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Last updateFri, 21 Jun 2024 5pm

Wheatland appeals court decision over Koester sanctions


Glenn Koester had his day in Court, but it appears there may be more.
The Mail reported in its March 14 edition that Wheatland Councillor Koester has successfully appealed sanctions put upon him by Wheatland County.
The Mail reported he was first accused of Code of Conduct Violations in March of 2022. An independent investigation was completed. He was sanctioned and asked to provide a written apology to the Wheatland County Council; he was also removed from all previously appointed boards and committees.
He launched a Judicial Review Application, and it ruled in his favour.
“The Court ruled that no reasonable body would have found that Councillor Koester had breached the Code of Conduct, and the process used by Council in passing the sanctions was not transparent, intelligible, or justified. The Court also found breaches of procedural fairness, including reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of Council,” states a post on the Getz Collins and Associates social media, which represented Koester. On Friday, March 15, Wheatland County issued a press release indicating it would be appealing the decision.
“With great respect to the Court, Wheatland County and its legal counsel have concerns with this decision after careful review of the findings,” states the release. “It is the responsibility of Council to protect the integrity of county governance in order to best serve our community and the public interest. We do so through a commitment to transparency and by upholding the principles of fairness and accountability.”
“Therefore, on March 15, 2024, council approved a motion to appeal the court’s decision in the matter of Koester v Wheatland County, 2024 by a vote of 4-2. We believe an appeal is the most appropriate step to bring this matter to a fair conclusion for all parties, including the residents of Wheatland County whom we serve.”

Local Law firm forges ahead with new ownership

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One of Drumheller’s longest-established law firms will continue on with a new name as Mitchell Barry and Michael James have purchased Kloot & Associates.
The full-service law firm, which prides itself on offering cradle-to-grave services, will now be known as Barry & James LLP.
“Part of purchasing the firm was to keep that continuity because, essentially this firm has been here under one name or another since the 1960s. To me, it was important to make sure the firm continued on and is still here in the community,” said James.
Mitchell Barry grew up in Drumheller and graduated from St. Anthony’s School. He received his undergraduate at the University of Saskatchewan and went on to study at the Saskatchewan College of Law. He articled with the offices of Norman L. Tainsh in Three Hills and was admitted to the Law Society of Alberta in July 2020.
Barry then transitioned into taking ownership of Norman Tainsh Professional Corporation, forming Barry & Company in 2023.
Michael James came to Drumheller about 14 years ago after completing his Bachelor of Science in Palaeontology and his Masters of Science in 2010 from the University of Alberta. He returned to Alma Mata in 2016 to study law and earned his Juris Doctor in 2019. He then articled at Herman Kloot and Company with Colin Kloot as his principal. He was admitted to the bar in 2020.
Barry explains the two became friends while articling, and when the opportunity came up, they committed.
“With me having my own firm, it just made sense to branch out and put the two together, and I think part of it was to come back and be a bit closer to home. I know a lot of people here, and it is just nice to reconnect,” said Barry. “The same with Michael being able to help clients out in my area. I have a lot of people who come in and want family law advice or criminal law advice, and we just don’t normally don’t provide that.”
Barry will continue on in Three Hills, along with Tainsh, who is continuing his practice. James will contine in Drumheller.
Kloot will remain with the office for the foreseeable future as he wraps up his practice. He will also continue as principal for Jaco (Jack) la Grange, who is articling.
Kloot has been with the firm for 25 years and will begin wrapping up his practice.
“It is something that I am very proud of, what the community has allowed me to achieve, and the community has been so wonderful to this firm and to us. And we certainly try to make reciprocal and mutual.”
Kloot is confident in the new ownership and believes it is in good hands.
“I am excited for the future of this firm I believe we have a bright young team with good support staff in both of the offices, here and Thee Hills,” said Kloot. “I am here to provide continuity to our clients and to support and hopefully provide some guidance and mentoring to the young lawyers.”

Drumheller RCMP lay charges following year long trafficking investigation

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In January of 2023, Drumheller RCMP initiated an investigation into drug trafficking following the discovery of multiple packages believed to be dropped utilizing a drone at the Drumheller Institution. During the investigation, multiple partners and RCMP Support Units were engaged, including from the Drumheller Institution, RCMP Southern Alberta Crime Reduction Unit, Drumheller General Investigation Unit (GIS), Strathmore GIS, Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, RCMP Forensic Identification Section (FIS), RCMP Special Investigations, and more.

On Dec. 1, 2023, police executed two search warrants at one residence in Calgary and one residence in Red Deer, Alta.

As a result of the search warrant, the following was seized:

A drone
Cell phones
Drug paraphernalia
A quantity of methamphetamine, GHB, Psilocybin, and MDMA

As a result of this operation, Drumheller RCMP laid a total of 5 charges. Jessica Lavallee (35), a resident of Red Deer, has been charged with:

Possession of Methamphetamine for the Purpose of Trafficking
Possession of MDMA for the Purpose of Trafficking
· Possession of GHB for the Purpose of Trafficking
Possession of Psilocybin for the Purpose of Trafficking
· Possession of Proceeds of Crime

Jessica Lavallee was released on an undertaking and is set to appear in Alberta Court of Justice in Drumheller on May 17, 2024.

Drumheller RCMP and partners continue to investigate this matter and additional charges are pending.

If you have any information regarding these matters, please contact Drumheller RCMP at 403.823.7590 or contact your local Police Service. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at or by using the "P3 Tips" app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.


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