Local briefs – June 25

Olds RCMP officers stopped motorists at two locations on Thursday evening to try to generate more information about the abduction of a seven-year-old Bowden girl.

Police hunting for clues

Olds RCMP officers stopped motorists at two locations on Thursday evening to try to generate more information about the abduction of a seven-year-old Bowden girl.

Part of the RCMP’s investigation involves officers stopping motorists and handing out posters on Hwy 2A in the Town of Bowden, and at the small pond just off Hwy 2A on Township Road 304 near Carstairs.

A girl was biking with her dog on the south side of 19th Avenue sometime between 6 and 6:15 p.m. on June 17. She was heading west between 22nd Street and 23rd Street within the town of Bowden when a truck drove up and stopped.

A man got out and forced her into the back seat of the truck, picked the small dog up by the tail and threw it in the truck, and put the bike in the truck box.

The truck then drove out of Bowden on Hwy 2A heading south through Olds and continuing south towards Carstairs.

The vehicle stopped north of Carstairs and the girl’s purple bike, with a basket in front, was discarded.

The truck later drove back past Bowden and at about 8 p.m., the girl was dropped off about eight km northwest of Bowden on a gravel road. She sought help at the nearest residence.

The truck is described as a full-size pickup with shiny metallic paint — possibly grey/gold. It was a club or crew cab with a full back seat and four full-sized doors that all open toward the back. It has a dark-coloured interior and rubber floor mats.

The suspect is described as having a thin build, an olive or darker complexion, short spiked black hair, facial stubble, and possibly speaking with an accent.

He was wearing blue jeans, a blue shirt with light-coloured horizontal stripes, and dark shoes.

Police want to thank the citizens who have called in with information about this investigation and are encouraging anyone else who has seen anything to call Olds RCMP at 403-556-3323, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 to report it.

Why not prevent Dutch Elm Disease?

In the midst of Dutch Elm Disease Awareness Week, which runs from June 22 to June 28, the City of Red Deer encourages all citizens to learn how to prevent this and other diseases that are deadly to trees.

Alberta has remained free of Dutch elm disease, or DED, to date, but it is moving through Saskatchewan while other deadly tree diseases are moving towards the Manitoba border from North Dakota.

The city reminds citizens that it is illegal to transport elm firewood in Alberta and recommends that people do not transport any kind of firewood.

“Most residents are aware they cannot transport elm firewood because it can spread DED,” said Elaine Johnson, urban forester for the city.

“However, we’re seeing the movement of other pests that are just as deadly to our trees and they’re also spread through firewood.”

The emerald ash borer, bronze birch borer and mountain pine beetle are all wood-boring pest that live beneath the bark of trees and are spread by transportation of firewood. They attack ash, birch and pine trees.

“Each of these pests can kill a mature tree in one season, but there are simple things we can do to protect Alberta’s trees from this destruction,” Johnson said.

Removing dead branches and trees destroys potential habitats for the beetles that cause DED, as does disposing of all elm wood by burning, burying or chipping.

Regular watering from April to mid-August and only pruning between October and the end of March keeps elms healthy and vigorous.

Pruning elms between the beginning of April and the end of September can attract active beetles that are attracted to the scent of fresh tree cuts.

Leaves on a DED-infected elm will wilt or droop, curl and become brown, appearing in mid-June to mid-July.

Leaves on trees infected later in the season usually turn yellow and drop prematurely.

Leaf symptoms are accompanied by brown staining under the bark.

Infected elms, or those suspected of being infected, should be reported to the STOPDED hotline at 1-877-837-ELMS (3567). For more information, visit www.stopded.org

For more information on DED in Red Deer, contact the City of Red Deer Parks Department at 4033-342-8234.

Special ballot available for municipal election

Eligible voters who are unable to make it to the polls can vote by special ballot in the Red Deer municipal election this fall.

Electors who are unable to vote in advance, are out of the area on election day or who have a physical disability can request a special ballot starting July 1.

Returning officers, deputy returning officers, constables, candidates, official agents and scrutineers can also vote by way of special ballot if they are not located at their designated voting station on election day.

