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News: March 19, 2018

Rural crime response...

Editorial/Comment by Dana McArthur

  Rural crime is on the rise at an alarming pace across Alberta.
  Calls from the UCP opposition party demanding action have been getting louder, with Leader Jason Kenney stating that long police response times combined with the rising crime rate, make a dangerous situation for rural Albertans.
  The Alberta government finally responded with an $8 million investment in 39 new officers, 40 civilian staff, and $2 million to hire additional Crown prosecutors. The strategy is being promoted to help reduce rural crime by putting resources where they’re most needed.
  Key elements of the plan include:
Crime reduction units: Specially trained officers will focus on arresting prolific offenders.
  Specialized police intelligence: Six additional intelligence-focused RCMP officers plus four crime analyst positions will allow the RCMP to identify prolific offenders and target organized crime.
  Policing support centre: RCMP officers need to be on the streets protecting our communities, not behind a desk filling out paperwork. Twenty-three civilians will input investigative updates dictated over the phone by officers.
  More Crown prosecutors: $2 million will allow the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service to hire up to 10 Crown prosecutors who will focus solely on rural crime.
  But with rural areas in Alberta encompassing 69 counties and municipal districts, the addition of 39 new officer positions adds just over one-half-of-a-police-officer to each rural municipality.
  Even the addition of half an officer (figuratively speaking) would help in many municipalities. But it's really a very big assumption to say these rural positions could be filled.
  RCMP staffing shortages have become critical over the last several years throughout Alberta. This includes two Enhanced RCMP positions in the Hinton and Edson detachments that have been vacant for several years, with allocated funds from the County unused.
  The province's plan to hire civilian staff can help with paperwork and allow officers to get out in the community. But the hiring of analysts would likely be the biggest benefit for rural police forces, as they can help determine the best use of existing resources to fight rural crime.
  However, the fact still remains that repeat offenders commit a vast amount of rural crimes, and the revolving door of judicial sentencing has to change to make a significant impact.
  Rural crimes are not just thefts, they are even escalating into violent home invasions. Criminals know rural property owners' hands are legally tied when it comes to defending their property. And the courts need to seriously consider this growing reality.
  The legal system needs to reflect on the possibility that there may be circumstances when protecting one's property and family, to an appropriate degree, is the safest and most reasonable course of action when faced with a crime in progress, and no hope for help.

News: March 12, 2018

3rd Annual First Responders Dinner and Dance

by Miranda L’Hirondelle
Edson’s Citizens on Patrol, Victim Services, and the Friendship Centre hosted the third annual First Responders Dinner and Dance at the Royal Canadian Legion on March 2.
Approximately 180 people attended, which is down from last year, but up from the first year they held the event. “The County has decided to do something on their own so we didn’t have the County Firefighters there like we had last year,” said Kristie Gomuwka.
The County had only been able to send a few of its First Responders to the event in the past due to the distances and emergency staffing requirements.
The First Responders who attended were dressed in uniform and the RCMP in their Red Serge for the event. “It is important that we recognize the sacrifices and contributions that these individuals make in our community. They risk their lives for us and we feel that it's important to show our appreciation. It is also an opportunity for these First Responders to get together in a fun atmosphere and get to know one another away from work,” said Mayor Kevin Zahara.
“I don’t think that it is necessarily our focus to be a large fundraiser or to make a ton of money, we just want to offer an evening to all of the First Responders so we can show the appreciation towards them and they can have a fun evening out,” said Gomuwka.
This year Victim Services was the organization that collected the silent auction items by going around to businesses in town and asking if they would like to donate. There were about six people that donated tables for the auction as well.
RCMP members presented a tribute to Cst. Austin McDougall, who passed away after being hit by a vehicle while cycling last year. And the Edson Fire Department presented numerous service medals.  
For the dinner featured roast beef and ham complete with trimming. DJ Collette was their providing the music, and they also had a 50/50 raffle with the winner received $550.
They have estimated that $750 each would go to the Edson Friendship Centre, Victim Services, and Citizens on Patrol from monies raised during the event.
 “I know that many of the First Responders have told us that this event is something they look forward to each year,” said Gomuwka.

