Category: News

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Ian Aman poses in-front of the “Welcome to Drayton Valley” sign off Highway 22. Photo Courtesy Sasha Aman 

A man vying to run across the province in 60 days sprinted through Drayton Valley on Wednesday, all in the name of promoting mental health awareness.

Ian Aman, an ultra marathoner, started his run on July 1st on the Alberta-Northwest Territories border, and has been making his way south through the province ever since. He said he liked the challenge of the physical component, and wanted to raise mental awareness and mental health.

When faced with adverse weather, heavy traffic along the way or his legs “feeling trashed” after running 30 kilometers every day, Aman says that he keeps in mind that he started the 1,600 kilometer long journey to show people to keep going, to have that tenacity to push themselves.

 

Aman running into Drayton Valley. Photo Courtesy Sasha Aman

Aman running into Drayton Valley. Photo Courtesy Sasha Aman

 

Aman says biggest payoff is to hear people’s stories, having had people come up to him and share their personal journeys with him. Due to the oil slump and natural disasters the province has seen in the past couple of years, he says that it is important to have an open discussion about mental health, adding “We talk about being hurt physically, but mentally sometimes people hide that.”

He expects to arrive at the Coutts-U.S. border on August 29th. His goal is to raise $20,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and is currently sitting at $4,300 in amounts raised.

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Drayton Valley Mayor Glenn McLean revealed at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting that on July 8th he had received a threatening anonymous email that was not only directed at him and the council members, but all town employees over the distribution of photo radar tickets.

The email contained messages that people “will be watching the councillors and the mayor, our eyes will be on you.” Drayton Valley RCMP Staff Sergeant Malcolm Calihoo suggested that council “Be vigilant, and watch your surroundings” in response to the email.

Mayor McLean acknowledged a sense of frustration in certain areas, but commented that “Everyone has the right to go about their day and their lives without the worry of being stalked.”

Councillor Nicole Nadeau voiced her frustration with the email, saying that it bothered her. “All of us that are on council have children, it is never okay to lay threats on social media, it put’s us all in danger. I am disgusted someone would do something like this, it is unacceptable.”

Councillor Dean Shular jumped on board with Nadeau’s statement, putting it quite simply that “If you don’t want a ticket, don’t speed. It is not a cash grab if you obey the law. I have no sympathy for those who break the law.”

The Town of Drayton Valley dictates where the photo radar can be positioned around town, with police having consultation on when tickets will be issued. Corporal Bryan Notheisz says within the past week they have received a number of phone calls with people complaining about photo radar. The complaint of a photo radar vehicle being parked in “dangerous” and “illegal” spots are discredited, because “Those vehicles have almost Peace Officer status, meaning they can legally be parked wherever they need to be.”

As for a photo radar camera being placed into things or not within a vehicle, Notheisz says those are pretty common tactics used in other communities too, relaying “If they were in perfect view and there was a huge sign saying photo radar here, no one would be caught and the problem of speeding wouldn’t be resolved.”

 

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(From left to right:) Home Care and Registered Nurse Bernie Bredin, CARNA’s Northeast Region Provincial Councillor Jeannie Hare, Deputy Mayor Debra Bossert, Alberta Health Services Area Director Lyle Grant, Registered Nurse and Care Manager for Long Term Care Dena Enyedy.

The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) is traveling throughout the province celebrating 100 years of registered nursing in Alberta, and stopped by the Drayton Valley Hospital and Care Centre with a historical display on July 11th.

CARNA’s Northeast Region Provincial Councillor, Jeannie Hare, praised the work that registered nurses do in the community as well as across the province, calling nurses “The backbone of the health care system. With over 37,000 of us in Alberta, it’s the biggest health care profession.”

Hare also said that although being a nurse can be difficult work, it’s also a rewarding occupation. “The best part is the patient interaction, and job satisfaction. Just helping people, most RN’s you’ll find the nurturing personality come right out of them while at work.”

The Drayton Valley hospital was opened in 1957, the same year Drayton Valley was officially incorporated as a town. Before that there was an Anglican mission house with a first aid station that was erected in 1936.

