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Reflections

By Bonnie Hutchinson

It’s all in your mind–really!

Several lifetimes ago, in March 2020, the day after the lockdown was announced, my neighbour said to me, “They say this could last five weeks.”
I said, “Surely not!”
Denial. Total denial.
Eight months later with no end in sight, I can’t decide if my initial reaction was funny or sad or both.
What I know for sure is, my initial reaction was a delusion.
That brings us to David McRaney and the human condition. He’s written two best-sellers, You Are Not So Smart (2011) and You Are Now Less Dumb (2013).
McRaney writes about “why self-delusion is as much a part of the human condition as fingers and toes.” It’s all because of the way our brains work.
***
This is not new information. Back in the 1960s in a social psychology course, I encountered the concept of “cognitive dissonance”. I still haven’t recovered.
The basic concept is this: if we encounter information that is different from what we believe, that difference causes mental (cognitive) discomfort (dissonance).
We are hard-wired to reduce discomfort. In order to reduce discomfort, we are not likely to change our beliefs to match the facts. Instead, we reject the facts.
When I first heard about cognitive dissonance, it scared me. I looked around and saw lots of evidence that it was true. It was frighteningly easy to see examples in government, in business, in my community…it took me longer to recognize areas of my life in which I clung to false beliefs rather than face reality. Too much cognitive dissonance!
***
What’s new since the 1960s is that we now have additional proof–MRI scans–that cognitive dissonance is real.
Brain scans show that parts of the brain responsible for rational thought get less blood when shown statements that oppose our political stance. As McRaney says, “Your brain literally begins to shut down when you feel your ideology is threatened.”
This scares me. All of us are more likely to cling to false information rather than change our beliefs. That means that many decisions in our personal lives and in the world are based on false information.
***
In our COVID-19 era, we’ve seen lots of evidence of this. The editorial pages of this very paper have included letters with opposing views of the same topic–masks versus no masks, isolation versus no isolation, for example. Since The Booster began in 1952, letters to the editor have included arguments on opposing sides of many topics.
When presented with information that doesn’t match our beliefs, do we stop to consider the possibility that we could be wrong?
Nope. We cling more fiercely to our beliefs.
McRaney calls it The Backfire Effect. He says, “Studies show that when a person sees corrections to stories that spread misinformation, if the person already believes the original story, the correction deepens that person’s convictions instead of correcting them.”
In other words, you can never win an argument intended to change someone’s mind!
***
This paragraph stopped me: “We now know that there is no way you can ever know an ‘objective’ reality, and we know that you can never know how much of subjective reality is a fabrication, because you never experience anything other than the output of your mind. Everything that’s ever happened to you has happened inside your skull.”
I read that and thought, “Good grief! That means my entire life is a figment of my imagination.”
But then I thought…if everything I believe is a figment of my imagination, I might as well imagine things that make me happy. We’ll see how that works out.
***
I’d love to hear from you! If you have comments about this column or suggestions for future topics, send a note to Bonnie@BonnieHutchinson.com. I’ll happily reply within one business day.

The power of a simple phone call

By Lori Larsen

The times in which we currently find ourselves are impacting people harder and harder every day.
Isolation, due to restrictions mandated by Alberta Health to help stop the spread of COVID and save lives, is challenging for many, especially seniors.
So easing the effects of isolation with a simple call to “check in” can make a huge difference in a person’s day.
One day, longtime, retired Camrosian  Bernie Williams decided to just pick up the telephone and make a couple of calls a day to family, friends or acquaintances and ask them how things were going.
“I just thought that communicating with people during these times of isolation would be so beneficial, for both parties,” said Bernie.
Bernie has been making the “checking in” calls for just over a week, and wishes he had begun a while ago.
“It has gone over really well. People really seem to like just getting some communication. I wished I had started it sooner, in the beginning of this pandemic.”
Like so many, Bernie realized the impact the pandemic has had on people and that the sudden need to isolate, stop gathering and change our way of life has not been easy.
People need people, so much so that some technology companies reported the use of video calls for socializing surged by as much as 80 per cent, with the onset of the pandemic. This allowed people to actually see others. As well, according to an article appearing in The New York Times in April, the volume of telephone calls rose over internet use with people just wanting to hear another person’s voice.
For Bernie, that is exactly what it is all about.
“It is so good for the wellbeing of people to just have a little chat, then they don’t feel as isolated.”
Bernie also suggests using Zoom to gather as a group in a safe manner.
“I tried that a couple of times, it was okay.”
Humans are social animals and it is in our nature to gather and come together, to converse and share thoughts and collaborate, but during a pandemic when so much is at risk, we are faced with the challenge of how to remain safe while breaking loneliness.
Bernie is a shining example, as are many, that where there is good will, there is a way.
“There are many people suffering right now from this isolation, so just making a telephone call can work wonders.”
He confesses that if he misses one day of calling, he ups the number of calls he does the next day.
The sound of another person’s voice on the other end of a telephone call, the sight of a grandchild during a Skype video, or the laughter you can share over a Zoom meeting is part of the now norm and has proven to be more than just a communication line–it’s truly is a lifeline.
Pick up a telephone and make a call, and make a difference in someone’s life.

Camrose firefighter's purrrfect rescue

4 cfd cat rescue
Among saving life and property, Camrose Fire Department provides services to the community that go above and beyond the call of duty, including community events and initiatives like last year’s Pancake Breakfast (above photo) and saving scared and helpless cats.

