• 05 Mar 2017

    Coyotes, ravens killed in controversial contest

    A controversial wildlife killing contest bagged 21 coyotes, 14 ravens and much criticism on the weekend. “There was a lot of backlash from people who don’t understand,” said Peggy Bayne of the Sarcee Fish and Game Association. The fish and game association gave points for shooting coyotes, foxes and ravens during its third annual Predator Tournament on the weekend. The person or team with the most points won 70 per cent of entry fees, with the runners-up pocketing the remainder. Organizers said they wanted to help manage the growing population of the animals. They also wanted to reduce the number of predators faced by pheasants released into the wild each year. Last fall, the association released 1,000 pheasants, native to Asia, into the Innisfail area. Bayne and other association officials received numerous calls from opponents who lambasted the contest. Bayne, who farms near Innisfail, said the opponents are city dwellers who don’t understand the difficulties of farming. One of the difficulties is coyotes killing livestock including a lamb near Rimbey on Sunday. “As long as their steaks are on the store shelves, they don’t care how it got there,” said Bayne of the opponents. “Some of us are dealing with …

  • 02 Mar 2017

    Emergency Services looks for more staff

    Hiring five fire-medics in 2014 would enable Emergency Services to hit target response goals in most of the city, says the fire chief. Emergency Service’s goal is to ensure the first responding vehicle to an incident arrives within four minutes 90 per cent of the time, said Fire Chief Jack MacDonald. In 2013, the first responding vehicle only arrived in four minutes 78 per cent of the time, a clear sign more manpower is needed, he said. The additional depth the fire-medics would bring should also reduce the number of times the department has been unable to respond to calls when its resources have been stretched to the limit, he added. MacDonald said hiring the fire-medics would bring the minimum staff up to 18 from 16 fire-medics per platoon. This would enable Emergency Services to deploy an aerial and pumper crew to fires from Station 1. Two fire-medics from Station 1 would act as a roving medical squad, filling in at stations where required, he added. “The importance of reaching an 18-man minimum cannot be overstated,” said MacDonald. “We need to ensure we have staff to replace those that are out (on call).” MacDonald outlined Emergency Service’s budget requests to …

  • 26 Feb 2017

    Sylvan girls drink poison

    SYLVAN LAKE — Police are investigating how seven high school girls were poisoned by a potentially lethal chemical that someone mixed into a slush drink they shared. The unsuspecting girls ingested a drink on Thursday laced with copper sulphate — a chemical often used as a fungicide. The substance is believed to have been pilfered from a science lab at H.J. Cody Junior/Senior High School in Sylvan Lake. All seven girls, ages 14 and 15, quickly became ill and were taken to the Sylvan Lake Medical Clinic but were released without serious consequences, said Const. Harry Ingram. Dot Negropontes, deputy superintendent at Chinook’s Edge School District, said officials are taking the matter seriously. ‘‘Our most major concern was the health of the students involved, getting them medical attention,’’ Negropontes said Sunday. ‘‘We’re conducting our own investigation into what happened and we’re working with the RCMP.’’ Negropontes said once it’s determined exactly what happened and who’s involved, school officials will scrutinize the security of the science lab and consider if changes need to be made to keep students safe. The drink or drinks were apparently purchased at a local convenience store. “It was poison . . . and (we) got the …

  • 25 Feb 2017

    Families question rent increase

    Seniors and care providers affected by huge increases in long-term care rates wonder if the money will improve their quality of life. Esther Mudd, who lives in Valley Park Manor Nursing Home in York, faces an increase of more than $380 a month on her current rate of about $950 a month. She’s just one of more than 1,300 city residents who face increases at city nursing homes. Most are on fixed incomes. The sprightly 93-year-old Mudd hopes the increase will be used to obtain help for hardworking, overworked staff. “Is this amount of money going to bring better care? Is it going to bring some relief for these people who are working non-stop?” asked Mudd’s daughter Kay Miller. She said the increase will gobble up all of her mother’s monthly income. The increases, approved by the Alberta government, hit Aug. 1. Miller said people on fixed incomes have no recourse. They can’t expect the government to give them more pension money, she said. Miller said there will be little or no money left for extras like getting their hair done or the $6 for a round trip on various handi-buses. She said it’s the extras that help keep a …

