American Indian Movement (AIM).
At the time, AIM was labelled as a radical or militant group. That night the message was positive. Not once was there a mention of roadblocks or arming myself in case a battle or something broke out.
“Get an education,” was the main topic. “Education is the new weapon for the North American Indian.”
The education part was no big deal because by then I was driven to learn. I had a passion to understand the world. Today, I have a framed piece of paper hanging on my wall. I had gone from a northern trap line to a graduate in broadcast journalism.
After post-secondary, I worked as a television news reporter, a radio host and had jobs in film and video.


Brad Wall leaves mixed legacy, but province owes him thanks

To the surprise of many, but not everyone, Premier Brad Wall announced his retirement last week. He will stick around for this fall’s legislative session and be gone as early as the beginning of 2018.
The timing makes nothing but sense. Whoever fills his shoes will find them too big for a long time, and the provincial election of 2020 will be upon him or her in no time.
That person will need every minute he or she can get to grow and prove his or her worth to Saskatchewan in order to legitimately earn the job, as opposed to being parachuted into it when voters go to the polls.
Opining on Wall’s legacy right now is just so premature that it feels silly to try . . . but I’m going to, of course. Truthfully, as hard as I’ve been on him lately, I think history will be kind to Brad Wall.
People living outside Saskatchewan have noticed a swagger in our step that can, at least in part, be attributed to the pride of ownership Wall inspired in all of us by example.


Bluegrass festival a family experience

An annual music festival that takes place in the picturesque boreal forest aims to offer fun and entertainment for the entire family.
It’s the 12th year for the Northern Lights Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Festival, which will run from Aug. 18 to Aug. 20 at Saskatchewan’s Ness Creek site, located about 20 kilometres from the community of Big River. Jennifer Bork, president of the Northern Lights Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Society, describes the event as a “camping festival” that appeals to multiple generations.
“One of our board members said, ‘You know, this is one of these events where I can take my mom and I can take my kids and everybody’s happy. They all have a good time.’ And we really do find that,” said Bork.
“One of the things that I talk about, in terms of what we do, is there aren’t very many places anymore where people can have a multi-generational experience – you know, everything’s segregated by age and often by gender. And so what we do is we have this event where all ages are there and really are able to enjoy the event.”


City’s numbers on debt load not adding up

I was surprised to read Phil Tank’s article in the StarPhoenix earlier this summer that said the city’s debt load was only at $318 million and further that my per capita cost was only $1,198, or in the case of our household, $2,396.
How can that be? The relatively new police station cost about $120 million, the city yards/bus barns were approximately $154 million, the new North Bridge/Traffic Bridge was in the ballpark of $200 million, and the Remai Art Gallery is conservatively pegged at $60 million.
In addition, we are still in hock for the South Bridge, the Olympic swimming pool and, of course, the interchanges and roadway infrastructure to accommodate the projects and God knows what else I have already forgotten about. And this doesn’t include the annual maintenance costs on the P3 projects we will pay for over the next quarter of a century.
I checked the batteries in my calculator and they were working. What am I missing here? Ah, it is the creative accounting coming into play. Sort of like when reporting on the use of outside consultants went from $18.63 million in 2015 to $1.9 million in 2016.