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Barrhead Westlock roll out the red carpet

Barrhead residents and business owners made it abundantly clear they want the Alberta 55 Plus Games.

Barrhead residents and business owners made it abundantly clear they want the Alberta 55 Plus Games.

More than a dozen people of all ages gathered at the Barrhead Agrena Wednesday evening to welcome a selection committee representing the Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation responsible for choosing the site to host the games. It was a sight that made Town mayor Brian Schulz and County Reeve Bill Lee proud to represent the community. Both Westlock and Barrhead welcomed four members of the selection committee, with representatives from Calgary, Lethbridge, Olds and Camrose.

“It was a fantastic day,” Schulz said. “The entire process went over really well, and I’m just amazed at how well our four local governments are working together. The enthusiasm and the warmth of the group flowed over to the committee, and they mentioned that time and time again.”

Schulz said the committee wasn’t in Barrhead so much to look at facilities, because they know what the Town has; rather, they really came to see the attitudes and enthusiasm of the people in the community.

“What a pleasure it was for me to take the committee into the Agrena. The group of people who had assembled there – seniors, elected officials and business owners – was tremendous, and the excitement was contagious,” he said.

Time restrictions prevented a prolonged tour of Barrhead, Schulz said, but the selection committee members were absolutely astounded when they walked into the Agrena and were greeted by signs and people clapping.

“It lifted it to another level,” he said. “This showing of support is just as important as the actual bid, because this is what leaves an impression on them. Our businesses once again came to the forefront and let the selection committee know this town wants the games. Kudos has to go to Brandy Siegert and Cheryl Callihoo of the town bid committee.”

“The Agrena was as clean and as well organized as I’ve ever seen it. It made me proud to walk in there,” Schulz said.

Lee said the dinner that followed the tours helped to cement the bid committee’s position with the selection committee. He said he sat with a selection committee representative who deals with the numbers – the person who is concerned about monies and how Barrhead and Westlock could put together a successful event.

“We talked about the new weather monitoring station that is going to be put out at the airport, and he was quite impressed with that progressive idea, and he said it was another thing to justify bringing the games to Barrhead,” Lee said. “I think what they were so impressed with is the fact in all the time they’ve been doing this, they’ve never had on the bus with them two mayors at one time.”

During the dinner, bid committee members all got to sit down one-on-one with selection committee members to discuss the bid. Lee said he felt very positive at the end of the day when the committee was boarding the plane.

“If we don’t get the games, it isn’t for a lack of trying and community spirit,” he said. “I was very proud of what Barrhead did to showcase what we have.”

Schulz said he is of the impression that Westlock and Barrhead will be awarded the games.

“I can’t see how they wouldn’t give it to two communities working together for one purpose,” he said. “These games would be a big boost to anyone’s economy. I want Barrhead people to be proud of their town, and to know we are second to none.”

Schulz said he couldn’t have imagined the tour with the selection committee going any better than it did. He pointed out that for him, one of the best parts of the tour took place when the committee was supposed to fly out of Westlock, but the cloud level was too low and there were some mechanical issues, so they were brought to the Barrhead Airport.

The decision as to where the games will be held was made March 24, Lee said, but the recommendation is sent to the province. A date for a formal announcement isn’t set, but a final announcement as to the successful bid is expected from Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister, Cindy Ady, by the end of May.

“They wouldn’t tell us who else was being considered in the bidding process, and it would be interesting to know who we are competing against,” Schulz said.

As the province’s premier multisport event for athletes aged 55 and over, Barr-head and Westlock can expect to host 1,100 athletes and 300 guests and spectators over four days in July, 2013 should the games be awarded. The Alberta 55 Plus Games, formerly called the Alberta Seniors Games, are co-ordinated by the Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation with support from the Alberta 55 Plus group. The games are a provincial initiative to encourage Albertans to be active, and are made possible with the assistance of dozens of corporate sponsors, a host committee and the Alberta government. For more information about the Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games, visit www.albertagames.com.