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Cadet camp starts back up

With only one day remaining before 817 army sea and air cadets arrive in Vernon from across western Canada, staff at Vernon Cadet Training Centre are busy preparing for the 67th summer of training in leadership, citizenship and physical fitness.

There are 113 adult staff, including cadet officers and instructors, regular and reserve non-commissioned officers and civilians. More than 50 kitchen staff will feed the cadets and staff three meals a day for the next seven weeks.

The cadets will go through two-, three- or six-week programs tailored to their skills, age and experience.

Commanding Officer Lt.-Col. Judy Peter gathered her adult staff this week, telling them: “Working together as a team, we can provide a safe, challenging and enjoyable experience for the cadets this summer. At the end of the summer, the cadets will walk through these gates as better cadets and better citizens.”

The most noticeable change at the camp this year will be the addition of blue uniforms, as air cadets will form a separate training squadron under the command of Maj. Faye Shore.

The program moved to Vernon after the closure of the cadet training centre at Penhold, Alta. 

Shore is the commanding officer of 243 Ogopogo Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Cadets, in Kelowna.

Although VCTC is organized as an army battalion, its mandate is similar to that of a school, with cadets assigned to one of 12 courses.

The 540 youngest cadets in their first summer session will learn to live together, take part in an overnight field training exercise, fire air rifles, compete in a summer biathlon, and challenge a confidence course. 

The next stage is the three-week basic cadet course, which prepare cadets for junior leadership positions at their home corps. They also receive instruction in areas such as musicianship, fitness and sports, marksmanship, canoeing, hiking and mountain biking.

Older cadets are trained to fill the roles of senior leaders. Six-week instructor courses include drill and ceremonial, air rifle, expedition, intermediate and advanced band.

Fitness is a primary aim, and all cadets take part in team sports and fitness testing.

The cadets also participate in civic projects and will take part in the Okanagan Military Tattoo and march in parades in Penticton and Oliver.

In total, about 1,500 teens will spend the summer in Vernon, making new friends and creating lasting memories.

The program wraps up with a final parade and sunset ceremony on Aug. 12.





Fire relocates welfare office

It's business as usual for the Vernon office of the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

The building the North Okanagan office operated out of was gutted by fire Tuesday evening leaving many wondering where they can pick up their cheques and make enquiries.

According to Corinna Filion, communications director for the ministry, “ministry staff have set up at the Service BC centre at 3201 30th St., where clients will be able to pick up their cheques and have other immediate needs addressed.”

Filion also said a tent has been set up near the 48th Avenue building, but when Castanet went to the area about 3 p.m. Thursday, no tent was seen.

“Clients with non-urgent needs are encouraged to contact the ministry's toll free line at 1-866-866-0800 to access services and for more information,” Filion said.

“We don't expect any gaps in service. Clients who require crisis grants or have immediate needs will continue to be served.”

The Service BC Office will also provide access to phones and will have computers available for client use. For time-sensitive document drop off, and signing documents, clients may attend the Vernon SBC office or any other ministry office, during regular business hours.

Cheques are being processed in the Kelowna office and will be available at regularly scheduled times - 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. - at the Vernon Service BC office for pick up.

Client information/files are secure as client files are held electronically through the ministry’s central system. This electronic information has not been destroyed.

The ministry is currently working on finding an alternate government office location in Vernon and a further update will be provided when more details are available. Clients and community partners will be notified of any change in office location.



Racers ready to shred

Elite mountain bike racers will compete for thousands of dollars in prize money at Silver Star Mountain Resort this weekend.

The BC Cup Downhill Series Race takes place Saturday and Sunday. Close to 250 racers are expected on the mountain.

“The Silver Star race is definitely one I look forward to each year,” said Max Scharf, winner of the 2014 Silver Star B.C. Cup expert junior men category. “The course is awesome, and the spectators are always good for a laugh.”

The course is on Dag’s Downhill – known as Silver Star’s most technical double black diamond trail.

“Dag’s Downhill is the perfect trail for this race,” said Ian Galbraith, summer business manager at Silver Star. “It has steep descents, rock gardens and tight turns to help make this one of the best B.C. Cup stops on the circuit.”

On Saturday, entrants will be training on the mountain and taking part in timed practice and seeding runs.

At 5:15 p.m., the hugely entertaining Dunbar Cycles Whip-off Competition begins, followed by an evening Biker Bash party.

On Sunday, practice runs go all morning, with the main event kicking off at noon.

For non-racers, the rest of the bike park’s cross-country and downhill trails will be open.





Fire cause undetermined

Fire officials are still looking into what caused a massive blaze that destroyed a single-storey building in Vernon Tuesday.

The 48th Avenue structure was gutted and partially collapsed by the fire that destroyed social services offices and the office of surgeon Dr. Mike Motyer who operated North Okanagan Foot and Ankle.

