News | DrumhellerMail - Page #3318
Last updateThu, 29 Feb 2024 12pm

Local judge reflects community values


    The Drumheller court house has seen some recent changes that some believe could make the justice doled in the community less reflective.   
    After a distinguished career, that extended into seven more years working as a supernumerary, Judge Gordon Clozza retired from the bench. There are some in the community who would like to see a local judge back in a Drumheller court room.
    Since his initial retirement, Drumheller is a part of the Calgary Circuit Court Ststem, and has no specific judge assigned to Drumheller. This means there is a rotation of different judges each sitting date.   
     Drumheller detachment RCMP Staff Sergeant Art Hopkins says while it appears there is nothing that can be done about the situation, he thinks it is healthy to have a judge living in the community where he works.
    “I have found from my own experience that a judge who lives in the same community will sentence people according to the values of that community,” said Hopkins. “There is an expectation of justice to be done in the community.”
    He says for example, when a judge in a larger centre sees a great number of break and enter charges cross their desk, the relevance may be lost, when compared with a smaller community where such a crime has a different impact.
    He says he has seen cases where a local judge has placed a person in custody in one community, only to see the person released at a different venue, and return to the first community, and continue their legal problems.
    “The judges become more knowledgeable of the communities they preside over and levy justice to,” said Hopkins.
    While the change is relatively new, Hopkins says so far he has not seen a significant difference in the sentencing.
    “I have been monitoring the decisions and the sentences since as of late, and they have been reasonably good sentences,” he said.
    Colin Kloot is a defense attorney in Drumheller, and he also prosecutes Drumheller bylaw matters and federal matters, primarily drug offenses. While he agrees there is not much they can do to change the present situation, he too feels a local presence on the bench is good for the community.
    “In my mind, and I think most of us feel it is far better for us to have a local judge who understands the local flavour,” he said.
    “We enjoyed having a local judge here because he understood… and was able to disassociated himself from any personal concerns, and always treated those people fairly, but knowing the background of each individual, and when appropriate, it assisted those people.”
     He says one argument contrary to appointing a local judge is sentencing should be consistent across the board, regardless of the venue.
    “From that point of view, taking into account the interests of the community is one of the principles of sentencing, and the courts deem this as the community at large as opposed to the local community. When you are talking about the community, you are talking about the whole of Alberta or the whole of Canada, as apposed to the local community, and that is not always right. You take into account the personal circumstances of the community at all times, you should take into account their community.”
    Drumheller is unique to many surrounding communities because of the Drumheller institution.
    “It makes a difference, especially on the drug stuff,” he said.
    The issue of drugs being brought into the institution may be viewed as more serious to the community where many of its residents work.
    He says it will take local counsel some time to get used to having a different judge on each sitting date.
    “Now we get whoever comes out of the chute, and it is not that any of them are incompetent…you just don’t know which way these guys are going to go, and they have no feel for the local community…local counsel has to get educated to that again,” he said.

Tickets going fast



It’s a good thing there are three more chances on two more days to get tickets to the Olympic Torch Relay Celebration at the Canadian Badlands Passion Play Site, January 16, 2010. The first day of distribution on Saturday, November 28 was quick as the tickets were snatched up in no time. This Saturday, December 5, committee members are scheduled to be at the Hanna Mall and at Extra Foods in Drumheller from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. They will also be distributing tickets at Greentree Mall on Saturday, December 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At Freson IGA last Saturday to distribute tickets are (back; l-r) committee co-chairs Bryce Nimmo and John Sparling, and (front; l-r) Kate Bishop and Becky Kowalchuk.

Support for annual food drive "overwhelming"



    Incredible generosity was the story of last Thursday night as more than 100 volunteers came out for the annual Salvation Army Food Drive.
    Their job was simple; to collect and help sort the donations collected through generosity of thousands in the valley that altruistically gave to help fill the shelves of The Salvation Army Food Bank, and make Christmas brighter for those in the valley in need.
    “It was overwhelming to see how many people helped,” said Lieutenant Matt Sheils of the Salvation Army. “It was very exciting, lots of people said it was more food than they have ever seen.”
    Sheils says the success of the food drive allows the Salvation Army to distribute more complete hampers.
    The blitz started at 6 p.m., and in less than an hour the depot at the former Liquidation World was overwhelmed by the volume of the donations. So much so, they opened up a third sorting table just to contain the donations.
    Hard at work were members of the Drumheller Dragons, Drumheller Scouts, DCHS basketball teams, the Sea Cadets, the Rosedale Community Association and the Knights of Columbus to name a few, as well as dozens of residents that just wanted to help out.
    Organizer Heather Colberg said they had in the area of 70 signed up to sort, but dozens more joined in.    
    While it appeared chaotic, Sheils says by the next day the vast supply of food was sorted and ready to be stocked.
    He is grateful to the Drumheller Co-op for allowing the use of the space, and the Drumheller Rotary Club and its ample supply of tables to make sure the sorting went smoothly. He is also grateful for the efforts of Colberg and the support of Hi-Way 9 Express.
    Colberg says she is grateful for the community’s support.
    “A special thank you to all those who donated food, those who came out and helped collect food for the less fortunate and a really big thanks to my friends who continually support this great project-without all of you this would not be possible,” she said.
    The Salvation Army continues to have a busy season. While they held a rally to get those in need registered to receive a hamper, those who did not get on the list can still phone the church to register. There are still a number of opportunities to volunteer to man kettles.
    For more information on how to get involved, call 403-823-2215.


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