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Year in Review: A local look back at 2015

Posted on December 29, 2015 by Sunny South News

There’s nothing like the smell of a good old-fashioned barbecue to get the mouth watering in anticipation to devour a sizzling steak, a pig roast, or grilled hamburger and hot dog to perfection.
In Picture Butte, there’s four kings of the barbecue being recognized collectively, as this year’s Picture Butte and District Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year.”
Picture Butte’s Barbecue Boys are — Craig Sosick, Jim Vance, Grant Gilles and Calvin Sosick. Four men with a volunteer determination to provide the best in grilled meats with a smile for those with a full belly that eat at each and every function — when the boys are flippin’ at the grill.
Last month, at a Lethbridge County council meeting the Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association (LTRA) introduced the agency, outlined their goals and provided information regarding the benefits therapeutic riding provides to their clientele and the potential of requiring assistance in 2015.
Rick Austin, executive director, delivered a presentation to council for future funding consideration. Cecile McCleary, president of the association, was also part of the delegation presenting to council. According to Austin, the presentation was made, due to the recent collapse of the association’s arena in November, due to snow.
Since late fall 2014, Alysha Smith has been the Town of Coaldale’s official Arts and Culture Co-ordinator. Smith works with the town’s community services department and her office is located at the Gem of the West Museum.
A provincial sales tax in Alberta has been one of the provincial government’s latest suggestions to tackle revenue lost due to, what politicians are calling, very low oil prices. But, as time has told many times, Alberta could look into alternative revenue sources instead of relying on the volatility of big oil and gas. “We are going to have some challenges in the province with oil prices plummeting to where they’ve got. If everybody had a crystal ball — I was asked by one newspaper reporter, ‘When do you think oil’s going up?’ I said if I knew that, I wouldn’t be farming,” said Little Bow MLA Ian Donovan.
Lorne Hickey, reeve of Lethbridge County, is no stranger to municipal politics. In fact, Hickey was elected to county council in 1998 and was elected reeve in 2005.
This year marks Hickey’s 17th year on county council and 10th year as reeve. But now, Hickey has aspirations once again to take his leadership to the next level provincially, as he seeks the Lethbridge East nomination for the Alberta Progressive Conservatives (PCs).
Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig advised the Coaldale and District Chamber of Commerce the town is pleased to announce Kalen Hastings was named the town’s new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
RCMP officials from “K” Division paid a visit to the Town of Coaldale last week to discuss the town’s transition from Lethbridge Regional Police Service (LRPS) to RCMP, as of Jan. 1, 2016.
It has been reported the RCMP will work out of a store front in Coaldale at that time until a new regional detachment is built in Coaldale with an estimated opening of 2018.
At a regular Lethbridge County council meeting held Feb. 5, HL Col. Wayne Peterson from the 20th Independent Field Battery, RCA was part of a delegation to discuss possible funding for the Lethbridge Military Museum. The Lethbridge Military Museum will be officially opened on Apr. 18.
There’s a potential opportunity down the road for the Town of Coaldale to host an upcoming Southern Alberta Summer Games (SASG), now that town council passed the motion for the creation of a 2018 SASG Bid Investigation Committee.
At a Lethbridge County council meeting, county Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Rick Robinson introduced to council the county’s new Director of Municipal Services Rick Bacon. Kevin Viergutz, the county’s current director is retiring, with his last day slated for Mar. 20.
For the first time in almost a decade, work will begin this month on a new subdivision in Picture Butte. Town council approved the awarding of contract for just under $1.3 million to open up the new development on the west side of Picture Butte, between the LDS Church and the town’s decommissioned water reservoirs. The new subdivision, dubbed Sunset Park, is the first such development undertaken by the town.
Piyami Lodge in Picture Butte is about to get a little sprinkle of government funds to upgrade sprinkler systems in the seniors home. Little Bow MLA Ian Donovan was at the Piyami Lodge to announce the provincial government’s $80 million pledge to upgrade sprinkler systems in seniors’ homes across the province.
