California using millions of ‘Shade Balls’ to combat ongoing drought

WATCH ABOVE: A simple solution is helping to preserve around 300 million gallons of water in L.A. Officials on Wednesday helped toss the last of the 96 million so-called “shade balls” into the Los Angeles reservoir. John Blackstone reports.

California is dealing with a severe drought problem by using millions of little, black, plastic balls.

Parts of the state are using what are called “shade balls” to protect California waters. The floating, four-inch balls, which cost 36 cents each, help to control water quality, prevent litter and reduce evaporation by blocking the hot California sun.

“By reducing evaporation, these shade balls will conserve 300 million gallons of water each year instead of just evaporating into the sky. That’s 300 million gallons to fight this drought,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a press conference.

On Wednesday, L.A. city officials added the remaining 20,000 of the 96 million shade balls into the Los Angeles Reservoir.

“That’s enough water for 2,700 average homes in Los Angeles,” said Richard Harasick, an engineer with L.A.’s department of water and power, to CBS.

Shade-balling L.A. water isn’t a new concept. In fact, the city began using these black balls in 2008, which now also cover the Upper Stone, Elysian and Ivanhoe reservoirs.

The drought in California is said to be historic, with 95 per cent of the state suffering from warm, dry weather.

And California, for now, seems to be on the ball when it comes to dealing with the drought problem.

With files from the Associated Press

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Calgary dog rescues abandoned kittens, now treats one like ‘his baby’

WATCH ABOVE: A Calgary dog owner is proud of her pooch, after he alerted her to three abandoned kittens on a trip to the dog park. Gil Tucker reports.

CALGARY – A morning stop at a dog park turned into quite a rescue mission for Adeline Maxim and her four-legged friend, Fritz.

The big Bernese Mountain dog started pulling her into the bush during a recent visit to a dog park near 64 Avenue and Deerfoot Trail in northeast Calgary.

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Fritz had discovered three tiny kittens, maybe six weeks old, abandoned underneath a tree.

Maxim took them home, found adoptive families for two of them, and kept one, which she’s named Bernard.

Adeline says Fritz couldn’t be happier to have Bernard as part of the family.

“He’s like his baby,” said Maxim. “It’s like it’s his kitten, and no one’s going to take it away from him.”

Fritz may have picked up his helping ways from Maxim; she’d already rescued four kittens, taking home one of them after seeing the tiny animal tossed out of a vehicle driving along McKnight Boulevard.

“If we were fortunate enough to find another little animal, we would find a new home for it.”

A stop at a Calgary dog park turned into a kitten rescue mission for Adeline Maxim and her four-legged friend, Fritz.

Gil Tucker / Global News


MADD creates new victims of impaired driving support group in Calgary

WATCH ABOVE: MADD launches Calgary support group for families. Global’s Nancy Hixt reports.

CALGARY – Family members whose loved ones were killed by drunk drivers will now have a much-needed support group for such a loss.

“Our ultimate goal is to support each other and help get through these new things, new stressors, that we have to deal with as victims of impaired driving,” said Tracy Franklin, whose daughter, Daylene, was killed by a drunk driver in 2003.

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  • Families of drunk driving victims call for more support

Franklin is a former MADD president, still volunteers with that group, and will help facilitate the new group’s meetings.

As Global News first reported in June, Calgary’s MADD chapter was working to put the right resources in place for these families for the past few months.

“We don’t want people walking in and feeling like they weren’t supported…walking out or feeling worse than they did walking in,” said Calgary president Karen Harrison in a past interview.

The need for a group was highlighted after these women were not included in a group that was created for victims of homicide.

The first meeting will be August 18 at the Calgary Genesis Centre, and will tackle how to process the death of a loved one and what to do when stressful circumstances arise.

“Mother’s Day is coming up…Your first Mother’s Day, the first anniversary of the crash, the Christmas, the birthday of the person—these are all huge stressors that how do you deal with?” said Franklin.

