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No home for skateboarders in Drumheller

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    Being a skateboarder in Drumheller today is a grim prospect.
    Rough roads, a rougher “skatepark”, and no plans for a new park in the Badlands Community Facility have left some youth with no other choice then to find a new hobby.
    “People quit,” says skater Aaron Danchek, 16.
    “They move onto biking because skateboarding in Drumheller is pointless really.”
    While construction is underway on the community facility, the Kinsmen skate park was moved to a tennis court behind the Memorial Arena.
    Its cracked pavement and small size make riding impossible; hazardous even.
    The gaping cracks are in front of the biggest ramp there, but not exclusively.
    Hitting one with the skateboard’s little tire would inevitably cause the rider to eat pavement.
    “And skateboarding isn't the safest sport to begin with,” says Aaron’s mother Darlene Danchek.
    “Aaron’s resorted to building his own park at home and leaving town to skate.”
    Die-hard boarder Sonny Spooner, 20, burns a tank of gas a week to support his skating need.
    In a week he’ll drive to Strathmore, Three Hills, and Langdon; the latter two having a population roughly half of Drumheller’s.
    Three Hill’s park is more than enough to quench Spooner’s thirst, and during the day it’s even run by senior volunteers.
    “The town needs to listen,” Spooner says. “It doesn’t even seem like they looked at the pavement when they moved the park to the courts.”
    Yet it’s open, which implies the town believes it’s fit for use.
    Allan Kendrick, Infrastructure Services director, said Friday the town will have their playground inspector take a look at the skate park.
    By Sunday a “temporarily closed” sign was hanging on the fence, with the gate locked.
    Paul Salvatore, Community Services director for the town said they do recognize an interest in improving the skate park, but a concrete group of lobbyers will need to make themselves heard by the town.
    “The focus has been moving forward with progress on the community facility,” Salvatore says.
    “We need skateboarders to tell us what makes sense to them.”
    Salvatore says the possibility of having skateboarding incorporated into the Badlands Community Facility is there.
    “We have just scratched the surface of the plans for the facility.”
    With a lack of free, simple summertime activities like usable tennis courts or basketball courts, it causes kids to find different ways of spending their long summer hours says Darlene Danchek.
    “We need things like an outdoor basketball court, all they need is a ball to play. Many families can’t afford to enroll their kids in hockey or other sports.”
    Skateboarding thrives as a sub-culture. It's a lifestyle, if you skate, you're brethren. Inspiring new moves, techniques, and camaraderie is an aspect missing from Drumheller.
    “We just need somewhere to skate," says Aaron.

Drumheller’s Jaydee Bixby nominated for country Rising Star award

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    Talking from a tour break in Vancouver, Jaydee Bixby was unaware that he had been nominated for the Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star award.
    Bixyby’s sophomore album Easy To Love was released May 25 of this year, gaining him eligibility for the award.
    “It’s great,” says Bixby, 19, “this is my third time attending so I’m hoping the third time’s the charm!”
    Finishing off a western Canada tour early this August, Bixby has had a heavy schedule since he rocked onto Canadian country airwaves after finishing runner-up in 2007’s Canadian Idol competition. The show is currently on hiatus.
    “The more connections you start making the more doors you open,” he said about the success of his touring over the last couple years.
    Bixby says he may be opening for country star Allan Jackson in Montreal.
    He says the biggest support of his success is the country fans.
    “When I went on the show, I sang what I knew- the songs I grew up to. No matter who you are everyone has a little bit of country in them. For me, country fans are the best kind of fans.”
    “You can’t ask for more than that- no pun intended,” the Drumheller native laughs in reference to the song of the same name on his new album.
    When asked about the competition for this award, Bixby says he has yet to check out the competition but believes whoever was nominated deserves the Rising Star award as much as him.
    “While touring everyone asks me when I’m going to Nashville, when will I record there. But Canada alone, the talent is so abundant- anyone up for the award must deserve it. I’ll just hang on tight and hope for a positive outcome.”
    “Either way, a Canadian will win it and that’s all that matters.”
    The winners will be announced at Rexall Place in Edmonton, on Sunday, September 12.
    Bixby says he’s looking forward to stopping in  Drumheller soon. The last show he played here was in January of this year at the Stampede Grounds.
    “To everyone in Drumheller, I say, ‘stay classy’.”

Manitoba delegation visits Drumheller on a best practices mission

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    What would a town like Morden, Manitoba, with a population of just over 6,500,  want to learn from Drumheller?
    Well, they have a museum, the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC) that has big plans: to build a state of the art facility, comparable to the Tyrrell Museum.
    Early in June, the town received a visit from a delegation from Manitoba travelling the region on a “best practice mission”.
    So what did they learn from their visit?
    “The recurring theme that came up at every location we stopped at was the power of partnership and how it is essential to be working together with those around you,” said Tyler Schroeder, general manager of CFDC.
    A year ago, the CFDC, along with the regional tourism partner, the Pembina Valley Travel Association, approached Travel Manitoba to get help with their new project.
    “We said to them, ‘we have a lot to learn, why don’t we go and learn from the best?’ and that was to go to Drumheller, learn how the Tyrrell Museum built their product, learn how the region has developed around the Tyrrell, and learn about all the intricacies and partnership and all the strategies that have come into play to turn southern Alberta into a major tourism destination.”
    Travel Manitoba agreed to help, through their best practices mission, and opened the opportunity up to the province.
    The focus of the mission was called destination development, and 31 people signed up.
    The delegation visited Rosebud, Drumheller, Fort Macleod, Lethbridge and Vulcan, meeting with leaders in tourism in each community, touring their identified highlights.
    “The main factor for us to visit Drumheller is we house a collection of fossils that is the under water version of what the Tyrrell Museum have. A number of our fossils are on display there,” said Schroeder.
    The museum being a hub in the area, Schroeder said the group was impressed to see how the town had developed the dinosaur product, particularly with the creation of the World’s Largest Dinosaur as a way to drive tourism traffic through town.
    “We recognized that in order for us to succeed we need our local business people to buy in to our product.”
    “I think the best example of that was the attitude of the executive director at Tyrrell Museum, Andy Neuman, a friendly, engaging guy who was interested in working with those around him. He wasn’t working in isolation or in a vacuum or thinking that the Tyrrell was an island. He realized the necessity for integrating himself and the museum to the community around him.”
    Back home, the Pembina Valley Travel Association is working on developing new tourism strategies as a result of the visit, which has re-invigorated their approach to tourism said Schroeder.
    Meanwhile, he returned back to his museum with an unexpected bonus: an offer from the Tyrrell to help them in their big plan.
 “One of the great things that we learned as a museum is that we can rely on the support of the Tyrrell Museum. They have offered their support to us as we pursue building a state of the art museum and we look forward to a long term relationship with them.”
    He added although their museum will never be of the same size as the Tyrrell, it compliments the Tyrrell’s dinosaur collection, helping to paint an overall picture of what prehistoric life was like in this country.
    Shroeder said a feasibility study suggested a $25 million building for their new museum.

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