Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson’s disaster dog Sammy takes a well-deserved rest at the Nassau Airport on New Providence. Both Watkinson and Sammy spent nearly one week searching for survivors after Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas. (Contributed)

September: Penticton Vees earn CJHL #1 ranking

Looking back at our biggest stories from each month in 2019

Fire chief, disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

After nearly one week of providing relief to residents in Great Abaco, an island in the Bahamas ravaged by Hurricane Dorian, Penticton’s fire chief and disaster dog are on their way home.

Larry Watkinson and disaster recovery dog Sammy joined a team of Burnaby firefighters deploying to Great Abaco on Sept. 8.

The island, which is part of the Abaco Islands and has a population of nearly 20,000, was one of the many places devastated by the Category 5 hurricane two weeks earlier.

Watkinson and Sammy spent several days combing through wreckage to assist in efforts to locate those still missing after the storm hit.

While there, the Burnaby team and Watkinson were successful in locating many individuals, including Canadian Dale Hill, in the wreckage.

Watkinson has been a member of the rescue team since his time as the fire chief in Mission, before he transferred to Penticton. His last international deployment was to Nepal in 2015.

Shortened Penticton runway may impact flight schedules

An obstacle at the north approach to Penticton Regional Airport resulted in a shortening of the runway by Transport Canada, which may result in delays and cancellations of flights at night and in poor weather.

While maintaining there are no safety concerns, Transport Canada said, as per regulations, a NOTAM (notice to airmen) was posted on the Nav Canada website of a displaced threshold (shortening) of about 470 feet of the 6,000-foot runway.

Nav Canada is the private corporation that owns and operates the country’s civil air navigation systems.

The obstacle is listed by the federal agency as an “exhaust system attached to a mill” (Greenwood Forest Products).

While the exhaust system has been in place for a number of years, and Transport Canada said it has been working on a “long-term solution,” the issue came up again during a recent audit resulting in the decision to shorten the runway.

Previously, the major airlines were taking appropriate measure regarding flights into Penticton until the matter was dealt with.

Penticton Vees score number one ranking across Canada

Fresh off their sixth straight victory, more good news has come for the Penticton Vees as the club was ranked number one in the initial Canadian Junior Hockey League top 20 ranking.

The rankings are a weekly review, compiled by an independent scouting source. The Vees have registered a BCHL-best 32 goals for, while surrendering just 11 goals against in six games.

Read the full report here.

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