|  Your source for news and events in the Columbia Valley

Dan Walton
Email: dan@columbiavalleypioneer.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!

Prefatory parturition produced by local politician

Posted on January 21st, 2015 by


The mayor of Invermere is the father of the valley’s New Year’s baby.
Parents Gerry Taft and Nozomi Ishii welcomed their firstborn child, Kelvin Arthur Taft, into the world at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital on Sunday, January 12th at 3:05 p.m.
Gerry and Nozomi both agreed that the name Kelvin was the right fit for their son. His middle name, Arthur, comes from Grandpa Taft.
Gerry said he’s not yet sure which sports or clubs he thinks Kelvin will join, but he’s sure that Nozomi won’t want their son following in his …

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Earl Grey Lodge at Panorama Mountain Resort offers moviegoers a weekly fix

Posted on January 16th, 2015 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
As the valley re-adjusts to life without the Toby Theatre, the newly renovated building at Earl Grey Lodge is set to begin morphing into a temporary movie theatre each week.
By taking part in Movie with a Meal, guests will experience a newer Hollywood flick after enjoying a delectable plate off of Earl Grey’s menu.
“We’ve bought a public performance license, which allows us to show pre-release movies,” said owner Phil Marshall. “Once the ticket sales of a big production film has begun to wane in theatres, (the Copyright …

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Local Slow Food movement grows high school kitchen

Posted on January 14th, 2015 by


The future culinary artists of the valley are set for another educational advantage, as Slow Food Columbia Valley (the local movement) is helping chip away at the cost of a big item on the Chef Training Program’s wishlist.
The Chef Training Program at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) is working toward the purchase of a commercial bread-baking oven. The school is currently equipped with ovens to bake bread, but the students’ passion for fresh food is outgrowing the existing arsenal.
“What we want will have a stone floor and a nice even …

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ROOF RUPTURE —Tony Helmer was heading southbound on Highway 93/95 on December 19th when his friend Allen Wall’s airborne truck crashed into the car he was driving. Photos by Tony Helmer

Friend’s car softens crash landing just off Highway 93/95

Posted on January 9th, 2015 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
A pair of friends from the valley serendipitously survived a violent automobile collision just days before Christmas.
Allen Wall and Tony Helmer, who are both in their 50s and have been friends for as long as they can remember — were approaching each others’ vehicles around 9 p.m. on Friday, December 19th while travelling in opposite directions. Allen was driving northbound towards Radium Hot Springs on Highway 93/95 in the Dry Gulch area, and Tony was southbound on a parallel frontage road.
Allen’s trip was abruptly altered when …

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Deer preyed upon on residential lawn in Invermere

Posted on January 9th, 2015 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
A grisly deer mauling on private property has reinforced one Invermere property owner’s support for a cull.
In his home on Fort Point, Frank Jones awoke on Sunday, January 4th to find a bloody mule deer carcass on his lawn. His neighbours, whose window was closer to the area where the attack took place, reported hearing activity around 4 a.m. The identity of the predatory animal was not confirmed; however, only one set of tracks was noticed and Mr. Jones said the paws seemed fairly large.
Mr. Jones contacted …

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Local ski pro report card

Posted on January 9th, 2015 by


Grasic, Osborne-Paradis, and Thomsen demonstrate valley’s power

Compiled by Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
The valley’s three most competitive ski racers — Martin Grasic, Manny Osborne-Paradis, and Ben Thomsen — are all busy this season touring the globe, tearing down mountain ranges throughout Europe and North America.
Name: Ben Thomsen • Age: 27
Valley connection: Valley born and raised; Windermere Valley Ski Club veteran
Race division/level: Alpine Canada/ World Cup
Placements so far this year:  Tied for 122nd overall; 42nd in downhill Races coming up: Not available
Quote from January 25th World Cup downhill in Kitzbühel, Austria: “When …

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WHITEWAY WONDER —The Lake Windermere Whiteway's Guinness World Record of world's longest ice skating trail is officially being celebrated on Saturday, January 3rd from 10am to 2pm at Kinsmen Beach in Invermere. Photo by Nicole Trigg

