Clear the road

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Like many Prince Albert citizens, Barry Shefernack has seen his fair share of snow.

While clearing roads and sidewalks can be a nuisance, Shefernack said he’s never noticed any problems with the city’s snow removal service. That changed this year.

As a resident in Prince Albert’s Ward 5, Shefernack said he’s concerned about how long it takes the city to remove snow from Branion Drive and Muzzy Drive, two high traffic roads in the area.

It’s an issue that has him concerned.

“I thought that was not right, when you have two schools (on Branion Drive) and all that traffic,” he said.

Shefernack wants to see the city take another look at its snow removal policy, and he isn’t the only resident in the area worried about the problem. A number of attendees at the Feb. 2 Ward 5 Neighbourhood Meeting expressed concern about everything from how long it takes to plow city roads, to the way the cities prioritize which streets get done first.

School zones in particular are suffering, say residents, who are concerned about traffic pileups in a vulnerable area.

“Everything was cleared on Branion from one end to the other, except the school,” on resident said during the meeting. “As a parent in this area … a school zone should be the first thing that gets done. That’s your priority, because kids start running, they slip, they fall, and you can’t stop.”

For the rest of this story, please see the Feb. 7 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

“Nothing I’ve ever done has been alone”

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For Sheryl Kimbley, Saturday’s Citizen of the Year banquet was like watching her life flash before her eyes.

Kimbley, a long-time community organizer and fundraiser, was officially named the 2016 Prince Albert Citizen of the Year on Saturday.

It was a humbling moment for her, and one she was eager to share with her friends, family, mentors and co-workers.

“Nothing I’ve ever done has been alone, and I would have been ashamed of myself if I didn’t mention them,” Kimbley said in an interview afterwards. “Truly everything I’ve done has been with their support or their standing beside me.”

Walking into the Prince Albert Inn for Saturday’s ceremony was a little overwhelming at times for Kimbley, who took every opportunity to credit the people around her for her success. Having so many of those people in attendance made it an emotional moment.

“There’s actually a point in time where you’re going through your life and saying, wow, look at all the great people I’ve met and have helped me get to where I am today,” she said.

For the rest of this story, please see the Feb.7 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Residents promote acceptance, understanding after Quebec shooting

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Prince Albert’s Muslim community is looking to turn pain and fear into hope and understanding.

On Saturday, members of the Prince Albert Mosque on Second Avenue West opened their doors to local residents, in hopes of increasing communication and acceptance between Muslim and non-Muslim residents.

Imam Goma’a Makhlouf said that in light of the recent shooting at a Mosque in Quebec City, it was important to build bridges instead of burning them down.

“When it comes to events like this, we should put our religions aside,” he said. “We should love each other for the sake of humanity.”

Since the shooting occurred on Jan. 29, Makhlouf said he’s received calls from people who are distressed and worried about the future. Despite the anguish it’s caused, he said the shooting would have a silver lining if it can help bring people closer together.

“We are all still humans,” he explained. “The message for all humanity is to love each other (and) make this world a better place for them to live in.”

During an interview afterwards, Makhlouf condemned all violence, and said too many people are using faith as an excuse to justify their own indefensible actions.

Seeing and hearing from so many local residents, like Grace Mennonite Church representative Dale Schiele and Saskatchewan Penitentiary deacon Brad Taylor, was a touching and emotional moment for him. His only regret was that the meeting didn’t happen sooner.

For the rest of this story, please see the Feb. 7 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

New car a welcome addition

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As a weekly user of the Prince Albert Seniors Transportation Service, Eleanor George has made plenty of trips in the organizations two cars.

For George, the service is an essential one, so when she heard the Prince Albert Firefighters Charity was donating a new vehicle she was ecstatic.

“If feels wonderful,” said George, who served as the transportation service’s Mary in the 2015 Two Miles for Mary campaign. “It feels like the city responds to our needs. When you can’t drive, it’s a really difficult situation.”

On Wednesday, George was one of several people on hand to accept donated vehicle from local firefighters.

The vehicle will help replace an aging fleet that provided roughly 6,900 trips to Prince Albert seniors, helping them get to medical appointments, shopping facilities and volunteer work.

Prince Albert and District Community Service Centre CEO Bill Powalinsky said their two vehicles have seen a lot of wear and tear over the years, so finding a replacement was vital.

For the rest of this story, please read the Feb. 2 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

New frequency signals welcome change for Victory FM

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It’s been a time of change for Victory FM, and the local Christian radio station isn’t done yet.

In 2016, the station expanded their operations to include a second transmitter, allowing the to broadcast on a second frequency, and now they’re looking to increase local content too.

Art Pederson, a volunteer and board member with Victory FM, said the improvements will give the station a greater reach in the community, and that’s something they’re looking to make the most of.

