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Wings always clipped on planned flights

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

Got to enjoy plenty of sun visiting my parents and relatives on Vancouver Island and with it came those little life observations that come when you get to spend time to slow down and enjoy your hours with people you care about…..observations both comical and introspective.

FLIGHT FOLLY: I have no idea what it is when it comes to me and airplanes, but there is always something that ends up not agreeing whenever I travel. Being it an on-call mechanic not answering his phone, making a 15-minute repair, an eight-hour delay to Vegas, my six-foot-two frame stuck behind a leaner in his chair (you know who you are) on a cramped flight or running out of my in-flight meal of choice right at the moment they reach my seat, flying for me is always an adventure.

My flight from Lethbridge to Nanaimo was no different. It happened to fall on the day Toronto was hit with 25 per cent more water in one day than the city got on average for the whole month of July. Even with all that devastation of millions upon millions of dollars in flood damage, news reports noted only one flight managed to get delayed from Toronto to Calgary…..guess which one? The one that served as my connector for Calgary to Vancouver, meaning I’d miss the connection from Vancouver to Nanaimo, which was the last flight of the day which meant flying out the next day instead. As far as flight karma goes, I must have pushed someone down some steps or something in a past life.

SHIPS AHOY: I always love taking a walk by the waterfront of the Nanaimo harbour to see some of the artwork by the park, take in the salty sea air and take a gander at the boats that are docked. I don’t know if it still was a sign of the economic slowdown recovery or simply those ship captains out there wanting to upgrade or get something different, but it seemed like every second boat had a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. I had my dad take a joke picture of me in front of one of the largest boats  and posted it, saying I was waiting to hear back on my offer for it. Apparently some of my Facebook friends believed it, perhaps not knowing the pay grade newspaper journalists make nowadays. But, about the only boat I’m going to be able to afford are the plastic ones found in my bathtub.

GLAMPING: My uncle invited me to stay overnight at a home down by the water front at Sproat Lake near Port Alberini of one of his clients who were generous enough to allow him, his wife and in-laws to stay there for a few days to go camping. The term ‘camping’ is used loosely given the beautiful nature of Kelly and Gail’s beautiful 6700-square foot home. A view that is Norman Rockwell-esque onto Sproat Lake, a beautifully-built dock with shaded areas were mere steps away. Had I been there longer, I probably would have enjoyed the bike trails, boating and kayaking and/or fishing that was available, but simply soaking in the sun over a Corona, catching up with family was good enough for me. Throw in hosts in Kelly and Gail in how warm and welcoming they were to this complete stranger and I would highly recommend if you have the means to give their place a look for your extended family. It can be viewed at http://www.vrbo.com. Type in British Columbia into the search engine and the number 344104 in the box on the top right-hand corner. Simply breath taking.

LIFE-ALTERING: It’s not too often you can say you were privy to two near-death experiences during one round of golf, but I can say I was. OK, perhaps ‘near death’ is an exaggeration, but they certainly felt that way. There I was enjoying a round of golf with  my father and a lovely couple in Antonette and Lorne, we were paired up with at Fairwinds Golf Club, when I decided to enjoy a hot dog at the turn. I kept it classy by ceremoniously having a bite I took go down the wrong pipe, and going mano-a-mano with the compressed meat made of snouts and entrails according to urban legend, attempting to expel it from my wind pipe. I could still breath and talk to a degree, but something definitely felt lodged where thankfully I was able to expel it without my dad prepping himself to administer the Heimlich Maneuver. Just as Antonette recovered from seeing that choking debacle, shortly afterwards she got to see a ball fly by her head that I hit off a tee box almost straight right of me. With this lefty giving out more slices to the left than Martha’s Bakery for the round, the one hole Antonette decides to inch every so slightly up the tee box is when I decide to hit the ball badly off the heel — the only time in fact. Being so close, I did not even have time to yell “Fore!!!!” and only watch in disbelief as the ball whizzed mere centimetres by her head. Mortified and embarrassed, I apologized profusely with the kindly woman granting me forgiveness. The round was not without its adventures apart from searching for lost golf balls along the creek.