 

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CARNA Northeast Region Provincial Councillor Jeannie Hare introducing Deputy Mayor Debra Bossert

Deputy Mayor Debra Bossert was on hand for the event as well, and she thanked the nurses of Drayton Valley.

“The role of nurses in this community has evolved, the town is almost 60 years old as is this hospital. The women and men who have worked here have put their heart and soul into our community. Nurses are always the most charismatic and gentle to people who very well may be in some of their scariest moments.”

The tour of 33 hospitals in the province by CARNA began in May, and will conclude in the Fort McMurray district.

RCMP Crest

 

A Wildwood area teen is facing numerous charges after the armed robbery of a Lodgepole general store.

On June 23rd police received a call shortly after 12 p.m. from a woman who was living close to the store, calling in what she thought was an armed robbery. Police responded, and through her and other witnesses they were able to get a clear description of the vehicle and it’s direction.

Evansburg RCMP assisted the Drayton Valley detachment, and stopped the Grey Ford Van 5 kilometers south of Highway 16. The suspect had two loaded firearms in the vehicle, and a third that was unloaded. The teen stole 2 bottles of liquor from the store.

The male was arrested without incident, being described as “Very cooperative with police” by Corporal Bryan Notheisz. The 16-year-old is facing numerous charges in relation to the crime including robbery and using a firearm in commission of an offence, along with breach of probation. He is currently being remanded and there is no date set for his first court appearance.

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Canada Post has issued a public advisory regarding the possible lock out or strike of employees, with that ending with no mail being sent or received starting as early as July 2nd.

The Crown corporation has put out deadlines for premium mail delivery options for customers wanting guaranteed deliver by June 30th:

  • Xpresspost (National and Regional) – June 28th
  • Expedited Parcel (Local) – June 29th
  • Priority (National, Regional and Local) – June 29th
  • Xpresspost (Local) – June 29th

Canada Post says in the event of a work disruption, any mail and parcels caught up in the postal system will be secured and held.

Both the Canada Post Office on 5224 52 Ave and the Value Drug Mart Post Office on 5014 56 Ave would be affected by a legal work disruption.

The negotiations began back in November of 2015 when the Canadian Union of Postal Workers served Canada Post with a Notice to Bargain for both the urban operations unit and the RSMC unit. Talks have been ongoing ever since. Canada Post operates as a group of companies called The Canada Post Group, which employs 65,000 full and part-time employees.

 

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Official Opposition and Wildrose leader Brian Jean joined Drayton Valley-Devon MLA Mark Smith on June 16th to meet people in Drayton Valley at the Rotary Park. Before speaking to the crowd, Jean had visited Frank Maddock High School to speak with students. Jean was able to sit down with me and give a quick Question and Answer session at the constituency event.

 

Q: The Wildrose Party fought to make amendments to the carbon tax, how do you think the tax will affect Albertans, do you think the tax is the correct way to go about reducing the province’s carbon footprint?

A: No, because clearly this carbon tax is not revenue neutral. It’s a 3 billion dollar grab of taxpayers money to go into a slush fund for the NDP to spend how they want to, the majority is not coming back in any form of rebates and will cost the average family in Alberta about $1,000 per year, each and every year going forward. The gas hike is going to be very difficult for rural Alberta, difficult for businesses who ultimately will pay higher costs and they will take those costs and pass them on to consumers. It will have a trickle down effect, it will have a compounding effect on all Albertans.

Q: The Wildrose School Division is facing layoff and less government funding, do you think the NDP government is investing enough and looking seriously at the provinces education system?

A: Anytime frontline providers, whether it be health care or teachers are laid off it greatly concerns us we don’t think that is the proper way to go forward. We think that there is an opportunity to reduce the cost of government through attrition, 10 per-cent of the government leaves/retires/ or moves each and every year through that kind of attrition process and through maintaining our frontline and more critical workers and those positions, we hope to reduce our costs and the government over 3-4 years. That would keep us in line with other jurisdictions, for example we are 20 per-cent more expensive than B.C.

