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The year it was in 2019 for Cypress County and Redcliff

Posted on December 31, 2019 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Justin Seward

Commentator/Courier

January

Parkside School Grade 9 math students were challenged to design a concept of their new Redcliff School.
Students had to meet math objectives by drawing a diagram to scale which involved measuring current schools, giving them ideas on how big rooms are and how wide the hallways should be.
The school’s vice principal and Grade 9 math teacher Rocheal Howes, who spearheaded the project, said at the time it was a way of making the middle school learn more relevant to the real world, which included an authentic audience and challenging the students to make a new school.
Students took the feedback given from community members to improve their projects.
Students presented their final designs to town, school, and Prairie Rose School Division representatives on Jan. 11.
The Redcliff Youth Basketball program has been developing young-school aged players in the town for 20 years.
The program headed into the 2019 year with a new name, calling themselves Southern Alberta Cliffers Youth Basketball to attract more players from the surrounding area.
Former Medicine Hat Tiger Emerson Etem joined the Willie Desjardins South Alberta Hockey Academy as a coach.
Redcliff Minor Hockey mourned the loss of 10-year-old hockey player Dexter Druar.
It was announced that Redcliff’s Riverview Golf Course will be opened in 2019 after weathering a financial storm and some public criticism on social media. The new executive was led by Bill Duncan, Cliff Sackman, Darrell Schafer, Gerry Beach, Cody Booker and Russ Paulson and a town council member.
With files from Philip Buisseret, Commentator/Courier Freelancer
Pierre D’Amour, Redcliff Legion member of 40 years, received the Palm Leaf Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) award on Jan. 25. The award is the highest award that can be given out to a member who exemplifies dedicated service to the Legion and the community.
The Town of Redcliff narrowly passed the first reading of a bylaw to loan Riverview Golf Club $208,000 for the next day to help it stay afloat. The loan was on top of the $107,000 the club already owes the town in unpaid utilities so it would be an increase to $315,000, increasing the town’s losses in the event the golf club ceases operations.
With files from Jeremy Appel, Alberta Newspaper Group

February

Cypress County council was informed on Feb. 5 that CFB Suffield wants the municipality to secure a water supply and in addition to have a concrete action plan to move towards an objective.
The county’s requirements will be to choose a supplier for short and long term based pricing this month, make applications for purchase and transfer (approximately a two-year process), issue a request for proposal detailed design with a response by March 2020 and issue an RFP (request for proposal) for construction of the Suffield water line per the approved design through an engineering firm that will provide project management.
An extension can be requested to CFB Suffield to go past April 2020.
The Irvine School Tigers junior B girls basketball team finished a dream season by defeating Medicine Hat’s Notre Dame Academy Dawgs 58-22 in the league final to finish undefeated at 20-0.
Canadian Solar announced they would be building a $50M solar park in March at a Cypress County Municipal Planning Commission meeting.

March

Cypress County fire chief Kelly Meyer spoke to the Courier about the dangerous aspects of firefighting after Medicine Hat firefighter Cam Potts was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and how it shone the spotlight on the dangerous aspects of the job.
Existing dangers are unavoidable but understanding those risks and being as prepared as possible is something departments are to put more of a focus on.By taking proactive measures and educating members, Meyer says the inflated cancer statistics for firefighter can go down.
“It’s part of the job but we have to do a better job of protecting ourselves and protecting our members,” he says. “Having our members checked out by doctors if they’ve had smoke inhalation or been exposed to something-it’s all about preventative maintenance.”
With files from Scott Schmidt, Alberta Newspaper Group
The Dunmore Equestrian Society heard the feasibility results for their proposed indoor riding arena.
In the key findings of the survey, 85 per cent of the respondents said the top benefit would be providing affordable and accessible space for residents to participate in equestrian and agriculture events, 65 per cent says their households would use the facility if one were to be developed and 84 per cent would support an indoor arena being built. The results came from 209 respondents and 30 discussions with different stakeholders and observing trends such as marketing analyses to determine what kind of economic benefits the facility would have.
Redcliff town council past the third and final reading of its contentious Riverview Golf Club Loan Bylaw at its March 11 meeting.

The bylaw allowed town council to loan the club $315,000 over the next decade to help it stay open, which includes $208,000 in new funds and $107,000 in new utilities.
With files from Jeremy Appel, Alberta Newspaper Group
Prairie Rose School Division announced to its trustees at the March 12 board meeting that RMAP (Redcliff Mennonite Alternative Program) would be moved into the old St. Thomas d’Aquin building in Medicine Hat.