By Lori Larsen

Members of the Camrose Fire Department are being hailed as true heroes after a heartwarming rescue of a Camrose resident’s cat, appropriately named “Baby Jingles”.
On Nov. 22, Camrose Fire Department responded to a call for help from Dianne Nordean, a neighbour of Baby Jingle’s owner.
As she looked out the window of her home, Dianne noticed something rather large sitting in a tree.
“I thought it might be an owl sitting in the tree and I kept looking and realized it was Baby Jingles.”
Dianne said the cat appeared to be climbing to the very top of the tree, stopping on what she described to be “a very awkward branch”.
“I texted the owner across the way, and he said ‘Oh no’, so I said I would help.”
The two neighbours tried to coax Baby Jingles out of the tree, but to no avail, so Dianne called for help.
By this point, the stuck kitty had attracted a bit of a crowd, all (especially Dianne and Baby Jingles’ owner) very concerned for the cat’s welfare, because of the cold temperatures and the fact that Baby Jingles was not known to be a tree climber.
“It was probably scared, because a dog came out of nowhere and may have scared it originally.
“The firemen did come and I am really grateful for that.”
The entire event took about 20 to 25 minutes, with a few attempts to climb up the tree, but the poor cat was too far up and stuck between branches that made it virtually impossible for it to be reached safely.
“It did take time and persuasion and we did have to get somebody to move their car so they could get their ladders in there. At that moment, Baby Jingles turned around and got loose from the branch that was pinning him. They (firefighters) probably would have gone up, but the cat did slowly come down. It was a very scared cat though.”
Baby Jingles was happy to be down and his owner was more than grateful to the firefighters for coming and assisting.
Dianne said that it may only be a cat rescue, but Baby Jingles means a lot to his owner, and so the fact that the firefighters handled the concern with such professionalism and care was very appreciated.
“I did say to some of them that they saved Christmas,” laughed Dianne.
And no doubt, the kind and considerate members of CFD did make Baby Jingle’s owner’s day happier and saved him a lot of worry, which people could use a lot more of during these very challenging times.
As for Baby Jingles, I suspect his climbing days may be shortened by strict curfews and he’ll “paws” before he decides to get a bird’s eye view again.

Rosealta fighting COVID cases in Camrose

By Murray Green

As of Nov. 29, Camrose has 69 cases and the County of Camrose has 24 cases of COVID-19.
Rosealta Lodge, a member of The Bethany Group, is listed as having an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Cases among residents is 26 with three residents in hospital. They also have three active cases with staff members, as of Nov. 27. Two residents passed away.
The limitations on connecting with family and friends is not easy for anyone. Visiting restrictions are in place.
The next prevalence testing was scheduled for Nov. 30.
Schools
COVID-19 cases have been reported at Bashaw, New Norway and Camrose schools. The province has now issued home learning for all students from Grade 7 to 12.

City council votes for slight increase to airport hangar fees

By Lori Larsen

City of Camrose council voted against a recommendation by administration to  increase the 2021 lease rate for all hangar lot leases at the Camrose Airport by five per cent (to  $1.874 per square, metre plus GST).
The 2020 lease rate is $1.785 per square metre, which equates to smaller airport lots paying approximately $830, and the largest lot at the airport paying approximately $4,090 for the annual lease.
The proposed five per cent increase would mean an approximately $41 increase to the smaller lots and $200 increase to larger lots annually.
The proposed rate increase was presented to the Airport Commission during an Nov. 4 meeting, at which point a motion was made and carried to increase the hangar lot lease rates at the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Alberta rate of 1.5 per cent.
Councillor Kevin Hycha spoke against the five per cent increase in airport hangar lease rates.
“A little over a year ago, we identified that the airport was under utilized, so we brought Patricia (MacQuarrie, general manager of community development) and her team on board to try and promote the airport. The end result was not to have the hangar owners bear the cost of the airport, that was never the intent. Because of the economy and COVID, we didn’t get a really good idea what the airport could bring to Camrose.
“I don’t think it is fair that the lease hangar owners pay the brunt of the costs of the airport. They do pay a lease and they do pay taxes which are not necessarily shown on the budget line, but they do show towards the City’s levy, they do help towards the City in that sense. So to keep increasing their lease rents is not really fair, especially in today’s economic times.”
City of Camrose engineering manager Jeremy Enarson later indicated that over the past 10 years, the increases have ranged between zero per cent to 6.6 per cent, with an average increase of 4.5 per cent.
“I don’t think anyone is disputing that five per cent is a really big number,” said Hycha. “The thing is it has been going on for almost 10 years. It has added up significantly. The hanger lease holders are just wanting a little bit of a reprieve. They feel it needs to level out or stop. They have got to the point where they are above average compared to other airports, so they feel the cost of living (1.5 per cent increase) is a fair settlement.”
City of Camrose general manager of finances Travis Bouck responded to councillor Hycha’s comment on property taxes. “On one side, yes, they are paying property taxes, but on the other side, there is quite a bit of money that we will be needing to spend in the next few years on the airport on the capital side, which does not show up in operation subsidy.
“The runway is going to need about $500,000 in funding from the City, there is a light replacement project in the future, and we have to redo the fuel tank storage for over $100,000. These are all capital projects that are going to benefit the airport in general.”
City manager Malcolm Boyd echoed Bouck’s concern. “With a $2.2 million dollar runway overlay and another $450,000 light project, we have a significant amount of capital that we are going to be rolling into this airport that is going to increase their subsidy over the next few years.
“It does seem somewhat niggly that rates as low as $1.87 a square metre are being contested when I look at some of the other rates around the province.”
Boyd referred to the Cooking Lake Airport, which he said is very similar to the Camrose Airport. “The rate there is $2.77 per square metre, I am not seeing a bunch (of other airport rates) that are jumping out at me that say we are out of the market.
“A five per cent year over year seems like too much, and I would agree with that if it weren’t for the fact that we are trying to catch up and trying to reduce the subsidy. I just want to remind everyone that we are subsidizing the airport significantly.”
Councillor Wayne Throndson spoke to the  future capital costs anticipated at the airport. “The question was asked whether we can locally improve those expenses like we would to a residential owner and the answer was we can’t. So if we cannot locally improve for a runway and $6-7-800,000 (future anticipated capital costs), then that is all coming out of the taxpayers as a whole. So five per cent is light.”
Enarson, in response to Throndson’s comment about local improvement, said that the City is considering some local improvement costs to hangar lessees for future pavement overlay directly in front of the individual hangars, but that it is extremely difficult to factor the costs of runway overlay to individual hangar lessees.
In agreement with councillor Hycha, councillor David Ofrim said, “If I recall correctly, it is really hard to compare from one airport to another. There is a variety in different cost structures. We don’t have to hit these guys every year.”
Councillor Agnes Hoveland supported councillor Hycha’s comments as well. “The information Councillor Hycha presented earlier shows there has been a four to five per cent increase for more than 10 years. When you consider a 50 per cent increase in 10 years, that is considerable. I will also not support the five per cent, but would support the 1.5 per cent CPI increase.”
After the motion to raise the annual hangar lease rates at the Camrose Airport by five per cent was lost, a new motion was made to increase the 2021 hangar lease rates at the Camrose Airport by 1.5 per cent ($1.812 a square metre, plus GST). The motion was carried.

