Local briefs – December 15

The trial of a man charged following a standoff with police last March was postponed Monday.

Standoff suspect’s trial postponed

The trial of a man charged following a standoff with police last March was postponed Monday.

Gene Paul Levasseur, 38, returns to Red Deer provincial court today to set a new date for a trial on six charges.

Levasseur was arrested on March 18 and charged with forcible confinement, two counts of assault, and one count each of strangling or choking, assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats.

He was set to have a half day trial but court heard at least eight Crown witnesses were set to testify.

Crown prosecutor Dennis Huot said at least a day should be scheduled.

Court also heard defence lawyer Lorne Goddard also received some police disclosure at the last moment and needed time to examine it.

Levasseur, who is free on bail, was charged following the eight-hour standoff with RCMP at a residence on the South Hill across from a school.

Police were called to a townhouse at 3508 48th Ave., just before 7 a.m. after receiving a report of a possible domestic dispute.

During the standoff, several homes in the area were evacuated and students were directed away from École La Prairie School, which was locked down.

Buses bringing in students were sent to a nearby hotel.

Police also cordoned off a large area around the South Hill.

Numerous attempts were made to communicate with the suspect inside the townhouse without success. At about 2:20 p.m. a robot was sent down the sidewalk and up to the door of the home.

Shortly, after RCMP emergency response team members forced their way into the townhouse, guns drawn.

RCMP said earlier a woman had fled the scene safely but a man remained inside. It was feared he had a gun.

Police also allege that the female owner of the home was kept against her will during the standoff.

Wait for flu vaccine has subsided

Central Albertans worried about a lengthy wait at local H1N1 vaccination clinics have nothing to fear.

People can get immunized almost immediately with fewer people coming out to community clinics.

At the Dec. 8 clinic in Red Deer, only 243 people were immunized. On Dec. 7, a total of 384 people came out.

The next Red Deer clinic will be held today from 9 to 5 p.m. at Westerner Park Salon A and B, located at 4847A 19th St.

Another clinic will be held in the salons on Wednesday, from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The clinic scheduled for Dec. 21 at the Westerner has been cancelled due to the drop in demand.

People going to Red Deer hospital’s emergency department with flu-like symptoms has also declined with eight people visiting emergency between Dec. 10 and 13.

Albertans over six months of age are still encouraged to get vaccinated against H1N1 influenza to protect themselves against the third H1N1 wave expected in the new year.

For more clinic locations and dates in Central Alberta go online to www.albertahealthservices.ca or call HEALTHLink Alberta toll free at 1-866-408-5465.

People can also check with their local doctor or pharmacist to find out if they have the vaccine.

Meyette to lead planning division

The City of Red Deer has appointed a new Planning Director. Licensing and Inspections manager Paul Meyette, who had been a senior planner with the Parkland Community Planning Services before joining the staff at City Hall, steps into his new job on Feb. 1.

Meyette had been in charge of planning services for the city for nine of the 15 years he spent with Parkland. He joined the city’s staff in 2004. He holds a degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Waterloo.

City manager Craig Curtis, in a news release issued on Monday, describes Meyette as a highly skilled and deeply committed leader who is an ideal fit to lead the new planning division.

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