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The Commentator 2017 Year in Review

Posted on January 2, 2018 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Jamie Rieger/Justin Seward


Year in Review


Local business owners were busy calculating how much of an impact the carbon tax, which went into effect on Jan., 2017 would have on their bottom line.

Support for the Bow Island food bank was up, but so was demand in the previous year. 129 hampers were distributed in 2016. Across the province, the need for food assistance increased 136.1 percent between 2008 and 2016.

The month ended with local politicians voicing their concerns about proposed electoral boundary changes in Alberta. Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes advocated for no changes to his riding.


Senator Gershaw School received grant funding for their outdoor education program, which was to include constructing a “green” area behind the school.

Concern about non-emergency transfers for EMS workers has been an ongoing issue in rural communities, where concerns were raised about the small towns not having adequate coverage for emergencies should EMS personnel be performing non-emergency transfers.

Foremost made its mark in history when it entered the “Drone Age” by the officieal opening of the Foremost Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) range, the first to allow beyond-line-of-sight flying of UAS in Canada.


A group of crafty Bow Island ladies quietly meet every week to make quilts and other handmade items that get sent overseas to help those impacted by natural disasters, war, famine, and poverty. In March, they gathered to put the finishing touches on their 171st quilt.

Bow Island RCMP officer Andrew Crouse received a new puppy to train in his role as a dog handler in the RCMP Puppy program. Crouse trains the pups in obedience, tracking, aggression, and other things and upon graduation, the move onto more specialized training.

County of Forty Mile council reviewed its Texas gate policy after receiving a call from a ratepayer about whose responsible for maintenance of the Texas gates. With 98 in the county, it was estimated to cost $40,000 to clean and maintain all of them. Council decided to re-address the issue in the future and to update their policy.

People mourned the loss of former MLA Len Mitzel, who passed away from throat cancer on March 19, 2017. Mitzel was remembered by colleagues and friends for his dedication and commitment to his committee. Mitzel was laid to rest in the Foremost cemetery following a beautiful tribute to his life on March 24.

Alberta Agriculture announced in March that it would be testing potash in a short stretch of the St. Mary’s River Irrigation system as a way to keep Dreissenid mussels from entering the waterway.

A visit by a representative from Canada Post to Forty Mile county council came bearing bad news when Jill Broderson announced the Etzikom post office was one step closer to shutting its doors for good after job postings for a postmaster were unsuccessful.


Stuart Angle told the Commentator that his investment of installing solar panels on his home would pay off in the long-term and expected to break even in approximately 12 years.

Former Calgary Stampede linebacker, Keon Raymond was in Bow Island and Foremost early in April to deliver a powerful message about domestic violence and talked about growing up with an abusive father. Raymond stressed that it is everybody’s obligation to stop domestic violence in the community.

Cherry Coulee Christian Academy held its inaugural science fair with Patty Rooks, senior scientific consultant for Praxis Society doing the judging.

Dale Thacker, chiari of the HALO Rescue Society and Gordon Reynolds, mayor of Bow Island, spoke to the Palliser Health Advisory council when the organization held their meeting in Bow Island about the lack of support HALO receives from Alberta Health Services.

Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, was explained at a Southern Alberta Council for Public Affairs. Mike Rappel, an Occupational Health and Safety Investigations manager told the group that all of the sites he had visited thus far had been positive.


The Town of Bow Island is in good financial shape, council heard when auditor Calvin Scott, a partner with Avail CPA presented them with their consolidated financial statements for 2016.

Vandals caused extensive damage to the Foremost campground and RCMP were seeking witnesses or anybody with information on who caused the damage.

The potential consequences of texting and driving was presented in a mock vehicle collision hosted by the Bow Island fire department in May. Students from Senator Gershaw, Cherry Coulee Christian Academy, and Burdett School watched as emergency response workers displayed extricating an injured person from a vehicle that had been crashed into, the watched as one person was taken on a gurney to the HALO helicopter and another taken to the hearse. Students said they learned a lot from the demonstration.

Much-needed construction work on Highway 61 was brought to an abrupt halt in May when it was discovered that the approved project had been sitting on the shelf too long and new permit needed to be submitted to comply with the Wetland Policy that was added to Alberta’s Water Act after the initial approval.

Palliser Economic Partnership representatives Walter Valentini and Jim Turner attended the May 10 County of Forty Mile council meeting to discuss the importance of having broadband internet in rural areas of the county. Several months prior, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications) deemed broadband internet to be a basic telecommunications service and the federal government announced a $500-million investment into providing such connections to rural communities across the country.

Glen Motz, Member of Parliament for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, attended the May 24 County of Forty Mile meeting to learn how he could best represent the area in Ottawa. Reeve Bryne Lengyel indicated that the Species at Risk Act and the emergency protection order on the Greater Sage Grouse was having a significant impact on area producers and the local economy. County administrator said the federal government should offer a compensation package to those impacted by the EPO.


