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Merritt Minor Hockey products Zach Sanderson and Griffin Baillie are both on their way home from Vancouver Giants rookie camp.

Sanderson, a forward, and Baillie, a goaltender, are both 15 and played bantam hockey last season.

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The Merritt Centennials kick off the on-ice portion of training camp today at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena after orientation and fitness testing took place yesterday.

43 players, including 16 veterans, have been split into two squads with Team Red practicing this morning at 8:30 while Team White hits the ice at 10:30.

There are interviews this afternoon and the first of two intrasquad games goes tonight at 7 o'clock.

The Centennials first exhibition game is Friday night in 100 Mile House against Prince George.

The Cents have two players away at Western Hockey League camps, but both are expected to be in Merritt this week.

15-year-old recruited defenceman Dylan Chanter arrives from Portland's camp today while 18-year-old forward Jakob Reichert returns from Victoria's camp on Wednesday.

17-year-old defenceman Reece Willcox got back into town from the Winterhawks camp yesterday.

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Nearly as many people in the provincial Fraser-Nicola riding voted in the HST referendum as did the 2009 Provincial Election.

The question asked in the HST referendum was: Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)?  

55.25 percent (representing 6720 votes) marked 'yes' to extinguish the HST in Fraser-Nicola while 44.75 percent (representing 5442 votes) marked 'no' to extinguishing the HST.

A total of 13,647 voters turned out for the 2009 Election and 12,162 voted in the HST referendum.

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Merritt's Mayor is not happy with the decision by B-C voters to kill the H-S-T. 

Susan Roline says it was a benefit to the municipalities and businesses alike because anytime they paid the tax, they got a portion of it back.

Roline adds that in her conservations with local ranchers, they expressed that they were feeling the benefits of the H-S-T in the amount that was returned to them from what they'd spent.

She says that many were beginning to see the positives in the H-S-T, but based on today's results of the referendum, just weren't vocal enough in support of the tax.

Mayor Roline says there should have been a third option on the ballot that the provincial government  negotiate with the federal government to keep control over the provincial portion of the H-S-T.

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City of Merritt grant applications were not approved for new larger whirlpool replacements at the Merritt Aquatic Centre. 

However, Leisure Services Manager Larry Plotnikoff says the current whirlpools are now being replaced as-is.

City Council approved the 54-thousand, 900-dollar whirlpools this week. 

Plotnikoff says they will be installed during the current Aquatic Centre shut down, which is now in effect for upgrades and maintenance until September 19.

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