String of Robberies
Sometime this past weekend a string of robberies took place across Strathmore. The local Home Hardware, Strathmore Building Supplies and UFA were affected. As it is still under investigation, not much information has been released on the burglaries, but allegedly the perpetrator hot-wired the Home Hardware forklift in order to steal lumber from both Strathmore Building Supplies and UFA.
“I got my forklift back,” said Perry Banadyga, owner of Home Hardware. “I went down to UFA and drove it back home.”
The culprits seem to have left it there after the theft. Besides the forklift, nothing else appears to be missing at Home Hardware.
“[We haven’t] noticed anything thus far,” said Banadyga, though it is too early in the case to be sure. The RCMP and the stores are working to find out what exactly happened that night. More information will be released as the investigation continues.
Celebrating being a community as a community
Looking for something to do with the whole family this weekend? Head over to Langdon and participate in the annual Langdon Days celebration held July 20 - 22.
“It’s a celebration of the community that’s been set up and it’s a community fundraiser to help pay for sports teams, and recreation,” said Chrissy Craig, one of the volunteer organizers.
“The slo-pitch tournament is kind of a big part of it and that’s what started was just a slow pitch tournament and then it’s developed into this huge, huge event.”
Everything begins at 4 p.m. on Friday when the Mac’s street team Froster Truck comes out. The vendor’s village opens at 5 p.m. and slo-pitch begins at 6 p.m.
Saturday is the day guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained.
“Saturday is the one with the most activities because all of the family activities are on Saturday. There’s a kid carnival and family wagon rides and the slo-pitch tournament and all that sort of stuff,” said Craig.
“I’m most excited for the kids carnival because I think it’s going to be a lot more for the kids to do this year than just the one set of bouncy castles. I think more of the community will be able to access it and use it. I think it should be fun, the whole thing should be fun actually,”
New this year said Craig is there is just one price to get into the children’s carnival and that price gives access to all of the activities.
“The only thing that is extra is the pony rides and that’s just due to insurance,” said Craig.
“Other things that are new are is we have new food vendors this year, so we have a couple of different vendors and there’s a couple of different bands in the beer gardens. We have a band on Friday night and Saturday night.”
Saturday night will wrap up with fireworks. For the adults, and players in the slo-pitch tournament there are the beer gardens open all three days. On Friday night people can see High Stepping Daddy, and on Saturday night Higher Ground will be keeping the crowd entertained. Wristbands are only $10 for the evening.
Fire template woes
Rosebud Fire Association Chief Richard Zachariassen presented council with concerns from Rockyford, Rosebud, Cluny and Dalum fire departments, to additions added by county staff on their financial accounting template.
“This has been ongoing since March 28 and we haven’t got a template drawn up. We were supposed to have our forms in by the end of June and that is way past. Now it will be September before we get access to our funds,” said Zachariassen.
“In support of our staff, I don’t think they are not trying to force anything on anybody,” said Councillor Ben Armstrong
The original template, approved by council on July 5, was discussed and accepted at a meeting with the various fire departments; however, staff said there was some confusion because notes recorded from the meeting were different on the fire department copies and staff copies.
Staff had added a second year breakdown to the template, so that comparison figures can clearly be seen. They also included an optional cash flow tool that would help the department keep track of their finances. Excel programs are being set up for departments to record their statements.
“In all the non-profit organizations I have been involved with…a financial statement is standard practice,” said Councillor Brenda Knight.
“We agreed on this template and feel additions should not put through without us seeing them. It is confusing about what is required and what is a tool for use. We can probably work with it. Those who don’t work on Excel, it is a little more difficult,” said Zachariassen.
Council noted that two departments utilized the old forms prior to the suggested revisions and had already been paid.
“This is affecting the trust with our fire departments. I suggest that we pay them in good faith. Old statements from other departments are in but this one is a work in progress,” said Reeve Glen Koester.
“No more delays. We have been fighting for this for I don’t know how long. If we are going to show trust we can’t be going back and forth. As far as I am concerned let’s move forward,” said Councillor Ben Armstrong.
Suggestions to move forward were:
• Provide a second staff person at fire meetings to help with recording duties
• Fire departments will complete the accepted July 5 template and staff will fill in the 2010 financials requested on the addition for this year. Subsequent years the fire department will be responsible to fill in all the information, with the Cash Flow template use at their discretion.
