Salmon Arm  

Success with at-risk kids

An intervention program in the North Okanagan-Shuswap has helped 236 of its most at-risk students, who are now reading at grade level.

"We know that reading at grade level by Grade 3 is one of the best predictors of success in life. We also know that this program has changed the trajectory of these students," teacher Jen Kelly says in a report to School District 83.

Over the past eight years, the program has expanded to eight schools, and "intervention teachers are working hard to change the educational trajectory of Grade 1 children struggling the most to learn how to read."

A total of 337 students have gone through the program, where students work one-on-one or in small groups with the teachers. Students receive special instruction four to five days a week, 30 minutes a day for anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks, depending on need.

Some students still struggle after the intervention, "which indicates that there may be something else hindering the child’s learning. Because of the information collected during literacy intervention, children are usually able to streamlined into assessment and testing," says Kelly.


Research shows the intervention is paying off. "Literacy intervention is sticking with our students," she said. “We are only seeing them once.”

The district has hired an early literacy intervention specialist to work specifically with Indigenous students, to improve success rates. Also, nine schools in the district do not have the program.


Easier to click and learn

Students in a small Shuswap community now gave a greater opportunity to click, browse and learn.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District recently donated nine surplus computers, one printer, a server, a network switch and a firewall to the Malakwa Learning Centre.

In addition to the equipment donation, the CSRD contributed IT staff time to ensure the computers were refurbished, set up and working properly.

"The very generous donation of computers and necessary equipment and the time of staff to install it from the CSRD has added so much to the Malakwa Learning Centre," said Rhona Martin, CSRD board chairperson.

"This donation will open up opportunities for those in our community that are wanting to learn.”

The equipment is making its debut as part of the Experience Works program, currently running in Malakwa.

The program helps people 55-plus gain skills needed to find employment. The program is a partnership between the province, regional district, Okanagan College and the Malakwa Learning Centre.

It includes courses to upgrade skills in basic math, communications and computer use, as well as offering hospitality industry training, such as FoodSafe certification.

"It is improving the skills of older workers which, at the end of the day, improves quality of life, health and community," said Martin.

The equipment will be permanently located at the Malakwa centre.

Busted for explosive robbery

A 38-year-old Salmon Arm man has been arrested in connection to a pair of armoured car robberies and bank explosions in Edmonton last year.

Justin Byron is facing numerous charges in connection to the 2018 robberies.

“This arrest came about as a result of some excellent police work from the EPS Robbery Section and many areas within our police service,” said Staff Sgt. Rob Mills, of the Edmonton Police Service Robbery Section. “We’re grateful to our RCMP law enforcement partners in Salmon Arm, who also played a key role in bringing our investigation to a successful conclusion.

“We believe the accused was planning another incident, and we’re happy that we prevented another attack.”
On Sept. 19, 2018 at 2:35 a.m., two armoured guards were making deliveries in an armoured vehicle at a financial institution located near 27 Avenue and 141 Street.

As the first employee entered the vestibule an explosion occurred disorienting both employees, who then drew their firearms. The two armoured guards were uninjured, and no deposit money was taken during the attack.

On Dec. 13, 2018 at 2 a.m., a second incident occurred at another Edmonton financial institution located near 81 Street and 160 Avenue. Again, two armoured guards walked into the vestibule of the bank, when an explosion detonated knocking one of the employees to the ground. The second employee retreated from the bank to obtain cover, when a second explosion occurred. 

The male suspect is alleged to have entered the vestibule, grabbed the deposit bag and ran to a pick-up truck parked nearby. The armoured guards were treated and transported to hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. 

An ongoing investigation by police culminated with EPS Tactical members arresting Byron Monday, March 4, at Edmonton International Airport. 

Byron is facing multiple charges including robbery with firearm (x 2), attempted robbery (x 2), using an explosive device (x 4), possession of an explosive material (x 2), aggravated assault (x 4) and disguise with intent (x 2).

Byron is scheduled to appear in court on Friday, March 15.

“The RCMP will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners to ensure that people that commit crimes in one jurisdiction cannot hide in another. People who do commit criminal acts will be held accountable for their actions, no matter where the crimes took place,” says Staff Sgt. Scott West of the Salmon Arm RCMP. 


Fatal crash on Hwy 97B

UPDATE: 8:40 p.m.

Highway 97B is now cleared. Traffic is again flowing in both directions.

The stretch of highway just south of Salmon Arm has been closed since about 2:30 following a fatal head-on collision.

UPDATE: 8:10 p.m.

Highway 97B about two kilometres south of Salmon Arm remains closed in both directions following a fatal head-on collision earlier in the day.

A local detour is available.

UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.

RCMP are now saying only one person is confirmed dead as a result of Monday's head-on collision on Highway 97B south of Salmon Arm.

ORIGINAL: 4:25 p.m.

Two people are dead following a head-on collision between a commercial vehicle and passenger vehicle on Highway 97B near Hudson Road, south of Salmon Arm.

Police say the collision occurred about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

RCMP have confirmed both occupants of the smaller vehicle died in the collision.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The highway will remain closed while police, the BC Coroners Service and Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement investigate.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Trans Canada East Traffic Service in Revelstoke at 250-344-2221.

Send pics, video to [email protected]

Fire at Buckerfield's

Salmon Arm fire crews were called to Buckerfield's Sunday evening following a report of smoke in the building.

