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Days the iconic music died

Posted on July 24, 2013 by Taber Times

Holly, Presley, Lennon, Jackson — music icons who left the world wanting to hear just one last song.

A plane carrying Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper of “Chantilly Lace” fame and Richie “La Bamba” Valens crashed in an Iowa cornfield Feb. 3, 1959. The three acts were in the middle of a “Winter Dance Party” tour at the time the plane went down.

On August 16, 1977 the “King of Rock and Roll” was pronounced dead of heart failure at the age of 42 years old.

Ex-Beatle and singer/songwriter extraordinare John Lennon was shot dead outside his apartment in New York City on Dec. 8, 1980. The “King of Pop” Michael Jackson died of an overdose of a surgical anesthetic June 25, 2009.

Gone…too soon.

It’s been 54 years since Holly and co-horts met their untimely fate while touring the U.S. midwest in winter-like conditions. Holly released the hits “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Rave On” and “It’s So Easy.” His suits, ties and horn-rimmed black glasses were Holly’s trademark shtick and his rock-a-billy sound was idolized by teenage boys and girls alike.

Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley in the late 1930s in Texas, and was only 22 when he died. In one year between 1957 and 1958 Buddy Holly and The Crickets charted seven top 40 singles. In 1958, Holly and The Crickets went their separate ways.

Elvis “The Pelvis” Presley is a legend — today, even more than yesterday. His music continues to be heard across the globe, while loyal legions of fans flock to his “Graceland” estate located in Memphis, Tenn., as if on a pilgrimage, each and every year. Presley’s hits include “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog”  and “Suspicious Minds” — there truly are, too many to mention.

 Not only did Presley re-define the rock and roll scene, he was also a silver screen and television star. Presley was, simply put, rock royalty. This August marks 36 years since Presley’s death. Presley was born Jan. 8, 1935.

In one of the biggest cities in the world a memorial continues to attract fans of the late and great John Lennon. New York City’s Central Park is home to “Strawberry Fields.”

 A sacred place fans of the beloved artist visit almost religiously to imagine what the music world might look like if Lennon still had a voice in today’s musical landscape.

Even though, of course, his music is universal and relevant to the times. Lennon’s solo song catalog is vast with hits such as “Working Class Hero,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “Jealous Guy,” “Instant Karma,” “I’m Losing You” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” It has been 33 years since Lennon’s murder.

Lennon was born Oct. 9, 1940 in Liverpool. It was around the late 1950s The Beatles formed and Lennon left the band in 1969.

Moonwalks, white glitter gloves, red leather jackets, black hats and killer dance moves were Michael Jackson’s signature style. His music lives on as a testament to the longevity of “good” pop music. “Billy Jean,” “Thriller,” “Beat It,” “Black or White” and “Smooth Criminal” are a few of Jackson’s cream of the crop.

The “Thriller” music video is still arguably — a piece of classic movie monster mayhem.

Jackson was born Aug. 29, 1958 in Indiana and was lead singer of the Motown family group The Jackson Five.

Today, looking back, our ears can be thankful for the music created by Holly, Presley, Lennon and Jackson.

For decades, some of us still listen and cherish our musical past. “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” or MTV music videos — are nostalgic TV show reruns, documentaries capturing the essence of these pop culture icons or showcases featuring unparalleled talent.

We are fascinated with the life and death of these almost “bigger-than-life” superstars of music history. And we are saddened by their early demise.

There have been stories telling the tale of our musical heroes in film format.

Holly had “The Buddy Holly Story” released in 1978 and starred Gary Busey. Presley had the “Elvis” TV movie starring Kurt Russell in 1979 which was directed by John “Halloween” Carpenter. Valens had the 1987 smash-hit “La Bamba” starring Lou Diamond Phillips. And Jackson had the TV treatment with “Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story” in 2004.

Over the years, each star has also had their fair share of impersonators try to replicate musical magic — some successful, some not so successful.

As for Presley’s preservation a week-long annual event celebrates Elvis’ life and legacy. Elvis Week takes place at Graceland Aug. 10-17.

An interesting side note is Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie was married briefly to Jackson. Less than six degrees of separation, indeed.

Jackson and Lisa Marie married in 1994 and divorced in 1996.

Another piece of perhaps useless information is —  according to, The Beatles chose their name as a homage to The Crickets and apparently ex-Beatle Paul McCartney purchased Holly’s publishing rights and Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” was one of the first songs The Beatles recorded.

Also it was Presley who inspired a young Lennon to start a band. What do you know, more six degrees of separation connections.

Program co-ordinators offering fun for kids

Posted on July 24, 2013 by Taber Times

What do Lego, an assortment of great books, a Girlz Club and a summer reading program all have in common? They are free, fun and exciting activities at the Taber Public Library for kids. For parents, that’s a breath of fresh air. The library’s annual summer reading program is ongoing until August 10, according to one of the program co-ordinators Kirsten Nelson, who has been involved with the program for the past three summers. 

“We try to read one or two books a day, we usually do a couple of crafts, we play games outside and we usually have about 30 kids and we’ve had up to 70 kids but it varies every day,” said Nelson, who recently graduated from W.R. Myers High School. The program runs Tuesday through Saturday from 2-4 p.m. and is for children between the ages of 5-11.

