Who will be in our Power 30?

Power 30: Clarence Valley's Most Influential 2017



MEMBER for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has come a long way since sporting that 'save our jail' T-shirt five years ago.

The garment, initially worn by the protesters rallying to save the Grafton Correctional Centre from being closed, unceremoniously pulled over his head in front of a cast of thousands in what could be described as one of the Clarence's finest moments of public humble pie eating on record.  

It could also be said it was the catalyst, the pivotal moment for the still 'fledgling' politician who admitted "I stuffed up" for not standing up for his community.  

The response, an awkward mix of booing and clapping, was a hard lesson to swallow in front of one of the biggest crowds, he admitted recently, he had ever fronted.  

Since taking over the seat vacated after then member Steve Cansdell resigned due to his own shortcomings when he was exposed by a former staff member (falsifying a statutory declaration over a speeding fine), Chris Mr Gulaptis has slowly regained the community's trust and confidence, as far as people are willing to give to the much-maligned politician, at least.  

The once very popular mayor of Maclean Shire rode into the political landscape on the back of the town's flying fox issue, earning the tag of Batman in the press and giving him the traction that saw him in that role for four years. He was an outspoken opponent of the council amalgamation, reading the mood of Lower River ratepayers over his reign.   

Despite a brief time away from the Clarence, his local government profile helped the qualified surveyor and Maclean small business operator enter the next level of politics when he returned to stand for the seat of Clarence.  

Fast forward to today and you would hardly recognise that guy in the jail shirt with his head down (health concerns have dogged him lately and been raised in the media but it's business as usual until we hear otherwise).   

The community-first, politics-second jail lesson he learned in 2012 came in handy in 2016 when he crossed the floor to protest the then premier Mike Baird's greyhound ban, a reactionary move that saw Baird eventually backflip and ultimately seal his own political fate. In-house retribution saw Gulaptis stripped of his North Coast parliamentary secretary role but was later reinstated in a regional planning capacity.  

Then there's the highway upgrade. It's been a long time coming but he and his colleague Kevin Hogan are the men in the hot seat during the biggest pieces of infrastructure in the Clarence Valley many of us will see in our lifetimes. The multi-billion-dollar project will be life-changing for Clarence motorists as the travel times between major centres become shorter and safer.   

Another piece of history being upgraded on Gulaptis's watch is the new Grafton bridge, the running joke of whether it is really happening dismissed daily by the cranes that fill the skyline as you cross the antiquated bendy construction.

Relief from The gridlock that has been been a common sight most days is set to be a thing of the past come 2019.    Perhaps the most significant and ironic achievement of Gulaptis's tenure as Member for Clarence is that his electorate will be home to one of Australia's largest prisons come 2020, a multi-million dollar exercise providing a predicted $560million injection into the community. Time for a new t-shirt perhaps.   

Who are the most influential people in the Clarence Valley?

This poll ended on 12 December 2017.

Current Results

Dr Allan Tyson


Ashley Lindsay


Avery Brown


Bill Collingburn


Bill Dougherty


Bill North


Bob & Judith Little


Cate McQuillen & Hewey Eustace


Chris Gulaptis


Danielle Adams


Danny Wicks


Danny Young


Darren Jameson


Geoff Shepherd


Greg Butcher


Harry Singh


Jim Bindon


Jim Simmons


John Edwards


Jude McBean


Kevin Hogan


Mark Mitchell


Michael Beattie


Mike Dougherty


Notaras Family


Richie Williamson


Sally Rogers


Dr Sam Martin


Sharryn Usher


Skye Sear


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


AT 88 years of age Bill Dougherty has been a dominant feature in the life of Grafton people for 70 years.  

With his involvement in the community as a sportsman, pillar of the local Catholic Church, bookmaker, Grafton City councillor, real estate agent, hotelier, financier and aged care founder, there are not many walks of life where Bill has not made a contribution.  

A young Bill Dougherty began to appear on the public record as a competitor with the Yamba Surf Club in the years after World War IITwo.  

This interest began a life-long association with the surf club, including a stint as president in the 1970s.  

Fresh out of Woodlawn College, the young Dougherty pulled on the footy boots for the Grafton All Blacks rugby league team as a dashing fullback in the late 1940s until 1952, when the arrival of the first of the nine Dougherty children, Mary, convinced him his footy playing days should end.  

When Bill purchased bought the Royal Tavern in the early 1950s, he became the youngest publican in the sState and began a business career that has taken the Dougherty family influence well beyond the borders of the Clarence Valley.

By the late 1950s Bill and brother Peter were looking for new opportunities and were able to buy a real estate and insurance business from Carl Pitt.  

By the early 1960s Bill had attracted the attention of the NSW Real Estate Institute, which invited him to become the first country member on its board.  

In 1964, when Grafton retailers could not get finance for their customers for sewing machines, televisions, washing machines and other goods, Bill with brother Peter established Westlawn Finance to come to their aid.  

