Monday, 31 August 2009

How many Rep reporters does it take to decipher hockey stats?

This is the dilemma we're facing as we say farewell to our summer intern, Bobby Roy, who is off to undoubtedly bigger and better things.

He is leaving behind three women who know next to nothing about sports, reporting on sports, interpreting sports stats or even what sports are in season right now.

Hence, the crash course:

Laura — the new, unofficial sports reporter — is pretty sure she's got a handle on things. But we're going to miss you, Bobby. Stay off that leg.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Weekly Roundup — August 28

Here's what's making news in Leduc and area this week:

• A 55-year-old Edmonton woman remains in hospital after sustaining serious but non-life threatening injuries when her car jumped the barrier on the Highway 2 overpass and landed in the middle of 50 Avenue in Leduc Monday afternoon.

• Time is running out for Canadian boaters to get their pleasure craft operator card.

• The 16th annual TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is coming to a body of water near you next month.

• Canadian Blood Services are looking for at least 115 donations at their next clinic in Nisku.

• The City of Leduc is giving residents the chance to sneak a peek at the LRC next Wednesday.

Protect your "grown-up toys" this winter.

• Laura has an inside look at the daily life of a STARS air ambulance pilot.

• Leduc County council aired some fears about the Capital Region Board's land-use plan at their Aug. 25 meeting.

• ACI-NA says EIA is tops in PR.

• Leduc and District Victim Services is looking for volunteers.

• You know that inner door connecting your garage to your house? Always lock it.

Feel sorry for Laura.

All this and more in the Aug. 28 Rep!

The story I wish was on our front page

“Next goal wins, boys. Next goal wins.”

Hockey for Hubbs organizer Jim Garrick spoke those words through a microphone to the 40 players at the rink next to Ecole Bellevue School as well as the crowd gathered to watch at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 23.

Two minutes later, with Tanner Hubbs watching from the bench, the Braves scored, winning the game for the white jerseys despite the two hundred (or so) goal lead the black-clad Chiefs had.

At the end of it all, 109 hours and 32 minutes after Tanner Hubbs dropped the ball on Aug. 19, 40 young men (ranging in age from 15 to 29) had set a world record for the Longest Marathon Street Hockey Game and had also helped raise more than $50,000 for Hubbs and his family ...
More from the Beaumont News

(Photo: Rick Hubbs, father of spinal cord injury victim Tanner Hubbs, embraces one of the 40 young ball hockey players who rallied the Town of Beaumont around Tanner's cause last week. Photo by Alex Pope)

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Party central

Broken glass found on the banks of Conjuring Creek, just west of Calmar. The creek is one of hundreds of waterways across Canada that will benefit from a litter sweep during the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup from Sept. 19-27. According to Bob McKerracher, who registered Conjuring Creek as a cleanup site, the creek is a popular party spot for local teens and needs a lot of work. McKerracher and others on Calmar's recreation board hope to eventually turn the site into a park. See the Aug. 28 Rep for more. (Photo by Alex Pope)

Friday, 21 August 2009

Weekly Roundup — August 21

Here's what's making news in Leduc and area this week:

• The Kinsmen Alexandra Outdoor Pool is celebrating 40 years this week.

• Calmar's town manager is retiring after 21 years of dedicated service.

• Laura spoke to MLA George Rogers about his take on distracted drivers and whether the province will initiate legislation this fall to cut down on cell phone use and other distractions while driving.

• The first ever Santa's Big Biker Ride for Santa's Helpers Leduc, which was to take place Sept. 12, has been cancelled.

• A pedestrian who was struck and killed on Highway 2 last week may have been waiting for a ride back to Leduc after his friends left him, according to his family.

• Leduc County is offering free spraying to control weeds on certain types of county properties this fall.

• The Leduc Recreation Centre has received a generous funding boost from the federal government.

• It was a hot August night indeed last week at Castrol Raceway.

• A local used clothing store is working with ROMPS to get their new play space up and running by September.

• A Devon man who fled police and was subsequently bitten twice by a police dog received little sympathy from a provincial court judge last week.

• In sports, the Edmonton Oil Kings will play an exhibition game at the LRC on Sept. 5.

