South Peace News
The recent attack by three youths on a High Prairie merchant and the vandalism in town dominated the public delegation portion of High Prairie town council’s meeting Sept. 27.
Barry Sharkawi, Trish Buchan, Tammy Kaleta, Michelle Strebchuk, and Teresa Yanishewski each spoke on the matter, all expressing alarm and fear for the safety of citizens.
Concern was sparked after the attack at Tomato Boy in High Prairie Sept. 19, which saw owner Greg Radstaak assaulted.
Buchan attended the meeting representing Northwest Funeral Chapel. She told council of the ongoing vandalism and added they are “trying to do the best they can” to deal with it.
“It’s just getting to the point it can’t be ignored,” she said. “This is shocking to me. If we keep looking away someone is going to get seriously hurt.”
Tammy Kaleta has owned deSIGNS by Tam in town for 37 years.
“What is happening in our community is completely appalling,” she said, before referring to the assault.
“(The youths) ripped his clothes off in his business. This does not happen in High Prairie.”
She is also angry the suspects were released pending court appearances.
“At what point does it carry incarceration?” she asked. “They were not playing nice.”
Kaleta also told council she phoned Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn and was told the matters falls on the judicial system. She asked council to write letters to appropriate government ministers and demand action regarding why the youth were released.
“It’s frustrating,” admitted Mayor Brian Panasiuk. “Everyone – the RCMP – is frustrated.”
“A lot of time we forget the victims in these situations,” said Kaleta.
Kaleta added there was a school lockdown Sept. 23 and a stabbing later that night in the Cozy Corner Pub.
It is no secret rampant vandalism is occurring in town. One citizen, Ron Shunter, has taken it upon himself to patrol the streets in his effort to curb crime.
Strebchuk has been in business for 20 years in town and is now looking at locating out of town. She called for community members like Shunter to get involved but did not mention Citizens on Patrol by name.
“It’s no secret what I’ve been up to,” said Shunter.
“I’m supportive of everything that’s been said of the crime,” said Yanishewski, owner of A1 Tack and Western Wear for 33 years.
Kyle McKenzie, owner of Super Bucks Pawn in High Prairie, attended the meeting and promised his business is taking measures.
“We’ve eliminated dealing with people like that,” he said.
Panasiuk said council is well aware of the crime problem.
“We have heard some of those concerns already,” he said. “We trying to get on it.
“It’s tough for the RCMP and our peace officers to be there all of the time.”
Town of High Prairie senior peace officer Alan Bloom added, “We have changed our schedules” to allow for more patrols at night.
“We are patrolling later and earlier in the morning,” he said. “We follow them (suspects) around. We make our presence known.”
Sharkawi asked council if they would financially support a Citizens on Patrol chapter.
Panasiuk replied council would be open to the idea but added he had heard if the public came forward with the initiative to start it. He added the High Prairie RCMP promised to provide a liaison to help the group.
Earlier, High Prairie RCMP Bryce Tarzwell told South Peace News they would provide a liaison, but not lead the group, which must be community driven.