It’s not every day you see a double-rotor military Chinook helicopter land in Vernon.
Brad Steel captured video of one of the big birds taking off from the sports fields on the Department of National Defence grounds across from the Vernon Army Cadet Training Centre on Thursday.
What the Chinook was doing in town is not yet known, but there’s no doubt the big chopper made an impressive appearance that caught the attention of many.
Castanet has reached out to the Canadian Armed Forces for more information.
A spokesperson at the cadet camp said only that the Chinook was passing through and made a brief pit stop.
Some years ago, the military used to bring Chinook teams to Vernon to practise mountain flying in the Monashees, east of the city.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command conducted training in the region with smaller Griffon helicopters.
A trio of Vernon restaurants are holding a hiring fair as many food service businesses find it hard to fill vacancies despite the reopening of the economy.
Sherman Dahl with Pretium Group says “restaurants throughout B.C. are struggling to hire team members.”
He’s holding the hiring fair Monday, July 12, for his three Vernon restaurants – Wings, The Italian Kitchen, and Top Choice Pizza.
The job fair will be held at the Wings location in the North End of town, by the casino.
Each of the restaurants is looking to fill multiple positions.
Management is looking to fill the following positions immediately:
- Experienced line cooks
- Dough makers
- Catering servers
- Banquet porter for events
- Experienced servers
The job fair will run from from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 520 Anderson Way.
Bring a resume and be ready to join the team.
The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has created its own private label whiskey.
Commissioned by the chamber, the Unite blend melds “the distinct but complementary tastes of … Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery’s BRBN and Gray Monk Estate Winery’s Odyssey III Port.”
But the chamber says name goes further that.
“Unite symbolizes the very essence of the Greater Vernon Chamber: Businesses and non-profits blending into an alliance of co-operation, advocacy and support. Vision and influence are infused in the very meld,” the chamber says.
“Consider that your chamber is uniquely Vernon since 1897, celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit that has made this the place to live, work and invest,” the chamber says in an email to members.
“We raise a glass in Unity.”
Leader members will receive a bottle of Unite – and 20 more will be drawn for among the membership.
Minor hockey is back in action in Vernon.
New director of hockey operations Sam Mowat says the Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association is welcoming back players.
Mowat said in a press release he “understands that now, more than ever, it is important that hockey families in the community feel confident that they are signing up for a reliable program.
Given last year’s COVID-19 driven interruptions, he said there may still be some parents who are waiting to be sure there will be full season.
“Everyone in the Vernon area should know that GVMHA is 100% preparing to go back to a normal play and spectating structure,” Mowat said in anticipation of a positive Step 4 provincial reopening announcement on Sept. 7.
Mowat said he is excited about what is already happening to get ready for the season.
A new Vernon Vipers/GVMHA summer camp is running in early August, and fall registrations are flowing in. The calibre of coaching applications is very promising, he added.
“It may have been 45 C outside last week and hockey might have been the furthest thing from your mind, but Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association is full steam ahead completing plans for an awesome return to hockey this September. Minor hockey is back!” he said.
For more information on fall registration and the summer hockey camp, visit the GVMHA website.
The founder of a longstanding Okanagan winery has died.
George Heiss planted the first grapes at Gray Monk Estate Winery with his wife, Trudy, in 1972.
Heiss died June 29 in Kelowna. He was 81.
“It’s with sadness that we share the heartbreaking news that Gray Monk founding father George Heiss passed away last week,” the winery posted on its Facebook page.
Gray Monk was the first to plant Pinot Gris in Canada, and the third estate winery to open its doors.
He was known as a winemaking visionary who always had a story to share.
Heiss was born in Vienna, Austria, on Dec 24, 1939.
George and Trudy met in Edmonton and with their move to the Okanagan switched careers from hairdressing to the wine industry.
The family initially grew grapes for commercial wineries, but later decided to go it alone.
In 1976, they imported Pinot Gris, Pinot Auxerrois and Gewurztraminer root stock from Alsace, France.
The name Gray Monk came from the English translation of the Austrian name for the Pinot Gris vine.
After allowing for a few years for the vines to begin producing, Gray Monk opened its doors in 1982.
The first vintage was produced out of a garage on the property and consisted of just 125 cases. Since then, production has increased to more than 100,000 cases per year.
After 35 years of proprietorship, the Heisses made the difficult decision to retire and the winery was sold to Andrew Peller Ltd.
Williams Lake Emergency Operations Centre
More than $1.8 million in provincial emergency preparedness funding will be dispersed across Emergency Operations Centres in B.C. to help communities prepare for the worst.
Fifty-four local governments and First Nations will receive the cash infusion.
The funding will support the purchase of equipment and supplies and enhance the capacity of the emergency co-ordination hubs, including several in the Thompson-Okanagan.
“Recent extreme wildfire events demonstrate just how vital emergency operations centres are in responding to emergencies,” Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said in a press release Friday.
The funding is divided into seven streams:
- Flood risk assessment, flood mapping and flood mitigation planning
- Emergency support services
- Emergency operations centres and training
- Structural flood mitigation
- Evacuation route planning
- Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility training
- Volunteer and composite fire departments equipment and training
“It’s important for people across the Thompson-Okanagan to be prepared for an emergency, and local community governments are a big part of that readiness,” said Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu. “We’re supporting their important work, and through them, helping keep people safe.”
?”People across the Southern Interior know the importance of emergency preparedness given that collectively we have a lot of lived experience,” added Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell.
