Logging to reduce MPB fire risk

Masha Scheele

Harvesting activities adjacent to and west of Hinton this winter will reduce the amount of dead pine  immediately around the community and lower the potential fire risk.

West Fraser met with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF) this fall to discuss work on additional harvest areas west of Hwy. 40 to compliment previous activity. 

“The design and location of these blocks compliment planned fire hazard reduction corridors that were implemented back in 2004,” said Hal Jackson of West Fraser.

The intent would be to harvest these areas this winter, if planning and regulatory timelines allow, continued Jackson. Work is also being done to identify red attacked stands that can still be harvested and included in future harvest plans.

This will lower risk of fire, salvage trees that still have merchantable fibre, and rehabilitate the forest. 

“This winter approximately 26,419 (trees) are slated for control by Agriculture and Forestry in the Edson Forest Area,” said Lindsay Jessup, AAF communications advisor.

Jessup also stated that spring 2019 surveys in the Hinton region showed a general decrease in over-winter MPB success compared to the previous year, as well as higher than average mortality rates. 

“Firstly, reproduction in 2018 was lower than normal. And secondly, because reproduction occurred later in that summer, last year’s overwintering MPB were more vulnerable to the unusually cold winter temperatures,” said Jessup.

Despite there still being some green attacked trees, it has been more difficult to find them in 2019 than in the three years prior.

Significant MPB mortality was recorded with some areas of very little survival after the cold winter, yet it’s not totally clear how the summer weather affected the populations.

Hinton Wood Products helped conduct spring surveys in areas to support AAF plot locations. HWP also found high mortality and low reproduction success, said Jackson.

The cool and rainy weather this past summer is expected to decrease beetle mobility and reproduction, he added.

“Many of the beetle that may have been successful in surviving last winter may have emerged later in the season and could be delayed in their development heading into the winter,” said Jackson. 

Jackson’s biggest concern is identifying the areas where MPB continue in order to maintain their population. With a high number of red attack locations in previous years and a high mortality this year, it’s more difficult to identify where this years’ green attack trees are located.

“In previous years if you went to red attack tree locations you would find the green attacks for the year; this year you may find no greens at many of these locations and there are just too many red attack locations to check all of the sites,” added Jackson.

Many red attack locations have been encountered without green attack trees, however, green attack trees are being found through planning and logging activities. 

Each female beetle produces around 60 eggs of which 40 will be female. This means a large percentage of each generation must die to slow down an outbreak. Many of the areas West Fraser has been logging the last few years have been directly focused on areas of high beetle infestation.

Prior to beetle emergence in the spring, West Fraser logged and milled many green attacked trees and harvest activities continue to follow the forest management plan to harvest stands at risk of MPB.

“West Fraser has also worked closely with AAF staff to coordinate our harvest activities with single tree Level 1 control programs conducted by AAF to maximize control of infested pine,” said Jackson.

Jessup added that provincial MPB funding has been increased to $30 million over the next four years, and that additional funding will increase MPB management program’s annual budget by $5 million from $25 million to $30 million through 2022-2023.

“This is a proven program that reduces the spread and mitigates damage to Alberta forests. This funding will go towards additional ground survey and control work on more than 83,000 hectares,” she said.

West Fraser also acquired funding to complete its own single tree Level 1 control programs, which allowed control of an additional 53,416 trees around Hinton since 2016.

The Level 1 control program is a single tree control program where infested green attack trees are surveyed and controlled, typically by hand falling the tree and burning the tree. 

These trees are sometimes felled mechanically or chipped or peeled instead of burned, however the vast majority of infested trees are felled with a chainsaw and burned on site. 

AAF surveys aerially with helicopters and identifies locations of red attack to prioritize.

Ground crews complete a 50 metre concentric survey plot looking for green attack trees to control. 

Surveys for the red attack trees start in August or early September and control work begins in late November and December to be completed by March when the fire season starts.

Another small harvest plan is located west of the community of Obed.

Luger receives provincial award

Masha Scheele

Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) recently recognized the hard work and commitment of Marj Luger, executive director of the Yellowhead Emergency Shelter for Women (YES).

Luger received the Joie Dery award, acknowledging front-line domestic violence shelter staff throughout Alberta who have significantly contributed to Alberta’s sheltering movement. Dery, just like Luger, committed herself to social justice for abused women and in remembrance of her life and work, her family created the award.