 With files from Erika Tucker


Riding changes cause confusion in Okanagan

KELOWNA – Elections Canada has added six new ridings in B.C. and that means boundaries have changed – including in the Okanagan, where local candidates say the new dividing lines are causing confusion.

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“If I go to a door that is conservative, they say no, no, no, I will be voting for Ron (Cannan, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country) and I say well, actually, you will be voting for Dan Albas (Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla) if you’re a conservative,” says Robert Mellalieu, the green candidate for the newly formed riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, where Albas is seeking re-election under different boundaries.

“And then I get into you should vote green and that kind of thing but obviously there is some confusion there.”

Known previously as Okanagan-Coquihalla, the new riding now includes a good chunk of Kelowna, including the city’s Mission area. It also includes a huge part of the southern Interior, stretching from the U.S. border to just south of Kamloops. The reconfigured riding also includes Keremeos, Princeton, Summerland, Peachland, West Kelonwa, Merritt and Logan Lake.

Albas agrees the new lines are causing confusion among constituents. But he says every ten years, Elections Canada assesses the system of representation to make sure it’s fair, and changes the lines if necessary.

“It is an ongoing change because as [the] economy changes and demographics change, people move, the populations may change over ten years, so this is a non-partisan change to electoral boundaries so that at the end of the day people have the same voice in Ottawa,” says Albas.

Elections Canada mandates that federal riding sizes range between 105,000 to 110,000 people when possible. For Conservative Party incumbent Ron Cannan, it means his riding is shrinking.

“They have taken about 20,000 residents out of Kelowna-Lake Country riding as it is today,” says Cannan.

His riding is losing the area south of Harvey Avenue between Highway 97 and Mission Creek, adjacent to Okanagan Lake. The north and east boundaries will stay the same. While figuring out the new ridings may be a bit of a challenge, some say it’s worth it.

“The advantage for residents of Kelowna is the fact they will have two members of Parliament representing them in Ottawa and having their voices heard,” says Cannan.

Teen girl swerves into ditch, flips twice off Hwy 845 near Lethbridge

ABOVE WATCH: A teen was trapped in her truck Wednesday after it veered off the highway and rolled on its roof. Global’s Sarolta Saskiw reports.

LETHBRIDGE- A 16-year-old girl was pried from her car after it swerved and flipped into an Alberta pasture on Wednesday.

Fire officials said the girl was driving south on Highway 845 towards Lethbridge when her black truck swerved into a ditch. It then hit a fence, flipped over at least twice and landed on its roof in a farmer’s pasture.

When fire crews arrived on scene, they said the girl was in a “compromising” position, complaining of pain in her neck and legs. She was extricated with the Jaws of Life from her vehicle by emergency crews.

Lomond Fire Chief  Bob Donnelly said the girl was “lucky to be alive” considering how the roof of the truck had been crushed.

STARS arrived and transported her by air to Foothills hospital in Calgary in serious but stable condition.

Her family told Global News on scene she was alert and talking before she was taken, but she was complaining about sharp neck pain.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

A 16-year-old girl was pried from her car after it swerved and flipped into an Alberta pasture on Aug. 12, 2015.

Sarolta Saskiw / Global News

A 16-year-old girl was pried from her car after it swerved and flipped into an Alberta pasture on Aug. 12, 2015.

Sarolta Saskiw / Global News

A 16-year-old girl was pried from her car after it swerved and flipped into an Alberta pasture on Aug. 12, 2015.

Sarolta Saskiw / Global News

A 16-year-old girl was pried from her car after it swerved and flipped into an Alberta pasture on Aug. 12, 2015.

Sarolta Saskiw / Global News

A 16-year-old girl was pried from her car after it swerved and flipped into an Alberta pasture on Aug. 12, 2015.

Sarolta Saskiw / Global News

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Cooling complaints resurface at Moose Jaw care home

REGINA – Concerns are once again being raised about poor conditions at a Moose Jaw care home.

