Year in Review: July 2019

Lack of funding limits drug treatment options

BC Coroners Services reported drug overdoses have decreased since the province saw a drastic spike prior to 2016, but Dr. Karin Goodison, a Vernon medical health officer, said the number of deaths is still far too high.

“We only have about four months of data so we have cautious officer,” she said.

“There’s still a lot more we need to do.”

Unfortunately, much of the work that needs doing relies on funding.

Most fully-equipped programs cost thousands per month to attend and are often unattainable to those in need.

But there are a number of services available to Vernonites struggling with addiction. When Turning Points Collaborative began Bill’s Place eight years ago, manager Brad Houghton said the goal was to create a program that was affordable, effective and accessible.

Today, more than 250 people ave successfully graduated from the program. However, the waitlist is long for those seeking treatment.Air Cadet contests gender exclusive policy

A 13-year-old boy challenges Air Cadet program

Gerrit Hickman, an air cadet with 222 Shuswap Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, had his blond shoulder-length hair cut off and shaved down to gender-dependent standards set by the cadet program on July 19.

Dani Hickman, Gerrit’s mother, emailed a letter to national Minister of Defence Lt.-Col. Harjit Sajjan, in order to change the regulation.

“Gerrit feels strongly that if female and transgender cadets are allowed to have long hair, he should be able to as well,” Hickman wrote.

A reply nearly one month later from the Defence Corporate Secretary Isabelle Daoust encouraged Hickman to “reconsider his position.”

Hickman was inspired to pursue this issue because he has many classmates who are within the LGBTQ2+ spectrum.

“I think the policy should be long hair/short hair instead of male and female,” Hickman said.

Fulton grad living national team dream

The depressed sternum, a medical condition, she was born with was kept hidden from Vernon basketball star Cassandra Brown by her parents, Bonny and Robb. And that was a good thing.

The six-foot-two guard/forward was a four-time Okanagan all-star selection with the Fulton Maroons and was a fixture on provincial teams, helping B.C. to back-to-back silver medals at the Canada Summer Games.

“It (depressed sternum) never impacted me until I got into more competitive situations and it impeded my progress,” said Brown, 27, who suited up for Team Canada this month at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

Canada went 1-3 in the tournament, as Brown scored three points for Canada in 15 minutes and 27 seconds of floor time.

Brown let her sternum get in the way of her basketball dreams so far, and she has many more dreams for her future in the sport.

“My goal is to make it to the Olympics, which would be amazing,” she said.

Defaced rainbow crosswalk quickly restored

It didn’t take long for Coldstream’s true colours to shine again after the rainbow crosswalk at Kal Beach was vandalized just after midnight July 21.

The colours were smeared over with white paint, but District of Coldstream officials were quick to address the mess the following morning.

“When I found out, I was heartbroken, but seeing the overwhelming support from the community made me so proud. I wish I could have been there to give my support in person,” said local resident Jasper Mallette.

Drugs, cash, people at ‘problem premise’

A “problem premise” turned up drugs, cash and 20 individuals.

Police officers from the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP descended on a residence on 35th Street to execute a search warrant on July 9.

Upon entry seized what was believed to be cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl.

As well, police located and seized drug paraphernalia which included scales and packaging, and an undisclosed amount of Canadian currency.

At the time of the warrant execution, police located a total of 20 individuals at the residence.

Vernon stars in short film

Vernon has once again taken the spotlight — this time under a dark tale of murder and mystery.

A short film called The Ripper (about alleged serial killer Jack the Ripper) was filmed locally and featured a cast full of talent from the area.

“We did a shoot in the Vernon Community School already. It was the perfect location and Heather and the board of directors were absolutely fantastic,” said writer/director Randy Kirk.

The film stars local actress Ariel Klim, actor Pete Howe from Armstrong, Hanna Brown from West Kelowna and Aleks Filipovic from Penticton.

Klim has won a Best Acting Duo award with her co-star Nikolas Filipovic of Penticton for their roles in Crimson and Blue.

The award came from the Olympus Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Science Centre founder fondly remembered

Bill Sim dreamed of science education for all kids. Science accessible to everyone.

Sim, founder of Vernon’s Okanagan Science Centre, died July 4 at age 94.

Founded 28 years ago by Sim, the science centre was a room in the basement of the old Tolko building on 30th Avenue and had no staff.

“From a room in a borrowed basement staffed by volunteers, the Okanagan Science Centre has grown to host more than 25,000 visitors a year with planetarium shows, dinosaurs, and a range of exhibits designed and constructed ourselves, here at the science centre Bill built,” said Jim Swingle, the centre’s current executive director.

In a letter to the editor in The Morning Star in 2013, Sim and his family threw their support behind a proposed cultural centre, sharing similarities with their vision of the science centre.

“For us, as members of the original founding family, to have a vision like the Okanagan Science Centre realized to such a degree is a very humbling experience.”

Businesswomen gain momentum

Local female entrepreneurs can now access a host of support services to help them take their businesses to the next level.

Community Futures North Okanagan announced the launch of Momentum, a new business accelerator program for women running their own companies, in late June.

“Our goal is to empower women to develop sustainable businesses that are well positioned to take advantage of market opportunities,” said Connie Viszlai, business services advisor at CFNO.

The program also focuses on creating opportunities for women in rural areas as well as Indigenous women.

Community Futures of Shuswap received $476,280 from the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy’s ecosystem fund for the Tsuts’weye Project.

Enderby named Canada’s most active community

The first annual ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge got Canadians across the country sitting less and moving more together with more than 265 million physical activity minutes tracked from May 31 to June 16.

Enderby was crowned Canada’s Most Active Community and took home the top prize of $150,000.

The prize money will go toward funding local physical activity initiatives.

Enderby tracked 1,964,908 physical activity minutes during the challenge, and will invest the $150,000 into recreation infrastructure to keep the community moving.

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