December '07 Newsletter

Town Council News

December 2007                                                                                                                                                 Volume 2, Issue 4


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Colleen Powell, Mayor
Town of Athabasca



Powell leads as new Athabasca Mayor

After Town residents went to the ballot box in the Oct. 15, 2007 municipal election, four incumbent councillors returned to their seats, two new councillors were elected and one vacating councillor succeeded in a bid to replace the incumbent mayor.

Colleen Powell, a nine-year veteran of Town Council, proved successful in drawing the most support in the mayoral race, finishing ahead of Richard Verhaeghe. Elected to the lead role in 2004, Richard was the youngest Athabascan ever to take a seat in the mayor’s chair. Now Colleen has the distinction of being the town’s first female mayor.

The newly seated mayor is enthusiastic and confident in the abilities, focus and commitment this new mix of leaders brings to local government.

“We have an excellent team of people who bring to council a wealth of experience and skills from a wide variety of community perspectives,” says Colleen. Her aim is to foster a spirit of cooperation among members of council with an eye towards meeting and beating whatever challenges may lay ahead for Athabasca.

“We are in the middle of the ‘Alberta Boom,’” she notes, “and this council wants to take advantage of every opportunity we can.”

Returning to council for a second term are Paula Evans, George Hawryluk and Hugh O’Farrell.

Lionel Cherniwchan also returns for a second consecutive term, however, he does have prior history on council. Lionel served two terms as mayor from 1995-2001 before taking a break from 2001-2004.

First-time councillors Christine Nelson and John Traynor replace outgoing councillor Mike Gismondi, who leaves council after serving three terms, and Colleen, who relinquished her seat as a councillor with the hope of winning the mayor’s chair.

Al Wurfel, another former mayor, also threw his hat into the councillor ring for this election, but fell short of the target by a close margin.

The organizational meeting where the mayor and councillors are sworn to office was held on Oct. 30 in the Council Chambers at the Town Office. The first official meeting of the new council was held on Nov. 6.

Read more here:

Mayors Message

2007 Municipal Election Statistics

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Council Bios

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Colleen Powell
Mayor

Colleen Powell has served nine years on Council and has served on most Council committees, giving her a bird’s eye view of the Town and Council activities.

Colleen and her family moved to Athabasca in 1992 after living for eight years in the County. She was born in Calgary to the children of pioneers who had moved to the area when Calgary was a NWMP fort. She attended university in Calgary and Waterloo Ontario.

Over the years Colleen has worked in a variety of positions in a number of different countries, in teaching, research, and marketing. Currently she is working part time for the faculty association at Athabasca University but has plans to retire.

Colleen wants to continue the work previous Councils have started on the Riverfront, in heritage and beautifications, but most of all wants to prepare the Town for the next decade or more through careful planning and with attention to sustainable practises. She believes we have an opportunity to design our future and with the help of the people in the community, Athabasca can become a beacon for people, business and industry.

Committees of Council in Colleen’s councillor portfolio include:

· Administration

· Intermunicipal Development

· Municipal Planning Commission (MPC)

· Regional Water


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Lionel Cherniwchan
Councillor

Lionel Cherniwchan is a Councillor with a wealth of experience. He served two terms as Mayor from 1995-2001, then after a break, returned as a Councillor in 2004 and again in 2007.

Enthusiastically active in the community, Lionel has served on the board of the Athabasca General and Auxiliary Hospital, serving as board chair for eight years. He spends time volunteering with various local groups and is an active member of the Rotary Club of Athabasca.

Lionel was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 in recognition of his contribution to the community and he is a recipient of the Government of Alberta Centennial Medal. In 2007, he was honoured by Athabasca University as an inductee into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of his support of AU at both the local and provincial levels.

After a 36-year career in public education as both a teacher and an administrator, Lionel has been enjoying an active and fulfilling retirement.

Committees of Council in Lionel’s councillor portfolio include:

· Municipal Planning Commission (MCP)

· Greater North Foundation

· Intermunicipal Development

· Athabasca Regional Waste

· Regional Water


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Paula Evans
Councillor

Paula Evans brings a scientific perspective to her role as a Town Councillor. Now enjoying a second term on Council, Paula continues to update her knowledge of energy and water-saving innovations and will pursue interests in housing, long-term planning, sustainability, the Athabasca riverfront and citizen engagement.

