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Vernon  

People floating the river near Enderby are causing problems

Floaters causing a stir

Every year people flood into Enderby to float along the Shuswap River on a hot summer day.

And every year there is complaints about traffic, parking, garbage, trespassing and other concerns related to the floaters.

And this year is no exception.

Enderby mayor Greg McCune said the issue of floaters and the challenges they bring has been a issue for years.

McCune said it is only a small percentage of floaters that are causing all the problems.

“99.75 per cent of the people enjoy the river and do a wonderful job at it,” said McCune.

But the remaining fraction make a mess of the river and the surrounding area, leaving garbage in the water and the shoreline.

“Could they put it somewhere else? Absolutely, but they are just never going to,” said McCune. “They are not part of society that respects anything.”

The long-time mayor said what they need is somebody to “float the river everyday and clean it up, but how do you fund that? That is the challenge.”

Items found in the river and on the shoreline ranges from deflated floaties to cell phones and other items.

One idea that was presented was to charge people for parking and then use that money to fund the cleanup efforts.

McCune said summer students could be hired to clean up the garbage, but so far the plan is nothing more than a suggestion.

And McCune said police have more important things to do than look out for floaters behaving poorly.

The Splatsin First Nation borders Enderby and they too are having problems with floaters.

A member of the Splatsin First Nation has posted signs that a popular launching spot is actually on private land, but people trespass anyway to get the waterway.



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Parts of Polson Park closed due to flooding, despite lower creek levels

Polson Park still a swamp

Various parts of Polson Park are still flooded despite the recent heat.

A large part of the park is still a swamp and is closed after flooding earlier this spring and summer. 

Bylaw officers in the park tell Castanet the park has been in this state since the creek spilled over in late June, but currently Vernon Creek levels have receded somewhat.

Sections of the park remain closed off with blue and red fencing between the playground and Japanese gardens. 

There's also a notice posted saying the section with the playground is closed until further notice. 

The City of Vernon closed sections of Polson Park already this summer due to ongoing water issues.

To stay up to date on the flooding situation, you can visit the City of Vernon's website.



Vernon teen will get her pilot's licence at 16 later this week

Teen is a high flyer

She is not old enough to drive a car yet, but Kensington Hewson is already a pilot.

The Vernon teen has completed 45 hours of training, written, online and inflight tests and when she turns 16 later this week, she will get her pilot's licence.

“I heard that you could do it when you were 16 and my parents let me go on a flight and it went from there,” she said from the Vernon airport.

And heading into the wild blue yonder is a family tradition for the teen.

“Her grandpa was an Air Canada pilot for his whole career, my uncle is a pilot, but grandfather was a pilot – that's how I think she got interested in it,” said her father, Mike Hewson.

Kensington was just 13 when she took her first flight. She can currently fly solo, but she must be in contact with her instructors on the ground. However, when she turns 16 she can do it all on her own.

“I don't think kids really realize they can do it if they want to,” said Mike, adding he is proud of his daughter's accomplishment.

And not surprisingly, Kensington's future plans involve flight.

“I want to go to the Royal Military College in Ontario and then get a degree in mechanical engineering and then become a military pilot after school,” she said, adding following her career in the military she wants to become a commercial pilot.



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Cpt. Dolman Shorts was known for his tall tales

A colourful character

He was one of Vernon's most colourful personalities.

Cpt. Dolman Shorts arrived in the Okanagan in the 1870s, by which time he had already gained quite the reputation for his optimistic and persuasive personality.

He probably put these charms to good use when, in the 1880s, he saw that there was a need in the Valley for lake transportation and convinced people that a ride up Okanagan Lake on his homemade rowboat would be a good idea.
As it turns out, the rowboat, named 'Ruth Shorts' after the captain's mother, was far more predictable than he was. Cpt. Shorts did not have a set boating schedule, as he despised routine.

Since the trip from Okanagan Landing to Penticton took at least nine days of hard rowing, the captain and his passengers would put into shore at night, catch some fish for dinner, and sleep under the stars.

