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Taber’s year of 2017 in news

Posted on January 3, 2018 by Taber Times

Some good and some bad weaved all throughout the year, here is a look back at what 2017 had to offer.

January 4: Now in her fourth year as a teacher at Chamberlain School in Grassy Lake, new vice principal Terryn Gutfriend has deep ties to the community, having grown up in the area and attended the school as a student. Although Gutfriend now resides on an acreage near Burdett with her husband, Logan, her parents and brother continue to farm in the area that she still calls home.

A Saskatchewan man will have his day in court on Jan. 17, after having been remanded into custody on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats. On Dec. 28, at around midnight, Taber Police Service commenced an investigation into a serious alleged assault that occurred in the backyard of a residence located in the 5000 block of 53rd Avenue in Taber.

January 11: The 2017 Taber New Year’s baby arrived a little late; he was supposed to be here for Christmas. Although he arrived in plenty of time to be the New Year’s baby, Max Wallace Malmberg, as his parents Kaylee and Scott Malmberg from Barnwell are tentatively calling him, was due to arrive on Dec. 27. Instead, he was born on Jan. 2 at 2:09 p.m., weighing eight pounds and 13 ounces and is 22 inches in length.

Possibly relocating the fire hall in Taber is still on the table as council weighs the positives and negatives of its implications involving response times, costs to home builders and home buyers with affordable housing and the taxpayer. With how the Taber Fire Department views the situation, it is simply this — the department will do their job to the best of their ability with the resources they are allotted be it at the current fire hall or a more centralized one in the future if that is what council decides.

January 18: One of the four provincial Progressive Conservative leadership candidates made their way to Taber last week as part of an awareness campaign in southern Alberta for his candidacy. After 44 years of PC rule, the NDP took a majority victory in 2015 in which now the PCs are looking for a leader that will bring them back to prominence.
The Taber-Notogawa Friendship Society is hosting a meeting tonight to gauge the interest of the town and the community in enhancing Taber’s twinning relationship with Higashiomi City, Japan.

January 25: Alberta’s opioid abuse levels have reached near-epidemic proportions in early 2017, and Taber is not immune to the crisis that is reaching the streets in communities across the province. Alberta, like many provinces, has seen a rapid rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths over the past few years. Fentanyl is a potent, synthetic opioid pain medication with a rapid onset and short duration of action. Fentanyl is estimated to have about 80 times the potency of morphine.

Due to all around increased costs, the Boards and Services packages at Clearview Lodge have gone up by $100 across the board. Although the carbon tax does play a factor in it, it is not the only reason for the increase, according to a Taber and District Housing official. With factors such as increased food and labour costs, the facility cannot keep operating at the previous prices.

February 1: There is plenty of push back expected over the recent decision by the provincial government regarding the establishment of park boundaries in the Castle area as well as an end to off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in the parks. Premier Rachel Notley and Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips were on hand in Pincher Creek to make the announcement in establishing the Castle Provincial Park and the expanded Castle Wildland Provincial Park, which they noted will save 103,000 hectares of land from disturbance and development. The Castle area is home to more than 200 rare or at-risk species along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Taking over the helm of the Taber Public Library in November as manager, Heather Martin-Detka has been ensconced amidst the stacks as she gets a feel for her new position. “I’ve really been enjoying it. I’m originally from Drumheller, went to school in Red Deer and Edmonton, was working for non-profits, decided that I wanted to get into different nonprofits, and I loved information and sharing information, so library school just seemed like a natural fit. The position opened up, and I figured why not?”

February 8: More than 100 brave souls took the plunge on Saturday afternoon for the sixth annual Polar Plunge Freezin’ for a Reason event. The Lethbridge Police Service, Taber Police Service and Blood Tribe Police Service, RCMP, Alberta Sheriffs, Lethbridge Corrections and the Alberta Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) hosted the event to help raise funds for the Special Olympics Alberta’s 3,000 athletes.

A continued lack of public interest in serving on a three-person member-at-large council remuneration committee has prompted town council to consider other options in determining new rates of pay for elected officials. At their Oct. 24, 2016 regular meeting, town council had voted 6-1 to establish a three person member-at-large committee to review council remuneration. Coun. Rick Popadynetz had opposed the motion.