Across the region, the following groups are receiving funding:
- Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band – Emergency Management Program – $25,000
- Lumby – EOC Exercise 2021 – $24,800
- North Okanagan Regional District – Emergency Power Supply – $25,000
- Sicamous – Emergency Operations Centre – $25,000
- Vernon – 2021 EOC and training project – $25,000
- Clearwater – equipment and EOC training – $24,958.54
- Simpcw First Nation – Emergency Response Centre upgrades and training – $25,000
- Midway – EOC Project – $25,000
- Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Oliver, Osoyoos – Training and Integrated Virtual EOC Needs Assessment – $133,800
- Penticton – EOC and staff enhancement – $25,000
- Lillooet – Capacity Building Program – $25,000
- Williams Lake First Nation – Emergency Operations Capacity Building Initiative – $24,307
After more than a year without racing, the Vernon BMX Club is finally back on the track.
“Oh the excitement, the excitement of finally coming back and having people come through that gate is … absolutely incredible,” said Shylo Orchard, president and track operator at the club.
The club held its first races this week since October 2019.
“I’m very excited, I’m also a little bit nervous, I need to do a lot more training and I’m really excited to race with my friends,” said Leo Fogel, who has been riding with the club since he was three years old.
Most restrictions that would affect the BMX club have been lifted since the province went into Stage 3 of its reopening, but this season they will still be unable to host any tournaments.
The club won’t be hosting the Canadian Nationals for the second consecutive year because restrictions were lifted too late this season.
This year, the club will create a major tournament out of a charity race they put together annually.
“Just to create that atmosphere of a larger competition and have more families come together, we are going to focus on this year’s BC Race for Life,” said Orchard. “That is an event we’ve always hosted, it’s usually just on a regular Tuesday.”
All the proceeds of the event’s fundraising will go to BC Children’s Hospital.
Photo: Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store
A Vernon-based animal support group is doing its part to help pet owners and their furry friends displaced by the Lytton wildfire.
Gena Barzon, director of the Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store, who is a logistical commander with the provincial animal auxiliary, says successful deliveries of pet needs have been made to the evacuation centre in Merritt.
“We set up a pickup point in Merritt at the central school, where people can get food and pet supplies,” Barzon said Thursday.
The donated items are all free for fire evacuees.
Another delivery was also made to the Shulus Community Arena in the Lower Nicola, where other evacuees are registering.
Barzan said the group is collecting needed items, such as pet bedding, cages, food and other items that evacuees had to leave behind.
She said demand has been through “mad rushes,” with items in hot demand, then lulls until the next wave of evacuees comes in.
She’ll be making another delivery on Tuesday.
The Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store is located on Highway 6 in Vernon, across from Polson Park and behind the Diner on 6 restaurant.
It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Items currently in demand include cooling pads for senior pets.
To donate, call Barzan at 250-438-0062 or drop the items off at the shop.
Photo: Family photo
A well-known Okanagan Indian Band elder has passed at 80 years of age.
Richard Louis Sr. competed as a pro rodeo cowboy for 15 years, “all over B.C., Alberta, Western Canada and the United States,” says his son, Richard Jr.
“Papa,” as his obituary calls him, led “a very full life,” his son said.
He got his start in the rodeo world breaking horses on the Douglas Lake Ranch in the 1960s.
From there, he hit the professional rodeo trail, competing in bareback and other events.
Louis also played hockey with the Totems in the Aboriginal Hockey League, and spent time working as a logger and as band manager for the OKIB.
Later in life, he became a saddle maker and traditional Syilx canoe maker.
“Then he decided to return to ranching at 77,” his son said.
Louis’s death comes suddenly, after a short illness.
He had CJD, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and “was very healthy right up to just six weeks ago,” said Richard Jr.
“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness we regret to announce the sudden passing of our dad, Richard Louis Sr., on June 30,” the family said in an announcement on Facebook.
A ceremony was held at Komasket Park on Monday with a procession from the Louis residence following horses and riders.
CJD is a degenerative brain disorder similar to Alzheimer’s disease, but according the Mayo Clinic, it usually progresses much more rapidly.
The Greater Vernon Water Authority is advising residents to cut back on their water use as Stage 1 water use restrictions are now in effect.
Stage 1 restrictions are currently in effect for the City of Vernon, District of Coldstream and Portions of Electoral Areas ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ as well as Spallumcheen.
Customers are being asked to reduce water use by 10 per cent or more.
“By being water wise now and making small adjustments, such as only watering twice a week or cutting back your irrigation run time by 10 per cent, we can help to safeguard that we will have enough water for our summer water demands and help keep enough water for fish and fighting wildfires,” water sustainability coordinator Jennifer Miles said.
The restrictions gives customers options for which day (or days) they choose to water:
- Tuesday, Thursday, and/or Saturday if their property has an odd address number
- Wednesday, Friday, and/or Sunday if their property has an even address number
Watering on yards and gardens is not allowed on Mondays or between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. any days, including drip irrigation.
The restrictions apply to all domestic customers – residential, commercial, and industrial. Customers using a watering can or hose with spring-loaded nozzle may hand-water anytime.
Agricultural customers may continue to water within their allocation to maintain the health of their crops but are asked to conserve wherever possible by monitoring for leaks and reducing watering during the heat of the day if possible. They must also adhere to the maximum flow rate (0.78 liters per second per hectare of allocation). When customers exceed their flow rate, it can cause their neighbours to lose water pressure.
Miles says, efforts made now will help ensure there will be sufficient water to meet crop needs through to the fall.