• Dennis And Brenda Matson Bring Experience

    When Dennis and Brenda Matson began attending the little church in Hedley, there was no indition he would soon become the pastor. In dress, speech and demeanor, they were entirely unpretentious. All I knew about them was that they owned a large dump truck and an exvator. People in town were lling on Dennis to do work and it beme evident he had the experience, skill, and practil mind to tackle a variety of challenges.

    His acquaintance with work and equipment began at a young age.“We lived on a quarter section,” he told Linda and me recently. “We lled it a stump farm beuse it had more stumps than cows. If a piece of equipment had an engine, my dad expected us boys to run it. When I was about 10 I was assigned to take a dozer and trailer loaded with hay to feed ttle in the field.”

    Dennis was born in Washington State. “When my parents got married they decided they would live there 25 years and move to nada for the next 25. When I was 17 my Mom, a nadian citizen, feared us boys would be drafted into the U.S. military. My parents sent us to live with a relative in nada.”

    Dennis and Brenda both grew up attending Lutheran churches and at times their paths intersected. “We knew each other as kids,” he said. “There was an aura about Brenda that sparked my interest.”

    When Brenda was 13, her father passed away. After graduating, she moved to Yellowknife for a year and worked first in a detox centre, then at an A&W. Dennis took several construction equipment courses and got a job driving truck. “I walked away from God for a time,” he said. “Alcohol and drugs were plentiful. I didn’t do drugs.”

    Brenda’s family lived in the same area in Alberta and “her mother was a mom to everyone,” Dennis relled. “I gave her a ride one evening and she didn’t approve of my language.” He remembers clearly that she said only, “shame on you!”

    “Over time the example of my parents, Brenda’s mom and others prompted me to begin turning toward God,” he said. A young lol pastor apparently saw potential in him and invited him to become part of the church ministry team. Knowing his lifestyle was not yet wholesome, Dennis declined. “You n hide from a lot of things, but you n’t hide from a guilty conscience.”

    At age 20 he and a friend scrounged up enough money for the down payment on a semi-trailer truck and began hauling beef from Alberta to Toronto. In time he sold his share in the trucking venture and moved to Toronto. Here he drove an armoured vehicle for Wells Fargo, transporting money. One day, rrying money bags from the vehicle to a bank, he saw a man observing him intently. When the man reached inside his coat, Dennis partially removed his hand gun from its holster. Their eyes locked and the man slowly withdrew his hand.

    In 1976 Dennis and Brenda were married and moved to Burns Lake. “A lol house church was without a pastor so I led it 2 Sundays a month,” he said. The church had no funds to pay him. For 10 years he worked in logging.

    In 1986 they moved to Langley where he pastored a small congregation for 28 years, again without remuneration. They started a trucking company, Feather Weight Hauling. When the need for light weight hauling petered out, they bought a 50 ton trailer. Brenda served as dispatcher and book keeper. Ocsionally she instructed an operator in loading equipment.

    After 28 years of trucking and pastoring, their son’s illness brought a major upheaval. “Milo was diagnosed with an auto immune disease which attacked his kidneys,” Brenda said. “In recent years he has needed dialysis. Standing by him took up our time so we sold the business. We moved here beuse the climate would be better for him. He will join us when we have a suite ready.”

    Concerning the Hedley pastoral role, Dennis said, “I thought that chapter was closed, but it’s fulfilling to be serving people again. Support has been overwhelming, incredible.”

    I’ve seen Dennis helping put away tables and chairs after a community dinner. Brenda assisted with clean up in the kitchen. Like Graham and Myrtle Gore before them, they are already an asset to the community.

    Shimon Peres, No Room For Small Dreams

    Shimon Peres, 2009

    I consider myself fortunate each time I encounter one of those rare individuals whose thinking enables them to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. One such person is the late Shimon Peres, former Defense Minister and later Prime Minister of Israel. In “No Room for Small Dreams” he writes about the imaginative, courageous thinking required to build and sustain this initially fragile nation. The chapter dealing with the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 on June 27, 1976 and the Israeli response contains some lessons for life I feel are well worth noting.

    The hijacking by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine presented the Israeli government with a quandary that understandably immobilized the thinking of its members. The plane, rrying more than 100 Israeli citizens, landed at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Idi Amin, the country’s ruthless, often erratic dictator welcomed the hijackers. They demanded the release of some 40 terrorists held by Israel.

