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Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2019 10am

Second-round of layoffs reported for bitcoin facility

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Hut 8, the cryptocurrency mining company who operates a data centre just north of Drumheller, has reportedly laid off a second round of employees this year.

CBC Calgary reported earlier this month Hut 8, a subsidiary of Bitfury, has let go more employees as the price of bitcoin, plunged over the last year after prices soared in late 2017.

The Mail reported in mid-January the company had made significant layoffs at both their data centres in Drumheller and Three Hills due to the falling price and uncertain future of bitcoin.

“As part of those efforts, we are streamlining our operations in order to help us advance strategic plans to develop innovative software and hardware solutions and focus on other emerging technologies,” Bitfury managing director Jeffery Mason had said in an email at that time. Bitfury did not provide a statement on the second round of layoffs as of publication time.

An employee who was let go in the first round of layoffs said while crews had worked to install new hardware at the site over the month of December, there was a sense layoffs were imminent due to the price of the cryptocurrency.

But the news comes as bitcoin has seemingly made a rebound in the month of April, jumping over $1,000 per bitcoin overnight from $5,500 on April 1 to over $6,500 on April 2. The price has remained strong, with values set at $6,755 per bitcoin on April 12. But it is a far cry from the upwards of $20,000 per bitcoin the currency fetched in late 2017, the same month power was switched on at the Drumheller mining facility.

In its 2018 third quarter financial report, Hut 8 reported over $17 million in revenue but posted an $11 million net operating loss.


Town proposes AUMA resolution on electricity distribution charges

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    The Town of Drumheller is proposing a resolution to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to shed light on transmission and distribution charges on electricity bills.
     Utility costs have been in the media recently, not simply because of the cost of gas or electricity but the cost of transmission and distribution. Often the charges largely outweigh the simple cost of the energy. There is also an imbalance among distribution areas. This is what the town would like to see addressed on electricity bills.
    “Our hope and expectation is we think AUMA represents all urban municipalities in Alberta, we think there is a disproportionate percentage of Albertans who think

they are paying for electricity transmission charges that gives a competitive advantage to certain parts of the province  through no help or fault of those communities,” said CAO Darryl Drohomerski.
    The town’s resolution reads “the Province implement a modernized electrical system that has reasonable and predictable prices” as stated on their website Powering Alberta’s Future, and further,  “That the AUMA lobby the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) on behalf of municipalities to reduce the imbalance of electricity pricing across the province.”
    In its background notes, it states delivery is a regulated service and the rates are approved by the AUC. There is an imbalance on these charges depending on where you live in the province.
    Whether the electricity is coming from Sheerness to Drumheller or it's going from Medicine Hat to Drumheller, or Sheerness to Calgary, it is not like there are four sets of powerlines going down the highway and each has their own tag on it for ATCO, ENMAX or EPCOR. It all goes through a common line, so why shouldn’t that be a common cost to all Albertans?” asks Drohomerski.
    The town hopes to submit the resolution shortly and it was approved by council at the April 16 Council Meeting. They have hopes it will be presented at the next AUMA conference in the fall. If it is accepted by the membership it will become a lobbying point for the organization. Drohomerski feels this resolution would have wide appeal.
    “I don’t know anyone who could realistically say they would not be in favour of supporting this,” he said.

Hemming joins Gerlings to teach in Kenyan school

Patrick Kolafa
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    Lynn Hemming is joining fellow teachers Irv and Corrine Gerling to teach in Kenya.
    In February of 2016, the Mail brought readers the story of the Gerlings volunteering at Our Lady of Grace Home and Our Lady of Grace Academy in Kenya. These organizations were founded by former Drumheller resident  Rita Balachandran (nee Rovere), sister of Renata Oman, through a trust fund she initiated called Action for God’s Love. It is a volunteer-run organization which aims to improve the material and spiritual lives of those trapped in poverty.
     The Gerlings will be heading there this week and this will be their third time to Kenya. This year they will be joined by Lynn Hemming.
    Hemming will join them April 29 for a month. This will be her first time to Africa and while she has travelled extensively, this is the first time going to work as an educator.
    “I haven’t volunteered as a teacher before, so it is amazing. The school just recently got electricity, so it is definitely challenging to think about going back to teaching as it was 100 years ago,” said Hemming.
     Corrine says in the years they have been there it has been rewarding work. Currently, there are about 150 orphan girls at the school.
        “Rita is the driving force there. She is now 76 and she continues to support this. These are her girls,” Corrine said. “The girls are great, it is always nice to see them growing and learning.”
    “I am looking forward to having Lynn and another teacher in the school to share the experience and see what we can do,” she said, adding their mission is not only to act as teachers but to support and share their knowledge with the teachers at the school to broaden their instructional strategies.
    For Hemming, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.
    “It is a lifelong dream I have had to do this. I think I said when I was 10 years old, someday I am going to go to Africa and volunteer,” Hemming said. “I am really excited about doing whatever I can do to help within the school. I am sure they will put me to work. I am sure it will be life changing, I have no doubt about that.”
    To learn more about Action for God’s Love or the  Our Lady of  Grace Children’s Home, or to donate, go to www.actionforgods
love.org


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