|  Your source for news and events in the Columbia Valley

Dan Walton
Email: dan@cv-pioneer.com
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Before joining The Pioneer early in 2013, Dan was employed at a Saskatchewan newspaper. While the views of the sky are an appealing feature of the Prairies, the scenery can't compare to the mountains found only in British Columbia, where Dan looks forward to hiking, biking, rock climbing and downhill skiing, and writing the occasional opinionated column, while keeping his mind open to opposing viewpoints. Any and all feedback is welcome!

Lorne Elliott performed his latest production, Chasing the Big Silly, for a packed house at Christ Church Trinity on the evening of Tuesday, April 15th. Early that morning, North Americans were exposed to a lunar eclipse, giving the moon a rare shadow before changing its colour to a brownish red. 

Photo by Dan Walton

Lorne Elliott and the lunar eclipse

Posted on April 18th, 2014 by


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HOT OTTERS — Otters are aiming for the regional finals in the CBC Searchlight Contest. The valley-based band has until Sunday afternoon to garner enough votes to advance to the top 10 in the Kelowna region. From the left is drummer Ryan Stimming, frontman Al Fraser, bassist Andrew Turgeon, and guitarist Nick King. Photo by Dan Walton

Otters trying to attract CBC’s Searchlight

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Local band Otters are looking to make a splash on radio, as the valley-based band is competing in the CBC’s annual Searchlight Contest.
The East Kootenay region got great exposure from the contest last year, as Cranbrook’s Good Ol’ Goats placed second in the nation-wide contest. This year, Otters are taking a swing, but first, they have to advance through the Kelowna (Radio West) region of CBC Radio – one of 24 in Canada. So far, the band has qualified as one of the top 25 in the …

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COURAGEOUS CREW - Courageous Hearts board members (left to right) Kim Baker, Tiffany Gulbe, Cori Gadomski and France Andestad (missing is Heather Pryndik) are spearheading a new fundraising society in the Columbia Valley that allows individuals to “pay it forward” by helping people in the community.  Photo submitted

Courageous Hearts starts with auction action

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
The valley’s newest not-for-profit group is making a powerful start, as Courageous Hearts will be hosting a Storage Wars-style auction as its debut event.
In partnership with Real Storage in Windermere, Courageous Hearts will be hosting the event on Saturday, April 19th, before a silent auction and dance later that night.
The auction takes place at 1 p.m. at Real Storage in Windermere. The fundraiser will feature five storage units loaded with valuables that have been donated by local sponsors. In a fashion similar to the reality television program, …

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Norm Gagatek and his son Braeden prior to Norm's stroke in 2008. Pioneer file photo

Gagatek continues rousing recovery at home

Posted on March 28th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Invermere resident Norm Gagetek’s incredible recovery will continue in the valley, after the stroke survivor spent the last six months at a care facility in the Okanagan re-learning how to live independently.
“He’s now at 80 per cent self-dependant,” said his wife, Kimberley Harris. “He was at about 60 per cent before.”
Norm spent the two-and-a-half years prior with his family at home in the valley, but plateaued in his recovery because of limited local resources available, Kimberley said.
However, even before his time in the Okanagan, Norm came a …

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The Easy Rider Cup has drawn big crowds of participants in the recent past. Pioneer file photo

Creative competitions planned at Panorama Mountain Village

Posted on March 28th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Spring may be in season, but Panorama Mountain Village is about to host some of the most exciting winter events of the year.
As the weather warms up, skiers and boarders will be able to shed some layers – and Panorama is encouraging them to shred on the hill in festive attire.
With the Superhero Sunfest on the weekend of April 4th to 6th, and the Hawaiian Luau celebration happening this weekend, Saturday, March 29th and Sunday, March 30th, costumes are becoming the norm at Panorama.
As capes become an …

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NOT TOO SHABBY, ANNY — With her replica of  the painting “Strange things done in the midnight sun,” by Ted Harrison, J.A. Laird Grade 7 student Abby Wagner was the winner of this year’s poster contest for Art from the Heart, which will see her work featured on the series’ promotional poster. The pre-show for Art from the Heart begins at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort on Friday, March 28th and lasts until Sunday, April 6th, then goes on display at the Pynelogs Cultural Centre from Tuesday, April 8th to Sunday, April 27th. Photo by Dan Walton

