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Looking back on the top 2019 stories for Athabasca, Boyle and area - Part 3

ATHABASCA – From provincial and federal elections, to new infrastructure here's a look back at some of the top 2019 news and sports stories for Athabasca, Boyle and area. Be sure to check back as this series will run over three days online.

Oct. 1

Education Minister visits Aspen View Public Schools

20190927-LaGrange Aspen View-BT-02Education Minister Adriana LaGrange met with Aspen View Public School’s Board of Trustees at H.A. Kostash School in Smoky Lake Sept. 27 as part of her tour to hear the priorities of all 61 school divisions across the province. Back Row (L-R): Board Chairperson Candy Nikipelo, Trustee April Bauer, Trustee Tom Mykytiuk, Superintendent Neil O’Shea, Trustee Dennis MacNeil, Trustee Donna Cherniwchan, Board Vice-Chairperson Anne Karczmarczyk and Trustee Nancy Sand. Front Row (L-R) Grade 7 student Talecia Shupenia, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Grade 7 student Cameron Melnyk.
Aspen View Public Schools received a visit from Education Minister Adriana LaGrange Sept. 27, where they met with members of the Board of Trustees, officials, as well as students and staff at H.A. Kostash School in Smoky Lake. 

The visit is part of the minister’s tour of the province’s 61 school divisions in order to hear and possibly address each concern they have. One of the primary concerns Aspen View discussed with LaGrange was getting a new school built to replace the 71-year-old facility.

Oct. 8

Accident near A & W causes traffic jam

20191005-Truck on Roof-BT-01A brand-new black Ford F-350 truck landed on its roof at the intersection of 34 Street and Highway 55 Oct. 5 after an older model Sedan Cobalt heading northbound to the Super 8 missed a stop sign and ran into the truck, causing it to land on its roof. Emergency responders arrived at the scene of the accident at 8:20 p.m. Both vehicles were towed away as firefighters cleaned up the scene.
Emergency responders attended to a two-vehicle collision at 8:20 p.m. Oct. 5 at the intersection of Highway 55 and 34 Street at the top of Athabasca's east hill. 

Athabasca Fire Chief Travis Shalapay said an older model blue Sedan Cobalt was heading northbound on 34 Street towards the Super 8 hotel when it missed a stop sign. 

"The driver failed to yield, and it struck a brand-new black Ford F-350 truck, causing the truck to roll onto its roof into the east bound lanes," Shalapay said. "The driver of the F-350 was taken to the nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while the driver of the Cobalt was able to (walk away from the accident)."

Oct. 15

Calling Lake locked down after a lone gunman spotted

A day after a lone gunman terrorized Calling Lake he was brought before a justice of the peace and charged with numerous offences. 

On Oct. 8 at approximately 2:27 p.m., Athabasca RCMP received multiple complaints from Calling Lake residents about a male walking down Calling Lake Drive with a firearm and firing multiple shots in the area. 

As a precaution, buildings in the area were locked down including the nearby Calling Lake School. 

During the RCMP investigation it reviled that the suspect had broken into a residence and stole a 12-gauge shotgun and numerous rounds of ammunition prior to his shooting spree. 

Athabasca RCMP joined forces with Athabasca Integrated Traffic Services, Police Dog Services, RCMP Air Services and members from Desmarais RCMP t track and contain the suspect. 

On Oct. 9, 20-year-old Jaycee Bigstone was charged with the following offences: careless use of a firearm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm knowing possession was unauthorized, break and entering and stealing a firearm, possession of a firearm while prohibited, and failure to comply with undertaking.

Nov. 5

Individuals sought in connection to local woman’s murder

20191105-Nature Duperron Murder-MALE 13RCMP are seeking the identity of two men in relation to the murder of Athabsca woman Nature Duperron.
The Alberta RCMP Major Crimes Unit is looking for assistance to identify the two males in the attached photos. The police would like to talk to these individuals in relation to the Nature Duperron homicide investigation. 

An Athabasca woman missing since the middle of April has been identified as the victim of a homicide after her body was discovered near Hinton that same month. 

RCMP Major Crimes have deemed the death of 25-year-old Nature Duperron a homicide after an April 25 autopsy and are investigating. 

Duperron was reported missing by her mother. Her last known whereabouts were in Edmonton and she was set to return to Athabasca for a visit when she went missing. 

Duperron is survived by her three children, siblings and her parents. 

If you have any information on this investigation, you are asked to call the Hinton RCMP at 780-865-5544.

Nov. 26

Today is now

20191126-Welcome to Town and Country-01On Nov. 26 the website for the Athabasca Advocate became and shares new stories with the Barrhead Leader and Westlock News.
You’ve probably seen the half-page advertisements within our pages in the last few weeks, saying that Today is coming. Well, it’s time to fill everybody in on what Today actually is because as of Nov. 26, Today is no long coming, it’s officially here. 

