Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year in Review

This past year has been a good one overall for the Village of Beiseker.  We’ve had our share of problems - mostly with the weather - but we’ve managed to overcome those difficulties and move forward!   

Most fortunately, we did not experience the massive June flooding that inundated other towns and cities in southern Alberta.  Our flooding problems came after a few torrential downpours dosed the village in July.  It was quite alarming to see more than 6 inches of water on Main Street, in front of the medical center!

Our fire department came to the rescue, and did their best to encourage the water to leave town. Council is now actively looking for solutions to this flooding problem. 

The other major weather incident was the blizzard of December 2, 2013!  And again, during these adverse conditions our fire department and public works performed admirably to keep Beiseker moving and keep our residents safe.

But I think the good things that happened in the village far outweighed the difficulties we had! Here are some of the good things; 
  • The creation of a Medical First Response Team: this group was formed to respond to medical emergencies within the village. They’ve already saved a number of lives! I think this is a great addition to our emergency services.
  • The purchase of a Fire Truck:  I couldn’t have been more proud of our village when we put out a call for a fundraiser to buy a newer fire engine to replace our old one.  When the money from the sale of the old truck was put into the pot, we managed to raise more than half the cost of the new truck.  For a village of less than 900 people that was astounding! Well done Beiseker!
  • Grasslands subdivision:  the stalled subdivision on the west side of town was restarted!  Events elsewhere in Alberta prevented builders from starting this year, but we are looking forward to seeing homes built there in 2014! One of our slogans is, “If you lived in Beiseker, your kids could walk to school!” 
  • The Municipal Election: I thought the electors here in the village had a very good selection of candidates to vote for. The four incumbents were re-elected, and we welcomed Dave McKenzie onto Council. We said goodbye to Fred Walters who retired. We miss Fred on Council but we welcome a new viewpoint from Dave.  I was very proud and honored to be re-elected as mayor!
  • The Bassano Station: Although Beiseker Village Council has nothing to do with this project, we were pleased to see it progress to a point where it’s almost ready to be slid onto its foundation. We look forward to its completion in 2014!
  • The Beiseker Country Fair, organized by the Beiseker Lions Club was a huge success once again as was our first annual Santa Claus Parade held just a couple of weeks ago.  I hope both events continue to grow and prosper.
  • A new commercial building on Main Street:  A new building opened up on Main Street just before Christmas, housing Beiseker Registries!  This new structure is a great addition to our business district!
Overall a very good year for Beiseker, and we’re looking forward to an even better 2014!  I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best in 2014.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

On The Second Day of Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you all on this Second Day of Christmas. 

I hope you had time to share with your family and loved ones yesterday.  If you were one of those who had to work yesterday, I hope you will get time with your family in the next few days -- and thank you for keeping the world running smoothly while the rest of us celebrated!

The Village of Beiseker Office is on reduced hours until the New Year.  If you are desperate to talk to someone at the Village office, phone their main number (403-947-3774) during regular office hours and we'll get you connected.  For emergencies, it's 911 as usual.

May I suggest you take some time to drive around the village this next few days.  The Christmas decorations on the homes and shops are absolutely spectacular this year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

To everyone in Beiseker and those who read my blog;

My wife and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas for 2013.  May you all be able to spend some time with those most precious to you; your family.

Sincerely; Ray

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow Removal article in the Rocky View Weekly

I was disappointed - and a little hurt - on reading an article by Sara Wilson in the Rocky View Weekly this week, Beiseker residents upset over "slow snow removal".  It told a tale of Beiseker's residents desparately trying to get help digging themselves out from last week's blizzard, while the village government apparently did little or nothing to assist them.

The article was full of misinformation and inaccurate reporting, which left me disappointed for the reporter and hurt that some folks thought that way about the village, and the Public Works people who have worked very hard to keep Beiseker moving this past week.

Here are the facts as I understand them;
  • All the priority areas were tackled as early as Monday afternoon.  These included the Fire Hall, the Community Centre which operates as an emergency centre during storms, essential service personnel (we want Public Works, RCMP, etc. to be able to get out to their duties as quickly as possible), the water and wastewater pumphouses, and main routes into the village.  Public works continued to work on these areas even as the wind drifted them in over and over.
  • Public Works Foreman Bill tried to open every single street in Beiseker with our skid steer (bobcat).  Every street had a trail opened through it.  These weren't very wide and often blew in again but they helped many folks walk to their homes.
  • Beiseker recorded one of the highest windspeeds and snow dumps in the province during the storm!
  • All telephone inquiries to the Village Office regarding snow removal were answered or responded to.  There were no multiple calls or messages registered on our answering equipment.  
  • The Village of Beiseker has never spent any municipal funds moving or funding the Bassano Station!  None!  That whole project is a private venture by a railway museum society based in Calgary.  They did receive a federal grant, but at no cost or resposibility to the Village of Beiseker.
  • It is likely that we will go over budget on our 2013 snow removal amount.  We had to hire contractors to help move more than 1000 metric tonnes of snow from the village.  We do try to keep a small contingency for this kind of thing but an event of this size is very hard to plan or budget for!
  • All of our Public Works and Village Office staff worked very long hours under some very grueling conditions to get Beiseker back to normal as soon as possible.
I felt badly for our Public Works and Village Office staff having to read Ms. Wilson's article in the paper!  I have complete admiration for all those who helped Beiseker dig out.  My compliments to you all!

It should be noted that only one concerned citizen came to Monday night's council meeting.  I was impressed by her demeanor and logic.  She asked some excellent questions about snow removal, and I hope she received the answers she needed!  I thanked her for attending, and invited her back any time.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thank you so much, Beiseker!

My friends and neighbours in the village of Beiseker saved my wife this week.

I am not joking.  My wife Madeline got her car stuck on Beacon Heights Road last Monday afternoon.  She was only a couple of blocks from our house, and it was still daylight, so she decided to walk home. 

She couldn't plow through the mounting drifts and fell a number of times;  she only made it a few hundred feet and finally managed to crawl (yes, crawl) to a neighbour's house.  There, she warmed up a bit while another neighbour brought her a pair of snow boots and escorted her home.

The next day, she realised she required medical attention for her frostbitten hands.  Our village's First Response Team sprang into action.  After looking at my wife's frostbite they decided she may require transportation to a hospital.  An ambulance was called, but it couldn't get into our subdivision because of the drifts. 

Many, many volunteers started shovelling and the ambulance got through!  They dug a path to our front door.  However, it was decided that the risks of transporting her in such weather were too high and my wife remained at home. 

In the days since then, friends and neighbours have been phoning and visiting her to make sure she's OK. 
Madeline is doing much better now.  Her hands are still sore, but getting better each day.

Without the help of all those Beiseker friends and neighbours Madeline could have been much more seriously hurt.  "Thank you" seems to be so lacking in expressing our apreciation for all you did this week for us, but I'll say it again; Thank you and God bless!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Battling Old Man Winter

photo via Global TV
While Beiseker was fighting through the horrible blizzard, I was attending an air show convention in Las Vegas.