St.Mary's Hospital visitor restrictions

By Murray Green

Effective immediately, Covenant Health St. Mary’s Hospital Camrose has implemented further visitor restrictions due to the increasing cases of COVID- 19 in the area.
End-of-life patients in their final hours are permitted two visitors at a time. Visitors for end-of-life patients do not have to be immediate family or designated support persons.
Emergency room patients may have one immediate family member or designated support person, only if they are presently in an unstable condition.
Labour and delivery patients are allowed one family member or designated support person with limited in/out privileges, and one doula, while labouring.
Pediatric patients are permitted one family member or support person.
Ambulatory care patients will be permitted a support person only if they require assistance that hospital staff cannot provide to the patient; for example, communication or mobility assistance.
Patients on isolation precautions are not permitted visitors at this time.
The laboratory remains open for outpatients, by appointment only. You will be screened upon entry to the hospital, and you will be required to wear a hospital-provided mask for the duration of your visit to the hospital. “Apart from St. Mary’s Hospital staff, there are no other visitors permitted on site for non-clinical purposes,” said Cherylyn Antymniuk, site administrator, St. Mary’s Hospital. “With the holidays approaching, donations of food for staff are only permitted if they are commercially prepared and individually packaged. Unfortunately, staff cannot accept homemade or sharable food items at this time. Our staff truly appreciates your patience and understanding as we navigate this challenging situation.”

Humidity levels benefit your health

By Murray Green

The ideal relative humidity level in your house or business of 45 to 55 per cent in the summer and 25 to 35 per cent in the winter can fight off sickness and even COVID-19.
If you are not achieving those levels, then improve the building’s airtightness or thermal insulation to counter infiltrations air leakage and in turn, ensure easier temperature control indoors.
In the winter, the air in Canada is dryer. Dryer air offers a better chance of spreading colds and other airborne viruses. A more humid environment can help reduce the spread of airborne diseases, prevent snoring, help keep your skin soft and extend the life of your furniture.
It’s very difficult to say what the perfect temperature for a home is, because it varies from one person to the next. You feel comfortable when the environmental conditions allow our bodies to maintain their normal temperature of about 37°C. If you don’t feel hot or cold, it is probably the ideal temperature.
Most people set the thermostat between 20 to 22°C, but up to 24 degrees for older people. However, lowering the temperature to 19°C will not harm a person in normal health. It could even save you money on heating bills.
You can control the temperature of the air in a house with ease.
Controlling relative humidity is harder. It is based on whether there are cold-air drafts; the number of showers and items steamed into the air during cooking or heating water; and the level of physical activity within your home or business.
The relative humidity plays a determining role in the quality of your indoor air. Health Canada recommends keeping the humidity above 30 per cent in winter and making sure it doesn’t exceed 55 per cent in summer. Ideally, it should be somewhere between those per cent values at all times.
Excessively high humidity in the home creates a favourable environment for mould and dust mites–powerful allergens and irritants that can lead to respiratory problems like asthma.
However, if the relative humidity is below 30 per cent, the air is too dry, which can cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Dry air is also harmful to people with skin or eye conditions.
There are many ways to control the temperature and humidity in a house. Always use your range hood and bathroom fan every day. That is why they were installed in your home.
If the humidity gets too high during the winter, you need to ensure better air circulation. To achieve this without cooling the rooms too much, you may want to use an air exchanger such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV).
When the air in our homes is too dry, it can allow viruses and other airborne toxins to thrive. Individuals who live in homes without adequate humidity tend to experience more sore throats, dry skin and illnesses.
If the humidity is too low, a portable humidifier or one connected to a central forced-air heating system could be an effective solution.
Alberta has a continental climate, with more sunshine than any other Canadian province. Winters are dry, sunny, and cold, though in the south the chinook winds, which occur when warm, dry air of Pacific origin descends the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