Lawrie Skolrood, Vernon Fire Rescue deputy fire chief, said a cause has not yet been determined and based on the extent of damage to the building, pinpointing the exact cause will be difficult.

Skolrood did confirm a roofing company was working on the building earlier in the day, but could not say if the work being done had anything to do with the fire.

Skolrood has been speaking with witnesses about the blaze and has some idea of what happened.

“It happened very quickly which tells me the ignition was well seated in the building and moved through the attic space,” he said.

When crews initially entered the building they could see no open flame in the office area, but when they pulled some paneling from the ceiling they saw lots of flames that quickly took off through the rest of the structure.

Skolrood said it appears the fire had been burning for some time before anyone knew it was there.

Fire crews ensured there was no one in the building before they evacuated to fight the fire from the outside.

“It obviously ignited on the roof and the ceiling area,” he said. “It was a very well established fire by the time our crews got there.”

On Wednesday, crews were at the scene extinguishing a hot spot and retrieving valuable items for people, but entering parts of the building is a concern.

“There is issue with the integrity of the building,” said Skolrood, adding that will make inspecting the building for a cause that much more difficult.

He also said people should not be concerned if they see a small amount of smoke rising from the ashes, as a filing cabinet is still smoldering, but for safety reasons crews will not be sent in to extinguish it.

“It's not going anywhere,” he said.



Cyclist hit by truck

A cyclist was sent to Vernon Jubilee Hospital Thursday morning with life-threatening injuries after being hit by a truck.

The accident happened at 6:20 a.m. on 25th Avenue, at the intersection of 35th Street.

Police said the unidentified woman was crossing 25th Avenue southbound at an uncontrolled intersection when she was struck by the eastbound Chevrolet pickup.

The inside eastbound lane of the road was closed for several hours while police investigated the incident.

Police do not believe speed was a factor, but noted the sun at that time of day would have been directly in the driver's eyes.

The truck sustained damage to the grill and hood, and the woman's mountain bike was wedged under the front end of the truck.

Police had several evidence markers on the road where parts of the bike were and near a small pool of blood.

Police are continuing their investigation, and there is no word yet on any potential charges.



Hay barn up in flames

A hay barn erupted in flames in Armstrong, Wednesday evening.

The fire started about 6:30 p.m. on Knob Hill Road, near the Hulcar Hall, according to neighbours.

There is no word on the cause of the fire or any injuries. However, wet or recently harvested hay can spontaneously combust due to microbial growth, causing changes in heat and oxygen availability within the hay pile, according to Washington State University.

The blaze produced a thick pall of smoke that drifted across the valley.

It is said to have sparked at the Jansen family farm.



Super sounds all summer

Downtown Vernon is set to host another season of free summer entertainment.

“Our free summer music events really bring a fun energy and atmosphere to downtown Vernon. It’s the perfect excuse to relax, grab a bite to eat and enjoy summer with friends and family.” says Hailey Rilkoff, Downtown Vernon events and promotions co-ordinator.

“We’re really excited about the bands we have lined up this year. There are lots of familiar names and a few new bands we’re looking forward to seeing perform for the first time with us.”

Local bands and a few visiting performers will provide an afternoon of tunes in Justice Park, across from the court house. Bands like Tasman Jude, The Kings and The Creeks are just a few who will be Jammin’ in Justice this summer.

Starting July 8 with The Marv Machura Band, bands will play in Justice Park through to Aug. 26 from 12-1:30 p.m.

For those who can't make the noon show, Civic Plaza next to the museum is the place to be on Thursday evenings.

“This year we have another popular line-up of bands including Cheaper than a Porsche, Cod Gone Wild, Legendary Lake Monsters and The Goods.” says Rilkoff, “We even have the Okanagan Military Tattoo joining us as guest performers on July 23rd.”

People are encouraged to bring down your lawn chairs or lay out a blanket, have a picnic and enjoy the show.

“Many of the downtown restaurants have ‘to go’ menus and would be happy to provide a meal for you, your family and your friends while you are listening to the entertainment in Civic Plaza” says Rilkoff. The first band starting the Civic Sounds concert series is the Shawn Lightfoot Band on July 9. Civic Sounds takes place from 7-9 p.m. July 9 until Aug. 27.

There will also be performances at the Avenue Market (along 30th Avenue) on Fridays from 4-8 p.m., featuring a mix of eclectic buskers and performers like Shaughnessy Rose-Barker, Eli Garlick, Soulstice and Mojom Circus.

Stroll along the avenue and discover Busk Stops with every type of performance from classic country to electric violins to juggling.

There will be special market performances by Sister Speak on July 24, Bender on Aug. 14 and Tasman Jude on Aug. 28.



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