Here is a recap of the year that was in news.
JANUARY: It was reported town residents would be hit with a three-per-cent fee increase, as new utility rates were approved by council.
It didn’t take long for Taber’s New Year’s Baby to be crowned. Finleigh Doreen May was born on Jan. 1 at 2:20 a.m. at the Taber Hospital, and weighed in at six pounds and six ounces. Her proud parents, Nicholas and Jennifer May, and two-year-old daughter Ruari, have been living in Taber since 2006.
Details of a three-year labour contract between the Town of Taber and the Taber Police Association are revealed following formal ratification. There is to be a 3.9-per-cent wage increase for police in 2013, followed by a two-per-cent hike in 2014 and another two-per-cent increase in 2015.
Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne files a protest to proposed constituency boundary changes, which were tabled in Parliament in late 2012. Under recommendations handed down by the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission in Ottawa, the M.D. of Taber is slated to become part of the huge new riding, Bow River, that would stretch north-south across the province, and would include the counties of Vulcan, Newell, Wheatland and parts of Kneehill and Rocky View.
Town council votes to officially endorse a position opposing the proposed federal boundary changes. Mayor Ray Bryant says he doesn’t feel being included in the Bow River riding would be in the town’s best interests. He adds Taber is more aligned with the Highway 3 corridor, and the agricultural and oil and gas sectors in the area, as opposed to having to deal with a constituency going north of Taber.
FEBRUARY: The Alberta government designates the Taber Courthouse, one of the province’s early seats of justice, as a Provincial Historic Resource. Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk visits Taber and makes the presentation of a small plaque for the building.
Horizon School Division remembers a man it calls an outstanding educator and a visionary leader, as long-time superintendent, Eric Johnson, dies following a battle with a rare form of cancer. Born in Taber in 1947, Johnson started his teaching career at W.R. Myers in 1972, and assumed the role of principal in 1987. He served as the division’s superintendent from 1996-2006.
Premier Alison Redford visits Taber to throw the first rock of the Ladies Open Bonspiel. She also attends a constituency meeting and in an exclusive interview with The Times, outlines her party’s plans for the province in the lead-up to the much-anticipated provincial budget in March. She mentions Alberta’s $6-billion revenue gap, and says even though 100,000 people are coming into the province every year, Alberta is going to continue to have to tighten its belt.
At the annual general meeting of the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers Association, Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne announces an investment to help demonstrate the viability of using sugar beets in the production of sustainable alternatives to petrochemicals. The investment of nearly $600,000 will help the ASBG and a company the organization is partnering with, S2G Biochem, study the use of beets in the production of bio-glycol, a renewable and sustainable alternative to petrochemicals, which can be used to produce goods like plastics, polyester fibre and resin. As the Vancouver company works to perfect the process, S2G’s CEO says the plant which will process the beets in the future will be located somewhere in southern Alberta.
Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Gary Bikman says the provincial Progressive Conservatives are out of touch with Alberta’s economic realities. Days before the scheduled delivery of the budget, he says Alberta’s third-quarter fiscal results signal a dismal economic reality. With a multi-billion-dollar drop in non-renewable resource revenue, Alberta’s forecasted deficit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year is expect to be between $3.5-4 billion.
MARCH: Town officials hope for a smooth transition as Alberta Health Services assumes responsibility to provide ambulance service to Taber and surrounding communities on March 15. Town council voted to divest the ambulance service in a unanimous vote, following consultations with the M.D. of Taber, Vauxhall and Barnwell.
Worries grow in terms of the provincial budget’s impact on pharmacies, as potential layoffs are one sense of concern. The province’s new Pharmacare program, designed to cut the price the province pays for generic drugs, isn’t being met with enthusiasm from Alberta pharmacists. The government is expected to save $90 million by reducing the price of generic drugs from 35 to 18 per cent. Pharmacists say there will be an impact to their profit margins.
After more than two years of discussions, the province reaches an agreement with the Alberta Teachers’ Association. The deal maintains labour stability to the province’s 600,000 school kids and addresses teacher workload issues,
Taber police chief Alf Rudd is shocked to learn the Alberta Police Integrated Information Initiative, API-3, was axed from the 2013-2014 budget. API-3 was set to be rolled out in Taber on March 24. Once pegged at a cost of $65 million, the API-3 system was plagued by missed deadlines and design issues, which drove the costs into the $80-million range.
