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Vernon  

Light a bulb short of goal

With only 10 days until Christmas, Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation’s Light a Bulb Campaign is $75,000 short of its $250,000 goal.

“It’s a challenge to raise such a significant amount in a short time, but we are optimistic that our community will once again come through for this important campaign,” said campaign chairperson Dr. Curtis Mohamed. 

The campaign this year is raising funds to purchase cancer screening equipment for the Ambulatory Care Unit at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“The support we receive all year from our community is heartwarming and encouraging to us. We are hopeful that community members who have yet to donate will consider the urgent need to replace our fleet of endoscopes for cancer detection at VJH,” said Mohamed.

Colon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer, affecting one-in-six people in British Columbia. 

In its early stages, there are often no symptoms, which is why screening is so important. 

Screening can detect the early warning signs of colon cancer and save lives.

Thanks to skilled surgeons and excellent hospital staff care, VJH has one of the best survival rates for colon cancer in the province.

VJH Foundation is gratefully accepting donations to Light a Bulb until December 31. To help the Foundation light the hospital tree, you can make a secure donation online at vjhfoundation.org, call 250-558-1362 or mail your cheque attention VJH Foundation, 2101-32nd St., Vernon BC V1T 5L2.



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Making spirits bright

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are Making Spirits Bright this Yule Tide season.

“The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are looking to make the spirits of local seniors brighter this holiday season, by donating to the Making Spirits Bright campaign run by Nexus BC Senior Services. RCMP and municipal staff contributed to the program by sponsoring five Vernon seniors who were identified by Nexus BC,” said Const. Kelly Brett.

The Making Spirits Bright Campaign was created in 2006 to spread some joy to seniors living in poverty and isolation.

Vernon’s Nexus BC branch posts personal stories and Christmas wish lists of local seniors that may experience loneliness during the holiday season. Community members can then read the stories and chose a senior who they wish to pledge.

“The majority of what seniors have been wishing for are basic things such as gift cards for groceries, winter jackets and warm articles of clothing, including shoes,” said Alison Campeau of the Nexus BC Community Resource Centre. “We have started to give the seniors their gifts this week and it has been so heartwarming to see their reactions.”

Each senior will receive two large gift bags from the RCMP that included wish list items as well as basic food and necessities. 

The Vernon RCMP give to a variety of charities each Christmas.

The Nexus BC Community Resource Centre sees more than 20 different seniors through their doors each day during the holiday and non-holiday season.

There are many other campaigns run by Nexus BC that residents can become involved in.

More information on these campaigns can be found online or by calling 250-545-0585.



Canada Day help needed

Canada Day is still seven months way, but work on celebrating the nation's birthday has already started.

The North Okanagan Canada Day Society will hold its annual general meeting Jan. 16 and anyone interested in volunteering for the Canada Day celebrations next year is urged to attend.

The 2017 Canada Day celebrations involved daytime activities in Polson Park and evening fireworks on Okanagan Lake, and the society would like to build on the success of last year's celebrations. Volunteers are needed for numerous positions, ranging from executive membership to just lending a helping hand.

The AGM will be held at at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the People Place, 3402 - 27 Ave.



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'Dead zone' on BX trail

A Vernon area resident is wondering if, and when, the North Okanagan Regional District is going to deal with dangerous trees along the BX Creek trail.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, walks the trail regularly, but is concerned by erosion along the creek bed that she believes has created a dangerous situation.

"Someone's going to get killed," she predicted.

“I called the (North Okanagan Regional District) for a tree assessment of the cedars that have fallen or are at high risk of falling in the back walking trail area of the BX  Ranch Park. Many of the big cedars have roots exposed and have already fallen in the forest along BX Creek. It's almost a daily occurrence and getting more dangerous by the week.”

Officials with the regional district tend to agree there is a problem.

During a meeting of local politicians in October, NORD's chief executive officer David Sewell admitted “with flooding this year, there are quite a number of dangerous trees.”

He also said a tree assessment was necessary but that the fix, to cut down the trees, would be expensive.

The resident referred to the area along the creek as “a dead zone that is getting worse every day."

"Tree assessments are an ongoing function of the RDNO every yea," said Mike Fox, with the regional district. "These assessments will focus on the areas where people normally inhabit or frequently go. RDNO staff have been out to most of the trails and natural spaces in the fall and will base the budget around the condition of the trees we have seen at this time and also add in a buffer as it is hard to say what the weather will provide this year. We saw last year that it is hard to predict the weather or what damage it will do to the RDNO's trails and natural spaces."



In a galaxy far, far away

Star Wars fans, the time has come...

The latest instalment in the Star Wars saga, 'The Last Jedi', hits theatres tonight, and expectations for film are pretty high.



New life after brain surgery

An elderly Vernon man's life has changed dramatically following a revolutionary new form of brain surgery that is non invasive.

Elias Pharaon, 85, was so crippled with tremors that he couldn't write his name or feed himself. That has all changed, since he volunteered for the procedure which was performed by a team of University of Calgary physicians and researchers with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

The team used magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (MrgFUS), a new technology that allows surgeons to access the brain without cutting the skin, or drilling into the skull.

“We are able to see the brain with real-time imaging and target a beam of high intensity ultrasound to the region responsible for tremor,” said Zelma Kiss, neurosurgeon and professor at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). “The patient is awake the whole time and the results are immediate.”

Pharaon had the treatment at Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre.

“I couldn’t believe the tremor in my right hand was gone. I didn’t feel anything during the procedure,” Pharaon said. “I was so happy. It’s changed my life, I feel like I can go out in public again.”

Essential tremor is the most common type of movement disorder; usually treated with medication, according to a press release.

For some, like Pharaon, the medication doesn’t work and the tremors become so severe people can no longer dress or feed themselves.

“This is the beginning of a much larger research platform,” said Bruce Pike, professor at CSM. “The idea of neurosurgery in an awake patient without breaking the skin is revolutionary. This technology may provide a new tool to study different treatment options for devastating brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, epilepsy and brain tumours.”

The research study is being done in collaboration with Alberta Health Services and with funding from Canada Foundation for Innovation and private donors, including from the Rob McAlpine Legacy Initiative and the Cumming Medical Research Fund.

At this point, only patients with severe medication resistant essential tremor are being treated.



Sagmoen stays in jail

A Shuswap man accused of threatening a prostitute with a gun will be held in custody for at least another two weeks after the case was put over during a video appearance in Vernon provincial court Thursday morning.

But justice of the peace Dalene Krenz asked lawyers for word on whether an application for bail would be made for Curtis Wayne Sagmoen who, she said, had made five court appearances.

Sagmoen, 36, has six counts against him in connection with an Aug. 28 incident near Falkland where a sex worker alleges she was threatened with a gun before escaping.

“There is no indication if bail is being sought,” Krenz said.

The JP was assured Sagmoen's Vancouver lawyer, who did not appear, would be asked if bail would be sought.

Addressing the prisoner, who is in a B.C. correctional facility, Krenz told the Silver Creek man he would remain “in custody without a bail hearing at this time.”

In October, RCMP found the remains of Vernon teenager Tracy Genereaux buried at a Shuswap farm owned by Sagmoen's parents. No charges have been laid in connection to her death which is considered suspicious.

Outside the courthouse, a small group of women held up a large sign that read 'No More Stolen Sisters' in a protest over violence against women.



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