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City good for entrepreneurs

Penticton has been named among the top 20 entrepreneurial cities in Canada by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business - with a 2014 score that puts the Peach City in the top three municipalities in BC.

"We are open for business, and this ranking reinforces the city's commitment to create economic opportunity within the community," said Penticton Mayor Garry Litke. "Small business is the engine of our economy, and initiating Penticton economic investment zones and keeping tax ratios competitive help entrepreneurs on the path to prosperity." 

In its seventh Canada's Entrepreneurial Communities report, the CFIB studied municipalities with populations of 20,000 or more and ranked them based on 14 indicators.

The indicators are grouped into three main categories: presence, perspective and policy. Presence includes the representation of the scale and growth of business ownership, as well as industrial diversity, while perspective covers indicators associated with optimism and growth plans.

Policy indictors reflect the actions local governments have taken with respect to business taxation and regulation.

Penticton jumped up five places in the rankings this year, landing in 20th place out of 121 mid-sized communities in Canada with a score of 60.3 out of a possible 100 points - tied with Rouyn-Noranda, Que. Penticton had good scores in all three: presence, perspective and policy. The top entrepreneurial city in Canada earned just 72.4 points.

Penticton was among the top 3 most entrepreneurial cities in BC, just four places behind Kelowna (15) and three behind Chilliwack (16).

The city was ahead of larger centres like Calgary (29), Winnipeg (61), Abbotsford-Mission (54) and Nanaimo (77), in addition to out-performing other cities from the BC Interior, including Vernon (32), Kamloops (48) and Cranbrook (112).



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Zombies return today

The walking dead will again stagger down Penticton's Main Street today.

The second annual Zombie Walk and Costume Parade, held by the Downtown Penticton Association, will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the city's downtown.

The walk begins on Main Street at Nanaimo Avenue. Participants are invited to come to Nanaimo Square and donate a food item or cash to the Brain Injury Society and enter their names in a draw.

There will be prizes for the best costumes, best zombie, most original, best themed group and best dressed pet.

In addition, there will be trick or treating on Main Street before and after the parade.

Last year around 200 people showed up for the thrill-filled walk or drag (so to speak) just as the light began to fade.

 



Ghost stories

In the early 1900s, a young girl by the name of Minnie fell off a wagon, hit her head on a stone and drowned in Ellis Creek.

The story could have ended there, but some visitors to Penticton's historic Fairview Cemetery have since sensed the spirit of a little girl roaming the grounds.

She is just one of the apparitions believed to haunt cemeteries, old homes, ships and other sites in the South Okanagan, according to local historian Randy Manuel.

"If we know from a scientific point of view that everything from tomatoes to humans has an electrical current and the soul/ spirit is the battery, if the body dies before the current runs out, the batteries, the spirit, are still there. They haven't run down yet," Manuel explained.

Other stories shared by Manuel are of three black employees of the Summerland Hotel, who hiked to Penticton to attend church mass on Christmas Eve, 1907.

When the service ended they started back on the trail to Summerland, but were stopped along the way by a blinding snowstorm.

Two, who were not used to the cold stayed behind, while a third man decided he would try make it to a cabin on Trout Creek where he could find help.

After warming up, he returned with others to find his companions. After several hours the search party saw the toes of the two men sticking out of the snow.

They had died from exposure. At that time, there was only one cemetery, the church yard for St. Saviour's Anglican Church, where the Fairview Cemetery is today.

Not being Anglican the men could not be buried there. Nor was a place for them at the Catholic cemetery on the Penticton Indian Reserve.

The pair were subsequently buried in unmarked graves, which Manuel believes to be in the vicinity of Okanagan Avenue East and Warren Avenue East.

There have since been sightings of two mysterious black men dressed in worn winter rags strolling the area, as winter approaches each year, according to Manuel.

Another spirt thought to walk the streets of the city, is that of a Mr. Zimmerman, who was found dead in his quarters at his jewelry store on Front Street in January of 1907.

That month, he was discovered by a visitor, stiff and cold and lying on the floor of his tiny room in a pool of blood.

Two men were interrogated regarding the murder, but it was determined they had nothing to do with Zimmerman's death.

The murder was never solved, and, according to Manuel, he probably wanders up and down Front Street from time to time.

He believes the spirits of the Summerland Hotel employees remain earthbound, because it was a horrible death in a strange country and they want to go home.

In the case of Zimmerman, he said, it was a violent death and the spirit is struggling to let go.

On the west side of the Lakeview Ceremony, is what Manuel refers to as the Chinese/pauper ceremony.

It is overgrown now and there are no headstones to be seen. The bodies of the former Asian residents were exhumed in the 1930s and taken back to China, according to Manuel.

