Rotary Club of Vernon Silver Star


Club Executives & Directors

Immediate Past President
President Elect
Community Service
International Service
New Generations Service
The Rotary Foundation (TRF)
Club Administration
Public Relations
Father Daughter Ball
Relief Secretary
BBQ Coordinator 2
Scholarships 1
Sargeant at Arms
Athletic Awards
BBQ Coordinator 3
Grape Escape Wine Raffle
Scholarships 2
Vipers 50/50 Raffles
BBQ Coordinator 1
Rotary Ride (Cycling)
CPR Training
Smoke Alarm Project

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Club Information

The Club that Shines Early

Vernon Silver Star

Service Above Self

We meet Tuesdays at 6:45 AM
Village Green Hotel
4801 27th Street
Vernon, BC  V1T 4Z1
District Site
Venue Map

Home Page Stories

Gale Woodhouse is thanked by Mike Wardlow, for her very well received on-site talk about the Vernon Community Arts Centre (VCAC), operated by the Arts Council of the North Okanagan (ACNO).  Gale is a professional potter, who describes herself as an artist, facilitator & entrepreneur, with a varied background in teaching.  Her no-nonsense delivery convinced us that a group of rebellious teenagers would be putty (clay ?) in her hands!  Originally the industrial arts section of the old Fulton School, the VCAC is now a combination of gallery, workshops & classrooms offering programs in pottery making, fibre arts, glass, painting, photography, music, etc., to children, adults & people with various challenges.  VCAC is a non-profit, & in turn, offers some free programs.  Their goal is to provide a sense of place & community, especially for those without strong community connections.  A variety of volunteers help with operation & funding.  One objective is to enhance their technology, so digital art offerings can be increased.  With more & better political support, Gale believes VCAC could become a major tourist attraction, as well as an even more valuable resource for locals.  Following a short tour, Silver Star Rotarians now know this place is definitely worth a visit!  

Bruce Mol is a cycling advocate & educator.  He’s chair of the Greater Vernon Cycling Advisory Committee, & cycles most everywhere.  His presentation claimed that business improves wherever cycling improves – productivity increases, sick days decrease & health care costs decline.  Where retail areas encourage cyclists, they tend to visit stores more often, & spend more.  Cycling is no longer just a sport.  More young people, & more women are using their bicycles to ride to work, as well as for pleasure.  Smart communities are investing in dedicated bike lanes & routes, creating more livable landscapes.

Martin von Holst hosted realtor / builder / developer Mark Wensley, who told us about his 23 year involvement with Middleton Mountain.  Along with his father Don, a Whistler developer, Mark has been servicing land & building houses on Middleton Mountain, through good times & bad.  The servicing cost per lot of their current project, excluding raw land, is about $120,000, as there’s significant blasting, wall construction & engineering fees, over & above the usual costs of water & utility lines, etc.  He advises that developers should only invest what they can afford to lose, & that success in real estate is all about timing.  One of Mark’s objectives in business & life is to always do more than anyone expects of you. 

Through his vocational talk, Bob revealed a somewhat “restless” personality!  Following operation of a jewelry store in Regina, he moved to Fort McMurray, when the population there was only 2,300.  His involvement with a couple of different oil companies including helping to define the volume of oil in a barrel, plus the issuance of royalty cheques to the survivors of the man who started the “tar sands” in 1920, & negotiated perpetual royalties from each barrel of bitumen.  Meanwhile, Bob built a small shopping centre on land he’d held for several years, & along with a trusty German Shepherd, attended 64 robberies there.  He also had a couple of aircraft & a jet boat, used for commercial charters.  After 15 years in Fort Mac, he went first to Alaska, then for 24 years to the 100 Mile House / Williams Lake area, where he continued in the aircraft charter service, & was a Rotarian.  He has a daughter in each of 100 Mile House, & the Wood Lake area.

Dave Weatherill told us about a misadventure with Joanne & one of his brothers, during a backwoods tour of the Monashees, to pick huckleberries.  They got lots of berries, but Dave’s truck wouldn’t start for the return trip.  He walked out to the highway & found a couple willing to give him a jumpstart, but then his truck wouldn’t switch out of low range.  Sounded like a lot of trouble, even for a good load of berries!
Guest Rotarian Otto Rieve then regaled us – first with a joke about “electile dysfunction,” then with his multiple motorcycling trips.  Over the years he’s ridden three different bikes an estimated total of 300 to 350k kms, both with & without other Rotarians, throughout the USA & a variety of other countries, including a Munich to Moscow trip.  His upcoming October ride will be through Spain & Morocco.  He’s also looking forward to a ride north from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles.

