West Shore News Through the Decades: Week of Sept. 18

Fire consumes marijuana plants, a 57-year-old power lifter competes again and two incidents of public nudity, all in past Gazette editions


Colwood Fire Department responds to a brush fire near Esquimalt Lagoon, only to discover that blackberries weren’t the only plants going up in smoke. Firefighters arrive to discover the charred remnants of marijuana. The grow operation was a small one, just enough for personal consumption, but the investigation continues.

Also making news the week of Sept. 18, 2005: A family of a Langford man shot and killed by West Shore RCMP is seeking damages. A civil suit is filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria in response to the death of Joseph Pagnotta, who was shot while police responded to what was thought to be a domestic dispute. Upon arrival four officers found a distraught Pagnotta brandishing a knife. Police shot him when he continued to move towards them.

And, B.C. teachers will hold a strike vote just weeks after heading back to class. Teachers point to “increasingly difficult classroom conditions” as a reason for potential job action and have been bargaining for a return of previous class-size limits and a salary increase.


Vandalism to street signs is costing the District of Metchosin thousands of dollars. On top of vandalism to signs, fires are being set in newspaper recycling bins and mailboxes, effectively forcing volunteer firefighters into street patrol duty looking for the people responsible. On one particular night, $2,500 in damage to street signs was reported, says Mayor John Ranns.

Also making the news the week of Sept. 18, 1995: A Langford man who beat his wife so badly that it left six red welts on her back, will not spend any time in jail, after the woman told the court she wanted to work things out. Leszek Mierwinski pleads guilty in Western Communities Provincial Court to a charge of assaulting his wife. According to Crown council, he became angry after his wife came back from Poland and didn’t bring anything back for him. He is sentenced to 18 months probation with counselling for alcoholism and aggression.

And, a man charged with threatening to kill his wife is acquitted in Western Communities Provincial Court after the judge in the case said he simply didn’t know who to believe. Laurie Pritchard testified her husband Kenneth James Pritchard threatened to shoot her during a discussion about how the couple’s assets would be divided in a divorce.


In two separate incidents, one woman decided it was a good day to walk nude down Island Highway and another man decided to run backwards in the buff down Jacklin Road. Wearing nothing but a smile, the woman told Colwood RCMP she was simply enjoying the afternoon while passing motorists honked their horns and shouted approval. The man, whose clothes were later found near an antique shop on Sooke Road said, “Isn’t that the natural thing to do?”

Also making the news during the week of Sept. 18, 1985:

A campfire ban from B.C. Forestry officials aims to put a stop to the fires until there has been significant rainfall to help mitigate “explosive” fire conditions in southern Vancouver Island.

And, 57-year-old power lifter Ron Caplan, a senior security officer at William Head Prison comes out of retirement to compete again. Caplan lifted 331 lbs. in the dead lift, 307 in the squat and 260 in the bench press for a total of 908 lbs. during his last weightligfting contest, but feels his competitive spirit will take him further if he continues.

– Compiled by News Gazette reporter Arnold Lim

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