Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Local dentist spending Christmas helping orphans in Afghanistan

Dr. Shideh Pejman hoping to raise $10,000 to help fund dental clinic and orphanage

For the Westlock News. 

 Dentist Dr. Shideh Pejman is headed to Afghanistan in December to provide free dental services to orphans and others in need.

When Dr. Shideh Pejman came to Canada as a teenager, she swore she would repay the favour the world had given to her. Years later, the young dentist is on her way to fulfilling her vow as the Afghanistan-born Canadian, who works at the Leigh Smile Centre is heading to Kabul Dec. 23 to spend 10 days performing free dental work for anyone who needs it. 

As she explains it, that amounts to just about everyone.

“The whole country is going without dental care,” she said. “There’s one dentist for every 250,000 people, and that’s a dentist that doesn’t have enough equipment; they’re probably just doing extractions on teeth that could potentially be saved. But there’s no instruments, or supplies to do a filling. Any tooth that needs a filling gets pulled. That’s a disaster — we’re going to have a young population with no teeth.”

Pejman and her family left Kabul when she was six years old after the Soviet Union invaded in the 1980s. Her family first found their way to Iran where, with the help of the United Nations, they were able to move to Canada and start a new life.

Now, she is giving back.

“What I told them is that when I’m there, I’m there to help,” said Pejman. “I’m not going to say no to anyone, if I can help, I’ll be there. Dentistry is important — it’s not a luxury, it’s not an add-on to
your lifestyle. People are dying from oral diseases. With teeth, you know, your brain is right there. The infection, the only place it goes from your mouth is to your brain.”

Pejman is involved in the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project, a non-profit organization that has been working in Afghanistan since 2003. The group seeks to help fill the dental void left in Afghanistan after several decades of invasions and civil wars.

Aside from a lack of dental expertise and infrastructure, a serious problem facing the beleaguered nation is the fact that years of conflict have left many children orphaned. UNICEF estimates that at least 600,000 kids are currently homeless and that there are over two million orphans in Afghanistan.

“There are a lot of orphans, there are a lot of kids on the street,” said Pejman. “We’re talking about the youth in Afghanistan growing up in conditions where they’re super-traumatized. They’re not able
to contribute to the future of the country if we don’t help them out.”

To contend with this, Pejman is hoping to raise $10,000, with 25 per cent of the funds going to help orphanages. Pejman is paying for her own travel and living expenses while in Kabul, which she estimates will be close to $5,000.

The rest of the money raised is planned to help complete the newly-established Kabul Dental Training School, which educates locals and allows them to provide dentistry themselves.

“What I’m going to raise money for is towards them trying to build that clinic in Kabul,” explained Pejman, noting that the ultimate goal of the project was to reestablish dentistry across the country. “Because the training takes so long, we’re in school for 10 years to become a dentist, so that’s something that’s high in demand. They need doctors to go over and teach the assistants to use the equipment.”

Aside from her dental expertise, Pejman also plans to serve as a translator for many of the staff as she is fluent in Dari, her native tongue.

“The fact that I speak the language I think is going to help the team out a lot, because they always need a translator,” she added. “I can give them a true perspective of what's going on, what I’m hearing from people, and what the community wants to see more of.”

Having been away from her homeland for well over a decade, Pejman admits she is both excited and a bit apprehensive to return home.

“It’s probably going a little bit of a shock as to what I’m going to see, but it’s really good to know that I’m going to a place where they really need help,” she said. “It’s going to be different, for sure. I’m so used to my life here now, that I think it’s still going to be a bit of a change. But I’m going there with the outlook that I’m here to make the best of the situation. No matter how big of a shock, I’m planning to do the best that I can.”

She added that she was preparing for potential gender barriers as part of her itinerary.

“I think being a woman in Afghanistan right now is not easy. You always want to be there with a guy, and that’s something I’m not used to. I’m very independent and do everything on my own, so that’s going to be challenging,” she noted. “That’s something that really needs to change in Afghanistan. We have a lot of trained women that I know would want to help, so we need to make sure that it’s a
safe environment for female doctors to give back.”

However, the social situation is not shaking her resolve.

“I’m doing this for the kids. We’re talking about a huge orphan population, and I know that most of our patients are going to be kids,” she said. “I really want people to focus on how this project is focusing on kids and giving back to the younger generation that’s going build Afghanistan. We want to make them self-sufficient. This is going to be a stepping stone in a very big project.”

The Afghanistan Dental Relief Project was started by Dr. James Rolfe in 2003, who began by simply travelling the countryside with a backpack full of dental equipment. From those humble beginnings the organization has grown into an international group, with volunteers from across the planet. 

For Pejman, helping out is a natural extension of her practice.

“Being helped out in a way where you can’t put a face to someone who has helped you is something that is very familiar to me,” said Pejman. “When we left Iran I promised myself that I would do this for somebody else someday. So that’s where I’m at. It took about 14 years, but I can finally give back.”

If you would like to help Dr. Pejman on her journey, you can visit her fundraising page at https://www.generosity.com/medical-fundraising/afghanistan-dental-relief-project.

Savage stays as reeve

Don Savage unopposed at organizational meeting

#westlock #westlockcounty

For the Westlock News.

 Don Savage remains reeve for Westlock County.

Unopposed at the county’s Oct. 25 organization meeting, Savage will be joined by Ray Marquette as deputy reeve.

“It’s an honour, it’s great,” said Savage. “I’m looking forward to a productive year, provide intelligent and honest leadership to our council.”

With one year left to go until the municipal election, Savage is inheriting a bit of a bucking bronco — over the past few years the county has seen a considerable amount of staff turnover, going through six chief administrative officers, five public works bosses and four chief financial officers.

He will oversee the county as it navigates its way through a revised Municipal Government Act, which will require greater collaboration between the county, the Town of Westlock and the Village of Clyde.

Another issue Savage is up against is the difficulty the county is having maintaining revenue amid a sputtering economy, aging infrastructure and a lower dollar.

“One of the key challenges we’re facing is funding,” explained CAO Leo Ludwig.

“The level of work hasn’t diminished, the cost of the work hasn’t diminished, but the funding sources for that work have certainly diminished. We lost the bridge funding about three years ago; that’s had a significant impact on our community. Our linear and machinery equipment assessment have decreased significantly over the last few years, and we’re looking another 10 to 15 per cent decrease for 2017.

“Those are huge challenges to try and do the same amount of work with a lot less funding.
“A lot of wells have been shut in, so we’re not getting taxes from those anymore. As a municipality we have limited sources of revenue. Taxes and grants are pretty much it.”

Savage said he is ready for the coming challenges.

“We’re going to rally forward,” said Savage, adding that he expects his focus to be bringing the county into the upcoming regional collaboration agreement in stride.

“I think the effort to collaborate with the town is front and centre for all councillors.”

He noted that while he is focused on the next six months, so far he loves the job and would be quite happy to stay on past the 2017 elections.

“I intend to run again, I enjoy what I do. I am retired, and I have the spare time to put into the job.”

Municipal elections are scheduled for Oct. 16, 2017.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Plans to establish local shooting range underway

Local shooters concerned about illegal ranges

#westlock #shootingsports

For the Westlock News.

The scene at the Echo Lake-area illegal firing range, located at SW19-TWP59-RGE23-W4M, in the summer of 2015. Plans are in the works to create a legal firing range in the area.
WN File
When Mike Walmsley first saw the illegal firing range that was set up in the Echo Lake area, he could hardly believe his eyes.

