Gracie Field crowned winner of Okanagan's Got Talent search

She's got talent

Two years after the search began, Okanagan's Got Talent has crowned its winner.

The talent competition began in September of 2019, but got derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizer Peter Kaz says 144 artists took part, and the finale was finally able to take place over the weekend.

From a closed set at Creekside Theatre in Lake Country, the event was streamed live to close to 2,000 viewers.

The finalists "amazed all the judges," says Kaz.

The eventual winner was singer Gracie Field of West Kelowna.

Field receives a photography session with Darren Robinson, $500 gift certificate from the Village Green Shopping Centre, a Sonos speaker from Andre’s Electronics Vernon, Glam treatment at Chatters Hair in Vernon, studio time at Legion HQ music group, shuttle service from Cheers Okanagan, album/single artwork by Juggertha, a $100 gift card from Wentworth Music, a promo video/music video from We Art Media – and OGT bragging rights.

You can watch an edited recorded version of the live stream here.


The City of Vernon releases key dates for the 2021 municipal byelection

Key byelection dates

The City of Vernon’s municipal byelection will be held on Dec. 4, to fill the seat left vacant after the passing of Coun. Dalvir Nahal.

Interested qualified candidates will put their name forward for office in the 2021 byelection and must submit their required nomination package during the candidate nomination period.

The nomination period begins Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. and concludes on Oct. 29 at 4 p.m.

Nomination packages will be available for pick-up on Friday at City Hall and on the city’s website.

The campaigning period begins on Nov. 6 and concludes on Dec. 4.

Advance voting dates are as follows:

  • Nov. 24 at the Schubert Centre from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 25 at the Vernon Council Chambers from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 27 at the Vernon Council Chambers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Dec. 1 at the Vernon Council Chambers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Dec. 2 at the Vernon Council Chambers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The general voting day is Dec. 4 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the location has yet to be determined.

Proof of vaccination is not required to vote in-person at any of the polling places.

“The health and safety of residents, volunteers and staff is the city’s top priority,” said Keri-Ann Austin, Chief Election Officer.

“We recognize that comfort levels of voters in the community may vary as we continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can rest assured that all COVID safety protocols will be in place at polling stations.”

The Local Government Act requires a local government to hold a byelection when a council position becomes vacant prior to Jan. 1 of the year in which a general local election is to be held.

The next general local election is to be held in 2022.

Council approved the expenditure of up to $120,000 to conduct the byelection, funded from its Insurance Deductible Reserve.

Online fundraiser launched to pay for funeral costs of Spallumcheen homicide victim

Murder victim GoFundMe

An online fundraiser has been launched to help pay for funeral costs for a Spallumcheen homicide victim.

Danyale Nasa-Dyke created the GoFundMe campaign following the shooting death of 24-year-old Dakota Samoleski on Sept. 20.

Family members say they "can't afford to give (Samoleski) the funeral he deserves."

Samoleski's body was found on Back Enderby Road, prompting a land and air manhunt for the suspect in his killing.

Jevon Smith, 46, is charged with second-degree murder. His bail hearing was adjourned Monday to Oct. 4.

Court records show Smith has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2013 for charges including careless use of a firearm, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, motor vehicle offences, break and enter charges, and others.

The GoFundMe page makes unsubstantiated claims about the details of Samoleski's death and allegations about his family. We have chosen not to link to it.

As of Monday afternoon, it had received no donations. The campaign's goal is $7,000.

"He had no one to fall on or to help him except his uncle," the page states.

"No one deserves to be murdered in that way."

Police believe Smith and Samoleski were known to each other.


Bail hearing postponed in Spallumcheen second-degree murder

Bail delayed in murder case

A man charged with second-degree murder in a Spallumcheen shooting that prompted a helicopter manhunt has had his bail hearing adjourned to Oct. 4.

A decision on bail for Jevon Smith was expected Monday, but the hearing was postponed, Dan McLaughlin communications counsel with the BC Prosecution Service confirms.

Smith, 46, of Spallumcheen, is charged in the death of Dakota Samoleski, whose body was found on the 4500 block of Back Enderby Road.

On Sept. 20, RCMP launched a manhunt in the area, and Smith was arrested with assistance from the Southeast District Emergency Response Team.

Court records show Smith has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2013.

Those past charges include careless use of a firearm, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, motor vehicle offences, break and enter charges, and others.

The relationship between Smith and Samoleski has not been made public.

New concrete pads temporarily close Vernon disc golf tee boxes

Disc golf gets upgrade

Disc golfers may want to take a break in Vernon.

The City of Vernon says tee boxes at the Lakers disc golf course on Cummins Road in the Okanagan Landing neighbourhood are temporarily closed.

City crews have poured concrete pads for the tee boxes, which previously consisted of granular material and were starting deteriorate and become unsafe due to heavy use.

The concrete pads were poured last week and require seven days to cure.

Construction fencing has been placed around the tee boxes, and will be removed on Thursday.

More dangerous trees being removed from Vernon's Kin Beach park

Park trees coming down

Rob Gibson

More cottonwood trees are coming down at Vernon's Kin Beach this week.

The tree removal is part of an ongoing maintenance project to get rid of trees that have become a hazard.

The City of Vernon says six trees adjacent to Tronson Road are to be removed.

Work began Monday at the popular lakefront park.

"These trees are considered past their life expectancy and are becoming hazardous. Cottonwood trees have less stability than other mature trees, and this could lead to branches falling during major storms or strong winds," the city says.

Crews have removed some of the trees on an annual basis the last few years.

