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YEAR IN REVIEW May-August

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Mike Wheeler, CEO of Plantlife.

MAY

 

4IIII INNOVATIONS EXPANDS WITH ACQUISITION OF ONTARIO TECH COMPANY

 

4iiii Innovations has contributed to growing Cochrane’s reputation as a technology hub with a recent acquisition that will see it expand its range of products while bringing more jobs to the community.

On May 7, the local tech company specializing in outdoor running and cycling performance monitors announced it had acquired STAC Performance, which will add a new line of indoor monitoring technology to 4iiii’s list of products.

Kip Fyfe, 4iiii president and CEO, said the acquisition provides synergy with 4iiii’s current product line.

Aside from the benefits to 4iiii Innovations’ business model, the acquisition will have direct benefits to the local economy.

STAC Performance’s operations, previously based in Waterloo, Ont., will relocate all six of its employees to Cochrane and Fyfe said another six to 12 new jobs will result from the expansion.

He added all of the employees have chosen to live in Cochrane rather than Calgary.

Fyfe attributes Cochrane’s location and culture as a factor in the successful buyout.

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MISSING MOTHER AND DAUGHTER’S BODIES FOUND

In the early morning hours of Monday, May 6 police located the bodies of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and her daughter Aliyah Sanderson, 22 months, in Kananaskis, concluding a nearly three week-long investigation into their disappearances.

Robert Andrew Leeming, 34, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, set to appear next in Calgary court on Tuesday, May 14. Leeming is the same man who was taken into custody and then released two weeks ago.

The investigation led officers to a heavily wooded area near Grizzly Creek located off Highway 40, where the bodies were discovered.

The pair went missing around April 16 and the homicide investigation began shortly after with investigators scouring the Bragg Creek area for their bodies. Snow did hamper search efforts but officers forged on.

Initially, investigators were asking for public assistance from anyone who witnessed a Caucasian man in his mid-30s driving a grey, luxury SUV in the Bragg Creek and/or East Kananaskis area between Tuesday, April 16, and Thursday, April 18, 2019.

The man may have been alone or with either of the victims, and may have been carrying mulch in his vehicle. Investigators specifically believe the man was in the Fullerton Loop/Elbow Falls area between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. on April 18 – the last day on which there was activity on Lovett's financial accounts.
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COBRAS JOSEPH BELL SIGNS ON TO PLAY WITH DINOS FOOTBALL

Cochrane Cobras safety Joseph Bell is continuing his football career at the University of Calgary with the Dinos program after he signed his letter of intent with the team on May 1.

The Cobras went undefeated throughout the season, going 6-0 in league play, and 3-0 in the provincial tournament to capture their fifth straight Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) provincial championship after defeating the Holy Rosary Raiders 25-8 in the final game.

Bell was one of the six recipients of the team's Most Valuable Player (MVP) award while also sharing the Leadership Award with Logan Higginson and took home the league award for Best Defensive Player due to his knack for big hits over the middle at the safety position while also chipping in with three interceptions and several tackles on both defence and special teams on the season.

Bell said a large part of his success came due to the fact he got to suit up for three years at Cochrane High with the Cobras football program under the guidance of defensive backs coach Tom Knitter.
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‘I DON’T FEEL LIKE A HERO’

A Cochrane RCMP officer was recently recognized with a medal of bravery for his quick actions that saved lives in two separate and dramatic incidents last year.

Cst. Sean Gordon's quick action is credited for helping to rescue 10 people on Ghost Lake after a boat sunk and another day he saved a woman who was at risk of bleeding to death after being slashed by a sword.

Experience and training was key in the Ghost Lake response on July 14, 2018 when a dispatch told of people screaming in the water.

Gordon, was able to recruit assistance from a civilian boater to reach the people who were already in the frigid waters, and though the boat had enough life jackets on board before it sank many of the people in distress were not wearing flotation devices. He said he knew time was of the essence and fire rescue wasn't in the water yet.

His second lifesaving effort came on March 9, 2018 during a violent incident in Bragg Creek following a sword attack.

Gordon and fellow officers entered a home to discover a woman lying on the floor with a serious leg wound and an active threat still in the home.

