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SLIDESHOW — Red Deer Advocate 2012 Year in Review

JANUARY

Jan. 1 — A city resident hit paydirt two days before Christmas. Joseph Towpich of Red Deer won $712,744 on the Lotto Max draw on Dec. 23. Towpich checked his tickets at a gas station in Olds. He bought his Quick Pick ticket at Short Stop Food Store in Olds. Towpich planned to spend his winnings on travelling, buying land — and getting married.

Jan. 2 — Years of contributing to the Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home came back in spades for a legendary Red Deer Honda dealer and his wife. Glenn and Joyce Turple had purchased tickets for all 33 dream homes offered since the project was first launched, while the family business, Turple Bros. Ltd., contributed to the prize package, including the brand new Sea-Doo offered this year. Still in a minor state of shock after a group from the Kinsmen club came to their door to make the announcement, the Turples walked through the front door of their new home shortly before 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, where they were greeted by a spontaneous round of applause.

Jan. 4 — “From that 3 a.m. phone call to now I am forever changed and my heart is broken,” Jill Taylor said, reading from a victim impact statement at the sentencing of 19-year-old Darith Rin, who was drunk behind the wheel of the vehicle Taylor’s son Matthew and a friend were passengers in during the early hours of Sept. 7. Rin, of Red Deer, pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court to impaired driving causing death and was sentenced to two years in prison by Judge Bruce Garriock. He will also be prohibited from driving for five years following a joint submission from the Crown prosecutor and defence. The Crown withdrew three other drunk driving-related charges.

Jan. 14 — Lacombe-based country singer Gord Bamford was positioned to reach an even larger market — anybody mention the U.S.? — by recently signing with Sony Music Entertainment Canada. Bamford said he started exploring major recording labels after feeling he had gone about as far as he could as an independent artist. “We needed a bit of machinery behind us to help us out...I’ve been very lucky with the success I’ve had,” said Bamford, who admitted it’s amazing to reflect upon how much ground he was able to cover with his own team of supporters over the last few years.

Jan. 16 — The Collicutt Centre was expected to open following an evacuation that caused hundreds to flee from the recreation facility. Red Deer Emergency Services platoon chief Randy Kidd said a maintenance crew was making a repair on the ammonia tanks in the ice plant when the crew ran into trouble and triggered an ammonia leak just before noon. Kidd said the crew was repairing a faulty part and there was no leak previously. The facility evacuation process was enacted to ensure public safety. There were no reported injuries.

Jan. 17 — Jack Anderson, an 84-year-old Calgary-based businessman, donated 100 vintage cars and trucks — valued at roughly $2.5 million — to Olds College. The donation was the largest individual gift in Olds College’s 99-year history. Anderson was the previous record holder when he gave $1 million in cash to the college in 2007. Jordan Cleland, vice-president of advancement for Olds College, said that Anderson wanted to help with the college’s 2013 centennial plans by giving 100 cars and trucks for the college’s 100 years.

Jan. 23 — A Red Deer sheriff used “unjustified” and “excessive” force to remove a deaf and mute man from the Red Deer provincial courthouse, an investigation concluded. A report by the Solicitor General Office’s Law Enforcement and Oversight Branch revealed the details of the incident through witnesses, video surveillance and interviews with the sheriffs involved. Bill Berry, a 52-year-old Red Deer man who breathed through an opening (or stoma) in his neck and had a feeding tube through his nose, went to pay a $140 traffic ticket at the courthouse when he entered through the exit door.

Jan. 25 — Three young people were injured, one critically, after the truck they were in collided with a train at a main downtown intersection in Olds. Olds RCMP and firefighters, as well as ambulance crews, were dispatched shortly before 11:45 p.m. to a collision involving a pickup truck and CP Rail train at the intersection of 50th Street and 50th Avenue. RCMP said the pickup truck was westbound on 50th Street when it collided with the southbound locomotive. At the time of the crossing, the crossing arms and alternating flashing lights and bells were activated and functioning, said police.

Jan. 26 — The execution of a search warrant involving major police and other emergency services resulted in over 70 long-barrelled weapons and eight handguns being seized from a residence south of Crestomere. Ponoka RCMP said a 38-year-old man from Ponoka County had been charged with 15 firearms-related offences, including: trafficking a firearm, possession of prohibited weapons, possession of explosives, unsafe storage of firearms and possession of firearms while prohibited. In addition, charges under the Wildlife Act were pending.


FEBRUARY

Feb. 1 — Red Deer pharmacist Michael Tweedy was suspended from practising for up to one year, starting Feb. 15, for unprofessional conduct and for over-billing Alberta Blue Cross about $1 million. According to the Alberta College of Pharmacists’ report on a tribunal hearing into Tweedy’s conduct, an Alberta Blue Cross audit of Hilltop Pharmacy, from June 1, 2007, to Jan. 31 2009, was initiated after a tip on the Fraud and Abuse Hotline in February 2008 alleging that drugs were delivered weekly but billed to Alberta Blue Cross daily. Tweedy told the tribunal that daily billing generated about $45,000 per month in extra revenue and in October 2009, Alberta Blue Cross wanted its $1 million back.

Feb. 1 — A Red Deer woman was named one of the top 30 under 30 people for her commitment to positive change. Maria Mihok, 29, was one of 30 people selected from Alberta and around the world for contributing to social justice and international co-operation. Mihok was one of the young people profiled in the Top 30 Under 30 Magazine that was being widely distributed during the Canadian International Development Agency’s International Development Week Feb. 5-11. The Alberta Council for Global Co-operation hoped that by sharing their stories they will inspire others to make positive change.

Feb. 3 — Red Deer City RCMP seized quantities of date rape drugs and methamphetamine during a search of a city residence on Thursday. Members of the Red Deer City RCMP Street Team and Organized Crime Unit executed the search warrant and arrested a resident at his home. Police found various quantities of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, known as GHB, and ketamine. Both are referred to as date rape drugs commonly used to assist in sexual assault.

Feb. 7 — A report to city council shows the typical household would pay $97.85 a month in utility fees in 2012, up from $64.71 in 2008, a 51 per cent increase. “That’s too much, Coun. Chris Stephan said. “It doesn’t need to go up at this rate.” Most people’s incomes haven’t increased by more than 50 per cent in the last five years and many are on fixed incomes, he added. “I don’t think that those types of increases are sustainable. I think we need to look a lot harder at our utilities because that does have a large impact on people.” Stephan voted against the rate schedule, along with Coun. Frank Wong.

Feb. 8 — The Mad Butcher owner Ron Burndred decided reluctantly to close his doors for good. Burndred’s Innisfail business was hit by a fire last August. The fire started on the kill floor and destroyed a third of the building before firefighters could put it out. Burndred was insured and had hoped to reopen within a few months. However, when he looked into the cost of rebuilding to the latest government regulations, it became clear it wasn’t financially feasible. The well-known butcher shop and meat processing plant employed 43.