February 15: Four volunteer firefighting services joined forces to contain a massive fire that broke out at Flexible Solutions in the 5800 block of 52nd Avenue in the industrial area on Saturday afternoon, as the building was destroyed. “It was a very large fire. We ended up having basically Town of Taber fire department, Vauxhall fire department, Grassy Lake fire department and the new regional M.D. fire department,” said Steve Munshaw, fire chief of the Town of Taber fire department in a Monday afternoon interview with The Times.

Although former Barnwell School teacher Joan Anderson will miss the old school, its time had come. Anderson started teaching at Barnwell School in 1972. Having previously taught at L.T. Westlake, Central and Vauxhall Elementary schools, her 21-year stint at Barnwell School, teaching her usual Grade 3 class, was the longest she had taught in one place.

February 22: Creating a broad-based hiring policy requiring local residency for senior management could result in a Charter challenge, according to advice provided by the town’s legal experts. At town council’s Jan. 23 regular meeting, a motion was passed directing administration, “To look into devising a policy in regards to requiring new management hires to live within the Town of Taber.”

March 1: Town council has opted for a community survey to gauge the level of public interest in various communications options being considered by the town. Following the Nov. 28, 2016, meeting where town council expressed interest in knowing more details on the time and costs involved for administration in regards to implementing communications options for council meetings, research was conducted allowing for the completion of the top five ranked options that would address council’s interest in fostering, “More open communications with citizens that may not be able to attend council meetings.”

The clock has finally ticked down as the Municipal District of Taber Regional Fire Service is officially operational as of today after a year worth of bylaws being passed, volunteers recruited and thousands of hours of training logged. “It’s been a lot of hours put in by everybody. All the volunteers, they started their first course July 20 (2016) and we are pushing over 300 hours for each member in training,” said Joe Bruyere, deputy fire chief for the regional fire service. “There has been great anticipation. I’ve had a countdown clock on the back training screen from 60 days out and you can feel the anticipation.”

March 8: Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter is cautiously optimistic about the economic prospects for the province in 2017, but suggested Notley’s NDP government has more work to do to ensure prosperity for Albertans. Speaking in the Capital View Room of the Federal Building in Edmonton last week minutes before Lieutenant Governor Lois E. Mitchell delivered the speech from the throne in the legislature to open the spring session, Hunter talked about the opportunity to participate in one of the province’s longstanding democratic traditions still steeped in pomp and circumstance.

March 15: The problem of just who should be responsible for cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells has had a long and complicated history in Alberta, and the future may not be a bright one for taxpayers potentially left on the proverbial hook. For Regan Boychuk, an independent researcher who recently sat on one of the royalty review’s advisory expert panels, legal precedents once blazed the way for a super priority for environmental clean up in the oil and gas industry.

March 22: Judging by the atmosphere beginning to prevail in town council chambers, there’s no mistaking 2017 is a municipal election year. Taking dead aim at comments made about town reserves by Coun. Randy Sparks earlier this month, Mayor Henk DeVlieger was on the offensive during the March 13 regular meeting.

With Jason Kenney winning the PC leadership race in the province, the Unite the Right movement is a step closer to reality. Earlier this month, the Wildrose Constituency Association hosted a town hall meeting in Taber to discuss if that is, in fact, what voters want to see happen.

March 29: Local community-minded youth were honoured at the APEX Youth Awards last Wednesday evening, in a gala event that saw four admirable candidates take home prestigious bursaries for their hard work in their communities. An impressive 23 nominees were recognized at the dinner in their honour and thanked for their accomplishments and community service. At the end of the night, four of them were presented with $1,500 bursaries, sponsored by four local businesses (Legacy Dodge, Avail LLP, Grower’s Supply Ltd. and South Country Co-op). The two runners-up were also awarded bursaries of $250 from the APEX Committee.

April 5: The Taber Equality Alliance’s rainbow flag will not be flying from the town’s main flag pole at the entrance to the Administration Building in mid- June, following a split decision by town council. The group was requesting council’s support for hosting a ceremony in front of the Administration Building, utilizing the town’s main flagpole for a Pride flag raising that would coincide with the planned Taber PrideFest event being held on June 12, with the intention of having the flag displayed at that location for the remainder of June 2017.

