Penticton & South Okanagan News
When a retired police officer from Summerland left his job after 25 years, he hardly imagined fighting for his little granddaughter to be given marijuana.
Chris Nuessler, along his wife, wants Canada to allow two-year-old Kyla Williams to be given a form of medical marijuana known to prevent seizures resulting from epilepsy.
The girl's parents, Jared and Courtney Williams, along with the Nuesslers, have been researching medical pot use and speaking with experts to build what they're calling "Kyla's medical team."
They say Kyla has suffered severe side effects from prescription drugs when she could be helped like other children in the United States.
A strain of marijuana commonly called Charlotte's Web has been known to help kids in the U.S., but it's illegal in Canada.
It contains very little THC, which provides the buzz recreational pot users crave, and is mostly made up of CBD, which limits the severity and frequency of seizures.
Named after a little girl named Charlotte Figi who has epilepsy, the weed has allowed her to develop and enjoy a more normal life.
In Canada, the only form of legalized medical marijuana is dried, meaning Kyla would have to smoke it.
Chris Nuessler said his view of marijuana as medicine has radically changed since his policing days.
"For me it was back to the 1980s and 1990s mindset when I was busting people. I had to do a 180 (degree turn) and start researching this."
Kyla appeared to be a healthy, little girl for the first six months of her life until her mother noticed she wasn't progressing at a normal rate and had unusual eye movements.
After she was seen by a pediatrician, Kyla was rushed to BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, where she was diagnosed with retractable seizure disorder.
Over the next year, the little girl was placed on a series of prescription drug mixtures, received steroid shots and was given a high fat diet.
She even developed a kidney stone. Some of the drugs had brutal side effects and she was averaging 100 seizures a day, her grandparents said.
"The drugs aren't really working and we were told there's really nowhere she can go," Elaine Nuessler said. "She's down to her last drug. She may seizure for the rest of her very short life."
In March, Kyla's mother and grandmother made a trip to Vancouver and were told Kyla's life expectancy would be short.
"We both cried all the way home from Vancouver," Courtney Williams said.
The next day, Courtney's 91-year-old grandfather called to tell her he'd seen a CNN report on Charlotte's Web and how it's been known to help children with cancer and epilepsy.
"Her development was so similar to so many of the kids who have been helped by cannabis," Elaine Nuessler said.
With Kyla's father working for long periods of time in Fort McMurray, the Nuesslers have become incredibly active in Kyla's life and are in the process of selling their home to accommodate the toddler and her parents.
They say they've spoken with leading experts in the field, including Figi's doctor, and have even considered moving to Colorado, where marijuana is available.
"Our entire support network is here," said Courtney Williams, who was trained as a health-care aide.
Growing pot themselves is not an option because it requires detailed chemistry to create Charlotte's Web.
The family said they want to try the marijuana to see how it will work for Kyla and understand that there are no guarantees.
"Why not? It can't be any worse for her than some of the horrible drugs she's been put on and the side effects her little body has had to endure," Elaine Nuessler said.
It was their last chance to formally let Summerland council know what they think about a proposed land swap.
Several hundred people took that opportunity at Tuesday night's public hearing at the Summerland Secondary School gym.
The controversial land swap would see just over 80 hectares of farmland removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve and 90 hectares of land farther out of town, in West Prairie Valley, swapped in.
Members of 'Stop the Swap' believe the municipality is trying to take away some of the best farm land from the Agricultural Land Reserve and replace it with land of a lesser quality.
According to organizers, 39 people spoke at Tuesday's public hearing and only one was in favour of the proposal.
"Tonight left no doubt about how Summerlanders feel. Sentiment in this town is to leave the ALR alone," says Stop the Swap organizer, Erin Carlson.
"We heard more great arguments and many pleas for council to start listening to what the citizens keep saying. Now, it's up to them to do the right thing."
Council has already given first reading to the land exchange bylaw which triggered the public hearing.
A decision is expected when council meets again Monday night.
Because the public hearing is now closed, councillors are unable to take in new information or speak publicly about the specifics of the bylaw until after a vote has been taken.
A specially designed stamp commemorating the SS Sicamous will be unveiled next month.
The unveiling will take place May 19 at 10:30 a.m. aboard the vessel, as part of its 100 year anniversary.
The Commemorative Stamp and First Day of Issue Cover will be signed by the artist, Randy Manuel, and will be available for purchase at this event.
The last Post Master to serve Penticton, Robert J. Otway, will be on hand with a specially designed Canada Post Commemorative Cancellation Stamp, which will be used to cancel stamps purchased only at this event on May 19th.
The SS Sicamous was launched 100 years ago May 19th at Okanagan Landing.
She served the transportation needs of the Okanagan Valley for many years prior to retirement in Penticton in 1951.
The SS Sicamous is now the flagship of the Marine Park on Okanagan Lake, and among her many duties now serves to inform and educate about life in the Okanagan in her heyday.
She is also a popular host to visitors and guests for special events.
Free tours will be conducted between 10 a.m. and 12 noon on May 19th.
