Vernon's Jonny Rockall honoured for saving the life of Al Winther

Humble hero honoured

Jonny Rockall says he is no hero.

Al Winther disagrees.

And so does the BC Emergency Health Services who presented Rockall with the Vital Link Award Friday for saving Winther's life.

A ceremony was held at Vernon's Kal Tire Place, only a few metres from where Rockall's life-saving actions were performed.

On Feb. 21, 2020, 60-year-old Winther collapsed on the bench before getting on the ice.

Rockall, a City of Vernon employee, was working at the arena and rushed over to assist when he was told Winther was unconscious.

Other players had already called 911 and brought over an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Even though he had never performed CPR in a real-life situation, Rockall, who was trained as a Vernon volunteer firefighter, knew what to do when he found Winther in cardiac arrest.

He used the AED and continued CPR until firefighters and paramedics arrived. Winther was rushed to Vernon Jubilee Hospital and later transferred to Kelowna General Hospital.

“I don't feel like a hero, that's for sure,” said Rockall who admitted to being somewhat overwhelmed by all the attention.

“I had never met Alan before, I just knew he needed help. It couldn't have worked out better.”

Since that fateful day, the two have become fast friends and meet and talk on a regular basis.

“I am very thankful for him being there and his training, he's just a great guy, love him,” Winthers said.

Winther said he is also “so thankful” for the support of his former teammates, who attended the ceremony before taking to the ice.

He also had high praise for the paramedics and hospital staff.

“They were fantastic. We hear a lot of negative things about our health-care system, but I felt I got world-class care,” said Winther.

Fiona Morgenthaler-Code was the first paramedic on scene and she said without Rockall's quick actions, the outcome could have been tragic.

“Without Jonny and the teammate's actions, so quickly from the time of the event to the time we got there it could have possibly been a totally different outcome,” said Morgenthaler-Code who is also the chief of the Coldstream Fire Department.

Winther, Rockall and Morgenthaler-Code all encourage anyone who is able, to learn CPR.


Lumby, Lavington sites join $10-a-day daycare program

More $10 daycare coming

More $10-a-day child-care spaces are coming to the North Okanagan.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu says families will save money on child care as local operations become $10 ChildCareBC sites where fees are capped at a maximum of $200 a month per child.

"Having safe, accessible and affordable childcare is so important for parents and caregivers, especially when they find care close to home," says Sandhu.

The Jimmy Crickets Childcare centre in Lumby is becoming a $10-a-day site, which means 34 child-care spaces will have fees dramatically reduced for parents.

Maven Lane centre in Lavington is also becoming a $10 site, and 28 spaces will have reduced fees.

"Quality and affordable childcare means parents and caregivers can focus on work or studies without worries... I have heard first-hand from so many families in our riding the benefits of these important investments and it's so reassuring," adds Sandhu.

The program saves families $800 a month per child on average, with the typical cost of child care being about $1,000 a month.

The newly approved $10-a-day spaces are being offered at 61 child care centres across B.C., bringing the total in B.C. to nearly 11,000.

In addition, the province, with federal funding support, is helping approximately 69,000 families with the cost of child care at centres that are not part of the $10-a-day program through fee reductions of up to $550 per month per child.

The savings, which kicked in on Dec. 1, 2022, are in addition to $350 per month per child that families have been saving through the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative since 2018.

"At a time when global inflation is driving up the cost of many essentials, these savings will be life-changing for families," says Sandhu.

Artsolutley event at Vernon Community Arts Centre has hundreds of pieces of art for sale

Artsolutley amazing

Hundreds of works of art are on sale – just in time for Christmas.

The 17th annual Artsolutely sale and fundraiser is happening now at the Vernon Community Arts Centre in Polson Park.

Patricia Doyle, with the arts centre, says works from more than 35 artists, including nine new ones, are on sale.

“You won't find stuff like this anywhere,” says Doyle. “It's a juried show; high quality, locally made supporting local artists.”

It's also the arts centre's biggest fundraiser of the year.

The lobby, hallway and three studios are filled with unique gift ideas.

Artsolutely runs until 1 p.m. Dec. 24.

