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February 26, 2024 February 26, 2024

The year it was in Bow Island and the County of Forty Mile

Posted on January 4, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman
Commentator/Courier File Photo

January

According to Statistics Canada, this year Canadian honey producers harvested 74.4 million pounds of honey, the lowest level since 2009 and lower by 15.6% from 2021. Total Canadian sales were $253.5 million, down by 5.6%.

The lower harvest is due to poor queen quality, varroa mite infestation and unfavourable weather in some provinces. Another challenge for producers was the high cost of replenishing colonies lost over the winter.

Check the shocks, because the Redcliff RCMP’s “Stuff the Cruiser” in support of food banks raised just more than two tonnes of food, the detachment reported Friday.

The event, held during frigid conditions on Dec. 21, was supported by residents of the town, the town’s council and bylaw department. Food and cash equivalent donations totalled 4,724 pounds of food that will be forwarded to the Root Cellar Food and Wellness Hub.

Pheasants Forever Canada wants to encourage Southeastern Albertans to take special care and love the prairie landscape, starting with an often-neglected but vital habitat: roadside ditches.

Pheasants Forever Canada (PFC) is a registered Canadian charitable organization, focused on conserving and improving habitat for upland game birds such as the ring-necked pheasant, and by extension, much of the natural prairie wildlife that calls this region home.

A County of 40 Mile committee has a difficult choice to make later this month, as it has more than one potential Farm Family of the Year.

With an extended deadline there could potentially be more.

Aira Wind Power Inc. has applied to construct and operate a 450-megawatt solar power plant, designated as the Aira Solar Project within the County of 40 Mile. However, some residents are concerned about the impacts of the undertaking.

On Jan. 2, 2022, the Farmers and Ranchers Against Solar Group, (FARAS Group) was formed to seek more information regarding the project, explained Linda Fisher.

Last year was a busy one for the Town of Bow Island, and the momentum for both projects and community shows no signs of stopping as we move into 2023.

The previous two years were hard with the pandemic, said Mayor Gorden Reynolds, but 2022 represented a return to form that residents needed. 

Tuesday and Thursday mornings at St. Michael’s School are just a little more special, thanks to their new breakfast program.

The program is still a bit of an experiment, which started back in November explained St. Michael’s School’s Associate Principal Jill Weatherhead. Those two days were picked to best allow every student to partake of what was on offer.

February

The North 40 Mile Recreation Society is looking for people ready to step up to bat for their 9th Annual Slo-Pitch Tournament.

Kaylee Ostenberg, Recreation Facilitator for the Town of Bow Island explained 2023 is going to be a little different than previous years.

“We’re really excited. We have a couple of new things we wanted to do this year,” said Ostenberg. “We wanted to do a silent auction. All the proceeds from the silent auction will go to the new multi-use facility, for the Bow Island Vitality Group. We’re just figuring out some details of what the silent auction will look like.”

Five delegations each in their own way made passionate expressions of their opinions known to Cypress County Council Feb. 7. The delegation members ensured they made their concerns heard over the proposed placement of the promised Irvine Community Resource Centre which will feature the new library.

The site is currently none other than the Woodward Memorial park, a space that’s destruction would be too high a cost for many members of the hamlet, including Dennis Bollinger, president of the Irvine Lion’s Club.

“As was stated in a letter that was presented to council back in January, we encourage development in Irvine, but if that means destroying the park that’s existing there, that’s totally unacceptable to us,” said Bollinger. 

A bone bed near Hilda, a year’s work, and 100 copies sold, Schuler student Summer Straub has pages turning in the school library and beyond.

The inspiration behind the children’s book, Chase the Dinosaur, began when Straub’s aunt heard about a paleontological find near Hilda.

The Foremost & District Agricultural Society has been recognized for their efforts getting more cowboy boots on the ground at Foremost School with the Alberta Agricultural Society Innovation Award.

This award, meant for an Agricultural Society in a community with fewer than 1000 people, recognizes their innovation, resilience, and service to the community, said County of 40 Mile Deputy Reeve Stacey Barrows. 

It was presented in Edmonton on Feb. 3  at the AAAS (Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies) Conference by the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Nate Horner.

March

It’s been a challenging year for the Foremost Figure Skating Club, but the young charges are nonetheless ready to hit the ice for their annual carnival and year end show.

