Power 30: Clarence Valley's most influential #23-26

26. Michael Rowe

BRINGING a university to the Clarence Valley has been a dream that escaped local planners for more than 50 years, until Southgate's Michael Rowe stepped up to the plate.

A chance encounter with the founder of Country Universities Centre's Duncan Taylor has led to the imminent opening of a Grafton campus of the CUC next year.

While Mr Rowe likes to downplay his role in bringing what is shaping as the next generation in tertiary education to the Clarence, what he has done has been critical.

He was able to convince Mr Taylor to come to Grafton in late 2017 to tell local educators and officials what they could expect from a CUC.

Simultaneously he was able to lobby all tiers of government for support which has included a $1.3 million grant from the State Government to establish the centre in Grafton.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Because of his efforts there is a vibrant community committee assembled to ensure locals can get a university education without being forced to leave home.

25. Niomi Sands

DESPITE only having been being in the Clarence Valley for the past few months, newly appointed Grafton Regional Gallery director Niomi Sands has wasted no time in positioning the institution as a 21st century cultural destination.

Previously she was curator at the much-talked about Glasshouse in Port Macquarie.

Her experience in the contemporary arts landscape has already been invaluable as she directs and oversees next year's $7.6 million transformation of the gallery - one of the most significant investments in the Clarence Valley's cultural infrastructure to date.

Ms Sands has also quickly endeared herself to all facets of the broad gallery community. Her experience and relatability means she is just as proficient navigating various tiers of government as she is with encouraging and supporting the institution's many volunteers and organisations. Watch this space.

24. Peter Watt

INTERNATIONAL best-selling author Peter Watt could be claimed as the Clarence Valley's own Wilbur Smith. Having amassed millions of fans across the world with his adventurous tales, rich in history, Peter quietly works away from his home in Maclean.

A Clarence Valley "local" for more than a decade now, when he's not working on his next novel, he's volunteering for the Rural Fire Service, a pursuit that borrows the same stamina, vigilance and discipline required to execute one of his 400-page odysseys.

A former soldier, article clerk, deckhand, labourer, salesman, policeman and advisor to the constabulary in New Guinea, his own life's journey seemingly as colourful as one of his fascinating plots.

The prolific writer has released close to 20 novels during his career, his latest one The Queen's Colonial, the first in his new series is hot off the press and just in time for Christmas.

23. Jeremy Jablonski

YOUTH advocate, dance teacher, business owner and event organiser, Jeremy Jablonski wears a lot of hats.

From his regular DJ nights Evolution to organising youth-led events and donating his time for the betterment of the Clarence Valley, in the lastpast few years Jeremy has made a name for himself in the community for his selfless and hard-working nature.

Jeremy is the president of Clarence Youth Action, a youth group that has been recognised on a national scale for the work they do in the community, and owner Jempire Events, an event company based out of the Clarence Valley who work up and down the North Coast.

He also teaches hip-hop and finds time to be a youth worker with the New School of Arts in between.

CORRECTION: It was originally printed that Jeremy was one half of Jempire Events. 

No. 26: Michael Rowe
No. 26: Michael Rowe
No. 25 Niomi Sands
No. 25 Niomi Sands Adam Hourigan
No. 24 Peter Watt
No. 24 Peter Watt Contributed
Jeremy Jablonski was named Young Citizen of the Year at the Clarence Valley Australia Day Awards on January 25, 2018.
Jeremy Jablonski was named Young Citizen of the Year at the Clarence Valley Australia Day Awards on January 25, 2018. Caitlan Charles


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