Feb. 9 — An armed standoff came to a tragic conclusion near Three Hills. At 5:30 a.m. RCMP were called to a disturbance at a rural residence north of Three Hills near Hwy 21 and Twp Rd 324. An adult male was reported to have assaulted the property owner and damaged property. Police say the incident escalated and the adult male barricaded himself inside the residence and refused to co-operate with police. After learning the man was believed to have firearms, RCMP secured the area around the property and blocked off highways to keep the public safe. With assistance from the Calgary Police Service tactical team, RCMP support units and neighboring detachments, police made repeated but unsuccessful efforts to make contact with the man. RCMP sent in a police robot equipped with a camera at 2 p.m. but the camera picked up no activity. When Calgary police entered the home at 4 p.m., the male was found dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Police have not yet released the identity of the dead man.

Feb. 9 — RCMP seized 959 marijuana plants worth about $1.2 million in a raid southwest of Rocky Mountain House. Rocky Mountain House RCMP also seized a large amount of harvested dried marijuana and elaborate growing equipment. The plants were in various stages of development. A search warrant was granted and executed in the early morning hours. Daniel Richard Dejong, 32, faced charges of cultivating and possessing marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. RCMP were assisted by the Combined Forces Special Unit (Green Team/Calgary ALERT/Calgary RCMP Drug Section and Calgary Police Service).

Feb. 16 — A one-day illegal wildcat strike across Alberta by hospital workers included staff at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. Chris Mazurkewich of Alberta Health Services said they agreed late Thursday afternoon to binding arbitration with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the 22,000 staffers who perform the non-medical jobs at hospitals and health centres. “AUPE has agreed to cease all wildcat strike activities at hospitals and other care sites,” Mazurkewich, the chief operating officer of Alberta Health Services, told reporters. “We will immediately begin rescheduling surgeries and diagnostic tests, and patients will be contacted personally as soon as possible.” He said General Support Services workers were to be back on the job Thursday night, that bargaining would begin next week and that no one who walked the line will be reprimanded or punished. All staff were back to work around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Between 600 and 800 workers took part in the job action at about 20 health facilities.

Feb. 21 — Red Deer’s own Spandy Andy was making an international splash Down Under in his sparkly Speedos. A YouTube video the local busker, formerly known as Andy Rimer, made of himself dancing on St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne, Australia, went viral. His Sexy Beach Party in My Sparkly Speedo video had, as of Tuesday afternoon, received more than 2.6 million hits from around the world.


MARCH

March 5 — A big dump of snow in Central Alberta caused rural bus cancellations and slippery road conditions for the Red Deer area. As of 5 a.m. 19 cm had fallen at the Red Deer Airport, said Colin Fong, meteorologist for Environment Canada. Most of Central Alberta, especially the region closer to the Rockies, received up to 20 cm of snowfall. Three to four semi-trucks were pulled from the ditches along Hwy 2 around Ponoka, said Cpl. Jerry Court from Ponoka RCMP. Highway lanes were restricted but the highway remained open.

March 5 — Members of Edmonton’s Filipino community were in grief after four temporary foreign workers were killed in a head-on crash by the driver of an SUV who RCMP believe may have been drunk as he wildly drove the wrong way down a divided highway. The dead included two 35-year-old men, a 39-year-old woman and a 52-year-old woman. A fifth occupant of the vehicle — a 29-year-old female — sustained serious injuries and underwent surgery. The driver of the SUV walked away unhurt but was taken into custody after refusing to provide a breath test. “It’s a very, very difficult thing,” said Esmerelda Agbulos, an honorary consul for the Philippines based in Edmonton.“It’s horrific, because these people do not have relatives here. They’re here to work and when something like this happens, it’s a tragedy.”

March 8 — Nova Chemicals announced that it was looking at spending up to $900 million to boost polyethylene production at its Joffre complex by 40 per cent. Construction on the project to add a third polyethylene reactor was slated to start in early 2013 with start-up in late 2015 or early the next year, said Nova’s Joffre site manager Rick Van Hemmen in a presentation to Lacombe County council. The four-year project is expected to cost $750 million to $900 million. It would add 430 million to 500 million kg of linear low-density polyethylene production. At its peak, 500 construction jobs would be created with an average of 150 to 250 tradespeople on site.

March 11 — A 33-year-old snowmobiler from the Summer Village of Birchcliff was found dead following an avalanche in British Columbia’s remote backcountry. Mark Coleman, British Columbia’s interior regional coroner, said a group of six Albertans were snowmobiling around Corbin, B.C. about 30 km southeast of Sparwood, B.C. in the south Rockies when they triggered an avalanche. Coleman said the 33-year-old died on the mountain while the others managed to escape the avalanche. Three others were taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

March 13 — A Red Deer man was facing child pornography charges after an electronic device containing images was found. RCMP said the device was found in the city by a member of the public and was turned over to police. A search warrant was executed at local home, where police seized several electronic devices, including computers. Randy Adams, 52, was charged with single counts of possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and making child pornography.

March 14 — RCMP confirmed that human remains found in the woods near Whistler, B.C., were those of Mike Grefner, formerly of Red Deer. The remains were found by hikers and police said the level of decomposition made identification difficult. Grefner, 34, was reported missing on Jan. 17 after he failed to show up for a shift at a nightclub where he was a DJ. He grew up in Red Deer and moved to British Columbia about seven years ago to pursue his music career.

March 15 — The son of a former Edmonton police chief was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Dana Jane Turner, whose body was found west of Innisfail in October 2011. Mark Damien Lindsay, 25, of Edmonton has also been charged with performing an indignity to a body and obstruction of justice. Lindsay was arrested in the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

March 19 — A man has lost his home and dog after a fire broke out in the living room of his Morrisroe house on March 19. Emergency crews were called to 25 Morris Ave at 9:56 p.m. after a neighbour reported seeing smoke. The man, the only occupant of the house, was just running out to his lawn when EMS arrived. The fire was spreading rapidly inside and firefighters had to enter from the rear of the house, said Gailloux. The man’s small bichon-shih tzu dog was killed in the blaze.

March 20 — Red Deer Chamber of Commerce president Maureen McMurtrie was pleased with the findings of an assessment by MoneySense magazine, which slotted Red Deer into the No. 9 spot of Canada’s Best Places to Live 2012. Every year, the personal finance and lifestyle magazine lists the most desirable communities in which to reside. In 2011, Red Deer was ranked 96th, and in 2010 the city came in 117th.

