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.
Education Minister visits Aspen View Public SchoolsAspen 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.
Accident near A & W causes traffic jamEmergency 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)."
Calling Lake locked down after a lone gunman spottedA 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.
Individuals sought in connection to local woman’s murderThe 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.
Today is nowYou’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 TownandCountryTODAY.com.
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 TownandCountryTODAY.com, 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.
Early morning fire destroys shopA 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 realityThe 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.
Three injured in head-on collisionThree 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.
Proposed sand mining project still in early planning stagesA 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.
Interim CAO Appointed in BoyleAn 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.
Fatal collision kills Boyle manA 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.
Boyle RCMP arrest three suspects in separate stolen vehicle incidentsBoyle 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.
Investigation continues into Aspen Grove fireAfter 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.
Update: A Go Fund Me account has been set up on behalf of Melissa Lyne, the woman identified as the victim in the fire. https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-for-melissa-lyne-and-help-her-children
Boyle Skate Park receives $75,000The 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.
New management at Colinton Bowling LanesVal’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.
EPC junior boys win silver in BarrheadThe 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.”
Athabasca Flips Gymnastics Club heads to new digsIt'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."
Curling club sporting new rocksHistory 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.”