To all those who have contributed funds into a program that will see an RCMP officer assigned to full-time duties visiting schools and students in Trochu, Elnora and Delburne.
The three-year-pilot project, starting in September, will see Const. Amanda Smyl in one of the schools each day providing proactive education, building relationships and creating a community of trust.
It is vitally important that young citizens establish a rapport with law enforcement agencies, and understand the need for a safe environment in their communities.
Educators have found that one-on-one contact between police and students helps remove the stigma that “the cops are out to get you.” When it becomes clear that is not the case, students begin opening up, no longer intimidated by the badge, and use that opportunity to freely discuss troubling issues that may be affecting them or their friends.
The foundation of a safe society rests with our future adults. That’s what this pilot project is aimed at.
Dieter Brandt, principal at Delburne School, is pleased as punch with the program. In the past, the three communities had been hard pressed for an officer to visit the schools and interact with the students. The closest RCMP detachment is in Three Hills, a 45-minute drive away.
“We will now be able to offer things like the DARE program, which was previously not possible. I’m just very happy that this is actually happening,” said Brandt.
The principal expects most students will be happy to have the officer at the schools. It will give them someone else to talk to if they have a problem.
The program is expected to cost about $122,000 a year.
That will be possible thanks to a long list of financial contributors, including EnCana from Prentiss, the provincial government, all three communities, Chinook’s Edge School Division, Golden Hills Regional School Division and parent councils.
To the vandals wreaking havoc on Red Deer’s trail systems, destroying picnic shelters built for the benefit of those taking in the natural beauty along the river valley.
Repeated fires set to the shelters have the city now looking at steel-construction facilities.
City Parks superintendent Trevor Poth said vandalism has been so severe this summer that one shelter is now closed for the year. The McKenzie Trail shelter was set ablaze three times in the spring, forcing the city to shut it down because of structural damage.
And the vandalism has spread to other shelters and park areas. “We’ve had the fires that struck shelters and wood bins, but’s there’s also been graffiti and broken signs,” said Poth.
These shelters cost upwards of $60,000 to replace.
Plus, general public is being deprived of a feature of Red Deer’s much-loved park systems.
The trail system has been carefully and wisely planned to offer users access to the beauty of the Red Deer River valley.
They are a paradise for all ages. Seniors on a casual stroll love the quiet walks, admiring the wild flowers and enjoying a break from city life.
Families with children embrace the trails with enthusiasm. Youngsters are introduced to the glories of nature through the abundance of floral and fauna — not to mention the luxury of picking and eating super-sweet wild saskatoon berries when that season rolls around.
Why the vandalism? The individuals responsible have obviously been deprived of something positive during their formative years. They are in the revenge mode.
Instead of condemning them, pity them. Some are walking a one-way path to self-destruction with little conscience by venting their hatred on a more civilized society.
Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.