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A six-shot panorama shows the early stages of the demolition of the Farnam Block last week (Photo by Ken Paulson)
Ken’s email didn’t make me ‘chuff’

Sometimes Ken Noskye is a pain in the you-know-where. A lot of times, actually. He takes delight in getting an inbox full of emails after his columns appear. Every now and again, he shares one with me. I am suspicious when he does.
Last week, he took great delight in forwarding a piece of his fan mail. He was actually forwarding it to me so I could forward it to one of my sons. That’s a lot of forwarding.
Remember a month or so ago when I compared my past four or five columns with Ken’s? I went through the exercise because one of my sons — the one not in my inheritance — pointed out that Ken’s columns are always better than mine. I didn’t dispute the fact, but was a little hurt.

SSO concert to celebrate Saskatchewan

Dozens of Saskatchewan musicians will take to the stage at the next Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO) concert, in an event that will pay tribute to the province and its homegrown talent.
The March 28 Masters Series concert, aptly called Saskatchewan Celebration, is the perfect fit for the SSO’s 2014-2015 season, which has focused on local artists and the theme of “Finding Our Prairie Voice.”
“We took great care to try and program as many Saskatchewan-born guest artists as possible,” said executive director Mark Turner.
Saxophone player Gerard Weber, baritone Nathan Berg, soprano Danika Loren, the University of Saskatchewan Greystone Singers and the University Chorus are set to perform. A piece by Saskatchewan composer Monte Keene Pishny-Floyd will also be featured, and the SSO’s new music director, Eric Paetkau, will conduct.


Court to decide on delay penalty for South Bridge project

Question: You seem to be proud of the job the City has done in filling potholes this past year. You don’t have your priorities straight. On Circle Drive West, between 22nd Street and Avenue C, the same potholes remain that were there a year ago before your campaign. Why don’t you put a priority on high-traffic roads like this?
Mayor Atchison: This is exactly what we are doing: focusing on high-priority roads. Last year, we paved 200 lane kilometres of roadway — the equivalent of paving from here to Kindersley. This year we will pave 178 more lane kilometres, which will take us nearly to Hanna. Perhaps next year we will get to Calgary. We have a dedicated road fund that was first established in the 2014 budget. I want to continue building that fund through 2016. I believe we should invest $250 million over five years in our roadways, sidewalks and back lanes. I would encourage anyone who sees a pothole to report it. You need to be our eyes on the streets. Please call 306-975-2476 to report a pothole.

Robbie’s story will stay with me forever

“You knew what I was when you picked me up,” said the snake.
One of my closest friends once told me a wonderful story. Robbie and I travelled many paths together and eventually became like brothers. We met while we were in our teens. It was at a youth centre in Edmonton. The place was run by what we called Christian Soldiers.
They were good-hearted people who drove around in an old school bus. They would park the bus in the inner city and pass out hot chocolate, fruit and sandwiches. They would come out after midnight. It didn’t matter what the weather was like. Most of the young people I hung out with would meet there and sing songs with the Christians.


Going Viral. Do you speak Saskatchewan?

Roger Pilon has acted in an estimated 70 productions of various sorts during the past 16 years. But never has one had the impact of a three-minute, nine-second commercial a local company created for Insightrix.
A video titled SaskatcheWHAT?! was released Feb. 27 online. It has since been viewed 255,000 times. It has been watched in 140 countries.
“That thing has absolutely floored us,” said Pilon, who plays the role of a stereotypical Saskatchewan farmer in the video. He is wearing the plaid shirt and overalls. His green and white mesh hat says Wheat. Were there no John Deere lids available?
“It was the silliest bloody thing we’ve ever done and look what happened,” Pilon said. “We are getting phone calls from all over the world, literally, from people who used to live here.”
Pilon has heard from people in Australia, St. Louis, Miss., Toronto, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Burlington.

  1. Budget will have little bearing on most lives

If last week’s provincial budget didn’t blow your hair back, congratulations – you’re a relatively average Saskatchewan resident.
For political nerds (like this one) and communications types (ditto), Saskatchewan budget day is a bit of a festivity. You’ve seen the pictures of the provincial Legislature’s rotunda after the minister of finance delivers his speech — the space jammed to the gills with self-professed movers and shakers behind any number of industries.
Media receive embargoed copies of the budget about two days before it’s released to the public, tripping all over themselves in an effort to extract the juiciest tidbit and have it in front of you first, the moment the embargo is lifted.

Is council painting by numbers at new gallery?

When I read the headline “Saskatoon art gallery trims millions from 2015-16 operating budgets,” my first thought was: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
Up front, I am not opposed to an admission fee for the new art gallery. It is either some user-pay arrangement or an even larger property tax hike for everyone else. What I do take issue with is the amount of admission and the rationale used to support it.

Gardenscape ‘Seeds gateway drug to doing more epic things’

Lyndon Penner spreads the gardening gospel across the prairie provinces, and legions of gardeners listen raptly to his advice. And, sometimes, something even more magical happens.
He and a colleague from the University of Saskatchewan, Vanessa Young, were once hired to teach basic gardening classes at one of the healing lodges in southern Saskatchewan. Their group consisted of 18 First Nations women with difficult pasts.
“They were really honestly one of the best audiences I’ve ever had,” said Penner, who is a frequent speaker. “They were just transfixed. One girl had a handful of sweetpea seeds. She’s staring at them and says, ‘This is so interesting. Why did I waste all of that time doing drugs?’
“Vanessa and I just looked at each other and thought, ‘Are you kidding?’ ”
As passionate and engaged as Penner is about growing things, even he was amazed by her response.

Spreading the word on mental-health illnesses

CLARA HUGHES is a woman on a mission. One of Canada’s most outstanding athletes ever is cycling across our country on what is being called Clara’s Big Ride.
Her goal is to bring awareness to mental-health illnesses. Like so many Canadians, Clara struggles with depression.
“This is going to be an epic journey, the ride of my life. And it’s all for awareness of mental health, breaking down the stigma when it comes to mental illnesses,” she told CBC.

Living with anxiety
People don’t understand panic attacks, but I do

I’m having a bad day.
It is not like this every day. Today is one of the really bad ones. I am feeling anxious.
The anxiety has been controlled to a large extent. I remember the hundreds of days when it wasn’t.
I would leave restaurants in the middle of meals. Sandy was left to either eat alone or follow me out the door. After she paid the bill that is. I would leave movies, leaving her to watch them alone. I remember watching Titanic from the door of the theatre; gosh, it was a long movie. Once, when we were in Las Vegas, we had fourth-row centre seats for Mama Mia.