The Athabasca Advocate, along with our sister newspapers in Barrhead and Westlock are teaming up to offer news and information from all three locations at the same time at 

The physical newspaper is, of course, still available by delivery, at our office and at dozens of locations around the region every week. We are still a community newspaper after all. Our local focus will not change. We’ll still be at the minor hockey games, school events and covering the news as it happens, just as we have since the Advocate started in 1982. 

As of today, through at, stories form all three newspapers and the Town & Country will appear on the web every day. 

Relevant content from 20 other Great West publications across the provinces, as well as provincial and national content from Canadian Press, will also be available on the new website, and will be refreshed often, so you can stay up to date and get all your news at one convenient news site.

Dec. 3

Early morning fire destroys shop

20191201_LongIslandFire_HS_02 copyA shop was burned to the ground after an early morning fire Dec. 1. The sole occupant, a potbellied pig, escaped unharmed.
A farm shop was destroyed in an early-morning Dec. 1 blaze 17 kilometers northwest of the Town of Athabasca. 

Baptiste Lake Fire Department chief Robert Laackmann said he got the call at 8:20 a.m. and called in the Athabasca Fire Department shortly after. 

Travis Shalapay, chief of the Athabasca Fire Department, confirmed he got the call at 8:31 a.m. and six men joined in fighting the fire with the 10 volunteer fire fighters from the Baptiste Lake department. 

“The shop was fully engulfed upon arrival,” Shalapay said. “The fire was very challenging due to hazardous materials in the shop.” 

Shalapay added the -21 C weather did not help in putting out the blaze, but did note the lone occupant of the shop, a potbellied pig, did escape harm. There were no injuries reported.

Athabasca bridge one step closer to reality

2019-600060 - Drawings-2An aerial view of the proposed bridge on Hwy 813 crossing the Athabasca River showing where the berms will be placed for each phase of construction.
The provincial government is accepting public input about the replacement of the iconic wood-deck bridge on Hwy 813 crossing the Athabasca river north of the town of Athabasca. 

The expected start date of the project is set for Aug. 15, 2020 with completion projected to be April 1, 2022 and will include the removal of the old bridge according to the application posted on the Government of Canada website. 

“Permit applications are in the works,” he said. “Specific terms and conditions will be outlined in the permit issued by Transport Canada and the contractor will be required to comply.”  

An article published in the Nov. 19 issue of the Athabasca Advocate stated the bridge will be wider than the current bridge with 10 to 11 metres allotted for lanes as well as a 2.5 metre sidewalk, for a total of 12.5 to 13.5 metres in width, pending final design.

Dec. 10

Three injured in head-on collision

20191206_TowerRdAccident_HS_01The driver of a maroon Chrysler Dynasty was airlifted by STARS air ambulance to Edmonton early Friday morning after a head on collision. The driver is in critical but stable condition according to Athabasca Fire Department chief Travis Shalapay.
Three people were injured in an early morning head on collision on Highway 55 just east of the town of Athabasca near Tower Road. 

The lone occupant of the maroon Chrysler Dynasty was airlifted by STARS air ambulance to Edmonton in critical but stable condition according to Athabasca Fire Department chief Travis Shalapay. 

The driver and passenger in the white sedan, a cab from United Class Cabs located in Fort McMurray were taken to the Athabasca Healthcare Centre in stable condition. 

Athabasca County regional fire chief Steve Hamilton stated the call came in at 6:48 a.m. and Shalapay added that the road was “shut down to traffic for a significant period of time” to allow STARS to land on the highway. 

It is unknown at this time what caused the accident and Shalapay noted the weather was clear at the time of arrival by the fire department on the scene.

Dec. 17

Proposed sand mining project still in early planning stages

20191210 AMI Open House_HS_07AMI staff met with concerned Athabascans Dec. 10 at an open house to discuss the proposed sand mining to take place southeast of the town of Athabasca.Left to Right: Dana Archibald - COO, Mark McCallum - VP Safety, Scott Clark - stakeholder engagement, Ryan Lissel - VP Projects and Operations, Troy Sidloski - Director of Business Development and Applications.
A proposed project for a sand mining pit is being considered approximately eight kilometers southeast of the town of Athabasca. 

Athabasca Minerals Inc held an open house Dec. 10 to introduce themselves to the community and field questions by locals as to the impact the operation may have on the environment and to neighbours of the property. 

It will be a sand mining, washing, sorting, drying, and storage facility to produce proppant for oil and gas customers in Alberta and British Columbia. The primary product will be sand used in fracking. 

“AMI had 182 people sign-in at our recent open house at the Athabasca Agriplex,” said Scott Clark who is in stakeholder engagement for the company. “We’re currently going through all the feedback.” 

