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The year that was in 2018

Posted on January 3, 2019 by Vauxhall Advance

After a year of plenty of ups and downs in the Vauxhall area, we look back at some of bigger developments in 2018.

January 4: The first two visitors to greet outsiders into the town of Vauxhall will be going on a vacation soon, after town council passed a motion to repaint the two Vauxhall mascots of Sammy and Samantha.
The Town of Vauxhall may see a program come to the town that offers free Wi-Fi for the downtown area, if all goes according to plan.

January 11: A pioneer who helped blaze the trail to help make the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball what it is today, Scott Hornstra tragically lost his life to a snowboarding accident on Dec. 31 in Whitefish, Mont. Hornstra played for the VAB Jets in its inaugural year before moving on to a have a tremendous college career.
Proposed changes to current electoral boundaries were protested by many rural MLAs in 2017, which prompted the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission to reform their original recommendations, which had called for the creation of a huge new Taber-Vulcan riding straddling the southern reaches of the province. With the approval of the amended boundaries bill in the house in the late days of the session, in 2019 Vauxhallites will instead be voting in a new Cardston-Siksika riding.

January 18: Little Bow MLA Dave Schneider landed himself in some hot water this week in relation to comments he made to the The Vauxhall Advance in a front page article on Jan. 11. The comments quickly came to the attention of the provincial media this week after Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation called the comments “improper and disrespectful” according to the Canadian Press. Schneider has since apologized via Twitter to anyone he offended.

January 25: With rural crime still a major ongoing issue in the area, Vauxhall town council had a chance to have a rapport session with the local Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment. While the Municipal District of Taber council have been vocal in their hope of more law enforcement, which included introducing their own community peace officer program, the Town of Vauxhall council is hoping to find some answers themselves.
Little Bow MLA Dave Schneider himself was busy in 2017 as he was the Ag and Forestry critic for the UCP party. One of the issues he took head on as the critic was the bovine tuberculosis beef scare.

February 1: Parents Helena and Jamie Dyck along with older brother Adam welcomed a new addition to their family, Caleb Dyck, on Jan. 12, 2018. Little baby Caleb came in weighing in at eight pounds.
The Municipal District of Taber is looking to potentially add easy accessible rural transportation with the help of Alberta Transportation. The Rural Transportation Pilot Program will provide 24 months of operational funding for pilot projects that improve public transit in rural Alberta.

February 8: With one month already down in 2018, Vauxhall town council is continuing to work on projects that they see benefiting the community. “We have been a great team these past four years, with the vision of modernizing and beautifying many parts of the community. We have been successful.”
“Now these next four years will challenge us further as we work on economic development and tourism — never an easy task, but one that is vital to our community,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree. 
It’s been an up and down season for the Vauxhall Vikings boys basketball team to date as the squad has hovered around the .500 mark after beating the St. Mary’s Celtics on the road on Monday night. One game the Vikings look like world beaters and then another game the Vikings lose to a team they likely shouldn’t given the talent levels on paper.

February 15: The eighth annual play at St. Joseph’s Church in Vauxhall is fast approaching and this year’s production should leave everyone laughing. In the comedy, Two Heads Are Better Than One, the debate of ‘to film or not to film’ rages as all sorts of oddball characters try to solve their problems.
 The long standing push for a Vauxhall and District Chamber of Commerce (VDCC) is continuing on its long and winding road as they wait to continue on. Upon submitting their bylaws they were informed of some changes that needed to be made as things progressed further. 

February 22: Vauxhall Public Library representatives tested the waters at Vauxhall council’s meeting on Tuesday to see if they could get increased funding. 
As the snow continues to fall in southern Alberta, Municipal District of Taber council is debating whether or not their equipment should be used to clear main highways when they have their own road ways to worry about. 

March 1: A Hays area man who terrorized two women and brutally abused several pet dogs, including one he dragged by the neck behind his truck, has been handed a custodial sentence. Justin Lee Unruh, 29, was handed a conditional sentence of two years less a day during a hearing earlier this month in Lethbridge provincial court, after he pleaded guilty to single counts of careless storage of a firearm, uttering threats, animal cruelty and two counts of pointing a firearm.
Taber Vauxhall RCMP were called to a complaint of a stabbing in Vauxhall. Members attended and located a male who had been stabbed once by another male during an altercation that occurred at a house party. The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported by EMS to Taber Hospital where he was released a short time later. The suspect fled the scene but RCMP located him several blocks away in an unlocked vehicle that did not belong to him.

