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Canada Post to staff: Stop sorting mail by hand

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — Canada Post is cracking down on rural postal employees sorting mail by hand.

The company says all mail received at rural post offices like Davidson must be sent to a regional centre — in this case, Regina — to be sorted automatically.

A Canada Post spokesperson said the corporation is simply enforcing an existing policy, and that there haven’t been any changes to the rules.

“To confirm, this is not a new process for Davidson or other rural post offices in your area,” Phil Legault said in an email to the Leader.

At a recent district meeting, rural employees were reminded of the policy, which is intended to standardize services for all customers.

The policy applies to all outgoing mail, whether it’s going to a post office box in Davidson or across the country.

“All mail, regardless of the address or destination, is to be handled and processed the same way to give all customers equal service and standards,” Legault said.

“We have high-speed sorting equipment that allows us to sort the mail faster than the manual sort that was being done locally.”

In practice, a letter mailed at the Davidson post office for delivery within Davidson would often be delivered the same day, as employees took the liberty of sorting those pieces of mail manually.

The added step of transporting the mail to Regina and back will delay the receipt of that mail by at least one or two days.

Canada Post’s website indicates the standard delivery time for local lettermail is two days.

Legault said Canada Post holds regular meetings with employees to review proper mail handling and processing procedures. The existing policy was “noted” at a recent meeting, he said.

Brenda McAuley, national president for the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, said the policy puts rural employees in an awkward position, as they try to provide the best customer service.

“They’re the front-line employees, they’re the ones who have to face the customers,” she told the Leader on Friday. “It’s a hard line.”

By telling their rural employees not to sort local mail, McAuley said Canada Post is effectively taking work away from them.

At the same time, McAuley said she understands the company’s position, as they seek to standardize service and also to ensure all mail is being properly counted and sequenced.

McAuley herself was formerly the postmaster in Capreol, Ont., a small town north of Sudbury, and had to follow a similar directive from Canada Post.

She said she was inclined to follow the rules, but at the same time, if someone came in to mail a birthday card to an address in Capreol, “that birthday card wasn’t going to Sudbury.”

“My position has to be, they have to listen to the corporation,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to see a member get in trouble because they’re sorting local mail.”

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Kerpans, MADD unveil roadside memorial

The family of Danille Kerpan unveils the signs for a roadside memorial to Kerpan during a ceremony near Bladworth on Oct. 10.

By Joel van der Veen

KENASTON — For the family and friends of Danille Kerpan, three years has done little to relieve the pain of her untimely death.

“It’s a feeling and a situation you can’t possibly describe,” her brother Josh said Tuesday. “If I could bottle it up and give it to everybody, to have a sip and understand, that alone would eradicate drunk driving.”

Danille, 25, was killed Oct. 10, 2014 in a collision on Highway 11 south of Bladworth, when her vehicle collided headfirst with a truck headed north in a southbound lane.

The driver of that truck, found to have a blood-alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit, was later sentenced to four years in prison.

Danille was one of 59 people killed in Saskatchewan that year in auto collisions in which alcohol was a factor.

Last week, signs were installed on Highway 11 marking the site of that crash, as a permanent memorial to Danille and a reminder to the hundreds of drivers who pass the site daily.

The signs were unveiled at a ceremony held the afternoon of Oct. 10 at the Kowalski farm shop southeast of Bladworth, roughly a half-mile east of the crash site.

About 45 people were in attendance, including her parents, other family members, dignitaries, media and local first responders.

While roadside memorials for victims of impaired driving have been installed in other provinces over the last two decades, this is only the second one in Saskatchewan.

The first was installed on Aug. 29 north of Saskatoon in memory of Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst and their two children, who were killed in a 2016 collision.

Danille’s parents, Allan and Melanie Kerpan, both spoke during the ceremony.

“There’s still not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Danille and what might have been,” said Melanie, who was initially opposed to having a permanent reminder at the collision site.

She later changed her mind, in hopes that Danille’s story would wake people up to the tragic results of impaired driving.

“People passing it would know that a life was lost at that spot,” she said. “That’s the hope for what we are doing . . . It becomes a real person.”

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McNabb, Knights pay tribute to Vegas heroes

By Joel van der Veen

LAS VEGAS — As they took the ice for their home opener, the Vegas Golden Knights paid tribute to the men and women who answered the call during their city’s darkest hour.

The NHL team opened Tuesday’s game with a ceremony honouring the city of Las Vegas, the victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting, and the heroes who responded in the face of tragedy.

As each player skated onto the ice, one by one, they were joined by firefighters, police and health professionals.

First on the ice was Davidson native and Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb, who was accompanied by firefighter Ben Cole.

Speaking to the Leader on Thursday, McNabb said it was an emotional experience and a memorable way to open their first home game of the season.

“It definitely gave us energy,” he said. “It was a cool thing to be part of.”

The ceremony included 58 seconds of silence, in honour of the 58 people killed by a single gunman during a country music festival in Vegas on Oct. 1.

