Sometimes in the game of life, fate throws you a curveball.
The Vauxhall Spurs baseball team, which has nine Taber players on it, found out last month that one of their teammates in Riley Martin from Brooks has cancer.
“In the first week of June is when we were told about it,” said Todd Knouse, president of the Vauxhall Spurs Baseball Club. “It was a shock at the beginning, but the boys have rallied around him. Life comes first before baseball and our prayers and well wishes are with the Martin family.”
Knouse has kept in close contact with the Riley family every third or fourth day to see how the family is holding up. The team visited Riley at the children’s hospital when he was in there, dropping off a big stuffed panda bear wearing a Spurs T-shirt signed by the whole team.
In preparation for districts which start Thursday in Vauxhall, team members have shaved their heads as a sign of unison and support in which Riley will be undergoing five days of chemotherapy ahead of him, according to Knouse, during districts.
A natural athlete, Riley’s ‘AAA’ hockey team in Medicine Hat is doing the same thing with a head shave and fundraiser for the Riley family in support of the 16-year-old.
It was a good day for a run for the Taber Running Club at the Sole Survivor in the Crowsnest Pass this past Friday.
Runners got to enjoy the beautiful scenery a little longer than expected as the regular five-kilometre distance in the one category turned into 6.1 kilometres with mapping difficulties on the course.
“It was actually quite an easy course being quite flat, but it was very beautiful. We ran by the creeks there that are close to the highway on the trail. It was very scenic with the mountains,” said Billie-Jo Ferguson, coach with the Taber Running Club. “The only problem with the course was it wasn’t measured properly this year. They changed the course from last year where the 5K was a 6.1K which was a big difference. They said the reason why was they wanted to keep people off the road as much as possible so they had them running on the trail and the trail is a longer distance and also there were two construction sites throughout the race with detours so that too made it harder for them to measure properly.”
Runners were unable to gauge their true times for a 5K distance, but nevertheless, Taber Running Club members had impressive finishes in the 200-runner total field for the event for the longer 6K distance.
Kelli Megyes got second place in the under-12 female category for the longer 6k distance. Brandon Ferguson ran the 6k as well and finished in first in the 13-to-18-year-old male category and third overall among all runners in the distance category. Billie-Jo ran the 6K as well, finishing first overall for females and in fourth overall, closely behind her son Brandon.
“I was about five seconds behind my son. He sprinted ahead of me at the end, I can never catch him,” said Ferguson with a chuckle, although Billie-Jo did get a gift certificate for a new set of runners thanks to her first-place female finish.
Longest run of the day for Taber Running Club members belonged to Morgan Kerkhoff, running the 10-mile and finishing in first in the 13-to-18-year-old female category.
“This was her first really long run. She usually runs 10Ks, but she is training for a half marathon right now. She did extremely well, she’s a big-distance runner so I don’t think she’ll have a problem when she runs her first half marathon in September,” said Ferguson. “This was a good run for her in her training.”
Five members of the club made the trek. Unfortunately, one of the running club members had to drop out of the event at the last minute.
“One of my boys actually broke his big toe the day before the run. He trained quite hard for the run so he was quite disappointed he didn’t get to run it,” said Ferguson of running club member Kevin Turner.
Taber Running Club members now prepare for the Cornfest Fun Run in August.
The spirit may have been willing for the Taber Police Service, but the flesh was weak as the men and women in blue, felt black and blue after falling 3-1 to a Taber U16 soccer team in a charity event earlier this month.
“I can tell you, the officiating wasn’t very good,” said Graham Abela, inspector for the Taber Police Service, with a sly chuckle referring to Darrell Turner who volunteered his refing expertise for the charity game.
Perhaps it was not the officiating, but rather the young bucks of the U16 team being too fast for the veteran police service team.
“They played well and we’re old,” continued Abela of his game critique. “Their speed was definitely a factor in the game.”
Taber Police Service were not without their own ringers in the match with Abela well versed in the game along with constables Jason Vowles and Dave Gyepesi playing semi professionally.
Constable Matt Shallo played in university in Nova Scotia.