Municipal funding for area communities

By Lori Larsen

Communities within the Camrose constituency will be the recipients of Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding from the Government of Alberta.
The funding is intended to assist communities recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and invest in infrastructure.
The MSI funding will allow municipalities to build and revitalize their local public infrastructure, while creating jobs and supporting long-term prosperity.
MSI funding in the Camrose constituency is being allocated as follows:
Town of Hardisty, $35,000 for a traffic impact assessment for the Tia-Hardisty Industrial Subdivision.
Town of Hardisty, $40,000 to prepare a storm water master plan for 43 Avenue.
Town of Hardisty, $121,000 to extend waterlines, for Hardisty Arena and 51 Street.
Town of Hardisty, $600,506 to rehabilitate portions of 52 Street.
Town of Viking, $40,000 to upgrade storm water drainage line.
Village of Bawlf, $426,000 to upgrade the water treatment plant.
Village of Bawlf, $19,000 to replace a portion of Vrolson road.
Village of Edberg, $384,746 to upgrade water and wastewater lines along 1st Street South.
“Our UCP government continues to invest in rural Alberta,” commented Camrose MLA Jackie Lovely. “As the MLA for the Camrose Constituency, I am glad to have this investment in our community. These projects will ensure that our citizens are cared for.”
Laurel nadon 2019
Homespun By Laurel Nadon

Homespun

By Laurel Nadon

Have yourself a messy little Christmas

Christmas has never come earlier than this year. Never before has my shopping been done by mid-November, and never before have I contemplated if mid-November is too early to put up our tree.
The day after Halloween, it felt like go time for preparations, since we don’t know if we will be forced to self-isolate if we are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
And so, we have one small Christmas sign already hanging in the entranceway, a small splurge, while buying stocking stuffers.
My nine-year-old wanted to know about the new sign, specifically why it said “messy” on it. I came over to look at the small wooden sign. Some of the words were in capitals and some in a beautiful, flowing cursive. The word was actually “merry”, but to my son, the handwriting font somehow made it look like the sign said, “Have yourself a messy little Christmas.”
We had a little laugh about it and headed off to school. Later on, I went for a ski in the winter wonderland outside, my puppy bounding off ahead in search of creatures and wonderful scents.
I remembered the conversation of messy versus merry, and suddenly realized that it is totally applicable to this holiday season in particular. As in, things might get a tad bit messy this Christmas. There are so many last minute things that could crop up because of the pandemic.
There could be isolations based on being a close contact; Christmas plans cancelled if the province decides on another lockdown; last minute shipping of presents for family members we thought we would get to see; and the grocery hoarding that could ensue in the event of another lockdown (please no hoarding, we all need flour and toilet paper).
Those are the things that could go wrong and make things a bit messy. But there are so many happy, wonderful memories that we make from simple things like decorating the Christmas tree together. Covid can’t take away the fun we have taking out each person’s decorations and hanging them together, or decorating gingerbread men and shortbread cookies. We will still create a kindness jar and add some new ideas this year (my favourite is to warm up towels for family members when they hop out of the shower).
I think we just need to change the whole connotation of the word messy. We normally hear it phrased like, “they’re going through a messy divorce” or “that was a messy car crash” or “making slime at home sure got messy”. But messy can be good!
One year for my youngest child’s birthday, he wanted to play with all things messy. So I complied, making our own slime, cloud dough, coloured spaghetti and a dubious substance called flubber, that when ripped into chunks and placed into a container, will go back together into one piece. After all of the little party-goers had headed home, I realized that both of my adult brothers were still laughing and playing with the flubber and slime, fixated on the different textures. Because messy can still be fun. Messy can happen when we are being spontaneous!
At supper tonight, I was racing through eating my salad (with some of our own lettuce we grew this winter in the windowsill as a little experiment to see if we can grow lettuce year round) and ready to zip through the chicken alfredo tortellini, a new recipe that was a hit. I suddenly thought, why am I rushing? Slow down, enjoy, savour. That is what the season is for; it can so easily become the season of rushing.
Most of our annual traditions will still happen, even if some dinners are called off or some activities are cancelled, and we can’t see as many people as we had hoped. Christmas will still be merry and bright, because it is our families who make it that way. Have yourself a messy little Christmas!

