Local briefs – April 7

Singers from across Central Alberta will compete this weekend for the opportunity to open for Canadian country crooner Shane Yellowbird.

Local Idol competitors sing

Singers from across Central Alberta will compete this weekend for the opportunity to open for Canadian country crooner Shane Yellowbird.

Performers will take to the stage on Friday night at Molly B’s in the Red Deer Legion for the first Central Alberta Idol semifinals contest, organized by the Knights of Columbus.

A panel of local judges well versed in music will select three finalists. They will face off in the final competition that will see them provide pre-show entertainment at the Knights of Columbus benefit concert featuring Yellowbird at Exhibition Hall at the Capri Centre on April 29.

At least 20 adults are expected to perform at the semifinals on Friday.

Local contests were held in municipalities across the region, including Bentley, Sylvan Lake, Blackfalds, Innisfail, Lacombe, Ponoka and Red Deer. The top three contestants from each location advanced to the semifinals.

Central Alberta Idol semifinals start at 7:30 p.m. at Legion bar on Bremner Avenue. The event is free to attend.

Tickets for the benefit concert featuring the three finalists and Yellowbird can be purchased at Ticketmaster. Proceeds will benefit local charities sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

The ultimate Central Alberta Idol winner will receive $1,000 as well as a recording session. The runner-up will receive $600 and the second runner-up will receive $300.


Law Day offers education

Cinderella is fed up and won’t take it any more so she’s launching a lawsuit.

A children’s civil trial is one of the many features planned for the annual free Law Day at the Red Deer Courthouse.

The April 16 event begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. at the courthouse located at 4909 48th Ave.

Cinderella’s civil trial begins at 11:15 a.m. in Courtroom 204 upstairs.

Cinderella, the plot says, is fed up with being pushed around by her stepmother, stepsisters and even the cat.

She is suing the stepmom for all those years of working without pay.

A criminal trial beginning at 2:15 p.m. highlights the afternoon events.

The plot involves a man who finds an intruder in his apartment playing his Xbox. The intruder is tackled but is pushed out an apartment window.

On his way to the ground, the intruder is struck by a throwing star tossed by another tenant in a lower apartment that strikes him in the throat.

The intruder dies but who is guilty of the homicide?

Some 17 information booths will be set up for the public.

The free tour will also see lawyers dispensing information on divorce, child support, wills and estates and traffic tickets.

RCMP police dog teams will also be around in Courtroom 201 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The dogs and their handlers will work some of their investigative techniques for the public.

A draw for a door prize of an Xbox, IPod or e-Reader will be made at 2:45 p.m.

For more information, visit www.lawdayalberta.com.


Educator moves up

Ray Hoppins, principal at École Olds Elementary School for the past five years, has been appointed associate superintendent of system services at Chinook’s Edge School Division.

“I am honoured and thrilled to begin this new role that supports the important work being done in all our schools,” Hoppins said.

Hoppins has been a teacher and administrator at Innisfail High School and Sundre High School, and his experience implementing new educational technologies into the administrative process when he was division principal is one of the key reasons he was chosen for the associate superintendent role.

“Ray is incredibly skilled at taking a complex concept and making it as straightforward and practical as possible,” said Kurt Sacher, superintendent of schools at Chinook’s Edge.

Improving student literacy and numeracy through the use of technology was one of the key goals Hoppins and his staff strived to achieve during his time at École Olds Elementary, and he said he will continue these types of projects in his new role.

“In many ways, Chinook’s Edge is my home, and this is a very exciting time in our school division as we are engaged in examining our vision,” Hoppins said.


Olds hotel project moves ahead

Planning and permitting processes are underway in hope that construction can start soon on a new hotel at the north side of the Olds College campus.

A number of design and planning issues have to be completed, including registering the lot that the new Pomeroy Inn & Suites hotel and conference centre will occupy on the college’s land title. Because colleges do not pay property tax, registering the lot on the title will be a necessary step, allowing the Town of Olds to collect taxes from the hotel, said Stewart MacNabb, vice-president, student and support services for the college.

Olds College announced its collaboration with the Pomeroy family, based in Fort St. John, B.C., in mid-December.

The $14-million hotel will provide learning space for some of the college’s programs as well as job opportunities for high school and college students, said MacNabb.

So far, the college does not anticipate any obstacles in planning, design and permitting for the project, he said.