    The Jewish state had never negotiated with terrorists who had killed innocent civilians, but beuse Entebbe was 2000 miles from Israel, in an unfriendly state, there would be no easy solutions. They were given 36 hours to free the terrorists they held, or the Israeli passengers would be executed.

    No country or army had ever undertaken a challenge of this dimension. The military leadership, including the Army Chief of Staff, considered rescue impossible. Prime Minister Yithzhak Rabin and most members of his binet felt they had no option but to negotiate. Defense Minister Shimon Peres alone argued against surrendering to the terrorists’ demands. “Terrorism is like a deadly disease,” he reminded them, “one that nnot be defeated by compromise or concession. To give in to the demands of terrorists is to give in to more and bigger demands in future hijackings.”

    Reflecting the concerns of his binet and the military, Rabin countered with, “there are too many uncertainties, too many unknowns, too little intelligence, too many risks.” All the fears were well founded. They didn’t know the layout of the airport or where the hostages were being kept. Also, they didn’t know if Amin’s soldiers would support the hijackers.

    Peres slept little during this time. He assembled his most creative people and formed what some referred to as his “Fantasy Council.” He refused to believe rescue was impossible and pushed them to use their imaginations and examine every idea, crazy as it seemed. He urged them to be bold in thinking about options that did not yet exist. Peres was convinced that “until one accepts that unlikely does not mean impossible, the chances of developing creative solutions are severely limited.”

    The clock was steadily ticking toward the hijackers’ deadline and as yet there was no feasible plan. Even so, Peres refused to believe it couldn’t be done. In binet meetings he stressed “if we give in to the terrorists’ demands, everyone will understand us, but no one will respect us. Israel will look like a rag, and even worse, she will be one.”

    They did get a little help. Idi Amin left for an out of country conference, so the hijackers extended the deadline by 3 days. Also, the non-Israeli passengers were released and a former French army officer provided detailed drawings of the airport, the number of hijackers, and lotion of the hostages. Having this knowledge, the “Fantasy Council” created an innovative but daring and dangerous rescue plan. The binet accepted it, “but not with a light heart”, as Rabin put it.

    On the night of the rescue attempt, several Hercules aircraft departed for the Entebbe Airport. The first followed a British airliner down to the runway, thereby avoiding detection by airport radar. The doors opened and a black Mercedes with Ugandan flags descended the ramp. As hoped, the terrorists were deceived into thinking this was Idi Amin returning from his conference. Several other Hercules landed and Israeli commandos quickly engaged the hijackers in a fierce firefight, killing all. The hostages were instructed to enter one of the Hercules. Unfortunately one had already been executed in a hospital. Three, plus the commando leader, died in the cross fire. After 55 minutes, commandos and hostages were in the air, flying back to Israel.

    Entebbe Hostages Rescued (IDF file)

    In “No Room for Small Dreams”, Shimon Peres writes, “Daring thinking about one’s options is always the better option.” It’s a powerful approach to life we n all apply, a way of thinking that will raise our lives to a higher level.

    MP Dan Albas Speaks About nadian Politics

    Dan Albas, Conservative MP for Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola

    The clever “curve ball” thrown to Parliamentarians by voters in the recent election appears to be fostering some sorely needed pondering in our nation’s pital. Lol MP Dan Albas reflected the thoughts being expressed by a number of Parliamentarians when he said, “Hopefully, with a minority government, front and backbench MP’s will be better able to work together across party lines to see more results being achieved and fewer photo ops for politil purposes.” A lot of nadians have waited too long to hear these words.

    Dan’s thoughts about the election and its aftermath me during a dialogue with members of the coffee group that gathers at 6:30 a.m. at the Hedley Seniors’ Centre each morning. Although he’d left Kelowna at about 4:30 a.m., he appeared surprisingly fresh and alert. Members of the group asked a number of wide ranging, probing questions, many related to urgent national issues. For us it was a mini-seminar on nadian politics. His responses helped us understand that at times seemingly reasonable ideas may not work beuse of unseen, compliting factors.

    When concern was expressed about plastics in our oceans and landfills, Dan said, “there is a goal to recycle all plastics by 2040. We do need to be aware that decisions we make often have unanticipated ramifitions and we then have to deal with them. For example, we don’t want a plan that will drive up the cost of groceries so high that people n’t afford to eat.”

    Turning to the issue of homelessness and food, he said, “I’d like unused food to be donated to homeless shelters. We shouldn’t become so bureaucratic that we n’t do things like this.”

