Year in review: biggest stories of March 2018
MAR 1: RIPPED to pieces is how Kelly Jeffree described the injuries to her beloved horse Biscuit after a group of wild dogs viciously attacked it. On Friday, Ms Jeffree arrived home to her Fortis Creek property to discover Biscuit covered in lacerations and puncture wounds. But Biscuit was not the only one injured - Jade Rodgers' pinto mini Phoebe, who was being agisted on the property at the time, was also badly hurt.
MAR 2: THE beaches in the Clarence are a world-renowned asset, with people travelling far and wide to experience a piece of the serenity. However many beaches in the Clarence are suffering from problematic erosion, which has the power to wipe away our beaches. Wooli, Brooms Head, Woody Head and Yamba beaches are all being impacted by coastal erosion.
MAR 3: AS THE first slab was poured at the newly named Clarence Correctional Centre yesterday, the message was one of optimism, borne out of the will of the people of the Clarence to demand their voice was heard. Six years ago, The Daily Examiner campaigned alongside the people of Grafton, camping out with them at the front of the jail as it was closed and demanding better for the town.
MAR 5: THERE is no question that Right Reverend Dr Sarah Anne Macneil, Bishop of Grafton, will be missed. Four years ago, Bishop Sarah arrived in Grafton to a diocese in need of leadership and that is exactly what she provided. Through tears and well wishes, Bishop Sarah lay down her pastoral staff and said goodbye to the Grafton diocese. The 11th Bishop of Grafton moved into retirement with husband Ian Chaplin.
MAR 6: A VISIT from six Dutch university students could have planted the seed that grows into a change in the way authorities tackle flood mitigation in the Clarence Valley. The six masters students from Delft University of Technology visited the Valley late last month as part of a combined project with their university, Clarence Valley Council and Monash University.
MAR 7: STRONG growth in house sales and good rental returns in the Clarence Valley is the story behind the latest regional quarterly figures from property information service RP Data. Figures for the December quarter for Clarence Valley house prices have grown 9.4 per cent in the calendar year and unit prices by11.1 per cent.
MAR 8: PENSIONERS need to find a new way of getting rates relief if Clarence Valley Council's application for a special rates variation succeeds, a South Grafton man says. Retired railway engineer Alan Ryan said the pensioner rebate, which had remained fixed at $250 a year plus $87.50 each for water and sewerage since its introduction in the 1990s, was rapidly losing its effectiveness for pensioners whose incomes had not increased at a similar pace as rates.
MAR 9: AFTER 30 years as the gateway to the Jacaranda City, the South Grafton tourist information centre is about to change hands. The building fronted by an attractive water feature that Grafton City Council and the local business community worked tirelessly to develop in the late 1980s will be auctioned on April 12. The agency handling the sale, McKimms Real Estate, is excited at the prospect. "We've not handled many businesses under the tourism zoning," agent principal Angus McKimm said. "It's actually a flexible zoning, which allows a multitude of developments to take place."
MAR 10: CLARENCE Valley ratepayers could face higher charges be- cause of the Chinese Government's clampdown on imported waste. Clarence Valley Council waste and sustainability co-ordinator Ken Wilson said the Chinese decision (National Sword Policy) to impose restrictions on accepting recyclable materials with more than 0.5 per cent of contaminants would have an impact on recycling in the Clarence but it was too early to say to what extent.
MAR 12: THE construction of the new Grafton bridge will result in a local sporting club moving from premises it has occupied for more than 70 years.
The Clarence River Sailing Club, which operates from its sheds in Salty Seller Park in the shadow of the Grafton Bridge, has applied to Clarence Valley Council to move its operation downstream to Corcoran Park.
MAR 13: THE venue has changed but the vote of confidence in Grafton's Prince St remains, as a major retail outlet begins to set up shop. Last month The Daily Examiner reported the family owner of the Sportspower franchise was moving into the old Dick Smith building. Within days that plan fell through but Sportspower Super Warehouse owner James Reeves sourced another site at 137 Prince St, in the old Awsum Body fitness centre premises and Buckley's Music Store.
MAR 14: IT WAS a busy Christmas season for Clarence Valley hospitals last year but staff pushed through to maintain standards of treatment. The figures come from the latest BHI Health Care Quarterly Report for October to December 2017 released yesterday and it painted a positive light on our health services. Grafton Base Hospital emergency department had a 5.8 per cent increase in the number of presentations compared with the same period in 2016, with 6690 presentations, while Maclean District Hospital had a 7.8 per cent increase in emergency presentations, with 3304 using the facility.
