Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chinook Crescent is Lookin' Good!

A quick tour of the Village today showed me a couple of projects looking good!  The repairs and paving project on Chinook Crescent appears to be very, very close to being finished.  And it looks really good, too!   I see there are a few things still to be completed, but those folks along the Crescent can now finally use their street again!

I would like to thank you all for your patience during this project.  They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but Rome probably took less time than Chinook Crescent!  Council will have to re-design and re-write future contracts so these kind of delays don't happen again!

And on Main Street I noticed the newly painted real estate office is looking very spiffy these days.  That change of color really sets it off!  Well done!

(More photos of the freshly-paved Chinook Crescent and Main Street can be seen on my Flickr photostream)

Tough Day

Last Thursday was a very tough day for our little Village, as we laid to rest our own Raelene Schmaltz.

Thank you to all those who helped out that day.  The 4H'ers who set up the Community Centre for the luncheon, the CWL for all their work at the luncheon, all those folks who brought in sandwiches or squares, and to the many hundreds of folks who came to support the family at this most difficult time.  I know I've missed some individual or group, but know that your contribution made Thursday just a bit easier for Raelene's family and our village.  

A special thanks go to members of the media for maintaining a low profile on Thursday.  I and many others were especially grateful for that.

Thursday was a sad day I hope our little village won't ever have to repeat.  It's time to move on, but please remember to support Raelene's family and friends in the weeks and months to come.

And look after yourself!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Campaign is On -- and C.O.P.

I was very pleased to see one of the candidates in our upcoming by-election out door knocking in our neighbourhood today!  We discussed the election and some of the issues facing Beiseker.  I hope to see the other two candidates over the next few days.

There has been much concern voiced over the increase of senseless vandalism here in Beiseker in the past few months.  I note that the Village of Linden has started a C.O.P. (Citizens On Patrol) program in their community.  We had a similar program a few years ago the last time we experienced an increase in vandalism, but the program ceased when the problem went away.

The problem is back!  Should we re-create the C.O.P., here?  Do we have enough folks willing to drive around the community for a few hours each week? 

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We're having a by-election!

We have three candidates running in the upcoming by-election to fill the vacancy left by Bruce Rowe, who was elected our MLA this past April!

Our three candidates are; Warren Wise, Ken Nicholas and Melanie McCullough.  Be sure to welcome these folks as they encounter you on the campaign trail!

Election Day will be on Monday, July 23, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m in the Council Chambers at the Village of Beiseker Office.  There is also a candidates' forum hosted by the Beiseker Chamber of Commerce on Monday, July 9,  at 7:30 p.m. at the Beiseker Community Centre.  Click the links to RSVP to the event listings on Facebook!

Monday, June 25, 2012

In Shock

I was shocked to hear of the passing of our own Raelene Schmaltz last week.  Raelene was killed in a tragic traffic accident on Highway 9 south of Irricana.  All of Beiseker is greiving her loss.

My wife and I met Raelene while we were teaching in Beiseker Community School back in the early 1970s.  She attended my Social Studies classes throughout her school years.  I was  impressed by her quiet but forceful presence.   I always knew that there was some very serious thinking going on behind those flashing dark eyes and I waited for her comments with great anticipation!

As in any small town, nobody really leaves, they just go a little farther away.  We heard of her world travels and her graduating at the top of her class to become a nurse.  We were all proud of her accomplishments.  I also recall her working with 4-H kids over the years.  In the past while, I would often see Raelene in town.  She'd always give me a smile and a cheerful greeting.  I will miss that.

Our sincere condolences go to Eileen & Clarence and their family.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goin' Fast on North Road!

Hi Leo!  Thanks for that comment on the speeders along Highway 72 (North Road) through Beiseker.

This is indeed a tough one.  Many drivers seem to forget they're driving through a residential area when they drive through town on the "72".  Because it's a provincial highway, Alberta Transportation is the one to decide what the posted speed limit will be.  We have brought our concerns about the speeds on North Road and Highway #9 to representatives of Alberta Transportation for many years at each Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) convention.

They have told us that they're in business to keep traffic moving, not slow it up!  It took many years of coaxing to get the speed lowered along Highway #9.  I'm presuming it will take at least that long to post lower speeds on the "72".  They have told us they will consider lowering the speed limit on the "72"  west of Beiseker from 100 km/h when they see houses being built in Grasslands.

