|No shortage of news in 2011 for area|
|Local Content - Local News|
|Written by production|
|Thursday, 05 January 2012 20:42|
This past year will go down as one of the more interesting ones in recent memory.
From weather-related turmoil earlier in 2011, to developing events throughout the year, we had no shortage of news to report on.
Here are the top stories from last year, broken down into the months which they were reported on.
JANUARY: Residents on a fixed income in long-term facilities across the province brace for an increase to their accommodation fees, which are being adjusted to reflect increased operating costs. The province caps the increase at three per cent for 2011.
Jason and Nadine Schellenberg are the proud parents of Vauxhall’s New Year’s Baby, Olivia, who is born Jan. 5 at 2 a.m. at the Taber Health Centre. Olivia weighed in at seven pounds, 13 ounces.
Town council hears from a delegation from the Southern Alberta Kanadier Association, which explaines the origins, drive and purpose of the organization.
Premier Ed Stelmach surprises Albertans and his government by announcing he will be stepping down as premier at the conclusion of the spring session of the legislature, which sparks debate on a new leadership convention.
FEBRUARY: Tripartite discussions between the government of Alberta, the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Alberta School Boards Association come to agreement to maintain the status quo with regard to teacher salary increases, which fall under the five year framework agreed upon in 2007.
Vauxhallites gear up for Lobsterfest on Feb. 19, the 11th time the event will be held in the community. Emergency services chief Brian Schafer speculates the cancer fundraiser could top $50,000.
Multiple power outages experienced in Vauxhall and area in 2010 prompt Fortis to focus resources on improving delivery in 2011. After a review, the main power lines feeding Vauxhall and area have been designated as problematic and are included in the company’s worst performing feeder program for 2011.
During a meeting in Vauxhall, Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette states his opinion on the fiasco surrounding the sale of Vauxhall Airport by town council, indicating the sale should have gone to public tender.
MARCH: Little Bow MLA Barry McFarland announces his support for the 2011 provincial budget, suggesting it deals with a need for fiscal restraint while not cutting essential services or raising taxes.
Mayor Gordon Brown announces a decision on the sale of the Vauxhall Airport is nearing, after controversy over the sale of the facility to a driving school caused a furor in the community. Brown admits town council is considering a new offer by the M.D. of Taber.
At a special meeting, town council votes to conditionally accept a $100,000 offer from the M.D. of Taber for purchase of the Vauxhall Airport, pending further negotiation and the approval of the Minister of Transportation.
Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne suggests the opposition will not support the recent federal budget, which could lead to a potential vote of non-confidence and the defeat of the Harper Conservative government, prompting a spring election.
APRIL: A focus on maintenance highlights the Town of Vauxhall 2011 operating budget, with replacements and repairs scheduled. The 2011 budget has been calculated to collect $546,519 from taxes, representing a $22,000 difference from 2010, or a 2.5 per cent increase.
Taxation rates show an increase of less than three per cent from 2010 for most Vauxhall property owners. Taxation requirements have been determined to be a total of $753,375.
Voters turned out to take part in a federal election forum in Taber and were treated to a colourful variety of political accusations and platform promises from local candidates.
MAY: Problems associated with sewage back-up into basements prompted town council to start development of a public system of notification when overland flooding conditions might pose a threat of a sewer system back-up.
Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne expresses his jubilation over the federal election results, which see his Conservative Party capture a majority. Payne notes the long-gun registry could be the first piece of Liberal legislation to get the axe.
Horizon School Division informs Vauxhall town council that it is looking at a $1 million shortfall to complete the site development for the Vauxhall Schools Capital Project.
Town council approved partial funding for the Vauxhall Public Library’s proposed $260,000 renovation and addition, in the amount of $75,000, taken from proceeds of the airport sale.
JUNE: Renewed discussion about getting a permanent skatepark project off the ground was a focus of discussion for town council.
Sewage back-ups reappeared in some homes in the community despite relatively minimal amounts of precipitation.
Following 12 days of rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canada Post suspended operations across the country.
