Drumheller | DrumhellerMail - Results from #30
Last updateSat, 20 Jul 2024 10am
  • Drumheller Institution marks 50 years

    Drumheller Penitentiary circa 1967

    It came in 1967, and began a new chapter in the history of Drumheller. Today the Drumheller Institution remains an important part of the community.

    The Drumheller Institution is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In those five decades, it has provided residents stable employment and has served the country in keeping communities safe and providing a chance for inmates to make a change.

    It was the late 1950s and early 1960s, and with the exodus of the coal industry, Drumheller had fallen on hard times. Major assets such as the Royal Tyrrell Museum were not established and while oil and gas had been discovered in and around the valley, the industry was still in its infancy.

    The Minister of Justice in 1959 initiated a departmental study to look at the future needs of corrections. In 1960, the report was submitted. This report showed that while Canada had sufficient facilities for maximum security housing and adequate minimum security work camp placements, close to 50 per cent of the prison population fell within the medium security classification. Due to the growth, the government planned to build four institutions, with one to be located in the Maritimes, one in Quebec, one in Ontario and one in Western Canada.

    With institutions already in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, Alberta seemed like a fit for a new medium security institution.

    Drumheller at the time was classified as a depressed area. The great coal machine that drove the economy for so many years was on its way out. Many families moved away with the industry, and the ones that stuck around were swimming in unemployment.

    Chamber of Commerce members Joe Shearlaw and Francis Porter learned of the report and began to talk to then MP Charles Johnson. A committee of the Chamber was struck which included the two, and lawyer W.H. Sandercock. After Johnson was defeated in a general election, M.P. Eldon Woolliams was the new representative and he too championed Drumheller as the site. By then the committee was firmly entrenched in the lobbying effort.

    The first concrete hint the institution was to be forever part of Drumheller was from Woolliams on March 7, 1962. On March 21, the federal Department of Justice confirmed Woolliams’ news. The institution would accommodate 450 inmates, have a staff of 175 and an annual payroll of $1 million.

    The Drumheller Mail reported on June 13, 1962, that the site of the Institution was purchased from local farmer Walter Klamski. Tenders for the project were released on January 1, 1965, and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture Harry Hays officially broke ground on the $6.5 million project in April.

    In 1966, Pierre Justras was appointed the first warden for the Drumheller Institution, and Stan Scrutton was appointed deputy warden. In October of 1966, the first recruits to staff the institution were sworn in as peace officers.

    The construction continued and residents were so excited, it was not uncommon to see a gaggle of onlookers at a viewpoint near the water tower watching the progress. The viewpoint was even included in Drumheller travel brochures.

    The official opening of the Institution was on August 25, 1967. About 400 guests and dignitaries were invited to the opening, and toured the facility. They were not the first guests however. On August 16, 25 inmates from Prince Albert entered the Institution.

    When the prison opened, a number of living units and buildings were still under construction. As they were completed, they were filled.

    In the institution’s history, it has served in myriad capacities, providing employment for the community and labour for local businesses and organizations. The vocational shops have contributed its work to a number of causes inside the community and beyond. This has served the community, but also built the necessary skills for inmates to start anew after serving their time.

    Recent successes include the inmate labour that helped to build the affordable housing units in Drumheller. This significantly cut the cost to this municipal project, while at the same time gainfully employed inmates and allowed them to work toward apprentice programs.

    About five years ago, the government made a commitment that will ensure the impact of the institution will last for another generation. It announced a $25 million to expand the Medium Security Unit and Minimum Security Unit.

    To mark the occasion they are holding a Freedom of the Town ceremony where past and present staff and the Institution’s Honour Guard will march to Town Hall on Saturday, September 9 at 10 a.m., and affix a plaque at Town Hall.

    On Saturday evening they will be hosting a gala dinner at the Badlands Community Facility.

  • Drumheller Rotary assists Wayne community with playground project

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    The Wayne Community Association has set a target to raise enough funds by the end of 2018 to construct a new playground in the community. The Rotary Club of Drumheller is pleased to assist. Community Association president Fred Dayman,centre, accepts a cheque from Rotarians John Kohut and Linda Fisher.