News: March 5, 2018

Fathers and daughters share special 'Hollywood' night

by Cassie Kushniruk
The bond shared between a father and daughter is a special one, however, due to work conflicts or other engagements, father-daughter time can be limited. “Fathers don’t often have the time to spend a special night with their daughters,” said Edson Recreation and Culture Programmer, Ali Broda.
In 2017, Broda got together with FCSS manager, Tanya Beyers, to discuss the possibility of holding second annual Father-Daughter dance that would allow fathers to strengthen their relationships with their daughters.
“We have such busy fathers, and they value time spent with their daughters,” said Broda. “An organized evening can make moments between a father and daughter extra special.”
On February 22, the Town of Edson Community Services held their 2nd Annual Father Daughter Gala at the Galloway Station Museum. With the theme a “Night in Hollywood”, fathers and daughters were encouraged to dress up and pose for a photo on the freshly constructed red carpet. They were able to take the photo home with them at the end of the night.
A few different types of dances were also taught to the group, courtesy of Claire and Amy of Edson Dance Enthusiasts. Dinner was provided by the Branch Inn, and the group was even spoiled with a delicious chocolate fondue fountain with a variety of fruits and snacks.
Apart from the dinner and dancing, numerous door prizes were drawn that were donated by various local businesses. Donated flowers and bath bombs were also gifted to each daughter at the end of the night, along with a framed father-daughter picture courtesy of the Town of Edson. “Those donating see the importance of this special evening for fathers and daughters to spend together,” said Broda.
“The fathers and daughters were able to spend quality time, and see the importance of their relationship and the effect the father-daughter bond has on daughters as they grow up,” said Broda.
The night was full of love, laughter, and fun, and the museum was packed full of fathers and daughters sharing this special night together. “We completely sold out,” Broda said. “This year we set an age restriction of 6+, and it was still selling as quickly as the year before with no age restriction.”
The Father Daughter Galas will continue to be held annually, and if you are looking for a mother-son event, the Town of Edson Community Services will be holding a Mother-son Soiree at the Galloway Station Museum on April 5 from 6-8 p.m. Tickets will be available for purchase on March 5 at the Red Brick Arts Centre, the Town of Edson Community Services office, and the Galloway Station Museum.

News: February 26, 2018

Yellowhead Agricultural Society moves ahead with new facility

by Adrienne Tait
The Yellowhead Agricultural Society (YAS) made presentations to Town and County Councils regarding their proposal for the new Edson Chrysler Events Centreat the Edson Rodeo Grounds at the regular council meetings on February 20.
The group has outgrown the current indoor riding facility and has plans to construct a building which will seat more than 500 spectators, a main and warm-up arena, concession and more.
The current facility is not big enough to support the current use and the Society has been forced to turn away events in recent years as they are unable to accommodate the usage. 
The current arena has a utilization rate of more than 90%.  Presenter Christine Davis said, “Our demand is higher than our availability.” 
The society has seen 700% growth in usage and membership over the past five years.  Something Davis attributes to a strong board, dedicated volunteers, and facility improvements.  “We became a strong board about seven or eight years ago.  Since then we have insulated the building, added new flooring, a new roof, improved our calendar and the structure around usage.  I am proud of the fact we have a strong board of 16 driven, passionate people,” said Davis.
The YAS received approximately $35,000 in rental income, the grounds and facilities are valued at $866,000 which the YAS owns outright.
In addition to riding, the facility is used for youth programs, dog agility, hosts clinics, rodeos, and jumping just to name a few.
The current facility does not have any indoor plumbing, and safety has been raised as a concern when there are multiple contestants, spectators and animals in the existing arena.
Several events were listed as possible future bookings for Edson as ones that originated at the grounds and had to be moved because the events outgrew the space such as the Rocky Mountain Futurity Derby, Race for a Reason, the 4-H beef show, and Bullarama.  Other events that a larger venue would support include the Edson Stampede and MJ Memorial Barrel Race.
The proposed facility will be a steel structure that will include a 250’ by 130’ arena, 80’x130’ warm up area, a 20’x40’ meeting room, wash bay, showers, storage, concession, commercial kitchen, seating for over 500, and more.
Davis said, “Once constructed it will be the only facility of this magnitude, for this purpose, on highway 16.”  Ponoka has a facility that is similar in size and scope to the one proposed.
Davis said, “We feel confident that we can bring the same level of funds to the Edson economy that the Kinsmen Ball tournament did in the past.”
The Yellowhead Agricultural Society is currently seeking support from municipal partners and local business/donors with hopes of starting construction this spring and having the facility completed by the fall.
Councillor Bevan asked if they have programs for special needs children such as horse therapy.  Price said one of the directors has a passion for that and would like to introduce it to this area, but it is challenging with the current facility being overbooked.
The YAS intends to use as much clean energy as possible when building the facility and has already begun sourcing solar panels and hired a consulting firm to help determine what it will take to be a self-sustaining facility.
The environmental assessment, survey and stake out, and the geotechnical have been completed.  YAS has also hired a performance sponsorship group as well as a development project manager. The budget for the project has been set at $3.8 million.
Funds held for a new building by the Society include $65,000 and GIC from Casinos of $75,000. They have also applied for a Lottery Grant and hope to receive $1,000,000. Naming sponsorship opportunities could reach $900,000 with over $500,000 secured so far, and donations to date (volunteer time and discounts) equals $150,000.
Approximately 63% of visitors to the current facility are Yellowhead County and Edson residents.
After the Agricultural Society's presentation at Yellowhead County Council, Councillor Sandra Cherniawsky asked, "Where is your shortfall and what were you hoping for from the County?" Davis responded, "We were hoping to come up with a quarter of the costs from local municipal governments."
Mayor Gerald Soroka added, "From the sound of things I am gathering you are asking about a half a million dollars from Town and County." "Yes," said Davis. "We would like to partner with both municipalities and hope to involve anybody who wants to be a part of this."

