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Reporters consider significant stories from 2013

Antiquated film equipment, advanced body training and nasty, old-school politics make for news highlights

By: By Gazette Staff

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 01, 2014 06:00 am

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  • PACKING A PUNCH – A story about hockey training by reporter Amy Crofts inspired assistant editor Cory Hare to take up exercise.
    PACKING A PUNCH – A story about hockey training by reporter Amy Crofts inspired assistant editor Cory Hare to take up exercise.
    FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette
  • FAVOURITE PIECE – This painting by St. Albert artist Pat Wagensveld was one of her favourites.
    FAVOURITE PIECE – This painting by St. Albert artist Pat Wagensveld was one of her favourites.

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The reporters and editors at the St. Albert Gazette handle hundreds of stories every year. This holiday season these staffers are looking back at the one story from 2013 that stands out for them, because the story touched them the most, was the most fun to cover, the most memorable to write … the reasons vary.

Other instalments appeared in the Dec. 25 and Dec. 28 editions.

Viola Pruss – business and social issues reporter

I moved to St. Albert in September 2012, but it took me a year to visit Grandin Theatres.

I somehow always missed it, sitting there beside Grandin mall, not far from the downtown core of St. Albert.

That was until one late August afternoon, when fellow Gazette reporter Amy Crofts and I decided to watch a movie in town.

We sat down in the worn-out, red seats at the Grandin and waited for the movie to play, when a flicker moved across the screen.

A soft humming started up, slowly filling the room before being cut out by the music of the feature presentation, which had now started to show.

At first the movie was slightly out of focus, and then adjusted to fit the screen. Sometimes small dust particles would pop up on actors’ faces, barely noticeable and only for a second at a time.

I turned around in my seat and looked up into the bright light coming from the room above the theatre, confirming my suspicion that there was – in fact – an old projector at work.

Now that everything is automatic, barely anyone uses these machines of old. Disks have long replaced reels, and modern projectors can create illusions of three dimensions.

Before long, old projectors will only be seen in museums, and no one will cut movies by hand.

Perhaps it’s due to a lifelong fascination with mechanics, a love of seeing clockworks slowly turn and mechanisms moving into place. Perhaps it’s just that old-time lure of the movie industry and its many, hidden wonders, but there’s still magic in those old machines and the halls they were built for.

There was a story to be told, and I did, on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Cory Hare – assistant editor

In my role as assistant editor, I spend most of my time processing the material our newsroom generates and helping manage our production. Consequently, I don’t write many stories myself. So my choice for standout story of 2013 isn’t one I wrote myself but rather one I suggested to our health reporter Amy Crofts.

A few years ago when I was a reporter, a story that I’d wanted to pursue but never got off the ground was a look at the training that hockey players do in the off-season. This interested me because I had a suspicion that being an elite hockey player is a lot more work than most people realize. And it was interesting to me that, while the pros are challenging for the Stanley Cup as spring flows into history (and regular citizens are occupying themselves with activities like golf and water skiing), elite-level hockey players are already hard at their training regimens in preparation for the next season.

So Amy took on the story and produced a descriptive and informative feature that ran Aug. 10. The story explained the dedication and techniques involved in building the modern hockey body.

Crofts’ story was not only an eye-opener for me, it rekindled a long-dormant question that I’d often wondered to myself: If I did some modern training stuff, could I derive greater performance and enjoyment from my own recreational hockey exploits?

After years of wondering this I was finally able to take action. I started exercising, sweating and grunting my 43-year-old body toward fitness, finally breaking out of the sedentary rut in which I’d been mired for more than a decade.

It’s been several months since I started training and I’m still at it. I’ve documented my travails in a blog entitled Big (Beer) Leaguer, as in a beer leaguer who’s trying to emulate the big leaguers.

At any rate, my efforts have improved my hockey playing, though not drastically, and made hockey more fun than it has been in years.

And none of it would have happened without Crofts’ story.

Stu Salkeld – editor

With 20 years in the community newspaper world, it takes a lot for a news story or photo to stick in my mind longer than a couple of days. The infamous Lemieux letter story during the St. Albert municipal election campaign did more than stick in my mind.

The Lemieux letter was brought to the attention of Gazette reporter Victoria Paterson when she was interviewing outgoing councillor Roger Lemieux. He had received the badly-written, anonymous letter at home in the spring to 2012, then took it to council where it was apparently discussed in private.

The letter claimed the St. Albert Taxpayers’ Association had some sort of gripe against Lemieux and the association intended to “take control of council” and claimed Couns. Cam MacKay and Malcolm Parker would help, either directly or indirectly.

George Valan, association president, told the Gazette he’d never seen or heard about the letter until it was in the paper.

“It is my experience with SATA is that we deal with facts and issues and would not endorse these types of tactics,” Valan said in an email. “The fact that it is anonymous and inflammatory towards our organization is very disconcerting.”

Both councillors directly denied any knowledge of the childishly-written letter. Parker said he had nothing to do with the group named in the letter. And MacKay, incredibly, accused Mayor Nolan Crouse of being behind the letter, claiming it part of a scheme to discredit the mayor’s opponents or critics.

He said Crouse’s signature was on the letter, but Crouse told the Gazette that his signature was on it because that’s the copy that was presented at council, and it was dated and signed as a submission.

The letter controversy was a great introduction to St. Albert politics to an editor who thought he’d seen, and read, it all before.

The most disappointing part (and in this situation it was difficult to narrow it down to one thing) is that whoever wrote the letter didn’t have the courage to step forward and take responsibility.


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