The VCAC also offers numerous arts classes in a variety of mediums.

For more information, check out their website.


Vernon Winter Carnival ticket sales off to a busy start

Carnival tix going fast

Ticket sales for Vernon Winter Carnival events got off to a busy start on Friday.

Carnival society executive director Vicki Proulx says first-day sales have been "awesome."

Online ticket sales have been brisk all day, and there was lineup at the door of the carnival office when sales began at 9 a.m.

"The Parka Party at Predator Ridge is already sold out," says Proulx.

"Lots of other events are selling really well, tickets are going really quickly."

The 63rd annual carnival runs Feb. 3-12 at venues across the city. Its theme is carnival TV.

With pent up demand for entertainment events in the wake of two years of a scaled-down carnival due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Proulx encourages carnival-goers "to get in on it if they want tickets and want to attend any events."

She also warns the public that scammers have been posting the resale of bogus event tickets at discount prices on social media, including the sold-out Parka Party.

"We encourage people to buy their tickets through the carnival," said Proulx.

"Something like this has never happened before, it's discouraging."

Other events nearing full capacity include Sip & Savour and Cotton's Chocolates events The Chocolate Express and Carnival of Chocolate.

Tickets for the Reklaws concert at Kal Tire Place on Feb. 10 are also selling fast.

Vernon's Kalamalka Pipe Band leads Santas Anonymous pub crawl

Pipers play Santa

The Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band will be leading the way for the Santas Anonymous Pub Crawl today.

Raising funds for Santas Anonymous Society, the crawl starts at 5 p.m.

Funds raised from the event will go towards Santas Anonymous, which provides toys to more than 400 less-fortunate children every Christmas.

The non-profit also provides birthday presents year round.

The crawl will stop at several Vernon watering holes, including the Army & Navy, Sir Winston's, Eagles Hall, Longhorn Pub, The Kal, Marten Brewing, Alexanders, Boston Pizza, and others.

Parents struggling with financial challenges can call Santas Anonymous at 250-542-4448 to make an appointment to stop by the workshop and select toys for their children.

“They come in with their child's care cards and then they go out and do their shopping on our shelves. There is no cost to the parents at all,” said Perry Wainwright, with SA.

The Santa's Anonymous building, 4320 29th St., is full of donated clean, gently used toys, dolls, stuffies and all sorts of items that have been inspected by Santa's elves and are in good working order.

Wainwright adds there is currently a demand for gifts for girls two to eight years old.

Call to drop off items at the SA building or keep an eye out for the large Santa's Anonymous drop off barrels at various locations around town, including Cobbs Bread, where each toy donation will warrant a treat from the bakery selection.

Butcher Boys and Brew Mart also have barrels, and more will be distributed in coming days.

For more information on Santa's Anonymous, check out their website.

No updates on suspicious Canadian Tire fire 2 weeks after incident closed Vernon store

Police tight-lipped on fire

It has been two weeks since a fire caused the closure of Vernon's Canadian Tire store, and police say the incident remains under investigation.

The early morning Nov. 19 fire was deemed suspicious two days later by police.

It started in the garden centre area in the front of the store and burned up the exterior wall and into the roof.

The store has remained closed since, with restoration crews working on site.

"The file is still under investigation, and we do not have any updates that we will be releasing at this time," Vernon RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Tania Finn said in an email Friday.

Fire crews responded to the fire at the Village Green Shopping Centre location about 3 a.m.

“Upon arrival, crews found a large fire outside the building, within a locked compound,” the City of Vernon said after the fire. “Initial crews on scene knocked the fire down quickly and then gained access inside the building to confirm the extension to the structure was extinguished.

No one was injured in the fire, but it caused extensive damage to the exterior of the Canadian Tire building, along with minor fire and smoke damage inside.

RCMP believe the weekend fire was deliberately set.

The store remains closed until further notice.

Pickup and compact car collide in downtown Vernon T-bone crash

T-bone collision downtown

When a three-quarter-ton pickup and compact car collide, it's not difficult to tell who wins.

