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A rescue operation is underway south of Merritt for a snowmobiler missing off the Coquihalla Highway.

A Search and Rescue helicopter is being deployed to the Coquihalla Lakes Recreational area amid avalanche fears.

Contact with the unidentified man has been made via his cell phone overnight.

Last month, a Maple Ridge man was killed following an avalanche while riding with a group of about a dozen snowmobilers in the same area.

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After five years of pine beetle control on Merritt's north side there's far less potential for fire.

Merritt Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and forestry expert Tom Lacey says the open forest is providing far greater fire protection for Merritt.

Lacey says the work to reduce the fuels and protect the community will continue in the Spring.

He says he'll be working with the Fire Department in conducting some under burns to manage the fuels again this year.

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What a difference a few days can make on area roads and highways.

From ice and snow we go to flooding today.

Highways officials report flooding on a stretch of Highway 5A near Stump Lake about 57-killometres north of Merritt, where there's single lane alternating traffic.

Anyone driving the old route between Merritt and Kamloops is advised to slow down along that stretch of highway.

Meanwhile most roads are reported to be in decent winter condition with some slippery sections on the Okianagan-Connector and the Coquihalla Highway.

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Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali says the NDP's new regulations to enter the Party's leadership race are unreasonable.

Lali says a $15,000 fee will discourage some people from running.

He also says it's ridiculous that the party has brought in new rules for submitting new memberships only three days before today's deadline.

Fellow leadership candidate Nicholas Simons says the entry fee is steep, but he's still in the race to replace Carole James.

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Merrittonian Payton Schaefer is in Fernie for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League's all-star weekend.

Schaefer, who plays for the Kamloops Storm, will take part in tonight's Top Prospects game.

The 18-year-old has four goals and 16 assists in 37 games this season, his first of junior hockey.

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