Dery was a member of ACWS and successfully advocated for increased salaries, benefits, and training for shelter workers, as well as developed the first World Conference of Women’s Shelters.

“I was very surprised and honoured. It’s an honour to be held in such high esteem with my fellow colleagues around the province who have received the award in the past,” said Luger.

Luger began working with YES in 1994 after being involved with the organization previously through fundraising and other events. The motivation in her work comes from knowing that she can make a difference in someone’s life, even in ways she may not always realize.

“It’s something someone said or did to change their life and make a change for the positive. Small things make huge changes,” said Luger.

Over the years the biggest change Luger has witnessed is society’s perspective on family violence and abuse. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, she said, people reach out more and seek support.

“People are talking about it more. It’s a family issue, it can affect everyone in the family. It’s intimate partner violence not just violence against women. People are recognizing that and speaking up,” she added.

Attitudes have evolved and violence is believed to be flat out unacceptable, but this hasn’t happened overnight.

Even changes in how police have responded to domestic violence cases have changed, she added.

Luger said the work can be tough and it’s important to reach out when she needs some support herself in order to avoid burnout.

“Sometimes you hear the stories and it’s very hard to hear the story and to be the keeper of those stories because we can’t share them. It can be difficult. My thoughts on that is never take anything home with me,” she said.

Within West Yellowhead, the shelter does a lot of outreach and public education and also offers services, support, and referrals to men over the phone and through the outreach program. 

“I wish we could help men fleeing from abuse but we aren’t physically able to do that in our house, the way we’re set up right now,” she said.

A safe place for men who are fleeing violence isn’t available in Hinton and isn’t something that’s funded provincially. Currently, the shelter is funded on a year to year grant basis through the provincial government. 

Luger would also like the shelter to become more accessible for those with mobility issues and those who are deaf or blind.  Another one of her goals is for the shelter to become more financially independent from government funding.

“Even things like Hinton United Way, getting it up and running to max capacity. That would do a long way to helping the community,” she said.

“We try to make new partnerships and foster relationships that we already have, I try to do that on a daily basis. I’m hoping that continues and we get the support from Hinton and the surrounding areas.”

Local students gain hands on trades experience

After visiting different work experience locations in Hinton, local high school students learned about how they can sign up and be part of the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), and work for a local employer.
Masha Scheele Photo

Masha Scheele

Local high school students received some hands on experience in different trades in the community and learned how to access apprenticeship options for those trades while still in high school.

This was all part of the Forestry Trades Camp held from Nov. 26 to 28 at the Hinton Training Centre hosted by Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) and the Forestry Futures Alliance through CAREERS: The Next Generation. 

Students from Father Gerard Redmond, Harry Collinge High School (HCHS), as well as one student from Mountain Cree stayed in the Hinton Training Centre residence throughout the camp.

“They’re very interested at this stage, most of them being in Grade 10 would not have been exposed to the world of trades so they get to talk first hand with employers that are willing to share their knowledge with them,” said Marcel St Arnaud, field director of Careers: The Next Generation.

Students toured through four different worksites where they received hands on experience and talked with business owners and certified journeypersons. 

Province-wide there are about 1,500 kids in the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), while Hinton has around 20, said St. Arnaud, a number he hopes will grow over time.

RAP allows high school students to start their apprenticeship training while earning credits towards high school graduation.

Group of students at the 2020 forestry trades camp in Hinton. Photo submitted

“Generally speaking about 20 per cent of the students in any school in Alberta would go to post secondary, either university or technology school. That leaves about 80 per cent of the students that don’t go, so what about them?” said St Arnaud.

St Arnaud said training for trades is provided by the government for free, and apprentices learn hands on while earning a great wage and only attending school for two months.

“You can have an early finish, if they start in high school they could be certified and in the trade by the time they’re 21 or 22 and earn anywhere between $75,000 to $100,000 a year,” he added.

Serge Cote, Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) officer of Alberta Advanced Education, stated that the provincial government recently announced more funding towards the RAP program.

The government is focused on promoting apprenticeship to young people because of expected future shortages in the trades as people are retiring in the years ahead.

“We’re trying to fill that gap of knowledge going out with young people coming to replace those retiring workers,” he said.

The goal of the trades camp wasn’t necessarily to get students enrolled in the RAP program, but to raise awareness of the possibilities in the community, stated Lacie Reilly, program coordinator and student advisor at GPRC.