World record-breaking Whiteway to be celebrated

Posted on January 2nd, 2015 by


The record’s been broken and the water is frozen — now the Lake Windermere Whiteway is ready to officially open as the longest ice skating track on the planet.
Recognized to be 29.98 kilometres in length, the Lake Windermere Whiteway smashed the previous record held by The Forks — a 9.3-kilometre track in Manitoba.
Saturday, January 3rd will be a momentous day at the Kinsmen Beach, as the Toby Creek Nordic Club celebrates the announcement that the Guinness World Records made last year with the inaugural Whiteway Winter Festival. The Nordic Club will …

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Invermere transfer station ill-treated after Christmas

Posted on January 2nd, 2015 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Misuse at the Invermere transfer station has prompted a public warning: use of the facility can effectively be taken away.
“If people just keep abusing it, that’s all it’s going to take,” Invermere bylaw officer Mark Topliff told The Pioneer on Monday, December 29th.
The excessive recycling and waste was presumably a result of holiday consumption habits, but the post-Christmas state of the transfer station this year was far worse than at the end of 2013.
“This is 300 per cent worse (than last year’s post-Christmas load),” said Mr. Topliff, …

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DIGGER DOG – After being buried from sight, Thomas Dolezal from Panorama Fire Rescue is found by Summit, the avalanche dog for Columbia Valley Search and Rescue. The team was conducting an avalanche rescue demonstration at Panorama Mountain Village on Sunday, January 26th, 2014.                                                      Photo by Dan Walton

Special warning extended by Avalanche Canada

Posted on December 30th, 2014 by


Winter came hard to the valley this season, and the order in which the snow has accumulated has prompted special public avalanche warnings.
The Purcell Mountains have “had a complex early season snowpack,” said Tom Riley, avalanche forecaster for Avalanche Canada.
On Tuesday, December 30th, a special warning was extended to Sunday, January 4th by Avalanche Canada throughout most of the province’s inland regions (including the Purcells and Rockies regions), which cautions backcountry users over the increased likelihood of triggering avalanches.
Initially issued on Thursday, December 25th, the warning said that pre-Christmas snowfalls, …

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Local forecast uncertain with crude at five-year low

Posted on December 29th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Cheap oil looks as though it’s here to stay – and it’s garnering mixed reactions.
“It’s a good news-bad news scenario, but it’s what happens,” said Susan Clovechok, executive director of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce. “There are things that go on that we don’t have control over, so we have to make sure that we can respond appropriately.”
Since the valley is largely dependent upon tourism, the effect of cheap oil on the local economy is uncertain.
“It’s making us nervous at this point, we’re not exactly sure what …

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Valley rings in new year, new festival

Posted on December 29th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Radium Hot Springs
New Year’s Eve is the anniversary of the incorporation of the Village of Radium Hot Springs and 2014 will be its 24th celebration. This party goes on during the day, with chili, hot dogs, hot chocolate, and a birthday cake — all beginning at Brent’s Shack at 3 p.m. There’s no cost to attend, but they will be accepting donations for the Radium Hot Springs. Later, at 6:30 p.m. from the Springs Driving Range, a fireworks show will be underway to brighten up the village’s sky.
It …

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WildSafeBC looks back on a successful year, forward to next

Posted on December 29th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
WildSafeBC community co-ordinator Kara Haugseth wrapped up 2014 with a year-end report on Invermere and Radium Hot Springs, shining a light on the valley’s most noticed human-wildlife interactions.
Deer were the main culprit over the spring and summer months, she reported, though bear activity was noticed to increase sooner than in previous years. Bear sightings were reported with “minimal aggressive encounters.”
One big challenge she experienced when trying to educate the public about deer was the perception many residents had of the problem. Each reported attack was provoked by …

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Trotting twist to January

Posted on December 29th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Januarys are always cold in the valley, but instead of bundling up in your cozy home, Crazy Soles is challenging everyone to get outside for 30 minutes each day of the month.
In previous years, the challenge issued by Invermere’s Crazy Soles store was for people of the valley to exercise a mile each day. But for “Joguary” 2015, the challenge has been tweaked. 
“We will now be promoting 30 minutes a day, outside!” said Crazy Soles co-owner Beva Kirk. “We have also decided to broaden our activities to …

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HOCKEY HIGH ROLLER — Kelsey Petersen with Trevor Linden, former Canuck captain and current president of hockey operations and alternate governor of the Vancouver Canucks.     Photo submitted

