A year to remember for Armstrong
For 62 of Chris Pieper’s 65 years, Armstrong has been his home.
Armstrong’s mayor moved to the municipality with his folks just before his second birthday, and other than the part of one year when he left town, Pieper has hung his hat in the North Okanagan community.
In 2013, Pieper and all residents will celebrate as the community turns 100.
“Our centennial will be the big focus of 2013,” said Pieper, re-elected by acclamation in the 2011 civic elections.
“We’re looking forward to events every month but will concentrate on the summer with the return of the RCMP Musical Ride and a big homecoming party planned.
“And I’m sure the IPE (Interior Provincial Exhibition) will have a flavour for our centennial. We hope everybody and every business comes and celebrates with us.”
While the centennial celebrations will take a lot of time, focus and energy, there are a couple of other projects set to roll in the new year.
One will include the official opening of the new Kindale Development Centre.
“I know the most optimistic of peoples hoped the building would open by the end of December, but I think it will be early in the new year,” said Pieper. “Like every construction project, it’s taking a bit longer than people hoped. It will be great to see Kindale in their new facility.
“Not only do they service Armstrong but the entire North Okanagan, and they do a great job.”
Pieper said the city will continue to work on major capital works projects in 2013, the first being rolled out in January, and water will be a key topic.
“Our water meters should be installed by summer time, so that will give people an opportunity to see how much water they use,” said Piper.
“We’ll also continue with our water plan as far as the Fortune Creek Drainage District goes. We’ll see how much water we have and look after it the best possible way we can.”
In 2012, some good came out of one of the most unthinkable events a community can face, the murder of one of its children.
Taylor Van Diest was found attacked and left for dead near the railway tracks through town on Halloween Night 2011. She died that night in Kelowna General Hospital.
Last year, a suspect was arrested for her murder. And her family spearheaded an effort to create the Taylor Jade Van Diest Memorial Trail.
“The murder, as tragic as it was, brought our community together,” said Pieper. “And our community really came together for the family. The culmination with the trail is just one part of it.”
Like every other community in the Okanagan, Armstrong is growing. It’s definitely bigger than the 4,000 people that lived there when Pieper attended “the old brick school” (Armstrong Elementary School), which housed students from Grades 1 to 8, and when the city’s high school was located in Memorial Park.
The population of Armstrong-Spallumcheen is around 10,000, and Pieper is happy to continue to live there and oversee things in the city, especially with a “good group on council to work with.”
“It’s a great little community,” he said. “We come together for lots of events, positive and negative. It’s definitely home.”