Local briefs – January 21

Red Deer Catholic school principal Kathleen Finnigan has earned national recognition. Finnigan, principal at St. Patrick’s Community School, is among 32 principals from across the country chosen as Canada’s Outstanding Principals for 2010 by The Learning Partnership in Toronto.

St. Patrick’s Community School principal Kathleen Finnigan

St. Patrick’s Community School principal Kathleen Finnigan

Red Deer principal captures national award

Red Deer Catholic school principal Kathleen Finnigan has earned national recognition.

Finnigan, principal at St. Patrick’s Community School, is among 32 principals from across the country chosen as Canada’s Outstanding Principals for 2010 by The Learning Partnership in Toronto.

The award goes to principals who have made a measurable difference in the lives of their students and their local community.

Finnigan was initially nominated by a parent, and the nomination was fully supported by Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division.

Superintendent Paulette Hanna said St. Patrick’s has a diverse population with many English as a second language students and Finnigan respects and embraces that diversity.

“She treats each and every student as individuals and meets their needs. She lets parent, students and staff know she cares,” Hanna said.

As principal at the year-round school for about five years, Finnigan is “caring and compassionate but firm and fair when she needs to be,” Hanna said.

She rarely takes credit and is a strong leader who empowers her staff at the kindergarten to Grade 9 school, the superintendent said.

Awards will be presented on Feb. 23. Winners also attend a four-day executive leadership training program at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

The Learning Partnership is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the value of a strong public education system in Canada.


Suspected drug dealer accused of speeding

An alert RCMP officer was headed off the highway but noticed a vehicle he thought was speeding so he decided to follow it.

Cpl. Tim Croft discovered more than he bargained for when he stopped the vehicle speeding at about 135 km/h on April 22, 2009, Red Deer provincial court heard on Wednesday.

Croft told Judge Bert Skinner at the preliminary hearing that when he finally stopped and searched the driver and the vehicle, he uncovered about $47,000 in cash and about 300 grams of cocaine valued at between $25,000 and $30,000.

Neither federal Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis nor defence lawyer Dean Zuk asked for a ban on publication of evidence at the hearing.

Croft said while pursuing the suspect vehicle on Hwy 2 near Gasoline Alley, he queried the licence plate and learned the registered owner had outstanding warrants for his arrest from Calgary.

Croft said his hunch proved correct when he first looked in the vehicle and questioned the driver. The car’s interior was littered with fast food wrappers.

He said training has taught him that similar litter is often present when people in the vehicle are transporting illegal items.

Croft said the person doesn’t want to spend time stopping so will eat fast food in his vehicle.

Croft also said the suspect’s story about his travel from Edmonton didn’t add up.

Majed Ali Sultan, 25, of Calgary was ordered to stand trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench following the hearing.

He is charged with possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime.

Skinner ordered Sultan to return to court on March 1, possibly to set a trial date

He also returns to Leduc provincial court on Jan. 28 to enter a plea on five charges, including possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, possession of the proceeds of crime and three counts of failing to comply with court orders.

Those charges were laid on June 4, 2009.


Wetaskiwin woman charged in three robberies

A Wetaskiwin woman was charged with three armed robberies that occurred in Ponoka and Wetaskiwin earlier this week.

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a woman robbed Winks and Mac’s convenience stores in Wetaskiwin, between 11 p.m. and about midnight on Monday.

She threatened to use a firearm if staff did not comply with her demands, but she did not produce a weapon. She made off with $400. No one was injured.

Another robbery was reported at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday at 7-Eleven Food Store in Ponoka.

RCMP located and arrested the suspect without incident at her home near Pigeon Lake Reserve.

Tina Joan Morine, 38, is charged with three counts of robbery with a firearm and is scheduled to appear in Wetaskiwin provincial court today.


Rocky man charged after teenager robbed

A Rocky Mountain House man has been charged in connection with the robbery of a teen near downtown Red Deer last week.

RCMP say 17-year-old male and a female youth were walking on the 49th Avenue bridge over the Red Deer River about 9 p.m. on Jan. 13 when two men came up to them. The men asked for cigarettes and when the youths did not hand any over, the male youth was allegedly assaulted.

Police also allege the two men then took the male teen’s backpack and fled into a nearby wooded area.

Two suspects were soon found by police.

The injured youth was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Vince Gouda, 25, of Rocky Mountain House has been charged with one count each of robbery, breach of probation and failing to comply with a court order. Gouda remains in custody and is set to appear in Red Deer provincial court on Friday.

