After more than three years of heartache, a Lethbridge father will soon be reunited with his young son. Police have arrested the boy’s mother, who abducted the then 11-month-old baby and fled to Central America.
The 33-year-old woman was apprehended by Lethbridge police on Wednesday, with the assistance of the Belize National Police Department.
The mother and child had been the subjects of international Interpol alerts; the boy had been listed with numerous missing children organizations, and an arrest warrant for parental abduction had been outstanding for the mother since early 2014.
The court imposed a publication ban on Thursday afternoon that prevents the release of any information that can identify the child.
In an earlier Herald interview, the father said he received a heart-breaking text message on Jan. 5, 2014 from the mother’s parents, whom she was living with at the time. It said she had left the country to attend a school to teach overseas and they didn’t know when she’d be back.
Up to that point, the mother had been granted temporary day-to-day care and temporary custody, the father said, and he had court-ordered access with two visits per week.
After the text and the mother’s failure to drop the boy off for a court-ordered visit, the father reported it to police.
Killer gets 75 years
Derek Saretzky will probably die in prison.
Last Wednesday, Justice William Tilleman deemed parole ineligibility to be consecutive for Saretzky — meaning three terms of 25 years before he is eligible for parole — 75 years in total.
“No one could possibly undo the hurt Mr. Saretzky has caused,” said Tillman.
In 2015, Saretzky murdered 69-year-old Coleman resident Hanne Meketech, and then he murdered Blairmore resident Terry Blanchette and Terry’s daughter, two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.
Saretzky was also handed a five-year concurrent sentence for offering an indignity to human remains for acts committed against Dunbar-Blanchette and the destruction of her body in a rural firepit.
The sentence means Saretzky, now 24, will be almost 100 years old before he is eligible for parole.
Tilleman said the three murders were a “grave injury” inflicted on the communities of the Crowsnest Pass and he addressed specific statements made by friends and family of the slain during victim impact statements.
He agreed with the jury recommendation that Saretzky should be served with consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.
Fort McMurray is rebuilding remarkably. But Lethbridge homebuilders remain the most productive among Alberta’s other mid-sized cities.
With 63 homes started during July — about two a day — builders in the Lethbridge census area have now started work on 366 housing units since the start of the year. In comparison, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports Red Deer has seen 139 starts, Grande Prairie 121 and Medicine Hat just 61.
But in Fort McMurray, where only 13 housing units were started over the first seven months of 2016, the CMHC says an amazing 994 had been started by the end of July this year as the city rebuilds from last year’s devastating wildfire.
At city hall — where officials count building permits, not actual construction starts — July-end reports show 241 single-family homes launched this year, at a value of more than $33 million. Sixteen permits for multi-family projects have also been issued, totalling more than $14 million.
The balance of the Lethbridge-area homes were started in Coaldale, Coalhurst or smaller communities within Lethbridge County.
On the industrial front, 33 projects totalling more than $6 million are shown on the city’s reports, along with 80 commercial plans worth more than $20 million.
Safe injection site identifed
A former downtown area nightclub has been pegged as the location for a future medically-supervised drug consumption site.
ARCHES Lethbridge, a harm reduction agency, made the announcement on Wednesday that it had filed an application on July 31 with Health Canada to establish the services at the site formerly known as Pulse Nightclub. The facility requires a federal exemption to allow drug use inside the building.
The application met the approval of the Lethbridge Executive Leaders Coalition on Opioid Use, which has been meeting since November 2016 to determine an effective response to the opioid crisis, to co-ordinate services and help save lives. They completed a six-month comprehensive needs assessment to determine whether such a site was needed and if so, what would be an appropriate location. A number of stakeholder interviews were completed and last month, they held nine community information sessions.
The location chosen, 1016 1 Ave. S., was determined to be best suited due to its close proximity to primary areas where public drug use occurs, its proximity to public transit, and the fact that it is well away from residential neighbourhoods. There is a high incidence of overdoses occurring within a 1.5-kilometre radius of the identified site, said Jill Manning ARCHES Managing Director. Thirty-eight per cent of emergency calls related to overdoses happen within that radius.
19 non-profits get United Way funding
Backed by Lethbridge-area individuals and businesses, the United Way helped more than 20,000 southern Albertans last year.
This year, the long-serving agency had an extra $75,000 to donate. On Thursday, 19 non-profit organizations from across the region explained how they’ll be putting their United Way funding to work.
“We need to focus on making sure organizations have the funds they need to run programs efficiently,” said Trudy Carrels, executive director of the United Way of Lethbridge and South Western Alberta for the past year.
“When they don’t have to worry about where they’re going to find that money, they can better serve the parents, babies, children, youth, adults and seniors who rely on them.”
Carrels announced she’ll be leaving the United Way, after completing an organizational restructuring over the past 14 months.
“We made some very big changes in one year, with a lot of work,” she said. “The goal is to be able to fulfil more funding requests and help more people.”
The changes have included tight budget controls and an increase in “campaign engagement,” she said.
“I am excited to see where United Way is going to go.”
Thirteen of this year’s funded agencies are based in Lethbridge, including several that cover the region. Inclusion Lethbridge — formerly the Lethbridge Association for Community Living — assists more than 200 southern Alberta children and adults with a developmental disability. Its “community navigator” program will help clients make contacts for services they need.
Woman celebrates 100th
Over a lifetime, Edna Metzger has helped with scores of southern Alberta harvests — and cooked countless chocolate cakes.
Tuesday, it was her turn to enjoy some cake as she celebrated her 100th birthday. Family members, friends and residents gathered to mark the occasion in her northside seniors’ lodge.
“She loved travelling, too,” her daughter Carol Anderson pointed out. She and her son Roger — still farming east of Stirling — were part of the crowd sharing memories and music.
Edna, still blessed with a good memory, recalls a trip with her late husband Glen to Australia. It was the animals that fascinated her, she says.
They also enjoyed trips as far away as Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand.
Born in Lethbridge on Aug. 8, 1917, Edna grew up on the family farm in the Warner-Wrentham area. She married local farmer Glen in April 1942 and raised three children: Gregg, Carol and Roger.