News: February 19, 2018

 Western Provinces Hockey Assoc. may be headed for Edson

There has been some talk within the Edson community regarding the potential of Junior level hockey coming to town.
The Town of Edson has been approached by the Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA), a division of the Western States Hockey League, about Edson being a potential site for a team in this new league. Administration is currently in discussions with the league to see what this would mean for our community/facility.
The WPHA issued a press release following their recent conference:
The Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA) Announced Six Prairie Municipalities Ready to Bring Junior ‘A’ Hockey Teams to Their Towns and Cities...
Western States Hockey League (WSHL) Commissioner Ron White attended Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada on February 8 to announce the new Canadian locations joining the 25 year old USA Junior hockey league.
A press conference was hosted by Cold Lake, Alberta on February 8, 2018 to announce “shortlisted” teams ready to start operations in the 2018-2019 hockey season. Ron White, WPHA International Expansion Representative -Derek Prue and Seattle Totems owner (a US divisional team in the WSHL) - Gordon Whitaker all attended. The WSHL’s main priority, as stated by the League and Divisional Representatives- is to develop players and get them to the next stage in their hockey and/or academic career. “We wanted to improve our league’s level of play and compete for college spots, so we made our own rules. Last year on my team in Long Beach, we had five Canadian 20-year-olds that were aged out and wanted to keep playing. All five continue to play hockey for the University of Arkansas,” explained White. (Ron White, Cold Lake, Alberta February 8, 2018)
At the WSHL’s December 2017 College Showcase, held annually in Las Vegas and growing larger every year – 111 college scouts attended and handed out 160 college or professional commitments out of 250 eligible players.
The six municipalities announced as shortlisted to start teams in 2018 are Edson, Hinton, Meadow Lake, Slave Lake, Morinville, and Cold Lake. Season ticket drives will begin in these communities in the near future, and equity positions have been arranged for local community and business leaders. There are four more markets that are interested in joining the WPHA, but not as far along in planning and facility auditing."
The league website is still in the works, but contact information can be found at https://wpha.ca/


News: February 12, 2018


Town and County budget to start site selection for a new multiplex
The Town of Edson and Yellowhead County councils have taken another step forward in their partnership.
On February 6 the two Councils met to discuss the potential of constructing a new multi-use facility in Edson.
Both Councils agree on the importance of this project and will be working on a Memorandum of Understanding to show their support and willingness to work together towards this common goal.
“Edson Council is pleased with how the meeting went, and look forward to working closely with Yellowhead County on this, and other initiatives, that support our region as a whole,” said Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara.
“Our Council realizes that many of the services offered in Edson directly benefit residents in the surrounding area,” said Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka. “We will continue to support future and existing services and projects that make sense financially and strategically.”
The Town and County have budgeted to start a site selection process for a new multiplex in 2018.

News: February 5, 2018

Edson Rotary steps up for August long weekend slo-pitch tournament

by Deanna Mitchener
Die hard slo-pitch players, start gathering your team members and passing the word, Edson will once again be on the map August long weekend for a spectacular slo-pitch tournament.
The Edson Rotary Club has stepped forward to run the large ball tournament that fell short last summer. During the Rotary meeting on January 23, Rotarian Neil Rieger said, "We have secured the facility [Kinsmen Park] for the August long weekend ball tournament."
"Plans are in the works with the Town of Edson to do some upgrading at Vision Park, so that is exciting news. We talked about possibly changing the date in August but have decided to stay with the August long weekend. Many teams are already familiar with Edson on that weekend, so the dates will remain the same," said Rieger
Edson's Mayor Kevin Zahara, commented, "I think this is fantastic news for our community.  Vision Park is a great venue in our community and it will be nice to see slo-pitch return August Long Weekend."
The Rotary Club has also been approached to help run another ball tournament in July. "We have been approached by an organization that holds Indigenous Ball Tournaments. They initially asked if we would be interested in looking after the campground. Then through discussions with them, we found out they may possibly want to partner with Rotary," said Rieger. "The Indigenous Ball Tournament organizer is looking at between 80 and 100 teams to take part over the July long weekend."
"This group that's organizing the Indigenous Ball Tournament is a large organization that does these ball tournaments in the U.S. How this came about was when they were at a tournament in Vegas back in November, people from that tournament mentioned they would like to see a tournament held here in Canada. They heard about Edson and the facilities we have and would like Edson to be the arm of the association for Canadian Ball Tournaments —if it all comes together," said Rieger.
"For the July ball tournament, we would only be looking after the camping and beer gardens. The one in August, Rotary will be looking after all aspects of the tournament," said Reiger. "Rotary will need a lot of manpower to look after both tournaments and we are hoping plenty of volunteers will come forward and commit to helping out at either one—or both."
Mayor Zahara said, "I commend all the volunteers and sponsors that will make this event happen.  This tournament along with all the other events and activities that take place in Edson throughout the year make our community a wonderful place to live, work and play."
So, it has been confirmed that Edson will once again be on the map for an August long weekend ball tournament. And money raised from these tournaments go right back into supporting Edson and surrounding area with many different charities and organizations.