Students during one of the worksite visits in Hinton. Photo submitted

“It’s important for these kids to understand what a huge role forestry plays in the Hinton area and therefore where the different careers they’ll be able to find are,” she said.

Grade 12 student from HCHS, Bryson Carson, attended the camp for the second year and said that he sees real possibilities in the trades presented to him but is first set to join the army.

“Overall it’s a great experience, I’d suggest it to anyone who’s interested in trades because if you don’t know a lot about them this is the place to go. You get to see it from numerous different companies,” he said.

Only one student from the Mountain Cree Camp School Kisiko Awasis Kiskinahamawin, southwest of Hinton, was able to come but, Heather Bishop, their department head hopes to bring more students to future trades camps. 

“The bonus with this student is that the student is a female, and you don’t have a lot of females that are actively looking at getting into the trades,” said Bishop.

Bishop added that her student seemed to really enjoy the hands on experience throughout the three days.

“She did welding the first day at Buttazoni’s, she went to Summit and made a hammer with machinery yesterday, she did the mill and sawmill tours today. She’s had a great experience,” she said.

The camp also involved Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, Alberta Forest Products Association along with local businesses Alstar Oilfield Contractors, Buttazzoni Contracting, Logic Control, Summit Machining and Welding Ltd., West Fraser, and Winfield Industrial.

Hinton performer returns to where it all started

Masha Scheele

Back to where it all started, Mark Guebert performs at The Old Grind in front of his hometown crowd on Dec. 27.

His music is now better known under the stage name Mark Shepard, and since his days in Hinton he has put together his own band, called Shepard, in Victoria, B.C.

As a Harry Collinge High School (HCHS) student, around five years ago, he played a few open mic nights at the Grind and was part of the schools’ rock and pop program. 

Lead by band teacher Jayden Madsen, he formed a school band through this program and practiced twice a week before their big Alberta tour at the end of the year. 

“That gave us the tour experience and [it] promoted the program to other schools,” said Shepard.

He then moved to Victoria to study computer science and music as a combined degree, while at the same time playing shows with his band, Shepard.

“Jayden [Madsen] also went to [University of Victoria] so when I went to Victoria he was telling me about all the spots to go,” he said.

His studies focus on the digital music industry that have created the technology for Spotify, Bandcamp, Shazam, and so on.

While he and one other band member were both studying, they also played gigs almost every weekend over the past two years, he said.

To make their schedules more manageable, they’ve planned to play fewer but bigger shows.

“For our big release show in September, we had an intro track that we came out to and our set was mapped out to a tee. We were given a strict time limit at the bar we were playing and they will cut you off if you go over. We rehearsed it and made sure all the transitions were down,” said Shepard.

His band released their EP called Once When I Was Young in September with four songs.

He added that he’ll likely perform all but one of those songs at the Old Grind, as one is hard to perform acoustically. Hinton can expect to hear a couple of sad songs, a couple of happy songs, but also a couple of songs about Hinton and Victoria.

His main music influence is Dallas Green from City and Colour and Alexis on Fire, he said.

“Both vocally as in technique and lyrically, he’s a massive inspiration. A lot of my first songs were very similar to his music because I didn’t have a ton of other influences at that time,” he said.

Other influences are Dan Mangan and Max Kerman, the frontman of the Arkells.

Currently, Shepard is looking for a new bassist, which has slowed them down a bit but was also one of the reasons why Shepard booked his solo tour.

“The local crowd has seen me play at the open mics but they haven’t really seen me play since I’ve taken music a little bit more seriously. I think I’ll be able to show a lot of people that I’ve been working really hard on this for the last five years,” he said.

Since being back in Hinton he also performed at the HCHS christmas concert together with Jayden Madsen and brother, Jared Madsen, who is also a teacher at HCHS.

“It’ll be cool to talk to the kids that are in the program right now and say this is a great program and this is what I’m doing with it. This is what I did with the experience I got,” said Shepard before his performance.

“There’s a lot of really talented young kids in high school, it’s really cool to see.”

When asked where the stage name Shepard came from, he explained that it was actually given to him by his older brother. Before he was born, his parents asked his brothers what middle name their new brother should have, and they liked Shepard. Despite his parents choosing another name, Shepard is now a big part of his identity and eventually became his band name.

He even re-released his 2015 EP under the stage name, including new artwork featuring the name. Mark Shepard sounded too much like a solo musician, which is why they shortened it for the band.

