Year in review – January: Year starts with murder, pot and space stories

Looking back at our biggest stories from each month in 2019

Rex Gill was one of two men killed in separate shooting incidents in Kamloops on Jan. 23. The other victim, Cody Marcel Mathieu, 33, was known to Kamloops RCMP for his involvement with the drug trade. Gill was not previously known to police. Photo from Facebook

Local man killed in Kamloops shooting

Friends and family were lamenting the death of a local man who was shot in Kamloops in a case of mistaken identity.

Rex Gill was found with gunshot wounds outside a Kamloops hotel in the early morning hours of Jan. 23. Another man was found shot the same day outside another motel who was known to police for his involvement in the drug trade.

“He was a proud dad and always wanted to be able to do more for his kids. His kids were number one. He was working hard now so he could play later,” said his wife Sherri Lou. “If I use Rex’s own words to describe him it would be ‘absolutely stellar!’ He was an amazing husband, dad, brother, son, uncle and friend and will be greatly missed every day.”

Max Picton, a Penticton businessman and former city councillor, described Gill as “a really solid guy.”

“The shirt off his back kind of guy. Always be there for you, always want to lend a helping hand, encouraging,” said Picton. “He gave me my first job back at Coyote Cruises when I was just a kid. I worked with him for 10 years and became really close.”

The matter was turned over the Kamloops RCMP Special Crimes Unit and it’s not believed any arrests have been made in connection with the murder.

Penticton educator has taken her program to new heights

Patricia Tribe came up with the idea of Story Time from Space more than 10 years ago and since that time her program has made its way around the world and beyond.

The concept she came up with one day in her kitchen involved astronauts reading children’s books from space to kids back on earth and even doing science experiments.

Co-founder Patricia Tribe of Story Time from Space with three of Jeffrey Bennett’s Max the Dog series books that are currently orbiting the earth on the International Space Station as part of her education program.
Mark Brett/Western News

“The majority of folks (using the videos) are in the United States, then Canada and the United Kingdom and Germany flip back and forth between second and third and then Australia and New Zealand come after that and then I have India, Pakistan and countries I don’t even know come up.”

Helping her out is retired Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason, who was the payload specialist aboard the STS-85 Discovery in 1997 and who is also passionate about what he feels are the failing grades in STEM studies by public schools these days and the need for a fresh injection.

It’s hoped to restock the space station’s children’s library with more books and experiments in the new year.

Cannabis stores allowed in downtown Penticton

Penticton’s first cannabis store opened its doors in August, the retail company that has other outlets in Alberta and Saskatchewan is located on Skaha Lake Road.

Since they opened three other retailers have set up shop and now selling, including the Cannabis Cottage, Indigenous Bloom on Green Lake Road and the most recent one, the Greenery Cannabis Boutique on Main Street.

The downtown location did not come without some controversy with council considering banning such stores in the core.

Opinion was divided among both Penticton city council members as well as business owners, some thinking it would worsen problems related to homeless people and others while others felt it would not change things and that the other problems are more of a social nature.

“The problems downtown are created not by the people that are smoking what is now a legal drug. Downtown problems are more of a social issue. Those people are consuming drugs that are still illegal and should be,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield. “To penalize cannabis for the social problems that we have downtown is like penalizing wine and beer stores for the same thing.”

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Co-founder Patricia Tribe of Story Time from Space with three of Jeffrey Bennett’s Max the Dog series books that are currently orbiting the earth on the International Space Station as part of her education program. (Mark Brett - Western News)

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