March 23 — A Mountie formerly posted in Innisfail was convicted of tormenting his tenants and defrauding lenders and their insurance companies. Const. Hoa Dong La, currently on paid leave from his job with the RCMP passport and immigration section in Calgary, committed “a clear abuse of public office that brings shame and dishonour to the RCMP,” Justice David Gates said in reading his verdict in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench. La was tried before Justice Gates earlier in 2012 on three counts of criminal harassment, two counts of extortion and 10 counts of mortgage fraud in relation to properties he and members of his family had purchased in Innisfail and Bowden. One of the three counts of criminal harassment was dropped during final arguments in the trial, which finished on Feb. 9.

March 23 — A $10,000 reward was put up for a French bulldog that went missing in the Vanier Woods area. Meyer Schoeman, 37, said his beloved dog, Leo, was getting some exercise with a dog walker around 6 p.m. on Wednesday when she let Leo and a golden retriever off leash to run around a pond in the southeast subdivision. Schoeman said the dog walker called the dogs to come at one point and only the golden retriever returned. Schoeman and his friends searched for hours that night and the next two days but the search proved fruitless. Schoeman was willing to pay a hefty price to get back his best friend. “I haven’t completely lost my marbles,” said Schoeman, who is a family doctor in Innisfail and lives with his girlfriend in Red Deer. “He’s like a child (to me). The other reason is Frenchies get stolen at times, too, because they are expensive dogs. The main reason for it is if someone did steal him, at least it’s worth their while to return him.” Schoeman originally paid $3,000 for the dog.


APRIL

April 3 — An $11,000 wedding ring lost in March was found, to the relief of its owner. Julie Oberg of Red Deer found her missing ring in her home on Friday night. She had reported the ring stolen after a session of hot yoga at the Amaryliss Centre in downtown Red Deer on March 14. “I just feel so stupid now,” said Oberg, who had left the ring — attached to a watch and earrings — in a deep, inside pocket of her coat along with her cellphone while doing yoga.

April 4 — Jordan Bargholz and Carl Wilson had front row seats when they heard a loud crash as they were about to dig into their chicken salads at Cities Gastro Pub. Bargholz, from Sylvan Lake, said he looked out the window to see a slew of damaged vehicles in the nearly full parking lot on 3301 Gaetz Avenue. A silver pickup truck was in the middle of the chaos. City RCMP Const. Dave McKenzie said the silver pickup truck was believed to be travelling northbound on Gaetz Avenue when it veered off the road on 33rd Street, smacked a few cars parked on the street, and damaged several others in the pub’s parking lot before coming to a stop.

April 6 — Two young sisters were fighting for their lives at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton after they fell through ice on a body of water on a rural property southwest of Red Deer. Media relations specialist Doris Stapleton of the “K” Division strategic communications said the two girls aged 3 and 5 were discovered by family members around 10:20 a.m. The two girls were taken by ambulance to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre then airlifted by STARS air ambulance to the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

April 9 — The highway crash that killed one Red Deer youth early in the morning of March 31 claimed a second life in early April. Red Deer teenager Tyson Vanderzwaag, crushed while he and some friends were pushing a broken-down car off the road, died on Friday morning in the intensive care unit at Foothills Hospital in Calgary, three days after his 18th birthday. Vanderzwaag and the friends he had been travelling with had done everything right that night, his mother, Wendy said. Tyson’s group of five was heading east on Hwy 11A at about 3:30 when their car broke down near Range Road 281, about three kilometres west of Red Deer city limits.

April 16 — Construction on a $4.5-million expansion to the Enmax Centrium officially kicked off with a ground-breaking ceremony, even though work had actually already begun on the project to add 1,000 seats, 13 luxury suites and 40 club seats (like the suites, club seats have access to premium food and beverage services). The project at the west end of the 6,000-seat arena also includes new barrier-free washrooms, stairs and an elevator. It was expected to take about five months to complete the upgrades.

April 23 — Red Deer RCMP said the body of a woman found murdered in February was disposed of in a recycling dumpster in Red Deer. The body of Nellie Talia Meguinis, 27, was discovered when a recycling truck was emptying its load at a recycling facility in the Riverside Industrial Park in Red Deer on Feb. 22. The woman was earlier identified as Meguinis, a mother of three from Calgary who had arrived in Red Deer earlier that month.

April 29 — A mother of four young children said she was touched by the outpouring of community support following the death of her husband in an avalanche in southern British Columbia in March. Lara Hall, 33, and her children — Kobee, seven, Macee, five, Burke, three, and Sadee, one — attended the Macaroni and Cheese fundraiser inside HJ Cody School. The event attracted more than 250 people and raised more than $30,000 for the widow of Steve Hall. The 33-year-old man was one of three men from Sylvan Lake who were snowmobiling in British Columbia between Crowsnest Pass and Sparwood when an avalanche hit on Friday March 9. Hall died on the mountain while the others escaped. “It’s been a huge blessing to have that support,” said Lara Hall inside HJ Cody School where the fundraiser was held. “We’ve been in Central Alberta for eight years and the community has been our family.”


MAY

May 3 — About five years ago bleak trends and limited feedstock supplies haunted Nova Chemicals’ Joffre plant. There was a different story to tell this year as it had been the strongest yet for the plant, which further intends to increase its polyethylene production by 40 per cent with the addition of a third world-scale polyethylene reactor as part of the existing facility. The expansion to the west side of the 900 acre site would cost $750 million to $900 million,

May 4 — Several people were injured when a City of Red Deer transit bus veered into a light standard to avoid a full collision with a small car Thursday evening. At approximately 6:45 p.m. the bus, transporting approximately 10 people, was travelling north on Taylor Drive through the intersection of 22nd Street on a green light. Cpl. Kathe DeHeer, media resource officer with Red Deer City RCMP, said the bus was struck by a southbound Pontiac Sunfire which made a left-hand turn in front of it. In an effort to avoid the vehicle, the transit operator veered the bus off Taylor Drive and struck a light standard on the northeast side of the intersection. A 30-year-old woman was issued a ticket for making the unsafe left-hand turn, DeHeer said.

May 9 — A driver of a big rig escaped with minor injuries after the semi-trailer truck he was driving left Hwy 2 and slammed into nine new vehicles at a car dealership in Innisfail. Const. Chris Warren of the Innisfail Integrated Traffic Services said just before 2 p.m. an unloaded semi-trailer truck pulling a flatdeck trailer was travelling south on Hwy 2, south of Hwy 54, when it swerved off the highway into the ditch and over an embankment before ploughing into nine 2012 trucks and cars on the Palliser Chevrolet Ltd. dealership lot in Innisfail. The male driver from Manitoba was taken to Innisfail Hospital and was expected to be released from hospital soon.

