Archive for Craik

Murray gets 90 days in prison for fraud

Jeff Murray, former administrator for the Town of Craik, leaves Moose Jaw provincial court on Wednesday morning with his lawyer, Gail Wartman.

Jeff Murray, former administrator for the Town of Craik, leaves Moose Jaw provincial court on Jan. 25 with his lawyer, Gail Wartman.

By Joel van der Veen

MOOSE JAW — Craik’s former administrator is headed to prison after admitting to defrauding the town to the tune of more than $14,000.

Jeffrey Todd Murray, 42, was sentenced to 90 days in the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre, which he will serve on weekends.

In addition, Murray received three years of probation and was ordered to pay back the entire sum by which he defrauded the town, plus a $200 victim surcharge.

As he handed down the sentence, Justice Daryl Rayner told Murray that multiple factors were at play in his decision.

The greatest aggravating factor was the fact that he took advantage of a small town, said the judge.

“It’s not a large corporation, it’s not someone who can well afford to suffer losses,” he said.

“Craik has suffered a loss . . . Money is what we’re talking about, but it’s also a loss of trust.”

Murray had entered a guilty plea to a single count of fraud, representing a total of $14,181.30 in misspent funds, in an appearance in Moose Jaw provincial court on Jan. 25.

He returned to court on Thursday for a sentencing hearing, accompanied by his wife Karla and other relatives.

Murray appeared calm upon his arrival in the courtroom. For most of the hearing, he was in tears, at times shaking while he listened to the submissions.

He spoke briefly to the judge, expressing his remorse to his fellow townspeople and to his family.

“I am very sorry for what I have done to the taxpayers of the Town of Craik,” he said quietly. “I take full responsibility for my actions.”

In his submission, Crown prosecutor Rob Parker provided background information.

Murray served as the town’s administrator from 2010 to 2014. He was placed on leave in April 2014 as the evidence of his activities came to light.

Previously, Murray faced 33 counts of fraud, laid in March and May of 2016, totalling $41,079.81.

Those charges were withdrawn earlier this year and a single charge of fraud, representing roughly one-third of the former total, was laid by the Crown.

Murray was accused with using the Town of Craik’s Visa card to make more than $12,000 in unauthorized purchases at various businesses, ranging from Cabela’s to Princess Auto.

For the full story, please see the March 20 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Water shut off after hydrant failure in Craik


Workers install a new hydrant near the intersection of Ferguson Street and Seventh Avenue in Craik on Thursday.

By Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — Craik town staff and residents were dealing with water woes of a different kind last week.

A hydrant failure near the corner of Ferguson Street and Seventh Avenue, across from Craik School, forced town staff to turn off the water supply to residents on Craik’s west side for a combined total of 25 hours.

Mayor David Ashdown said he was pleased with the staff’s response given the complexity of the problem: “It just was not a straightforward dig-down-and-replace (job).”

He said he understood the frustration from some residents over the extended water outage on Saturday and the limited notice given, but noted that it was an urgent situation and the town did its best to communicate with residents.

“You have to deal with an emergency as it happens,” he said. “If we didn’t shut it off then, we were going to have people’s basements flooded.”

Ashdown said proper notice was given of a second planned outage on Thursday, when the hydrant was replaced.

He also said the Craik emergency measures organization (EMO) is working on collecting contact information for local residents so that news can be delivered quickly and reliably when an emergency arises.

Part of the improvement plan, currently under development by the town, includes repairs and enhancements to infrastructure.

Once that is in place, Ashdown said, the effects of such incidents can be limited to within a block or two of the problem, rather than inconveniencing the town at large.

The leaky hydrant was reported to town staff the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 17. Water was dripping out and forming a pool in a nearby drainage ditch.

Flushing the hydrant multiple times did not resolve the issue, and an isolation valve failed after staff tried to use it, increasing the water flow markedly.

The town had posted a notice online that the water would be turned off on the west side at midnight, but the turn of events forced staff to shut it off at 10:30 p.m. on Friday instead.

Contractors arrived on Saturday morning to address the issue, but work was complicated by several factors, including the presence of power, phone and gas lines in the vicinity.

Kati Ball, who lives on a farm outside of town with husband Dan Exelby, said they received a call from Coun. Gary Gilbertson asking for their help in bringing water to town.

“They asked us and we said sure, not a problem,” said Ball. “We were more than happy to help out.”

They filled up a 1,000-gallon tank from the RM source and parked it outside the Midlakes Manor, where it was available for most of Saturday. Water was also made available directly from the town water plant via a garden hose.

Town staff determined that the faulty hydrant needed to be replaced. The hydrant was capped on Saturday and water was restored by 7 p.m. that day, ending an outage of roughly 20 hours.

A planned outage was announced for Thursday and water was turned off, again on the west side only, at 10:30 a.m.

Contractors returned that day to install the new hydrant and the process went smoothly. Water service was restored by 3:30 that afternoon.

Co-op asks Craik for support as grocery sales flatline

Pictured is the Co-op grocery store in Craik.

Pictured is the Co-op grocery store in Craik.

By Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — Another year of net losses for the Co-op grocery store in Craik has prompted questions about the store’s future.

Palliser Plains Co-op, which operates the store, mailed out an update to members in Craik earlier this month.

According to the update, the grocery store had $1.25 million in sales last year, a margin of $208,848, and expenses of $293,359.

The store’s net losses totaled $103,774. When patronage from Federated Co-op is factored in, net losses are reduced to $57,655.

The letter indicated that the food store “has not met expectations” for the 2016 fiscal year.

