Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 20, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
District The LetKbttdge Herald Local Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Friday, December 20, 1974 Pages 17-32 School fire claimed teachers9 treasures By JIM GRANT Herald Staff Writer The most devastating fire to strike a city school since 1929 did more than just destroy the south wing of Wilson Junior High School. It also destroyed several years' work. Teaching materials, irreplaceable collec- tor's items and visual and audio recordings of the work of former students of the school were lost in the Dec. 9 fire to the personal dis- appointment of several teachers. The greatest loss was in the specialty areas of science, drama and arts which utilize a variety of equipment and instructional aids. Teaching in the specialty areas is an exten- sion of their way of life for some Wilson teachers and as a result, their personal loss may have been greater than that of the school. NOT REPLACEABLE The south wing and its equipment can be replaced but many of the teachers' possessions can not. "I would have preferred a fire at home to one at school. I spend more time at work than at home so most of my personal collectables and files were kept in the says science and physical teacher Karen Willis who has worked at the school for four years. "Much of what I lost is she added. "I lost files I accumulated over seven years." She also lost her university textbooks, physical education clothing, a series of en- cyclopedias and many other reference books and materials. "Please, are the words she recalls pleading to firemen in an effort to encourage them to let her into the school to salvage some personal items. Art teacher Don Matisz describes his fire losses to that of "losing your personal photo album. You can't really put a value on your losses because they are mostly of sentimen- tal value." SLIDES GONE Now part of the charcoal in the ruins of the building are slides he collected of his students' art work over the years. It is the only memory of a lot of "the fine work" of former students. This year's art students also lost the pro- jects they completed or were in the process of completing. "The students really felt bad about Mr. Matisz points out When the roof collapsed into the drama room, the dramatic world of Wilson Junior High School drama teacher Wes Stefan also suffered a temporary collapse. Mr. Stefan admits he should have known better than to possibly endanger his life by attempting to retrieve some of his belongings from the school shortly after the fire was brought under control by the city firefighters. THOUGHT OF LOSS "I was thinking of years and years of ac- cumulated notes and teaching materials. I was thinking of the scripts, props, costumes and sets for Peter the school musical performance scheduled for February, he recalls. "I was thinking about my books and make- up and student instruments and he added. The former CBC and Canadian film per- former is still thinking about those same losses and the total destruction of the "best designed and equipped drama facility in the city's junior high schools." Mr. Stefan's own losses range somewhere between and In addition, he lost instructional material .accumulated over a 10-year period, taped recordings of interviews with well-known ar- tists and performers and actual recordings of the plays they performed in and pictures of theatre sets and scenes "that will never be done again with that character in the same scene." GUITARS BURNED Mr. Stefan's personal equipment and supp- ly losses include classical and electric guitars, amplifiers and speakers, microphones, an electric drummer foot bass, a drama library of about 100 records and tapes, scale model furniture for designing sets and resource books. When he thinks of his losses, he envisions the many situations in which he used the equipment and material for instructional pur- poses and wonders "what will I do now." Science teacher Larry Thomsen was as dis- appointed as the other teachers when he learned the science area went up in smoke but today he has reason to be more op- timistic. While his personal losses are estimated at between and dollars, Mr. Thomsen has been able to recover much of the material for the science program he has been developing over seven years. While the whole program was lost in the fire, he has since been able to collect about 95 per cent of the material used in the program from former students. He had been duplicating the material and handing it out to students taking the program. STUDENTS HELPED One of his former students, when informed of his plight, contacted other students who had taken the science program from Mr. Thomsen and was able to obtain copies of most of the program material "It is a great feeling" to know the program is not lost, he said in an interview. The science teacher is now in the process of collecting about pages of notes he used for reference purposes and provided to students for their own files. Most of the replaceable losses of the teachers must be borne by themselves. The school has an insurance policy that covers each teacher's losses up to However, any loss beyond that amount now appears to be the responsibility of each teacher. Some of the teachers are attempting to be reimbursed for some