Requests can be made in person, in writing, by telephone, fax or email. Ballots are then mailed to voters after nominations close on Sept. 20. Special ballots must be forwarded to the returning officer by 8 p.m. on election day Monday, Oct. 18.

“Essentially, a special ballot is a mail-in ballot,” said Frieda McDougall, deputy returning officer. “It gives all citizens an equal opportunity to participate in the municipal election and vote for their municipal council and public or Catholic school trustees.”

“Voting gives citizens more say in the future of the city of Red Deer. We try to make voting as easy and accessible as we can, and every vote counts,” said McDougall.

Municipal elections are held every three years to elect one mayor, eight councillors, seven public school trustees and five Catholic school trustees.

To be eligible to vote in the municipal election, an elector must be at least 18 years old, be a Canadian citizen, not have voted before in this election, have lived in Alberta for the last six months (as of April 18) and live in Red Deer on election day (or within the area of the Red Deer Regional Catholic Division #39).

For more information about the election processes visit the city’s website at www.reddeer.ca/election. To request a special ballot, contact Legislative and Governance Services at 403-342-8132 or by email at legislativeservices@reddeer.ca

Chinook’s Edge School Division to run into debt in upcoming year

Chinook’s Edge School Division will dip into the red for the upcoming school year.

This week, the board approved in principal the 2010-11 budget that forecasts a $1.6-million deficit.

Treasurer Susan Roy said grant cutbacks by the provincial government and declining enrolment are the major reasons for the shortfall.

“With no increase in our grants, plus a decline in enrolment of about 200 students, you know that you’re going to be faced with some budget challenges,” she said.

Roy said that for the current 2009-2010 school year, the provincial government reduced the amount of grants awarded to division by $345,000 in an effort to help remedy the provincial education budget challenge.

There has been no change in grant rates for the 2010-2011 school year, Roy said, but expenditures are rising.

The most expensive price tag comes from wage increases for teachers. In September, teachers’ salaries in the division will go up by 2.92 per cent on the grid.

However, Roy said about 40 per cent of the current teachers in the division are eligible for increments, meaning their salary increase will be closer to four per cent.

Suspects to be tried together

Two men charged in relation to a stabbing murder in 2007 will go on trial together.

Crown prosecutor Anders Quist has moved forward with a joint indictment of Brent William Crouse, 46, of Calgary, and Larry Allen Scott, 53, of Red Deer.

Crouse has been charged with first-degree murder and being an accessory after the fact to murder. Scott has been charged with second-degree murder and being an accessory to murder. Both men remain in custody.

Crouse and Scott appeared in Court of Queen’s Bench in Red Deer on Thursday before Madam Justice S.M. Bensler, who agreed to the joint indictment.

Initially a day had been set aside to hear arguments against the joint indictment from defence attorneys Michael Sparks and Gloria Froese, but no formal application was made to do so.

The five-week trial for Crouse and Scott before a judge and jury is set to run from Jan. 31 to March 4.

The men have been charged in relation to the death of Sheldon Mark Hiller, 46, of Red Deer.

Hiller was stabbed to death on April 16, 2007, and his body was later found in a ditch near Raven, which is around 40 km northwest of Innisfail.

Drug suspect released on bail

A Lacombe man charged with assault and drug offences was released on $3,000 cash bail on Thursday.

Terris Gordon Truax, 29, appeared in Red Deer provincial court on Thursday.

He is facing charges of assault, two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, being in possession of stolen property, threats to cause death, two counts of failure to appear in court and two counts of failure to comply with an undertaking.

A court-imposed ban prohibits publication of information heard at Thursday’s show cause hearing. Truax returns to court on July 8 for election and plea.

Lacombe Police Service raided a Lacombe residence, finding more than $2,000 in Canadian and American currency, a small amount of cocaine and 92 grams of marijuana. Truax and co-accused Jennifer Courtemache, 28, of Lacombe, were charged in relation to this incident.

Courtemache has been charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of stolen property and disobeying a court order in connection to the case.

She was released on a no cash bail of $2,000 on June 17.

She will reside at her mother’s home in Athabasca and must check in with the Athabasca RCMP each Wednesday.

She must have no contact with Truax and will return to Red Deer provincial court on July 15.