Community Service award given to Jeff Rathwell

Written by Terri Huxley

Jeff Rathwell has been nominated as this year’s community service award recipient after Forestburg council took place on Wed. Dec. 16.

The winner would normally receive 10 tickets and the nominator would receive two tickets to a dinner theatre put on by the Curtain Call Community Theatre in March of 2021, but with COVID-19 this option is not available.

The nominated person also received a plaque for the award during the Dinner Theatre as well as $540 set aside to go towards a local charity of their choice in the award winner’s name.

Council was surprised by only having one nomination compared to multiple in a year but Mayor Blaise Young was content with the winner, sharing his community spirit and adoration as a teacher from the local school.

“I don’t think Jeff would be someone who would jump to my mind immediately but when I read this I thought ‘my goodness!’… He is not only an excellent teacher but he is a guidance counsellor – he is a rock-solid person,” said Young.

Garbage fee exemption

Council voted to turn down a request from Cory Kozey to exempt their monthly waste collection fees.

All developed properties within the village cost $31.10 per year with additional living units costing $15.55.

The only exemption allowed is commercial properties with garbage bins for which those customers pay Flagstaff Regional Solid Waste Management Association directly.

According to the bylaw, residential homeowners cannot opt out of monthly garbage fees.

Garbage rates are calculated on a cost recovery basis.

For each property that does not pay the garbage fee ($373.20 per year), the Village must reallocate the cost back to the properties that do pay garbage fees.

Council mentioned there are ‘a number of empty lots that pay this fee’.

Mayor Young said, “There are lots of people in that boat in town. We all pay for fire. We all pay for police, snow removal. We all pay for garbage.”

Opening arena

Coun. Devon McNabb brought some questions about the arena as he and other arena associations have found some gray area in Alberta Health Services policy to have it open while other facilities are required to close.

McNabb stated communities such as Daysland, Killam and Sedgewick have all opened their arenas to allow private family skating times for rent so he wondered if Forestburg could do the same under the new lockdown conditions.

The health inspector will be contacted and asked to possibly give a written letter stating this is all right before proceeding.

“I think we should open it if we can. I can see families being keen to rent this,” said Young.

No formal motion was made.

Enhancement fund disbursements

A number of community associations and boards applied for funding for various needs.

The balance in the Community Enhancement Fund as of Nov. 23, 2020 is $62,863.59.

Each year the village disburses the funds in the Community Enhancement Fund.

The disbursements for 2020 amount to $22,747 and are made up of associations and boards including the Forestburg Arena Association, Curling Club Donation Wall, Forestburg Community Hall Board, Friends of the Battle River Rail, Friends of the Forestburg Fire Department Big Knife Villa Van Project, Forestburg Public Cemetery Society Forestburg, Power Sports Association and Forestburg Golf Club.

Council passed a motion to approve the disbursement of $22,747 as totalled by all these requests.

Replacement sander unit 

The current sander that is owned by the village has become extremely unreliable when required for sanding when maintaining roads during snow removal activities.

In order to respond quickly with sanding roads, a new sander unit was needed.

Three quotes were given but council passed administration’s recommendation to purchase the replacement sander unit for $10,943.24 installed from Fort Garry Industries Ltd. in Red Deer.

“It’s starting to cost a lot of money,” said Coun. Eileen Fossen. “Every time it started it broke down – never mind the job it was going to do.”

Interim CAO Corrine Newman said it was ‘rather dangerous’ for employees in this condition as well.

Council asked if any local vendors were approached about this but the CAO shared that they did not have anything to fit their needs.

Interim operating budget

Council approved the 2020 Operating Budget in the amount of $3,301,430 as the interim 2021 operating budget.

The official budget will be passed in May which gives new CAO Dibben a chance to review and adjust as needed.

Broadband internet

Craig Dobson came to council via video conferencing to share the different avenues Forestburg and surrounding communities can take to bring reliable broadband internet to the area.

A couple of options were recommended but council as well as Dobson felt the best plan was to get in touch with Flagstaff County to look at possibly partnering on the project.

Mayor Young added that a subcommittee of council should work on this particular endeavour if it goes forward.

Leave of absence policy 

The leave of absence policy was up for review as all policies are in need of this annually or in a period of three years.

Council at the Dec. 2 meeting directed administration to revise this policy to reflect changes to the bereavement portion by adding in additional family members such as aunts and uncles and their spouses, nieces and nephews and their partners/spouses, and a person the employee is not related to but considers to be a close relative.

The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will also have the discretion to allow an extension for travel if it is outside of a 200 km. radius from the village.

A motion to approve as amended was carried.

Signing authority

With the appointment of Dwight Dibben as Chief Administrative Officer, the signing authority for the ATB and BMO accounts was asked to be updated.

Council designated Dibben as an additional signing authority for the Village of Forestburg.

Currently individuals having signing authority are Mayor Young or Deputy Mayor Bob Coutts and Assistant Administrator Sharon Duncan.

Interim CAO Corinne Newman was removed from having signing authority.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.