When prompted about how long the trip might take, Shorts would say, "I haven't the faintest idea, but rest assured we'll fetch up there sometime."

If the Captain fancied a midday nap, he caught 40 winks on the nearest beach, regardless of what his passengers might think.

Despite his quirks, Shorts had a strong group of supporters, and he soon graduated from a rowboat to one with a small steam engine, christened the 'Mary Victoria Greenhow.' The vessel had a voracious appetite for coal oil and what was supposed to be her magnificent inaugural trip ended up with her being rowed anticlimactically back to the dock after she ran out of fuel. Only about a year later, she went up in flames.

However, Shorts' spirits were not dampened. In fact, these misadventures seemed to bring him great pleasure, perhaps because they provided stories to tell his passengers during their trips up the lake. He was known to have a vivid imagination, and with each retelling, the details grew more and more dramatic.

Shorts would go on to own a number of other vessels over the years, both big and small, including a barge named the 'City of Vernon,' which he launched in August, 1894.

Unfortunately, with his irregular schedule, the Okanagan's first captain was eventually outcompeted by the more routine - but far less colourful - service of the CPR steamships. He ended up broke and disenchanted with modern machinery, saying "I made $6,000 rowboating and lost it all in steam."

But his friends refused to let him wallow; a banquet was held at the Kalamalka Hotel in his honour, and he was granted the title of 'Admiral of the Okanagan.'

Eventually, the Admiral moved away from the Okanagan, chasing gold in the Klondike, but his optimism and ambition have not been forgotten.



Downtown Vernon piano program is over

The day the music died

The sound of music has stopped in downtown Vernon.

Local artist Dave Stanfield said he has been looking after the Vernon Public Piano Project in the city centre for the past few years.

A piano had been set up in the 3200 block of 30th Avenue where anyone could sit down and play a tune.

The piano drew numerous people who delighted passersby with their musical talent, but on Saturday Stanfield said the program is no more.

Thursday, someone tipped the piano over, damaging it and effectively ending the program.

Stanfield said at this point, he is not willing to have the piano repaired and is frustrated and upset by the situation and the end of a program he invested so much time and effort into.

“The program has come to a grinding halt,” said Stanfield. “It's closed permanently. The program has been going on for five years and this was the final attempt to make it work.”

Stanfield said he knows who tipped and damaged the piano, but said he is not vengeful, just upset the program has come to an end.

“It's quite a big loss and a lot of people are upset about it,” said Stanfield, who himself is a musician.

Stanfield said with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down so many venues, there is not a lot of opportunities to see a live performance, making the loss of the VPPP even greater.

“I've got a sign on it that says 'Due to idiotic behaviour of fully grown adults, the piano is closed permanently,'” said Stanfield.



Hello Okanagan talks about boating and the wake surfing craze

Okanagan boating culture

Peter Kaz and David Scarlatescu are back with the latest episode of Hello Okanagan.

This week, they talk Okanagan boating culture and the wake surfing craze.

Each week, Kaz and Scarlatescu talk with Okanagan business leaders, debate issues facing the region, and promote the Valley as a whole.

The videos will be aired each Saturday, and you can see them here on Castanet.

If you any questions or suggestions, contact them via the Hello Okanagan Facebook page.



Historic O'Keefe Ranch summer corn maze is open

An a-maze-ing fun time

As Historic O'Keefe Ranch struggles financially amid the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions, they are still offering activities for people to do – such as the popular corn maze.

The maze, which is transformed into the Field of Screams for Halloween, is currently a fun family event where everyone can stay in their own little bubble while enjoying the great outdoors.

“It is probably one of the best mazes we have ever had,” said a post by the ranch.

Entrance to the maze is by donation, with a suggested donation of $5 per adult.

The ranch has been facing financial hardship due to travel and social distancing restrictions placed by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has launched a fundraising campaign in an effort to cover costs such as caring for the ranch's numerous animals and building upkeep.

The ranch is open to the public with self-guided tours of the historic site.

Other events include goat yoga, a wool spinning class and the ghost and graveyard tour.

For a full list of events, click here.



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