Impaired driving initiative

By Lori Larsen

In an effort to ensure safety of all users of Alberta roads, the Alberta Transportation Traffic Safety Calendar focus for December is impaired driving.
Using collision information, stakeholder input and the public’s perceptions of issues, the Traffic Safety Calendar highlights a priority traffic safety topic each month encouraging Alberta Transportation, enforcement agencies and traffic safety stakeholders to coordinate traffic safety enforcement activities and education initiatives across the province.
According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), statistics over a five-year period indicated that approximately 8,600 people were convicted of impaired driving in Alberta each year.
On average in Alberta, one in five drivers involved in fatal collisions have been drinking prior to the collision, and each year, almost 90 people were killed and 1,330 people were injured in collisions involving at least one driver who had consumed alcohol prior to the crash (2009-13).
MADD (Canada) also produced significant statistics surrounding younger drivers. Statistics show that young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per capita among all age groups, and the highest death rate per kilometre driven among all drivers under 75 years of age.
More 19-year-olds die or are seriously injured than any other age group, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 25-year-olds with alcohol and/or drugs a factor in 55 percent of those crashes.
Other alarming statistics indicate that by the time a driver reaches a blood alcohol content of .10 per cent, he or she is 51 times more likely than a non-drinking driver to be involved in a fatal crash.
“Educating the public has proven to reduce the amount of impaired driving which subsequently reduces the amount of damage to property, injury and death on our roads,” said Camrose Police Service traffic enforcement officer Constable Sarah Day.
Aside from being a leading factor in motor vehicle accidents resulting in damage, injury and/or fatality, the legal consequences can be costly and cause a major disruption in a person’s life.
As of Dec. 1, Alberta introduced the new Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) Program. This program includes serious, immediate and escalating consequences for impaired drivers, including: escalating driver’s licence suspensions; fines up to $2,000; vehicle seizure lengths up to 30 days; new mandatory education programs for repeat offenders; ignition interlock for repeat offenders; and zero tolerance for blood alcohol and drug concentrations for commercial drivers while on the job.
Some people may think that impaired driving only occurs while the driver is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, however, a vehicle operator’s ability to drive safely can also be impaired by fatigue.
The following are some tips on preventing fatigue while driving.
Begin by getting enough sleep, aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and be sure to get a good night’s sleep before a long drive.
If you are travelling long distances, schedule frequent breaks, getting out of your vehicle when and where it is safe to do so for fresh air and a stretch.
If possible, avoid driving overnight and in the mid-afternoon, when you tend to be less alert.
Never depend on coffee or drugs to keep you awake.
Keep your vehicle internal temperature cooler, and avoid warm air blowing directly on your face.
“Don’t rely on fresh air from an open window or having your radio playing loud to help you stay alert,” said Constable Day. “These will not help you stay awake.”
If you are already fatigued, do not consume any drugs or alcohol, including over-the-counter medications that may cause drowsiness.
“Knowing when you are fatigued is the first step a person can take to ensure you don’t drive when too tired to operate a motor vehicle safely,” commented Day.
Some of the signs of fatigue include: frequent yawning or difficulty keeping your eyes open; drifting your vehicle in and out of lanes; difficulty maintaining the speed of your vehicle; and nodding off or feeling a decrease in alertness.
“If at any time while you are operating a motor vehicle you notice any signs of fatigue, get off the road and rest,” advised Day.
“Operating a motor vehicle while your ability to do so is impaired, whether by alcohol, drugs or fatigue, is extremely dangerous,” reminded Day. “There are so many options available to drivers to get home safely and not put yourself or others at risk.”
If you suspect someone is driving while impaired, telephone 911 and report, only if it is safe to do so, the last direction of travel of the suspect vehicle, make of the vehicle, and a license plate number.

Most theatre events cancelled

By Murray Green

All shows and events at the Bailey Theatre have been cancelled for the next three weeks. The Downtown Camrose Market is cancelled until further notice. The Wednesday event is honouring the province’s event restrictions until at least Dec. 15.
The Churchmice Players’ version of A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play has also been cancelled in early December.
Lougheed Centre
The Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre have postponed its Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Show on Dec. 4. Patrons are asked to keep their tickets until further notice.
The Augustana Choirs’ concert A Light of Song will be going ahead on Dec. 6, because it is already a virtual event with no audience attending. To listen to this free concert, go to camroselive.ca.
The Camrose Playhouse (ÉCCHS) version of A Christmas Carol on Dec. 10 and 11 has also been cancelled as a live performance.
The Strathcona String Quartet “A Prairie Christmas” concert on Dec. 19 is still on. Check with the Lougheed Centre closer to the date for more updates.

Kodiaks wait for next game

By Murray Green

All Alberta Junior Hockey League games until the holidays have been cancelled.
The Okotoks Oilers cancelled the series with the Kodiaks after receiving a positive COVID-19 test.
Other teams, such as the Olds Grizzlys, Drumheller Dragons, Calgary Canucks and Canmore Eagles, all had players test positive for COVID-19. The League schedule will be adjusted as required.
Bear facts
The Alberta Junior Hockey League season has now officially paused due to provincial restrictions. The board of governors will hold a meeting on Dec. 19 to determine the next course of action.
All minor hockey and adult games have been cancelled as well.

Ulrich poem shares pandemic times, within Alberta book

By Murray Green

Camrose writer Deb Ulrich wrote a poem to offer insight into what the COVID-19 pandemic has meant for those in long-term care facilities.
“My husband Terry and our dog and myself were in a bad car accident in May 25, 2002, making me a quadriplegic. My husband is at our home with our dog, while I have been in a long-term facility for 15 years to date, here in Camrose. I have been in a long-term facility in Edmonton before, too, and Terry and our daughter Nicole and a companion looked after me at home in Sherwood Park before we came to came to Camrose,” said Ulrich.
She turned to writing to recreate purpose in her life through the Battle River Writing Centre. Her poem in the book We Are One: Poems from the Pandemic reads:
No celebrations yet.
See only through ocked windows.
Happy for FaceTime nd Skype.
“She writes a very simple poem,” said George Melnyk, a Calgary writer, retired academic and editor of a new collection of poetry called We Are One: Poems From the Pandemic. “The literary quality is very modest, to say the least. But when you read it, you realize she is writing about all the clichéd words we hear about this whole thing. She talks about FaceTime and Skype and using those. It’s a very simple poem, but I think it captured my heart, because she is someone who is trapped in one of these care facilities, and she could have been one of the people who got COVID. It was very important to include her poem.”
Her writing was suggested by local residents Jane and Jack Ross. “Terry and I met Jane and Jack Ross 15 years ago, when I came into the long-term facility here in Camrose,” said Ulrich. “Then Janet Enns helped me write my life story for Beauty Everyday: Stories from Life as it Happens (2016).”
The poem was published by Calgary-based Bayeaux Arts. We Are One brings together the words of more than 75 poets across Canada, all tasked with expressing their thoughts and feelings about these strange months of isolation, fear, boredom and grief that have gripped the world since COVID-19 took hold in mid-March.
“I was not looking for the best poems to go in; this is not a best-poetry book. This book has a full range. There is some very junior poets’ work included here, and poems that would never appear in a literary anthology because they don’t meet the basic standards. But I’ve included those specifically because they reflect a certain attitude or approach that many people had. I want this to be a populist book for everybody. You don’t have to be a poetry snob to read this book,” said Melnyk.
That made collecting the poems labour-intensive. Melnyk put the word out in some traditional ways, contacting many people whom he already knew from literary circles in Calgary and other parts of the country. He contacted the executive director of the League of Canadian Poets, Lesley Fletcher, who put out a call to league members from across Canada as well.
The results were initially overwhelming. More than 150 poets submitted 250 works. Given the timely nature of the topic, Melnyk was under a tight deadline. The poems were written between April and June.
While many of the poems have the immediate and visceral quality of writers confronting a mysterious illness and a strange time that they haven’t had time to properly process, the collection also offers a wide range of tones. Battle River Writing Centre author Lori Feldberg offers Covid at the Grocery Store, a humourous play-by-play of how to negotiate supermarkets in those early days with instructions that it should be read with a snappy swinging rhythm.
For Melnyk, the works are meant to offer a snapshot of a certain time and circumstances; the fear and frustrations, but also hope in the early days that this would soon pass. He suspects the tone of pandemic-related art will change as we continue to endure the impact of COVID.
Copies are available locally through Battle River Writing Centre, Box 1581, Camrose, AB, T4V 1X4 or email source21@telus.net, phone 780-672-9315.

