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Fri08292014

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Is Drumheller ready for bus service?

    The Town of Drumheller is looking to residents to see if the idea of public transportation has any traction in the valley.
    Council has been talking about the possibility of offering a public transportation service for a few years and had a study completed looking into the possibility. In the near future, they will be distributing a survey with residential utility bills to gauge the feeling of residents.
    “The town has come up with a survey on the possibility of some public transportation, and it is kind of in conjunction with the Valley Bus,” said Councillor Tom Zariski, who sits on the Valley Bus committee. “The idea is of course that Valley Bus has run such an excellent service for a number of years and there is a possibility that it could be expanded to include some public transportation routes for anybody.”
    The survey is simply to see if there is support for such a service.
    “We want to know if the general public would actually take a bus. Would they take a bus from Nacmine to downtown?  Would someone take a bus from Midland? We don’t know. We don’t want to invest a whole bunch in this if people say … ‘I probably wouldn’t take it.’” said Zariski.
    He says there are opportunities working with Valley Bus.
    “The idea is the Valley Bus board is in favour of a limited type of a schedule. But if it gets to the point where there are many buses, routes, and drivers, then the Valley Bus is not very keen on running that kind of thing. If it could be a moderate expansion of what Valley Bus does now and it wouldn’t really cost Valley Bus a lot of money or a lot more administration, then Valley Bus is interested in that.”
    Zariski says Valley Bus has a well-defined mandate, and in taking on public transportation, that does not change.
    “The primary interest of Valley Bus has and always will be accessible transportation for seniors and handicapped and making it very affordable and convenient. So for example, if someone has mobility issues and a doctor’s appointment then that’s Valley Bus’ mandate and that will never change,” said Zariski.
    However he said they would not be averse to finding efficiencies.
    “On Valley Bus we are always looking for opportunities to make it more efficient. We are constantly looking at how we could have more than one person on a bus from one fixed location and that kind of thing. We are constantly looking for how we can be more efficient, maybe cutting down on how many routes we run,” said Zariski. 
    The survey is planned to be in the next utility bill, and it will also available at Town Hall. The deadline to submit the survey is  February 29, 2012.

St. Anthony’s School united against bullying

St. Anthony’s School united against bullying

    On Friday, February 3, staff and students demonstrated that bullying is not cool during their annual anti-bullying day.
    All of the students from kindergarten to Grade 6 rotated through different activities where students talked about anger management, self-esteem, and the different types of bullying, such as cyber bullying.
    The students made anti-bullying posters and took part in activities that demonstrated how to solve conflicts and how they can make new friends.
    Bullying has made headlines recently, because of the impact on its victims, especially those who have ended their lives as a result of being bullied.
    “I think this is an important topic to discuss, because everyone at some point in their lives has been bullied,” said James MacDonald, the teacher who organized the event. “The students need to know that their words and actions can deeply affect the lives of their peers.”
    The aim is to have students be proud of themselves and respect the individuality of others.
    If you or someone you know is the victim of bullying, there is help. The FOR Club at the Drumheller Valley Secondary School and the teachers of St. Anthony’s School can help.
    “The teachers and staff at St. Anthony’s School are committed to creating an environment in which all students feel accepted and valued,” said MacDonald.

DHA pushes toward modernization

DHA pushes toward modernization

    The Drumheller Housing Administration (DHA) has had an ambitious several years, undertaking projects that have completely changed the face of the affordable and subsidized housing in Drumheller.
    The DHA was founded on April 1, 1995, by a the order of the ministers of municipal affairs. The mandate of DHA was to provide safe, affordable housing for residents who needed a home.
    The DHA currently oversees several properties in Drumheller.
    The Greentree duplex townhouses were built in 1967 and contain 26 units with 2-4 bedrooms. The Hunts townhouses, which include 24 units, were built in 1971.
    The aforementioned housing units are subsidized, meaning the provincial government sets the price of rent based on a formula using income and circumstances.
    The final property the DHA manages is the new Sandstone Manor, a 20 unit apartment. Sandstone Manor is classified as affordable housing and monthly rent is roughly $200 below market rates.
 In the last three years the DHA has made leaps forward.
  “We started three years ago with a large deferred maintenance list and a shortage of funds,” said Gerald Martynes, board member of the DHA. “We were able to turn things around by hiring contracted maintenance men, using inmate labour, and getting control of the costs.”
  One such maintenance issue was water in the basements of some of the units. Through exterior ground sloping and sump pumps, the problem has been virtually eliminated.
   The DHA was also able to secure $440,000 in federal grants for new furnaces, hot water tanks, toilets, and siding.
    The DHA has also started several green initiatives, such as having gasless push mowers, using rain barrels, and the  DHA has received $20,000 from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and another $20,000 from Encana to purchase recycling trailers for use at Greentree and Hunts townhouses.
    There is currently a waiting list of 20 people for one bedroom units and vacancies are typically filled within a month.
    Potential residents must go through a screening process.
    One criteria being considered for the screening process is the addition of detailed criminal record checks to discourage criminal activity in the DHA managed properties. A similar program is used in the Edmonton area and other municipalities are considering the same.
    The DHA continues to move forward with modernizing the affordable and subsidized housing in Drumheller.    
    Projects this year will seek to improve video surveillance, replace wooden fences with chain link, and encourage residents to save energy.
    For more information, or to apply, visit www.rentdrumheller.ca.