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Photographer honoured by Football Alberta

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    Drumheller’s own Mack Cassidy was presented the Rob and Grace Zittlau Media Award from Football Alberta.
    This is the third year for the award, and it was created to recognize people on the technical side of sports, be they local media reporting on amateur football or individuals who work on the electronic side of sports.
    Cassidy was nominated by Coach Ken Fournier. He notes that Cassidy has been travelling with the team for two years doing game film. Additionally, he has been a sideline photographer and videographer for the team.
    “The photos Mack has done for us have been a great part of our players, parents, friends and family to experience what football is about, capturing key moments and being able to share has so many benefits. For us in a small community and with social media it’s been a big part of our team building excitement within the community,” said Fournier.
    “For example, a player that’s new and not sure if football is for them gets a picture shared and commented on by a family member can make the difference for them to feel part of the team. And for our international students being able to share these at a distance has also had an impact for their families. And even new players, we had an exchange student come here because he saw pictures in a presentation from a former player who was part of our team and wanted to come here because he also wanted to experience this.”
    On top of game film, he has worked hard promoting the team using his audio, video and photographic skills.
    “This season he really ramped it up with short clips and highlight/pump-up videos he made for every week of the season that he could. Everywhere I went our team was getting compliments on these. There is so much work that goes into these and is so important to the growth of the sport not to mention the impact it has had on the memories these players will cherish down the road.”
    His work has also helped players with recruiting.
    “For his going above and beyond in the support and promotion of the high school team in Drumheller, Football Alberta presented the Rob and Grace Zittlau Media Award to Mack Cassidy.”


LaPierre winding up 35 year teaching career

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After 35 years, DVSS Principal Curtis LaPierre has decided to put his chalk away and will be retiring at the end of this school year.
LaPierre came to Drumheller in 1989, after taking a chance on a small classified ad. It couldn't have been more suitable; the school board was looking for a person with a teaching degree and a ticket in cooking.
It was a long path to get to that point, which took him through kitchens across Western Canada, university and even a stint slinging insurance. But in the end, DVSS left him with a satisfying career.
“I turned 64 in May and have taught for 35 years, and I still really enjoy working with teens,” he said.
“I have had the opportunity to work with and interact with over 3,000 teenagers over those 35 years. Drumheller has become home. The community has been good to me, the students I have worked with have been good to me and it has been a blessing.”
His story starts like many others, without direction after high school, he had already been cooking in restaurants for a few years and decided to follow that path. When he was 20, he jumped on a train and headed west from Ottawa and within three days, he was working at the Banff Springs Hotel. He then worked at a Greek restaurant in Vancouver, and then as a private chef in Calgary for a year and a half. After some soul searching he decided to go to University.
He went to Mount Royal College and then the University of Calgary.
“I went back and ran the catering department when I was at Mount Royal, while I went to university,” he said.
After a summer studying French at McGill, he started at the University of Calgary.
“While I was there I ran the catering department at the University of Calgary.”
He graduated with a double major in Elementary Language and Reading. After doing his practicums he was looking for a job.
“I couldn’t get a job teaching, there was a glut in the market at the time,” he said. “I sold life insurance with Great West Life, and did that for about two and a half years.”
He was offered teaching jobs but at the time his insurance position was much more lucrative.
Circumstances in his life did change, however, and one day he noticed an ad.
“I saw a little print ad in the Calgary Harald. It said Drumheller Valley School Division #62 was looking for a Bachelor of Education with a Journeyman’s ticket in cooking. I came out and slid my resume under the door. I got the job.”
He pushed hard to get his last insurance commission before he left his previous employment. He made the sale, and the next day he was in the classroom.
He spent the next 13 years in the classroom before he became associate principal in 2002. Along the way, his entrepreneurial spirit never ended, and he continued to cater, did real estate appraisals and also started Drumheller Taekwondo and Hapkido School.
He served as associate principal until 2010, when he was appointed principal. At the time, the school had relocated to the former Central School during renovations. That first Christmas holiday was spent moving back into the new DVSS.
During his time at the school, he has seen many changes, including the blossoming of the cooking program, which has affected many students.
He recounted an experience a few years ago when he was undergoing a medical procedure, the nurse in her mask asked him about the recipe books that students would take when they graduate.
He was also in a leadership role during the introduction and flourishing of the international program. In helping to launch the program, he travelled to China, Turkey, and Central Mexico.
He has seen students excel at the school.
In 2010, when he became principal, the three-year graduation rate from the previous year was 55 per cent.
“Two years ago, our three-year graduation rate was 89.5 per cent. It is 84.5 per cent now,” he said. “Our six-year transition rate… in terms of transitioning into secondary was 50.5 percent. The province is 42 per cent, and the school division at large is 30 per cent. And for a student in Drumheller transitioning to post-secondary, that is way more difficult than a student living in the city.”
“It's been quite a journey, there have been lots of changes. Remapping the vision of the school and turning around school culture, it is significantly different than what it used to be,” he said.
After retiring, he is planning to stay in Drumheller and has a few ideas up his sleeve to keep him busy. These could benefit both students and teachers.
“I have always been supportive of supporting others,” he said. “Sometimes circumstances push you where you are supposed to be, not where you were planning to be.”

Wheatland County passes budgets

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Wheatland County residents are looking at a potential 3 per cent municipal tax increase.
Wheatland County passed its 2024 Capital and Operating budget at the April 2 Wheatland County Council meeting, which includes a 3 per cent increase in its tax-supported portion of the operating budget.
“Wheatland County Council is pleased to announce the approval of the Operating and Capital Budgets for the 2024 fiscal year. Council and Administration have meticulously reviewed the budget to ensure its alignment with Wheatland County’s Strategic Plan,” said Reeve Amber Link. “Wheatland County strives to maintain a balanced approach to spending, ensuring effective management of assets and strategic investment in infrastructure to facilitate growth while safeguarding financial stability. Overall, the budgets prioritize fiscal responsibility and strategic investment, aiming to deliver quality services to both residents and businesses within the County.”
One budget pressure is an obligation to pay approximately $900,000 for RCMP policing costs, paid to the province.
One note in a press release is that despite challenges posed by inflation, they are committed to affordability and fostering economic growth to keep taxes to a minimum.
“In 2023, the average residential property paid $1,354 in taxes. Due to growth and development in the County’s non-residential tax base, the average residential property is expected to pay $30.39 more in 2024, representing only a 2.2% increase,” it notes.
The operating budget is approximately $69.7 Million. Of this, $41.8 million is tax-supported and about $16.4 million is drawn from reserves.
The 3 per cent tax increase does not include requisitions for education. In 2024, Wheatland County is required to collect $10.8 million towards its Education Requisition through property tax billing. This is an amount that will be collected and directly remitted to the province.
The council is looking at $8.4 million toward the raw water supply and several infrastructure projects including road work and bridgework.
The council also passed its 2024 capital budget of approximately $39.9 million. A large portion of the capital budget is dedicated to water projects ($11.9 million), equipment ($6.5 million) and Public Works ($16.6 million ) for road maintenance, construction and bridges.
The Tax Rate Bylaw has not been passed.


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