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Last updateTue, 21 May 2024 12am

Subsidized housing units receive energy saving retrofit

    The subsidized housing units in Drumheller are getting a much-needed makeover, not only for aesthetics, but also for energy efficiency.
    The Drumheller Housing Administration, which stewards the provincially operated subsidized units in Huntington Hills and in the Greentree area, was able to secure a federal stimulus grant through Canada’s Economic Action Plan to make improvements to the properties.
    Over the last three years, the Housing Administration has been able to replace 80 per cent of the furnaces, with high efficiency units. It also retrofitted the hot water tanks and toilets to save energy and water.
    The administration has also been able to renovate the interiors of many of the 50 units as they have become vacant.
    The last step of the process is replacing the siding, and right now crews are in the process of this renovation.
    “Not only does it reduce our carbon footprint, but it also saves money with the energy improvements,” said Jay Garbutt chairman of the Drumheller Housing Administration.
    He adds that even though the province foots the bill for the heat and water; it comes out of revenues supported by taxpayers.
    The Huntington Hills units were built in 1971, and the housing units in Greentree were built in 1967.  Canada’s Economic Action Plan is paying for 100 per cent of the project, and Garbutt applauds the Drumheller Housing Administration management for pursuing the grants to retrofit the units.
    He said the management has been able to take advantage of the Inside-Out program and used federal inmate labours for many of the improvements. It has also extensively used local contractors when possible to complete the bulk of the work, putting more locals to work.
    “This is a direct result of the federal stimulus program,” said Garbutt.


Man's near-death experience prompts campaign for STARS

    A Drumheller man is lucky to be alive after suffering a heart attack, and thanks STARS for his survival.
    Now he wants to spread the word of the good work that STARS does, and give back to the service.
    On September 28, Josh Bhikoo a corrections officer at the Drumheller Institution,  was experiencing chest pains. The 31 year old had already been to the hospital earlier that day and learned he had pneumonia. At emergency he could hardly stand.
    “I passed out going into the ER. I hollered out ‘somebody catch me’ because I couldn’t breathe,” said Bhikoo. “When  I woke up on the trauma bed, there were five doctors; two EMTs and two nurses.”
    When the doctors told him he had a heart attack. He couldn’t believe it. The relatively young man was in otherwise good health. He had quit smoking and last year the avid cyclist had put about 8,000 kilometres on his road bike.
    The doctors mulled over the decision as to whether to send him to a Calgary hospital by ground transport, or by air.  The decision was to fly, and Bhikoo learned later that decision saved his life. If he had arrived 20 minutes later in Calgary, he would not have survived.
    He was put  to sleep for the flight, and didn’t wake up for 10 days. He was rushed right into surgery upon arrival at 3 a.m. They did an angioplasty and put a stent in his heart.
    He was on life support for the nine days following the surgery. He had gained and lost about 40 pounds of fluid through the ordeal.
    His recovery since then has been remarkable, but he says there is still a long way to go.    
    Within a day of waking up, he was back on his feet. Today, just a month since he was admitted, he is back driving and by appearances, he looks healthy.
    He admits that he is still weak, and is winded at climbing a flight of stairs. He probably won’t be back at work for a year, and it won’t be until next season he is back on his bike.
    “When I arrived home on the 20th (October), I was walking into my house and STARS was flying over taking somebody else,” said Bhikoo.
    He says he received great support from the community while he was in the hospital.
    “One thing that blows my mind is the community in Drumheller. I was almost finished building my fence when I went in, and my neighbours finished it. They did all of my yard work, people came in and cleaned the house,” said Bhikoo. “The Drumheller community is like family and that’s why I want to bring the Red Ring for Life to them.”
    Bhikoo wants to give back to STARS for saving his life and he would like to encourage the community to join him.
    He is getting behind the Red Ring of Life Campaign for STARS.
    The Red Ring Campaign was launched in 2010. Supporters can purchase the stainless steel ring with the bright red band for $5 per month, or  $60 for a year. The rings are available online or locally at Fountain Tire. Every dollar from the purchase of the rings goes to STARS.
    He says it cost about $1 per second for STARS to fly, and the mission that saved him, he was told cost in the area of $14,000. Each ring represents a minute of flight. An average flight costs about $5,400.
    He would like to raise awareness of the campaign. He went to Fountain Tire in Drumheller to buy a ring, they opened the box for him.    
    He wants to sell the box out.
    “I want to pay it back, I want Drumheller to step up because it is a life saving force,” said Bhikoo, “and I know Drumheller will once they know it is out there.”
    “Without it I wouldn’t be here.”

Christmas wish list filled

    The last packages are bundled and left the post office, scraps of wrapping paper and empty rolls of packing tape have been thrown in the trash,    Christmas is on the way to about 150 children and their families on the small Island of Roatan.
    The annual Morgan Jayne Project Christmas Appeal to fill a wish list for children, who have little more than wishes, has been filled. Volunteers have worked feverishly to ship 154 boxes of gifts, totalling two and half tons, almost twice as many as last year.
    “I am actually sitting here, kind of shaking, I am overwhelmed,” said Fred Makowecki of the Morgan Jayne roject. “To double it this year makes me think, how did that just happen? It blows my mind.” 
    With the extra boxes comes the extra expense to ship the items, including landing fees on the other end. The support for the project was overwhelming, as was the monetary support for the dozens that chipped in for the shipping.
    After the first boxes were sent, Makowecki could see they were going to need a fair chunk of money to cover the shipping. It continued to add up, but so did the support. The drive was on last week, and a number of local individuals and businesses came through.
    Despite this they were still short some funds for shipping, and Makowecki personally covered the shortfall for the shipping. While he would still appreciate support for some of the shipping expenses, he said this year was a complete success.
    “I can’t believe it, the support this year was so amazing. People I never met before, there are so many people that stepped up,” said Makowecki. “If the whole world was like Drumheller, we would have no problems.”


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