Those in attendance at the Sustainable Canada Inc. annual general meeting listened to Ross Ford, reeve for the County of Warner as he talked about the backwards approach taken by the federal government when it comes to the Species at Risk Act. Ford talked about the need to do the science and research before listing a species. Ford added that in many cases the Act is in place so funding can be accessed for research.

Sustainable Canada president Randy Stokke also talked about the need for accurate science and about his working with trans-boundary groups on land and conservation issues, in addition to SARA.

The Dekker family had a major clean-up project after a windstorm caused extensive damage on their property south of Burdett, including collapsing their hay shed and tearing down tree limbs.

In the last time Commentator editor Jamie Rieger spoke with Walsh area rancher James Hargrave, he provided her with an update on work he had been doing with the provincial government on modernizing the out-dated grazing lease rental rates. The Alberta Grazing Leasholders Association, of which Hargrave was chair, had been working the government and other entities since 2013 on updating and improving.


Communities across southeast Alberta celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday in style, with lots of Maple Leafs being proudly displayed, parades, and birthday cakes.

Fortis Alberta announced it received the necessary approvals from the Alberta Utilities Commission to install energy-efficient streetlights in Bow Island and the County of Forty Mile.

2,900 hectares of prairie grass burned after lightning strikes in the south end of the County in Mid-July. Volunteer firefighters from across southern Alberta assisted the County with battling the fire that was being fueled by strong winds.

Dr. Mohammad Tawfeeq arrived in Bow Island on Canada Day and three weeks later, was settling into the community, but still awaiting the paperwork needed to start his practice.

Irrigation canals were running at capacity, due to July’s hot, dry weather. The SMRID said water usage was at the highest it had been in five years.


Because of continuing hot, dry weather, many farmers in the region were starting their harvest earlier than usual.

In an effort to guard against invasive mussels entering the water canal system, SMRID barred boaters from Grassy Lake.

Bryne Lengyel announced in August that he would not seek another term on County council, saying he enjoyed municipal politics and the people he worked with.


Colleagues remembered Kathy Cooper as a community-minded person who was dedicated to youth, eduction and FNMI culture. Cooper passed away on Aug. 29.

Tax experts were shaking their heads over the lack of information being provided on proposed changes to tax laws, changes that could have severe impacts on incorporated family farms and small businesses. Federal finance minister, Bill Morneau made a vague announcement about the proposed changes in July.

Glen Motz, MP for Medicine Hat-Cardston-arner was named deputy shadow minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Twelve people stepped up to run for a seat on town council in October’s municipal election and seven people submitted their nomination papers to run in the Foremost election.


An early snowstorm ripped through the region on Oct. 2, knocking out power to 16,000 customers in southeast Alberta. The storm shut down area highways, including Highway Three from Medicine Hat to Taber, leaving a number of travelers stranded in Bow Island.

Stacey Barrows stepped up to fill the seat for the Skiff riding, a seat left empty by the retirement of former reeve, Bryne Lengyel.

Gord Davis, who once lived in Bow Island, recounted his experiences of assisting during the Las Vegas mass shooting that occurred on Oct. 1.

Volunteer firefighters from the County of Forty Mile were quick to respond when a massive grassfire was burning near Hilda. Fire chief Dustin McGarry said it was a pretty easy decision to make to help their neighbours to the east.

November- The sugar beet harvest was heading for a record year despite the snow storm experienced prior to taking off the crop.
The Cherry Coulee Christian Academy raised $22,000 on their annual Fall Fundraiser, Dinner and Silent Auction on Nov. 3.
The Town of Bow Island its tourism focus come later next year with the C40 Crop story where tourist can visit and take a virtual pin tour in a field of local crops.
Bow Island Legion Branch # 197 had been experiencing a decline due to the veterans dwindling. Members had been trying for years to come up with ways as to how they can keep people interested in the legion, but it comes down to community volunteers for the veterans, however, for many it is different for them to realize what the legion is all about.


St. Michael’s School had another successful annual supper and auction on Dec. 1 as $37,000 was raised to go towards school programs.
Servus Credit Union and the Town of Bow Island began their arena partnership with the first Sunday Family Free Skate on Dec. 3.
Bow Island held their first annual Christmas Garage Sale on Dec. 7.
The Town of Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds spoke with the Commentator about what is vision is for the future of the town. He had mentioned council is working well together so far and goals will be set more in January when they do more strategic.
Christmas came early to the County of Forty Mile as the Hamlet of Whitla was awarded wind farm project which will be built by the Edmonton-based Capitol Power who will provide a 20-year supply contract for a 200-megawatt facility at a low cost of 3.7 cents a kilowatt per hour. Construction is expected to start in later 2018.

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