May '09 Newsletter

Town Council News

May  2009                                                                      Volume 4, Issue 2

Serving the community, the Town Public Works team includes (l-r) Aaron Stapley, Don Barrett, Garry Chernish, Michael Tratch, Tom Zahara, Steve Pidzarko, Darrell Nelson, Terry Kosinski, Rick Kolach, Gerry Richards, sudent Chantelle Nelson.

Public Works staff keeps Town well-maintained

On any given work day, members of the Town Public Works staff arrive at the Town Shop early in the morning, review their tasks for the day and head out on their appointed rounds.

Outside Services Superintendent Rick Kolach oversees the entire operation and provides direction for six other employees in the Outside Services department, three in the Utilities department and students who join the team for the summer.

“I am responsible for all outside operations, schedules, contracts and projects,” say Rick. “I arrange training for employees, all purchasing and receiving and direct-handling of public enquiries.”

Rick has been employed by the Town of Athabasca for about 25 years, serving as Outside Services Superintendent for the past year and a half. When not working, he enjoys golfing at Athabasca Golf and Country Club whenever he gets the chance and camping in the area.

Outside Services

Don Barrett has been employed by the Town for the past 10 months as an Equipment Operator I, performing “all jobs as required by the employer,” he says. When not working, Don enjoys quadding and snowmobiling on the TransCanada Trail system and boating on local lakes.

Garry Chernish is an Equipment Operator I, serving the Town since January 2002. His responsibilities include running the street sweeper, trucks and the loader. Garry enjoys kayaking and photography.

Steve Pidzarko has been the Outside Services Shop Foreman since January 1989. He provides direction to employees and organizes and oversees projects. Away from work, he has a trap line and enjoys time at his cabin.

Gerry Richards is an Equipment Operator I and also performs duties as a general labourer. He has been with the Town for the past four years and worked a previous term from 1980-83.  “Athabasca has an excellent environment for family life,” he says. “I like to walk, so the riverfront and trail system is great.”

Aaron Stapley is a Labourer II. He has been employed by the Town for about three years. In addition to general labourer duties, he also helps the equipment operators when called upon to do so.

Tom Zahara is an Equipment Operator II and has worked for the Town since March 2008. He runs heavy equipment including the grader, vac truck and sweeper. In his free time, Tom enjoys fishing as one of his hobbies.


Darrell Nelson is a Utility Operator III with more than 16 years of service. His responsibilities include water treatment and distribution, and wastewater collection and treatment. Darrell considers Athabasca to be an excellent place to live and work. “I enjoy camping and church-related activities,” he says.

Terry Kosinski is a Utility Operator I and has worked for the Town for two years. His duties include water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, and he operates the hydro vac/sewer flushing unit.

Michael Tratch is a Utility Operator III and has been with the Town since September 2007. His duties include water treatment and distribution, lab tests on the water, and lagoon tests.

The water distribution system includes water lines, hydrants, reservoirs and the booster station.

Profiles of the Public Works staff are also available by clicking here.

Logo Contest winner to be announced at September event

The clock is ticking, but there is still time to get your entry in for the once-in-a-lifetime Athabasca Centennial Logo Contest. The deadline for entries is June 30.

The winning entry will be unveiled at a special event being planned for September where the winner will be awarded a $500 cash prize and community acknowledgement.

“Our Centennial countdown begins at the Town’s 98th birthday party this September,” says Town Councillor John Traynor, who serves as one of the Council representatives on the community Centennial committee. “We’re hoping the whole community will come out to share the enthusiasm and help with plans to build major excitement for our 2011 Centennial celebration.”

One reason for the September event is to emphasize the need for groups with ideas to start planning their events now; it is not too early to begin planning for 2011. For example, family, school or club reunions or special projects would all need to be started soon.

The date, location and agenda of the Centennial countdown event are still being confirmed, but announcement of the winning Centennial Logo will certainly be one of the highlights. With the contest deadline approaching, John is putting the call out to interested individuals to get busy on their logo designs and get their entries in to the Town Office as soon as possible.

