July '06 Newsletter


Here to serve the community, the Town administration team includes (front centre, l-r) Rachel
Ramey, Joyce Butson (back, l-r) Melody Wolansky, Tammy Makar, Doug Topinka, Carla Gallinger, Gail Beaver.

Town admin team powers the wheels of progress

While Town Council works to provide the vision and leadership that keeps the “vehicle” that is Athabasca moving forward, it is a group of unsung heroes working behind the scenes that maintains the “machinery.”

Working as a team, Town of Athabasca administration staff take care of the daily details necessary to keep the municipal wheels of progress running smoothly.

Chief Administrative Officer Doug Topinka directs the overall municipal operations of the Town. He leads the admin team and is responsible for administering the decisions and decrees made by Town Council.

Melody Wolansky, Director of Finance and Administration, serves as treasurer and provides financial management, control and reporting functions for the Town.

In her role as Executive Secretary, Joyce Butson assists the CAO and serves as a communication link between Council and administration.

Gail Beaver is the Accounting Services Clerk, responsible for accounts payable and utility billings.

Carla Gallinger, the Town Municipal Finance Officer, takes care of tax information services and Town payroll.

Reception and cashier duties plus accounts receivable and licensing are the responsibility of Office Services Clerk Tammy Makar.

Rachel Ramey covers all development and building permit services as the Municipal Information Services Officer.

Although easily taken for granted, the talent and contribution of each member of the administrative team is valued and very important to the success of the Town.

For a brief overview of each member of the admin staff click here. 
For an overview of the organizational structure ofthe Town of Athabasca, click here.


Provincial heritage enthusiasts set sights on Athabasca

Athabasca is a happening place for heritage enthusiasts.

Not only was our town a featured community at the official launch of the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) in Edmonton recently, we also hosted a two-day meeting of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation (AHRF), June 1-2, and a communications retreat for members of the MHPP, June 15-16.

“We have a very high profile within the heritage community in the province,” notes town manager Doug Topinka. “It is a credit to volunteers in the community and town staff. They have really embraced the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program and run with it.”

Area resident a member of the AHRF board

Enjoying her sixth year on the AHRF board, local resident Iola Bartja was thrilled to host fellow board members here for their June 1-2 meeting.

“All in all, the two days the board spent in Athabasca were fantastic,” Iola recalls. “I can honestly say that the Town and the County did more than their share by welcoming and supporting our two-day meeting.”

The event was an opportunity to showcase several significant points of historical interest in and around Athabasca. Iola believes the experience was beneficial for all parties involved.

“Each (board member) I spoke with felt they had made a new contact in the area and expressed a strong desire to come back.”

The AHRF itinerary included tours of heritage buildings and sites on June 1, both in and out of town.

In town, after historian Greg Johnson gave a presentation about the river and its significance to trading, the group visited local archivist Marilyn Mol at the Athabasca Archives then checked out the Old Brick School and West Athabasca School. Next, they stopped in at Athabasca United Church to learn about its history and what restoration work has been done and still needs to be done to the landmark building.

Leaving town, the AHRF group set their course for Obadiah Place in Amber Valley.

“We were joined there by an original Amber Valley resident, Lester Mapp, as well as one of Obadiah’s daughters,” relates Iola. “Then it was across country to the Amber Valley Pioneer Cemetary and a talk with Myrna Wisdom.”

Following a supper back in Athabasca, some of the AHRF members, hosts and guests gathered at the Union Hotel for social “refreshments.”

The AHRF meeting continued in Athabasca on June 2.

Athabasca prominent in MHPP program launch

The Town of Athabasca took centre stage with the City of Edmonton for the official launch of the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program on June 12.

Held at the City of Edmonton Archives in the Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre and attended by a variety of dignitaries, heritage advocates and enthusiasts, Athabasca’s heritage efforts were presented as a model to be emulated.

“We are the poster child for this program,” quips Athabasca Town Councillor Mike Gismondi, thinking back to the June 12 event. “They want this program to work and they’re looking for a good model.”

The MHPP had been running as a pilot project prior to the official June launch. Athabasca has been involved for about two years, says town manager Doug Topinka.

“We are very pleased with the program and the cooperation and support from Scott Barrett, the (MHPP) program coordinator,” states Doug. “We are just completing stage two at this point.”

During the program launch in Edmonton, City of Edmonton Councillor Terry Cavanagh and Athabasca Councillor Gismondi were introduced to make presentations on the progress of their respective municipalities. Councillor Gismondi couldn’t resist a little jesting with Councillor Cavanagh.

“I told him we really were the gateway to the north,” laughs Councillor Gismondi.

On a more serious note, he related to the Edmonton audience how a program like the MHPP can stir the imagination of a community and how closely culture and economics are interrelated. He introduced Town manager Topinka and Town Director of Finance and Administration Melody Wolansky who were also in attendance, noting their support and significant contribution to the program in Athabasca.

Councillor Gismondi also highlighted the landmark nature and value of heritage buildings in a community and how, “like petals on a flower,” each neighbourhood has one or two heritage landmarks around which the neighbourhood develops.

He points to the Union Hotel, the old CNR train station, the Old Brick School and Athabasca United Church as a few of the examples in Athabasca.

Athabasca initiative impresses program coordinator

Councillor Gismondi appreciates the support being given to Athabasca by MHPP coordinator Scott Barrett.

“They were piloting the program here, testing it on us,” recounts Councillor Gismondi. “Scott is so enthusiastic about our town; the work that’s been done so far, the enthusiastic volunteering, our fantastic archives and our buildings, so rich in heritage.”

Scott’s support is one of the reasons why the MHPP held their communications retreat in Athabasca June 15-16.

“Scott wanted them to see our town and get a feel for how we approached the project,” says Councillor Gismondi.

The 16 participants in the retreat were welcomed by Athabasca Mayor Richard Verhaeghe and received a presentation and local program insight from Councillor Gismondi, Doug and Melody.

“Participants wanted insight into details like what the role of the Town was in the program, and how to attract volunteers,” Councillor Gismondi explains. “They were also looking at cultural landscapes – heritage landscapes – our river in particular, from Tawatinaw Creek to Muskeg Creek.”

The group was highly supportive of the heritage-focused efforts in Athabasca.

“They appreciate the quality of our buildings and the quality of the work we’ve done,” notes Councillor Gismondi. “We’re the first ones going through the program. It gives us a step up.”

Matching funds are available to qualifying municipalities participating in the program.

The MHPP in brief

There are four basic stages to the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program. Athabasca is completing stage two and preparing to move into stage three.

In brief, the stages are:

-Survey: gather information and identify historic resources in the community

-Inventory: develop a filtered list of significant historic places

-Management plan: develop municipal policies, guidelines, strategies for the stewardship of historic resources

-Designation: develop bylaws to protect the historic resources; also, register them as municipal, provincial and Canadian historic places

More information about the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program can be found at www.mhpp.ab.ca.


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