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Ross Gorman passes away

Gorman Brothers lumber has lost the last of its founding sons; Ross Gorman passed away Friday at the age of 93.

He and brother John founded the company in 1953 when they opened up a small sawmill operation to supplement their orchard business, which had taken a hit due to heavy frost one year.

The pair began building fruit boxes and durable packaging bins, and soon opened up a distribution plant in Oroville, Washington.

After a large electrical fire wiped out the mill in 1969, they simply rebuilt a more modern facility.

John retired from the business in 1996 and passed away six years later, but Ross would continue working until the age of 92.

The Council of Forest Industries issued a statement on the passing, with president James Gorman (no relation) saying Ross’s legacy will be remembered.

“Ross was committed to the company he and his brother built from the day they fired up their first sawmill to the very end, visiting the mill in West Kelowna almost every day for the past 60 years,” he said.

“Ross, along with his brother John, was a pioneer in the industry whose legacy will be one of community, loyalty and value.”

The mill was threatened by a large forest fire in 2009, but was held at bay with the help of numerous employees who showed up to help forest fire fighters attack the blaze.

The company still employs hundreds of workers at mills in Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Lumby, and Oroville, but the West Kelowna location is still its main operation.

A memorial service will be held Oct. 25 at the Trinity Baptist Church, it is open to the public.

Traffic delays along highway

Traffic along Highway 97 has been slowed after a traffic light failure in West Kelowna.

Lights at the intersection of the highway and Hudson Road are out, which is causing delays for commuters traveling in both directions.

It's believed that construction in the area may have contributed to the outage.

Send pictures to [email protected]

This to That for Habitat

The first annual This to That for Habitat contest is wrapping up with 10 local designers showing off their re-purposing ability, all for a good cause.

Months ago, each designer headed into the ReStore building, chose a piece to refurbish and weeks later presented something entirely new, 'upcycled' for auction.

“We had these designers that all came together to take a product from our ReStore and turn-it-up into something different, and we ended up with some amazing projects, it is just something else,” shares an excited ReStore Executive Director Deborah Guthrie.

The focus of the contest was to bring awareness to the variety of ways to recycle usable items, keeping them out of our landfills. Each of the 10 pieces was then put on the display for public auction, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

The public was then asked through social media and radio to vote on which project they thought was best, and today (Friday) a winner was announced.

Local contractor Jace Albrecht was awarded the best design among the 10 entries.  

With only a couple doors, and door pieces, Albrecht created pieces for both inside and outside your front door.

“I find it really hard to find things for the entry ways to homes. Furniture pieces are hard to come by for that area of the home. When I saw the nice solid fir doors, my mind got going and I wanted to build a couple piece that could be used on either side of your front door,” explains Albrecht.

He says he is a general contractor who builds homes around the Okanagan and does a lot of custom work.

“It is a hobby by necessity. If I see a need in my home, then I go into the pile of scrap from the job-site, or into a place like ReStore so I can recreate something or re-purpose it for the need that arises.”

All 10 pieces are still up for auction until Oct 18 at 5 p.m. and everyone is welcome to head to the ReStore building and place their bid.

The proceeds will go towards the new Habitat build in Peachland, which will see three new family duplexes and a Peachland Food Bank coming to the community, with land donated by the District.

“This is our first land donation as an organization so we are really happy about that," says Guthrie. 

She adds that Habitat is still looking for volunteers for the Peachland project and hopes to have the Food Bank open by the end of November.

“With this ReStore, we are really hoping to see two to three builds a year, which is huge,” adds Guthrie.

To take a look at all ten refurbishes and meet the designers click here.

All the entries are on display in the Habitat ReStore at 1793 Ross Road in West Kelowna and for sale by silent auction until 5 p.m. October 18th, 2014.


Prolific offender picked up

Police have arrested a man they’re calling a prolific offender after he was found in a stolen minivan Wednesday evening.

Stanley Charles Nickason, 33, was picked up in the 4000 block of Pritchard Road in West Kelowna. A concerned citizen had called police about a suspicious male inside a gated community on Chardonnay Place just prior to his arrest.

