Tuesday, July 28th25.0°C
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More beds open next year

The completion of two floors in Vernon Jubilee Hospital's Polson Tower are on time and should be fully operational next year.

That from Interior Health board chairman Erwin Malzer who stopped by the largest hospital in the North Okanagan while touring region Monday.

Malzer said adding the two floors will be good for patients, doctors and nurses. It will add almost 20 new beds to the hospital that is often running at capacity.

Malzer pointed out it is a “massive job” getting the two floors ready and once the staff and gear is in place patients will be moved in to the semi-private rooms that feature state-of-the-art medical equipment.

Currently, VJH has 165 beds. Once the two floors are finished, patients will have access to 182 beds.

The top two floors of the tower that was built several years ago will remain empty for now.

And the hospital is not the only area that is expanding.

IH will be adding 185 residential care beds, with 85 of those being in Vernon and the remainer in Kelowna.

Malzer could not say when construction on the new facility will begin, but there have been “multiple bids” on the contract.

While in Vernon, Malzer toured the old part of the hospital and said he is aware of the present challenges, but added IH has to ration its capital as much as it can.

“You can't change it over night,” he said.

Malzer will continue his tour of area medical facilities when he visits Salmon Arm Tuesday.





Money for museum

The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives will be getting some much-needed funding from the federal government and Regional District of North Okangan.

Retiring Conservative MP Colin Mayes announced Monday the feds are providing the museum with $100,000. That money will be matched by the regional district and will go toward a new roof, mechanical work and rolling shelves for storing the numerous items housed in the museum.

Because space is so limited at the museum, curator Ron Candy said the rolling shelves will allow them to store more items properly.

“We have items in our collection that have national and international importance,” said Candy, adding the job of the museum is to record and preserve history for future generations.

While Candy is grateful for the infusion of money for the upgrades, what the museum ultimately needs is more space.

The museum has been in the same building since it was constructed in 1967. When the building first opened, it housed the museum, art gallery and library. The art gallery moved out many years ago as did the library and the museum quickly outgrew the extra space.

“If we had more space, we could get more people. If we had more room we could have more exhibits,” said Candy, who does not expect a move to a bigger building any time soon.

“It's tight. We even have some staff members who are sharing desks. There are artifacts in storage we would love to put on display, but we don't have the room for it.

“The thing is, history doesn't stop, so we have to keep collecting.”



Protected T open house

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund was never too thrilled with any of the plans for the Stickle Road intersection, but after learning the fine details of the latest proposal he is even less so.

Stickle Road has been a contentious issue for some time, with many people, including Mund and several council members, requesting a light at the intersection that has seen three fatal collisions in the last 10 years.

The Ministry of Transportation flatly refuses the proposal, as well as suggestions of lowering the speed limit in the area from 90 km/h to 70 km/h.

The ministry's latest proposal calls for a 'protected T' intersection that would allow motorists left turns onto the highway from the east side of Stickle Road, but not from the west, where there's an RV park. There would be a separate left turn with turn-around access for those motorists.

However, Mund said Monday he just learned people turning south from Stickle Road will not be able to turn right onto 27th Street and anyone wanting to go to the mall, Wal-Mart or any of the businesses in the Anderson Subdivision would have to cross the overpass and double back.

“They told us it's too close for people to jog over,” said Mund.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster has no problem with the plan and said going across the overpass and doubling back is not a concern.

Mund also said the protected T does not address the safety issue of having to cross several lanes of high-speed traffic, but Foster again defended the plan saying with the protected T, motorists will only have to cross two lanes of traffic before entering a merge lane for southbound traffic.

“There are controlled Ts all over the place and it works well,” said Foster.

While Mund said “90 per cent” of the people he has talked to favour a light, Foster said he is hearing the opposite.

“I have heard from a lot of people who travel that road every day and they don't want a light or slower traffic,” said the Liberal MLA.

Foster also said the majority of accidents at the intersection are rear-end collisions from people trying to merge with southbound traffic and not T-bone collisions.

North Okanagan residents will have an opportunity to give their input on the issue at an open house Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Prestige Inn.



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True Leaf still in running

A Lumby company is one step closer to becoming a licensed producer under Canada’s marijuana for medical purposes regulations.

True Leaf Medicine International Ltd. has received “additional enhanced screening” notice from Health Canada.

As of March 15, there were 25 licensed applicants in Canada. True Leaf’s application is among the 324 remaining of the total of 1,284 applications received. A total of 934 applications have been rejected or withdrawn.

