Local briefs – April 14

A judge and jury will decide the fate of a Rocky Mountain House area man facing charges of three sex-related offences committed against young people.

Local sexual suspect gets November court date

A judge and jury will decide the fate of a Rocky Mountain House area man facing charges of three sex-related offences committed against young people.

Dexter Strawberry, 55, elected to have a preliminary hearing on Tuesday when he appeared with his lawyer Denise Lightning of Hobbema.

Strawberry is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. He also faces two counts of failing to comply with conditions of a release.

Strawberry returns to court on Nov. 22 for a preliminary hearing, which is expected to take almost a day because an interpreter in the Saulteaux language is necessary.

The offences are alleged to have occurred earlier this year against youths in the Rocky area.

If ordered following the preliminary hearing, the Queen’s Bench trial isn’t expected until next spring at the earliest.

Strawberry is serving a 28-month sentence after he was convicted about two weeks ago on unrelated but similar offences.

Accused in fraud case returns to court next month

A woman charged with defrauding a veterinary clinic returns to court early next month.

Jade Rachelle Rogers, 33, of Red Deer, reserved her plea on a charge of fraud valued at more than $5,000 and fraud by falsifying documents when she appeared in provincial court. She returns to court on May 6.

Police said earlier the total fraud is suspected to be more than $25,000.

Police said they started their investigation in October 2008 when a person appeared to be altering documents and taking money from the clinic.

The police allege that a worker appeared to be creating false invoices to reflect funds for services rendered and products purchased, in addition to altering medical records of animals.

Red Deer church allowed to post temporary signs

A church located on busy 32nd Street is being allowed to post temporary signs on its property.

Red Deer’s municipal planning commission has voted to permit Mount Calvary Lutheran Church to place signs on its 18 Selkirk Blvd. lot as a discretionary use.

The commission heard that the church wants to erect a sign each spring advertising its playschool and another in the late summer promoting its vacation Bible school. A third sign would notify the public of charitable events art the church.

The approval authorizes the placement of a 1.2-metre-by-2.4-metre sign at the site three times a year. Each sign can only be up for 60 consecutive days, with the maximum number of days per year that signs are in place not to exceed 120 days.

Last bit of Johnstone Park gets subdivision approval

The final phase of Johnstone Park is about to be carved up.

Red Deer’s municipal planning commission has approved the subdivision of 11 acres in the north Red Deer subdivision to create 47 lots for detached dwellings and 26 lots for semi-detached dwellings, as well as a public utility lot and a municipal reserve lot.

The land is west of Taylor Drive and a short distance south of Johnstone Drive, and is within the Johnstone Park Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan.

Peace officer could serve several communities

The Town of Sylvan Lake is considering sharing a peace officer with summer villages during the busy holiday season.

Sylvan Lake Staff Sgt. Duncan Babchuk said communities around the lake have increasing concerns about traffic and parking problems, especially during busy summer days.

Babchuk proposed an officer could be hired on a seasonal basis to write parking and Alberta Gaming and Liquor Act tickets and handle other bylaw enforcement duties. The officer would split time between the town and summer villages, which would share some of the cost.

The breakdown on what percentage of time the officer spent in each community would have to be laid out in a contract that must be approved by the Alberta Solicitor General.

Councillor Richard Backs liked the idea of getting more help. “There are not enough officers on a hot summer day in town.”

The issue is expected to be discussed at a town operational services committee meeting today.

The 30-Hour Famine starts Thursday

Teenagers all over the city are bracing for empty stomachs.

The 30-Hour Famine is set to start Thursday, with youths in local schools and churches sacrificing their daily bread for the cause of child health, nutrition, safety and the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

Last year, Red Deer youths raised $12,124 for the World Vision initiative.

It’ll be the third year First Christian Reformed Church participates in the famine when the kids of the church stop eating on Thursday at 6 p.m.

The following night, about 30 of them will come down to the church for a sleepover, culminating in a big midnight meal of pizza to break their fast.

“We have some vegetables and fruit and yogurt for those who can’t eat the pizza after 30 hours,” said youth ministries director Cathy Tilstra. “Some find it hard to eat right away. Some get (ravenous), which for me is surprising. It’s the last thing I want to do.”

Tilstra says her church youths have raised $2,500 in past famines.

The youths are allowed water and fruit juice, and Tilstra does everything she can to occupy their time so they don’t think about their growling stomachs. Some of the games are based on what they’re raising money for.

“We do it in the past where they have to haul water, or mix rice, to do basic activities like that,” said Tilstra, who believes it helps the kids understand the big picture of what they’re doing. “It’s a game for them, but it’s not a game for the kids (in the Third World).”

As well, about 25 students are expected to participate in a 30-Hour Famine event at Glendale Middle School on Thursday and Friday, which will feature presentations by former African refugees. In this variation, the students are given a cup of rice to eat and are expected to have a little breakfast too, according to Grade 7-8 math teacher and organizer Katrina Neufeld.

“They understand that it will be a challenge for them. Lots of them eat all day long,” said Neufeld.

The Grade 10 social studies students at Koinonia Christian School are organizing their own 30-Hour Famine event the following weekend, with guidance from teacher Amy Smith.

“Social studies Grade 10 is all about community and globalization, really, connecting with different groups or societies. So I figured one of the best ways they could do that is by affecting a Third World country in a positive way,” said Smith.


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