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Big Valley Legion volunteers share parallel military careers

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    The military is a career choice that can take young men and women down myriad paths. For two Big Valley men, each took parallel paths, one in the Navy and one in the Air Force.
     Lorne Parkin and Bob Boswell are both heavily involved in their community as volunteers, including the  Big Valley Legion. Boswell Joined up with the Navy in January of 1959. Parkin joined the Air Force in September of the same year.
    “I was allergic to grain dust for one thing,” laughs Parkin, who grew up in Kitscoty when asked why he joined. “I saw a CF100 flying down the Vermillion River, and he pulled it straight up over the bridge. I was about 14 or 15 and I knew where I was going right from that day. I stuck to it in high school and joined up.”
    He was almost 18 when he joined. His parents had to sign a waiver. He first trained in St. Jean in Quebec and then did his trade at Camp Borden in Ontario. That is where he trained on airframe.
    Boswell, originally from Nova Scotia, did his basic training at Cornwallis and he joined as an apprentice.
    “I had an uncle in the Navy and I really looked up to him,” said Boswell.
    He was a Marine Engineer and his responsibility was ship propulsion, power generation, and maintenance. He started his career on the East Coast in Halifax. He served some time in Ottawa and then spent the remainder of his career on the West Coast.
    Parkin’s career took him overseas on NATO tours. He was in France from 1964 to 1976 and Germany from 1983 to 1986.
 “We basically did the same jobs as we did in Canada. But you would always train for the worst… we basically trained for nuclear war,” said Parkin.
     Boswell remembers being issued a respirator and outfit when you would join a ship to protect themselves from a nuclear environment.
    Boswell’s career took home all over the world on the high seas. He sailed all around South America, Europe, and Asia.
    “We would train with other navies so if something did happen, we were prepared,” said Boswell.
    The closest he came to engagement was at the height of the Cold War, his ship sailed to support the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    “We were there to do what needs to be done. To an engineer, it was just another day. I had to get up and keep the fire burning in the boiler and keep the steam up,” he said.
    Parkin said the closest he came to wartime conditions was while in Comox, where they supported the search and rescue.
    “Whenever you had a search, you go all out, and aircraft hours didn’t matter,” he said.
    Something that changed over his career was the diminishing size of the military.
    “We had the third biggest Air Force after WW2, people don’t realize that. The wartime build-up was a lot bigger than most realize,” Parkin said.
    Boswell agrees and said he saw the Navy shrink over his career. He said they had 400 ships in 1945. When he joined in 1959, there were 60. When he left in 1991, there were 25 vessels.
    They also agree the Canadian Military was one of the best trained.
    “I believe we had the best pilots,” said Parkin, adding they would often top US pilots at training competitions. Boswell agrees.
    “We don’t have the best equipment, but we are really good at what we do,” said Boswell.
 Both wholeheartedly loved their careers.
    “I’d do it all again in a heartbeat,” said Parkin.
    Boswell hasn’t been on the water since he retired.
    “I was very fortunate, I enjoyed life on the sea,” said Boswell.
    Today, they consider their work at the Legion as paying back for the veterans that came before them.


Standard, Hussar, Gleichen schools to be demolished

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 The final chapter in the creation of the New Wheatland Crossing School is the disposal of the former schools it replaced.
    Last week demolition began at Standard school. Superintendent of Golden Hills School Division Bevan Daverne explains this was the plan from the beginning.
    “That land is in the process of being handed back over to the Village of Standard,” he said. “Our agreement with them is we would remove the building. That sort of saves them from the liability of that property and the actual land goes back to their ownership.
    He explains as part of Wheatland Crossing School funding, the division had funding to deal with the buildings. That way there would not be vacant buildings left in the communities that were unusable. They will be demolishing the former schools in Standard, Hussar, and Gleichen.
     “These are large buildings and very expensive to maintain, and there is a lot of liability associated with them if you do have to take them down,” said Daverne.
He said they worked with communities to see what would work best.
    “In the case of Rockyford, they elected to keep the building, so we transferred ownership of that building to them, in the case of the other three schools we worked with Wheatland County and the Village of Standard and the local administration in Hussar. We worked with them to establish what they wanted to see happen, what would be best for the community,” he said.
    Daverne said after they are complete at Standard School they will be moving on to do work at the Hussar school site and the former Central Bow Valley School in Gleichen.

Photo Courtesty Kelly Reeves

Senior Titans win league championship

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    The Senior Titans are on top of the league winning the Big Sky Conference Championship and advancing to the provincial playoffs.
    The Titans had home-field advantage last Saturday night, November 2 as they battled the Canmore Wolverines for the league championship. It was back to the future for the Titans as they implemented their double-wing offense to easily defeat Canmore 28-3.
      “We were kind of keeping our old school wing offense in our back pocket and that was our statement,” said Coach Ken Fournier. “We knew we could run the ball down the field and rotate our guys. We knew we would be a bit short-staffed with hockey tiering still going on and a couple of our guys out on injuries yet, so we simplified the game plan and executed it well.”
    The Titans led the whole way and were able to make key defensive stops.
    “Nick Zuccatto had a great game on defense with two interceptions. Two turnovers in a championship game is huge,” said Coach Fournier.
    “Offensively Nolan Ranger had a great game, and our quarterback (Ethan Jones), had to learn a new offense in a matter of days and executed it well.”
    The win over Canmore tops off a season of strong competition.
    “It is a rival game for sure. We play each other a lot, and there was a lot of hard nose football today, I was happy to see our guys answer the bell and go in and execute,” said Fournier.
    The win raises the Titans’ stature as they are now ranked second in the province behind Willow Creek of Claresholm in a tough south conference.
    The Titans are back in action at home this Saturday, at 1 p.m. for the first round of provincial playoffs.
    “Next week we will be hosting Taber for the South quarter-final,” said Fournier. “Taber has had kind of an up and down year. They lost their championship to Claresholm last weekend 53-13, so they took one on the chin and will be looking to bounce back.”


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