Police respond to a home invasion at the residence of an 89-year-old woman. The woman fights off a male attacker, and 42-year-old Erich Shawn Johnson is later arrested. Police praised the woman for not only fighting off the attack, but in calling 9-1-1 soon after to give police the information to make the arrest. The woman used a pair of scissors to fend off the man, who police allege sexually assaulted her.
APRIL: Town council discusses the advantages of further enrollment in a province-wide municipal energy-aggregation program, designed to cut costs on electricity and natural gas. The town’s contract in the 2009-2013 program, administered by the Alberta Municipal Service Corporation, sees fixed base load electricity rates at $82.97/Wh, and natural gas rates at $8.52/GJ, expires Dec. 31, 2013.
Ten cattle die in the aftermath of a cattle-liner rollover Friday afternoon on Highway 526 near Enchant, by Range Road 164. There were 38 cattle in the trailer, as six died from the impact of the rollover and another four are put down later from their injuries. The trailer was also a write off, as it had to be cut open to get the cattle out.
It is learned that come Aug. 1, a new person will be at the helm at Horizon School Division, as a press conference announces Dr. Cheryl Gilmore’s appointment as the superintendent of schools and CEO for Lethbridge School District No. 51. Gilmore was selected as Horizon’s superintendent in 2006.
A farmer from Burdett is charged with voyeurism, stemming from a complain police received on Feb. 1 or a video-recording device found in a public washroom with a 7-11 in Taber. Police arrest 55-year-old Frederick Dekker and execute a search warrant on his residence on April 17. The man is set to appear in Taber Provincial Court in May.
MAY: A further $353,000 is to be shelled out by the town an an increase to the water treatment plant upgrade capital project as a result of an unforeseen contingency. It is to relocate a raw water line.
Taber Mayor Ray Bryant decides to run for re-election in the 2013 municipal election. He decides to run for a fourth term as mayor.
New legislation introduced by the province to increase support and protection for children experience family violence is applauded by the Taber Safe Haven director. Amy Tiberghien calls it a huge positive for the family violence realm, and hopes it will increase insight into family violence.
The government introduces Bill 26, the Assurance of Students Act, which enforces an agreement struck between the government and the Alberta Teachers’ Association. The legislation will have the effect of imposing the March 15 offer for a provincial framework agreement.
A Taber man who broke into an 89-year-old woman’s home and sexually assaulted her pleaded guilty to break and enter, sexual assault and possession of a controlled substance. Erich Shawn Johnson will not see the outside of a penitentiary wall for three and a half years.
JUNE: Voters learn they will be selected a new MP in a newly-created riding when they head to the polls for a federal election in 2015. LaVar Payne’s Medicine Hat riding will no longer include Taber or Brooks, and will instead take in towns south of Lethbridge, like Raymond.
Henry Peters is officially sworn in an an auxiliary for the RCMP> Peters, who was born in Canada, grew up in a Low German Mennonite family that came to Canada from Mexico in 1990. The RCMP says Peters is the first southern Albertan with a Mennonite background to become affiliated with the police force.
Regional dignitaries visit the Aquafun Centre to present a grant of $125,000 for upgrading to the pool’s lining of the lap pool.
With a state of emergency declared mere minutes away, the M.D. of Taber avoids having to take the same measure as a result of flooding. Flood waters result in a 2,500-2,700 cubic metre per second flow in the river and in Taber, 2,200 is when water comes over the bank into the M.D. of Taber Park, which did sustain some damage.
JULY: As the dust settles from the firing of the entire Alberta Health Services board, one of the casualties stands by the board’s record. Don Johnson says he stands behind AHS staff, as the board member who served as vice-chair of the audit and finance committee and the health advisory committee adds there were so many things wrong on so many levels with Fred Horne’s decision to fire the board.
Hail flattens corn crops, potatoes, beets and many other crops, as the great white combine sweeps through southern Alberta. The freak hail storm also leaves many town duellers knee deep in hail, as home and vehicles are also damaged. A Taber Police Service cruiser is also a write off after flood waters sweep over its hood while an officer is out on patrol.
Taber receives another storm soon after, as a severe thunderstorm, which nearly reaches tornado status, leaves areas flooded and items damaged by winds that reached 133 kilometres per hour near Lethbridge.
