Trail closed over cougars

Cougar sightings have forced the closure of a popular hiking trail above Kamloops Lake.

A family’s encounter last weekend led B.C. Parks to close the Battle Bluffs trail in the Dewdrop Ecological Reserve.

The family had a four-year-old child along for the hike when they noticed a young cougar that appeared to be in poor health was showing no fear. They immediately picked up the child.

Cougars generally leave adults alone, but have been known to attack children and pets.

The trail is normally used by dozens of hikers on a typical weekend.

Cougars usually keep well away from people. If one shows interest or aggression, you are advised to stand your ground and not turn your back to the animal. Carrying pepper spray is also recommended.

A number of cougar sightings were reported in the area last winter. One animal, an older male, was shot by conservation officers in February near Little Fawn Daycare on the Tk'emlups reserve.



Kamloops body ID'd

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed the identity of a man who died in Kamloops on Sept. 15.

He was Sasha Reginald Brubaker, 26, of Kamloops.

On Sept. 17, the manager of an apartment building on the 100 block of Tranquille Road came out to do some chores and found Brubaker on the grounds.

He was declared deceased at the scene.

The Coroners Service and RCMP continue to investigate the cause of Brubaker's death, however, foul play has been ruled out, regional coroner Larry Marzinzik said in a press release.

Truck used for crime spree

A stolen pickup police suspect was used for criminal activity turned up Thursday in Kamloops.

The pickup, stolen Monday, was found abandoned near Tranquille Road and Desmond Street. No arrests have been made, but police continue to investigate the case.

Earlier in the day, Kamloops RCMP advised the public to call them and not approach the vehicle if they saw it.

Police had earlier reports indicating the truck was possibly used in the commission of numerous thefts from vehicles in the city and surrounding rural areas.

In once instance, the male suspect driving the pickup assaulted a bystander.

The suspect was described as being five feet, nine inches tall and stocky.



Mill closing, 203 jobs lost

Tolko Industries says the pine beetle has forced it to close its Nicola Valley operation in Merritt, putting 203 employees out of work.

Tolko announced Thursday that it will permanently close its Merritt operation on December 16th, 2016.

“Making the decision to close an operation is never easy,” said Brad Thorlakson, president and CEO.

“Following the recent reduction in the annual allowable cut as a result of the completion of the pine beetle harvest, an extensive review of the wood supply for all of our Southern Interior operations was conducted. Based on this review, we have determined there is not enough timber to supply all of our mills. This has resulted in the decision to permanently close our Nicola operation.”

Tolko said employees were informed of the decision on Thursday.

“Today we have issued notice to employees, and we are working through the details of a transition package," said Mike Harkies, executive vice president of Solid Wood.

“We anticipate full details to be available to employees the week of October 10th.”

Thorlakson added that the closure of this mill will result in the removal of 250-million board feet of capacity from the lumber market.

Despite this news, he said the company his family has owned since 1956 remains well positioned for future success.

“We are focused on making decisions that ensure our long term success. As a company, we are very well positioned due to our geographic and product diversification.”

Tolko purchased the Nicola Valley operation in 1987.  

Truck used for crime

UPDATE: 6:15 p.m.

Kamloops RCMP state they are no longer looking for the stolen Ford truck.

Cpl. Jodi Shelkie says the vehicle was found abandoned and no arrests have been made in relation.

The RCMP investigation is ongoing.

ORIGINAL: 4 p.m. 

Kamloops RCMP are asking the public to keep a lookout for a stolen truck that has been used to conduct criminal activity over the past few days.

Cpl. Jodi Shelkie says a red and white 1996 Ford F250 pick-up, British Columbia license plate HL1085, was stolen the night of Sept. 19.

The truck may or may not have a matching canopy on it.

“Since then, police believe this vehicle has been associated to numerous thefts from vehicles both within Kamloops and in rural areas,” says Shelkie.

“In one instance, the male suspect driving the stolen vehicle assaulted a bystander who questioned him.”

The suspect is described as being approximately five-foot-nine-inches tall and stocky.

Shelkie says police are asking the public to contact them or Crime Stoppers if they see this vehicle.

“Do not follow the vehicle if it is moving, do not approach anyone who is in the vehicle, simply call in the last known location of the vehicle,” adds Shelkie.

