By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Independent
A local Stettler volunteer group is getting a much-needed boost from the Town council.
The decision was made by council during their Feb. 16th meeting to support the group working on the Stettler history book, which is expected to be published in 2022.
The discussion during the meeting was one of three discussions brought back to council from the last Committee of the Whole meeting.
“The reason we all voted yes on it is, it’s a massive undertaking,” said Stettler Mayor Sean Nolls.
“It’s an encyclopedia of Stettler and area from 1905 or 1906 until present.”
The history book has been an ongoing project by a group of volunteers for the last several years. With the amount of information collected, the book is expected to be published in two-volume sets, each about 700 pages in length, and including multiple indexes.
“Anyone can submit their information for (the book),” said Nolls
When members of the committee overseeing the book spoke to council about the project during the meeting at the beginning of February, they let council know that they will be taking information from the public for another several months.
In total, Stettler council has decided to donate $10,000 coming out of the Arts & Culture reserves.
“(The funds are) coming from the arts and culture fund, which we have a reserve for,” said Nolls.
“It’s not new money, and if this isn’t arts and culture, I don’t know what is.”
Overall, the full costs for the project are anticipated to be around $217,000. The volunteers working on the project have contributed around 10,000 hours to date collecting information.
Other sources of funding for the project have been private donations, in-kind donations, and several grants have also been applied for, the status of which should be made known later in 2021.
The plan is to publish an initial 1,200 sets of the two-volume book, at an estimated cost of under $150 per set.
“It’s one of those things we need to fund on occasion, because sometimes history disappears and that would be tragic,” said Nolls
“There are many great stories to be told in Stettler.”
Another discussion coming from council’s Committee of the Whole meeting was what to do about the advertising in the Arena on the rink-boards and Zamboni, because the businesses that purchased advertising this year did not get value out of their investment due to the abrupt end of the season brought on by the pandemic.
“They didn’t get the exposure they paid for,” said Nolls.
Because of the abrupt end to the hockey season, council has opted to carry forward the 2020/2021 advertising in the arena into the next year.
“For us to bill (the businesses) or pull (the advertising down) is not acting in good faith,” said Nolls.
“It’s been an unprecedented year for businesses.”
With approximately $113,000 left over from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) grant the Town of Stettler received from the Government of Alberta, Town council has voted in favour of supporting community businesses.
“We had two projects,” said Nolls
“We had $113,000 left over.”
To help support businesses, Town council is giving every business in good standing $150 in COVID-19 relief.
“I know $150 doesn’t sound like a lot,” said Nolls.
“But when you add up all the businesses, it adds up to $78,400. (The funds) can be used for masks or barriers, or even something as simple as stickers.”
Council made the decision to provide this support, because they want the businesses to know that the Town of Stettler is open for business.
“It shows businesses that we support them,” said Nolls.
“We really want to show our businesses that we are a business community, and we are behind them.”
Another topic discussed during the Feb. 16th meeting involved a letter sent to the region’s MLA, Nate Horner, by the Town advocating for libraries and recreation centres.
Currently, libraries and recreation centres are not slated to open until the third phase of the Government of Alberta’s reopening plan, something council would like to see changed.
“Libraries in rural areas, more so than urban (areas), are fairly important because they are hub locations,” said Nolls.
“Access to the Internet in some rural areas is tough, so if you can’t get to the library, sometimes access to education can’t happen either. (MLA Horner) is 100 per cent on side with us.”
The hope is to get libraries and recreation centres moved to phase two of the province’s staggered reopening plan.
The province moved into phase one of the plan on Feb. 8th and the soonest phase two can be expected is March 1st.
If the numbers keeping dropping, under the current guidelines the soonest libraries and recreation centres will be able to reopen is March 21st, if the COVID-19 numbers remain low.