March 8: Bow River MP Martin Shields hosted a roundtable discussion at the Taber Legion Hall which focused on crime prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment. Official attendees included Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter and Little Bow MLA Dave Schneider.
The Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets held its 12th annual Awards/Scholarship Fundraising Banquet over the weekend to yet another packed house. This year the academy was pleased to welcome former Blue Jay and current Blue Jays broadcaster Pat Tabler.

March 15: With cannabis legalization coming quickly in the future, the Municipal District of Taber council is looking to update some of their park bylaws with regard to marijuana products being used in their parks. “I would really rather just not have it down there at all because you have young families down there with the park right there. When someone has a drink of a beer it doesn’t go over to the neighbouring campsite, it stays where it’s at,” said Coun. Leavitt Howg.
As the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball continues to grow, the need for a new indoor facility becomes essential and Horizon School Division is throwing their support behind the program. 

March 22: The gala event of the season for the region’s outstanding young people, the APEX Youth Awards concluded on Wednesday evening with four well-deserving candidates as recipients of prestigious $1,500 bursaries. Vauxhallite Mackenzie McNiven has her sights set on a future medical career. “I’m really honoured, there’s a lot of people that helped me get here. I have a passion for things, and they’re the ones that have allowed me to do it,” she said.
With warmer temperatures on the horizon for the area, the Municipal District of Taber has started taking precautions with the eventual melt of the large amounts of snow. 

March 29: As the new 2018 Alberta budget promised balance, the opposition to the NDP provincial government aren’t impressed with the document. “From a fiscal conservative viewpoint it’s hard to see a lot of positives. From a fiscal point of view it’s, for a lack of a better term, a train wreck, it really is. It’s a five year outlook and we’re going to be up to our necks in red ink because of it, just about $100 billion in debt because of it,” said Little Bow MLA Dave Schneider.
With the Municipal District of Taber still under a local state of emergency for overland flooding, M.D. council and staff are stressing patience as they continue to deal with the issues throughout the region. 

April 5: The Town of Vauxhall is continuing to tweak their traffic bylaw in relation to school buses and semi- trucks parking within town limits. “The problem is with blocking vision, noise and fumes irritating neighbours so if you have a lot sufficiently large, which there are at least four in town where you can park a school bus, I don’t see any reason not to say ‘you can’t park there’. If individual drivers are unhappy or envious of somebody who has a large lot, well one of those large lots has had a for sale sign for a long time,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Phillips.
Last week’s overland flooding state of local emergency was a busy time for all at the M.D. of Taber as they worked tirelessly to keep things under control. “Merrill (Harris, Deputy Reeve) is seeing most of the damage over in his neck of the woods (southwest of Taber) right now but Murray (Reynolds, councillor) has seen a substantial amount in the Enchant area as well. Hays is habitually soft this time of year and all of the sandy roads take a beating as well from oil industry traffic,” said Jeremy Wickson, director of public works.

April 12: A pilot project by Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association (TDCALA) flew to great heights last month with a Cultural Awareness Day. Families that have been in Canada less than 10 years were encouraged to attend the event which consisted of professional development, a Taste of the World potluck, and a trade show of services and employment opportunities in our area hosted at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium in late March.
National Public Safety Communications Week runs April 14, highlighting the critical work hardworking dispatchers and public safety telecommunicators do as a vital link between the community and fire, med- ical and law enforcement agencies.

April 19: To his students, Bob Dick was many things: a musician, a teacher, a mentor, a jokester, an encourager, a supporter and a friend. As Vauxhall High School’s band director for more than four decades, the impact he made on those he taught is his greatest symphony and legacy. Dick passed away April 4 at 73, leaving behind his two children, in-laws and several nieces and nephews.
A Coalhurst principal has thrown his hat into the United Conservative Party nomination race. Marc Slingerland, the principal of Calvin Christian School outside of Coalhurst, announced his intention to become the UCP candidate for the new Cardston-Siksika riding in the 2019 provincial elections.