Once the sword-wielding assailant was arrested, Gordon raced back to the victim to apply a tourniquet to her leg until the bleeding stopped and EMS arrived.
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JUNE

THOMAS FAMILY RELIEVED, SAFE RETURN OF LATE SON’S MEMORIAL VEHICLE

The family of Brandon Thomas is relieved that the prized truck belonging to the late Cochranite has been retrieved after being stolen June 3.

The 1986 Toyota 4-Runner was stolen at around 4:30 a.m. from its West Valley residence in Cochrane - according to a neighbour's camera – and located at the Gas Plus station in Balzac at around 8:45 a.m.

Airdrie RCMP confirmed that two suspects were taken into custody, charged with possession of stolen property.

Brandon's mother, Kim, noticed the missing truck from her home when she got up around 6:30 a.m. for work. She immediately phoned Kayla to let her know what had taken place and that someone had stolen the "yota."

"It's one of the last pieces we have of Brandon and his life," said Kayla, adding that she was "shocked" that someone would steal such a recognizable vehicle – as the custom black and blue painted truck is also covered in signatures from the annual attendees of the Show Your Ride for Brandon, the charitable show and shine held each year in honour of the late budding mechanic who was killed by a drunk driver in December of 2012.

SLSFSC ANNOUNCES SPRAY PARK IS NOW FREE OF CHARGE FOR ALL USERS

Families will no longer pay to play at the spray park located at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC).

On June 3, SLSFSC announced the news – which is a result of a joint venture between the Cochrane Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Cochrane, both committing to a five-year sponsorship of the spray park that was built in 2017 as part of the facility expansion to build the new pool/curling centre.

The spray park opened up June 4 for the summer 2019 season.

Spray park hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. to the general community, where the community can access the spray park through the outside gate (no access through the Jayman BUILT Aquatic Centre).

The spray park will be open from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. but will ONLY be available to SLSFSC members and drop-in users users, with access available only through the pool.

The SLSFSC was opened in 2001 and is a joint partnership between the Town of Cochrane and Rocky View County, operated by the SLSFSC board.

TOWN REVEALS PLANS FOR HORSE CREEK SPORTS PARK

Town council endorsed the Horse Creek Sports Park master site plan in chambers on June 24 – a culmination of the work of the Parks and Recreation Committee, town staff and Rocky View Schools (RVS).

The plan, which is inclusive of most of the sports groups who presented their case to the committee several weeks ago, is on the 158 acre site north of the community of Heritage Hills  and is in the final steps of the annexation process by the Town of Cochrane from Rocky View County.

The site will include a 30 acre from RVS high school site and the balance will be dedicated to sports and recreation – including 11 acres for town maintenance and transit facilities and 117 acres for future recreational uses including a quad ball diamond; multiple soccer/rugby fields; outdoor skating rinks; playgrounds; a central clubhouse facility; bike facilities such as a pump track, skills park and flow park; and an extensive pathway and trail network with a view point.

Pickleball and disc golf will not be included on the site. Cochrane BMX will also not be on the site, remaining at their existing facilities on the Ag Society grounds for the time being.

TOWN TO EVALUATE FLOODED AREAS

After numerous residential areas were flooded following heavy rain fall on June 26 and 27 the Town of Cochrane will be reviewing storm water management in the effected areas.

Sunset Ridge, was one of the areas hardest hit by the flooding after storm water failed to drain quickly enough causing up to three-feet of water in some parts, submerging cars and pooling around homes.

Samantha Nickerson, communications officer for the Sunset Ridge Residential Association, said, "The Town and the developer have dealt with most of the flooding issues and drains have now been re-opened. I believe everyone reacted quickly and seriously to prevent further damage. At this time, I am unsure how many homes have been affected or how many cars have been damaged."

As for preventing similar problems in the future, Nickerson said there were some drains that "had some mud issues due to neighbouring build activity," adding, "There really was an insane amount of rain in a very short amount of time."

Brent O'Neill, assistant development manager with Melcor, said the flooding was a result of what he called a one-in-100-year type of event and the company-mobilized quickly to mitigate the flooding.

JULY

ORPHANED BLACK BEAR KILLED AFTER RELEASE

Clio Smeeton, president of the Cochrane Ecological Institute (CEI), says the government erred in the release of a bear CEI rehabilitated, which led to it being shot on July 1.

Charlie, a 16-month black bear, was shot about 120 km from where the bear was released when it wandered into a homeowner’s yard.
The cub was rescued in 2018 and sent to the CEI after more than 4,000 public petitions swayed a recent government decision to change legislation barring sanctuaries from rehabilitating bears.