Estimates of the final total of area residents who attended put the count at between 200 and 250 as there were many who did not sign in, as well there were about 100 when the open house started at 9 a.m.


Oct. 22

Interim CAO Appointed in Boyle

20191016-Robert Jorgensen-01The Village of Boyle formally appointed Robert Jorgensen as its Interim CAO during a special council meeting held Oct. 16 at council chambers. Jorgensen, the former CAO for the Town of Athabasca, will serve in the position for a six-month period.
An interim chief administrative officer for the Village of Boyle was named Oct. 16.  

Robert Jorgensen, who most recently held the CAO's position in the Town of Athabasca before he was let go Sept. 30, will fill in for Charlie Ashbey, who remains on medical leave after suffering a stroke last month. The position was slated to last for six months.

Nov. 5

Fatal collision kills Boyle man

A 39-year-old Boyle man is dead after a 2003 Saturn Ion travelling westbound on Highway 55 collided head-on with a semi transport truck heading eastbound at the junction of Highway 663. 

An RCMP news release said that Lac La Biche RCMP responded to the fatal collision at 1:18 a.m. Nov. 1. 

According to the release, a preliminary investigation revealed the Saturn Ion crossed into the lane. 

Cst. Chantelle Kelly said emergency medical technicians tried to revive the driver of the Saturn. 

"Crews were unable to do so, and he was pronounced dead at the scene," Kelly said. "The front of the semi suffered extensive damage and was in the ditch, but the driver suffered no injuries of any kind." 

The release said that traffic was re-routed for several hours while Lac La Biche RCMP and an RCMP Collision Analyst investigated the scene. 

Kelly added the name of the deceased will not be released, and that no further updates are anticipated.  

"Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased," she said.

Nov. 26

Boyle RCMP arrest three suspects in separate stolen vehicle incidents

Boyle RCMP made three arrests Nov. 13-14 at Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement after three stolen vehicles were recovered in three separate incidents.  

The first vehicle, a GMC Duramax truck, was located at a residence on the settlement at approximately 8 a.m. Nov. 13 with some assistance from Vegreville RCMP. According to a Nov. 19 press release, a female suspect later identified as 29-year-old Ashley Whitford of Vilna was observed leaving the scene in another vehicle and a traffic stop was conducted. 

Whitford is charged with possessing property obtained by crime over $5,000, impaired operation of a conveyance, impaired operation of a conveyance of over 80 milligrams, and breach of recognizance. 

Later that afternoon, Deme said police were dispatched to a 34-year-old Beaver Lake man sleeping inside an older-model Dodge Ram truck.  

"Officers found the man walking away from the vehicle when they arrived at the scene," Deme continued. "An investigation later determined the vehicle was stolen out of the Andrew area."  

The suspect, identified as George Lewis, was charged with possessing property obtained by crime over $5,000, possession of break-in tools and breach of recognizance.

Dec. 24

Investigation continues into Aspen Grove fire

20191220-BoyleTrailer Fire-BT-01The investigation continues into an early morning fire at a manufactured home at the Aspen Grove Trailer Park Dec. 18. The fire destroyed the home and one truck parked at the property, and severely damaged two more vehicles. Boyle RCMP continue to keep watch over the property.
After human remains were found at the scene of a Wednesday-morning trailer fire in Boyle, local RCMP and the Major Crimes Unit continue to investigate. 

Emergency services were called to the Aspen Grove Trailer Park Dec. 18 at 5:40 a.m., where a trailer was engulfed in flames. Fire crews from Boyle, Athabasca and Colinton responded to the scene, stated Athabasca County Regional Fire Services regional chief Steve Hamilton in a release. 

A Dec. 20 RCMP press release noted that the body found at the scene has since been transferred to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. 

“We will have more information once an autopsy has been concluded,” said RCMP Media Relations Cpl. Laurel Scott 

The mobile home and a truck parked at the property were destroyed in the blaze, while a Chevrolet Avalanche and a Pontiac Torrent parked at the home were damaged.

20191229 Melissa Lyne Boyle fire_GoFundMeMelissa Lyne was identified by family on social media as the person who perished in a mobile home fire in Boyle Dec. 18.

Update: A Go Fund Me account has been set up on behalf of Melissa Lyne, the woman identified as the victim in the fire. 

