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Town, school division open new offices

The former G.R. Davis school has been renovated to become the new offices of the Town of Fort Macleod and Livingstone Range School Division.

The $5-million renovation of a former school into the central office of two levels of local government was celebrated last week.
The grand opening of the G.R. Davis Administration Building was held Sept. 18.
“This truly is a facility the entire community can be proud of,” Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan said.
The Town of Fort Macleod and Livingstone Range School Division now share the building.
About 130 people packed council chambers on Sept. 18 for the grand opening ceremony led by F.P. Walshe school students Cassie Delver and Bradi-Anne Feller.
Keenan told the audience that discussions began in 2016 between the town and school division about a potential partnership.
“There was no doubt that both parties needed updated facilities,” Keenan said.
The Town of Fort Macleod had outgrown its offices in the former territorial courthouse, an aging building in need of repairs and refurbishing.
Livingstone Range was in a similar situation in the former senior citizens’ lodge in Claresholm that had served as central office since it was renovated in 1989.
The school board and town council in December 2016 directed their respective administrations to hammer out a partnership to repurpose the former G.R. Davis school.
The school building had become surplus due to the $18-million modernization of W.A. Day and F.P. Walshe schools in Fort Macleod.
In February 2017 the school board and council approved an agreement that would see them split the $5-million renovation of the old school.
“One and a half years later, here we are and wow, this is an amazing facility” Keenan said. “What an exceptional result.”
The town and school division share some space in the building, including the reception area, board room, council chambers, staff room and gym.
The offices of the Town of Fort Macleod occupy the east wing of the building on its main floor, with the school division offices upstairs.
Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services is housed at the far east end of the building on the main floor, with its own entrance onto 20th Street.
Walshe Crossroads Campus, an outreach school operated by Livingstone Range, is in the west wing on the main floor of the building.
“I would suggest this is and has been a very positive and proactive journey that this community can be proud of for years to come,” Keenan said.
Livingstone Range superintendent Darryl Seguin provided some history on the building and the man for whom it is named.
G. Rider Davis was born in 1888 in Ontario and moved to Fort Macleod when he was six weeks old.
Davis farmed and ranched in the area before embarking on a career as a lawyer, being admitted to the Alberta bar in 1928.
Davis was sheriff and clerk of the court from 1923-’34 before moving to private practice until 1966.
Davis was mayor of Fort Macleod from 1939-’56 and was active in the community as a member of the Masons, Elks, Legion and Rotary Club. In 1949 he was made an honourary member of the Blood Tribe.
Seguin told the audience the idea of partnerships between the town and school divisions is not new. When a new town hall was built in 1886, a school room was part of the building.
The west wing and gym of the G.R. Davis building was built in 1950 to house the Fort Macleod high school, graduating a first class of 11 students.
The building expanded in 1954 and again in 1962 as the student population grew.
“The school has housed various age and grades over the years,” said Seguin, who when he joined Livingstone Range was principal at G.R. Davis school of Grades 4-7.
“Now 13 years later I find myself back in this building and looking forward to the ongoing partnership with the Town of Fort Macleod for many years to come,” Seguin said.
Livingstone Range School Board chairman Brad Toone echoed Keenan in praising the vision of former and present council members and trustees, as well as the hard work of staff from both organizations.
“Their vision, prudent budgeting and the desire for complete collaboration has helped this momentous occasion happen,” Toone said. “To be on time and on budget in such a short amount of time is nothing short of miraculous.”
“This building stands as a legacy and a testament of the good governance to benefit not only the town of Fort Macleod but the students and staff in our school division.”
Fort Macleod Mayor Brent Feyter said the previous office served the town well for many years, as will the G.R. Davis Administration Building.
“This new office means Fort Macleod is well positioned and well equipped for many years of governing and administering town affairs,” Feyter said.
Feyter said the former town office simply could no longer meet the needs of the Town of Fort Macleod.
“Today we are grateful to have a building that has the space and the technology to help us do our job well,” Feyter added.
The mayor welcomed the Livingstone Range staff and trustees to Fort Macleod, and said the partnership is proof the two organizations can work together.
“We look forward to working together and using this building for many years to come.”
Blackfoot elder Betty-Ann Little Wolf, who was native liaison at F.P. Walshe school for more than 21 years, provided a blessing for everyone in the building, as well as school division staff and students.
Following the ceremonies, school division and town personnel provided the public with tours of the building.

Fort Macleod Mayor Brent Feyter and Livingstone Range School Board chairman Brad Toone unveiled a plaque Sept. 18 to commemorate the official opening of the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

Fort Macleod council and Livingstone Range School Board members at the opening of the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

The public toured the G.R. Davis Administration Building following the opening ceremony.

People gather in the new offices of Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services.

The former G.R. Davis school has been renovated to become the new offices of the Town of Fort Macleod and Livingstone Range School Division.

Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services has offices in the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

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