Reeve's Message

September 2022
As I look out the window; the ground has a heavy dew, there is a crispness to the breeze, coolness and flocks of migrating birds letting us know that fall is here again. After the beautiful summer it is time for the crops to be harvested and for the calves to be weaned. I am happy to see better looking feed stocks after last year’s drought.
It has been a very busy year at the County of Stettler. As discussed in the spring’s Reeve’s Ramblings; our Advanced Life Support (ALS) Ambulance Service is in jeopardy due to rising costs that have not been met with a rise in funding from Alberta Health Services. The last round of contracts, signed 10-12 years ago, are no longer serving the needs of our residents.
Quite simply, maintaining the current ambulance service is essential for the health and safety for our residents, those within the Town of Stettler and those in neighbouring communities. This requires an ALS service with a paramedic on board, along with an Emergency Medical Technician. These individuals have high level training and can provide life-saving medications, cardiac life support, cardiac monitors, and IV drips that save valuable time for ambulance patients in our region. A Basic Life Support (BLS) service cannot provide those medications, or simply, any procedure that breaks the skin. This means for those relying on BLS service, precious moments are lost while patients are transferred great distances in rural Alberta. Losing our ambulance service to Alberta Health Services (AHS) would remove our ALS service in favour of a cost-effective BLS service. 
We have been working hard to negotiate with AHS and are lobbying with the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) to maintain this service. Members have taken opportunities to meet with the Minister of Health, Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner and MLA RJ Sigurdson, to further express concerns. These discussions are ongoing. We encourage people to get into contact with provincial government officials; including leadership candidates, MLAs and Ministers to emphasize the importance of rural healthcare and ambulance services.
In terms of gravel roads this year, we’ve heard your concerns. With the early summer rains and the follow-up of dry heat, we’re happy with how the roads are holding up as harvest traffic increases. Coming into budget season we will continue to prioritize roads; through equipment, training and product selection. Council has directed Administration to look into designated haul routes for heavy hauling and to invest in new ideas to continue to build up and maintain our roadways. Please be patient as our staff continue to upgrade and rejuvenate roads for the betterment of County residents.
We have had an interesting year in public works with the director Rick Green leaving us to take a position in British Columbia. Council wishes Rick all the best and thanks him for his service to the County of Stettler. We will miss Rick’s ‘outside the box thinking’ when it came to supplying more cost-effective ways to tackle an old problem. With 2700 kms of road grading, road rejuvenation, mowing and rebuilding are always front and center throughout the year and particularly at budget time.  Rick focused on gravel quality, size, and proper placement and experimented in using larger 1 ½ rock as surface gravel and to open the roads up and firm up the road bases over the past two years. 
This method received a lot of criticism and complaints but this year has proven the success of this experiment as this year’s summer rains came and our roads held up very well. We will be discussing gravel budgets in upcoming months and how to build on these successes. Proper grader blade selection and ongoing operator training has also helped in shaping and maintaining roads but dry fall weather and heavy harvest traffic are creating or increasing dreaded washboard and public works is trying new methods to reduce this as much as they can. New equipment was purchased this year to reshape shoulders to assist in the proper crowning of roads. You will soon see this equipment on our gravel roads as this is completed. 
Council has directed Administration to look at designated haul routes for heavy haul routes. This allows us to better prepare and maintain these routes to handle these heavy loads and with total CAP aggregate levy compliance these routes will have designated funding to help upkeep these roads. Some roads are being banned and existing historic road bans will be enforced ensuring all County of Stettler rate payers’ assets are being protected to avoid future major rejuvenations are required. 
CAO Cassidy is interviewing possible candidates now and change management will be part of the role. Please be patient as new ideas are tried, roads are being rejuvenated, backroads upgraded as this is being done for by the County of Stettler Staff as directed by CAO Cassidy and Council for the betterment of all ratepayers.
I could go on and on about our ambulance service, rural healthcare and the great work being completed by the County of Stettler staff. We are doing our best to keep this County full of the vibrant communities that we are proud to call home. 
Please remember to treat everyone with respect and kindness. As we head towards Thanksgiving, it is important to remember all that we have to be thankful for. Best wishes for the fa
Larry Clarke - REEVE for the County of Stettler No. 6
- Larry Clarke, Reeve
Councillor for Botha-Gadsby (Ward 3)