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Attack victim still recovering

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A luckily-timed delivery prevented what could have been a serious fire downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. A delivery driver dropping off a load to construction crews around 2:30 p.m. in the laneway behind Slackwater Brewing spotted a fire burning in the eavestrough on the rear of Softy’s Shoes at 215 […]

A luckily-timed delivery prevented what could have been a serious fire downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon.

A delivery driver dropping off a load to construction crews around 2:30 p.m. in the laneway behind Slackwater Brewing spotted a fire burning in the eavestrough on the rear of Softy’s Shoes at 215 Main Street.

A worker at Slackwater Brewing grabbed an extinguisher and hit the fire, which was followed up with consecutive buckets of water from an attending business owner.

The fire was smouldering by the time Penticton firefighters arrived, who pulled back some drywall in an attempt to determine the source of the fire. Birds have been known to nest in the area, but the source of combustion given its out-of-reach location is unknown.

Photo: Liam Peyton

The public washroom on the 200 block of Main Street will be mostly closed while other public toilets will see hours reduced in response in recent vandalism and drug use in the facilities.

Council voted Tuesday to approve the changes proposed by staff, which will see the 200 block Main Street laneway washrooms closed with the exception of market days and special events.

Other public washrooms such as those at beaches and ball diamonds will now close at 9 p.m. rather than dusk. Single-stall washrooms at Lakawanna, Gyro, Okanagan and Rotary parks will be closed for the summer while the regular male and female toilets stay open.

“Since the public washrooms opened in May, vandalism, damage and illicit use are a daily occurrence,” said director of facilities Bregje Kozak in a report to council.

“Not only does it cost taxpayers each and every time vandalism occur, it also has an impact on the ability for the general public to use those washroom facilities.”

Last year the city spent $100,000 repairing vandalism in public washrooms. Over the past two months, $7,000 and 65 staff hours (equal to one day a week) were spent on repairs.

“It’s just so offensive, what you are describing to us,” Coun. Frank Regehr said. “Such a basic public service, and to have it destroyed like that.”

The washrooms in the 200 block Main Street laneway were installed in 2017 at a cost of $48,000. At the time, they were touted as “vandalism resistant.”

Kozak said that remains mostly true, with concrete and steel fixtures preventing vandals from doing as much damage as other facilities where sinks can be smashed, but frequent graffiti and illicit use means they have been out of commission for repairs just as often.

Bradley Eliason recovering in hospital.

The man accused in a vicious assault last month on Okanagan Lake beach remains behind bars while the victim stays in hospital on a long road to recovery.

A bail hearing for Thomas Kruger-Allen, 21, was adjourned by defence Monday and has been sent back to court schedulers to secure a new date.

Kruger-Allen is accused of assaulting three people during an incident at a beach bonfire on May 3 — charged with aggravated assault, sexual assault and two counts of common assault.

The most seriously injured victim, 28-year-old Bradley Eliason, has now awoken from a medically-induced coma but remains in a hospital bed.

His wife Chelsea Townend told Castanet after the assault that her husband tried to intervene after two inebriated men started harassing youth at the fire, trying to rip a shirt off one of the young girls. Eliason was allegedly punched, falling back and hitting his head hard on the concrete.

In an update over the weekend posted to an ongoing GoFundMe campaign, Townend thanked the community for the outpouring of support.

“I believe that my husband is alive today because of the power of prayer,” she said. “I believe that he will make a full recovery but I also realize that this will take time.”

She said Eliason is making progress in physiotherapy, but still has a ways to go. A piece of his skull cap is still missing, as doctors are holding off on attaching it until they are certain his brain has stopped swelling. A helmet required for the recovery will cost $500. After spending weeks at the side of Eliason's hospital bed, Townend is now returning to work on a part-time basis.

The alleged attack occurred while Kruger-Allen was out on bail awaiting sentencing for a jumping outside the Mule Nightclub in 2017. Online court records indicate he will appear in court briefly Wednesday so the defence can request a pre-sentence report on that matter.