Invermere grad making bid as Canada’s first female NHL agent

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
A young woman from Invermere might one day help aspiring hockey players enter the NHL. And if her career plans pan out, Kelsey Petersen will be the only female NHL agent in Canada.
The 26-year-old Invermere native is finishing up her law degree at the Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law in Kamloops, and recently completed an internship with the Vancouver Canucks, for which she beat out more than 600 other applicants.
Her journey started in the Columbia Valley. Kelsey graduated from David Thompson Secondary School in 2006, …

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Low oil prices slowly trickle into valley

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Oil prices may have taken a nosedive around the globe, but have only declined modestly at gas stations throughout the valley.
As of The Pioneer’s press time (Wednesday, December 17th), gas in Calgary could be found as cheap as 81.9 cents per litre, and averaging around 91 cents per litre. Yet gas at Petro-Canada in Invermere on that same day was 115.9 cents per litre, while gas stations in Golden and Cranbrook were pricing it at 109.9 cents a litre.
Back in September, oil was selling for about …

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Cobblestone issues Christmas Bureau challenge

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer staff
A local business owner has recently given the Columbia Valley Christmas Burea a big boost, and he’s asking others in the business community to do the same.
Cobblestone Creek Cottage and Lodging Co. donated $2,000 to the Christmas Bureau for its annual drive. The Christmas Bureau uses its resources to provide low-income households with traditional holiday celebrations.
“It’s important that families do have the necessary food and gifts for the kids to open,” said Cobblestone president Matt Semler.
Because the valley’s tourism businesses profit off sharing the valley with …

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Doc and Connie Lang

Farside Pub fundraising for Canal Flats couple with cancer

Posted on December 12th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
The Farside Pub in Fairmont Hot Springs is inviting the valley to its fundraiser this Sunday, December 14th to help out a local couple in need.
Connie and Doc Lang from Canal Flats are both undergoing treatment for cancer. Connie is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday, December 16th after her second diagnosis. Doc was told four years ago that he had just three months to live and continues to defy his medical prognosis. It’s for them that the Farside will be hosting the Jam Night Fundraiser, where guests …

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Cross-Canada comedy - A trio of hardy comedic Canucks are stopping to deliver a load of laughs on Wednesday, December 17th at Panorama’s Great Hall as part of their cross-Canada “Weather Permitting” winter comedy tour.  Photo submitted

Trio making puns at Pano

Posted on December 12th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Three Torontonian comics are touring across Canada this winter, and they’ve appropriately titled their show the “Weather Permitting Tour”, attempting to navigate their way in an imported sedan.
The trio is made up of Michelle Christine, Andrew Barr and Michael Flakmank. They’ll be bringing their jokes to the Great Hall at Panorama Mountain Resort on Wednesday, December 17th.
“You can find a funny thought on just about anything. What makes a comic unique is that they have an interesting perspective on life,” Michelle said. “Which is why you …

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ROCK STARS — Left to right are skip Zane Bartlett (Grand Forks), third Sam Gaspar (Invermere), second Logan Powell (Invermere) and lead Jordan Geiger (Grand Forks). Photo submitted

Local junior curlers eyeing B.C. championship

Posted on December 12th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Two of the valley’s most promising young curlers, Sam Gaspar and Logan Powell, are looking to take the province by storm after assembling a foursome with two of Grand Forks’ best.
While the two pairs have to practise apart, they’ll be coming together between Sunday, December 28th and Saturday, January 3rd to compete for the Junior Men’s Provincial Curling Championship in Parksville. The winning team will represent the province as Team BC.
Sam and Logan’s Grand Forks counterparts are Zane Bartlett and Jordan Field. Before they reached the Junior …

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Walkers vs. Ivan Hoes.psd  HOCKEY HANDOFF — The BC Pond Hockey Championships event that takes place on Lake Windermere each winter is now a Columbia Valley Rockies fundraiser. File photo

Rockies take over BC Pond Hockey Championships

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by


By Dan Walton
Pioneer Staff
Lake Windermere will serve again as the venue for the fourth annual BC Pond Hockey Championships in Invermere, but this year it will be the Columbia Valley Rockies running the show.
John Reed, a hockey enthusiast from Rossland who got the tournament rolling over the past three years by marketing the tournament throughout Western Canada, has offered the Rockies a new fundraising opportunity by allowing the Rockies to take control of the tournament.
“(John) rounded up a lot of teams from all over, and many have already replied that …

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