See this week's Rep for more!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Tearing up the quarter mile

I've never been much of a gearhead, but I have to admit, Castrol Raceway's 15th annual Hot August Night was pretty darn cool.

Hot August Night is the largest jet car drag racing event in Canada, this year bringing together 150 racers and 9,000 fans for an evening of smoke, fire and fast cars.

I felt a little apprehensive when operations manager Denny Miller took me over to the staging area and pointed out some areas where I could shoot but left me with a word of caution: "Some people don't like getting that close to the cars, so you might want to shoot from the stands." After the first race, I understood why — I was standing on the barrier without earplugs in, and the sonic boom gave me a pretty accurate insight into what it feels and sounds like to be hit by a train.

Once I got used to the sensation and realized my bones weren't going to turn to dust every time a jet car went by, I really started to enjoy myself and at one point even found myself screaming with delight at a jet car's smoke show:

I spoke to several of the drivers, including Chuck Haynes, the North American record holder for fastest speed on the quarter mile — 313 miles per hour — which he set at last year's Hot August Night:

I also met Brad and Heather Janishewski from Drayton Valley, the only married couple in the world who race jet cars against each other. According to Brad, Heather usually wins:

It was also interesting to see the statements some of the racers liked to make with their cars ... or should I say, tanks:

All in all, I left feeling pretty enthused about drag racing — enough to spend about half an hour designing the perfect page to showcase the photos during layout today. I created this hot graphic in Photoshop:

Just don't ask me how — I think my brains are still rattled.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Not ready to say goodbye to my cell phone

I don’t know what I would do with out my BlackBerry.

I use it to talk, text, BBM (BlackBerry messenger), check my e-mails, check facebook, waste my time playing brick breaker and it’s my alarm clock.

Since the day I got it I was in love.

I can’t deny that I occasionally use my BlackBerry while I driving to talk to people or text or use BBM.

Last week it was announced that the provincial government is going to address the problem of distracted drivers this fall.

This potential law could prevent drivers from using handheld phones, texting and other tasks that could distract a driver.

I am looking forward to this fall to see how it all goes down. What I am most looking forward to is to find out what they classify as a distraction.

Cell phones and IPods will likely be grouped as a distraction, but what about everything else?

What about the radio, or the directions you have written out on a piece of paper or the passengers you are having a conversation with, or the cigarette people light up while driving?

I understand that many people in this world cannot text and drive at the same time, and it can make a bad driver.

But I also understand that many people in this world just suck at driving. Distractions will always be a factor in driving.

Instead of trying to remove them, maybe the government should focus on trying to improve the drivers on the road.

People will still text and talk, but if a law like this is passed they will know to put the phone down once they spot a police officer.

Yes, cell phones can make the road dangerous. But so does a cigarette, a baby crying in the back seat, a barking dog, a gossip-queen passenger, changing the radio stations, picking a new CD, or rocking out to Britney Spears latest single.

If no one talked on the phone or sent text messages while driving the number of accidents would almost certainly decrease. But just because it’s the law doesn’t mean people will follow it.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Just livin'

Jim McConnell lines up his shot during a game of snooker at Telford House on August 7.

By Bobby Roy

This past week I headed to Telford House, right beside Telford Lake, to grab some pics and interviews for a story about the Telford Day Program.

I was not too sure of what to expect from the small program that was created to provide seniors, who suffer from a lack of mobility and other health concerns, with a structured recreation in a community setting.

I had never been inside Telford House and I had never seen what goes on in a seniors day program.

The only reason I initially wanted to do a story on the Telford Day Program was because a few weeks earlier I had done one on the Beaumont seniors day program and Anne Johnson, the activity coordinator for the program said there was a waiting list for the Leduc one so I thought there could be a story.

When I talked to Wendy Brown, the administrator for the program, she notified me that there was no waiting list and she took the extra six people who wanted to get into the program. I was a little skeptical that there may not even be a story at all, but as I talked to the volunteers and workers at the Telford Day Program there was definitely something there.

Watching the workers interact with the seniors and give them a little bit of joy goes unnoticed by most people and I'm sure that's how the workers like it. A couple of the workers are volunteers who take time out of their day to help make the senior's days more enjoyable.

