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A letter from BC's chief medical health officer is being sent home with thousands of students across the province, with warnings about the ongoing deadly overdose crisis.

Before end-of-school celebrations, Doctor Perry Kendall says parents need to be talking to their kids about the dangers of opioids.

"They can educate themselves around the dangers. They can educate themselves about recognizing the signs of an overdose. They can even ensure that somebody is there who can call 911 is comfortable doing that. They won't be prosecuted for carrying small amounts of drugs. They can have naloxone kits available."

Kendall says, since January of last year, nearly 20 teens between the ages of 14 and 18 have died from overdoses, with many linked to the highly toxic painkiller fentanyl, which has been found in drugs popular with young people like ecstasy.

 

CUPE giving up national control over workers in Merritt.

The national arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees took over control of local 900 and its several affiliates in the region last November.

Kevin McConnachie, a national representative for the union now serving as administrator of the local chapter says control should be returned in July.

"The local was having issued with following the bylaw for the national constitution of CUPE and so it just took a little bit of time to put new measures in place some training and everything is back on track to my estimate."

CUPE 900 is what the union refers to as a composite local chapter, representing city workers in Merritt and a number of other surrounding communities.

Need more than ever before at the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank.

"We distributed more food than any other year in our history."

Last year, Board Chair Rob Miller says $199,000 worth of food was distributed, up $17,000 from 2015.

With roughly 700 families accessing the food bank a month, it represents nearly 10% Merritt's population.

"Demand tends to increase slightly year after year. But with the closure of Tolko we saw a spike. But, we've got great volunteers and lots of corporate support, so we were able to address the need. However, donations are still always needed."

Volunteer hours at the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank were up as well in 2016, with 700 more logged than in 2015.

Program that aims to help high-risk youth graduate from high school gaining momentum in Merritt.

Adolescent addictions outreach worker with the Phoenix Centre Jim Laidlaw has spent the last couple months determining local interest for the 'Take A Hike' program.

He says meetings with the City of Merritt, TNRD, School District 58 and area First Nations show it would certainly fill a need.

"Most people we talk to, their eyes get bigger and they almost jump up and downing stating they need this in the Nicola Valley. Because there is a number of high-risk youth that come to high school every year, and they definitely have needs."

Laidlaw is now trying to establish consistent funding for the program, and is hopeful he can have it in place in the next six-months, to offer the program in Merritt starting in September 2018.

The 'Take a Hike' program, which is based on academics, adventure based learning, therapy and community involvement, has a graduation rate of 80%.

Merritt man who found, and sold a shotgun receiving three-year jail sentence.

Rodney Boesel pleaded guilty last year to trafficking a weapon in connection to the incident that occurred on May 1, 2014, after he sold a stolen shotgun to who he believed was his drug dealer for $80, and a small amount of crack cocaine.

Instead it was an undercover RCMP officer.

Boesel told the court he was doing renovations at the Merritt apartment building where he lived, when he came across a hidden Browning shotgun wrapped in plastic in a weedy lumber pile beside a shed.

The judge did not rule out that Boesel had stolen the gun himself in handing down the mandatory minimum sentence in BC Supreme Court last week.

 

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