September – The Year In Review

Morinville musician wins Canadian Country Music Association award

Gord Bamford drummer and band leader Chad Melchert was at his drum kit Sept. 15 night performing when he learned he was this year’s Drummer of the Year winner at the Annual Canadian Country Music Association Awards.

“I was on stage drumming and my phone started flashing,” Melchert said. “A friend of mine texted me ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner.’ Then congratulations started piling in after that, so I knew I had won.”

Melchert said he was both happy and surprised to learn he had won. The local musician has been nominated eight times in his career. “It’s been a long time coming, I guess,” Melchert said. “A lot of years of playing with different acts and it’s nice to get that recognition.”
The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native began his musical career at the age of 13 in a local band with his guitar-playing brother and bass-playing friend. “We played hockey and we played music. That’s what we did,” the musician said of his early days.

Champion Petfoods behind recent Morinville phone survey

Champion Petfoods announced Sept. 5 it was behind a recent telephone survey of Morinville residents asking questions on local issues and concerns as well as levels of trust in current Council, business leaders and the media. Champion’s President and CEO Frank Burdzy told Morinville News one of the reasons was to gauge where the company should be investing their community dollars.

“We’re currently receiving in the neighbourhood of 10 to 12 requests per month for donations to some charitable fund or event, and what we really want to do at Champion, as an organization, is focus more of our giving to core causes that are of keen interest to the residents,” Burdzy said. “We weren’t doing that before. We were just taking each one as it came.”

The company subsequently made a five year commitment of $20,000 per year to fund festivals in Morinville.

Champion puts focus on employees after factory fire

Champion had an extra workload ahead of them after an early-morning fire took out the company’s dryer in Kitchen 2. Morinville fire fighters were called to the local pet food manufacturer around 4:30 a.m. Sept. 8 where they discovered some extremely hot metal.
“Upon arrival the fire fighters discovered the large heater dryer was overheated and the sides of the metal were glowing red due to the heat,” said Morinville Fire Chief Ron Cust. “The members had to hit a fire hydrant and bring in some lines to cool down the particular oven.”

Cust said his crews opened up some of the overhead doors to allow the cool outside air to help cool down the overheated machinery. Crews were on hand for approximately two hours getting things under control, but Cust said there was no danger of the unit exploding or spreading to other parts of the factory.

Champion’s President and CEO, Frank Burdzy, was pleased with the fire department’s quick response as well as his own employees. The fire resulted in Champion having to halt operations in its Kitchen 2, a part of the plant where their new high-tech chimney was installed to help with odour mitigation at the factory. Operations moved to Kitchen 1 while the new dryer was stalled, allowing Kitchen 2 to resume manufacturing operations.

New clergy in town

St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Morinville had two new people behind the pulpit these days. Recently joining the church are Reverend Ron Hörst and Deacon Laureta Blundin, a duo who will share responsibilities in leading worship.

The same month the faithful found a new woman behind the pulpit at Morinville United Church. Alice Hanson arrived in Morinville after ministering in Dawson Creek and most recently Spirit River, Alberta. Prior to entering the ministry Hanson spent many years as a teacher.

Morinville Baptist Church destroyed in weekend fire

Firefighters were still pulling contents from the burned remains of Morinville Baptist Church Sept. 22 after an early morning fire destroyed the church located at 431 Grandin Drive.

Ken Thiemann, Morinville Fire Department’s Deputy Chief of Operations (DCO), said the department received a call around 5:15 a.m. alerting them to the smell of smoke in the air. After coming to investigate himself, Morinville’s crews were dispatched to the scene, and Legal Fire Department was called in to assist.

“When we got here there was smoke from all the corners of the building,” Thiemann said Saturday morning. “We broke the door down and went in through the front door and got chased out.”

Kevin Wedick (left) shakes hands with Morinville Town Councillor Elect Sheldon Fingler moments after election results were revealed Thursday night. The two candidates were 32 votes apart. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

Fingler wins vacant Morinville Council seat by narrow margin

Sheldon Fingler won the Sept. 20 by-election with 263 votes, beating his closest rival, Kevin Wedick, by 32 votes.

Fingler, the owner of Infinite Event Services, was perhaps best known in the community for his involvement with the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce. The candidate ran a strong campaign through the election, using print and online advertising, signs, billboards and social media to reach voters.

Wedick, a retired RCMP officer and current explosions and fire investigator, was later out of the gate than his opponents in mounting his campaign. Advertising, signs and door knocking came late in the campaign cycle; however, the candidate did one thing others appear not to have – visiting and speaking with the seniors at Aspen House and Heritage Place. The candidate placed a close second and said to expect his name on the ballot next time around.

Morinville in danger of losing iconic image

Morinville’s historic St. Jean Baptiste Church steeple was in need of approximately $500,000 in restoration work to save it from loss to water rot. September saw the kick-off of the People for the Steeple campaign to raise $250,000 towards a matching federal grant. By the October deadline $347,000 had been raised for the initiative. The church hopes to hear early in the New Year if it was successful in its grant request.

Playoff MVP - Nick McRae
Playoff MVP – Nick McRae

Morinville Jets captain laid to rest

A man remembered for his love of life and his ability to spread that love was laid to rest Sept. 8. The funeral of Morinville Jets Captain Nick McRae was held at the St. Albert Parish to allow sufficient room for mourners to pay their respects to 21-year-old Riviere Qui Barre resident, killed in an ATV accident south of Edson Sept. 3. Family, friends and members of the Morinville Jets organization filled the St. Albert Parish, its balcony area and outside veranda.

McCrae, a carpenter by trade, was buried in his red, white and blue Morinville Jets jersey. Team mates lined both sides of the aisle prior to the funeral mass, their jerseys folded and lying on their arms. Those jerseys were donned by the team at the conclusion of McCrae’s eulogy, delivered by former Morinville Jets Coach Scott Rodda, a man who knew McCrae on and off the ice.

The Jets retired McRae’s Number 11 Jersey on Remembrance Day in a special ceremony and wore his number on their sleeves this season.

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