Locals recognized


Gail Surkan: director of medical research foundation.
Joe Anglin: known for defending landowners’ rights.
Dale Barr: Rimbey mayor, known for his support of the environment.
by RANDY FIEDLER/Advocate staff

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Rimbey may be a small community but its residents are an influential lot.

That’s a conclusion that might be drawn from Alberta Venture magazine’s annual list of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People.

This year’s collection of notable provincial residents includes Rimbey Mayor Dale Barr and resident Joe Anglin. They join Brenda Schoepp, a Rimbey-area rancher and ag consultant, who cracked the Alberta Venture list in 2006.

Also on the business magazine’s 2008 list of most influential people is former Red Deer mayor Gail Surkan.

Described by Alberta Venture as a “green mayor,” Barr has been a driving force behind the proposed development of a cellulosic ethanol plant in Rimbey. Still in the planning stages, the facility — which is being developed by Aspen Bio-Energy Corp. of Calgary — would use materials like agricultural straw and municipal waste as its feedstock.

The magazine also noted Barr’s role in the Central Alberta Economic Partnership, a regional economic development alliance he chairs.

Anglin’s claim to influential fame stems largely from his leadership of the Lavesta Area Group, which opposes the development by AltaLink LP of a 500-kV transmission line from Edmonton to Calgary.

In addition to his role in helping block — at least temporarily — the power line and giving the then Alberta Energy and Utilities Board a bloody nose, Anglin ran a strong campaign as a Green Party candidate in the last provincial election.

Alberta Venture praised Surkan for her contributions as a director with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. A member of the foundation’s board since 2000, and its chair since 2005, she oversaw the introduction of a $20-million initiative to help recruit researchers to Alberta universities.

Other notable names on the 2008 Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People list include Steve Blakely, CEO of Servus Credit Union, which is poised to merge with Community Savings Credit Union and Common Wealth Credit Union; and Charlotte Robb, interim CEO of Alberta Health Services, which in May replaced the province’s health authorities, including the David Thompson Health Authority. Premier Ed Stelmach, federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice, PGA golfer Steven Ames and new Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz are also on this year’s list.

Alberta Venture noted that the group is more than a roster of CEOs from oil and gas companies.

“These 50 people reflect Alberta’s broader economy and a noticeable shift in thinking about economic sustainability happening in Alberta, and beyond our borders,” the magazine said.

Now in its 12th year, Alberta Venture’s list of the province’s 50 Most Influential People has in the past included Red Deer College president Ron Woodward, former Olds College president Rob Turner, former Red Deer Chamber of Commerce executive director Jan Fisher, former Community Savings CEO Herb Der and Bruin’s Plumbing and Heating president Herman Bruin.

Contact Harley Richards at hrichards@reddeeradvocate.com

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