(The Murray United Church as it looked this past year before a fire destroyed the 143-year-old building on Jan. 11)
Efforts to rebuild the 143-year-old Murray United Church which was destroyed by an arson fire last month are underway. Director Jack Polmans of the Trinity United Church Board of Directors in Merritt says the decision was made last month at their annual general meeting.
“The congregation had a long discussion on it, and if the community can raise the funds, we’re certainly willing to have a new court built,” said Polmans.
About 200-thousand dollars will have to be raised.
Christina Miller has taken the mantle of fundraising chair on the project and she stopped by Q101 to talk about their Go-Fund-Me efforts.
“Its slow right now because I think the word is still just getting out there,” said Miller. “We are trying to get it out there more on social media.”
Looking down the line Miller did mention a couple of other ideas that may move forward.
“Putting on a father-daughter dance at the civic centre in the spring,” said Miller. “I’d like to see an Oktoberfest happen. So, there’s a few things on the horizon but we’re just trying to get the go fund me out in peoples minds right now.”
Miller did say they would like to see the build completed within two years.
“As soon as we start raising enough funds to get things off the ground we will start. The funds will not just sit there. We want to make sure people see their funds at work, whether it be building a memorial and starting to build back that piece of the landscape that’s missing,” said Miller.
There will be an open-air memorial service in memory of the church planned for April 29th. The date is set, but further details haven’t been finalized.
The historical structure, the oldest building in the community, was one of four area churches that were targeted by an arsonist on Jan.11 and had the nearby community on edge for several days.
If you would like to donate head to www.gofundme.com/historic-murray-church-rebuildrefurbish-project
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
It may seem like old news, but phone scams are still running rampant across the country.
‘Phishing’ scams have been around for decades, usually involving an unsolicited email requesting immediate action and your private information. Now a new scam called ‘Smishing’ is taking over.
“Smishing is now used when you receive a text on your cellphone, and now that's becoming a big part,” said Community Policing Coordinator Marlene Jones.
It’s thought that over 20-million dollars is lost to these scams.
“This can be big business for them that’s why it isn’t going away,” said Jones. “They say as low as five per cent are reported. So, if five per cent is reported and they estimate it at 20 million this is really big business we want to try and stop.”
With tax season upon us CRA scams are also expected to heat up.
“The CRA scam is still in the top five. We are telling people to not even engage. If you get a phone call about taxes get rid of them, hang up on them, do whatever,” said Jones.
It is estimated the CRA scam has led to over 5-million dollars in financial losses.
The CRA does want to remind people that they will never contact you via text message. And over the phone they will never ask for immediate payment or threaten to call the police if you don’t comply.
For more information on what exactly the CRA will and will not ask, check out- https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/security/protect-yourself-against-fraud.html
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
At 4am Friday morning Kamloops Fire responded to a reported semi-truck fire. When crews arrived on scene, they discovered a trailer filled with plastic pellets engulfed in flames. The fire presented issues to Kamloops Fire who were forced to use a tonne of water to douse the flames.
The water has resulted in possible dangerous driving conditions near the Pacific Way turnoff in Kamloops.
The area has been sanded by road crews, but drivers are advised conditions are not optimal and they should slow down and use extra caution while in the area.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
Earlier this week the BC Ministry of Education announced $206 million in new funding set to flow to school districts for energy upgrades, maintenance projects and new buses.
"For too many years, maintenance projects weren't funded properly, and now we are providing school districts with increased resources to improve schools for students," said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. "This funding provides better instructional environments for both teachers and learners to focus more of their energies on student success."
The funding falls under five categories, School Enhancement Program, Carbon Neutral Capital Program, Bus Acquisition Program, Building Envelope Program, and Annual Facility Grants.
Here in School District 58 Nicola-Similkameen, $1,571,348 is being provided through the School Enhancement Program and the Bus Acquisition Program.
District 58 Superintendent Stephen McNiven spoke to Q101 about exactly how the funds will be utilized.
“We have a total of five new buses coming our way,” said McNiven. “But what’s really important to us is that one of the buses is wheel-chair accessible. So, from an inclusion prospective we’re really pleased to have that bus coming our way.”
Currently the district does not have a wheel-chair accessible bus.
“We do not have a bus that’s accessible right now. In the past we’ve had a smaller van but that has not been in service for a period of time, so this is a real positive step for us,” said McNiven. “The opportunity to move that bus around as it’s needed, it will certainly remove one of the barriers that students may face in our district and that’s always good thing.”
The new buses are coming in to replace older ones in the district that are nearing the end of their servable lives.
While the buses my get the lion share of the headlines McNiven strongly believes the lighting is just as important for the students.
“We have five schools that will be receiving enhancements on the lighting side of things for a total of 800,070 dollars of improvements,” said McNiven. “It certainly is a positive thing both for us financially but educationally as well. It does make a difference for our learners to have that lighting in place across our schools.”
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
City Council in Merritt is right in the middle of their 2019 budget discussions. Among the countless proposals on their desks is one from the Merritt Fire Department.
While the ticket price may be a shock, the equipment needed by the Department is vital to their ability to fight fire.
Merritt Fire Chief David Tomkinson spoke to Q101 about their proposal.
“Many of them come from the five-year financial plan, knowing that these are expenditures that are going to come because a lot of equipment is at the end of its life expectancy,” said Chief Tomkinson.
On their list, is replacements for old self-contained breathing apparatus’ (SCBA’s), the air cylinder for the SCBA’s, new turnout gear and a new tender truck.
“Right now, we have 24 SCBA’s in use, and we’ve had the issue that many of them are failing us and there’s no longer a manufactures warranty. So, they’re quite expense to repair and they’re near end of their life,” said Tomkinson. “Along with that includes the actual air cylinders that are interchangeable on them. Right now, we have some 30-minute rated bottles and some 45-minute rated bottles.”
The Chief mentioned that different bottles pose a safety risk with respect to firefighters having the correct gear. The difference in the bottles is due to a change in national standards.
Replacing all the Departments SCBA’s comes in at around $242,000 and replacing all 38 air cylinders is $56,000.
“Our turnout gear has a maximum life expectancy of 10-years, and a lot of the gear is coming up short. We’re having some actual failures when they go through inspection,” said Tomkinson. “We have to look at the cost of repairing that, versus if it has a year left and in many cases it’s not permissive to go and spend those funds.”
“Over time what has happened is, we have a regular replacement schedule, but products become more expensive we haven’t increased the budget, but we have just bought less,” said Chief Tomkinson. “We’re starting to get behind to the point where we don’t have enough turnout gear, jackets and pants, for our firefighters.”
The new tender truck is unsurprisingly the most expansive item on the docket coming in at $375,000. That price however has been offset by $100,000 thanks to a grant from the TNRD.
“The reason that the TNRD has put some capital funds towards it, is because it’s primarily responding out to areas in the regional district that don’t have hydrant protection,” said Tomkinson. “The value for us here in the community is that it would be replacing a 25-year-old truck. It might make sense to make the expenditure now which could offset having to purchase a much more expensive apparatus somewhere in the future.”
Along with the new equipment, Merritt Fire is hoping to receive some money to expand their fire prevention program.
“With respect to our fire prevention program and doing public education, we focused on some main topics like the ‘fire smart’ program for wild fire prevention. But we were missing some key areas with respect to the different age groups and demographics in the community,” said Chief Tomkinson. “We want to talk to seniors and adults and teenagers alike. It’s about building our fire prevention, our public education program and having the resources to do that.”
The City of Merritt budget talks are set to conclude some time next month, as Council is required to adopt a five-year financial plan bylaw by May 15, 2019.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt