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Wednesday, 05 February 2014 06:48

ASB conference well organized

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When someone hears the terms convention or conference, it usually ends in a snicker or a rolling of the eyes.

The thoughts of people showing up for a meeting and then enjoying recreation time for the remainder of the convention’s days is a usual prevailing sentiment amongst most of the public.

There may have been some enjoyment in relation to topics and a fundraiser evening but the focus was all business at a recent conference in southeast Alberta which brought together member of rural governments from across Alberta.
The 2014 Alberta Agricultural Service Board Conference at the Cypress Centre in Medicine Hat provided the opportunity for Agricultural Service Board members, many reeves, county/ municipal district councillors, and the front line workers or members of the Alberta Fieldmen to gather to learn more about important topics of interest.
With so many issues such as crop market strategies, vegetation, landowners’ rights in energy development, watershed planning and rats, there were a lot of interesting topics with expert speakers.
But what was a real coup for the South Zone organizers of the well attended event was to have both the Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson and Energy Minister Diana McQueen not only make an appearance but deliver statements and sit and take questions from the hundreds of delegates from across the province for nearly 90 minutes.
They addressed questions from the audience and heard concerns ranging from transmission lines/ green energy vs. landowners rights, species at risk legislation and federal/Alberta provincial government relations. Not too often do those who own land get such an open opportunity to grill high-ranking officials who do work that is especially relevant to their livelihoods.
Some delegates probably didn’t get the replies they wanted, but at least they were heard and in most cases they were given a contact where they could follow up.
The Alberta provincial government cabinet members seemed to be making a concerted effort to blanket-tour southern Alberta last week. Many schools were visited by Education Minister Jeff Johnson and Minister of Transportation Ric McIver who each delivered good news in regards to funding for school upgrades such as in Brooks and Schuler in southeast Alberta. 
However, nothing should take away from the fact of having two major cabinet ministers make appearances in the southeast corner.
The convention delegates even showed their generosity by donating a total of $11,000 for the Southern MedicAir Society’s HALO rescue helicopter’s efforts during a silent and live auction. The auctioneer, Day 3 Conference Chairman Danny Hooper even managed to auction off a $100 bill for $1,100. Impressive.
The South Zone organizers deserve a lot of credit in putting together a well-run, informative and — most important —worthwhile and relevant conference.
Hats off to Cypress County’s Garry Lentz, Jason Stroch, Bob Olson and all of the other hard-working organizers for not only putting on a professional conference, but offering a good showing for the nearby counties and municipal districts. It also gave a mini-economic boom for businesses within the city of Medicine Hat. We hope to see you again in another five years.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor