Tuesday, March 3rd-7.8°C

Robotti bail decision expected

A decision on whether or not bail will be granted to the brother and sister allegedly involved in the death of Roxanne Louie will be made Tuesday morning in Penticton court.

Grace Robotti, 65, is charged with second-degree murder, while Pier Robotti, 61, was charged with being an accessory after the fact and indignity to a body.

A courtroom filled with Louie supporters and others heard details regarding the incident at bail hearings for the pair, Monday. There is, however, a publication ban on any of that information.

Crown counsel Kevin Fotty provided reasons why bail should be denied. Lawyers James Pennington, who is representing Grace Robotti, and Robert Maxwell, representing Pier Robotti, also spoke on behalf of their clients, before Justice Patrice Abrioux.

Rallies and small support groups for Louie have accompanied previous appearances by the Robottis.

This time, supporters filled the courtroom. Many were emotional as the circumstances were read out in court.

Laurie Wilson, a spokeswoman for the family, said outside the court that it was agonizing to hear the information this way.

Louie, a 26-year-old single mother and Osoyoos Indian Band member, was reported missing in early January after failing to show up at Penticton Regional Airport for a flight back to Vancouver.

A search ended with the discovery of her body in the Naramata area.

No more police at schools

Police officers are no longer stationed at the South Okanagan schools named in a threat letter found on school grounds last month.

On Monday, School District 67 Supt. Wendy Hyer said police were at the schools since Feb. 18, but that is no longer the case.

"They continue morning patrols by duty officers. And all schools are encouraged to resume normal operations."

The police maintained a presence at Skaha Lake Middle School, Princess Margaret Secondary, Penticton Secondary and Okanagan Falls Elementary, after photocopies containing threats were found on the grounds of the two former schools on Feb. 18.

Portions of the letter made threats directed at OK Falls Elementary, which is in School District 53, and Pen High.

The letter was published by the media, and both school districts provided updates on their websites.

Meetings were also held Feb. 22 in OK Falls and Penticton to provide concerned parents with updates.

At those meetings, the RCMP announced they did not know who was responsible for writing the letter. They further encouraged stakeholders to share any information they might have on who authored the note.

On Monday, RCMP Sgt. Rick Dellebuur confirmed they didn't have any police at schools today.

Nor have they been able to determine anything further with the letter, he added.

Bobbitt decision soon

A decision on David Bobbitt's dangerous offender designation is expected this month.

Crown has been pushing for Bobbitt to be labelled a dangerous offender, stemming from a violent sexual assault in 2011 in Penticton. A hearing on the matter was held off and on for several months in Penticton in 2014 and recently concluded in Kelowna, with a "fix date" set for today.

The case has been heard before Justice Peter Rogers. For Rogers to determine Bobbitt is a dangerous offender, he must find there is a high risk Bobbitt will commit violent or sexual offences in the future.

If given the designation, he could be in jail for the rest of his life.

During the hearing, court heard testimony from a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by Bobbitt in Penticton in 2007, RCMP officers who responded to an assault in 2011 in the city, as well as from Bobbitt himself.

Bobbitt was facing charges from the violent assault on a young woman at Dave's Second Hand Store in Penticton in July 2011. Her toddler was with her when the assault took place.

Bobbitt pleaded guilty to the counts he was facing from the 2011 assault in April of 2013.

The decision date in the hearing is March 13 in Penticton.

Microbrews for microphones

The local craft beer industry has stepped up to support the establishment of a community radio studio in Penticton.

In March, beer lovers who fill up their growlers at Bad Tattoo, Cannery Brewing, Tin Whistle Brewery and Kettle Valley Station Pub will be helping to raise funds for Peach City Radio.

"We've enjoyed getting to know our local microbreweries and are happy that they have joined up with us for this friendly competition and fundraiser," said community support chair Jackie Del Rizzo. "We're encouraging everyone to visit these local tasting rooms, fill up a growler with their favourite brew, and know that they are supporting both the local craft beer industry and Peach City Radio at the same time."

A growler is a re-fillable two litre glass jug that can be used to purchase local beers.

Between March 1 and 31, part proceeds from each growler filled at participating locations will be donated to Raise the Radio campaign. The campaign is an effort to help build a fully outfitted broadcast studio for the Peach City Community Radio Society.

The goal is  to raise $30,000 to purchase a transmitter, tower, antennae and all the required studio equipment for FM broadcast, including some quality microphones.

This future radio studio will be set up for the community in the Valley First Community Arts Centre, formerly the Penmar Theatre.

