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Wed10222014

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Golden Hills approves consolidated K-12 school in Wheatland

Golden Hills School Division has gone to the province in hopes of building a stand-alone central school in the East Wheatland area.
    The Board of Trustees moved at its meeting last Tuesday to approve a K-12 consolidated school to serve the students of the area. The site as proposed is a six-kilometre stretch near the intersection of Highway 561 ad 840.   
    “I think it is significant for sure,” said Golden Hills Board chair David Price. “It now moves us toward the next step. Obviously the biggest decision is in the province’s hands now because they have to decide whether or not it reaches the top, or at least qualifies for funding on their list. But for board’s priorities, we put it at the top of the list for new expenditures in the division.
    It was a recorded vote and Price says five trustees voted for the consolidation and Bob McKay, trustee for Ward 2 voted against the motion.
    Price said the decision came about relying on the difficult task charged to members of the community.
    “The biggest part of it was done by the working groups, made up of the four members of each community, and of course Superintendent Bevan Daverne’s team who worked super hard to respond to any questions or concerns coming forward. Obviously we couldn’t address everyone’s concerns completely, but we cold provide the information for people to make their own judgement. It appears there was a majority of people in favour of taking this step and that is also the direction the board chose to go.”
    With this motion, it became a part of the Golden Hills School Division capital plan. It was to be submitted to the province by April 2.

Locals survive night of terror

Locals survive night of terror

    A Drumheller area resident is warning others to do thorough research before embarking on an excursion after he returned from the Dominican Republic lucky to be alive and with a bullet lodged in his leg.
    Jack and Lorrie Lowen were looking south for a holiday in the sun when they booked for six weeks to stay at a condo in Caberete, along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.
    They booked through a vacation rental by owner website into a 10 unit condominium. They felt reassured as the web site painted it as a safe area and the property had 24-hour security. They set out on January 12.
    There were a few warning signs about the property as the security appeared to be provided by the chambermaid and pool boy by day, and an unarmed security guard by night. This is in an area where gas station attendants are even armed.
    The area was surreal as well. Their condo was surrounded by resorts, which were abandoned when the economy collapsed a few years ago. The neighbourhood, where locals lived was just up the block.
    For most of their vacation they had a great time. The couple met a number of interesting people and enjoyed the sunshine.
    On the morning of February 22, the couple were planning a whale-watching excursion at 6 a.m. Jack woke up at 4 a.m. to the barking of neighbourhood dogs.  He got out of bed and yelled at the dogs but they persisted.  He went out to look for the security guard. He heard loud noises from a ground level condo. He told the security guard to check it out. The security guard didn’t appear to investigate. Jack went back to his condo, but the noise became worse.
    “I came out and yelled at the security guard, ‘you've got to help these people,’ I didn’t know them very well, they owned their place and were just down for a week,” said Jack.
    A few minutes later there was a pounding on Jack's door. It was the neighbour asking to borrow his cell phone to call for help. Lorrie went to get him their cell phone and handed it to the neighbour.
    “Within about a five second period we all looked up and saw a dark figure coming out of the neighbour's condo door about 12 feet away. It was still dark, and all I saw was his arm raise up and I heard a large crack. I jumped back and blood was spraying out of my left thigh,” said Jack.
    He had been shot point blank.
    His neighbour pushed Jack back into his condo and locked the door. Jack yelled through the balcony to the security guard that he had been shot, this time the security guard bolted.
    They learned the couple who were robbed woke up with guns pointed at them. The culprits tried to tie up the female occupant of the condo, but she fought and escaped through the balcony, and now the male neighbour was in Jack’s apartment. They lost cash and their electronics.
    The female neighbour was an RN and used a belt as a tourniquet on Jack's leg.
    “Thank God she was an RN, this is one of the things that saved my life,” said Jack.
  He said his wife Lorrie was a saving grace as she was calm enough to grab their travel documents and with the help of a passerby, they loaded Jack into a rental car to flee the scene and get medical attention.
  They arrived at a clinic in Caberete but it was little more than a concrete building, and neither of the two attendants were able to administer an IV.
  “One of the last things I remember saying was ‘Please honey, don’t let me die here," said Jack. “My wife took charge and said ‘we are moving him.’ They dragged me back to the rental car and drove me to Puerto Plata, which was 45 minutes away.”
    On the way Jack was fading in and out of consciousness, and was losing a great volume of blood. They later learned his femoral artery had been clipped.
    When they arrived, they learned it was a public hospital and might not accept his medical insurance. A doctor from Austria arranged to have an ambulance take Jack to a private hospital.
    When they finally arrived, Jack had lost more than half his blood and was barely alive.
    They double bagged two units of blood directly to his heart and rushed him in for surgery. They repaired his femoral artery and restored the blood flow in his veins. He was in the hospital for nine days. The bullet that struck Jack was left in his leg as it was very close to another artery. Today it has shifted to a safer position.
   While he was recovering, the horror didn’t stop as the police investigation into the incident began. He said when the police went to the scene, the couple’s electronics and clothes were taken. Police refused to take his wife’s statement. Jack was leery of the police and was not able to sleep. Often an investigator would show up at the hospital with a gun to monitor Jack.
    They booked a flight home and stayed at a resort for his final days in the Dominican Republic but he always felt the police were watching. Even at the airport on March 2, Jack was looking over his shoulder. It was not until he arrived in Toronto, in the middle of the night, that he could relax.
    “It was 2:30 in the morning, and our connecting flight was at 6 a.m., so it wasn’t worth getting a hotel,” said Jack. “…there was a children’s playground at the airport and we slept on the carpet for three hours, and I never felt so safe.”
    Today Jack is doing well, however he is not able to work yet. He will be seeing a specialist shortly to look at his circulation, and hopes the only surgery he will ever have again is to take the bullet out.
    He was not able to identify the shooter, and feels relieved that he could not. He learned the man in the condo, who Jack was trying to help, was under investigation for the shooting. The security guard who fled the scene said he witnessed the shooting. Jack’s neighbour was swabbed for gun residue and was ordered to post a bond. He skipped the country to safety.
    Jack feels the police were involved in the robbery, and has heard the same from another traveller who stayed at the condo, who heard this from locals.
    “I feel lucky to be out of there, because now knowing what I know, if I had identified one of the robbers, I think they could have come in the hospital and taken me out,” said Jack.
    He received no sympathy from the owner of the condominium. They asked for a refund for the days when he was in the hospital. They were told the condo had adequate security, and they had no responsibility for the shooting.
    “The sad thing is, there are people in those condos who know nothing about what happened, and they are just staying in there like I was, feeling it was safe,” said Jack.
    Emotionally he is still recovering.
    “I can’t sleep at night…I’m not messed up like a war vet, but when I shut my eyes at night, it just doesn’t shut off,” he said.
    He truly feels he had a number of guardian angels he owes his life to, including his wife Lorrie who took control of the situation in the chaos and helped fight for Jack’s survival.
    “I wouldn’t be here without her,” he said.
    He is also grateful to the bystander who helped at the scene, and the doctors who arranged for him to get high quality care and saved his life.
    He has filed a report with the Canadian consulate. They were in receipt of the police report and it contained a photo of a man who was not Jack, who appeared to be deceased.
    “I want them to step up their website and let people know how corrupt the police are down there,” said Jack.
    He tells travellers to do their research before they embark on a journey. This was their first experience using a vacation rental by owner website, and he warns people to do secondary research, and gather the opinions of others who have been to the properties. There are many online discussions regarding popular vacation spots.
    “Go to other websites to get a second opinion if you can,” he said.
    Foreign Affairs and International Trade hosts the website http://www.voyage.gc.ca where potential travellers can look for travel reports and warnings.  Currently there is no official warning for the Dominican Republic, however it advises to “exercise a high degree of caution” when travelling there.
    He also recommends that for anyone travelling to make sure they have proper medical insurance.
    But no matter how careful, things can happen.
    “Lorrie and I weren’t careless, we never went out at night or to night clubs, we stayed in our condo, and that is where I got shot," said Jack.

