2018: The year that was

By Gary McKinnon and Troy Gillard
December 29, 2018 - 3:07pm Updated: January 4, 2019 - 9:05am

It's no secret that 2018 was a challenging year in many respects in Red Deer and central Alberta. But the year was also filled with some big milestones. 

Here's a look back at some of the biggest local news stories we brought you over the past 12 months...
 

JANUARY

A man from Red Deer was the grand prize winner of the Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery. Bryce Danroth won the home at 98 Longmire Close valued at $700,000.

Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank were each found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Klaus's parents and sister at their Castor area farm.

A man accused of fatally shooting a Red Deer woman in February of 2017 pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death involving a firearm. Lyndon Olsen was facing the more serious charge of manslaughter with a firearm in the death of Randee Stewart. Olsen was sentenced 4.5 years in prison.

Ken McMullen was named Red Deer’s new fire chief starting Feb. 5.

Alberta’s police watchdog cleared Red Deer Mounties of any wrongdoing in the death of a man found in a wooded area of the city in Nov. 2015.

A science teacher at Lindsay Thurber has had some of his amazing photography picked up by National Geographic. Jason Zackowski, who runs the popular Zed Science Facebook page, decided to pick up on one of the latest cold weather trends -- frozen bubbles.

Ponoka was named one of the top places to visit in 2018 by an Expedia.ca travel poll of 1,000 Canadians.

After 44 years in Edmonton, Red Deer was announced as the new home of the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

A new era began in Red Deer with the official opening of the Servus Arena. The following week, the all-new Setters Place at Great Chief Park opened.
 

FEBRUARY

On World Wetlands Day, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has announced an important land donation east of Red Deer that features wetlands and lakes. The not-for-profit land conservation group had been gifted 593 hectares (1,467 acres) on the northwest shore of Gough Lake, 125 kilometres east of Red Deer, known as the Ferrier property.

Lacombe hosted the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour featuring Red Deer native Ron MacLean and Tara Slone.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre resigned suddenly from the UCP caucus and the legislature after being charged with sexual assault and sexual interference. The charges reportedly date back to before MacIntyre's time in office. The case is working its way through the courts and is scheduled for resolution in January.

In perhaps their most challenging year yet, United Way Central Alberta still managed to raise $2,040,126 in 2017.

Rural crime prevention was the focus of a forum held at the Lacombe Memorial Centre.

A local man who successfully appealed his drunk driving conviction for a fatal crash in Red Deer pleaded guilty to new charges last fall, therefore skipping a second trial. Rodney Arens, 40, was arrested and charged following the July 1, 2010 collision that killed 13-year-old Jeffrey Chanminaraj and seriously injured his older brother.

Enhancements at River Bend Recreation Area were declared officially open, with residents invited to try their hand at cross country skiing and snowshoeing to mark the occasion.

MARCH

The biggest announcement in the history of Red Deer College came when the province gave the green light for RDC to pursue university status.

Uber began offering its popular Uber Eats service in Red Deer.

Criminal charges were laid against a man accused of posing as a U.S. military veteran during Remembrance Day ceremonies in Red Deer in 2017. Peter Toth was later found guilty of unlawful use of uniform.

A two-vehicle collision east of Torrington claimed the life of a local hockey player, 17-year-old Ryan McBeath.

The man charged with second degree murder in the 2016 death of 47-year-old William Blaine Baker pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter. Shane Dion McPhee was given a six-year prison sentence.

The University of Calgary and Red Deer College announced a four-year collaborative Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree that would be offered at RDC starting in September.

It was announced that the torch relay for the 2019 Canada Winter Games would be the largest in Games history.

Red Deer City Manager Craig Curtis announced his intention to retire after his contract expires on March 3, 2019.

APRIL

A Red Deer drug dealer was sentenced to five years in prison. Allie Gader was arrested in 2015 in possession of more than 10,000 prescription pills including oxycodone, hydromorphone, morphine and triazolam.

City Mounties said “Thank You” to a Red Deer man for helping them recover more than 400 stolen vehicles over the past two years.

