For the first time in more than 20 years, the Okanagan-Similkameen school board will be chaired by someone not from Osoyoos.
And the new chair, Oliver school trustee Rob Zandee, continues to hold the view that the South Okanagan would be better off with just one high school – Southern Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS) in Oliver.
Marieze Tarr, who has been board chair since 2011, announced a year ago that she would be stepping aside because she doesn’t plan to seek re-election as a trustee from Osoyoos next October. At that time, Zandee was named vice-chair with a view to his succeeding Tarr. The election by board members takes place this afternoon at 4:30.
Before Tarr, June Harrington, also from Osoyoos, sat at the head of the board table chair for 15 years.
Zandee’s view that Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS) should be closed and students moved to SOSS goes back at least to the controversy of spring 2016. OSS was threatened with closure because of lack of funding based on declining enrolment. The town of Osoyoos rallied and protested and at the last moment the province offered extra money to keep the school open.
The funds were in the so-called Rural Education Enhancement Relief (REEF) program. At a June 30 meeting, a motion to apply for the funding was put before the board. Only Zandee and fellow Oliver trustee Rachel Allenbrand voted against applying for the grant.
Zandee argued at the time that keeping OSS open and not transferring its students to SOSS would result in the loss of a number of specialized courses.
His view hasn’t changed. In an interview this morning, Zandee said: “I think any time you can have a larger cohort in any place you have better options for education. It just makes sense.”
When there are smaller numbers of students in schools, he said, “… there’s a lot of kids who may or may not be getting the classes that they want in all the high schools because it doesn’t have that critical mass. We all lose out.”
Asked if he will pursue an agenda of closing OSS, Zandee said, “There is no agenda. … As long as that money’s still there, that’s the reality. OSS is still open.”
Councillor Mike Campol, Osoyoos town council’s school board liaison, expressed concern about Zandee’s position on OSS closure.
“I am concerned that the chair still feels that we’d be better off (with one high school),” Campol said in an interview today.
“I really don’t know the guy. He could be very bright and good at his position, but it’s concerning for me that we went through all that and he still wanted to see our school closed.”
Outgoing chair Tarr points out that the board chair is just one of seven voices on the board and, except in the case of a tie, usually doesn’t even vote. “The chair is the liaison between the staff and the board, but (he or she) doesn’t really have any power.”
She said it really doesn’t matter in which community the chair was elected. “Once you become a trustee you are a trustee for the whole district and you do what’s best for kids in the whole district, not just in your community.”
Asked whether the 2016 votes by Zandee and Allenbrand against the REEF grant indicates a view favouring Oliver, Tarr said: “I guess if you wanted to look at it that way, you could say that.
“Or you could say that philosophically they believed that (closing OSS) would have been the best for all the kids. … I don’t want to speculate why they voted that way, but you could say either one of those two.”
It appears almost inevitable that the issue of school closure will come up again, although NDP education minister Rob Fleming has promised to keep REEF in place at least until after the current funding formula review.
SOSS is a nearly new facility, having been rebuilt following a major fire in 2011. It is also under-utilized, with a capacity of 700 and an enrolment of under 500. And the aging OSS has barely over 200 students in a school that will hold 325.
By ROY WOOD
Osoyoos residents will have at least one and possibly three places to fill on town council next October as one councillor says he won’t run again and the idea of adding two more seats to the table is up for discussion.
Councillor Mike Campol said in an interview today that he won’t run for council next October. “I kind of need to focus on career at this point,” he said. “In my past position I was self employed so I could sort of make my own schedule.”
Campol, who was elected in 2014, recently became general manager at the new Boston Pizza restaurant in Osoyoos.
Council will discuss the idea expanding its number to six as part of a budget review meeting on Thursday.
“It’s not a done deal,” Mayor Sue McKortoff said today. “It’s just a thought, because we’ve had to deal with some things this year where we’ve had four (members of council) and sometimes three.”
She said council will look at the cost of adding councillors in the context of the entire budget. “If we don’t think we can afford it this year, because we have other items that are higher priority, then that’s exactly what we’ll do.”
In a report to council, corporate services director Janette Van Vianen says that while the provincial Community Charter prescribes a town’s council to be a mayor and four councillors, council may pass a bylaw to increase the number.
