Hero honoured for bravery

A Vernon man will receive one of Canada's highest honours for risking his life to save another.

Justin Huska will travel to Ottawa where he will be presented with the Medal of Bravery.

On Feb. 27, 2014, Kris Gunderson of Delta, Mike Heide of Kamloops and Huska rescued two people trapped in a burning vehicle near Cache Creek.

Alerted by a passenger waving for attention through the car's sunroof, Huska pulled the woman to safety before returning with Gunderson and Heide for the second victim.

Despite the flames and smoke coming through the broken windows, they used a pry bar to gain access to the driver and brought him a safe distance away.

Governor General of Canada David Johnston will present the medal to the three men at a ceremony in Rideau Hall on Friday.

NDP roadshow in Vernon

Key members of the provincial NDP are in Vernon this week to talk politics and, of course, to criticize the ruling Liberal Party.

NDP leader John Horgan said the party has been holding meetings throughout the province.

“What we're trying to do is reach out to communities we don't represent currently in the legislature. Vernon is one of those communities and we are going to be stretching into Kelowna and as far down as Penticton as well,” said Horgan from the Village Green Hotel Wednesday morning before an in-camera caucus meeting got under way.

Horgan said the legislature should be sitting right now but “Christy Clark has suspended the legislative process because it is inconvenient for her” so the NDP decided to go into Liberal ridings “and talk to people about a different way of representative government.”

The North Okanagan has long been a Liberal stronghold and with an election coming up next year, the NDP do not yet have a candidate for the riding.

However, Horgan played down the lack of NDP candidate in the North Okanagan and Shuswap ridings.

Several Liberals, including current Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster and Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, have both announced they will be seeking another term next year.

“We are nominating candidates weekly. We nominated three this past weekend and there will be more to come,” said Horgan. “We're very confident we will have a full slate of candidates come May next year and the bulk of them will begin the nomination process in January and February.

“The time you get nominated is not the important thing, election day is the important thing.”

Parking lot art

Painted murals already adorn the inside of Vernon's downtown parkade, but there is a plan for new art on the outside of the building on 31st Avenue.

City council has endorsed plans for a public art project to display one or more large pieces of art on the facade of the building, probably on the 32nd Street side, according to Mayor Akbal Mund. 

The Vernon Public Art Gallery Society is seeking federal funds being made available to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation.

If successful, the project would likely be undertaken in 2018.

Naturally a good time

Forget Sunday Funday, the real action will be on Saturday at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre Best Fest.

Activities will include pumpkin carving, archery, kite building and flying, craft workshops, games and the family favourite bonfire with s’mores.

The centre's Harris’ hawk - Stephen Hawking - will also be present.

Those who arrive in a costume will be entered into the costume contest.

Prizes for those in attendance include turkeys for a holiday feast, family memberships and stuffed animals.

The Real Pizza food truck will be on site for the entire event that runs from 1-6 p.m.

Executive Director Aaron Deans said when it gets dark, "We’ll light up our pumpkins for a spooky pumpkin walk with stories on the nature trail."

Admission is by donation.

700 needles found

Approximately 700 discarded needles were found in public places in Vernon between January and June this year, according to statistics from community policing.  

That is seven times the amount found during the whole of 2015.

“Right now needles are the trend (among illicit drug users) rather than pipes or foils,” said Annette Sharkey, executive director of the Social Planning Council.

During a presentation to council Monday, Sharkey said the local SHARPS action team would be mapping needle “hot spots” after a request from Interior Health.

“Finding a needle in a public place is a trauma, but the chance of transmission is incredibly low,” Sharkey assured council, adding that it was “not okay to find needles in your parks or playgrounds.”

Part of the problem appears to be a new user group that is not used to dealing with the street nurse and does not know where to safely drop off used needles.

As far as street drugs go, Sharkey said fentanyl was a huge issue.

The powerful drug can cause overdoses which are sometimes fatal unless countered with an antidote called naloxone.

“The street nurse is encouraging (drug users) to let one person go first and see what happens and have a naloxone kit available.”

Statistics show there were 40 overdoses in Vernon between Jan. to June this year which Sharkey believes is an “underestimate.”

Man offers teen a ride

Parents of school-aged children in the Armstrong area were sent a notice from officials regarding an odd incident in the North Okanagan community.

The notice said on Oct. 19 a man in a white truck approached a high school student and asked if he wanted a ride.

The student said no and walked away, the man drove away and turned down Royal York Golf Road.

Armstrong RCMP Sgt. Kara Triance said police are aware of the incident.

Triance said the man was not acting aggressive and did not make any effort to entice the 13-year-old boy into his vehicle.

Triance said the student “didn't like it and was concerning for him” but added there have been no other reports of a similar nature.

25th Street or Abbey Road?

Mayor Akbal Mund and some local school kids had some fun this week posing in a Beatles-themed Abbey Road zebra crossing photo.

However this was 25th Street in Vernon – and the photo marked International Walk to School Month (iWalk) in October and the completion of a new sidewalk  along the well-used school route.

The 25th Street sidewalk project began in early May, in response to resident concerns about traffic.

The road is a major pedestrian and cycling corridor used by residents and students of Beairsto School, W.L. Seaton Secondary, and Harwood and Silver Star elementary schools.

The overall cost was approximately $634,000, and included:

  • 1,370 metres of new sidewalk from 45 Avenue to Pleasant Valley Road
  • a new pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk at 43rd Avenue and 25 Street
  • two new crosswalks at 40 and 41 Avenues
  • bike route 'Share the Road' signage
  • pavement markings on 25 Street from Pleasant Valley Road to 45 Avenue, and on 45 Ave from 25 Street to 20 Street 

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