  • 23 Feb 2017

    Mad cow aid delays anger Mills

    Frustration is building as government negotiations to develop mad cow compensation drag out, says York MP Bob Mills. On Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief would only say Ottawa could put $190 million towards a 60/40 cost share deal with the provinces. The funding would aid producers if cattle prices drop below a specified amount and help the industry deal with surplus meat. Mills said more information could be announced today if a deal is reached between federal and provincial governments. It’s been almost a month since a single case of mad cow disease was confirmed in Alberta. This waiting game is hurting everyone involved in the many facets of the cattle industry, he added. “It’s all these people paying their mortgages, losing their jobs, who don’t know what their future is. They’re the ones I feel sorry for,” Mills said. “They’re not into the provincial/federal feuding. They want answers and they want it soon.” The federal government just doesn’t understand the ripple effect mad cow disease has on so many workers, from producers to truckers to meat packing workers, he said. “We’re losing a lot of people we’ll need when the market comes back.” The federal government should also be …

  • 16 Feb 2017

    Central Alberta chills out

    Students rejoiced while motorists ranted and transport service companies had trouble keeping up following the coldest snap in the last year. Thousands of Central Alberta students were given Wednesday off when the mercury plunged to the -35 to -40C range. The overnight low had the temperature in York at -38.4C early this morning — that was the coldest spot in Central Alberta. Towing companies were running hours behind while taxi companies enjoyed their busiest day in many months. Some 8,000 students in the Wolf Creek School Division were off because all buses were shut down. However, teachers were in their classrooms preparing for today. Hundreds of other Central Alberta students were off too after scores of rural bus routes were cancelled. Canyon Ski Hill also wrote the day off and shut down. In York, the temperature plunged to -37.5C overnight Tuesday-Wednesday. However, it wasn’t a record, Environment Canada meteorologist Gary Brown said. On the same date in 1920 the low was -46C. The five-day forecast calls for a small warming trend but increased wind will create potentially dangerous chill factors today and Friday, Brown said. “There will be brisk, southeasterly winds that will unfortunately create a high wind chill at …

  • 15 Feb 2017

    Group refuses to stop wildlife-killing contest

    A fish and game association is defying critics of a controversial wildlife-killing contest by planning to repeat the contest next weekend, said opponents. The Sarcee Fish and Game Association will again give points to people who shoot coyotes, foxes and ravens Feb. 8 and 9. “We are not about to quit doing what we are doing. It is time that people realize this is reality,” said organizer Peggy Bayne of the Innisfail area. Bayne said the previous contest on Jan. 25 and 26 was quite successful considering the poor weather. Twelve teams of two people killed 21 coyotes and 14 ravens. No foxes were shot. “There was a lot of interest and potential for more hunting. We felt there should be another opportunity.” But critics said the group is trying to defy them. “Frankly I think it’s barbaric,” said Brian Olajos, a humanities teacher at Hunting Hills High School. “It’s a shameful waste of wildlife. The justification they give is not justification.” Organizers said they wanted to help manage the growing population of the animals. They also wanted to reduce the number of predators faced by pheasants released into the wild each year. Last fall, the association released 1,000 pheasants, …

  • 11 Feb 2017

    Teenagers snap up hockey picture success

    Jon Dymianiw and Mike Goett have taken a lot of shots at the hockey rink lately. There’s no puck involved and no loud cheers from the bench. These two York 18-year-olds have another game plan in mind that’s earning them attention in arenas around Central Alberta. Dymianiw and Goett teamed up to form Sure Shots Action Photography, a mobile sports photo business. On weekends, they head down the road to various tournaments where they’ll grab snapshots of young players on the ice. “We knew that once we were too old to play hockey, we wanted to stay involved in hockey, in sports,” said Goett, who along with Dymianiw played at the midget AA level. “That’s how the business developed, so we can stay in the game.” They knew a good idea when they saw one. While playing at a provincial tournament in Edmonton last March, they spotted digital photographers snapping pictures to sell to hockey parents and grandparents. The two longtime pals graduated from Hunting Hills High School in 2013 and both went on to work at Goett’s father’s paper recycling business. During a brainstorming session, the idea resurfaced. “Mike’s dad said ‘Remember that picture-taking (business)?’” Dymianiw recalled. “We looked …