I'm thinking there may be other ways to "speed up the slow down" process.  Here are my thoughts;
  1. If everyone who saw a vehicle driving along North Road at an excessive speed would phone the RCMP local detachment number (403-947-3496) with a complaint, the police would be aware of the problem and note that in their reports.
  2. If all concerned folks in Beiseker wrote a letter to Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver asking him to look into the problem, we might get some action!
  3. If those same folks wrote a letter to Village Council asking that the School Zone on North Road be changed to a Playground Zone (30 km/h, in force seven days a week, twelve months of the year), that would give us some punch when we ask Alberta Transportation once again for that to happen.
There my thoughts.  I agree with you Leo; I'd rather be proactive on this speed issue rather that react to an accident along there!  Let's keep working on this.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good News from Aqua 7

Last night's Aqua 7 Regional Water Services Commission meeting was full of good news!
  • The price of Aqua 7 water to communities will drop on August 1, 2012 to $2.67 per cubic meter.  Each community will still have to charge something to pump the water around their municipality, but I'm hoping everyone will see a price-per-cubic meter drop on their water bills later this summer!
  • The Town of Drumheller has reversed their earlier decision (which I blogged about here)and have now agreed to adjust the boundaries of the Commission to cover the north-eastern part of Rocky View County.  This means Rocky View County now has a chance to sell some of the water they've beeen paying for!  Wow! This is fantastic news!  Thank you to Mayor Yemen and Drumheller town council!
  • The line repair we went through last month turned out to be far less serious and less expensive than predicted.  We did purchase a new valve but it wasn't needed so we'll keep it in storage.   
  • The refinancing of our debt over a longer period of time has reduced our yearly payments by about $300,000 a year!
It was so refreshing to attend an Aqua 7 meeting and hear all that good news! More details will come out later but I had to tell you that things are looking up for the Regional Water Service!

Have a good weekend!

Condolences to the Nenshi Family

While in Ottawa I read of the passing of  Kurban Nenshi, father of Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, in the Globe and Mail.  He died on Fathers' Day.

From his obituary, I read of a man dedicated to his family, his city and his nation. He was born on the other side of the world in Africa and made Canada his home after emigrating here in the 1970s.

It is obvious this nation is better off in having Kurban Nenshi as a citizen!

My condolences go out to Mayor Nenshi and his family.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seniors Tea

I was back from Ottawa in time to attend the annual Seniors Tea hosted by the Beiseker Station Museum Society at the Golden Years Town and Country Club.  Our theme this year was the honouring of the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede!  All the society members were decked out in their western finery.  Coffee, Tea and cake was served. 

Entertainment was provided by our very own Verlin Rau.  Verlin is a very talented singer and song writer and one of Beiseker's best kept secrets!  I always enjoy his music whenever I get a chance to hear him.  He sung some of the standard old time favorites plus a bunch from his own works from his recently released CD!  I  think everyone really enjoyed themselves.

The Seniors' Tea is held every year in mid June. It is put on by the Beiseker Station Museum Society which operates our own Museum in the train station, which also houses the Village Office. For many years the Tea was held in the lower museum exhibit hall at the station, but the senior's center makes a far better venue.  It's a perfect chance to see people you haven't seen maybe all winter and catch up on all the local happenings and gossip!

If you've never attened, make a mental note to come next year.

Trip to Ottawa!

Over this past week my wife and I had a great few days visiting our nation's capital.  Last Friday, we met with our Member of Parliament, Kevin Sorenson.  He was able to get my wife and I passes to the House of Commons  Members' Gallery for Question Period.

Both of us found the goings-on quite facinating.  We sat above the Opposition side of the House which is on the Speaker's left directly above the Liberals with Bob Rae.  Most of the speeches/questions were made by the inexperienced NDP members practising their skills, but it was quite an eye opener watching the interaction amongst the Members "behind the cameras."   After watching the proceedings on TV many times over the years, I was impressed by the way the Speaker kept order!  No constant yelling across the floor as has happened in the past! Or maybe they were just really tired after that 40+ hour straight NDP budget voting fiasco the day before.