“It was terrible,” said the Westlock County Rural Fire Department chief.

“As a shooter myself, I would be bloody embarrassed to see what people had done out there. There was a hole in the ground that looks like it was the side of a big dugout. It was just filled with garbage — old TVs, old appliances, spent ammunition, live ammunition. It was so thick you could walk along the garbage without touching the ground. It was disgusting.”

The range, located at SW19-TWP59-RGE23-W4M became known to authorities in 2015 after a substantial wildfire. Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) subsequently shut down the site for 28 days beginning on June 26, 2015.

“When we responded to the fire, we found that it was essentially an illegal shooting range and (it was) improper use of firearms that basically lit this fire,” commented Walmsley.

“They would dump stuff off there and shoot the hell out of it. There were trees cut off from rifle fire. It was a mess.”

Since the debacle, Walmsley and a few others have been trying to figure out a sensible fix.

The solution? Establish a made-in Westlock firing range to fulfill local sport-shooters’ needs.

“I have been in contact with (Alberta Environment and) Sustainable Resources and Development, and they are in agreement with the idea and right now we’re looking at a number of different parcels of Crown land throughout the county,” he said, adding that he was looking at five different locations. “We’re going to try to pick an acceptable one and go forward from there.”

While the range is still merely an idea, Walmsley is hard at work trying to find a suitable location for the range. As a .22 calibre bullet can travel in excess of two miles, the location will need to have very specific features.

“There’s very strict federal guidelines,” he said. “It all has to be inspected at every level of construction and while it’s being operated. The RCMP is heavily involved in the entire process.”

Currently, the nearest firing range is run by the Fish and Game Association in Barrhead, which is a members-only club and has a range of 300 metres.

Walmsley noted that he would like the Westlock range to eventually feature both pistol bays for handguns as well as a 1,000 metre “F-Class” range for long-distance target shooters.

“That’s definitely a dream,” said Walmsley.

“I’ve got some interest from international shooters in something being established locally. Something properly ran and properly constructed, it would be fantastic.”

The nearest F-Class rifle range is currently located in Humboldt, Sask. Walmsley conceded that he would likely have to build up to a 1,000-metre range to start, however.

“Something in the 300 to 400 metres, I think that’s a keyhole,” he said.

“We’ve looked at a couple of locations that definitely would suit the need for a shorter range and would afford expansion in the future.”

Walmsley added the most-likely scenario would be setting up a pistol range to start the project.

“There’s a lot less velocity and a lot less distance, so a lot less area is needed. They are a lot less problematic.”

Walmsley stressed that so far, all that has happened is discussion, and whether the range happens or not would depend largely on the amount of interest.

“Right now, we’re just exploring the options,” he said.

“To say that it’s definitely going to happen or not, I have no idea. The initial decision for usage is up to (Alberta Environment and Sustainable Development.) Once it crosses that threshold, then we need locals’ permission.

“If we get one or two people who say ‘Not in my back yard,’ then it doesn’t happen. To find an area that is suitable, is allowed by the government and to have no people oppose it, that might be our biggest hurdle.”

For Walmsley, establishing an official range is an important step to reducing firearm shenanigans in the county.

“You’re always going to have the small percentage whose idea of a good time is to get drunk and shoot things,” he said. “We’re trying to get away from that mentality, but without a decent place to go, how do you start to get away from that?”

Senior Warriors have rough weekend

Club falls to Daysland and Bonnyville by combined 13-1 margin
#westlock #daysland #bonnyville

 For the Westlock News.

Warriors’ forward Mike Podruzny fires a shot just past Daysland Northstars’ goaltender Andy Sinclair during the team’s 7-0 home opening loss on Oct. 21.
Eric Bowling/WN
The Westlock Warriors had a rough weekend and posted only a single goal in 7-0 and 6-1 loses to the Bonnyville Pontiacs and Daysland Northstars.

Warriors’ Nathan Brown scored the lone goal of the weekend early in the third period of their Oct. 23 road loss to Bonnyville — the club now sits with an 0-3 record in the North Central Hockey League.
Team manager Joe Kuhar pulled no punches when he described their difficulties.

“Overall we played alright, but the biggest issue we have right now is that we can’t score goals,” said Kuhar. “That’s really the difference in allowing ourselves to pick ourselves up.”

While he wasn’t using it as an excuse, he noted that the Warriors were contending with a greatly-reduced roster.

“We came to Bonnyville with an extremely short bench and missing a lot of our top guys,” said Kuhar.

“Some of our guys are farmers and they’ve got to combine. The weather is little nicer now, so they’re going. It’s one of those things, you’ve got to go with what you’ve got.”

The 6-1 loss in Bonnyville was the second low-point of the weekend for the Warriors, who were also defeated 7-0 in their Oct. 21 home opener by the Daysland Northstars.

In that battle, goaltender Marcus Johnson stood on his head, but he was unable to stop the onslaught. The Northstars opened scoring up in the first period when Derek Wolbeck snuck one past Johnson just after seven minutes in, followed by a goal in the second by Grayson Soprovich.

But things really unraveled for the Warriors in the third period with five unanswered goals.

Despite of the losses, Kuhar noted that the Warriors are not down and will improve.

“We’re working as a team and we’re working together and trying to find that chemistry,” said Kuhar. “It’s a team effort and a team loss and everybody striving and working hard to put those goals in the net so we can move forward.”

Kuhar added it was pretty clear what their focus in practice will be.

“Shooting. A lot of shooting and getting a lot of traffic to the net. That’s where we’re lacking and that’s where we’re going to focus our efforts,” said Kuhar.

“We’ve got to gain our confidence and we’re taking positives from every game.”

The Warriors next hit the ice at home on Oct. 29 in a battle with the Eckville Eagles — the puck drops at 8:30 p.m. The following day the club heads to Whitecourt to face the Wild.

Thunderbirds WFL run ends versus Royals

Locals drop Oct. 22 WFL consolation semifinal 42-20
#westlock #WFL #t-birds

For the Westlock News.

Thunderbird Mathew LeBeau blasts past Cold Lake Royals Anthony Francis and Thomas Kell during the Wheatland Football League consolation semifinal held at Westlock Elementary School Oct. 22. The T-Birds fought hard, but ended up on the wrong side of a 42-20 decision.
Eric Bowling/WN

The Westlock T-Birds left everything on the field, but we unable to topple the Cold Lake Royals in the Wheatland Football League consolation semifinal played at Westlock Elementary School Oct. 22
The T-Birds opened the game with a touchdown, but were quickly answered back by the Royals, who ultimately went on to post a 42-20 victory.

“We prepared hard throughout the week, and felt pretty confident. But they’re a well coached team and they were really mentally tough — they weren’t phased by us,” said head coach John Kramer.
“We just made a few coaching errors along the way and it caught up to us early on in the third quarter.”

The team was able to capitalize on a series of roughing penalties committed the Royals midway through the fourth quarter, scoring a touchdown but were unable to complete a two-point conversion and finished with 20 points on the board.

Kramer said that regardless of the final score, he was proud of how his team played.

“We’re just really proud of the boys and the effort that they put in this far in and we rallied too. When the game was clearly out of reach we still put in one more touchdown.”

