At County Council: Crime stats and a mural

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Crime down, Kendall out

Crime is down in Sturgeon County, says the county’s top cop – just in time for her to ride off into the sunset.

Morinville RCMP commander Staff Sgt. Dale Kendall reported on 2017’s crime statistics Tuesday to county council.

She also announced that she would be stepping down as head of the Morinville detachment as of March 2.

Sturgeon County had some 1,757 Criminal Code cases last year, down from 1,812 the year before. Persons-related crimes dropped two per cent to 300 cases, while property crime fell five per cent to 1,149 cases. Cases of possession of stolen goods were up, but that shows that the police are getting better at finding and recovering stolen property.

“When that goes up, it means we are doing our jobs.”

These downward trends are quite unique in the province, Kendall said. She credited the drop to the department’s proactive policing, which included targeted patrols in crime hot-spots and the Lock It or Lose It campaign. The department was also working on crime prevention through community presentations and regular check-ins with prolific offenders.

The detachment was also starting a Sturgeon Integrated Intelligence Group with detachments in and around Sturgeon County, Kendall said. Starting this February, this group will meet monthly to share information about crimes in the region – something that doesn’t always happen now, as some detachments are in different RCMP divisions.

Kendall said in an interview that she would step down as detachment commander this March to take on a new job as senior advisory non-commissioned officer for the commanding officer of K Division (currently Deputy Commissioner Todd Schean). Her job will be to advise the commander on operational issues.

“The (commanding officer) is looking for someone who has a solid background in operations,” she said, and she’s spent most of her career as a boots-on-the-ground officer.

Kendall stepped up as head of the Morinville RCMP in April 2017 to replace Staff Sgt. Riz Suleman, who is now at K Division headquarters in Edmonton.

Kendall told council that the last year has just flown by, and that she leaves her post with a heavy heart.

“I absolutely love this community and I love all members of the detachment.”

Coun. Karen Shaw was one of several councillors to praise Kendall for her service, saying her enthusiasm for the job was “a breath of fresh air.”

Centennial mural

Sturgeon County has hired St. Albert’s master of mosaics to create a work worthy of the county’s 100th anniversary.

County council voted unanimously Tuesday to spend up to $25,000 from its contingency reserve to have artist Lewis Lavoie create a mosaic mural for the county’s centennial celebrations.

The Municipal District of Sturgeon No. 548 formed on Jan. 1, 1918. County council previously received a $26,300 federal grant for its centennial celebrations.

Lavoie is a world-renowned artist from St. Albert based in Sturgeon County who specializes in mosaic murals. His works are visible on many buildings in St. Albert.

Coun. Wayne Bokenfohr suggested hiring Lavoie to do a mosaic mural for the county’s centennial during December’s budget debate. Council elected to pursue the idea outside of the budget.

Bokenfohr said Lavoie has been doing all kinds of mosaics in small towns across the province, and that these works often become tourist attractions.

“Not to remember our own past doesn’t look well for our future,” he said, and this work could represent the whole county.

Coun. Patrick Tighe supported the idea, noting that Lavoie was a local artist who was already recognized nation-wide.

While administration still had to arrange the details with Lavoie, the intent was to have the public participate in this mural’s creation, said Rick Wojtkiw, the county’s general manager of corporate support.

The county now has $275,000 left in its contingency reserve, which is topped up to $300,000 at the start of each year, Wojtkiw explained.

The mural is scheduled to be unveiled Sept. 8.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.