The victims’ names were projected on the ice during the ceremony, while survivors of the event participated in the puck drop at the game’s start.

Deryk Engelland, who played as McNabb’s defensive partner for the season’s first three games, paid tribute to Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“I met my wife here, my kids were born here, and I know how special this city is,” he said, adding later to the survivors of the victims, “We’ll do everything we can to help you and our city heal.”

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Young’s chips in for Davidson’s new Zamboni

Trevor Ouellette, recreation director for the Town of Davidson, and Cliff Cross, a sales representative for Young’s Equipment, stand next to a new Zamboni ice resurfacer. The machine was delivered to the Davidson rink on Thursday.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — A local ag equipment dealer is chipping in more than $40,000 towards the cost of a new Zamboni for the Davidson rink.

Young’s Equipment — the province’s largest Case IH dealer, with branches in nine locations including Davidson and Chamberlain — recently entered a sponsorship agreement with the town.

The company’s advertising will be featured prominently on a wrap affixed to the outside of the new Zamboni.

“It’s great visibility,” said Cliff Cross, a sales representative for Young’s in Davidson. “It’s probably one of the better things you could put out there for sponsorship.”

Cross was at the rink on Thursday morning for the delivery of the machine, a Zamboni 525 ice resurfacer built in 2011.

Young’s will contribute a total of $42,000 over the next six years.

Cross said the company had proposed the idea a couple of times, adding that they have similar agreements in place in both Weyburn and Moose Jaw.

The proposal got a warm response from the current council, paving the way for an agreement between the town and the company.

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“There’s a lot of broken hearts”: Family, friends mourn Hanley teen

Family and friends of Drew Kolbeck (in inset) joined his funeral procession on dirtbikes and quads following the service on Sept. 28.

By Joel van der Veen

HANLEY — The life of the party. An adventurer. A true friend.

In the days since Drew Kolbeck’s death, countless family and friends have shared their memories of the Hanley teen. 

Some of these came in the form of posts to his Facebook page.

“I’ll miss your crazy dance moves at parties and your laugh that came right from the belly,” reads one.

“There was never a time when there wasn’t a smile on your face,” says another. “I hope you’re tearing it up where you are now.”

One simply reads: “Missing your smile, Drew.”

Speaking to the Leader last week, Drew’s mother Tanya Kolbeck said the stories have helped to sustain her and her family, in the wake of Drew’s death. They also give her hope despite her grief, she added.

“Maybe he could inspire people to be kind and always help each other out,” she said. “It was just natural for him to help people.”

Drew Kolbeck, 18, died as the result of a single vehicle rollover north of Hanley in the early morning hours of Sept. 22.

He was the middle child of Jeff and Tanya Kolbeck of Hanley. He has two brothers — Drayden, 15, and Dustin, who turns 20 this month.

Roughly 1,000 people attended Drew’s funeral service on Sept. 28 at the Hanley Community Hall.

The gathering included many students and staff from Hanley Composite School, as well as young people and others from throughout the area, as far as Craik, Davidson and Allan.

A procession of friends and relatives on dirtbikes and quads followed the hearse from the Hanley hall following the service.

Almost two weeks after his passing, friends are still sharing their memories online and sending text messages to Drew’s phone.

“I think there’s a lot of broken hearts out there,” said his mom. “He just touched people . . . He never had a mean bone in his body.”

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AGT commits $225K to Davidson rink

The Davidson Communiplex as seen on Google Street View.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — After more than two decades, Davidson’s rink is beginning a new season with a new name — and a long-term influx of cash.

AGT Food and Ingredients — headed by Davidson native Murad Al-Katib — has reached a sponsorship agreement with the town.

The company will contribute $15,000 annually towards the rink for the next 15 years, for a total of $225,000.

As part of the agreement, AGT has secured naming rights to the Davidson Communiplex, which will now become known as the AGT Centre.

Al-Katib announced the deal Wednesday in Davidson during a customer appreciation dinner held in the Sacred Heart Parish Hall, with roughly 85 people in attendance.

He confirmed the news in a Twitter post that night, which read in part, “Be proud of your hometown. A big part of who you are.”

Al-Katib is the president and CEO of AGT Foods, which distributes lentils, chickpeas and other crops to more than 120 countries internationally.

Speaking to the Leader on Friday, Al-Katib said the company has previously contributed to facilities in other towns, including Rosetown, Wilkie and Eston.

“Davidson’s a very important community for us, not only in terms of business,” he said. “It’s my hometown.”

While arenas and sports facilities often serve as community hubs, small towns often struggle to cover the costs of operating and maintaining their rinks.

Al-Katib said he believes it’s important and valuable to ensure such facilities can remain viable.

“That’s pretty exciting for us,” he said. “We want to be a part of that.”

He also said he’s pleased to see the growth happening in Davidson, as evidenced by larger classes at the school and the continued popularity of minor sports here.

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