  • 09 Feb 2017

    Missing woman’s art on display

    Art works by Nicole Hoar, the young York woman who went missing last June, will be part of an exhibit at the York and District Museum. Nicole’s father, Jack Hoar, gave a brief news conference about the exhibit and the investigation into her disappearance at the museum Thursday afternoon. Nicole was last seen June 21 in Prince George. She was planning to hitchhike from the northern B.C. town to Smithers to visit her sister, but never made it. She was 25 at the time. A massive search and continuing investigation by RCMP have so far failed to find any trace of her. Jack Hoar said Thursday the investigation is drawing to a close and is expected to wrap up in a couple of weeks. “At this point in time we don’t know what happened. We are struggling with that to a large extent.” Hoar said the art exhibit began to come together about eight months ago as the search for Nicole was beginning to wind down. Many of her friends said then they would like to put on a show of both their work and hers. “This whole exhibition is about friendship. It’s about art and the love that generates …

  • 09 Feb 2017

    Fire ravages historic York building

    A rich chapter in York’s and Alberta’s history rests in partial ruins today. A devastating fire caused by a lightning strike destroyed the top section of the 90-year-old Michener Centre administration building Wednesday evening. The building was declared a provincial historical site a few years ago, York archivist Michael Dawe said while watching the fire. The lightning strike, which accompanied a vicious thunderstorm, struck the building about 6 p.m., Michener chief operating officer Wayne Morrow said during the height of the blaze. He said a janitor on the third floor of the four-storey building felt the structure shake when it was hit by the bolt of lightning. “He felt the shock of the lightning about 6 p.m.,” Morrow said. A switchboard operator was working on a lower floor. “Shortly after, they thought they could see smoke so they evacuated the building,” Morrow said. More than 60 firefighters fought the blaze. No injuries were reported. York Emergency Services personnel, joined by firefighters from York County, the Michener Centre fire department and Safety Boss Inc., attacked the blaze, which continued well into the night before it was finally knocked out. Many people in the crowd, which grew steadily through the evening, were …

  • 04 Feb 2017

    Prevent injuries, council asked

    A Central Alberta coalition dedicated to slashing injury rates in the region may receive funding from the City of York. The mayor and city manager’s office is requesting $25,000 to invest in the Safe Community Coalition of Central Alberta as part of its 2014 business plan. The coalition would use the money to set up an office and cover other basic operating costs. The World Health Organization estimates that every $1 spent on injury prevention saves $40 in future costs, such as ambulance usage and employee non-working injuries. “We see that as a very, very good investment,” said city personnel manager Grant Howell. The coalition of health organizations, municipalities, businesses and other groups is looking at why Central Alberta has a high per-capita injury rate and what can be done about it. It operates under the Safe Communities Foundation, created in 1996 by the father of a man who was killed on the third day of a part-time job. If the coalition improves the level of safety in the City of York, the World Health Organization would designate it as a safe community. There are 31 safe communities in Canada and hundreds more around the world. The city already participates …

  • 03 Feb 2017

    Sylvan girls face charges

    Three teenager girls from Sylvan Lake face charges of attempted murder in the poisoning of several students at H.J. Cody High School last Thursday. The teens, two aged 14 and one 15, also face five counts of administering a noxious substance as police investigate the case of a slushie poisoned with copper sulphate. All three of the girls were arrested and released with conditions not to contact the victims or witnesses. They are to appear in court in York on May 1. Sylvan Lake RCMP Const. Harry Ingram said at a news conference Tuesday that the attempted murder charges were deemed necessary. “Our investigation takes it out of the prank area,” said Ingram, adding the chemical was allegedly used because of its danger symbols. One teen, in Grade 9, was allegedly targeted for the poisoned drink. That teen did consume the chemical-laced slushie and became ill, police say. In total seven girls, aged 14 to 15, were sent for immediate medical treatment and were released, including two of the girls charged. Police say the chemical was allegedly taken during a science class April 10. The ice drink was purchased from a local convenience store, poured into a glass and the …