May 11 — A big rig driver was charged with hauling a load higher than permitted after the truck’s empty oilfield storage container struck the bottom of an overpass and came dislodged onto the highway near Red Deer on Thursday night. No one was injured and there was no structural damage to the overpass. Innisfail Integrated Traffic Unit said around 7:25 p.m. a semi winch tractor driver carried a load exceeding the 5.2 metre clearance of the Hwy 11 overpass and Hwy 2 when the load smacked the bottom of the overpass and came dislodged onto the highway.

May 14 — The closure of the Parsons Clinic in Red Deer on June 29 left some people scrambling for a family doctor. Parsons had 11 family doctors but only seven of them — five full-time and two part-time — were moving to practise at the new Piper Creek Medical Clinic that opened July 2 in a new commercial building, 32nd Street Crossing, at 3215 49th Ave. Parsons doctors Betty Cowie, Nellie Radomsky, both part-time doctors, and full-time doctors Michael Thain and Donald Tillier retired. Dr. Jennifer Corrales, a full-time doctor, relocated to Cochrane.

May 18 — Kelly Yelenik will be remembered as a happy go lucky man who always brought laughter to the kitchens where he whipped up culinary delights for his customers. Yelenik, 49, and his girlfriend, Sheryl Eldridge, 42, were identified Thursday as the victims of a mobile home fire in the Bowden Estates Trailer Park early Sunday morning. The couple had been dating for about eight months and had lived in the trailer park for about six months. “He was always laughing,” said his mother Phyllis Yelenik, who lives in Innisfail. “He was joking all the time. He was hard working. He was always cooking. He loved his job.”

May 21 — Despite more compliance, officers were kept busy during the Victoria Day long weekend as campers and recreationalists flocked to Central Alberta’s West Country. Sgt. Chris Matechuk, of the Rocky Mountain House RCMP detachment, said the weekend was less rowdy than last year but he did note an ATV fatality. Police said a 22-year-old man from Wetaskiwin was ATV-ing in the Seven O’clock Creek area about 10-km south of Hwy 752 at approximately 7 p.m. Sunday night. “He was quading down a trail and came to a site where a bridge was taken out,” Matechuk said on Monday. “The trail went off to one side, down and around and back up but he went straight through.”

May 28 — A trusted family financial advisor was accused of planting the bomb that killed a young Innisfail mother. Brian Andrew Malley, 55, of Innisfail, was arrested in Red Deer and charged with first-degree murder. He’s also charged with causing an explosion likely to cause serious harm or death and sending an explosive device. RCMP confirmed at a Monday morning news conference that Malley was a financial advisor to Vicky Shachtay, 23, and had known the single mother of a young daughter for a number of years. Malley was also a former police officer, having served a brief stint with a municipal force about 30 years ago. Police declined to name the community. Shachtay’s father expressed the family’s gratitude for the timely arrest by police six months after the Nov. 25 explosion.

May 28 — RCMP closed part of Hwy 12 near Coronation while they tracked a man on foot after a woman was shot in Stettler this morning. Four area schools were in lockdown and police were warning people to stay away from the area as the man is considered armed and dangerous. The woman was transported by STARS Air Ambulance to Foothills Hospital in Calgary. Her condition was unknown.

May 29 — Red Deer City RCMP said arson was the cause of an early-morning blaze that demolished three homes and damaged two others on Sisson Avenue on Friday. Fire investigators turned the investigation over to RCMP after looking for another cause throughout the weekend, said Cpl. Kathy DeHeer, media liaison with the Red Deer City RCMP. “If they handed it over to the police for investigation, it would be deemed an arson,” she said. Damage to the homes was likely to be more than $1 million.


JUNE

June 4 — Thunder-like noise sounded and houses vibrated throughout Lacombe County Saturday night as Nova Chemicals’ Joffre plant experienced an unplanned shutdown suddenly around 10 p.m. The Ethylene 3 plant at Nova Chemicals, the largest plant on the site, experienced an automatic shutdown after the system detected an equipment malfunction, said Joffre site leader Rick Van Hemmen. “We were experiencing equipment issues with one of the major compressors on the plant,” he said. “The compressor tripped and as a result, the control system shut down the plant.” There were no safety concerns during this shutdown and the site and surrounding community were not at any risk, said Van Hemmen.

June 14 — She’s raced dragsters since the age of eight, but Amanda Trimble didn’t know “death-defying” until she ended up in hospital with two blood clots in each lung. The 21-year-old survivor of four pulmonary embolisms was now set to put her life experience on film. “This story is kind of my way of getting over that time and moving on,” said Trimble, a Red Deer College Motion Picture Arts student, who intended to shoot the half-hour film Reaction Time at an Edmonton race track in September.

June 18 — Starting prices for prime waterfront properties in Sylvan Lake continued to fall and that had led to an upswing in sales. The typical starting price for a three-bedroom winterized recreational home on a 15-metre waterfront lot dropped to $750,000 from $800,000 a year ago, says the Recreational Property Report 2012 prepared by RE/MAX. The price adjustments were “making today’s climate one of the most affordable in recent years,” says the report.

June 20 — Driving 2,600 km to see a taping of The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson in Hollywood really paid off for two Red Deer fans who ended up in front of the TV cameras. Anyone who watched last Friday’s episode of the Late Late Show would have seen Travis Kuschminder and Josh McLean plucked out of the studio audience to join Ferguson on stage for a short segment at the start of the program.

June 24 — A 55-year-old cab driver died following a two-vehicle collision early Saturday morning. Red Deer City RCMP say around 12:45 a.m. taxi driver Donald Roland Ogloff was travelling north in his cab on 30th Avenue. When he approached the intersection of 55th Street a south bound Ford Focus slammed into the cab while trying to make a left hand turn onto Highway 11. Ogloff was on duty at the time of the collision and had one passenger in the vehicle. Ogloff was taken to the Red Deer Regional Hospital where he later died. The 22-year-old male passenger was also taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries. The driver of the Ford Focus was treated at the scene and released.

June 27 — A Sylvan Lake man believed he and his wife would win a house — and they did. Floyd Anderson told his wife to take the phone with her while she was gardening because “we’re winning a house today.” They were the grand prize winners of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation’s Hospitals’ Lottery. It was one of 460 prizes drawn for the foundation’s big fundraising event. This year’s lottery helped fund pulmonary equipment for Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

June 28 — A motorcyclist critically injured on Thursday morning in a Red Deer collision later died. Christopher Huhn, 31, of Red Deer, passed away from his injuries at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. At around 6:45 a.m., Red Deer RCMP responded when a westbound SUV allegedly collided with a northbound motorcycle that was making a left-hand turn onto 40th Avenue. The SUV then struck a tree on the northwest side of the intersection. The driver of the SUV, a 32-year-old man, was also taken to Red Deer hospital. He was treated and released from hospital with minor injuries. The traffic lights at the time of the accident were not working due to a power outage in the area.