Health Canada set an Aug. 3, 2015, deadline for answers to its questions regarding the applicants.

True Leaf made its original licence application submission on July 30, 2013, and received ‘ready-to-build’ approval on Jan. 28, 2014. 

“We’re optimistic that the additional enhanced screening means the government is close to the next phase,” said CEO Darcy Bomford. “We’re doing everything we can to demonstrate that we’re serious about respecting the legal licensing route.”

While True Leaf waits for Health Canada to approve its application for a licence to produce and distribute medical marijuana in Canada, it is establishing a niche in the North American cannabis industry by focusing on quality of life for pets with the True Leaf Pet brand. 

The company is looking for investment partners and up to $3 million in capital as it prepares to launch hemp-based pet treats this fall.



Arrests in Vernon shooting

Police have made several arrests in connection with a shooting and robbery in Vernon last year.

RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk said three men have been arrested and face numerous charges for the August 2014 incident that started at the Green Valley Hotel, spilled across the street into Polson Park and eventually to Kelowna, where the suspects were arrested, but had to be released while police continued their investigation.

However, police have now officially laid charges.

“All three Vernon men have been taken into police custody and now face charges ranging from attempted murder, to robbery with a firearm, to discharging a weapon in a reckless manner,” said Molendyk.

A fourth suspect who was also arrested last year is not facing charges.

Robin Rochmont, 34, faces seven charges, including attempted murder. Jacob Lowes, 29, faces three charges, including attempted murder; and Adrian Dziedzic, 24, faces two weapons-related charges.

Multiple shots were fired during the incident, launching a police manhunt across the North and Central Okanagan.

While no one was hurt, Molendyk said there was intent to cause harm, warranting the attempted murder charges.

“The investigation has determined that individuals were believed to have been involved in a robbery at one of the units of the Green Valley Motel where a firearm was discharged and ultimately led to the confrontation in Polson Park,” said Molendyk.

Shots were also fired in the park, and one of those charged is the robbery victim.

All of the men charged are known to police.

Molendyk said it took a year to bring charges in the incident because “it takes time to put all the pieces together. It was a very lengthy investigation.”

Police believe the incident was drug related. The type of gun used in the offence is not being released.



No sign of missing man

The search for a missing Alberta man came up empty on the weekend.

Friends and family of Curtis Wilson were in the North Okanagan Saturday and Sunday to search for the man who went missing late last month.

Wilson's vehicle was found abandoned near the south end of Cosens Bay on Kalamalka Lake. The body is his friend, Shane Letkeman, 32, was discovered in Kalamalka Lake, near Cosens Bay, late in June.

Police believe Wilson's body is in the lake and the Vernon RCMP dive team conducted an extensive search of the area where Letkeman was found, but there was no sign of Wilson.

Police also conducted a ground search of the area, but have since suspended both water and ground efforts to find Wilson.

Curtis Wilson's sister, Shanna Wilson, organized a ground search this weekend near Cosens Bay, but said on her FaceBook page, “Unfortunately, we still have no sign of Curtis, but the search is far from over. I'm still working on more resources to help look for him and I will keep everyone posted.”

Shanna thanked not only friends and family who joined the search, but local as well.

“Thank you to all the volunteers we had this weekend. All the travellers that came, the snacks and water people brought, the amazing family that offered their driveway for parking and brought us fresh sandwiches, my cousin bringing her dog out, thank you for everyone's help,” she said.

Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Curtis is asked to call police at 250-545-7171.



Thousands attend Tattoo

 

Thousands of people took in the second annual Vernon Military Tattoo over the weekend.

The Lord Strathcona's Horse musical ride opened the three days of military pageantry at the IPE Fairgrounds in Armstrong Friday.

Saturday and Sunday, the Tattoo moved to Kal Tire Place where spectators of all ages took in the two shows that lasted almost three hours each.

A military tattoo is a musical extravaganza of pipers, drummers, musicians, military bands, marching troops, multicultural dancers and singers of all ages brought together in a choreographed event, featuring more than 400 performers from all over North America paying tribute to the military past and present.

Derek Hall, who helped organize the event, said it is a way to honour the history of the Canadian Armed Forces.

According to okanagantattoo.ca, tattoos got their name when the British Army was fighting in Belgium 300 years ago. Soldiers were called in from the pubs each night for curfew, or Doe den tap toe, Dutch for ‘turn off the tap’.

The expression evolved to tap-too and then tattoo.



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