News | DrumhellerMail - Page #2195
Last updateMon, 24 Sep 2018 4pm

Next step to raise seed money for rail purchase


    Brad Wiebe of Palliser Regional Municipal Services, and Art Stacey and Hal Koberinski of RailWest Management, completed a whirlwind tour of community centres  and halls to espouse the possibilities of  purchasing the rail line from Lyalta to Oyen and continue service.
    The group was in Drumheller on Tuesday evening at the Civic Centre, where about a dozen members of the community came out for the presentation. RailWest management has completed a feasibility study into rail continuation and presented the results.
    Stacey said they have identified a rough break even point of hauling 1,200 cars per year to have a viable rail line. The study is based on grain shipping.
    One of thepossible scenarios they laid out was to purchase the western portion of the line from Munson to Lyalta with a favorable lease on the  eastern portion to Oyen.
    He says there are a number of factors that reflect this being a good option. One is there is a chance they could negotiate a favorable purchase price because of the large numbers of bridges on the west leg. The line is also closer to Calgary and it allows more tourism spin off possibilities. While there may be more competition from large throughput  operators on this portion, this is also a higher producing area. Some of the draw backs include the possibility of higher maintenance costs for the line.
    He explained the process of discountenance and selling off of the rail, and said time is of the essence as they expect  CN to be moving forward  with offering the line for sale in the next few weeks.
    The steering committee looking into the purchase of the rail line has been given the direction to form a corporation.
    Part of the goal of the meetings was to garner support for the line from producers along the line who would be interested in becoming directors or shareholders. From this group they hope people and communities would buy in to the project and raise seed money to be able to make an offer to CN when the line comes up for sale.
 Stacey said the value of ownership my not be in holding a share of the company, but in the value of the service. Producers have the potential of realizing savings in shipping as well as  more convenience.

Pharmacist cuts could disadvantage rural Albertans



  The most accessible health care professional, the one that Albertans have said they are most satisfied with, are facing cutbacks that will reduce services to patients.
    Paul Ainscough, pharmacist and owner of Riverside Value Drug Mart says heath care cuts will affect Drumheller residents.
    “The total reduction in health costs comes directly from the pharmacists," said Ainscough. "In 1992 when Klein had his cutbacks, the pharmacists took a big cut then, and we have never recovered from that. It is going to get to the point that rural pharmacies will not survive."
    Alan Hodgins, CEO of Value Drug Mart Associates Ltd., an organization of 57 independently owned and operated community pharmacies, primarily operating in rural Alberta, believes that Phase Two of the Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy (APS) will cause most community pharmacies to cut services to their patients.
    “The APS cuts funding to community pharmacies substantially. I know the government is in a deficit situation and they need to look for savings, but this is going to cripple community pharmacies. For years, pharmacists have stepped up to the plate to fill in gaps in the public health system, especially in rural Alberta. Yes, pharmacists fill your prescriptions quickly and accurately but they also intervene when that prescription is not appropriate. You can walk up to them without an appointment and ask about your health related concerns, without a long wait. Many pharmacies deliver medications to individuals who are not well enough to make a visit to the pharmacy. They work with homecare nurses to keep people in their homes and out of hospitals. They work with physicians to optimize patients’ medication therapies. And all of these services are provided to the public without any direct compensation to the pharmacy or the pharmacist.”
    Outside of revenues associated with the sale of prescriptions, community pharmacist services are not compensated through any other mechanism. Pharmacies are not allowed to put a mark-up on drugs; they obtain a dispensing fee and are able to negotiate allowances from generic manufacturers.
    “I think most pharmacists would agree that the current compensation model for pharmacy services does not properly reflect the services pharmacists provide. We agree that the model needs to change. But, taking $200 million out of current revenues for community pharmacy services, cannot be replaced by future promises of $50 million for professional services,” Hodgins explains.
    Hodgins suggests that unless the Government gets the identified “transition” plan right, pharmacists, pharmacies and patients will suffer. “Our pharmacists are not in any type of position to be able to do any more work for less. The cuts outlined will hurt health service delivery to individual rural Albertans. There is an opportunity to get this right, but what we’ve seen announced on Tuesday isn’t right--and the unfortunate reality is that it is patients who will suffer the most.”

Toby heads to seeing eye dog training college


    Kim McCulley is bidding a fond farewell to her companion who has been at her heel for the last 17 months.
    Many in the valley have come to recognize Toby. The tall lean Black Labrador, often  wearing a white pinnie showing he is working,  McCulley has been raising Toby since he was a pup for future use as a Seeing Eye Dog.
    On Tuesday he boarded a flight to Vancouver where he will be entering college.
    “The time flies, and it was lots of fun,” said McCulley. “He is doing excellent, they expect him to be a star.”
    McCulley and Toby have been working together on basic skills, and have been attending training. Toby is now mature enough to enter the final phase of intense training. It is  bitter sweet for McCulley.
    “It’s tough, but we expect they are going to leave, and when they do you hope they are confident and they have no problems,” she says with a grin. “You hate to have nagged him for 17 months for nothing.”
    She believes Toby is ready. He has an even temperament and has done well with his training. Basic skills such as indicating doors and stairs are well entrenched. She says without his bib he loves to play like any other dog. The Newcastle Ball Diamonds have become Toby’s stomping ground where he revels in the endless supply of windfall that was knocked from the trees following the September windstorm. When he is in uniform he is all business. Having said that, seeing eye dogs take pride in their work and  are happy to serve.
    McCulley’s relationship with Toby will endure. She says she will be able to keep track of him throughout his training, and often  the new owners are generous sharing how he is doing.
    “It’s not like I am losing him, I still get to hear how he does, and the clients send letters and photos, so it’s not like I’ll never get to see him,” she said.
    For Toby now comes five months of intensive 9-5 training before he starts his service.
    McCulley says the Town of Drumheller has been very supportive to make sure he is a healthy, happy dog with no issues.
    “He’s been everywhere with me, to the doctor and grocery store. Everywhere I go, he went with me,” she said.
    McCulley has enjoyed the experience of raising Toby and hopes to continue. She is eligible to act as a foster to another seeing eye dog in the future, and if given the chance, she will take in another dog to raise.