Previous to the 2012 rehabilitation ban, Smeeton said the CEI had been rehabilitating bears since 1986 and in all that time never had an issue with one of its releases coming into conflict with humans.

According to a government press release, Charlie was exhibiting abnormal behaviour demonstrated by his migration since release and his habituation behaviour.


Smeeton says had the government taken her advice and released Charlie with Maskwa, the cub he was rescued with, done it in the winter – as stats show higher survival rate than summer releases – and chose a more remote location, Charlie would still be alive.

Smeeton said Charlie’s location had a greater population and recent fire activity had caused habitat displacement that was forcing bears to move.
She added that at no time did Charlie exhibit habituation behaviour while in rehabilitation.

BARADOY TAKING PART IN 2019 WORLD ROLLER GAMES

Former local Ross Baradoy is bringing his Cochrane roots to the 2019 World Roller Games June 29 to July 14 in Barcelona, with Baradoy competing for Team Switzerland in the street luge portion of the event July 5 to 7, which qualifies under skateboarding.

The World Roller Games will see more than 4,000 athletes in action and will crown the world's best in 11 very diverse disciplines such as alpine, artistic, roller freestyle, downhill, inline freestyle, inline hockey, rink hockey, roller derby, speed and skateboarding. The scooter will also make its debut as the new World Skate discipline in the 2019 edition. The Games will be used as part of the qualifying event for some of the sports to go to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Baradoy grew up in Cochrane and got into the street luge scene at a very young age. “I don’t live in Cochrane anymore, but I distinctly remember going down the hill over by GlenEagles back in 1998," Baradoy said in a previous interview with the Cochrane Eagle. "My mom would drop off my friends and I at the top of the hill, and we’d ride our boards down to the bottom of the hill.”

Street luge is actually illegal in Canada as it is considered a form of stunting, so Baradoy packed up his belongings and is now living in Switzerland full time, where street luge is welcomed.

COCHRANE GENERALS FIND THEIR NEW BENCH BOSS

For the fifth time in as many years, the Cochrane Generals have a new head coach. Evan McFeeters, Dan Gendur, Derek Donald, Travis McMillan have all handled the duty for the past four seasons and after a very successful season under McMillan where the Generals went 27-9-2 and qualified for the third round of the playoffs, the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) club will look to Kurtis Jones to build off last season's success.

A native of Banff, Jones is coming in with a lot of coaching experience after spending eight seasons as the assistant coach of the Canmore Eagles Junior A Hockey Club, coach director of Canmore Minor Hockey association, head coach of the minor midget AC Avalanche, and head coach of the Bow Valley Timberwolves AA Peewee, Bantam & Midget.

"It's a great opportunity for me to get back into coaching," Jones said. "I took a couple years off to reevaluate my coaching styles. It's nice to have the contacts and the information that I needed to get back into it and they (the Generals) offered me the position and I'm happy to take it. I'm a players coach for sure. I communicate well with the players and I'd like to consider that to be my main strength in my coaching style."

Jones said he's been keeping tabs on the Generals the last few seasons, a team that has been as consistent as any in the HJHL with numerous playoff appearances, division titles, back-to-back finals and a provincial silver medal.

FIRST COCHRANE CANNABIS STORE OPENS ITS DOORS

The first cannabis retailer in Cochrane, Plantlife, opened its doors on July 25 – running a little late for an intended 4:20 p.m. opening and ready to serve a widening user demographic who are heading into year two of legal recreational purchase.

Roughly 20 people milled about the store in the first half-hour of opening and much of the demographic appeared to be women, many of them older than middle age to explore the different strains and paraphernalia on display throughout the store.

Plantlife, located at #25 31 Bow Street Common in the Quarry (next to The Beer Den, Frilly Lilly and Chopped Leaf) is the first approved retailer to pot, rather pop, open its doors to the public with legal cannabis for sale following a six month licensing moratorium implemented last December by the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) to catch up on licensing applications.

Licenses were granted three weeks ago and by last Thursday, Plantlife had been on a whirlwind opening five stores in eight days.

According to town administration, there are six approved development permits for cannabis retailers in Cochrane at present, located at: #3-205 Third Ave West, #5-122 Fourth Ave West, 111 Second Ave West, 305 First Street West, 315 First Street East and the Plantlife store.

