Year in Review
Year in Review

Year in Review: Biggest stories of February 2018

FEB 1: IT WAS A SAD moment for the Maclean Show Society when they unanimously voted to cancel the Maclean Show for 2018 due to a freak storm that hit Maclean. President Brian Ferrie said this would be the second time that he knew that the show has been cancelled, outside of war time, due to a severe weather event with a flood cancelling the show in 1974.

"It was tough, it was a hard decision to make," he said.

"Everybody is very disappointed it's not going ahead, but it was a unanimous decision.

"Everybody wants to help... but it's just impossible. It would end up costing us a lot of money to do it and we haven't got the resources to do that."


A Clarence Valley fire fighter in Pillinga National Park earlier this year.
A Clarence Valley fire fighter in Pillinga National Park earlier this year. Contributed

FEB 2: A LABOUR hire firm supplying workers to a contractor at the new Grafton jail project has breached personal protection equipment regulations, a union has claimed. The North Coast official of the Construction, Forestry and Mining Union, Dean Rielly, said the firm, Dmac Personnel Pty Ltd, made employees contracted to the site supply equipment that the employer, by law, must supply. He said if workers did not supply the equipment, $400 was deducted from their wages, to cover its cost.

FEB 3: GRAFTON and Coffs Harbour have jointly featured on an unenviable list of regions with the highest jobless rates in 2017, a new report has identified.

FEB 5: THE next step in the fight to secure an ambulance station for Iluka continued yesterday at its local monthly markets. While there was some positive response for information stall holders the Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and NSW Ambulance Service, the local campaign to secure a more tangible presence is far from over, according to petition organisers Ann and John McLean who collected 11,500 signatures to support that.

Mr Gulaptis and the ambulance representatives were there to explain the proposal to set up a community first responder at the seaside township, the next option for the town after Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said no to a full-time ambulance station.

FEB 6: A WOMAN in her 20s has died as the result of a a single-vehicle crash at Whiporie north of Grafton. Police said the crash occurred on the Summerland Way about 5km south of Whiporie about 12.30pm.

FEB 7: POSSIBLE human remains were found by workers at a construction site in Grafton yesterday afternoon. The Daily Examiner understands bones were found on the building site of the new Grafton Bridge on the north side of the Clarence River. A section of the site next to Bridge St adjacent to the Pound St railway viaduct had been cordoned off. At about 3.15pm yesterday, there was one police officer stationed outside the entry to site,which contained an excavator.

FEB 8: IMAGINE not knowing who you are, being lost in a historic unforgiving and traumatising black hole. For Janene Cleaver (nee Blanch), that is what searching for her birth mother has been like.

Born June 1, 1960 to Rosemary Anne Cole at Ashgrove Private Hospital, Janene was adopted out to Palmers Island couple Amy and Claude Blanch.

Despite always knowing she was adopted, Janene felt she needed to know who she really was; she wanted to find her birth mum.

But with "the best parents on earth" by her side, she felt she was doing them a disservice.

After her adoptive mother died, Janene felt it was time to dig deeper into the story of her birth.

"My adoptive parents were older, 40-something when I was born. They tried to go through the normal services but there was such a waiting list so they went through the church," she said. "They went to their minister and he said to go to Saint Mary's Home Toowong, they did that and put in an application and within six months they got me."

FEB 9: THE Grafton GP Superclinic success story is being told around the world. And the proof is in the doctors who are coming to take up positions in the rapidly expanding practice.

Dr Mark Bell arrived here from the UK town of Macclesfield just more than a year ago. He loved what he found here so much he has convinced one of his practice colleagues in the Cheshire market town to join him in Grafton later this year. He said an attraction for UK doctors was escaping the strictures of the country's National Health System.


Brian Ferrie, president of the Maclean Show Society, is sad to say the Maclean Show will not go ahead this year.
Brian Ferrie, president of the Maclean Show Society, is sad to say the Maclean Show will not go ahead this year. Caitlan Charles

FEB 10: THE STATE Government should be employing more staff and upgrade services in North Coast National Parks rather than cutting jobs, says the union representing staff. The northern region organiser for the Public Service Association, Asren Pugh, said figures showed visitors to North Coast National Parks had increased by 70 per cent in the past two years.

FEB 12: ABOUT 20 residents of the Pinnacles near Grafton, who have been battling to stop a sawmill they say has been operating in their region without proper consent, will be at tomorrow's first Clarence Valley Council committee meeting.

The council's environment, planning and community meeting will debate an application from the mill owner, Richard Page, to vary the development consent for the mill to install a wood chipper and 5000-litre diesel tank on the site. But the council has recommended against the variation, which was based on a development consent the Copmanhurst Shire Council granted in 1996.

FEB 13: COMMUNITIES around the Clarence Valley will come together today to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generation.

FEB 14: "HE PINCHED me on the bum," was the response of a wag in the Wooli Bowling Club when The Daily Examiner called to find out what the locals remember of Barnaby Joyce's visit last month. "That's not true, of course," said the barman, who was well aware of the hot water Deputy Prime Minister Mr Joyce now finds himself in over his affair with his pregnant former staffer Vikki Campion.