    (Photo Submitted)

  • Dry weather spawns field fires

    fire departments

    A call came into the Drumheller Fire Department at approximately 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 28. A stubble fire had started, roughly 4 km North of the top hill between Munson and Drumheller. Munson Fire as well as Drumheller Fire Department arrived on scene monitor the situation as a scheduled stubble fire was permitted. 

    arial map of fire

    The location of the fire is pictured above^

    20170528 Munson Field Fire TJH 055

    The sheer size of the smoke that was overlapping the road as well as enveloping the clear blue sky.

    far way blaze

  • Fall Expo approaching

    All kinds of activities will be on display at the annual Fall Sports, Recreation and Arts Expo on Wednesday, September 13. filephoto

    Looking for a one-stop shop to learn about programming for youth,adults, and families?

    Look no further than the Fall Sports,Recreation and Arts Expo coming up on September 13.

    The event brings together all kinds of programs under one roof for residents and families to see what is offered. Everything from sports teams to service clubs will be on display.

    There are also many opportunities to see the offerings from the art community; from music to dance and everything in between.

    The Town of Drumheller will have displays outlining the programming it is offering for the coming season.

    This is an opportune time to learn more about what is offered and to register. Demonstrations of some activities will be available at the Expo.

    TheExpo is on Wednesday, September 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Badlands Community Facility,

  • Farmers get jump on growing season

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    (mailphotos by Terri Huxley)

    For most farmers, the crops are in and it is looking like a great start of the year.

    The Mail checked in with local Agricultural Service Boards and so far, they like what they are seeing.

    “The growing season up to this point has been pretty nice, the crops have germinated evenly and the amount of material there is pretty impressive,” said Starland Ag Fieldman Al Hampton. “In general terms, at least in Starland County, a pretty good crop is on its way. East of Highway 56 is a little further advanced and maybe a little better crop at this point, but in general terms everyone is pretty happy.

    He adds that it looks like there is going to be a good yield on hay.

    Kneehill County Assistant Ag Fieldman Fallon Sherlock says it looks like crops are progressing well in her area, although some were still dealing with last fall’s struggles.”

       “From everything I have seen, everybody got their seeding in, it was a little bit of a late start as a few still had crops in the field and had to deal with the excess litter because they didn’t get to bale, or crops were too heavily lodged to actually take off,” she said.  

    “But as far as everyone I talked to, they had a fairly good seeding and pretty much everyone is done spraying. The wind and the rain did delay spraying a bit.


    20170701 Powwow TJH 0298

    She said the next challenge would be haying.

       “Whether or not we can start taking that hay crop off and hopefully getting that first cut, getting it to dry and not having the winds interfere,” she said.

    According to the Alberta Crop report, so far, in the central region, 80.7 per cent of crops are being reported as in good or excellent condition, and 70.2 per cent of surface soil moisture is rated at good or excellent.

    Hampton said there are always concerns.

    “One thing I have heard that with the amount of canopy with the crops, guys are a little concerned about it getting too dry in a hurry because we have gone through a lot of water. That is a concern, but I don’t think anything is under threat at this point,” said Hampton.

    He adds the humidity could also be concern sing as it could lead to hailstorms.

    “Most crops are about as lush and thick as I have seen them, so far so good, but we have a long way to go obviously,” said Hampton.


  • Financial donations up at Stuff the Bus

    Stuff the Bus organizer Shannon Wade with volunteers Michael Sweet, Garry Toft and Shane Hillier of The Salvation Army pack away the groceries at Stuff the Bus last Thursday, August 31. mailphoto by Patrick Kolafa

    The community showed their support for those in need and was able to Stuff the Bus for The Salvation Army Food bank.

    Stuff the Bus was held at the ATB Parking lot on Thursday, August 31. The community came out in droves to support those who use the local food bank.

    Organizer of the annual event, Shannon Wade, was heartened by the community support.

    “It always seems that the community pulls together and comes out in support,” she said.

    Jennifer Hillier of The Salvation Army tells the Mail they were down a little bit in food donations but were able to collect 1,753 pounds of food donations.

    They did, however, see a jump in financial contributions and collected $4,209 in donations. This will be matched by Encana up to $3,000.

    Hillier says she is grateful for Encana’s contribution, as well as the hard work of Wade and the many volunteers who contributed their time.

    She is also grateful to Hi-Way 9 Express, which sponsored a barbecue to raise funds for the food bank.

    “It was a great event and as always support from the community was amazing,” said Hillier.

