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Last updateTue, 18 Jun 2024 12pm

Couple completes third overseas Habitat for Humanity project

    A Drumheller couple has found a way to see far off places, and make a difference for families around the world.
    In fact they are making a habit if it.
    Just before Christmas Bob and Norah Hamilton completed their work on a Habitat for Humanity project in Argentina.
    This was their third time volunteering for the charity, which helps provide housing for those in need by assisting families in building their own homes, and realize the pride of ownership.
    Three years ago the couple headed to India on their first project. Bob, a carpenter by trade and journeyman cabinet maker, said while this was their most challenging experience, they were undeterred, and the very next year they were off to Thailand.
    This year they worked on four homes in Santa Fe on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
    “I get more than I give, by a long shot,” said Bob. “There are a couple things that attracted me about Habitat, one of the thing is you are involved with the people you are helping, it is not as if you are writing a cheque. You form a real bond with them, and the other people that are involved on the build, and they are from all over Canada. You learn about other cultures, you are involved with other cultures, and you are very much accepted by the host country.”
    Norah is also hooked.
    “We have had the opportunity to work in India, Thailand, Argentina and Mexico, and each experience has been unique and particularly fulfilling,” she said.
    Bob said the build is usually eight days, and then there are a couple cultural days where they are able to learn more about the host country. Norah adds they assisted a private school in the area with maintenance while in Argentina.
    The project involved four houses in different stages of progress. One was starting with the foundation, one was nearly complete. Another was an existing house, where the family had grown and they were working on the addition. While Bob went over with the skill set of a carpenter, he said it was inconsequential, he was there for the labour. In fact one of the major projects he worked on was digging the cistern for the sewer system - this was a pit, about 16 feet deep, all dug by hand.
    “It’s hot and hard work, it’s not a piece of cake,” chuckles Bob, adding that individual volunteers work at the pace they are capable.
    The construction techniques were very different than ones he is used to. Most of the house is built from mason work with hand made bricks and cement mixed by hand right on the ground, transported in buckets.
    “Interestingly enough the construction process is quite similar in those three countries, much different than Canada, but quite similar to each other. They are all hot countries, all use mason work,” said Bob. “It is all volunteer, so the labour doesn’t cost anything.”
    Norah adds that the age range is anywhere from 19-65.
    “This particular build to Argentina ended up with everyone 54 plus.  The average age was 59,” said Norah. “Even so, we outstripped every preceding team in our ability to get the jobs completed on schedule.  A whole load of A type personalities was the cause.”
    While three years of this type of work seems like a lot, they are undeterred.
    “We’ll go every year. If I get some time, I might go twice a year,” Bob said.
    They have not decided where they will be going next year, but he is interested in going to Africa.
    He believes in Habitat for Humanity.
    “There are a lot of success stories.  They have to pay for one-third of their own house, and they have to work on it… they were so excited to get their house,” said Bob.
    He recommends South America as a good destination for someone wanting to participate in a Habitat project for the first time.
    More information is available at

Crime numbers drop but police remain busy

    The 2011 Drumheller RCMP Municipal Detachment statistics for 2011 have been released, and compared to 2010, it appears the numbers are down.
    According to the numbers, incidents of Criminal Code files against persons have gone from 283 in 2010 to 217 in 2011. Property related complaints have dropped from 581 in 2010 to 411 in 2011. Items designated as “other Criminal Code” have risen from 234 to 248.
    Overall this is a reduction of about 20 per cent.
    Staff Sergeant Art Hopkins cautions that reading into these numbers does not necessarily mean there has been a decrease in crime or workload at the RCMP detachment. He explains there are many factors.
    “Why do we have a reduction in crime? Is there less crime? There might be,” said Hopkins. “Is it that the crime is down, or is the reporting reduced? It might be a combination of both. When I look out in the bullpen, the guys are busy.”
    Other factors such as how incidents are reported or how outreach programs may have been functioning can also play a role in the statistics.
    “We might be more be effective in what we are doing, crime may be reduced, and more involvement in community groups maybe reducing crime. Overall what we are doing appears to be working,” said Hopkins.
    He said the statistics might not reflect all of the responsibilities encompassed by the police force. For example, this year they are piloting the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The police are also involved in more extensive investigations such as fraud.
    One example he cites is the two in-custody deaths at the Drumheller Institution on Christmas Eve. Hundreds of hours could be dedicated to such an investigation, yet it would not show up under criminal investigations.
    On the illegal drug front, the numbers have dipped as well. Charges for drug production were up from three to five instances. Possession charges remained even at 113, trafficking was down from 29 to 23. This year there were a number of seizures with values in the thousands of dollars.
        In the same period, clearance rates of criminal charges have remained relatively even. The overall average for 2011 is 54 per cent, compared to 52 per cent, the greatest increase was in Criminal Code Persons, which went from an 81 per cent clearance to 89 per cent clearance. Property related criminal incidents stayed stable going from 29 per cent to 28 per cent.
     While he said the clearance rate for property incidents seems low, this is due to the nature of the crime. Often, there are no suspects and long lag times. For example, if something is stolen, it may not be noticed for days before it is reported, or if a vehicle  is broken into or vandalized at night, it may not be noticed until morning.    Whereas in a crime against a person, such as an assault or a threat, the suspect is often known or recognizable.
    Hopkins also explains the clearance rates for crimes against a person could also be skewed by incidents at the Drumheller Institution.
    “We have assaults at the Drumheller Institution. We know they are assaults, they are reported as a person crime, but neither one will say anything,” said Hopkins.
    The bottom line for Hopkins is Drumheller is a
relatively safe and community-minded town where neighbours know each other.
    “I like to see the community as a whole. I don’t see a lot of changes since last year, I don’t see a lot of changes bad or good. I see a healthy community, a relatively happy community, and I see a community that has a lot of things going on for residents,” said Hopkins.

Cuts for Cancer in full swing

    If you haven’t been there yet, there still may be time today (Friday) to get your locks clipped and help support a good cause.
    Cuts for Cancer runs all day Friday, and while it is a good chance to get a haircut and support some of the worthwhile initiatives of the Drumheller Area Health Foundation, you can also support some of the brave souls who have stuck their heads up, to have them cut down.
    Once again the event has generated great support, as well as awareness of cancer. The disease has touched virtually everyone and does not discriminate.
    InSide Drumheller told readers in its January 13th edition that the Drumheller Titans, including members of its coaching staff, have lined up to participate for the second year. So have Brent Powell, Ken Schinnour and David Lee. Other names lined up include Patsy Andrew, Amber Ohlhauser and Marcel Augey.
    Last year the event, hosted by the Chop Shop, raised in the area of $25,000, and this year they are looking at bettering that total and have set $30,000 as a goal.
    A crew of haircutters will be at the Chop Shop from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Friday evening the Cat Country Cougar Hunters featuring Aaron and Garrison Krabsen will be performing at the Roadhouse.


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