“The $500 prize is a great incentive, and the winner will also receive lifetime recognition as the creator of Athabasca’s Centennial logo – all the fame and glory,” says the councillor.

Plans are being considered to use the logo on t-shirts, pins, possibly a commemorative coin, stationery, banners and flags.

“Wouldn’t it be awesome to see a whole street lined with Centennial logo flags?” John asks. “We’re hoping the businesses will get behind the idea and that business groups and leaders will help promote it.”

But first things first, he points out.

“First, we need residents to get excited about the logo contest. The deadline for entries is June 30 and we would like to receive a lot of variety to choose from.”

John encourages everybody with any kind of logo design in mind to click this link on the Town website to get more details about the contest rules and regulations and to get the entry form:

September event to stimulate enthusiasm, promote community participation

A Centennial is a unique event in the life of a community and members of the Athabasca Centennial Society are hoping for widespread help and support in the advance planning of 2011 festivities.

The Centennial countdown event in September is an ideal opportunity for residents to find out what is being planned and how they can get involved.

“It is so important to have the community come out and support the committee members so we can be sure to have a successful Centennial event in 2011,” says John. “You’ll get to meet the committee chairs and you can find a particular committee to join that fits your interests, one that will benefit from your talents and abilities.”

Members of the existing committees will be on hand to present or discuss their particular projects. Any local interest groups who want to present an idea for a Centennial event are encouraged to contact Athabasca Centennial Society committee members to be added to the agenda.

John gives one example of how interested parties can get involved at the September event.

“We would like to invite seniors to come and share their Athabasca photos and stories,” he says. “There are other interest groups who may want to do something similar. Contact us. Let us know.”

Residents, past and present, may have stories, photos or memorabilia they would like to share with the community. It is hoped that this will inspire others to get involved in the planning or to come up with their own event ideas for 2011.

Items have been donated for a silent auction fundraiser to be held at the September event. Further donations are welcome to help create additional excitement.

There is a possibility that the event will be held at the riverfront. Details of the date, time and location will be announced as they come available.  One thing is for certain; everybody is invited.

“We’re hoping to have everyone young and old come down to help make this Centennial countdown event something to be remembered,” says John. “Anyone and everyone and their friends and relatives!”

For more information, contact John by email at

Five Athabasca sites receive heritage designation

In Athabasca, the process of identifying local historic resources suitable for heritage designation began several years ago.

After a thorough survey of about 200 local buildings and other historic resources, 31 places of interest were shortlisted. Eventually, 25 historic resources plus the Athabasca Riverfront were determined to have met the criteria for significance and integrity in accordance with the provincial Municipal Heritage Resources Management Program. These were presented in a comprehensive report in May of 2006.

Recently, following due process, the first five of those 25 resources received official designation as Municipal Heritage Sites. These five resources are:

-     Anton Schinkinger Residence, 4431 – 50 St.

-     Dr. Grant Olsen Dental Office and Apartments Building, 4912 – 49 St.

-     Athabasca Train Station, 5101 – 50 Ave.

-     Grand Union Hotel, 4924 – 50 St.

-     West Athabasca Schoolhouse, 4717 – 47 Ave.

The first four resources received Municipal Heritage Site designation in December 2008. West Athabasca Schoolhouse received designation in February 2009.

The following briefs of these five resources have been taken from the Athabasca Municipal Heritage Inventory report prepared and presented by Robert Buckle of Heritage Collaborative, Inc., in May 2006. Read highlights of the report in the Town Council News article posted here:

Anton Schinkinger Residence

The Anton Schinkinger Residence is a one-storey brick structure located in the historic residential district of the Town of Athabasca.

The residence is significant for its association with prominent resident Anton Schinkinger, as well as for its architecturally representative bungalow design.

Anton (Tony) Schinkinger was one of the most well-known and well-respected men in the Athabasca community. Born in Austria in 1924, he arrived in Athabasca in 1928 and went on to serve five terms as mayor of Athabasca.