    She adds if anyone missed Stuff the Bus and still wants to donate, food donations can be dropped off at The Salvation Army Church or at the donation boxes in local grocery stores. Financial contributions can be dropped at the church or at The Salvation Army Thrift Store.

  • Flooding options for flood mitigation present to Council

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    Terri Huxley
    The Drumheller Mail

    Town Council is moving forward in preparing to take on two flood mitigation projects.
    Drumheller was approved in 2015 under the Alberta Community Resilience Program in the amount of $6.4 million for two flood mitigation priorities at 90 per cent government funding to 10 per cent municipal of cost sharing.
    Council has given first reading to two bylaws. One is to borrow $516,000, the municipal portion of a $3,727,000 for a project in East Midland and Newcastle. The second is to borrow $497,400, the municipal portion of a $3,718,000 project for the construction of a new berm and to raise existing berming in Central Drumheller.
    So far the adaptation of two borrowingbylaws ensures that the borrowing option is in place and the dollars can be accessed immediately when the funding agreement anddyke ownership is finalized with the provincial government.
    With that being said, Town Council intends on debating the consequences of borrowing versus using reserves prior to the final reading.
    Drumheller has had an ongoing discussion surrounding the municipal portions with Provincial and Federal governments, hoping to eliminate or minimize the cost.
    “We’ve worked hard and will continue to work hard to get the maximum amount of funding from the Province and Federal Governments, but it’s time that we get the shovels in the ground to make sure that we are protected from future flooding,” said Mayor Terry Yemen.
    Although, a further grant program from the Federal government may be available down the road to help offset future flood mitigation projects, right now there is no more funding to help the current portions being upheld by the Town. For now, the Town of Drumheller is applying for Federal funding at the end of this month for future flood mitigation projects.
    In summary here are the two finalized projects.
    The first project which is East Midland andNewcastle, has the majority of residents located within the flood fringe. The total 2014 assessed value for residents, not including land, isapproximately $51 million.
    In Midland and Newcastle combined, to protect against the potential of future floods, the existing berms will be built higher as well fixing problems such as erosion control, riverbank stability, and installation of a drainage pipe with a backflow preventer between North Railway Avenue and the CNR tracks.
    Theestimate cost for the project will reach $3,727,000 with the provincial contribution of $3,211,000 and a municipal cost of $516,000. The benefitted cost would be $13.7 million.
    The second project – Central Drumheller 2nd Street West to 5th Street East – will requireconstruction of a new berm andraising the existing berm to help protect central Drumheller from future flooding.
    The total cost of this project will be an estimated $3,718,000 with the province pitching in $3,202,600 and the town putting $515,400 towards it. The assessed value of this portion of the town is at $49 million and has a benefitted cost of 13.4 million.
    Once the funding agreement is signed, the town will proceed to the design phase with hopes of tendering the project this fall.
    “As we work on finalizing the funding agreement, the town is proactively looking at taking steps that will reduce the likelihood of project delays down the road,” said CAO Ray Romanetz.
    For a more detailed scope of the projects, visit www.dinosaurvalley.com/floodmitigation.

  • Fog blamed for early morning collision

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    Shortly after 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 2, Drumheller RCMP, Fire, and EMS attended to a three vehicle collision on Highway 9 approximately one kilometre east of the intersection of Highways 56 and 27. 
    Thick fog in the area resulted in extremely poor visibility.
    Police investigation revealed a westbound pickup truck attempted to pass a westbound SUV when it met and side-swiped an eastbound tractor trailer.  The pickup truck rolled before coming to an upright position in the ditch.  The SUV received minor damage from debris, and the tractor trailer was severely damaged.
    The driver of the tractor trailer sustained minor soft tissue injuries; the driver of the pickup truck sustained severe but non-life threatening injuries and was transported to hospital by ground ambulance.  The driver of the SUV was not injured.
    The police investigation is continuing and Provincial charges are being considered against the driver of the pickup truck.
    No names are being released.
  • Former resident unveils research on Drumheller place names

