Stettler had a pretty exciting year in 2016. Here are some of our top stories from the first six months.

Stettler had a pretty exciting year in 2016. Here are some of our top stories from the first six months.

County shop project dominates headlines in first half of 2016

With 2017 right around the corner, let's look back at the Stettler Independent's front-page stories of 2016. Part one of a two-part ...

With 2017 right around the corner, let’s look back at the Stettler Independent’s front-page stories of 2016. Part one of a two-part series covers January to June 2016.

Stettler’s new year baby arrived SaturdayJan. 6, 2016The community’s first baby of the new year was Jordan Wipf, born Jan. 2 to parents Steve and Glenda of the Lone Pine Hutterite Colony. The baby was born healthy at the hospital, and is the fourth child for the couple.

Economic uncertainty biggest concern for Mayor in 2016Jan. 13, 2016Stettler Mayor Dick Richards said that as he and the town looks toward 2016, the biggest concern on the horizon is the economic uncertainty caused by the slowdown in Alberta’s economy.

County budget anticipates tax hikeJan. 20, 2016Though the County of Stettler operating budget is not yet complete, county council was warned by staff that a municipal tax increase was likely, despite cuts to the budget.

Budget process continues at townJan. 27, 2016The months-long operating budget process continues at the Town of Stettler, as it approves budgets from organizations that look to it for funding assistance.

Domino wins big at the ACMAFeb. 3, 2016Stettler’s This is Domino makes waves at the ACMAs, bringing home the Fan’s Choice Award and garnering multiple nominations.

Town council approves $3.6M capital budgetFeb. 10, 2016The Town of Stettler approves a capital budget of $3.6 million, which includes non-operational costs such as improvements and road repairs. This year’s budget includes pathways, some equipment, and ongoing water/wastewater repairs.

Contentious issues split county councilFeb. 17, 2016The soon-to-be dreaded County of Stettler shop facility controversy first rears its head in February, as councillors end up split on a decision regarding borrowing to build a new structure to replace the old, and too-small shop facility.

Unexpected lagoon problems to cost $1M, delays other projectsFeb. 14, 2016Just weeks after passing the capital budget, Town of Stettler council had to revisit the budget to make alterations after it was discovered a waste lagoon was leaking. The cost, and immediate need to fix the lagoon, scuttles some of the town’s projects for the year as funding is diverted.

County goes on offensive to combat spread of misinformationMarch 2, 2016County councillors and staff send out letters and take out advertising to explain the county shop project, the borrowing bylaws, and the cost to county ratepayers after councillors hear stories of people being told taxes would double.

Town awards $80K truck tenderMarch 9, 2016Town council spends $80,000 to replace older trucks, with Stettler GM winning both bids. Council also welcomes new RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Phil Penny.

CAO declares borrowing bylaw petition sufficientMarch 16, 2016County of Stettler CAO Tim Fox declares a petition, submitted by county ratepayers, is sufficient. The petition, which calls for a plebiscite before the borrowing bylaw goes ahead, results in council scrapping the bylaw entirely.

Parents’ final prayer for Mother Teresa goes unheededMarch 23, 2016Halkirk’s school, Mother Teresa Catholic School, will close at the end of the school year despite the fervent effort of parents and village residents to keep the aged building open. Repairs and decreasing enrolment were cited as factors behind the closure.

County earns clear bill of financial health from auditorMarch 30, 2016The annual review of the County of Stettler’s finances by an auditor from Gitzel Krejci Dand Peterson results in a clear bill of health, a result that relieves council and staff given the microscope they are under regarding the county’s shop project.

Touring dance festival colours Stettler weekendApril 6, 2016The Sparkle Dance Festival comes to town, giving local dancers another chance to shine in a small-town community environment.

Stettler Trade Show 2016 bigger and betterApril 13, 2016Despite the economic depression, the visitor number at the annual Stettler Board of Trade Trade Show tops 2,600, a large increase over previous years according to the board.

Stettler’s von Krogh wins the Volunteer of the Year awardApril 20, 2016Stettler’s Janie von Krogh was named regional volunteer of the year at a celebration in Calgary. Von Krogh, who volunteers with the Red Deer chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association, was “really surprised” when she was informed, she said.

Stettler & District Musical Festival ends with a grand concert at PACApril 27, 2016The 10-day music festival, which grew out of a three-day festival started more than 20 years ago, comes to a close, having seen performances from 314 entries.

Health minister tours Stettler HospitalMay 4, 2016Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman stopped in Stettler to tour the community’s hospital facility. The facility, which serves much of central and east-central Alberta, features a full suite of services including labour and day surgery.

Fort McMurray evacuees touched by Stettler generosityMay 11, 2016Like all of Alberta, and much of Canada, Stettler is affected by the wildfire that tears through Fort McMurray. Residents and businesses open their wallets, hearts and homes to displaced residents, some of whom will go on to lose their homes.

Efforts continue to help those displaced by The BeastMay 18, 2016Members of the community continue to rally for Fort McMurray residents displaced by the fire, some heading north to rescue stranded pets, delivering food and water to emergency workers, and more.

County shop project remains a lingering issueMay 25, 2016A second and third petition are delivered to the County of Stettler after the county approved a new borrowing bylaw to fund the controversial shop project. The new bylaw sees the county borrow less money, but that’s not enough to satisfy rate payers, who once again demand, via petition, that a plebiscite be held. The third petition calls on the county to table the project until after the next municipal election.

Top prizes in annual 4-H event go to Erskine and Big ValleyJune 1, 2016The annual 4-H beef Show and Sale was hosted this year by Erskine, and saw that community’s 4-H’rs, as well as some from Big Valley, take top marks.

Awesome Auction rocks community hall with ‘Disco Fever’June 8, 2016The annual Awesome Auction, which helps fund the Stettler Heartland Youth Center’s wide variety of programs, is another smashing success. With more items on auction than ever before, the event guarantees another year of after-school programs for the community’s youth.

Plebiscite on divisive shop issue to go aheadJune 15, 2016The county’s councillors, after the second petition is declared sufficient, bite the bullet and vote to send the shop project borrowing bylaw to ratepayer vote. The third petition was declared insufficient due to its wording and ambiguity of the demand.

Rotary Club honours farmers, awards scholarshipsJune 22, 2016The annual Farmers’ appreciation dinner filled the Stettler Community Hall with local ranchers and farmers, and was hosted by the Rotary Club of Stettler. Each year, the club hosts the dinner, where the agricultural sector can come together, celebrate, and take in a presentation on a matter near and dear to their hearts. Scholarships were also handed out.

County residents say ‘no’ to borrowing for new shopJune 29, 2016More than 50 per cent of voting county ratepayers say no to borrowing money for the shop project, which would replace the old, too-small shop currently in use. Councillors thusly defeat the borrowing bylaw on its third reading, and are left with questions on how to proceed.

For the top news of the second half of 2016, check next week’s Stettler Independent.