April 12: Beefy pay increases in the public sector can be a touchy subject for taxpayers increasingly squeezed by governments at the federal, provincial, and municipal level. That fact didn’t discourage Taber town council, which recently approved a five-figure increase to remuneration for the mayor’s position, while councillors will also be seeing a significant financial boost.

Plans to expand the community’s municipal solid waste initiative from residential areas to the downtown, industrial area or multi-family dwellings such as apartments are slowly taking shape.

April 26: Taber Municipal Police Commission has signed off on the deployment of a less than lethal munition for use by the Taber Police Service in situations where the limited range of current non-lethal options makes them less feasible. At their April 13 regular meeting, the Taber Municipal Police Commission approved the deployment of a Less Lethal Munitions Sock Program for use within the Taber Police Service.

If anyone wonders what kind of impact the 225 Royal Cadet Air Squadron can have on a young person, they have to look no further than Vice- Admiral Ron Lloyd, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, interim Vice Chief of Defence and former Taberite. The vice admiral will be the guest of honour on May 6 as the 225 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron celebrates its 75th birthday as the oldest youth organization in Taber next to the Boy Scouts.

May 3: As the federal Conservative leadership race winds down to a conclusion on May 27, Bow River MP Martin Shields has officially endorsed candidate Erin O’Toole. Speaking during a roundtable discussion inside Municipal District of Taber council chambers last week, Shields outlined the choices that were before him and what factored into his decision. “I looked at it and said okay, I think we need someone from Ontario, that has a strong base there, because I think that’s where we’re going to have to go, and there’s two. The one I chose, he was a captain in the air force, he has a law degree from Dalhousie in Halifax, he’s got a base in the Maritimes, and he became a lawyer and worked in the banking industry in Toronto and lives in rural Ontario. That’s Erin O’Toole. When it came down to it, I talked to Erin a lot, and Erin approched me a lot, and that’s where I went.

Activity over the D.A. Ferguson/W.R. Myers modernization has resumed as the question of where to put students arises. During their regular April 25 meeting, the Horizon School Board discussed where to put students while construction was occurring on the D.A. Ferguson portion of the building.

May 10: Three potential scenarios for relocating the town’s fire hall to meet a 10-minute response time have been presented to town council. Improving the response times of the town’s volunteer fire service, which could have a corresponding effect on the development community with regard to decreased input costs, has been a bone of contention for developers with properties currently outside the radius of a 10-minute response time.

Several members of town council are voicing strong opposition to the planned legalization of marijuana by the Trudeau Liberals in July 2018. At their April 24 regular meeting, Bow River MP Martin Shields spoke as a delegation about some of the implications for municipalities of the federal government’s pot liberalization plan that was announced last month.

May 17: With a target date for marijuana legalization now set for mid-2018, Bow River MP Martin Shields is warning municipalities to brace for a new liberalized environment. “The marijuana is the big piece out there in the sense that although it’s got a separate piece of legislation, it’s I believe the one that will affect municipalities the most,” said Shields, who spoke at a roundtable discussion with Municipal District of Taber council in late April.

May 24: Worries continue to mount in Taber over the federal government’s mandate to allow smoking marijuana legally in Canada by July 1, 2018, through Bill C-45 the Cannabis Act. Taber Municipal Police Commission voted unanimously at its May 11 meeting to direct Taber Police Service Chief Graham Abela to work with administration to review the Town of Taber’s current bylaws, policies and procedures, and review the funding for required resources with administration in anticipation of the proposed Cannabis Act, effective in 2018.

After years of bickering, can Alberta’s right-wing parties merge? Thursday’s announcement by the two competing leaders, suggests political scientist Faron Ellis, indicates it’s a possibility. But there’s still plenty of debate and compromise to come.

May 31: Taberites could be voting in a massive new Taber-Vulcan riding, following the announcement of drastic changes recommended in a preliminary report by the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Varying degrees of public outcry have prompted the provincial government to launch a review of photo radar in Alberta to determine if it is actually an effective road safety tool or just a municipal tax grab.

June 7: The latest agreement between Alberta teachers and the province will not endanger any school clubs, teams or groups for students according to the Horizon School Division superintendent. The Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA) voted 78 per cent in favour of the two-year agreement with the Alberta government in an online vote in mid- May. With the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association having ratified the agreement late last month, the contract will come into effect Sept. 1, in time for the 2017/18 school year.

