New MD of Bonnyville building opens

Published Monday, August 26, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun



After two years of construction, the MD of Bonnyville new offices officially opened the new offices on Monday August 19. While the council had moved into the building last spring, they hadn’t officially opened the new building until the ribbon cutting ceremony took place.
Now the entire staff can fit in the new building, which is four times the size of the original, and they have even more staff than before.

Ed Rondeau, the council’s reeve, says the new space will give them the chance to do more and will better equip them to deal with issues as they arise.

“The new space will give us a chance to do things like mapping with GPS, so we can better plan for development,” Rondeau said as an example of what the new building will be capable of compared to the old one.

Having the entire MD council in house in a big plus, said Rondeau, making communication among the staff easier. The building also was constructed to better accommodate the citizens of the MD, with a friendlier approach to welcoming them to the building.

“We placed the main greeting counter at the front as opposed to the old building,” Rondeau said. “So now when people walk in they can ask the questions they need to ask at the front.”


Author comes for book signing in Cold Lake

Published Tuesday, July 30, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun


On Saturday August 3rd, new author Shelley Thody will be coming to Cold Lake to do a book signing on her first book, Melancholy Mania and Miracles: My Journey with Bipolar Disorder. She’ll be signing the book at Lots-A Books.

The book is an autobiographical account of Thody’s struggle with bipolar disorder, and since it’s publishing in November it has done very well in her hometown of Lac la Biche where she works as a schoolteacher during the year. However now during the summer months she’s working at promoting the book and getting it into as many hands as possible.

“My inspiration for writing the book, was that I’ve been through a lot, and I want to inspire others and remind them that there may be hope out there even if they’re going through a bad time like I was,” Thody explained.

The process of writing the book itself was a roller coaster ride for Thody, having been forced to relive all the experiences that have culminated into her life so far.

“It was difficult, it was healing, and it was scary,” Thody said. “I had to reiterate everything I’ve done in my life, the good and the bad choices. It was difficult to reiterate the tough times, but that in a way gave me a courage I didn’t have before.”

Before the book came out she told her coworkers at the school about the book, and many were surprised to hear she had bipolar disorder at all.

“But they were all very encouraging, it was pretty amazing,” Thody said.

Thody had success in Lac la Biche, with the book selling well all around town. She made a few appearances at book signings, and even went down to Calgary for a book signing at a Chapters bookstore. Lots-A Books offered the upcoming book signing, and Thody eagerly took it as it’s her summer mission to promote the book.

Even though it’s her goal for the summer to work at marketing the book, she has no plans at the moment to retire from teaching and work as a writer.

“I will be returning to teaching in the fall,” Thody said. “I have been approached to write another book, but at the moment my goal is to get this book into as many hands as possible.

“I believe there’s a stigma around talking about mental illness, and we have to be brave enough to talk about it to help the people who need it. So that’s what I’m hoping to push for with the book.”


Soccer camp scores

Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun


For the fourth year, Cold Lake Minor Soccer has once again hosted a summer camp for kids of all ages to get some practice with the fundamentals. The turnout for the camp was around 100 kids from all over the Lakeland area, and even one from Edmonton who vacations in Cold Lake for the summer.

The camp is run by Challenger Sports, a program that brings coaches from the U.K. to teach kids some new skills and some old ones in different ways.

“We have coaches from all over the place, a bunch are from Scotland and we got one guy from Wales, for example,” Steve Cupit, the technical director for Cold Lake Minor Soccer, said.

Although for many of the kids it may be skills they have learned before, Cupit says bringing in a fresh face to teach it always helps.
“Plus you put someone with a British accent in front of them and the kids tend to take them more seriously,” Cupit joked.

The camps were split up based on age group and skill level, ranging from full-day developmental camps to mini-soccer for kids ages four to six. The younger groups would focus on building individual skills like ball handling and control, while some of the older and more advanced groups would work on more team oriented skills. Every day the groups would focus on a certain skill to develop, such as heading the ball, which would culminate in a game at the end of the day.

One of the other things the camp was doing this year is called the African Cup of Nations, which assigns kids in the camp to different countries in Africa. It becomes those kids job to research their country and design a flag, because on the last day they hold a tournament with each team representing their country.

U12 girls soccer team brings home silver

Published Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun


On the weekend of July 6th Cold Lake’s U12 girl’s soccer team, the Focus, earned second place in the provincial championships.

“They surprised everyone, including the parents,” Stacey Boyd, the team manager, said.

Kraushaar, consisted of a mix of age groups, from kids who had played in U12 last year and kids who had played U10 previously and had just moved up.

