The Fig, Give Luck team up to give free groceries to those in need

Dishing out free groceries

Two local organizations are teaming up to provide free groceries for people in need this holiday season.

Give Luck, an organization that helps the community in a number of ways, is working together with The Fig Bistro to distribute food to those who are less fortunate.

"One of my teacher friends got all of the kids in her class to collect the food at Lavington Elementary, and then she contacted me to distribute it," says Myrika Godard, co-founder of Give Luck. "The kids came through in such a big way, there were four or five truckloads of food that they were able to collect."

Give Luck turned to The Fig to help them distribute the food, since they are still doing their Seniors Meals on Wheels program that started when the pandemic began. The Fig was on board with the idea, and they started giving out the groceries on Wednesday.

"Myrika reached out to us and asked if we could help, and we thought this was a good way to help people quickly and directly," says David Scarlatescu, owner of The Fig.

"We're not trying to compete with food banks at all, we just thought it was an opportunity to help the community. It's been going well so far, we had about a dozen bags go out on Wednesday and we still have a ton of food ready to be given away."

Scarlatescu says someone reached out to The Fig on Wednesday saying they were really in need of food, and if there was any way to get some to them. He asked the person for their address so that they can figure out a way to get the food to them.

As it turns out, the person is from Kelowna. After some brainstorming, Scarlatescu's mother said she would deliver the groceries herself.

"We're going to bring the groceries down there on Thursday – our family believes in walking the walk, not just talking the talk, when it comes to helping people," says Scarlatescu. "At the end of the day this is about helping people and not worrying about whether it's convenient."

Man faces charges in wake of armed robbery in Lumby

Charges in Lumby robbery

RCMP have arrested a man in connection to an armed robbery in Lumby.

Danny John Charette, 57, is charged with one count of robbery and has been released from custody pending a court appearance.

Charrette was charged in relation to an incident on Nov. 24, when a business on the 2000 block of Vernon Street was robbed.

North Okanagan RCMP spokesperson Const. Chris Terleski says at 6:45 a.m. that day, an armed suspect entered the business and demanded cash and lottery tickets from an employee.

“When the employee reached to activate an alarm, the suspect immediately fled the scene. Frontline officers from the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP responded to the business. However, efforts to locate the suspect were unsuccessful."

The employee was able to provide a detailed description of the suspect and vehicle, however.

“Information provided by the witness, in addition to video surveillance from the business, was used by investigators to identify a person of interest. Further work by the investigator confirmed the person’s involvement in the crime and has subsequently led to their arrest.”

Paul Nixon of Vernon's Nixon Wenger LLP dead at 72

Noted Vernon lawyer dies

A noted Vernon lawyer has died.

Paul Nixon, a founding partner in Nixon Wenger LLP, passed at Hospice House on Nov. 25. He was 72.

Nixon was born in Turtleford, Sask., in 1948. He spent the first two years of his life in Vancouver while his father attended UBC, and in 1950 the family moved to Vernon.

Partway through studying for his law degree, he married his high school sweetheart, Darlene Bilinski, and the couple raised their family on their 11-acre farm in Lavington.

Nixon began his law career in Vernon with Dantzer and Company in 1974.

Eventually, he formed his own law firm, Nixon Wenger, which went on to become one of Vernon's largest.

In 2011, the company built an impressive new building on 30th Avenue, across from Justice Park.

Nixon retired in 2015.

“Paul was a friend to everyone who knew him, as well as a teacher, mentor and advisor to everyone who worked with him," says a former partner. "Paul was the creator and driving force behind Nixon Wenger, and the culture of Nixon Wenger came from him... Even with his passing we will continue to rely on his guidance and wisdom.”

“He made it part of the firm culture that everyone recognize the importance of community spirit and contribution. His name gave any community effort instant credibility," says another partner.

Nixon supported numerous charitable organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, Community Futures, the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation, Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, North Okanagan Community Life Society, and Kalamalka Rotary.

Among many recognitions, in 2004, he received a QC (Queen’s Counsel) designation for exceptional merit and contribution to the legal profession.