The Pomeroys hope to start construction as soon as the ground has thawed and are aiming to have the underground work and foundations completed before freeze-up, he said.

That way, construction can continue through the winter, with the new building to open in time for the 2012 fall session.


Fraud charges laid

A Red Deer man will appear in court on April 12 to enter a plea on 26 fraud-related charges.

RCMP executed a search warrant on Tuesday following a lengthy investigation, Const. Chris Kosack said Wednesday.

Lesley Billett, 45, was arrested without incident at an Anders subdivision residence.

He faces 17 charges of fraud valued at more than $5,000 each, five counts of fraud valued at less than $5,000 each, one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and three counts of uttering a forged document.

Kosack said it’s alleged a man offered shredding equipment for sale to victims as part of his company.

It’s alleged the victims provided money to the accused as either deposits or as the purchase price for equipment that was never delivered.

The accused is also alleged to have used the credit card information of one victim to make local purchases.

It’s also alleged the accused forged documents to solicit funding for a business venture.

It’s alleged the accused defrauded victims from Alberta, British Columbia and the United States, totaling more than $140,000.


Human trafficking session

The mother of a missing woman who is a victim of human trafficking will share her chilling story at an upcoming event in Red Deer.

“I will find Jessie or die trying,” Glendene Grant said of her daughter Jessie Foster.

Grant will speak at Raise Their Voice: The Trafficked + Exploited conference on April 15 to highlight that human trafficking exists in Canada.

Foster was lured to America and went missing from Las Vegas 10 months later.

“She was beaten and hospitalized and forced to work for an escort agency and arrested for solicitation of prostitution,” Grant said. “She was planning on returning to Canada when she disappeared.”

Foster’s disappearance prompted Grant to not only search for her daughter but to prevent the same nightmare from happening to anyone else.

Joy Smith, member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, will deliver a keynote address on April 16 about her national action plan to combat human trafficking in Canada.

The two-day conference will also feature Mark Wollenberg, the Western Canadian representative of International Justice Mission. He’ll highlight the realities of trafficking abroad.

A diverse lineup of workshops on the morning of Saturday, April 16, will be presented by social workers, activists and creative professionals. Some of the topics will look at what trafficking is, creatively addressing justice issues, profiles of trafficking victims in Canada and how to turn passion into action.

Raise Their Voice will be held on April 15 and 16 at the Scott Block Theatre in Red Deer. The cost to attend is $99. Register online at www.raisetheirvoice.com.


Armed robber sought

Red Deer RCMP are searching for an armed robber who held up a convenience store in Inglewood early Wednesday morning.

At about 4:35 a.m., a lone unknown male with a gun and wearing a white mask, walked into the Mac’s Convenience Store on Ironside Street and 40th Avenue and demanded cash.

The clerk complied with his demands. The culprit then fled the store on foot westbound.

Red Deer RCMP police dog services tried to track down the robber but he wasn’t found.

The suspect is described as about 1.7 metres tall (five foot, seven inches), average build and wearing blue jeans, a black hoodie and black and white shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call RCMP at 403-343-5575 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or report it online at www.tipsubmit.com. If the information leads to an arrest, tipsters are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.


Policing views surveyed

A telephone survey will be used to gauge Red Deer residents’ thoughts on crime and policing.

Being performed by the University of Alberta’s population research laboratory, the survey is part of the next phase in the City of Red Deer’s crime prevention and policing review, says Colleen Jensen, director of community services.

Jensen is encouraging people to participate in the survey, which should take about 15 minutes.

Starting in early April, Population Research Laboratory from the University of Alberta will be conducting a random sample telephone survey to get the ideas and opinions of Red Deerians on crime prevention and policing in the community.

“This phone survey is important because it will be reflective of the community,” Jensen said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Community meetings will be set up after results have been tabulated to discuss strategies for preventing crime in Red Deer, she said.


Road bans in effect

Truckers, it’s time to lighten your loads — or add more axles.

Spring road bans are now in effect on rural roads throughout Central Alberta.

The City of Red Deer and Red Deer County have placed bans in accordance with the level of vulnerability of the road surfaces under their care.

Bans limit loads to 75 per cent of maximum in some instances and 90 per cent in others.

In Red Deer County, 75 per cent bans have been posted on all chip-sealed and oiled roads while the allowance is at 90 per cent on gravel roads.

Current information is available on municipal web pages, www.rdcounty.ca and www.reddeer.ca or by calling their public works departments.