Wagner’s work woos Art from the Heart

Posted on March 21st, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Attracting audiences to the 2014 Art from the Heart show at Pynelogs will be a centrepiece by Grade 7 student Abby Wagner, whose pastel picture was chosen to be featured on the event poster.
As a project through her language arts class at J.A. Laird, Abby used pastels to recreate an image from the poem of Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” which was illustrated by Ted Harrison.
Each student in her class chose a picture from the book, and Abby decided upon “Strange things done in the …

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SEE AND SKI — Robbi Weldon and her guide Phil Wood compete in Cross Country Skiing Women’s five-kilometre free, visually impaired event at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee

Panorama product and Nipika newcomer shine in Sochi

Posted on March 21st, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
It wasn’t until one week before the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi that ski guide Nick Brush from Panorama found out he would be part of the world-class competition.
Nick retired as a ski guide after barely missing the podium four years ago, leading visually impaired skier Chris Williamson to two fourth place and two sixth place finishes at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver .
But when the team underwent a lineup shuffle just one week before the games, Chris found himself without a guide.
Thankfully, Nick was able …

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Area F director Wendy Booth. Pioneer file photo

Valley water projects a focus of 2014 RDEK budget

Posted on March 14th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
A five-year financial plan adopted last Friday by the Regional District of East Kootenay will mean big upgrades to municipal water systems in the northern end of the Columbia Valley.
The regional district will support $1.3 million worth of upgrades to Edgewater’s water system, and $970,000 in Spur Valley for the same cause. Windermere is likely to be a future recipient, but that is subject to elector approval, said Regional District of East Kootenay chief financial officer Shawn Tomlin.
The five-year plan runs from 2014 to 2018, and was …

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High school presenting two plays this year after student pens script

Posted on February 28th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton and Greg Amos
Pioneer Staff
An ambitious drive by a teenage playwright will see two dramatic plays this year at David Thompson Secondary School, as Grade 12 student Alaya Simpson wrote the script for “Say
Something”, a play in which she’ll be performing.
“It’s a tragedy — it’s about depression, and it deals with mature subject matter,” Alaya said. “It’s not recommended for children.”
She compared the extent of its edgy content to that of a 14-A movie. “Say Something” is set in present-day, and will allow the audience to experience a …

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Air ambulance authority

Posted on February 21st, 2014 by


Emergency service crews from around the valley were invited to the Invermere Hospital on Tuesday, February 18th, when one of the teams from Calgary’s Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society, better known as STARS, was showing off the single AgustaWestland AW139 in their fleet, which can travel at speeds over 300 kilometres per hour. The air ambulance can reach Calgary from Invermere in roughly 45 minutes. In 2013 alone, 14 missions were carried out in Invermere and one in Canal Flats. Photos by Dan Walton

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BAKERY REBRANDING — Invermere’s Quality Bakery has a new name (sign coming soon) and a new look. Now The Invermere Bakery with a modern decor, the local hot spot still has a few finishing touches to complete. 
Photo by Dan Walton

Invermere’s Quality Bakery reinvents itself

Posted on February 21st, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Invermere’s Quality Bakery has undergone major changes since the start of 2014.
Previously described as a rustic European bakery, the well-loved establishment now seems like an entirely new business.
“We’ve eased small orders and presented a modern, clean look,” said owner Peter Banga.
The recent renovations were prompted by aging electrical and plumbing systems, but before closing the shop in the middle of January for the necessary upgrades, it was decided that many aspects of the bakery would also be overhauled. Regular clientele can expect a completely different layout of the …

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Eli and Marty Beingessner. Pioneer file photo

Johnny Cash among iconic rockers revived at Eagle Ranch

Posted on February 21st, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
The pioneers of rock and roll will be well represented next weekend, when the sounds of Johnny Cash and the Legends return to Eagle Ranch Resort for the first time in two years.
Classic rock from the 1950s and 1960s will return to life through the magical fingers of the well-loved local guitar duo Like Father Like Son, which is father Marty and son Eli Beingessner.
In addition to Johnny Cash, the pair will be covering musicians such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi …

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Avalanche warnings on high after recent snowfall

Posted on February 21st, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
After several heavy snowfalls throughout the province this season, the Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued high danger ratings throughout many regions of British Columbia — including the Purcells.
As of Wednesday, February 19th, conditions above or near the treeline and at the alpine level were under high alert — Level 4 — for an avalanche, with terrain below the treeline rated as Level 3 — considerable avalanche risk — according to the Canadian Avalanche Centre website. These warnings are consistent in bordering regions: the southern Rockies, Kootenay Boundary, and …