I was getting hourly reports by voice or text on the fight this village was having with Old Man Winter.  From the reports I was getting,  I came to realise that I had left the village in strong and capable hands. 

I came home Friday afternoon.  I was shocked at the amount of snow we had piled up all over town.  I saw the Public Works employees working in sub-zero weather to move all that snow off the streets.  That task will take at least another week, maybe longer!
I have huge respect for all those in Public Works who have been working long hours in frigid temperatures to get the village moving and back to normal.  Well done, guys! 

And a huge thank you you to all those volunteers who grabbed shovels and got out there to help move snow. You folks have been awesome, too!  Great community spirit!

I'm hoping we can give a bit of time-off this weekend to those in Public Works, but come Monday we've got a heck of a pile of snow to get out of town!  We're running out of places to put all this snow, too!
I have heard, though, that some folks have been critical of the priorities for snow removal.  I hope those people will write down their concerns and present them to our emergency measures team.  We need your input to make the process better!  I'll let you know when they meet next.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wildlife on the Highway

This past week, I counted six deer killed on that piece of Highway 9 between Beiseker and Irricana!  Their carcasses litter the ditch and attract other critters like coyotes which also risk being victims.  I know some will say "there's lots of deer and who needs coyotes," but just the cost of car repairs must be astronomical!

Here are some of the things I've learned over the years, to avoid hitting a deer on the highway;
  • This time of the year (October through mid December) is the "rut"!  All male deer (bucks) can think about is finding a girlfriend and all the females (does) can focus on is finding a boyfriend.  Traffic patterns are not in the equation!  Be extra cautious behind the wheel during this time. 
  • When you see one of those yellow signs with the jumping deer on it - slow down, and watch the ditches for any signs of the critters.  Especially at dusk and dawn and during the rut! 
  • If you see deer on both sides of the highway or on the highway, Murphy's law says they're going to join up on one side or the other!  Slow down, flash your headlights and tap your horn in very short little toots to draw their attention to you.  They may still cross in front of you but now you're ready for them.
  • Watch for those reflecting eyes.  Deer will often look at an approaching car and you'll see their "eye shine".
  • Many drivers swear by those "deer whistles" attached to the front of the car.
  • If you see one deer cross in front of you, there are likely more to follow, or possibly a predator chasing them!
I know that some collisions with wildlife are unavoidable, but I hope these tips might help you avoid one. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let It Snow!

Snow has been the subject of more debates and arguments this year than ever before!  Who shovels it?  Where do we put it? When do we shovel it? Where do we shovel it?

On and on it goes!  I've already gone over the Village's policy of snow removal on here, a few weeks ago. 

First off, though, I thought the Public Works Department did an absolutely stellar job removing that dump of snow from Main Street, last weekend.  They started around 5 a.m. Sunday morning and had Main Street looking pretty ship shape by Monday afternoon!  Well done group!

This week, we're discussing the removal of snow from the sidewalk in front of homes.  Our newly updated bylaw gives residents 72 hours to clear the snow from their walks along in front of their homes.  After that period of time, the Village can remove the snow and charge the homeowner $1.00 per foot (30 cm.) of sidewalk!   Last Monday night, we discussed levying a fine along with the removal charge. 

Now, most Beisekerites are really good at removing the snow from the public sidewalk, but there are a few properties where the snow sits on the sidewalk all winter and waits for the spring thaw.   We have a fairly large population of seniors here in the village, and I think it's unfair to make them walk through knee deep snow or over slippery ice, just to get down the the block!

Village council is addressing the issue of ice covered intersections and road crossings, but we still have a few property owners who leave the snow piling up.

I'm asking for everyone's help here.  If you have noticed a sidewalk that has yet to be cleared this fall please phone the village office with the address (403 947 3774). Let's get some of these chronic problems cleared up, before we get too much more snow!

UPDATE:  One of the worst offenders in town is the Telus building at the corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue.  I am determined to solve that one before Spring is sprung! Any ideas?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Back from AUMA Convention

I'm back after a very good Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) convention in Calgary.  I think this year's convention was one of the better ones as far as Beiseker is concerned.

We met with three provincial government ministries (Transportation, Environment and Municipal Affairs) with positive results from each.
  • Transportation:  We discussed traffic control (mostly speed controls) along Highways #9 and Highway #72.  It was decided that we try a number of different strategies to control the speeds along these highways.  We asked that the "Engine Retarder Brakes" sign on the west side of  Beiseker on Highway #72 be removed.  We want to see if it makes any difference at all in the use of those annoying engine retarder brakes (also known as 'Jake brakes') on those big trucks entering Beiseker.  In my opinion, the sign did nothing to convince many truckers from not using their retarder brakes within village limits.   We have to address this issue because the problem is getting worse!
  • Environment:  We discussed ways to control melt water and storm water in our village centre.  The lack of grade is the main factor in our inability to quickly move water out of the downtown core, and into the drainage system on the village's east side.  We decided to find ways to solve this problem over the next summer season.
  • Municipal Affairs;  The main topic of discussion here was fire protection.  Councillors Karen Ursu and Dave McKenzie did us proud, clearly discussing the issues we are having operating our volunteer fire department.  Municipal Affairs Associate Minister Greg Weadick was most helpful with suggestions on how we might proceed in solving these issues.  We also informed him that we would be actively seeking mutual aid agreements with the counties of Rocky View, Wheatland, and Kneehill in the near future.
On the trade show floor, we found information on playground equipment, safety equipment, rail safety, street furniture, and a host of other products and services for Beiseker.

Councilors Dave and Karen, assistant CAO Gail, and myself with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi
  One of the highlights of my convention was the City of Calgary Reception held at Calgary's City Hall.  Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was a most gracious host for the evening.  Fine food, good music, and guided tours of the newly re-opened Old City Hall (after June's devastating floods) made for a great evening.

Overall I was most pleased with A.U.M.A. Convention 2013.  Next year, the convention will be held in Edmonton in late September.  I'm already looking forward to it!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

AUMA Convention

Tomorrow, municipal councilors from all over Alberta will meet in Calgary to begin their three-day Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention.  The convention is held each year, usually in October, and alternates between Calgary and Edmonton.

This year it was moved into November, to give newly-elected councilors time to get up to speed.

The convention provides time and a venue for municipal councilors to meet with each other in educational sessions, brainstorming about common problems, having policy & resolution setting sessions, and information sessions.  An evening is usually set aside for social gatherings and get-togethers. 

Meetings are also arranged between the municipal councils and various provincial government ministries.  Beiseker will have meetings with the Departments of Municipal Affairs, Transportation, and Environment on Thursday.  It gives us a chance to talk to these provincial departments about local issues concerning Beiseker.