Boyle Skate Park receives $75,000

20191218-GVD Boyle Skate Park-BT-01Members of the Greater Athabasca Community Foundation, along with their children, pose with Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken in the dining area at the front of Boyle School Dec. 18 after receiving a $75,000 grant through the provincial government’s Community Facility Enhancement Program in order to help build a Skate Park beside the Splash Park. (L-R) Back Row: GACF president Lindsey Stanton, Sheena Clyburn (GACF), Haedyn Kiteley, Adele Clyburn, Lila Clyburn, Blake Stanton, Brooke Stanton, MLA Glenn van Dijken, Christina Sheen (GACF) and Olga Schalin (GACF). Front Row: Averie Kiteley, Berlynn Stanton, Lloyd Sheen, Olivia Sheen, Ivy Schalin, Wyatt Sheen and Beth Stanton.
The Greater Athabasca Community Foundation has received a further boost in its efforts to build a skate park beside the Boyle Splash Park as it received $75,000 from the provincial government.  

Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken presented the cheque, from the province’s Community Facility Enhancement Program, at Boyle School Dec. 18. van Dijken said it was an honour to recognize the GACF for what they do for their community. 


Oct. 22

New management at Colinton Bowling Lanes

20191015-Colinton Bowling Alley-BT-02New leadership is coming soon to the Colinton Bowling Alley. As of Nov. 1, Wendy Harrison will be the facility’s new manager, taking over from Val Edkins. Harrison and her husband Roger (pictured) both said they are looking forward to the challenge.
Val’s Colinton Valley Lanes will be under a new name come Nov. 1, as the Colinton Bowling Lakes will be coming under new management. 

Wendy Harrison will be taking over the alley from Val Edkins, and the new name of the business will be called Crazy Chris’ Lanes. 

“Chris would be my son, who lives in Colinton and he’s going to be running the business with me,” Harrison said. “We are going to gear it towards getting everybody in the community to get back to bowling, including the younger children and the millennial generation. We need more people in that age group if the facility is going to remain afloat.” 

She added there would be some other changes on the horizon once the new management takes over the facility. 

“We are going to stay open later, and we are going to bring in a pool table to give the teenage something to do,” Harrison explained. “after school they should be able to come down after finishing their homework and blow off some steam.” 

She said they will also be bringing in a food and liquor menu as well.

Oct. 29

EPC junior boys win silver in Barrhead

20191019-EPC Volleyball-KB-01The EPC junior boys competed in the Barrhead Jags Invitational Tournament Oct. 19, where the ultimately won the silver medal after falling in two straight sets against Morinville Community High School in the finals. Back Row (L-R): Malikye Laboucan, Jacob Olsen, Chaz Faulkner, Brandon Phillips, Carter Lantz, Ayden Duniece, Coach Sean Morrison, Ewan Morrison and Taylor Schooley. Front Row: Elmer Laboucan, Nathan Tebb, Mason Holt, Zack Sikora, Keil Morrison.
The Edwin Parr Composite School Predators junior high volleyball team continues to perform well during the 2019 season. 

At the Barrhead Senior Jags Invitational Volleyball Tournament Oct. 19, the boys were able to take home the silver medal after falling 25-11 and 25-7 against the Morinville Community High School Wolves.  

Head coach Sean Morrison said the boys have been doing well throughout the whole year. 

“We won the first tournament of the year against Morinville on their home turf, but then they evened the score in Barrhead,” Morrison said. “It was a long day of matches where we played against six different teams, and they were tired by the time they made the championship game. They were mentally and physically gassed out.”

Nov. 5

Athabasca Flips Gymnastics Club heads to new digs

20191103-Athabasca Flips Home-BT-01Setup at the new Athabasca Flips Gymnastics Club’s new digs moved quickly Nov. 3 as members laid down mats and got things ready. The club spent the weekend moving their belongings from the Fairhaven Big Coulee Complex on the Athabasca and District Ag Society Grounds to the old Athabasca Landing Pool.
It's official, the Athabasca Flips Gymnastics Club has moved to their new location at the old Athabasca Landing Pool.  

The club moved their belongings from the Fairhaven Big Coulee Complex at the Athabasca and District Agricultural Society grounds to their new home Nov. 1-3.  

Club head coach Davin Bettenson said it took them less time to move than they originally planned.  

"We had lots of volunteers helping us out with lots of trailers," Bettenson said. "Kal Tire also donated some old tires to us to stack up at the deep end of the old pool. It will be three feet of tires, followed by an inch of underlay and four feet of open cubes of foam." 

Dec. 17

Curling club sporting new rocks

20191211_Curling Club New Rocks_SUB_01New rocks fresh out of the boxes.
History is in the making at the Athabasca Curling Club at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex.  

After over 50 years a decision was made that the rocks had outlived their life on the ice and the Curling Club, in partnership with the Multiplex, have purchased new curling rocks which cost just over $43,000. The Curling Club sponsored 50 per cent of the purchase price for the new stones. 

“The mixed league enthusiastically unpacked and hauled the new beauties to the ice surface to cool Dec. 5 after the mixed draw,” said Cathie Creaser, a director with the club. “The inserts (handles) were transferred over from the old rocks on Saturday afternoon by member volunteers.” 

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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