The tournament took place in Three Hills.  To qualify for the tournament, the girls had to compete in the Lakeland cup several weeks ago where they defeated Bonnyville in the final game.

After their success in that tournament, the team was invited to play at the provincials.
The team played four games and won their first three.

Their goalie nearly entered the final game with a shutout for the whole tournament, only letting one goal in at the end of the third game.

However their winning streak ended in the final game where they lost 4-1 against the Northern Strikers, a team from Fort St. John from B.C., a town whose close proximity to Alberta makes them part of the soccer division.

NLSD trustees debate school priorities

Published Monday, June 24, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun


A heated debate at the Northern Lights School District meeting on June 19 led to a change in the three-year plan.
Board members were divided on the issue, but the change has resulted in putting a new Cold Lake Elementary School at the top of the priorities.
Parents of kids who attend the current Cold Lake Elementary School came to the meeting to express their concerns regarding the school, and the need for a new one.
Reading from a letter drafted by a group of parents, a representative said that the school is maxed to capacity and it is only going to get more students as the city grows.  There are 308 students who use the school, and 80 preschoolers who use the day care associated with the school.
This has pushed the electricity levels to the max that the 50-year-old school can handle, and there is still the safety issue regarding the bathrooms.
The buildings are not equipped with enough washrooms, forcing kids to traverse across a dangerous parking lot to get to the other building and use the washroom.
The parents already an idea in mind of where to put the school, in the back far west corner of the field the current school is in, but they face several obstacles such as the school needing a partnership before it’s built.
However that was a relatively moot point as the meeting went on and the item on the agenda to change the three-year education plan came up.  In a recent meeting with the MLA, several trustees were told that if building a new school wasn’t at the top of the priorities, it wasn’t going to happen.
At the time of its passing, Lac La Biche’s new elementary school was higher up on the list of the three year plan, and thus it was called into question whether or not to place a new school in Cold Lake as the top priority.
This led to much debate, as trustees agreed that Cold Lake is in more dire need but some were concerned about changing a plan that has already been submitted.
Danny Smaiel, a trustee of Ward 3, said that it was nonsense that a school could only be built if it was the top on the priorities list.
“There is no reason both can’t be built,” Smaiel said.  “And we don’t want to look like we’re flaking out of decision we’ve already made.”
Another advocate for not changing it was Roxanne Suhan, a trustee of Ward 5.
“There is mould in the Lac La Biche School,” Suhan said.  “We can’t just ignore the health of kids in one school for kids in another.”
On the opposing end there were trustees like Tom Varughese and Rod Soholt who were in favour of changing the three-year plan.
“Changing your mind means you only have the logic to fix a mistake,” Soholt said in defense of changing the three-year plan.
Walter Hrycauk, a trustee of Ward 2, reminded the other trustees that no matter what they did another school wouldn’t be built for at least two three years.
The line was drawn down the middle of the room, and after over an hour of discussion it was finally called to a vote.
In the end, it was voted five to four in favour of changing the three-year plan to make Cold Lake Elementary a top priority on the three-year plan.

Gymnasts’ year was a good one: coach

Published Monday, June 10, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun

Above the Seniors’ Centre is a group of young people who are hard at work honing their gymnastics skills.  Under the guidance of their coaches they open their practices with several laps around the gym, limbering up while doing so.
The Cold Lake Gymnastics group had one of their most successful years yet, says head coach Krista Ramsay.  The competitive team has done more this year this ever before and has walked away with more then their fair share of medals and ribbons to prove it.  It was also a year of many firsts for the team.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” Ramsay said.  “They worked so hard.”
The total count of medals won by individuals and teams this year was 102, and those ranged from first to third place in a competition.  The number of ribbons won was 136.
The program, which has kids from the ages of five to 16, has a competitive team consisting of 22 girls from that age range.  In this past year alone they have travelled all over Alberta, from St. Albert to Canmore and several places in between, for competitions.
Ask any of the girls however, and their favourite place to visit was Florida, where they competed in their first ever Presidential Classic at Walt Disney World.  They walked away from that competition alone with 15 medals.
“It was a blast,” Ramsay said.  “We also got a nice vacation out of it.”
It was also their first year competing in provincials, which three  of the girls attended.  They walked away with a fifth and sixth place ribbon out of the entire province for their competitions.
However the club continued to face several of the same problems they faced last year, which all stem from a lack of space.  The club itself hosts over 300 kids.
“We just have no more room.  There’s nothing more we can give,” Ramsay explained.
However, in January 2014 they’re moving into the Energy Centre, where they space needs should finally be alleviated.
“We’re already designing it with them.  We’ve been discussing how much space we’ll need and so on,” Ramsay said.
Looking into the future, Ramsay has lots of ideas but also has several things to work out.  Twenty new girls want to join the team, but they only have the space for four more girls.
“Some girls (are) moving away, but that’s really the only space we have to open up,” Ramsay explained.
On the lighter side, next year Ramsay hopes for Cold Lake to host their first ever gymnastics competition.  She wants to bring in teams from all over, and help to make Cold Lake better known in the gymnastic community.
All in all it was a good year to be in the gymnastics club.  The girls travelled and competed, and got the medals and ribbons to show for it.  However if you ask any of the girls what their favourite part was, they’d probably tell you that it was that they got to go to Disney World.

