Local briefs – October 7

Domestic violence and drug investigation calls in Red Deer increased substantially last week, although total calls for police assistance fell by 100, statistics for the week ending Oct. 4 indicate.

Domestic violence cases up

Domestic violence and drug investigation calls in Red Deer increased substantially last week, although total calls for police assistance fell by 100, statistics for the week ending Oct. 4 indicate.

Police responded to 30 domestic violence reports, an increase of 12 from the previous week.

Drug investigations continue to mount. Last week, police participated in 29 drug investigations, an increase of 10 from the previous week.

Frauds calls also increased to 13 and mischief reports jumped dramatically to 39 last week from just five the previous week.

Total calls for service hit 785, down from 875 the previous week.

Other calls for police last week included:

• 26 assaults;

• 13 auto thefts;

• 12 residential and business break-ins;

• 136 bylaw complaints;

• two robberies;

• 41 suspicious persons, vehicles or activities;

• 71 thefts;

• 146 victim services assistance calls.

Collisions down last week

Traffic statistic in virtually every category declined last week, according to information released by city RCMP on Monday.

Collisions declined by more than 25 per cent to 49 from 66 the previous week.

Speeding tickets dropped to just three from 128 the previous week.

Those figures don’t include photo radar tickets.

Other statistics included:

• 21 hit-and-run collision investigations;

• 28 impaired driving;

• five 24-hour suspensions;

• no liquor tickets;

• 18 non-moving violations;

• two no-insurance tickets;

• one red light and stop sign tickets (not including cameras);

• two seatbelt tickets;

• 31 bylaw and Environmental Protection Act tickets.

Taxes unpaid, property for sale

A Red Deer property with four years of unpaid taxes is set to go on the auction block.

On Monday, city council approved the tax sale of a lot worth $225,000. A public auction will be held at City Hall on Friday, Dec. 11, at 11 a.m.

The city holds a tax sale in an effort to encourage the registered owner, or those who have a registered interest in the property, to pay the outstanding taxes.

The strategy to get people to pay before losing their property has worked in the past. The city has not sold a property at a tax sale for the last 25 years.

“Prior to us going to an auction, the taxes have always been paid,” said tax collector Deb Stott. “We work with owners to encourage them to pay.”

The amount of unpaid taxes for the latest case wasn’t revealed.

Stott said they wouldn’t be revealed due to confidentiality reasons.

Gaetz upgrades planned

The City of Red Deer will spend $140,000 towards improvement plans for a stretch of Gaetz Avenue downtown.

City council agreed on Monday to transfer dollars from municipal reserves towards the planning of Gaetz Avenue redevelopment between 46th Street and 52nd Street.

Civic leaders were told the money needed to be approved now to ensure the job is done in 2011.

Councillor Cindy Jefferies, chairwoman of the Greater Downtown Action Plan steering committee, said the work is part of the city’s commitment towards enhancing the downtown area.

“We have a nice, appealing street along Ross Street, but we don’t have that same feel along Gaetz within our downtown,” Jefferies said.

The city is interested in improving the street, particularly as it intersects with Ross, Jefferies said.

“There used to be an archway across there,” said Jefferies. “Historically, it was a centre of our downtown and still is, and we want to celebrate that.”

United Way garage sale set

The public is invited to a community garage sale that runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday at the Clearview Community Hall in Red Deer.

The funds raised from the garage sale will be donated to the United Way, which is currently in the midst of its annual fundraising drive.

The community hall is located at 93 Cornett Drive.

Drug dealer sentenced

A former Red Deer man busted by RCMP with a large quantity of ecstasy pills and marijuana received a community-based jail sentence on Tuesday.

Hendrick Andre, 25, who now lives in Fort McMurray, was handed an 18-month conditional sentence after pleading guilty to possession of 192 ecstasy pills and 1.5 kg of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of $1,710 in cash, classified as the proceeds of crime. It was forfeited to the Crown.

Two cellphones, and a list of customers and what they owed was also seized in the Oct. 8, 2008, bust at a residence on Nance Avenue.

Andre must serve nine months under house arrest and the other nine months under a curfew.

He also must surrender a sample of his DNA and is prohibited from owning firearms, ammunition and explosives for 10 years.

Federal Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis said RCMP had been watching Andre for some time before securing a search warrant.

Four other charges were withdrawn against Andre.

Drug trafficking charges against Jason Anderson, 30, of Red Deer, who was charged in the Oct. 8, 2008, bust, were withdrawn earlier.

Separate drug charges against Andre laid during a July 16, 2008, drug bust were also withdrawn.

Arson suspected in home fire

Arson is “strongly suspected” in a fire that severely damaged a vacant house in Red Deer’s Eastview neighbourhood, says a fire investigator.

Al Robichaud with Red Deer Emergency Services said the cause of Monday night’s blaze at 46th Street and 37th Avenue remains under investigation.

A bystander called 911 after seeing smoke and flames coming from the second floor of the house at about 6:50 p.m.

Fire-medics arrived shortly after to find flames on the west side of the home.

“The fire had ignited the trees adjacent to the building,” Robichaud said on Tuesday.

Firefighters were on scene for more than three hours to ensure there were no hotspots once the flames were put out.

Robichaud said no one is living in the house.

About $50,000 damage was done.

“The house is still standing, so it’s not a total loss,” he said.

The original building was constructed in 1910 and an addition was built years later.

A duplex next door suffered minor damage.

The owner was reached and informed of what had happened, Robichaud said.

Robichaud didn’t have information on Tuesday as to whether the owner had fire insurance.

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