June 28 — The driver of a transport truck was taken to hospital after an incident near Red Deer that police called ‘a case of road rage gone wrong.’ At about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Innisfail Integrated Traffic Unit responded to a report of an assault near Gasoline Alley. According to witnesses, a dark-coloured pick-up truck traveling south forced a double-trailer transport truck off the highway and onto the shoulder. Both vehicles stopped and the male driver of the pickup truck exited his vehicle, approached the driver of the transport truck and started punching the driver’s side window. The male broke through the window and continued his attack on the victim. The suspect then fled the scene, driving through the ditch and west into the north end of Gasoline Alley at a high rate of speed.

June 29 — The business mix at Red Deer’s Clearview Market Square was quickly taking shape. Servus Credit Union opened in the commercial centre on Monday — joining the Royal Bank, TD Canada Trust and CIBC branches already operating there. Nearby, work was progressing on a number of buildings designed for single occupants and multiple tenants. Shoppers Drug Mart was to set up shop in a new store adjacent to 30th Avenue to the south, while Loblaw Companies Ltd. was developing a nearly 30,000-square-foot grocery store, a gas bar and a liquor store further west. Near the northwest corner, a building for Canadian Brew House was under construction. Three multi-tenant buildings were also nearing completion, with bays expected to be turned over to lessees in August.


JULY

July 3 — A torrential downpour stormed through Central Alberta on Tuesday, quickly flooding numerous parking lots, streets and businesses in Red Deer within an hour’s period. The severe thunderstorm started at about 2 p.m. and then began to escalate into a rage so that an hour later, it was in full force. Similar heavy downpours were realized in several other Central Alberta communities, including Olds, Rocky Mountain House and Stettler, plus a small tornado was reported west of Didsbury. Drains could not keep up with the quick downpour across many locations in Red Deer.

July 3 — The Canada Day long weekend has proven hazardous in Central Alberta as a series of accidents have injured several people. At least three people are injured after the vehicle they were in went off a logging road near Sundre on Monday morning. Cpl. Ryan Hodge of the Sundre RCMP detachment said they also dealt with two impaired driving incidents, On July 1 stricter drinking and driving penalties came into effect. In addition to impaired driving, Hodge says Sundre RCMP received numerous firearms complaints. In Sylvan Lake two people were charged under the new drinking and driving penalties, said Cpl. Kevin Halwa of the Sylvan Lake RCMP detachment. Red Deer City RCMP responded to a collision on Saturday involving a motorcycle, just after 4:30 p.m. Also on Saturday, Ponoka RCMP and Integrated Traffic Service responded to a two-vehicle collision, which also involved a semi rollover on Hwy 2 between Blackfalds and Lacombe just after 3:30 p.m.

July 9 — Power would go out at many Red Deer locations as high temperatures meant power demand was outstripping supply. The City of Red Deer was instituting rolling power outages of 30 minutes at a time. The city was intending to start with Deer Park, Rosedale, Anders and Inglewood and continue throughout the city as long as the high demand persisted. The outages could affect homes, businesses, traffic signals and street lights.

July 15 — An explosion rocked the Normandeau neighbourhood sending one man to hospital and injuring another in Red Deer. Red Deer Emergency Services fire captain Terry Brew said residents of a home on Nagel Avenue were moving stuff from a rented truck to a garage when the explosion occurred. A propane barbecue tank inside a van was likely the source of the explosion. “One person suffered first degree burns on his back,” said Wes Van Bavel, Red Deer fire prevention officer. “The second male had first and second degree burns on his left arm and on his face and some lacerations. But after three hours in hospital, he was released.”

July 17 — RCMP say distracted driving may have played a factor in a head-on crash that claimed the lives of two men early Tuesday morning immediately outside Rimbey. Rimbey RCMP and ambulance and fire crews were dispatched to the scene of the two-vehicle collision on Hwy 20, south of Rimbey, at about 5:30 a.m. After the impact, one car stayed on the road, while a minivan rolled into the ditch and was found on its roof. Rimbey RCMP Sgt. Mark Groves, who was on scene through the morning, said that both a 30-year-old man driving the car and a 36-year-old man driving the minivan died at the scene.

July 17 — One man was fighting for his life and another was in custody after a stabbing in Red Deer’s Rotary Park. Red Deer RCMP said they were called to assist Emergency Health Services with a stabbing in Rotary Park. When police arrived they learned that the victim had been transported to Red Deer Regional Hospital in a civilian vehicle. The victim was in critical condition suffering from a life-threatening Injury. A person of interest was located nearby and was taken into custody. No charges had been laid and no names were released at the time.

July 19 — Discount shoppers would lose one of their local destinations on Nov. 12, when Zellers would close its Bower Place Shopping Centre store. However, relief was expected with the announced opening of Target in the same space. Target Corp. struck a deal in January 2011 with Zellers Inc., a subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Co., to purchase Zellers’ lease interests in 189 commercial sites. The American retail giant made the move to jump into the Canadian market, and has since confirmed plans to open 125 to 135 stores. Target had indicated that Red Deer would be among the first Canadian communities would start operations.

July 30 — Sixteen people faced 24 drug-related charges following a massive criminal investigation into organized crime and drug distribution in Red Deer. Police said the investigation and subsequent charges had disrupted two local chapters of nationally identified organized crime groups operating in the city. The groups are responsible for numerous violent crimes in the city including robberies, kidnappings, shootings and assaults. The sixteen people charged included 10 people from Central Alberta and others from Calgary, Winnipeg, Man. and Abbotsford, B.C.


AUGUST

Aug. 1 — The community of Olds was cleaning up after an intense rain and hail storm flooded several intersections and damaged natural landscaping on a Tuesday afternoon. The heavy downpour began at about 4 p.m. and after 15 minutes, it was done, but not without causing some mess. Scott Chant, manager of utilities and public works for the Town of Olds, said at least 40 mm of rain fell in the short time according to rain gauges distributed around town. “That was probably as much as the rain gauge could catch until the hail hit,” said Chant. “From reports of some residents who have lived in the community for a number of years, it’s probably the worst storm they’ve seen in this town.”

Aug. 3 — The mystery of a lost wallet belonging to a Red Deer man has been solved and it has been returned to the rightful owner. Pete Priestman, 55, from Williams Lake, B.C., was camping in the back country east of Cotton Wood House on the Barkerville Hwy in the North Caribou, B.C., region last week, when he stumbled across a wallet belonging to Neil Hamilton, 33, of Red Deer. Hamilton lost his wallet in May. He had just finished a tree planting contract near Chetwynd, B.C., a community north of Prince George, and happened to be travelling through Williams Lake. The two men arranged a time to meet at Tim Hortons. “It is a good ending to the whole thing,” Priestman said. “He was quite thrilled, it was the wallet he had since he was a teenager. It’s not much usable anymore but at least he got it back and he was overjoyed, just bubbling.”

