Fundraiser for AlleyCATS

Cat lovers of all ages showed up for a special fundraising event in Penticton on Saturday

It was all part of the book release party for Mewsings, A Purrfect  Journal, and art show, featuring works from the book, to raise funds for AlleyCATS Alliance,

"It's extremely exciting and it's so heartwarming to see this come to fruition," said Aja Jackson, project manager for the journal. "And I am pleased with the good turnout."

The book, featuring artwork and writing by local seniors, youth and artists, was available for purchase at the event with 100 per cent of the sales going to AlleyCATS.

On Saturday people were  invited to meet and greet the artists behind the book, enjoy refreshments and hear a few readings from the journal in a room at the Shatford Centre

Okanagan Falls resident Janice Goodman contributed two paintings and two writings to support the charity.

"I believe in cat rescue," she said. "There are too many feral cats that aren't helped and AlleyCATS is very good at helping."

Jean Donnelly of Summerland did artwork, with her granddaughter Faith writing an accompanying poem.

"I did it because my kids love cats," she said. "And I think it, (the journal), is beautiful. It's so wonderful that so many people got involved."

Student Linnea White, 8, of Okanagan Falls drew a picture of her cat Chill, because she likes creating pictures of cats, while fellow student Trace Cobb drew a picture of a random cat because he wanted to be in the book.

This was the first ever book launch fund-raising event for the Okanagan charity which is dedicated to providing rescue, rehabilitation and medical care and adoption to feral and orphaned cats and kittens.

After Saturday's sale, the journal will be available at other locations in Penticton.

For more information, go here , or visit the AlleyCATS Alliance Facebook page.


Mya and Sneakers

Every Sunday, Castanet Penticton features pets up for adoption at CritterAid, a South Okanagan organization which helps injured and homeless animals.

The group runs a cat sanctuary in Summerland, caring for up to 60 felines at a time. Some come rehabilitated from feral colonies, while others are surrendered by owners who cannot care for them anymore.

If you are interested in adopting any of the pets featured weekly here, or in volunteering, you can contact CritterAid at 250.494.5057, [email protected] or online at critteraid.org.

Writers' conference returns

After meeting with success last year, a popular writers' conference is returning to Penticton.

The Okanagan Valley Writers' Festival is set to take place April 7 to 9 at the Shatford Centre.

“Writers’ conferences are great places for re-energizing our enthusiasm, and for making connections with people who can help us further our goals,” said organizer Dawn Renaud. “As with last year, we wanted to cover all kinds of writing, for writers at all stages.

We’ve come up with another really good mix of experienced, knowledgeable presenters—terrific people who are genuinely pleased to share their expertise throughout the weekend.”

Renaud says the Shatford Centre proved to be the perfect venue for the kind of conference experience she had hoped to offer.

“With the historic building’s spacious classrooms, seating at breakout sessions is not a problem," she said. "And because the Shatford Centre provides between- session snacks and all meals on site, we’re able to provide something other conferences can’t: a lot of casual opportunities to chat with the presenters and their fellow writers, to learn from what other writers are asking and to talk about their own project with someone who may have suggestions for moving it forward to successful publication."

The buffet-style meals also include plenty of fresh, healthy choices.

“It’s incredibly good value for the money,” said Renaud.

The regular conference registration price of $250 ($225 for OSA members) includes four breakout sessions, two panel discussions, five meals (four with speakers), and a Friday evening variety show with appies.

People are invited to register at the Shatford Centre, in person, or by calling 250-770-7668.



Good turnout for Elevator

About 130 athletes from all over BC participated in a challenging race held in Penticton on Saturday.

The people of all ages, including returning teams and four solo athletes, ascended 6,000 feet in 52 km over six stages in the White Kennedy Elevator Race, held by Hoodoo Adventures.

"Everybody had a great time, even though the weather was interesting, with pounding hard snow, then sunshine, all day long," said Lyndie Hill with Hoodoo. "And it's a world class course that is really getting a name for itself, with participants describing it as the event of the year."

The race, which kicked off at 8:30 a.m. at the SS Sicamous on Okanagan Lake, is comprised of paddle, road bike, run/snowshoe, mountain bike, Nordic ski, alpine ski and board. 

The finish line was located at Apex Mountain Resort, in front of the Gunbarrel Saloon.

First place overall went to Team Swagman, a mixed team from Penticton.

The first place solo athlete was Kevin Cutjar, who has participated in the race five times. He was also seventh overall.

The Elevator is part of the Elevation Series, comprised of multiple outdoor races organized by Hoodoo.

Hill said the Elevator was the last one in the new series, with $2,000 raised for the Youth Outdoor Recreation Society  a subsidy program that funds outdoor recreation opportunities for schools in the Okanagan.


