Local news briefs

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Teen charged in sex assault

A teenager has been charged in connection with the alleged sex attack on a young tobogganer on Jan. 6.

Red Deer city RCMP arrested and charged a 13-year-old boy with one count of sexual assault on Wednesday.

Cpl. Kathe Deheer said police won’t reveal whether the boy turned himself in or was discovered through a public tip.

Police received a number of tips on the incident.

The boy, whose name cannot be released under the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act, was released and is to appear in Red Deer provincial court on Thursday, Feb. 7.

Police were told that a six-year-old boy was approached by an older male youth at the Bower-Kin Community Centre at about 5 p.m.

The suspect took the boy into the bush near the hill, where he was assaulted.

Meter reading system changes

Human meter readers in Red Deer will become extinct.

The city’s Electric Light and Power Department manager Legong Gan told council this week that an automated meter reading system will be installed throughout the city within three to four years.

This means electricity meters will be read remotely, “dramatically increasing the accuracy of the reading,” said Gan.

He noted that marijuana grow operators who have been able to bypass regular meters for their massive power requirements will no longer be able to fly under the wire.

“We will be able to detect a spike in consumption and detect power theft.”

Although Gan spoke about the remote meter reading during the operating budget presentations on Wednesday, he said the equipment’s $750,000 cost was already approved in the city’s capital budget passed last month.

“We will still be spending $7 million to $8 million over the next three to four years” to connect the system, said Gan. He believes the long-term savings of the project will be significant — both in manpower and environmental costs associated with driving around the city to read meters.

Gan is proposing to add two new staff to his department, including an automated meter reader engineer. These positions would not be paid from taxes but through utility revenues.

Man faces chase charges

A driver who allegedly led police on a Hwy 2 chase that hit speeds of 180 km/h before a spike belt ended the dangerous escapade made a first appearance in Red Deer provincial court on Thursday.

The drama began about 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday when Red Deer Rural RCMP took a call from a motorist about a vehicle being driven erratically on the highway in the Antler Hill area, north of Innisfail.

Police spotted the vehicle driven by a man and carrying two female passengers and stopped it a short distance farther north, said Sgt. Gord Glasgow.

But before the driver could be collared, he took off with police in pursuit.

The vehicle’s speed ranged between 150 km/h and 180 km/h during the 60-km chase, which ended when the vehicle hit a spike belt just north of Lacombe.

After the car was stopped, the driver fled on foot, leaving his passengers behind. Both driver and passengers were soon taken into custody. Lacombe Police Service and Red Deer Traffic Services helped in the arrest.

Charged with impaired driving, driving with a blood alcohol level over .08, flight from police, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified is Zelijko Rogulja, 20, of Edmonton.

He remains in custody and will be back in court on Tuesday.

Children learn empathy

A three-month-old girl started teaching 14 children at Red Deer College Child Care Centre emotional literacy this week.

“They’ve take an immediate ownership of the program,” said centre supervisor Lynette Braun. “The children are just so intent on this little girl.”

Seeds of Empathy has been launched in 15 care centres throughout Alberta as part of a pilot program funded by the Alberta government that will expand to 65 sites over the next three years, said spokeswoman Dorothy Schreiber of the Department of Employment, Immigration and Industry.

The goal is to teach kids, aged three to five, acceptance, respect and compassion for others through a program that involves regular visits from a baby, as well as sessions with a literacy coach, focusing on emotional themes.

Seeds of Empathy is an offshoot of Roots of Empathy, which is based on the same principles, but geared toward school-aged children. Roots of Empathy is offered in 390 Albertan classrooms, to more than 9,000 kids.

RDC students at conference

Six Red Deer College students are presenting papers at an undergraduate conference in Kamloops, B.C., this weekend.

The students will join others from Western Canada and Washington State as they explore various historical, philosophical and political topics.

The college’s representatives are: Marshall Boyd, Zachary Brewer, Stephen Griffith, Justin Morris, Karnik Shishmanian and Carrie Somerville.

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