Friday, June 16, 2017

Sad News About Stage East

It is with much sadness that I must report that the Stage East Dinner Theatre Society has cancelled this year's performances.

The reason is quite simple; we just don't have enough people to put on a production this year.  We have lost some of our major cast members and with no one to replace them, we can't continue again this year.

Stage East was started more than thirty years ago to raise funds to save and restore the last remaining station building in Beiseker.  We were successful in raising enough to save the building which now serves as the Beiseker Village Office and the Station Museum!  It was started up again in 2005 to celebrate Alberta's 100th Birthday.   Since then we have donated funds to many community groups and projects but over the last few we've supported improvements to our community hall.

The Stage East Dinner Theatre Society will continue on.  It is an active society and is registered.  We will continue meeting on a regular basis.

It has been suggested that we hold a theatre workshop in the fall, to show people how much fun theatre and Stage East can be.  We are planning to have a full production in the fall of 2018!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Admiral Notley of the Albertan Navy

You might recall the old joke about a gentleman claiming to be an admiral in the Swiss Navy.  Switzerland is of course a landlocked country.  Save for a few lakes, it doesn't have access to enough water to float a navy!

The Province of Alberta is landlocked, too!  Our natural resources must be shipped to customers overseas, yet we have no deep-water, ocean ports.  We must rely on our neighbors to provide those facilities.  It is absolutely necessary that Alberta's petroleum products, grain, coal, forest products and other products be able to be sold on the international market.  Without that ability to sell its products, Alberta will stay on the list of "have-not" provinces forever!

Premier Notley (or should I say Admiral Notley) is desperately trying to make sure that Alberta has and continues to have access to seaports for its natural resources.  That's not an easy task! 

The way I see it, we have three directions to go;  West through B.C., South through the U.S.A. and East through Saskatchewan.  Each direction presents challenges.  There are environmental concerns, indigenous peoples' concerns, and economic concerns in each direction!  B.C.'s Green Party leader says there is a simple solution; no movement of Alberta's resources through British Columbia.  Quebec's city mayors have the same solution!  And the on-again-off-again-on-again Keystone project shows me that the U.S. has a similar attitude.  How does Premier Notley convince these folks that that is NOT an option?

These access corridors must be created!  We need some kind of a commission or board to deal with each and every issue in each direction.  Our environment must be preserved and the rights and concerns of everyone must be addressed.  All options must be explored!   Everyone must be treated fairly!  Saying "no" just because you can is not an option!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Clear Skies, Terry

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend of mine.  I've known Terry McDonough for many years.  We met while volunteering at Calgary's Aerospace Museum (now, the Hangar Flight Museum)

While talking we discovered that we were also both long time volunteers at the Calgary Stampede!  Last year Terry proudly accepted a Calgary Stampede Honourary Life Membership!  Our connection to aviation and the Stampede proved most beneficial!

Terry was a life-long aviator!  Flying with him was a real treat!  He was out to promote aviation any way he could!  With Terry's enthusiasm and drive, we were able to take a museum plane, the Cessna Ag Wagon aerial applicator plane, to both the Stampede July show and to Aggie Days!  Through Terry's efforts, we were able to put to rest many misconceptions and outright falsehoods about aerial application in agriculture!

Terry was a hard worker and a practical joker!  I fell victim to a couple of his jokes over the years.  His schemes were never hurtful and always generated bushels of giggles and laughs!  Terry's city of Calgary will miss him.  And so will many of the rest of us!  Clear skies, Terry! 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Silly Things!

Here's a few silly things which I have trouble understanding.  Perhaps my generation gap is showing, or perhaps I've seriously lost my sense of humor.
You could just accept these things as a "sign of the times," but I think they're just silly!

Monday, April 10, 2017

April 6th Water Line Break

On the afternoon of Thursday, April 6, our Fire Department was testing various fire hydrants in the village.  While being tested, the valve on one of the hydrants at the corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue began leaking quite considerably. 

The village water supply was shut off, the valve was excavated and replaced.  The water lines were flushed during the night as water pressure was resumed.  Provincial regulations dictated that we issue a boil water notice for a specified length of time after the water was opened to replace the valve. 

