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Lights out at Nanton, Alta., grain elevators following theft of cables

NANTON, Alta. –

A special light display was not featured on the twin grain elevators in Nanton, Alta., to ring in the new year.

The cables supplying power to the lights were stolen on Dec. 29.

“This is a seasonal program that’s very big for us. It’s a fundraising thing,” said Leo Wieser, board president for the Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre Society.

“It also brings joy to a lot of people. It’s also a great social media thing. People take pictures and selfies, so it’s a really big thing for us and for the town of Nanton, so having this happen was quite the surprise.”

Wieser says between $4,000 and $5,000 worth of cables were stolen.

“It’s amazing how dark it gets over here in this corner of the highway when the lights aren’t on,” he said.

“They are the big icons. You can see them for two kilometres going in and out of the town, so it’s a big thing.”

One 30-metre 240vac cable, which was being loaned to the centre, and nine 15-metre power cables were taken from the site.

“Nanton RCMP responded to a report that over $4,000 in extension cords was stolen from the Grain Elevator Museum,” a statement from the RCMP said.

“These cords were being used for the light displays on the elevators.”

Mounties say there are no suspects at this time.

“I know how much the community and people driving through Nanton have come to appreciate this unique experience,” said Mayor Jennifer Handley.

“It’s just unbelievable and really disheartening.”

Handley says tens of thousands of people travel through the Highway 2 town daily, with some even stopping in to see the light displays.

“Before, you just wouldn’t really notice, but this has been something that’s been happening for the last three years,” she said.

“We have over 70,000 vehicles travelling on the highway every single day and this is just a little bit of joy that Nanton can provide those people coming through our town.”

Wieser says the group is a non-profit organization and relies heavily on donations, grants and fundraising.

“This is also a drain of resources and time and also it has an effect as these were loaned cables that we had agreements with sponsors that this would come to us on a loan situation,” Wieser said.

“Will they be loaned to us again now? Because we can’t ensure that the stuff is safe here.”

Wieser says this puts the centre out until at least the fall, with no expected light displays for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day or Easter.

The mayor and centre are hopeful to see the cables returned with no questions asked — or the culprits caught. 

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