BIONIC MAN: Whenever I see my dad golf I think of the words off of “The Six Million Dollar Man” of “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. Better than before, better, stronger, faster.” My dad had not swung a club in nearly two years, recovering from a fifth shoulder surgery and so I thought it was my time to shine to beat my father. Drum roll please……..no I didn’t. About the only time I’ll see myself beating my dad at golf is if I go all Tonya Harding on one of his knees on the third hole and even then I’d probably have to sink a 40-foot birdie putt on 18 to beat him by one stroke. A shoulder hanging on a thread and still a solid golfer is my father. 

FAMILY TIME: I was getting ready in my parents’ private bathroom when it hit me — my parents are getting older. I know it’s an obvious thing to say, but it never really hit me until I saw in the bathroom all the medications they were taking to keep the aches and pains away that come for some in becoming a senior citizen. To me, while their hair has turned silver, wrinkles have formed to go with liver spots, I’m still their little boy. Decades removed from my teenage years I still look at my parents at times with child-like wonderment. But as I went this summer and saw that, it made me realize that this time together with my parents will not be as plentiful as when I was a child. Giving my good-bye hugs, as I went through security at the Nanaimo airport and blew a kiss to my mother, she blew one back.  Walking to the seating area, waiting to board, that is when it him me. My eyes began to water to the point where I had to sit down and put my sunglasses on to hide the tears. I already missed my parents and my love for them is still child like in my middle-aged years. Family is bond — now and forever.

Fehr named to All-State team

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

Vauxhall Spurs Baseball Club are off to the State tournament this weekend in Helena, Montana where its pitching staff will be led by ace Brandon Fehr, in which it was announced at the district tournament in Vauxhall, at opening ceremonies last Thursday that the hurler has earned both All-District and All-State team honours.

“We’ve coached Brandon for now what will be the fourth year. We’ve seen him go from a kid who had a hard time dealing with kids hitting the ball off of him and had a hard time finding the strike zone and controlling his pitches to a kid who has really bought in,” said Ken Fuglerud, head coach of the Vauxhall Spurs. “He’s turned into quite a little player for us. The kid has control and real bite on his pitches.”

But, what has really impressed Fuglerud about Fehr in earning his well-deserved district and State accolades, is his mature mound presence in how he works a game and never lets himself get too high or too low. Case in point was the Spurs’ opening game at districts last Thursday against the Fort Macleod Royals. Despite not having his best stuff early on as the team fell behind 5-1, Fehr provided a bulldog mentality where he worked himself through it and tossed a whole lot of pitches in a complete-game victory, refusing to be taken out despite those early-inning bumps in the road.

“He has that competitive drive and he really knows how to pitch. In ‘A’ ball, it’s really rare to see a guy that has high pitchability and Brandon has it. He understands pitching. There’s kids who can pitch, but Brandon really understands how to pitch correctly in certain situations. It absolutely suits him to be an All-State member,” said Fuglerud. “Brandon knew the (Fort Macleod) game was 5-1, but the five runs weren’t really earned, so he knew he had to just keep doing his job and eventually the boys would start hitting and get some defence behind him.”

Also on the Spurs was Levi Kress earning a selection on the All-District Team.

“Levi has really started to come into his own in July,” said Fuglerud, of his infielder and pitcher. “He works a full-time job during the day and he played ball during the night. It’s not an easy thing to do to make that transition into that. Being a 19-year-old, previously it was baseball and just that. This year, it’s a long day for him and I think it took him awhile to get into the whole rhythm of baseball. But, he stuck with it and it has paid off for Levi. He’s our main guy in the two-hole of the batting lineup, where he’s starting to swing it and pick it for us really well in the field.”

Vipers swim among piranhas

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

Taber Viper Swim Club were outdoors once again this weekend, this time for the Crowsnest Pass Piranhas meet in which a few swimmers were able to beat the heat on their way to aggregate medals among the dozen swimmers that competed from the club. “It was really good to see how determined the swimmers were this weekend. It was really hot, but they didn’t let the temperature affect them where they all tried their best,” said Sam Kondor, assistant coach with the Taber Viper Swim Club, of the high-20s-Celsius conditions. Addison Hutzul was able to earn bronze for six-and-under girls. “Hutzul did really well. She dropped almost 30 seconds in her long free, so that was good to see,” said Kondor.Vipers saw two aggregate winners for 13-and-14-year old girls with Isabelle Bennett winning gold and Jordan Wijna earning bronze. Beyond the aggregate winners were the swimmers who pushed themselves in shattering their own personal-best times. “Jessica Anderson had a really good swim meet this past weekend. She dropped off 10 seconds in her 200-metre free and took a little bit of time off her long fly which is really great,” said Kondor. Taber Viper Swim Club has no meet this weekend, but there will be no rest for the club as it preps for regionals at the University of Lethbridge pool the following weekend. “This year we are going to have roughly around 20 swimmers. This week is going to be a hard week, being really intense with a lot of fast-paced drills and then next week we’ll taper off a bit to make sure the kids are ready for regionals,” said Kondor.

