Local news briefs: Handbell Choir gets an assistant director

Plus upcoming Christmas concerts, changes to B.C. parks and recreation sites, a reminder not to give lottery tickets to children, and more.

Theresa Takacs (left) is the new assistant director of the Desert Bells Handbell Choir. She is pictured with director Carmen Ranta.

Theresa Takacs (left) is the new assistant director of the Desert Bells Handbell Choir. She is pictured with director Carmen Ranta.

Christmas concerts

Everyone is welcome to attend the Christmas concerts at area schools this year. Desert Sands Community School is having two concerts on December 7, at 1:30 and 6 p.m., while Cache Creek Elementary School’s concert is on December 12 at 1:15 p.m. David Stoddart School’s concert is on December 13 at 6 p.m., but anyone unable to attend the evening performance can go to the dress rehearsal at 2 p.m.

The Desert Bells Handbell Choir is performing at the Winter Lights gathering on December 10, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Cache Creek Community Hall. The handbell choir—along with the Sage Sound Singers—will also be at the annual Christmas concert at the Cache Creek Pentecostal Church. The concert is on December 17, and starts at 7 p.m. Both concerts are by donation.

The handbelll choir will be using their new handchimes at both concerts, and the unique sound of them is sure to delight listeners. The choir also welcomes Theresa Takacs as assistant director. A professional singer and music teacher, Tackacs brings an incredible enthusiasm and love for music to the group.

Get your flu shot before visiting

Anyone who plans to visit a loved one at a provincial health care facility over the winter is asked to get their flu vaccine before visiting, to help protect those who are at risk of contracting influenza. Any visitors who have not received a flu vaccine will be asked to wear a mask. The request covers anyone planning to visit a hospital, long-term care home, public health unit, and outpatient clinic.

This year’s flu strain is particularly dangerous to seniors. People who have been infected with the flu are highly contagious, and can spread the virus for 24 hours before they show any symptoms. The flu vaccine is available for free to anyone planning on visiting a health care facility, and can be obtained at public health clinics, physicians’ offices, travel clinics, and pharmacies.


B.C. liquor stores throughout the province have partnered with local non-profit agencies in the annual Share-a-Bear program. The stuffed teddy bears are available for $12.50 each at liquor stores, with customers choosing a bear to take home with them. For each bear purchased, another bear is donated to a worthwhile charity in the community, to be distributed to help brighten Christmas for many children.

This year’s bear has been designed to resemble a classic 1920s-era teddy bear, to mark the 95th anniversary of the Liquor Distribution Branch.

Not for children

Many people like to give scratch and win lottery tickets as fun stocking stuffers; but the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) reminds everyone that they are a form of gambling, and are not suitable gifts for children and minors.

Children are more likely to gamble than to do drugs, smoke cigarettes, and drink alcohol, but the topic is less frequently discussed between a parent and their child. The BCLC encourages parents to start a conversation with their children about the risks of gambling, and make a conscious decision not to give them lottery tickets as gifts.

Get guests home safely

CounterAttack road checks are now in force, and drivers are encouraged to plan ahead and make safe decisions this holiday season. “Police officers across the province will be working hard to kepp impaired drivers off our roads,” says Chief Neil Dubord, chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police traffic safety committee. “The hardest part of a police officer’s job is telling a family they’ve lost a loved one—a loss that could have been avoided. We can all help prevent these crashes by always planning a safe ride home.”

Anyone hosting a Christmas party or event where alcohol is being served is reminded that good hosts don’t let their guests drink and drive. A few strategies include asking guests to turn over their car keys when they arrive; serving plenty of snacks and non-alcoholic beverages; providing a place for guests to stay overnight; and having a plan for those who want to head home, such as a designated driver or access to a taxi service.

Ladder safety

Anyone using ladders to put up Christmas lights or decorations is urged by WorkSafeBC to use the right ladder for the right job, and to use ladders safely. Know when it is appropriate to use a stepladder or a straight ladder; ensure the ladder is in good condition and strong enough for the job; wear slip-proof footwear; use both hands to grip the side rails or rungs, and face the ladder, while climbing; and ensure three points of contact with the ladder at all times.

Since 2006, there have been more than 9,300 work-related injuries due to ladder falls in B.C., and 17 work-related deaths.

Youth at the Booth

With a provincial election scheduled for May 9, 2017, Elections BC is running a “Youth at the Booth” secondary school student employment program. Participants in the program will earn at least $250 for working a full day as an election official, and may be asked to work additional shifts during advance voting. Participants will obtain work experience/community service hours towards their graduation transitions requirement, and will also learn about elections and voting.

Potential participants must be between 15 and 19 years of age; enrolled in secondary school classes and in good standing with their school; legally entitled to work in Canada, with a valid social insurance number; available to attend a three-hour training session, as well as work all day on general voting day (May 9); and jave approval to miss school to work as an election official.

The hiring process will begin in the spring. For more information, contact Adia Kapoor, manager of human resources development services for Elections BC, at Adia.Kapoor@elections.bc.ca or (250) 387-1787.

More than 1,900 campsites will be added to B.C. parks and recreation sites over the next five years. Black Press photo.

Changes coming to B.C. parks

The province of B.C. will be spending $22.9 million over the next five years to add more than 1,900 campsites to provincial parks and recreation sites. Campsite expansion will happen all over the province, but the majority will be added where demand is greatest: Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan, and the Kootenays. Also included in the expansion is construction of new sites with associated infrastructure, such as roads, water/sewer expansion, electrical upgrades, shower/toilet buildings, and outhouse facilities.

The province will also be hiring more park rangers to enhance conservation; improving services for persons with disabilities; and launching a new BC Parks Foundation, which will give community groups, businesses, and individuals a voice when it comes to BC Parks priorities.

More time for new curriculum

Teachers will get an extra year to test and refine the new curriculum for students in grades 10 through 12 that was introduced this past fall. Education Minister Mike Bernier said that “Teachers, principals, and trustees asked for more time to work hands-on with the redesigned curriculum; and it’s the right thing to do to make sure we get it right for our students.

“It’s critical teachers have enough time to use the draft 10–12 curriculum and help shape it with their feedback.

“The new curriculum has been designed by teachers for teachers—and thanks to their efforts it’s been successfully brought to life in Kindergarten through Grade 9. The world is changing, and our new curriculum is making sure our kids learn the skills they need to succeed in that changing world.”

The new curriculum for grades 10 through 12 will be implemented at the beginning of the 2018–2019 school year, based on feedback provided by teachers and educators.

Foundation Skills Assessments

Starting with the 2017/2018 school year, the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests for students in Grades 4 and 7 will be administered in the fall rather than the spring, so that results can be made available sooner and any necessary actions can be implemented earlier in the school year.

In addition to finding out their own child’s results, parents will also be given a broader picture of how their child’s school is succeeding with the FSAs, which measure students’ reading, writing, and math problem solving skills.