I'll let you know what transpired during those meetings, next week.   I am proud to say that our village will be well represented at the convention this year!  Four councillors and our Assistant CAO will be attending.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Village Updates: Fire Protection, Snow, Water & the Bassano Station

We had a great council meeting Tuesday night (November 12).  A number of issues and concerns were discussed.  Here's a few of the things we talked about.
  • We reaffirmed our policy that all the village's fire hydrants will be systematically checked by our fire department, with consultation with Public Works. 
  • We discussed our very icy streets and sidewalks, and suggested ways that we can make it easier for everyone to get around during the winter months.  We may have to look into how Public Works removes ice and snow from streets and sidewalks, especially at intersections.
  • We talked about the placement (or not) of the Bassano Station on its foundation.  It appears work has halted again on the project and it sits there looking forlorn once more.  There doesn't appear to be much the Village can do about this project but we will endeavor to find out its status.
  • We talked about a letter from the Town of Irricana to the Aqua7 Regional Water Services Commission, noting that the town refuses to pay the 10% increase in water prices levied by the Town of Drumheller.  I do not understand what they expect to accomplish with this move!  Aqua7, which includes Irricana, will have to pay the shortfall on Irricana's behalf.
  • We decided to prepare a mutual aid agreement for fire protection, which we will present to our neighbour municipalities. 
Overall, a great meeting.  I think we addressed some very crucial issues in Beiseker.  Now we need to keep an eye on the solutions to see that they do what we hope they do!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Snow Removal!

With the first snowfall of the year, there's been comments about street snow removal in Beiseker, as well as some confusion about what the Village does about it - and doesn't do.  So here is my understanding of our snow removal policies;
  • After each snowfall, our Public Works Department gets to work with three main pieces of equipment; the large plow-sanding truck, the skid-steer, and the tractor.  We do not own a grader.  In our opinion, a grader is a very expensive piece of machinery to own and maintain.
  • Main Street (including the central business district) and the main arteries are plowed first.  The business sidewalks are also cleared.
  • As in most municipalities, residential streets are not usually cleared unless they are impassable.
  • Lanes are checked over on the Thursday to make sure the garbage truck and recycling van can get around.
  • Public parking lots are cleared.
  • The airport runway is always the last to be cleared.
  • Residents are given 72 hours to clear the snow from the public sidewalk in front of their homes.
  • The village maintains a snow removal budget which is not huge.  Moving snow is expensive!
Snow removal policies always generate much discussion in council.  Council must balance the need to keep the people of Beiseker moving and the cost of plowing and hauling snow.  The larger our snow removal budget and costs, the more risk that another program might have to be trimmed or that taxes may have to be increased!

If you think this needs to be changed, please contact a council member so that they can take your concerns to the rest of council.

(And let's pray for a lot of chinooks!)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Beiseker's Fire Hydrants

I heard that there were concerns voiced on Facebook about the effectiveness of Beiseker's fire hydrant system.  So here's the story as I understand it.
  • The volunteers on the Beiseker Fire Department can use as much water as they need to for practice and checking out the system.  That is treated water in our fire hydrants so we are paying the going rate for water just like everyone else in town.  Our volunteers are very aware of that and do their very best to conserve water during their practices and testing.
  • Not all of our hydrants are looped.  A looped hydrant can draw water from each direction and therefore maintain volumes more easily.  Hydrants on a branch can only draw water from one way.
  • We have a "Fire Pump" in Pumphouse #2 at the corner of 9th Street and 4th Ave.  When and if the firefighters need water at a higher pressure and volume, the fire pump can be turned on for them.
  • It is my understanding that Beiseker's hydrant system is adequate for the job.  That said, if the funds become available I would be very interested in making sure all of our hydrants are looped.
I hope that clears up some of the issues that were brought forward.  If there are any others, please let me know - you can contact me through the form on the right-hand side of my blog - or contact a member of council directly so they can bring your concerns forward.

As I've said before, I'm very pleased and proud of our volunteer fire department here in Beiseker and I will continue to do everything I can to make their job easier!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Community Centre Stage

After this year's Stage East performances, I received some complaints from members of our audience that they found it hard to see the stage from half way back in the hall.

It is true that our stage in the Beiseker Community Centre is much lower than stages in halls in other communities around us. After Saturdays show, I sat down at some of the tables toward the back of the hall and it was obvious to me that the vision of the stage was severely limited.

I don't know why those planning and building our new hall thirty years ago decided on such a low stage.

At this point in time, I don't know if anything can be done to raise that stage - but I plan to find out.  I'll let you know what I find.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beiseker Fire Department Photo!

You may recall that a couple weeks ago, our local newspaper had forgotten to include a photo of the Beiseker Fire Department in their tribute page during Fire Prevention Week. Other departments were featured from Acme to Chestermere.

In fact, this was the second year our team was missed! I am very proud of our volunteer fire department and was most upset when their photo was missed.

We have now corrected that error. Here is a photo of our volunteer fire department in front of our new fire truck!

I will send a copy of this photo with all the volunteers' names to the newspaper with the hopes that this error can be remedied.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Party Politics at the Municipal Level

Team Airdrie United, photo courtesy Airdrie Echo
A couple of communities around the province came face to face with partisan style politics during the recent municipal election: a group of candidates, all with like ideas, who run together.  If elected they would push their own agenda and vote as a bloc.

I truly believe that this would be detrimental to municipal governments as we know them.

Municipal politicians must represent their constituents; those who elected them.  Voting on an issue simply to support fellow Councillors elected on the same slate, does not wash!  In my opinion, each municipal Councillor must vote on every issue based on his (or her) convictions.  Those convictions should be formed only after regular consultation with their electors!

Calgary's Mayor Naheed Nenshi was one of the municipal politicians to come face to face with this type of partisan politics.  He came out strongly against the practice!  I totally agree with his stand.

One of the things that makes Alberta strong is its municipal governments and their ability to represent as many of their constituents as they possibly can.  We must never lose that.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Stage East Successful Again!

photo by Bernice Niemeyer, via Facebook
Stage East Dinner Theatre 2013 took to the stage this past weekend at the Beiseker Community Centre.  We had a blast putting it on for the more than 350 guests over the two nights!  I think those in the audience enjoyed it too!

Stage East is a total community effort, with people coming together from all walks of life to volunteer to put on the performance every October.  

We've held off distributing our funds to the different community activities.  We needed a container for all of our costumes and props.  With the help of a grant, we now have that container and it fully functional as our storage room!

We are hoping to distribute our remaining funds before the end of the year.  More on this later. 

Thank you to our sponsors, actors, set builders, costume makers, decorators, back stage crew, promptors, servers, and planners who all volunteered to make Stage East 2013 a huge success.  And thank you to our audience, too!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thank You!

Thank you to all who voted for me in yesterday's municipal election.  Know that I will work hard over the next four years to make Beiseker that much better. 

Congratulations to all the candidates who allowed their names to stand for election across Alberta.  You all helped democracy win!