Aug. 8 — A Red Deer woman was charged with attempted murder after allegedly trying to run down her mother with a car in north Red Deer. Red Deer City RCMP responded to a complaint of hit and run near Gaetz Avenue and 67th Street in Red Deer around 8:30 p.m. They alleged there was a verbal and physical confrontation between a mother and a daughter in an alley behind ATB Financial. Witnesses told investigators the daughter got into a truck and backed up quickly, hitting another vehicle and appeared to have driven the vehicle directly at her mother, hitting her. The driver fled the scene.

Aug. 12 — A Boeing 737 crashed just south of the Red Deer Airport late Sunday afternoon. The plane had reportedly lost radio and visual contact with NAV Canada’s control tower as it made its final approach into the airport runway. Fifty-one passengers were believed to be on board with a crew of six. In the mock training exercise, Red Deer Emergency Services crews, the Red Deer Airport staff and other agencies responded as if the simulated activity was legitimate. The exercises and drills are mandatory for Transport Canada Airport certification and occur every three years to ensure the agencies and the airport are prepared should disaster strike.

Aug. 15 — A thick stack of charges was laid against three former employees of the Red Deer Fields store, which closed earlier this year. Red Deer City RCMP charged Bernadette Coutourier, 42, Tara Munro, 31 and Marlina House, 25 in relation to an internal investigation first launched by the company’s loss prevention department and then turned over to RCMP investigators in March. Police alleged that store employees had pilfered a large volume of goods from the store and that false refunds were also made on a variety of occasions from December of 2011 through to May 3, when charges were laid, said Cpl. Kathe DeHeer, media liaison for the Red Deer City RCMP.

Aug. 19 — A tincture of controversy has done little to mar the shopping experience at public markets in Red Deer and Bentley. This year, the Red Deer public market — owned and operated by former city councillor and Red Deer College instructor Dennis Moffat and his son, Patrick — extended its hours in a bid to give shoppers more time to drop in and check out the goods and services being offered. Now in its 42nd year, the Red Deer market’s official hours were changed to 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, an addition of 2.5 hours from previous years, when it ran from 9 a.m. to 12:30. That move has stopped a number of vendors from attending the Bentley Farmer’s Market, which runs on Saturday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., said manager Judy Esmond. The change at Red Deer hasn’t slowed down the number of people coming to the market, but it has limited the variety of produce available to them, Esmond said.

Aug. 22 — A drunk driver who killed the Red Deer parents of five children in February 2010 was granted full parole. Chad Mitchell Olsen, 25, formerly of Sedalia, was granted full parole after a 90-minute Parole Board of Canada hearing was held at the downtown Red Deer parole office. He was granted day parole last December after serving a seven-month term in federal prison for the deaths of Brad and Krista Howe, both in their mid 30s, early on Feb. 7, 2010.

The two-member parole board panel ruled that Olsen, who has been living at a halfway house in Red Deer, did not pose undue risk to the public. Full parole would help him ease back into full integration with society as well.

Aug. 29 — Toby Lampard was confident of a need for long-term hotel accommodation in Red Deer. In fact, his company was betting $12 million on it. The president of L-7 Inc., a family-owned company, said on Tuesday that work was expected to begin this fall on a four-storey, 83-suite hotel at 6822 66th St. What would distinguish L-7’s property from those competitors would be the fact it’s designed for extended stay guests — those that often require lodging for weeks or even months. “That’s the niche that we’re looking at,” said Lampard. “It’s a new offering in the Red Deer market.”


SEPTEMBER

Sept. 3 — Dana McMurray wanted her big wedding day to include a much bigger symbol of her beloved grandfather. She thought it would be great to get married in front of the 31.5-metre tall derrick that can be easily seen on the west side of Hwy 2, just south of the Blackfalds overpass. On Saturday, the 28-year-old Blackfalds woman became Mrs. Johnson when she wed Dennis Johnson, 38, in front of 130 guests.

Sept. 4 — Tougher impaired driving laws that took effect on Saturday failed to keep intoxicated drivers off Red Deer streets. Sgt. Bob Bell, in charge of the traffic unit at Red Deer city RCMP, said he was disappointed by the number of intoxicated people pulled over on Labour Day weekend, despite increased publicity over provincial legislation regarding .05 to .08 blood alcohol levels. From early Saturday until early Tuesday, five 72-hour driving suspensions were issued for those with .05 to .08 levels. Six people were charged with impaired driving.

Sept. 7 — A former Red Deer teacher well known in the business and livestock communities would stand trial for sexual assault. Warren Fertig, founder of Allandale Industries and at one time a prominent breeder and promoter of llamas and Arabian horses, was committed on Thursday to stand trial in relation to the sexual assault of one of his students. Fertig, 71, was a teacher at Riverglen School in Red Deer during the mid-1970s, when the incidents are alleged to have occurred.

Sept. 7 — A memorial service would be held Saturday for a Red Deer man who did not return from a swim in Amethyst Lake in the Tonquin Valley of Jasper National Park nearly two weeks ago. Grant Mark Werstiuk, 30, would be remembered at Living Stones Church at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Jasper RCMP Sgt. Dave Maludzinski said on Aug. 19, Werstiuk and some friends were fishing in a canoe when Werstiuk went for a swim across the lake and did not return. Police do not suspect foul play.

Sept. 12 — A highly-valued stallion was killed and another severely injured in what Olds College officials call a “senseless act of animal cruelty.” At some time late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, one or more people went into the horse stables on the college campus and released several stallions together in a common area. Predictably, a vicious fight ensued resulting in the death of one of the horses, said Tanya McDonald, dean of the animal science program.

Sept. 13 — Alberta Health Services confirmed a Central Zone woman contracted the West Nile virus in the province. On Thursday, AHS reported two new human cases of the virus in southern Alberta. That brings to seven the number of confirmed cases including a woman who lives in Central Zone which includes Stettler, Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer. The woman, under 65 years of age, contracted the neurological syndrome, the more serious form. AHS said she did not travel outside of Alberta this summer. Specific details about the individual West Nile virus cases are not released for confidentiality reasons.

Sept. 17 — Backlash against the city’s designated bike lanes forced city council to back pedal. Only weeks after this summer’s bike lanes were painted, city council voted to remove bike lanes on 55th Street and 40th Avenue, north of 52nd Street, and 59th Avenue, north of 70th Street. The roads will be reverted to their original configuration. The $800,000 bike lane pilot was slated for a review next fall but City Manager Craig Curtis said the safety, traffic congestion and parking issues raised by the community were worthy of council’s attention before the snow falls.