• Notify all departments of the addition
• Requested signed copies that each department agrees to the template
The scoop on the off-leash dog park
Nearly two years after it was launched with a ribbon cutting ceremony, the Strathmore off- leash dog park seems to be a hit with both the dogs and their human families.
“Our Lab is older and has lower energy,” said Lori Thompson-Klauck. “But when we bring him to the park, his energy level goes up. It’s so nice to see his playful side.”
Thompson-Klauck has two dogs. Lucky was adopted as a pup from the Humane Society, and they also have two-and-a-half year old Mohawk.
Thompson-Klauck’s 13-year-old son also loves the park. The budding shutter bug likes to shoot photographs of funny and amusing things the dogs do during their off leash recess periods.
Dawn Forsyth Green brings her Boston terrier Toffey to the park to get off leash and socialize. Forsyth Green thinks the park is “great” but suggested improvements to the park should include keeping the grass shorter, doing ice maintenance in the winter and adding a paved pathway for moms with strollers.
Dave Rimes of the Strathmore Parks Department said equipment problems delayed mowing the grass this year. Usually the grass is mowed around five times a year.
For the moment, said Rimes, there are no plans for a paved pathway or ice maintenance in the winter.
“Benches and picnic tables are useful and it’s great the Town supplies poop bags,” said Forsyth Green.
To date this year, the Town has supplied 10,000 poop bags. Most of the bags are used in the dog park and cost just under three cents apiece.
There are no plans yet for a second off-leash dog park, said the Rimes, but if there is a second park it would probably be located in the north part of town.
“Usage of the current park will drive a requirement for a second one,” said Rimes.
Unfortunately there isn’t a water source at the park. It’s something that was looked at by the Town but there was no land available with a little stream or any sort of water running through it.
“More often than not,” said Forsyth Green, “some kind dog owners bring water to the park to keep the containers full.”
The off-leash dog park is located directly to the north of the west end of Slater Road. The four-acre parcel of land is leased from the Western Irrigation District (WID).
“The park is a very positive part of town,” said Councillor Bob Sobol, whose miniature schnauzer is “intimidated” by other dogs. “Whenever I drive by the park, there are cars parked there.”
The return of Miss Strathmore Stampede
Former Crossfield rodeo Queen Becca Walters is going to be wearing the crown and sash for Strathmore Heritage Days this year. Walters was the Crossfield Queen from 2008-2009 and became the Queen after showing interest in the Heritage Days’ lack of royalty.
“I was talking to Darcy (Ledene), the general manager (of the Strathmore Ag Society) and Pascal (Del Guercio, Rodeo & Chuckwagon Chairman) about bringing the royalty back, because it’s such a big part of the rodeo,” said Walters. The shortage of volunteers to run the pageant committee was the reason for the shut down of the program approximately ten years ago.
“They used to have a committee but they kind of ran out of people to run the royalty committee, so I brought up to them that I would help them out, running it. So they kind of appointed me Miss Strathmore Stampede this year, just to go around to all the different functions and rodeos to promote the town and [the Strathmore] Stampede,” said Walters. This year Walters will be jumping into her rodeo duties with both feet, representing Strathmore at other rodeos as well as helping out at the Strathmore Stampede. She’ll be working with other royalty, Miss Rodeo Canada, in the arena.
“During the rodeo I’ll be pushing cattle out with her, so we’ll be working together a bit during the rodeo doing that,” said Walters. As she was appointed late, she was unable to organize as much as she wanted to.
“This year, because it’s so last minute, I’m still trying to get sponsors and everything, trying to help out with travel expenses and all that,” said Walters. But she looks forward to next year when she will have more time on her hands to fully organize the pageant and all that goes with it.
“In the new year [I’m going] to start the pageant up again, so that it can be open to other girls for next year, so that they’re able to run,” said Walters. She also looks forward to the new year and being able to organize charity work through the future Strathmore Stampede Queens.
It would be ideal to “pick [a charity] that may not have as much promotion,” Walters said, ”It would be good to find one that doesn’t get promoted as much as other ones do, just so their name can get out there as well.”
As Heritage Days is right around the corner, Walters has a lot to plan, but her queen duties don’t worry her too much.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.
