Bouquets in the dead of winter

With a huge dump of snow, followed by at least five days of 20-below weather ahead for Prince George residents, let's focus on some warm things today.

Vasiliki Louka, 222, and her 24-year-old brother Vaggelis, are playing their final regular season home games tonight for the UNBC Timberwolves basketball teams. They came all the way from Athens, Greece, to Prince George to pursue a post-secondary education and play basketball in Canada's top university league.

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In her five years with the Timberwolves, Vasilki's numbers aren't just the highest Timberwolves numbers ever, they are some of the all-time best in Canada West. As Ted Clarke explained in his story Friday, she ranks second in career double-doubles (47), second in defensive rebounds (675), third in defensive rebounds per game (6.4), fourth in total rebounds (950), fifth in minutes played (3,186), ninth in blocked shots (126), ninth in blocked shots per game (1.325), 11th in rebounds per game (2.75), 14th in field goal attempts (1,274), 14th in field goals made (556), 16th in total points (1,462) and 19th in offensive rebounds.

If there isn't a discussion going yet about retiring her lucky number 13, there should be.

Meanwhile, Vaggelis has more starts, more steals and more blocks than any man in Timberwolves history.

If you haven't seen either "Sleek Greek" in action before, get out of the house and up to the Northern Sport Centre for the women's game at 5 p.m., followed by the men at 7.

Before basketball tonight, Mary Gouchie's funeral is set for 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Hard to imagine how there will be an empty seat left as Prince George turns out to pay its respects for this 97-year-old Lheidli matriarch. Our condolences from all of us at The Citizen to the Gouchie family. Our thanks, particularly to Jo-Anne Berezanski, Duncan and Norma Gouchie, Miranda Seymour, Laura Luth, Shirley and Nicole Wiltermuth, Kym Gouchie and Noella, Murphy and Jacqueline Taylor Gouchie, for sharing your memories and stories with the community in Friday's Citizen.

Finally, some good news from us here at The Citizen.

We had a tough 2018 and we had to layoff some valuable members of our team as we worked to keep our business viable. Fortunately, 2019 is starting off much better.

For the third time in the last four months, we have more than one million page views on our website and we likely would have done it in December, too, if Christimas hadn't taken a bite out of our online traffic. More importantly, more than 200,000 unique visitors are coming to our website each month, either through their desktop computers, their mobile devices or their tablets, to read local news.

Thank you, readers.

Audience has never been The Citizen's problem. Declining revenue, however, has been our challenge for years and we had an encouraging first month of 2019 on that front, too. The Citizen's advertising income saw a 10 per cent increase in January from the same month last year and February is showing similar promise. That's due to the hard work of our fabulous sales team but also due to the support of our advertisers, who recognize how effective The Citizen can be in helping them reach their customers.

Thank you, advertisers.

We launched 97/16, our new free weekly in January, and both readers and advertisers seem happy with the tabloid format, the look and the content. We'll be making a few more changes to it in the coming weeks, so hopefully it will be even better.

Thanks to everyone for your support on 97/16 and for your words of encouragement when our press went down last week for only the second time in its 56-year history. We were right back up and running again the next day. Knowing so many people missed us last Thursday and were anxious to see us back on Friday meant a lot to all of us.

It's our privilege to tell you stories about fantastic people in our community like Mary Gouchie, Vasiliki Louka and Vaggelis Louka, along with all the important local news you need to know.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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