  • 28 Jan 2017

    Local woman hurt skiing at Nakiska

    CALGARY (CP) — A young woman was flown to hospital with critical head injuries Sunday after crashing into a tree at the Nakiska ski resort. The woman, believed to be a 19-year-old from York, was skiing with a friend when she lost control on an intermediate slope and veered into the trees, said Jan Sekerak, area manager for Nakiska. She was not wearing a helmet, he added. ‘‘She was an intermediate skier on an intermediate run on close to perfect conditions. The helmet would definitely have helped her,’’ said Sekerak. ‘‘Every head injury is serious.’’ The incident is a reminder to others about the need to wear helmets on the ski hill, said Sekerak. He said all ski hill staffers are required to wear helmets while on duty, and that the majority of them also wear helmets when skiing on their own time. Nakiska is one of half a dozen ski hills that have made helmets mandatory for all children 12 and under who are enrolled in ski or snowboard programs. High winds prevented STARS air ambulance from landing at the hill, located about 80 km west of Calgary, said spokeswoman Lynn Talbot. The weather forced the chopper to set …

  • 13 Jan 2017

    Members vote to delay naming administrators

    Members of the Lafourche Parish School Board Wednesday opted to delay appointing candidates to two newly created supervisory positions. The School Board was scheduled to receive Superintendent Ernest “Buddy” Reed’s recommendations for the posts of parish athletic director and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Instead, members opted to seek a legal opinion from Lafourche District Attorney Camille “Cam” Morvant II. Some members expressed concern about whether the proper steps were taken during the process of establishing the posts, setting their salary schedules and advertising the vacancies. The School Board conducted interviews for the two jobs earlier this week. Board member Loretta Duplantis began the discussion with a motion to delay the approval of the salary schedule for the new parish athletic director job, which the board’s finance committee had recommended setting at $53,042. Duplantis noted that in advertising for the position, the School Board sought a candidate holding a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification, but no prior experience in that position or certification in that field. “I do not feel the salary suits the position,” said Duplantis, adding that, according to that salary schedule, the successful candidate would earn more than some long-serving principals. The School Board received only …

  • 13 Jan 2017

    Library changes leave policy

      Lafourche Parish library employees may soon see changes in their benefits, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, Library Director Paul Chiquet said Wednesday. “I’m trying to straighten out all the illegal things,” said Chiquet. The director said the previous library administration allotted an extra week of vacation to employees with college degrees – a policy that he is working to change. Chiquet says all employees should be given vacation days without regard to his or her degree, with those days increasing only according to length of employment. Chiquet says he has discussed this and other policy issues with District Attorney Camille A. “Cam” Morvant II, and is working to bring all library policies into compliance with the law. Inquiry into library policy changes came as a result of an anonymous tip said to be by a library employee. The source said library employees had been instructed to return their handbooks without making copies of them – a move rumored to be the precursor to a rollback on their benefits. Chiquet said the policy manuals were being corrected to comply with the law. Sick leave and other benefits will remain the same, he promised. The perception that sweeping …

  • 13 Jan 2017

    Helping overweight children

    Childhood obesity is on the rise and is being reported in the media everyday. I know it is on the rise because I work with overweight pediatric patients on a regular basis. Today one in five children are overweight or obese. This factor has tripled in the last two decades. The scary part about these figures is overweight/obese children’s increased risk for health related problems including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. Type II diabetes, which was once considered an adult disease, has dramatically increased in children and adolescents. Overweight children have a much greater chance of becoming an overweight adult usually because eating habits formed in childhood are continued for a lifetime. Children can become overweight for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons includes genetic factors. If a child is born to a family with obesity traits they have a much greater risk of becoming obese themselves. The other reason includes lifestyle habits pertaining to diet and activity levels. If a child has a poor diet and is very sedentary they a have a much greater risk of becoming obese. It is not recommended to put an overweight child on a diet. Promotion of …