Earlier that same day, police had responded to a reported theft of a vehicle from a business in the 2300 block of Enterprise Way – the caller witnessed a Dodge Caravan being driven away.

Nickason was spotted by an officer in West Kelowna who confirmed the vehicle to be stolen.

He was been charged with one count of Possession of Stolen Property Over $5,000, two counts of Possession of Ammunition Contrary to Order and one count of Driving While Disqualified. He has been remanded into custody and is expected to re-appear in court on October 23, 2014.

A search of provincial court records show Nickason has a history of criminal offences in the Kelowna area for the past decade.

Local man safe in Nepal


CTV Vancouver

CTV Vancouver is reporting that Adams is apparently safe and has spoken to family. 

He had been missing since an avalanche in Nepal. 

More details to come.

CBC is reporting that a young West Kelowna man is one of several Canadians still missing in Nepal after blizzards and avalanches killed many hikers. 

His family tells the CBC that 29-year-old Matt Adams was last seen on Oct 10. He was reportedly travelling alone, without a guide in the Manang region hiking the Annapurna circuit.

Bad weather along that particular circuit has caused blizzards and avalanches that have killed at least 27 people, including four Canadians whose bodies have not yet been recovered.

It is reported that up to 70 people are still missing along or near the popular hiking circuit, located 160 kilometres northwest of the capital, Kathmandu.

Adams' sister-in-law, Jocelyn Enns, tells CBC that it is not like Adams to be out of touch for this length of time.

"He was supposed to be in contact every three to four days at the most and he's been very good about being in contact on a regular basis, so it is unusual to not hear from him for this length of time.”

Enns says their family is hopeful Adams is OK and just unable to reach a phone or computer to make contact with them following the blizzard.

She says his wife Ria is clearly very concerned.

"My sister is quite upset right now," Enns tells CBC. "She's inconsolable beyond words."

For help, Enns says they have reached out to the consulate and various travel agencies in Nepal and have also posted photos of him online.

Three other hikers from the BC Interior who were also missing in Nepal, two women and one man, were rescued Thursday reports the CBC. So far the storms have claimed the lives of at least four Canadians. 

If you know of anyone caught up in the area, or someone who has come home safely, please contact [email protected] 

Mail theft epidemic

Mail theft is on the rise in West Kelowna.

Over the past six weeks, 13 incidents of theft or attempted theft of mail from community mail boxes has been reported.

Just one incident was reported over the same time period a year ago.

"Although it is difficult to determine what mail may have been stolen, several community mailboxes in rural, industrial and residential areas have been tampered with and sometimes entered," says Cst. Jesse O'Donaghey.

"Police have noticed that the area of Stevens Road and West Gate Road appears to be most targeted by thieves."

O'Donaghey says RCMP have not yet identified any suspects regarding the recent spike in mailbox thefts.

To prevent this type of theft, police suggest:

  • Be vigilant and report suspicious activities around the community mailboxes
  • Pay attention if you do not receive mail that you had expected
  • Don’t let mail build up in your mailbox, have a family member or friend bring it in for you
  • Place a hold on your mail if you are away for an extended period of time
  • Immediately report any signs of tampering or damage to both the police and Canada Post


From cowpath to city road

The $6.2M upgrade to Westlake Road was officially opened Wednesday.

Funding for the project came from various sources including the federal Gas Tax Fund ($500,000), ICBC ($98,000), local Development Costs Charges ($3.9M) and the District of West Kelowna ($1.63M).

The project upgraded nearly 2km of Westlake Road from Highway 97 to Starlight Crescent.

It includes a roundabout, 1.5m wide cycling lanes, left turn lanes onto Industrial and Sussex roads, sidewalks from Stevens Road to Highway 97, 56 street lights plus replacement of an aging water main.

The project also included a special turtle corridor under the road near the pond just past Stevens Road.

West Kelowna Mayor, Doug Findlater, says the project is part of the district's ongoing commitment to upgrade what he calls paved cowpaths into urban arterial roads.