    In response to a question concerning immigration he replied, “the Immigration Board is small and overwhelmed. It does a fairly good job but it’s not perfect. It doesn’t have authority to hold a terrorist, but it n hold a drug trafficker.” Then he added a personal note. “There’s nothing more disheartening than to sit with a mother whose daughter is being deported.”

    When the subject of tax cuts was raised, Ken Houle said, “I don’t want my taxes cut. I want them to be used well.” Dan agreed. “We need balance in everything,” he observed. “The cuts put in place by the last government benefited primarily people with above average incomes.”

    When there was a lull in the conversation, I asked about Andrew Scheer’s leadership qualities and vision. “During the mpaign,” I said, “there was a huge outcry concerning the environment. A lot of people demanded action. Scheer seemed not to hear this, or he simply ignored it. He appeared fixated on striking down the rbon tax, although many experts believe it is an essential step in responding to climate change. Did he not understand he would likely lose a lot of votes by turning his back on the environment?”

    Dan volunteered that while door knocking during the mpaign, a number of people had seemed quite “underwhelmed” by all leaders. He mentioned that the Conservative leader had produced a 60 page document which discussed 5 issues he considered crucial. These did not receive sustained attention in the media.

    When he was asked if members who had supported other ndidates in the Conservative Party leadership race had been punished, he said, “I voted for Maxine Bernier beuse I liked his support for inter-provincial trade. I probably should have given more weight to other factors. However, Andrew Scheer didn’t punish me or anyone who voted for another ndidate. He selected the most pable individuals for his Shadow binet.”

    Dan Albas has served in Ottawa since the 2011 election, sufficient time for some politicians to become jaded. I didn’t sense this about him, but he did express concern that “some people are beginning to not believe anything.” Rather than sink to such a state of thinking about politics, he suggests we ask a lot of questions of our government. “Even a good idea should pass scrutiny of the Opposition and the public. For example, we should ask a lot of questions before we allow aerial surveillance of the ALR.”

    Before leaving he repeated his view of the outcome of the election. “I believe nadians elected a minority government,” he said, “beuse they want to see greater cooperation and compromise in Ottawa.” If enough Members genuinely agree, we may have less fractious debates in the new parliament. I think of it as the “curve ball effect”.

    RDOS Director Talks About Rookie Year

    Tim Roberts, RDOS Area G Director

    A few weeks ago, at the end of his rookie year in politics, Tim Roberts agreed to talk about his experience as an RDOS director to this time. “I knew it would be difficult,” he began. “It’s been a steep learning curve, and the learning isn’t nearly done.” He leaned back in his chair, then after a moment of reflection said, “It is easier, though, when I believe what I’m doing is right.”

    Running for Area G Director was not a spur of the moment decision for Tim. “I was asked several times over the years to let my name stand,” he said, “but I was concerned it might interfere with my advocy for community health. As a paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service, I go into a lot of homes. I didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable when they invite me into their home or their crises. I asked a doctor and also a health lead at the band if this would jeopardize my relationships.”

    Even then he pondered until the last day, and just about the last minute, before submitting his name. The hesitation seems to suggest his motivation is not to acquire prestige or power. He appears to genuinely hope to make a substantive contribution to Similkameen communities.

    As he talked, it beme evident to me Tim has an inquiring mind and a steely resolve, essentials for navigating the often confusing bureaucratic maze that inevitably develops in government. He recognizes the importance of understanding concepts and systems. “I ask a lot of questions,” he said, “like what is the bylaw for this particular issue, and what does it mean? I need to know who has jurisdiction and what is their mandate. I want to understand how the RDOS functions. Asking questions helps me decide if an idea is worth pursuing.”

    Tim explained that the RDOS is a mechanism for the provincial government to deliver services to unincorporated areas. “I think of it as a tool box to get things done. Sometimes I wonder why we n do this, but not that. It has taken me a year to learn how to ask questions in a way that provides information I need. To adjust spending I at times have to go to the province.”

    Tim thinks of himself as an advote, not a politician. “One of my goals is to edute people as to how the system works. I try to find out what people need and want. I’ve had two Open Houses and one Leadership Forum. I’ve sent out a survey to obtain opinions on Land Use. I’m looking for effective ways to communite with people. There will be more mailings.”

    He’s pragmatic and understands that “if we take re of a problem, that comes at a cost. If we n spread a service over a larger area, the cost is lower. We need to strive to be financially stable.”

    Tim has learned his powers are limited. “Sometimes I have to tell people there isn’t money for what they want. Some requests are outside my area of jurisdiction.”

