WHEN I FIRST met David Wylie, it was under strange circumstances, indeed.
After returning from Israel where I had been working as an investigative reporter for a number of news organizations, I was slowly recovering from illness when fire swept through my "valley" in August 2003.
However, it really wasn't a surprise when a reporter showed up at my door, asking questions about the wildfire, which had burned the land near Falkland and scorched many people's dreams in what had at one time had the appearance of "paradise."
That reporter was David Wylie, and, I thought at the time, he was an articulate and thorough journalist, who knew exactly how to extract information and I would later read his article concerning the fire in an e-mail message he sent me.
A short time before the first edition of the Vernon Daily Courier, Wylie contacted me, telling me about his new appointment as the M.E. of the offshoot of the well-established Kelowna Daily Courier. And, to my surprise, he asked me to write a column for him, knowing my background with the Toronto and Edmonton Suns and even ventures in far-off venues such as Africa and the Middle East.
It's strange, the twists and turns of life, for here was another "beginning" after being at the start of both the Toronto and Edmonton Suns. But for an old newspaper warhorse, it gave me an incentive to get back into harness, instead of "vegetating."
For me, it was an experience to be savoured; for although Wylie has the face of a young man, his reporting and editing skills are unmatched.
Besides his newspaper instincts, he is also a Christian man of high integrity with a sense of humour and wisdom far beyond his years.
Athough the Vernon Daily Courier is only two plus years old, it was Wylie along with a bank of "old" codgers such as George Dobie and myself as well as freelancers of every ilk, who have made an impact in a short time.
However, Wylie's leadership has been the key in keeping this community informed and also helping keep honesty intact in government. If that is possible.
Starting what was essentially a "brand-new" newspaper with a "rookie" seemed like a futile scheme, but not with Wylie at the helm.
Now, he and his wife move on to other fields of endeavour with the CanWest News Bureau in Ottawa. He's going back "home" to Ontario, but it's certain he'll leave a piece of his heart in B.C., for he was the backbone of a "little paper, which will, hopefully, grow and grow."
And, one more thing, I consider David Wylie to be a true friend.
We will miss you, but never forget you.
His post has been taken over by Scott Neufeld, who has all the makings of an excellent successor. He will do well. After all he has had David Wylie as his teacher.
SO I BROKE MY PROMISE: A couple of weeks ago, I vowed to destroy the Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. I fibbed. After scrambling through the crumpled papers in the dustbin, I discovered these "gems":
* David Shepherd, a biology prof at Southeastern Louisiana University, put rubber reptiles "on or near roads" and watched how 22,000 motorists reacted to them. His conclusion: "There are apparently very few animals hit accidentally on the highway."
A few examples Shepherd witnessed:
* "A truck driver crossed the centre line, went into the opposite lane of traffic, and drove onto the shoulder of the road to run over a 'turtle'"
* A housewife who saw what she thought was a snake in the road swerved to kill it, "then turned around to run over it five more times."
* "A policeman crushed a 'snake' with his tires, then stopped and pulled his gun. I quickly jumped from some bushes and explained it was a fake."
CONCLUSION: "Some people just have a mean streak towards animals."