Remembering our past - Steve Grajczyk
Steve’s grandparents moved from Poland to Winona, Minnesota in the 1890’s, and started a construction business. However, in the early 1900’s, both the Canadian Government and Canadian Pacific Railway, were advertising cheap land in Saskatchewan and Alberta (as previous articles have referred to).
So, they moved to Courval, Sask. in 1909. Steve was born there in the 1940’s, the youngest sibling of a family of six children. He had three sisters and two brothers.
Back in those days, there was no means of communication, and roads were mainly in very poor shape, so his mother was transported to the nearest hospital quite early. Steve was born on September 30, 1946, but because of the state of the roads, it took a month to get back home. The rest of the family were sure surprised when Steve showed up with his mother that fall.
His father kept a daily diary, mainly for keeping track of weather conditions, but there is an entry for the 30th of October stating “I now have a new son called Steve.”
That is the only reference, and then it returns to entries regarding the weather! His father served with the RCAF during WWII, and following his discharge in 1946 returned to the mixed farm in Saskatchewan.
When Steve grew older, he used to spend the winter months in Alberta working in the oil patch, but summers were always spent in Southern Saskatchewan mixed farming with one of his elder brothers. They were one of the first to import what was then classed as exotic cattle to Canada – Charolais.
Steve took one of the first artificial insemination courses available in the early 1960’s, and following graduation as an A.I. Technician, joined Prairie Breeders stud farm south of Calgary. As he became more proficient, the farm formed an A.I. Company and it was Steve’s job to teach A.I. Technology across Canada, North America and eventually around the world.
This company was one of the first to conduct pregnancy testing on cows. They marketed bull semen, and it was Steve’s job to select bulls in the U.K. and Europe for import to Canada. Throughout this time, he met many members of royalty namely Prince Philip and Prince Charles as well as heads of Government dating back to President Nixon.
He spent his time travelling the world, in this business, and continues to believe the best education a son or daughter can obtain is to travel the world before settling down.
Steve married Judy in 1975 and they have two children – son Ryan who is married to Carie, and works as a Captain with a major airline. They are expecting their first child in October. Steve and Judy also have a daughter – Karie who is married to Glen, and have two children.
Steve moved to Strathmore in the spring of 1978, and at the time was selling commercial and residential real estate. Other business interests included a security locksmith company and mini storage. In 1979 he was named Mr. Strathmore, the very first person to receive this honour. For this, he won a trip to Las Vegas.
In 1980, he won a trip to Hawaii as a prize in a raffle being run in his hometown at Courval, who were raising funds for the school.
He and Judy, were having breakfast at their hotel one morning, when a US nuclear submarine surfaced just off shore, right in front of them. Sailors started ferrying between the beach and the submarine, in what appeared to be a crew change. Steve told Judy he planned to be on board the sub by 4 p.m. that afternoon!! And, being the good talker that he is – he was!
In 2005, he decided to retire and sold both of his businesses. At the time he was an Executive of The Strathmore and District Ag Society, and became General Manager soon after.
In 2010, he was approached by many friends who pointed out that as he’d already served on most boards and executive positions in and around Strathmore, he should run for mayor. As we know he won handily, and has since put our town on the map, in many, many ways.
Fule for Thought
I just turned 52 on Monday the 16th. I felt pretty good until I realized that’s the age Shakespeare was when he died! People didn’t live as long then (crazy Black Plague)! The day made me think back to “yesteryear” when I was a young lad in Elementary. I was about to learn life lessons unexpectedly!
When I was a kid in Canmore Elementary, recess was a huge deal. This was true for every kid, except for “Timmy” (fake name). Well, recess was good for him too, except for a few strange days.
Each day, the bell would ring, and out would race the throngs on kids to hit recess, and hit it HARD! Timmy was like the rest of us, but he was also a cool kid, who played hockey. I mention this, to show that embarrassment can hit anyone, at any time. It is very difficult to describe the coming events delicately, but I will try.
On the tarmac at recess for just a few short days, Timmy faced his nemesis … a mutt of a dog. This dog had taken it in its head that he REALLY liked Timmy. He would run through the mass of kids, and find him. Why he chose Timmy, we never knew, however, we WERE glad that he did.
When he did track down Timmy, he would happily jump him! I’m sorry, Readers (all 12 of you!) but it is hard to be “delicate” here. This mutt would jump Timmy and show just how much he REALLY liked him! That’s it kids, this dog would hump Timmy’s leg!
