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Charges stayed

Posted on March 19, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

A 17-year-old boy who testified in a police officer’s assault trial was taken into custody after a profanity-laced outburst in Lethbridge provincial court.

The boy, who can’t be identified because of his age, was testifying against Const. Norman Smith who was accused of assaulting the boy and unlawfully confining him in a police cruiser Dec. 29, 2012.

The boy was the first of two witnesses scheduled to testify Thursday, but after the outburst and several similar outbursts earlier in the trial, Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor stayed the charges against Smith.

A stay of proceeding suspends the trial, although the Crown may lift the stay and re-institute the proceedings within one year. After one year the matter is stayed permanently.

Although the Crown told court the officer may not have had the grounds to arrest the boy, he directed the stay given the witness’s “outrageous” behaviour in court, which, he suggested, is likely indicative of even worse behaviour the night he was arrested,

City EMS recognized

Lethbridge Emergency Medical Services has been awarded Qmentum Accreditation in recognition of its quality emergency medical services.

Lethbridge is the only integrated fire and EMS in Canada to become accredited. It’s also the first contracted emergency medical service in Alberta to be accredited in the Qmentum program, which is required by the Minister of Health.

The accreditation involves a rigorous process of self-assessments and on-site peer interviews. Criteria assessed include leadership, governance, quality and safety. The Qmentum standards identify policies and practices that go into high quality, safe and effectively managed care.

“This second level of accreditation is extremely important to us. It speaks volumes about the people we have working for us and about the quality of our service for Lethbridge residents,” said Fire Chief Brian Cornforth in a news release.

“City council is committed to maintaining the high quality integrated fire and emergency services we enjoy in Lethbridge,” said Mayor Chris Spearman. “It’s gratifying to know that our local EMS shows up extremely well at a national level under independent scrutiny.”

Growth expected

Mayor Chris Spearman and Stephen Amonson, provincial president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, described a bright future for the city during a business breakfast last Wednesday. Their predictions came during a kickoff event for the annual Home and Garden Show at Exhibition Park.

Amonson, who’s also president of Ashcroft Homes here, said recent construction of commercial projects on the city’s westside will lead to five or six years of strong residential expansion in that part of the city.

“Hold onto your seats,” he suggested.

Spearman, who outlined plans for a major commercial development near the new high schools, described it as the city’s biggest project since the Canadian Pacific rail yard relocation.

Construction at The Crossings could continue over a six- to nine-year span, he said, and likely spin off further projects in the area. The city is also building a new twin-ice arena and curling club in the area, and council has approved plans for an aquatic centre there.

“We want to work together with the private sector,” he said.

West Lethbridge has already seen a significant expansion of shopping facilities, and Spearman said he often reminds Calgary companies how quickly projects may win approval here.

Partnerships explored

The University of Lethbridge is exploring partnerships with educational institutions in Algeria as part of a colloquium that’s the first of its kind between the two countries.

Dan Weeks, U of L vice-president of research, along with representatives from 12 other Canadian post-secondary institutions, has been attending sessions with more than 350 Algerian academics.

“There is great interest in our nursing program and the possibility of sending students to be trained at Lethbridge,” Weeks wrote in an email.

In addition, he said École Nationale Polytechnique d’Oran is interested in looking at a more formal agreement for student exchange.

The U of L’s presentation on sustainable environmental research drew interest from professors looking for a place to do research sabbaticals.

“These sorts of partnerships take time and effort to solidify but I think we have made tremendous strides in a first trip,” Weeks wrote. “The Algerians have a great interest in Canada. They are drawn to the high quality of our programs and high regard for our degrees.”

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