“There were four or five of us that had played before, but the rest hadn’t. But, they have a new appreciation for the game after playing that one,” said Abela.
“We had male and female staff play and they all did a good job, it’s a hard game to master, a hard game to play.”
Vowles and Shallo coached one of Taber’s U16 teams, thought it would be a good idea for a year-end wrap-up to the season for their team to play the Taber Police Service where spectators were required to bring in a non-perishable food item for the food bank.
“We had a great showing. We had 16 kids and 16 police personnel show up to play a full game. There were about 30 well wishers in the crowd,” said Abela.
“It was a good time.”
The cabinet shuffle earlier this month has seen a continued trend from 2008 and 2011 elections of strong, fresh faces coming into the cabinet, according to Payne.
Chris Alexander moves from being the parliamentary secretary for the minister of defence for a new portfolio as the new minister of citizenship and immigration as a big promotion which Payne sees as a huge plus. Alexander replaces Jason Kenney.
“He was a diplomat. So he brings a lot of good strengths as being a diplomat to that portfolio,” said Payne.
Looking at some other members who have moved into cabinet, Payne highlighted a close colleague of his in Alberta MP Michelle Rempel who is now minister of state for western diversification, one of four new faces for women in the cabinet.
“I’ve known Michelle for quite a long time. I was the president to this particular riding in Medicine Hat and she was working through a university campus group and so I’ve got to know her as an extremely talented young lady,” said Payne. “I can see why the prime minister is looking at her and she was the parliamentary secretary for environment. As that she handled herself really well and she’s a real go-getter. We have a number of those types of individuals who are coming to the forefront.”
Another new female to cabinet is Manitoba MP Candice Bergen who heads up a new file as minister of state for social development. The new appointments increase the female count to 12 in the 39-member cabinet.
“She’s another go-getter. She was a champion to get rid of the gun registry,” said Payne.
Payne has also worked in the past with Steven Blaney, who is the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness. A portfolio that already has its hands full dealing with flooding in Alberta and Ontario and the train derailment in Quebec.
“I worked with him on national defence when he was chair of the committee. He is really a good guy and I think he has done a really good job as the veterans minister and so I’m looking forward to working with him as minister of public safety, I’m on the committee. I’m hoping to stay on that committee, but you never know what happens,” said Payne.
While plenty of change was made in the cabinet shuffle, some things also remain the same.
Three veteran ministers — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Treasury Board President Tony Clement — are staying put in their key portfolios in an overall cabinet remix that has been dubbed “fresh faces, experienced hands.” “When I think of Finance Minister Flaherty, he has got accolades from around the world as one of the best finance ministers in the G7, so I was quite delighted to hear him stay in his post,” said Payne. “We still have some continuity. That’s important when you make some changes, that you have some continuity between the new cabinet and the old cabinet.”
Changes in the cabinet can happen for numerous reasons according to Payne.
‘Of course, one of those reasons is from someone who has chosen not to run again. When that happens, they really need to make a change ahead of time and certainly there were a number of people who said they are not going to run again,” said Payne, adding some cabinet ministers may not have been up to snuff with the protocol they were given when they took a cabinet post previously. “The prime minister is privy to see if these current cabinet ministers have fulfilled their mandate. They do get mandate letters from the prime minister of what kind of things they want seen in their cabinet posts, so if they haven’t fulfilled those, he has the opportunity to make changes.”
With all the new cabinet announced earlier this month, Payne applauded the dedication that must be shown to ascend to such a lofty political post, knowing how much time is required by him as an MP.
“I know I’m away almost half a year and so those ministers spend even more time away from their families in their riding. It’s pretty demanding. I can understand some of those folks who have been saying I’ve done my duty and served my country and my constituency and now it’s time to spend time with my family,” said Payne.
As the Conservative government moves forward with its new cabinet, key quantifiers will remain at the forefront into steering the ship that is Canada along the waters of 2013 and beyond according to Payne.
“With the issues we will be dealing with, our top priority will be the economy. If we look around the world, there are still so many countries that are not doing well and have huge, huge debt loads,” said Payne.