History will be made come Monday, June 12, when Taber hosts its first ever Taber Pride: Small Town, Big Hearts, at Confederation Park. “It’s coming along pretty well. We have a couple of corporate sponsors now, so that has taken a lot of the pressure off and provided more people to help out with activities,” said Jillian Demontigny, a co-organizer of the Taber Pride Fest, and Taber Equality Alliance member.

June 14: Sweeping changes to Alberta’s labour legislation have now been passed, a shake-up close to three decades in the making for the NDP who had long campaigned for improvements under the previous PC government. Introduced in late May and known as the Fair and Friendly Workplaces Act, the bill — which was passed at the end of the spring session — brings maternity and compassionate leave up to federal standards, and sets in place new regulations for overtime and vacation pay.

June 21: A rash of crime directed towards the gay and transgendered community in southern Alberta has made its way to Taber. Now, a mere week after a Gay Pride Flag was raised near the administration building in Taber as part of the first ever Taber Pride: Small Town, Big Hearts celebration at Confederation Park, that flag has been stolen sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Although some question remains about its legality, town council has approved a residency requirement policy for senior management despite the potential for a Charter challenge.

June 28: A provincial act meant to make things easier for the families of students is creating a bit of controversy on a local school board. During the throne speech ceremonies for the Alberta legislature earlier this year, the first reading of Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees, was passed. It received Royal Assent on May 4. The bill, much like it’s name, had called for the elimination of school fees for Alberta students.

Just over a week after Taber’s first Pride flag was stolen from its flag pole, the second one has been burned to the ground. The Taber Equality Alliance issued a statement on Sunday that the flag had been burned on the flag pole in Confederation Park, behind the Town’s administration building. “Fortunately, the fire did not spread to the surrounding trees, or the gazebo,” the statement reads. “We are still here. Our hearts are strong. This is not a deterrent, but a call to love.”

July 5: The province has launched a planning study on the future twinning of Highway 3, and local residents were invited to an open house on the preliminary stages of the study last week. “The Alberta government is looking to complete a functional plan for the future twinning of Highway 3. What we’re doing is part of a future plan from Medicine Hat all the way to the B.C. border,” said Rhonda Shewchuk, transportation sector lead with Stantec Consulting Ltd., the firm contracted to conduct the study. “The open house is really just to introduce the study, let people know what the timelines are, what the process is, and just get some feedback, input, any concerns, any issues — anything we need to know before we go too far into the study and start developing options.”

The Horizon School Division has a new set of rules on how outside groups can use their schools. During their regular June 20 meeting, the Horizon School Board reviewed Policy JG — Community Use of Facilities policy — which had received first reading during their January meeting. “We set a policy around consistent practices within the school division, around cost,” said Wilco Tymensen, Horizon superintendent, adding no changes were made to the policy based on feedback.. “The goal and the belief of the board is that schools are based, grounded in the community, and that you want to end up working collaboratively with your community and provide opportunities for services for children and youths and adults within the school, community and school jurisdiction. But you also recognize the cost associated with maintaining your buildings, and when third party groups come in, it’s not about making money, it’s about covering the cost of services that are being needed.”

July 12: Safety concerns about a homeless man sleeping in Confederation Park last month has its legal and societal issues according to Taber Police Chief Graham Abela, where tackling the issue goes far past the letter of the law. “It is illegal (sleeping in Confederation Park overnight as residence). That location is not zoned for any type of occupancy in relation to people living there,” said Abela. “The problem is, when you have homeless people, it is a bigger societal issue than just law enforcement in relation to where someone can stay or where they should reside.”

July 19: The Town of Taber will be leading the charge in pressuring the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to lobby the federal and provincial governments to exclude Alberta from the implications of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. A resolution adopted by council calls on the AUMA to petition the Governments of Alberta and Canada to not allow the Cannabis Act to pertain to municipalities in the Province of Alberta.

With various departments eyeing additional space for themselves should the town choose to relocate its present fire hall, there was no surprise town administration appears to be in full support of the proposed initiative. In a new report submitted to town council at their June 26 regular meeting, entitled Fire Hall Relocation – Benefits to Administration, an analysis of the benefits of a relocation to various town departments was detailed. According to administration, the results of the report “shows that relocating the fire hall has many benefits to town administration.”