Kramer noted that while the loss was tough to take, the fact it was likely the last game for a few of his graduating players is the real downer.

“We had six players graduate this year, so that was kind of their last quarter of football,” said Kramer.
The T-Birds future looks bright, however. The team’s rebuilding will continue over the winter and Kramer noted he has a solid veteran core heading into next season.

“We try to make football a year round thing — we do a lot of volunteering and getting together in the off-season,” added Kramer.

“We’ve got a crew of 35 returning. Our vets are excited; they know what it’s all about now. They’ve had a year under their belts so it’ll be exciting to push forward with this bunch.”

Kramer expressed his gratitude to the community for its support over the season.

“We felt a lot of support from everybody in the community. It takes a lot of funds to make this work and make it affordable for the players,” he said.

“We had 52 players come out in the spring and we didn’t have enough equipment, so we put out a call to the community and the money was there.

“So I want to give a big thanks to the community for their support, whether it’s financial or just coming to the game. It’s an honour for the boys to play in front of people who care about it.”

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Local support for stroke survivors

Two new programs rolled out at Westlock Healthcare Centre

#westlock #healthcare #stroke #volunteer #goodguy
For the Westlock News.

Bob Way and Kara Rimmer share a laugh at the Patel Room at Westlock Healthcare Centre. Way travels around the county and beyond to help coach stroke survivors through their recovery.
Eric Bowling/WN

Bob Way knows a thing or two about strokes and the long journey of determination to overcome one.

The Westlock man, originally from Newfoundland, survived a stroke on Nov. 30, 2010. His experience was so profound that he has taken up the burden of helping guide fellow survivors through the difficult and often very frustrating road to recovery.

“My left side was like it was over in the other chair,” said Way. “I couldn’t do nothing. It took three full days to be able to move my thumb, and that to me was a big, big movement.

“It’s no fun, believe me,. When you’re wide awake and know exactly what’s going on and you’re lying in the bed and you can’t do one thing about it, it’s scary.

“Really scary.”

While recovering from a stroke can be both frustrating and discouraging, Way said patients have to use that frustration to their advantage.

“Frustration leads to ambition,” said Way. “There’s no use getting pissed off, you’re already in the situation. Getting mad doesn’t help. I found that out years and years ago.

“When the nurse stands there with her arms crossed, watching you, when it takes you 45 minutes to put on one sock, and she doesn’t help, and you’re just stubborn enough not to ask, that’s progress.”

Westlock Healthcare Centre began two new programs for stroke survivors this last week spearheaded by former stroke services coordinator Kara Rimmer.

The first is a peer-group initiative that pairs Way with new patients.

“Bob comes and visits our stroke patients in the hospital for peer support so that they have somebody that has been through the journey as well that can relate to what they are going through,” said Rimmer, who now works in the emergency room.

“He’s so dedicated.”

The second initiative is a stroke-survivor support group that will meet on the second Monday of every month. On average, Westlock Health Centre treats one stroke patient a week.

“(Each session) will be a 20-minute to half-hour education session on different topics every month,” said Rimmer. “Those topics could even be chosen by the group. Then for the next hour or so I’ll be guiding conversation on a different personal growth topic.

“For the first month we’re going to explore the topic ‘Who am I?’ and how impressions of that have changed since the person had their stroke.”

Rimmer added that while the sessions are intended to educate and assist survivors, her main hope is that the sessions lead to lasting friendships.

“If people want to stick around and visit in the cafeteria and have their own personal conversations, that’s what I’m hoping will happen. That people will make connections at this groups.”

She added that the service was not limited to residents of Westlock — patients from as far away as Smoky Lake are expected to join the support group.

Rimmer said that getting the group going is the capstone of her work with stroke patients.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a couple of years,” she said. “This is such a huge, huge piece. The patients that I’ve had over the last two years have been such an inspiration. Their strength and their determination have just been incredible.

“The mountains that they have to climb after a stroke are huge. So many people face it one day at a time. I just want to encourage and support them along the way.”

For his part, Way is happy to help however he can.

“I’m available, basically, because I’m too old to do anything else,” joked the 77 year old.

Barn owner vows to rebuild

Cause of Sept. 19 blaze near Busby remains unknown

#westlock #fire #busby #severson #freerun

For the Westlock News.

The scene Sept. 19 near Busby as the multi-million dollar Severson Free Run Barn burns. The facility’s owner says they plan to rebuild.
WN File

Muneer Gilani is eager to get the Severson Free Run Barn up and running again after the multi-million dollar, 50,000 square foot Busby-area barn went up in flames Sept. 19.

“Our plan is definitely to rebuild,” said Gilani, adding the insurance company is still investigating the cause of the blaze.

“It’s just that the technology and the bird-welter housing is changing every day, so we want to make sure that we build with the latest technology as well as try to understand what went wrong.

“Once I get the results of that then we’ll make a definitive decision in consultation with our neighbors and the individuals who live around the barn, as well as those who work at the barn to make sure that everyone’s needs are met.”

While the fire put an end to all regular operations at the barn, Gilani noted that his employees are still working.

“Thus far we’ve been able to find activities for everyone else to be involved in, whether it’s working on other barns or helping with clean up efforts,” he said. “There’s a lot to do, you can imagine, with a site that large. So we haven’t had any shortage of work, we’re like most farms, there’s a lot to do all the time. Everyone’s working.”

Gilani noted that the fate of the original building is still anyone’s guess, though he expects he will have to rebuild.

“The walls look a little bit warped and they’re cement walls,” he said. “So I’m waiting for an engineer’s report. Verbally, he told me it looks like it probably isn’t going to work.”

He expressed his appreciation to the community during this difficult time.

“I want to thank the firefighters and the community for all their support. The firefighters came from quite far away, so we appreciate all their support. Maybe down the line we’ll have to get together and buy those folks lunch. They really did a good job for us, trying to contain things.”

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Warriors fall in Thanksgiving weekend shootout

For the Westlock News.

Senior Warriors’ Jorrey Jensen takes the puck to the net during a 7-6 Oct. 8 exhibition home loss to the Grande Prairie Athletics.
Eric Bowling/WN

The Westlock Senior ‘AA’ Warriors fought to the last second, but were edged 7-6 by the Grande Prairie Athletics in an Oct. 8 exhibition game at the Rotary Spirit Centre.

“It’s always tough to lose, no question, even if it’s an exhibition game,” said Warriors captain Mike Ivey, who had three assists on night.

“But a lot of good things came out of it. We stuck with it which was pretty nice.”

Morgan McLean of the A’s scored a goal early in the first, and the game blew wide open with a goal in the second by Grande Prairie’s Ryan Trudeau before the Warriors’ Mike Podruzny put one past Casey VanBeckveld to make it 2-1 in the second period.

The A’s quickly answered back, however, as Karey Pipes scored a goal 12 seconds later, restoring the A’s two-goal lead. The lead was cut short a less moment later when Evan Kuhar fired a bullet to through the pipes to close the second period at 3-2.

The Warriors took charge at the start of the third period.

Corey Mercier snapped a goal in just shy of four minutes in, which was quickly followed by a second goal courtesy of Evan Kuhar. The A’s were not contained, however, as Mark Stojan responded with a goal just half-way through the third period.