The difficult work began when the club lost their coach, resulting in the older kids needing to teach the younger while they looked for a replacement. They have a local volunteer who has taken over to finish out the season, but the Club is still on the lookout for a Skate Canada Coach.

Bow Island’s young skaters are getting ready to hit the ice and end the season with a bang at this year’s annual skating carnival.

March 19th marks the occasion at at 2 p.m .at the Servus Community Arena, with this year’s theme being “Disney on Ice” for the showcase of all of the young skaters’ hard work.

“Our club ranges from the youngest group in pre-Can-Skate, Can-Skate and Starskate. We have 26 kids this year. More than last year! The carnival showcases our skaters competitive and non competitive skills.  Our goal for the carnival is to get the community to come out, while our skaters can showcase their skills and hopefully gain new registrations for the following year,” said Amanda Conquergood, one of the organizers for the event.

The voice of Canada’s National residential construction industry, the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA), has said that the Magnolia is certainly in full bloom as the home is awarded not one, but two nation-wide awards.

Hundreds of applicants from across the country submit their work for the year, said CEO and owner of the Hiebert Group, John Hiebert. The group includes Hiebert Cabinets, Jade Homes and Jasper Fine Homes.

At 89 years old, Ernie Pahl is finally going to have to retire, as Pahl’s Auto Service closes its doors for good at the end of the month.

Pahl started his career in Bow Island in 1951, before moving out to the area in 1963, when the owner of the current garage suggested that he purchase the highway-side shop.

While the event itself may be far away, the window for registering for the Troy Loney Charity Golf Classic is nearly here.

Named after Bow Island’s own Troy Loney, a former NHL star who spent nine seasons playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, including winning two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992, before becoming the Anaheim Mighty Ducks’ first captain, and finishing his final year with the New York Rangers and New York Islanders before retirement. Loney ran a golf classic during his time in the NHL, and is happy to lend his name now to the ongoing event.

April

With April being Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month, the Walter family remembers their son, Beau Richard Elias Walter and how he lives on with the people whose lives were saved or improved by their decision to donate.

Called Bobo by friends and BEAUski by family, the 22 year old passed away in August 2022 after losing control of his vehicle on a gravel road. But Beau’s memory remains as he was, a bright and warm young man who had an adventurous life. 

Colourful plastic eggshells stood out against the snow in Etzikom for their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.

Overall, the event was a great success, said Rachel Stromsmoe, Etzikom Playgroup President. 

The future has never looked quite so efficient, as the County of Forty Mile No. 8 showcased how they remain ‘miles ahead’ and welcomed residents in for a tour of their new Consolidated Operations Centre.

“So several years ago, our council and administrative staff had a vision to consolidate our departments and operations into one location; to improve the efficiencies and better serve the ratepayers that come and I’m glad to see many of the faces (of) past councillors and staff to help us with that vision are here today,” said Reeve Craig Widmer, as part of the opening to the April 11 event.

Students, staff, and community gathered on the afternoon of April 20 to take a look behind the classroom doors for their first exhibition of learning.

This celebration is ongoing throughout all of the Prairie Rose division, said Cheryl Rebmann, principal of Burdett School. 

May

The Town of Bow Island was given the clear by this year’s audit, at the April 24 regular council meeting, alongside a look at some of the different taxes that help keep the town running.

Second and third reading of the Tax Rate Bylaw carried, which aimed to offset the potential costs of the new, higher assessment of town property by lowering the precise rate. While the exact amount varies for each kind of property, said CAO Dave Matz after the previous meeting, the hope is to help keep things relatively in line with previous years.

All three readings of the Water Maintenance Tax Bylaw were put forward and carried, putting the bylaw into motion. Like the Special Dust Tax, this is a standard fee that comes forward every year.

From May 3-7, Bow Island business owners came together to offer just a few of their favourite things in a seasonal boutique.

“We have a spring boutique of our favourite things,” said Tara Robertson, owner of Mint + Macs and one of the organizers. “So favourite businesses, favourite products, from women who are around our area, some of them sell for companies, and some of them create their own products. So we came together as a collective group of women who own businesses, and we just wanted to share our products and our businesses with our town.”

The May 8 Bow Island Town Council enjoyed some warmer weather, looking toward summer projects and the year to come.

Council moved to support the County of 40 Mile with a letter of intent. The County of Forty Mile is looking for partner support to apply for funding under the Universal Broadband Fund and Alberta Broadband Fund to install fiber optic connections to communities. 