July 26: Alberta’s United Conservative Party has been given the green light by the memberships of the Wildrose and PC parties in a resounding show of support on the unity question, which saw 95 per cent from each party vote in favour of the merger.

Some serious solar investment may be coming into the M.D. of Taber. In a series of solar projects in southern Alberta, Solar Krafte Utilities, in partnership with Belectric and Innogy, wants to build and operate three solar facilities within the M.D. of Taber, located north of Enchant, north of Vauxhall and south of Vauxhall.

August 2: Responding to concerns regarding how a recent $2.4 million donation was allocated by town council, Mayor Andrew Prokop is confident the decision was in the best interests of the community. The Town of Taber was the recent beneficiary of the estate of former Municipal District of Taber resident William Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson left the town approximately $2.4 million after he passed away in October 2016.

The Town of Taber recently completed a communications survey about what methods citizens utilize to access information about the municipality, and local print media still maintains a commanding lead at close to 65 per cent of respondents.

August 9: Grassy Lake does not, repeat not, have zebra mussels, and the recent closure of a boat launch there is meant to keep it that way, officials with the St. Mary River Irrigation District said last Thursday. The rumour, spread throughout fishing circles of an alleged infestation began in late July when signs went up and the dock was closed by SMRID.

August 16: Mayor Andrew Prokop is hoping to add clarity to public questions surrounding town council’s recent allocation of a $2.4 million donation to two town projects. “There just seems to be a lot of misinformation, or misunderstanding out there,” said Prokop. “The proposed site has yet to be established, that’s believed to be coming as a recommendation at our next meeting (Aug. 21), as well as a design.”

Cornfest committees met a final time last week in the countdown to one of Canada’s largest free festivals. During the meeting, two Cornfest stalwarts were recognized in former mayor Henk DeVlieger and former fundraiser Jean Bullock.

August 23: Barnwell School Committee came with hat in hand to Barnwell council, asking if it could help out in anyway in an unforeseen $330,000 shortfall in funding for the Barnwell School modernization. An organization that has been meeting since 2014, before that, the organization was the Barnwell School Alumni Committee.

The M.D. of Taber has been successful in achieving a grant they have been working on since 2012, for work addressing a stormwater drainage issue that has occurred the last few years in the southern portion of the M.D. in the Township 8 Range 16 area. The work would be done six miles south of Taber, near Highway 513.

August 30: There is the urgency of now when it comes to a critical bridge replacement in the Municipal District of Taber, along with a nearby drop structure, for the future of agriculture in the area. The Bow River Irrigation District’s drop structure in question is a very large one straight south of Enchant which is immediately downstream from the bridge. The canal water level drops approximately 10 metres at the site. At that point, roughly over half of the total area of the BRID is downstream of the drop structure. With aging infrastructure of both the bridge and drop structure, failing of the drop structure would have a crippling ripple effect.

Cornfest 2017 proved to be bigger and better than ever as mostly positive feedback has been received with the numerous tweaks that were done this year. “With some of the changes we tried to do this year, I think some of them worked really well and others we are going to look at again, tweak some things and make some adjustments,” said Mark Garner, chairperson for Cornfest 2017. For the first time, Cornfest extended well into Thursday, with the Cornfest parade, opening ceremonies, the farmer’s market and a full evening/night of entertainment on the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce Stage.

September 6: Cornfest 2017 proved a special one for Taberite Gerald Fawns in more ways than one. Along with getting to celebrate with family who came from all over including Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Wetaskiwin, Fawns also reached the century mark on Cornfest Saturday in times he has donated blood. “We really want to celebrate the accomplishment of the donor in Taber for this milestone. Long-time donors play a really important role in inspiring Canadians to become regular donors and meet Canada’s future needs,” said Deb Steele-Kretschmer, a spokesperson for Canadian Blood Services. “We really like to honour the loyalty and commitment of our donors because every donation counts, whether it’s the first one or the 100th.”

September 13: Solar Krafte Utilities was back in council in hopes of bringing solar power to the M.D. of Taber. The Vancouver-based company was making another presentation to the M.D. board in hopes of getting their three proposed solar facilities located north of Enchant, south of Vauxhall and north of Vauxhall approved for building and operation. With both company heads from around the area, Solar Krafte feels like they have a strong connection and understanding of the land.

