Wednesday, May 27th9.9°C
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Millipedes to marmots


Imagine waking up to thousands of millipedes on your living room floor, your patio, and your garage walls – every morning.

That's what some Kelowna residents are dealing with. The creepy crawlers are coming out of the grass and into homes from McKinley Landing to the Westside, leaving behind yellow stains and an awful stench.

Bug Master technician George Forgie says the issue has grown over the years, but this spring the problem is the worst he has ever seen.

“People in areas of Kelowna, Mission Hill, Wilden, McKinley Landing are inundated with millipedes, they are vacuuming up three or four thousand millipedes every morning.”

The bugs don't bite or pose any danger to humans, but they do require a lot of moisture and will die in a home in a day or two.

One woman told Castanet she has spent $13,000 over the last year to rid her home of the pests, trying everything from vacuuming up the dead bodies, to insecticides. Nothing has worked.

She says she is at her wits end and has considered selling her home.

Bug Master is taking a shot at her problem with a barrier that is implanted at the base of the home's foundation that should prevent the arthropod from entering.

Forgie says the barrier may solve about 95 per cent of the issue.

Millipedes reproduce at an alarming rate. Females typically lay between 10 and 300 eggs, which take a few weeks to hatch.

“Years ago, when I started in the pest control business, the only place we found them was the Highway 97 side of Boucharie Mountain or the north end of Clifton. Now (they're) past the north end of Clifton ... in Wilden with abundance and they are all over Mission Hill. They are becoming a nuisance,” says Forgie.

He believes their spread has to do with urban sprawl in Kelowna, as development disrupts natural habitat.

But it's not just millipedes keeping Bug Master busy. Marmots are also causing headaches in the valley.

“The more building we do, the more marmots we are relocating. They come into highly populated areas because people are growing gardens, and they eat vegetables, they eat greens,” explains Forgie. “We have gone into their territory, and now they are in ours.”

Forgie says marmots seem to be in abundance this year, causing issues around Glenmore and Gellatly in West Kelowna. One resident in West Kelowna had wires in his truck chewed through by a family of marmots and his garden ripped up this spring.

The District of West Kelowna says it hasn't received many calls about marmot problems, but it doesn't deal with pest issues.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan hasn’t received any calls regarding marmots, although it did have some traps set up to deal with them at Gellatly Nut Farm.

Both organizations recommend residents with pest or animal issues contact conservation or a pest control company.



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Did drunk grab cop's gun?

Tuesday marked day two in the trial of a Kelowna RCMP officer accused of assaulting a man last June.

Const. Grant Jacobson has been on the force for eight years, and was in full uniform assisting with the bar flush about 2 a.m. when the incident occurred.  

At least three officers were standing in the patio area of Rose’s Pub when Jacobson alleges John McCormick, 61, reached for his firearm.

According to Const. Darcy Lawson, who was also working the overtime foot patrol, he saw Jacobsen speaking with a man, but wasn't paying much attention because he had just ran into an old friend.

While Lawson didn’t see McCormick reach for the gun, as it was on the opposite side of him, he did see Jacobson on the verge of arresting McCormick, when he ran over to help.

Lawson didn’t hear or notice any engagement between the two until that point, but says as Jacobson went to arrest the man, McCormick put his hands up in resistance and the constable was forced to put a move on McCormick which took him to the ground. He then punched him at least three times in the mid section and kneed him once.

The whole incident took seconds and was captured on surveillance video.

Lawson said he doesn’t remember if it was him or Jacobson who actually put the cuffs on McCormick. He testified McCormick was intoxicated, swearing and yelling things that implied he didn’t "care much for police."

While McCormick didn’t appear injured to Lawson, he did seem confused as to why he was being arrested, claiming he never reached for the firearm.

Const. Brent Edwards was on general duty the night of the incident and was called to the scene to transport McCormick.

Edwards said McCormick was clearly intoxicated and did not go willing into the patrol car. He continued to ask why he had been arrested. 

Edwards testified he had worked with Jacobsen several times and that he was always professional.

At the detachment, McCormick was processed by Commissionaire jail supervisor David Jones, who told the court his impression of the prisoner was that he was intoxicated, slurring and yelling that he didn’t know why he was there.

When asked if McCormick appeared injured, Jones said he had some blood on him.

Jacobson also took the stand on Tuesday, testifying he had been conducting a foot patrol, a job he had done many times. He said all three foot patrol members that night were at Rose’s Bar during closing, as it was very busy.

