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December 17, 2017 December 17, 2017

Coaldale ready for derailment

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Lethbridge Sun Times

Officials say there have been no major train derailments in the Town of Coaldale so far. But that doesn’t stop emergency responders from being prepared in case it ever did happen.
The Town of Coaldale conducted a training exercise called “Broken Rail” for the Town’s Emergency Operations Centre and Emergency Management Agency on Thursday.
Broken Rail gave staff of the EOC the chance to practise their skills and apply their knowledge in a simulated town response to the release of a large quantity of a dangerous good due to a train derailment.
“Doing an exercise like Broken Rail today gives us a chance to practise some of our procedures and techniques, and enhance the knowledge of the staff so that we’re able to respond effectively to a large-scale emergency or disaster, and more importantly we’ll be able to recover more quickly,” said Mark Murphy, the Town of Coaldale’s director of Emergency Management. “Public safety is very, very important to the Town. We take it seriously and that’s why we’re doing this exercise.”
Construction to start on terminal
Construction will soon begin on the city’s $17-million downtown transit terminal.
Project manager Ric Johnston says pile driving on the 5 Avenue South property is scheduled to begin Dec. 1. The concrete piles and caps will support the three-level, 293-vehicle parkade which will rise above the bus bays.
Design of the block-long structure is 85 per cent complete, he says. A tender for the precast concrete — to be hoisted in place as work proceeds — has already been awarded.
When complete, the transit facility will provide ticket purchase facilities, washrooms and shelter from the elements. It will also return convenient parking to sections of 4 Avenue South that have been used as bus stops for decades.
Photo radar app available
A new app designed to remind drivers about the presence of photo radar sites has expanded into Lethbridge.
The free app, known simply as “Photo Radar App,” was developed by Benjamin Lavin, a University of Alberta fourth-year Computer Science student as a personal challenge to test his abilities as an app developer.
“A friend of mine mentioned that Edmonton was releasing their photo radar information online,” said Lavin. “The personal challenge was to see for myself if I could take that and put it into a more usable form for people.”
The app uses the online data communities post regarding the locations of their photo radar and red-light cameras. That information is added to a map which is accessible through the app. A driver with the app running on their phone is notified with an audible signal when they approach one of the advertized sites.
Business installs solar power
It’s sunny days for solar power — in downtown Lethbridge. Entrepreneur Vince Claerhout has become the first downtown building owner to plug into the provincial government’s incentive program for solar energy. But he hopes many will follow.
Claerhout, who operates Zephyr Impressions along with his wife Toni, says 52 panels atop his 5 Street South structure generate 17.7 kilowatts of power — enough for his store and his tenants.
Now The Studio and Miller Gallery, along with The Engravers, are looking forward to lower bills. Every sunny day, their rooftop system will cover their needs and then feed extra power into the province’s electrical grid.
That will continue year-round, Claerhout adds — as long as he brushes off the snow. The panels are not affected by the cold, he explains. “In fact, they work better at cooler temperatures,” making Lethbridge’s climate more suitable than cities farther south.
Banner year for snake calls
While snow has settled into Lethbridge’s river valley, the resident rattlesnake population has gone into hibernation for the winter. Which provides some welcome relief for the City of Lethbridge’s “rattlesnake whisperer” Ryan HeavyHead. He reported to 173 calls to relocate rattlesnakes between April and October this year, almost six times as many as in 2016.
Each year the City of Lethbridge operates a rattlesnake mitigation program to reduce the number of people/pet and snake encounters in the city. HeavyHead is consulted to relocate the snakes from an “area of conflict” back to their permanent natural habitat.
“This last year was the most calls there’s been than in any previous year that the program has run,” he said.
The high numbers are due to a combination of factors, HeavyHead believes. One reason is the public education program has spread the word about relocation services.

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