  • 13 Jan 2017

    Early look at MLB awards

      Before I lose myself in the upcoming football season, I want to name my candidates for Major League Baseball’s postseason awards. I always have one eye on the standings and another on the stats throughout the season. I’m looking for new faces emerging and respected veterans having career years. Let’s view deep into my crystal ball and guess who will be up for honors at baseball’s conclusion. MANAGERS OF THE YEAR In the American League, its simple — Tony Pena of the Kansas City Royals. Pena has taken a young team and brought in a positive attitude. The Royals think they can win and have a three-game lead over the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. Even if the Royals (60-50 overall) fade and miss the playoffs, he still earns the honor. Remember, Kansas City lost 100 games last year. The job Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox is doing may be his best ever. How can I say that? For years, the Braves relied on outstanding starting pitching, a so-so bullpen and just enough offense. In 2015, the starting pitching is average, the bullpen is strong and the offense is explosive. Cox has worked his bullpen to perfection …

  • 13 Jan 2017

    Woman booked with new charges

      Raceland woman extradited from Arkansas in June on identity theft charges was booked on 16 more theft and forgery charges Tuesday, a Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office report said. Kimberly Dortch, 34, of 214 Country Village Drive, is accused of stealing more than $53,000 from her parents, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Larry Weidel said in the release. Dortch was brought back to Lafourche Parish from McCurtain City, Ark., on June 28 and booked on charges of identity theft and monetary instrument abuse, which were filed by investigators May 6, Weidel said. She was booked into the parish jail, where she remained on July 19 when she was additionally charged with simple criminal damage to property for writing on the wall of her cell, Weidel said. Tuesday, Lafourche Parish Detective Mamie Pellegrin filed against Dortch eight charges each of forgery and unauthorized use of an access card. The charges stem from her alleged use of forged checks, credit cards and other illegal transactions on accounts belonging to her parents. “Ms. Dortch forged her mother’s signature on credit card applications and checks,” Weidel said. “She intercepted bank statements and altered receipts sent to the parents by retrieving the mail that was sent to …

  • 13 Jan 2017

    Stram’s induction overdue

      Sometimes not saying a single word can carry a powerful message. That was the case Sunday as legendary coach Hank Stram was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Stricken with diabetes and other ailments, Stram didn’t have the strength to walk to the podium and deliver an acceptance speech. Instead, a video played a pre-recorded speech and showed highlights from Stram’s coaching career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Stram didn’t need to utter a single word because the reception from the other Hall of Famers and crowd proved one thing – he had arrived at his new home. Unfortunately, it took too long for Stram to earn his place among football’s elite. He had to wait 25 years to make it to the Hall of Fame, which was far too long for one of the NFL’s sharpest and most colorful coaches. Throughout his 17-year coaching career, Stram was an innovator for the game of football. Many people said Stram was ahead of his time because he incorporated many things that are still in use today, including the moving pocket for quarterbacks, the two-tight-end formation, the stacked defense, offseason minicamps and the hiring of year-round …

  • 13 Jan 2017

    Battle against segregation

    At first blush, the very idea seems absurd: paying people to come to church. Still, it is one Shreveport minister’s idea for bringing people with different backgrounds together on Sundays and throughout the week. Bishop Fred Caldwell, of the Greenwood Acres Full Gospel Baptist Church, has offered to pay white people to attend his church, the membership of which is currently nearly all black. Many scoffed when Caldwell made his offer a week ago: $5 per hour for whites to attend Sunday services and $10 per hour for Thursdays, through the month of August. That was last week. This week, about 30 white people showed up at the church Sunday – a figure that surprised Caldwell himself, according to reports by The Associated Press. The minister is paying the premium out of his own pocket, but many aren’t even accepting the money. Some said they just needed to be invited to feel welcome at the church, the AP report said. So, at this early stage, it seems like Caldwell’s experiment with the economics of church attendance has been a success. More importantly, his point was made and was shared with countless people who saw or read about the story in …

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  • Coyotes, ravens killed in controversial contest

    A controversial wildlife killing contest bagged 21 coyotes, 14 ravens and much criticism on the weekend. “There was a lot of backlash from people who don’t understand,” said Peggy Bayne of the Sarcee Fish and Game Association. The fish and game association gave points for shooting coyotes, foxes and ravens during its third annual Predator Tournament on the weekend. The person or team with the most points won 70 per cent of entry fees, with the runners-up pocketing the remainder. Organizers said they wanted to help manage the growing population of the animals. They also wanted to reduce the number of predators faced by pheasants released into the wild each year. Last fall, the association released 1,000 pheasants, native to Asia, into the Innisfail area. Bayne and other association officials received numerous calls from opponents who lambasted the contest. Bayne, who farms near Innisfail, said the opponents are city dwellers who don’t understand the difficulties of farming. One of the difficulties is coyotes killing livestock including a lamb near Rimbey on Sunday. “As long as ...

