New retained firefighters at Grafton station Andrew Bannister and Matthew Pennell.
New retained firefighters at Grafton station Andrew Bannister and Matthew Pennell. Adam Hourigan

Year in review: The biggest moments of February 2016

FEBRUARY 1: Minister for Corrections David Elliott back-flipped on an earlier comment, revealing the new Grafton corrections facility will house at least 1000 beds. When the project was first announced, Mr Elliott said there were no plans to expand the new facility beyond a 600-bed capacity.

FEBRUARY 2: The addition of 400 extra beds for the new Grafton prison would be cause for celebration except for one thing, according to the Public Service Association's Steve McMahon, who claimed the State Government's decision to have private contractors run the jail would funnel taxpayers' money offshore without improving safety.


FEBRUARY 3: It may prove difficult for the Clarence Valley to nab a share of the NSW Government's new $1 billion social housing fund, but it won't stop North Coast organisations from trying.

State Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said smaller organisations would have to work in a co-ordinated approach to quickly prepare a tender.

FEBRUARY 4: The first public information session on NSW Corrective Services' "flagship" development has proven to be a heated one, as about 120 members of the public public grilled Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin and Infrastructure NSW project director Greg Lake over the outlined plans for the new Grafton correctional centre.

FEBRUARY 5: A decision not to prosecute two men after a woman bled to death on a beach now Iluka is now back under review after NSW Attorney-General Garbrille Upton called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to reopen the case.

Prosecutors originally opted not to press charges against Adrian Attwater, 42, and Paul Maris, 46, despite State Coroner Michael Barnes finding they had lied about their role in the woman's death and destroyed evidence to save themselves from incrimination.

FEBRUARY 6: The historical concept of 'sanctuary' is being offered by Anglican churches across Australia to asylum seekers facing deportation, and leading this "moral stand" against the government's regime is former Dean of Grafton and the church's national spokesperson on refugee issues, Dr Peter Catt.

FEBRUARY 8: Nothing can keep Pocket Rocket Harmony Fielden's spirits down, even as she prepares for a 10-hour operation at Westmead Children's Hospital to help straighten her legs and reduce the impacts of her painful and rare condition called metaphyseal dysplasia.

"She is now on a research program at the moment to undergo genetic testing; they think she might be the only child in the world with her condition," Harmony's mother Samantha Fielden said.

FEBRUARY 9: A Corinidi Beach man sentenced to two years imprisonment for a "harrowing" domestic violence-related car chase into Grafton may walk free next week, pending the outcome of a district court appeal against the severity of his sentence.

FEBRUARY 10: A Clarence Valley tenderer has missed out on a $950,000 contract for drainage works at Wherrett Park, Maclean.

An extraordinary meeting of Clarence Valley Council voted instead to award the contract to a Sydney based firm.

FEBRUARY 11: Cases of dementia in the Clarence Valley are set to more than double by 2050, according to Alzheimer's Australia NSW research. The Valley is home to more than 1500 people living with dementia, the 12th highest number of cases in the state.

FEBRUARY 12: Michelle Baker is cold, wet, tired and in pain, after being forced to sleep rough after being kicked out of the home she was renting with her two young children and pet dog.

Despite being helped by two friends who are still in conversation with various agencies and departments, they have so far had no luck securing permanent accommodation.

FEBRUARY 13: Firearms, drugs, suspected stolen property and $190,000 in cash were seized by police at a South Grafton home after officers conducted a search warrant.

FEBRUARY 14: A teenager died after his car smashed into a tree at Coutts Crossing. The 19-year-old was critically injured in the accident on Burragan Rd and was trapped in his car for a number of hours before being spotted by passers-by.

FEBRUARY 16: A 35-year-old Centrelink employee who defrauded the agency of more than $10,000 to pay for a drug habit has been given a 10-month suspended jail sentence.

FEBRUARY 17: Almost all nurses in aged care have been victims of aggression from residents and witnessed abuse between patients who are unaware of their actions, but a NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association survey has revealed 61% of staff fear repercussions of they report an incident of assault against them.

FEBRUARY 18: There has not been much agreement over plans for McLachlan Park in Maclean, but for the first time in many years since council began planning an upgrade of the park, a vote has been unanimous.

A vote on Cr Andrew Baker's no-frills version of the park plan was voted unopposed to be submitted for costing.

FEBRUARY 19: Clarence Valley ratepayers smarting at the thought of their rates increasing 37% over five years should spare a thought for their counterparts in other local government areas around the state.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal released the list of the 12 councils who have applied for a rate rise above the rate peg, but Clarence Valley Council was nowhere near the top of the list.

FEBRUARY 20: Increased competition for lucrative sports tourism has provoked Clarence Valley Council to streamline its sponsorship process to attract events.

Council estimated that sports tourism has been worth more than $65 million for the local economy in recent years.

FEBRUARY 22: The North Coast remains at the bottom of the table when it comes to child immunisation rates, but Clarence Valley residents can hold their head high, with has an overall immunisation rate of 92.6%, which is above the national average.

FEBRUARY 23: A Yamba man with ambitions to become a church pastor may have to do so behind bars after being sentenced to prison over domestic violence and firearms charges.

FEBRUARY 24: The prospect of a new 1000- to 1700-bed jail for Grafton has the Grafton TAFE campus excited about the prospects it offers.

North Coast TAFE's leader business and community Tania Williams said the new jail offered opportunities during construction and with prisoner rehabilitation.

FEBRUARY 25: Six men and a teenager have been charged over the "sickening assault" of a 55-year-old man in his home during a break and enter at Whiteman Creek.

FEBRUARY 26: Seven high-risk domestic violence offenders from the Clarence Valley are likely to be among the first in the region to come under greater scrutiny through new laws allowing authorities to actively target repeat offenders.

FEBRUARY 27: Seven firearms were among the thousands of dollars worth of personal belonging stolen from two semi-rural properties.

Police confirmed they are examining the possibility to break and enters were committed by the same people.

FEBRUARY 28: A few inches and there could have been a very different outcome for Grafton cyclist Peter Hughes when he crash-landed head-first after his bicycle was clipped by a semi-trailer at Glenugie.

Wearing a helmet could have been the difference between life and death for the local police officer and Grafton Cycle Club member, who was training with a group for the annual Grafton to Inverell bike race.