Points will be earned at each location based on the number of growler fills over the course of the month. The first ever Microbrews for Microphones trophy for Penticton's favourite beer will be presented at the 2015 Fest of Ale in April.

For more information, contact [email protected]


BC NDP looks forward

About 300 people attended a BC NDP conference focused on campaign tactics for 2017, held in Penticton this weekend.

Party faithful of all ages were treated to inspirational speakers and breakout sessions at the Forward conference at the trade and convention centre.

"We were doing sessions on data, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and social media," said Craig Keating, BC NDP president. "And I am pleased to say there were longtime party members and young people who represent the diverse make up of the province here."

The conference included presentations by Mitch Stewart and Lynda Tran, strategists for U.S. President Barack Obama.

"These are individuals who worked on the Obama campaign with deep ties to the U.S. Democratic party, who view us as their allies," said Keating.

Obama has won two elections, he added, and they came and spoke about the strategies they used in the States.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan was in attendance and gave an inspirational speech Saturday morning about why families need a break from the current government, said Keating.

He also took time to engage with participants during the conference.

Coree Tull, a 29-year-old attendee from Vancouver, said she was really excited about the opportunities that were presented, from the training to the keynote speakers.

"I knew it would be a great opportunity to connect with New Democrats from across the province and to start thinking about moving forward and what is needed to win the election in 2017," she said."I am walking away feeling energized and ready to work hard."

Keating said the aftermath of the conference will be that people go back to their communities and start working.

"We are not taking anything lying down," he said. "We are going to work harder and smarter than we ever have before to make sure John Horgan is the next premier of the province."

New home for med students

Visting medical students and locum physicians now have a home away from home at Penticton Regional Hospital.

A new factory-built modular student housing facility was placed on the site, Saturday, near the hospital's psychiatric unit.

The fully furnished, single-storey residence will be known as the Lloyd and Lota Jobling House in honour of the Penticton residents who donated more than $500,000 from their estate to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation for the project.

Lloyd Jobling, predeceased by his wife Lota, died in July 2010.

Half the structure, manufactured by Chaparral Industries of Kelowna, was delivered Thursday and the other half on Saturday.

Janice Perrino, the foundation's executive director, said the Jobling House will replace an aging trailer near the PRH parking lot entrance of Government Street, which was previously used as a residence for medical students for almost 30 years. Prior to that, the portable building served as a daycare.

"There was a need for this facility because we wanted resident doctors, nurses or anyone who was coming here for a period of time, to have a proper place to stay," she said.

Students will be required to pay a nominal fee to cover the costs of cleaning and maintenance.

The residence will include six bedrooms, kitchen facilities and a lounge. A small shed for bicycles and other items will also be included.

The residence should be ready for occupancy in April.

Nude beach on agenda

Penticton council is expected to discuss solutions to public nudity at Three Mile Beach at Monday's meeting. 

Recommendations in a staff report on the matter include the possibility of levying fines for public nudity, using signs to control clothing optional behaviour in a public space, segregating the area and encouraging the clothing optional users to move to an alternative location where neighbourhood acceptance exists.

"We have been getting phone calls and emails from both sides, and each side is very polarized," said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. "So in essence this has been thrown on council's lap to come up with some sort of solution."

Council also expects to hear from Kevin Proteau, speaking on behalf of the Three Mile Naturist Beach Committee at the meeting.

Frustrated neighbours told Penticton council in early February there will be no compromise when it comes to use of Three Mile Beach.

A delegation including Cary Pinkowski, owner of private property next to the beach, and neighbour Matt Fraser said in no uncertain terms they want their neighbourhood back.

The neighbours claim there have been ads of a sexual nature regarding the beach and evidence of sex acts found there.

Meanwhile, naturists who used a private portion of the beach for years, before moving to the public beach last summer when no trespassing signs went up, say they simply enjoy using the beach.

They say lewd acts do not take place there and that the beach itself attracts tourists.

Other council highlights are delegations from the BC SPCA South Okanagan /Similkameen Branch and Penticton RCMP.  Supt. Kevin Hewco will be discussing community policing recruitment.

A brewery lounge endorsement for the Cannery Brewing Company, 2015 special occasion license applications, expansion/re-location of the BMX track to 630 Munson Mountain Road, adoption of a fire and life safety amendment bylaw and zoning amendments fill out the rest of the agenda.

A public hearing regarding a zoning amendment bylaw for 115 Kinney Avenue will be held prior to the meeting.



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