Councillors are paid an annual stipend of $16,534 plus benefits of $1,371 and miscellaneous expenses. As well, they are entitled to claim about $3,000 for attending the Union of BC Municipalities conference and upward of $7,000 for going to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
If council wishes to increase its number to six, a bylaw amendment would need to pass by April 2018. Van Vianen’s report suggests: “Council may wish to consider a public consultation before proceeding to increasing the number of councillors.”
Asked whether she thinks a public consultation is appropriate, McKortoff said: “We often like to get public consultation on things.
“We get criticized when we don’t and sometimes when we do, people say, ‘Oh my goodness what a waste of time. Why don’t you get on with it. That’s what you’re hired to do.’”
Campol also suggested that council consider a return to evening meetings. Currently, council meets at 2 pm* on the first and third Monday of each month. The committee of the whole meets the same days at 9 am.
“I’d like to see the meetings go back to evenings,” he said. “It opens things up for the next election (to) people who couldn’t run … if they run their own business or are employed. Otherwise you’re going to end up with just retirees.”
Campol is the only member of the current council to say he won’t seek re-election. Mayor Sue McKortoff confirmed today that she intends to run for a second term. Councillors CJ Rhodes and Jim King said today they are planning to run. Carol Youngberg, a first-term member of council, wasn’t available for comment.
Photos courtesy of Town of Osoyoos
Editor’s note: Under letters patent issued by the BC Government – Osoyoos must have two rural water councillors to help run the water system. If Osoyoos council were to change its structure and add two more regular councillors – that would amount to the largest council table in the Okanagan = 9 seats
Judy Richards, general manager of Cherry Lane, said most of the funds stem from the shopping centre’s “Photos with Santa” during the Christmas Season. “We have the best Santa. He’s fantastic,” she enthused.
Over the past two years Cherry Lane has helped increase public awareness of the hospital expansion and the SOS Medical Foundation’s campaign.
“We’re community-minded and want to partner with the community,” Richards said.
Cherry Lane has become an unofficial community hub for the hospital expansion. Posters promoting the SOS Medical Foundation’s PRH equipment campaign adorn many of the walls. “Chat Heads” have also been posted, giving customers an opportunity to outline their own experiences at PRH. “It’s a needed facility. We’re lucky because a lot of communities don’t have hospitals and people have to travel to get to hospital for treatment. So I think Penticton is really fortunate to have this growth to our hospital.”
Two spectacular evenings of dance await audiences this season when the Frank Venables Theatre continues its annual series of local, national and international dance. Each year professional artists and their companies are invited to Oliver to present a range of dance styles from classical to contemporary, cultural to fusion.
This year’s Passport to Dance travels from Mexico to Spain then back to Canada with the renowned Flamenco Rosario. Share these artists’ passion for flamenco’s raw, emotional power and disciplined musicality. Their newest work, “La Monarca – The Monarch and the Butterfly Effect” is described as emergent, beautiful and unexpected.
The celebrated Okanagan dance company Ballet Kelowna returns this year with four stunning new works by four female choreographers. The evening, entitled “Elles – Extraordinary Dance created by Women” demonstrates Ballet Kelowna’s continuing success in encouraging, promoting, and developing Canadian dancers and choreographers.
This season’s Passport to Dance makes a great holiday gift or stocking stuffer. Passports offer tickets to both dance performances for only $20 for students and children, while adult passports cost $55. That’s a 40% discount over the door price for young people and over 20% for adults.
On Tuesday February 6th Ballet Kelowna will deliver the very best of contemporary ballet while Flamenco Rosario, with their mix of authentically traditional and contemporary dance, arrive on Oliver’s Frank Venables stage on Monday April 9th.
The Passport to Dance is available at www.venablestheatre.ca
Photo supplied by Frank Venables Theatre
The Crown’s attempted murder case against a South Okanagan man could be jeopardized by the death of the victim.
Afshin Maleki Ighani, of no fixed address, is charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting Thomas Szajko in April, prior to a region-wide manhunt that saw him captured in Princeton.
Szajko, 49, recovered from the gunshot, but died December 1 in his Oliver home.
Crown prosecutor John Swanson told reporters he would be taking the next week to examine this case to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed without the Crown’s key witness.
Swanson said he was counting on the testimony of Szajko, but has not made a decision to proceed or drop the charges either way.