April 26: Come 2019, the Cardston-Siksika riding, formerly Little Bow, will have a new MLA. Current Little Bow MLA, Dave Schneider, has announced he won’t be seeking re-election in next year’s provincial contest.
While the Vauxhall town council election didn’t turn out as they hoped the first go around in 2017, the scheduled by-election in 2018 proved purposeful. The town received two nominations on Nomination Day in March with both names successfully being elected to council for the term. One of the new councillors is Raymond Coad, who is a relatively new face to Vauxhall after moving here last summer. The other councillor elected was Jake Wiebe.

May 3: A former Municipal District of Taber councillor has raised some concerns with the new council. During the M.D.’s annual general meeting held in Enchant, former Division 5 councillor, Bob Wallace, brought forward some issues he has with how current council has been running. “I’ve never seen before in my seven years here so many closed session items at the M.D. where when the reporter is there you aren’t talking about stuff but so much information coming out of the lounges, wing Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays. It’s just got to stop,” said Wallace.
The Vauxhall Jets returned home from Lethbridge Sunday night as champions. The Jets gained its third straight tournament win at the Prairie Baseball Academy Showcase.

May 10: As 2018 continues to roll on, the Town of Vauxhall council had a chance to take a look at some possibilities in regard to the town’s 2018 property taxes. For the general municipal that shows a 6.9678 tax rate for residential, 17.1855 for farm land, 16.1192 for non-residential and 17.1855 for machinery and equipment. ASFF residential and farm land has a tax rate of 2.5967 and non-residential is 3.2169.
In order to prepare for the upcoming summer months, the M.D. CPO’s along with other law enforcement agencies in the area including the Taber Police Service and the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment, will be participating in search and rescue training. With the Alberta Summer Games bringing in hundreds of additional people to the community, the benefits of bringing in search and rescue training is a no brainer for the M.D.

May 17: Since declaring a state of local emergency in March, M.D. council and staff have been working tirelessly to mitigate water from across the region. “Our total estimated costs for flood repairs is about $1.26 million. Flood mitigation cost to date absorbed between March and May 1 is about $450,000 with $300,000 of that for contractors and $150,000 for staff overtime costs,” said CAO Derrick Krizsan.
The Friends of the Vauxhall Public Library are certainly allies of the facility as they have raised a good chunk of money from one of their events. 

May 24: The Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets proved why the cliché of pitching winning baseball games is a cliché, with dominance on the mound on the way to a tournament title at the 12th Annual Haven Agencies Tournament at Jets Stadium.There were three no-hitters tossed on the way to the championship.
With June right around the corner, that means 2018’s Pride Fest is coming up. Upon the Town of Taber council’s decision to not allow the Taber Equality Alliance to fly the Pride Flag during the celebration, Minister of Infrastructure and Calgary-Northwest MLA Sandra Jansen tweeted out “Dear Taber, Your 1st flag was stolen, 2nd burned. It would be an honour to fly your next Pride flag from the Taber prov building #ableg,” which will indeed happen.

May 31: As summer draws near, Town of Vauxhall council have brought forward the idea to allow restaurants in town to utilize the sidewalks by placing tables and chairs outside of their buildings. 
With concerns over road maintenance brought up during the Municipal District of Taber’s annual general meeting in April, council is starting to discuss how best to tackle the issues they face. A local resident around the Enchant area had brought up his concerns about the road conditions around his house which had caused his children to miss several weeks of school throughout the winter and into spring. A potential solution M.D. council has been discussing is adding more graders to the larger regions in the municipal district.

June 7: In an evening filled with plenty of emotion, some tears were shed at the Celebration of Achievement for the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball on Tuesday, to help wrap up its 2017/2018 season. Some of those tears were from Robert Hornstra, the late Scott Hornstra’s father. A memorial award was created in Scott’s name which an emotional father presented.
With the federal government’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan, reactions have been widely varied. “Obviously, we continue to support the much needed Trans Mountain project but this is a catastrophic failure of both the Alberta NDP and the Trudeau Liberals, that caused Kinder-Morgan to pull out and forced the costly decision by government to buy this project,” said Little Bow MLA Dave Schneider.

