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Golf as big help in charity? Not so much this year.

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Of all the economic areas devastated around the world by COVID-19, it’s probably fair to place the combination of charity and golf near the top of some lists.

Year after year, thousands of scramble tournaments are incredibly valuable: they’re a sports-lover’s way to raise funds for virtually every worthwhile cause under the sun. Lining up from June until late summer and beyond, service clubs, large and small companies, political groups, religious organizations line up to do their bit. Often, it’s more than a little bit.

Telephone calls and emails go out early and often. Committees scour the region to find inducements most likely to encourage participants to play at a nearby course for a reasonable price – with the understanding that some gifts will be granted and a lot of steaks will be eaten. But the big winners will be parts of the public that, it seems, always need and deserve more help than the existing welfare system can provide.

Celebrities are certain to get a lengthy list of playing opportunities. Having Edmonton Oilers or Edmonton Eskimos set for a tee time is one way to attract additional players and therefore additional funds. Former defensive back Larry Highbaugh once said he he had enough invitations to play in a separate tournament each week all summer. Entertainment personalities have special value, as well.

One tournament, conducted so far for nearly 20 years by the Cosmopolitan Clubs of St. Albert, Edmonton and Sturgeon Valley, is far from the largest or most significant of these events, but for 15 years club members were kind enough to label it The John Short Classic.

My thoroughly enjoyable contribution on the second Tuesday of June for 15 consecutive years was to greet players and needle volunteers. The tournament could be called a classic only on condition that I did not touch a golf club with serious intent. Fact is, I love golf far too much to desecrate it by playing as badly as I do. Good friend Rod Randolph, a key part of the Cosmopolitan commitment for more years than I was, once told me of a sure-fire way to get early attention at a coming speech: “show them your golf swing.”

Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne and former Oiler great Dave Semenko played in that tournament. Rob Brown, once a high-scoring linemate of Mario Lemieux, found ways to contribute on several Tuesdays – most of which were soggy and cold and windy, perfect opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and benefit others.

It is a daunting task to estimate how many of these charitable tournaments take place on the Edmonton region’s 50-or-so golf clubs each summer. Or how many will finally take shape this year. But personal knowledge of The Ranch, Stony Plain and Cougar Creek provides assurance that when conditions change, local professionals will be ready with open dates for these valuable events.

Early word is that area courses are in great shape. Randolph applied the adjective when describing his 84 after 18 holes on Wednesday at Mill Woods in a Men’s League game. “Not bad,” he said. “A pair of 42s when I’ve been collecting rust for seven months; I can deal with that.” Like a lot of golf addicts, he can deal with almost anything – except another shutdown.

“We’re doing our best to be prepared for anything”

 

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Mrdjenovich preps for fight in LA while YEG council waffles on allowing a return to the ring

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Edmonton’s leading fight personality, and clearly the city’s outstanding boxer in history, faces a chance to do “something therapeutic for myself” and shake off the effects of this everlasting coronavirus.

Of course, Jelena Mrdjenovich means returning to the ring where she has won at least 10 professional championships since she started her boxing career in 2003.

“We’re negotiating right now on a fight in Los Angeles,” she said Wednesday. “There are a lot of complications but I think everything can be done in time for a fight in November.”

Preparing for a bout in a foreign country, including the setup of a training camp, is more difficult than might be imagined. Sparring partners are always available but workout schedules often need to be adjusted. These are minor adjustments, Jelena said, “It’s important to remember there would have to be 14 days of isolation at some point.”

She reigns as women’s world featherweight title-holder in at least one of the three major international boxing regulators. Obviously, there has been little competition in her bracket — or any other boxing bracket — for the last six months or so, but she says the challenge of getting into top shape is no different for her these days.

“I always do my best to stay active,” she said. “There are always complications, but with my (downtown) boxing club, I’ve been doing quite a few virtual classes. I’m probably closer to my (126-pound) fighting weight right now than when I usually start working out for a fight.”

In every conversation about her sport for the last three or four years, the 38-year-old champion has been asked when she will give up boxing. Before the COVID-inspired interruption, she had reached the 50-bout milestone which she once openly considered her gateway to retirement, “but now I’ve got some other major issues to handle.”

One of them, obviously, is the future of her sport and the organization, KO Boxing Edmonton, that has kept the pro game alive in this city for several years.

Within the last few weeks, there has been encouragement and then discouragement. Promoter Mel Lubovac said Alberta Health Services has granted permission for boxing competitions under firm control and obviously without public involvement.

“Now, the city has refused permission,” said the daughter of Milan Lubovac, a boxing mainstay in Alberta for decades and Mrdjenovich’s trainer-manager throughout her impressive career.

“I’ve said for a long time that this city’s administration is absolutely opposed to combat sports. Some people say the council has no real interest in any sports. There is no reason for this attitude. It’s embarrassing.”

 

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Assault prime suspect in Edmonton’s spike in violent crime

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Downtown Edmonton buildings

Edmonton seeing spike in violent assaults

August 7, 2020

Police are seeing a 27% increase in violence compared to Edmonton’s three-year average, driven largely by an increase in serious, violent assaults, including an 88% increase in assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm.

The Edmonton Police Service uses several indicators to measure crime across the city, such as violence, disorder and property crimes. Violence indicators include assault, robbery, sexual assault and homicide.

In July 2020, the Edmonton Police Service saw a 25% increase in violence indicators over July 2019.  The July 2020 violence indicators saw an increase of 27% compared to the three-year average (July 2017-2019).

Of these indicators, assault was the main driver of the increase.  More specifically, the category of assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm increased by 56% and aggravated assault increased by 43% in July 2020 over July 2019.  Compared to the July three-year average (2017-2019), assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm increased 88% in July 2020, while aggravated assault increased 34% in July 2020.

Percent change: 2020 compared to 2019

March April May June July
Assault – Aggravated +36% +16% -19% +3% +43%
Assault – Bodily harm/weapon +12% +0.6% +17% +30% +56%
Assault Overall -5% -13% -4% +5% +29%

Percent change: 2020 compared to 3-year average (2017-2019)

March April May June July
Assault – Aggravated +55% +34% +21% +48% +34%
Assault – Bodily harm/weapon +15% +9% +35% +35% +88%
Assault Overall -5% -8% -3% +5% +33%

Since July 11, 2020, there have been eight suspicious deaths in Edmonton, five of which have been confirmed as homicides. August 6, 2020 was a particularly violent day for Edmonton, with two new death investigations opened by the Homicide Section. A violent, random assault also occurred at 98 Avenue and 104 Street at about 7:45 pm last night, when a male reportedly approached a female who was waiting in the passenger side of a parked vehicle, asked for money, and then stabbed her multiple times. She was taken to hospital with serious non-life-threatening injuries. A 20-year-old male was taken into custody and is facing charges including aggravated assaultrobbery, and possession of offensive weapon.

“While it’s difficult to speculate on why this is occurring, the increase in violent assaults is certainly concerning,” says Supt. Brad Doucette, with the EPS Criminal Investigations Division. “Especially when we see assaults with a weapon or causing bodily harm and aggravated assault on the rise – these are serious charges under the Criminal Code that are used when the victim’s life is put at risk.”

Serious assaults and calls for service involving weapons often require greater resources, including a larger officer response and more investigators. The EPS has pulled in resources from other investigative areas that remain stable or have seen decreases in workload in order to assist areas that are overtasked, such as Homicide Section.

Read more on Todayville.

 

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