“We didn’t want to be labelled as a solo artist. We talked about Shepard Collective or Shepard and the blank… We knew Shepard was going to be a part of it, and we ended up just settling for Shepard as it is, it’s simple and to the point and it works nicely on a poster,” he said.

Mark Shepard performs at the Old Grind on Dec. 27, following special guest and fellow local musician Sydney Waddell.

Doors open at 7 pm, and tickets are available at the door or a link through their Facebook page, Shepard Music.

Hinton to hire municipal intern

Masha Scheele

After receiving approval from council on Dec. 17, the Town of Hinton can launch its intake process for the Municipal Internship Program in 2020.

“Through this program the town will receive a grant of just over $43,000 from Municipal Affairs and we will be required to provide an additional $27,500 total over two fiscal years, as the program runs from June 2020 to June 2021,” said Emily Olsen, acting CAO at the regular council meeting on Dec. 17.

The total amount budgeted in 2020 will be $13,750 and the same is budgeted for 2021.

Funding includes wages, benefits and the supplies and materials required for the intern to perform their job functions. 

The program is a partnership between municipalities and Alberta Municipal Affairs to help bring recent post-secondary graduates into the municipal field across Alberta in administration, finance, accounting, or land use planning. 

Hinton applied to participate in October 2019 and was accepted as one of the fourteen successful host municipalities on Dec. 10.

Without the intern program and its additional capacity, deliverables related to the organizational review implementation plan, implementation of the digital access training system (DATS), and asset management would be delayed.

“This is a great opportunity to bring in a fresh, young person. Get them into the organization and working with a variety of different departments. It gives us extra manpower to get some of these projects fulfilled and a potentially have another possible employee in the future as well,” said Coun. Trevor Haas.

Next steps include finalizing the Town of Hinton’s Host Municipality Profile and associated Intern Job Description, Intern Workplan approval by the grantor and finally, Intern selection, according to the report brought to the Dec. 17 council meeting.

“We anticipate beginning work on the work plan and the job description right away for a job posting in January, so time is of the essence,” said Olsen at the Dec. 10 standing committee meeting.

Coun. Ryan Maguhn stated at that meeting that he wasn’t surprised this topic came up as it was previously brought up during budget discussions in November.

While the program only runs for one year, there is the possibility for a one-year extension of the intern position beyond 2021, however additional funding contributions from Municipal Affairs is not guaranteed.

According to the report, the intern reports to the director of corporate services and assists in maintaining level of service throughout the organization by redistribution of cumbersome workloads.

Maggie gets married in January

Steven McHugh as Tom Duncan and Leanne Weik as Cass Duncan, parents of the Duncan family rehearse for the dinner theatre.
Submitted Photo

Masha Scheele

Step into the kitchen of the Duncan family home and their compelling family dynamic during Hinton’s Break-A-Leg (BAL) dinner theatre show in January. 

During the comedy show called Maggie’s Getting Married, the family is just returning from the youngest daughters’ wedding rehearsal.

The story primarily features Maggie and her older sister Wanda but there are glimpses into the lives of their parents, as well as those of Maggie’s fiancé and Wanda’s boyfriend. 

“The comedy aspect comes primarily from the storyline which is that Wanda is home from out west, the story takes place in Toronto and Wanda has left the house and is living in Calgary, she discovers that she may already know Maggie’s fiancé,” said the director of the play, Melissa Pattinson.

This is Pattinson’s fourth time directing a play in Hinton, and her first one written by Norm Foster. 

“I love Norm Foster plays in general. The first play I ever acted in, in Hinton, was a Norm Foster play. He kind of has a special place in my heart,” said Pattinson.

Pattinson worked in stage management for BAL when director Steven Mchugh asked her to read opposite actors during auditions for the Norm Foster play called The Melville Boys.

After the auditions, he asked Pattinson which sister she would like to play, and that became her first acting role.

She followed up that play by acting in Drinking Alone by Norm Foster, also directed by McHugh, which lead her to her own directorial debut of a one-act called Driver’s Test. Her first full feature directing gig was Motherhood Out Loud in March of 2018, and her last was the kids production of Christmas Tree in December of 2018.

Driver’s Test won the BAL playapalooza, where audiences voted for best one act plays, and she continued on to the regional competition. 

Maggie’s Getting Married being a dinner theatre performance has posed some completely new challenges for Pattinson.

Photo Submitted
Terri McHugh as Maggie Duncan and Miranda Wulf as Maggie’s older sister Wanda Duncan working on their comedic timing for the dinner theatre comedy show.

