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Around Red Deer June 15th…..

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1:29 pm – Two Red Deer High School students will be participating in SHAD, the unique and award-winning Canadian enrichment program that has helped develop the raw skills and talents of close to 16,000 youth across the country in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship. A record 13 Canadian university campuses from coast to coast will play host to SHAD this summer. The Red Deer students attending include Natalia Brezovan, a Grade 11 student from Ecole Secondaire Notre Dame High School and Chai Chen, a Grade 11 student from Hunting Hills HIgh School. Both will attend the University of Saskatchewan SHAD Campus.

12:14 pm – Discovery Canyon will re-open this Saturday, June 17th after upgrades and enhancements closed the site for the 2016 season. Read More.

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11:55 am – Wastewater Management in Sylvan Lake will see many changes over the coming years. Find out more.

11:49 am – The Sylvan Lake Urgent Care Committee is now the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service. They are hosting an information night to update the community on the progress made since Alberta Health’s announcement. It takes place tonight at 7:30 pm at Meadowlands Golf Course.

11:44 am – It’s Food Truck Thursday in Sylvan Lake today! Read More.

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11:27 am – The Medicine River Wildlife Centre has received some much needed funding from Co-ops Community Spaces program. Read More.

11:20 am – Summer Fun in Penhold is holding a FREE BBQ tonight from 5 – 7 pm. Read More.

11:12 am – Tickets are now available for Red Deer County’s Rural Beautification Tour! Read More.

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11:06 am – Innisfail Fire & County Tech Rescue responded to Glennifer Lake on Wednesday, June 14th after a male jumped from the east end ciffs and hit rocks. EMS transported. County officials say jumping from those cliffs is a dangerous activity when the reservoir is full but even moreso with low water levels!

10:47 am – Red Deer’s Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre is among 31 such facilities across the province to receive grant funding from the province to help address and end elder abuse in Alberta. Read More.

10:36 am – The Town of Sylvan Lake has announced it’s plans for Canada Day Celebrations on July 1st. The Nation is marking 150 years this year, so lots of new activities are planned! Read More.

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10:28 am – RCMP are investigating a two vehicle collision that occurred Wednesday afternoon north of Rimbey. One person was flown to hospital by STARS Air Ambulance with unknown injuries. The matter is still under investigation and charges are pending.

10:19 am – The City of Red Deer has provided another update on the 67th Street / Johnstone Drive Roundabout project. Read More.

10:14 am – Blackfalds Town Council moved to support this week, the recommendation of the Recreation, Culture and Parks Board to accept the Bikes Skills Park Final Design with Hoots Inc. for a maximum of $400,000.

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10:02 am – Red Deer RCMP attended the East Hill Shopping Centre on 22 Street at 2:30 pm Wednesday after a collision between an SUV and two pedestrians. Read More.

9:53 am –  A Red Deer man and woman were arrested after RCMP seized stolen identification, credit cards and debit cards during a search warrant at a residence in the Normandeau neighbourhood on May 16th. Read More.

9:47 am – Live music on Red Deer’s Ross Street Patio from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm today! Find out more.

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9:37 am – The Alberta Pork Congress Continues at Red Deer’s Westerner Park today. Read More.

9:29 am – When the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux du Canada Gary W. Harris opens in the fall of 2018 it will include an additional location of the locally owned and operated, Collegiate Sports Medicine. Read More!

9:10 am – Red Deer City Council will hold a special meeting next Wednesday, June 21st. Find out why.

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8:32 am – Some road rehabilitation work is taking place in north Red Deer today. Find out where.

8:26 am – A final performance from the LTCHS dance and technical theatre students will take place this evening starting at 7 pm in the school’s Drama Room. Admission is $5 at the door; rush seating.

8:13 am – With Father’s Day approaching on Sunday, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students at St. Elizabeth Seton School in Red Deer will honour their dads today with songs, special activities in the gym, and share drinks and doughnuts with them! It starts at 10:30 am. Elsewhere, at Holy Family School in Red Deer, Grade 4 and 5 students will showcase their learning over the course of the year to the school’s student and parent community during this year’s Band Concert. This event will be held in the gymnasium starting at 12:45 pm.

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Alberta

‘A frightened workforce’: Union worries as Olymel reopens after COVID-19 shutdown

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RED DEER, Alta. — Some employees of a pork processing plant in central Alberta that shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility are afraid to go back to work, the union president says.

Olymel’s facility in Red Deer was shut down Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed three lives and infected 515 workers.

The company announced late Wednesday it had been given approval to gradually reopen by Alberta Health. Slaughter operations are scheduled to resume today and cutting room operations on Friday. The plant processes about 10,000 hogs per day.

UFCW 401 president Thomas Hesse said he received no word from the company that the plant was reopening.

“Obviously the bottom line for Olymel is they’re just putting pigs ahead of people,” Hesse in an interview Wednesday.

“What you’ve got is a frightened workforce. There’s this enormous amount of fear and anxiety, and now a layer of grief on top of that, and they expect employees to jump to attention and parade back to work.”

The union represents about 1,800 workers at the plant.

Hesse said the union interviewed between 600 and 700 workers who indicated they were afraid to return to work. He said that wasn’t done by Olymel, Alberta Health Services or Occupational Health and Safety.

Hesse said he expects some workers will take advantage of their right to refuse unsafe work.

“I have no confidence in the safety of the workplace,” he said.

Olymel said the reopening will come with a number of strict measures. Alberta Health experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing. The company said 1,370 employees at the plant have been tested since Jan. 1.