"To make sure we still have beautiful trees in our park, the parks department has planted other varieties of trees throughout the park as succession trees," says manager of parks and public spaces Kendra Kryszak.

The public is asked to stay clear of the area.

The work is anticipated to be complete by Friday.

RDCO to provide YouTube update on White Rock Lake wildfire recovery efforts

Fire recovery update

Residents impacted by the White Rock Lake wildfire are invited to tune in for a YouTube update from the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

The event will be streamed live through the RDCO YouTube channel at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

This is the first of regular updates scheduled to take place every second Tuesday.

Staff and consultants will be providing information on water, waste programs, area assessments, rebuilding programs and social supports.

Residents can submit questions they’d like to have addressed by emailing [email protected]

If you can't watch in real time, the session will also be recorded and posted at youtube.com/regionaldistrict.

Those affected by the fire can also sign up for wildfire recovery updates through the regional district website.

Father killed as he stepped out of vehicle on Highway 6 as son sat inside

Father killed in crash

A 55-year-old man was killed in a crash Friday afternoon on Highway 6 east of Vernon.

The crash closed the highway for several hours as police investigated the incident, which happened about 3:45 p.m., east of Aberdeen Road in Coldstream.

Police say a westbound vehicle pulled over to the side of the road and parked on the north shoulder. As the driver exited the vehicle, an eastbound pickup failed to negotiate a curve, crossed over the centre line and struck the driver’s side of the parked vehicle, dragging the man several metres.

"This is an absolutely tragic incident," says Vernon RCMP spokesperson Cpl Tania Finn. "Even more compounded by the fact that the deceased man’s 12-year-old son was in the parked vehicle when his father was struck and killed. Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this tragedy."

Paramedics said the victim was deceased at the scene.

The 88-year-old driver of the pickup truck remained on scene and was co-operative with investigators.

At this time, police do not believe drugs or alcohol to be factors in the collision.

The child was taken by ambulance to hospital as a precaution, and the family of the deceased is receiving grief support.

RCMP continue to investigate the incident. Anyone with information is urged to contact Const. Steven McCarthy at 250-545-7171.

Vernon council to vote on renewal of provincial nominee program to attract immigrant entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs wanted

The City of Vernon is looking to continue its efforts to attract immigrant entrepreneurs to the community.

In May of 2019, Vernon city council endorsed the opportunity for the city to become part of a new two-year provincial pilot program to attract entrepreneurs.

City staff says this pilot program presented a unique opportunity for rural communities, like Vernon, to help attract immigrant entrepreneurs to fulfil specific industry needs.

Now that the two-year pilot program is near the end of its term, administration is recommending council renew participation in the program.

Since 2019, Economic Development and Tourism Department staff have managed 523 email enquiries, 198 applications, and many inquiries from immigration consultants throughout Western Canada on behalf of their prospective clients.

The community review group has met on a regular basis to review more than 150 business concepts and 43 detailed business plans, and recommended four business referrals to the Province of BC's Immigration Programs Branch, which are expected to result in new business openings in the next six to 18 months.

Vernon administration reviewed the program with the community review group at its August meeting and sought their feedback on moving forward.

Feedback from the members of the community review group included the recommendation that the city should continue as a participant in the PNP Regional Pilot program as “it helps to continue to attract community investment and create new job opportunities.”

To renew the City of Vernon's participation in the Entrepreneur Immigration - Regional Pilot for a three-year term, beginning in October 2021, the Province of BC's Immigration Program Branch will continue to expect that the City of Vernon will provide and maintain the following activities and services:

  • Attracting the right entrepreneurs through maintaining a listing on the BC PNP website, promotion on the City's websites, and promotion of the program with local immigration consultants.
  • Make referrals to the Province's Immigration Program Branch through ongoing review of business plans by the community review group.
  • Arranging exploratory visits once international travel restrictions ease - these in person visits are expected to include meeting with City staff, touring the community, and connecting with community partners including the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures North Okanagan, and Vernon and District Immigrant Services.
  • Supporting business establishments once they relocate to Vernon - support can include site selection, navigating City processes, and facilitating community connections.
  • Celebrating successes through developing content for the City's Economic Development and Relocation websites and social media channels.

Vernon council is expected to vote on this matter in their regular meeting on Monday afternoon.

Haunted Hall and ghost hunting coming to Falkland

Haunting fun in Falkland

There is going to be some spooky stuff going on in Falkland next month and not all of it will be make believe.

Dean Trumbley, with Thunder Boyz Productions, said True North Paranormal be leading a ghostly excursion on behalf of the Falkland Museum and Heritage Park.

The first three tours sold out in less than 24 hours, so additional dates were added but Trembley said those dates are selling quickly.

Trumbley said the investigations will take place in some “buildings that are known to be haunted.”

Jon and Karina Kozuska, with True North Paranormal, will lead the paranormal investigation.

All proceeds go to the museum revitalization project.

Also taking place will be a haunted house at the Falkland Hall Oct. 28-31. Entry is by donation.

And after the success of the event last year, Trumbley said they are ramping things up notch for this year.

“We've invested quite a bit more money in to it to make it huge,” said Trumbley of the event that is being sponsored by Thunder Boyz Productions.

“We've ramped up the amount of animatronics that are going to be in it, the amount of actors that are going to be in it, and what we are doing is we are turning it into the haunting of Falkland,” Trembley.

Entry is by donation with proceeds going to support the museum.

For more information on dates and how to get tickets to the paranormal investigation and for more information on the Haunted Hall, see the Falkland Museum Facebook page.

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