Giving Tuesday encourages global kindness

By Lori Larsen

On Dec. 1, the act of giving will be felt tenfold around the world as people participate in Giving Tuesday, a global movement promoting giving and volunteering that takes place each year.
This is a time when not-for-profit organizations and services, along with individual citizens, come together to support causes that make the world a better place for all.
With the many upcoming events in and around the community that encourage residents to give where they can. Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, is a day that not only gives these amazing organizations a platform to promote the impact of generosity, but it also brings light to the work done to effect real change in communities.
So many give so much, whether it be time or services volunteered, financial support or the gifts of needed food and items. These selfless acts not only unite people, but empower others by providing the support and care they need to stand on stable ground.
Camrose Neighbor Aid Center program director Jo-Anne Tweed encourages people to use this day, or any day, to drop off much-needed items for the Food Bank. “Helping others is not only good for who you’re helping, it also makes us happier and healthier, too.
“It improves our emotional well-being, for both the giver and receiver, and connects us to others, making our communities stronger and happier.”
Tweed sees firsthand the difference people can make in the lives of others by just giving of their time or donations.
“If you help someone, they are more likely to do something nice for someone else. Say you donate to your local food bank; your one act of kindness could mean a nutritious meal or many meals for a family who is struggling. Let’s do something amazing, by helping where we can.”
Other not-for-profit organizations are taking advantage of Giving Tuesday to up the ante, including the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) with partners that are instantly matching donations to help protect even more habitat and the wildlife.
Any day is a good day to donate or volunteer, but today, Dec. 1, serves as a reminder that every little bit absolutely helps.

Petterson loves old-style truck, additions

15 jim petterson 1952 fargo truck
Jim Petterson wanted the best of both worlds. He liked the style of the 1952 Fargo combined with the power train of the Chevrolet. The truck not only looks good, but runs similar to a modern Chevrolet.   

By Murray Green

Jim Petterson of Bawlf owns a 1952 Fargo truck with some added conveniences.
“This was my neighbour’s truck when I lived in High River. The guy’s dad passed away and I tried to make him a deal before, so I could use it as a gopher (go for this and go for that) wagon. But he wouldn’t sell it. After he passed, I was down there hauling silage, and I talked to his son and asked him if the old Fargo was still sitting out there.”
After finding out it was, Jim agreed to take the truck off of his hands. “I loaded the truck onto a trailer and brought it home. It took me about four years of working on it off and on to get it mobile. I mounted it on a 1980 Chevy half-ton frame,” explained Jim.
“I put a five-speed overdrive transmission in it and it has a 454 motor for more power. It can go pretty good, 100 miles an hour running at 3,000 rpm.”
With Fargos no longer in production, the brand has been a collector’s item. “I have always liked the old trucks and I knew the owner, so it was something that I had my eye on for awhile,” added Jim.
Fargo was a brand of truck originally produced in the United States in 1913 by the Fargo Motor Car Company. Dropped in 1922, the name was reintroduced for a line of trucks manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation after purchasing Fargo Motors in 1928. Later, Chrysler absorbed Dodge and started producing its truck line, so over time, Fargo trucks became rebadged Dodges. “I was actually looking for a Chev, but this truck caught my eye, and knowing who had it added special meaning to me.”
He also installed power steering and brakes to make it easier to handle. “I have all of the gauges and a tachometer. I had to extend the fenders because I run bigger rubber on it. I had to add to the fender flares to keep the rocks from flying everywhere.”
Although he had the idea to use it as a hauler, he doesn’t use the short box part of the truck a lot. “The short box is the way it was, and I use it for driving more than hauling. I’ve grown to like the truck for regular driving. It had rotted wood and I replaced that with steel flooring.”
After putting a lot of work into the truck, he decided to hit the road a little more often. “I didn’t build it to be a show truck. I built it to be a daily driver and not be scared to get a rock chip on it. The truck was parked for two years, and I thought it was time to be driven and enjoyed more. That’s why I put the different transmission in it,” said Jim.
He doesn’t go to a lot of car shows, but enjoys them when he can. “I took it to Camrose several years ago to the Show and Shine. I had the transmission put in at Tofield and wanted to show people around there what was installed and was new, and they told me to go to Round Hill as well (last year).”
FUN FACTS
Shortly after its creation, Chrysler also bought the Dodge Brothers Company, adding Dodge and Graham Brothers badged trucks to its product line. From then on, Fargo trucks were almost identical to Dodge models, save for trim and name, and were sold by Chrysler-Plymouth dealers.
U.S. sales of Fargo trucks were discontinued in the 1930s, but in Canada the name Fargo was used until 1972 for marketing reasons to differentiate the trucks as Chrysler-Plymouth dealer offerings apart from the Dodge trucks sold at Dodge dealers.
The first major facelift came in 1951. Most prominent of the changes was a new grille panel. For the first time, the grille was more than just cooling louvres. A rectangular opening was crossed by twin bars joined by a large chrome centre-piece. The long-running theme of a grille being no more than holes punched into the front sheet metal was still given a slight nod, however. The grille bars were available only in the body colour.