I could not imagine myself doing a job like that, because I do not have the patience for it.

Not many people do.

That is why these people deserve the recognition that they rarely ever get. It is never an easy job taking care of someone especially when you do not get paid. It is great to see that the world still has people who are very caring and will do anything for their fellow human being, no matter who they are.

Without a day program like this these seniors will likely spend the day sitting in their home alone watching television. The program gives these seniors a chance to interact with each other, get some well needed exercise and for the most part have fun.

Without fun what the heck is the point of living? No matter how old having any sort of fun will make life worth living even if it is just for a little while.

The program runs on Mondays and Fridays at Telford House and the program is currently supporting 16 seniors. The program was meant for 10, but Brown decided it was best to take them all in.

“When people have a stroke or something similar like that they lose the motivation, so we try to provide something in which people who experience problems like that can come out and have fun,” said Brown.

The seniors get to play shuffleboard, pool, lift weights and interact with each other. It's good to see them out and about rather than shut-in at their homes.

People tend to forget about our seniors and how they deserve to have just as much fun as the younger generation.

It's always good to have eye openers once in a while.

Monday, 10 August 2009

A wish come true

As reporters, we spend a fair amount of time writing about sad or difficult subjects, so when we get the chance to cover something positive, it's a real joy and makes our job so much more fun.

Last Friday, I had just such an opportunity: covering the fulfillment of 8-year-old Kaelyn Halyk's wish for a hot tub.

Kaelyn is one of 55 children with life-threatening medical conditions who will have their wish granted this year by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A local volunteer made the day very special for Kaelyn by mobilizing members of the RCMP, Leduc Fire Services and a team of volunteers to march Kaelyn's hot tub to her house in a parade.

The parade assembled around the corner from Kaelyn's house and set out in a procession:

Cst. Jodi Heidinger turned the police cruiser's lights and sirens on, which was pretty exciting for Kaelyn:

Once everyone was in the backyard, Kendra presented Kaelyn with some other gifts, including a crown and wand and a Hannah Montana beach towel to dry off with after using her new hot tub. Courage the Fire Dog also gave her a special stuffed dalmatian puppy:

Even Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke showed up to congratulate Kaelyn on her wish fulfillment with a certificate commemorating the occasion:

While all this was going on, the staff of Beachcomber Hot Tubs installed Kaelyn's new tub:

The fire department members stuck around afterwards to fill the hot tub using the fire hose.

It was all very special and touching and I hope Kaelyn gets a lot of enjoyment from her new hot tub!

(Photos by Alex Pope)

Friday, 7 August 2009

Lost in transit

If you had asked me one week ago who I thought had the most difficult, important job in the world, I probably would have said a surgeon or a paramedic — someone for whom quick thinking and action is literally a matter of life and death.

However, a recent experience has caused me to revise my opinion and add to that list people who work in airports.

I’m only being slightly facetious. They may not have to perform delicate operations or feats of incredible bravery and strength in a race against the clock on a daily basis, but ticket agents, security personnel, ground crews and flight crews often see people at their most vulnerable, and the smallest gesture can mean the difference between a difficult-but-tolerable situation and a waking nightmare.

I have the worst travel karma of anyone I know. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced a real emergency, but minor setbacks such as flight delays, cancellations, bad weather, lost baggage and general organizational screw-ups tend to compound for me into epic detours. In 2006, I missed my own university graduation ceremony because of a one-hour delay on the first leg of my trip.

Last week, I arrived at the airport in Venice, refreshed after a weeklong vacation and ready to go home. I had a sinking premonition the moment the word “delayed” flashed on the screen beside my flight number that what should have been a straightforward journey home would be anything but. I was right.

The first leg of my trip took me to Rome. We were an hour late, leaving me with less than 45 minutes to make my connecting flight to Toronto. I ran through the maze-like terminal, growing more panicked with every passing minute. My gate was, of course, at the complete opposite end of the airport. I heard the final boarding announcement as I raced up the escalator to the Air Canada connections desk. Gasping for breath, I flung my passport at the agent.

