Tony Deys is enjoying the days of his life.
Six weeks ago, the story could have been much different.
Just 10 days before Christmas, the 52-year-old father of three, popular event emcee and former radio and TV personality, had a heart attack playing rec hockey at the ATB Centre.
He credits his survival to the quick action of his friends, who began to administer CPR immediately, plus the fast integrated response from Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services.
“On December 15, my world was changed forever. I suffered a heart attack playing hockey and through the bystander CPR of some of my not only teammates, but also close friends, and the quick response of the paramedics — I’m here today and I probably shouldn’t be,” an emotional Deys said Friday morning at Fire Station 2 on the westside where he reunited with the team of paramedic/firefighters who helped save his life.
“I can’t say enough about everybody along the way who went above and beyond. We’re talking about the integrated service with the ambulance and the fire. I was one of those ones that when there was a call and I would see an ambulance and a fire truck I would think to myself ‘why?’ Now I know why. I can’t thank them enough. The integrated service is so important because of the knowledge it brings and because of the time it saves. I’m living proof that it works.”
“Today, we got to hear of a good-news story,” said Gerrit Sinke, deputy chief with Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services.
“Often times, the outcome isn’t exactly like we heard of today and yet our dedicated fire and EMS crews work exceptionally hard regardless of what the call is and work really hard for the citizens of Lethbridge. I want to give a thank you out to the crews that day and night, 24/7, 365 days a year, go out on almost 16,000 calls per year.”
Deys, the executive director for the Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association, was airlifted by STARS to Foothills Hospital in Calgary and was placed in an induced coma. He came out of the coma two days later and began the road to recovery — with limited damage thanks to the quick responses.
Deys, who has had stints as the Lethbridge Hurricanes public address announcer and as in-game host, says he is working on proper exercise and diet and that his heart is now back up to about “80 to 85 per cent.”
He also told The Herald he may be back as the PA announcer for the Canes as soon as the next home game, which is Feb. 8.
The University of Lethbridge hosted their first ever TEDxULeth event to a sold-out audience of viewers looking for new insight and inspiration from local speakers throughout the community.
Throughout the day, 10 speakers shared their stories of career failure and success, along with personal stories of struggle and growth to resonate with viewers in the audience, with a message in mind. The point of the series is to give a platform for people who don’t usually get one, highlighting the theme of “I am Still Learning.”
“We have a TEDx university licence, so with that it is designed to provide a platform with people who might not usually get one,” says Imogen Pohl, organizer and undergraduate student.
“At this event in particular, you aren’t going to be seeing a professor who you never see in class because they are out every other week for a conference, it is meant to give a voice to those who may not usually receive them.”
Presenters through the day included Sandra Lamouche, Jeffrey MacCormack, LaRae Smith, Brandy Old, Uriel Karewa, Trisha Gilbert, Eric Chang, Shandi Bleiken, Rosie Costen, Robbin Derry and Saga Darnell. Organizers say the speakers did a great job at showing the diversity in people, topics and opportunities found around southern Alberta and the university.
Bus deal reached
City council has granted local school boards a reprieve of one year before pulling out of the school busing business for good.
During the Jan. 27 public meeting city council members unanimously approved signing an additional one-year contract after the current busing contract expires with Lethbridge School Division and Holy Spirit Catholic Schools in July. The new contract will give both school divisions until July 31, 2021 to put a new agency in charge of the city’s school bus service.
Lethbridge School Division board chair Clark Bosch applauded council for allowing “common sense to prevail” despite the sometimes heated public debate on the busing issue following the City’s announcement late last year that it would no longer be offering the service.
“What’s most important here is we are now able to allow busing to be done in the best possible way for our parents and our students,” Bosch said. “This extra year of transition will allow us to explore avenues, and the most important thing is we are enabled now to make sure our parents will get the best possible situation when they bus their children.”
Mayor Chris Spearman said he hoped the additional year would allow for a smoother transition for school boards.
“We have always committed to a smooth transition,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is create a lower level of service for the smallest citizens of our city. We want to make sure it’s done safely, and conducted by people who are trained to drive the buses properly. And we want to make sure that there’s no added cost for school divisions.”