By the 1970s Bill's long association with the St Vincent de Paul Society, along with his experience in real estate, convinced him there was a need to house and care for the elderly that was not being met.  

He was a founder of the Clarence Village, initially driving the public fundraising and lobbying government to establish the initial self-care units.  

Bill chaired the board of Clarence Village for 40 years before handing over the reins in 2009 while remaining as vice-chairman until 2015.   

He only stepped down as a board member in October this year.   Through these decades Bill maintained a passion for racing, working as a bookmaker until 2005.  

Bill and wife Dot are also pillars of the local Catholic Church, contributing tirelessly to its charitable work in the region.  



EVER since they arrived in the Clarence region in the '90s Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace have been an inspiring and endearing presence on our landscape.  

From their early years as one of the most popular musical outfits performing on our circuit in the Two Pot Screamers to the eco-warriors whose creative genius has seen the world introduced to the young environmental pioneer Dirtgirl, the passion that drives this socially-aware pair is unstoppable.  

Using their entertainment pedigree to educate and encourage the world to love and respect their environment is not only having a massive impact here in the Clarence but also around the world.   The launch of Dirtgirlworld on the ABC in 2009 made an immediate impact as children's eyes were opened, in turn their parents, as the show's mantra of getting outside and getting grubby resonated with families from Coolangatta to Canada.   

The program went on to be broadcast in 128 countries and Dirtgirl and her friends continue to amass a green army of followers through their social media platform and programs created right here in our region.  

Back in our own backyard, the dynamite duo drove the three-bin system that has transformed our recycling habits, working alongside Clarence Valley Council to see it implemented including the delightfully refreshing rebranding of its fleet of garbage trucks. Not only has this been responsible for breaking entrenched wasteful habits, it also ensures the arrival of the garbage truck brings a level of household excitement never seen before.   

On a state level the duo's Compost Rocks program provided toolkits for councils across the state to adopt and encourage families to rediscover the benefits of backyard composting.   

The numerous local, national and international awards (including an Emmy and a BAFTA) being collected along the way is testament to the "power" this humble but determined pair have, as they go about living and breathing their message of how you can live more sustainably in a consumer-driven world.   We are fortunate the former Melburnians decided to make this place their home.  


GOING into the 2016 Clarence Valley Council elections, there was much conjecture about who might be the next mayor, but the name Jim Simmons was not the nameone on everyone's lips.  

But there was no doubting who the nine councillors wanted when he emerged from the vote with a 7-2 majority behind him. Also important were the words the councillors used to describe their new leader - "honest", "integrity", "unifying", "positive" and "hard-working".  

The Maclean-based accountant is perfectly placed to fulfil his aim of bringing both ends of the Clarence Valley together.  

He was born and raised in South Grafton, played football for all the Valley rugby league clubs, was a public servant and worked for the NSW Canegrowers Association before establishing his accountancy firm in Maclean.  

Jim was under no illusions about thedifficulty of his task, holding the council together during arguably its most difficult period since it was formed in 2004.  

Right now the council is pushing ahead with two of its most controversial projects: a multi-million-dollar super depot for South Grafton and a proposal to impose a special rates variation on the region over the next three years.   

Supporting both will not win a popularity contest, but you can be sure that's the last thing on his mind as he does his job.  



MEMBER for Page Kevin Hogan had big shoes to fill after defeating popular sitting member Janelle Saffin in 2013.

After an unsuccessful initial attempt in 2010 against the Labor dynamo, the former Casino school teacher claimed victory the second time around and Page was returned to its familiar National Party roots. Hogan proved he was no one-hit wonder, retaining the seat in 2016.   

Saffin was an effective campaigner, her multi-million dollar legacies to the Clarence including the new Grafton library, super clinic and upgrade of the Grafton Base Hospital, a tough act to follow but one that the Clunes farmer has ploughed away at ever since, resulting in some impressive wins along the way.  

The $1million for Maclean's Wherrett Park, the Grafton Airport upgrade, the $3million McLachlan Park waterfront redevelopment, and record funding for aged care beds are among his achievements.  

Of course, Hogan is also in the captain's chair while the majority federally funded Pacific Highway upgrade through his electorate powers ahead to meet its 2020 target. The economic boon and monumental improvement of our major infrastructure asset is a star project.  

But perhaps the most emotionally charged of all his campaigning for the Clarence area was the drive and passion he put into helping to secure a much-needed Headspace for the community, that is set to open before Christmas.   

As someone who knows Hogan said recently, he is as passionate about working with small groups as he is about driving the big projects. When he talks about his work, it's always from a grassroots perspective, about the community, not the politics or pumping the party ideology, they said.  


CLARENCE Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay has one of the toughest jobs in the region, but is the man best qualified to handle it.  

When he took on the role as acting general manager in March following the resignation of former general manager Scott Greensill, the council was at a low ebb.  

