Hurrying hard in Penticton

The Okanagan will welcome Canada’s best women’s curling teams to the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, it was announced, Thursday, by Curling Canada.

The 2018 Canadian Women’s Curling Championship will be played Jan. 27 to Feb. 4 at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

“There was a great deal of interest from across the country in hosting the 2018 Scotties, but the bid from Penticton raised the bar and made our decision relatively easy,” said Peter Inch, chairman of Curling Canada’s board of governors.

“The South Okanagan will put on a great show, not only for the curlers and their families, but also for curling fans from across Canada, and I’m confident this will be an event remembered for years to come.”

While it’ll be the first time Penticton has played host to the Scotties, the South Okanagan Events Centre – seating about 5,000 and home to the B.C. Hockey League’s Penticton Vees – is no stranger to major curling events.

The arena hosted the 2013 World Financial Group Continental Cup, won by Team North America.

Castanet will provide more details as they become available.


Celebrating Day of the Dead

For the second year in row, Penticton’s Shatford Centre will come alive with a Mexican tradition to honour ancestors.

Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is spearheaded by two Penticton artists, both of whom are originally from Mexico City.

Ana Oomen had the idea to share the celebration with the Penticton community in 2015.

At the Shatford Centre, she met fellow artist Norberto Rodriguez de la Vega.

Last October, they combined their talents and organizational skills and several hundred people visited the 2015 festivities, enjoying traditional food and visual displays.

The Shatford Centre’s Jane Shaak says this weekend’s Dia de Muertos will have an expanded list of activities.  

“We will offer a sampling of traditional food and beverage. There will be creative stations for face-painting or decorating the traditional sugar skulls," she said. "The displays of ancestral altars are also one of the highlights.”

Suggested donation is $10, children $5, or a family donation of $20.

Festivities run on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at 760 Main Street in Penticton.

Cleaning up Trout Creek

Twenty-one people got together to clean up the Trout Creek area of Summerland over the weekend.

This was the eighth time the Trout Creek Community Association has held these events, which take place once in the spring and once in the fall.

Organizers say this most recent event went well, after picking up about 25 bags full of garbage.

"I think it went very well," said Erick Thompson of the TCCA. "This is our eighth time that we've done this, and we always get a very good turnout, creates a nice sense of community, and we always pick up a surprising amount of garbage."

Thompson said the group tends to find some odd things by the highway, though he's not sure whether the items are tossed from cars passing by or if they wind up there by other means.

"We found a big, huge chunk of fibreglass insulation, usually there's some miscellaneous items," he said. "We found a tire and a hubcap, and a lot of it we find along the highway."

While the District of Summerland prefers volunteers stay off the highway itself, the group does clean up on the hills near the highway.

"And you do see a surprising number of cigarette butts, which is disconcerting for a number of reasons," he said.

Thompson said he typically sees a lot of the same faces at the events, but this year a family turned up with children to help out.

"That's always nice when people bring young people out," he said. "I think it's a good way to instill some stewardship in young people."

The cleanup was organized by the Trout Creek Community Association, while the District of Summerland provided garbage bags and safety vests.

The district also picks up the garbage after the cleanup.

Standoff at motel

UPDATE: 10:04 a.m.

The Penticton RCMP responded to a standoff at a Penticton motel on Wednesday evening.

According to Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth, at 10:30 p.m. the police received a report of a male who claimed he had shot himself and was barricaded in a motel room at the Lakeside Villa Inn & Suites at 4201 Skaha Lake Road. 

The man said he would shoot anyone that came to his room, claiming he had firearms. 

The RCMP, Southeast District Emergency Response team members, crisis negotiators, police dog services, as well as members of Southeast District Traffic Services responded to the call and closed Highway 97 due to the close proximity to the motoring public.
The male was identified as a 25-year-old Kelowna resident with a criminal record that included a number of past violent offences. 

All units of the motel were evacuated and the occupants were transported by bus to the Penticton Regional Airport for warmth and shelter.

Communication was made with the man, and after six hours of negotiations he was safely taken into custody.

The male was suffering from self-inflicted wounds that were not firearm related.  No firearms were located on scene and there was no evidence that any had been used.
At this point the man is detained under the Mental Health Act at the hospital and it is not anticipated that any criminal charges will be pursued.

The RCMP would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding during this highly tense situation that ended peacefully.

– with files from Deborah Pfeiffer

UPDATE: 7:10 a.m.

DriveBC reports that Highway 97 has reopened in Penticton after a police incident closed it overnight.

Castanet will have more details on this closure and police activity as they become available.

UPDATE: 6:20 a.m.

DriveBC reports that Highway 97 remains closed in Penticton due to a police incident.

