Tuesday, November 25th0.2°C

New distillery in South Okanagan

Oliver is known for its wineries, but visitors will soon have the opportunity to sample spirits made at a new distillery just off the highway, north of town.

Owner Grant Stevely is hoping to open the Dubh Glas Distillery in Gallagher Lake in December.

"Gin by Christmas is our goal," he said, as he led a tour of the site.

Stevely spent 18 years working in management for a ski area in Banff before moving to the Okanagan three years ago.

The main reason for his move was to start his own business.

"I knew I wanted to start a distillery, because I've always had a passion for whiskey," he said. "I also saw distilleries as a growth industry in the province, and narrowed where I wanted to be down to the Okanagan, after trips to the wineries here."

He and his business partner began looking for a property, and found the right one near the highway on Gallagher Lake Frontage Road.

They started building over a year ago and had hoped to open in July of 2014, but encountered a few hurdles along the way.

One was the specialized nature of some of the equipment. For example it took a year to get the Holstein still.

"What's happened is a worldwide demand for distillery equipment has put pressure on the manufacturers," he said.

Any new construction, he added, is also a challenge. 

After the still came in, they soon received the stainless steel tanks.

Now that everything is onsite, they are just waiting for the installers to come from Hungary and California.

When they open their doors, hopefully on Dec. 15, the first product available will be the Noteworthy Gin.

In addition, they will offer a new barley spirit (commonly known as Moonshine) for at-home aging in small, one-litre oak barrels.

As the distillery grows -- there are already plans to expand the current building -- they will offer fresh fruit liqueurs and whiskey.

"We are doing much like other distilleries, using the culled fruit to make a viable product, as opposed to it ending up in a landfill," said Stevely. "Basically there are two types of distillers in BC. One is a craft distiller and the other is commercial. I fall under the craft distiller heading which means making spirits with 100 per cent BC grown ingredients."

Even the label on the Noteworthy Gin is reflective of their focus on local agriculture. It features Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture and grain crops.

And whiskey will be offered down the road.

"The whiskey is our future for sure," said Stevely. "But it requires three years to age, so we need to sell other product as well."

Although there have been roadblocks along the way, Stevely is excited to see his business shaping up the way he wants it to.

"I just enjoy the whole process," he said. "Artists use paintbrushes, a distiller has a lot of tools in their toolbox to create their artwork. That is what makes each distillery in BC unique."

Woman killed in Oliver

UPDATE 11 A.M. -

Investigators are looking to speak with the driver of an older model Chevy pickup after an elderly woman succumbed to injuries sustained in a pedestrian-involved collision Tuesday morning.
At approximately 6:20 a.m. Tuesday emergency services working in Oliver were called to respond to a fatal pedestrian-involved collision which occurred at the intersection of Fairview Road and Highway 97 (Main Street) in Oliver.

On arrival it was confirmed that a single elderly Caucasian female was attempting to cross Main Street when she was struck by a northbound vehicle. Initial investigation represents that the driver of the northbound vehicle stopped with the intent to render assistance.
Shortly after this initial contact and before the driver of the northbound vehicle could make contact with the pedestrian a second vehicle, which was also northbound, appears to have struck the pedestrian who was now lying on the road. 

The second vehicle, described as an older late 1980's model white Chevrolet pickup, continued northbound from the intersection. Police are looking to speak with the driver of this vehicle or any witnesses who may have been in the vicinity of this incident.
The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Further details will be provided by South Okanagan Traffic Services as their investigation continues.
Vehicle Description:

  • Older, late 1980's model
  • White Chevrolet pickup
  • No Canopy

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the South Okanagan Traffic Services in Keremeos (250) 499-2250 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)

There are unconfirmed reports of an MVA this morning, (Tuesday) in Oliver that may have resulted in a fatality.

Police, fire and ambulance were notified and traffic was controlled at two intersections immediately after the accident.

One source who works in the area stated the victim was an elderly lady with a walker. He stated he heard a loud bang and went to investigate. A number of drivers in the area stopped to provide assistance.

There is no confirmation as yet, on who was hit, and whether or not it was a fatality.

The Oliver RCMP confirmed this morning that the SO Traffic Services will take over the investigation.

The highway is closed in both directions.

A detour is available via Co-Op Avenue and School Avenue.

More details to come.

--With files Oliver Daily News 


United Way at halfway point

After an exciting kickoff in September, the United Way of the Central & South Okanagan Similkameen is at their halfway point of the 2014 campaign for community.

"The community partners that receive funding from the United Way are always a bit anxious at this time of the campaign,” says Shelley Gilmore, Executive Director of UW. "The halfway point is certainly a point in time where we start to look at whether or not we will hit our goal -- this year’s being $1,500,000 -- but we also know that we have great communities and a lot of supporters that come forward in the second half of the campaign to boost the final total."

This year the United Way is asking people to consider what they want their community to look like and then partner with them to make changes in the community.

"The possibilities are endless if we all partner together," Gilmore adds. "And I support the United Way because it is an efficient, cost effective way to support a variety of local charities.”

Former campaign chair Theresa Arsenault adds that it would be wonderful if the United Way was supported by all residents to the extent of one day's income.

"Imagine how much our local people in need would benefit," she notes.


Robbery, assault sentencing

A 25-year-old man was sentenced to 722 days Monday in a Penticton courtroom for his role in a robbery and violent assault.

Ryan Joseph Patt was found guilty in October of charges including assault causing bodily harm and robbery, related to an incident that took place in Penticton in March. He was also facing a charge of mischief under $5,000.