    Although Tim is a B.C. Ambulance paramedic and operates a small farm, he finds time for community events. When Hedley’s water system was not functioning for a few days, Tim showed up at a Community Club lunch pushing a dolly loaded with bottled water. Last week he manned a table at the ChuChuWayHa Health and Wellness Fair.

    I’ve been surprised at how often he shows up in our community, engaging in conversations. “I love talking with band elders,” he said. “I also enjoy conversations with Ralph McKay about Hedley’s mining history, and with Gerry Wilkin at the Museum.” He is aware many people in Area G are retired and elderly. It concerns him that they are often socially and physilly isolated, with few services.

    At the end of our conversation Tim said, “Change is coming. We n’t know what it will look like, but I want us to be prepared to respond.” He paused, then said, “We need to think about what we want for our children and grandchildren in the next 30 years. We are the only area that doesn’t have an Official Community Plan (OCP). That will take about two years to develop. I’m looking for ideas.” Then he was gone, probably to another appointment or meeting.

    Tim Roberts is collaborative, a team player. Certainly not a baby kissing, back slapping, photo-op politician.

    ChuChuWayha Health and Wellness Fair

    Raina Dawn Lutz, a Registered Health Nutritionist, gave a presentation during lunch.

    Over many years, I’ve come to understand that when lamitous circumstances enter my life, they usually arrive unanticipated and unannounced. Sometimes I’ve berated myself, asking, “Why didn’t I see it coming? Why didn’t I prepare?” This laxity is not unique to me, of course. It’s an integral aspect of being human. At least in part, the problem arises beuse we’re preoccupied and may not have easy access to those who n advise us.

    The Upper Similkameen Indian Band (USIB) understands that lack of preparedness is an issue also for its members, and is taking steps to bring awareness, knowledge and resources to the reserve. For Linda and me, attending the band’s ChuChuWayha Health and Wellness Fair last Tuesday was surprisingly useful in preparing for challenging, unanticipated events. The forum was directed primarily at band members but much of the information pertains also to Hedley citizens. The community was invited.

    Lesli Lorincz

    Lesli Lorincz, band Home and Community Health nurse explained the purpose of the forum. “We want to give our people an understanding of the services available to them,” she said. “We also want to acquaint service providers with an awareness of our community. It’s important for them to know that when they send someone home from the hospital, if there is an emergency, the patient nnot be quickly returned.” She emphasized this is true also for the entire Similkameen community, She said the band is interested in more interaction with the people of the town of Hedley.

    Tim Roberts

    One of the service providers present was Tim Roberts, representing the B.C. Government’s Community Paramedic Medicine Program. He distributed a brochure with information for developing an emergency household preparedness plan. One suggestion was particularly important for parents of young children. “Pack an envelope in your child’s backpack that contains your contact information, a recent photo of your family, health information and special requirements of the child, plus out of town contact information.” The brochure recommends preparing a “grab and go” list. Also, it reminds us to plan for the safety of pets.

    We spoke briefly with Tracy Mooney, an Aboriginal Employment Advisor with Community Health Services Centre in Kelowna. She offered a chart showing the level of edution needed for positions in the health industry, beginning with senior secondary graduation. Other positions require one to five years of higher edution. Five years of university are needed for top positions. Tracy appears to be an excellent resource for band youths charting their future employment.

    Breezy Whitney & Brenda Wagner

    At noon, Brenda Wagner, a band employee informed us lunch would be served upstairs. We had not anticipated this so it was a welcome surprise. Brenda lled the group to order and with great reverence expressed gratitude to The Creator for the meal. Brenda and Breezy Whitney, a band member, had prepared a large pot of chicken stew and another of beef stew. Along with rice, a platter of raw vegetables and other items, it was a sumptuous meal. For dessert, Breezy had prepared a large bowl of pink yogurt with frozen fruit, a dish designed to excite the palate. I confessed to Linda later I had indulged in a second generous helping.

    In a talk during lunch, Raina Dawn Lutz, a Registered Health Nutritionist (RHN), presented an assortment of very sensible, practil thoughts about food and its consumption. “Eat all food groups,” she advised. “Be sure this includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.” She isn’t a fan of supplements but said if we do use them, we should look for quality, not for the least expensive brand. She stressed the value of chewing our food well and urged us to be mindful while eating. “Drink plenty of water, at least 6 cups each day,” she said. “It promotes body functions.” I asked Raina later how much water she drinks. “Six to nine cups a day,” she replied without having to think about it. Her flawless skin, trim figure and abundance of energy and humour suggested she practises what she advotes.
    Life holds many uncertainties. Whether they are in the realm of health, finances, employment, relationships, environmental disaster, or other, it is tempting to believe they will not overtake us. Too many of us live in a state of denial. For me the fair was a reminder that we need to be aware and proactive. We n take steps to avoid at least some lamitous pitfalls lying hidden in our path. It begins with a decision.