June 14: The Horizon School Board has unanimously passed its budget for the 2018/19 school year. For 2018, there is a projected deficit of $895,491, with $580,300 coming from schools’ use of decentralized reserves and $315,191 coming from the board fund.

June 21: In the aftermath of overland flooding in the Municipal District of Taber, some areas have been hit harder with repairs than others. One of the areas that have made it to the top of the list is Township Road 10-2, which is just west of the M.D. of Taber airport. “Moving forward with this, the initial estimate was right around $200,000 for the completion of this. Where we are going to end is approximately $290,000 including engineering for this project,” said Craig Pittman, public works superintendent.
Vauxhall Academy of Baseball was represented by past and present at the Major League Baseball draft, when Damiano Palmegiani and Ben Onyshko had their names called. Palmegiani, a third-year infielder with the Jets originally from Cloverdale, B.C., was selected in the 35th round, 1,046th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays. Onyshko is a 2014 graduate of the Vauxhall program. The left-handed pitcher was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 24th round, 718th overall.

June 28: The Vauxhall Business Society is going the way of the dinosaur. After many years of trying, the Vauxhall Chamber of Commerce is finally off the ground after gaining a Certificate of Recognition which officially recognizes the board as the Vauxhall and District Chamber of Commerce (VDCC).
This past winter, Vauxhall Mennonite Brethren Church and the Bethel Evangelical Free Church of Vauxhall had the privilege of constructing two cabins for Southern Alberta Bible Camp (SABC).These cabins were built as part of the Vision 75 campaign at SABC, which involves making space for another 448 campers every summer.

July 5: As the Town of Vauxhall continues their search for bylaw enforcement, the Municipal District of Taber have given some information on what their community peace officers could provide.
The Town of Vauxhall isn’t the only municipality to request the CPO’s as the Village of Barnwell has also came forward about the potential of seeing them within their community.

July 12: The UCP now has an official candidate for the new Cardston-Siksika riding in the 2019 provincial election. Joseph Schow, a Cardston-based political consultant who worked on UCP leader Jason Kenney’s campaign to unite the PC and Wildrose parties, defeated Marc Slingerland, the principal of Calvin Christian School in the vote that took place from June 25-27 in Vulcan, Picture Butte, Magrath and Cardston.

July 19: The Town of Vauxhall is continuing to develop their municipal development plan with help from the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC).

July 26: Both Pat Hanson, M.D. director of assessment, and Jack Dunsmore, director of planning and infrastructure, are hanging up their M.D. outfits as they look forward to retirement. 

August 2: The Vauxhall Spurs baseball club fell short in its quest to make the State tournament, despite going in as the number one seed for the north district tournament in Conrad, Montana which concluded this past weekend. 

August 9: The finishing touches are still to be made for the M.D. of Taber’s new operations and maintenance building. But nevertheless, spectators got a sneak peek into the impressive building, with 300 attendees at an open house.

August 16: Shortly after 6:40 am on Friday, August 10, Taber/Vauxhall RCMP members along with the Municipal District of Taber Fire Department, M.D. Community Peace Officers and EMS attended to the scene of a two vehicle collision on Highway 36, approximately six kilometres north of Taber, Alberta. The male driver of the south- bound pick up truck was initially airlifted from the scene by HALO helicopter due to life threatening injuries but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased en route to hospital. The driver of the SUV was transported to hospital in Lethbridge with serious injuries.

August 23: A dream seven years in the making, the Taber and District Handi-Bus Association’s new bus has arrived to help the elderly and those with mobility issues. Drivers venture into the M.D.

August 30: With the summer heat comes more traffic on roads and Vauxhall town council have expressed their concern with the number of speeders they have noticed within the town. “Every time we came through, they shut it down,” said Cst. Corinne Oliver. “Definitely as an office we’ll try to figure out what we can do because this is ramping up again.”

September 6: Hailed as a major victory by Indigenous groups and environmentalists, last week’s reversal on the plans to move forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion leaves the $7.4 billion project in the proverbial lurch for the foreseeable future. “If the government a year and half ago had said they were going to get this thing built, get done the process, get these things done, and support Kinder Morgan getting it done, we could have been a year and half already into this process — if there’d been road blocks, court things — if the federal government had just said let’s move this thing along. Instead they bought it, and now they’re stuck trying to appeal these things a year and half later after it could have been moving,” said Bow River MP Martin Shields. 