Pastor promises pink Mohawk for 5,000 chocolate eggs

Pastor promises pink Mohawk for 5,000 chocolate eggs   

How many chocolate eggs would it take to consider shaving your head into a Mohawk?
    This is the very question that was asked of Pastor Dan at the Elim Pentecostal Church. The answer is a whopping 5,000.
    Mohawk Night, as it’s being called, will be held on Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. and to kick off the night Pastor Dan will have his head shaved into a Mohawk and then dyed pink.
    “We wanted to something to do for Easter, so Pastor Dan came up with the idea to shave his hair into a Mohawk. I suggested a pink Mohawk,” said Pastor Nola. “It evolved into an egg-stravaganza, where people donated chocolate Easter Eggs. It’s gone crazy from there. We have over 5,000, but they keep pouring in,”
    “Part of it is that we have family nights every Wednesday evening, so we thought it would be cool to have an Easter Egg hunt,” said Pastor Dan. “I had this idea that we could shave someone’s head. I said I would do it for 10,000 eggs, but Pastor Nola said 5,000. We went back and forth until I accidently blurted out 5,000 and she said ‘sold’.”
    The chocolate eggs will be used for a massive Easter egg hunt throughout Elim Pentecostal Church (Central School) right after Pastor Dan’s hair is transformed.
    “We’re going to distribute the eggs around the building, and it’s a huge building,” said Pastor Nola. “At 7 p.m. we’re going to do Pastor Dan’s hair and then the kids get to go all over the building and find eggs. Happy Easter!”
    The building has several floors and roughly 20 classrooms that are perfect for hiding a large number of eggs. Pastor Nola explained there will be obvious eggs and quite a few more incognito ones to accommodate all ages.
    The church has collected well over 5,000, but more are welcome to give the kids a fantastic Easter Egg hunt.
    The hair shaving event and egg hunt is on Wednesday, April 4, starting at 7 p.m. in the Elim Pentecostal Church gym.