of their losses through their home insurance plans, but prospects of winning their claims are not bright. ONE CONFIDENT However, Wes Stefan, the teacher who suf- fered the greatest loss, is confident he will be reimbursed for about of his losses. He had just made the last payment in September on a bank loan obtained over a year ago to buy some of the equipment he felt the students needed in his drama and music classes. All teachers interviewed expressed the opi- nion that the quality of education the students receive during the next few months would not suffer greatly The inconvenience to both teachers and students is obvious, they indicated, but the lack of facilities is expected to be offset by the predicted enthusiasm for learning students will display in an effort to overcome a challenging situation. The situation also presents a tremendous challenge to the teachers. "I will be starting off where I began six years ago" when entering the profession, says Don Matisz of the Jan 3 re-opening of the three-quarters of the school that was not destroyed by fire. The library, the gymnasium, back area of the shop, the cafeteria and the boiler room are the likely areas in the school to take on the new look of a classroom, laboratory or stage. DRAMA TEACHER WES STEFAN EXAMINES RUINED PLATFORM IN SCHOOL FIRE AFTERMATH Peter Pan back from ash pile WES STEFAN MOVED A SALVAGED SET FOR PETER PAN Lethbridge will be presented with the live perfor- mance of Peter Pan "come hell or high the drama instructor of the fire- struck Wilson Junior High School says with dramatic flair. When flames swept through the south wing that includes the drama room Dec. 9, the "largest, most ambitious pro- ject the drama, music and art departments" ever attempted received a severe setback, a disappointed Wes Stefan said in an interview However, he quickly points out, the setback will be over- come and "we'll probably have three times the show because the kids will work harder." "Their hearts will be behind it because it will likely be the only extra-curricular ac- tivity available to them" as a result of the fire, he predicts. The Wilson teachers have agreed to work with three full casts and to run eight full per- formances of Peter Pan in the Yates Memorial Theatre as originally planned during the first week in February. They agreed to go ahead with the planned performance despite the loss of make-up kits, props, costumes, rehear- sal facilities and partially damaged stage sets. The mobile-sectioned stage, a dimmer panel and stage lights, costume and storage room, piano, radio, record player, tape recorder, specialized stage furniture and props and all drama books and supplies were destroyed by fire. "Although the production will be going ahead with reduced sets and a vastly reduced budget, the students will have extra rehearsal time now and we plan to put on one of the best shows the city has ever Mr. Stefan boasts The school day at Wilson will be extended by 15 minutes next semester to make up for the instructional time lost through the closure of the school for the period Dec 9 to Jan 3 The school intends to hold the Peter Pan musical as a benefit show to gain revenue to replace some of its fire losses. "Perhaps in addition to charging admission we could ask Lethbridge residents to come bringing donations of old clothing for the costume department and old furniture for the set Mr Stefan hinted. The school will also welcome discarded household items for its prop department, tools for student use in building and painting sets, wigs and make-up There is still hope for an ex- cellent musical presentation but those involved with what was to be the school's first Christmas concert since it became a junior high school several years ago, have lost all hope. g Drought posed over South Water reserves at danger point By RIC SWIHART Herald Staff Writer Southern Alberta's water reserves in the mountain snow pack are dangerously low and river flows are far below normal in the face of predicted drought con- ditions for most of North America. Glen Steed, regional hydrologist with the Alberta department of the environment in Lethbridge, said the snow pack level in the Lee Creek watershed is only eight inches deep. This compares with normal two feet and 17 inches on the same date in 1973. The Lee Creek watershed provides water for the St. Mary and Oldman River systems and Chinook con- ditions are taking the snow almost as fast as it falls. The Belly River watershed with origins in the Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks is also below normal. Mr. Steed said the snow on the ground contains little moisture, compounding the problem. If the lack of snow continues, there could be a shor- tage of water in 1975, said Mr. Steed. The flow of the Oldman River is now 330 cubic feet per second, down from 800 cubic feet per second. The lowest point the river reached last winter was 420 cfs. Mr. Steed said part of the reason for the low flow is replenishment of the Waterton and St. Mary dams, the key storage facilities for much of the acres of irrigable lands in Southern Alberta. Under agreement, the provincial government can withhold all but 30 cfs of water flowing into both dams to allow them to be filled following any irrigation year. But should the water supplies in Southern Alberta's river systems