Most of the audience is sitting lower than the stage and the actors, and staging each character to avoid interfering with their viewing experience can be tricky.

“Making sure actors aren’t’ constantly standing behind things. We have to keep all of that in mind,” said Pattinson.

Not only do they have to keep this in mind, but they also haven’t been able to rehearse on the stage where they will be performing. Every space they’ve rehearsed in is different, as are the dimensions of the stage.

Despite these challenges, the actors have done well and are now working on their comedic timing, said Pattinson.

“Because it’s a comedy, timing is a big aspect of it. So learning the lines early to work on timing and blocking [is] important,” she added.

“They’re all facing the challenge head on and doing great things with it, so I expect great things.”

A few of the actors have been part of a dinner theatre before, but one of the actors is brand new to the stage.

“This cast has quite a range, one actor, it’s his acting debut. Then there’s a couple of actors who have done this for years and years. So we have the old pros and the brand new,” said Pattinson.

The dinner shows will run each night from Jan. 9 to 11 with doors opening at 6 pm at the Performing Arts Theatre in Hinton (PATH).

To make the performance more affordable and accessible, the final performance is a matinee show without the dinner portion, and doors open at 1:15 pm. 

“I think it’s a great thing BAL is doing to make this more accessible. Sometimes the dinner theatre costs are a little too much for families especially right around the holidays. Hopefully this will get some additional people out to enjoy the show,” said Pattinson.

Timberwolves offence runs cold in Las Vegas

File photo

Tyler Waugh

 The Hinton Timberwolves headed south for the Western States Hockey League Showcase in Las Vegas wondering how they measured up against the best of the best.

Hinton was riding a win streak that included a pair of road victories Dec. 13 and 14 against the Cold Lake Hornets. 

The offence tallied a combined 13 goals over the two games but managed only three goals total in three games against top-calibre squads from other divisions.

Hinton opened with a 4-1 loss to the North Colorado Eagles, which sit third in the Mid-West Division with a record of 17-6-1. 

The Eagles built a 3-0 lead before Ilya Zhilinsky got Hinton on the board with assists to Jamahl Eakett and Max Sturko. Carter Wickson got the start in net and made 28 saves. 

Hinton took the home team, the Las Vegas Thunderbirds, to overtime but lost 2-1. Logan Arsenault scored the lone goal for Hinton and Dimitri Buttazzoni and Zhilinsky had assists. Goalie Kolter Pawlick made 26 stops for Hinton as the Timberwolves were outshot in the game.

The third and final game of the showcase was against the top-ranked Ogden Mustangs which held a record of 26-1-1 in Northwest Division going into the game.

Brayden Harper opened the scoring at 10:33 of the first period and Hinton held a 1-0 lead until the opening minutes of the second period when Ogden scored the first of five straight goals in a 5-1 win for the Mustangs.

Buttazzoni had the only assist on Harper’s goal and netminder Adam Robertson made 33 stops for Hinton, which was outshot 38-23.

Hinton (20-5-1) currently sits second in the Provincial Division behind the Edson Aeros (22-3), who dropped two of three games themselves at the Showcase, including a 3-1 loss to Ogden.

Hinton has a couple of weeks off before they begin the final push to the post season with a Jan. 4 game in Cold Lake. Hinton is next at home Jan. 11.

Hinton Cougars earn multiple medals in Canmore

Hinton Cougars biathlon team during the Calforex Cup 2 in Canmore on Dec. 14 – 15.
Submitted Photo

Tyler Waugh

 The Hinton Cougars biathlon team was back in action at the Calforex Cup 2 held Dec. 14 – 15 in Canmore.

And while it was the second competition of the year for the club, it also marked the first competition ever for a couple athletes.

The Cougars were represented by seven athletes ranging from Air Rifle I to Dev II categories, including first-timers Alexandre and Mattias Vriend. 

Saturday’s competition was a short individual, where the athletes are assessed time penalties for each missed shot. 

“This is known as a shooter’s race,” said Cougars coach Robin Hengel. 

Sara Johnston hit 15 / 15 targets on her way to a gold medal in the Girls Dev I category. Alexandre Vriend also shot clean – a perfect 15 of 15 – in his race to take gold in Air Rifle I. 

Simon Ruszkowski and Mattias Vriend raced in Air Rifle II. Simon hit 12 of 15 targets on his way to a bronze medal while Mattias hit 10 of 15 targets. 