But it is believed the bodies of some indigents remain.

This could lead to the possibility of unsettled souls, such as a man who was found floating in Okanagan Lake by the crew of the S.S. Sicamous, said Manuel.

At the Lakeview Cemetery itself, there have been sightings of apparitions believed to be soldiers from World War I and World War II over the years.

On a tour of the cemetery, led by the historian one night, some in the group smelled tobacco and could also see apparitions, figures and shadows in the spruce grove.

Manuel, who describes himself as an intuitive, has long sensed spirits. From an early age, he had a fear of the backroom in his former home, near the Fairview Cemetery, where his grandfather died. Both he and his parents saw and felt a presence, as well as people who stayed there.

He had yet another experience with a haunting, when he worked as the curator at the Penticton Museum and Archives.

During the late 1980s, a ghost known as The Blue Lady appeared at night. As a result, the museum had trouble keeping janitorial staff.

At the time, Manuel was doing inventory in the basement when he came across what previous curators had collected, among them First Nations artifacts and relics.

When he reached in a box labeled Pacific Milk Tins, he reached inside and pulled out a skull, before finding other obvious pieces of a skeleton. Written on the box in light pencil was "found on east side of river.'

The bones were sent to the forensic lab at Simon Fraser University and information was provided it was the remains of three people, one of them being female.

Manuel said he was unsure if the bones were First Nations or Caucasian. Once they left the building, the hauntings seemed to stop and the museum was able to keep its night staff.

Other places reported to be haunted in Penticton are a house on Vancouver Hill, where a former editor of the Penticton Herald lived for years, the S.S. Sicamous, the S.S. Naramata and the S.S. Okanagan Saloon.

On the S.S. Naramata, moored in Penticton,  people have heard footsteps and smelled apple pie baking in the galley.

Manuel believes the source could be the ship's cook who slipped on ice leaving the ship in Naramata and fell and hit his head on rocks before drowning in the water there.

It is also thought that Captain Joseph Weeks, one of the last captains of the S.S. Sicamous and founder of the Okanagan Historical Society never left that ship.

The nearby S.S. Okanagan Stern Wheeler may also be visited by a spirit, Cst. Geoffrey Aston, who was shot by a prisoner he was transporting on board the ship in 1912.

In other parts of the South Okanagan, McIntyre Bluff, near Oliver, is thought to be visited by a First Nations princess who died long ago.

Then there is the tragic tale of Kevin McDermid, known as Chute Lake's phantom piper.

He and his wife lived in a homestead in the Chute Lake area where his greatest joy was playing the bagpipes.

After his wife fell ill and died, he was rarely seen.

When worried neighbours went to check on him, they found his bagpipes, but no sign of McDermid.

According to author Robert C. Belyk in his book, "Ghosts II, More True Stories from British Columbia," on a clear night  you may still hear the chanting of McDermid's pipes.

 





Sentencing in obstruction case

A former Oliver man who said he was handled roughly by a police officer during his arrest in 2012, was sentenced to a heavy fine Thursday in a Penticton courtroom.

Anthony Bryant, now a resident of Meadow Creek, was found guilty of impaired driving, obstructing a police officer, failing to stop and refusing to take a breath sample in September.

Judge Gregory Koturbash handed down the sentence of a fine totalling $2,500, plus the victim surcharges, and a one year driving prohibition, after hearing final submissions from crown and defence.

Crown counsel Nashina Devji asked for the fines, as well as a short jail sentence and the driving prohibition.

Her request was based on Bryant's dated but related criminal record, that included driving an improperly equipped vehicle, as well as circumstances from the incident in June of 2012.

At that time, his driving was terrible and two separate individuals called in to make complaints about his vehicle being in the opposing lane of traffic, she said.

Furthermore not hearing sirens, when the officer tried to pull him over shows a degree of impairment. He also refused to comply when the officer directed him to pull over and didn't comply when the officer had a gun out and asked him to stop resisting, Devji said.

Defence lawyer Don Skogstad described his client as being 55 and the father of three adult children.

He said his client has not driven since the incident, and now lives in Meadow Creek on the north end of Kootenay Lake and works in a mill.

He stated that Bryant was injured and that he did not injure the officer. Although he did not immediately cooperate, he did make himself available to the police, he said.

In respect to the impaired driving, he was driving an older vehicle and it is understandable it may not have been operating properly.

As a result we may never know how impaired he was, said Skogstad, who suggested fines, with sufficient time for his client to pay them off.

Speaking in his defence, Bryant said he has been dealing with this for a couple of years and did not think it would come out the way it has.