Miller making appearance in Congress World Series

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

Taberite Brendan Miller has helped slug his Hutchinson Monarchs to the National Baseball Congress World Series which begins Aug. 3 in Wichita, Kansas.

Playing approximately 40 games on the season, the Monarchs were not seen as heavy favourites to take its conference tournament to advance to the World Series, finishing two games over .500 in regular-season play. But as with any sport, it’s all about peaking at the right time when playoffs roll around.

“At the end of the season we were at the top, but during the season we struggled at times. We did something in the tournament that we didn’t do all year which was put all three aspects of the game together. We had the pitching, we had our offence going and we had the defence,” said Miller.

“We didn’t do that very often during the regular season.”

An American summer league team, the Monarchs play in a league similar to the Lethbridge Bulls in the Western Major Baseball League.

“It’s very similar to the WMBL. It’s very comparable with everything,” said Miller.

Miller has manned first base for the Monarchs this year and has continued to swing a hot bat for whichever team he has played for from his early minor baseball days in Taber along with the Vauxhall Spurs to American collegiate baseball.

“I’ve had a a really good summer season. It was a little different not being home, but I adjusted. We have a good team and it’s fun to be around,” said Miller who has batted clean up for the Monarchs, knocking out three home runs, keeping his batting average above .300 and slugging 15 doubles to go with the corresponding RBIs with runners in scoring position to help earn a Walter Johnson all-star selection for first basemen.

“It’s been nice to be able to contribute to the team.”

Plagued by some shoulder woes in years past, Miller’s glove certainly was not affected in his defensive responsibilities in the season, including some stellar glovework for the conference tournament.

“I made all the throws and in the championship I turned two double plays in one game so my arm strength is there,” said Miller.

Miller is hoping his Monarchs will be there when all is said and done at the National Baseball Congress World Series starting in a week in Kansas, which is now in its 79th year.

“I have no gauge on the other teams, but I know if we keep putting offence, defence and pitching together, we should have a really good shot to go deep into the tournament,” said Miller.