A Chevy Silverado 2500 and Hyundai Accent met by accident in a T-bone collision at the intersection of 33rd Street and 31st Avenue Friday afternoon in Vernon.

The crash happened about 1:15 p.m. near the downtown Vernon parkade.

Firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene, but there were no injuries in the incident.

The Hyundai did suffer significant passenger side damage, while the pickup had some minor damage to the front end.

Spallumcheen issues boil water advisory for Larkin area

Larkin boil water notice

The Township of Spallumcheen has issued a boil water advisory for the Larkin water area.

A recent water sample showed an adverse result and, in an abundance of caution, the township is recommending all tap water be boiled until further notice.

Staff are working with Interior Health to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Residents should use alternative water sources such as bottled water or bring tap water to a full rolling boil for one minute before use.

People with weakened immune systems, and/or wishing additional protection should take precautions when drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, making beverages or ice, or when brushing teeth.

Until notified, these users are advised to bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute, or use an alternate, safe source of water.

For more information contact the Township of Spallumcheen at 250-546-3013 or via email at [email protected]. Additional information can be found on the Spallumcheen website.

Trinity Valley Christmas Trees sets up in Village Green Mall parking lot in wake of Canadian Tire fire

Xmas trees just missed fire

A fire is not going to stop people from getting their Tannenbaum from Trinity Valley Christmas Trees this year.

For the past several Christmases, the Okanagan-based tree seller has been operating out of the Canadian Tire Garden Centre, but a fire at the Vernon store two weeks ago has forced them to move.

However, they will still be at the Village Green Mall.

“Thankfully, Village Green Mall management offered a location in its parking lot. This allowed us to continue our tradition of providing locally grown, sustainable Christmas trees to our valued customers in Vernon and surrounding area,” says Josh Ilott.

“You can find us next to the Esso station, located on the southwest corner of the Village Green Mall parking lot.”

TVCT narrowly avoided disaster as it was scheduled to set up in the garden centre just one week after the fire.

“Hopefully, the store’s closure is temporary and we feel for the staff and everyone this fire has affected. We are very grateful that we narrowly missed this catastrophe and are still able to provide Okanagan-grown trees to the Vernon area,” Ilott said.

TVCT has been growing and selling Christmas trees in Vernon, Penticton and Kelowna since 1993.

The tree stand will be operating in Vernon Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Phenomenal conditions at Vernon's SilverStar Mountain Resort, more runs opening today and Saturday

Powder heaven at the Star

Powder hounds are enjoying the best early-season conditions SilverStar Mountain Resort has seen in years.

Conditions are so good, the mountain will be opening more lifts and terrain today and Saturday.

SilverStar opened for the 2022/23 winter season on Nov. 18, two weeks earlier than planned – the earliest the mountain has opened since 2005.

“We haven’t seen early season conditions this amazing in years,” says SilverStar's Chantelle Deacon. “Mother Nature has been burying us with snow. Almost every morning we’ve been waking up to powder, giving us a base of over 115 cm to kick off December.”

Over just the past seven days, the mountain has had more than 90 cm of champaign powder fall.

As of today, SilverStar has the Comet, Silver Queen, Gondola and Alpine Meadows lifts open, and on Saturday the Silver Woods lift and Discovery Carpet will open.

Tube Town will open today at 3 p.m.

Powder Gulch and Home Run Tee-Bar open Dec. 10.

Night Loop XC lights will be turned on seven days a week from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The annual holiday light-up will return Dec. 10.

“We are thrilled to bring back our Christmas Light-Up again next Saturday,” Deacon says. “We will be bringing back fireworks after a few missed years. The event will also feature fire spinners, light displays, roaming entertainers, the Polson Artisan Market and more.”

The light-up will kick off at 3 p.m. and end around 8 p.m., with the fireworks starting at 7:30 p.m.

The mountain will also host the BC Winter Games Torch Light Parade Dec. 10.

“We will have a special torchlight parade coming down the mountain, ending with the lighting of the BC Winter Games Torch,” says Deacon. “Please come join us as we celebrate these incredible athletes and their accomplishments. “We are honoured to be a part of such a special moment in our community.”

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