Although February is the shortest month of the year, it was one of the busiest ones I’ve had in quite some time. In addition to plenty of activity at Town Hall, I have been kept busy with many committee meetings both in Princeton and out of town.
Here’s a quick look at my schedule for February 2020:
Out of 16 scheduled meetings, I attended all but three. One was canceled and the other two conflicted with other meetings I had scheduled.
Town Hall Meetings
Monday, February 3 – 7:00 PM Public Hearing
Monday, February 3 – 7:30 PM Regular Meeting of Town Council
Friday, February 7 – Special Meeting of Council
Wednesday, February 12 – Special Meeting of Council – 2020 Budget
Tuesday, February 18 – Regular Meeting of Town Council
Friday, February 28 – Special Meeting of Town Council
Regular Committee Meetings
Tuesday, February 18 – Princeton Health Care Steering Committee, PGH
Wednesday, February 19 – 5:30 PM - Princeton Arts Council, Riverside Centre (*)
Wednesday, February 19 – 6:00 PM - RDOS/Town of Princeton Budget Presentation, Riverside Centre
Thursday, February 20 – Princeton Museum Society, Princeton Museum
Wednesday, February 19 – 9:30 AM – Okanagan Regional Library Board, Kelowna (*)
Friday, February 21 – Local Government Primary Care Workshop, Penticton
Thursday, February 20 – Toured the BC Green Pharmaceuticals building in the Princeton Industrial Park
(*) denotes meetings attended as the lone representative of Princeton Town Council.
My busiest day this month was February 19 where I had four different meetings scheduled in three different communities. I was able to attend three of them. The Mayor’s schedule makes mine look pretty slow, as it turns out.
In no particular order, I was introduced at the Okanagan Regional Library Board meeting on February 19 in Kelowna as the new ‘lead’ representing Princeton. Last year I was an ‘alternate’ but attended two of the four regular meetings held.
In the February 18 Regular Meeting of Town Council, we approved a Staff Recommendation to spend $14,683.60 on 1,600 Blue Boxes. These will be distributed to each household within the Town of Princeton to be used for curbside recycling pick-up.
On February 20 I joined other members of Town Council and Staff on a tour of the BC Green Pharmaceuticals structure in the Princeton Industrial Park. By the time you are reading this, the rooms will be filling up with marijuana plants for production. The facility is extremely high-tech meeting and exceeding standards set by Health Canada and other regulatory bodies. The rooms are built to “clean room” and “hospital grade” guidelines and there are several vestibules in the hallways to keep the environment as clean as possible. It is truly a stunning marvel of engineering on the inside right to the air showers and cameras in every possible corner. Following Health Canada approval, the facility will go into production which could be March or April.
February was Budget Meeting time. Town Council has taken an aggressive stance going into the rest of 2020 with the annual budget. Expect to see a good chunk of it spent on infrastructure needs both above and below ground. Details will follow from Town Hall.
There is no doubt that 2019 was a very busy year for me. I did have a summary of the highlights for me published locally over the Christmas holiday but I left out several things in the article. So, I am going to fill in some blanks with this blog post.
Tons of Regular Meetings
The average month for me includes anywhere from 10 to 15 regular meetings. This includes Town Council meetings and meetings related to the handful of committee appointments I have. I sit on many different local boards and also attend between 1 and 3 meetings out-of-town per month. They include SVPS (Similkameen Valley Planning Society), IHA SOS Division Health Board (Penticton) and Okanagan Regional Library Board (Kelowna).
The First Part Of The Year
I started 2019 with attendance in Kelowna for the LGLA (Local Government Leadership Academy) conference. That ran from January 23-25 and it included numerous workshops and meetings that were informative and involved. The next convention I attended was SILGA (Southern Interior Local Government Association). That was in Penticton from April 29-May 3. I rode in with Councillor Gould and the two of us ended up in many of the same events. Mayor Coyne and I were together in a few of the other workshops.
On May 20 I rode in my very first parade as an elected official. It was the Keremeos Elks Rodeo Parade and Mayor Coyne and I represented Princeton at that event. On June 29 I had an unusual opportunity as part of the annual Princeton Days Parade. I got to ride down a section of Vermilion Avenue on the running board of the historic Princeton Fire Truck. All members of Town Council were there and I had a cordless microphone. Once we reached Veteran’s Square, I hopped off and proceeded to MC the Parade. I have to admit that the event was a real highlight for me that stands out for the innovative approach taken by adding an MC.
My wife, Brenda, joined me on July 1 (Canada Day) and we manned a booth where we handed out flags, pins, and other Canadiana. Bren quite enjoyed putting temporary tattoos on children (and a few adults). On August 8 I took a solo trip to our Sister City, Tonasket, Washington. I met with City of Tonasket Mayor Dennis Brown and long-time friend Councillor Jensen Sackman. Jensen and I had originally met to discuss the Sister City relationship over dinner and bumped into Brown who was also very interested in proceeding with the Sister City program.