Watch for snowplow drivers on highways

By Murray Green

The Alberta government is taking action to increase the safety of snowplow and tow truck drivers.
This winter, snowplow operators on Alberta’s highways will be allowed to use flashing white strobe lights to increase their visibility. New signage installed along Alberta highways will remind Albertans to drive according to conditions and be cautious near roadside workers.
“Snowplow and tow truck drivers are essential workers who face significant risks as they keep our highways clear and safe for travel. New lights and signage will make sure workers are more visible on the highway and encourage motorists to be alert to roadside workers. As drivers and fellow Albertans, we owe it to them to drive responsibly so that each of us can get home safely,” said Ric McIver, minister of transportation.
“Carmacks is fully committed to the safety of the travelling public and our team members. As such, we support all initiatives undertaken by the Government of Alberta that increase public awareness and provide focus and education on the importance of roadside worker safety,” said Terry O’Flanagan, safety coordinator, Carmacks Enterprises.
A social media campaign will educate Albertans about the need to drive safely this winter, including when driving by snowplow operators and tow trucks.
Alberta’s government will also be consulting with Albertans throughout the winter to gauge their awareness of worker safety and identify further steps that should be taken to protect roadside workers, including the expanded use of lights. Any decision would be made based on evidence that usage improves safety.
Every winter, there are dozens of collisions and near misses involving snowplows on Alberta highways. In 2019-20, there were 31 collisions with snowplows operated by government highway maintenance contractors.
The 511 Alberta app and website now has the capability to alert drivers with an audible ping when they approach a snowplow on Alberta highways.
The Traffic Safety Act provides protection for first responders by mandating all motorists in the adjacent lane slow down to 60 km/hour (or the posted speed limit, whichever is slower) when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.
Speeding fines also double in construction zones where workers are present.

Camrose Fire Department Master Plan

17 cfd update
Camrose Fire Department volunteer firefighters dedicate a great deal of time to training, so they are prepared for any emergency.