The water was tested and the boil water notice was lifted Sunday afternoon.

There is no good time for a major water main break, but for me these last few days was really bad timing:  I was doing my part as a volunteer at the Calgary Stampede Aggie Days! 

Fortunately, we have an extremely competent Public Works staff and Gail at the office who took charge and dealt with the issue at hand!  They got it done and answered questions!  My thanks to those hard working folks.  I also want to thank everyone in the Village for your patience and understanding during this past weekend.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Happy St. David's Day!

Saint David is the patron saint of Wales.  St. David's Day goes by here with barely a mention, but in Wales it is still celebrated.  The Welsh celebrate by wearing a leak on their collar and wishing all they meet good fortune.   The wearing of the leek comes from a story where the Welsh warriors were fighting for their independence in a fierce battle with the English.  To identify the Welsh warriors from their opponents, they pinned a leek (related to an onion) to their collars. 

My Dad's family have been in Wales for many generations.  They settled around the town of Ruabon in North Wales, which is near the famous town of Llanggollen where the renowned Eisteddfod music festival is held. 

I still have many relatives in that area.  We (my family and I) emigrated from Wales to Canada many years ago, when I was a baby.  We're 99% Canadian now, but we still keep a little Welsh with us.  My Grandchildren call me Taid (pronounced "tah eed"), which means Grandpa in North Wales.  We still make leek soup (very occasionally) and we have visited Wales a couple of times.

When visiting Wales, you'll notice that most signs are bilingual in English and Welsh.  I think everyone speaks English and a bit of Welsh.  The Welsh have their own National Assembly in Cardiff, but still are a proud part of the United Kingdom.  There might be a lesson there for us Canadians!

Happy St. David's Day!

Clarifications on the Fire Engine

In my last blog about the problems with our fire engine, I'd indicated that we had problems keeping the engine's water pump warm during our winter months.

You will recall that our truck originally came from the southern United States, where freezing temperatures like ours are unheard of.  When the truck arrived here, our Fire Department set forth to address the problem of protecting the water pump from freezing.

After a while, a solution to the problem was designed and installed.  I am told now that the water pump NEVER froze, and functioned as it should every time.   But like everything, the pump just "wore out!"

I have also avoided mentioning exact figures for the repair of our truck, or its replacement, because we don't have those figures available yet.  Council is in the process of getting more information on the repairs and more accurate costs of another used fire engine.  After all that is in, we than need to decide what to do.

We will have three choices;
  • Fix our existing truck and hold on to it until 2020 when the Village's finances and provincial and federal grant money may make it possible to replace it.
  • Get rid of the existing truck and purchase another used, surplus truck.
  • Continue to rent a fire truck until Village finances and grants may make it possible to replace it. 
It is highly unlikely that the Village of Beiseker could ever afford to purchase a brand new fire truck!  We have a small population and a debt load of that size would be unmanageable, in my opinion.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fire Engine Woes

Last night, Beiseker Village Council started the process of temporarily halting repairs on our fire truck until we have a clearer picture of what the truck needs to become serviceable again.

photo by Bill Church, via Flickr
We have been renting a replacement truck until ours is back. You will recall that our truck was purchased a few years ago to provide Beiseker with a reliable fire engine for its hard working fire department.

It turns out that our new truck was built specifically to service auto racing tracks in the southern United States.  When it arrived here it had no block heater and no cab heater but it did have a huge air conditioner!

Fitting our new fire engine out to survive in our sometimes-less-than-hospitable weather has proven a challenge.  Fire engines pump water.  Water freezes!  Keeping water lines and the big pump serviceable during the winter months is very difficult.

What to do?  Some councilors want to cut our losses and sell our new truck and buy another one more suitable to our climate.  Others want to repair and continue to "winterize" our existing truck and keep it for a few more years, or until a suitable grant presents itself to replace it.

As a rate payer, what do you think we should do?  Let me, other councilors, and/or the Village Office know what you think should be done to solve our latest Fire  Engine Woes!


March 1/2017:  I've posted an update for this post, here - Clarifications on the Fire Engine.