April

Redcliff’s Riverview Golf Course opened for the 2019 golf season on April 3. Everything is going pretty good so far,” said new general manager Doug Braithwaite.
“We got all of our memberships signed up. We’re trying to make sure everyone enjoys having a fun family-oriented golf course and we’re trying to keep things positive and light.”
The opening came after the golf course was faced with $405,000 in debt. Golf course board members sought to raise $100,000 by asking community members for $500 donations to start paying off debt.
It was by the conclusion of the second meeting in October 2018 a motion was put forth by the board to form a committee to keep the golf course alive. A new executive was formed in January of this year.Marvin McNeill was named the 2019 Town of Redcliff’s Citizen of the Year.
Town of Redcliff council voted at its April 8 meeting to provide $220,000 in reserve funds to help the Lions Club build a new splash park, bringing the total funding for the project to $400,000.

May
Seven Persons School Grade 9 student Daphne Thompson earned a spot in the Canada-wide Science Fair Competition in Fredericton after winning gold in the intermediate division for her zone at the Southeastern Alberta Science Fair in April. Her science project was called the Extraction and Quantification of Caffeine, which was a chemistry based experiment where Thompson used a thin layer of chromatography to extract caffeine from the coffee grounds.
George Russill was named the 2018 Cypress County Citizen of the Year.
Cypress County council voted to send Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit to the FCM Conference in Quebec City at the end of the month during their May 7 meeting. Kurpjuweit was hoping to bring the rural voice to the table.
Prairie Rose School Division announced it will be working with Super T Aviation and offering a three-year flight academy program to Grade 10 students at Eagle Butte High School.
“It will provide life experience, help them engage in learning and in choosing a career path, said Prairie Rose superintendent Roger Clarke. Students will be able to achieve a private pilot’s licence by the end of the three years.
Clarke said students will earn credits in mechanics, robotics, wilderness, tourism, leadership and recreation while pursuing a private pilot’s licence.
With files from Gillian Slade, Alberta Newspaper Group

June-
The newly founded Rotary Centennial Trail broke ground this month which will connect Desert Blume into Medicine Hat along S. Boundary Road. The paved trail project is a partnership between the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat, Cypress County and the City of Medicine Hat.
Rotary Club president Chris Perrett said the trail concept stemmed from the safety concerns on S. Boundary Road with narrow shoulders and collisions involving walkers and cyclists.
Eagle Butte Talons’ Megan Kowalski and Triston Duchscherer won the female and male athletes of the year at the athletic banquet.
Kassidy Hart was chosen as Cypress County’s 2019 Southern Alberta Summer Games Heart of Champion in Pincher Creek. With the nod, she carried in the county’s flag at the opening ceremonies.
CFB Suffield held its biennial change of command ceremony on June 20. Lt. Col Troy Leifso was sworn in as the 22nd base commander, taking over from Lt. Col Mike Onieu.
After four years of being stored in a nearby yard, the Schuler School playground was installed and kids played on it on June 21.

July

Cypress County had been utilizing a new to them 9-1-1 dispatch service since May and got an update on how well the service is going on July 2.
“It’s a small sample size,” said the county’s director of municipal services Jeffrey Dowling on the report.
“But in terms of the service, we’re getting emergency services and fire chief Kelly Meyer was very pleased with the results so far in consultations with other fire members in Cypress County. They also seemed very pleased with services we’re getting.”
Since the switch to the Foothills Regional Emergency Services Commission (FRESC), there has been noticeable changes in dispatch response.
Emergency services communication over the radio had improved immensely in clarity and the lack of interference has allowed for better communication on both ends.
Rayelle Smith was announced as the 2019 Medicine Hat and Exhibition Stampede queen, while Dion Freimark was announced as princess.
Local artist James Marshall painted a mural to depict the Redcliff history for a back drop of the stage at the future historical brick park.
The mural included a couple of men loading a kiln, a worked unloading a press and a picture of the original brick plant.
The RCMP Musical Ride made a stop at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede grounds on July 31.
Redcliff town council were informed on July 15 that the old splash park would be demolished in September.
On July 27 a local state of emergency was called after three fires ignited in Cypress County including the Graeburn Road fire in Walsh. Crews also attended a fire west of Irvine and north of the Trans Canada Highway and a high winds also caused a flare up of a fire near Suffield from a semi truck accident earlier in the week.
On Aug. 1, Cypress County officials announced a county-wide fire ban and additional resources were added to assist crews already in place to battle the Graeburn Road Fire that had active hot spots at the time of the time of the press conference.
It was determined the Graeburn Road fire was caused by a lightning strike the Suffield fire was semi-truck related and the second one there was a cigarette. The west of Irvine was caused by Creosite ties catching on fire north of the railway tracks.
The Cash Family were nominated as Cypress County’s Farm Family of the Year.
Cypress County hosted four open houses on July 29-30 to seek the public’s input on the proposed Dunmore Equestrian Centre’s indoor riding arena and the Prairie Rose School Division-led hockey arena/ training facility. The open houses were meant to give Cypress County council a better picture in their decision making to support the projects.
PRSD was asking the county to contribute over $5 million to the $10 million project and 50 per cent of the annual deficit costs which was set $83,000.
The Equestrian Centre requested $2 million in captial funding from the county.
Cypress County Chief Administrative Officer Tarolyn Aaserud said at the conclusion of the open houses the county felt “very good” about the consultation.