Insufficient bus drivers in NLSD

Published Monday, June 10, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun


In the past two to three years, almost every newspaper without fail as had an ad looking for new bus drivers for the Northern Lights School District.  There just aren’t enough bus drivers to go around, it seems.
This has begun to put a strain on the transportation director Matt Richter, as well as the other members of the transportation office.  With contractors constantly stepping down and employees hard to find, Richter and his co-workers have had to step up to get kids to school.
“I told the board we were going to hit the wall about a year ago,” Richter said. “And then we did.”
The NLSD has over a 100 routes that kids get picked up on their way to school.  However Matt Richter himself has filled in 50 fifty times in the past year for contractors who have dropped out at the last minute.
“It’s frustrating because it means I can’t get much else done.  My main job is the director of transportation but sometimes I’m barely able to do my job because of this,” Richter said.
This has also begun to put a strain on the parents of the kids.  Richter and his staff aren’t always enough to fill in the shoes of every bus driver who drops out, meaning the parents have to get their kids to school, despite whatever they need to get done that day.
However, the workers just aren’t there, Richter says.
“The problem is this area is so strapped for employees,” Richter said.  “We have lots of jobs, but not enough employees to fill them.”
The difficulty in finding a new driver is two fold.  For starters, it’s tough to find someone who has a licence to drive a bus.  Then it’s even more challenging to get them to work, as the pay is no longer as good as it was.
“The government cut off our fuel funding, so suddenly we had to pay for our own fuel.  That doesn’t leave much money to give to the drivers,” explained Richter.
In a recent hunt for a new bus driver, it took Richter between four to five months to find a new driver in Bonnyville.
“It’s not just us though; it’s every other industry as well,” Richter said.  “When my in-laws from Europe were here, they couldn’t believe all the help wanted signs they saw in store windows.”
Richter also has growing concerned that the downward trend might continue into the next school year.  During the summer he plans to look for new employees, but who knows if he’ll find any.
“Come September 1st, it’ll be very interesting,” Richter said.

Vancouver Aquarium gives local students a chance to look at sea wildlife

Published Monday, June 10, 2013 in The Cold Lake Sun

The Pacific Ocean may seem pretty far away from rural Alberta.  However students of LeGoff School had the ocean brought to them.  Thanks to the Vancouver Aquarium, students had a chance to touch, examine and learn about some sea creatures from habitats that can seem far away and from some that are closer to home.
“It’s great, because the chances some of these kids will get to the coast are slim to none,” Principal Maryanne Bushore said.  “It’s absolutely amazing.”
The Vancouver Aquariums’ AquaVan, a truck that tours western Canada between January and November, made this possible.   The van is sponsored by Cenovus Energy, and it tailors it’s program to the age group of students it’s working with.
Students got a chance to look at and touch starfish, crabs, sea urchins and snails, as well as several different pelts and skulls from sea animals like sharks and whales.  They learned about different areas of the Pacific Ocean and all sorts of animals that inhabit that area.
The kids were actively engaged with what they were learning.  They asked questions, looked at everything they could, and they learned quite a bit.
The AquaVan also explores the wetlands, an area of subject some of the students are learning about.
“It kind of recaps what the students have learned during the year,” Bushore said.
Lindsay Gibbons, one of the employees with the AquaVan, says it’s one of the best way to teach kids the morals of conservation.   Conservation is one of the main goals of the AquaVan, and how they go about doing it is what Gibbons says makes the difference.
“Because these kids get to actually see and touch these animals, it strengthens their connection with them,” Gibbons said. “They really understand what exactly they’re trying to save.”
The AquaVan is going to continue touring around the area, visiting other towns like Lac La Biche in the coming weeks.  It takes a break later in June and returns to British Columbia in August, before wrapping up its run in November in the Sunshine Coast.
If you’re interested in bringing the AquaVan to your school Gibbons promotes looking at for details.