Local briefs – November 24

The big freeze is not only depleting local morale, it’s putting a strain on the power grid.

City power use spikes as weather gets colder

The big freeze is not only depleting local morale, it’s putting a strain on the power grid.

Electricity consumption peaked at 135 megawatts on Monday night and with the cold expected to continue for a few more days, the City of Red Deer is asking residents to reduce power during the 5 to 7 p.m. peak period.

The cold was only one factor in the power usage boost. Fewer daylight hours and additional festive lighting also added to the power drain.

Homeowners can save power during the peak by running appliances, such as dish and clothes washers and dryers, at off-peak times. Christmas lights and block heaters can also be put on timers to cut back on electricity usage. It only takes a block heater a couple of hours to warm up an engine.

Trading in standard Christmas lights for LED designs also saves juice.

Plea delay on theft charges

A man charged with stealing two vehicles and the attempted theft of a third reserved his plea during a first court appearance on Tuesday.

Shane Dion McPhee, 35, of Red Deer returns to provincial court today on two charges of possession of stolen property and a single count of attempted theft. He remains in custody after appearing on closed circuit television.

Red Deer RCMP said last week that a man was charged with stealing two vehicles following an incident early on Nov. 16.

Two suspects were confronted by witnesses and one suspect was detained until police arrived.

The other suspect fled on foot but was arrested a short time later in a taxi.

Court heard the theft charges are the result of an event on Nov. 13 in Innisfail and the second event on Nov. 16 in Red Deer. The attempted vehicle theft was also allegedly in Red Deer on Nov. 16.

The second male suspect was released without charges.

Crash case back Dec. 15

A man alleged to have plowed his car into a CheckStop, causing more than $40,000 in damages to police cruisers, reserved his plea in Red Deer court on Tuesday.

Damian Odell Cave, 56, of Rocky Mountain House, reserved his plea through an agent on charges of impaired driving and dangerous driving until Dec. 15.

One RCMP vehicle was written off in the incident, which occurred in the early morning of Oct. 23 in Red Deer.

Red Deer RCMP said earlier they received a complaint of a possible impaired driver leaving a parking lot shortly after midnight. It was alleged that the older model suspect vehicle backed into another vehicle before leaving the parking lot.

Police said the vehicle was observed driving the wrong way on 51st Street, between 49th Avenue and Gaetz Avenue, then proceeding towards a police CheckStop near the intersection of Taylor Drive and Kerry Wood Drive.

Police said the Dodge Dart was allegedly travelling at high speed before it collided with a marked police vehicle that was parked and unoccupied.

The suspect vehicle then collided with another marked police vehicle before coming to a stop. The crash also involved another police car.

The suspect driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

No officers were injured.

Olds College skills on display

Olds College will showcase its Landscape Pavilion as part of an upcoming fundraiser for the school of environment at the post-secondary institution.

The Landscape Pavilion has existed for a number of years and allows Olds College students to work inside during the blustery winter months, working on irrigation, doing landscaping, building ponds and retaining walls and practising arboriculture — cultivation and study of trees.

During the event, which will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Landscape Pavilion on Dec. 2, students will showcase some of the skills they have learned in the various horticultural and apprenticeship programs at the college.

Money raised will buy tools students can use in those programs, everything from shovels to power tools.

Doug Peters, chair of the school of environment, said the college needs to maintain the types of equipment that industry professionals use so that students are prepared when they get into the work world. “It just gives them an idea of what is out there and gives them experience on it,” he said.

Peters hopes to raise up to $20,000 in the fundraiser but he said it also serves another valuable purpose.

“It’s an opportunity for the students to see who is in industry and for industry to see the kind of training and quality students that are being produced through the programs,” he said.

As part of the Surf and Turf event, there will be cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, student demonstrations, Christmas plant sales and tours. Tickets are $25 per person.

For more information, phone Doreen Thibeault at 403-556-8232.

Cold snap cools thieves

The recent cold snap has put the bite on certain types of crime including break-ins and car thefts.

According to Red Deer city RCMP statistics released on Monday for the week ending Nov. 21, there were only nine break-ins of businesses and residences during the week, compared with 26 the previous week and 31 two weeks ago.

Motorists appear to be using caution when starting their cars in the cold and leaving them running empty as well, since only four automobile thefts were reported compared with 16 the previous week.

Police responded to 803 calls for service last week, an increase of 60 from the previous week.

There were three sexual assault reports last week compared with four the previous week.

There were no robberies reported after three were reported a week earlier.

Other statistics from last week included:

• 22 assaults

• 164 bylaw infractions

• eight drug investigations

• domestic violence reports were not available

• 14 frauds

• 31 mischief

• 21 suspicious persons, vehicles or activities

• 43 thefts

• 82 calls for victim services assistance.

Drunk suspect in court

A Red Deer teen charged with impaired driving that resulted in the death of a Red Deer College student on the day he was set to start school reserved his plea on Tuesday.

Darith Rin, 19, returns to provincial court on Dec. 15 after his first appearance.

Matthew Taylor, 18, was thrown from a vehicle in the crash in north Red Deer on Sept. 7. He died of his injuries the same day he was to have begun classes at the college.

Taylor had just moved to Red Deer from Hay River, N.W.T.

He was the fifth person to die in a motor vehicle crash in Red Deer this year, one of the worst years in more than a decade.

Rin is charged with impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm.

The collision occurred about 2:50 a.m. on Sept. 7, along 77th Street, near the intersection of 45th Avenue Close in Red Deer.

Police said earlier that a car with three men was travelling east on 77th Street, when the driver allegedly lost control and went into the north ditch where it struck concrete posts and a fire hydrant.

Taylor, a passenger, was ejected. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

The second passenger, who was wearing his seatbelt, was treated and released from hospital.