Local briefs – February 3

An intoxicated man who was allegedly apprehended by concerned citizens after he failed to remain at the scene of a crash in late December reserved his plea on Tuesday.

Plea reserved in impaired driving case

An intoxicated man who was allegedly apprehended by concerned citizens after he failed to remain at the scene of a crash in late December reserved his plea on Tuesday.

Darren Wade Olson, 38, of Calgary, returns to provincial court on Feb. 17 to enter a plea on several charges in connection with the Dec. 28 incident.

Olson is charged with failing to remain at the scene of an accident, impaired driving, with a blood-alcohol content of more than .08 and mischief.

Several concerned citizens were credited with apprehending a driver who smashed into a light standard then continued driving into a parking lot.

The incident occurred around 7:50 p.m. when an erratically driven pickup smashed into a light standard in the centre median at Molly Bannister Drive.

The pickup suffered heavy damage but continued heading north in the south lanes until turning into the Capri Centre Hotel parking lot. The driver exited and tried to leave but was restrained by witnesses until RCMP arrived.


Inmate charged with drug trafficking

A 36-year-old Bowden Institution inmate has been charged with drug trafficking following a search in mid January.

Philip McLaughlin is scheduled to make his first court appearance on March 4 in Red Deer provincial court, Const. Craig Bennett of Innisfail RCMP said Tuesday.

McLaughlin is charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

The search-and-seizure procedure occurred Jan. 14 at the prison’s farm annex.

Police said earlier about 62 grams of marijuana were seized during the search.

Correction Services Canada officers also searched for other contraband and seized more than 800 suspect pills, tobacco and a cellphone. They were found in a common area so no one could be charged with possession, police said earlier.

The 62 grams of marijuana in a prison setting is valued at about 10 times the amount as that sold on the street. Twenty eight grams of marijuana on the street generally sells for between $200 to $250.


County to tighten gravel rules

Red Deer County wants to tighten its development approval rules for gravel operations.

Under proposed amendments to the county’s land use bylaw, municipal planning commission approval will be required before any gravel operations can go ahead in agricultural or heavy industrial areas.

Currently, gravel removal is a permitted use in those districts, meaning the commission does not have the authority to reject an application.

County staff are also proposing that instead of requiring sand and gravel operations to apply to renew their developments after five years, there would be a review after five years.

Councillor George Gehrke questioned whether gravel operations could be shut down under a review process if the company is not complying with conditions of the development permit.

Deb Bonnett, the county’s development manager, confirmed the county would still have the authority to halt gravel operations if there problems.

Council approved first reading of the bylaw amendment. It will return for a public hearing and second and third reading. A date has not been set.


RCMP crackdown on distracted drivers

Applying makeup, chatting on a cellphone and eating or reading while driving will draw the attention of the RCMP this month if they catch you.

Any distraction can be lethal, said Const. Sabrina Grunow of Red Deer city RCMP.

If police find drivers operating a vehicle in a careless manner, they can face a fine of $402 and six demerits on their licence, she said.

“In a split second you can hit ice, you can hit snow, you can hit another vehicle that slammed on their brakes and you just don’t have the time to react,” she said.

Distracted driving legislation for Alberta drivers is on the agenda for the provincial government, but officials haven’t confirmed when it will become law.

The RCMP’s crackdown comes at the same time as a new insurance industry study out of the U.S. concludes that banning cellphone use while driving does not result in fewer accidents.


Teacher days studied

A plan to let students out early one day a week to give teachers time to learn new teaching techniques in the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division is being met with apprehension by some parents.

Certain parents are concerned that the plan has moved forward without proper consultation and feel there might be a better time or way to implement it.

Parents and other community members will have a chance to share their views at an information session set for Tuesday, at 7 p.m. at the Montfort Centre at 5210 61st St.

The Catholic division finished a three-year pilot project last school year that saw students leave class 30 minutes early one day each week, with teachers giving an additional 30 minutes of their own time.

Before the pilot, there would have been more full-day long PD (professional development) days.

If approved by the Catholic board, the new plan would mean there would be less full days off for students to allow teachers to have professional development, but students would likely leave class 70 minutes early one day a week.

The Catholic school division has had a committee — made up of teachers, principals, parents and school administrators — looking at what is referred to as “embedded professional development” since September.

Paulette Hanna, superintendent of the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division, said research shows that if professional development for teachers is done on a continual, ongoing basis for shorter amounts of time, then teachers are able to take in the information, reflect on it, put it into practice and then come back a week or two later and say this is working or isn’t working and share that with others. She said during the three-year embedded professional development pilot project, provincial achievement test results improved significantly.

A survey went out offering Monday or Thursday as possible days for an early dismissal to allow for professional development for teachers.

However, Alana Patrick, a parent of children who attend Holy Family Elementary School in Red Deer, said the change would mean many parents would have to get time off work to pick up their children or arrange child care.

She said it is important to make sure that the value of the professional development is worth the hardships to parents and families and that parents have a chance to examine all of the options before making a decision on what they like the best.

Another Holy Family parent, Sherri Abraham said many families appreciated full day PD days because then parents could take that day off work and make it a long weekend and have some family time.


Students to get first-hand look at aboriginal culture

Students will likely have the chance to visit a council meeting in Hobbema, make a drum and even experience a powwow, during a course being offered through the Outreach School Centre.

Aboriginal Studies 10 is a five-credit course that will examine the origins and settlement patterns of aboriginal people, First Nations world views, political and economic organization, symbolism and expression.

The course will be offered at the Outreach School Centre from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. each Wednesday throughout the school term, starting today, with possible additional field trips on the weekend.

The course will wrap up with students taking part in a Storytelling Festival that will be open to the public at the end in June, with students sharing stories related to the course with others in an oral style.

“I think actually getting the opportunity to experience it rather than read about it can go a long way and we feel that is really what is going to grab the attention of the students, having those opportunities,” said Chad Erickson, principal of the Outreach School Centre.

There will not only be classroom discussion, but also lots of hands-on learning and guest speakers, with local First Nations people being asked to speak with the class.

“There is a growing aboriginal population across Canada and it becomes important for students to have an understanding and appreciation of aboriginal people and culture, not just First Nations individuals themselves, but non-aboriginal people as well,” Erickson said.

The course is open to high school students in both the Catholic and public school divisions and there is no additional cost, apart from the $25 instructional materials fee.

“We believe Aboriginal Studies 10 is an excellent course to develop knowledge of First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture, history and traditions for students. While schools across the province have tried to offer the course, there has been limited success. We hope that by providing a hands-on, project-oriented course through our Outreach School Centre that the course will be attractive,” Erickson said.

Students can register for the course at the Outreach School Centre at 5015 48th St. or phoning 403-343-1354.

sobrien@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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