The devastating tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey club was top of mind at this year’s Central Alberta Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

City-wide green cart waste collection arrived in Red Deer. The roll-out is expected to divert from the landfill up to 40 per cent of a household's waste.

A Lacombe man was one of the grand prize winners in the 2018 STARS Lottery. Brent Sage has won a show home in Calgary worth $948,000.

Roughly 900 people enjoyed a night of fine dining and dancing at the seventh annual Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off which raised $420,000 for the Canada Games Celebration Plaza.

Red Deer began accepting and treating wastewater from Lacombe and Blackfalds.

The City of Red Deer has unveiled the latest installment in its public art Ghost Collection in front of the Servus Arena.

The “Battle of the Badges” charity hockey game in Red Deer was a huge success in support of the Humboldt Broncos. The game kicked off with a ceremonial puck drop by Deborah Carpenter, the sister of Broncos coach Darcy Haugan, who lost his life in the devastating April 6 collision.

MAY

RDC played host to host students from across Western Canada attending the annual Alberta Band Association Provincial Festival of Bands. About 7,000 Junior, Senior and Community Band students participated in 10 days of performances and clinics.

Red Deer’s Kipp Scott GMC marked its half-century milestone of doing business in our community with a 50th Anniversary party for its customers.

Work officially got underway on Red Deer’s long-awaited northside community centre.

Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt joined RDC leaders, faculty, staff and guests for the announcement of a new four-year degree, Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation and Visual Effects.

Five hundred dollars in fines were levied against a central Alberta zoo after its owners pled guilty for failing to notify Alberta Fish and Wildlife it would be taking one of its bears off-site. The bear was shown in a online video eating ice cream at a drive-thru window.

Like many communities across the prairies, Red Deer experienced its warmest May on record last month. The average temperature in our city was 13.4 degrees.

JUNE

BOLT Transit lived to see another day as Lacombe city council voted 4-3 against giving one year’s notice to scrap the regional bus service.

A grand opening celebration for the new Sylvan Lake Ambulatory Care Centre was held at the NexSource Centre. The new service provides diagnosis and treatment for urgent, but non-life-threatening conditions, including minor cuts, burns, muscle and joint strains, simple fractures and mental health issues.

Gary W. Harris, the long-time businessman, volunteer and community builder made another significant contribution to the Canada Games Celebration Plaza in downtown Red Deer. In recognition of that contribution the legacy project will now be known as the Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza.

The Supreme Court of Canada announced it would not hear the appeal of Brian Malley, the Red Deer man convicted of first-degree murder in the 2011 bombing death of Innisfail mother Vicky Shachtay.

A Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice ruled that a Red Deer man should not be held criminally responsible for the stabbing death of a woman in West Park in October of 2016. Justice Adam Germain described Jordan Koizumi as a “troubled and tortured soul.”

Air Canada has announced it would be discontinuing its daily flight service between Red Deer and Calgary.

Police charged Fred Janke, a well-known family physician from Sylvan Lake, with trying to arrange sex with a young girl.

The last of four escapees from the Red Deer Remand Centre earlier in June was arrested.

JULY

A flyby of two Royal Canadian Airforce (RCAF) CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta highlighted a celebration of life for decorated Second World War veteran Lieutenant-General (Retired) Donald Laubman and wife Margie of Red Deer.

A young Red Deer man was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the death of a woman from Camrose in 2015.

A woman from Stettler was this year’s Red Deer Hospital Lottery Dream Home winner.

Historic Parsons House in downtown Red Deer was officially sold to the province. The house was designated as a Municipal Historic Resource in 1990.

The voters of Innisfail – Sylvan Lake elected UCP candidate Devin Dreeshen as their new MLA.

One of Canada’s fastest growing communities reached a population milestone as Blackfalds surpassed 10,000 residents.

While nine out of 10 Red Deerians are happy with their quality of life, an increasing number feel it's trending in the wrong direction.

Alberta Health Services said it was working to resolve staffing challenges in the emergency department at Red Deer Regional Hospital.

AUGUST

Red Deer RCMP located a van stolen from a north end funeral home that had a man's body inside it at the time.