Beiseker's council will consist of four incumbants Warren Wise, Karen Ursu, Al Henuset, myself, and new council member Dave McKenzie.  I'm excited about working with all these folks over the next four years. 

This is Beiseker's time to shine! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Welcome to Beiseker, Aquilla Homes

It was recently announced that Aquilla Homes of Strathmore has been chosen as the first Custom Home Builder for our new Grasslands residential subdivision

I am very excited over this announcement!  This means that our long awaited building season is about to start! 

Aquilla, welcome to Beiseker's Grasslands!  I sincerely hope this will be the beginning of a long friendship!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beiseker Fire Department Missed?

I was somewhat confused when I read about the area fire departments last week in the local weekly paper. 

It was Fire Prevention Week, and what better time to honour the men and women who volunteer their time and risk their lives in our local fire departments. 

I anxiously scanned through the photos of all the fire departments around Rocky View and beyond looking for our Beiseker #130 Station.  It wasn't there! 

What happened?  I need to know!  Do we need an up-to-date photo of our brave firefighters?  Did the weekly newspaper not realise we have a very active, competent and dedicated bunch of firefighters here in the village?  I really do need to know!

If one of you out there knows of that up-to-date photo of our volunteer firefighters proudly standing in front of our new firetruck (which those same volunteers played a major role in obtaining) please contact me.  If we don't have that photo yet, I would be honored to do it myself.

Call me!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The North Road Issue

With continuing upgrades to Highway 72, the portion which passes through our village - called North Road - has caused problems for Beiseker residents.  Speeding is the most common problem, but other issues with drivers have been noted.

Village council has met with Alberta Transportation on several occasions to discuss this very issue.  Our last meeting was held almost a year ago, at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention. During that time, we devised a strategy to slow traffic down as it passed through our village.

Some of those changes have been have been done. Others are still waiting to be implemented.  I suspect that Alberta Transportation has had its hands full with the areas of the province affected by the June floods - so I think we have to be patient.

But, here's what we have already planned to do;
  1. Increase the number of painted and marked crosswalks from 2 to 3. This has been completed.
  2. Move the 50 km/h sign farther to the west, so the traffic has more time to slow down and will be at the 50 km/h speed limit as they pass by the Grasslands subdivision. This has not been completed.
  3. To place decreasing graduated lines on the highway in the "Slowdown Zones."  These painted lines visually draw the drivers' attention to their speeds.  This has not been completed.
  4. To increase the number of enforcement visits (speed traps) by both the RCMP and the Alberta Sheriffs' Highway PatrolThis has occurred.
  5. To examine the School Zone vs Playground Zone issue, and make adjustments to the signage as required.  I understand this is ongoing.  The signs designating a School Zone remain.
Other suggestions which have been made include;
Installing speed bumps and/or rumble strips along North Road.  This has been mostly ruled out, because of the noise factor.  Vehicles slowing down and speeding up, and the sound of tires rumbling over these structures, can be very annoying to neighbours - and, occurring at all times of the day.

Construction of traffic circles at both ends of North Road. Traffic circles do indeed slow traffic down.  And a traffic circle at the Beacon Heights Road and the junction of Highway nine and Highway 806 would have an effect, but this option would be quite expensive.

There has been some discussion about the Village starting its own speed enforcement program. This would involve the village buying some kind of radar unit, and hire trained and certified personnel to operate it (and issue tickets for infractions).  I don't believe the village can afford to maintain such a unit as this.   It would probably make money immediately after it started but as compliance increased, less and less revenue would be realized from this very expensive unit.  I also understand that this kind of speed enforcement by municipalities on provincial highways is frowned upon be the province.

Finally, there was a suggestion to install a radar speed sign (like the one pictured above) along North Road to deter speeders.  These signs have proven effective to slow drivers down, and wouldn't require hiring someone to man it.  However, these signs don't write tickets and I don't know how much it would cost to install and maintain such a unit. 
Beiseker Village Council will be meeting with Alberta Transportation again this fall during the AUMA convention.  North Road will be the topic of much of the discussion there.

If reelected, I will continue to push for these and possibly other changes to make North Road safer for all.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Keeping Beiseker Growing

We've all seen municipalities in Alberta run into problems fueled by their own desire to expand.  Growth isn't a bad thing, but municipalities that accept growth at any cost often end up creating problems that they have difficulties in solving.

Here are some of the problems I see;
  1. Growth across a barrier (such as a major river, or a huge highway) and then getting residents and services from one side to the other across that barrier, will haunt the municipality forever.
  2. Creating residential and commercial subdivisions to fill an immediate demand, with little thought of upgrading the infrastructure to support them. What usually happens is the long term residents end up paying for those improvements -- even though the systems servicing their residents or businesses were operating quite satisfactorily, before!
  3. Creating subdivisions with little or no forethought as to how the new residents or patrons will get into and out of that subdivision.
If re-elected, I will encourage council to monitor all expansions to ensure that the growth does not over-burden our existing infrastructure, roads, and village services.

We have two residential and one industrial subdivision within the village which are currently in development.  The Grasslands (on the west side) is starting up again, while Skyland (between Third Ave. and the CN tracks) is completely stalled.  The industrial subdivision on the east side of the tracks is growing, slowly.

Our engineers tell us that the current service infrastructure can handle up to seventy homes in Grasslands.  When we get close to that number, we must insist that developers design a plan to handle any more increases.   The best solution at the moment appears to be a deep sanitary sewer line on the South side of  the village, running from the west to the east, and into our upgraded force main.

I believe that the south end of Beacon Heights Road must be upgraded so it will provide two exits and entrances to Grasslands.  In my opinion, a portion of this upgrade will have to be funded by Grasslands.

Council must stay on top of these developments to avoid the pitfalls seen elsewhere in Alberta!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Keeping Beiseker Moving

In my opinion, Beiseker has more unfinished streets than any other municipality in our area.  By unfinished, I mean unpaved.  We've had so many other issues to deal with, lately, that our streets have taken a backseat. I believe the time is come to start improving our streets in this village.

There are three areas of concern that I can see;
  1. Seventh Street remains unpaved, many years after the petition was presented to stop that project.
  2. Part of every Avenue (except First Avenue and Fifth Avenue) are unpaved.
  3. Beacon Heights Road south from the entrance to Beacon Heights to the junction with First Avenue is full of potholes, washboard, and generates a huge amount of dust every summer despite the very best effort of our Public Works department.
If re-elected, I will encourage Council to revisit those three projects. I will press Council to ask our engineers to gather us some up-to-date figures on the cost of paving each of these streets.

With those figures in hand, we will be able to create a priority list for the improvements.

Our sidewalk rehabilitation program is almost complete, with very few sections left to replace.  I would like to see a portion of our streets improvement program (which is funded by the provincial government) set aside for paving.