Ryan Trudeau scored a second goal for the A’s before the Warriors’ Nathan Brown answered back with a goal of his own 19 seconds later. The A’s Dylan Moulds snuck a goal in with just under five minutes to go in the game, cementing the A’s lead at seven points. The Warriors pulled goaltender Marcus Johnson and Martin Clausen managed to put a final goal in for Westlock, but the A’s were able to hang on long enough for the 7-6 victory.

“It was a pretty sloppy exhibition game. There’s lots of technical stuff this year for us to work on,” said Ivey, adding that he was impressed with how the Warriors stayed in the game.

“We have lots of time to work on our power play and our d-zone coverage. It’s a really tough league, but if we can battle like that we should be fine.”

The club’s first regular season North Central Alberta Hockey League game goes next Saturday, Oct. 15 in Edson. The team returns to the friendly Spirt Centre confines Oct. 21 when they play host to the Daysland Northstars.

Get a seat at the next Mayor’s Breakfast

For the Westlock News.

This year’s Mayor’s Breakfast goes Oct. 26 at Memorial Hall. Tickets are $15 and available from the town office.
WN File
 Local businesspeople are being invited to join the Town of Westlock mayor Ralph Leriger for a morning of breakfast and bonding.
The second annual Mayor’s Breakfast, which goes Oct. 26 at Memorial Hall, is intended to bring local businesses together for both networking and to organize an economic strategy for 2017.

“It’s an opportunity to work on our relationship with the entire community, especially the business community,” said Leriger.

“Last year we laid our council’s strategic plan, and all of the goals and steps involved. As well, we have a number of companies make presentations.”

Presenters for this year are still being ironed out.

“Our theme this year is economic prosperity as a regional responsibility. So we’re really emphasizing that for an entire region to prosper you need to have common goals and plans and pull the same direction. You need to lay out what the municipalities are trying to do as part of their collaboration efforts.”

The breakfast will also be an opportunity for residents to provide input on an upcoming regional collaboration study that will be conducted between the municipalities of the Town of Westlock, Westlock County and the Village of Clyde.

“(The study) will look at six areas of studies and make recommendations on if there are opportunities to have more efficient delivery of services.

“(It will) look at other areas, how they’re doing things, and then make recommendations to councils. Areas like recreation, protective services, economic development, our commissions and the airport.

“The people that will come (to the breakfast), those are the people that are driving things happening in our region. So it’s a good opportunity to introduce our consultants to our stakeholders.”

Tickets are $15. Last year about 80 people came out for the breakfast and Leriger hopes that number climbs to 120 for this edition.

Savage gets national team nod

For the Westlock News.

Tawatinaw’s Zach Savage has been named to Hockey Canada’s National Sledge Team.
Photo courtesy Todd Korol
Zach Savage is one of the best sledge hockey players in Canada.

That fact was confirmed last week as the Tawatinaw teenager was named to Hockey Canada’s National Sledge Team in preparation for the 2016 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, P.E.I., in the first week of December.

It’s an honour the 16 year old is still coming to grips with.

“It’s a great feeling. I’m still running off the buzz of making the team, like two weeks after. I’m stoked,” said Savage, who’s one of 18 named to the roster.

Team Canada bench boss Ken Babey said Savage is a great fit for his club.

“We think Zach is a good player now and has a very bright future,” said Babey. “He competes hard as a young player.”

Babey said that his organization first spotted Savage at a 2015 prospect camp in Toronto.

“He played on our development team last year,” he said. “He performed well there, so we invited him to our selection camp. He played smart, fast and that’s the kind of players we’re looking for in our team.

“He’s not shy and he has a lot of courage.”

In addition the club will play in the 4 Nations Cup in Italy next February and then head to the 2017 Sledge Hockey World Championship in PyeongChang, Korea in April.

“Every one of (the guys) to a man wants to win the World Championship,” said Babey. “There’s a lot of work to be done in reaching that goal, but I think we have the guys that want to work towards it.”

Canada is currently ranked second in the world, right behind the United States.

Sledge hockey is for players who are unable to skate normally due to disabilities.

Players use their arms to propel themselves across the ice while riding a small sled. It’s a full-contact sport, with players checking each other into the boards —though because they are riding sleds, they hit each other into the lower wooden parts of the rink.

“It’s the same (as stand-up hockey) but very different,” said Babey. “There’s a lot of physicality to the game. In sledge hockey, your shoulders and arms do all the work. It’s a high performance sport, like any other paralympic sport.”

Savage, who’s an above-bilateral amputee, has been playing sledge since he was five.

While he is still completing his high school diploma at R.F. Staples, he also helps his family out on the farm on the weekends.

“I’m ready to put all the work in that they want me to do,” said Savage. “I’ll do anything. I’m really focused on getting stronger. If you look at the roster, all those guys are 10 years older than me and much stronger than me.”

For Savage, playing for Team Canada is both an honour and a privilege.

“I just love the game of hockey in general,” said Savage. “I love being on the ice, I love the team atmosphere. I’m excited. It will be a learning experience, that’s for sure.”

Train derails south of Pickardville

For the Westlock News.

No injuries were reported after 12 rail cars jumped the CN Rail Westlock Sub-Line just south of the Hamlet of Pickardville at approximately 9:30 a.m. Oct. 7.

According to CN Rail spokesperson Kate Fenske there were no dangerous goods spilled in the incident, only salt, grain and lumber.

Main access to the hamlet, which is Range Road 585, was closed until the early afternoon as crews worked quickly to open the line.

A large contingent of backhoes, bulldozers and assorted heavy equipment were dispatched to the site and were able to have the line open for train traffic by Saturday, Oct. 8.

“The guys have been working around the clock trying to get it cleaned up,” said Fenske Saturday, adding that the investigation into the derailment is underway.

She noted that as each investigation is unique, there’s no timeline as to when it will be completed
The derailment follows another one near Camrose on Oct. 5, where eight cars left the track. No injuries or dangerous goods were reported in that derailment either.

According to the Transportation Safety Board’s website, as of Aug. 31 there have been 66 reported train derailments in Alberta this year, not including the two incidents last week.

This is the second derailment to occur within the borders of Westlock County this year — a train derailed near Westlock on Feb. 14 with no reported injuries or dangerous goods spilled.

There are approximately 310 industrial railways in the province, according to the Alberta Transportation website.

Under the federal Rail Safety Act, trains moving through areas with populations of 10,000 people or more have a maximum speed limit of 40 m.p.h. or 64 km/h. The speed limit for trains outside of populated areas is 50 m.p.h. or 80 km/h.

The 130-mile Westlock Sub-Line runs from Smith, through Westlock and terminates in Edmonton.

Thunderbirds decimate Pacers

For the Westlock News.

Thunderbird Aiden Marshall prepares to bowl over Pacer Adam Koons during the club’s 40-0 Oct. 6 home win. The victory was their first of the season and means they’ll face the Vegreville Vortex in the first round of the WFL playoffs on Oct. 15.
Eric Bowling/WN

After a challenging season, the Westlock Thunderbirds zapped the Athabasca Pacers 40-0 during a frigid Wheatland Football League finale in Westlock on Oct. 6.

The win is the club’s first defensive shutout of the season, as well as their first victory.

“This group has just been working really hard week in and week out, so we knew the wins would eventually come,” said head coach Jon Kramer. “We had a real good week at practice and we told the players that the game was going to be won in what we do in practice.

“They played their hearts out, as always, but this week they shored up those little mistakes, tried a few new things and came away with the win. So they were really excited.”