It’s an extensive proposal, said Mayor Gordon Reynolds.

Celebrating 75 years of protecting their community, Bow Island Fire is opening their doors to the public for a day of food, fun, and demonstrations.

“The firehouse was formed in 1948. According to the records that we can find, anyhow,” said fire chief Blaine O’Donnell. The station doesn’t often do these kinds of events, but they’re looking forward to inviting everyone to the fire hall.

With the end of the school year almost here, Prairie Rose Public Schools looked to the coming next one in their May 23 public board meeting.

Student Services Coordinator Carol Carlson presented the 2022-2023 First Nations Metis Inuit (FNMI) Report. It was noted that currently, 3.2 per cent of the division’s population identities as FNMI students. Carlson shared various ongoing projects underway as part of the education plan. 

Further details on this report and on many of the FNMI related projects happening across the division can be found within the May 23 agenda package.

June

The Community Foundation of Southeast Alberta (CFSEA) invited previous donors, recipients, and members of the public to join them for their once a year Founders Day Picnic.

The May 29 event took place in Medicine Hat’s own Carriage House, to take a moment to properly appreciate what the foundation has accomplished not just over the past year, but the past three decades since their founding.

Despite the rainy weather, the Bow Island Fire Department opened its doors to the public on June 3 for an afternoon of food, games for kids, and celebration of their years of service.

“I was really, really happy. I think I would say between 400-500 people, I’m guessing, but it was a lot of people,” said Fire Chief Blaine O’Donnell. “It was a really good day.”

Firefighters served hot dogs, hamburgers, and doughnuts, helped small children through a fire-themed obstacle course, and had a series of donated items available on silent auction.

Coming around once every five years, the hamlet of Burdett is getting ready for their anniversary bash.

It’s a “pretty big event,” said committee chair Justin Weatherhead.

“We’ve got fireworks on Friday night. We got the Chevelles planned at the beer gardens Friday. Saturday, we have numerous kids events, including bouncy castles and face painting, Movie Night. You’ve got a parade happening Saturday,” said Weatherhead. “Just a really action packed event. It’s always a good time, brings all the people back into the town for a good weekend.”

Foremost Agro was full of excitement, and hamburgers, as the community gathered to learn of how Co-op was contributing to their longtime project in the indoor riding arena.

One of only a select few projects across Canada, the arena was chosen to receive a portion of $1 million as a 2023 recipient of Co-op Community Spaces. The arena will receive $77,000 toward its continued development, an amount that helps bring the project ever-closer to their next stage, said Foremost and District Agricultural Society Treasurer Stacey Barrows.

July

While the typical slow-down that accompanies the summer is fast approaching, this last June 26 meeting before the height of summer proves that Bow Island town council still has plenty on their mind.

The town received a delegation from longtime resident Louise Lyons who came forward with fellow residents to cite concerns with unsightliness as they pertain to the nearby Public Works yard, as well as the regular maintenance of some of their neighbours.

Lyons is currently attempting to sell her home, and explained that the appearance of the nearby property was inhibiting her ability to do so.

Council assured that in both cases, a solution was close at hand, and would be dealt with in the near future.

What began as a celebration in 1991 after a homegrown star won his first Stanley Cup now celebrates a tenth event and the support of a giving community.

In honour of Bonnie Campbell and Harvey Nixdorf, two pillars of the Bow Island community who passed in recent years, 2023 marked the most recent Troy Loney Charity Golf Classic. This year saw another fully sold out event, said Co-Chairman Craig Couillard. 

As the company prepares to add another generation, the time’s come to return to an old name and set down new roots.

The company started with Tony Crooymans, back when he first arrived in Canada in 1956, said owner John Crooymans. 

While the company has been Tony Crooymans & Sons as long as many can remember, with the inclusion of another generation, the dissolving of the current joint venture means that the company is in need of a new name,

July 10 marked one of the Town of Bow Island Council’s summer meetings.

Council noted that there has been a buildup of MSI funding during this month’s Bank Reconciliation, which “they don’t get until they spend it,” explained CAO Dave Matz. 

The Town agreed to a small increase in the amount of funding they provide to FCSS. The amount was noted to be “Not really any difference,” said Mayor Gordon Reynolds, a difference of perhaps five per cent, but the agreement will go before both the Village of Foremost and the County of Forty Mile soon, as they also need to agree.