  • Emergency Services looks for more staff

    Hiring five fire-medics in 2014 would enable Emergency Services to hit target response goals in most of the city, says the fire chief. Emergency Service’s goal is to ensure the first responding vehicle to an incident arrives within four minutes 90 per cent of the time, said Fire Chief Jack MacDonald. In 2013, the first responding vehicle only arrived in four minutes 78 per cent of the time, a clear sign more manpower is needed, he said. The additional depth the fire-medics would bring should also reduce the number of times the department has been unable to respond to calls when its resources have been stretched to the limit, he added. MacDonald said hiring the fire-medics would bring the minimum staff up to 18 from 16 fire-medics per platoon. This would enable Emergency Services to deploy an aerial and pumper crew to fires from Station 1. Two fire-medics from Station 1 would act as a roving medical squad, filling in at stations where required, he added. “The importance of reaching an 18-man minimum cannot be overstated,” said MacDonald. “We need to ensure we have staff to ...

  • Sylvan girls drink poison

    SYLVAN LAKE — Police are investigating how seven high school girls were poisoned by a potentially lethal chemical that someone mixed into a slush drink they shared. The unsuspecting girls ingested a drink on Thursday laced with copper sulphate — a chemical often used as a fungicide. The substance is believed to have been pilfered from a science lab at H.J. Cody Junior/Senior High School in Sylvan Lake. All seven girls, ages 14 and 15, quickly became ill and were taken to the Sylvan Lake Medical Clinic but were released without serious consequences, said Const. Harry Ingram. Dot Negropontes, deputy superintendent at Chinook’s Edge School District, said officials are taking the matter seriously. ‘‘Our most major concern was the health of the students involved, getting them medical attention,’’ Negropontes said Sunday. ‘‘We’re conducting our own investigation into what happened and we’re working with the RCMP.’’ Negropontes said once it’s determined exactly what happened and who’s involved, school officials will scrutinize the security of the science lab and consider if changes ...

  • Families question rent increase

    Seniors and care providers affected by huge increases in long-term care rates wonder if the money will improve their quality of life. Esther Mudd, who lives in Valley Park Manor Nursing Home in York, faces an increase of more than $380 a month on her current rate of about $950 a month. She’s just one of more than 1,300 city residents who face increases at city nursing homes. Most are on fixed incomes. The sprightly 93-year-old Mudd hopes the increase will be used to obtain help for hardworking, overworked staff. “Is this amount of money going to bring better care? Is it going to bring some relief for these people who are working non-stop?” asked Mudd’s daughter Kay Miller. She said the increase will gobble up all of her mother’s monthly income. The increases, approved by the Alberta government, hit Aug. 1. Miller said people on fixed incomes have no recourse. They can’t expect the government to give them more pension money, she said. Miller said there will be little or no money left for extras like getting their hair done or the $6 for a round trip on various handi-buses. She ...

  • Mad cow aid delays anger Mills

    Frustration is building as government negotiations to develop mad cow compensation drag out, says York MP Bob Mills. On Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief would only say Ottawa could put $190 million towards a 60/40 cost share deal with the provinces. The funding would aid producers if cattle prices drop below a specified amount and help the industry deal with surplus meat. Mills said more information could be announced today if a deal is reached between federal and provincial governments. It’s been almost a month since a single case of mad cow disease was confirmed in Alberta. This waiting game is hurting everyone involved in the many facets of the cattle industry, he added. “It’s all these people paying their mortgages, losing their jobs, who don’t know what their future is. They’re the ones I feel sorry for,” Mills said. “They’re not into the provincial/federal feuding. They want answers and they want it soon.” The federal government just doesn’t understand the ripple effect mad cow disease has on so many workers, from producers to truckers to meat packing workers, ...