A former Lethbridge student is facing jail time if he’s convicted on charges of theft and burglary involving historic Mormon documents near Salt Lake City.
Kevin Schuwer, 29, has been charged in relation to an 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, an 1835 hymnal and an 1849 gold coin — all listed in Utah court documents as counterfeit.
A Lethbridge high school graduate who went on to perform with the University of Lethbridge Singers, Schuwer may be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail if convicted. The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper reports he also faces a debt of $539,000 (USD) in civil court.
Observers say the items are part of a booming trade in LDS-related documents and photos — some of them fake — among Utah church members who can afford their price.
Court records list Schuwer as a resident of Orem, near the Brigham Young University campus in Provo. BYU officials say he was a student there from the fall of 2013 through winter semester of 2015 — but did not graduate.
A photo of an early 20th century “apostle” with the LDS faith is the object that prompted the charges initially, although more items are listed on the court record. Schuwer is charged with stealing the photo from a special collections area in the Utah State University’s library in Logan.
The Tribune reports Schuwer has admitted selling the hymnal and the church-related gold coin for $125,000 — but says both were fake.
New West bringing home the classics
It’s a welcome antidote to all the rush of Christmas celebrations.
New West Theatre is set to welcome audiences back to the familiar Yates Centre with a blend of music and comedy selected from shows presented over more than 25 years.
The Lethbridge troupe’s latest production, “Hit Parade” will feature many of its fans’ favourite musical and comedic “hits,” opening Tuesday. Artistic director Sharon Peat says it’s their way to welcome southern Albertans back to the Yates, after taking productions “on the road” around Lethbridge for a year.
“This building has a lot of history,” says Grahame Renyk, back home in Lethbridge to direct the seasonal attraction.
“It’s nice to be back in the building,” along with a number of artists who are also celebrating the southern Alberta tradition.
Now teaching and studying in Ontario, Renyk remembers attending the very first New West show in the Yates (“All Shook Up!”) back in 1990. Later, he joined the cast on-stage for a decade.
Now as then, he points out, “We have a wealth of performers.”
Peat says the company has a wealth of memorable moments as well — comedy sketches, dynamic solos, choreographed hit routines and more. So it wasn’t easy to trim the list of must-do numbers to fit a two-hour show.
Haitian woman gets new arm
Lethbridge Prosthetics and Orthotics and a southern Alberta man have given a young woman in need of a new prosthetic arm a reason to smile.
Bill Tamminga and his brother have been doing volunteer relief support for years in Haiti.
Ebewelleda Lundy was nine years old when they originally met, and she just had amputation surgery after being electrocuted when she was playing with a wet jump rope on a flat rooftop building, and it came into contact with a high tension wire.
The last thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital with her arm gone below the elbow. She was confused about what she saw and in disbelief.
She had to have her arm amputated in order to save her life after she contracted an infection when doctors tried to reattach her limb.
When Tamminga met Lundy after her surgery, he was impressed with her determination to live a normal life, and how brave she was for being so young.
“I was really impressed with her, how she was not ‘poor me’ but she was enjoying the new normal for her, she embraced that,” said Tamminga.
Lundy, now 20 years-old, and Tamminga have had a special bond since she was a child, and he was like a father figure to her.
He wanted to do anything he could to help her have a better life.
The loss of her arm was especially difficult for her in her early teens because she was subjected to bullying.
She overcame that by focusing on her schooling and wanting to gain more knowledge to become as smart as she could be.
Since Lundy has scars all over her body, legs and heels of her feet, it is one of her biggest insecurities.
“As a girl, to have so many scars is really difficult,” said Lundy.
Council approves budget
The City of Lethbridge has a new four-year operating budget. After six days of deliberations — one additional day of finance committee discussion and amendments, and on the second attempt at council — members gave final approval in a 7-2 vote on Monday to the 2019-22 Operating Budget.
Lethbridge taxpayers will see an average increase to the municipal portion of their residential property tax of 1.82 per cent per year for the next four years. The increase works out to an average of $3.50 per month on an average single-family residential home with an assessed value of $267,300.
Mayor Chris Spearman says the budget involved several strategic priorities, as well as a response to safety concerns resulting from the community drug crisis. He also said the budget will help build in financial accountability, limit the tax impact on residents and help absorb inflation and community growth pressures.
“I’m confident the new budget, along with the mechanisms we’ve put in place to evaluate and monitor spending, will create the balance we need,” Spearman said.
“I think we listened to the citizens and we listened to the downtown businesses. We wanted to focus on community safety, so those were the initiatives that were approved: the Watch program from the City and the Community Peace Officers. We funded the police new initiatives and basically we held the line on the core budget. It’s the lowest tax increase in decades.”
Man pleads guilty in death
A 43-year-old Lethbridge man scheduled to stand trial in the death of his girlfriend’s toddler more than two years ago, has pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
Tyler Brian Hogan, who was initially charged with second-degree murder, entered the plea to the lesser charge in front of Justice John D. Rooke in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench, where, through an agreed statement of facts read by the Crown, Hogan admitted he caused the death of nine-month-old Austin Wright April 28, 2016.