“I love doing it,” added Nelson. “It’s a really fun job. I want to be a teacher when I grow up. It’s kind of like pre-teaching teaching.”

Nelson noted the program is always on the outlook for volunteers to help out with the various activities. “You have to be 13 or older to volunteer for the program,” said Nelson.

Emily Bradbury, is also a co-ordinator for the summer reading program offered each summer at the library, this is Bradbury’s first year as a co-ordinator.

“It’s a lot of running around doing things off the top of your head but it’s super fun,” said Bradbury, who also graduated from W.R. Myers High School this past school year with plans of attending the University of Lethbridge in the fall. Bradbury added the response has been great from participants thus far. “If we keep them busy, they’re happy pretty much,” said Bradbury.

Dawn Kondas, the library program co-ordinator is gearing up for the 3rd Annual Lego Contest which started July 16 with entries being accepted until August 16. Lego enthusiasts can build to their little heart’s content while also having the chance to win some great prizes including a certificate, books and gift certificates.

“We get about 35 kids on average that enter every year,” said Kondas. “They just build whatever they want and we put it on display.”

Entries can be dropped off at the library. All entries will be on display until August 16 and grand prizes will be awarded to a boy and girl in each of the following age groups: 4-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.

“You get some 12 year olds that build some fantastic things and not all of them are from kits, some are just from their heads,” said Kondas.

Taber Public Library would also like to start a girls club for tweens and teens.

If you are a girl between the ages of 10 and 14 and would like to participate in activities a couple of days a month after school contact Kondas at 403-223-4343. Activities could include crafts, Wii and Xbox, guest speakers, board games and movies.

Some of Mother Nature’s latest wrath not classified as tornado

Posted on July 24, 2013 by Taber Times

Last Wednesday night’s severe thunderstorm was not a tornado, according to Bill McMurtry from Environment Canada, even though strong winds, hail and heavy rain caused damage and localized flooding.

 “As far as we know so far, based on what we’ve seen — the information and based on the radar and other things — right now it looks like it’s outflow winds or a micro-burst that created those strong winds in the Lethbridge area.”

“It’s interesting because typically when you get very strong wind and you get some significant damage due to strong winds, people’s first impression is it must have been a tornado and it’s interesting to know that there’s far more damage that occurs from outflow winds from thunderstorms in any given year across the province of Alberta then there is from tornados,” added McMurtry.

McMurtry noted, the two phenomena, are the exact opposite wind patterns. According to the meteorologist, a tornado is when a vortex develops and a convergence of wind gets drawn towards the centre of the tornado. The convergence of wind then gets forced upwards with intense winds near the core of the tornado.

Thunderstorm outflow winds or micro-bursts are exactly the opposite.

McMurtry said a rush of wind, sometimes precipitation aided, moves from the thunderstorm down to the ground and hits the ground.

“In fact, last Wednesday night at the Lethbridge Airport we measured wind gusts to 133 km/hr, shortly after 6 p.m. at the airport. And since looking at some of the damage that we’ve seen — partial roofs taken off of a house and other indications — we’re looking at probably wind speeds could have been as high as around 150 km/hr, wind gusts that high. When you’re getting into that category, that’s when you start to see some significant damage,” said McMurtry, adding those types of winds can occur with intense thunderstorms, so it’s not uncommon.

In 2009, McMurtry recalled a very large line of thunderstorms that formed south of Calgary and extended north of Lethbridge, moving eastward towards Medicine Hat.

“With those outflow winds we saw winds in excess of 200 km/hr. When you get an intense thunderstorm and the environment is set up properly, those are the type of winds that can be experienced from thunderstorms. They tend to be quite localized but unfortunately in this case, the thunderstorm last Wednesday night developed right over the city of Lethbridge and essentially pummeled the city quite hard with strong winds, hail and some heavy local downpours.”

Though it is often difficult for meteorologists to predict weather after a seven-day-period, meteorologists attempt to use models and collected data to offer suggestions regarding future weather patterns. “It’s been just a very active year so far across the extreme southern portions of the province. It’s just been one system after another hitting the area so it’s been very dynamic,” said McMurtry.

“What seems to be shaping up over the next little while is there’s a tendency for the air mass to be a little bit more stable. We’re looking at a little bit warmer temperatures and perhaps slightly dryer conditions. If that comes to fruition then we’re looking at perhaps more summer-like weather expected for the southern portions of the province over the next little period.”

One issue popping up online, as of late, is the reporting of severe weather events on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. A trend McMurtry believes has both pluses and minuses. McMurtry said social media can be a great thing and it can be a poor thing at the same time.

“It really depends on the knowledge of the people who are contributing to social media as to what they report. A person that’s very knowledgeable of a particular subject, weather or other, will have a more valid report perhaps, than someone that is not knowledgeable and may be reporting erroneously and not knowing it,” said McMurtry. “Typically, from an Environment Canada point of view, we’re looking at it for weather monitoring and what not. Once we start to see a lot of social media activity it’s a pretty good indication something’s happening and then at that point we can dig deeper into seeing what’s happening at a particular location. Any given report is just simply that and it always has to be followed up with some form of validation to ensure its accuracy and just to make sure people, what they are seeing, is interpreted properly as to what is within the report.”

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