I will also propose council meet with the residents along Seventh Street to discuss their street, and the cost of that project.  Nothing should be done to improve that street until the majority of folks who live there agree.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Election Forum Well Attended

Last night's Election Forum at the Beiseker Community Centre was one of the best attended ever!  Moderator Dave Fegan said there were almost 100 people in attendance!  It was good to see so many come out to hear their candidates speak to the issues facing Beiseker.

Some good points were made by all candidates.   Questions from the floor were wide and varied.  The issue of the Bassano Station eyesore came up.  Once again, we explained to the crowd that that project has very little to do with Beiseker Village Council, beyond the building and development permits issued.

Other questions dealt with Village pathway systems, the enforcement of bylaws, a committee to oversee Public Works, the Grasslands subdivision and possible project timelines.  I thought all were answered well by the candidates; some answers were better than others.

I was disappointed that more didn't stay to hear the two candidates for Rocky View Schools trustee for our area - incumbent Norma Lang, and challenger Jennifer Avery.  Only about half the folks stayed.

It was certainly an eye opener!  The question of playground demolition dominated the Q&A part.  It was very evident indeed that there needs to be some serious rethinking into that whole policy of school playground demolition and replacement.

Overall, it was a most enjoyable evening of municipal politics in Beiseker.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Keeping Beiseker Happy and Healthy

Beiseker is very lucky to have the support services it already has, for a community of our size.  But they can be better!
  • Community Links:  This new facility in Lions' Centennial Park (across from the Community Centre) has made living here even better for many people!  Family support services, parenting programs, counselling services, and a multitude of other programs can be accessed through Community Links!  The building also houses our very active and attractive Library and Play School.
  • Medical Centre:  Our Medical Building on Main Street at Third Ave. is home to a physician twice a week and a dentist once a week.  It is not operated by the Village but is supported by them.
  • EducationBeiseker Community School is now a K to 12 facility and will become one of the main attractive features for those considering moving to Beiseker in the future!
  • Recreation;  Our village offers an amazing choice of recreational activities and facilities, from the village owned Beiseker Arena (operated by the Ag Society) to playgrounds and outdoor facilities such as the skateboard park and ball diamonds. 
  • Youth Justice:  Young offenders in our area can be referred to the Alternate Measures Program through the Big Country Youth Justice Committee, founded here more than twenty years ago!  If they successfully complete the Alternate Measures Program, the young offender avoids having a police record.
  • Fire Department;  Beiseker has a very active and effective volunteer fire department manned by very dedicated people.  Their job has been made easier with the recent purchase of a more modern fire truck! Operating in conjunction with our fire department is our first response medical team who are equipped and trained to provide assistance to those in our village injured or ill and waiting for the ambulance.

With your vote, I will continue my efforts to enhance these services.  Here are some of my goals;
  • To investigate the possibility of having the Community Links program open more than two days per week.
  • To help get the word out as to what the Community Links programs and facility can do for you.
  • To communicate with the operating board of the Medical Building to make sure they are receiving all the assistance they need to operate this important facility.  I do firmly believe in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - and I will recommend the village become involved only if invited!
  • To keep reminding the provincial and federal governments that we need effective policing from our RCMP detachment here, with a full complement of officers at all times.
  • To remain serving on the Big Country Youth Justice Committee and I will be active in recruiting new members to that committee.
  • To continue supporting Rocky View Schools and their efforts to make Beiseker Community School an active part of our community.
  • To ensure that the recreational facilities meet the need of our villagers and to keep them in tip top order.
  • To do my utmost to create mutual aid agreements with all surrounding jurisdictions in regards to emergency services.  I believe this is imperative to maintaining a strong volunteer fire department, providing emergency services to Beiseker and the surrounding area.
  • To once again throw our voice into the debate to have a full hospital built in Airdrie.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Keeping Beiseker's Water Flowing

My second issue is water!  We in Beiseker have difficulties getting inexpensive drinking water into the village - and getting storm water out! 

Drinking Water

Beiseker is a member of the Aqua7 Regional Water Services Commission.  The commission buys treated water from the town of Drumheller, treats it again, then pumps it through to two rural municipalities and five urban municipalities from a treatment and pumping station at Kirkpatrick, in the Red Deer river valley.

Beiseker buys water from Aqua7, then treats it a third time, before pumping it out to our residents from a pumping station at the corner of 9th Street and 4th Avenue.

The price of water at our homes is controlled by four factors;
  1. The price the Town of Drumheller charges Aqua7 for water.
  2. The cost of operating the pumping station at Kirkpatrick.
  3. The cost of managing the Aqua7 Regional Water Services Commission, including servicing their huge debt created during construction of the system.
  4. The cost of re-treating and pumping water after it arrives here in the village.
  • The Town of Drumheller raised its price of water to Aqua7 twice in the last two years - totalling 10%!
  • Rocky View County is a full member of Aqua7, but has not bought or sold any water!
I believe that Beiseker Village Council must keep working to lower our water rates by;
    • Helping to find ways which Rocky View County can sell water.  The more water sold means a lower rate for all of us.
    • Making sure all the water Beiseker buys is sold; no leaks or bypassed meters.
    • Continuing to pressure the provincial government to help us eliminate our huge debt as they verbally promised to do when the project was first proposed.  They have done that for other water commissions set up after Aqua 7!
      I have been very close to this water issue ever since Aqua7 (which was originally called the Kneehill Regional Water Services Commission) was first proposed.  I took over from past Mayor Dave Fegan as a member of the commission, twelve years ago.

      With your vote, I will continue to fight for our right to have safe, plentiful and inexpensive drinking water here in Beiseker.

      Storm Water

      Beiseker was built in a low spot here on the prairie.  As a result, we continue to have storm water and runoff water issues.

      The situation has greatly improved over the past few years but there are still shortcomings within our system.  Council has initiated a program to allow water to leave town as quickly as possible, by clearing drainage ditches and installing lift pumps at low spots.

      With your vote, I will continue to work toward perfecting our drainage system so that floodwaters will drain more quickly from our village and the impact on residents will be lessened.

      Saturday, September 28, 2013

      Keeping Beiseker Open for Business

      It is important that a community keep its businesses and industries vibrant and growing. 

      Municipal government has a role in supporting projects which make local businesses attractive to residents and visitors.  And each of the recent promotional projects done in Beiseker over the past few years - like the Main Street beautification program, the new business signs, and the highway signs - have been supported by Village Council.

      A strong commercial Main Street is one of the keys to success for smaller communities like Beiseker. The large box stores, just a few kilometers to the west of our village, are a strong pull for consumers.  All of us on Village Council have worked towards the promotion of our Main Street as a shopping destination, too. 

      I will continue to support projects which keep Beiseker's commercial and industrial community strong and growing, and encourage residents to shop locally.  I will do this;
      • by doing what I can to make building in Beiseker attractive.
      • by informing others through the trade and commercial media what industries and commercial entities are needed here.
      • by keeping commercial taxes as low as possible while ensuring that all services will not be compromised.
      • by staying appraised of all developments in both existing and future industrial and commercial prospects.
      • by working together with the commercial community (such as the Chamber of Commerce) to promote Beiseker.
      Together, we can make Beiseker a shopping destination.