“However, he made up time with his skiing and finished with the silver medal,” said Hengel. 

The Dev I & II boys faced stiff competition as skiers in zones 1, 2, and 3 were competing for Alberta Winter Games positions. Many skiers were racing in their age categories of U-16 and U-14 for the weekend. In Dev I Boys, Chad Scobie hit 10 of 15 targets while Cooper Johnston showed improvement in his shooting from the Calforex Cup I, hitting 9 of 15 targets. 

Thomas Hengel, competing in Dev II Boys, hit 9 of 20 targets, but skied strong, posting top five lap times in each of his first three loops. 

“Thomas is transitioning to shooting without a rest this year and is still looking for consistent results shooting in a race,” said coach Hengel.

The Sunday race was a sprint, with athletes skiing three loops and shooting two bouts in the range. In this race, athletes skied a 100 m penalty loop for each missed shot. 

Sara Johnston continued her strong shooting early in the season, with two misses on her way to her fourth podium finish of the year with a bronze medal. 

Mattias Vriend also continued his strong skiing combined with eight of 10 shooting to place second in his race. 

Simon Ruszkowski shot well again, hitting nine of 10 targets and placed fifth. Chad Scobie had a strong race on Sunday, combining strong skiing with 70 per cent shooting to place seventh out of 21 competitors. 

Cooper Johnston was steady with his shooting results on Sunday, hitting six of 10 targets. Thomas Hengel continued to show determination in his race, skiing hard through the finish despite mixed results in the range. 

The Hinton Cougars are next in action on Jan. 11 – 12 at home in Hinton hosting the Noram 2 and Alberta Winter Games Zone 5 and 6 trials. Eight Hinton Cougars will be attempting to qualify to attend the games in Airdrie in February.

Around The Rink: Dec. 26

Gabe Roberts of the Hinton OK Tire Hellcats fends off a Devon Drillers defender during a Dec. 13 league game at Bill Thomson Arena. Hinton won 3-2 as part of a three-win weekend.
Masha Scheele Photo

Tyler Waugh

Battle River Bests Midgets

Battle River broke open a 4-3 game on Dec. 15 with a pair of late goals to earn a win and a weekend sweep of the Hinton midget hockey squad.

Zachary Jones had a pair of goals for Hinton and Ethan Bambrick had the other goal.  Lucas Descheneau, Ethan Jahnke and Landon Descheneau all had one assist each for Hinton and Riley Mills made 22 stops in net.

Hinton dropped a 5-1 decision to Battle River the day before, with Clint Clark scoring the home team’s lone goal with assists to Cole Whitford and Landon Descheneau. Hunter French made 23 stops in net.

Bantams Split Games

The Hinton Minich Oilfield bantam 1 hockey squad had three-point games from Kale Hunt, Keegan Fellows and Kayden Hollett in an 8-4 win on Dec. 14. 

Ryland Chabot chipped in a goal and an assist and Rylan Koch, Ethan Ramsey, Carter French and Nathan Burkart had one goal each. Ethan Mcpherson had two assists and Noah Coss, Landon Legary, Owen Tredwin and Bryce Donkin had one assist each. Riley Clark made 18 saves.

Hinton lost 6-4 the day before in Athabasca, with Hollett notching a pair of goals, and Burkart and Hunt counting one goal each. Fellows had a pair of assists and Legary and Donkin had one assist each. Gavin Gomuwka made 24 stops in net.

Hellcats Take Three

The Hinton OK Tire Hellcats swept a weekend tripleheader to take spot in their league. 

Hinton opened a 3-0 lead on Devon on Dec. 13 and then held on for a 3-2 win. Morley Ross, Blake Robertson and Keegan Plante had one goal each for Hinton, while  Coral Thompson, Thomas Mumby and Ari Beauchamp had one assist each and Ethan Spalek had a strong game in net with 28 stops.

Hinton capped of a comeback the next day against Athabasca with a Joshua Hearsey breakaway goal to earn a 5-4 win.

Mumby added a pair of power play goals and two assists for Hinton, while Gavin Kilthau and Beauchamp also scored. Jaeger Rivette also had a pair of assists, while Tori Thompson and Gabe Roberts had one assist each.

Hinton closed out the weekend with a 5-1 win over Edson that saw Plante lead the way with two goals while Ross had one goal and one assist. Hearsey and Robertson had one goal each. Spalek made 11 stops.