It would “have its way with” Timmy … and we’d scatter so we wouldn’t be next! I know, you’re probably asking “how could you leave a pal,” but hey … it’s like when the chopper arrives in war, there’s only room for so many soldiers, and Timmy’s too badly wounded … we had to leave him behind!
As soon as he could, Timmy would break away, and run to the doors. It got so that he’d lost his love for recess … he wouldn’t go out. We had no choice, we HAD to convince Timmy to come out anyway … we NEEDED him out there! Three different mornings this would happen, and then suddenly the dog stopped coming to school. Timmy was relieved, until every now and then someone would do his best dog “bark” and we’d see Timmy flinch!
My Hungarian dad was very “old School” when it came to teaching me life lessons. One evening, when I was about 10, he noticed me watching intently as he smoked. As a loving father, he must’ve been worried that I’d try it. So, he went to the kitchen cupboard and brought out a small package.
“Here, if you want to smoke, try one.”
I was surprised, but I did what he said. Cool, I’d see what the fuss is about, and be more grown-up! However, my dad’s teaching method involved giving me an old, dry Hungarian cigarette. I did not know this as he lit it up for me. It was strange how so few puffs could cause so much damage! It was horrible! I couldn’t breathe right … I couldn’t seem to shake the horrible taste from my mouth. It tasted like feet mixed with manure! I looked to him for help, his answer was laughter. Wow, how could he have done this to me … wasn’t I his youngest son, aren’t you supposed to be able to trust your dad? Of course these thoughts hit me as I was sprinting to the bathroom!
I thought I was going to die, and maybe for a split second I did (I know I saw a bright light … I wanted to go to it)! Before I knew it, I was doubled over the toilet heaving and retching! Everything seemed to come out of every part of me … how could a few puffs of one LOUSY cigarette have so much power? I never smoked again … of course it was also hard to trust dad again! Thank God, he didn’t try to teach me to swim!
There’s nothing better for Elementary aged boys than a lesson on etiquette! Our teacher was teaching us the proper way to pick up a girl’s pencil from the floor, if we were in a desk.
“You get up, and carefully walk to the pencil, retrieve it, return it, then quietly sit back down,” she said as she pointed to me! Yeah right, I thought, as she placed the pencil just beside my desk. I had my own idea, and I casually sweeped my arm down and to the pencil. The next thing I saw, was the ceiling, and then laughing faces, as I flipped myself out of my desk and onto the floor! It was almost like Gymnastics! I thought the teacher would join in, but no, she told me to get off the floor, back into my desk, and do it right this time!
When you’re a kid met with laughter, I always found it was better to join, than get upset. The lesson I DID learn that day was not to take short cuts, and that you will make mistakes, so don’t take things too seriously! Who knew the teacher would help me learn THAT lesson! Isn’t school great?! Recess, dads, and teachers … helping us learn life lessons! Wow.
(“Fule for Thought” is a slice of life humourous column that will appear in the Strathmore Times, written by long-time resident, town councillor, high school teacher, coach, husband and father of two – Pat Fule. If you would like to get in touch with Pat, you can send him an e-mail at
To water or not to water
After the water rates changed last year Strathmore was blessed with a relatively wet summer, making watering the lawn not much of an issue. But now it’s a new year and with the dry, hot summer days finally here how many people will deny their lawn and gardens the H2O goodness they crave. For those who have had to use water as an everyday part of their business, they have noticed just how much the rates have increased.
“There’s nothing you can do about it. I have spoken with Dwight (Stanford) and the Mayor because my bill was really big, ridiculously big, at one point I got a bill of $3,000 for six weeks of water. Before that I was averaging about $1,500 for a two month period, and that was kind of a big shock,” said Anne Murphy who owns Bubbles Laundromat with her husband.
She brought in three high efficiency machines to reduce water consumption. With the new machines though, and the increased water rates she had to increase her rates, which has cost her business.
“Ours doubled so the only thing I could do to try to reduce the amount of usage through the metre, was by bringing in some new machines and increasing my prices. We have lost quite a bit of business as a result,” said Murphy.
“The costs have gone down a little bit as a result of the new metre and the new machines, but they are (the machines) $3,000 a piece so replacing everything with new high efficiency machines isn’t it in the cards in the short term.”
In order to change everything to high efficiency machines she would need to replace 13 machines at approximately $3,000 each.