You can contact the RCMP at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

More barriers for Hwy 5

An accident-prone stretch of highway through Kamloops is about to be divided.

Almost two kilometres of median barrier will be installed to prevent head-on collisions.

Last year, the Ministry of Transportation installed median barriers along Highway 5 from the Halston Connector to Chief Louis Way, said Minister Todd Stone.

“This year, we’re continuing that work by installing median barriers from Chief Louis Way to East Shuswap Road to better protect drivers from cross-over collisions.”

Work is scheduled to take place in the evening, between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., to minimize traffic disruption. 

A contract for the work has been awarded to Kemp Concrete Projects of Kamloops. The work is expected to cost $300,000.


One dead in Hwy 1 crash

A single-vehicle accident near Chase has left one man dead.

RCMP Const. Kevin Gien said the accident happened about 1:30 a.m. this morning on Highway 1 at Martin Prairie Road in Pritchard.

“A pickup truck with Alberta licence plates left the roadway on the right, striking an embankment and coming to rest in the ditch. The driver, a 57-year-old man from Alberta, was deceased at the scene,” said Gien.

The unidentified man was the only person in the vehicle.

“The reasons for the collision are unknown at this time. The BC Coroner’s Service and RCMP continue to investigate,” said Gein.

Bomb threat at mall

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.

Kamloops RCMP say they received a call Tuesday at 11:40 a.m. saying there was a bomb at Northills Mall.

Police immediately evacuated it.

"Officers and a police dog searched the mall and determined that there was no threat inside of the mall," said police in a statement. "The investigation is ongoing to identify who made the phone call."

Employees and customers were allowed back into stores at 1:25 pm.

ORIGINAL: 1 p.m.

A report of a bomb threat forced police to block access to the Northills Shopping Centre at midday Tuesday.

The threat originated with either Your Independent Grocers or the TD Canada branch at the mall.

Both access roads on the south side of the mall were temporarily closed off with police tape shortly after noon as police investigated the incident.

No other details were immediately available.

– NewsKamloops.com

Trades boost for TRU

Federal funding is the final piece in a $30-million investment at Thompson Rivers University.

A new Industrial Training and Technology Centre will be built with $13.25 million in federal cash, combined with $7 million from the province, $7.7 million from the university and $9.7 million from Western Economic Diversification.

The 5,344-square-metre centre will allow the university to expand its trades and technology programs into areas such as refrigeration, air conditioning and power engineering. It will also allow the school to expand its Red Seal program. Space in the existing trades and technology building will also be renovated.

There's been a renaissance of interest in trades training in the past five years, TRU president Alan Shaver said Tuesday.

“It will not only change the landscape of TRU physically, but it will increase the training by 550 new seats,” he said as about 200 students gathered for the news.

That will bring the trades training capacity in Kamloops to 2,050 full-time equivalent seats.

Construction is expected to get underway in early 2017 with substantial completion by spring 2018 and occupancy in the fall of 2018.

“We are No. 1 in the country in economic growth, which means we are No. 1 in the country in job creation,” said MLA Todd Stone while announcing the project. “We have to make sure the training and education are there for individuals to take the jobs and seize the opportunity.”

Construction of the new centre is expected to generate 108 direct and 82 indirect jobs in the region.


Tech firm in growth mode

With a major expansion in mind, Kamloops-based iTel Networks Inc. has moved into the old digs of a former corporate titan.

The local tech company — self described as “a team of techies, lego lovers, and coffee connoisseurs” — has moved part of its operation into the former Weyerhaeuser global head office building on Mission Flats.

They hope, depending on city approvals, to accommodate as many as 300 employees at the refurbished headquarters within the next few years.

iTel Networks shared the upbeat news Monday while announcing a grand opening of the new office complex on Wednesday.

The company says its product offering enables it to service businesses in Canada and the U.S. while maintaining 95 per cent of its workforce at head office.

“The goal is to create not just jobs, but careers that will help keep the cream of the crop from Kamloops, in Kamloops, especially recent TRU graduates.”

Wednesday’s official opening will include a visit by Shirley Vicker, B.C. Innovation Council president and CEO.

Immediately after the opening, iTel co-hosts Tech Brew 2016 with Kamloops Innovation from 5 to 7 p.m. Tech Brew brings together the city's latest technologies, innovators and decision makers. 


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