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Last updateTue, 21 May 2024 12am

PLRD support staff votes to join CUPE

     Support staff at the Prairie Land School Division have voted 94% in favour of joining the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The employees had previously been members of an independent staff association.
    Roughly seventy employees will become members of Canada’s largest union after a Labour Relations Board vote was counted yesterday in Calgary. The school division is geographically one of the largest in the province, encompassing 15,500 square kilometers in the East central region of the province.
    CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts said the employees came to CUPE after the employer made it clear they intended to bargain aggressively, tabling contract demands without wage increases.
    “As the largest union in Canada, and the union with the most school board employee members, CUPE is in a unique position to offer these employees support they can’t find anywhere else,” said Roberts. “They now have the benefit of a network of K-12 employees, professional negotiators, research assistance, public relations advice and training that no other union can offer.”
    CUPE represents over 7,000 school board employees in Alberta.


Local retail optimistic after Christmas shopping season ends

    The Christmas season is undoubtedly the busiest time for retail outlets. The overall trend over the past month has been indefinable, with some businesses experiencing a decrease, while others saw business as usual.
    In Drumheller, a topic concerning many is the competition of local retail outlets versus developing retail destinations, such as in Balzac.
    In response to these concerns, the Economic Development Taskforce conducted a survey to gauge where and why valley residents were shopping. The results indicated that male residents have increased the amount they shop out of town or online.
    Some retail outlets in the downtown area have firsthand experience of those results. The 2011 season was slower than that of the previous year.
    “I would say it’s been about 10 per cent slower than last year,” estimates Shirley Briault, owner of SJ Fashions. “They are buying more in gift certificates than merchandise, but it’s been a bit slower.”
    However, other local businesses downtown did not see any differences to prior years.
    “December has been good,” said Dave Powell, owner of Source for Sports. On being asked whether being one of the few local businesses open on Boxing Day, Powell replied, “It was worthwhile being open for sure.”
    “We were busy, but with price compression, we have to sell more units to keep up,” said Mark Notland, owner of the Sears in Drumheller. “We had a busy Boxing Day."
    There have been efforts to remedy the perceived desertion of local business by area residents, such as the Moonlight Madness event held at the beginning of the Christmas Shopping season.
    Despite the deals on offer, the event may be losing steam.
    “Moonlight Madness was a bit quiet, I think it’s run its course,” said Powell.
    “I think what should be done is that it should be one day only, instead of having three or four days of it,” said Briault. “Have it with the Santa parade. Make the parade at night to bring people downtown. Like Stettler, they have Midnight Madness and have a bonfire and hot dogs. We have nothing to attract people downtown. Make it special.”    
    The shopping survey highlighted that many feel in terms of selection and price, that local retail stores did not meet their needs. Another cause that may have contributed to a decline could have been construction downtown, which blocked many businesses.
    For the upcoming year local businesses are approaching it with optimism.
    “I hope it’s going to be a better year, it sounds like it will be good,” said Briault.

Property recovered from Riverside break-ins

    RCMP in Drumheller have made an arrest and recovered some of the items that went missing following break-ins in East Drumheller.
    Over the last couple months there have been a number of residential break-ins in the Riverside area. On January 14, a substantial amount of jewellery identified from these break-ins as well as unidentified jewellery  was recovered by RCMP.
    “We have five or six bags of jewellery, and all of the items from one of the break-ins are together. The jewellery in the other bags has yet to be identified,” said Staff Sergeant Art Hopkins.
     RCMP asks residents to check their jewellery to determine if they are missing any. If a person finds they are missing jewellery they can contact the RCMP.
    Known victims of these break-ins are being contacted to identify jewellery as well.
    Subsequent investigation has led to charges of possession of stolen property against Neil Lanos, 42 of Drumheller. He is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Drumheller on January 27.


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