A Grade 3 teacher, according to Palliser Regional Schools, at Jennie Emery Elementary School will be celebrated as Coaldale’s Citizen of the Year at a banquet later this month. Nicole Kaminski was nominated for tireless dedication to students and the school.
For over three years, Heather Nicholson has been the Coaldale Public Library’s head librarian but her stint comes to an end in town Apr. 1, as she moves onto a new library opportunity in Sherwood Park, located in Strathcona County.
The Coaldale Copperheads will be headed to provincials for the first time, in Stony Plain April 2-5.
According to a recent report submitted to the Town of Coaldale council from Coaldale and District Emergency Services (CES), medical assist calls are up. And, it’s an alarming statistic, Fire Chief Andy Van Rijn noted at a council meeting held last month.
Incidents involving trains, both serious and non-life threatening, happen throughout the world, the country, the province and locally. But, are fire departments in the area prepared for train incidences including accidents with vehicles or derailments? The Nobleford Fire Department is ready to host a new emergency preparedness program Apr. 20. “It’s a first responder awareness program regarding train incidents. CP Rail has a program called ‘Railway 101’ and it’s a three-part series,” said Nobleford Fire Chief Ryan Wagner.
Coalhurst will finally see some improvements made to the Highway 3 intersection. The changes will offset the deceleration land closer to the town and lengthen the eastbound lane.
According to a media release, Writs were issued Apr. 7 to administer elections across Alberta. Polling Day is on May 5.
Picture Butte has officially announced news of a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). Town of Picture Butte council appointed Larry Davidson as the town’s new CAO, as of Apr. 20. Davidson was previously CAO for the Town of Coaldale.
Sadly and with bittersweet sentiment the Nobleford Legion is closing its doors but one of the organization’s last orders of business was to write a $30,000 cheque to the Village of Nobleford to establish a Legacy Fund to go towards a community project.
For the past 25 years Don Shimek’s Picture Butte UFA has been an integral part of the community. The UFA celebrated the local petroleum agent’s 25th anniversary with food, drinks, treats, prizes, giveaways and a visit from the Shell Rotella Roadshow.
Albertans head to the polls May 5 to cast a ballot for their favourite candidate in the Little Bow riding, which includes the Lethbridge County area. Currently, the Progressive Conservative Little Bow MLA is Ian Donovan, who is one of the candidates running in the upcoming Alberta Election.
Dave Schneider is the Little Bow Wildrose MLA candidate for the upcoming Alberta Election set for May 5. Schneider is no stranger to southern Alberta, as he was and is still a farmer since the 1980s.
Technology is a useful tool to keep records of the past, as Picture Butte High School (PBHS) students found out first-hand last week. PBHS students visited Coyote Flats Pioneer Village at the Prairie Tractor and Engine Museum with hi-def video recording equipment to document local history. Students interviewed local seniors about stories and memories related to the antique buildings and artifacts displayed, as part of the Coyote Flats Oral History Project.
During the 2010-2011 school year Grade 6 students at Noble Central School in Nobleford initiated a playground project, as part of an action research project in Social Studies. Last week, a five-year student-initiated journey culminated with a community effort to build a new playground, with funds raised by the students — now in Grade 10. Close to $112,000 was raised through grants and fundraisers held by the school.
Despite the provincial NDPs becoming Alberta’s new majority government, in what was up until early last week Tory territory, first-time running Little Bow Wildrose MLA candidate David Schneider was victorious. The Wildrose was also named the Alberta official opposition. It was a close race to the very end, as the Wildrose and PC candidates went neck to neck. The 2015 election saw Schneider up against PC incumbent Ian Donovan.
With a focus on helping kids to become active and remain active throughout their lives, PLAYCoaldale is launching in the community. The idea is for parents, teachers, youth leaders, coaches, practitioners and anyone else who works with children and youth to come together to promote, enhance and expand on physical literacy. “It’s just a natural fit,” said Stephanie Wierl, from the Town of Coaldale.
Picture Butte community members and residents from Lethbridge County and surrounding area are gearing up to walk just over 12 kilometres from Iron Springs to Picture Butte June 6 for a cancer fundraising walk.