The Schinkinger family owned and operated the longest running business in town. Schinkinger Men’s Wear, established in 1927, operated successfully until it closed in 1992.

Tony lived in the brick bungalow with his wife for over 27 years until his death in 1989. He is remembered in Town as being one of the most dedicated and loyal Athabasca residents. In his memory, the Town named the Town Office the Anton Schinkinger Building.

Built in 1962, the Anton Schinkinger Residence is valuable as an example of bungalows built during the 1960s.

Character defining elements include:

 -     Rectangular plan

-      Brick exterior

-      Low hip roof with wide eaves

-      Wide rectangular brick chimney

-      Rear breezeway

-      Style, pattern and construction of all original windows

-      Central front door


Dr. Grant Olsen Dental Office and Apartments Building

The Dr. Grant Olsen Dental Office and Apartments Building is a two-storey wood frame structure located on historic Skinner Street (49 Street) in the downtown commercial district of the Town of Athabasca.

The building is valuable as representative of a mixed-use building type built in response to increased demand for both services and housing after World War II. It is important for its value as an example of a popular architectural trend toward multi-use buildings during the 1940s in Western Canada.

The combination of commercial and residential suites was a solution to a period of economic recession and instability as two separate town necessities were addressed through the construction of one building; with apartment accommodation on the upper floor and business space on the ground floor.

The building type represented a flexible approach that could easily adapt to changing economic conditions and societal demands.

Character defining elements include:

-     Two-storey rectangular plan

-     Flat roof structure

-     Rounded and projected front entranceway

-     Glass blocks on one side of the front entranceway

-     Projected concrete band below the roof line

-     Concrete lintels

-     Style and pattern of all windows, including the double hung windows

-     Stucco rain caps over all windows

Train Station

The Athabasca Train Station is a rectangular one and one-half storey gabled roof structure with bracketed hip roof extensions extending over the train platform area. The wood frame structure has a distinctive three-gable combination on both the front and back. The station is located on a town lot between the banks of the Athabasca River and historic Strathcona Street (50 Street).

The station is valuable for its association with the history of the development of the Town of Athabasca as a rare surviving example of a CNoR/CNR prototype station, and for its association with CNR architect Ralph Benjamin Pratt.

More details about the history, significance and character defining elements of the Athabasca Train Station can be found in the Town Council News article here:


Grand Union Hotel

The Grand Union Hotel is an L-shaped three-storey commercial brick building with cut-away corner entrance. It is located in the heart of Athabasca’s historic downtown district, near the Athabasca River and across from the historic Athabasca Train Station.

The hotel is significant for its long-term association with the early development of northern Alberta and as a commercial focal point. It is an important landmark in the Town of Athabasca.

More details about the history, significance and character defining elements of the Grand Union Hotel can be found in the Town Council News article here:


West Athabasca

West Athabasca Schoolhouse is a modest one-storey, gable roofed, wood frame building relocated in 1948 to its current site at 4717 – 47 Avenue, in the heart of Athabasca’s historic residential area.

Built in 1914 at the height of the economic boom and feelings of prosperity in the Athabasca area, West Athabasca Schoolhouse is significant because of its association with the development of education in the rural Athabasca area. The one-room schoolhouse is a good example of a now rare building type associated with the beginning of rural education.

Moved to its present location in 1948, the schoolhouse continued to serve as an educational facility until 1951. Following its use as a school, West Athabasca Schoolhouse served as a centre for community events such as dances, concerts, parties and elections.

Once ubiquitous throughout Alberta, the one-room schoolhouse is now rare and seldom attains the state of preservation of the West Athabasca Schoolhouse. It is an excellent example of traditional one-room schoolhouse design.

Character defining elements include:

-     Large rectangular plan

-     Narrow wood siding with corner boards

-     Gable roof with short projecting eaves and eave returns

-     Four large six-over-six grouped windows

-     Gable-roofed entry porch with double hung window

-     High offset window in the front facade

More information about the Athabasca Municipal Heritage Inventory, the complete list of 25 heritage resources and the Municipal Heritage Resources Management Program can be found here:

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