Q: The party had a small budget in the 2015 Election, and over the past year there has been an increase in party event attendance. What I’m getting at is how has boots on the ground changed the party, how has the party stitched itself together in the past year?

A:  It’s been incredible. Albertan’s from every area of the province have come out, we’ve doubled our numbers in Edmonton and significantly improved our presence in Calgary. Our support is locked in on rural Alberta and we are proud of that, but the future of the party is to make sure that all Albertan’s recognize we will fight and stand up for them.

 

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Official Opposition and Wildrose leader Brian Jean poses along side Drayton Valley-Devon Wildrose MLA Mark Smith

Q: Drayton Valley is an oil town, and has suffered during the oil crash. Has the NDP failed the oil industry, how would have the Wildrose dealt with economic blow differently?

A: We aren’t saying that the NDP are responsible for low oil prices. They are responsible for is all of the actions they have taken since the low oil prices have hit. The first one is the royalty review, that I think has certainly punished our oil and gas sector and has created a tremendous amount of insecurity and uncertainty for the oil and gas industry. Sometimes a company invests $15 billion dollars and they are international/multinational conglomerates that set up business right across the world, if our cost jurisdiction is much higher than those of whether it be Saskatchewan or South Africa, they simply won’t come here. The royalty review, Bill 6, Bill 8 have all hurt the oil and gas sector, and the carbon tax will hurt all Albertans. We’ll have fewer jobs and less money to pay for the things that we need.

Q: You lost your home in the Fort McMurray wildfire, you moved to that city when you were 5 years old and represented Fort McMurray for 10 years as a Conservative Member of Parliament. Seeing what the city went through during the disaster, what does that say about Fort Mac?

A: The people who live in Fort McMurray are very strong, they are very fierce. They will come through this very, very strong. I’ve lost my home but 3,000 people are not in their home tonight due to this wildfire, 2,500 families have lost their home and I’m very concerned about not myself but the younger families and the older Albertans who are retired and on fixed incomes, and the young people’s mental health after loosing everything.

 

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Q: Going through the disaster yourself, what lessons will you take from it as the leader of the Official Opposition? 

A: That there is very very important things that governments have to deal with, whether it’s decisions that they follow through with reports on recommendations from the 2011 Slave Lake Fire, whether it’s to create a fire break around a city, whether it’s to make sure our health care system works properly for the people who it’s supposed to. All of these things are very important, and as the leader of the Official Opposition I will continue to work hard.

Q: Finally, what do you hope to accomplish by the time October 31st rolls around and session resumes in the Legislature?

A: I’m hoping to travel the province, have people everywhere whether it be Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Fort McMurray or Calgary and have the opportunity to discuss their issues. We’re hoping to win the hearts and minds of Albertans across the province.

Jean will be in Hinton on June 17th. He has a busy summer planned, besides touring communities and caucus meetings, on the last day of sitting at the Alberta Legislature Jean revealed that he will be getting married on July 22nd.

 

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Nearly three quarters of a million dollars has been shelled out by 6 oil and gas companies that operate in the Drayton Valley area over the past 6 months in order to pay for stolen items from lease sites and repairing the damages caused during the thefts.

The company that has suffered the largest hit is Penn West, having to cough up $515,000 in order to replace stolen goods and repair the damages caused. They had their largest thefts this year in mid-May, with several sites being hit, costing several hundred thousand dollars. Scott Beck, a security consultant for the energy company says the stolen items are expensive, but so are the repair costs. And it’s not only the costs that are high, the danger is too. Ground cables are being taken out of the ground, possibly resulting in an explosion and live wires are left sitting out in the open.

Sinopec Daylight Energy has been struck hard as well, experiencing 36 hits. For the first time in its history that company will start nightly security patrols of their leases in the area to try to combat the thefts.

Here’s the breakdown of financial loss for each company;

-Penn West Exploration, $515,000

-Sinopec Daylight Energy, $75,000

-Lightstream Resources, $75,000

-Conoco Phillips, $50,000

-Vermillion Energy, $25,000-30,000

-Baytex Energy, $5,800

Police say thieves are mainly fleeing with copper cable, solar panels, batteries and site glasses. Drayton Valley RCMP Corporal Bryan Notheisz admits it’s hard to catch the perpetrators because there is so much territory to cover, and simply not enough manpower.