Coaldale residents and travellers on Highway 3 will soon see The Golden Arches, as McDonald’s construction is underway, as the Town of Coaldale kicks into high gear with the west Coaldale realignment project along the well-travelled highway. The new restaurant is being constructed at the corner of the highway and Land-O-Lakes Drive.
Alberta Transportation, according to a media release, has approved a roundabout traffic circle at the intersection of Highways 15 and 23 near Nobleford.
At a recent Coaldale and District Chamber of Commerce meeting held June 10, chamber President Everett Duerksen brought up the issue of traffic signal lights being installed at the intersection of Broxburn Park and Highway 3 and how it will have an impact on business in Coaldale.
Glenn Henry is Coaldale’s new RCMP detachment staff sergeant, when policing service transitions from Lethbridge Regional Police Services (LRPS) to RCMP Jan. 1, 2016.
Competing in the X Games is a pretty big deal. Just ask Barons resident Shelby Turner, who at 19, just came back from Austin, TX where this year’s X Games wrapped up earlier this month.
In 2014, the Picture Butte and District Recreation and Culture Committee was born. According to the committee, it was created to serve a number of purposes and was started because the committee had a number of residents wanting to see upgrades to town facilities and programs offered in Picture Butte. Council, realized community members wanted to be heard in regards to recreation and cultural facilities and activities within the town. Community members facilitated the creation of the committee.
Palliser Regional Schools will miss the school division’s recent retirees, including Wayne Tate, a Hutterite colony school principal — who officially retires. Tate was a part of Palliser for 31 years, including a few years under the County of Lethbridge and Palliser umbrella in the past. Tate was principal of a total of 17 Hutterite colony schools.
Triple-Jump is Aaron Hernandez’s track and field event of choice. This month, Coaldale’s Hernandez is heading to Toronto, ON to compete in the Pan-American Games, being held July 10-26 — a career highlight of the southern Alberta track star.
Luckily, Coalhurst Miners Days is a go this year. There was talk of the annual event being cancelled because of volunteer burnout, something happening throughout Lethbridge County with community events. But, some die-hard community members have stepped up to the plate to continue the family-fun event — the official passing of the torch, so to speak. Coalhurst Miners Days — A Country Carnival is being held Aug. 7-8.
Not only does being a top-notch auctioneer take rhythm and timing, it also takes livestock knowledge — or at least those are some of the criteria the Calgary Stampede uses to determine the best of the best in its yearly International Livestock Auctioneer Championships, which was held July 11 in Calgary. Nobleford’s Ryan Konyenbelt, 18, finished as the Top Canadian in the Top Four spots out of 27 in third place.
Hannah Loewen is the Coaldale Public Library’s new head librarian. Loewen paid a visit to a Town of Coaldale council meeting last month to introduce herself to council.
A fully operational in-house photo radar service is on tap for the Town of Coaldale, after council passed the motion July 13 to direct administration to take the formal steps necessary to create and implement the service with a tentative start date of January 2016.
Irrigation is one of southern Alberta’s greatest accomplishments — providing the region from Medicine Hat to Pincher Creek with water for a plethora of reasons. On July 29, southern Albertans including local councillors and provincial and federal politicians were invited on a St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) Tour, which highlighted how irrigation is a part of the social fabric.
It’s not easy being green, unless you’re Kas MacMillan. Of course, MacMillan is the Green Party of Canada’s Member of Parliament candidate in the Lethbridge riding for the upcoming federal election in October.
Coaldale and District Emergency Services’ new command vehicle is not flashy — it’s a multi-purpose emergency/rescue unit equipped with the necessary materials to save lives and keep residents in Coaldale and in Lethbridge County out of harm’s way.
Lethbridge County has a new county Enhanced RCMP officer, Cst. Devon Firth and a new RCMP Picture Butte Detachment Commander Sergeant Tom Howell.