“A majority of the water we use is not drunk or eaten, its mostly washed in or car washed or a bath. Why do we spend millions on purifying this water to the consumption level when...maybe we could have two taps in the store, one for potable water and one for not,” said Murphy.
Strathmore’s Florist owner Brian Code has solved his problem, but not without spending thousands of dollars to do so. Though his bills have since gone down, Code still strongly stands by his opinion that the system in place has created a structural deficit.
“We actually had a bill for a two month period that was $3,500 that is quite literally a business killing type of bill. We replaced one of the refrigeration units and then waited for the next bill to come in and it came in at almost $2,000. Then we replaced the other compressor because if I keep these bills up I might as well close my doors,” said Code.
“I think my main hang up about the whole issue is we’ve built a structural deficit that we’re going to have to pay through the nose for water forever, and honestly from my point of view it’s because of bad planning. My main argument there is that we’ve lived in Strathmore for over 30 years now, in 30 years the population has gone from 3,000 to 12,000, that’s 9,000 people.
“Why are we building a sewage system for 30,000 people when we could be 40 years before we get there. What that basically means is as a business and an individual I’m going to have to exorbitant water rates forever.”
Another frustration for Code and his wife Linda is the fact that in Strathmore water is being rationed, yet in Calgary where the water is coming from, they aren’t. Code also feels the development is set up to block future development in the community. He isn’t sure why a water using business would come to town now when the bills are so a high. A sentiment shared by many residents and other business owners.
“I strongly feel that the irrigation system was shut down to force us onto the potable water system even though environmentally speaking that was 100 per cent better. I mean it’s been a total compromise to pay for water mistakes,” said Code.
Peter Klironomos who co-owns the Strathmore Station and a number of other businesses in town is happy with the quality of the water since switching to the Calgary Regional Waterline.
“The water is definitely better, we don’t have complaints and we used to have complaints as far the water goes. The water situation is definitely better, but the pricing has gone up,” said Klironomos.
“My partner and I have concerns, if someone wants to move to Strathmore from Calgary you know housing is a little bit cheaper out here but if you have to pay the extra taxes and extra water bills it offsets the savings they might have of coming out here perhaps. So we’re definitely in favour of the water but it has definitely almost doubled.”
Murphy had questioned if it was possible to have a commercial rate set to help lower the costs a bit for the businesses who do use water in everyday operations.
“Whether you’re commercial or residential we’re asking people to be conscientious conservers of water. I know that businesses have to have water but they can also conserve. The bill has to be paid one way or another if we give them a cut in their rate then the residential would have to be higher, we want to treat everybody equal,” said Mayor Steve Grajczyk.
“We’re asking for conservation, we’re got to be conscientious of conserving water. I go to Calgary Regional Partnership meetings all the time and they discuss water issues all the time and you know what one of biggest concerns is of mine is that by the year 2050 there will be no winter water coming down the bow river. It’s drying up is a major issue here, I think we’re just hit the tip of the iceburg as far as water rates are concerned and it has nothing to do with me or our council. It’s just that we’ve got to conserve.”
Grajczyk said the national average is 12.5 cubic metres of water used per month in a household. He said there are many people using 50 cubic metres per billing period in Strathmore.
Council helps Harley and Hot Rods Charity Poker Run
Bob Tell told council of plans to hold a fundraiser starting with a pancake breakfast at Underground Performance, Sept. 8 at 7:30 a.m., in Strathmore and ending on a private acreage off Hwy. 1 on Sept. 9.
The weekend will include a poker run that hits five locations within the county, a bike wash, 50/50 draws, live bands, silent & live auctions, beer gardens, dinner and other contests. Proceeds support the Children’s Wish Foundation. It is in its seventh year and last year made close to $8,000 for the charity.
“We have goatees and look a little rough, but I have never met a nicer bunch of people,” said Tell.
Tell was asking council for grader services along the acreage road to keep the dust down for surrounding neighbours. He had located a calcium chloride donation from Lee Carmen out of Brooks. They would mix and apply the chemical if the county could supply the grader to finish.
“We had a few accidents on the road last year, so I am coming to get improvement for the road this year, so that doesn’t happen,” said Tell.
Council supported the request, as long as staff from Public works was notified and staff could supervise the roadwork.
They did want some reassurances that event organizers were aware of the resident concerns surrounding the event.
