After being walloped by a record-setting snowstorm over the last weekend of September which dumped more than 60 centimetres of snow in two days, Lethbridge residents began digging out the morning of Sept. 30 with shovels and snowblowers clearing off sidewalks and driveways.
Many stayed home from work as residential sidestreets remained difficult to pass. City council also declared a snow day and cancelled their regular public meeting last week. Local schools, including Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge, suspended classes while the city continued to recover from the storm.
While residents and schools had their own work cut out for them in digging out, City crews struggled through the day on various fronts. Keeping roads cleared was a huge challenge throughout the weekend, confirmed City transportation operations manager Adam Campbell. The City of Lethbridge called in every contractor it could find to supplement its own crews, he said, but they still had difficulty keeping up with the pace of the snowfall.
The City’s fire and EMS personnel had a busy weekend, confirmed Fire and EMS Chief Marc Rathwell, and it was not made any easier with ambulances and fire trucks getting stuck at times trying to help residents in need.
Organized crime operating here
While street crime may often seem random, sometimes there are invisible hands guiding those crimes out of sight of the public eye.
Organized crime is a problem in many communities and members of ALERT, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams, are the ones empowered to root out and disrupt these dangerous criminal networks.
“With organized crime, there are varying levels of it,” states Staff Sgt. Leon Borbandy, ALERT Lethbridge region unit commander. “We talk about street-level organized crime, mid level and high level. The basic definition of organized crime is any group working with a common purpose to make crime in its broadest sense. I think it is important to talk about its broadest sense because every community is a little bit different; so we have to be flexible in our definition as well as our enforcement.”
Borbandy cannot get into operational specifics, but he says it would be naive for Lethbridge residents to think such organized criminal elements do not operate within the city and surrounding region.
“They have their fingers in all sorts of different things,” he says — “anything that’s profitable, organized crime will look to be involved with it. Drugs are one thing, but we are also very concerned about human trafficking. Prostitution laws have changed to try to minimize the victimization of victims, but we are still actively targeting those who make money off the victimization of other people.”
Soup kitchen celebrates 35 years
The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen celebrated 35 years of helping provide some measure of food security to those in need in the community with a special gathering Oct. 1.
“It still serves a very important role in the community 35 years later,” said former long-time executive director Joyce Crittenden, who was on hand to mark the occasion. “There are so many people where you don’t really know why they were coming, or what was happening in their lives, until they came in and talked to you. And in the beginning, there was no other services for them. There wasn’t even a food bank when the soup kitchen started. This was their one meal a day. It was tough, but thankfully there has been a heckuva a lot of changes since then.”
Some of those changes were highlighted in comments made by current executive director Bill Ginther, who emceed the celebration event.
“We started out in 1984 just doing the noon meal, and it continued that way for many years,” he said. “And then about a year and a half ago, we introduced breakfast. And not only have we introduced the breakfast program, we are introducing today in conjunction with our 35th anniversary, and in co-operation with Streets Alive, the start of our first evening meal tonight.”
Armouries showcase job opportunities
Canadian Armouries across the country were open recently to invite the community to learn more about their job duties as well as learn about some of the job opportunities in the industry.
The annual Canadian Army Reserve Job Fair encouraged people to learn more about the Lethbridge Vimy Ridge Armoury; 20th Independent Field Battery, if they have never been there before, and talk with some of the soldiers and captains of the armoury, and watch a variety of demonstrations.
“Today we are doing the National Job Fair open house, so armouries across Canada are open to invite Canadians in to see what their local Reserve Units do when they are at work,” says Brad Young, Captain of Vimy Ridge Armoury Lethbridge.
“This also gives the community an opportunity to come in and see what possible job opportunities might be available for those interested.”
When people took to the armoury Oct. 5, the base was filled with equipment, vehicles and machinery that is used in their training and everyday jobs. With many different aspects of joining the Canadian Reserve, demonstrations and officials were on hand.
“We have a demonstration of what is called a C3 105 howitzer, so the members are conducting gun drills,” says Young. “Another display we have here today is from the Southern Alberta Light Horse, they are showing the tactical armoured patrol vehicle. It is one they use to conduct their job, allowing people to see, get in and learn about it.”
Cavendish opens plant
Hailed as a “great day for Alberta,” Cavendish Farms massive, new french fry plant celebrated its grand opening in Lethbridge Oct. 3 with plant tours, heartfelt speeches and a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Premier Jason Kenney made the trip to Lethbridge for the grand opening after visiting Jumbo Valley Farms near Fort Macleod earlier in the day. At Jumbo Valley Farms, Kenney talked turkey — announcing new legal penalties for those who trespass on private agricultural lands in the name of animal rights or other activist motives. In Lethbridge, Kenney was thrilled to exchange the turkey-talk for a hearty order of french fries served up from the new $430-million Cavendish Farms plant.
“This is a great day for Alberta, a great day for Lethbridge, and a great day for all the country,” Kenney said in his public remarks to the 100 or so assembled VIPs and special guests.
“I am thrilled to be here on behalf of Alberta to welcome the Irvings and to see this major new investment in Alberta’s agriculture industry. This $425-million capital investment that created hundreds of construction jobs and, I understand, will create about 240 full-time jobs right here in Lethbridge. This is great news and a wonderful vote of confidence in the future of Alberta’s economy.”
Lethbridge Musical Theatre makes its triumphant return to the main stage of the Yates Memorial Centre after a five-year hiatus with a new production of “Newsies” Nov. 1-3 and Nov. 7-9.
LMT board member Tyler Strang said he and all members of the troupe are excited to be back.
“I hope this show really drills into peoples’ heads that LMT is back,” he said. “That we’re back and better than ever, and we’re going to continuing doing shows in the future and producing amazing works of art.”
“Newsies” will be presented in partnership with the Chinook High School Music Theatre Studies program, and will be a blended production between youth performers from the school and others drawn from the community at large, said Strang.
“It’s a great show to do when you have a youth and community mixed,” confirmed Strang, who will also serve as stage manager for the production. “That’s the whole idea with this: to get Chinook High School to work with the community around it and put on this big show. The amount of people who came out to audition for this show was amazing for Lethbridge.”
CHS music theatre teacher David Mikuliak will serve as director for the show.
Scotchtoberfest event Oct. 19
For those on the frontlines of emergencies, the focus is on others. But when the emergency hits home, it can have an unanticipated impact.
For Shawn Folk with the Lethbridge Fire Department, that reality happened earlier this year when his wife passed away from brain cancer.
He promptly created the A New Dawn Foundation in order to help others who could be impacted by similar situations in the future.
The new foundation will be part of the focus at the upcoming 11th annual Scotchtoberfest at Average Joe’s on Oct. 19. The event is a major fundraiser put on every year by the Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums.
For 2019, the event will benefit A New Dawn — which supports families of firefighters, paramedics, police officers and military personnel of southern Alberta.