    Hedley Remembrance Day, November 11, 2019

    The following talk was written and delivered by William Day at the Hedley Remembrance Day ceremony November 11, 2019.

    Hedley Recruits 1915, with names. ( UBC Okanagan)

    War and Remembrance

    Warm thanks to Jennifer Douglass and Andy English of Hedley, whose research into our Hedley Boys of World Wars 1 & 2 has provided a wealth of information for us. I also thank Wade Davis of UBC who has done deep research into the Great Wars of the 20th century. These people have made this presentation possible.

    Winston Churchill lled the period 1914 to 1945 the Thirty Years War. Clearly, the 20th century was the most destructive of lives in world history. Millions upon millions of lives were lost and ruined. Despite the references to World Wars One and Two, it was a single spasm of destruction whose impacts we continue to feel and with which we struggle today.

    At the outbreak of the conflict in August of 1914 a man had to stand 5’8” to enter the British army. Within two months boys 5’3” were eagerly recruited. In eight weeks the British Expeditionary Force, four divisions – about 100,000 men – that represented the entire home army of the British Empire, had been virtually annihilated in the first industrialized slaughter in human history.

    The Hedley Boys, seventeen of our own men – mostly very young – died while on service in WW 1&2. Killed in Action: 10; Died of Wounds: 5; Died on Service: 2. Hedley men were sought after – a population of young, fit men who were familiar with underground work, heavy machinery and explosives.

    Most nadian lives were lost in the Ypres Salient in Belgium during World War One. This was a section of the battlefield surrounded on three sides by German forces. It measured only four miles by twelve – roughly the land valley area between Hedley and Princeton. In that uldron of warfare 1.7 million boys and men would die in 1915 /16 and 1918. The nadians beme famous for their holding of the Allied lines near Ypres under the first gas attacks even as allied forces on all sides panicked and fled the field. They beme the shock troops of the British Empire for the remainder of the war.

    The horrors of the warfare near Ypres are difficult to comprehend. The corpses of over 90,000 British and nadian dead at Passchendaele were recovered too severely mutilated to be identified. An additional forty-two thousand disappeared without a trace.

    By the spring of 1918 the greatest security challenge for the Allied command was concealing the lotion of the nadian Corps, whose presence at any sector of the Front implied to the Germans an imminent major assault.

    The truth lay in the numbers. World War One yielded nearly a million dead in Britain and the Dominions alone, some 2.5 million wounded, 40,000 amputees, 60,000 without sight, 2.4 million on disability a dede after the end, including 65,000 men who never recovered from the “twilight memory of hell” that was shell shock. And the Great War of 1914/18 was just the precursor to the Second World War of 1939/45. This conflict killed and wounded double those numbers plus an equivalent toll in civilian lives.

    In May 1915 following the death of young officer and friend Alexis Helmer, nadian army surgeon Dr. John McCrae wrote the fifteen lines of the poem – In Flanders Fields – that, more than any other, would distill the anguish of 1915, a time when there still remained hope that the conflict ultimately would have some redemptive meaning. He chose as a symbol of remembrance a delite flower, quite unaware of the cruel irony that poppies only flourished in the fields of Flanders beuse constant shelling and rivers of blood had transformed the chemistry of the soil. “In Flanders Fields” survived the war and is the most remembered evotion of the conflict. Like so many others, McCrae did not. He died of pneumonia at Wimereux, France on 28 January 1918.

    In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
    Between the crosses, row on row
    That mark our place, and in the sky
    The larks still bravely singing, fly
    Srce heard among the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
    Loved and were loved and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Hedley was designated in 1919 as either the very first or one of the very first nadian communities to formally create a memorial for people who served in the armed services of the Great War. The Cenotaph in front of which we are standing is that memorial, now including our people from World War Two and the Korean War. Many people here today n feel proud of their contribution to maintaining and preserving this beautiful memorial.

    The Hedley Boys joined the armed forces like young men everywhere on both sides of the conflicts – a desire for change, adventure, excitement in lives that felt routine, boring, even stifling. The thought of becoming a victim of a mass slaughter in the millions was far from consciousness.