They outlined noise concerns, bike stunting on the road, and safety issues for adjoining residents.
“I know bikers are thought to be bad people, but this event is for charity. We are trying to run a clean show and I hope we don’t get any complaints. No bikers with colour or riff raff are being let in,” said Tell
Tell indicated that they had changed the music from heavy metal to a top 80’s band, security was on site, adherence to county bylaws were acknowledged.
“It’s important the work you do. It’s also important that you leave the area the way that you found it. So that when you want to hold it next year, incidents won’t come back to haunt you,” said Councillor Alice Booth.
Councillors thanked Tell for coming in and letting them know about the proposed event.
Organizers are hoping for good support and considering expanding the event next year. Those interested in the event can pre-register through Underground Performance @ 403-901-1000 or Strathmore Pawn & Collectable 403-901-1100.
Breaking down barriers
Walking into Katy’s Consignment Boutique is like being greeted by an old friend. Katy herself is often there smiling and happy, everything is neatly displayed; it’s almost like walking into a well-organized, giant closet.
It was just over a year ago that Katy and her mom Betty partnered to buy the store, which was formerly known as Audrey’s Consignment. Buying a store doesn’t sound like much of a feat but when you realize that Katy, who has special needs, co-owns her own business it’s something pretty special.
On June 28 Katy was awarded the Individual Leadership Award by the Calgary Region Community Board for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Program.
“The award is for individual leadership and the reason she won is because she took the initiative, with me of course, she’s co-owner, and took on this venture of this business in town which is a very busy store,” said Betty.
“She’s made a lot of friends in the last year, a lot of new acquaintances. This award basically validates Katy’s willingness to get out into the community and interact with people. We have a lot of regular customers.”
Both mom and daughter are board members of the Hope Bridges Society. It was Hope Bridges who initially nominated Katy for the award.
“Hope Bridges believes that every person contributes to the well-being of the community in which they reside,” said Hope Bridges Chairman Marvin Hilton in his nomination request letter.
“The organization exemplifies respect for all individuals, inclusion of all peoples, and the worth of every citizen in all areas of community life regardless of age, ability or nationality.”
At the beginning of opening the boutique Katy had been helping with pricing, re-organizing things, and with the customers. A dream of Katy’s had been learning how to work the cash register and handling transactions, something she now does fairly regularly.
“Katy has shown leadership by working hard to pursue her dreams and create her life path. Her actions, both in her professional life and as a volunteer, are inspirational to all members of her community,” Hilton continued in the nomination letter.
“Katy is influencing community views by breaking down barriers, and challenging the norm. She is leading a life of purpose, and serving others through her dedicated volunteer work.”
“It was really nice having people nominate her and people in the community giving her references,” said Betty.
In the fall, Katy will have a chance to win the Provincial Individual Leadership Award with the PDD.
Combines for Cures Country Concert set to debut in Strathmore
For the first time ever, The Prostate Cancer Centre and the Strathmore Ag Society have teamed up to create a country concert to raise awareness and funds for cancer on August 2.
The event will be held at the Strathmore AGRO Grandstand and outdoor Encana stage, with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
The concert boasts country musicians Drew Gregory, Codie Prevost, Hey Romeo and Crystal Shawanda as well as a firework display to end the night at 11 p.m.
Pam Heard, Executive Director at the Prostate Cancer Centre, said that in order to reach the rural community they wanted to do “something with a splash.” Heard said the location couldn’t be better.
With the Heritage Days beginning the next day, Heard thinks a lot of people will be, “looking for things to do with their family” when the long weekend begins.
“We thought it would the perfect place to bring these big acts to,” Heard said. “This is our first time ever doing something like this. We really want to reach the rural community.”
Rob Shapiro, keyboard player, singer and co-manager of the band Hey Romeo, said that the band was thrilled to be offered a part in the concert.
“[Being involved with this concert] is great. Any time you can be involved with something that helps people or a cause near to you ... we feel great that we can contribute to that, or be some small part of it,” said Shapiro.
Drew Gregory, a local musician from Standard, said he was “very happy” to be asked to participate in the fundraiser.
“It sounded like a good deal with all the bands playing. There’s some good acts there for sure.”
“We have the sponsorship now to cover the costs ... nothing we make will be going to cost, which is perfect,” said Heard.
There will also be a 50-50 draw at the concert to raise money along with ticket prices.