A long-term resident of northern Alberta, Paula moved to Athabasca from Vilna nine years ago. Her involvement in community groups presently includes Science Outreach - Athabasca, Athabasca Teen Center, Communities in Bloom, Athabasca Peace Initiative, Athabasca Garden Club, and she serves as treasurer for the Athabasca Country Fringe Festival.

Paula’s background in science, her interest and commitment to research and a habit of reading widely are assets she considers useful in matters of Council and in her role in the community as a Town Councillor. Beyond research and citizen engagement, Paula’s desire is to foster improved communication with Town residents.

When Paula is not addressing resident needs, tending to Councillor responsibilities or providing support to one of her community groups, you might find her filling in as a substitute teacher for Aspen View School Division.

Committees of Council in Paula’s councillor portfolio include:

· Athabasca Regional Development Committee (ARDC)

· Community Economic Development Committee (CEDC)

· Sustainable Development

· Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB)

· Riverfront Design Review Committee

· Family and Community Support Services (FCSS)

· Library/Northern Lights Library System (NLLS)

· Baptiste, Island and Skeleton Lakes Watershed Management and Lake Stewardship Council (BISL)

· Centennial Committee


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George Hawryluk
Councillor

George Hawryluk believes nothing is impossible: things possible take a short time, and the impossible, a little longer.

A Grade 8 Social Studies and Language Arts teacher at Edwin Parr Composite School, now serving his second term on Town Council, George has learned to balance teaching duties with the diverse responsibilities of Council.

George first arrived in Canada in 1970. He studied at Algonquin College in Ottawa, then the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University in Kingston before beginning his teaching career at the Canadian Forces Foreign Language School in Ottawa.

After moving to Alberta in 1980 George taught junior and senior high in Edson and Edmonton before coming to Athabasca in 1992. He is married with three children and one grandchild.

As a Councillor, George seeks to ensure that Town Council remains transparent and accountable, fulfills its obligations and addresses the needs and concerns of all citizens of Athabasca. He will continue to promote and support community development economically, socially, recreationally and environmentally.

Committees of Council in George’s councillor portfolio include:

· Community Economic Development Committee (CEDC)

· Ambulance

· Municipal Planning Commission (MPC)

· Regional Airport Commission

· Intermunicipal Development

· Municipal Heritage Program; CN Station

· Multiplex Society

· Regional Recreation

· Fire/Police Liaison

· Regional Airport


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Christine Nelson
Councillor

Christine Nelson brings a diverse background of professional experience and community involvement to Council in her first term. From extensive experience in senior management with Athabasca University, to writing, art and volunteer work, Christine offers wide-ranging perspective.

Nationally, she is on the advisory council of the Historica Foundation, which includes the Canadian Encyclopedia, and is chair of the Content and New Media Committee.

Born in Provost, raised in Red Deer and after living in Edmonton, Christine has been a resident of Athabasca for the past 23 years. She sees Athabasca as a town with enormous strength and innovation in its citizens.

After 26 years with Athabasca University, Christine retired recently from a senior management position. She held a number of very different management positions within AU, most recently Director Educational Media Development and Director Public Affairs. From these positions, she brings to Council experience in policy development, strategic planning, government relations, budgets, collaborative projects, technology assessment, international projects, board development training, marketing and general management skills.

As issues arise in Council, Christine is particularly interested in thoughtful, practical solutions.

Committees of Council in Christine’s councillor portfolio include:

· Administration

· Municipal Planning Commission (MPC)

· Riverfront Design Review Committee

· Municipal Heritage Program; CN Station

· Multiplex Society

· Communications



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Hugh O’Farrell
Councillor

Hugh O’Farrell credits a long career in the banking business for giving him valuable insight into the importance of responsible leadership as he embraces the challenges and rewards of a second term on Council. Hugh retired from banking in 1998, after 27 years in the business, and has been a resident of Athabasca, and involved in the community, since 1995.

Hugh was first elected to Council in 2004. His Council portfolio then developed to include the Regional Economic Development Steering Committee where, in the formative stages of regional and community economic development initiatives, he assumed the role of liaison between community focus groups to help encourage and enhance the lines of communication.

Canada has been home to Hugh since emigrating here in 1965 and he has lived in Athabasca since 1995. Hugh and his wife Beth have three grown children and are proud grandparents, having been blessed with two granddaughters and two grandsons presently aged from four months to five and one-half years.