Spearman stated back in November he felt, at that time, like nine months should be enough of a transition for school boards to assume all busing responsibilities. He admitted on Monday in meetings held since between City staff and school board staff some previously unconsidered complications had arisen.
“We were looking at it without maybe a fulsome knowledge of all the implications,” explained Spearman. “We were told today of something like 165 issues that had to be managed; so we will allow that process to occur and look for regular updates on where we are on those 165 issues.”
With the province announcing it would no longer consider municipal census data when making decisions about grant funding, and would instead rely on federal census numbers, city council voted unanimously during Monday’s meeting to cancel the 2020 municipal census, saving approximately $150,000.
The province’s decision to exclude municipal census data from its funding decisions is cause for long-term concern for Lethbridge residents, said Mayor Chris Spearman after the council vote, despite the short-term cost savings involved. The most recent federal census took place in 2016 when Lethbridge had 8,000 fewer residents than it has today, said Spearman.
“We’re a growing city, and we want to make sure our growth isn’t unfairly borne by taxpayers,” he stated. “We wouldn’t want to see that (extra) tax burden transfer from the province or federal government to local taxpayers.”
Bomb threat at LC
Lethbridge College was evacuated last Tuesday due to a bomb threat.
Reports came in early in the afternoon verifying that college students were being asked to “evacuate immediately” and “pack their belongings and leave in an orderly manner.”
Later the college gave an update informing students and the public that “the campus will be closed for the remainder of the day. Everyone is asked to avoid the Lethbridge College campus until further notice. Updates will be posted to the Lethbridge College website.”
The Lethbridge Police Service confirmed a “threat” had prompted the evacuation in a release later in the day.
At a media availability held at police headquarters late Tuesday, LPS Insp. Jason Doberstein gave more details and confirmed the threat in question was actually a bomb scare.
“Through our investigation we determined the email potentially has come from overseas,” said Doberstein, later confirming it likely originated in the United Kingdom, “and there is no credible threat at all there is a bomb in the college.”
Lethbridge College vice-president of corporate services Simon Griffiths said the college’s emergency measures worked well to help students evacuate quickly.
Coronavirus not here
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says currently Albertans have more to fear from conventional influenza strains than they do from the new deadly strain of coronavirus, officially called 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which is beginning to circulate around the globe after first being discovered in Wuhan, China, a few weeks back.
“I think at the moment the information we have is leading us to come to the conclusion that the risk to Albertans right now is low,” she told The Herald on Tuesday. “There are certainly a lot of people who are worried about themselves, and even moreso for those people who have friends and family in China. What I can tell people is we are taking measures to pro-actively identify any cases and then prevent further spread. We currently have no cases in Alberta. If the situation were to change, then we have plans in place to respond if we should have any cases.”
Hinshaw said she would recommend the same preventative measures for this new strain of respiratory virus as she would for other strains already circulating in the province.
Chess for Life gets help
The University of Lethbridge Chess for Life program is looking forward to expanding its work following a donation of $8,300 from 100 Women Who Care, Lethbridge.
“We are incredibly grateful for this donation,” says Lance Grigg, associate professor in the Faculty of Education and founder of the Chess for Life program.
“The funds are and will be used for a number of expansion projects, including ongoing work with schools in Lethbridge and youth who are sentenced to Chess for Life by Alberta Justice. We offer the program here at the U of L, but we’re also looking at offering the program at two sites downtown.”
100 Women Who Care, Lethbridge hold four fundraisers a year and each time, they randomly choose three local organizations from those nominated by their membership. The three finalists are invited to present to the group, where they then vote to determine the winning organization.
“The Chess for Life team was so passionate about their cause when they presented to us,” says Sandra Asuchak, co-founder of 100 Women Who Care. “The program itself seems simple, yet so powerful. It’s incredible how much a game of chess can help adults and children alike. I believe our members appreciated the fact that their donations would be going to a program that can help those similar in age to their children and grandchildren.”
Elders Room renamed
The University of Lethbridge has renamed its Elders Room, dedicating the space as the Carolla Calf Robe Elders and Ceremony Room, at a ceremonial event in University Hall, Monday morning.
Described as a native herbalist, Calf Robe learned about plants from grandmothers and was transferred the right to make medicine from her own grandmother in the 1970s. She has also instructed others in plant identification and common uses, along with often speaking to health sciences classes to share her knowledge.