2015 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) training was held in late May in Penticton.  Participants Fiona Anderson & Searra Becker (shown with RYLA Coordinator Keith Johnston) thanked our club for sponsoring their attendance, & described their experience.  Through the DiSC® personal assessment tool, they learned how different personality types work in teams, through conflict, & in leadership roles, etc.  DiSC® identifies characteristics of dominance, influence, steadiness & conscientiousness.  RYLA training uses mentors & a variety of projects, such as cardboard boat-building, to teach teamwork & leadership skills.  One project was to turn a piece of junk into a marketable object!

Chelsea Taylor, Vernon Branch Manager of the BC SPCA, with Pat Loehndorf.  She described the “Five Freedoms” contained in their charter – Freedom from hunger & thirst; pain, injury & disease; distress; discomfort; & freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being.  Today, our local SPCA has 86 animals in care.  Their annual budget of close to a half-million dollars supports the care of about 250 animals annually, including more cats than dogs.  Expenses average between $500 to $675 for different categories of dogs & cats.  Income is derived from adoption fees, service fees, fundraising events & donations.  The SPCA is one of Canada’s top-ranked charities, based on effective use of donor dollars.  Volunteers play a big role in this organization, & new people are always welcome to help with socializing, walking, feeding, cleaning, etc., of animals, plus care & maintenance of their facilities.

Our President Bev Rundell (center) thanks Jan & District Governor Greg Luring for his talk.  They  were introduced by ADG Peter Moore.  On Monday evening Greg & Jan met with club Directors, where he spoke about his 2015-16 goals for the District, & noted RI President Ravi’s intention to bring effective business practices to Rotary.  During Greg & Jan’s long & fabulous association with Rotary, they’ve made lifelong friends through the “Family of Rotary.” 25 years ago, their daughter Kimberly was an exchange student in India.  During Greg’s club presidency in Yakima, they created a trust which has grown substantially, & received a $20m donation!  Since then,  the 3 Yakima clubs have joined together under the trust, & are providing meaningful and substantial benefits to the Yakima Community in the name of Rotary.  Given the size & bureaucracy of Rotary, he believes it’s sometimes better to move forward with our projects, asking for forgiveness, rather than permission!   A major focus currently is the new membership growth & retention strategy (MARS).  Independent research asked members - Why Join Rotary?, finding 1) friendship  2) local impact & 3) networking; when asked Why Stay with Rotary?, they found 1) and 2) are the same, but 3) became international projects. Both 1 and 2 in Join and Stay are significantly higher than other reasons. Greg feels Rotary should slow down the “ask” for funds, & suggests a direct correlation with increased “asks” & reduced membership since the 1985 commencement of Polio Plus.  We were all encouraged to attended the District Conference in Yakima, May 12-15, 2016. A major change at this conference will be replacement of the Presidential Representative talk with a focus on the Youth Exchange Program. Did you know our District averages 34 students per year, but the North American average is only 5!

Bob Clarke hosted Queen Silver Star 2015 (55th) Alicia Hill-Turner.  She’s entering Grade 12 at Aberdeen Hall School in Kelowna.  The QSS Excellence Program started in 1961 & is available to young women 16 to 18  who reside within the North Okanagan.  Candidates attend classes 2 to 3 times a week.  Personal growth is encouraged and valuable skills gained through time spent on various topics. Over the years the program has evolved from a beauty pageant into an excellence and scholarship program, showcasing poise & presentation skills developed through a fashion show, a talent showcase, speech competition & the February Winter Carnival proclamation.  There are a variety of community events, and participants become mentors for Little Miss Carnival candidates.  The Queen & 2 Princesses chosen as Vernon Ambassadors spend their year attending city events & traveling BC promoting the City of Vernon.

Rob Irving’s guest Red Liebel is a retired RCMP officer, who spoke about his involvement in the prosecution of Vernon’s infamous “Greeks” gang.  In about 2004, local drug dealers were dominated by a gang led by a Vernon native of Greek heritage.  He & his accomplices enforced their will upon local dealers through increasingly violent means, culminating in several murders.  With insufficient evidence for trial, following an eleven month investigation which ended in the fall of 2005, a provincial team of 60 members was tasked with bringing the suspects to justice.  By May 2006, seven accused had been arrested.  Red described how “disclosure” rules, allowing defense attorneys access to all incriminating evidence, make it difficult to obtain convictions in such complicated cases, & how trials generally hear only that fraction of the real evidence which isn’t excluded through pretrial hearings.  Trials related to the Greeks relied upon evidence gleaned from some 212,000 phone conversations.  Non-police trial expenses, including defense lawyers, etc., cost approximately $60m.    

Dave Hoyte (middle) introduced Dan Fortin (L) & Dave Lowry (R) of Total Restoration Services Ltd., since 1992 a leading locally-owned and operated provider of guaranteed restoration services, using leading-edge technologies & equipment operated by trained, professional (& friendly!) experts.  Their 75+ staff, with over 40 vehicles, deals with damage caused by fire, smoke, water, sewer, mould, asbestos, etc.  With more & larger disaster claims, such as the recent $9bn Alberta floods, claims outweigh local premium collections, requiring the insurance industry to pool premiums over larger areas.  Claims costs are often increased by WCB & Work Safe requirements around the removal of asbestos in drywall & flooring products.  Dave Hoyte paid advertising dollars for his comments about “talking to your insurance broker!”

