Year-in-Review: March

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Our annual Year-in-Review series continues today with a look back at March and April 2013. We will be publishing two months of review each day during the remainder of our holiday closure here at the Morinville News. The entire Year-in-Review will be published in our Jan. 8 print edition.

Fire Chief honoured with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

When Morinville Fire Chief Ron Cust was told to wear his uniform and report to Municipal Affairs in Edmonton, he was not sure what to expect. What he found was a set of hands waiting to shake his and to pin a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to his chest. Cust was presented the award Feb. 26 by Minister of Municipal Affairs Doug Griffiths, Deputy Minister Paul Whittaker, and Trent West the Alberta Fire Commissioner, the latter of whom nominated Cust as did some Morinville residents for his exemplary Service in Fire Fighting and volunteer work in Morinville. Cust was one of 800 firefighters nationwide to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013.

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Cardiff Interchange off the table with provincial budget

Hidden in the depths of Budget 2013-2014 and in the tweets of Twitter came the revelation the Cardiff Road Interchange project had been postponed indefinitely.

In a Mar. 10 Twitter question to Parker Hogan, Press Secretary to Ric McIver, Alberta’s then Minister of Transportation, then Councillor Lisa Holmes asked for an update on the Cardiff interchange. Hogan indicated to Holmes the interchange had been “deferred.” When pressed for information on the timeline, Hogan replied – “Not on the 3 yr. construction plan.”

Eight months later the province announced it would install traffic lights on Highway 2 at Cardiff Road as a means to improve safety at the corner.

Police looking to see if you are locking

Constable Justin St. Onge of the Morinville RCMP Detachment undertook a project to see if residents were making themselves easy targets for local and visiting criminals. St. Onge, who joined the RCMP Detachment four months earlier, decided to do a vehicle check program in Morinville.

He believed thieves are attracted to the area by the lure of high-end merchandise in high-end subdivisions, coupled with the false sense of security residents may have living in a safe community. St. Onge said the Lakes and South Glens are two areas that had seen a rash of thefts from vehicles.

The constable’s policing project tested the theory residents simply aren’t locking their vehicles. In 90 minutes, St. Onge checked 208 vehicles. Thirty-two of those were found to be unlocked. “I was able to access 32 vehicles and left a pamphlet for them,” Const. St. Onge said at the time of his experiment. “That’s just over 15 per cent. I thought that number is not enough to catch people’s attention, but what’s more important is 32 vehicles [were opened] over 90 minutes. Every three minutes we would have been in a vehicle. That would have been the easiest night of work in my life. In an hour and a half we were able to be in 32 vehicles and all of them had stuff in them. I’d see a GPS on the dash. I’d see change in the cup holder before I even got up to the door.”

While the experiment resulted in more than 15 per cent of vehicles being found unlocked, the results varied from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. St. Onge found all cars locked in one area but 80 per cent of the vehicles were left unlocked in another.

Government of Canada funds St. Jean Baptiste project

It was a big day for Father Ignacy Warius and members of the St. Jean Baptiste Parish Mar. 12. After several months of sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear about a grant to save the historic steeple, Westlock-St. Paul Member of Parliament Brian Storseth arrived at the church with good news that the federal government had approved their grant request. The church received $250,000 through a Western Diversification Grant, a federal program that is available to a maximum of $250,000. Storseth confirmed the grant on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.

In the fall of 2012 the church was faced with the plight of raising approximately $500,000 for restoration work to save the steeple from loss to water rot. The parish had raised approximately $155,000 for the restoration project but much of that was spent on the initial engineering study and stabilization work done three years prior. St. Jean Baptiste Parish was left with $60,000 towards the half million in repair work needed to save the steeple. They were also left with less than seven weeks to hit the $250,000 needed to qualify for the matching dollar Western Diversification Grant. The church turned to the community through their People for the Steeple campaign, an initiative that received strong support inside the 300-member parish as well as outside in the community at large. The campaign took the parish from their $60,000 start to $343,538.97 by the Nov. 15, 2012 deadline.

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Willis Receives Diamond Jubilee

Royal Canadian Legion Alberta – N.W.T. Command Deputy District 8 Commander Wayne Willis was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Westlock-St. Paul Member of Parliament Brian Storseth in Morinville Council Chambers Mar. 12. Willis was recognized for his dedication to country and community, not only through his past military service but also his work with the Royal Canadian Legion and the community in general.

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Farmers’ Market changes with growing community

The Friends of the Morinville Public Library voted Mar. 7 in favour of handing the weekly Farmers’ Market over to the Morinville Festival Society to allow the market to continue the growth it had experienced over the past few years.

After running the market for several years on a smaller scale, the Friends contracted the services of Korien Sampson in 2011 to serve as their market manager. Through Sampson’s vision and the Friend’s support, the market doubled the number of vendors and expanded its offerings to include a street performers’ festival, an annual chili competition, and additional markets outside the normal market season.

The market opened in June under the Morinville Festival Society’s banner and moved to a weekly indoor market in September. In addition to the weekly market, the Festival Society holds a number of larger markets in connection with its quarterly festivals.

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