The company says it has added more space to the facility to enhance physical distancing.

Additional staff have been assigned to monitor and enforce the updated measures, Olymel said. Employee groups have been recalled to take part in training sessions covering all implemented health measures, adjustments and the action plan developed for reopening.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary

The Canadian Press

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Top Story CP

Eager to act, Biden and Democrats leave Republicans behind

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress are jamming their agenda forward with a sense of urgency, an unapologetically partisan approach based on the calculation that it’s better to advance the giant COVID-19 rescue package and other priorities than waste time courting Republicans who may never compromise.

The pandemic is driving the crush of legislative action, but so are the still-raw emotions from the U.S. Capitol siege as well as the hard lessons of the last time Democrats had the sweep of party control of Washington. Republicans are mounting blockades of Biden’s agenda just as they did during the devastating 2009 financial crisis with Barack Obama.

Democrats, in turn, are showing little patience for the GOP objections and entertaining few overtures toward compromise, claiming the majority of the country supports their agenda. With fragile majorities in the House and Senate, and a liberal base of voters demanding action, Democrats are operating as if they are on borrowed time.

For many lawmakers, it’s personal.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., led the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to House passage Wednesday on the 30th anniversary of the Rodney King beating by police in Los Angeles that she thought at the time would spur policing reforms. Instead, more Black Americans and others have died in police violence, even after Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement last summer.

“It’s examples like that that lead to the urgency,” Bass said Wednesday.

The start of the first congressional session of the Biden administration was supposed to be a new era of bipartisan deal-making. The Senate evenly split, 50-50, and the House resting on a slim majority for Democrats set prime conditions for Biden to swoop in and forge across-the-aisle compromises.

But the rush through Biden’s first 100 days is shaping up as an urgent era of hardball politics, with Democrats prepared to go it alone, even if that means that changes to the Senate filibuster rules are needed to work around Republican roadblocks to legislation that many Americans support.

“We said we’re going to do X, Y and Z, but we didn’t say we were going to be magicians,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “We can’t magically make the Republicans be for what the people are for.”

Days before Biden entered office, White House chief of staff Ron Klain highlighted the urgency with which the incoming administration would seek to act. “We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis,” he wrote in a memo. “All of these crises demand urgent action.”

From his first hours in office, Biden sought to take deliberate steps to deliver relief, but also to raise awareness about those and other priorities on the theory that moving urgently would increase public support and raise pressure on Republican lawmakers who might stand in the way.

And within the White House there’s another kind of urgency: Biden has staffed his administration with veterans of government service who are not looking to stick around that long. Some aides are open about their commitments to help Biden for just a year before returning to private-sector jobs.

Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is coursing ahead on party-line votes under budget rules that will allow Senate passage by a simple 51-vote threshold, denying Republicans the ability to block the bill with a filibuster that would take 60 votes to overcome.

House leaders have reworked this month’s schedule for legislation to include voting rights, gun background checks and immigration in the queue — many of them do-overs of bills blocked last session by President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans. They still face a long haul to becoming law without GOP support in the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer often hark back to the lessons of 2009, when Obama took office during the financial crisis and Democrats cut back the recovery package to win a few Republican votes only to face an onslaught of attacks against the bill.

Many of the same Democrats in leadership today are unwilling to risk a repeat, especially as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other economists now say that paring back the 2009 rescue package stunted the recovery.

“One of the biggest lessons that Republicans learned in the ’09 and ’10 era is they could basically obstruct everything and not suffer at the ballot box,” said Tre Easton, a senior adviser at the liberal Battle Born Collective.

The strategy is on display again. House Republicans used procedural objections to stall the COVID-19 package until well past midnight late last week after a marathon rules session spilled voting into early Saturday. Senate Republicans are now threatening similar delays.

“We’ll be fighting this in every way that we can,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said about the COVID-19 package.

McConnell wants Senate Republicans to vote in lockstep against the virus aid, calling it a bloated liberal wish list, following the lead of House Republicans who gave it zero support.

That leaves Democrats negotiating with themselves on the COVID-19 package, with Biden warning they won’t like every aspect as he courts centrists. Progressives are being forced to abandon, for now, a provision to lift the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Wednesday, Democrats decided to more narrowly target $1,400 direct payments to households.

Yet Democrats are holding together, so far, because there’s also the urgency that was not readily apparent until Biden was sworn into office.

Perhaps nothing has stiffened the Democratic resolve like the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, which carved new fault lines between those who confirmed the presidential election results and those willing to side with the mob seeking to overturn Trump’s defeat to Biden.

Democratic lawmakers who arrive at the fenced-in Capitol under the watchful protection of armed National Guard troops appear to have “zero” patience, as one aide put it, for engaging with Republicans — some of whom still question the election results. A new threat of violence sent lawmakers to wrap up work for the week late Wednesday.

Republicans are protesting the partisan start, even though they relied on a similar budget mechanism to try to pass Trump-era priorities. They set out to repeal “Obamacare,” an effort that shockingly failed when Sen. John McCain gave it a thumbs-down vote. Later they passed $2 trillion in tax cuts on a party-line vote.

The third-ranking Republican, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, said Biden should go back to his campaign and inauguration themes of bipartisanship “and try to live up to it.”

But a generation of House leaders who have served decades with Biden and are nearing retirement are increasingly pushing for Senate filibuster rules changes to counter Republican opposition.

Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., the majority whip, said of Republican obstruction: “If that’s what they’re going to do, then they’re going to have to live with it, because we’re going to serve it up.”

Lisa Mascaro And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

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march, 2021

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