Another Convention Leads To Fall
I had heard about UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) for about as long as I’ve been involved in the media industry. From September 24-26 I had the opportunity to attend my first ever UBCM convention. It was in Vancouver and all of the Town Council, including the CAO, were in attendance. There were full days of workshops, a couple of sessions for resolution voting and scheduled meetings with BC Government Ministers or their staff. It was truly amazing and the 400+ logging trucks that traveled to the event got the attention of everyone there. I was filled with pride when I saw local truckers in the convoy.
Planning, Planning, Planning
On October 11 we entered into our annual Strategic Planning Session with a day-long event at RockRidge Canyon. The second session, October 15, was at Town Hall. The planning sessions covered a lot of territory and lays out the plans of Town Council for the next year and beyond. Projects are suggested and discussed. Those that are accepted find their way into budget sessions later in the year.
A Couple More Personal Highlights
On November 11 I placed the wreath at the cenotaph for the Government of Canada on behalf of MP Dan Albas. This was the third time I have done this for our MP. I was also requested by our MLA, Linda Larson, to place the wreath from the Government of British Columbia on her behalf. As a son of a veteran, I attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies anyway with my wife but what truly made the event a greater honour for me was to place those two wreaths.
One more thing that happened to me in the past year was truly unexpected. I got very ill in mid-November. While in Penticton ICU Mayor Coyne, Councillor McLean and CAO Thomas each made time to stop by and check on me. Not only was their visits crucial to my recovery but once I was out of hospital I feared missing Town Council meetings. Thanks to the ingenuity of the Town Hall Staff, I was able to attend a Regular Meeting of Town Council and a Special Meeting of Town Council via telephone. I made history, although it wasn’t my intention, as the first member of Princeton Town Council to attend a meeting on the phone. I was recovering in Osoyoos during both meetings and the effort made to include me boosted my spirits and demonstrated that we really are a ‘team’ – Town Council and all who work at Town Hall.
Finally Getting Back On Track
I started to attend my regular monthly committee meetings earlier this month after finally feeling well enough to do so. As you can see, it’s been a busy year for me. My schedule is just a small part of what your local elected officials do for you and your community. Hopefully, by sharing with you some of my personal highlights you will see that although there is a lot of work being done, we also enjoy what we are doing.
November didn’t quite go as I had planned. Well, at least the first half was fairly normal with a regular load of meetings, then things went sort of sideways on me. Before I get into the details on that, I do want to mention that at one of our regular public meetings it was announced that the KVR through the town would be subject to partial opening for motorized traffic.
This was a long and detailed decision where staff, the Mixed-Trail KVR Select Committee, members of Town Council (including myself) and other regulatory bodies all had a say and offered suggestions. I’m quite happy with the proposed access plan that will go into effect this coming Spring. I know it’s not perfect, but it provides access to local services.
The Hospital Thing
I had attended the Monday, November 17 Regular Meeting of Town Council and felt pretty good. Late that night, around midnight, I started vomiting. At first, we thought I had food poisoning and treated it at home for a few days. At one point my wife, Brenda, contacted the HealthLink BC service (dial 8-1-1) and the nurse who answered provided some extra assistance.
When things were not improving very much, Bren took me to the Princeton ER. I was checked in at about 10:00 PM on Sunday, November 23. By this time I was in bad shape. I was slurring my words and was in a fog. I have little memory of my stay in the ER but know that early the next morning I was shipped to Penticton ICU aboard the Heart Transportation vehicle.
Dr. Black had told Bren at the time that I was very ill and the prognosis was not very good. Friends of ours from Osoyoos arrived at the Penticton hospital as I was getting wheeled in, beating Brenda by a few minutes. I was quickly assessed and immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for treatment. My blood pressure was very low and my heartbeat was high.
Group of Doctors
In Penticton hospital, I was being treated by Drs. Cho, Little, Klassen, and Jackson. They determined that I had developed a bowel blockage. However, I also had several complications that accompanied that. The list included partially collapsed lungs which prevented me from getting deep breaths, kidney failure and an irregular heartbeat of 125+.
The goal was to stabilize the complications before taking on the blockage. The hope was to avoid surgery and at one point I had IVs running into both arms. One contained a heart medication that is new to Penticton hospital and it somehow wiggled out of my vein and leaked into my arm causing it to swell to twice normal size and leave a huge fluid sack in my skin.
After three nights in ICU, I was moved to the Kampe Tower where I spent two nights and then down to pediatrics (being converted to adult rooms) for two more nights. I got released at 1:00 PM on Monday, December 2 and spent a week recovering in the home of our friends in Osoyoos. I’ve been home since Monday, December 9. My full recovery will take weeks.
I cannot say enough about the medical services we have access to in both Princeton and Penticton. The ER staff, nurses and doctors here in Princeton are incredible. We are truly blessed to have such amazing professionals in our medical facility. The Heart Transportation staff and the Penticton ICU staff, nurses, doctors, lab and x-ray techs are all top-notch professionals.
Each medical professional I came in contact with from Princeton to Penticton was wonderful. Each of them clearly loves what they are doing and exhibited compassion, concern, and care that raised the bar in my mind. I felt safe, comfortable and in the best of care at all times. I am also very grateful for the prayers, visits, and cards received. Thank you all and I hope to be back serving you and the community as soon as possible.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.