Trained in special self defence, as well as firearm and Taser use, Jacobsen said he knows how to deal with weapon retaliation and there are methods that can be used depending on the situation. However, “100 per cent speed and aggression” must be used when someone tries to take an officer’s firearm.

He remains firm that McCormick grabbed at his weapon. 

Jacobson continues to work as as fully operational constable at the Kelowna detachment.



Threat prompts lockdown

Schools in Rutland were briefly on lockdown while RCMP hunted for a man wielding a gun over the lunch hour on Tuesday.

Several reader reports to Castanet said that all schools in the area of Ben Lee Park were locked down. These were confirmed as being Heritage Christian School, Rutland Middle School, Pearson Road Elementary and Rutland Senior Secondary.

Police were on site at the schools while officers with dogs searched for the man.

Kelowna RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Duncan said a male entered a business at the corner of Leathead and Rutland roads and brandished a weapon before fleeing.

"Our members did a containment and the schools were locked down. The lockdown has since been lifted.

The business where the incident took place is Swankies Gourmet Hot Dogs.

Two police dogs were brought in, but failed to find a scent, said Duncan. Police have a description of the suspect and continue to patrol the area in search of him.



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What to know for May 26

AM Update with Jen Zielinski, for May 26.



Here comes pizza in a cone

A new food alternative will soon be available at City Park.

The city awarded a third concession to Konz Pizza in a Cone. The contract is for three years, running from May through September each year.

The company will pay the city $21,000 plus five per cent of gross revenues over the term of the contract.

Real estate services manager John Saufferer told council the bid was initially for Stuart Park, however, with construction still ongoing, it was decided to move the contract to City Park.

Konz will operate next to existing concession operators Wafelicious and Vietnam Village. It will replace Tacofina, which indicated the site was not financially viable and it would not return this year.

"The proposed location is within the existing concession hub at City Park. The three food trucks are located within close proximity of the water park and skate park and across the plaza from the recently constructed City Park washrooms near Cold Sands Beach," said Staufferer.

"Staff believes Konz Pizza in a Cone will compliment existing food vendors and provide a unique and memorable food experience for visitors and guests to one of Kelowna's most popular beaches."

While Konz was accepted as the winning bid for a food concession, there were no takers for a proposed activity or service concession in the park.

Staufferer said the city may take a look at revamping its current concession agreement to make it more appealing to an activity or service concession.

He said the agreement is quite strict, and more flexibility could open the process to more bidders.



City goes for Games

Kelowna hopes to be the focal point for senior sports and activities in 2019.

The city has confirmed it will put forth a bid for the B.C. 55+ Games, formerly the B.C. Senior Games. It has also confirmed 2019 would be its first preference.

The Games society recently sought bids from B.C. communities.

"We feel we could host any of these years, but having more time for preparations will help us to build capacity with our sport groups and generate excitement in the community," said event development supervisor Mariko Siggers.

"We feel 2017 would be a very short timeline. We would have to get started right away, and staff are already planning the sesquicentennial (Canada's 150th birthday) activities for 2017, so it would be a challenge to have the Games in 2017. With that in mind, we are recommending that Kelowna's bid indicates the first choice be 2019, followed by 2018 with a third choice of 2017."

Coun. Maxine DeHart pointed out other communities looking at the same three years will likely come up with the same conclusion.

"I think 2017 is going to be really tough for a lot of communities," she said.

"Who knows, we might get stuck with 2017. Either way, it's a good event, but I'm hoping your rationale will work for us."

Coun. Brad Sieben suggested the bid not include an option for 2017. However, the idea got no traction from the rest of council.

If Kelowna is successful in its bid for one of the Games, Siggers suggested the event be held in Sepember.

"The event calendar is a little more open, and accommodations are a little easier to come by."

If successful, the Games would cost the city $115,000 – $55,000 of which would be an in-kind contribution for facility rentals.

The bid must be submitted by the end of next month.



A family mourns

UPDATE 5:30 P.M.

A service for JoJo Casavant will be held at the end of this week, and her family wants everyone who loved and knew her to know they are welcome to attend.

The family tells Castanet their faith and Christian roots let them know she is now in a better place.

"JoJo took her relationship with the Lord seriously, and it was seen by the way she was able to love others with the same love Jesus had,” says brother-in-law Anthony Kuchma.

“She treated everyone she met with the same genuine love and kindness regardless of who they were."

There will be an open casket viewing at Springfield Funeral Home (2020 Springfield Road) on Friday, May 29 between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Kuchma says everyone is welcome to attend.