If anyone has any information that could assist police in solving the crimes they are urged to call them at 780-542-4457 or call Crime Stoppers.

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A Drayton Valley area man has been defrauded of $18,000 after receiving a call from someone saying they were with the Canada Revenue Agency, and that he owed money and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

The man then proceeded to purchase the large amount of iTunes cards.

Police received the report from the scam victim on June 4th. Drayton Valley RCMP Corporal Bryan Notheisz says they have had people show up at the police station, concerned if they were actually wanted in relation with the Canada Revenue Agency. He suggests to take action against these callers, saying “Be unCanadian, be aggressive, report these people immediately. The Canada Revenue Agency would never be doing this, they won’t ask for overdue tax payments to be made by the gift cards and won’t ask for the access/PIN code for iTunes cards.”

RCMP have received similar fraud cases in the past months dealing with the CRA and iTunes cards. It’s suggested that anyone contacted by someone claiming to be a CRA agent should be cautious about providing information and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the person’s credentials and phone number.

Cpl. Notheisz also hopes that in the coming weeks an officer can go around and advise stores in Drayton Valley to be a little cautious if someone comes in wanting to purchase a large amount of iTunes cards.

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The Wildrose School Division is facing the prospect of a large staff cut as it feels the pinch of the province’s economic downturn.

The division expects 239 fewer students will be registered this fall compared to last year, as many families move away to better job prospects.

Supt. Brad Volkman says the big drop could mean a “significant” staff reduction as the division grapples with less government funding, a $1.3-million deficit and a reserve fund that’s almost dried up.

Volkman says in past years, trustees have used their reserve to spend more than it’s received, but that’s changed and trustees must produce a balanced budget for next year.

He says all they can hope for now is a turnaround in the economy.

The district will also look at reducing hours spent on building maintenance, but expects no changes in existing programming or class sizes.

Volkman said personnel cuts would involve certified and non-certified staff across the division.

“When you have fewer students, you have less funding. The logic, as well, is that fewer students require less staffing,” he said. “It will be significant — much more than we hoped for or expected, that’s for sure.”

He said when the economy eventually improves, families will move in and business will pick up.

“We’ve just got to ride through this, do the best we can and be responsible with the funding we get.”

The division has 19 schools and employs more than 650 full-time and part-time staff, including 319 teachers and 350 support, maintenance, IT specialists and bus-driving staff.

It serves Rocky Mountain House, Drayton Valley, Caroline, Leslieville, Condor and Breton.

(The Canadian Press)

RCMP Crest

 

RCMP are searching for suspects in multiple crimes that are considered related to one another, including the armed robbery of a Shell gas station on Highway 16 near Range Road 44.

Early on the morning of June 7th  just after 6:00 a.m. police were dispatched to the Shell. The suspects were armed with a pellet rifle and with bear spray. The employees and one customer were told to lay on the floor, while the store was ran sacked. Before fleeing, the perpetrators sprayed the individuals on the floor. Cash and other items were stolen and the suspects fled in a newer black truck with a lift kit. No one in the store sustained injuries.  The truck is believed to have fled westbound after leaving the Shell.

 

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Suspects caught on surveillance at the Shell gas station, Courtesy Alberta Police Report.

The crime spree started early in the morning with a break in at a cabin in Moonlight Bay. A resident there had their door windows smashed and several items were left scattered on the front lawn of the home. It’s believed a high powered pellet rifle was taken during the break in, with the home being unoccupied at the time.

Then at 5:17 a.m. RCMP received a report of break in to vehicles at multiple residences, in Moonlight Bay in Wabamun. Male suspects were seen going through the homeowners vehicle and confronted the suspects, getting sprayed with bear spray upon approaching them. The homeowner did not sustain any injuries.

If anyone has any information in regards to the crimes they are urged to call Stony Plain, Spruce Grove or Enoch RCMP or call Crime Stoppers.