Gladiators Win

The Hinton Gus’s Pizza Gladiators peewee hockey team scored three straight goals to earn a 5-3 win over Westlock on Dec. 14.

Morgan Thomas scored the winner later in the third period and then notched his second of the game into an empty net to clinch it. 

Tye Fellows had a goal and an assist in the win and Marek Lehoux had two assists. Ryder Kulbacki and Corbyn Donkin had the other Hinton goals while Cohen Potts, Luke Hore and Grady Hollingsworth had one assist each. Aizik Gomuwka made 23 stops in net.

Warriors Drop Close Game

The Hinton McDonald’s Warriors atom hockey squad built a 3-1 lead on goals by Ryker Hollingsworth, Cohen Moulun and Deacon Barnes, but gave up three goals to Whitecourt in the third period in a 4-3 loss. Nolan Bardarson, Brandt Callihoo, Lucas Robertson and Hollingsworth had one assist each.

Brayden Benson and Treyton Matheson split time in net and made 14 saves between them.

Night Hawks Beat Mayerthorpe

Forrest Kilthau scored four goals to lead the Hinton McDonald’s Night Hawks to a 5-2 win over Mayerthorpe on Dec. 15.

Ty Kapatch had the other Hinton goal, Jack Richards had two assists and Kai Brettner added one assist of his own. Brayden Daniels and Rogue Smith split time in net and made 24 saves.

Impact Take Two

The Hinton Impact U14 ringette squad earned a pair of wins over Fort McMurray on Dec. 14.

Hinton had goals from four different players – Addison Klaver, Danica Hills, Meghan Gallagher and Paityn Best – in a 4-3 win to open the day. Leah Cournoyer had two assists and Ayla Goupil and Makena Hills had one assist each.

The second game was more of a runaway as Maggie Kempin, Logan Sweet and Best had two goals apiece in an 8-2 win. Hills and Gallagher had the other Hinton goals, Dakota Bishop had two assists and Klaver and Ashlyn McDougall had one assist each.

Annual bird count brings out citizen scientists

Photo submitted by Gary Gulash

Masha Scheele

The annual Christmas Bird Count enters its 120th year in North America and the 33rd year for Hinton and Brule.

The longest-running citizen science census returns to Hinton on Dec. 26 and to Brule on Dec. 27. Locals go out during the bird count each year to record the number of birds and the different species they spot. 

Coordinator of the project, Beth MacCallum, collects that data and puts it into a national database to help assess winter bird population trends and distribution across North America.

The information collected by thousands of volunteer participants now forms one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data and the results are used daily by conservation biologists and naturalists, explained Laura Trout, West Fraser senior biologist.

“If declines are detected it helps to implement conservation actions. Or the opposite is to detect increases which would be conservation success stories,” said Trout about the data.

The project started in the 1900s, and the tradition of the count continues in over 2000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“A lot of that came down to naturalists and enthusiasts who not only went out to appreciate the birds [but] also to count them and that became a popular thing to do in the 1900’s,” said Trout.

Participants can count the birds from their living room windows or they can actively go out to count the birds.

Counts are carried out within a 24-km diameter circle from Green Square in Hinton, which stays the same from year to year. 

“I have a long standing route I take in my truck with different observation points along it. It covers probably 15 kilometres somewhere inside that 24 km radius,” said Trout.

Participants don’t have to be expert birders to take part in the census, added Trout.

“Even people who just give it a try, they actually end up finding that they know more birds than they realize,” she said.

She added that the count doesn’t have to be perfect and whatever is counted is just part of the process.

“They don’t have to ID everything, even the amount of ravens is useful information,” she added.

Last year, 32 Hintonites drove, walked, and watched backyard feeders for the Christmas Bird Count held on boxing day, 2018. 

Mild weather helped contribute to a solid bird count of 2,184 birds and 34 species, the third highest count on record. 

The highest count in Hinton was in 2001 when 2,601 birds and 38 species were recorded, while Brule’s record count was in 2007 when 811 birds and 27 species were counted.

Twenty participants walked 42 kilometres around Brule in 2018 to count 798 birds, the second highest count on record.

Observations of a Northern Shrike, Barred Owl, Great Gray Owl and Northern Pygmy-Owl helped set an all time record for Brule with 34 species.

For more information on the count or to see last year’s data go to audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count

Contact Beth MacCallum at wjclub@telus.net or 780-865-4906 to participate.