By Lori Larsen

During the Nov. 16 City of Camrose Committee of Whole meeting, Camrose Fire Department (CFD) Chief Peter Krich presented a draft of the CFD Fire Master Plan as information for council consideration.
In his report, Krich outlined the current status of CFD.
There are four full-time positions, including chief, deputy chief and two community safety officers (inspections, investigations and public education), and a part-time administrative assistant.
Volunteer personnel consists of six captains, six lieutenants and 24 firefighters. Currently, the department is recruiting. “We are presently in recruiting mode, but because of COVID, it has been challenging on how we can make that happen,” said Krich. “Hopefully, that will be giving us seven new volunteers before the year end.”
Krich said the main responsibility of CFD is to save lives and extinguish fires, but also to provide a variety of rescue services including: motor vehicle collisions, ice or water rescues, and technical rope rescues.
“We also respond to first response level through dangerous goods responses for managing and mitigating some of those instances.”
Krich reported that the current response times for CFD average about 13 minutes–eight minutes for firefighters to get to the station and about five minutes to get to the scene. He added that the response time will vary from incident to incident depending on each situation, but averages between 13 to 16 minutes.
“EMS assistance-type responses average approximately 15 per year, with an increase this year to 24.”
Krich said that motor vehicle collisions are becoming more common, and that CFD responded to approximately 24 this year.
With regards to training, he indicated that (normally) there is ongoing external, internal and workshop training. However, due to COVID-19, there has been no external training, and internal training was done throughout the summer through Webex or other mediums.
“We have four safety code officers, basically the four full-time employees, to enforce code through inspections. We average approximately 150 inspections per year, which includes regular inspections of apartments and assembly-type occupancies, new business licences and firepit inspections. Those are ongoing parts of day-to-day operations.”
He reported that fire prevention is still a very important part of what CFD does, but it has been downsized quite a bit this summer and since due to COVID-19. “We have not been able to get into the schools and we lost community connection without having the breakfasts.”
Other duties within the station include maintenance, minor repairs and inspection of vehicles and equipment, snow removal at the hall, and a rigid sanitization and disinfection program.
“We also work within the Municipal Emergency Management Plan, planning updates and doing exercise design and training for the emergency management side of things.”
Krich then provided specifics from the proposed Fire Master Plan that is intended to strategically guide the Fire Department through the next 10 years of municipal growth.
The plan includes a detailed assessment of community risks, programs and services, resources, and financial implications and summary of five short-term, four intermediate and three long-term recommendations (goals).
Krich spoke briefly on each.
Short term
• build a high level of coordination between the City’s planning and development department and CFD to ensure emergency response levels keep pace with the rate of development.
• continue to maintain a core group of paid on-call volunteer firefighters, approximately 45, with the consideration of possibly adding two more full-time staff to meet the needs of having one truck crew available to respond during the daytime, Monday through Friday. Implement a year-round weekend on-call duty system to ensure adequate coverage is available for year round response to weekend calls.
• maintain a vehicle apparatus replacement program. Krich explained that they plan to continue ensuring funds are put away in reserve over the years to accommodate replacement. He commended the City for already following this process. “The equipment we have is second to none, and I think that is why we have the equipment we have and the ability to fill it in.”
• establish Capital  Replacement  Programs  for  major  replacement  items  such  as SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), bunker gear, fire hose and radio communications equipment by setting aside funds annually.
• review all mutual aid agreements with all CFD external stakeholders and partners, and determine ongoing support and assistance.
Intermediate
• develop a clear level of service based on risk assessment tool/critical task analysis.
• ontinue to maintain adequate fire training to meet the needs of the members.
• transition fire service to a digital radio communications system with the potential of switching to a provincially-based system such as the Alberta First Responders Radio Communication System (AFFRAC), which is what CPS is presently moving towards.
• ensure adequate resources are designated for adequate inspection and public education. “We feel the more proactive we are in educating and getting out in our community, the more reactive we are within the emergency response side.”
Long term
• allocation of land for a secondary fire station. Krich said that while the actual construction of a second fire hall is not forecasted within the next 10 years, they have looked at possible locations within the City that are either City owned or accessible for a possible future site, specifically land on the north side of Camrose.
• meet with building and development officials to introduce residential Fire Sprinkler Systems in the community.
• consider the regionalization of the fire service between the City of Camrose and the small fire departments within Camrose County.
Council inquiries
Councillor Agnes Hoveland inquired as to why the number of estimated inspections (annually) were so much higher than the actual inspections conducted, and was there any negative impact with  not having as many inspections as estimated.
Krich indicated in response that the number of estimated inspections that could be done would be if  CFD had the staff to do it, and that ultimately, it would be good to inspect all businesses in Camrose on a fairly regular basis. “We just cannot do that with the staff we have. In response as to whether that was causing any losses or major incidents, Krich replied that it was not.
Councillor Kevin Hycha inquired about the cost and shelf life of bunker gear, and if every new firefighter received a brand new set of bunker gear, or was the gear in better repair rotated to new members.
“It cost $6,000 to fully suit a firefighter out with firefighting gear,” replied Krich. “Right now, as new members come on, they do not get a new set. Gear does wear out over time. You can get about 10 years out of a set depending on who the firefighter is–how active they are and how many fires we have.”
Councillor Max Lindstrand asked Krich what he felt would trigger the need for a north fire hall.
“The trigger is going to be call volume and growth. Once we start seeing more things happening on the north side of Camrose, future development, if we start to see more call volume; or if the rail line becomes a potential struggle for us to get from south to north locations.”
Councillor Hoveland inquired as to the information in the proposed plan, and remarked on how firefighters are having difficulty responding to calls specifically from work situations.
Krich said that a survey conducted with the firefighters (paid on-call volunteers) indicated that the availability to come to a fire call during their own work hours (Mondays through Fridays) was becoming more challenging.
“We are addressing those challenges.”
Councillor Hoveland inquired as to the difference in total call volume with comparable communities such as Brooks, which has a population of 15,000 and a total call volume of 421; compared to Camrose, which has a population of 18,742, and a total call volume of 206.
Krich explained that the difference is likely because many of the calls in Brooks (for example) are first response medical calls. “We don’t run on every ambulance call. We only go if we are called upon or they are unavailable. They, however, are responding to every single medical call.”
The proposed Fire Mater Plan was presented as information only. City of Camrose manager Malcolm Boyd explained to council that a number of cases will be presented to council during budget deliberations, some of which are the outcome of the aforementioned recommendations.

Small business relaunch support

By Lori Larsen

On Nov. 12, the Government of Alberta announced that small and medium businesses will receive additional support with an opportunity to apply for a second payment from the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant.
This second payment will be available to businesses operating in areas on the provincial watch list where new health restrictions–like the temporary closure of indoor group fitness classes and team sports have been implemented.
Additionally, job creators that have experienced a 40 per cent revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic will qualify for the grant, lowering the threshold from the existing 50 per cent revenue loss requirement. This 40 per cent threshold will be available to impacted businesses retroactive to March.
“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of Alberta’s economy,” said Alberta minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer. “From the beginning of the pandemic, the government has been supporting job creators that have suffered the unfortunate impacts of COVID-19. We will continue to work with them to ensure they can continue operating and play an important part of our economic recovery.”
Businesses, cooperatives and non-profits across sectors have received funding, with the majority of applications for funding coming from job creators in the retail, personal services, accommodation and food services, and health-care and social assistance sectors.
Job creators that meet the program’s eligibility criteria can apply for 15 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 monthly revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding, which can offset the costs they are facing as they relaunch their businesses. This includes the costs of implementing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as physical barriers, PPE and cleaning supplies, as well as rent, employee wages, replacing inventory and more.
Applications for funding through the grant program will be open until March 31, 2021, unless otherwise communicated, and will commence within the next couple of weeks.
Full program details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, are outlined on the program webpage at www.alberta.ca/sme-relaunch-grant.aspx.

Births and Deaths

Births
- To Kendra Rathwell and Daniel Peters of Ohaton, a daughter on November 4.
- To Raila and Kris Parenteau of Camrose, a daughter on November 19.

Deaths
- Sherri-Ann Nearing of Tofield, on November 15, at 56 years of age.
- Margaret Ann Nordin of Camrose, on November 21,at 79 years of age.
- Claus Cegielny of  Camrose, on November 22, at 81 years of age.
- Walter Busenius of Camrose, formerly of Hay Lakes, on November 23, at 92 years of age.
- Lily Louise Schultz of Camrose, formerly of Hay Lakes, on November 23, at 103 years of age.
- Robert Floyd Blair of Camrose, on November 24, at 96 years of age.
- Edward Stang of Camrose, on November 26, at 89 years of age.
- Michael Anthony Klug of Camrose, on November 27, at 52 years of age.