The project was originally scheduled to be complete in time for the start of school in September, however, some crews were diverted to emergency repairs on Gellatly Road in the spring forcing some construction delays.

Findlater says there are several more road projects on the horizon including Gellatly, Boucherie, Glenrosa and Shannon Lake roads.

He says it will be up to the newly elected council to determine the next set of priorities.

Findlater did indicate that scheduled improvements to Gellatly Road near the area of the slope failure in the spring is engineered and shovel ready.

Power restored to customers

Update -- 7 p.m.

Power has been restored to residents in West Kelowna. 

According to BC Hydro, the outage was due to a voltage problem or an overload.

Power has been out for nearly an hour to 86 customers in the Mission Hill winery area off Boucherie Road in West Kelowna. 

BC Hydro says the power went out at 3:36 p.m. to homes and businesses west of Vector Drive, east of Pinot Noir Drive, south of Ourtoland Road and north of Gregory Road. 

They currently estimate power will be back on by by 6 p.m.

Crews are trying to determine the cause of the outage, which is listed as under investigation, and are working to get the power back on.

We will have more details as they become available. 

Thieves break into mailbox

Thieves pried open a community mail box in West Kelowna Friday night, accessing several people's personal information.

Cst. Hall with West Kelowna RCMP said there have been at least 12 similar incidents in the Central Okanagan in the past three weeks. 

The crime occurred near the intersection of Parkinson Road and Westlake Road. West Kelowna residents found opened mail scattered on the ground nearby Saturday morning. 

"The main door was pried open which gives access to all mailboxes at once," Hall said. "Particularly when these community mailboxes are in secluded or rural areas, people see them as opportunities."

Hall said with the proliferation of online shopping, mail theft is becoming increasingly common. 

They are also difficult crimes to investigate forensically since so many members of the public access the boxes. 

"Unless we can pinpoint an area that the general public doesn't normally have access to, as far as finger printing, it's a nightmare."

Locals open recording studio

A new recording studio hand-built by a father-son team is open for business in West Kelowna.

Empire Sonic Recording Studio opened its doors last month after a year of construction. They have already worked with more than 15 bands and artists. 

Evan Ferguson graduated from the audio engineering program at Okanagan College in April of 2013. He was in the process of sending out resumes when his father asked what it would take to get a studio of their own set up. 

"I asked what he was going to get paid and he said $10 or $10.50 to start," Bill Ferguson said. "I said, 'what's it cost to get into it?'"

About $100,000 and a year later, they had converted the garage of their West Kelowna home into a "floating" studio, capable of analog and digital recording. And from the outside the public would never know a professional studio is housed inside.

The studio is floating because it is completely insulated with polyurethane strips and the interior walls are all separate from the exterior walls of the house. There are no parallel walls in any of the recording rooms to increase sound quality. 

Most of the materials are secondhand, sourced from ReStore in West Kelowna. The soundboard they are leasing from Ferguson's former instructor at Okanagan College. The electrical work was all hand-soldered by Evan. 

To raise the money Evan applied for a youth entrepreneurial loan from Community Futures Development Corporation. After a lengthy approval process, he got $40,000 plus the cost of insurance for the loan. 

"We want to be the mecca of places to make good music and get good sound," Bill said. "Over the past four or five years several studios have closed down on the coast. Kelowna is starting to fill that gap."

Bill Ferguson said he was hearing from artists that they would love to come to the Okanagan, but hotels are too expensive to make it worth their while. 

The Fergusons envision a "stay and play" concept for the studio, where travelling bands or artists could spend a night or two at the house while doing their recording. 

Empire Sonic is currently working on a three-song EP for local band Twin Towns who are going on tour to Ontario and back starting Oct. 13.

Lead engineer Zach Pentyliuk said right now they're trying to build a reputation. 

"People that come in are really impressed," he said. "We don't have to sell this."

While the studio is bringing in revenue, Evan Ferguson maintains his job delivering pizza for Canadian 2-for-1 when he needs extra cash. 

The studio is located at 3615 Empire Place in West Kelowna below Misson Hill winery.

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