Later we met up with Kevin.  We sat down in the Members' Lounge for coffee.  Kevin and I talked about many things going on in and around his Crowfoot constituency, some of which affected Beiseker.  Kevin was able to give us a quick "behind the scenes" tour of  the Centre Block and the Library of Parliament before he had to dash.  He was acting as the Deputy Party Whip that day and couldn't stray far from the House.  Kevin's hospitality was second to none!

Friday evening we attended a Gordon Lightfoot concert at the National Arts Centre.

Over the weekend we did all the tourist things; museum visits, city tours, and strolling around the ByWard Market area.  I was pleased to see that either of our two official languages works just fine anywhere you go in Ottawa or across the river in Gatineau, Quebec

If you're looking for a Canadian destination for a trip this summer, I would heartedly suggest the Ottawa area!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Streets, Lagoons, the new Firehall, and Taxes!

We had an excellent council meeting last evening (Monday, June 11). 

First of all, I was able to give Public Works Foreman Bill Hnybida and his crew the praise they deserve for getting the Village all ship shape for last weekend's Country Fair.  I also thanked Gail Peckham for all of her hard work getting things organized here at the office Saturday morning.

We discussed your concerns with the street cleaning project.  Council and Bill agreed to investigate the situation and find solutions for next year's street cleaning project. 

We were also very concerned with the Chinook Crescent paving project, which seems to have stalled again. I have no idea why this project is taking so long.   We asked our own engineers to find out why these crew keep vanishing.  Maybe the paving crews are getting lost following their GPS to Beiseker!  We also asked our engineers to remind these wayward crews that the completion date is fast approaching!

Next came the sewage lagoon.  The lagoon needs upgrading to meet new environmental standards.  This will be started over the next while. 

The new firehall appears closer to reality now.  Critical decisions are to be made this week and the project is to proceed quickly after that.  We should have a new firehall within about two months after that.  Stay tuned on this one.

Last and certainly not least, we set  the tax rate for 2012.  As I mentioned before, our overall assessment dropped by more than $3 million, but the cost of running the village either remained the same or increased.  Our Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) worked over the budgets for every Village department and brought a proposed final 2012 budget to us last night, which we accepted. 

We then set our millrate with a 4.5% increase.  Add to that the 1% the School Boards want and the total increase will be 5.5%.  It is based on your assessment, so some of you will notice an increase while others who were assessed at a lower amount may notice a small decrease. 

Overall, I was very proud of our CAO and Village Council for keeping the village portion of the increase to less than 5%.  I hope you all will not notice any drastic changes in the delivery of services around the village over the next twelve months. 

Your tax notices will be coming out over the next few days.  Check them over and let me know if you have any concerns.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What a Great Day at the Beiseker Country Fair!

Despite the horrible weather forecasts, the turnout at Beiseker's 94th annual Country Fair was fantastic.  And those who ignored the forecasts, had a great day in the Village. 

It all started with a delicious breakfast attended by more than 450 hungry folks.  Breakfast was also attended by the Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses - Candice Lee, Dani Gariepy, and Jessica Manning - along with this year's Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Amelia Crowshoe.  From Crossfield's Pete Knight Days, the 2011 Queen and Princess - Emily Marston and Miranda Ross - were also there, accompanied by the three 2012 Queen and Princess contestants. 

During their introduction Dani Gariepy related how years ago she rode in her Grandpa's (Ed McNair's) gravel truck in the Beiseker Parade throwing candy to the kids!  Then Amelia Crowshoe performed a native Jingle Dance for us.  What an exciting way to start a super day.

Next was the parade.  It was great to see former mayor Bruce Rowe back in Beiseker. He rode in this year's parade for the first time as MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, while Frank Schwengler drove me around the parade route in a gorgeous convertible.  I threw candy, I waved and I had fun!

After the Beiseker Country Fair Parade it was over to the arena for the Beiseker 4H Show.  I watched the proud youngsters show their calves in the very nicely prepared arena, then off to the Community Links Building for some goodies. 

As the teams competed for bragging rites at the ball diamonds, we chowed down on some delicious pie at the Golden Years Club.

Next it was over to Main Street to become a part of the 8th Annual Beiseker Main Street Show & Shine.  Local businesses, led by Chris Heighton, put on a great car show.  More than 40 vehicles were on display there - the number of cars was down this year, probably because of that crappy weather forecast.  Chris handed out door prizes and  I got to pick the "Mayor's Choice"!