Visitors from the Land of the Rising Sun will soon be touring the community and everything else southern Alberta has to offer in mid-September. Organized as part of the Town of Taber’s twinning relationship with Higashiomi City, Japan, a delegation from that area tours the region on a reciprocal basis every other year. Last year, the Town of Taber celebrated the 35th anniversary of the twinning arrangement with Higashiomi City, and sent a delegation to that city on an exchange in 2016. Taber entered into a twinning agreement with the Town of Notogawa in 1982. Eventually Notogawa was amalgamated into a larger urban unit, Higashiomi City, but the agreement continues.

September 20: The creation of a proposed video stating town council’s opposition to upcoming cannabis legislation has gone up in smoke following a 3-3 deadlock vote. At their Aug. 21 regular meeting, council had passed a resolution called “Repeal the Cannabis Act” to be presented at the upcoming Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) convention on November 22-24 at the TELUS Convention Centre in Calgary. The resolution — if passed by the AUMA membership — essentially calls on that organization to lobby the federal government to repeal Bill C-45, while also requesting the provincial government work with AUMA to achieve that same goal.

It was brothers and sisters in arms from the Taber area that helped save national tourism treasure Waterton Lakes National Park from being destroyed by fire. Both the Town of Taber Fire Department and M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Department deployed 16 firefighters and resources to the mass fire threatening the area that as of Friday afternoon was still hectares long.

September 27: Town administration has recommended two locations for a proposed new fire hall, which are currently being further scrutinized for their suitability through ongoing evaluations. The two locations being recommended include the southeast corner of town-owned property near Dr. Hamman and St. Pat’s schools, as well the parking lot area northwest of the curling rink.

The fall and winter chill is coming and the Taber Food Bank wants to ensure all families have the warm feeling of food in their bellies. The Community Food Drive runs Oct. 4. in Taber and Barnwell. “People are realizing it’s fall and our numbers are climbing. Summer is the easier months where you can barbecue and keep the heat down in your homes. But now the bills are climbing, parents have to buy supplies for school, so finances have dwindled. The demand at the food bank is climbing and we are always looking for food,” said Kathy Boersma, Taber Food Bank manager. “Our biggest needs are the pasta and the dry foods. Those are the prime ingredients that go into our hampers. We love our clients and we want to do our best for them.”

October 4: The Town of Taber has moved to purchase a new 110 foot ladder truck for the Taber Fire Department for just under $1.2 million. “We spent a lot of time on this, and made a couple of trips down south,” said Coun. Jack Brewin, speaking prior to the vote at council’s Sept. 25 regular meeting. “We saw a lot of trucks, and we saw a lot of aspects, different uses. I was very impressed by this. I realize it’s more money than we initially planned on, but we’re getting quite a bit better truck, a bigger truck that meets all our standards. And people must remember this truck is going to last us for 25 years.”

The Town of Taber is updating its land-use bylaw to incorporate definitions in anticipation of cannabis legalization in 2018. Added and updated definitions in the bylaw include cannabis itself, cannabis lounges, cannabis production and distribution, and cannabis retail sales. The purpose of the amendments is to prepare for proposed federal legislation legalizing non-medical marijuana in mid-2018. “We are experiencing applications coming through the door trying to get ahead of the change from illegal status to legal status for the substance,” said CAO Cory Armfelt at town council’s Sept. 25 regular meeting.

October 11: The ‘moment’ hasn’t come yet for Las Vegas mass shooting victim and Taberite Martin Sorensen. It may still come, it may never. Survivors of the tragedy earlier this month that saw a gunman kill 58 people and injure another 489 as he opened fire from his 32nd floor Mandalay Bay hotel room into a crowd of 22,000 people attending a country music concert, will react each in their own way. There is no textbook for this, no ‘right’ or wrong’ way to handle the raw emotion the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in U.S. history, and is sure to weigh on the psyche of those involved.

