Tuesday, September 23rd15.9°C

Vernon budget wins award

If you didn’t know cities could receive awards for building a budget, well they can, and the City of Vernon just did.

Vernon was recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for their 2014 budget.

The 2014 budget received the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

“The award represents a significant achievement, reflecting the commitment of the city and staff to meet the highest principles of governmental budgeting. The city previously received this award for its budget in 2013,” explains Communications Coordinator, Tanya Laing Gahr.

According to Gahr for the city to receive the award it had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.

The guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide and a communications device.

“This award represents the results of a very comprehensive process leading to the 2014 Financial Plan,” says Director of Financial Services, Kevin Bertles.

“It has been my goal to raise the overall level of financial reporting of the city and, in doing so, raise the level of financial transparency for Council, the citizens of Vernon and all other users of our financial information. Participating in the GFOA budget award program helps us to achieve that goal through its evaluations against industry best practices.”

A Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation was also presented Bertles as he was the primarily responsible for the award presented to the city.

“Having our Chief Financial Officer achieve this award again is a satisfying recognition of the high standard of work by his department along with the constant collaboration of all the City of Vernon departments that serve our public,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky. 


Tentative deal reached with CUPE

The City of Vernon and its CUPE workers have reached agreement on a new tentative contract.

The deal was reached Friday and ratified by City Council Monday.

Terms of the contract ere not revealed, however, in a news release issued Monday, financial terms were characterized as substantive.

CUPE Local 626 members are expected to hold a ratification vote on Wednesday.

Workers have been without a contract since the current deal expired Dec 31, 2013.


Pepper spray attack

No victims have come forward after an apparent pepper spraying incident early Sunday evening, that landed four in custody.

RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk says they responded to the call Sept 21 at 5:05 p.m., it was reported that three men and two women were pepper spraying people in the 3600 block of 27th avenue.

Police arrived on the scene and took four people into custody. However, without any victims, three were released. The fourth, a 17-year-old man, was held for outstanding warrants out of Nanaimo.

“We don’t have the victims so we don’t know if there was an argument or why pepper spray would be used,” explains Molendyk. “Pepper spray is used a lot, whether in defense or offence. I would say our officers deal with it at least once a week.”

Molendyk says the victims in this case fled the scene and were not located by police.


Did you drop your cash?

If you lost a large sum of cash Saturday in Armstrong, the police have it and they are looking for you.

According to North Okanagan RCMP a Good Samaritan found the bag of cash on the floor of the Armstrong Liquor Store at 11 a.m. and turned it over to the clerk.

Security footage revealed that the cash appears to have been dropped by an older woman. She is described as having white/grey hair and was wearing white capris and a black shirt. There is also indication she may be from Alberta.

The exact amount of cash and how it was packaged will be part of how police ensure the money gets back to its rightful owner.

“We are hoping that she is still here. We were hoping it would have been reported, but as of now it hasn’t been,” says RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk. “If that amount of money was mine I would be frantic and be reporting it.” 

The Armstrong RCMP are asking anyone who may know this woman or possibly family members of her in the area to contact them so the cash can be returned. 

Witnesses sought in bar assault

North Okanagan RCMP are asking for the public’s help in solving a violent assault that took place early Sunday morning in Vernon. 

According to police, they were called to Monashee’s Bar and Grill around 1:30 a.m. after a man had been severely beaten.

Police arrived to find the 23-year-old Vernon man unconscious on the floor of the pub.

“The victim was reportedly punched and kicked in the head. The victim sustained a serious head injury with a fracture to the base of his skull and a broken nose,” says RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk, who adds there is no current indication of whether the two men knew each other.  

The victim was transferred to Kelowna General Hospital where he remains in recovery after seeing a neurosurgeon.

Police interviewed patrons at the bar and identified another 23-year-old Vernon man who they suspect was involved in the fight.

That person was arrested, but no charges were laid and he was later released.

Police are now looking for more information to solidify any charges against him.

“We are still following up on information. Not all assaults are witnessed, although quite a few of them are, especially in a public area like that. We would like to speak to anyone who may have seen anything," adds Molendyk. 

The Vernon RCMP are asking anyone who witnessed this assault to please contact them at the Vernon Detachment at 250-545-7171. 

House fire in Armstrong

8:30 P.M. UPDATE

What was initially reported as wildfire is actually a fully involved structure fire. 

Armstrong Fire Department confirmed that the structure fire, which is "deep in the interface zone" had spread to surrounding trees.

The BX Swan Lake firehall has come to support.

There are no reported injuries at this time. 

The cause is unknown.

A wildfire is burning near Armstrong.

The fire reportedly began around 5 p.m. 

It is burning above Powerhouse Road on the east side of Highway 97 near the Royal York golf course. 

Luke Mackinnon said he called the fire in and can see the blaze from his house. He said it still looks active. Emergency crews are on scene, but it appears to be burning in an off-road area and access is limited. 

More details to come. 

Park ambassador suggestions

A group of Vernon volunteers are finishing up their summer, monitoring parks and trails in the North Okanagan and providing their feedback.

Over 2,500 residents participated in 'The Parks Master Plan' aimed at engaging Vernon residents to build a vision for the local parks.

The City instituted the plan after it took over park management from the RDNO at the beginning of 2014.

A big part of the project was the 'park ambassador program' that began in August and utilized eight local volunteers to take note of everything from usage to cleanliness, to how people interact.

With that information they were able to make recommendations to the city on how the parks and trails could be improved.

Park ambassador Garry Haas’s observations and suggestions on Girouard Park were heard and will be set into motion over time.

Haas recommends a general stream clean-up be a done, a picnic table be installed, paving of the gravel path through the park, additional fencing and a parking lot redesign.

“I wanted to ensure that the future generations are able to enjoy the freedom of parks: to sit and think, watch nature and human kind, play with family and friends and think about their future,” says Haas.

“The changes I suggest and those in the Parks Master Plan all need to be done with fiscal responsibility; they could be phased over time and should ensure the parks are maintained in good condition for the future generations.”

For more information on the Parks Master Plan check out the city website here.  

Read more Vernon / N. Okanagan News


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