Ashton opens office

Dan Ashton officially opened his campaign office on Riverside Drive in Penticton on Saturday.

The incumbent MLA has been acclaimed by the BC Liberals as the party’s candidate in Penticton for the upcoming 2017 provincial election.

"I want to be able to support the citizens, and I think I've done a reasonable job of ensuring the citizens of this region have a strong voice in Victoria," he said. "And I would encourage that everybody listen to what both parties are putting forward and make their decision based on what is best for all British Columbians."

Ashton, who gave a brief speech and joined others in a ribbon cutting Saturday, has already served four years as MLA, representing the communities of Penticton, Naramata, Summerland, and Peachland.

During those years, his number one priority has been the Penticton hospital project.

"I am most proud of the construction at the hospital," he said.

Others are supporting the downtown revitalization project in Penticton and new education funding for South Okanagan school boards.

He’s also helped to deliver investments in green infrastructure including $2.26 million for the Summerland water separation project, as well as continuing to bring community grants to the region.

Ashton is British Columbia’s parliamentary secretary for the minister of finance.

He serves as a member of the Treasury Board, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, and was the vice-chair of the Cabinet Working Group on Core Review.

He has also been the premier’s representative to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) since September 2014. 

The writ drops on April 11, marking the official start of the campaign, and the general provincial election takes place on May 9.

Marijuana exhibit opens

An exhibit dedicated to marijuana generated a lot of buzz at its opening night in Penticton Friday.

Marijuana advocates mingled with artists, community members and at least one local politician at the official opening of Grassland at the Penticton Art Gallery. 

"I'm just really excited to see what the public appetite is for discourse and it seems like a timely subject for our community and the country for that matter," said curator Paul Crawford as he readied for the big night.

The idea for the exhibit was sparked when Crawford was working in a gallery in Grand Forks several years ago.

At the time, he recalls, he was amazed at how ubiquitous the marijuana industry was throughout the community and the whole Kootenays.

"It was how much it made up the economy and how little law enforcement there seemed to be around it," he said.

Fast forward to now and the government of Canada has promised to introduce federal legislation to legalize cannabis. Crawford felt it would be a good time to look at social change as part of what they do at the gallery.

After a soft opening, a Mad Hatter Dance and Costume Party, attended by about 350 last Friday night, everything was on display this Friday.

Included in the exhibit is work from political cartoonists, works featuring Cheech and Chong and Snoop Dogg and the concert posters of Bob Masse.

In one room, people were invited to sit on a couch and watch the black and white film, "Reefer Madness," an anti-marijuana film made in 1936.

There is also a show within a show. Glassland, held in conjunction with Grassland, features the artwork of  Patrick Redbeard Vrolyk.

Vrolyk creates glass pipes, and this is his first solo exhibition dedicated to the art of the bong.

"It's a privilege and an honour a real high light of my career," he said, regarding the exhibit. "It's really great to see bongs and pipes displayed in such a professional setting as this public art gallery."

Bentley Meeker, a New York-based light artist, whose unique light installation is on display, said for him it was just an opportunity to create something beautiful using the theme of the show.

"It's using light as a medium in a hopefully unique and interesting way," he said.

Visitors like Jukka Laurio, owner of Penticton's Rush in and Finish Cafe, described the exhibit as an amazing thing.

"It's the first one so it's interesting to see what people are coming up with combining cannabis with art," he said. "It's a good beginning."

Kona Sankey, whose artwork is on display, said it was nice to see the lens that others see inspiration through.

"There are so many things about marijuana that people pass over," she said. "Such as other than its medicinal properties, it's a beautiful plant."

MP Richard Cannings, who showed up to see the art, agreed the exhibit was timely. 

"Marijuana certainly is an issue on the top of a lot of people's minds these days," he said. "And Paul Crawford is very good at creating exhibits that are really relevant."

The exhibit runs until May 14 at the gallery.

There will be also speakers on a variety of topics every Saturday and films will be shown on Sundays during the duration of the exhibit.


Adventuring around BC

A Penticton resident is sharing a breathtaking video of his adventures in the South Okanagan.

“Pretty lucky living around here, so got to make the most of it,” James Sloan said. The video is made up of headcam footage of Sloan and his friends paragliding, rock climbing, water skiing, skiing, hunting and more.

“It’s mostly around Penticton here, but there is some in the north,” referring to a kayaking segment of him on the Bowron Lakes.

“It’s just a hobby, I work on an orchard, so a little bit flexible at certain times of the year and I just try to do as much as possible.”

This summer, Sloan says he might want to add skydiving to his list of extreme hobbies.

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