Spurs in State of euphoria

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

There may have been only nine players on the diamond at a time during the Vauxhall Spurs’ successful run at its district tournaments this past weekend at Jets Stadium, but there were always 10 players in spirit. Playing not only for themselves, but Riley Martin as well, a player unable to join the Boys of Summer this season being diagnosed with cancer, the team exceeded expectations by earning a berth into the State tournament.“Riley Martin was in the heart of the boys during the tournament. We talked about it throughout the district tournament and the season in general thinking about Riley where it was win or lose, that we have fun and play the game the right way,” said Ken Fuglerud, head coach of the Vauxhall Spurs. “Riley was wishing he could be out there playing, and so we can’t take the game for granted.”   The Spurs baseball club were able to do so by beating the Great Falls Electrics in the ‘B’ side eliminator 13-8 on Sunday in Vauxhall, a team which the Spurs had the Electrics’ number against pretty much all season long, despite the Electrics finishing first in the conference standings and getting a bye into the second round. “We beat Great Falls three out of four times in conference. They are a quality club, with good, quality pitching and guys who can swing it pretty well.  For whatever reason, I guess we matched up pretty well,” said Fuglerud. “They had their ace with a big athletic lefty on the mound, so we thought it’d be tough to generate some runs. But he walked some guys, especially in the first half of the game, and when we got some baserunners on, we seemed to cash them in. We really took advantage and manufactured some runs.”Adam Kress was on the bump for the Spurs to start its State-clinching appearance game with Brody Knouse and Brandon Fehr coming in relief. Given two State berths came out of the district tournament at Jets Stadium in Vauxhall, the win put the Spurs into the championship game on Sunday with both teams automatically qualifying in the double-knockout format. The Spurs would have needed to beat the Lethbridge Miners twice to take the district tile, but were blanked 5-0 by a dominating pitching performance in the first game. “We couldn’t generate any offence. He has thrown against us before and we’ve watched him pitch before and he’s good. But, that was definitely the best I’ve seen him ever throw.”Facing some adversity all season long with up-and-down play heading into July, the Spurs found themselves down once again to begin its district tournament run last Thursday before rallying for an 11-9 win against the Fort Macleod Royals. “To be quite honest with you, having Brandon Fehr on the bump, we don’t often get down like that. Sometimes it can be a little bit of a shock with Brandon on the bump and a team comes out hitting like that with Fort Macleod,” said Fuglerud. “But, we didn’t lower our heads and pout. We kept battling away and we came back. It was nice to see. Brandon went the complete game throwing all nine. He threw quite a few pitches, but it was awesome to see a 19-year-old not wanting to come out of the game. He wanted to finish what he started and we went with it.” The Spurs carried over that momentum to its Friday game against the Electrics which the Spurs won in dramatic fashion, 8-7 in extra innings, going to the 11th inning. “That game was extremely well played on both sides. It just so happened that we got a timely hit in the 11th inning where we were able to hold on in the 11th inning,” said Fuglerud. “We had (Nolan) Gilbertson on the bump and he threw really well. Our game plan, as a coaching staff, was that we had charts on their guys and we knew what they could do and can’t do and tried to pitch to their weakness and play defence according to it. Gilbertson did a really good job pitching to our defence. Hitting certain spots and if you hit that spot, you have your defence shift to that certain area.”As impressive as Gilbertson was, reliever Matt Melnychuk was just as impressive to help cinch the crucial game to help qualify for State given the double-knockout format. “That was the best we’ve seen him throw all year. He looked really, really good, especially for a first-year guy,” said Fuglerud. It was almost a situation where it would have been the Lethbridge Miners requiring to beat the Vauxhall Spurs twice to claim the district title as the two teams tussled on Saturday with the Spurs upended 10-9, although the Spurs led big early on, putting a scare into the Miners. “We were up 9-1 at one point after five or six innings. We had a pretty big lead and it’s not like we were even playing terrible, I think it’s just our mindset changed from playing to win to playing not to lose,” said Fuglerud. “Their guys on the mound started to settle in a little more. We made a few errors and they got a few seeing-eye singles that scored some runs. They never really hit the ball hard, but it sort of fell apart.”The Spurs were aided in its tournament run not only by some solid pitching performances, but by opportunistic hitting right down the lineup where it seemed like a different player stepped up at a different defining time to aid the Spurs in earning its State berth from districts. Fuglerud also tipped his hat to his player crouching behind the plate who provided solid defence. “We had a lot of different guys step up at different times for us which was awesome to see. Josh Hagen has been working towards being our starting catcher all year and that kid really stepped up this weekend. Defensively, Josh was an absolute must for us,” said Fuglerud. “Adam Kress had the RBI single in the 11th inning in Game Two against Great Falls. Matt Perin stepped up big for us against Great Falls in the Sunday game, with two or three ripped balls. Kaden Odland stepped up and Vance Fode had a couple of key hits. It was really quite spread out.”It was tough to gauge exactly what expectations were for the Spurs in hosting districts, with batches of winning streaks mixed in with losing streaks. But a team that was firing on most of its cylinders proved its potential at districts, in which the same attitude will be put towards the State tournament which begins for the Spurs on Thursday in Helena, Montana. “It was a mixture of peaking to some degree, but also simply guys stepping up and getting the job done. It was the culmination of a season where we were preaching to get better every day and if you get better every day, hopefully by districts we will be a team to beat. If you would have asked me in June if we were going to State, I would have said absolutely not,” said Fuglerud. “But the boys worked hard and bought in and now we have a chance for another weekend of ball, making State is really hard to do. You play five nine-inning games in four days, that’s a lot of ball.”“We don’t have much of a break, but we’re telling the boys after we saw the draw ‘look boys we have a chance.’ We’ve seen some of the teams in non-conference tournaments throughout the year and we’ve competed against a few of them. We are going in there with the intention of hopefully getting some wins and sneaking up on some teams.”