The closure is just south of the city, and no estimated time of reopening is given.

Southbound traffic can detour via Eastside Road, but northbound traffic is diverted at Highway 3A, creating a lengthy detour.

ORIGINAL: 1 a.m.

A police situation has Highway 97 closed off from Penticton Airport to the Riva Ridge area.

Details are sparse, but an officer on scene, who was carrying a large rifle, said there was a "dangerous situation."

He couldn't expand on the nature of the situation, nor when it started and where it was located.

No traffic is being let through at this time.

A Penticton Fire Rescue pickup was on scene, along with several police cars and at least two ambulances.

Castanet will update as soon as information becomes available.

Back up power project starts

The work to install three backup generators for the Naramata water system began this week.

Construction will be occurring at three sites, the McKay Treatment Plant, Raw Water Pump Station and the Juniper Pump Station.

Construction work is expected to go into early 2017.

The public is reminded to be cautious and not to enter into the active construction areas.

Any residents directly affected by the construction will be contacted by the contractor to discuss the upcoming activities and any inconvenience that may occur.

For further information, contact Liisa Bloomfield, engineering supervisor, at 250- 490-4229 or by email

A healthy premiere

A film that takes a scientific look at why Americans are so sick brought in hundreds of people to Penticton's Shatford Centre on Wednesday.

In total, 600 people were slated to show up for the two premiere screenings, a matinee and evening presentation, of "Eating You Alive."

Joining the excited ticket holders were a local couple who are featured along with others in the film, Dan and Sheanne Moskaluk.

"Sheanne and I have never seen the film and we are very excited," said Dan. "And we are really happy to be able to share the film with our community as well."

The film immediately presents hard facts about the link between what people are eating and illnesses.

As many as half of all adults in the U.S. struggle with chronic health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, Alzheimer's, arthritis and erectile dysfunction.

And that despite countless dollars spent on medical research, new drugs and innovative technology to improve their health, more Americans are disabled and dying from chronic disease than ever before.

Several medical experts are featured in the film, saying people are literally eating themselves into their graves. The solution they say is using a whole-food, plant-based diet to not only prevent, but reverse a number of diseases.

Personal stories from people who have turned to this diet to overcome disease and better their health are interwoven throughout.

In the case of the Moskaluks, Sheanne, at age 46, was becoming more and more concerned about her health due to her weight and the negative ramifications it might be causing her.

She transitioned her family to the lifestyle in April of 2011 and lost 133 pounds in just over two years.

For Dan Moskaluk, he was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer at the age of 51 in November of 2013 and was given a grim prognosis.

After recovering from a complete removal of a kidney, he was accepted into an immunotherapy trial study in March of 2014.

The trial study involved four treatments of a drug combination every three weeks to be followed by a single drug treatment every two years for the rest of his life.

But after only three treatments he suffered a near fatal liver attack, was released from the trial and received no medical intervention treatments since May 2014.

Like Sheanne, he credits his health success to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

Those in attendance, shared the Moskaluks' enthusiasm.

"I am here because I am a firm believer in  plant- based eating and I am looking forward to seeing our own local stars, Dan and Sheanne, in this film," said Odessa Kiefiuk.

Students from the leadership group at Penticton Secondary School said they were inspired to come after Moskaluk came to talk to their class.

Penticton was the only Canadian stop on the cross-country pre-release tour for the film.  

For more information on the documentary, go here.

Trial set for hockey fraud

The trial for two men charged in a hockey fraud case has been set for September 2017.

Loren Reagan and Michael Elphicke are both charged with fraud and theft over $5,000 and unauthorized management of a lottery scheme, stemming from a hockey trip to Europe that never happened.

Both men, associated with the Okanagan Elite Hockey Association, have pled not guilty to the charges over the incident which allegedly took place in July 2011.

The trial is set to begin on Sep. 11, and it is expected to last two to three weeks, though the case will not be heard during four of the 15 days in that time period, as Penticton's Supreme Court chambers are booked up on those days.

The case was originally slated to last four weeks, but conversations between Crown and defence lawyers cut it down to three, or possibly two weeks, by distilling some of the 30-odd witnesses set to be heard down to written admissions.

Crown lawyer Patrick Fullerton, along with Reagen's lawyer Kim Ross and Elphicke's lawyer James Pennington all agreed to set the trial for September in Penticton, over potentially moving the case to Kelowna, where more facilities and judge time is available.

The setting of the court date may settle a case six years after the incidents allegedly occurred, after months of delays.

The failed trip was also the subject of a civil suit, in which hockey parents allege the misuse of more than $100,000 set for the trip that never happened.

Reagan was also involved in a failed hockey dorm project, which has also been the subject of civil claims.

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