FEB 15: Federal government data reveals more than 500 Clarence Valley parents are struggling to keep up with their child support payments.


Brenden Stockdale waits outside Clarence Valley Council to speak to them about the Telstra Tower proposed next to his house.
Brenden Stockdale waits outside Clarence Valley Council to speak to them about the Telstra Tower proposed next to his house. Adam Hourigan Photography

FEB 16: MORE than 100 dog attacks were reported in the last financial year in the Clarence Valley and council rangers say it is imperative people take responsibility for their animals.

FEB 17: AN UNSUSPECTING piglet, who enjoys neck scratches and attempts to bark like a dog, needs the community's help. Before meeting Arnold the pig, Rochelle Whitton experienced multiple tragedies.

When walking onto Mrs Whitton's property you can see the debris from the fire that destroyed nearly everything.

Whitton had just renovated her house and had moved in with her family, then three weeks later they awoke to a blaring smoke alarm.


Sasha Berry recovering in Lady Cilento Hospital, Brisbane.
Sasha Berry recovering in Lady Cilento Hospital, Brisbane.

FEB 19: THE Lawrence Museum needs your help to raise the roof on their new shed.

FEB 20: THEIR son was choked and thrown to the ground, yet police were called to deal with the parents after they entered the grounds at Grafton High School to retrieve him.

FEB 21: PEOPLE using clothing collection bins to dump their rubbish in are costing charities thousands of dollars a year. Manager Erin Hankin said the rubbish problem was costing the charity around $4000 a quarter in tip fees.


Janene Cleaver with her original adoption papers and the photo album she made for her real mum containing photos from her life, her children and grandchildren.
Janene Cleaver with her original adoption papers and the photo album she made for her real mum containing photos from her life, her children and grandchildren. Caitlan Charles

FEB 22: POLICE hold fears for the safety of missing Queensland man Keith Jones after his 34-foot Manitou ketch was found off the Clarence Coast with no one on board. The 65-year-old left the Hervey Bay Marina on Valentine's Day on the boat 'Wayfarer' and has not been seen since.

He was reported missing to Queensland Police on Monday, February 19, and an extensive search was conducted between Tweed Heads and north of Bundaberg, without success. Shortly before 3pm on Tuesday, police were informed of a vessel found adrift near the mouth of the Clarence River at Iluka.

FEB 23: CLARENCE River fishos' frustration with State politicians continues after a Bill to mandate labelling of Australian caught seafood in restaurants and other outlets failed to pass State Parliament.

FEB 24: HOW would you feel if a 10-storey tower was placed within metres of your home? In the small community of Nymboida, Brenden Stockdale is about to have a new neighbour - a 10-storey tall telecommunications tower only 8m from the boundary of his property.

In the early 2000s, Nymboida Shire Council rezoned the village to protect the Nymboida River - as the Clarence Valley's major water source - from being impacted by overpopulation.


Kerrie Tarrant with husband Andrew Tarrant, who is battling cancer.
Kerrie Tarrant with husband Andrew Tarrant, who is battling cancer. Adam Hourigan

FEB 26: THE ribbon had barely been cut on the new Sportsman's Creek bridge at Lawrence when 94-year-old Esther Smith went for a walk across. On the way back, lifelong resident of the area, Doug Short was halfway across admiring the view, watching as kids from the school excitedly ran up and down the road.

"It's a beautiful bridge, it's a great improvement for the area," Mr Short said."I didn't think I'd see a new bridge, I thought I'd leave it to the next generation, but it really does add value to our community."

Both Mr Short and Ms Smith walked across the newly-opened Grafton bridge when it opened in 1932, and were adamant they were going to see their town's new crossing open.

"It's just wonderful to see everyone in the community joining in, despite the rain," Ms Smith said.


Lawrence Public School students with long time Lawrence residents Doug Short and Esther Smith.
(clockwise from top left) Maclean Show cancelled, search for missing yachtsman, Janene Cleaver looks for her real mum, Sportman Creek bridge opens, Kerrie Tarrant with husband Andrew Tarrant, who is battling cancer, New CEO of Dougherty Villa Duncan McKimm with 93-year-old resident Fairlie Slater, A Clarence Valley fire fighter in Pillinga National Park, Sasha Berry recovering in Lady Cilento Hospital, Brenden Stockdale fights the Telstra tower outside his house. Adam Hourigan

FEB 27: YAMBA residents are blessed with a dog-friendly beach at their doorstep. However, there is increasing evidence many are abusing the privilege. At Pippi Beach dog owners are free to leave their dogs off the leash south of the access point, but not permitted at the northern end.

FEB 28: THREE simultaneous police raids in Maclean and Lismore have disrupted supply of the drug ice on the Lower Clarence. Police raided two addresses in Wharf St, Maclean, on Monday between 10.30am and 11am, resulting in the arrest of two men. A third man was arrested after police raided an address in Lismore, also on Monday morning.