Local briefs – October 1

Alberta New Democrats are coming to Red Deer on Tuesday, Oct. 13, to hear what Central Albertans think about the state of Alberta’s health care and long-term care.

New Democrats to host health-care forum

Alberta New Democrats are coming to Red Deer on Tuesday, Oct. 13, to hear what Central Albertans think about the state of Alberta’s health care and long-term care.

The NDP are hosting seven forums around the province to find out the public’s concerns, views and solutions on health care before the fall sitting of the Alberta legislature.

The Red Deer forum will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Red Deer Lodge, at 4311 49th Ave.

The NDP wants to know:

• What difficulties has your family had accessing health care that you need?

• How have growing wait lists impacted your health?

• How important is a fully-funded public health care system to you?

• What are your highest priorities for health care in the future?

People can register to make a five-minute presentation by faxing 780-415-0701 or email nd@assembly.ca. Faxes can be sent toll free by using 310-000 and the fax number.

Space is limited for presentations. A written submission should also be provided.

If people can’t attend, they can email or mail a submission to NDP Opposition, Attention: Public Hearings on Health and Long-Term Care, 501, Legislature Annex, 9718 107th St., Edmonton, Alberta, T5K 1E4.

For more information, call 780-415-1801, accessible toll free by dialing 310-0000 first, or go to www.ndpopposition.ab.ca

Police launch seatbelt campaign

Nearly 200 people will die this year in vehicle crashes because they weren’t wearing a restraint device, the RCMP warn.

RCMP and other provincial police agencies have launched a month-long campaign to educate drivers that wearing seatbelts and child safety seats for children is mandatory.

Police agencies will conduct several traffic stops and checks during the month in municipalities and on open roads.

The fine for a first offence is $115, including the surcharge.

“Drivers are responsible for their safety and the safety of their passengers by making sure everyone is buckled up properly,” says Insp. James Stiles, officer in charge of RCMP headquarters in Edmonton.

He said 75 per cent of people ejected from vehicles die.

“The cause of death is directly related to their choice to not wear a seatbelt,” Stiles said.

In 2008 more than 350 people were killed on Alberta roads and more than 20,000 were injured.

More than half of those people killed weren’t wearing a seatbelt, Stiles said.

Alberta collision statistics indicate unbelted occupants are three and a half times more likely to be injured than people who buckle up.

Research indicates that survival rates increase by more than 50 per cent when a restraint device is worn, Stiles added.

Records indicate about 1,000 lives are saved yearly in Canada by people who are properly restrained in vehicles.

Vacant house damaged by fire

An abandoned farmhouse east of Red Deer was badly damaged in a blaze fire officials are calling suspicious.

Red Deer County firefighters from four stations were called out to the fire off Delburne Road about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The blaze, which had spread to nearby grass, was quickly brought under control. Crews left the scene about two km east of the city about 3:30 a.m. There were no injuries.

The house was not burned to the ground but a number of rooms were destroyed and the structure is considered a write-off, said county Fire Services manager Allan Weiss.

An old-model holiday trailer on the site suffered minor damage. A damage estimate was not available.

Weiss said whether the fire was intentionally set or not will be determined by the RCMP investigation.

Anyone with any information on the fire is asked to call RCMP at 403-343-5591.

Learn about high-speed rail

Debate over whether Alberta’s Hwy 2 corridor can benefit from high-speed rail goes public in Red Deer in a couple of weeks.

An educational seminar has been set up for Wednesday, Oct. 14, to give people a chance to hear various arguments for creating a high-speed rail system between Edmonton and Calgary and including a stop at Red Deer.

Organized by the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, Red Deer County and the City of Red Deer, the Red Deer seminar is fourth in Canada-wide series offered by High Speed Rail Canada, a citizens’ advocacy group.

Guest speakers include William Cruickshanks, president and CEO of Alberta High Speed Rail, Ashley Langford, vice-president of Alstom Transportation Canada and Paul Pettypiece, Alberta Central Rail historian.

Members of the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions during a panel session with Cruickshanks and Langford.

The seminar and panel discussion runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in Red Deer County chambers located just west of the city at 38106 Range Road 275.

There is no fee but space is limited so anyone who wishes to attend must pre-register by email to lhutton@reddeerchamber.com or by calling Lindsey Hutton at 403-347-4491.

Man and woman may be headed to jail

Jail terms are a strong possibility for two people busted by RCMP in a raid on a rural residence in mid-September.

Red Deer provincial court heard Wednesday that Rodney Irvine, 39, and Karla Marshall, 24, both with no fixed address, face jail sentences when they return to court.

Irvine, his lawyer Michael Scrase told court, is weighing offers from the Crown to resolve stolen property, drug and weapon charges.

“He’s looking at significant jail time,” Scrase said in adjourning his client’s case until Oct. 7.

Marshall, meanwhile, was advised to secure a lawyer because a jail term is possible, Crown prosecutor Murray McPherson said.

Her charges were adjourned to Oct. 27.

Irvine, who remains in custody, was arrested on Sept. 14 along with Marshall when police executed a search warrant on a rural property north of Red Deer.

Police said they discovered a shotgun, stolen camper trailer, stolen all-terrain vehicle and quantities of marijuana and cocaine.

Irvine is charged with possession of two counts each of stolen property valued at more than $5,000, unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of prohibited weapon contrary to a probation order and possession of a controlled substance.

Marshall is charged with single counts each of theft of less than $5,000, possession of a narcotic and possession of an authorized prohibited weapon.

Fraud suspects reserve their pleas

Four people charged with writing and cashing $45,000 worth of bad cheques reserved their pleas on Tuesday.

The four are among a group of seven people alleged to have been involved in the frauds in Red Deer, police said.

The four return to court on Oct. 14.

Const. Sabrina Grunow, of Red Deer City RCMP, said police have been investigating a numbered company with which all seven suspects are alleged to be involved.

Police allege that a series of cheques cashed between Feb. 25 and June 20, 2008, were returned for having insufficient funds in the bank.

Curt Whitten, 34 of Red Deer, faces 27 counts of false pretence under $5,000.

Donald Hutlet, 34, of Benalto, faces seven counts of fraud under $5,000 and a single count of breaching previous court orders.

Darcy Aubuchon, 29, of Innisfail, faces six counts of fraud under $5,000.

Mardy Brand, 46, of Red Deer, facing five counts of fraud under $5,000.

The investigation continues and RCMP anticipate laying charges against three more people, police said.