Committees of Council in Hugh’s councillor portfolio include:

· Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB)

· Tawatinaw Community Futures

· Multiplex Society

· Athabasca Regional Waste

· Regional Airport Commission


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John Traynor
Councillor

John Traynor is really getting into it. The community, that is. John is creating valuable links between local businesses and the students he is responsible for at Edwin Parr Composite School. While totally immersed in education locally and provincially, John also contributes to a variety of community events.

John moved to Athabasca 11 years ago to work at EPC. He currently instructs all off-campus programs and links many of the town’s valued businesses with outstanding young students from his program. In fact, he assisted in the development of a new curriculum for Alberta Learning that focuses on helping students get jobs and get started on new careers.

Contracted by Learning Network Educational Services, John also delivers educational presentations to other school districts and institutions interested in implementing new programs.

For the past eight years he has been on the N.E. Teachers’ Convention Board and is now the Vice President, representing over 1,700 members.

Locally, John has emceed many events, including the town’s famous Magnificent River Rats Festival, an event held each year in conjunction with Canada Day.

Committees of Council in John’s councillor portfolio include:

· Tourism

· Disaster Services

· Communications

· Community Transportation

· Municipal Planning Commission (MPC)

· Centennial Committee


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Balay to manage Multiplex


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Rob Balay (r), manager of the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, and Ralph Gill, maintenance foreman for Canadian Natural Resources Limited, look down over the front entrance of the building during a mid-November tour. Construction of the new facility is targeted for complection around mid-December.

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Rob Balay (r) and Ralph Gill discuss construction elements of the Multiplex in front of the window overlooking the new curling rink.

As construction of the Athabasca Regional Multiplex nears completion, an ideal candidate has been found to manage the facility.

Rob Balay accepted the position at the beginning of October, although he is still juggling some remaining duties as the Town’s Outside Services Superintendent.

“I am still tying up some projects with Public Works and involved in planning some projects for next year,” he says.

He believes his connection to the Multiplex through work and community make him the best candidate for the position. In addition to being the Town’s liaison with the building contractor, Rob is known locally as a strong proponent of minor sports and is recognized for his commitment to Multiplex fundraising.

“I was involved with the project from day one,” he notes. “It’s a great project for our community and I felt that with my history in it and my background in the community, I was the best guy for the job.”

Encouraged by others to accept the job, Rob made his decision, confident in the qualities he can bring to the role.

“I have lots to offer,” he explains. “I am used to running a staff of 10 to 15 people and working with a budget of three to four million dollars on an annual basis. I felt that I had the qualifications to do the job.”

Rob’s immediate responsibilities will be to see the construction project brought to completion and oversee staffing, training, facility programming and ongoing fundraising.

“Right now, I’ve been compiling information from all the community facilities, trying to set rates for user groups and the field house and lounge, preparing a budget for next year, making sure we have licenses and permits, and working on programming.”

One challenge Rob is focusing on is how to keep the Multiplex busy throughout the year.

“It will be important to get the building used as much as possible,” he states. “Through the winter months, it will be busy. The challenge is to keep the facility that busy year round.”

He is seeking ways to encourage people and groups to make use of the amenities available and he is researching new uses for the building. Fitness activities and equipment figure prominently in his vision for the facility.

“One of the greatest benefits of the Multiplex will be to promote health and wellness for all ages,” says Rob. His aim is to recommend rates affordable for everyone in the community. Rates are approved by the Mulitplex Society Board.

The project is on budget and, according to the contractor, on schedule. Rob anticipates taking possession of the completed building by Dec. 20. The arena ice will be put in, along with other final touches, and then Rob will open the facility and will begin preparations for official grand opening celebrations.

“We hope to be open for operation sometime in January,” he advises. “The grand opening is planned for Feb. 22-23. We will have weekend-long scheduled events, including a wine and cheese social on Friday night and official ceremonies with guests and dignitaries on Saturday night where we will unveil the wall of recognition.” The wall of recognition will acknowledge supporters and contributors.

There will be more information published as the date for the grand opening approaches.

Manager of Regional Recreation Services

The official title of Rob’s new position is Manager of Regional Recreation Services. In addition to the Multiplex, he will be responsible for overseeing the operation of Athabasca Landing Pool, the Old Brick School, the Alice B. Donohue Library and Archives facility and the Athabasca Performing Arts Centre, all jointly owned and funded by the Town and County of Athabasca.

Rob will report directly to the Multiplex Society, which will include equal representation from the Town and County councils.


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