fall dangerously low, the water ear- marked for reservoir supplies would be diverted to the rivers. Without natural supplies in the watersheds, irriga- tion would suffer from lowered reservoir supplies. With water shortages shaping up in Southern Alber- ta, an international consulting firm predicts the beginning of a period of drought to rival "the Dust Bowl of the '30s." Irving P. Krick Associates of Canada Ltd., based in Palm Springs, Calif., predicted in 1972 that a major drought would strike the Midwest United States in the middle of the decade. Dr. Krick wants to see a program instituted soon to provide weather modification cloudseeding on a broad scale to provide water to meet the needs of agriculture in 1975. A map prepared by the firm indicates the weather modification program is needed in an area from New Mexico on the south sloping northeast to the Quebec border west to Edmonton-Jasper and south through Lethbridge. Dr. Krick feels this drought area will peak from 1975 to 1978, resulting in the urgency for cloud seeding programs to begin soon. In the Krick program, clouds are seeded by vaporiz- ing silver iodide electrodes in a arc in a generator on the ground. The resulting crystals are ejected from the generator and carried aloft at a rate of more than one million billion per hour on natural air currents. He claims this method of cloudseeding can trigger clouds that wouldn't make it to the rain stage, es- pecially in summer. Precipitation increases of 15 to 30 per cent are possible. Oil industry praises premier for petroleum exploration plan Premier Peter Lougheed received points from the oil industry here Thursday for taking the first step to revitalize the search for Cana- dian gas and oil, currently on the decline. Praise for the premier's petroleum exploration plan, announced Dec. 12, came from Bill Kurtze, assistant general manager of the Independent Petroleum Association of Canada in an address to the Southern Alberta Council on Public Af- fairs. Mr. Kurtze told the council the combined increases in Ot- tawa's tax proposals and the provincial governments' royalty rates threaten to bleed industry revenue to the point that it provides neither the incentive nor the capability to develop new oil and gas resources essential to Canada. The speaker was posing questions throughout his talk relative to whether or not the Canadian oil industry has a bona fide case when it cries "unfair." Prior to Mr. Lougheed's an- nouncement, he said, the situation faced by the petroleum industry in terms of royalties and taxes was less grave in Alberta than that in Saskatchewan or British Columbia, but nonetheless still severe. He took as an example a barrel of Alberta oil going into the export market this month, with the assumption that the company has not built up a depletion bank nor are there any development or explora- tion expenses. This barrel would be sold to a United States buyer for plus gathering and transportation costs. "In he said, "let us assume that this is old oil and that operating costs are now 50 cents a barrel." Old oil is oil from old wells. "On this basis, the federal government will receive in taxes, the provincial government's share will be and the industry's take will amount to "Out of this industry is expected to pay interest on and hopefully retire some of its debt, pay dividends to its shareholders and find new oil and gas." The primary emphasis of the revisions and modifications of Mr. Lougheed's plan were directed towards strengthen- ing those smaller companies whose cash flow position has been proportionately the most adversely affected, he said. This program includes: program to return to the industry all amounts the province would receive as a result of the inclusion of royalties and other payments in computing taxable income under the new federal budget; royalty tax credit plan which would credit each cor- poration paying royalties to Alberta with an amount equivalent to federal cor- porate taxes on Alberta royalties up to million per year; increase in the "select price" for calculating oil royalties from a barrel to a barrel which in effect will reduce royalties on "old" oil from 40 per cent to 36 per cent and on "new" oil from 28 per cent to 27 per cent; reduction in natural gas royalty rates on "old" gas from 65 per cent to 50 per cent over a price of 72 cents per MCF; increase in the ex- ploratory drilling incentive tax credits by 10 per cent for class A footage and 7 5 per cent for class B footage. "Most within the industry feel this program is an impor- tant and positive step toward resolving the current dif- ficulties facing Canada's petroleum industry. "Specifically, recalling our example of a barrel of oil, the effect of Mr. Lougheed's plan will be to increase the smaller independent's take from the previously mentioned to Mr. Kurtze said. "This is only a first step and in order to prevent any further decline in oil and gas reserves and provide the necessary future supplies for Canada, a continuation of these positive steps is re- quired." Canada must maintain self- sufficiency in oil and gas supplies, he said. "This will take time and greatly increased expen- ditures. The dollar spent by the consumer on oil and gas must be used to replenish supplies and not to overly enrich the tax coffers of the various governments."