Ighani, 46, faces several other charges related to a police chase and kidnapping in Princeton and remains in custody.
Where’s the Door?
My Dad had a bad habit of always finding little jobs to keep him busy. One of those little jobs was a penchant for moving the front door to several different locations over the years.
A few weeks before Christmas 1969, he decided that he wanted the door moved so he could have a place to put up the Christmas tree where it would be in the front window. The door was to the left of the window and the tree would get knocked over every time the door was opened.
The door had only been in this particular spot for less than a year. When Dad moved it in the spring he neglected to take in the repercussions in the winter. Another reason that it was not in a great spot was the fact that it opened right into the front room and Mom hated having to clean the floor every five minutes.
At the front of the house had first been a porch where the original door was, then turned into a bedroom but after Sandy had been married, Dad turned it back into a front porch and the old door frame was on the south wall underneath the wallboard ….don’t bother trying to figure it out…we never could either!!
Anyway…he knew under the wallboard was the original opening for the door so he opened it up and built a new frame, then took the front door and moved it back and put the screen door on. Now it was time to seal up the gaping hole in the front room. That took very little time…a few studs, some insulation and then drywall and the hole was sealed. He puttied it that night and the next night he painted it inside and put the cedar boards on the outside wall.
Dad loved doing these little jobs but sometimes he neglected to inform people of changes that might affect them….this was one of those times.
Two days before Christmas I took the Greyhound home from SFU. It was a late bus and I had told Dad not to pick me up as the roads were bad and we didn’t know how long or late we would be. We finally arrived home about 2 am and a friend gave me a lift home. I dragged my suitcase and my big box of presents up onto the step. It was a pitch dark night so I took out my keys and kind of felt around for where the doorknob used to be. This was strange! I couldn’t find the doorknob and upon feeling around some more I couldn’t find the door! Keep in mind that I have night blindness and could not see well and couldn’t see the door to the right of me.
WELL, I thought…geez if you didn’t want me to come home, ya coulda just told me! I walked around the back of the house hoping someone forgot to lock the door but no such luck.
I went to Norma’s bedroom window and pounded on it but she slept like the dead and never heard me. Mom and Dad’s bedroom window was about 8 feet off the ground and in the dark I couldn’t find the ladder. By now I was quite pissed off and went back to the front of the house.
I decided to feel around and finally after about 20 minutes I found where he moved the door. Wonderful! I slipped the key in the lock and turned it…well crap…he put a new lock on the damn door!
By now I was cold, frustrated and pretty pissed off. I started banging on the door and slamming down the stupid little door knocker until finally Mom heard the noise and came running! When she opened the door she was laughing because I looked slightly worse for wear but she grabbed me and hugged me and together we brought my suitcase and box of presents into the house.
I went in and jumped on Dad which woke him up and gave him a blast for not telling me he moved the door! Dad kind of laughed and hugged me and decided he was hungry. Mom had quickly made sandwiches and had a pot of coffee made. I soon warmed up and before long we were laughing about it.
I wanted them to not tell Sandy but Dad thought better of it as they had a two month old baby and he didn’t want Frank to be upset!
The next day Dad put Christmas lights all around the moved door with a sign on the wall where the door used to be advising friends of the move. He phoned Sandy and Frank and told them and then he went down town and bought new keys for all of us.
As usual…never a dull moment in the Shaw householdl!! Good thing I was not drunk…I probably would have been found frozen to death leaning against the non existent door!! LOL
Sunday December 24th (Christmas Eve) 5:30 to 7:00pm – presented by Oliver Elks at the Oliver Elks Hall. “Time spent together with others is time well spent” – clean up crews needed – contact the Elks.
Poles are brand new and higher to allow trucks to park. Light heads installed last year on old poles that definitely needed to be replaced – lots and lots of paint on them in 20 years and the internal water piping had calcified.
“This project was on our General Capital projects list for 2017. This project includes; replacing old poles with new taller poles that are powdered coated (no need to paint anymore). It also includes some minor irrigation line improvements and electrical work upgrades to fix some existing problems we were having. The existing poles were also too low (semi trucks) and lights had been hit a couple of times which is why Public Works turned the arms and heads away from the road. The new poles will allow more clearance and better light dispersion towards the road.”
Director of Operations
Town of Oliver