Local briefs – March 2

A Lacombe man has been charged in connection to a string of five robberies in Red Deer last week.

Lacombe man charged in five robberies

A Lacombe man has been charged in connection to a string of five robberies in Red Deer last week.

Last Friday, three stores were hit in the span of less than two hours.

On Friday at 1:05 p.m. at the downtown Real Canadian Superstore, a man demanded cash from the tobacco counter. But when the clerk had a problem meeting his demand, he fled without money.

At 1:43 p.m. at Pizza Hut at 3410 Gaetz Ave., a man who said he had a firearm fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

At 2:46 p.m., police responded to an armed robbery at Ross Street IDA Pharmacy at 4814 50th St. where a man also demanded and took off with money.

At 2:50 p.m., Red Deer RCMP located a suspect, who was on foot in the 5000 block of 50th Avenue.

The man is also the suspect in a robbery at Shoppers Drug Mart on Wednesday at 2:18 a.m., and at the downtown Canada Safeway on Thursday at 1:48 p.m.

Dax Peters, 36, is charged with five counts of robbery, one count each of resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer.

Peters remains in custody and will appear in Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday.

Wolf Creek teacher recognized

A Wolf Creek Public Schools teacher has received the Principal’s Special School Co-ordinator Award in Home Education, which is presented by the Alberta Distance Learning Centre.

Home education co-ordinator Shauna Morris works with home education families to provide personalized programs for each student.

Nadine Ruhl, in her nomination letter for Morris, wrote of Morris that she is always helpful, resilient and encouraging and she transmits that to students and their families. She carefully monitors each student’s progress through phone, email and home visits and through the ongoing “tweaking” of the programs, she fosters success.

“In all teaching situations, excellent relationships with students and parents are crucial for student success. The important relationship is especially true in a home education learning environment, where there are limited opportunities for face-to-face contact with students and their parents. Shauna Morris has embraced this challenge fully,” wrote Ruhl.

Many events planned at Red Deer College

Red Deer College students have a number of upcoming events planned for the community during March, including a Mardi Gras-themed murder mystery, a ladies night, a dinner and jazz event, a medieval dinner and a high tea.

The events give hospitality and tourism management students a taste of real event planning, with all of the risk, stress and rewards that would come with an event outside of school.

“It’s pretty much a complete entrepreneurial program,” said Bob Van Someren, an instructor in the hospitality and management program at RDC. “Students invest their own money, make decisions on marketing, timing of the event and must perform HR functions such as creating job descriptions, hold interviews and ‘hire’ first-year students to actually manage the event while they sit back and enjoy like any other guest.”

He said students often say they use everything they’ve learned in the two-year diploma course for the operations and entrepreneurship course, where the events are planned.

“We get great support from the community and I don’t think they always come because it’s a college event, I think they come because they’re good events,” Van Someren said.

The first activity is the Bumped Off on Bourbon Street: A Mardi Gras Murder Mystery, set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the NOVA Chemicals Learning Common. Tickets are $65 and available from Kim at 403-872-8672 or murdermystery@rdc.ab.ca. The event includes an interactive experience with Terry Shane Murder Mysteries troupe, with more information at www.rdcmurdermystery.com

Let Loose Ladies Night at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, at Red Deer College will offer an interactive night for women, where they can learn to flambé, shake martinis, create appetizers, fold napkins and mix speciality butters. Tickets are $55 and available through Haley at 403-638-7855 or ladiesnight@rdc.ab.ca or find out more at www.letlooseladiesnight.com.

Tickets are already almost sold out on the Dinner and All That Jazz event at the RDC Arts Centre on Friday, March 19, at 7 p.m. The event includes a five-course meal and the Jazz Explosion big band will perform, with more information at www.dinnerandallthatjazz.com. Tickets are available for $65 from Brett at 403-396-8234 or jazzdinner@rdc.ab.ca

An authentic Medieval Dinner will include entertainment from Lothar the Magician on Saturday, March 20, at 6 p.m. at the RDC Arts Centre at Studio B. Tickets are $45 and available through Chelsea at 403-550-0831.

The final event is a Spring High Tea, with a selection of loose leaf teas and sandwiches, on Saturday, March 27, at 1 and 4 p.m. at the Cornerstone Dining Room at RDC. Tickets are $25 and available from Mylia at 403-350-9938 or hightea@rdc.ab.ca

Sentencing date anticipated in domestic violence case

A man charged with attempted murder in a domestic dispute appears headed to have his charges resolved.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench heard on Monday that Hamadullah Barkza, 33, of Red Deer, has elected to have his case adjourned to provincial court on May 10. That was the date of his scheduled Queen’s Bench jury trial, lawyer Arnold Piragoff said.

Piragoff said that date will be used to set a sentencing date for his client.

Barkza is also charged with choking during an indictable offence and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.

Barkza was charged on April 18, 2008, after RCMP responded to a stabbing complaint at a residence in the 3300 block of 51st Avenue Close in Red Deer.

It’s alleged that a 21-year-old woman and the accused both suffered stab wounds. Both were hospitalized. The woman received non-life-threatening injuries and the accused was released from hospital a few days later.

Barkza has been in custody since the incident.

Two children in the residence were not injured.

Hearing to last several days in case of missing vehicles

A preliminary hearing is expected to run most of the week for three of four people charged in the alleged theft of vehicles from a Red Deer car dealership.

More than 30 vehicle are alleged to have disappeared in late 2007 from Southside Chrysler in Red Deer. The missing vehicles were all 2007 and 2008 models.

Lawyer Alex Pringle, representing Calvin Robert Mirbach, 37, of Red Deer waived his client’s right to the preliminary hearing and will proceed directly to a Court of Queen’s Bench trial on 97 theft, fraud and possession of stolen property charges. His trial date could be set on April 12.

Torrey Duane Werenka, 35, of Red Deer faces 39 theft and fraud counts.

Daniel Descheneau, 38, and Sandra Chen, 29, both of Red Deer, face 15 theft, fraud and possession of stolen property charges each.

The charges were laid on Dec. 19, 2007, following an allegation that a former employee wasn’t reporting all vehicle sales to the dealership.

All accused elected last year to be tried by a judge sitting alone.

A preliminary hearing determines if there is enough evidence to warrant the accused stand trial in Queen’s Bench.

Assault trial won’t be held until February of 2011

An attempted murder trial is set for almost a year from now for a federal prisoner charged in a knifing more than a year ago at Bowden Institution.

Joseph Alexander Mason, 46, is also charged with aggravated assault in the Nov. 14, 2008, incident.

The four-week trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench is to begin on Feb. 8, 2011. The 15 or so Crown witnesses are expected to include RCMP officers, Corrections Canada officers from Bowden and possibly two people who were inmates at the time, including the alleged victim, who has since been released.

The 47-year-old alleged victim suffered stab wounds to his abdomen, chest and back after another inmate attacked him with a sharpened metal spoon.