In celebration of Fire Prevention Week, the following is a feature on a volunteer firefighter in the readership area. The Municipal District of Taber Fire Department (Station 4) officially started helping its residents back in March. Part of that history as one of the very first 21 volunteers to answer the call to form the department, Craig Pittman, superintendent of public works for the Municipal District of Taber decided to suit up. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I considered being a career firefighter in high school and never really sought that out. The opportunity was right in front of me to jump on a new department and I took the opportunity and ran with it. First and foremost, it’s about helping people when they are truly in a time of need. Someone has to answer the call, and as a young boy I liked superheros. It’s not like we are trying to be superheros, but you get that feeling of an adrenaline rush and it does make you feel good at the end of the day. It’s very, very rewarding,” said Pittman.

October 18: Taber voters have pulled out the mayor’s chair for Andrew Prokop, who handily defeated opponent Randy Sparks on Monday night by a margin of almost 500 ballots. Prokop had served previously as acting mayor throughout much of 2017 following the resignation of former Mayor Henk DeVlieger. Prokop posted a resounding victory, taking in 1,227 votes to Sparks’ 736.

October 25: Citizen concerns regarding tractor-trailer parking and groups gathering in the Wal- Mart parking lot were addressed by the Taber Municipal Police Commission at their most recent meeting. “A citizen has brought concerns regarding the monitoring of Wal-Mart,” said commission representative Wanda Renner at the TMPC’s regular meeting on Oct. 12. “The feedback is that it just seems to be getting larger and larger. Also the big trucks — I know historically Wal-Mart is a place for semis to park and then leave.”

The Alberta Sugar Beet Growers were once again giving people the opportunity to take a tour of the process sugar beets go through from field to store. The tour earlier this month gave a glimpse as to what goes into growing a sugar beet in the area with a tour of a local beet field. The first stop allowed a teaching moment for those on the tour as President of the ASBG Arnie Bergen-Henengouwen gave everyone a run down on the cycle from the beginning until harvest. He says this year’s crop looks fairly consistent with past years and he hopes for nice weather as they continue the push.

November 1: The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #20 is asking for Taber and area’s help in identifying veterans from around the municipal district. With Remembrance Day only a few days away, the local legion is hoping to recognize as many men and women who have served as possible. “In 2015 there was an initiative by a group of veterans, who were legion members, that approached the government about creating an honour roll to recognize members of the Canadian Armed Forces, first responders, members of the RCMP, police officers who have served in theatre of combat or conflict since 1953. That was the intent behind the program to recognize and honour our veterans,” said Chris Nguyen, sergeant at arms for the Remembrance committee.

The Poppy Campaign from the Royal Canadian Legion was officially rolled out last Friday as a way of remembrance for those who serve their country. “It’s a combination where first and foremost, it’s an act of remembrance to honour those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to serve actively or in a retired capacity,” said Christopher Nguyen, sergeant at arms for the Remembrance Committee for Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 20. “And as well, because of our dwindling number of veterans who are registered to each of the legion branches, it’s a way of helping finance a fund for veterans in need. That is the beauty of the Poppy Campaign, the money goes directly to local veterans.”

November 8: With multiple solar projects in the works already, the M.D. of Taber is setting its sights on a new proposal. Sunset Solar was in council chambers to discuss their solar project located near Grassy Lake at the M.D.’s regular meeting on Oct. 24. With numerous solar projects already approved, the delegation from Sunset Solar, which consisted of three people from three different companies who are in a partnership for the project, was hoping to get their information to the M.D. council.

November marks the kick off of the Project Red Ribbon campaign across Canada. Throughout November and December, MADD Canada chapters and community leaders will distribute millions of ribbons for Canadians to wear and display. Anita Huchala was on hand on Monday to distribute ribbons to the Taber Police Service as part of the MADD Lethbridge and area chapter. “I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer and when I contacted MADD Canada, they informed me that we no longer had a chapter in the southern Alberta area. There used to be one in Taber, but it folded three or four years ago and so I was given the opportunity to start a chapter in southern Alberta once again,” said Huchala. “As a concerned citizen, I have not been personally affected by an impaired driver, but I wanted to step forward and I feel it is an important cause and it’s important to get the word out.”

December 27: In advance of cannabis legalization on the horizon in mid-2018, the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce is not taking an oppositional approach to any entrepreneurial opportunities this might present for the local business community. Chamber president Rick Popadynetz signaled caution regarding any specific policy until Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, has been declared into law, but once this occurs he indicated the chamber would be in full support of any new business that wishes to open its doors in the community, cannabis sales included.

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