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Central Alberta

LISTEN: Alberta-made true crime podcast nearly tops Apple Podcast charts

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We first told you about Curiouscast’s new podcast Crime Beat last week- it features crime reporter Nancy Hixt as she does a deep dive into some of the most high-profile cases she’s covered over the last two decades. Well as of Friday morning, Crime Beat has climbed nearly to the top of the Canadian Apple podcast charts. Be sure to add this one to your list- listen at the link below or subscribe to Crime Beat wherever you get your podcasts!

The name Randy Safronovich has a familiar ring in Central Alberta.

Twice the Sylvan Lake man has escaped attempts on his life; once in 1998 and again in 2013. His incredible story, “I Dodged a Bullet”, is featured here in the new podcast series Crime Beat.

Nancy Hixt – host of Crime Beat Podcast

The podcast is hosted by Nancy Hixt, a former RDTV reporter in Red Deer, and for the past 2 decades, crime reporter with Global TV Calgary.

On this episode of Crime Beat, Hixt takes you through the mind blowing twists and turns in the life of Sylvan Lake’s Randy Safronovich’s.

The Sylvan Lake businessman was the victim of a home invasion robbery in June 2013.

At one point, the offender put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger.

By some miracle, the gun misfired and Safronovich survived. Safronovich jokes that he must have nine lives. It was a life-changing moment, but surprisingly, not the first time Safronovich managed to evade death.

“I guess I will write a book called I dodged a bullet twice now,” Safronovich told Global News.

Find out why the FBI was consulted for his case, in a real-life story that plays out more like a Hollywood film.

“Nancy does a remarkable job taking you deep inside real cases she has worked on to give a voice to the victims of these crimes in a way only someone who was actually there could give,” said Chris “Dunner” Duncombe, Director of Streaming and Podcasting for Corus Entertainment. “We are so excited to bring Curiouscast listeners Crime Beat.”

“These stories have left a lasting mark on my life,” said Hixt. “There are many things I witness and experience while covering a case, and the Crime Beat podcast allows me to share those extra details with you, with a full behind-the-scenes look at all the twists and turns.”

Nancy Hixt has received numerous awards throughout her career covering Alberta’s crime beat. She was the winner of the 2015 Ron Laidlaw Award for Continuing Coverage – National Television, the 2016 Canadian Screen Award for Best Local Reportage, as well as the 2018 Radio Television Digital News Association Edward R. Murrow Award in the large-market television category.

Twitter: @nancyhixt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyHixtCrimeBeat/

Email: [email protected]

President Todayville Inc., Honorary Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Director Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) musician, photographer, former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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Crime

Investigation of attempted home invasion at Innisfail leads to six arrests

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From Innisfail RCMP

Innisfail RCMP work with multi partners to seize stolen property and charge six suspects

A report of an attempted home invasion on Feb. 18 led to the arrest of six property crime suspects and the recovery of a substantial amount of stolen property by Innisfail RCMP.

The Innisfail RCMP responded in the evening of Feb. 18 to the attempted home invasion near downtown Innisfail.  Two males were reported as trying to break into the home while in possession of weapons.

The two suspect males were identified by the RCMP. On Feb. 19 Innisfail RCMP with the assistance of the Central Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit and RCMP Air Services attended a property on the C+E Trail in Red Deer County, north of Penhold, to arrest the suspects.  One was arrested without incident and the second fled in a Ford F350, with two other occupants, recently stolen out of Saskatchewan. A pursuit ensued, and efforts were made to deploy tire deflation devices, but they were not successful.

The F350 travelled throughout the central Alberta area to a location near Pigeon Lake, where three occupants abandoned the F350 and were picked up by a second Ford dually pickup truck. The dually was under observation as it travelled back into Red Deer where all 5 occupants were eventually arrested at two different locations in the city with the assistance of the Red Deer City RCMP, Innisfail Integrated Traffic Unit and the RCMP Police Dog Services.

On Feb. 20, Innisfail RCMP with the assistance of RCMP Calgary Auto Theft and Blackfalds GIS executed a search warrant at the C+E Trail property. The RCMP seized items related to many property crime investigations throughout Central Alberta including: stolen firearms, ammunition, a stolen dirt bike, stolen tools, break-in tools and other weapons. The dually was examined by the Calgary Auto Theft Unit and found to be a cloned (different VIN) vehicle that was stolen 3 years ago from a ranch near Strathmore.

The following persons all from the Red Deer area have been charged as follows:

Gary Auvigne (45) is facing over 20 criminal code charges, including break and enter, use a firearm while committing an offence, utter threats, possession of a stolen firearm and breach of a release document (x6).

Thomas Larkin (41) is facing 17 charges including break and enter, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of break in tools, flight from police and dangerous driving. He is also charged with breaching a release document (x7).

Katherine Young (29) and Thomas Foshay (36) are both charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of break-in tools.

Adam Bogusky (36) is facing seven criminal charges including possession of break in tools, fraudulent concealment, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, dangerous operation of a vehicle and flight from police.

Kameryne Boyd (21) is charged with possession of break in tools, fraudulent concealment and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

Auvigne and Larkin were held in custody pending Judicial Interim Release hearings scheduled for Feb. 26, 2021 in Red Deer Provincial Court. Young and Foshay  participated in Judicial Interim Release hearings and were released by a Justice of the Peace for future court dates. Bogusky and Boyd were released by police for first appearance court dates on April 6, 2021 in Red Deer Provincial Court.