According to Judge Meg Shaw, Patt and the victim of the assault were dating two sisters and had spent time together.

After the victim helped Patt move, he returned early the next morning with another man. The victim let them in, and was attacked by the unknown man. Patt then joined in hitting him five or six times.

The reason he was beaten up was because he had beaten his girlfriend, said Shaw.

When Patt left he handed the victim a pillow to help out with his injuries. He and the unknown man then grabbed two flat screen TVs and left with them.

The victim's injuries were quite severe, including an eye socket fracture and lacerations and bruises.

In the other incident on Aug. 18, Patt and his cohorts had a padlock on a rope and were swinging it at the top half of a door. When they were unsuccessful in getting into the residence, they fled on BMX bikes.

In terms of mitigating factors for the more serious earlier offences, Patt was a participant in the assault, which was initiated by someone else, said Shaw.

The aggravating factors were that Patt has a criminal record, including drug and gun offences, the nature of the offence, premeditation, and the fact it was vigilantism in the victim's home.

In his submission, Crown counsel John Swanson asked for a sentence of three to five years, because although the charge was robbery it occurred in a home invasion.

But Shaw disagreed it was a home invasion scenario.

Defence lawyer James Pennington also said the circumstances in this offence did not make it a home invasion.

"Mr. Patt had rung the intercom and identified himself and the victim buzzed him in," he said. "It's not a typical home invasion."

He stated that in this situation, the unidentified male struck the first blow and Patt was a participant in the assault.

"We are dealing with a robbery and an assault causing bodily harm, and the appropriate sentence falls within provincial guidelines," he said.

In describing his client, he said Patt was single and has a disability, caused by an assault five years ago.

In that assault, Patt suffered a head injury that make him impulsive and not think matters through.

Patt was also given two years probation, which includes not having any contact with the victim.

In September, 2013, Patt was charged with eight offences of which he pled guilty to three; possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, and breach of probation. He received a six-month jail sentence.

Naramata students are Bear Smart

Naramata Elementary School students were further recognized Monday morning for their part in helping their community achieve Bear Smart Status this past June.

Insp. Barbara Leslie of the Conservation Officer Service and RDOS director Karla Kozakech were both on hand to recognize the students.

"It was a rewarding event to start to wind down the 2014 RDOS WildSafeBC season," said RDOS WildSafeBC coordinator Zoe Kirk.

Naramata was showered with praise in June for becoming BC's newest Bear Smart Community.

At the time, it was recognized as the sixth in the province to earn the status and the first in the Okanagan.

Over the past five years in BC, an average of 658 black bears have been destroyed each year, while 91 have been relocated due to conflicts with people.

So the Bear Smart Community Program encourages local governments, businesses and individuals to work together to address the root-causes of human-bear conflict, reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.

In Naramata, information on conflict prevention was shared at school presentations, the community market and through door to door awareness.

The community also implemented a comprehensive bear proof municipal waste management system and completed all the additional actions required to obtain the status.

Leslie was particularly impressed, Monday, by the youngsters' 'bear smart' knowledge when they answered questions and demonstrated what to do if you see a bear.

The morning presentation was topped off with Kozakevich and Leslie distributing Robert Bateman stuffed bears to each of the students.

Each classroom now also has a bear, to use as a constant reminder 'mascot'. 

Earlier this fall, Bear Smart sculptures were installed at the pump house beside Wharf Park and at Manitou Park to further recognize the community's efforts.

Kirk intends for students to finish the installation by painting on some rocks, vegetation and a creek, under and beside the sculptures.

Fire gives resident a scare

A midnight fire gave one Princeton resident a scare Sunday morning.

Around midnight on Saturday emergency crews were called to Fenchurch Avenue in downtown Princeton. 

A fire had broken out in the basement of a single family home. 

The lone occupant escaped the fire unharmed.

Princeton fire chief Eric Gregson said the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing, but the blaze is not considered to be suspicious.

"The house is still standing and the insurance company is involved now," he said. 

Two engines and a command vehicle responded to the fire. About 15 members of the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department extinguished the fire. 


Gov't cash for orchardists

The BC government is investing $8.4 million for a tree-fruit replanting program.

The program supports producers’ efforts to meet consumer demands for high-value and high-quality B.C. fruit.

Growers will be able to apply for grants beginning April 1, 2015 through to the 2021 season.

An estimated 1,500 acres of orchards will be replanted over the length of the program, providing an estimated 2,600 jobs each year in the Okanagan.

“The B.C. Fruit growers are the heart of the South Okanagan economy and one of the founding sectors of our region,” said Dan Ashton, MLA for Penticton. “This program extension ensure that growers will be able to continue to produce a wide-variety of fruits from cherries, stone fruits and unique B.C. apple varieties which are known around the world for their quality and exceptional taste. I encourage all local growers interested in the program to apply.”

“Our government and local growers worked hard together to ensure this program remains in place so B.C. fruit growers can implement long-term and sustainable tree fruit operations on their lands,” said Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “B.C. fruit production is a major economic driver in our region, with products grown right here in the South Okanagan, Boundary and Similkameen exported to markets in Asia, Europe and across North America. I am pleased to see this program extended.”

The new program builds on the recent success of growers who replanted low-value orchards with high-demand and high-quality varieties like Ambrosia apples and late-season cherries. 

B.C. growers produced Canada’s second largest tree fruit crop in 2013, generating almost $103 million in farm cash receipts.

Program applications and criteria will soon be available on the BC Fruit Growers Association website.


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