The corn crop does manage to weather the storm, as Taber’s sweet vegetable hits the streets it late July. After fears of shortages and possible problems for Cornfest, southern Albertans have no problem getting their hands on Taber’s most famous export.
AUGUST: Police criticize those who damaged the skatepark surface with graffiti. Chief Alf Rudd added not only is the damage costly to repair, it is also dangerous for those losing the facility, as graffiti compromises the surface of the bowl, and makes it slippery for skateboarders.
Pros and cons are viewed in the changes to the federal electoral boundaries, which make Taber part of the new Bow River consituency, which will include counties of Vulcan, Newell, Wheatland and parts of Kneehill and Rockyview. It will range north to Three Hills south to Taber — a distance of 300 kilometres.
The Taber Cares organization raises about $70,000 for flood relief with a fundraiser. A co-ordinated effort by many local organizations, organizers say it is the biggest fundraiser the community has held in the last 35 years.
Horizon School Division officials attend town council as a delegation to air concerns about drainage issues in the area where the division’s administration building is located. The builded flooded on July 5, due to a combination of a severe hailstorm, followed by a severe thunderstorm and the overloading of the large drainage ditch.
SEPTEMBER: MLA Gary Bikman is wary of the number presented in the province’s fiscal update, and calls it all a shell game. Government operational revenue for the first three months was $9.9 billion, which was $211 million higher than expected. Operational expenses were $9.2 billion, a decrease of $113 million.
Veteran Horizon School Division trustee Sharon Holtman announces she is stepping down after serving 10 terms. She reflects on her 30 years as a trustee, and remembers the woman, Mary Cunningham, who invited her to run for a spot on the board three decades ago.
Taber and District Community Adult Learning is the runner-p recipient of a national award recognizing community organizations that develop and deliver adult and family literacy programs. TDCALA is awarded $5,000 as an honourable mention for the 2013 Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award.
As nominations pour in for town council for the upcoming municipal election, tow stand for mayor — incumbent Ray Bryant and challenger Henk De Vlieger. Eight citizens are also in the running for six spots on council.
OCTOBER: A Taber man is killed in a farm accident near Vauxhall. Police say 28-year-old Joel Bydevaate was believed to have been performing maintenance on a potato harvester when he became caught in the roller section of the machine.
Municipal candidates have their say in an election forum, as a number of newcomers via for a spot on town council. A sizeable crowd grills the incumbents and those new to politics in a lively forum which focuses on fiscal responsibility, downtown, police, development and recreation.
A week later, Taberites elect a new mayor, as Henk De Vlieger sweeps into office. As for council, only Randy Sparks and Rick Popadynetz earn their spots back on council, as Garth Bekkering and John Papp are voted out and four newcomers are voted in.
The Taber and District Health Foundation’s 19th annual telethon raises over $250,000. It brings the total donations to about $3.6 million since 1992.
NOVEMBER: MLA Gary Bikman calls the government’s Bill 28 an assault on municipal autonomy. New regional planing legislation introduced by Premier Redford’s PCs sends shockwaves and leads to fears from municipalities concerning their ability to plan their own future growth.
The Lord’s Prayer is officially taken out of Dr. Hamman School after a local parents voices her concern about the practice to principal Darlene Peckford. It was the only public school in Taber that recited the prayer each morning.
A motion is defeated in council chambers by a 4-3 vote, a motion which recommended revenues generated through photo radar become part of the general municipal budget, rather than remaining under the budget of the police.
As Canada celebrates Bullying Awareness Week, the timing of federal legislation to crack down on cyberbullying is apt. The minister of justice introduces legislation to address criminal behaviour surrounding cyberbullying, as Peter MacKay says the government has an obligation to ensure children are safe from only predators and online exploitation.
DECEMBER: Horizon School Division decides to draft a policy on the Lord’s Prayer. At a board meeting, after delegations spoke for and against the inclusion of the payer at Dr. Hamman School, the board decided to go to the drawing board to develop a policy for all of its schools.
The Wildrose Alliance takes the government to task for its handling of the ambulance service in Alberta. Opposition members question the government’s record in the legislature since the provincial ambulance service takeover. MLA Gary Bikman says he thinks he has made some headway in convening the government there are problems with the system.
There will be no more bulbouts downtown in 2014 after council votes 3-2 to halt the construction of the intersection enhancements. A scaled-down $275,000 bulbous was proposed for the 52nd Street and 48th Avenue intersection, but it was voted down.