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Alberta

How the Railroads Shaped Red Deer

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A crowd gathered at the Red Deer train station to provide a sendoff for members of “C” Squadron of the 12th Canadian Mounted Rifles Regiment. Heading off to join WWI in May 1915. Photo courtesy City of Red Deer Archives. P2603

Rivers, creeks and streams have shaped the land for eons, slowly carving away earth to reveal the terrain we know today. Much of the same can be said for the impact and influence that railways had in shaping the size and shape and even the very location of what is now the City of Red Deer. 

Prior to the construction of the Calgary and Edmonton railway, which started heading north from Calgary in 1890, what we now recognize as the bustling city of Red Deer was unbroken and forested land. The nearest significant settlement was the crossing for the C&E Trail of the Red Deer River, very close to where the historic Fort Normandeau replica stands today. 

Small town of Red Deer from along the Calgary and Edmonton Railway line looking north circa 1900. The Arlington Hotel and the CPR station can be seen. Photo courtesy City of Red Deer Archives. P4410

 

Above left: The Canadian Northern Railway excavating grade along the side of North Hill of Red Deer, AB in 1911. Using the steam shovel Bucyrus and trains. Photo P782. Above right: Workers building the Canadian National Railway trestle bridge at Burbank siding near Red Deer, AB, 1924. P7028. Photos courtesy City of Red Deer Archives.

Reverend Leonard Gaetz whose land formed the townsite for Red Deer. Photo courtesy City of Red Deer Archives. P2706

Navigating how to handle crossing the Red Deer River would be a significant challenge for construction of the railway route. Initially, the route was planned to take the tried-and-true path that had served animals, first nations people and fur traders for centuries, past the Red Deer River settlement. Yet just as the mighty river powerfully shaped the contours and dimensions of the land, the future site of Red Deer would be singlehandedly determined by Reverend Leonard Gaetz.

Rev. Gaetz offered James Ross, President of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway company,  land from his personal farmlands for the river crossing and the townsite for Red Deer.  Ross accepted and history was forever shaped by the decision, as what is now home to more than 100,000 people grew steadily outward starting at the C&E Railway train station. 

A steam engine pulling a passenger train, likely near Penhold, AB, sometime between 1938 and 1944. Photo courtesy City of Red Deer Archives. Photo P3595.

The rails finally reached the Red Deer area in November of 1890 and trains soon began running south to Calgary. By 1891, the Calgary and Edmonton railway was completed north to Strathcona. Alberta gained one of its most vital transportation corridors and the province would thrive from this ribbon of steel rails.

CPR Station in 1910

Over time, the C&E railyards grew and expanded to accommodate the demand for moving more and more commodities like grain, coal, lumber and business and household items along with passengers. Those passengers were the pioneer settlers who would make Red Deer the commercial hub that it remains to this day.

Alberta-Pacific Elevator Co. Ltd. No. 67 elevator and feed mill, circa 1910. Photo courtesy City of Red Deer Archives Photo P3884.

For nearly 100 years, the downtown was intimately connected with the railway in the form of hotels built to welcome travelers, grain elevators, warehouses, factories and the facilities required to service the locomotives and equipment that operated the trains. Tracks and spurs dominated the downtown area, especially after the advent of the Alberta Central Railway and the arrival of the Canadian Northern Western Railway (later absorbed into Canadian National railways).

Left: Aerial view of downtown and the railyards in1938. Note old CPR bridge over the Red Deer River along with the old CNR bridge that was demolished in 1941. P2228 Centre: CPR Track at south end of Red Deer, circa 1904 or 1905. P8060 Right: CPR depot water tower and round house in 1912. P3907. Photos courtesy City of Red Deer Archives.

 

Left: CPR downtown railyards in 1983. Photo S490. Right: Southbound morning Chinook train at the CPR station in the summer of 1939. P13391. Photos courtesy City of Red Deer Archives.

By the 1980s, the ever-present tracks and downtown railyard were seen as an industrial blight in the heart of the city that the railway created so funding was sought and plans were made to relocate the now Canadian Pacific rails from their historical home to a new modern yard northwest of the city. 

This was actually the second relocation of tracks from downtown as the Canadian National railway tracks were removed in 1960 which permitted the development along 47th Avenue south of the Red Deer River.

This massive project opened up the Riverlands district downtown to new developments which included condominiums, grocery stores, restaurants and professional buildings. Taylor Drive was built following the old rail line corridor and removal of the tracks in Lower Fairview meant residents wouldn’t hear the rumble of trains in their community anymore. 

Just as the waters gradually shaped the places we know now, the railways definitely forged Red Deer into the vibrant economic hub of central Alberta that it remains today. 

The 45th Street overpass across the CPR tracks. This was demolished in 1992. Photo courtesy City of Red Deer Archives. Photo S8479.

We hope you enjoyed this story about our local history.  Click here to read more history stories on Todayville.

Visit the City of Red Deer Archives to browse through the written, photographic and audio history of Red Deer. Read about the city and surrounding community and learn about the people who make Red Deer special.

My name is Ken Meintzer.  I’m a storyteller with a love of aviation and local history. In the 1990’s I hosted a popular kids series in Alberta called Toon Crew.

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march, 2021

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