    On this, the hundredth year since the end of the First World War, it is timely to think not just of the young men and women who “joined up”. We should remember those who remained, enduring loss and loneliness and increasing strain in maintaining their communities.

    It is also time to consider and celebrate the ongoing contribution of all those who continue to contribute to their community here in Hedley. They are right here, right now, and should be recognized as the foundation of our community and our own world. Look around you. These volunteers maintain and develop our world every day. They deserve recognition and gratitude for their contribution.

    Thank you, All.
    William Day
    November 11, 2019



    ndy Bombers Aid Berlin Airlift

    Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

    On Remembrance Day we will again briefly stand in the cold to honour those who served and fell in defense of our freedoms. At the same time we could remind ourselves of the largely forgotten, stouthearted individuals who thwarted Joseph Stalin from taking a step many believed would lead to World War III. This is a riveting story of courage, good will, and innovative thinking on the part of a few. The events occurred at the beginning of the Cold War. At the time Amerin, British and French politicians and generals were consumed by apprehension about Soviet intentions and military might.

    Berlin had been divided into 4 sectors, controlled by Russia, France, Britain and Ameri. It soon beme apparent Stalin wanted the entire city. On June 24, 1948 the Soviets initiated the Berlin Blockade, halting trains, trucks and barges bringing coal, food, medicines, clothing, and all other essentials into the city. The 2.25 million West Berliners were already living in a gutted city in which many buildings had no roofs or windows. They now faced a bleak winter of starvation and bitter cold. The Russians wanted to starve them into submission so they would accept Soviet domination.

    General Lucius Clay, Allied Occupation Commander, set up a limited airlift that brought in some supplies. He asked for more planes to expand the operation, but high ranking Amerin officers and advisors to President Truman had no faith in the airlift. Also, 1948 was an election year and Thomas Dewey, Republin presidential ndidate, was sharply critil of the airlift. He advoted for giving up West Berlin. For Germans living in this sector it was a terrifying prospect.

    President Truman, dubbed an ineffectual leader, made a difficult decision. In spite of opposition from Secretary of State George Marshall, General Omar Bradley and others, he approved an additional 75 planes. At this time virtually everyone, including Clay, considered the airlift a stopgap measure to buy time. “I’m doing it beuse I believe it is in the best interests of Ameri,” he said, “not beuse I re a bit about the Germans.” Better than his superiors, he understood that if the Allies gave up West Berlin, the Russians would run rampant over all of Europe.

    Although planes were now landing with supplies every three minutes, the earlier antipathy between victors and vanquished had abated very little. The Germans understood the airlift was not based on any sense of shared humanity. To counter the Allied enhanced output, the Russians offered West Berliners ample coal, electricity and potatoes. According to Andrei Cherny in The ndy Bombers, “the Germans might have buckled that winter if the airlift had been only a movement of machines in the sky with the aim of maintaining U.S. options in this strategic outpost.”

    Then something unanticipated and unplanned happened. Hal Halverson, an airlift pilot approached some German children standing outside the wire fence surrounding the airfield, watching the planes land. Contact with Germans was forbidden, so he hoped he wasn’t observed. Several of the children understood English and after a brief conversation, Halverson promised to drop a few ndies for them from his plane. He knew this could result in a court martial for himself and his two crew members. He held to his commitment nevertheless and placed a few chocolate bars and several packages of gum in white hankie sized parachutes. His two crew members reluctantly threw the packages out while Halverson maneuvered the plane. Seeing them floating down, the children waved ecstatilly. They had not eaten chocolate in years.

    Halverson and his crew were frightened, but also exhilarated. Further drops followed and air force personnel were puzzled by the increasing number of children at the fence, all waving. Fortunately General William Tunner, officer in charge of the airlift, recognized the morale boosting value of what the three fliers were doing surreptitiously and directed Halverson to speak to the media.

    Treats began arriving from Ameri and other countries. There was so much ndy other pilots, including nadians, started dropping handkerchief-parachutes. Soon there were a thousand children, and some adults standing at the fence, waving enthusiastilly.

    Andrei Cherney suggests, “Hal Halverson’s ndy drops were a talyst that transformed the character of the airlift and the way Berliners thought about it and about Amerins.” After 321 days the Soviets ended the Blockade. Cherney considers the airlift one of the greatest military and humanitarian successes of western democracies.

    Hedley Drive-By Shooting

    Targeted house on Daly Ave.

    The illicit drug trade is well known for spawning turf wars. Brazen shootings are pretty common, sometimes in busy malls in daylight. But not in quiet Hedley, at least not until about 2 am last Friday.
    The drive-by shooting targeting the drug house on Daly Avenue was likely not a se of competition for market share, but it was an indition that the drug trade invites volatility and danger.