Two Vauxhall Academy of Baseball players were selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. Manitoba’s Ben Dartnell was selected 1,042 overall in the 34th round by the Boston Red Sox, while Brendan Hendricks of Cochrane was selected 1,231 overall in the 40th round by the Philadelphia Phillies.
JULY: The federal government announced its intention to remove the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk marketing structure for wheat and barley by Aug. 1, 2012, with legislation due to be introduced in the fall.
The M.D. of Taber is looking to see if something can be done in conjunction with telecommunications companies to rectify the problem of false 9-1-1 calls, which continue to eat up RCMP resources in the area.
Sgt. Tom Cooke of the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment announced a new RCMP officer will be on patrol in the detachment area by the end of August, bringing detachment staffing levels up to full strength.
The M.D. of Taber Appeal Board upheld enforcement of Bylaw 1806 after hearing an appeal from Prairieview Seed Potatoes Ltd. on June 29.
AUGUST: The Vauxhall Mixed Ball Tournament reaches the age of 33 years, making it one of the longest running in North America.
The legitimacy of the tax-exempt status of the Vauxhall Lions Club hall property was hammered out at a town council meeting.
A kennel-license application for dogs at 1140-1st Avenue North was deadlocked in a 3-3 stalemate vote by town council.
Horizon School Division announced that work delays with regard to the Vauxhall Schools Capital project will not delay the start of school.
SEPTEMBER: New principal Alyson Achibald took up the captain’s wheel in the halls of Hays School, taking over from departing principal Gil Farley.
Little Bow MLA Barry McFarland announced his support for PC leadership candidate Gary Mar in the upcoming internal party vote. McFarland declined to comment on his own intentions for any upcoming election.
A request by Horizon School Division to include a portion of town alley into paving plans in relation to the Vauxhall Schools Capital Project was denied by town council.
In the Bow River Irrigation District, cool spring temperatures translated into a lack of demand from water users early in the growing season, but changed significantly with the coming of hot, dry conditions. Water levels have been at, or near, normal throughout the year.
Coun. Tony Dunphy raised serious questions over the jurisdiction and future plans of the Vauxhall Cemetery Society during a discussion of the organization’s minutes submitted to council.
OCTOBER: The initial Skatepark Committee launch fielded a modest crowd, and town council is positive interest will grow as ideas for construction of a new facility transition into a structured plan.
The Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment has been reaching out to the Mennonite community to address some issues.
Vandalism and partying in Vauxhall’s downtown area has angered business owners and prompted a response by Mayor Gordon Brown and the RCMP.
Weekend partying ans subsequent vandalism to privately-owned property in the community was a top issue of concern for town council during a meeting with Sgt. Tom Cooke of the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment.
NOVEMBER: The issue of franchise fees charged by municipalities through a utility service provider as a form of hidden tax was discussed during consideration of a possible fee through electricity provider Fortis. Vauxhall chooses not to implement a franchise fee.
Four Vauxhall youth have been charged for the recent mischief, trespassing and break and enter incidences in Vauxhall, which occured on Oct. 16.
Coun. Tony Dunphy gave a strongly-worded response to a letter to council from the chair of the Horizon School Division’s board of trustees, which he alluded implied an apology was due.
In a Vauxhall Advance exclusive, Little Bow MLA Barry McFarland announced he would not be running in any upcoming provincial election, and reflected on his over 20 years representing the riding.
DECEMBER: A 43-year-old Wetaskiwin man accused of embezzling close to $12,000 from the Vauxhall Co-op in 2009 pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 in Taber provincial court. Anthony Britton, formerly of Vauxhall, was sentenced to one year of incarceration to be served in the community as part of a conditional sentence order.
Horizon School Division announced a balanced budget, with associate superintendent of finance and operations informing the board of trustees some $700,000 in provincial funding had been returned to the division.
The M.D. of Taber council passed its interim 2012 operating budget that features an increase in property tax revenue.
A large delegation of emergency services staff made allegations of a lack of trust and respect for Vauxhall Emergency Services by town administration and town council, as well as discussing the surprise resignation of emergency services chief Brian Schafer.
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