      Monday, September 23, 2013

      Beiseker's Election!

      It's not official yet, but it looks like Beiseker will be having a municipal election this fall!

      Today was Nomination Day and by my count more than five candidates submitted their nomination papers.  The list will not be official for twenty four hours.  During that time any candidate may remove his or her nomination.  I submitted my papers, which means I am one of the candidates for this election!

      Sadly missing from the roster is Fred Walters, who decided some time ago not to seek re-election.  Fred's work on village council, especially in regards to recycling, the railway museum, and solid waste management was greatly appreciated.  Fred's boots will be hard to fill when the new council has its reorganizational meeting, at the end of October!

      The election issues have yet to be disclosed by all the candidates, but mine are quite straight forward;
      1. Keeping Beiseker's industries and businesses vibrant and growing.
      2. The water problems;  getting storm water out of town and clean drinking water into town, both as economically and efficiently as possible.
      3. Keeping Beiseker's health, education, safety and social services attractive, effective -- and growing.
      4. Street and sidewalk upgrading: need I say more?
      5. Encouraging Beiseker's population to continue a slow but steady and well managed growth.
      There are my FIVE.  I'll address each one on my blog in days to come.  I'm sure that some of my fellow candidates will have others, and I eagerly await their presentations.

      Thursday, September 19, 2013

      Dust and Foxtails

      Some of you have expressed concerns over the blowing dust and foxtails at our new Grasslands residential subdivision

      The flooding in Southern Alberta this summer has caused setbacks for Grasslands.  I understand that contractors and suppliers who were supposed to work on Grasslands have had more pressing issues elsewhere in our province damaged by flood waters in June. 

      Work will continue on our new subdivision into the fall.  I have been assured that the weeds will be tidied up this fall and measures to keep the open areas clear will be started in the spring.  The developer is just as anxious to see homes going up in Grasslands as we are!

      Sunday, September 8, 2013

      Springbank's 2013 Fall Fair

      Yesterday (September 7) I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Springbank Fall Fair at the Springbank Park For All Seasons.  Each year I bring in part of the grain display from Aggie Days to show the folks at the fair just where their flour comes from!

      The weather was dastardly which kept the number of attendees low, but those who came had fun.  We were treated to entertainment by some young modern dancers, line dancers and a super hot band!  There was a fall produce, craft and baking competition and many other activities going on all day, as the weather permitted.

      It was a great fun day in the community of Springbank!

      Tuesday, September 3, 2013

      The Upcoming Municipal Election

      On Nomination Day - Monday, September 23, 2013 - between 10:00 a.m. and Noon, I will be filing my nomination papers to our Village Returning Officer to become a candidate in the upcoming Municipal Election.  My campaign will officially start on that same day.

      I am looking forward to this election!  I believe I have much more to offer Beiseker, and I relish facing the challenges of the next four years on Village Council.

      Monday, September 2, 2013

      Beiseker's CPR Station is 100 Years Old!

      I invite all of you to Beiseker's CPR Station Building, now housing the Village Offices and Museum, on Sunday, September 29, 2013 to celebrate that building's 100th anniversary. The celebration will go from 2 PM until 4 PM.

      We'll have live music, refreshments, and activities for everyone there.

      We will also have a very special unveiling during the celebration.  When you think of ranching in Alberta, your mind automatically goes to towns like Cochrane, Stavely,  or Longview.   Your picture in your mind the herds of cattle roaming the hills and valleys to the west of Calgary. You might be surprised to learn that some of Alberta's earliest ranches were located near our village, out here on the prairie. 

      In order to recognise the historical significance of these early ranches the Beiseker Museum  Society has commissioned a mural picturing the early ranch days around here.

      When the Canadian government opened up this area, then part of the Northwest Territories, they pictured huge ranches with thousands of cattle eating grass and getting fat.  The logic of the day was that since the Buffalo or North American Bison roamed this land for centuries, the cattle would do fine here too.  Nobody figured that  most of the Buffalo migrated south in the winter and came north with the spring.

      Some years brought devastating losses to the ranchers as blizzards and bone chilling temperatures destroyed their herds.  In the early part of the last century the Canadian government and the CPR opened up the ranchlands around here to settlement and farmers . So ended the ranching days.

      The Elliott Ranch was located  east of  Beiseker and was eventually "closed off" as settlers and homesteaders moved in.  The Beiseker Museum Society has had created a mural to celebrate those early ranching days. 

      The mural historically commemorates life on those early ranches over 110 years ago.  It will be unveiled at our CPR station celebrations on 29 September .

      Sunday, September 1, 2013

      Alberta's Team Rocket

      One of North America's premier aerobatic teams is from right here in Alberta!

      photo by Ray Courtman
      Team Rocket pilots fliy the Harmon Rocket monoplane, an all metal home built monoplane based on the popular Van's Aircraft RV-4. The aircraft's lightweight and huge power gives it tremendous performance on the airshow stage.

      To manage these two mighty mites of the air, I introduce to you Ken Fowler and Eric Hansen.  Ken grew up in BC, and joined Canada's military at an early age.  He toured North American airshows as a crew member for the big yellow DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft. I think it was then when he got hooked on airshows and airshow performing.  He is now airport manager at the Rocky Mountain House Airport and one of the pilots of Team Rocket.

      Eric Hansen grew up in an aviation family and got his pilot's license at a very early age. He now is a flight instructor in his hometown of Cold Lake, Alberta. He is also a dentist there, and he is the other half of Team Rocket.

      Ken and Eric perform very close together and very fast. Many of their maneuvers have them going head-to-head, crossing at airshow center stage!  This, by the way, includes their takeoff, when they begin their takeoff roll from either end of the runway!

      Both Rockets look very similar in the sky but up close there are many differences inside and out. The easiest way to tell them apart is that Eric's aircraft has its rudder on the vertical stabilizer [tail] painted in a checkerboard pattern while Ken's aircraft's rudder has the logo of Rocky Mountain House emblazoned on it.

      Probably one of the most spectacular performances Ken and Eric do is their night pyro show!  Picture two aircraft performing perfect synchronized aerobatic maneuvers at night with fireworks shooting out from racks mounted under the wings!   To my knowledge this is the only dual nighttime aerobatic show in existence.

      As Albertans we all have to be proud of this home-grown talent.  Don't miss a chance to see them fly!

      Friday, August 30, 2013

      Sean D. Comes to Airdrie

      One of the air show industry's most accomplished aerobatic pilots is Sean D. Tucker.  Sean is known for his wild aerobatic maneuvers, and his presence on the air show stage.

      photo by Ray Courtman
      I had almost given up hope of ever seeing Sean D. in Alberta, but I was pleasantly surprised when the Airdrie Air Show announced that he would be coming to perform there, this past July.  Sean only had one airshow scheduled in Western Canada, and Airdrie was it!