“Today here at the university, we were able to honour our Elder in Residence Napiakii Carolla Calf Robe. We had here in the Indigenous Studies department an honouring for Carolla and her long-time service here at the University of Lethbridge,” says Charlene Bruised Head-Mountain Horse, Indigenous student adviser at U of L. “She had touched many lives here on campus and we had some of the students talk and be part of their journey here. A lot of people have shared about how she was able to be patient and listen and honouring their questions at the time of encounter, visiting her twice a week, and students were able to visit and she is sadly missed here on campus and we are honoured to be able to honour the Ceremony Room where many of our students gather and where she was present on campus.”
Calf Robe worked with several agencies and used her insight, based on traditional and western models, to help people make changes in their lives. Along with the work she did at the U of L, Calf Robe worked with Red Crow College and the Galileo Educational Network.
Three southern Alberta post-secondary institutions, including Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge, have agreed on a set of principles to guide future collaboration.
The two Lethbridge schools have joined Medicine Hat College to formally commit to explore innovative ways to work together to improve the efficiency, quality and accessibility of southern Alberta’s post-secondary system, they said in a joint news release Monday.
The three institutions have agreed on eight Regional Collaboration Principles including student needs, regional economic goals, industry needs, Indigenous community priorities, southern Alberta communities’ needs and provincial government goals.
“Our institutions have a strong history of working together,” said Mike Mahon, University of Lethbridge president and vice-chancellor, in the news release. “We are collectively committed to finding efficiencies that support and enhance the student experience and do so within the new fiscal reality facing our province.”
Canes skate with safety patrollers
Local school safety patrollers had an exclusive opportunity to skate with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday morning at the Enmax Centre.
The event was co-sponsored by the Alberta Motor Association and the Hurricanes to thank local students for stepping up to ensure their classmates get to school safely every day.
“Their volunteerism in this community is really important,” said AMA School Safety Patrol co-ordinator Allison Purcell-Pike. “It’s important that they are out there every single day keeping kids safe when they are crossing to and from school.”
Purcell-Pike said members of the Lethbridge Police Service were also on hand to help the kids celebrate with their heroes, the Hurricanes. This way, she said, there were two local groups of heroes present to help inspire the children to think about their own potential contributions to the community as they grow, and to say thank you for the safety patrollers’ current efforts.
“It’s our local community heroes coming together to really celebrate the hard work of these kids,” she said.
“It’s the little things in the world that count,” agreed Const. Steve Veale of the Lethbridge Police Service’s school resource officer unit, who donned skates and a helmet to take to the ice with the kids, “and the people who participate in the program want to keep the streets safe, and their fellow students safe.
Playgoers staging ‘Daisy’
The Playgoers Club of Lethbridge has entertained audiences with full-length comedies and one-act plays for more than 95 years, and this February, Playgoers will be presenting a script different from their usual genre.
“Daisy,” written by author and playwright Sean Devine, examines political advertising and its effect on elections and the public discourse, a topic which is prevalent in today’s society.
“We’re good at making people laugh, but I think it’s important for a club like ours to stretch its wings now and then and show the community there is more to Playgoers than comedy,” says Rita Peterson, artistic director for Playgoers. “Each one of the characters is unique and brings to the stage their own distinct personality. The strength of characters is a huge part of how I choose a script.”
The script is said to resonate clearly with the current political climate in North America, and Peterson feels the play conveys an important political message and the parallels of what happened then and what is happening now. “Theatre has the power to change people, how we think and behave,” says Peterson. “If this play probes people to think about politics in a broader, more enlightened way, then we have done it justice.”
Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society members Cole Fetting, Trevor Loman and Megan Fennell join Victor Nwabougor as the cast of “Daisy,” along with veterans Allen Gibson and Karl Airey. “Daisy” will be taking the stage Feb. 19-22 at the Sterndale Bennet Theatre. Tickets will be available online through Ticketmaster or at Yates and Enmax ticket centres.
WCHS to establish iPad station
Students at Winston Churchill High School can look forward to their new iPad station as part of their Reading Cafe offered to Grade 9 students through the Best Buy School Tech Grant.