August
BATUS trooper Daniel Webber was reunited with his cab driver Garth Knight on Aug.6 at CFB Suffield. Webber saved Knight’s life after he suffered a stroke while giving the soldierand his buddies a ride back to the base on Easter Sunday. Webber had noticed the vehicle swerving as they neared the base and Knight had asked for help.
“Unfortunately, when we were nearly there I noticed something was up with him and wasn’t quite sure what,” said Webber.
“The vehicle started swerving on the road. That’s when he looked at me and asked for help and I still didn’t really know what was going on. I managed to grab the steering wheel, but one side of Garth’s body had gone quite stiff. We were going off to the central reservation. I managed to get the vehicle back on the road and to a halt.”
Once Webber got the car stopped he called an ambulance for help, which delivered Knight to Medicine Hat Regional Hospital before being transported to Calgary.
Little Plume Church celebrated 100 years on Aug. 11.
The Redcliff library was one of many libraries who only receive 50 per cent of its operating grant from the government as the provincial budgets were around the corner.
The decision affects public libraries across the province after the UCP government announced earlier in the month that they will only pay 50 per cent of their operating grants form last year until a decision is made on what this year’s funding will be like in October.
Karley Appell was named 2019 Little Britches Rodeo Sweetheart.

September

With the public consultation process wrapped up for the proposed Dunmore training/ice facility, it has left one local minor hockey association with uncertainties that hopefully will be cleared up in the near future.
Funding that could be effected with a new facility is Cypress County’s day-to-day expenses of the complex and some ice rentals outside of minor hockey will move from Irvine to Dunmore that the Ag Society could see, he added.
“Irvine Minor Hockey could only rent so much ice if they’re losing revenue based off people playing in Dunmore rather than Irvine,” said Sheridan Siewert, Irvine Minor Hockey president.
“Eventually we feel that could trickle down and effect minor hockey.”
The goal is to have more answers to long-term investment in the current facility.
“We think we have a lot of years left in this facility, but it does need some financial upgrades.
“Right now that’s what we’re looking for from the county that this facility won’t be neglected for the new one to be built.”
The Riverview Golf Club is hoping 2019 was a year of stabilization. It was only a year ago that various outlets reported that the club was swimming in debt and looking for ways out. The club held multiple town meetings looking for help from the town, as well as the community to get out of its financial hole.
With new staff and a plan in place, general manager Doug Braithwaite says 2019 was a good year for the course.
“I think it was fantastic — we had a really good year out here,” he said. “Considering what we’ve come from and the resources that we’ve had at our disposal — I think we’ve done really, really well.
“It’s been a good year.”
Braithwaite added he has not yet seen financials for the year, but said he thinks the course “is in a much better spot moving forward.”
Braithwaite was an assistant pro from 2008-11 and served as general manager for the first year in 2019 — he says the club sits around 225 memberships.
With Files from Mo Cranker , Alberta Newspaper Group.
Cypress County council heard the Dunmore recreation facilities report for the $10 million PRSD training/ice facility and the Dunmore Equestrian Centre’s indoor riding arena. There were 537 public surveys filled out, 95 people attended the open houses, 34 stakeholders were contacted to participate, 16 of which filled out the survey and the county did 30 stakeholder interviews.
The top 3 areas to respond were Dunmore, Medicine Hat and Seven Persons.
The response showed the arena/training facility that the building would be an asset to Dunmore and the county, create new recreational opportunities and would be a reasonable use for county resources. Concerns were having a negative impact on the Irvine arena, intersection safety, limited parking and the economic benefit may lean towards Medicine Hat more than the county and Dunmore.
The Dunmore Equestrian Society’s indoor riding arena could be of use year-round, fit in with the rural ranching community and there is potential to generate revenues for the community and the county. Concerns were that the project would benefit a small number of people, concerns of road/intersection safety and will compete against other private equestrian centres.
The former RMAP (Redcliff Mennonite Alternative Program) School opened at the old St. Thomas D’Aquin School in Medicine Hat on Sept. 27.