A private graveside service will take place at Coldstream Cemetery, with a celebration of life at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in Paul’s name to the BC Cancer Foundation.

New Vernon MLA welcomes affordable rental announcement

Sandhu welcomes plan

Newly sworn-in Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu says she welcomes the announcement of 29 new affordable rental homes for people with low-to-moderate incomes.

Provided by the Building BC: Community Housing Fund, the Vernon-area units are part of 16 new projects that will provide a total of 634 new homes across the province.

Construction for the two local projects will begin in the spring. 

“Access to affordable housing is important for the health and well being of individuals, families, and our community as a whole,” Sandhu said in a press release. 

Thirteen units for families, seniors, and people with disabilities will be constructed in partnership with the Vernon and District Community Land Trust on the 6300 block of Okanagan Landing Road.

A further 16 units for elders, couples, and families will be constructed on the Okanagan Indian Band reserve.

The Community Housing Fund supports mixed-income buildings. The projects will have 50% of units for households with incomes up to $64,000, 30% of units for households with incomes up to approximately $74,000, and 20% of units for households with very low incomes (including those on income or disability assistance).

Inspired by Vernon donors' $100,000 gift, $600,000 raised for BC Cancer Foundation's first chair in brachytherapy

$600K for cancer care

An inspiring act of generosity by a group of Vernon residents has sparked an outpouring of philanthropy in support of cancer care.

Jim and Laverne Popowich recently gave $100,000 to support a first-ever chair in brachytherapy at BC Cancer and the launch of a research program that will transform care for Interior cancer patients.

Longtime supporters of the BC Cancer Foundation, the Popowiches have witnessed the devastation of cancer up close, as it has impacted close family and friends.

They positioned their gift as an opportunity to rally the community.

“We want to support the dedicated leaders at (Kelowna's BC Cancer centre) in providing a longer and better life for patients,” says Jim. “It is all about caring – we give to create better outcomes.”

Former Vernon residents Joanne and Lyn Bannister also contributed $50,000 to the cause.

Cancer has impacted the Bannisters directly. Joanne’s father faced colon cancer; Lyn and his brother have been diagnosed with skin cancer, along with his father and other brother, who both faced prostate cancer.

“Cancer touches us all, either personally or through those we love,” says Joanne. “We have a wonderful opportunity to have this innovative way of treating cancer right here in our valley, and we need the support of the community to have access to world-class treatment here at home.”

The Bannisters' son Chad and wife Nadine continued the chain of generosity by also giving $50,000.

“It makes us feel proud to not only be making a difference in our community, but also make an impact across the province as well,” says Chad.

Donors from across the Interior have raised another $400,000 towards the effort. 

Power back on, thousands were affected along Westside Road Thursday morning

Power restored on Westside

UPDATE: 10:35 a.m.

Power has now been restored and poles replaced on the Westside of Okanagan Lake, where three power outages affected thousands of customers this morning.

ORIGINAL: 8:30 a.m.

BC Hydro is responding to three large power outages along Westside Road.

The first is affecting 1,725 customers in an area from south of Armstrong to just north of KIlliney Beach.

The cause of the outage is under investigation, and crews are on site.

A second outage is reported west of Stepping Stones Road, in the area north of Spotted Eagle Road and southeast of Westside Road.

It's affecting 583 customers.

The third is in the Fintry area, further south along the Westside, and is affecting 1,569 customers.

It's in the area south of Whiteman's Creek Road, north of Westside Road and west of Coral Beach Road.

Downed hydro lines north of Vernon on Highway 97 cleared

Downed lines cleared

UPDATE: 6:20 a.m.

DriveBC reports downed power lines north of Vernon on Highway 97 have been cleared between Old Kamloops and Mendenhall roads.

ORIGINAL: 7 p.m.

Highway 97 is down to single-lane alternating traffic north of Vernon between Old Kamloops Road and Mendenhall Road because of downed hydro lines.

DriveBC reminds drivers to watch for traffic control.

Emergency hydro pole work is being done. 

Castanet will update this story once more information becomes available. 

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