I carefully looked at all the entries shining there in the afternoon sun.  I decided to pick a car that I would have loved to drive up and down Eighth Avenue in Calgary back in the late 1960s. There were a few cars there which qualified, but I picked a pretty little blue Pontiac Firebird!  I've got to tell you it was the hardest job of the day picking just one of those gorgeous cars!

During the afternoon I dropped in on some of the other things happening around the Village; everything from ATV & motorhome displays to "bouncy houses" for kids!  We finished off the day with beef on a bun at the Community Centre.  We left as the DJ was warming up and the kids were jumping around on the dance floor.  We were tired and we called it a day at that point. 

What a fantastic day in the Village of Beiseker!

If you're Lions' Club Member or a spouse of a Lion, take a huge bow for a job well done!  I know the Lions' Club here in Beiseker isn't that big but you'd never know that around the Village during the Country Fair!  Those folks worked so hard and so long to make the day a success.  The people I saw in the  Hall doing the breakfast were there working at the supper!  Many of those same folks ran the parade and helped elsewhere during the day, too!  Those guys and their wives made the Energizer Bunny look like a laggard!  

Well done; all of you!  I'm already looking forward to the 95th version of the Beiseker Country Fair next year!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Street Cleaning

Thank you to all of you who moved your vehicles off the streets so that the street cleaner could get around yesterday. 

Some of you have voiced concerns about the street cleaning yesterday.  Please be sure to forward those concerns, including time of day and location, to the village office (403-947-3774) and I'll follow up on it. 

All in all I think the village looks much better, ready for our Country Fair this coming Saturday!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Beiseker Country Fair

Saturday, June 9, 2012; mark it on your Blackberry, iPad or whatever you use to keep track of your life!  That's when our 2012 edition of the Beiseker Country Fair will take off, rain or shine!  Come see the Parade in the morning (tell the kids not to forget a sack for the candy they catch) featuring the Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses and the Calgary Stampede Indian Princess!  This is the Stampede's 100th anniversary so we're very fortunate to have their Royalty visit us!  And there's a local connection to the Stampede Royalty this year, too. 

There'll be floats, antique and classic cars, and horses in the big parade.  There's a big car show right on Main Street, a beer garden, a 4H show, plus many other things going on, including lots of activities for the kids!   And why not stop over for pie and coffee at the Seniors' Center across from the Arena!

A more complete schedule of events is available through the Country Fair Event listing on the Village of Beiseker's Facebook page.  You can RSVP there, too! 

It looks like it's going to be a great day.  I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Yesterday morning (Saturday, June 2) the Council of the Village of Beiseker met to discuss the 2012 budget and start the process of setting a mill rate for this year.  

We had an excellent meeting.  Our Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) had drawn up a proposed budget.  It was up us to go through it line by line and recommend changes.  Our CAO will then take our changes back, work them into the budget figures and bring them back to council at our next regular council meeting.  At that time we will either accept the changes and declare a mill rate or send it back for more modifications.  By law we have to declare a mill rate by the end of June.

Something alarming is that our Overall Assessment has dropped more than three million dollars!  That means that if we all sold all of our Beiseker properties today, we would receive three million bucks less than we would have last year!

Some properties were assessed higher and others assessed lower, many remained close to their 2011 assessments.  It's all based on formulas created by a mysterious process called Market Value Assessment (MVA).  It basically declares that if a similar property in a similar place sold for a certain amount, that's what my property is worth! 

Yes, I know that there are flaws in that logic, but that's what the provincial government says we have to do.  Municipal politicians from all over Alberta have complained to Municipal Affairs about this MVA system for years to no avail.

Council must estimate as closely as possible, how much money our municipality will need to operate for one year.  We must then set a mill rate to raise that amount of money based on a one dollar tax for every $1000.00 of assessed value.  Another provincial rule says that a municipality cannot submit a deficit budget.

We pored over the figures for more than two hours and made some important decisions.  Our Overall Assessment has dropped but the cost of operating our municipality has increased!

I hope we gave our CAO enough guidance so that she might work out our budget and enable us to declare a mill rate at our next regular council meeting.  That's about all I can tell you right now because nothing has been officially decided beyond that. 

Our next meeting of council will be held on Monday, June 11, 2012.