Photo: Crime Stoppers South Okanagan Similkameen

Crime Stoppers of the South Okanagan Similkameen is distributing surveillance images of three people accused of breaking into a car in a secured parkade in Penticton.

In a post on Facebook, Crimestoppers says the trio entered an apartment building and made their way to the parkade where they allegedly broke a window on a 2015 Honda CRV, stealing loose change and a remote for the parkade.

“A real ‘head scratcher’ as to why you did this for some loose change,” the post states. “South Okanagan Similkameen Crime Stoppers will take the mystery out of it when we identify you for the police.”

Tips to Crimestoppers can be made online or at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You may be eligible for a cash reward.

The rockslide in February.

The Ministry of Transportation wants the public to know there is no new rockslide at the site of the slide that shut down Highway 97 for weeks in February two kilometres north of Summerland.

Danielle Pope, with MoTI, says a potentially confusingly-phrased post on the DriveBC website, which says a rockslide has closed the southbound lane on the highway while crews work, led some media outlets and radio stations to believe there was a new slide Monday.

"What it should have said is that it was routine maintenance," Pope said.

She said the ministry has been asking all media outlets who posted stories about the supposed new slide Monday to take down the misinformation or correct it. Castanet was not one of those outlets, but Pope wants the word out to the public who may have read or heard about the slide that there is no new slide, and no cause for concern.

Global Wellness Day Osoyoos will be co-hosted by Desert Sun Counselling which operates in both Oliver and Osoyoos.

The Osoyoos Wellness Hub is holding its own local version of Global Wellness Day this weekend, which is celebrated in 130 countries at 5,000 different locations.

On Saturday, June 8, the free event will offer information about mental and physical health programs available in the community, as well as what people can do at home to improve all aspects of their wellness.

The hub is co-hosting the event at Desert Sun Counselling Centre. Several businesses and organizations will be setting up tables outside in the parking lot as well as leading 30-45 minute information and education sessions in the Desert Sun board room.

There will also be a kids corner with arts and crafts and snacks.

"Interior Health and Desert Sun will be sharing what programs and services they have to offer people in our region and we will have a variety of practitioners and modalities set up for you to visit and to learn and gather resources from," reads a press release.

"We will have everything from yoga and movement therapy, to mental health and mindfulness to social connection and financial wellness."

In addition to the sessions and informational tables, there will be an art therapy corner hosted by Osoyoos Artists on Main.

The entirely free event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Desert Sun Counselling Centre in Osoyoos at 8701 Main St. For more information, visit the Osoyoos Wellness Hub on Facebook here.

The Penticton Dam, June 3.

Floaters on the Penticton Channel will have to embark with a fully stocked cooler this summer, as flows out of Okanagan Lake hover near a trickle.

Penticton dam manager Shaun Reimer says outflows at the dam are at about six cubic metres a second — levels that would be considered low in the dead of winter — while he tries to hold as much water in Okanagan Lake while the spring freshet fades.

“The factor that I’m watching is the tributary flow downstream,” he said, referring to creeks between Penticton and Osoyoos that empty into the Okanagan River.

Those creek are still emptying snowmelt into the Okanagan River, bumping flows in Oliver closer to 11 cubic metres a second.

“I try to keep a minimum flow down through that Oliver area for irrigators, for fish and the like. At the same time, I’m trying to keep as much water in Okanagan Lake.”

Okanagan Lake is still about 30 centimetres short of its target with signs that water levels are starting to crest — about three weeks earlier than the typical peak in the third week of June.

“We haven’t had any rain really to speak of and our snowpack was very low,” he said.

It’s expected flows on the Penticton Channel will be bumped up, somewhat, “sooner than later” as tributaries start to dry up, Reimer said.

“Although I would suggest that the tubers will be in better straits than today, it’s still going to be a pretty low year.”

Tubers that attempted the Channel over the weekend reported on social media the current was so slow, winds were blowing floaters in the wrong direction and paddling was needed to move down the river.

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