Community caring about flood victims

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

Taberites have already shown their caring spirit in recent weeks helping flood-ravished victims in Alberta in their time of need.

That spirit is continuing in August as six churches, seven service clubs and various other community members at large have banded together to form Taber Cares Flood Relief.

“For myself, watching TV and reading the paper, I was feeling helpless and feeling for the people that have been affected by the floods. I was thinking that could have been any one of us, it was only hours away,” said Wanda Renner, on the idea of how the Taber Cares initiative got started.

“I thought we can do something in Taber as a community and I thought a lot of people were thinking the same way in Taber as I was feeling.”

That gut feeling Renner had proved correct, as a couple of phone calls snowballed into Christian Reformed Church, Taber Evangelical Free Church, St. Theodore’s Anglican Church, New Life Church, Knox United Church, St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Taber Lion’s Club, Taber Kinsmen, Taber Kiwanis, Taber Rotary Club, Taber Legion, Taber Ladies Auxiliary and Knight’s of Columbus and various community members at large, banding together to put on Taber Cares Flood Relief on Aug. 14.

“We had a meeting and did our homework to see how we could fill a need. Initially, we thought about a gathering of items, but then once we heard most places couldn’t even facilitate it because the structure of their town had been destroyed, so they couldn’t even receive it,” said Renner.

 “So it quickly changed and someone at the table suggested we do a fundraiser supper and silent auction.”

The fundraiser will be a spaghetti supper on Aug. 14 at the Taber Community Centre auditorium starting at 4:30 p.m. and going until 7 p.m. The silent auction will run from 4:30-7 p.m. with the viewing of items from 2-4:30 p.m.

“For me this is really exciting because from my understanding, service clubs have done fundraising suppers before, but never has there been this many groups involved at once,” said Renner.

Kevin Fedoruk, a representative with the Taber Lion’s Club recalled the huge success of suppers to raise funds for the earthquake relief in Japan and another supper for Haiti. Given the expertise so many people can give in so many different organizations, Fedoruk is excited at the prospect that the Taber Cares Flood Relief project can be the most successful supper fundraiser to date.

“The numbers that are available for us to work together will be a huge help. Also, the exponential factor of it, through the different congregations and groups, and contacts, more people will know about it ahead of time, more people will be able to attend,” said Fedoruk.

“It’s giving everyone an opportunity to do something.”

Be it organizers of the event or those who will attend to participate, it all comes down to one common driving factor that each person shares.

“The drawing card of all this and a chord that has been weaved through all of this, is that we have a compassion for those who are displaced. They have unfortunately been put in a situation where they cannot help themselves. I think this community is going to bind together in ways that we haven’t seen before through this effort,” said Harry Unger, chairman of the Taber Ministerial Association. “I’m really excited about it with this thread of co-operation.”

The devastation of the flooding that has occurred earlier this year in Alberta has estimates as high as $5 billion when all is said and done.

The sheer wrath of Mother Nature made the committee members of Taber Cares Flood Relief decide to raise money from the supper and silent auction and donate it to The Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse with the caveat that the funds be earmarked for southern Alberta flood relief efforts.

Samaritan’s Purse Canada is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that has been providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world since 1970.

It partners with its supporters in Canada and with local organizations (usually churches) abroad to provide compassionate and cost-effective assistance to anyone who needs it, regardless of religion, race, gender or socio-economic standing.

“The reason this has evolved as a fundraiser to give money, was at first we thought we could just zero it in on a certain group of people whether it be a school  or community group, but as we continued to listen to the newscasts and reports from individuals, we realized what we could do best is fundraise to provide for the basic need,” said Unger.

“Information is coming in so quickly and we know this is a long-term thing. This (Taber Cares Flood Relief) could possibly be more than just a one-time event. We don’t know. We’ll see how this goes. Could you imagine if Taber was hit by a flood of this nature? How would we respond to those who wanted to help?”

Taber Cares Flood Relief tickets for the spaghetti supper are $12 per ticket and are available for purchase at Steppin’ Up Ladies Shoes, Canada Safeway, Bluewave Energy, Rumor’s Hair Salon and various church groups.

Taber Cares Flood Relief can also be found on Facebook.

“People are very caring and giving in Taber. I’ve lived here all my life and I know that,” said Renner.

For more information on the fundraiser you can call Renner at 403-331-9464.

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