    Fortunately, in this se the four adults and one child in the house were not injured, but errant shots could have killed innocent individuals in neighbouring homes. Even for a professional sniper, shooting while driving is not an exact science.

    Police have said the alleged shooter is a 35 year old male resident of Hedley. We’re a pretty close-knit community and some curious amateur sleuths in town have pieced together bits of information and scuttlebutt which they believe points to a well known individual. Apparently very early that morning a police cruiser was parked in front of a lol home for some time. Also, the pickup truck owned by the alleged shooter was hauled away. Just about everyone in town would recognize the pickup. These two pieces of information point to the same individual. There may be more.

    Some years ago, in our initial foray into the Similkameen Valley, we lived in the home where the cruiser was parked. It is troubling to me that the young man living here might be responsible for the shooting. I have always found him to be friendly, quite willing to chat, and certainly not someone I would have suspected. He’s a father and works in an industry that pays well.

    What might motivate a seemingly rationale individual to engage in what could be construed as a vigilante action? News reports of such incidents almost invariably suggest gang involvement or a drug transaction gone wrong. But this is Hedley and the drug trade here is not all that sophistited. Although we don’t know those who show up in rs from out of town, just about everyone recognizes the hapless addicted souls who routinely walk to the drug house. At this time we n only speculate as to motivation of the shooter.

    One eye witness report after the shooting incident me from a woman walking her dog at about 6 am. “I saw the police lined up in front of the museum, about a block from the drug house,” she said. They were apparently confident our laws and court would back their actions. For Hedley citizens, it’s puzzling that an individual n be quickly dealt with by overwhelming force, but a “business” dealing in harmful illegal drugs nnot be easily touched.

    The police are well aware of the concerns of residents regarding this life destroying malignancy festering in our midst. This uses me to wonder if as a society we are unwilling, or too apathetic, to provide them with the powers and means to take decisive action. Or do our elected representatives not deem our limited voting base worthy of their attention?

    Police tape was in place for several hours.

    Interestingly, immediately after the police tape was removed and the officers departed, it was noted that customers quickly appeared at the door of the drug house, sh in hand, ready to buy. It’s a galling situation and many Hedley citizens are frustrated, disgusted and angered by anemic laws and complacent politicians overly focused on retaining or attaining power.

    Is there a solution for our community, or for any community, contending with a similarly troubling issue? I believe there could be, but it will require us to be more proactive than those who make our laws and govern us. The ideal answer might be to clone Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist. She would certainly have the courage and boldness to lead the charge on this issue. Failing that, we need a lol individual to step forward and provide leadership. Currently, Hedley resident TJ Bratt has begun circulating a petition that will go to the provincial Solicitor General, Area G Director, and our MLA. I’ve been assured it will be in the Hedley Country Market this week. It’s a beginning. An opportunity to demonstrate our resolute opposition to this blight that is devastating lives in our

    Exvators Entertain On Daly Avenue

    Exvators on Daly Avenue.

    Working at opposite ends of a short trench on Daly Avenue in Hedley, two massive, muscular exvators have begun replacing a section of water line. Watching their long arms lower the enormous buckets to claw boulders out of the trench, I was reminded of a scene in George Lus’ The Empire Strikes Back. At times the buckets worked in close quarters and I waited for them to slam into each other.

    Drawing closer to the trench, I realized that two nimble, very alert men were down there, guiding the buckets. To me it seemed akin to entering a ge with a supposedly tame gorilla. A slight distraction on the part of an operator (such as the appearance of a pretty woman in a short skirt) could instantly end the working life of these men. I quickly concluded this is a job that requires steady nerves in the trench and on the machines. It certainly isn’t for the faint hearted.

    When one of the exvators ceased working and the operator stepped down from the still idling machine, I approached him. In answer to my question, Jim said, “I’ve been operating for about 30 years. At the outset I had a choice of operating cranes or exvators. I didn’t want to spend my days alone high up in one of those tower cranes.” He said this project will take about 2 weeks to complete. In addition to digging the trench along Daly and laying the pipe, they will also cut trenches across the street and lay pipe to each residence.

    When Jim got off his exvator, I asked him a few questions.