      I have known of Sean for many years, and have watched his performances on video.  I had the privilege of attending an airshow safety seminar in Nashville, Tennessee, a few years back. Sean D. Tucker was one of the feature speakers, there.  I was impressed with his ability to perform aerobatic maneuvers that looked incredibly dangerous, but always had a high degree of safety built in.  For every maneuver Sean performs, he has calculated way out if he runs into trouble.

      At Airdrie this summer, Sean's performances were impeccable.  Every maneuver was crisp, and in front of the crowd.  His aircraft is a purpose-built biplane, with a huge amount of power and a bright red paint job.  A superior smoke system traces his progress through his complicated routine.  I photographed him each time he flew and I did briefly meet him after the Sunday show.  I never tire of watching a very professional and very skilled pilot perform!

      For airshow aficionados - and those who just like to come and watch the occassional air show - Sean D. did not disappoint!

      Other commitments made Airdrie my first show of the 2013 season.  What a fantastic start!

      Tuesday, August 27, 2013

      Great Air Show Season!

      The summer of 2013 turned out to be an excellent airshow summer! It was a "different" kind of year for air shows across North America.

      Problems with the American government in Washington DC forced all American military aircraft to stay home! This meant that there were no demonstration aircraft, nor demo teams such as the US Navy's Blue Angels or the US Air Force Thunderbirds, and no visiting American military planes on the static display line. The only jet fighter display was the Canadian CF-18 Hornet Demo Team, and the only military jet aerobatic team performing were the Canadian Snowbirds.

      Over the next few days I will be reporting on some of the happenings at air shows across Western Canada.

      Despite the lack of American aircraft, Western Canadian airshows in 2013 were some of the best I've seen - ever!  Stay tuned here!

      Monday, August 26, 2013

      Summer Winding Down, and Stage East!

      There's less than one month left in the Summer of '13!  I don't think we had much of a summer!  We only had a few hot days.  Ah well, you can't pick the weather or your relatives! 

      Stage East is gearing up for their 2013 performance.  We have just begun rehearsals!  Our dates this year are October 25 and 26.  Mark those dates on your calendar. 

      Ticket prices are the same as last year, along with the Friday Night Table Special!

      Friday, August 2, 2013

      Emergency Planning

      Lac-Mégantic, Québec rail disaster
      In light of the widespread flooding in southern Alberta and the railway disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Québec, some of you are wondering if our village has an emergency plan. As a matter fact, we do.

      It was created a few years ago, by a group of village officials and interested community members through a series of workshops held at the Beiseker Community Centre.  We were presented with different hypothetical scenarios, and we had to plan a course of action.  These "tabletop exercises" focused on keeping the people of Beiseker as safe as possible.

      We reviewed scenarios involving blizzards, flash floods, railway problems, and highway accidents.

      Copies of the plan we created were given to the fire department and to the village office.  We ran a couple of mock disasters to make sure our plan did work.

      As part of the emergency plan, we stocked emergency supplies and provided an alternate power source for the Community Centre.  We made arrangements with local businesses to access their establishments after hours for emergency supplies if required, as well.  And finally, a mutual aid agreement was created between Beiseker and Irricana so that if one municipality needed to evacuate, the other community would accommodate them.

      All of this took place more than five years ago.  Much has changed in Beiseker since then.  I personally believe that it's time we took this plan down from the shelf, read it over, and revise it to reflect what's happening today.

      Would our existing plan work?  Yes it would, but it could work much more smoothly if it were brought up to date!

      Tuesday, July 30, 2013

      Kicking Someone When They're Down

      I did hear another rumour about the flood victims in Southern Alberta which I was desperately hoping was untrue.  It turns out that it was very much true!

      Apparently some individuals, posing as clean-up crews are going into flood ravaged areas and looting whatever they can.  This is low, very low!

      If you've been helping out in a flood area in Southern Alberta try to remember if you saw anyone or anything suspicious.  Do you remember a licence number or even a name on a truck door?  If you do, I urge you to talk to the RCMP or Crime Stoppers

      It's important to say that almost all of those working and volunteering down there in High River were wonderful volunteers and professionals.  A few, it appears, had far less noble reasons to be there!

      Sunday, July 28, 2013

      Silly Commercial

      I usually don't pay much attention to television commercials, but one caught my eye the other day as being particularly silly.  It showed an elderly gentleman playing soccer with his grandson.  The gentleman goes off into the brush at the edge of the field to retrieve the soccer ball and finds a bottle on the ground. 

      He is then shown drinking the soft drink from presumably that same bottle.

      He broke one of the cardinal rule most parents give their kids: "Never pick anything up off the ground and eat or drink it!"

      I thought it was a silly commercial.  And what is even worse, I don't remember the product they were advertising!

      Beiseker's Angels On A Mission

      You will recall the other day, I mentioned on this blog that there was a rumour that some folks were forced to garbage the food they had prepared for the flood recovery volunteers, because it was not prepared in a commercial kitchen.  There was actually some truth to that;  Some folks were not permitted to distribute the sandwiches they had prepared.  I understand that most of that food was returned to the donors who took it back home.

      But, here's the good news!  On July 7, a group of ten ladies from our village decided to help out.  The village let them borrow the commercial kitchen at our Community Centre - it is a full commercial kitchen, and it is inspected regularly. 

      There, they prepared 180 sandwiches and some muffins.  These were properly packed up and taken down to High River where they were distributed to grateful volunteer workers!  Somewhere along the trail, those ten ladies got the name "Beiseker Angels On A Mission"! 

      I like that!  In my opinion ladies you exemplify the true nature of Albertans, and of our village!  Thank you all from the rest of us!

      Saturday, July 27, 2013

      Flood Recovery Rumours

      There are many rumours running around about the difficulties and problems facing flood victims and those helping them.  Two rumours I've heard don't make much sense.
      • I heard that many folks took time and their own money to prepare meals for the flood victims.  But when they arrived at one of the stricken areas it is rumoured they were told to dump their freshly prepared meals into the garbage unless they could prove they were prepared in a complete certified commercial kitchen.  I understand that food-bourne diseases are serious and precautions must be taken to prevent their spread, but there must have been a way those meals could have been used.
      • There is another rumour running around that the Town of High River is actually charging flood victims for permits to clean up and restore their property damaged by floodwater.  
      These are just rumours, and I hope they have little or no basis in fact!

      Friday, July 26, 2013

      I'm Back! (and, the Airdrie Airshow!)

      photo by Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald
      I hope we have my internet difficulties behind us now.  I have a lot of catching up to do!  It's been almost three weeks since my internet connections went down.

      Where to start?