September 13: After another long, dry, hot summer, Bow River Irrigation District has seen quite a bit of irrigation demand throughout the region once again. “Demand has been above normal this year. Obviously it started slow with the winter that never wanted to end, but once it did turn to spring, people got their crop in,” said Richard Phillips, BRID general manager. 

September 20: Hays School has seen their students return after summer break where the school saw a few repairs and renovations done. “Things are going well. We had renovations done to our school and our renovations went wonderfully. We have new windows on the north end and we got new book shelves in every classroom. So it was a pretty exciting summer,” said Hays principal Tracey Nadeau.

September 27: If the start of the high school volleyball season has proven anything, it’s that the Vauxhall Queens girls volleyball team will not be relinquishing their crown any time soon as royalty among the 2A provincial contenders. Numerous tournament wins have already been on the slate as the team has the look of a provincial powerhouse in the early going.

October 4: As Yukio Kitagawa rolls into Vauxhall on his bicycle on Friday, Oct. 12, he will truly be 82 years young in every sense. Yukio’s challenging journey began on a crisp morning on Sept. 1, 2014. Yukio would go on to cycle for 444 consecutive days towards the goal before taking a break. “When you are sitting on that bike seat for five or six hours, you tend to get a lot of ideas going. I have a positive attitude and tend to have fortitude and self discipline,” said Kitagawa.

October 11: Since the beginning of the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball program in 2006, the team has utilized the Vauxhall Community Hall as their indoor facility, which is less than ideal for the program. The academy has been in search of funds for an indoor baseball facility for the past few years and are coming closer to their goal.

October 18: After several years of having the same reeve, the Municipal District of Taber has a new man at the helm. With Brian Brewin deciding to not let his name stand for M.D. of Taber reeve, Merrill Harris, who was born and raised in the Taber area, is the new reeve after serving as deputy reeve over the last year.

October 25: Town of Vauxhall residents will see a bump in Fortis franchise fees coming in the near future. “Four per cent isn’t that big but I would be terribly opposed to 10 or 20 per cent,” added Phillips.

November 1: After a cold and wet fall season, the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets have transitioned to their winter training regiment. For the first portion of the Jets campaign, they faced off against teams from Lethbridge, Calgary and Oyen, though more games were scheduled but were cancelled due to the weather.

November 8: Given all the uncertainty of how the new format would work out, being run on a weekday as opposed to a weekend, along with tweaks to the on-air format, the Experience of Giving Telethon still managed to more than meet expectations. “We managed to raise $187,509 and it looked like we got a bunch of new donors which is amazing,” said Vicki Koersen, fundraising co-ordinator for the Taber and District Health Foundation.

November 15: The Vauxhall junior Queens have continued to rule the volleyball courts this season. To begin November, the Queens won the South Zone 2J girls banner in Barnwell after running through the tournament with an undefeated record.

November 22: As is tradition every fall, Vauxhall High School has inducted a new class for their Wall of Fame. This year sees former students Joshua Klemen and Joanne Stober added to the VHS Wall of Fame and they were both honoured during the school’s 24th annual fundraiser banquet held at the Vauxhall Community Hall earlier this month.

November 29: With the chamber officially getting off the ground this year, work is still being undertaken to get the organization in a good spot after switching gears from the Vauxhall Business Society. They are requesting money from the Town of Vauxhall and M.D. of Taber to fill at least the shortfall of the budget which is $8,250,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree.

December 6: With the Municipal District of Taber subdivision and development authority board holding a public hearing for the proposed Aura Power Big Bend Solar Power Project, residents were able to voice their opinions on the project. “The TID’s decision to go forward with this was a one dimensional, financial decision. While there may be some short-term financial gains, that could also turn into some long-term financial responsibilities for the next generations to clean up,” said Andrea Stroeve-Sawa.

December 13: Between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1, someone set off a fire extinguisher in the Retlaw United/Union Church which required a cleanup before the upcoming festivities early next week. “Someone set off a fire extinguisher in there last week so that was a fun mess to clean up before this Christmas service,” said Coun. Leavitt Howg.

December 20: In early 2019, Bow River Irrigation District expects to see an expansion that will expand their acre limits from 260,000 to 295,000.

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