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Tourism Master Plan expected to complete by January 2011

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    Identified  as part of Council’s top five priorities for 2010, the Tourism Master Plan for the valley is expected to be completed by January 2011, according to a press release.
    Malone Given Parsons Ltd (MGP), appointed to work with the tourism industry in Drumheller to develop the plan, will be reviewing the town’s and their partners’ current economic development and tourism strategies with a view to creating a new, single consolidated and revised document that encompasses all tourism components and responds to the shifting economic climate.
    In the press release, Mayor Bryce Nimmo stated, “As one of the hubs for the Canadian Badlands we need to ensure that we are leaders in the tourism industry. We have close to a half a million visitors to the valley every year and we have a large role to play in growing this industry.”
    Funded through the Rural Alberta Development Fund obtained from the Canadian Badlands Ltd, some of the components in the Tourism Master Plan will include:
Providing recommendations for planning, operational and capital investment requirements to realize tourism goals.
Include recommendations for green space or parks buf    fer areas to minimize negative impact on residents as a result of increased tourism visitation.
Include Way Finding Signage.
Identify market opportuni    ties (art and culture tourism, shoulder season business)
Review and make recommendations regarding streetscape    improvements, parking, traffic flow, pedestrian/cyclist areas, lighting, additional washroom facilities and capacity for motor coach turn arounds.
Recommendations for the    feasibility of connecting the     commercial district south of the rail lines to the downtown.
Work with a specialized planning consultant to make recommendations for a sustainability component to the Town’s Master Plan. Green planning will include but not be limited to reviews of suitability for a shuttle service, the landscaping and downtown/riparian environment, business and residential density, architectural design and tourism zoning standards for the community and improved trail and pedestrian connectivity across the town and downtown.
The strategy will need to    create a realistic implementation plan for both private and public sector to establish goals (both short and long term) identify roles, responsibilities, timing, funding requirements, necessary partnerships and relationships, and linkages to other plans currently underway in the community.

Oldest Women’s Institute in Alberta entering Small Town Heroes contest

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    The Small Town Heroes contest run by the UFA serves to celebrate the people they describe as the backbone of rural communities, people who do all the right things to make their town a better place.
    Nominees enter the competition in the hope of hosting a free concert from country singer, Paul Brandt and receiving $2,500 to use within the community.
    A recent nomination for this contest was a group started on May 18, 1912 by nine ladies, then described as “non-persons”, who formed the Women’s Institute of Verdant Valley.
    Those women were Mrs. Carl Dayton, president, Mrs. John Brown, vice president, Mrs. Willard Bixby, secretary treasurer, Mrs. John Ewing, Mrs. Stephanson, Mrs. Sylvester, Mrs. Rodseth, Mrs. Herman Morrow and Mrs. Bob Morley.
    To battle their isolated loneliness, the women got together and worked hard to put life into the new homestead and turn it into a community.
    They organized community events, such as picnics, chicken suppers, concerts, dances, box social  and plays. The money they raised helped fund the school library, Christmas concerts and many other worthwhile causes. During the war, they helped any way they could, by knitting, making bandages, raising money for the Red Cross, and help men overseas.
    The women also started to educate themselves, by studying farming methods, homemaking, raising children, and livestock, canning and lobbying the government for agriculture and social improvements in the Province.
    In 1916, the women became “persons” with the passing of the Equal Suffrage Bill in the Alberta legislature.
    The legacy of these women lives on to what is now called the Verdant Valley and Dorcas Women’s Institute and is the oldest one in Alberta.
    As a tribute to what those nine non-persons achieved nearly 100 years ago, the institute is entering the contest, and hope to use the prize of $2,500 to go towards the centennial celebrations of the group in 2012.

Local talent takes centre Stage at Stampede

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    Drumheller musicians are shining at this year’s Calgary Stampede.
    The Calgary Stampede Youth Talent Contest is in full swing, and after the first elimination, four of the top 28 acts going into the final stretch of the contest are artists from the area. They include, David Epp of the Hussar area, Courtney Morse accompanied by Kyle Gerlinger, Misha Maseka, and the Russell Brothers, featuring Matt and Alex Russell. These four acts will know by the weekend if they are selected to be the top talent entered at the Calgary Stampede.
    “The experience was even better than last year,” said Courtney who was in the contest at the last Stampede. “The calibre of competition is unbelievable. It’s very intimidating being surrounded by so many very talented people. It makes you want to perform better and give it all that you have.”
    Morse and Gerlinger performed their rendition of 'Break Even' by the Script.
    “It’s a fantastic song, and popular so we thought we could get the audience hooked into it, but still make it our own,” she said.
    All of the Drumheller acts were able to use a house band at the performance to back their performance. Misha performed 'Glitter in the Air' by Pink, and was blown away by the calibre of the backing band.
    “It was so good, these guys have been playing for about 30 years,” she said.
    This might have been one of the biggest stages that David has played on. While he has shared the stage with his father since he was little, he stepped out on his own with his guitar and performed Johnny Cash’s 'Folsom Prison Blues'.
    David grew up on a farm in the Hussar area, and has decided to finish his high school at St. Anthony’s School. He was inspired to enter the competition at a DCHS grad fundraiser where last year’s talent contest champion Calum Graham performed. He urged many of the local artists to try out. It was a long process.
    "There were a few days of auditioning, and I went on the last day," said David. “There were 200 people that tried out, and 70 made it into the first round, and out of that, 28 made it to the semi final.”
    The Russell Brothers also pulled out the Cash; Johnny, that is. They performed their own arrangement of 'Ring of Fire'.
    “The audience was totally into it,” said Matt of their rendition of the country classic.
     Stage presence is also important, and Matt, who performed with an upright bass, got the crowd going by climbing his bass and jumping off while the instrument spun.
    The Russell Brothers, Misha and David performed on Thursday, and Courtney is performing on Friday. The top 14 from these two showcases will move onto Saturday’s show where the top talent will be selected.
    Misha attributes the success of the Drumheller performers to a strong, supportive music scene in the valley, especially in light of cuts to music programs.
“There is something in the water in Drumheller, it’s kinda weird, but it is really, really exciting though,” she said. “I think with the absence of it (music program) people want it more…without access to an outlet people are kind of doing it on their own.
    “There is a pretty vibrant music scene here. Musicians know musicians and we get together and support each other.”   

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