The game was a series of firsts for a number of players. Karstan Kingma caught an interception late in the third quarter and ran the ball across the field to score his first career touchdown.

“He’s a first-year player for us. He was really excited to get the interception and then also return it. It was two firsts for him.”

In the fourth quarter, first-year quarterback Aiden Walker threw a long pass that found tight-end Mark Strach, who carried the ball into the end zone to score his first touchdown.

“That was (Mark’s) first touchdown, and he has been with the program for about four years. So there was a lot of firsts for a lot of players that night. It was a long time waiting for him, so he was pretty excited too.”

The T-Birds now go on to face off against the Vegreville Vortex Oct. 15 in the playoffs. If they can get past them, they will be back in town for the semifinal against a yet-to-be determined foe.

“If we find a way to win that, we’ll be hosting the next weekend here in Westlock. The guys are excited, especially if we win this first one, to come back home for one last playoff game. It’s a pride thing to play in front of your friends and family.”

He added that to get there, the coaches will continue to drill basics and fundamentals.

“We know that the work-ethic is there, but we need to keep practicing. As we get into the playoffs, it’s going to be better and better opponents. There’s a good shot that if we make it into rounds two or three we’ll be facing teams that beat us by 20 points or so. So we need to be ready.”

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Col. Doyle takes over command of 4 Wing

For the Lakeland Regional.

Former 4 Wing commander, Brig.-Gen. Eric Kenny waves to the crowd as he’s driven away following a change of command ceremony at the base last week.
Eric Bowling
 The Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds‬ make an airborne salute to see off Brig.-Gen Eric Kenny at CFB 4 Wing on July 21.
Eric Bowling

 The new man in charge of 4 Wing was all smiles as he took over command of the base.

CFB Cold Lake held its official change of command ceremony on July 21. The new wing commander, Col. Paul “Puffy” Doyle, will be in charge of all activities involving 4 Wing for the next three years.

“A big thing for us on the wing side of the house is making sure that we continue with the excellent legacy that we have for operational capabilities at 4 Wing. We have a requirement to make sure whenever the government needs air power from Cold Lake we’re there to deliver,” said Doyle. “At the same time, I need to make sure that the incredible relationship we have with the communities throughout the Lakeland region is continued.”

 Col. Paul “Puffy” Doyle.
Eric Bowling

This isn’t Doyle’s first posting to Cold Lake. He previously had been posted at 4 Wing as a student and instructor fighter pilot, as well as commanding officer of 410 squadron.

“This is my sixth time living in Cold Lake. I was here in Grade 6 when the very first CF-18s showed up in October 1982,” recalled Doyle. “We’ve been back for about a week and a half or so now. When we came over the hill into town we saw the sailboats and my daughter’s in the back seat and she’s going ‘yay’ because we know so many people around here and it’s so great to be back home. This is home for us.”

 Maj.-Gen. Christian Drouin receives the 4 Wing Sword from Brig.-Gen. Eric Kenny to pass command of the base to Col. Paul Doyle.
Eric Bowling

 Doyle takes the yoke over from longtime friend and fellow flier Brig.-Gen. Eric Kenny, who himself hails from Cold Lake. Kenny is now off to become deputy commander for Force Generation at 1 Canadian Air Division headquarters in Winnipeg, MB. The change comes after a busy two years in command of 4 Wing, which included a deployment to Kuwait from October 2014 to April 2015 in the fight against ISIS.

“Brig.-Gen. Kenny’s father and my father flew together. They worked together in Germany, so Brig.-Gen. Kenny and I went to school together, we played hockey together, we went on trips together,” said Doyle of his friendship with Kenny. “I’ve known him since the mid to late 80s.”

The reviewing officer of the ceremony was Maj.-Gen. Christian Drouin, who is commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, the Canadian NORAD Region and the Joint Forces Air Component.

Doyle added that he is excited to be in his new role and is looking forward to getting back in the air.
“I’ve been in a ground job for the last couple of years, I haven’t had a chance to fly. I’m a trained Hornet pilot. I started flying Hornets before I met my wife and we had our little ones.”

 Four F18s fly over the change of command ceremonies on July 21.
Eric Bowling

While he may have just taken up his new post, Doyle already has a full schedule ahead of him.

“Next week I’ll be presiding over the change of command ceremony for 410 squadron. I was at the last one as the outgoing CO, but now I’m going to there as the reviewing officer.”

Doyle concluded that he is eager to get started on the job and happy to carry on the mantle of wing commander.

“We do great things in Cold Lake, we do great things for Canada. I’m really looking forward to representing what 4 Wing does for all of us.”

Council approves rezoning for Crisis Centre

For the Lakeland Regional.

A local women’s shelter has passed a major hurdle in its efforts to construct a new building.
Cold Lake City Council approved a rezoning application by the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre at a special meeting on July 19.

The rezoning needed to be discussed by city council because it was listed as a direct control zone, which means that council has the final say in the zoning application process. The crisis centre society had requested permission to build a new outreach building on the property they own.

In accordance with the development bylaws, a public hearing was held. No one showed up to air grievances, although one citizen submitted a letter of protest citing concerns about parking affecting traffic in the area and the effects of social housing on homeowners. Council read the letter in the meeting and concluded that the new development largely solved the problems mentioned in the letter.
The new building will be used for administration and outreach, which are currently operating out of the same building as the shelter.

Originally, the rezoning proposal suggested placing 10 parking spots on the front side of the property. However, a few council members expressed concern about the parking spots disrupting the “single housing” nature of the neighborhood.

However, crisis centre executive director Susan White said that wouldn’t be a problem.
“I would prefer to break (the parking spots) up,” noted White.

In the end, council approved the rezoning application, but amended it to limit the development to six parking stalls.

The next step for the crisis centre is to submit an application for a building permit, which will not be held at the scrutiny of council. White estimated that she could have that done in a couple of weeks.

“We’ve already got the plans drawn. We’ve got the builders set up,” added White, who was overjoyed with the decision.

“This is going to take some of the administrative staff out of the shelter, which will give us more room for women and children,” explained White. “It will also allow our community support program to meet with clients not in the shelter, because often women and men who need our support but don’t actually need a bed. So this way we’ll be able to support more families without interrupting those staying in the shelter.”

According to White, the shelter housed about 329 women and children last year. The number of people assisted by the centre is considerably higher between outreach, the help line, and staff engaging with children in schools.

Mayor Craig Copeland was pleased council approved the rezoning and added that the city was behind the crisis centre 100 per cent. “They’re very crowded in their building and they have a lot of staff,” he said. “I’m very excited for them to be expanding.”

Copeland added, “When the centre comes and asks us for money, I don’t think they’ve been turned down. We support them as much as we can. They provide a great service for the City of Cold Lake and the surrounding area.”

The Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre opened in September of 1982, although it was not officially given its name until the society registered with the provincial government in 1993. Named after the 2006 Physician of the Century, the centre was established to provide women with a safe place to escape and recover from abusive homes.

The shelter is designed to house both women and their children, and features an on-site playground and in-house schooling. It is open to women throughout the Lakeland region. The outreach program has offices in both Cold Lake and Bonnyville.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Council approves application for lucrative public transportation grant

For the Lakeland Regional.

City council is hoping to get two new buses for a major discount, thanks to a pair of grants.
File photo
 Cold Lake is expecting to get two new buses thanks to a series of government grants that the city is able to combine together.

