Local briefs – July 31

More than two dozen guests and staff were forced to evacuate a south Red Deer hotel Thursday when a fire alarm sounded.

Hotel evacuated after alarm

More than two dozen guests and staff were forced to evacuate a south Red Deer hotel Thursday when a fire alarm sounded.

The alarm was triggered around 6 p.m. on the second floor at the Holiday Inn Express at 2803 Gaetz Ave.

“Some of the people on the second floor thought they smelled smoke and pulled the alarm,” Jeff Lunder, a platoon chief with Red Deer Emergency Services said.

Several fire-medics searched the building before declaring it was safe for guests and staff to re-enter about 6:30 p.m.

Lunder said the hotel is undergoing some renovations which could have been what the guests smelled.

Hotel staff made arrangements for guests to stay in the lobby of the nearby Travelodge during the time of a light rain.

A few people took the offer but most waited around to return to their rooms.

Man accused of voyeurism

CALGARY — A Calgary man is accused of using a recording device to take video and pictures up the skirts of women and girls at a public library.

Police believe there are as many as seven victims who don’t even know it happened.

Donovan Lindsay Beppo, 46, has been charged with voyeurism.

Police also seized a camera and computer during their investigation.

Olga Savino-Lambe, who frequently takes her young daughters to the Crowfoot Library, says she was shocked to hear the news.

She says she finds it frightening to think her daughters may have been victimized.

It’s the second such incident at the Crowfoot Library.

Back in October, a woman complained a man committed an indecent act while staring at her through a bookshelf. He was later arrested.

Gary Meek, director for Calgary Public Libraries, says these are isolated incidents. He says libraries are safe but notes they are, after all, public buildings.

“Unfortunately, it’s the nature of it that it is both strength and a challenge. Everybody is free to enter a public library.”

Ponoka school gets cash

The modernization of Ponoka Composite High School is in sight.

On Thursday, Alberta Education approved Wolf Creek School Division’s plan to use $11.1 million the division has for the project in its capital reserve fund.

Lorrie Jess, Wolf Creek School Board chair, said as an athlete she spent a lot of hours in the gymnasium and it hasn’t changed much since she graduated 31 years ago.

“It’s time and it’s kind of exciting,” said Jess on Thursday.

Construction could start early next summer so major renovations will take place when students and staff are not in the building.

Wolf Creek will immediately hire an architectural firm to complete the design plan, with the project going to tender in spring 2010.

Jess expects the first phase of modernization will include upgrading spaces like the mechanical room, main offices and the student gathering area.

The project has been a top priority for Wolf Creek for a few years.

Built in 1967, the school can accommodate 800 to 1,000 students. With about 500 students now, the school will be downsized during modernization.

Seniors help food bank

Support from the Deer Park Co-op store played a huge role setting a new record for Victoria Park Retirement’s second annual food drive, says its manager.

The Red Deer seniors apartment building is one of 300 Holiday Retirement buildings across North America to take part in an annual drive supporting local food banks.

During the week of July 21 to 24, Victoria Park collected 408 kg of food and $1,000 in cash, smashing its first-time total, set last year, of 111 kg and $730 in cash.

A portion of this year’s cash was used to buy part of the food, leaving a net total of $320 in cash for the food bank, said building manager Sharon Fix.

Co-op put on a display through the week and made up more than 100 bags of food, priced at $10 each. People were to purchase the bags, collected by the Victoria Park bus, which was parked at the Co-op on Friday morning.

When the dust settled, people had purchased the food bags and donated additional money, said Fix. The Co-op then donated the leftover bags, she said.

While its a new record for Victoria Park, Fix said she hasn’t yet learned how the Red Deer food drive stacked up against other Holiday Retirement buildings.

Saws stolen, pair arrested

Two men have been arrested in connection with the theft of three saws from Red Deer College valued at several thousand dollars.

Cpl. Kathe DeHeer of city RCMP said on Wednesday that police executed a search warrant on a property east of Red Deer and recovered the saws.

The culprits are alleged to have pilfered two cabinet saws and a panel saw from the college in late June.

Police arrested a 61-year-old and a 35-year-old.

The investigation continues and no charges have been laid to date.

For more on local events, see “Home Front” and “Switchboard” under the “Community” tab

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