Monday, February 27, 2017

MADD's Difficult Road

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) are leading the push to stop drunk driving.  They are joined by police services and authorities across the country to convince those who drink to "take a cab or phone a BFF" instead of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Here in Alberta we've all been stopped by a Check Stop as the authorities try to get drunk drivers off the road.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find any sober person who would say it's OK to drive while drunk!  The problem is, that reason and logic go out the window when those same folks have a few drinks!  How often have you heard, "Oh, I'm OK to drive" when you suspect the opposite is true?  Trying to convince those who have been drinking not to drive is the huge task presenting itself to MADD!

The campaign has been quite successful in reducing the number of drunk drivers on our roads but we still get many reports of vehicle accidents where drivers had a high blood-alcohol level.  A recent incident during the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans brings the problem front and center once again.

I don't have a solution outright to this problem.  Maybe breathalyzers at exits to bars might help.  Maybe we could encourage the wider use of those devices fixed to a car's ignition switch which disables the vehicle it the proposed driver blows a specific blood alcohol level. Maybe a larger campaign to encourage people to declare a designated driver or leave the car at home if you plan to drink would help.

Whatever the answer, I applaud MADD for their work and wish them even more success in their fight against drunk drivers.  Their message is an important one and we need everyone to heed it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Future of First Avenue

Beiseker village council has been pondering over what to do about the "back road" into the village.   The back road is an extension of First Avenue, south past the Public Works yard, and connecting with Range Road 261 after leaving the Village limits and entering Rocky View County.  The county's section of the road connects with Highway 9 south of the Village.

This road is a pothole breeding ground!  We've spent lots of money patching and re-patching that short stretch of road, running from the bridge to the CN rail tracks.  The County paved their portion of the road south of the railway tracks, but the village can't afford to do that.

It has been suggested that we remove the battered and pothole-ridden pavement and return the road to a gravel road.  I'm concerned about the dust blowing into town from a graveled road, but this may be our only option going forward.  Environmental concerns and rules prevent us from using many dust proofing products that we may have in the past.

We already have a dust problem along the extension of the Beacon Heights Road, south past the Grasslands entry.  Almost half of the complaints I receive are about the potholes on the back road and the dust along Beacon Heights Road.  It has been a hot topic at Town Hall meetings, too!

Quite frankly, I don't have a solution to the problem.  The back road is one of many entrances to the village.  Maybe we can live with one dusty one!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Things Happening Around Beiseker

I'm sorry that I haven't written here for a while.  Here's some catch-up:

Fire Chief Bob Ursu Retires


Council reluctantly accepted Chief Ursu's resignation at our January 23rd council meeting.  Bob has pulled our fire department together and made it a well oiled machine!

Our Fire Department is the envy of many municipalities.  I think I speak for all of Council when I say that we are very proud of Bob Ursu's work and our Fire Department.  In retirement, I hope Bob is able to spend more time with his family and doing other endeavors he enjoys.  Thank you for your service to the Village of Beiseker, Bob!

The Bassano Station Fiasco


I am again on the warpath regarding the burned-out Bassano Station.

It's been sitting there for two years with little or nothing done to it.  It's time for something to happen!  I don't know what that might be, but we can't leave it the way it is!

I've written to our Prime Minister because it was the Federal Government who gave the Centennial Railway Museum society almost $500,000 to simply restore the station building;  the building was actually moved to its current site by a moving company, free of charge!  More on this later.

New Fire Chief


John Martens, our new Fire Chief has assumed his duties in Beiseker.  We hope to see him at our next council meeting to give us his very first report.

Congratulations John!  We look forward to working with you in keeping the Beiseker Fire Department the envy of a large number of municipalities.

Irricana recreates its Economic Development and Tourism Committee 


I was pleased to read that Irricana has started taking steps to get its economic development and tourism committee going again.  This incentive will prove a bonus to that community.

We have seen the affects of Beiseker's economic development groups.  They have had a very positive influence on our business community!  We also have to remember that what's good for Irricana is also good for Beiseker!

Beiseker Village Council's Strategic Plan


Village council met to discuss plans for 2017 a couple of weeks ago.  No surprise that our plans concentrate on repairing our water valves and upgrading our streets.  We have limited funds available so we must be very careful we get the biggest "bang" for everyone's tax buck!  Stay tuned here, too.