Sept. 19 — A dispersal auction planned for a Lacombe business was attracting attention from as far away as Ukraine. Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers would conduct an unreserved public sale at Lacombe Trailer Sales & Rentals Inc., with more than 250 items on the block, including 63 van trailers, 22 step deck trailers, 15 container trailers, 12 hiboys, nine lowboys, eight reefer trailers and eight equipment trailers. “We’ve got brand new trailers, right down to very well-used trailers,” said owner Bill Woof, who’s operated the business since 2002.

Sept. 25 — Four new Central Alberta schools would get underway by next summer as part of a $288-million private-public partnership, Education Minister Jeff Johnson announced in Red Deer on Tuesday. Johnson joined Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale and dozens of community and school leaders for a sod-turning ceremony at Timothy Drive in Timberlands. A Red Deer Public pre-kindergarten to Grade 5 school, plus a public library branch, will be built there as part of a provincewide bundle involving 11 other school projects. Work recently got underway on a middle school in Penhold for Chinook’s Edge School Division. Drysdale didn’t have firm timelines for when construction would begin on Red Deer Catholic’s new kindergarten to Grade 5 school in Clearview Ridge.

Sept. 25 — Red Deer RCMP were looking for a man who used bear spray on witnesses during a robbery at a TD Bank branch on Sunday. At about 3 p.m., a man entered the bank, at 6320 50th Ave., and demanded money from the tellers. He discharged bear spray in the bank and fled on foot heading south and into the Riverside Meadows neighbourhood. Witnesses hit by the bear spray were treated on scene by Red Deer Emergency Medical Services. Red Deer RCMP are not saying whether the robber made off with any money.


OCTOBER

Oct. 4 — A rising number of overweight and obese patients was leading to changes in patient care at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. Rob Swanson, director of medical and surgical in-patient services, said that over the past few years, they’ve noticed more and more patients who need different care because of their weight. “We’re evaluating a number of different things, from the layout of washrooms to patient care,” said Swanson on Thursday. “With a bariatric patient, we need to know how to most effectively transport them.” Obesity is a chronic disease that affects about one million Albertans, or approximately 25 per cent of the province’s population, according to Alberta Health Services.

Oct. 6 — If the recent demise of Eckville’s Fairways at Last Hill Golf and Country Club and the Rimbey Golf and Trailer Park didn’t raise eyebrows, the receivership last month of Pheasantback Golf and Country Club near Stettler certainly did. Those who work in Central Alberta’s golf industry agree that the economic downturn and bad weather have hurt most courses. But they also point to deeper problems that could threaten the viability of even more golf courses. “A lot of golf courses — 10, 15 years ago — were doing maybe 5,000 to 10,000 more rounds than they are now,” said Ryan Vold, director of golf at Wolf Creek Golf Resort near Ponoka. This decline reflects an aging population, with many young people choosing not to step into the golf shoes of their parents and grandparents. “There’s definitely been a shift in demographics,” said Blair Felesky, general manager of the Pine Hills Golf Club at Rocky Mountain House. “We’ve been aware of that for many, many years.”

Oct. 9 — A Red Deer man was charged in the fatal hit and run on Taylor Bridge early Saturday. At about 2:05 a.m., an 18-year-old man was struck by a westbound vehicle and pronounced dead on the scene. A relative told the Advocate the victim was Paul Gabriel Bertin of Botha. Bertin recently moved to Red Deer and was living with two of his five brothers. He had just started working in a fencing business with them. The driver did not remain on the scene but later on Saturday police located the vehicle suspected to be involved in the collision. Brent Robert Cameron, 24, was charged with failing to stop and render assistance at the scene of a collision and public mischief.

Oct. 10 — South Red Deer had lost one of its longest-serving restaurants. Kelsey’s Restaurant ceased operations on Sept. 28. Although the furniture and fixtures at its 1935 Gaetz Ave. premises remained, exterior signage had been removed. Kelsey’s had operated in Red Deer for 15 years.

Oct. 19 — A 51-year-old man charged in two armed robberies at local Servus Credit Union branches was also alleged to be responsible for other robberies in Alberta. Branches of the credit union were robbed on July 9 and Oct. 4. Philip Glen Noel was charged with two counts of robbery, two counts of committing an offence while masked, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public, possession of property obtained by crime and four counts of breach of a recognizance. Noel had been remanded in custody.

Oct. 23 — Central Albertans woke to the first icy blast of winter Tuesday. Slick roads contributed to a truck crashing into the 53rd St. Music store, replacing the sound of crashing cymbals at 11 a.m. The full-sized pickup burst through the retailer’s east plate glass window and wall, shattering pianos and other instruments. The male driver was uninjured, as were the store’s employees and patrons. The female driver of an SUV hit by the pickup truck just before it entered the store suffered very minor injuries.

Oct. 23 — A Mexican worker who has been employed steadily for five years in the Red Deer area was facing cancer without health care coverage due to federal government cuts. Gabriel Yanez-Zuniga, 33, has been supporting three young children and his wife in Red Deer. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer on Thursday. Drastic changes made in June to health coverage for rejected refugees means that Yanez-Zuniga, his wife Leticia Uriostegui-Soto, and eight-year-old daughter, can only get diagnosis and treatment for diseases that put the public safety at risk. Their two-year-old twins do have Alberta health coverage since they were born in province.

Oct. 26 — Red Deer RCMP have charged a former employee of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club after a lengthy investigation that began in 2011. Bonnie Howell, 65, a former bookkeeper at the club, is charged with one count of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000 and one count of falsification of books and records. It is alleged that between January 2007 and December 2011, Howell mismanaged money in excess of $900,000 from the Golf and Country Club.


NOVEMBER

Nov. 2 — A Red Deer woman and her father were celebrating a $250,000 Extra win from a recent Lotto Max draw. Jenise Muldowney of Red Deer and her father Pat Muldowney, who lives in De Winton, south of Calgary, shared a ticket in the Oct. 19 draw. Pat bought a couple of Lotto Max tickets for himself and his daughter at a convenience store in Calgary. When he checked the tickets the morning after the draw at another retail location, he wasn’t sure what he was seeing when the $250,000 prize amount displayed on the player-facing screen. The pair’s ticket had exactly matched all seven Extra numbers drawn to win the game’s top prize.

Nov. 5 — Friends of Sunnybrook Farm Society have become the official owners of the popular agricultural attraction. In a ceremony on Monday, the title for the 10-acre site was transferred to the society by the Red Deer and District Museum Society for a token $1. A plaque was also unveiled recognizing the late Norman Bower’s donation in 1988 of the farm that his family first homesteaded in 1899.

Nov. 7 — A Central Alberta man had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of his father, a former Red Deer city councillor. Innisfail RCMP charged Aaron Guilbault, 31, in the death of Tim Guilbault, 58. Tim Guilbault was found dead on Monday afternoon in his residence in Red Lodge Estates, an acreage near Innisfail. The elder Guilbault was a three-term councillor, serving on Red Deer city council from 1986 to 1995.