Leigh Hewer introduced Jan Shumay & Dean Francks, long-time employees & executives of North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society (NOYFSS), which provides free counselling and support services to individuals & families through a variety of community based and residential programs.  NOYFSS deals with a wide variety of issues, including physical/mental/developmental exceptionalities, sensory problems (i.e. visual, auditory, etc.), poverty & language/cultural needs.  They’re funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), Interior Health Authority, the Ministry of Attorney General, School District 22, Gaming Grants, community partners and donations.  Their signature fundraising event is the “Fitness for Families Hockey Challenge.”

The good news is that President Bev (right) presented newly retired Sandra Ross with her winnings from our marble draw :)  The bad news is that it was only $10.50, as Pat Loehndorf had won a much larger pot the week before :(

Wendy Hesketh hosted Matt Davidson, Senior Environmental Scientist with Valhalla Environmental Consulting, Inc.  He spoke about the use of drones for aerial photography, crop monitoring, inventory & asset management, 3D surface modeling & GIS mapping.  His drone has a fixed foam wing with a span of 80cm.  It weighs about one pound, & has a flight time of about 30 minutes on a single battery charge.  The technology around drones is advancing faster than Transport Canada rules governing their use, leading to some problems, particularly with adventurous recreational users.  There’s a huge variety of applications for both civilian & military drones, using infrared & other technologies, in addition to simple high resolution photography.  Images & data collected by fixed wing & helicopter drones may be combined with that gathered by satellites, & “knitted” together.  Matt did his best to simplify the terminology surrounding this complex business, so we Rotarians could understand it!

2015-16 Directors (L-R) Rob Irving, Jim Kanester, Dave Hoyte, Dominik Dlouhy, Janet Green, Geordie McLennan, Colin Heggie, Martin von Holst, Bev Rundell & Dave Weatherill.  Missing:  Scott Anderson, Keith Johnston, Sandra Ross & Sargeant at Arms Don Miller.
Much to the chagrin of Bob Clarke, Pat Loehndorf is congratulated by Bev for pulling our coveted green marble, for a win of $416!

Janet Green opened by remembering how one year ago, she asked for fortitude to get her through her year as President, then at Christmas, she realized there were only 25 weeks to go!  This year, our club has successfully launched three new fundraising projects, & Janet feels we should be proud of all the things we accomplish, as a small club.  She quoted Dr Seuss, who said “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”
On behalf of our District Governor Bruce Falkins, Assistant District Governor Peter Moore presented Janet with a “Presidential Citation,” for our club’s accomplishments.
Janet handed the gavel to incoming President Bev Rundell, who thanked Janet for keeping our club focused on the vision & goals we’d agreed to.  Bev feels she’s had a good mentor in Janet, & appreciates her effort to keep the fun in our activities.  Bev mentioned incoming RI President K.R. (Ravi) Ravindran’s theme: “Be a Gift to the World,” & incoming District Governor Gary Luring’s challenge to add four new members to our club.  She’d like us to review our club vision in July, & to remember Margaret Mead’s famous quote – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”  Bev introduced Martin von Holst as President Elect.

Scholarship Coordinator Jim Kanester explained how our scholarships work, & why we should work toward increasing the amounts we distribute annually.
Janet Green & Bev Rundell described their District Conference experiences at the UBCO Campus.  Janet attended a Lake Country Rotary BBQ at the Gatzke Farm.  Both Janet & Bev played golf Friday morning & enjoyed Friday evening Home Hosting dinners.  Conference headline speakers were Dan Espinosa (DG and representative of RI President Gary Huang), retired RCMP Commissioner Bev Busson, & retired Col. Liz Anderson of the US Airforce.  They felt the presenters were excellent.  Our incoming District Governor is Greg Loring from Yakima, WA.

Mel(issa) Spooner (thanked by Dr Craig Goplen) was a professional Ironman tri-athlete for ten years, earning three titles.  She now coaches a variety of athletes, through her “Endurance Health & Fitness” business.  She’s also a qualified nutritionist.  Mel spoke to us about following your passion, the value of being “selfish,” teamwork, giving support to others & your community, exploring one’s “edges,” & how to work through negative thoughts. She quoted John Lennon: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream.  A dream you dream together is a reality.”  Her advice is that it’s important to ask for help when you need help.  Mel drew some parallels between the lessons she’s learned, & the basic principles of Rotary.  Her upbeat messages of encouragement, tenacity, & contribution were much appreciated.

