Array’s top stories of 2011

A compilation of 2011's most popular stories on

A compilation of 2011’s most popular stories on

Team Canada

— January 6, 2011

Team Canada’s ‘epic fail’

Canada’s 2011 World Junior squad appeared to have another gold medal in the bag but suffered a monumental third-period collapse which resulted in a 5-3 victory for Russia in the gold-medal game.

“You could just see it kind of in the guys’ eyes and in their play,” said alternate captain Brayden Schenn. “They were kind of sitting back and hoping for mistakes not to happen. As soon as you start playing like that, playing tentative, that’s when bad things do happen.

— January 10, 2011

Winter storm blankets Central Alberta

Winds whipped about 18 cm of new snow around Red Deer on January 8 and 9. By early Sunday afternoon, 18.3 cm had fallen since Friday, with 40 km/h winds, gusting up to 60, on Saturday night.

“Welcome to January,” said Dave Wray, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Blowing snow and drifting made highways treacherous between Calgary and Edmonton throughout the weekend.

RCMP did not recommend travel over the weekend. The biggest concern was getting to people who ended up stranded. Despite all the warnings and weather broadcasts, some people are still unprepared for travel and “winter comes to them as a shock,” he said.

— January 12, 2011

‘Major fraud’ uncovered at Red Deer Golf and Country Club

Members of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club have learned that a former employee is accused of removing nearly $1 million from its bank accounts over several years.

In a letter dated Jan. 6 and mailed to members with the club’s annual report, board president Merv Thurmeier said accountants uncovered a “major fraud” during preparation of its 2010 financial statements.

Further investigation revealed misappropriation of funds in 2009 as well, and it is now believed the incidents of fraud go back as far as 2007.

In notes to the 2010 financial statements, the annual report states losses of $425,200 in 2010, $315,005 in 2009, $153,330 in 2008 and $23,500 in 2007, for a total of $917,035 over four years.


— January 26, 2011

Stelmach shocks local MLAs with resignation announcement

Red Deer MLAs say they were taken back by Premier Ed Stelmach’s announcement on Tuesday that he will resign before the next election.

Mary Anne Jablonski, MLA for Red Deer North and minister of Seniors and Community Supports, said she was surprised the premier made this kind of announcement at this time.

But Stelmach was determined to take responsibility for the slip in the Alberta Progressive Conservative’s popularity, she said.

Red Deer Lodge

— February 12, 2011

Red Deer Lodge closes after roof collapse

The Red Deer Lodge was forced to close after the roof collapsed over a ballroom.

General Manager John Mytz was there with other staff at about 10:30 when the roof came down, setting off a flood as water erupted from the fire sprinkler system.

It was violent and quick, but there were no injuries, Mytz said on Sunday afternoon. Staff, emergency responders from the City of Red Deer and the structure itself all did their jobs in getting the area cleared and keeping the damage to a minimum, he said.

— March 11, 2011

Hundreds killed as ferocious tsunami slams Japan’s eastern coast

A ferocious tsunami unleashed by Japan’s biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast, killing hundreds of people as it carried away ships, cars and homes, and triggered widespread fires that burned out of control.

In northeastern Japan, the area around a nuclear power plant was evacuated after the reactor’s cooling system failed and pressure began building inside.

— April 12, 2011

Brian Volker gets life sentence for murdering wife

Brian Clarence Volker, 50, of Delburne, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years for murdering his wife more than two years ago, Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Doreen Sulyma ruled on Monday.

Jones, 75, said his daughter will always be remembered for having a heart “this big” he said, making a circle with his hands the size of a football.

— April 29, 2011

Canadians take in royal wedding, raise a toast to William and Kate

Canadians across the country roused themselves before dawn to be part of the spectacle as Prince William and Kate Middleton began their lives as newlyweds.

“I wanted to be part of history,” said 51-year-old Lucinda Barton, who brought along a quilt made by her grandmother to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937. “I think it’s very special that we have a head of state who lives in another country.”

Bin Laden

— May 1, 2011

Al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden killed

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that led the United States into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, was killed in an operation led by the United States, President Barack Obama said.