Having built her soil empire over the past few years, CEO Roxanne Doerksen shared her passion for what crawls in the earth with Pivot Country Fairgoers at the Servus Community Hall on July 20.

Doerksen began with her own story, how she “retired from her life” in 2016 with full intention of being a domestic partner, but how life took her in the far opposite direction.

August

The Pivot Country Fair is over for another year, and with 444 entries, this year was a marked success.

Participation this year was significantly higher, nearly returning to pre-pandemic numbers for the Bow Island event. Last year saw 32 exhibitors with 202 entries.

“The fair committee would like to thank all those who exhibited,” said committee member Dorothy Kroeker. “It is the exhibitors who make the fair a success and we certainly have a lot of creative people who are willing to put their work out for the public to see.”

The official opposition are increasingly concerned about lack of word from the province in regards to exclusivity and instances of member’s-only medicine in Alberta.

In a statement on August 1, Alberta NDP Critic for Health (Primary and Rural Care) David Shepherd responded to the fact that the “clock has run out” on the UCP’s ultimatum to the Marda Loop Medical Clinic in Calgary, which had been planning to move forward with plans to charge for preferential access to healthcare.

An unusual Friday night show for the Bow Theatre, award-winning blues band MonkeyJunk promises an unforgettable experience on August 25th.

“Since 2008, the name MonkeyJunk has been synonymous with the emergence of a new kind of blues on the Canadian and international scenes,” said Jason Riddell, president of Blues at the Bow (BATBOW). “Continually pushing boundaries and blurring genre lines, the Ottawa-based trio has added an edge to their music by incorporating swampy blues & rock with thoughtful and intelligent lyrics.”

MonkeyJunk consists of Tony D on lead guitar, Steve Marriner on lead vocals, baritone guitar, and harmonica, and Matt Sobb on drums. The band has released 5 full length albums and are poised to release new music in 2023; just in time to celebrate 15 years as a band, explained Riddell.

With the new school year coming up fast, St. Michael’s School in Bow Island is pleased to welcome its new principal for the 2023–2024 school year.

Kevin Kinahan is a deviated Catholic educator with over 30 years in the Holy Spirit Division community.

“I’ve been living in Coaldale for the last 30 years or so. My three kids are all born and raised in Coaldale. I’ve been an administrator in the Holy Spirit Catholic District for 20 I guess 21 years,” said Kinahan.

While Kinahan had retired previously from full-time work to filling in for administrative leaves and substitute teaching for the past two years, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to get back in the saddle when offered the position in Bow Island.

September

There’s still a bit of time to recognize the special older folk in Medicine Hat and area for the Seniors of Distinction award.

The AgeCare website states that the yearly award seeks to shine a light on local seniors and their amazing accomplishments and how they have and continue to contribute to their communities.

Currently, they are looking for individuals over the age of 55 who shine in the areas of arts, community service, leadership, or healthy living, or possibly all four; however, no nomination is too small, and people are encouraged to put forward people in their lives regardless of how many categories they may qualify for.

August 23 may be the last time the County of Forty Mile No. 8 met for the summer, and as such, they certainly had to make it count.

Council received a delegation from Mayor Lorne Buis of the Village of Foremost, seeking collaboration on a shortage of housing available.

“When we want to hire an employee, if they choose to live in the village of Foremost –  because that’s where our home base is – it’s hard to come by houses that are for sale or rent for that matter. So I know, you know, there’s been talk going around about trying to do some development,” said deputy reeve Stacey Barrows.

An opportunity for residents to ask their questions and raise their concerns, the councillors of the County of Forty Mile are looking to plan a series of meetings.

The hope is to engage with residents on a conversational and casual level, in hopes of better learning what each community has on their mind.

“They just need to be heard,” said Deputy Reeve Stacey Barrows. “I think they just need to have their visit with us and have questions, but it needs to be there so we know what they want for their communities.”

It was a perfect day on Sept. 14 for the HALO Emergency Services Schools Day. A long line of school buses dropped off hundreds of excited Grade 4-6 students from across all three local school divisions.

Katie Albers brought her Grade 5 class from Southview Community School. Last year, Albers taught a split 4/5 class and is pleased some of her Grade 4 students from last year are now in her Grade 5 class. Having a field trip in September is a way for Albers to work with her students on expectations.

October

There were many discussions over the course of the day, as the County of Forty Mile No. 8 gathered for their Sept. 27 meeting.