Fire Chief Brad Shirley said when crews arrived they found “an aggressive fire” on the second floor of the structure at 6 p.m.

“They were able to quickly knock it down, but there was some fire extension throughout the upper level of the building so we spent a couple hours dealing with that,” said Shirley.

Of particular concern was the amount of fertilizers in the building, but Shirley said they were on the lower floor of the store away from the fire.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but Shirley said it does not seem suspicious.

An investigation will be conducted today in an effort to determine the cause.

Shirley said it was “very fortunate” staff was in the building and called the fire department “otherwise it could have had a very different outcome.”

Shirley said there was still “fairly significant damage to the second floor and of course there is water damage to the retail section down below.

“I suspect they won't be open for a while, but it is very salvageable," he said.

No damage in earthquake

There were no reports of injury, or damage resulting from a minor earthquake that hit the Salmon Arm area Saturday.

That from the Shuswap Emergency Program.

The quake, whose epicenter was located about four kilometres northeast of Salmon Arm, was a magnitude 2.2 on the Richter Scale - considered low.

Information was sent following significant public concern after some residents heard a loud noise and felt structures shake.

Natural Resources Canada seismologist Taimi Mulder says the quake would have been like a truck slamming into a building.

"As a result, there were numerous calls to emergency services asking for information. None of the calls provided responders with a specific emergency incident related to what we now know was an earthquake," the SEP said in a news release.

While the Shuswap typically experiences up to five magnitude one or two earthquakes each year, this was the first recorded shaker since 2017.

Loud boom an earthquake

An earthquake shook the Salmon Arm area Saturday night.

Social media lit up with comments and questions after a loud, explosion-like noise was heard about 8:40 p.m.

"Did anyone else just feel an earthquake in Salmon Arm? Our whole house shook, and it was loud like a truck hitting the house," Twitter user Anne Tenning posted. 

"The neighbours were outside looking, so it wasn’t just us that heard it and felt it."

"Loud explosion heard in Salmon Arm .. any ideas what it was?" a Castanet reader also inquired.

Earthquakes Canada confirms the 2.2 magnitude quake struck at 50.73 north, 119.23 west at 8:39 p.m. local time. It was recorded at a depth of one kilometre.

"There are no reports of damage, and none would be expected," the agency posted to its website this morning.

New municipality pondered

The Shuswap could soon have a new municipality.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors have unanimously supported a request to the province to fund a study examining the potential creation of a new municipality that would include Blind Bay and Sorrento.

The motion also informs the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that if incorporation is not deemed feasible, the board would then support the division of Electoral Area C into two separate electoral areas.

Area C director Paul Demenok called the incorporation study a major milestone.

"The results of this study will provide South Shuswap residents with the information they will need to make a fully informed decision about our future governance structure,” he said.

Several scenarios were considered, including the creation of standalone Sorrento and Blind Bay municipalities, a combined municipality, or the creation of two electoral areas, as well as potential boundaries for each.

Current services, population density, future development potential and more were all taken into account.

Area C is the most populous region of the CSRD, with 4,700 residents in the proposed incorporation area, based on 2016 census data. About 3,200 would be left in Area C after such a move.

“Should the incorporation question fail at either an incorporation committee or the referendum level, the default would be splitting Area C into two electoral areas. This recognizes that Area C is too large and requires greater representation at the CSRD board,” Demenok said.

A final decision on incorporation would have to get voter approval through a referendum.

Funds sought for rail trail

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District is going to the federal government in an attempt fund the development of a rail trail from Sicamous to Armstrong.

The board has endorsed an application for a $13 million infrastructure grant for the project, which would cover costs related to development of a non-motorized greenway trail along with former CP Rail corridor.

In December 2017, the CSRD and Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) jointly purchased about 50 kilometres of abandoned CP rail corridor between Sicamous and Armstrong. Splatsin of the Secwepemc First Nation had previously purchased seven kilometres of the abandoned railway.

An agreement is in place between the CSRD, RDNO and Splatsin to jointly use their portion of the rail corridor.

“The next step is to develop the trail for public use, including the planning, development and construction of the rail trail corridor,” says a news release. “The CSRD, RDNO and Splatsin are forming a committee with the Shuswap Trail Alliance acting in an administrative support role.”

The $13 million dollar application is for the development of the trail, along with amenities like benches, picnic tables and vault toilets.

The amount of money requested was determined by engineering estimates and development costs from the Okanagan Rail Trail from Vernon to Kelowna.

We stop - You stop

Over the course of 19 school days in January, 32 motorists were seen passing school buses with their red lights flashing.

And during the last 14 months, School District 83 buses have been hit by vehicles six times – so officials are launching a campaign that will also be rolled out in Vernon and Kelowna to raise safety awareness.

Andrea Katherein, transportation manager for the Okanagan-Shuswap District, said they want people to realize such actions can put children's lives at risk.

“We just want to spread the awareness it is important to stop for our red lights, and the fines are $368 and three demerit points,” said Katherein.

“That is the life of a child they are putting in jeopardy.”

From Feb. 18 to March 1, the district will be holding a safety blitz, part of which will include handing out coffee cup cozies that say 'We stop – You stop.'

Each cozy also reminds people of the hefty fine they can receive for passing a school bus with lights activated.

“The local RCMP will be following our buses on and off,” said Katherein. “We have really good support from our local RCMP detachments.”

Katherein said people not stopping for school buses is a problem from coast to coast.

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