In June, Providence Place had a temporary fix installed for their broken air conditioner but residents are expressing concern that it still hasn’t been fixed.

Lori Boothman said Wednesday that she’s concerned about her brother Greg who lives at the care home.

She added there have been several instances where his in-room thermostat shows it is around 30 degrees.

The thermometer in Greg Boothman’s room show’s a temperature of just under 30 degrees

Adrian Raaber

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  • Broken A/C unit overheating Moose Jaw seniors home

“There’s no air conditioning in patient rooms here,” added Lori. “The A/C is only in the hallways, which in a newer building like this is ridiculous.”

The thermometer in Greg Boothman’s room show’s a temperature of just under 30 degrees

The heat is especially hard on Greg Boothman because the 48-year old suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, and the high temperatures aggravate his symptoms. Greg has prescribed an air conditioner when he was living in Moose Jaw Housing.

Cooling complaints are not new at Providence Place. In March the building’s air conditioner broke, and the temporary replacement was installed at the end of June. The facility’s CEO Paul Nyhof says that temperatures are closely monitored.

“Our ideal temperature is around 24 or 25 degrees, and I understand the our monitoring shows that the highest end came out at 28.5 degrees. I haven’t checked today, but it’s moderately comfortable in here.”

Providence Place Care Home in Moose Jaw, SK

Staff are investigating the possibility of putting an AC unit in Greg’s room, but for now he said he is resorting to other options.

“I have wet towels with me all the time. I put them around and I cover myself when I sleep,” says Greg.

The Boothmans have also brought their story to the provincial opposition, who hope to use it as part of their case for an independent advocate for care homes.

Providence Place Care Home in Moose Jaw, SK

Adrian Raaber

Kelowna woman warns others about Canada Revenue Agency scam

KELOWNA – After she lost almost $3,000, a Kelowna woman is telling her story hoping to prevent others from being victimized by scammers.

The incident started with messages left on Catherine Paulger’s answering machine.

“I thought it had been a false call at the time and I wanted to call back and say that you [have] the wrong number,” she explains.

Paulger says the person on the other end of the line said they were from the Canada Revenue Agency.

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“They said that we had owed $2,849 in outstanding taxes from the years 2008 to 2011, that we were in violation of four of the federal laws and that they were going to send our file out. [They said] that we were going to be arrested and taken into custody.”

She thought her taxes were squared away but despite several red flags, the threat of arrest was enough to scare her into action. She took cash out of her bank account, and with the scammer on the line, she went and transferred almost $3,000.

Read More: Police warn fraudsters using CRA scam for information and payments

“He said, tell them it is just a family emergency, pretend like you are talking to your husband, this is the name to use, ” she says.

RCMP in Vernon and Kelowna are among the police departments that have issued warnings in recent weeks about fraudsters claiming to be from the CRA. Kelowna RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Duncan says Paulger’s situation sounds like a scam. If you get this type of call, he suggests you look up the agency’s number up online and to see if it matches the number provided.

Earlier this year the CRA issued a warning about an uptick in telephone scams where fraudsters posed as CRA employees. More information about the scams and how to identify them is available on the CRA’s website.

Paulger doesn’t think she’ll ever see that money again and now hopes others can learn from her experience.

“I just don’t want someone else out like this. It hurts a lot,” she says.

Just ‘one bad pill’ with fentanyl killed 32-year-old Danielle Radtke

WATCH ABOVE: Recent stories on the damaging and potentially deadly drug fentanyl have hit home with many Canadian families who have lost loved ones. Reid Fiest spoke to an Alberta nurse dealing with her own daughter’s death.

It only took “one bad pill” that turned out to contain fentanyl for Janis Radtke’s 32-year-old daughter to go to bed and never wake up again, leaving her young child orphaned.