Crown prosecutor Mac Vomberg told court that Hogan was babysitting the toddler, who, during the days leading up to his death, had been ill and vomiting. On the morning of April 28, after the baby’s mother had briefly left for work, Hogan attempted to feed the toddler with a bottle of Pedialyte. The child began crying, and in an attempt to calm him by playing with him, Hogan picked the child up under the arms and tossed him onto some blankets and pillows on the hardwood floor next to the bed.
In addition to the pillows and blankets, there was an open dresser drawer, a bag with unknown contents, and a fan located nearby, but it’s not known if the boy struck any of the items.
“Almost immediately after Austin was tossed beside the bed, Austin went into extreme medical distress,” Vomberg said.
CHR surgeries a cut above the rest
Not everyone looks forward to surgery.
But for southern Albertans, the good news is that Chinook Regional Hospital is one of the world’s safest places for an operation.
It’s among 83 hospitals right around the world, an international organization says, when it comes to “exemplary” outcomes after surgery.
And it’s the only one in Alberta. But now Lethbridge professionals are reaching out to help colleagues across the province to improve their patients’ outcomes.
“This program and award distinction demonstrates that great care is safe, efficient and cost-effective as well,” said Dr. Jack Regehr, zone medical director for Alberta south, after the announcement by the American College of Surgeons.
The goal, following evidence-based practices, is to reduce infections, illnesses and deaths related to surgical procedures.
Each year about 10,000 surgeries are performed at Chinook Regional — including smaller “day surgery” procedures — and last year just 12 patients had to return to the hospital within 30 days of their procedure. That put Chinook in the top 10 per cent of the 800-plus hospitals around the world following the American experts’ National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.
Schools utilize food bank programs
In a city with the highest poverty rate in Alberta, one Lethbridge child in every five goes to school hungry.
That’s why many Lethbridge schools operate a breakfast program through the week.
And now, for the second year, the Lethbridge Food Bank is offering a “Mindful Munchies” service at lunch. And already 21 schools have asked the non-profit agency to include their students in the no-charge program.
Across the city, a Lethbridge audience learned Thursday, children comprise about 40 per cent of the people relying on food bank assistance — and possibly their dinner and weekend meals.
Speaking to the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs, executive director Maral Kiani Tari said the Lethbridge Food Bank — tracing its roots back to 1982 — works closely with the Interfaith Food Bank to avoid duplication.
“We share one data base,” and both combine forces with other agencies during the pre-Christmas push to offer seasonal hampers to the city’s low-income families. This year, she said, they expect to be able to help 4,000 Lethbridge children — with toys as well as food — along with 2,700 adults.
Holy Spirit tackling challenges
Despite recent challenges the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate School Division continues to offer a quality education which betters the lives of its students and families, says Superintendent of Schools Chris Smeaton.
“When we look at these challenges, they are opportunities for us to grow and get better,” he says. “I think we have done a really good job at Catholic education in our division. It’s a little bit under attack, and we understand that, and all I ask our schools to do is to be assuring our parents, our community, we are valuable and we are offering high quality Catholic education. So let’s make sure what we are doing in schools, and what we are doing throughout the division, is high quality.
“If we do that, we’ll continue to be a welcomed organization in our communities. I want to pull out the politics, and I want to be very clear that what we are doing in our schools is offer that high-quality Catholic education.”
While the school division’s educational and moral aim remains true, Smeaton does admit projecting exact enrolment numbers has been a bit of challenge in recent years, with two years of dependence on reserve spending to make up for operating shortfalls in the annual budget.
“We were a little light on our enrolment, in terms of our projection,” he admits, “so we needed to add some additional dollars from surplus funds. By and large, though, expenses are always going up and revenues are flat or going down. That’s kind of the norm of having to use surplus dollars to balance a budget.”
Kodiaks receive gift
A significant gift was given to the Lethbridge College Kodiaks Athletics department on Tuesday.
The college received a donation of $100,000 from Flora Matteotti, on behalf of her late-husband Val.
The multi-faceted donation will support the newly-named Val and Flora Matteotti Kodiaks recruitment fund, Kodiaks Team of the Year Award, and athletic scholarships.
The Kodiaks have also announced the successful completion of last month’s “My Kodiaks Moments” giving campaign which raised over $10,000, and was kickstarted by a $5,000 contribution from the Matteottis.
Colin Mueller, long-time friend and accountant for the Matteottis, said giving back to the community has always been important to them.
“The focus on youth, students and athletics is so important to them to help develop well-rounded citizens,” said Mueller.
Flora Matteotti’s niece, Alberta St. Amand, was in attendance and thinks that leaving such a legacy with the Matteotti name is great for her aunt and uncle because of their love for youth and what sports can teach a young person.
“It helps the youth throughout their lifetime by playing sports,” said St. Amand. “With the donation, it will help them continue their education, and that means a lot to my aunt and uncle as well.”