“You might as well take a seat, Miss Pope,” she said. “The flight is full.”


“But I have a ticket,” I said.

“You’re in transit, and you’re late,” she said.

I explained about the delay in Venice.

“It’s Alitalia’s mistake, not ours. You’ll have to talk to them.”

Three hours, five different desks and one epic lineup later, I had a hotel voucher and a new ticket for the following morning. At the hotel, I peeled off my sweat-soaked clothes and tried to relax and not worry about my luggage.

The next morning, all seemed well; I checked in early, got a coffee and went to my gate … where I noticed with dismay that the flight had inexplicably been delayed an hour.

No problem, I thought. I still have two hours to make my connection in Toronto. It will be fine.

I hadn’t counted on Aug. 4 being the day a line of severe thunderstorms rolled through Toronto, causing utter chaos at the airport. Upon landing, the problems stacked up: there was no available gate because all planes were grounded; the ground crews were not allowed out to fetch the baggage or even bring stairs to get us off the aircraft; there was no one to unlock the gate to let us into the customs area.

As I sat on the floor beside the baggage carousel, waiting for a suitcase that turned out to be languishing in a lost and found in Rome, I told myself it could be worse — much worse.

Despite my attempts at reasoning, more than anything I wanted a magic portal that would transport me home to a hot shower and my own bed. The thought of my bed, still a four-hour flight away, sent tears of exhaustion and pent-up anxiety rolling down my face. I was not the only passenger on the brink of a nervous collapse.

For most people — myself included — air travel is a stressful enough experience without setbacks. When setbacks do occur, it’s enough to send even the most rational person into an emotional tailspin.

Airport staff bear the brunt of this outpouring of frustration. They’re working in the dead zone between home and away, a place no person wants to be any longer than they absolutely have to. They have to deal with rude remarks, belligerent passengers and bureaucratic backlogs.

I don’t blame the ones who end up snapping at the hundredth person who asks them when the planes will be allowed to fly again, or who take one look at the ticket lineup stretching around the corner and decide now would be a perfect time to take their 15-minute break. But I thank, from the bottom of my heart, the ones who make an extra effort to humanize the process of being lost in transit.

There was the supervisor who made announcements every five minutes updating people on the status of their bags and who had bottled water brought in for the families with young children. There was the gate assistant who prevented a passenger mutiny by keeping her tone light and sympathetic every time she announced another sliding delay. And there were the booking agents who worked overtime to get people out of lineups and onto flights or into hotels.

When I finally landed in Edmonton that night, I was so happy I wanted to kiss the tarmac (I didn’t).

I could swear never to fly a certain airline again, or write angry letters to every authority who conspired to keep me from my bed for 48 hours, but after a century of flight, this is simply the reality of air travel. We pay a steep price for the privilege of experiencing life in other countries in this jaded age of terrorism and economic turmoil.

Ultimately, the thing to remember is that, in this case at least, the destination is more important than the journey.

Weekly Roundup — August 7

Here's what's making news in Leduc and area this week:

• An appeal by residents to block the construction of a wind turbine west of Leduc has been struck down by Leduc County.

• Bobby sat down with MP James Rajotte and David Swann, leader of the Alberta Liberals, to discuss the economy, visas and a potential fall federal election.

• The third annual Commitment to Life fundraiser for STARS is coming up.

• Leduc will be hosting its first-ever youth event, Rock the Rails, at the skatepark Aug. 27. City staff are also looking for youth to post their own YouTube videos promoting the event. Below, "Cason and Jam's" introductory video:

• Just a few months after receiving a large federal grant to renovate their building, the Thorsby Senior Citizens Club has discovered irreparable faults in the building's foundations.

• Shear Sensation salon is challenging their sisters in hairstyling to come together to participate in this year's Terry Fox Run.

• The Maclab Centre for the Performing Arts has announced the lineup for their 2009-2010 performance season.

• In sports, the Leduc Riggers are gearing up for tryouts in less than a month, while the Milleteers are gunning for the title of Powerline Baseball League champs.

• Looking to take up a hobby or try a new sport this fall? The city is holding their Community Registration Day Sept. 12.