“It increases our listening audience for sure,” Pederson said. “There are a lot of church people that are in the nursing homes who have a radio by their beds, and they can listen to us now.”

Originally launched in 2008, Victory FM broadcast for years on FM frequency 100.1. However, the residents in Prince Albert struggled to receive clear transmissions when they weren’t in their vehicles. Residents in cars did receive better reception, although traffic lights in the city often caused interference.

After a fundraising campaign several years ago, a new transmitter has been set up to broadcast on 107.1 FM and the station is coming in clearer than ever.

For the rest of this story, please see the Feb. 2 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Increasing fines for changing times

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Residents who leave their cars parked with the engine running could soon be facing a steep increase in fines.

On Monday, city councillors began debating a new bylaw amendment that would see residents fined $300 if they leave their car running without locking it. The fine would be reduced to $150 if paid early.

The new law is designed to help crack down on the number of car thefts in the city, which Prince Albert police say has increased this year.

“It’s something we can stop and stop quickly, so that’s why we’re going to take action,” Mayor Greg Dionne said during an interview on Tuesday. “It’s a dangerous practice.”

According to a report presented at Monday’s executive committee meeting, Police have noticed an overall trend where vehicles are stolen while unlocked and idling on the street. Between Jan. 20 and Jan. 22, a total of five such thefts occurred.

The report notes that tracking down these stolen vehicles is “taking up a significant amount of police resources each time they need to investigate a vehicle theft.”

For the rest of this story, please see the Feb. 1 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Ball rolling on Country Residential rates

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The wheels are starting to turn on a process to bring country residential tax rates to residents living north of the North Saskatchewan River.

On Jan. 23, city councilors commissioned the Financial Services and the Planning and Development departments to bring a report about the implementation of a Country Residential Tax Rate for all properties north of the river, excluding Hazeldell.

This isn’t the first time city council has considered the prospect of implementing the rate, and Mayor Greg Dionne said it was long past time they gave the proposal serious consideration.

“People are looking for acreages. They want to build acreages, and one of the hindrances is the tax model on the other side,” Dionne said. “When you go just a kilometre further and you’re in the R.M. of Buckland, your taxes decrease by a third.”

To read the rest of this story, please see the Jan. 28 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Discount deal back on the table

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The City of Prince Albert will continue a land sale discount incentive in hopes of boosting local development.

In January 2016, the city implemented a plan to help boost new housing starts, which were down two years in a row. In total, nine properties were sold out of 45 put up for sale at a discount as part of the incentive.

On Monday, Jan. 23, city councilors voted to extend the plan into February and March with the goal of further expanding growth.

“We were hoping that the economics of our society would turn around in 2016, but it’s actually worsened,” Mayor Greg Dionne said. “We have some contractors laying off staff, we have service industries laying off staff because there’s no work, so we’re concerned.”

In 2015, the city sold only two lots for development. They expected to sell more than nine in 2016, but Dionne said he was simply happy to see an increase. Out of the nine lots purchased last year, eight have already received building permits from the city.

To read the rest of this story, please see the Jan. 28 online or print editions of the Daily Herald.

Preparation year ahead

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With Prince Albert slated host of series of provincial, national and international events in 2018, Mayor Greg Dionne says 2017 with be year of preparation.

Dionne made the comments after he his State of the City address at the Art Hauser Centre’s Ches Lounge on Thursday.

The list of events scheduled for next year includes the 2018 Junior Men’s World Softball Championships, and Hoopla, the Senior Boy’s high school provincial basketball championship.

Dionne said the events were a positive sign for the community, but said hosting them would require another round of repairs and upgrades.

“We’re probably going to do more work than ever, because in 2018 we’re going to have all these events,” he explained.

Sports infrastructure improvements, like Project Triple Play, will continue to be a major focus over the next year, but will upgrades to the city’s roadways and transit system.

Dionne vowed the city would continue with its $4 million paving program, during which 261 blocks have been upgraded over four years.

For the rest of this story, please see the Jan. 27 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

From mills to medicine

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Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce CEO Larry Fladager wants to see the city focus on what it does best instead of chasing big industries.

The issue of attracting big businesses was one of several brought up after Mayor Greg Dionne’s State of the City address on Thursday.

In response to a question from the audience, Dionne said he wants to see the city focus on attracting several smaller businesses instead of one large one.

It’s a stance Fladager wants to see more of heading into the future.

“This community is really redefining itself in terms of the retail service sector,” Fladager said during an interview after the address. “We have lots of professional services, we have a large health region here, we have lots on the retail side, doctors, lawyers, etc.”

Fladager said it’s great if you can convince big industries to set up shop, but that’s a tough task to follow through on. Many companies, he explained, don’t consult with local organizations before deciding where to expand.

For the rest of this story, please see the Jan. 27 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.