A small team of Americans killed bin Laden in a firefight Sunday at a compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabat, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the capital Islamabad, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. The team took custody of his remains and American officials said they were being handled in accordance with Islamic tradition.

— May 6, 2011

News of daughter’s murder devastates Red Deer mother

A Red Deer mother was given the worst possible news of her life — her 21-year-old daughter had been murdered.

Mounties quickly began a hunt for the killer of Jenna Cecilia Cartwright, whose body was dumped in the countryside. A passerby noticed the body on the edge of a rural road about four km northeast of Olds at about 7 p.m. on Tuesday and called police.

Lynda Cartwright, 51, told the Advocate that she had received a visit to her Red Deer home earlier in the afternoon from RCMP, who informed her that her daughter had been murdered.

— May 15, 2011

Slave Lake ravaged by wildfire

Thousands of people had to flee the northern Alberta community of Slave Lake as a wind-whipped wildfire crackled through the town.

Police said nearly one-third of Slave Lake was destroyed or damaged. Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee said the town’s government building and library fell to the flames.

The Alberta government later stated that an unknown arsonist recklessly or deliberately ignited a raging forest fire that wiped out a third of the town of Slave Lake and left 2,000 people homeless.

Total damage was pegged at about $700 million.

Bin Laden

— June 22, 2011

GuZoo owner decides to fight

The GuZoo was closed to visitors while owner Lynn Gustafson looked at yet another strategy that would allow him to either display or sell his animals.

Given a 60-day permit so he could put his decommissioning plan to work, Lynn Gustafson had been preparing to allow a medical inspection of the animals in his care to determine whether they could be moved to other facilities.

Then, he changed his mind.

Gustafson told The Advocate that he has hired a lawyer to see if he can fight Alberta Agriculture’s insistence that he have a health inspection before any of the animals can leave the farm.


— June 25, 2011

Oilers draft Red Deer Rebel star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

The Edmonton Oilers held on to their top pick during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Edmonton did the expected by taking Red Deer Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first overall selection.

“I had a rough idea but I really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “I’m just relieved.”

The six-foot, 170-pounder led the Western Hockey League with 75 assists last season. He also had 31 goals and finished fourth in league scoring with 106 points.

— July 2, 2011

Massive fire rips through Blackfalds industrial park business

Scores of campers and slo-pitch players were evacuated as a fire at an oilfield company sparked huge fireballs and sent a massive plume of smoke into the sky.

The 6:30 p.m. fire ripped through Formula Powell, a trucking company located in an industrial park just west of Blackfalds. Fire departments from the town and nearby departments responded to the huge blaze only a short distance away

Explosions could be heard, and felt, as the fire continued to grow. “When something exploded you could feel the shock from the baseball field,” said witness Dalan Jardine.

Fire departments from Blackfalds, Lacombe, Lacombe County and Red Deer County responded to the fire. No one was injured or killed in the blaze.

— August 8, 2011

Man killed in Highland Green shooting

A 22-year-old man, later identified as Oscar Salazar of Red Deer, was killed in a shooting in Red Deer’s Highland Green neighbourhood.

Another man, 18 years old, was taken to Red Deer Regional Hospital and was treated and released.

At approximately 7 p.m. Red Deer City RCMP responded to a possible shots fired complaint in the vicinity of 63rd Street and 59th Avenue in Red Deer.

Police responded and located two men inside a vehicle, both males were injured.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots in the typically quiet Highland Green neighbourhood.

One woman was in her front yard when she heard “pop, pop, pop.” She came out from behind the fence to see a lot of commotion around a silver BMW and an old motorcycle, with people running around. She heard people shouting, “He’s shot. He’s shot.”

lightining fire

— August 12, 2011

Inglewood home struck by lighting

A Red Deer man lost his home and his nearest neighbours came close to losing theirs after a lightning strike at 83 Irwin Ave. in Red Deer.

Brian Schroeder, who lives immediately south of the home that was hit, said he and his family were trying to sleep through a violent storm at about 1 a.m. when their neighbour, Brian Snideman, woke them and said they should get out of the house.