RCMP were on the hunt for some brazen thieves who took drive-thru banking to a whole new level.

A major fundraising milestone was celebrated as Red Deer Dairy Queen locations surpassed $1 million for the Children’s Miracle Network through Miracle Treat Day, becoming just the second franchisee family in Canada to do so.

It was a who’s who of Alberta hockey at the Battle of Alberta golf tournament in support of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre. The two-day event raised $600,000.

A north Red Deer business was left picking up the pieces – many of them -- after incredible vandalism spree.

Thousands of Red Deerians enjoyed Pioneer Days Festival at Sunnybrook Farm and Museum. The two-day event celebrated the farm’s 30th anniversary.

SEPTEMBER

Red Deer Public Schools hired 62 new staff, including 40 teachers, to help accommodate a growing student population.

Construction got underway on a new community health centre in Lacombe.

The Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce began searching for a new CEO to replace Robin Bobocel.

Westerner Park announced the immediate departure of CEO Ben Antifaiff. Bradley Williams was later hired as his replacement.

The Tools for School Program, put on by Women’s Outreach in partnership with the United Way of Central Alberta, gave out a total of 1,500 backpacks for the new school season.

Headlining entertainment acts set to perform at the 2019 Canada Winter Games were announced. The festival will feature Juno and Canadian Country Music Association award winners who will perform over 10 days between February 16 and March 1, 2019.

A Rocky Mountain House family was left wondering whether a cardiac catheterization lab in Red Deer would have saved the life of their beloved family member.

OCTOBER

The doors opened on Red Deer’s newest tool to help save lives in the midst of the opioid crisis gripping the nation. Red Deer’s first-ever temporary overdose prevention site is located at the Safe Harbour Society.

The City of Red Deer helped dig out our neighbours to the south from a record-setting snowfall. Calgary was walloped by up to 25 centimetres of snow overnight on October 2, more fell throughout the day.

 Social media was buzzing after a man decided to take a naked stroll through downtown Red Deer.

Dry conditions this spring and excessive snow in September and October led the County of Stettler to declare an Agricultural Disaster.

Officials with a long time anti-tobacco program in central Alberta celebrated its success over the past 24 years, calling it “Mission Accomplished.”

A lack of trained firefighters saw Lacombe County council make the difficult decision to close the Mirror Fire Department, effective October 31.

Adriana LaGrange was elected as the United Conservative Party's candidate in next year's election for the constituency of Red Deer - North.

NOVEMBER

Lacombe County accepted a second generous donation of land from local residents, Frank and Rosalie Kuhnen.

Red Deer RCMP and The City of Red Deer officially launched a new downtown policing unit in hopes of addressing growing crime concerns in the city’s core.

The final legacy venue project of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, upgrades at Canyon Ski Area, was completed.

Red Deer-South MLA Barb Miller announced she would be seeking re-election in the 2019 provincial election. Miller is in her first term as MLA after being elected under the NDP banner in 2015.

On November 22, dozens of people lined up early in the morning to be the first to legally purchase recreational cannabis in Red Deer.

A local man will spend about 11 years behind bars for child porn and child sexual assault offences. Stuart Peter Hunt, 55, pleaded guilty in October to making, accessing and distributing child pornography as well as sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault.

A $4 million expansion project was announced for MEGlobal Athletic Park in Lacombe.

DECEMBER

An update on Red Deer’s living wage shows the province’s minimum wage falls below attaining a ‘decent standard of living’ in our city.

Hockey Canada announced Thursday morning that Edmonton and Red Deer will co-host the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.

A capital project described as key to the economic development of Red Deer County opened. Parking is now available at the Junction 42 Partnership Rest Area south of Gasoline Alley.

Officials with the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation (RDRHF) have announced this year’s Festival of Trees raised $1.1 million.

The provincial and federal governments have announced a new seniors lodge for Innisfail.

A jury found Daniel Wayne Newsham not guilty of manslaughter in the August 2016 crash near Lousana that claimed the life of Stanley Dick.

 

2A transit service offering free ridership for first month

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