Out of 260 applications, 15 schools across Canada have been awarded cash grants up to $10,000 each from Best Buy Canada, with recipients using the grants to integrate technology into the classroom. Winston Churchill will be using their $4,650 in grant money to pay for new iPads to give students another outlet for reading and learning.
“In Canada, we are lucky to have so many motivated students who want to use technology to enhance their lives,” says Karen Arsenault, Best Buy Canada’s Community Investment manager. “With the latest tech in their hands, students will be able to take on new projects and set goals that they’re passionate about. Through their own hard work and the guidance of teachers, they will be able to build a foundation of tech skills that will prepare them for their future.”
The purpose of the grant is to empower students through technology to make a difference in their community and gain skills needed for post-secondary education. Teachers at Winston Churchill say the iPad station should encourage more students to explore reading opportunities.
Housing project announced
After undertaking a fiscal review of the project, the provincial government has confirmed its support for a new $11-million 42-unit permanent, supportive-housing facility to begin construction in Lethbridge in 2021.
At a special announcement held at city hall Thursday, Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon, accompanied by cabinet colleagues Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney and Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, said work was underway to begin finding a site for the facility, which will house some of the city’s most vulnerable.
“Our government is so pleased, in partnership with Canada Mortgage and Housing, to have invested $11 million in capital to support 42 new units for permanent, supportive housing in Lethbridge,” stated Pon. “We are working so hard to pick the best location for this project, and to make sure it is accessible for all those people at risk.”
Wilson put what such a facility would mean for Lethbridge’s Indigenous peoples, which make up about 73 per cent of the city’s homeless, in his comments. Quoting Indigenous scholar Jesse Thistle, Wilson said homelessness, to Indigenous peoples, means the “loss of all their relations,” including with family, friends, community, culture and ties to Mother Earth. He hoped the new facility would help restore those ties which have been lost.
“It is critical that facilities like this one announced today offer culturally appropriate supports to help stem the tide of the over-representation of Indigenous people experiencing homelessness,” he said. “I cannot thank the municipality of Lethbridge enough for being at the forefront to reduce and prevent this social scourge.”
LC gets $100K gift
The use of technology in the world of agriculture is increasing and ever-changing, and Hanlon Ag Centre is helping to make sure that Lethbridge College students have the newest and best technology and expertise available to help them learn.
Hanlon Ag Centre Ltd. is continuing its long-standing support of Lethbridge College by providing equipment, installation and training on its precision agriculture system. Hanlon Ag will provide and install the hardware and software associated with its CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Station) network, and provide training on the system to Lethbridge College faculty. The gift, valued at nearly $100,000, will be of immediate benefit to students in the Agricultural and Heavy Equipment Technician certificate and apprenticeship programs.
“When we speak about important industry partnerships, this is exactly what we have in mind,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “We are thankful that Hanlon Ag sees the benefit of supporting students through a practical gift that will allow them to learn on the equipment they will be using once they begin their careers. Our students’ educations will be enhanced by Hanlon Ag’s generosity.”
The CORS network uses satellite data to improve the precision of positioning of equipment in a variety of industries. The agreement with Hanlon Ag Centre Ltd. will include the installation of a receiver in an on-campus tractor for use in agriculture equipment purposes, however, the technology could eventually be expanded to also benefit students in the Agriculture Sciences and Geomatics Engineering Technology programs.
Polar plunge raises funds
First responders from across southern Alberta joined with the community of Lethbridge on Saturday morning to take a chilly plunge into the waters of Henderson Lake for the eighth annual Lethbridge Polar Plunge.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run organized the Lethbridge Polar Plunge as one of their many efforts to help raise money and awareness for Special Olympics Alberta athletes. Throughout the day, dozens of pledgers took the plunge into the icy waters, to then run to a warm hot tub to celebrate their efforts in fundraising.
“What we are doing is freezing for a reason and taking a plunge into Henderson Lake to raise money for Special Olympics, and this is through the Law Enforcement Torch Run,” says Mathieu Champagne, lead event organizer, Taber Police Service.
“It is a group of law enforcement officers from different agencies such as Taber Police Service, Alberta Sheriffs, Alberta Corrections, Lethbridge Police Service, Blood Tribe Police Service, everyone is involved here to help organize this event.”