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  • ‘It’s such an insidious drug’: Fentanyl warning for parents after Calgary teen’s overdose

  • Have a fentanyl prescription? Here’s what you need to know

  • Fentanyl fact sheet: what it is and what it does

“I have no idea why. This isn’t something she normally did,” Radtke told Global News. “Maybe [it was] to get a good night’s sleep, but that’s all it took.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s such an insidious drug’: Fentanyl warning for parents after Calgary teen’s overdose

Danielle Radtke had a history of drug use, but her mother said she had turned her life around before having her daughter.

Five months after Danielle’s death, Radtke shared her story in a blog post, explaining that the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death was due to a mix fentanyl and an animal tranquilizer called xylazine.

“I encouraged her not to try things she wasn’t sure were safe and I think that’s the whole thing, that she tried this because she trusted somebody,” said Radtke, a registered nurse with Alberta Health Services in Calgary. “This was a concoction that didn’t come out of the pharmaceutical company. It was made somewhere in somebody’s basement or kitchen.”

“It’s like, perhaps, making a batch of cookies — chocolate chip cookies. You have no way of determining how many chocolate chips are going to be in any given cookie. It’s the same with these pills. One pill may have a tiny amount of fentanyl in it, the other may have five times the amount.”

That was the case with Danielle.

Radtke said her family still hasn’t spoken with the person whom they believe Danielle took the pill with and found her cold, blue body in bed.

Even though Danielle had her struggles with drug use before, opiates were not her “drug of choice,” Radtke said. “She had no tolerance and she really didn’t know anything about it.”

WATCH: Janis Radtke joins Global Calgary to discuss the death of her daughter Danielle, who was killed by ingesting a pill found to contain fentanyl.

And that’s the problem that is rippling across Canada as more people take drugs containing fentanyl without even knowing it.It’s being cut into drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, but also being passed off in fake OxyContin pills.

Fentanyl is a particularly potent drug — 100 times stronger than morphine and 20 times more than OxyContin.

Danielle is just one of 145 people in Alberta who have died from fentanyl-related deaths so far in 2015, according to Alberta Health Services; there were 120 in all of 2014.

“It is a huge issue, and the number of people dying is just the tip of the iceberg because there’s also other people who overdose and show up in emergency departments and so on,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health for the Capital Health Authority in Edmonton.

READ MORE: Have a fentanyl prescription? Here’s what you need to know

“I now belong to this elite club and there’s only one criteria for membership —the loss of a child,” said Radtke.

But she’s speaking out because she believes there is a “stigma or type of judgment” when it comes to drug-related deaths.

“This is so readily available out there that I’m afraid, I’m afraid for junior high school students, for high school students who might just want that good night’s sleep and trust somebody,” she said.

She doesn’t want other parents to have their lives torn apart just because of “one pill.”

And it’s not just her life that was: Danielle’s three-year-old daughter no longer has a mother and Radtke knows she’s one-day going to have to explain why.

With files from Reid Fiest and Caley Ramsay

Follow @nick_logan Follow @reidfiest


Born from Brentwood tragedy, program hopes to support musical talent

WATCH ABOVE: A one of a kind organization, launched in the memory of two band members murdered in a Calgary stabbing, is creating something positive out of tragedy. Jill Croteau reports.

CALGARY – An organization launched in the memory of the five young people killed in April 2014’s Brentwood stabbings is hoping to turn the tragic event into something positive.

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  • JUNO Awards to honour Calgary musicians killed in Brentwood stabbings

  • Timeline of the Brentwood stabbings: Calgary’s worst mass murder

Tucked away on the edge of an unpaved road is a sprawling acreage—a retreat for musicians to escape, create and compose.

The studios will become a place where budding musicians discover their own path. For Zackariah and the Prophets, that path was interrupted when bandmates Zackariah Rathwell and Josh Hunter lost their lives in a violent stabbing spree at a house party on April 15, 2014.