Charges are pending against another 25-year-old Rocky Mountain House man.


ATA recognizes Sylvan Lake vice-principal

A Sylvan Lake vice-principal has won an award from the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Angela Eadie-Gyori, a vice-principal and learning assistance teacher at École Steffie Woima Elementary School in Sylvan Lake, has accepted a special education program award from the association.

The award is given to a team with a successful and effective program in special education and as part of the honour, $1,000 will be given to help further implement the program.

The team at Steffie Woima has developed a list of beliefs that guide their efforts. Among the list are that all students are successful learners and need to be integrated into the regular classroom as much as possible. Developing independence is a priority with relationships being the foundation of the work being done. Parents are partners and appropriate programming is critical. The team also focuses on providing students with the best learning experiences, working together to solve problems and generate solutions and drawing on the expertise of outside resources as needed.

“I consider our program to be a journey that is ensuring our students feel good about who they are,” said Eadie-Gyori in a press release.

“They know they each have unique skills that should be celebrated and they thrive in our safe and accepting school culture. Part of that comes from clearly identifying each of our student’s needs and then implementing individual program plans as a full team. We work together to ensure our students are all meeting their goals and experiencing success along the way.”


Notre Dame student honoured with award

A Grade 11 student at Notre Dame High School has been honoured for his work ethic.

Nathan Stearns was given the Best Hire award by Laebon Homes president Gord Bontje as part of the Building Opportunities program. Stearns was chosen by his school colleagues for the award.

During the program this year, 16 Notre Dame students in Grade 11 and 12 worked together to build an 1,100-square-foot bi-level home at 99 Long Close in Lancaster in Red Deer.

The program is a Career and Technology Studies course offered to students in co-operation with Red Deer College and Laebon Homes.

“It’s a lead in into pretty well any of the trades or subcontractors that we would have worked with. They should have had some experience with them and get an idea of what is available in the construction industry,” said Notre Dame High School instructor Mike VanLanduyt.

The home was finished in early January and will be sold as a family home.


Lawyers seeking solution to roofing complaints

Lawyers are attempting to work out a solution for a roofing company and its owner, who faces 37 charges each under the Fair Trades Act.

John Kushniruk, 37, and Road Runner Roofing Inc. had their plea reserved until Jan. 27 when defence lawyer Michael Scrase appeared in Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday.

The charges involve 36 counts of failing to refund money and engaging in a business without a licence.

The charges involve about 17 victims who are alleged to have lost thousands of dollars.

The charges were all laid on Feb. 29, 2008, following an investigation by an officer with the Red Deer branch of the Department of Government Services.

Scrase told court he was hopeful of a resolution.


Gravel pit decision postponed

Red Deer County residents opposed to a proposed gravel pit near Penhold said the site is on a flood plain and mining there could put nearby homes at risk if waters rose dramatically.

“We’re opposed to this development in its entirety,” said Darcy Will, who lives less than two km away from the gravel pit site next to the Red Deer River, five km west of Penhold. “We are not interested in compromises.”

If the river was to flood again, the gravel operation could cause the river to change its course, threatening other property. The gravel pit and its trucks would disturb wildlife and risk ruining part of the river valley, which he called a “valuable resource.”

“We can’t afford to make any mistakes and alter that resource,” Will told the county’s municipal planning commission on Tuesday.

Rob Chrunyk, who also lives near the proposed 157-acre gravel site, was concerned that local water quality could be threatened and the impact of the operation on nearby properties.

“I can’t even imagine what this would do to our property values.”

Brian Jobson, a property manager for Burnco Rock Products, said hydrological studies have determined the river will be protected by 40- and 60-metre buffer zones. An environmental impact assessment, including a wildlife study, had been prepared and reviewed by Alberta Sustainable Resources, which had no concerns with the proposed gravel operation.

About 50 truckloads of gravel would leave the pit when it was at its busiest, but most days traffic would be about half that, he said.

Councillor Penny Archibald questioned why the county was even considering the project before an ongoing study on environmentally sensitive areas, such as the river corridor, had been completed. She also opposed locating a gravel pit on a flood plain.

Councillor Jim Wood said there was already another gravel pit in the area and he questioned what impact adding another operation would have on local residents.

“I’m seeing so many red flags on this particular one. My alarm bells are really going off here,” Wood said.

The planning commission unanimously voted to defer making a decision for at least two months to provide enough time to complete the study of environmentally sensitive areas.