On Saturday May 30, everyone is again is invited to a burial ceremony at the Lakeview Cemetery (2850 Dry Valley Rd) at 9:30 a.m.

That will be followed with a celebration of life at 11:00 a.m. at their family church, the  Kelowna Christian Center (905 Badke Road), with refreshments to follow

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking all donations be put towards a missions program through KCC that JoJo had been involved in.

If you are interested in donating you can contact Pastor Ed Berk at [email protected]


ORIGINAL 5:00 A.M.

She was funny, joyful and spirited.

That’s the person her family wants the public to know, after 21-year-old Joselyn Casavant lost her life Friday evening in a tragic head-on collision.

To her friends and family Casavant went by JoJo. A young Kelowna woman loved by many who leaves behind her grieving parents, two older sisters, brothers-in-law and boyfriend.

“She was very funny, and lived a life full of love,” shares brother-in-law Anthony Kuchma to Castanet on behalf of the family. “She was the funniest and happiest person ever.”

JoJo was the youngest of three sisters and a bright light in their lives.

“She was always making other people laugh,” says Kuchma. “She had so many friends and no enemies. She was just so amazing.”

While still coping with JoJo’s death, Kuchma says the family takes some small solace in the fact she had just enjoyed one of the best weeks of her life.

From being maid-of-honour at her best friend’s wedding last weekend, to celebrating her boyfriend’s birthday and getting a promotion at work – it was the perfect week. 

“It seemed like everything in her life was in order in that moment. She had a remarkable last week,” shares Kuchma.

“Her friends that live out of town all visited this week and she had got to see them. She had just celebrated her cousin’s engagement. She got a promotion this week at her job. Even down to the little things like how she went to Starbucks and ordered a small something and it came out as a Venti. Even a couple days before she died we played board games and she never wins, but this time she won all three games we played. It was literally the best week.”

But the lovely final week ended Friday evening, when JoJo was struck and killed on McCurdy Road East.

Kuchma says the family was told she was knocked unconscious immediately in the accident and did not suffer.

“She had a pulse when the first paramedic arrived, but she was not there, she was unconscious.”

Crews used the Jaws of Life to get her out of her vehicle and then she went into cardiac arrest. JoJo died at the scene.

Kuchma says the family is still working through the stages of grief; it is almost too soon to realize she is really gone.

“I am still in shock because I don’t miss her yet, it still doesn’t feel like she is gone,” says Kuchma.

The 27-year-old male driver of the car that struck her is facing criminal charges for her death. The RCMP allege he was speeding when he lost control and crossed into her lane. He suffered non life-threatening injuries to his back and neck.

“It will be hard to forgive,” adds Kuchma.

JoJo was born in Prince George and raised in Kelowna. She graduated from the Heritage Christian School in 2011, worked at the Petro Canada/Skogies Gas Station and was actively involved in the family’s church, the Kelowna Christian Center.

Kuchma says the family intends to hold a service for her next weekend; they will release details early this week. 



Pepper sprayed and robbed

A clerk at Mac’s Convenience Store is recovering after being pepper sprayed during a robbery, early Sunday.

Police say a man entered the store on the 2100 block of Richter Street, approached the clerk and asked for two packs of cigarettes, which the clerk provided. The suspect then told the clerk it was a robbery and demanded an undisclosed amount of cigarettes be placed in a bag.

As the suspect took the bag from the clerk, he used the pepper spray and fled the scene.

Officers with a police service dog attended, but were unable to track down the suspect. He is described as:

  •  Caucasian male
  •  Thin build
  •  About five-foot-eight (172.7 cm)
  •  25 to 30 years of age
  •  Unshaven facial hair
  • Wearing a black T-shirt with dark jacket over top, dark gloves and dark baseball cap with stickers affixed to the brim

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with any information who has yet to speak with police is asked contact the Kelowna RCMP, Const .Hamilton, at 250-762-3300.



Campapalooza cancelled

Organizers of the Southern Interior's first Campapalooza event say they have had to cancel.

But they plan on bringing back the event next spring.

The expo-type was planned for May 30 and aimed to bring kids' summer camp operators from throughout the region under one roof for a day so parents could choose the best camp for their children. It was to be held at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College.

“The Campapalooza Summer Camp Expo ... has been postponed until April of 2016. The organizers apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. They invite everyone to continue to click www.campapalooza.ca for updated information,” the event organizers said in a press release.

Still looking for a summer camp? Here are a few opportunities.

 



What to know for May 25

A.M. Update with Jen Zielinski for Monday, May 25.



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