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More racing for Ag Society in coming year

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The Drumheller and District Agriculture Society has a full slate of events planned this season including more racing.
    The society held its Annual General Meeting on January 12. The society is planning  to attain International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) certification in its racing track. This means the society may be hosting four high profile racing events.
    Duxbury, who was installed as president of the Ag Society at the meeting, says the IMCA is an international sanctioning body, and in Drumheller, they will have two classes of racing.
    “We will have our hobby stock cars as an entry level racing, and then we’ll have the IMCA stack cars and the IMCA modified Stock car classes,” said Duxbury. “We do have a couple local racers with IMCA modified cars, and we do have a couple with IMCA stock cars.”
    The society also has a commitment from the Alberta Outlaw Modified Racing Association for an event.
    The Ag Society had a successful 2009 season. It hosted a number of events including the Dinosaur Derby. Despite a rainout, the society was able to keep the demo derby tradition alive with a one-day event. This year also saw the introduction of the Tractor Pull and Trade Show.
    They have established a relationship with Drumheller Gymnastics and hope to build on hat partnership in the future.
    Despite these successes, Duxbury says the Ag Society did find itself in the red. The major reason was the lack of revenue through sponsorship at the Dino Derby, as well as capital investments on the facility. The Stampede Barn last year received a freshening up with a coat of paint, improvements to the kitchen, plumbing work, and major work on the track and barn areas was completed.
    He is confident the society will be able to pull ahead financially this year. As it was a more active Agriculture Society, its annual bursary will be increased. The society has also been able to secure a casino.
     At the AGM, Larry Duxbury has succeeded Gerry McLean as president of the Ag Society while Mike Hansen is first vice president, Gord MacKinnon is second vice president, Trevor Fabick is treasurer, and recording secretary is Melanie Fabick. McLean sits on the executive as past president.
    Duxbury says the society is always welcoming to volunteers that wish to join the society, or volunteer for events. For more information 403-823-9339.


Parallel parking best option says mayor

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    Mayor Bryce Nimmo says  even if the issue of parking is reopened, there are not many options available to the town to make any more changes.
    On November 9 of last year, Drumheller Town Council passed the controversial parking changes that have paved the way for angle parking to be replaced with parallel parking on 3rd Avenue. Recently concerned downtown merchants launched a campaign to pressure council to reverse its decision. Mayor Nimmo says there are not too many options left for council.
    “There always is the possibility (to reopen it), but what I say is ‘what are you going to do?’” he said. “This is the best solution we have.”
    He says, despite what some say, there was more traffic congestion this summer after the bridge changes were made. While he concedes the worst case scenario of travel trailers and campers bottle necking the core were not realized, there were more issues.
    “All you need to see is people trying to back out of stalls, people lined up to the Napier Theatre trying to go west, and when you are driving down the street and don’t know if someone is going to be backing out at you, that is what I’m saying,” said Nimmo.
    He says the changes were part of the negotiation for amalgamation years ago. Because the province has jurisdiction over the highways, and made the decision to change the bridge, it has affected the traffic flow.
    “We have just gone up in traffic. We came up with a decision that not everyone is happy with, but I think in the end it will move the traffic,” said Nimmo.
    Some local businesses have hinted that if the changes stand, they could relocate.  He says businesses need to adapt to the new reality rather than pulling up stakes.
    “Don’t play the game with the card you wish you were dealt, play the game with the cards you have, and play it the best you can,” he said. “Moving to another table isn’t necessarily going to be a lot better than where you are sitting.”
    “I don’t see an exodus, hopefully I just see innovations.”
    He says Drumheller continues to be vibrant and as it grows, traffic is only going to increase.
    “The future is that we are going to end up with more cars,” he said.

Hayden takes on Agriculture and Rural Development portfolio

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    Despite a year in which local producers experienced the worst drought in generations, MLA Jack Hayden is optimistic taking on his new role as Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development.
    On January 15, Premier Ed Stelmach swore in his new cabinet. MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, Jack Hayden left behind his position of Minister of Infrastructure and took on the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
    “It is certainly not an easy position, especially last year in our area with that drought. That was the worst drought in 50 years. When you step in at a time like this, it makes life more interesting,” Hayden told The Mail.
    The position suits him as he has lived on the family homestead for the last 35 years in the Endiang area. He is the fourth generation on the farm, which is turning 100 this year. He served in rural municipal politics for years and represented rural and remote Canadian communities on the Prime Minister’s External Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities. He brings a solid understanding and appreciation of primary agriculture.
    “A lot of the value is going to come from the fact that the farmers in our area are primary producers, and not as much the value added chain, so I know that part of the industry,” he said. “You have to focus on the whole industry, but nothing else works if the primary producer isn’t making money, everything else crumbles. That is going to be an area of concentration for me.”
    Hayden is optimistic about the state of agriculture.
    “It is our province’s second largest industry, but also it is our largest renewable industry. People always need to eat, and there are more people in the world and improving and expanding economies in India and China. All of those people are looking for the higher quality things in life, and that includes food,” he said. “I am very excited and optimistic about the future.”
    He applauds and supports the producer initiative to purchase the rail line from Oyen to Lyalta, to turn it into a short line railway.
    “ I helped work through government to get the money in place to get the proper studies to look into the options,” he said.
    He has been receiving updates on the progress and says they are quite optimistic. He says there may be support from the government in the near future.
    “Of course, we are Agriculture and Rural Development, so if there are possibilities something they are proposing will fall under the programs and qualifies, I’ll be there to help anyway I can,” said Hayden.
    Hayden was first elected in the Drumheller Stettler riding in a by-election in June of 2007, and retained his seat in a general election in 2008.

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