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An Armstrong man has been sentenced to 9-months in jail for breaching his conditions after being convicted of animal cruelty.

BC SPCA Senior Animal Protection Officer Kathy Woodward says it's the longest jail sentence for animal cruelty in B-C history.

Last December, 69-year-old Gary Roberts was found guilty of two counts after SPCA officers seized 16 emaciated horses from his property.

In March, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 4-months of house arrest, a 9-month conditional sentence, and a 20-year prohibition on owning animals.

However, Woodward says 9 days later he violated those conditions and an arrest warrant was issued.

Having to pay for emergency services this year, the organizer of the Rockin' River Music Fest is looking for help shouldering the costs.

With the festival expected to draw more than 5,000 people per day for the first time, Kenny Hess says they are now responsible to cover the cost of providing police, paramedic and fire services for the event.

That could cost as much as $80,000, and he's hoping that the province, regional district and City of Merritt can help cover the cost.

"We had an economic impact of over $3.5 million in your community last year, and we're still looking at substantial losses. And, we're just kind of saying, can we share a bit of the extra cost."

Hess indicates that they are expecting their largest crowd ever, with as many as 40,000 projected to attend the country music festival in Merritt over the August long weekend.

Merritt to host BC Wildfire Service trainees again starting this week.

Information Officer Max Birkner says roughly 200 trainees will be put through the paces starting tomorrow, in three separate camps that go until May 11th.

The training takes place both inside and out of the classroom.

"Some of the topics they cover include the fundamentals of firefighting, fire line safety, fire weather and behaviour, pumps and water delivery, helicopter and air tanker use, chainsaw and heavy equipment use, as well as applying fire to the landscape. So they are going to be getting out there a getting dirty for sure."

The Provincial Wildfire Training Centre has operated out of Merritt since 2013.

New Best Western Plus in Merritt teaming up with Tesla to provide those passing through juice to power their electric vehicle.

"We've signed an agreement with them. The chargers belong to Tesla, they've installed them, will maintain them, we simply gave them a portion of our property to use."

For owner/operator Anoop Sekhon the eight recently installed Tesla charging stations in the parking lot of the soon-to-be completed hotel gives those passing through another reason to stop in Merritt.

"It will see them stop for 20, 30, or 40 minutes whatever it maybe. It means dollars in the community."

The eight recently installed Tesla charging stations in the parking lot of the Best Western Plus hotel, bring the total number of electric car chargers in Merritt to 13.

 

With temperatures warming of late, Nicola Valley Search and Rescue Association urging caution before venturing onto area lakes and ponds that still appear frozen.

Manager Lynne Broekhuizen says at the highest elevations many lakes and ponds still appear to be safe, but many have "soft spots".

"Unless you can make sure the entire area is at least six-inches thick... stay off it."

The warning comes as two fishermen died last week, after falling through the ice at Red Lake near Kamloops.

Although members of the Nicola Valley Search and Rescue Association are certified for ice rescues, Broekhuizen says by the time they get to the scene, it's often too late.

 

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