    Jack Sterna's roots run deep in East Coulee

    Jack Serna’s roots in East Coulee run deep, and although the 78-year-old left the Valley to attend college as a teen, it keeps drawing him back.
        Serna was surrounded by friends and residents at the East Coulee School Museum on Sunday, June 25, to unveil a recent research project he took on, the history of the place names in the valley.
        A few months ago he took it upon himself to do some research into how the different communities in the valley got their name. He completed the work by using the Alberta Archives, Ernest Hlady’s book Valley of the Dinosaurs, and good ol’ word of mouth. He came up with five pages exploring place names, had them mounted and they are now on display at the East Coulee School Museum.
        “I have a degree in history, so I thought rather than sitting in my chair, and I don’t have much to do in my waning years. I think of all these things to do, and this one just stuck in my head,” said Serna.
        This is not the first time he has undertaken such projects celebrating the history of the valley. In 2015, he and another, Bill Nimmo unveiled a map of East Coulee from the 1940’s, which is also hanging in the School Museum.
        Through his research, he learned a few things he never knew before, including the fact the Town of Drumheller now encompasses all of these communities.
        While some of the place names, such as Drumheller and Nacmine were easy, others still elude him. He said he never learned where the name Wayne came from, although he said the community was initially known as Rosedeer.
        He still has fond memories of growing up in East Coulee.
        “My old house is still there, I left in 1957, and I go down to visit East Coulee at the Breakfast on Sundays during the summer time.  A number of us go down at the end of June,” he said. “From that, these little projects come up.”

  • Fraud charges laid against former Drumheller ATB employee

    The ATB Financial Drumheller branch on August 4, 2017

    A former Drumheller ATB branch employee is facing charges of fraud, following allegations she took funds from the accounts of senior citizens.

    Drumheller RCMP began an investigation after receiving a complaint from ATB that an employee of the Drumheller branch had made unauthorized withdrawals from the accounts of seven different bank clients.

    It is alleged that the funds were taken from the victim’s accounts between November 2015 and November 2016. All of the victims were senior citizens and a total of over $40,000 was taken through 16 different cash withdrawals.

    Rebecca Tucker, 36, of Drumheller has been charged with 16 counts of fraud under $5,000 contrary to section 380 of the Criminal code as well as 13 counts of drawing documents without authority contrary to section 374 of the Criminal Code.

    Tucker has been released from custody and must appear in Drumheller Provincial Court on August 11. She is no longer an employee of ATB.

    Anyone with information on these offences is asked to contact the Drumheller RCMP at 403-823-7590.

  • Fraudster pleads guilty to more charges


    A man who has a previous record of fraud was sentenced to six months in custody.

    Zach Decaire appeared in provincial court in Drumheller on August 25, and pleaded guilty to a long string of charges.

    The court heard that in September of 2016 in Strathmore, he asked a friend to cash two cheques that were dishonoured, taking about $1,290. He pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud. In a separate incident, he stole another $200 from the same victim.

    The court also heard that in June of 2017, he attended to the Canadian Tire store in Brooks and stole a circular saw. He returned it without the receipt and received a $261 gift card. He also took a home entertainment speaker box valued at $199.

    On July 21, he was charged with two counts of obstructing a peace officer and operating a motor vehicle while not authorized. When the Drumheller RCMP were investigating, he gave them a false name, however, the officer recognized him. When the police attempted to apprehend Decaire, he threw a soda can at one of the officers.

    Police also located an impact gun and a drill kit and he was charged with possession of stolen property.

    He also pleaded guilty to failing to attend court and a breach by failing to pay restitution.

    Crown Prosecutor Ron Pedersen said that Decaire has a history of taking advantage of friends and good-hearted strangers.

    In February of this year, he was sentenced to 18 months probation for a string of fraud charges.

    On August 25, he was sentenced to six months in custody. He was given 54 days credit for pre-trial custody, leaving 126 days to serve.

  • Great line-up for Salute to Tony Kollman night

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    'Squeak’ Leopold, Donnie Phelps and Greg Pilling are among the line-up to speak at the Salute to Tony Kollman evening on Friday, September 15 at the Jurassic Inn. Leopold was one of the top goal scorers on the 1966 Drumheller Miners, a club which won the Canadian championship, then going on to represent Canada on a European tour. His most memorable game was probably in an Allan Cup Winnipeg where he scored five goals in one game.

    Don Phelps was a teammate of Kollman, whose main job seemed to be riding shotgun in protection of his diminutive and highly entertaining centreman. Phelps went on to coach the Calgary Canucks for a quarter of a century. Both Phelps and Kollman are members of the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame. Pilling, a member of the Oil Kings epitomized the battle of Edmonton-Drumheller in the 1960’s, at a time when Alberta’s greatest hockey rivalry involved Edmonton and Drumheller.