He stated he knows what happened, (that he was punched in the face by the officer). He concluded, saying, "I'm not going to sit here and beg. I have to sit here and deal with the way it is. There's nothing I can do about it."

In September, when Koturbash found Bryant guilty, he stated that he was satisfied that the crown established beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer did not use excessive force.

On Thursday, he said he did take injuries sustained by Bryant, including when he was handcuffed during the arrest, as a mitigating factor.

But his criminal record and motor vehicle record were an aggravating factor.



Campaign sign shot at

RDOS candidate Joel Malcolm said he is concerned after a window with one of his campaign signs appeared to be shot at.

Malcolm, of Oliver, learned Wednesday morning from John Micka, owner of the Sunshine Cafe, that the front window of the cafe had been shot at with what appears to be a BB Gun Tuesday night.

Micka made the discovery when he got to work Wednesday.

"It is concerning," said Malcolm. "I have no idea why someone would do it. Perhaps my political views incensed someone."

Malcolm, 48, has lived most of his life in Oliver, and first ran for the regional district three years ago. Nothing happened then.

He decided to run again, because he is kind of anti establishment and feels the RDOS is being citified. He was particularly upset about the recent highway road sign issue.

He put five campaign signs out in recent weeks and says one was knocked over at Road 1. People thought it could have been the wind, but it was attached to a barrel so seems suspicious.

There are no plans to take the matter to the RCMP at this time, because they don't know who did it and there was no surveillance.

Malcolm said he hopes this is the end of this and it will not stop him running for the RDOS.

Micka, who owns the cafe in the building owned by Malcolm, said nothing like this has happened before, and there have been other campaign signs in the window.

He now has to pay to get the window fixed.

" I was shocked to see something like this happen in Oliver and then concerned because of the cost of the window replacement," he said.



Abused cat loses leg

An active and friendly feline is recovering and ready for a second start in her young life – as a three-legged kitty.

Allegedly thrown out of a second-floor window, Chucky, a one-year-old cat, came into the BC SPCA’s care as a stray in Osoyoos.

X-rays showed she suffered from a pelvic fracture.  After many weeks of cage rest, further X-rays showed she also had a broken femur, which left no alternative but for Chucky to have her rear right leg amputated.

“Chucky is such a brave, lively girl! I can only imagine what she suffered before coming into our care, but she’s doing so amazing now! I’d say she’s ready to embark on a tri-pawed life without looking back,” says Corinne Ross, branch manager at the South Okanagan-Similkameen SPCA.

“We are so grateful to Drs. Moshe and Noa Oz at the Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, who, once again, have donated their time and effort to do the necessary surgery free of charge.”

Chucky is now looking for a suitable foster home while she recovers from her surgery, and after that, she’ll need a permanent loving home, says Ross.

Although the surgery donated, the Penticton SPCA is seeking help to cover Chucky’s other medical costs, which include several rounds of X-rays, medication and after-surgery care.

“She’s such a personable girl and so energetic. I know she’ll make a fabulous furry family member for a forever home once she’s fully healed,” Ross says.

If you want to help Chucky and other animals like her in need at the South Okanagan-Similkameen SPCA, or if you’re interested in fostering, you can donate online, call 250-493-0136 or visit in person at 2200 Dartmouth Drive, Penticton.



More candidates forums ahead

One forum for the 25 people running for six seats on the Penticton council has come and gone, but there will be more opportunities to hear from the candidates.

Residents have organized their own forum for mayor and councillor candidates.

This opportunity is inspired by the Facebook group, Educate, Encourage, Empower, as an initiative to encourage youth to vote.

"We just found that our members are heavy on social media and a lot of great questions have come out of our Facebook group, so we wanted to put together a more youth oriented forum," said Tracy Van Raes, a founder of the group.

The group sent out an email to all 28 candidates and 24 responded. Two can't make it and two never responded.

The forum has been divided into two slots.

Part one is on Nov. 5 and Part 2 will be Nov. 10

Organizers have put together 16 questions, with ideas for the questions coming from group members.

This will be moderated and timed. There will be no audience participation. Organizers ask for respect and quiet during this forum, with eight questions for all candidates to answer in less than two minutes or pass. 

In keeping with the youth focus, two Penticton Secondary School students will help to moderate.

Part 1 and 2 will be held at 5 p.m. at Dogtown Coffee Co.

Other upcoming forums, sponsored by the Penticton Herald and the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, will take place this week.

Penticton school trustee candidates will attend one at 7 p.m., tonight, Wednesday, at St. Saviour's Anglican Church community hall on Orchard Avenue.

This will be followed by a forum for the mayoral candidates at 6:30 p.m., Thursday at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

 



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