      First, let me go back a couple of weeks and congratulate the Airdrie folks on a fantastic air show weekend.  Their line up of performers was outstanding with a mix of local and international talent!  Hats off to Donna Flynn (from Showline Airshows) who was the show's Air Boss.  Donna had to coordinate the air show performances with air traffic into and out of Calgary International Airport.  Working closely with air traffic control in Calgary, Donna was able to run a smooth show with very few short breaks.  Well done, Donna!

      I'll catch up on a few other things I've been working on a bit later.

      Saturday, July 6, 2013

      Flood Help!

      Photo via CBC
      A few days ago, my son Rhys asked me if our village was doing something specifically to help flood victims in southern Alberta. I replied that we had offered our assistance to Calgary Mayor Nenshi, but beyond that we had organized nothing officially.

      I have found out that local resident Carole Rowe has been driving down to High River unofficially to offer assistance. If anyone else wishes to donate time to the flood relief effort, Carole might be able to help you. Good on ya Carole! Thank you on behalf of all those you've helped!  You and your helpers are a credit to our community!

      If you want to donate for flood relief in Alberta, please consider giving to either the Canadian Red Cross' Alberta Floods Fund) or to the Calgary Foundation's Flood Rebuilding Fund.  Both are doing good work to help people out!

      Thursday, July 4, 2013

      Come Hell or High Water!

      That's the new motto of the Calgary Stampede after the devastating floods a couple weeks ago. I've been down to Stampede Park this week, and I was amazed at how much has been cleaned up. Most of the Stampede is up and rarin' to go!

      If you're down at Stampede Park over the next 10 days, look for me at the Agrium Ag-tivity in the City tent.  It's a little harder to find this year - it's located behind the Saddledome close to the river. I like to volunteer there as much as I can.  We're doing the same kind of things but in a new location, and we're showing Stampede visitors how Alberta farmers and ranchers feed them!

      Another event fast approaching is the Airdrie Regional Air Show to be held July 13th and 14th at the Airdrie Airport.  It looks like it's going to be a really great show this year.  I'll tell you more about that in the coming days.

      Wednesday, July 3, 2013

      Behind the Scenes

      As you may know, I am a bit of a klutz when it comes to the Internet. To help me get through this electronic maze, my son Rhys has volunteered his services.

      He helps me with my blog, and he helps me post on Facebook.  I am getting better, but now I have a new cell phone to make friends with and it's going to take a while!  You know; old dog and a new trick!  Without Rhys's help, I'd be far behind. 

      Thanks for your help Rhys!  It is greatly appreciated!

      Tuesday, July 2, 2013

      Canada Day in Beiseker

      Canada Day was celebrated in high fashion at Friendship Park yesterday, as families gathered to wish Canada a "Happy Birthday!" 

      I had to leave before the festivities ended, so I didn't hear who won the Maple Donut Eating Contest.  Former Beiseker Mayor and now MLA Bruce Rowe put up a noble fight in the contest's first round, but unfortunately he lost!   His chow-down style didn't measure up!

      There were hotdogs, chips, and cookies for everyone.  There were games and contests to play, and friends and neighbours to gab with!  What a great day! 

      My gratitude is extended to all those who organized and ran the event.  Good on ya, Beiseker!!

      A Sad Day for Firefighters

      I imagine the flag at the Beiseker Volunteer Fire Department fire hall will be flying at half mast tomorrow, to honour the 19 firefighters killed while fighting a brush/forest fire in central Arizona.

      Their deaths serve as a reminder to the rest of us that these folks - our family, friends, and neighbours - risk their lives to keep us safe.

      Sunday, June 30, 2013

      Outstanding job by Beiseker's Fire Department!

      There wasn't a fire anywhere to be seen, however our Beiseker Fire Department was there! The Beiseker Fire Department responded to a call for assistance after parts of the village were flooded early Sunday morning. They did what they could to comfort those affected by flood waters.

      They made sure that the water was able to move freely into our drainage channels and they got to work moving water away from where it shouldn't be. This all happened between midnight and 4 AM Sunday morning! In my books they are all local heroes - again!

      And the Rains Came!

      Flooding on Beiseker's Main Street, 1915
      That was quite a storm we had last night!

      It dumped a whole bunch of water on the village early Sunday morning June 30. Once again, our drainage system was overwhelmed by the volume of water in such a short period of time. Lakes formed in front to the medical center, at the intersection of second Avenue and seventh Street, and in front of the village office, as well as a few other places in the village.

      The pumps were working at capacity and removing a large volume of storm water from the village.

      I know some of the residents in this village had flooding problems at their residences.  As I have mentioned before in my blog, Beiseker has always had a drainage problem between the two rail lines. Today, flooding is nowhere as serious as it was more than half a century ago.  I know that's not much consolation to those with flooded basements, today!  It is important for this Council and future village councils to continually address the flooding problems
      I'm going to be asking Council at our next meeting to start a flood task force. This group will be charged with finding new ways to address the flooding issues primarily in the older parts of the village.

      If you experienced flooding and flood damage during this past storm, I'm asking you to leave your name and address at the village office - either by dropping in or calling 403-947-3774.   We need this data to help formulate a plan.

      Storms that used to occur every 100 years now appear to be occurring every few years! We need a new plan and we need it now!

      Saturday, June 29, 2013

      More Aqua7 Water Woes

      At last Monday's Council meeting I voiced my concern that the Town of Drumheller had raised their water rates to the Aqua7 Regional Water Services Commission by 10% over the past two years. They have asked for part of this increase to start in July of this year, even though our contract with them stipulates increases must take effect in January of each year.

      It appears everything costs more these days, but I'm wondering if such a huge increase in water rates from Drumheller is really necessary.  I hope that we will be able to meet with representatives from Drumheller in the near future to discuss these increases.  They need to explain to us why such an increase is necessary at this point in time.

      I and the rest of the Aqua 7 water commission need to know that the increases in the water rates will be used to pay for upgrades in the water treatment plant and its supply line to our Kirkpatrick reservoir - and not to upgrade the water supply infrastructure within the Town of Drumheller.  We also need to know that we are getting a wholesale rate on our cost of water from Drumheller, and not a different retail rate.

      It has been suggested (again) that Beiseker might be able to go back on its well water system if Aqua7 water becomes too expensive.  In my opinion, though, that possibility is totally out of the question.  The aquafer from which Beiseker drew its water from has been severely depleted by increased use over the past ten years.  Without drilling a series of new (and expensive) wells, I doubt we could pull enough water out of the aquafer to supply our growing community. 

      We also signed a contract with Aqua7 at its conception that we would do our part in supporting the system and paying down its debt.  We would still be responsible for our share of the debt as agreed to in that agreement, even if we stopped using the pipeline.

      I truly believe that Aqua7 Regional Water Services Commission will continue to grow and prosper.  I am sure Rocky View County will be able to buy and sell Aqua7 water in the future.  I am confident that the provincial government will one day finally wake up, smell the coffee and realize they treated the Aqua7 folks very, very badly and make amends as recommended in their own study made a few years ago!