Council made the motion to stop sending funding to the East Butte TV Club. While they had sent money over some past years, a motion was passed not to continue. 

It was noted that some parts of the county have never been able to receive the benefits of this, while others still watched the channels provided. The club broadcasts several Montana and Alberta TV channels from transmitting antennas in the Sweetgrass Hills.

Bow Island’s Harvest Festival, despite some cold and rainy weather, still brought the community in for a day of fun and pumpkins. 

The event was a collaboration between Cherry Christian Academy School, Bow Island Chamber of Commerce, Bow Island Fire Department, and some outside volunteers, said Kaylee Ostenberg, Recreation Facilitator for the Town of Bow Island, in an interview prior to the event. 

Cherry Coulee Christian Academy hosted crafts, a bouncy castle, and various fair games within their gymnasium for the afternoon, until 2 p.m., when most events moved over to the Multiplex for a Harvest Market, dinner, a petting zoo, and, of course, a pie-throwing competition.

With harvest largely over, the councillors of the County of Forty Mile No. 8 are back and working harder than ever.

It was noted by CAO Keith Bodin that they had reached a real estate agent in regards to selling some of the excess County properties, though no progress has been made as of yet in moving forward with sales.

They received a delegation from the Foremost and District Agricultural Society. The society was seeking support in the operation of a community structure, which has made significant progress in the building of it in the past year. Members note that they have already been approached to potentially have several events on site, and they believe that it will be a significant space for the community.

Thursday, Oct. 19 saw nearly thirty business owners pile into the Rolling Pin Bakery in Bow Island.

Hosted by the Bow Island and Burdett Chamber of Commerce, the event in question was a luncheon celebrating Small Business Week. Far from the same six individuals as usual, noted Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds, it was some small way of thanking those who staked their time, effort, and personal finances into perhaps the greatest part of small town charm.

It’s largely business as usual for Bow Island Council, following their October 23 organizational and regular meetings.

The initial organizational meeting saw very few changes made since last year’s meeting, with only one change in the committee appointments; there was no change in meeting dates and times, remaining on the second and fourth Monday of each month starting at 6:30 p.m, and there is no change in the per diems, said Mayor of Bow Island Gordon Reynolds.

Councillor Dave Harrison was also returned in his role as Deputy Mayor, said Reynolds. 

November

This year’s Pumpkin Auction for the Foremost Municipal Library brought the community together for fun and fundraising.

It was a good night, said Library Board Chair Stewart Payne, though it was a long day of preparation for the board members who organized and ran the event. The crowd certainly brought the energy that has historically made the auction a night to remember, though Payne notes it was a smaller crowd than usual.

St. Michael’s School in Bow Island hosted an early Remembrance Day assembly on November 8, on the last day of school prior to the 11.

Dave Allen, a teacher in the school and the organizer for the assembly, expressed pride in the students for taking the reins and being active participants in honouring those who have fallen, as well as those who continue to fight around the world.

Moved up from their usual Monday due to the day in lieu, November 14 marked the first of Bow Island’s two monthly Town Council meetings.

The meeting opened with a brief delegation from John Heibert of Jade Homes and Heibert cabinets, inquiring into the possibility of an exception to be made in the fire services and protection bylaw for hosting a summer event for his business, to allow the inclusion of a fire ring. Current fire protection bylaws do not allow for fires on commercial properties. 

The bylaw will be reviewed to see what can be done; it was remarked by council that there have previously been fires allowed on other properties, such as for Town events.

With the amalgamation of the Bow Island and Redcliff RCMP detachments being cancelled, residents can look forward to a stronger, more community-oriented approach to policing in the County of Forty Mile.

In a delegation at the November 21 Forty Mile County Council, Corporal Phillipe Beaupre visited to address the coming changes and answer Council’s questions on how best to serve the community. Beaupre is originally from the Taber RCMP, but has filled the position of Detachment Commander in Bow Island for the past two months.

December 

This month, those interested in pursuing a life as an RCMP officer will have a chance to talk to a recruiter.

This stop is part of a province-wide effort, said Constable Kirby Erickson with RCMP recruitment. 

St. Michael’s School in Bow Island hosted their annual supper and school auction on December 1, and are endlessly grateful to everyone who came out to support.

“The focus for the night was really our community and how grateful we are for them, and that our community, whether it be our school community, the community at large, or our business community, that our supporters have really become like our family over the years,” said Michelle MacLean, one of the organizers of the event. 

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