MAR 15: AN ILUKA man who rammed his ex-partner's car and attempted to push it into the Clarence River near Harwood was sentenced in Maclean Local Court on Tuesday. Joshua Brian Page, 33, appeared in court for sentencing on six sets of criminal charges, dating back to September last year, charges to which he pleaded guilty.
MAR 16: TRUCK driver Paul Warren already had one brush with death this week before a frightening collision on the Pacific Highway at Tabbimobile on Wednesday. He saw a Kenworth in his lane as he rounded a blind corner in South Australia and, with no time to think, took his only option. "I went bush at 100km/h," he said. "Just had to ride it out."
MAR 17: THEY were assured no fishermen would be left behind but that's not how some commercial fishermen on the Clarence River feel. For the past 22 years Andrew Finn has fished the waters of the Clarence River. But when the NSW Government brought in its commercial fishing reforms in December last year he was forced to sell part of his business after the buy-out process failed him.
MAR 19: TWISTING words and a lack of transparency is how Nymboida resident Brenden Stockdale has described his dealings with Telstra over the installation of a telecommunications tower, under the Federal Blackspot program, less than 10 metres from his property line. Mr Stockdale has spent the last six weeks fighting the location of a new tower designed to give Nymboida residents access to 4G coverage.
MAR 20: THE Clarence Valley is rich in a lot of things but according to new explorations by mining company Castillo Copper, we can add an extensive mineralisation system to the list. In mid-2017 the West Australian company began looking into the untapped potential at the old Cangai Copper Mine, which operated in the early 1900s.
MAR 21: THE North Coast Public Health Unit has confirmed a Maclean resident has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease. The person has been admitted to Lismore Base Hospital and North Coast Public Health Unit assistant director Greg Bell says all close contacts of the person have been identified, with other contacts given information about the disease.
MAR 22: HAYLEY Talbot has seen more of the beauty of the Clarence River than most, solo paddling down it last year from its source to the mouth at Yamba. But it's what she can't see any more at the lake on her doorstep that worries her. Ms Talbot is the face of a YouTube video produced by environmental scientist Nick O'Brien and group Valley Watch asking for the reasons for the disappearance of the sea grass within Lake Wooloweyah to be a priority in next year's revised management plan.
MAR 23: CLARENCE Valley mental health and well-being groups have banded together to provide input into the NSW Government's framework being created to reduce the rate of suicide across NSW. The Mental Health Commission of NSW is developing the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention, which will build on current and past work at a State and Commonwealth level.
MAR 24: WHILE the NSW Mid North Coast battles floods and Queensland braces for the impact of Tropical Cyclone Nora, which is expected to become a severe Category 3, the Clarence Valley again misses the worst of some of the year's storms. Twelve months on from Cyclone Debbie, when the Clarence Valley's toes were dipped into minor flooding, our neighbours to the north experienced mass flooding and storms that left them with billions of dollars in damage.
MAR 26: AFTER three years of working out of shipping containers at Clarence Valley Regional Airport in Grafton, Clarence Valley Rural Fire Service will soon have a new airbase. After receiving funding for the $700,000 project and completing an extensive tender process for the building of the project, which will include a storage facility and operations building, started on Friday last week.
MAR 27: KEVIN Hogan has been elected, unopposed, as the new deputy speaker. The Federal Member for Page said this was a humbling experience, as usually the Labor Party would have someone else run for the position, but not this time. "They were happy to not oppose me in the role," he said.
MAR 28: VOLUNTEERING is a community affair in the Clarence Valley, with residents jumping at the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to offer their skills for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Volunteers - or "Games Shapers" as they are known - will work across 24 locations, including the Commonwealth Games village, official hotels and competition venues.
MAR 29: "THEY have been left behind and I know I said they wouldn't be left behind because I was reassured the year after they had been reassured they would come out of the restructures on top." Following the Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair's letter published in The Daily Examiner on March 14, which declared the fishing reforms a success, Mr Gulaptis said successful was not how Clarence Valley fishermen had described the reforms to him.
MAR 31: THE EASTER break had hardly began on Thursday afternoon when a collision between a bus and B-double truck caused chaos on the Pacific Highway. It was a lucky escape for the occupants of both vehicles, with no injuries reported, but the crash highlights calls by NSW Police to slow down and take care during the long weekend.