Lukki Viebahn, shown with Rotarians in Guanajuato, Mexico, about 275kms northwest of Mexico City, as the crow flies.  Lukki was our 2011-12 Incoming RYES, from Bavaria, Germany.  He spent most of this past winter here in Vernon, working as a "liftie" at Silver Star Mountain Resort, then purchased a used campervan from Wendy's father, & headed south.  He sent the following note:  "My travels are going well; I attended Spanish school here for a month, so I’m almost able to talk about anything with anyone now, which feels great! Will leave again on Monday to see a bit more of this country, and eventually I’m planning on ending up in Guatemala in August and flying to Colombia from there.

Our member Bob France, a retired cattle manager, with a background in livestock health, recently helped his daughter with field work observing bighorn sheep, in connection with her Master’s thesis.  We have both California & Rocky Mountain Bighorn in BC, distinguished by the black stripe on the rump of the California.  These majestic animals are “blue-listed in BC,” meaning they’re “threatened,” by loss of habitat.  The South Thompson herd is one of our healthiest, as indicated by an above average 47:100 lamb to ewe ratio – some of these animals have been “donated” to less healthy herds.  Part of their success is attributable to their feeding on nutritious grass & shrubs found in residential areas & a golf course in their habitat.  There’s a danger their success could be their ruin, if people begin defending their turf from hungry sheep looking for an easy meal.

Our club member & “Master Chocolatier,” Barrita Durward, has been running Cotton’s Chocolates for 19 years.  She dazzled us with samples of her latest concoctions & described how she loves working in her “chocolate lab,” mixing her favoured Belgian ingredients with various confections & liquers.  Pairing with Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery’s products, including absinthe, is a new interest, though she admits to having had difficulty staying properly focused during some of those tasting experiments!  This fall, she’ll be in Las Vegas for “professional development,” learning how to build large chocolate sculptures.  Few of us are likely to be more enthused about our vocations than this lovely lady!   (Photos by Keith Johnston)  

Cst. Kathy Szoboticsanec, RCMP School Liaison Officer, spoke about our RCMP Jean Minguy Memorial Youth Academy, held annually for a week at the Vernon Army Camp, in partnership with School District 22.  Grade 11 or 12 students interested in law enforcement receive insight into depot training & the demands placed on police officers.  Students are physically & mentally challenged through group activities & drills. Instruction in leadership, law & the role of police officers in the community is provided.  Participants are exposed to a wide variety of topics & resources, including polygraphs, emergency response teams, helicopters, canine units, forensics, etc.  The goal is to teach accountability, while giving both students & the RCMP a chance to look at each others’ career possibilities.  The actual cost of this program, similar to one run in Chilliwack, is about $500 per student, but participants are only charged $250.  Some alumni are available to help community groups like our club with their projects.  (Photo of Cst Kathy & Wendy Hesketh by Keith Johnston)
Insp. Jim McNamara (a Rotary Club of Vernon member) thanked us for our continued recognition of RCMP volunteers in the community.

Our Dr John Wheeldon spoke of his involvement in medicinal marijuana research at the national level, types of prescriptions, and contents of products.  (Photo by Keith Johnston)

President Janet Green hosted Mel Arnold, Maria Besso, Terry Mooney & Klaus Tribes of Vernon’s “Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan” for a presentation on a proposal to request a “fresh new look” at the Greater Vernon Master Water Plan. This citizens group is looking for support from residents and businesses to petition the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee to investigate opportunities to reduce water rates for Greater Vernon.  We are currently facing bills that are up to three times the Kelowna rates and twice the Penticton rates.  The Group proposes to hire an independent consultant and to seriously look at changing the Duteau Creek facility from a residential water supply to primarily an irrigation supply. In addition, water licenses need to be obtained for Okanagan Lake and expanded for Kalamalka Lake.  (Photo of Maria, Janet, Terry & Klaus by Keith Johnston)

Vernon Rotarian “Stewy” Stewart brought his daughter Angela Yablonski, owner of Curves for Women, & Peter Maguwu, from Zimbabwe, to describe Angela’s Zimbabwe Project Society’s work.  Vernon members of her Society go to Zimbabwe each year, to oversee projects funded by her donors;  all funds raised here are spent in Zimbabwe.  This a very poor country of 14 million people, often finding it difficult to obtain international help due to negative impacts of long-time aging President Robert Mugabe.  Projects include wells for safe drinking water, provision of text & library books, an orphanage, relief for HIV victims, & several income producing ventures, including raising pigs, chickens, bees & goats, plus garden plots.  They also sponsor soccer teams & leadership training.  See  (Photo of Peter, Angela, Stewy & Keith by Keith Johnston)



Oct 13, 2015
Oct 20, 2015
Oct 27, 2015
Nov 03, 2015
Nov 10, 2015
Nov 17, 2015
Nov 24, 2015


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