The community of Rimbey continued to receive province-wide recognition following the announcement last week that one of Alberta’s major magazines has included two local residents among the top 50 most influential people.
In releasing their annual list, Alberta Venture cited the efforts of Rimbey Mayor Dale Barr and Lavesta Group Chairman and Green Party candidate Joe Anglin in including them in the top-50 list.
Described by the magazine as a, “green mayor” for his efforts in landing a cutting-edge ethanol plant for the community capable of utilizing products such as agricultural straw and municipal waste to produce fuel, Barr said the recognition came as a bit of a surprise. “I was very honoured to be included in such a group and certainly they’ve been doing this for a number of years, and it’s something you never plan to be involved with – you just keep doing your stuff and hopefully it’s for all the right reasons,” Barr said. “I think that our struggle has worked for us and again, it’s an honour to be included.”
Barr said the fact that the magazine cited his efforts in attracting an ethanol plant to the area was a bit of an eye-opener but quickly added that ‘going green’ is nothing new in this part of the province.
“That’s a huge surprise but certainly, we are environmentally conscious in this community and have been for a number of years,” he said. “I certainly didn’t lead the way but this project is very green for new ways of managing municipal waste and in helping producers with a value-added crop for themselves.”
Alberta Venture also pointed to Barr’s role in the Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) as another reason for including him in the prestigious list.
“That’s an exciting role that I’ve been asked to chair for all the municipalities and we’re doing some great things for central Alberta,” Barr said. “Again, the CAEP group is recognized for our leading-edge strategies that they use as flagships to show other economic development groups how things can be done so we’re kind of breaking new ground there too, and I guess that’s why I’ve been included in the top-50 list is that I’m not afraid to break new ground.”
Often described as having the tenacity of a bulldog, the magazine said they included Joe Anglin among the top-50 for his leadership of the Lavesta Group in their on-going battle against proposed power lines that were/are scheduled to run through the area from their origins in Edmonton to Calgary.
And while Anglin said the acknowledgement is flattering, he quickly deflected the praise from himself to the members of the Lavesta Group.
“I’ve given this reaction to a number of different newspapers already which is, you’re always flattered whenever anyone compliments you and that’s a natural reaction, but what I’ve always stressed is that this is a team effort,” he said. “Even though I’m receiving the recognition, there’s no question in my mind that the recognition belongs to the Lavesta Group and all the work that all these individuals have done, and I’ve always viewed it that way. Certainly I never aspired to make the list – that’s not we’ve done this or why I got involved, but it’s a compliment and we take it as such. I’d rather we have a victory in achieving our goals than making this list, but everything helps and I think the Group is pleased.”
This is the second time this year that Anglin has been selected for a very elite group. Earlier this year he was chosen by the Edmonton Journal as one of the top-10 most influential, non-political people in the province who made a significant difference in 2007 for his groups’ battle with the former Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) that eventually resulted in the exposure of spying tactics used by the EUB on members of the Lavesta Group thereby blocking – at least temporarily, the installation of the power lines.
“We feel good about it in one respect in that three years ago, they wouldn’t even allow us into the room to be part of the process, but they were arrogant enough to say that they wouldn’t even consider our opinion or our legal rights,” Anglin said. “So here we are now and probably the most important thing for us is that this wasn’t about fighting power lines, this was about fighting for our own civil rights – our right to a fair and due process of law, and most people don’t understand that.”
Over the past few years Anglin said it was a tough battle not only in fighting for their rights to be heard, but also in gaining respect and credibility from the press. Since the Group’s victory last year however, the former US Marine and semi-professional baseball player said things have most certainly changed.
“Absolutely, as a matter of fact it was hard to get any press initially – the press just didn’t want to listen and we were marginalized as people that just don’t want this in their backyard; we were marginalized as a bunch of disgruntled radicals, and it’s been a slow progression over time to bring the facts forward and challenging the power suppliers in the press because they were the ones that marginalized us in the press in the first place,” Anglin said.
He said everything changed following the exposure of the spying scandal when reporters from the province’s two largest daily newspapers began to research and investigate the claims put forth by himself and the Lavesta Group which, in turn, ultimately led to tossing his hat into the political arena.
“It’s been a tremendous battle and eventually, it did work out well,” Anglin said. “The hard part is I am the spokesperson for the Group so a lot of the focus does come on me as an individual – it’s also what propelled me to be a Green Party candidate, but it’s not ever been about me, it’s always been about the Lavesta Group,”