City council approved a plan put forward at its regular meeting on July 12 to apply for a grant and then, in a feat of bureaucratic gymnastics, utilize the first grant to apply for the other.

Chief Administration Officer Kevin Nagoya explained that the Alberta Government was so impressed with Cold Lake's public transportation program that they decided to open up a grant for the city in spite of the transit system not even being in operation for a year, which is usually a requirement.

The Public Transportation Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) is a federal-provincial partnership where the federal government provides $347 million between 2016-2019. Of that chunk, the city is eligible to apply for up to $174,000.

“The City of Cold Lake gets an automatic allocation. We get that funding and we get to choose what to put it towards,” noted Nagoya. “We're not even a full year into the transit program, but the government knows how many users we have, so the government preempted and looked at our numbers and decided we should be a part of the pot.”

This is the first time that the city has been eligible for PTIF funding. The province doesn't place a lot of restrictions on the usage of the money, so Nagoya has suggested that the city use the $174,000 to top up the city's contributions to its application for the GreenTRIP fund.

The GreenTRIP fund is a provincial initiative for funding municipal projects intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The province covers two-thirds of the costs of a project and the municipality covers the other third.

By using the funding from the PTIF to cover the city's third of the costs of two new buses, Nagoya estimated that Cold Lake would be able to purchase two new lowfloor, wheelchair accessible buses worth $1 million for a mere $160,000. Council also could opt to purchase two smaller buses worth $700,000, in which the city would end up contributing $64,000.

“We're talking between six per cent to 16 per cent contribution. Six to 16 cents on the dollar is pretty good payback,” laughed Nagoya. “How can you say no to a program like that?”

In addition to the two new buses, the city is also planning to build additional bus shelters, establish a GPS-based real-time online bus schedule and construct a new transit maintenance and storage facility.

The city is expecting to have the PTIF application in by July 29, and the application for GreenTRIP funding will be submitted by July 31.

Cold Lake celebrates fire hall's grand opening

For the Lakeland Regional.

"Tutoribus" - a painting by Cold Lake firefighter Jason Spears, which was unveiled at the Cold Lake downtown fire hall grand opening on July 9.
Eric Bowling
 The local superheroes have got a new command centre.

Cold Lake Fire Department held a grand opening for its new, state of the art fire hall with a full house on July 9.

The celebration comes after 16 months of construction and years of planning for the mostly volunteer-driven fire department. Construction of the $8.5 million fire hall was completed in May and has been operational since June 1.

The hall is not just a fire hall. While the fire department has the front bay, the rear bay is devoted to Cold Lake Ambulance Services, which houses several vehicles.

“It's great to finally have this thing going. The effect it's had on the men has been tremendous,” said Cold Lake Fire Chief Jeff Fallow. “Since we've been here, the guys have been here day and night. The trucks have never been this clean.”

Fallow added that the station would allow for future growth of the fire department, which is growing as fast as the city itself. While there is no immediate plan to move to a full-time paid fire department, Mayor Craig Copeland said in a speech that the city is expecting to need one eventually.

Currently Cold Lake Fire Department has three fulltime employees and about 60 paid on-call firefighters.

The department serves the City of Cold Lake, Cold Lake First Nations and the MD of Bonnyville, as well as having the occasional call into Saskatchewan.

The hall includes dormitory spaces for both firefighters and EMS personnel, as well as a full kitchen. It also features one of the tallest towers in the city, which will be used for training. Finally, the hall features a special Emergency Operations Centre in case the City of Cold Lake ever needs one, in the event of a major catastrophe the centre will act as the headquarters.

Another prominent feature of the new hall is a large painting designed and painted by firefighter and artist Jason Spears.

Operating completely under Fallow's nose, Spears spent 14 months painstakingly drafting, sketching and painting the piece, called “Tutoribus”, oftentimes having to wait until after midnight to sneak in and work on the surprise piece without his chief noticing.

“Let me tell you, Chief Fallow walked by the station every night, just to make sure everything was going to plan,” commented Spears. “The man is dedicated.”

Spears' work paid off – the painting was revealed to a wide-eyed Fallow, who was so moved by the gesture he was holding back tears of joy.

“I had no idea this was going to happen,” expressed Fallow with a deep breath.

The idea to create a painting was a no-brainer for Spears. He noted that his primary drive to finish was to do something for his fellow firefighters.

Bonnyville soccer clubs net bronze medals at provincials

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

The Bonnyville Breakaway pose with their medals after a hard fought tournament.
Submitted Photo
Two of Bonnyville’s youth soccer clubs won big this month, but not as big as they hoped for.

Both the Bonnyville under 18 Tropics boys and the under 18 Breakaway girls soccer clubs fought hard at provincial finals in Leduc earlier this month and both came out of the tournament with bronze.

During the semi-final against the Lacombe Panthers, Noah Brosseau booted the ball from his own zone across nearly half the field to help score a goal. Unfortunately, it was the Tropics only goal in that game, with the Panthers winning 3-1.

Having fallen to Lacombe, the Tropics came roaring back against Lac La Biche, with Austin L’Hirondelle, Cameron Zelisko, Scott Thackeray and Andreas Sapach each scoring a goal to help the Tropics win the bronze with a 4-2 victory.

“Winning bronze was a good feeling. It’s the farthest we’ve ever gotten in provincials,” commented Tropics head coach Mark L’Hirondelle. “The games were really close. It was a really good, clean competition. The guys all stuck together and played really hard. It was a good time by everybody.”
It was a parallel experience for the girls. Following a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Ponoka Storm, who went on to win the gold, the Breakaway collected their bronze medals after defeating the Edmonton Strikers 4-2.

Zoe Cowan, Harlee Cameron, Kaitlyn Demers and Bobbi Urlacher each scored unassisted goals to seal the deal for the Breakaway, capping off a marvelous season.

“Everyone’s happy. We got a bit unlucky in the semi-final, but that’s how it goes. You win some, you lose some,” commented Breakaway head coach Dave Cowan. “Kyra Bailey was phenomenal all weekend, she really stood out.”

Cowan added he was going to miss his graduating players.

“I just want to give a great big thank you to Malorie Lafond, Megan Fortier, Bobbi Urlacher, Sydney Thackeray and Danica Gratton. It’s their last season so I would like to say well done.”

Soccer is now done for the two teams.

Increase to recreation grant funding approved by council

For the Lakeland Regional.

Recreational groups and non-profits can apply for more money through the City of Cold Lake's Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee. Council opted to boost the amount of funds available to $15,000.
File photo
Non-profits and athletes in need may be getting a slight boost thanks to a modest increase in funding made available by council.

Cold Lake City Council approved new funding levels for its recreation and culture advisory committee at its general meeting on July 12, allowing the committee a greater amount of freedom to offer financial aid to athletes, teams and artistic organizations.

The extra cash is hoped to lessen the amount of delegations appearing before council for funding, although council was quick to point out that anyone who feels the need to speak to council is free to do so.

“Anything above these (funding) thresholds has to come to council,” noted Chief Administration Officer Kevin Nagoya. “When this committee was created, the spirit of it was that there's always something unique about a cultural project.”

The committee provides five distinct grants to groups in need – a travel grant, a leadership grant, a development grant, a special event grant and an equipment grant.