October
Cypress County council voted to postpone a rezoning decision on a Oct. 1 after a public hearing for a proposed $250-million EDF Renewable until there is more information provided to council on decommissioning of the project and who is responsibility for its liabilities.
The 201.6 megawatt, 48 turbine project was asking for an overlay of the Wind Energy Facility District for the use and activity of wind turbines and other infrastructure. The reclassification would allow for agriculture activities on each parcel. The overlay was later passed at the Oct. 16 council meeting.
The Eagle Butte Talons cross country team won their 15th zone title in 16 seasons on their home track at Echodale on Oct. 9.
County Council heard the opposition for the proposed Dunmore Equestrian Centre’s indoor riding arena from Willowbend Equestrian and Forsyth Ranch Arena on Oct. 16.
“It’s a significant threat to our livelihood,” said Christine Ziegenhagel of Willowbend Equestrian.
“How can we compete with a facility that is being publicly funded? Our horse boarding clients are wonderful people who make sacrifices to provide for their horses long-term. However, please consider this, if the Dunmore Equestrian Centre offers all types of equestrian activities on site such as clinics, school programs, 4-H clubs, horse clubs like they’ve been doing and offers year round boarding for similar fares to what we charge , will our clients not tire of trailing their horses back and forth from our barn to the centre and back?”
“Every dollar counts and for the average horse owner it would be much more efficient to board their horses where the activity is at. This is taking away from our revenues as a small business in Cypress County.”
Morley Forsyth of the Forsyth Ranch Arena says he is in the equine programming industry because he loves working with kids.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work and sweat into it,” said Forsyth.
“I’ve had to put money into it to keep it going and it’s finally taking off. The Dunmore Equestrian Centre with some of the stuff they’ve already done has taken some business from me.
“I have worked with them and I enjoy working with them. They’ve raised some horses from me on some therapy programs and have been successful.”
Cypress County voted to step up and advocate for HALO in hopes of finding some stable funding for the medical helicopter service.
County Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit says this will now provide the opportunity to assess the provincial budget and work with the province, HALO and other municipalities that are affected by the service to come up with a program that gives the air ambulance the support they need.
Grade 12 Eagle Butte High School student Emily Stock was the first student pilot to fly in the inaugural Dave Rozdeba South Alberta Flight Academy. She was able to fly because she had her private pilot’s license.

November
Cypress County opt out of providing funding support for the PRSD-proposed Dunmore arena/ training facility. It was felt among county councillors and administration that following a year involving both a provincial and federal election and facing the reality that effects the way counties are funded, that it was necessary to go through the finalization of deliberation on the PRSD partnership and their request for $ 5 million from the county.
“At this time, we feel we are responsible to protect the county and our ratepayers by not committing to spending on projects when funding sources are in question,” said Dan Hamilton, Cypress County reeve.
“We are aware of provincial initiatives that will likely change our outlook on spending on non-essential or non strategic projects. And until we know how these are going to roll out, we need to sit tight.”
It was following the public consultation process that there was a high interest of public support for the facility, but details surrounding the funding and the future business park concept neighbouring the centre, still need to be worked out.
“Council recognizes the need to diversify and grow our tax base. The equestrian centre potentially addresses a desire of many of our rate payers, while aiding council’s strategy vision to attract development to the county, further diversifying our base,” said Hamilton.
Cypress County’s resolution for HALO funding was passed at the RMA (Rural Municipalities of Alberta) Conference.
The passed resolution from Cypress County through RMA was for the Government of Alberta to provide funds to locally and regionally-operated emergency response air ambulance services at the same ratio as the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) Funding.
The Walsh Fire Station unveiled a statue for fallen firefighter James Hargrave on Nov. 21.
Cypress County council voted on Nov. 19, to partner with Alberta Transportation on the Dunmore intersection at Highway 1, Charles Street and the Eagle Butte Road. The cost of the project will be $1.2 million.
Prairie Rose School Division’s secretary treasurer Ryan Boser informed the board of trustees the school district was more than $1.1 million thanks to a 240 per cent premium hike in the Alberta School Board Insurance Exchange insurance premiums. The main reason for the hike was the high-paid loss ratios of school boards in the insurance exchange and the unpredictable weather in Alberta over the past five years.

December
The Cypress County Fire Department celebrated its 30th annual Candy Cane Run on Dec. 15 in Seven Persons.
The student-operated Badlands Cre8tions store officially opened on Dec. 5. The store featured hand crafted project designed by students from Eagle Butte, I.F. Cox School in Redcliff, South Central School in Oyen and Irvine School.

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