    Proceeds from the Salute to Tony Kollman evening will go to minor hockey in Drumheller and Hanna. Limited tickets are available by calling 823-4380; 823-4798 or 823-5441.

  • Greentree School recieves $8,740.00 for Playground Extension

    Chevrolet presents cheque to Greentree school towards their new playground extension meant to create accessibility for every student

    Western GM staff Murray Sutcliffe, Doug Lubinski, Brad LeDrew, and Greentree School Principal Erin Campbell-Bentley monkey around on the current Greentree School playground while presenting a $8,740.00 cheque towards the school’s new accessible playground extension on June 20, 2017. (Mailphoto by Terri Huxley)

    The new extension will the first of its kind in the valley and gives everyone a chance to be on the same playing field.
        “It’s just great to support the community like this,” said Brad LeDrew, General Sales Manager at Western GM. “Greentree is just a fantastic school and this playground is just amazing and they’ve done just a great job so we’re just excited to be apart of that.”
        With this cheque, the school is only $20,000 away from their goal amount.

  • Guides offers girls opportunities

    The First Drumheller Girl Guides offer programs for girls from 5  to 17. mailphoto by Patrick Kolafa

    The Girl Guides are an institution that for over 100 years has supported young girls develop and grow.

    The Drumheller First Girl Guide has continued that tradition offering programs for young girls from 5 to 17.

    Donna Thomas has been with Girl Guides for 34 years. She sees great value in the program.

    “I see a lot of girls gaining confidence, becoming independent little women,” said Thomas, who is again a leader with the Sparks. “When you have them for two years in a row, they are shy at first but then they blossom into beautiful young ladies.

    Whether it is the way we work with them or just giving confidence.”

    She says the guides also have the opportunity to direct their program toward what they feel are areas of interest.

    The Guides program offer Sparks, Brownies, Girl Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers. They typically meet once a week.

    One opportunity that could come from the program is international travel.

    “The girls have a great opportunity to go on international travel. It is a great three-year project to plan a trip. You learn how to fundraise, and then learn about flights and about technology in other countries,” said Thomas. “The experience of just being out of the country in itself is phenomenal.”

    The Drumheller First Girl Guides are also looking for leaders at all levels. Girl Guides is rewarding to leaders as well.

    “I can’t say enough about the program, it is for women and for girls. That is why we need leaders to carry on,” said Thomas. “It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I can touch one little life.”

    The Girl Guides will be at the Sports Recreation and Arts Expo.

  • Heart and Stroke Foundation Big Bike embraces valley

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    The RBC gold medal team presents a cheque to Heart and Stroke Foundation area manager Josie Doll. The Big Bike is structured to hold 29bikers including the driver to make a total of 30 people at any given time. 


    RBC, Scotia Bank, CIBC, and Western Financial participated in the Big Bike Ride held by the Heart and Stroke Foundation on a trail around town in support of critical heart and stroke research on Tuesday, June 6 at the Badlands Community Facility in Drumheller. 

    “A lot of it’s about team building, about getting out, getting active, getting your heart rate going, and that sort of thing,” said Josie Doll, Heart and Stroke Foundation Area Manager. 

    The groups raised over $10,000 with RBC taking on their fourth year and becoming a gold medal team after raising more than $5,000. Medals are awarded to teams that reach and or exceed the $5,000 goal.

    “That's a lot of money to raise from a small town especially,” said Doll. “We were lucky to have a very beautiful day – clearly great people involved in doing that for us.”

    Each bike holds 29 riders with the addition of a driver who announces and plays music during the ride.

    “It’s quite a unique experience really for people to get on there and to see it moving,” said Doll. “There is no motor, so we actually do pedal that thing. It can be hard work but everybody had a lot of fun on it so we’ll be back again next year.”

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    The Heart and Stroke Foundation plans to reach a southern Albertan goal of $75,000 in support of Heart and Stroke research this year. So far, a grand total of $60,000 has been raised across the southern half. The bike itself can be found all across Canada but two can be found in the province during the summer months.

    “It’s really like you are part of something very large,” said Doll. 

    The money raised usually goes towards research at Universities like the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.

    “There are a number of things where the money goes,” said Doll. “We placed AEDs throughout the country – that was part of the plan last year so we have 8,000 of them across Canada.”

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