The storm was so violent, thunder shook the house and rattled the windows, said Schroeder.

Jack Layton

— August 23, 2011

NDP Leader Jack Layton dies

Jack Layton’s untimely death from cancer on August 23 left a gaping hole in Canada’s political landscape.

In a poignant letter written on his death bed, the NDP leader tried to assure Canadians that his party is more than a one-man show, that it will survive, even thrive, in his absence.

But even Layton’s characteristic optimism couldn’t mask the magnitude of the challenge now facing New Democrats.

Within moments of a statement early Monday from Layton’s family announcing his death, the twitterverse was swamped with an outpouring of grief. Within a couple of hours, Canadians began leaving flowers and notes outside Layton’s Toronto home and at the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill, where the flag on the Peace Tower was lowered to half mast.

— August 30, 2011

Fire ravages Innisfail Meat Packers

A broken propane line sparked a fire that ripped through Innisfail Meat Packers, causing extensive damage.

All 40 workers in the plant were evacuated safely after the fire broke out around 1 p.m. in the processing area at the rear of the building at 5107 47th Ave.

“That’s the only good thing about it,” said owner Ron Burndred, as he watched volunteer firefighters from Innisfail, Bowden and Red Deer County battle the stubborn fire.

A broken propane line on the slaughter line caused the fire, said Burndred, who owns the business with wife Yvette.

“Literally, the ceiling was on fire almost instantly. It was almost just like an explosion.”

Burndred said the business was insured and he will rebuild.

— September 21, 2011

Ponoka auctioneer Blair Vold escapes kidnappers

A prominent Ponoka auctioneer was kidnapped at gunpoint outside his Morningside-area home in what police called a ‘targeted abduction.’

Blair Vold, an owner of Vold, Jones and Vold Auction Co. Ltd., was forced into a vehicle and driven to Lacombe, where his kidnapper tried to get money from Vold’s bank account.

The hostage escaped from his abductor while the kidnapper was attempting to withdraw cash from the ATM, Ponoka RCMP said. The victim ran into a gas station and called the Lacombe Police Service. At the same time, the suspect fled from the bank in a newer, silver four-door Chevrolet pickup truck.

Ralph Vold, of Vold, Jones and Vold Auction Co. Ltd., said that around 9 a.m. his son called the office speaking in a low tone.

“He wanted a bunch of cash and it sounded funny,” said Vold. “It was my son on the phone talking to the head secretary saying he wanted this cash. He said he had a land deal going on. This guy who had him was just holding him up at that time.”

Ralph Vold said his son wanted $30,000 in cash.

— September 23, 2011

Doorman shot at Red Deer nightclub

Two Sylvan Lake residents were arrested after a nightclub doorman was shot and injured in Red Deer. The shooting caused a police SWAT team to descend on the lake-side resort town. Residents of Sylvan Lake’s Rainbow Park condominium complex were startled to see camouflage-wearing members of a police Emergency Response Team positioned with rifles around the outside of one of their buildings at about 9 a.m.

“It was crazy . . . Everything was completely surrounded by police with rifles drawn. It was like something out of CSI,” said a resident of the condo complex, who was concerned for her children’s safety.

Police blocked off entrances to the complex, and told residents who wandered outside to return to their units for their own protection.


— October 1, 2011

Alison Redford becomes Alberta’s first female premier

Alison Redford won the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race, putting her in position to become the province’s first female premier.

Redford, 46, was justice minister in Ed Stelmach’s government. Her win comes after eight months of campaigning to replace Stelmach.

She beat out former health minister Gary Mar and former deputy premier Doug Horner on the final ballot.

— Nov. 17, 2011

Red Deer College instructors hit $30M jackpot

Seven Red Deer College instructors beat the odds and won a $30-million Lotto 6/49 Jackpot.

Colleague David Johnston said he knew something was up when he came to work on Thursday morning.

“I came in here and they were all dancing around looking really joyful,” said Johnston, who is a steamfitting instructor.

“They said they had the right numbers. I said, ‘Yeah, like you won 100 bucks.’ They said, all the right numbers.”

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