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Summit, an avalanche rescue dog in training, digs for buried victims during an avalanche scenario held by Columbia Valley Search and Rescue and other teams in the region on Saturday, February 8th. The practice, held on the Elmo run at Panorama Mountain Village, was co-ordinated by the ski resort’s own avalanche professional, Scott McClain. Photo by Dan Walton

Danger diluted by disaster demonstration

Posted on February 14th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Columbia Valley Search and Rescue holds bi-monthly practices, but once each year, the team invites their life-saving counterparts from nearby jurisdictions to participate in a large-scale mock avalanche scenario.
“We don’t often get to practice scenarios at this scale, so we put a lot of effort into re-creating something that could actually happen,” said Scott McClain, avalanche professional at Panorama and a member of Columbia Valley Search and Rescue. “We like to involve more than our own group, so other agencies in the local area as well as …

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Inaugural For The Love of the Valley set to debut this weekend

Posted on February 14th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
With an abundance of attractions that lure people to visit and live in the valley, the executive chef at Copper Point Resort has decided to bring it all together during his sophomore year in the area.
In tying together Alberta’s Family Day weekend with Valentine’s Day, a new event called For The Love of the Valley will feature several of the valley’s impressive entrepreneurs and artists.
Happening at Copper Point Resort on Saturday, February 15th with live music, painting demonstrations, ice carving, and a wide range of hospitality, …

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BELUGA BIKE — There aren’t many places she can’t pedal – and Lake 
Windermere poses no challenge for Margaret Radermacher, one of Invermere’s few fat bike owers. She and her dog Kodie enjoyed a pedal along the Whiteway on Saturday, January 25th. Photo by Dan Walton

Valley a good fit for fat bikes

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Traditional transportation often doesn’t cut it in the valley – especially in the winter – which is why some local cyclists are pedalling on mountain bikes with extra-thick wheels, also known as “fat bikes”.
“Riding in the snow on a regular bike is painful to say the least; you get on a big fat bike and you end up grinning the whole time,” said Jordie Kirk, who owns a Surly Pugsley model of fat bike. “They’re just plain old fun.”
After finding out about the winter-capable bikes online, Jordie …

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Village seeks bylaw changes

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by


By Dan Walton, Pioneer Staff
Enforcement of municipal bylaws has been stepped up over the past year in Canal Flats, but with a petition requesting a complaint-driven enforcement process and the recent resignation of their bylaw officer, council must now decide how the village will move forward.
“We’ve asked each councillor to think about what the people are complaining about and what the issues are, and then we’ll have a look at each corresponding bylaw,” said Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras.
Over the next three to four months, existing bylaws will be undergoing …

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Grizzly Ridge breathes new life into CastleRock

Posted on January 24th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton, Pioneer Staff
A phoenix is rising from the ashes in the CastleRock neighbourhood.
Years after breaking ground in 2004, the third of eleven phases was under construction in the Invermere subdivision when the global recession drove the development company into default, leaving the community’s master plan incomplete.
Fifteen owners were left with empty lots with no means of obtaining a building permit due to the lack of sewer service connections.
To resume construction atCastleRock, the debt holders of CastleRock Estates Ltd. have recently entered into a joint venture with Grizzly …

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SOARIN’ SLED –  With his ingenuity and gliding 
equipment, Brisco’s Eric Oddy has figured out how to give his snowmobile lift, and calls his innovation para-sledding.Photo submitted

Paragliding snowmobiler combines hobbies

Posted on January 24th, 2014 by


* Updated on Friday, January 24th at 3:30 p.m. *

By Dan Walton, Pioneer Staff
Extreme sports are as deadly as they are exciting – and the stakes have doubled in the valley. Eric Oddy from Brisco has combined the aerial aspect of paragliding with the thrust and power of snowmobiling, calling his innovation para-sledding.
As enjoyable as para-sledding may seem to thrill-seekers, Mr. Oddy said that the sport is not ready for the general public yet. He is, however, in the process of developing a kit for those willing to give para-sledding …

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BASIN BEAUTY — Riders on the tour enjoyed fantastic views during lunch at an old mining cabin. Photo by Dan Walton

Exploring the Paradise Basin by snowmobile a thrill

Posted on January 24th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton, Pioneer Staff
Of all the ways in which one can manoeuvre through the mountains, having a snowmobile underfoot has to be the most empowering. Ask anybody who’s taken a ride with Panorama’s Toby Creek Adventures.
There’s no feeling of being leashed during one of their group rides. After a two-minute tutorial around some pylons, riders are on the trails at moderate speeds.
Before you can get the thrill of the throttle out of your system during a mountainous ascent, several peaks come into view, forcing spectacular views upon each rider, …

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