Bringing home the harvest for those in need is what community members did last week on two separate occasions, as the Picture Butte Growing Project Harvest Day was held and the Coaldale/Lethbridge Community Food Grains Project Harvest Day was held.
Nobleford Fire Department Fire Chief Ryan Wagner received the Alberta Emergency Services Medal, in recognition of 12 years of loyal service to the people of Alberta. The award was signed by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and the minister of municipal affairs.
A Governor General’s award is a pretty big deal — just ask Picture Butte High School students who interviewed local seniors about their memories and life history, in regards to historic buildings at Coyote Flats Pioneer Village at the Prairie Tractor and Engine Museum near Picture Butte. Students, along with the Centre for Oral History and Tradition at the University of Lethbridge, recently received the 2015 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming for their collection of oral history videos. Coyote Flats Pioneer Village will be presented a gold medal by the Governor General of Canada David Johnston.
Dyspraxia is a developmental co-ordination disorder, which is also called the hidden disability. Megan Van Diemen, who is seven years old, is in Grade 1 at St. Catherine’s School in Picture Butte. On Oct. 16, Megan’s mom Jose is organizing an awareness event at the school.
As a sea of red claimed victory across the eastern provinces of Canada early on in federal election polling results — one thing was apparent and stood out amongst all the hoopla of an epically too long of an election campaign — the majority of Canadians wanted change, well federally that is. The federal Conservatives, once a majority government in Canada, became the Official Opposition. But, in the Lethbridge riding (which includes Lethbridge County), as well as across Alberta, the federal Conservatives kept their stronghold in southern Alberta ridings. Rachael Harder was elected Lethbridge riding’s new Member of Parliament, succeeding Jim Hillyer, who also won his seat in the expanded Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding. Federally, the Liberal Party of Canada won a majority government under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the nation’s new Prime Minister of Canada.
Phase one improvements of the Malloy Drainage Basin project have officially been signed off by all parties involved, making way for work to begin immediately. Representatives from Lethbridge County, the Town of Coaldale, and the St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID), as well as a number of other dignitaries and Alberta Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips were on hand for the signing at the Alberta Birds of Prey Natural History Centre in Coaldale.
It was a young figure skater’s dream, as Picture Butte’s North County Recreation Complex played host to a few of the biggest names in Canadian figure skating including Patrick Chan. Chan, a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist, was in Picture Butte for a practice prior to his appearance at Skate Canada International, which was held at Enmax Centre in Lethbridge.
Coaldale Fire Chief Andy Van Rijn will be officially retired from the Town of Coaldale’s emergency services by the end of the year. After four decades on the job, 30 of those as fire chief, he will be making the transition to a whole new lifestyle.
He’s a musician and a creativity expert — singer/songwriter/inspirational speaker and Juno Award-winner David Usher visited with hundreds of students from Palliser Regional Schools, as a keynote speaker during the Palliser Student Learning Conference Discover U. Its theme was explore, create and achieve.
During a Coaldale and District Chamber of Commerce meeting held Nov. 18, Coaldale’s new Fire Chief Jean-Guy Mayer introduced himself to Coaldale chamber members.
Picture Butte is looking forward into the future in regards to its parks, culture and recreation in the small community nestled in Lethbridge County. A few public open house meetings were held with town council, with stakeholders and with residents of Picture Butte and Shaughnessy to discuss how parks, culture and recreation will look in the future in the Town of Picture Butte. Lethbridge County has also been included in the discussions.
Farmers have united to try to stop Bill 6, which many family farmers and supporters believe will be detrimental to local farms. Bill 6 or the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, in a nutshell and according to Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour — Bill 6 ensures the safety of wage-earning farm and ranch employees and preserves the family farm — but many local farmers say, “Bah, Humbug!” Bill 6 was passed by the Alberta government. Prior to the passing of Bill 6, farmers took to the highways once again, this time on Highway 3 east of Chin and the McCain plant in protest of the provincial government’s Bill 6 plans. A convoy of farmers hit the road on their farm machinery and headed to Western Tractor in Taber to join forces to form a voice of dissent in regards to Bill 6.

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