AUGUST

JENNIE HARLUK NOMINATED FOR YYC MUSIC AWARDS

Fresh off a semi-finals appearance at the Calgary Stampede Talent Search, Cochrane country artist Jennie Harluk has been nominated for the Female Artist of the Year Award through the YYC Music Awards that will take place Sept. 22 at the Palace Theatre in Calgary.

 At only 16-years-old, Harluk is already a seasoned performer and has been captivating audiences from the Calgary Stampede to the Country Thunder stage for the last five years. Her love of the written word inspires her to capture and create the perfect message for each of her songs. She is involved in every part of the creation of her music, from writing, to recording and producing them so that each one is authentically hers.

Harluk has shared four of her original songs with both Canadian and international radio as well as all digital platforms. Her song, Bus Ticket, won the Pop Recording of the Year at the 2018 Calgary Music Awards and her first original, Suitcase, spent 10 weeks in the Top Ten Countdown for the internet radio station Music Road Radio, winning her rave reviews. Harluk also co-hosts and performs at her own event, Country Night Live, in Calgary, which showcases local artists and supports local charities as well as brings together fans, friends and families out to enjoy an evening of live country music.

ARCHEOLOGISTS PEER INTO COCHRANE’S PAST

An archeology team was working alongside Highway 1A for most of August as part of the design phase for the interchange upgrade intersecting with Highway 22. While many are just happy to see work begin on the long-awaited project, dig teams are unearthing some interesting remnants of Cochrane’s past.

“The Cochrane Ranche is a well-known historical and archeological site. It’s rated as HRV1 – Historical Resources Value 1. The only thing that could be more significant than this kind of site is something like Head Smashed In (Buffalo Jump) that has a UNESCO status,” said Sean Pickering, senior project archeologist with Bison Historical Services Ltd. His team was contracted through ISL Engineering and Land Services, who are designing the interchange, to fulfill the Historical Resources Act requirements for the area.

Pickering’s team did an initial survey on the area last fall and after finding bits of foundation, they recommended the government conduct the current follow up excavations. He points to a partially-revealed brick floor that coincides with no historical records, as far as he knows.

During the excavation, Pickering said the team uncovered a lot of material, most of it badly burned because the 1920 structure was demolished and burned in 1971 to make way for a road bypass. The few identifiable items include a crucifix from a rosary, stove door and a hood ornament from an old Packard car called the “Goddess of Speed.”

TOWN OF COCHRANE MOVES TO NEXT PHASE OF TWO VITAL FACILITIES

The Town of Cochrane is moving to the next stage of both its proposed new RCMP detachment and transit hub facilities leading up to requesting budget approvals from council.

Principal design and architectural consultants for both projects have been secured and the town is in the process of securing a cost consultant.

"Cost consultants assist in the process to ensure the design budget is maintained," said Greg Barsi, facilities manager for the Town of Cochrane.

While both projects are still in the design phase, planning for the transit hub is taking an expedited approach with the goal to have shovels in the ground as early as this fall.

The approach will allow the town to complete the transit hub quicker than waiting for the full design to be completed before construction begins. Barsi said the decision will allow the transit hub to be open by next fall. It will also ensure the town doesn't miss the window for the GreenTrip funding that will be used to pay for construction.

The current concept for the transit hub is a three-storey structure that includes lease space for professional services style businesses – banking, legal and accounting – the business incubator on the second floor, and an anchor tenant for the third floor.

MARTIN PARNELL QUALIFIES FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON

Cochrane running hero Martin Parnell is looking to once again make his mark on the international marathon scene as he prepares to run in the 2020 Boston Marathon. The iconic and historic race has been running since 1897.

Parnell qualified for the Boston appearance during the 2019 Servus Edmonton Marathon on Aug. 17 and 18 in which the race was celebrating its 28th anniversary. Parnell ran in the men's age 60 to 69 category, finishing 10th with a chip time of 3:46:23 when the 42-km race was all said and done.

Parnell's qualifying time meant he cracked all the goals he set for himself over the weekend in Edmonton.

Parnell will now wait until Sept. 10 to register for the Boston Marathon that will take place in April of 2020. He will keep himself busy by running in his annual Dec. 31 run down by Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. That will be his 10th and final edition of the run/walk fundraiser.




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