“The only thing that’s going to the Ag society is the beer proceeds ... everything else is going to the Prostate Cancer Centre in Calgary,” says Heard.
“The entertainment is a good way to get corporate support behind the event,” said Shapiro, “as long as you have good entertainment, people kind of flock. It’s being [well organized] and I think that’s really key.”
Gregory said concerts are great fundraisers because people get a treat for donating.
“People definitely like to give, but if they can have fun at the same time, it’s a good deal for them,” said Gregory.
Heard said the cancer centre will “absolutely” look at doing this event again if it goes well.
“We would love to make this an annual event, you can’t get much better acts than these guys. If the bands we’ve got engaged now want to keep on with the partnership, we would definitely stay with them.”
Shapiro assures that “if they have [the concert], we’ll be there” and has great expectations for the first concert. “We’ve got a couple of songs we think will really connect, we have a song called ‘If I Could Fly’ and it is about dying and the survivors.”
Gregory agrees that he will “definitely” be involved with the concert again. “Strathmore has been awesome for me ... they’ve given me a lot, to give something back to them is great,” says Gregory, who releasing a new single titled ‘Small Town Life’ which is “perfect timing.”
Tickets to this event are priced at $30 for reserve seating, $35 at the gate, $25 for students and $95 dollars for a family of four. To purchase tickets please visit http://combinesforcures.eventbrite.ca or call 403-934-5811.
Sagewood addresses food allegations
Having to care and worry for a loved one is not easy. Laurie Mezaros is a loving daughter. She was very distressed when she had to move her father into a local facility.
“I didn’t want to move him, but I couldn’t care for his developing medical needs,” said Mezaros.
He was a former air traffic controller, active and spry. He was diagnosed with developing dementia combined with other medical problems, which led to the decision to move him from Laurie’s home to a long-term facility. Mezaros said it was the hardest decision she’s ever had to make, but knew she could no longer care for his medical needs without help. She visits regularly and often shares meals with her father.
It was while keeping an eye on her father’s care, she developed concerns about the food served at Sagewood, a Continuing Care facility located in Strathmore.
“It’s awful. My dad just looks at the food and pushes it away and I don’t blame him,” Mezaros said about a supper she shared with her father.
She was concerned that recent issues concerning the Alberta Health Services 21 day menu were happening to everyone at her father’s facility. She addressed those concerns in a letter to the editor in the Strathmore Times.
“I wish she would have come to us first,” said Sagewood’s manager Amil Rajani.
Rajani encourages residents, family members, and staff to make suggestions and bring complaints to the attention of management. There is a form and process for written complaints with a structured resolution and follow-up procedure in place. There are suggestion boxes, individual and monthly resident meetings, and town hall meetings to make recommendations. Rajani confirmed that staff or residents who make complaints would not be penalized for coming forward. Mezaros did not know the process and she had not known she could contact Rajani.
“The residents are very verbal at these meetings,” said Rajani. “Everything that comes up is an opportunity to look into and improve. We, altogether, make this place better and better every day.”
The Government of Alberta, in the licensing standards procedure manual, sets out guidelines for facilities regular complaint resolution and a yearly review is done for license renewal. On Provincial Resident Satisfaction Surveys on nutrition and menu lists, Strathmore senior facilities are at a 97 per cent or more satisfaction rate, given by residents regarding the food they receive.
Representatives from AgeCare and managers at the Sagewood facility addressed the allegations of poor food, in a meeting with local press and subsequently met with Mezaros.
“When we look at the videos, there is a negative mentality out there. There are people with AgeCare and with other companies that work very hard to care for elders. I dedicate my whole day to constantly fixing and improving. We have a very caring staff. Our culture is that we treat the people in here as our parents and grandparents,” said Jim Held, Director of Hospitality Service and Environment.
They wanted to clarify that AgeCare chooses to serve fresh made food; the food is not microwaved frozen dinner combos trucked in daily. Aramark Healthcare coordinates the food delivery and supplies like frozen meat packs, dry goods, and vegetables are ordered from Sysco Foods, similar to restaurants and hospitality services. Orders are delivered twice a week. Reassurances were given by Held that all AgeCare facilities prepare the food fresh in their onsite commercial kitchen facilities. He said that AgeCare is moving from the traditional hospital oriented food delivery model to one based on the hospitality industry, to meet expectations of their residents. Held qualified that the assistants serving the food often have previous backgrounds serving in hospital environments.
