News | DrumhellerMail - Page #12
Last updateThu, 20 Oct 2016 11pm

Munson Hall officially opens

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    The fruits of years of fundraising, hard work, banging on doors and grant applications were realized Saturday evening when the doors of the new Munson Community Hall were flung open to the community.
    Members of the community, volunteers, politicians and special guests gathered at the site of the new hall as the ribbon was cut, signalling the completion of the project. Becky Kowalchuk, of the project committee, led the program on Saturday.
    She explains that about six years ago, a member of the community made a donation to the new hall, and this signalled as a starting point to get the hall project rolling. They were able to bring on partners including the Village of Munson, Starland County and the Alberta Government. A great moral and financial boost came when, on their second attempt, The UFA Get and Give Grant program awarded the Hall $50,000.
    “I knew in my heart, that $50,000 from UFA was exactly what we needed to push the project forward,” said Kowalchuk.
    Last August a shovel went into the ground.
 Kowalchuk said organizers were adamant that they use local contractors to support the local community. Greene Construction took the lead and others to contribute included Scott McKay Electrical, TKNT Mechanical, Hi-Lite Interior and Country Kitchens.
    “These are the same people who attend those suppers, those dances, helped us with casino nights, they supported us every way they possibly could, I knew they believed in this project and that a new hall for Munson was a good idea,” said Kowalchuk.
    Of course, there was quite a bit of sweat equity from volunteers who did their part, including the crew of Dave Daly and Bill Kowalchuk, which at times appeared to be powered by Brownie cookies.
    “People donated their time and lots of it. A building like this does not get built without time and dedication of volunteers. We may not have had a big committee, but those who were involved were extremely dedicated,” said Kowalchuk.     
    “You came, you gave, you worked…lots. I could rally the troops to move heavy objects, paint or clean whenever we needed it, in short order.”
    Reeve Barrie Hoover of Starland County congratulated the community on its project.
    “The construction of the hall represents an ongoing partnership between Munson and the County of Starland. The County contributed  $230,000 of our MSI funding,” he said, adding the county assisted with construction and will also be removing the old hall and helping with landscaping.  “The county is a sizable partner and we are proud to get this completed. We know how important it is to bring people together.”

Kneehill County celebrates future of Horseshoe Canyon

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    Kneehill County and its partners celebrated a new chapter in Horseshoe Canyon history.
    The County, along with neighbouring municipalities, as well as Communities in Bloom, Travel Alberta, CN EcoConnexions and Tree Canada were at the site to celebrate the new direction of the attraction.
    Earlier this summer, Kneehill County purchased a large portion of Horseshoe Canyon. It, along with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, own more than 400 acres of the site, which has become a large attraction. Kneehill Reeve Bob Long reported that more than 150,000 people this year have stopped to take in the vista or go for a hike.
    “We know the impact of tourism in this region, we are just trying to take one little area of it and enhance that experience, and work from it,” said Long.
    In the short time since the purchase, Kneehill has made some improvements to the site.  Long explains the major concerns were safe access to the canyon for hikers and to reduce erosion. To that end, they installed a stairway to make the descent into the canyon safer. They also made improvements to a few of the initial paths and installed platforms for viewpoints on the top of the canyon as well as a couple within the canyon.

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    Long said the improvements are modest in order to preserve the vitality of the canyon itself. They are looking at a few more amenities just off the parking area.
    “The final plan is still to be developed, but initially we had to address erosion issues and the safety issue,” said Long. “It was extremely difficult for people to get down in the valley, it wasn’t safe and most people coming don’t understand bentonite. When you step on it when it is wet, you get to the bottom of the canyon faster than you had planned!”
    The project has the support of a $25,000 grant, made possible through the generosity of CN Rail and its EcoConnexions From the Ground Up program and its partners, Communities in Bloom and Tree Canada.
    “With the trees and donations from Communities in Bloom and CN, there will be some further relaxation areas in the top being built with some benches and some trees planted in the lot area,” he said. “We are looking at the future, we are looking at little improvements, we don’t ever want to take away from the beauty of the site. How can you improve on the natural beauty of it?”
 Generations have enjoyed Horseshoe Canyon. Originally, the land was purchased by the late Jack Lowen Senior in 1946 and was used as pasture on the upper plateaus. The land was passed down through the generations of the family until July of this year when it was sold to Kneehill.  The County has an agreement to continue the long-term stewardship and preservation the area and public access.
    “The beauty speaks for itself.  The attraction is here, we just have to manage it,” he said.

Midland Hall damaged by fire

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    The Drumheller and Munson Fire Departments responded to a structure fire at the Midland Hall, Tuesday afternoon.
    When they arrived on scene shortly after 2 p.m., the front entryway to the community hall was engulfed. Firefighters responded and using their Simon Snorkel truck and other apparatus, battled the blaze. They were able to contain the fire to the front entryway.
At this point, there is no estimate of the damage, however, the building is currently unusable.

    Garry Grieve, president of the Midland Hall Board, told The Mail the building was undergoing renovations at the time.
    “This is unbelievable,” said Grieve, expressing  his disappointment.
    A spokesperson of SD Roofing said on social media, contractors were doing a torch job on the small flat area of the building when a hidden bird’s net in the rafters ignited. Crews did their best to contain the blaze with fire extinguishers until  firefighters arrived on scene.
    AHS Ambulance responded, however, there were no injuries.
    Grieve said they are in the process of contacting their insurers to assess the damage.  
The building has been used as a community hall for many years after being converted from the original Midland Cottage School. The walls of the hall are decorated with original artwork by Bonita Krueger, depicting notable Midland residents and coalminers. There is no word on their condition.


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