Nov. 14 — A Red Deer nightclub lost its appeal to keep its business licence and had to shut down after concerns were raised over public safety. In its Nov. 6 written decision, the Red Deer Appeal and Review Board said it would uphold its decision to revoke the licence for Tequila Nightclub. The revocation was effective seven days from the issuance of the decision, but the City of Red Deer was seeking legal advice on when that date was because of when the nightclub operator may have been notified.

Nov. 20 — RCMP in Innisfail had accused a local car dealer of defrauding four people of roughly $1 million. After an investigation that took place over the last year and a half, charges were laid against Allister Loughlin, who operated G.H. Auto and Innisfail Park & Self Storage. Innisfail RCMP Cpl. A.J. Mand confirmed on Tuesday that four counts of theft over $5,000 had been laid against Loughlin, 48, who was released from custody on a recognizance.

Nov. 26 — A restaurant that’s served meals in downtown Red Deer for nearly three decades was on the move. Dino’s Family Restaurant was closing its longtime business at 4617 Gaetz Ave. and relocating to smaller premises at No. 130, 3121 49th Ave. Manager George Oris said the restaurant had been offering only take-out and delivery service since Nov. 15, and expected to be at its new location on Monday. Slated to operate there as Dino’s Take-out, it would limit its service to food pick-up and delivery. Oris said the business’s selection of pizzas and pastas will expand.

Nov. 30 — The RCMP officer in charge of Red Deer’s major crimes unit lost his court bid to derail a pending disciplinary hearing against him. Sgt. Steve Black, a veteran Mountie, was accused of sexual harassment, drinking in the office and operating a police car under the influence of alcohol. A federal judge said it would be premature to rule on Black’s argument that a delay of more than 10 months meant the disciplinary hearing must be scrapped.


DECEMBER

Dec. 4 — Inglewood residents were breathing a sigh of relief after police shut down a drug house that caused neighbours to feel unsafe in their own homes. Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) closed the house at 51 Ibbotson Close in Red Deer after two investigations and numerous complaints over four years. “There has been constant criminal activity, drug use, drug abuse, drug trafficking,” said Billy Kerr, manager of SCAN South, a division of Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. “There were numerous people coming from the address from all times of the day and night bringing undesirable people into the community.”

Dec. 5 — Target Corp. would not be opening its Red Deer store until spring, but the retail giant was already having an impact on the local economy. The City of Red Deer issued a building permit last month for $7.1 million worth of renovations to the former Zellers premises in Bower Place Shopping Centre. PCL Construction had been preparing the site for Target since mid-November, when Zellers ceased operations there.

Dec. 6 — Four Red Deer property owners faced possible sale of their land on Dec. 14 because they hadn’t paid their taxes in recent years. But if they are like other property owners in the last several years, they’ll pay their bills quickly so they don’t lose their land. Deb Stott, controller for the Property Taxation Department, said that in the six years that she’s worked with the City of Red Deer, there hasn’t been one property sold through the city’s public auction. Surrounding municipalities have experienced this as well, she added.

Dec. 7 — A well blowout near Innisfail prompted new tighter regulations for fracking. The Energy Resources Conservation Board released a draft directive on Thursday that sets out additional subsurface requirements for hydraulic fracking operations in Alberta. Updated regulations focus on additional measures to prevent well failures and to reduce the risk of “interwellbore communication,” which is when fluids flow from one wellbore into another. Updated measures have also been introduced to reduce the impact on non-saline aquifers, water wells and the surface.

Dec. 9 — This holiday season Cara and Tim Herbert and their four children should have been decorating with tinsel and welcoming family and friends to their Erksine-area home, northeast of Alix, for the first time. Instead there were brave faces on the family of six as they counted their blessings in a cramped holiday trailer next to the remains of their mobile home. Around 2 p.m. on Nov. 10, Cara Herbert returned home from grocery shopping in Stettler to see smoke billowing out of the roof of the place they called home since May. After calling 911, Herbert waited for the firefighters as she watched the flames spread. Fire crews arrived shortly after and battled the blaze for several hours to no avail.

Dec. 13 — Four people faced numerous charges after a warrant executed on a Red Deer residence yielded numerous drugs and various weapons. On Sunday, members of the Red Deer RCMP executed the warrant at a home. Upon entering the residence, police said they found four males and two females. A search of the residence led to the seizure of cocaine and prescription drugs, drug trafficking paraphernalia, a nine-mm prohibited handgun, a prohibited knife and a machete, police allege.

Dec. 14 — Homeless people in Red Deer will get assistance to get off the street sooner with an increase of provincial funding for outreach services. Local agencies will receive a total of $3 million for outreach support programs — an increase of $615,000 over last year — as part of Alberta’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness. The money from the government’s Human Services department will fund a new triage program at the homeless shelter run by the Central Alberta Safe Harbour Society. It will also help maintain other existing programs offered by the society, the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre, Central Alberta Women’s Outreach, Canadian Mental Health Association and others.

Dec. 18 — Only 39 per cent of patients at Red Deer’s emergency department waiting for admission got an acute care bed within eight hours of coming to emergency between April and September. The target for Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is to admit 75 per cent of those patients within eight hours by March 2013, the end of the fiscal year. For the most part, patients waited in emergency beds. The hospital did much better when it came to treating and discharging emergency patients. Seventy per cent of patients were discharged within four hours and the target is 80 per cent.

Dec. 21 — Chad Olsen lives three blocks from the site where he killed a Red Deer couple. Every day he sees the intersection where he caused the deaths of Brad and Krista Howe, parents of three children and guardians of two. Olsen chose to drive impaired early on Feb. 7, 2010 — a decision he will regret for the rest of his life. “There isn’t a time that I go through (that intersection) and it doesn’t take me back to that moment and what happened that night,” said Olsen, now 25. Olsen said he didn’t feel impaired that night, so he was shocked when he learned his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. He now believes there’s no safe limit for alcohol if one plans to drive. Olsen said he takes full responsibility for his actions. He is committed to telling his story to prevent others from drinking and driving. He’s never had a drink since the crash and has no desire to consume alcohol ever again. He is prohibited from driving until October 2016.

Dec. 31 — Red Deer greets 2013 with Centennial First Night on New Year’s Eve at Bower Ponds, from 6 to 9 p.m. About 2,500 glow sticks, 1,000 temporary tattoos of Red Deer’s centennial logo, and slices of cake from 10 big birthday cakes will be given away. Sheila Bannerman, Red Deer Centennial Committee chairperson, said according to consultations with the public and community groups, people wanted to celebrate on ice. “One of the things that came across really strongly was people hoped to have a skating party. And people always like fireworks,” Bannerman said. Freezing temperatures have ensured the pond will be ready, but hopefully it won’t be too cold because the fireworks would be cancelled if it’s below -20C.

 
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