Vernon’s Cameron Lane of Unity Mixed Martial Arts lands a right hand against opponent Nick Leblac of Calgary during XFC Unbanned Saturday at the Vernon Curling Club. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Year in Review: August 2019

Robberies, law suits and heroism were spotlighted in August 2019

Vernon man rides to conquer cancer

Mike Kreuger spent much of 2019 working out, but not for the same reasons that most do. He didn’t do it merely to improve his personal health, or to get into shape for beach season. He dis it for a cause, one that hit close to home.

The 47-year-old Vernon resident was gearing up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day, 200-kilometre bike ride in support of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

For Kreuger, the cancer research fundraiser is personal. Six months ago his wife Meghan was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Beset by feelings of helplessness, the ride presented a way for Kreuger to get off the sidelines.

“Being able to fundraise was a way that I could participate in Meghan’s journey and feel that I’m doing something to prevent this from happening to our daughter Maddison.”

Kreuger ended up raising more than $25,000 for the foundation.

Adventure Park proposed for Spallumcheen

A Spallumcheen couple applied to the Township to develop an adventure park on their farm property with 123 years of family history.

Jack Wood and his wife Patti, have seen their proposal to build Wood Mountain Adventure Park slowly move forward by council. The application was granted third reading in early September.

The proposal was met by considerable pushback from neighbouring residents, who went in numbers to public consultations to voice concerns about the project’s potential effects on water supply, road safety, noise and light pollution, wildfire risk and more.

Phase 1 of the Woods’ proposal entails an alpine coaster ride, children’s play areas and challenge courses. Phase 2 outlines plans for a zip line, tree climb, rock climbing and hiking and biking trails, but that phase still needs to be approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Deadpool costumed robber thwarted

A 19-year-old Vernon man was taken into custody following a gas station robbery on Aug. 1, where the suspect was described as wearing a Deadpool mask and brandishing a weapon.

He didn’t get any cash, but he helped himself to some items. The man threatened staff with a knife and demanded money, but then grew impatient and fled the store without any cash — however not before helping himself to a beverage and a small toy.

The man was wearing a black, red and white Deadpool mask, a red T-shirt under a black and red checkered long-sleeve shirt, black pants and sneakers. The teen was arrested less than three weeks after the robbery on 34th Street.

OKIB sues feds over clean water access

The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) has filed a suit on Aug. 15, in federal court against the federal government over its failure to ensure the safety of drinking water.

“The federal government has put the lives of our people at risk,” Okanagan Chief Byron Louis said.

The suit seeks confirmation that First Nations communities have the same access to safe, clean drinking water as the rest of Canada — compelling the federal government to ensure water infrastructure complies to safety standards.

Mom rescues son from burning home

A mother’s instinct kicked in immediately as a Vernon mom rescued her one-year-old son from their burning home on Aug. 22.

Tina Sinclair and her family’s Commonage Place home on Mission Hill went up in flames while the youngest was sleeping. The family of five, including three boys, had been renters at the home for eight years.

“I ran across the street to a neighbour’s step only to watch my home, within 10 to 20 minutes, totally engulfed in flames,” Sinclair said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was fast and furious.”

A GoFundMe campaign raised just shy of $3,000 for the family. Picking up and moving on hasn’t been easy since the traumatic event. Fortunately, though, the sifting the family did after the embers had cooled did produce one silver lining.

“Amazingly enough, almost anything sentimental was untouched. I feel that luxury, as a fire victim, was a miracle in itself.”

Cabrejos captures XFC middleweight belt

After a 10-year hiatus, MMA officially made its return to Vernon.

The sport was banned by a 2014 city bylaw that prohibited professional and amateur mixed martial fights within the municipal limits. That decision was rescinded in March, and on Aug. 24 the aptly titled XFC “Unbanned” saw 22 fights unfold.

Local fighter Jordan Caberjos became the new XFC middleweight champ after defeating Will Grieves and improving his record to 3-1-1.

“This is amazing, a dream come true,” said a beaming Cabrejos in the ring to announcer Kevin Rothwell, with loud cheers thundering down from the crowd. “To do this so close to my home, with my girlfriend, family and all these guys in the crowd, it’s awesome.”

Entrepreneur gives homeless women a boost

Bright pink makeup bags made their way to homeless women and sex trade workers around Vernon in the middle of August, courtesy of one Vernon resident who wants to help them obtain something not normally found in donation boxes: confidence.

Tabitha has lived in Vernon her whole life and has been through hard times herself in the past. Now she owns a small beauty box company out of her home, and instead of launching a new line this month, she decided to put her products into personalized packages and donate them to underprivileged women in the community.

She sent out 20 bags to women in Vernon, each one stuffed with brand new eye shadow, a hairbrush, lipstick and skin care products, among other luxury items.

“These women sleep and survive with nothing over their heads,” Tabitha said. “It’s nice for women to feel like women every once in a while.”

While Tabitha says she enjoys the feeling of helping others, she wished to maintain her anonymity so as to keep the focus on those in need.

Wastewater recovery project receives funding

Spallumcheen is set to receive nearly $37 million for a new wastewater system thanks to funds contributed to by local, provincial and federal governments.

The North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project, which will include a new treatment facility, a sludge treatment system and about 12 kilometres of main pump stations. The project will run along the Swan Lake Corridor.

“We’re thrilled to see the project all come together. Our Partnership Committee has been working at this for four years since we signed our first Memorandum of Understanding in 2015,” said Bob Fleming, board member of the Regional District of North Okanagan.

The federal contribution announced in late February was the last piece of funding needed for the project and totals nearly $13.3 million.

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Foul play was not suspected in a fire that broke out in the back yard and spread to a home in the 3700 block of Commonage Place Aug. 22, resulting in six people being displaced. (Morning Star file photo)

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