The new policy increases the amount of funding available for travel from $250 to $500 for individuals and from $500 to $1,000 for groups. The leadership grant has been changed to a 50/50 cost sharing program, with the city matching up to $750 for an individual or up to $2,000 for a group.
The development grant has been boosted to $2,000 from $500. The special event grant was doubled from $500 to $1,000 and the equipment grant was expanded to be available every year, as opposed to the previous allowance of every second year.

The overall pool of money available for these five grants was subsequently increased from $10,000 to $15,000.

Coun. Bob Buckle expressed concern about groups applying for both a grant and then appearing before city council for funding.

“I think it would make sense to have one or the other,” commented Buckle. “The rec committee shouldn't be wasting their time if the applicant is going to appear before council anyway.”

However, Coun. Duane Lay noted that there was a proper procedure for groups seeking funding, and that they should go through the committee first before appearing before council.

“In the spirit of (clarity), the easiest way to do it is to send them to the rec board, then they can come to council if they need more,” suggested Lay.

Coun. Chris Vining added that the new funding should draw more applications away from council and towards the committee.

“By increasing the amount available in the grant, it gives council the ability to say ‘no, you have enough from the grant,'” pointed out Vining. “It will be interesting to see how the new amounts play out and to see if the rec grant gets more traction.”

The new funding has been made available immediately.

Roots of Change raising funds to help development in Nicaragua

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

 A local group is trying to raise money for a mission trip to Nicaragua where they will help build homes and other infrastructure.
Submitted photo

A local group of students and their parents are raising funds to go on a mission trip to build better homes and infrastructure in South America next spring.

The group of students and parents are raising funds to help support the charity Roots of Change, which works to spur development in remote areas of Nicaragua. The group will be performing for a fundraiser on July 23 at the corner of the Home Hardware.

The Smith Boys, a local trio of brothers who play traditional Celtic tunes, will be leading the show. There will also be a charity barbecue selling hot dogs and hamburgers to raise funds for the mission.

“This will be the third mission trip for parents and students,” said former École des Beaux-Lacs instructor Yvonne Veraart, who is leading the fundraising. “Our mission is to help impoverished people in Nicaragua.”

About 25 students and parents, including Justin Smith of the Smith Boys, will be headed to Rigo Berto, also known as Plan Grande, in northern Nicaragua. Each traveller is paying their own way on the 10-day trip – the money raised through the fundraiser is going to be used exclusively for the construction.

“Not everyone there has proper shelters, proper washrooms and the things that we have,” said Smith, who plays guitar for the band. “I believe you should be helping everyone live an easier life instead of just casting them away.”

The group plans to help improve plumbing and housing for the small village as well as help build systems to improve local irrigation.

“In one community, we’re going to help build an oven to bake bread,” explained Veraart. “Some of the women want to start up their own enterprise to be self-sufficient.”

Veraart added that she was hoping to match the $15,000 the group raised for their last mission in 2014. During that mission to San Benito, Roots of Change helped build a family garden, brought supplies for schooling and installed pipes to help the flow of running water.

“It doesn’t finish the project, it just helps get the community going,” commented Veraart. “We don’t go there to change them, we go there to help them get back on their feet.”

She noted that the trip was as important for the people going as for the people living in the village.

“It’s a wake up call, the kids are transformed,” expressed Veraart. “Every student should get a chance to go see what the real world is like. We live in a bubble here, and we have so much. It’s important for kids to see that you don’t need that much to be happy. These people are poor yet they have so much to give.”

Veraart also mentioned that her group has a donation bin at the Bonnyville Bottle Depot. Interested donors can just mention École des Beaux-Lacs at the counter to donate to the cause.

The mission heads to Nicaragua on April 17, 2017, for Easter break.

Can Muriel Lake be saved?

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle

An old photo taken of Muriel Lake is held in front of the current lake conditions show just how much the water levels have declined over the years.
Submitted photo
 The fight to save Muriel Lake continues, but depending on who you ask, the culprit draining the lake has yet to be identified.

The Muriel Lake Basin Management Society (MLBMS) held it's annual meeting on July 10.

The society has been pushing hard to determine the root causes of the declining water levels in Muriel Lake, which is at its lowest levels in modern history.

“It's been a 40 year trend of dropping lake level,” said MLBMS president Peter Cordingley.

Cordingley noted that while the society was incorporated in the late 1990s, the lake has been losing volume steadily since 1981.

Yvonne Veraart, who regularly attends gatherings at the lake, noted that the lake has changed dramatically over the years.

“It used to be a pristine lake. Now it's more like a bog.”

Muriel Lake was once an average of nine metres deep, but today it is sitting at about four metres. According to Cordingley, that amounts to a loss of nearly 2.5 billion litres of water.

“The quality of the water is really decreasing, it's to the point where you don't swim in it anymore,” commented Cordingley. “It used to be a trophy fishing lake, and now all the fish are dead. They died in the winter of 2013 because of the low oxygen and water levels. They can't survive the winters anymore.”

What is causing the lake to evaporate is still a mystery. A series of Alberta Government studies in 2009 and 2012 by Ernst Kerkhoven and Brent Welsh of Alberta Environment concluded that the most likely culprit is changes in the local climate, with the most involved factors being reduced precipitation and increased temperatures. According to Cordingley, the usage of the land may also be a factor.

“Alberta Environment says it's all natural. Basically evaporation from the lake exceeds the rainfall, and we're getting very little run-off from the lake. Only about five per cent of the rain that falls in the region makes it into the lake,” conceded Cordingley. “We look at the lakes around Muriel Lake and Bonnyville, they do go up and down, but then they come up again. So we disagree with Alberta Environment. It's not all natural and it's not a natural cycle.”

Industry used to draw water off the lake for its own use but, according to Cordingley, that stopped in the 1980s. However, that didn't stop the decline of the water levels.

Running on the theory that there might be something happening with the aquifer that feeds the area, the society installed two monitoring stations in wells in 2015 to keep track of groundwater levels.

“We think that there could be another impact in that the lake may be connected to groundwater aquifers. There may have been impacts which have caused less contribution from the groundwater aquifers,” suggested Cordingley. “So we're now monitoring the groundwater aquifers and we're getting data from that which suggests that the pressure of the reservoir is higher than the lake water. So if there is a conduit of water flow we should be getting water from that aquifer into the lake. The lake is going down and the aquifer seems to be going down.”

The MLBMS also contracted an environmental engineering company to do an assessment of the land using current and historical aerial photos from as far back as 1959 to map surface water flow into the lake. That study identified a few small water basins in the area that have changed shape and size over time.

“Those are areas we need to do more work to see if things like roads or industrial and agricultural activities have impacted those water bodies and altered the flow of water into our lake,” noted Cordingley.

Another possibility is the correlation of an explosion in the local beaver population. According to Cordingley, back in the 1980s it was possible to canoe up and down the creeks feeding into the lake. However, that is no longer possible, with up to six beaver dams being sighted every kilometre up the creek.

A plan has been put in place to install 10 “Beaver Deceivers”, essentially small pipes that are run through beaver dams, allowing for greater water flow and prevent the dams from keeping water from the lake.

The MLBMS is now waiting for Alberta Environment to give them the go ahead to install the pipes.
Cordingley commented that something needs to be done soon or the lake would be unsalvageable.

“There's very little boating or swimming or recreational use of the lake anymore,” he noted. “There used to be hundreds of people boating. So it's having an impact on the tourism industry in the area.”