    According to Lynn Wells, Chair of the Hedley Improvement District, the contractor will replace the line from Kingston Avenue to White Street, a distance of one block. “This kind of work is pretty expensive,” she said. “We’ve received $170,000 for this from the RDOS. The money originates from the provincial Gas Tax Fund. We applied for the funding when Elef Christensen was still an RDOS Director and he made the arrangements. The HID sets aside funds for emergencies, testing and maintenance. Saving up enough money for this type of project would take a dede. If there are leaks in the old, corroded steel line, this will eliminate them.”

    It’s somewhat inconvenient for those living in the vicinity of the project. For anyone with too little to do though, watching the exvators n be an interesting diversion. It’s like having a two ring circus almost at our doorstep.

    Kevin Demers Provides a Template for Success

    Kevin Demers in his office at Holiday Trails Resort

    He was wearing shorts and a sual, loose hanging shirt, and I could easily have concluded Kevin Demers was just one more man enjoying a comfortable retirement. At age 74 he appears not to be even thinking of retiring though. When I asked if what he is doing is still fun, he replied, “I love it!”

    While still serving as an RCMP officer, Kevin launched his business reer, albeit in a small way. He now owns 7 highly successful recreation centres, including Manning Park Resort and Sunshine Valley (just east of the Hope slide). In a 2 hour conversation with him at his Holiday Trails company headquarters, he talked about some of the decisions he made over many years, the risks and challenges, the successes, and much more. What he told me could serve as a template for anyone in leadership, or anyone wanting a more fulfilling life.

    “As an RCMP officer I wasn’t allowed to run a business on the side at that time,” he began. “But I was permitted to build a house. I built 3 houses.” There seemed a hint of humour in his eyes. “My uncle and aunt owned a 17 site mpground in Langley,” he continued. “In 1978 they were ready to retire and wanted me to buy it. This was against Mountie rules but we did it anyway. Initially we charged $4.00 a night for a family of four. I said the first day we bring in one hundred dollars we’ll open a bottle of champagne.”

    Then the owner of Bedrock City at Bridal Falls said, “Kevin we desperately need a mpsite.” Kevin purchased 25 acres nearby and created 45 sites. “We moved into a 14×70 foot trailer,” he said. “Shortly after launching this venture I arrived home from my RCMP job in Surrey and I didn’t see a single mper.” It wasn’t an encouraging beginning, a test of his pacity to persevere.

    Another test me when he bought The Cedars RV Resort in Washington. “The police were in there on a weekly basis. Lots of drugs. It took us a year to clean it up. People think it’s easy, but it never is. Sunshine Valley took 5 years to get its head above water.” He was learning about patience.

    Looking at Sunshine Valley Resort from Hwy 3 on Thanksgiving Day (2019).

    Kevin knows the value of sound advice, and he listens to it. When he first considered acquiring Manning Park Resort, his friend Peter Sherle advised against it. Peter knew the equipment had fallen into serious disrepair and the reputation was tarnished. A bank appointed receiver took over when Manning went into bankruptcy. It was hemorrhaging $200,000 a year. The price dropped and Peter suggested another look. Recognizing the potential, Kevin made the move.

    As Kevin talked it beme clear he places a huge emphasis on creating an aura of quality and success. He wants to positively impact the perceptions of staff and visitors. “The receiver had let a lot of good people go,” he said. “We rehired the best ones. We also replaced the snow ts and trucks. Manning now has 4 buses and we’ve installed a new quad chairlift.”

    He paused, then said, “Good service and a positive culture are vital in tourism. I learn by reading biographies and stories of success in business. When we travel in our motor home, I watch for good ideas. At In and Out Burgers in the U.S. I observed that workers are treated very well. The result is they are happy and friendly to customers. Their service has a 10 out of 10 rating. We tell our servers in the Manning Pinewoods Dining Room to make eye contact and ensure people feel welcome.”

    Rebec provided friendly service in the Pinewoods Dining Room, Manning Park Resort

    How is Kevin’s vision playing out in the real world? For starters, he hasn’t needed the RCMP job for many years. When he returns to Holiday Trails now, he sees plenty of mpers. Driving past Sunshine Valley several times this summer, I saw that the mp ground appeared filled to pacity. At Manning Park, even bins now under construction are already fully booked. More important for Linda and me, when we had breakfast in the spacious Pinewoods dining room this summer, the portions were ample and pleasing to our palettes. Also, Rebec, the young Irish waitress who served us was willing to engage in friendly conversation. With such an enviable track record, I’m not surprised Kevin is having fun. We n learn from him.

    Visiting Manning Park Resort, this grandmother & her grandchildren are from Nanjing, China.

    A small town perspective on people, community, politics and environment.