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  • Oregon asks firm to stop using fetal tissue from B.C. to generate power

    PORTLAND, Ore. - An Oregon commission has ordered a waste-to-power facility to stop accepting boxed medical waste after learning it might be using the remains of aborted fetuses from British Columbia to generate electricity.

    Sam Brentano, chairman of the Marion County board of commissioners, said late Wednesday the board is taking immediate action to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries.

    The British Columbia Health Ministry tells The Associated Press that regional health authorities there have a contract with a company that sends biomedical waste, including fetal tissue, to Oregon, where it's incinerated in the waste-to-energy plant

    Vancouver-based B.C. Catholic newspaper identified the plant as Covanta Marion, based in Marion County.

    The facility processes about 500 tonnes per day of municipal solid waste, generating up to 13 megawatts of energy sold to Portland General Electric.

  • Port Hardy earthquake felt across Okanagan

    KELOWNA - A series of earthquakes 90km south of Port Hardy has several Twitter users saying they felt it here in the Okanagan as well.

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the first quake hit at 8:10 p.m. and registered 6.7. A second 5.0 quake struck the same area seven minutes later followed by a 4.3 at 8:40 p.m.

    Several Tweet's were sent by Okanagan residents saying they felt the earthquake in Kelowna, Kamloops and Vernon, however this has not been confirmed.

    There are no reports of damage or injuries. Information will be updated as it becomes available.

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at aproskiw@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

  • You dirty rat: almost 80 dead rodents found in southern Alberta landfill

    MEDICINE HAT, Alta. - Another 78 dead rats have been pulled from a southern Alberta landfill that has been plagued by the pests.

    The City of Medicine Hat is working to get rid of the rodents and is providing a weekly update.

    Last week, 63 dead rats were discovered and the week before there were 39.

    Jason Storch, an agricultural fieldman with Cypress County, says he can't put a timeline on the situation.

    The rats were spotted at the dump earlier this month after someone reported finding one in a farmyard.

    Alberta has always prided itself on being rat free, but that status has been in question since August 2012 when the vermin were first found in the landfill.

    At least 100 Norway rats were killed by city workers after an 80- metre-long nest was discovered. It took six hours for 21 workers and two excavators to dismantle it.

    The landfill has been continuously monitored since then and the city credits that vigilance for discovering the new cases. City officials said earlier this month that more poison was being put out and that staff would check bait stations daily.

    Agricultural fieldmen known by Albertans as the "rat patrol'' have worked for years to target invading rats in a control zone along the province's eastern boundary.

  • Evening market to entice community to heart of Vernon

    “YOU’RE GIVING PEOPLE BACK THAT SENSE OF COMMUNITY”

    VERNON - Vernon’s downtown will be alive this summer with music, sidewalk cafés, open air shopping and most importantly—people.

    Avenue Market was given the go ahead by Vernon city council Tuesday and will launch May 9 on 30 Avenue. The 4-7p.m. Friday market will see downtown merchants spill onto the sidewalks and outside vendors pour into the streets.

    Downtown Vernon Association executive director Lara Konkin led the initiative and says it’s a way to bring excitement, and people, to the downtown core.

    “It will open peoples’ eyes to what we really do have downtown,” Konkin says.

    Avenue market will stretch along sidewalks spanning the entire six blocks of 30 Avenue, while two blocks will be closed to traffic so vendors can inhabit the roadways. It will be the only market in Vernon where you can shop for shoes, clothes, produce, listen to music and watch your kids jump on a bouncy castle.

    “It’s almost creating that shopping mall mentality in a couple blocks of downtown,” Konkin says. “That’s something no other market can offer; there is only one downtown.”

    Sidewalk space will be reserved for downtown merchants both on and off 30 Avenue while the road itself will be used for produce stands, artisans, crafters—essentially anything that doesn’t directly compete with a downtown business.

    “We wouldn’t sell knock off Ray Bans, or that type of vendor,” Konkin says. “We think adding outside vendors will only add to the ambience of downtown and be good for economic development.”

    Vernon mayor Rob Sawatzky believes the market will be compliment downtown businesses, not compete with them.

    “I think it’s another step... taken by the community to make downtown the heart of our community and bring life and vibrancy to it,” Sawatzky says. “Where there’s people interacting and life, that’s attractive to others.”

    Rod Neufeld owns Eclectibles Quality Used Books and Vintage Vinyl Records on 30 Avenue and he supports the market, even if his participation in it may not be huge due to his hours of operation and nature of his business.

    “Downtown Vernon is kind of hurting right now. Some businesses are doing okay, some marginal. It certainly does need energizing,” he says.

    He’s not sure what vendors will participate, or just what the market will look like, but he knows how special the downtown core is and how much potential is there.

    “I choose to be downtown, I think it’s where my store belongs,” Neufeld says. “I’ve always thought that’s where the cool shops should be; it wouldn’t work in a strip mall.”

    It’s that local flavour Konkin and the Downtown Vernon Association hope to enhance through the Avenue Market.

    “You’re giving people back that sense of community,” Konkin says. “I think we all crave that town hall, community spirit type atmosphere. Essentially we’re going to create it in a couple of blocks. The biggest comment we’ve been hearing is ‘I can’t wait to bring my family back downtown.’”

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

  • Riding along with the RCMP police dog unit

    VERNON - Sherri Funfer usually spends her day with a 14 pound Jack Russel Terrier, not a pack of police dogs.

    The Salmon Arm resident got to tag along with the dog team Tuesday after her brother won the package at a fundraiser for HugABulls and the Okanagan Humane Society last November. Knowing how much his sister loves dogs, he gave the prize to her for Christmas.

    Outside the Vernon police detachment, Funfer watches the rambunctious canines as their handlers describe the training process. Flex and Frieda, two of the dogs Funfer will get to know over the course of the day, can probably smell traces of her Jack Russel on her clothes.

    The powerful German Shepherds are expertly trained to track and take down bad guys, something Funfer will witness today in practice scenarios. Highlights of the day include tracking, drug searching, criminal apprehension and puppy training.

    “They’re amazing, they’re just wonderful dogs and friendly too. I think people have a lot of misconceptions,” Funfer, of Salmon Arm, says. “They’re just amazing dogs, they’re like big puppies.’’

    Police only use German Shepherds because of their strength and ability to work in various climates. Puppies come from a breeder in Alberta and are trained by handlers like Const. Marc Jones, who is showing Funfer the ropes today. He’s one of only three handlers in the North Okanagan detachment area, and says the unit is frequently called upon.

    “We try to get a police dog out for any serious situation,” Jones says.

    The exuberant police dogs bark and play with their handlers, never sitting still. Like Funfer’s Jack Russel, they love attention and human contact. But even though their training includes socializing with dogs and people, they’re very different from a household pet. 

    “You should always be cautious around a police dog,” Jones says. “We bring them to school talks, I let kids pet my police dog... But it’s still a working dog, you always have to be prepared just in case something should happen.”

    Funfer says she’s amazed by the intelligence of the police dogs and hopes more people get the opportunity to see what the unit is all about.

    “Any dog lover would love a chance to come and do this,” she says.

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.