Fargo continues on


I'd like to personally thank you all for being so patient and cooperative with the Fargo production team.  They busily turn Beiseker into Eden Valley - and then turn it back to Beiseker just as quickly when filming is completed for that time around!  Well done everyone!

That's all for right now.  I promise to write here more often!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Jane Fonda's Visit to Alberta

Last week, actress Jane Fonda came to Alberta to tell us how to manage our petroleum resources!  She said flying over the oil sands extraction areas made her physically ill.  She told us to stop this terrible industry, right now!

I wonder how much actual research she did on the problems of oil extraction in the Athabasca Oil Sands.  Did she base her comments on strong scientific evidence?  What qualifications does she have to tell us what to do?  I personally don't think she has any right to come here from California (which isn't known for it's pollution free environment) in a private jet fueled by petroleum products to tell us we're all going to heck for what we're doing to the environment! 

I have doubts that she understands the situation!

Wasn't it Jane Fonda who went to North Viet Nam during the war, sat in an anti-aircraft gun and pretended to shoot and kill American airmen?  My case rests!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tired of Climate Leadership Plan Ads

I'm totally sick and tired of those Government of Alberta adds on TV touting the wonderfulness and the benefits of our new carbon levy and the Climate Leadership Plan.  I don't know if they're trying to convince us or them!  I also find them somewhat insulting!

I've worked hard and paid taxes since I was about seventeen.  I figure that I've earned a few comforts in my life.

Instead, I'm being asked to drive less, turn my thermostat down, shower in cooler water, buy expensive local groceries, pay more for less recreational facilities, and pay more for doing all those things!  Yes the world has to lower its carbon footprint, but are we going about it the right way?

I'll just be glad when the Alberta Government runs out of our money, and can't afford these commercials any more!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Welcome to Eden Valley, Minnesota!

Photo by Elvis & Donna Chow, via Facebook
Beiseker is now acting the role of Eden Valley as they film (or tape, or whatever they do nowadays) the upcoming third season of FX Networks' award-winning TV show, Fargo.  Some changes have been made to our Main Street as it's made up to look like the show's setting of a small mid-western town in North Dakota.

I haven't been 'round to see the production crew at work, yet, but I see the evidence of their labors all around.
 
I am very pleased that parts of Fargo are being shot here!  For me, it's just one more way to show everyone that Beiseker is here, we're friendly and we're open for business!  See you on TV!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Volcanoes and the Carbon Levy

Boy, did I ever kick up some dust with that comment about carbon dioxide and volcanoes in my last blog!  

I stand by what I said!  There are scientists who agree with me and probably an equal or greater number of scientists who say I'm full of it!  And they don't mean CO2!  The argument is something akin to arguing who left the barn door open after the horse escaped.  

In my opinion, the truth of it is that the carbon levy will do nothing for the environment.  It will however, make friends for our Premier in some circles, so she can push for the pipelines!  Maybe that's a good thing!  And even if the new tax did work, the affect on overall carbon dioxide levels in the earth's atmosphere would be negligible at best!

Ah well, I guess the Premier can say that she tried!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Here we are on the second day of 2017!  How's it going for you so far? 

As of yesterday morning we've all started paying the NDP carbon levy.  According to my unscientific calculations, it could cost us living in rural Alberta over $100 a month extra!  I'm looking forward to applying for the rebate.  I expect that most rural Albertans will be eligible for a full rebate, after all we do not have the luxury of public transit and services "around the corner"!  We have to use our vehicles to get around!

Next year at this time it will be interesting to hear our Premier's  report as to the success of the new sales tax on fuel in the province.  I wonder if she'll mention the following;
  • Most of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere comes from volcanoes which are exempt from the NDP tax.
  • Alberta is responsible for less than 2% of the man-made carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
  • There is no suitable replacement available for fossil fuels, and likely won't be for many years to come.
  • The simplest and easiest carbon dioxide recovery system are plants, especially trees!
  • More and more states in the world are giving up on carbon taxes in favor of other more sensible ways of curbing carbon dioxide emissions or recovering carbon dioxide..
This year will  be an interesting year in Alberta.  Happy New Year!