The store would not be a viable operation on its own, but Palliser Plains has sustained it by means of patronage received from Federated Co-op, according to the update.

“Over the years the sales have not changed dramatically from one year to the other,” said Mike Sigouin, general manager of Palliser Plains Co-op.

The store has reported net losses each year between 2011 and 2016, and is projected to do the same in 2017.

Sigouin said the letter was intended to present a realistic summary of the situation to Craik customers.

“It wasn’t a threat,” he said, characterizing the message as, “These are the facts. Please consider supporting your Co-op food store.”

The letter includes a couple of calls to action, including the following: “Making the majority of your grocery purchases locally will enhance our viability, support local jobs and the economy in Craik.”

Sigouin said six people are employed at the Craik grocery store at present.

Employees recently agreed to a 32-hour workweek, according to the update, but costs continue to rise and margins are declining.

“Our team is providing the very best service they can at this point,” said Sigouin.

The store faces intense competition from stores in urban centres, which can also offer a wider selection of products. The letter acknowledges that the store struggles to maintain availability of some fresh products due to low sales.

The Co-op facility is Craik’s only grocery store. Davidson’s Co-op grocery store is the next closest, about a 20-minute drive.

Sigouin declined to speculate on the store’s immediate future, but said the company would continue to monitor market trends in the year to come.

“It’s a bit premature to predict anything at this point,” he said.

For the full story, please see the Feb. 20 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

New sergeant joins Craik RCMP

Sgt. Greg Doell is the new commanding officer at the RCMP detachment in Craik.

Sgt. Greg Doell is the new commanding officer at the RCMP detachment in Craik.

By Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — With one sergeant and four constables, Craik’s RCMP detachment is back to full strength.

The latest arrival is Sgt. Greg Doell, the detachment’s new commanding officer, whose posting here began earlier this month.

The detachment covers a large area, including Davidson, Craik and surrounding rural districts. Their territory reaches north to Bladworth, east to Holdfast and Last Mountain Lake, and down south to Chamberlain.

“To be able to adequately staff a shift is a bit of a challenge in a smaller detachment,” Doell told the Leader last week.

Having all positions staffed makes a difference, he continued, adding that educating and interacting with the public also play a crucial role in the work police are doing.

Doell, 47, is a 15-year veteran of the RCMP. He arrived in Craik on Feb. 1 and began his new posting shortly afterward.

He said he has reviewed recent reports and believes the detachment has done well in handling local cases, adding that he will continue to watch for changing trends and review them on a case-by-case basis.

A native of Warman who has worked in several detachments, Doell said he prefers community policing to working in cities.

“I grew up in small-town Saskatchewan and enjoy interacting with the community,” he said. “For me, it’s a natural fit.”

For the full story, please see the Feb. 13 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Obituary: Reich, Rose

Rose Marie Reich

It is with sadness we announce the passing of Rose Reich at the Craik and District Health Centre on Feb. 7 in her 95th year.

Rose was the third child born to Raymond and Katerine Heck of Holdfast. The family farmed six miles east of Penzance in the Mariposa district where Rose attended school.

In October 1941 she married Frank Reich and they farmed east of Craik. They moved to Craik for the winter months and then moved into Craik permanently in the home Frank built.

Rose was predeceased by her husband Frank, her sisters Margaret and Anne and her brother John.

She is survived by her loving family: Gerald and Bernette, Richard and Laurel, Danny and Theresa, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Rose also leaves behind her brother George and sister Fran as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Rose’s life will take place at a later date. For friends so wishing, memorial donations in memory of Rose may be directed to the Craik and District Memorial Fund or to a charity of choice.

The Reich families wish to thank the Craik Health Centre for the excellent care they gave Rose.

Arrangements in care of Hanson’s Funeral Home of Davidson.

Murray pleads guilty to fraud

Jeff Murray, former administrator for the Town of Craik, leaves Moose Jaw provincial court on Wednesday morning with his lawyer, Gail Wartman.

Jeff Murray, former administrator for the Town of Craik, leaves Moose Jaw provincial court on Wednesday morning with his lawyer, Gail Wartman.

By Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — Craik’s former town administrator has pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud.

Jeffrey Todd Murray has admitted to defrauding the Town of Craik in the amount of $14,181.30, both by overpaying his own salary and by making unauthorized purchases with the town’s Visa card.

Crown prosecutor Rob Parker told the Leader that Murray faces either a suspended sentence or incarceration, with his sentencing hearing scheduled in March.

Murray previously stood accused of 33 counts of fraud, laid in March and May of last year, totalling more than $41,000.

Those charges have since been withdrawn, and the single charge represents a significantly smaller amount — roughly one-third of the former total.

Even so, Parker noted the significance of the plea entered Wednesday, as a public acknowledgement of guilt.

“Clearly, there was an admission on Mr. Murray’s part that he had defrauded the town,” he said.

Murray, 42, appeared in Moose Jaw provincial court on Wednesday morning, accompanied by his legal counsel and an unidentified grey-haired woman.

He remained seated as his lawyer, Gail Wartman, addressed Justice Margaret Gordon, updating the court on recent developments.

Murray, who served as Craik’s administrator from 2010 to 2014, was previously accused of defrauding the town “by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means” in the amount of $41,079.81.

In March 2016, he was charged on 31 separate counts of fraud, followed by two additional charges in May.

Craik RCMP laid the charges, alleging that Murray had defrauded the town by using its Royal Bank credit card to make personal purchases at restaurants, retail stores and motels, as well as online.

For the full story, please see the Jan. 30 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.