“Everything we serve here is from scratch. Everything that is ordered is for scratch,” said Russel Janzen, Aramark’s Alberta District Manager.
Rajani said Sagewood’s program incorporates regular individual and group meetings to discuss any issues at the home, including suggestions for a 28-day menu that is posted for residents to see. There are always two meals to choose from at any sitting. If there is a particular food that is unacceptable to a resident, the resident can request a different substitute be made from the same food group. On initial intake assessment, a resident’s health concerns are identified. Binders are kept at the serving stations, with records of resident’s food restrictions. Servers monitor and adjust the meal to meet those restrictions. Condiments are provided for those without restrictions to use at will. Extra servings of food are also available.
A representative from the press did a taste test at lunchtime and ate along with other seniors in the home. It was confirmed in that instance, the choice of two different food plates was plentiful and good tasting, but some improvements to presentation could have been made.
Held admitted that the area of food presentation, there needed improvement. During a tour of the kitchen, cookie dough was placed in the oven for the afternoon break.
“I believe in being honest and being transparent. Is it possible for someone to get a bad meal? Just like at home, you bet,” said Held. “What we are constantly developing is to have servers look at the food and ask ‘What are you presenting and putting out?’ I agree that presentation can be improved and it is something that we are working on.”
“Most of the residents look forward to their mealtimes; it is a highlight of their day. They are sitting in the dining room 15 minutes early, waiting for their meals,” said Elizabeth Oforiwaah, Licensed Practical Nurse, at Sagewood.
When staff at Sagewood addressed Mezaros concerns and made promises to look into the communication breakdown and make improvements to the food that led to her frustration, Mezaros felt Sagewood was taking seriously the health and welfare of the seniors in the facility.
Many other Albertans, along with Mezaros, are advocating for good food for seniors. Wildrose Party Critic, Kerry Towle challenged the Provincial government on June 4 to put an end to the practice of trucking in pre-cooked meals for seniors at care facilities.
An Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) produced video focused on poor food given to seniors, living in facilities that participate in the Alberta Health Services recommended 21-day menu system. There are questions in the media whether the food is nutritious, palatable and presented in a way that will encourage seniors to maintain good eating habits. Nutritious and palatable food is a requirement in the Long term Care Accommodations Licensing Act.
Bruce Conway, media spokesperson for Alberta Health Services (AHS) Health and Nutrition department said the service is aware of things that need to be improved.
“We continue to listen and evolve menus in facilities,” Conway said. “The intention is to listen to people about the foods they are being served.”
The original plan surveyed 78 facilities to develop the 21-day menu in 2009. It was originally developed to address the issue of poor food quality and selection for seniors in facilities. The AHS External Review of the Provincial Menu Program recommendations suggested small facilities of less than 150 could band together to order centralized food, through a supply service already used by many restaurants and facilities, that could boost buying power and cut costs while supplying a variety of new choices for seniors. They recommended that the delivered foods be supplemented with fresh foods and baking be locally made or sourced.
They stated upfront the drawbacks that may cause the plan to fail. Some smaller facilities did not have the proper freezers and defrosting equipment to prepare the food. Some staff were not trained to deal with the preparation of the new menu choices. There were breakdowns in communication with some of the suppliers and delivery services. There were technology challenges that some homes could not meet. As the program developed, savings did not occur and a six percent increase in costs occurred.
In response to those breakdowns, AHS Health and Nutrition department addressed the issues in 2010 and 2011, by developing adjustments to the program, surveys, inspections, taste testing and culinary consulting services accessible to each facility. The results of those are listed on the AHS Health and Nutrition website. The adjustments were based on consultations with residents, family, staff and management in 26 nursing homes across Alberta.
“What our residents and patients tell us is they want more meat and potatoes, more soup and sandwich options, more local favorites and seasonal menus based on local preference. Today, patients are offered these additional choices, and at least seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, and for those with a sweet tooth, a wider choice of dessert options. The recommendations of the external review verified that patient and family input was essential. This is why AHS conducts patient food services satisfaction surveys every six months. According to the latest survey results completed in March 2012, the overall satisfaction of patients and residents is greater than 90 per cent,” said Laura Tkach, Director, Provincial Initiatives, Nutrition and Food Services, AHS in a press release.