“The emotional fallout that people in Calgary have from what happened…it unified us as a city in tragedy,” said OCL Studios’ Dan Owen. “Do you stay in the dark or do you go to the light and honor the boys? That’s all I needed to buy in.”

The concept of the Prophets of Music society was inspired by Hunter’s father.

“I had to choose whether I was going to find something to do to help my healing or get dragged into it,” said Barclay Hunter.

“You do get dragged into it, but I thought there has to be something I can do to help my family.”

The not-for-profit society is designed to mentor aspiring artists and help provide a platform for yet-to-be-recognized talent. One of the surviving bandmates is one of the program’s first participants.

A band rehearsing through the Prophets of Music program in Calgary on Aug. 12, 2015.

Jill Croteau / Global News

“Stevie Wonder, James Brown started somewhere—all the greats,” said former bandmate Barry Mason. “That’s how people grow best—standing on the shoulders of giants. You can go through that journey yourself, it’ll take a while, but if you go through it with others who’ve been there, it can springboard you.”

The program offers musical development and production as well as business skills like brand development and promotion.

“When you can draw from that many people, good things can happen,” said mentor Jory Kinjo. “I want young people to have opportunities that I didn’t have… and that’s a beautiful thing to come from a tragedy.”

For more information on the program, visit the website here.

With files from Erika Tucker


Argos issue open letter of apology to fans after home opener security delays

WATCH ABOVE: The Toronto Argonauts are blaming understaffing after a number of security delays during the team’s home opener. The CFL club says Rogers Centre security staff was not trained in new security measures. Mark Carcasole reports.

TORONTO — By all accounts from football fans, Saturday’s Toronto Argonauts home opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Rogers Centre was a blast.

It was an intense game that ended with a 30-26 Argos victory, but new security measures at the “Dome” resulted in lengthy delays before the game.

“I know people personally who missed the whole first quarter,” says Lori Bursey, President of Friends of the Argonauts, the team’s official fan club.

Tweets from fans waiting in line before the game clearly show their frustration:

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While much of the anger is aimed at the team, Bursey says blame should actually be placed on the Rogers Centre, which she claims botched the security detail Saturday.

“I go though Gate 5, which is on the southeast corner of the Dome, and the lineup from that gate stretched all the way to the Aquarium,” says Bursey.

“They had two people at that gate looking through bags and a couple of metal detectors and that was it.”

Argos officials say there were over 20,000 people in attendance. Average delays of more than 20 minutes were reported.

The new security measures are the Major League Baseball standard and every team has been asked to implement them at their respective venues.

They include the use of enhanced bag searches and metal detectors.

The difference at Rogers Centre is that they’ve implemented those measures at all events: baseball, football and concerts.

Blue Jays fans lining up outside Rogers Centre for Wednesday’s game against Oakland take the added security measures in stride.

“You can never be too safe and it’s never posed a problem for me,” says Jessica Salvemina, who was decked out in an old Brett Lawrie Jays jersey.

Minutes later, Jays fan James Howlett told Global News it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he says.

“It’s a little like going through the airport now.”

The Argos have no problem with fans having to go through new security checks, but they do expect the staff doing them to be prepared.

“I think we overwhelmed them a little bit with our first home game,” says team CEO Chris Rudge.

“The gates opened late. Rogers Centre people were late for some reason. They were understaffed. The staff were not trained.”

Roger Centre officials didn’t respond to an interview request, but the Argos know the situation wasn’t ideal.

“What happened on Saturday night with regard to lineups and wait times to enter the stadium was not acceptable,” Rudge tells fans in an open letter posted on the team’s website.

“We believe it was unfair to you, our fans … Since the game, we have met with Rogers Centre staff to ensure this will not happen again.”

This season is the team’s final one at Rogers Centre before moving to BMO Field, and many fans are looking forward to the change:

“I know that we’re going to be looked after at BMO,” says Bursey.

“We won’t be treated like second-class citizens like we are at the Rogers Centre.”