Local briefs – August 22

Boaters, rafters, fishers and other river users are being asked to use caution as the city has starts construction of a new $20-million water intake and screen building near the Red Deer River between Taylor Drive bridge and the rail bridge.

Intake work starts

Boaters, rafters, fishers and other river users are being asked to use caution as the city has starts construction of a new $20-million water intake and screen building near the Red Deer River between Taylor Drive bridge and the rail bridge.

The south bank trail will be closed between these bridges for the duration of the project. Pedestrians and trail users are asked to keep away from the construction site area and equipment.

Construction traffic along 54th Avenue and noise in the general area will increase during the project. Area residents, businesses and users can expect higher noise levels during normal work hours. The City of Red Deer Environmental Services Department says the project will address the needs of a growing customer base.

“Based on projected population increases, this new water intake and screen building ensures we can meet the needs of citizens for the next 30 years,” said Gord Ludtke, environmental planning engineer.

The existing water intake was designed for 103 mega litres per day (ML/d). Since then, the capacity of the intake decreased to roughly 90 ML/d as a result of more stringent regulatory requirements.

The city expects the maximum day water demand will exceed the existing intake capacity of 90 ML/d capacity in the next three years.

The intake and screen building upgrade will be designed with a capacity of 187 ML/d — that should meet needs until 2039. The project is expected to be complete in late 2010 with commissioning and start-up in early 2011.

Clock broken

One of this summer’s frequent storms may have taken its toll on a downtown showpiece.

The Rotary Citizen of the Year Clock, at the corner of Ross Street and 49th Avenue, is to undergo repairs after its clock faces became unsynchronized. The City of Red Deer says an electrical surge from a lightning storm caused the malfunction.

Over the last two months, the city has tried with no success to reset the clock on numerous occasions.

An American company that specializes in antique clock repairs will begin fixing the clock next week at no cost because the clock is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. It is unknown how long repairs will take, but traffic in the downtown will not be impacted.

Parking restricted

There will be limited parking and no through traffic at the Collicutt Centre on Sunday and Monday as the facility hosts the Kraft/TSN Celebration Tour.

During this time, the City of Red Deer encourages customers to use public transit, car pool or bike to the Collicutt Centre. Overflow parking will be available via the north access of Hunting Hills High School and the east access of Notre Dame High School.

Red Deer is one of 10 communities chosen across the country as locations for TSN’s flagship news program Sportscentre to be broadcast live. In addition, Red Deer will receive $25,000 from Kraft Canada to go towards improving the community’s Red Deer Boxing Club.

Darren Dutchyshen and Jennifer Hedger will host the special edition of Sportscentre when it airs live from Red Deer on Monday, as part of TSN’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Jail for gun, theft

A Red Deer man was slapped with a two-year jail sentence for possessing a restricted firearm and stealing a truck and other property.

Mark Tiihonen, 47, was sentenced on Friday to 26 months in prison for a multitude of charges, including possessing a stolen vehicle and an unauthorized weapon and ammunition.

But since Provincial Court Judge John Holmes gave Tiihonen double the credit for the month he spent in pre-trial custody, he is left with 24 months left to serve.

Tiihonen was arrested by city police near the North Hill Inn last month after police suspected he was driving a heavy-duty pickup truck that was reported stolen in Delburne.

Police laid a slew of charges against him, including possession of stolen property worth over $5,000, possession of break-in tools and stolen property under $5,000, possession of a restricted firearm, and careless storage of ammunition.

Man sentenced to two years in penitentary for assault

A Rocky-area man with a string of assault convictions was sentenced to two years in a federal prison for punching another man in the face and breaking his jaw.

Jason Jerry Strawberry, 33, of the O’Chiese Reserve, was urged to conquer his alcohol problem and turn his life around, by Justice Donna Read of Edmonton who sentenced him on Friday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.

“You need to take responsibility for your life. You have a lot of life left to live,” said Read, who was “troubled” by Strawberry’s history of eight assaults that go back to 1993.

Crown Prosecutor Jason Snider had recommended Strawberry get jail time because of his long record.

Strawberry’s lawyer, Patty MacNaughton, had requested her client be given a conditional sentence in which prison time could be served in the community.

She put forward some mitigating circumstances: Strawberry is grieving the deaths of two siblings, and is important to the lives of his young son, as well as his parents, who require his help on a horse ranch.

But Read noted that Strawberry had trouble in the past complying with the terms of community sentences. She also did not trust the public would be safe from the man as long as he was drinking to excess.

The judge wanted to sentence Strawberry to two years less a day in provincial prison.

But she later granted MacNaughton’s request that he serve two years in federal prison instead, so Strawberry can take advantage of better substance abuse programs. This is to be followed by one year of probation. He also has to submit a sample to the police’s DNA bank.

Strawberry’s most recent assault, on Aug. 1, 2008, was on a man who was changing a flat tire.

Like most of his past assaults, it involved another resident from the same reserve.


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