South Okanagan  

Top stories of 2012 in South Okanagan

A fast moving fire marked the end of an era, a long existing race took place for the last time and an eagerly awaited hockey dormitory failed to come to fruition.

These were among the top stories in the South Okanagan in 2012.

It was in the early morning hours of February 5 that Slack Alice’s Show Pub, Penticton’s only strip club, the Chinese Laundry restaurant and Bubblee’s Beer and Wine Store went up in flames.

It was more than a strip club that was lost, it was also a piece of Penticton’s history. The  Valley Motor Inn, which housed Slack’s on Front Street, was first known as the B.C. Hotel. Built in 1905, it was once believed to have a bordello on the top floor.

Slack’s opened in 1982 and thousands of exotic dancers performed there over the years.

The cause of the fire which broke out above the Chinese Laundry was never determined. The vacant property has served as a parking lot since.

In August, as triathletes filled up streets and hotels in Penticton for the 30th running of Ironman Canada,  city officials stood on the beach at Okanagan Lake and announced Ironman was being replaced by Challenge Penticton.

Officials said the change came about after the city was informed by Graham Fraser, who purchased the Penticton race in 1996, that this would be his last race and the World Triathlon Corporation would be taking over.

After presentations from the WTC and the Challenge Family, a series of races that includes the world’s largest long distance triathlon, Challenge Roth in Germany, they went with the latter.

Cities including Kelowna and Vernon bid for hosting rights to Ironman. In the end, Whistler got the grueling event. It is set to take place next August on the same date as Challenge Penticton.

The construction of a new hockey dormitory on Eckhardt Avenue, approved by the Penticton City Council in fall of 2011, came to a halt in January of 2012.

The dormitory was slated to provide housing to young players who attend the Okanagan Hockey Academy and Okanagan Hockey School.

The project was approved after a company known as the Okanagan Elite Hockey Association Development Corporation, then operated by Loren Reagan and Michael Elphicke, made an offer of $925,000 for the property next to the South Okanagan Events Centre.

When financing of $15 million for the project fell through, construction came to a stop, leaving many local companies without work and money to pay workers for construction done to date.

The property now sits empty.

In July, a 12-year-old girl drowned in Skaha Lake.

The girl identified as Ida Lynn Marie Holt-Scherer , was a resident of the community of 70 Mile House in the south Cariboo.

On the afternoon of July 29, she and another girl were standing on a sandbar, which forms naturally where a channel meets the main part of Skaha Lake.
The sandbar was seen to give way, sweeping the two girls into the main part of the lake.

The second girl was rescued by a passerby and was not physically injured.
A search began immediately for Ida, but it was not until the morning of July 31 that searchers were able to locate her and recover her body.

She was found about 200 metres from shore in water about nine metres deep, about 60 metres from where she had last been seen.

In the fall, the body of Albert Chretien, a Penticton man who went missing in a remote area of Nevada was found.

Albert and his wife Rita went missing March 19, 2011 while travelling from Penticton to a convention in Las Vegas.

The Chretien's somehow got turned around off course and got stuck in the mud on a remote forest service road on March 19, the same day they were last seen in Oregon.

Three days later, Albert left the couple's van and walked toward a local road to look for help. He was not seen again.

Rita, 56, was discovered May 6. She survived on a diet of hard candies, trail mix and snow.

Elko County Sheriff's Department Detective, Jim Carpenter, told KTVB.com that Chretien's body was discovered in a heavily wooded area close to a remote road.

In other 2012 news, a young woman from France, who had been working at Apex Mountain Resort, was found frozen to death at the ski hill, two mountain bikers died while riding in the Three Blind Mice trail area and the 56 sled dogs killed in Whistler were buried in a Penticton pet cemetery.

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