GALLERY: Reflecting on Vernon’s headlines in October 2019

Mother and children escape burning home

A woman and her two children were able to get out of safely when the flames started roaring through their East Hill home on Sept. 26.

Vernon Fire Rescue deputy fire chief Scott Hemstad said the house across the street from Silver Star Elementary School was a “total loss.”

Firefighters arrived shortly after 4 p.m. to find one home engulfed in flames and a neighbouring home threatened.

“They quickly pulled the line and protected the exposure so it didn’t spread to the second house,” Hemstad said.

“Today was an example of the dedicated work of our local firefighters and the expertise they have in responding to such calls,” added Vernon fire chief David Lind said.

Damages to the home were later estimated at $500,000.

RCMP put brakes on notorious speeder

A notorious high-risk driver known as “Okanagan Bob” on YouTube was served an eight-month licence suspension on Sept. 17, after clocking in 45 kilometres over the speed limit on Highway 97 between the Lake Country and Vernon.

“If you drive like a maniac, you need to expect to be apprehended,” Central Okanagan Traffic Services Sgt. Bryce Petersen said.

Police first put the brakes on Okanagan Bob on Dec. 6, 2018. But it appeared as though Okanagan Bob didn’t get the message.

In late August, RCMP started hearing similar complaints about a white Dodge pickup truck — excessive speeding, tailgating, aggressive driving and abrupt lane changes.

“This is the second time we have been able to apprehend him,” Petersen said.

Okanagan Bob, whose identity has not been made public as he has no convictions, was issued several tickets including two counts of excessive speeding, drive without due care and drive without consideration.

Community pillar fondly remembered

Hearts were heavy and, unlike most days, there were very few smiles Oct. 1 at Vernon’s Schubert Centre.

Vernon’s community centre for seniors was a sad place after volunteers and regulars learned of the death of beloved centre manager and community pillar Jack Gareb, 76, who died in Vernon Jubilee Hospital nearly two weeks after having suffered a heart attack in late September.

Gareb had been with the Schubert Centre for 25 years.

“Jack was a guy who made sure when you interacted with him, you went away happy,” Vernon councillor and former mayor Akbal Mund said.

“He was a great guy, I really liked him. His death leaves a major empty portion in the city because he did a lot for a lot of people.”

Tributes for Gareb poured in over social media in the following days.

First responders touched by kindergartner’s donation

Emergency responders collecting food donations in Lumby and Lavington in early October were touched when Kai McColl, a Kindergarten student, walked up to police officers and paramedics as they were collecting in his neighbourhood and handed them a quarter, telling them he would like it to go to the food bank.

The first responders were floored by young McColl’s donation — not by the amount but because it was all the money he had.

“He literally was the talk of the event from the perspective of all the first responders who were there,” RCMP traffic officer Gary McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin along with members of the RCMP, paramedics, Lavington firefighters and Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick went to McColl’s classroom to personally thank him, and to talk to his class about the importance of the food bank.

Nursing students make history

Ten practical nursing students from Okanagan College packed their medical bags and took off to Thailand Oct. 17 for two weeks to put their classroom skills to use.

Not only is this the first time the college has done something like this, but it’s also a Canadian first for a diploma program, department chair and professor Lisa Matthews said.

The idea was sparked during classroom conversation after Thai student Thanadol Prasertsung told his classmates about his village back home.

After a quick temperature check of the class, the students decided to pursue the project and began fundraising.

“These trips are typical in bachelor of science programs in university,” Matthews said. “But it hasn’t been done in a practical nursing program in Canada.”

Arnold rides Tory blue wave

The North Okanagan-Shuswap riding re-elected Conservative MP incumbent Mel Arnold in the 2019 federal election on Oct. 21.

Preliminary election results showed Arnold handily won the riding with 35,753 votes, 48.8 per cent of the popular vote.

Arnold was followed by Liberal Cindy Derkaz who won 22.7 per cent of the popular vote, followed by New Democrat Harwinder Sandhu with 15.3 per cent.

Green Party candidate Marc Reinarz finished fourth with 10.5 per cent, while People’s Party of Canada candidate Kyle Delfing earned 2.7 per cent.

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