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Last updateThu, 08 Apr 2021 3pm

Investor deadline extended for Starland Seed Cleaning Plant

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The Starland Seed Cleaning Plant has undertaken an ambitious fundraising effort to replace and upgrade the plant in Delia and has extended the date for investors.
The Mail reported of the Starland Seed Cleaning Plant’s plans to build a new plant in the August 19, 2020 edition.
A consultant has been hired for the project, and the plans include a larger plant to handle larger transport vehicles and possibly expand into a value-added component, including cleaning grains for export. The estimated value of the project is in the area of $5 million.
So far their campaign has been going well, and they have raised in the area $1.2 million from investors from more than 70 farm investors, and the six Hutterite colonies in Starland. This equates to over 240,000 acres of cultivated land or 57% of the land base in Starland County.
Starland Seed Cleaning Plant secretary, Al Hampton, tells the Mail they are close to their investor goal and need approximately $250,000 more investor share equity. They are also talking to the County and Special Areas about possible bridge funding and talking to banks for the project.
“It is a community project, and for as big as it is, it has to be. We have a lot of people involved and a lot of shareholders. We need a little bit of everybody, and we are definitely on the right path,” said Hampton. “I think we have a good chance to get this launched, but to do it right, we have to hit our targets.”
They have extended its dates for investment to April 16.
“When you are dealing with shareholder money, you have to be frivolous,” he said
Hampton explains the project could have larger effects on the community.
“This will be more of an agribusiness, it will definitely have more on the service side with the seed cleaning plant,” he said. “To make it a successful business it is going to have a commercial component. We can do some export grain, we can work with some line companies to do some farm contracts and work with specialty crops, and even expand specialty crops within the area. It’s a multilayered proposition, not just a seed plant,” he said.
There is also a possibility of more employment.
“Let’s see if we can put together a project that can be good for the community, create a little bit of employment, and potentially it is a stepping stone to some bigger economic development possibilities in the county,” said Hampton.
“This project will employ six or seven people, and if it grows, up to 10. It’s not huge, but if you have a new school sitting in Delia, maybe you could get a couple of young families there, and that helps.”

Rockyford awards water and sewer tender


A special council meeting for the Village of Rockyford was held on Thursday, March 18 where council awarded a tender for planned infrastructure upgrades and were presented with the proposed 2021 Operating Budget.
Despite challenges imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on preparing the budget, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald presented council with a balanced budget with a zero per cent tax increase.
“There was a one per cent difference in assessments,” she said during the meeting. “How the zero per cent increase affects you as a taxpayer will all depend on which way your assessment went.”
One point of concern which was brought up was the budgeted contribution to the Canadian Badlands Tourism.
Canadian Badlands was founded in 2006 and is a not-for-profit organization. It is supported financially through a total of 66 shareholder municipalities as well as funding from Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. In 2020, much of the organization’s funding through the provincial government was redistributed out of tourism grants due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the organization took a hard hit.
Rockyford Mayor Darcy Burke and Councillor Dalia Cheshire noted Canadian Badlands had not put forward an approved budget, and neither felt it was “fiscally responsible” to make a contribution. Mayor Burke noted two of the organization’s largest municipal partners--Lethbridge and Medicine Hat--have also withdrawn contributions.
“Lots of organizations go through restructuring, that does not stop every day business,” Mayor Burke stated during the meeting. He suggested keeping the requisition from Canadian Badlands in the proposed 2021 Operating Budget until further discussion can be held at the regular council meeting on Wednesday, April 14.
Mayor Burke thanked CAO Macdonald for her efforts to create a balanced budget, despite decreased revenues due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and increased expenses imposed by the new policing funding model.
The village is also looking to add a new commercial property along Railway Avenue, according to Mayor Burke. “Council is excited to hear of the addition to this potential business as it brings forward more traffic flow in the community, and an increase in commercial tax revenues,” Mayor Burke told the Mail.
The operating budget will be brought back to the regular Wednesday, April 14 council meeting for final approval.
Council then discussed the tender to complete upgrades to water and sewer lines along 1st Street East. The upgrades are part of the $500 million Municipal Stimulus Program put forward by the provincial government for shovel-ready projects announced in December 2020.
Mayor Burke noted repaving will also be completed following completion of the infrastructure upgrades.
A total of eight bids were received prior to closing on Tuesday, March 16, and Calgary company ConSite Construction was awarded the contract in the amount of $538,839. ConSite estimates it will take approximately 21 days to complete the work, from the beginning of excavation to completion of paving.
One stipulation of the contract is if work is not completed within this time frame, ConSite will pay MPE Engineering $1,500 per day beyond the original 21 days to be on-site.
Work to upgrade the water and sewer lines is estimated to begin the first week of April.

Dry conditions lead to high fire risk


A short winter with very little snowpack has led to dry conditions. This, along with warm weather and high winds has towns and counties warning there is a high risk of fire.
On April 1, Wheatland County upgraded its Fire Ban Advisory to a full Fire Ban. This means permit burning in the county is banned and all outstanding permits are suspended. The ban prohibits fire and fireworks permits, fires contained within approved facilities and appliances in designated camping and recreational areas, incinerators (for farm and acreage use), recreational campfires (approved fire pit 24” in diameter or less), regulated burning barrels, and solid fuel barbecues (charcoal briquettes).
On March 22, Kneehill County issued a Fire Advisory.
On April 7, the Town of Drumheller issued a Fire Advisory, Fire Chief Bruce Wade says they are monitoring the situation closely. On March 19, the department responded to a grass fire near Dorothy that appears to have been started by a vehicle exhaust system igniting dry grass, and on Thursday, April 1, the department was called to a smoldering planter on a deck at a residence.
“I am certainly watching it very closely, it is really dry out,” said Wade. “We need a pile of moisture.”
He reminds residents to carefully dispose of smoking materials, and not to use planters to extinguish smoking materials because the dry plants or peat can ignite. Use a container with water. Also he says to make sure backyard fire pits are fully extinguished, and to burn clean firewood to reduce sparking and producing smoke.
Special Areas Fire Chief Glen Durand issued a press release warning of the dry conditions. It implemented a Fire Advisory on March 10.
According to the release, over the past few years, wildfires – specifically grassfires – have become more frequent and more destructive in this region. To help residents better protect properties and operations, Special Areas Fire Services are highlighting some easy fire prevention techniques from FireSmart Canada. FireSmart Canada is a national program that helps identify and reduce risks wildfires pose to communities and structures. Originally designed for the wildland/urban interface, this initiative is now used in all areas of the Province.
“Local fire departments have seen the difference fire prevention makes in reducing the impact of grassfires. FireSmart applies to everyone, especially as living in the Special Areas can mean long distances and travel times for fire departments. Implementing FireSmart in your yard, around your home, or on your larger operation is one of the best ways you can directly reduce your risks,” said Durand.
Launched last fall, a new FireSmart app is available to help rural residents and property owners identify simple, practical, proactive steps they can take to reduce wildfire risks. This free app is available for Android and iPhone users at Google Play and App Store.


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