A family that was jarred awake by an early morning fire in Oliver say they barely made it out alive.
Thomas and Alice George, along with their three children, were asleep when the fire broke out around 6 a.m. Monday morning.
“All I heard was the sound of pebbles on the window,” said Thomas.
“That’s what I first heard. I looked into the garage and I seen smoke coming from the floor, coming up, and that’s when I yelled 'fire!' to my wife.”
The pair managed to get their kids safely outside, but lost everything in the fire.
“From the time I seen the smoke to the time we got out, maybe two minutes later, the whole garage was engulfed. And I just seen the wreckage, of what’s left of our van, and this is what’s left of our house,” explains George, as he gestures towards the charred remains of the house on Main Street.
The only thing going through Alice’s mind as the family scrambled together was ensuring her children’s safety.
“My kids are the most important. I just woke them up and put them under a blanket and rushed them out the door. That’s all I could do.”
They are thankful for the community support already shown to them, but recognize some things cannot be replaced like pictures and memories.
“We didn’t have fire insurance. You don’t expect something like this to happen,” remarked Alice.
The couple was renting the house and say they are still in shock about what to do next, but will take things one day at a time.
“For the first couple hours, we couldn’t think of what to do first,” said Alice.
“It’s a horrible feeling. I don’t wish it upon anybody. I’m just thankful for my family and those that are supporting us. It’s unbelievable.”
“We have to start all over, and we’ll get through it one day at a time.”
The family believes the fire started in the back of the garage, but are not sure how it started.
Oliver fire crews, along with the RCMP are continuing their investigation.
-- With files from Trevor Rockliffe
A family of five has been displaced after a large fire roared through their home in Oliver.
The blaze began around 6 a.m. Monday morning, quickly engulfing a home at 6363 Main Street.
Early reports indicate the fire may have started in an adjoining garage, with gasoline being a possible accelerant.
The building on the other side of the garage has also suffered severe smoke and water damage. The office is currently occupied by MLA Linda Larson, who says her front window was broken so that art work, modems, and computers could be taken out.
Larson will work from her home until the another office can be set up, adding that her personal space in the rear of the building was heavily damaged. Everything that can be removed will be taken out later today once authorities finish dealing with the fire, and their investigation.
About 30 volunteer firefighters as well as Oliver RCMP, Oliver BC Ambulance, and FortisBC converged on the scene.
It is believed that the Oliver Chronicle Newspaper building located nearby also suffered some damage.
-- With files from the Oliver Daily News
A family escaped a house fire Monday morning in Oliver.
The home erupted into flames around 6 a.m. on Main Street, and it quickly became fully engulfed.
Fire fighters are now working to save adjacent buildings.
The BC Ambulance service was on hand, but there are no reports of injuries at this time.
The Oliver Daily news is reporting the couple (with a boy 8 and two girls 3 and 5) will need everything. Phone Shawna Michaud if you can help with children's and young adult clothing. More contact info email [email protected] or call 498-5523.
The home is located next to Linda Larson's MLA office, they are covering the office with water to try and stop it from catching fire. Crews did break the window of the office to remove items.
Flames appear to be contained, but there is water and smoke damage to the MLA's office, the Oliver Chronicle is located next to Larson's unit.
Main Street (Hwy. 97) is blocked off, but a detour is in place.
The home is a complete loss.
More details to follow.
According to the Osoyoos RCMP, a semi truck collided with a car at around 10:30 a.m. Friday morning, east of Osoyoos.
The truck was traveling westbound and the other vehicle was eastbound on Highway 3 in the Anarchist Mountain area, at Bobcat Court, when the driver of the truck failed to slow down at a switchback and crossed into an incoming lane.
He subsequently overcorrected and rolled the truck. He was removed from the vehicle by other motorists. He only suffered minor scratches and was taken to the hospital in Oliver for treatment.
The other car did hit some of the trailer debris. But that driver was OK and left the scene.
Const. Bradley Chaput said when he arrived on the scene the semi was on its driver's side and the trailer's contents were strewn all over the highway.
The truck is now being removed and traffic is still reduced to single lane alternating traffic.
Chaput said he expects that to only last for another half hour.
He said this particular switchback in the Anarchist Mountain area is the scene of many accidents, and the RCMP asks that people slow down.
Please send photos and video to [email protected]
The dangerous offender hearing for David Bobbitt is slated to start June 9 in Penticton and last for four weeks.
The decision was discussed during a pre-trial conference on the matter on Thursday.
There was discussion in the fall of moving the hearing to Kelowna, because of sheriff's' concerns about security issues.
But Justice Geoff Barrow determined in November there were a number of reasons it should stay in Penticton.
Among them were there was at least one vulnerable witness who would have problems testifying at the hearing if it moved to Kelowna and the impact on the family of Bobbitt's most recent victim.
Bobbitt was charged with a violent assault on a young woman at Dave's Second Hand Store in Penticton in 2011. Her toddler was found unharmed nearby.
He pleaded guilty to all seven of the counts he was facing in April of 2013.
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