Year-in-Review: May

Our annual Year-in-Review series continues today with a look back at May and June 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.

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Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch marks 30 years

Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch (SRCW) celebrated 30 years of being the County’s eyes and ears May 4. More than 150 attended the SRCW 30th Anniversary Celebration dinner and silent auction at the Rendez-Vous Centre, including Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec, Sturgeon County Councillors Don McGeachy, Tom Flynn and David Kluthe, Morinville Mayor Paul Krauskopf and Deputy Mayor Lisa Holmes, Legal Councillors Carol Tremblay and Ron Sharma, Sturgeon School Division trustee Wendy Miller, Greater St. Albert Catholic School Division Trustee Noreen Radford and Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Communication Coordinator Bonnie Felker.

SCRW President Roger Nykipilo praised the efforts of the organization’s volunteers and pioneers over the years, attributing the group’s longevity to them. “We would not be here tonight if it were not for a group of very community-minded neighbours, who in 1983 decided to band together and take their community spirit to another level,” Nykipilo said in his opening remarks. “They became the eyes and ears of our Sturgeon community. These pioneers realized that our RCMP members could not be everywhere and cover the 2,300 square kms. of farmland, towns, villages, hamlets, and the countless acreage subdivisions that were rapidly growing.”

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Church restoration project moves forward

A $500,000 restoration project for St. Jean Baptiste Church was ready to get underway after an Edmonton-based scaffolding company provided the foundation upon which the actual work would be done. Prairie Gold Scaffolding Ltd., owned by brothers George and Ben Johnson, spent the first week of May erecting the scaffolding workers would use to restore the church.

Council approves Highway 642 functional plan

More than a year’s work on improving economic opportunities in Morinville’s downtown core was approved by Council May 14 with the unanimous passing of the Highway 642 Functional Planning Study (FPS), a document Council believed would create a long-term plan for 100 Avenue that ensured traffic and pedestrian safety while easing the issues that have stalled development and redevelopment in Morinville’s downtown core.

The FPS deals with provincial Highway 642 (100 Avenue) from Highway 2 to East Boundary Road, a stretch of road that is under the jurisdiction of Alberta Transportation. Both the Town and the Province worked to find some alternative to the standard FPS for a provincial highway that requires a 10-metre setback on each side of the road to meet the province’s highway standard of 50 metres. Currently, 100 Avenue is 23 metres wide, 30 metres in width with the current right-of-way. The additional 10-metre right-of-way requirement is a situation the Town says has driven away millions of dollars in potential commercial investment in the past.

An open house held Apr. 25 provided residents and potentially affected businesses with an opportunity to view the long-term plan for 100 Avenue, one that includes a number of roundabouts at intersections. The approved plan allows for several roundabouts to be installed at intersections over the next 50 to 75 years, the first proposed at 100 Avenue and 107 Street within the next five to seven years.

Roundabouts continued to be a contentious issue during the fall election and beyond. The subsequent passing of the plan appears to have spurred development on Main Street with three commercial development projects announced since its approval.

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Natalie MacMaster in town

Juno Award-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster performs with guitarist Mark Sullivan at the cultural centre May 24. The Cape Breton performer was the special guest of Calvin Vollrath May 24 and 25 night.

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Grant sends Morinville Minstrels on the road

A well-known group of local singers was making plans for a four-day tour of lodges and seniors facilities in June, thanks to a provincial grant. On May 21, Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec presented the Morinville Minstrels with a cheque for $8,000 from the province’s Community Initiatives Program (CIP), monies that will cover 50 per cent of the estimated $16,000 the group will spend to bring smiles to seniors’ faces in June.

Minstrels Treasurer Diana Moquin said the singing group takes a road trip for three or four days to entertain each summer.

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École Notre Dame cuts ribbon at rededication ceremony

The first day back to school after the Victoria Day long weekend was a celebratory one for the students of École Notre Dame Elementary School. The school received its second visit from Education Minister Jeff Johnson this year, this time to participate in a rededication ceremony officially recognizing the consolidation of the former École Georges P. Vanier and Notre Dame Elementary School sites.

The school, which can accommodate 503 students after the expansion, was renamed École Notre Dame Elementary to reflect English and French Immersion dual-track programming for students in Kindergarten through Grade 4. In keeping with that programming, the emcees presented their information in both English and French.

The formal presentations from Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools Superintendent David Keohane, Board Chair Rosaleen McEvoy, and Minister Johnson were punctuated by performances from the school’s choir.

Mayor and Deputy Mayor to meet with Minister

Mayor Paul Krauskopf said his May 28 with Alberta’s then Transportation Minister to discuss alternatives to make the Highway 2 and Cardiff Road intersection safer was positive, but he was keeping the details of that discussion quiet until he has a chance to discuss the matter with the rest of Council.

“It was a very productive meeting,” the mayor said. “Mr. McIver presented us with some options on making the intersection as it is now safer for right away. We have a few options. We’ll take those to Council and we have to have a discussion, and I’m not sure when we will make that decision. We’re not prepared to share those options until Council has a look at them and a chance to sort out what’s good and what’s bad with them.”

Mayor Krauskopf said he came away with a sense the province is as concerned with safety at the intersection as Council and residents are. “Enhancing safety was the main topic of the meeting,” he said. “The rest of it falls into long-term planning.”

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New RCMP Staff Sergeant

RCMP Staff Sergeant Tom Love assumed command of the Morinville Detachment at the end of May. The 21-year RCMP veteran arrived in Morinville after spending three years as the Detachment Commander for Fort Vermilion, a limited-duration posting. Love began his policing career in Saskatchewan but has been in Alberta for the past seven years, the first of those years in Coronation.

Though the Morinville Detachment is geographically large, Love is no stranger to large RCMP Detachments. His last post was among the biggest in the province.

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