Angels win gold in Leduc

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle

The Bonnyville Angels U16 baseball team were crowned champions after defeating the Red Deer Rage in the provincial gold medal game.
Submitted photo
Gold is once again pouring into Bonnyville, with another softball team claiming victory at provincial championships on July 1-3.

The Bonnyville Angels U16 softball club won gold in Leduc after calming the Red Deer Rage 12-7.
The win capped off a modest season, where the Angels ranked fifth in the regular season with a record of 3-6-0.

Angels head coach Mike DeAbreu praised his team’s ability to rebound from any hiccups that came up during the tournament.

“Everytime there was adversity from one inning to the next, they responded perfectly,” said DeAbreu. “By either going on a rally and getting five to seven runs or going out there and putting out some shut down defence.”

The Angels started off their flight to gold by diffusing the Edmonton-High Park Hurricanes 10-7. They continued their march to the championship, deposing the Nose Creek Royals 13-0, then went on to beat the Red Deer Rage 20-6. The girls ended the round robin with their one defeat of the tournament in a close 15-13 loss to the Westlock Wild in the round robin.

In the semi-final, the Angels struck down the Barrhead Dodgers 15-11 before winning their gold medal rematch against Red Deer.

The Rage put on a fight. By the end of the third inning, the Angels were down five runs.

“Everyone was really nervous,” commented Angels player Colette DeAbreu. “But we fought through the nerves and hit two home runs.”

DeAbreu praised his team’s rally during that final game.

“We shut them down in the last three innings. We blanked them completely. Until that time it was back and forth, they were up and then we were up. But then our defence came out and completely destroyed them, and our offense got us three to four runs per inning, as they were doing all weekend.”

Sadie Houle of Goodfish pitched a strong tournament and was solid at bat, hitting six home runs in as many games.

“The entire team played fantastic, but Sadie definitely stood out,” commented DeAbreu.

Colette had a catch out in centre field, then quickly turned around and fired it off to second base to score one of a few double plays that weekend for the Angels.

“It was amazing to win the gold. We all really came together well,” expressed Colette. “Last year we lost every single game and then we go from that to this year.”

DeAbreu beamed that watching his team play so well was a fantastic experience for him.

“To see these girls come together and the chemistry they had, they earned every game they won. To watch them was incredible. The pitching was incredible and their spirit was just amazing. Something I haven’t experienced all that much in my coaching.”

Bonnyville player competes in Alberta Summer Games

As if winning the gold medal wasn’t enough, Colette then headed off to join her former rivals on the Alberta Summer Games Zone 7 team in Leduc.

“It’s kind of a weird feeling first coming together, because you recognize people’s faces from the games you’ve played,” observed Colette. “But that’s the really fun part of it, everyone coming together. You forget everything about the season.”

The Zone 7 team played hard, but was eliminated after losing three games in the round robin. They did come out with a consolation final win, defeating Zone 8 with a score of 14-6.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Hockey Canada inspects Bonnyville facilities in preparation for WJAC

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

Hockey Canada's Dave Hysen and Ben Shutron were all smiles after viewing the Bonnyville Centennial Centre.
Eric Bowling
The local hockey facilities are up to international standards, according to the main authority on hockey in Canada.

Hockey Canada conducted inspections of Bonnyville and area facilities on July 8 in preparation for the 2016 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) being held in Bonnyville Dec. 11-17.

This is the first time Bonnyville has held the prestigious tournament, and the second time the tournament has been held in Alberta since its inception in 2006.

“We’re taking inventory of what we need and what we want,” said Events manager Dave Hysen. “The people of Bonnyville are treating us quite well.”

Hysen added that he was especially impressed with the Centennial Centre.

“It’s got the capacity, it’s got the space and it’s a world class facility.”

Also on hand was Hockey Operations manager Ben Shutron, who was there to ensure the training and equipment was up to snuff.

“We’re trying to formulate two strong teams, and bring the best performance that we can to Bonnyville,” commented Shutron.

Shutron mentioned that Hockey Canada would begin selection camps for Canada West in Leduc and Canada East in Toronto, with the final team being selected shortly before the tournament begins.

“There are enough players coming out to those for two to three teams,” noted Shutron, who expected both teams to be in Bonnyville by Dec. 8. “They’re big camps, but that’s how you get the best players out to play.”

Hysen mentioned that the development of the team is progressing at a normal pace.

“The directors of operations have just been announced for the team, so next up is coaches. That should be done in the coming months.”

While the WJAC is an international tournament with teams hailing from as far away as the Czech Republic and Russia, Hymen noted that Hockey Canada was still waiting to hear back from the invitations it sent out.

“We’re still waiting for confirmations,” noted Hysen. “We do have a general idea of who is coming. They might be the same teams as last year, so the United States, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Russia.

Shutron added that the teams being sent from other countries are typically formed earlier in the season, so Team Canada would have its work cut out for it come December. Canada West has won gold in four out of the 10 tournaments, with the United States taking the other six.

The WJAC is considered one of the biggest showcases of up and coming talent in North America. More than 230 draft picks have gotten their start in the tournament, including 32 first round selections. The tournament helps benefit the economy of the community where it’s hosted, by bringing in up to $2 million.

Treaty Days all about friends and family

For the Lakeland Regional.

The Northlands Dene drummers heat their drums between songs. The practice has both a spiritual side - the fire connects them with nature and the creator, and practical side - the drums sound better when the skins are warm.
Eric Bowling
 A local nation commemorated a treaty signed with the crown that's almost as old as confederation itself.

Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN) celebrated its annual Treaty Days at English Bay on July 7 and 10.
The nation has been coming together at English Bay since 1975 to mark the signing of the treaty, which took place in 1867.

“Treaty Days is a celebration to keep peace and harmony with Canada, about the land, our rights and the fish and the animals,” said CLFN Coun. Kelsey Jacko. “It's about bringing unity to both my people and other people around, so we get along and share this Mother Earth in peace and unity.”

Throughout the activity-packed weekend, traditions and modern practices easily meshed together. The celebrations began with a pipe ceremony and a fire ceremony, a traditional feast, drum dance, and hand games – a classic game where a team of four hides an object in one of their hands, and the opposite team attempts to guess which player is holding the object and which hand the object is in. Canoe races, strongman competitions and hip-hop demonstrations, were just some of the many events held during the festival.

“It's about pulling the people together, going into friendly competitions and meals,” said CLFN community services director Doug Longmore. “It's about relatives from distant areas coming together after a long time, usually after a year or more.”

Longmore explained that Cold Lake First Nations is actually composed of four distinct aboriginal groups – Dene, Cree, Saulteaux and Sioux.

The weekend-long gathering commemorates the signing of Treaty 6, a binding contract between the Monarchy and several groups of aboriginal peoples in central Canada – though the finer details of the treaty continue to be up for debate.

One sticking point is a clause in the treaty that entitles every member of the nation to $5 a year – there was nothing in the treaty to adjust the money for inflation when it was signed 140 years ago.
Jacko said that he and many people in the nation would like to get away from that particular clause.

“I wish we could get along and work together on certain issues to resolve them,” noted Jacko. “We've come a long way, there's more to the issue than $5. I would like to see us get away from the Indian Act, to not have to rely on Canada and make it on our own.”

Politics aside, everyone on hand agreed that the main reason for treaty days was to get together with family.