"I guess one of the things I noticed (when stepping into the role)... was that we'd really lost the staff and the organisation had lost the community's trust," he said in an interview with The Daily Examiner just after he was appointed as general manager.

"So I've worked hard to get out into the community, from chamber of commerce meetings to meeting residents who have had issues with the council," Mr Lindsay said.  

"I think council has got a lot of work to do with respect to community engagement."   Earning respect from the community is something that comes naturally to Mr Lindsay.  

The former North Sydney Bears hooker loves nothing better than to spend weekend mornings refereeing and being involved with junior rugby league.  

On the financial side he is fully across the council's money worries and what needs to be done to make the Clarence Valley Fit for the Future.  



TWO things come to mind when you think of Grafton's Notaras family. Timber and Tinsel Town.   Ever since the family arrived in the Grafton area from Greece in the early 20th century, they have been making their mark on the place.   

From the construction of the city's iconic cinema, the Saraton (Notaras spelled backwards), to the family timber mill that has been operating since the 1950s, it's a name that resonates for generations of Clarence Valley dwellers.   One of the family's more memorable double acts was that of the late brothers Brinos and Spiro, who operated the family's timber mill in South Grafton. While frontman Spiro was the more outspoken of the two, when it came to advocating industry matters, Brinos certainly didn't hold back when it came to getting their message across. A loyal, long-serving staff is testament to the family-orientated focus the brothers promoted.   

In recent years Spiro and his cousin Angelo held the reins as they oversaw the multi-million-dollar transformation of their family's cinema, taking our big screen movie experiences into the 21st century, the gift to the city of Grafton that keeps on giving.   

The restoration of the historically significant Art Deco theatre, Australia's largest (950 seats) and oldest, has made it one of the country's most desirable performance spaces. It now attracts the cream of our national and international entertainers as word spreads of its appeal - a monumental achievement and one of which the late Spiro was extremely proud.   

Today Angelo, Spiro's son John and their loyal staff continue to carry on the family's business interests as new generations come to know the legacy that is the Notaras name.   



THE term social justice warrior kept coming up as a way to describe Skye Sear when her name was added to our Top 10 list of Clarence Valley influencers.  

And whether she agrees or not, it's an expression that probably best describes this passionate advocate for social inclusion.  

Skye has been at the helm of the New School of Arts in South Grafton for the past decade, operating the neighbourhood centre in the truest sense of the word.  

With its broad-reaching services from early childhood and after-school care, soup kitchen and mental health support, volunteer co-ordination role and safe spaces it provides, it's a 'drop-in' centre like no other in the Clarence.   But you need more than vision and passion to effectively steer a community hub like this.  

In the social justice arena there are plenty of noise makers short on substance but Skye Sear makes things happen.    Knowledgeable and articulate, a well-informed campaigner who is not afraid to speak out but also knows when to listen, her ability to effectively collaborate with government agencies is testament to this.   

When she met with Deputy Premier John Barilaro earlier this year, so effective was her dialogue and the impression she made he went away and found the money for them.  

Skye exudes going above and beyond, her integrity and drive providing great mentorship for her colleagues as they witness the wonderful changes that occur under her leadership.  



THERE is one man in particular the Clarence Valley is looking to for a solution to its most talked about crime, the whereabouts of missing school teacher Sharon Edwards.  

Coffs Clarence Police Command crime manager, Detective Inspector Darren Jameson, has been on the case since Mrs Edwards disappeared after a night out in March 2015.  

Soon after her disappearance Det Insp Jameson made the announcement the case would be a murder investigation and it quickly became apparent Mrs Edwards' husband John was a main suspect.  

In June Task Force Burrows announced it had arrested Mr Edwards and charged him with his wife's murder.  

But still the vexing question remains: where is Sharon Edwards? As important as that case has become, Det Insp Jameson's responsibilities go much wider.  

In his own words, he is "responsible for all crime response matters as well as the strategic approach to reducing crime and generally making the community safer.  

"This requires strong leadership and management skill to inspire our command personnel to take up the innovative and proactive strategies developed to fight crime."  

This has included a no-nonsense approach to street crime and anti-social behaviour which has cut the incidence of both in the region. He also has a zero-tolerance to drug use, resulting in an ongoing operation targeting drug distribution and use in his command which includes both the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour.  

Det Inspector Jameon is the command's crime spokesperson who uses his media skills to establish relationships and lines of communication, with this communication improving engagement with the community.    



IF YOU'RE a holidaymaker in Yamba chances are you have stayed at Mark Mitchell's place. Or one of them at least.  

For some families it has been a ritual that is passed down from generation to generation, an annual meeting place that sees them returning to Yamba year after year, decade after decade.  

Mitchell is the visionary and foreman to the family's tourism institutions - the Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort, and the Angourie Rainforest Resort.  

The Blue Dolphin has been attracting holidaymakers to Yamba long before it was featured on those trendy online holiday destination lists. Long before the internet in fact.  

Its enviable prime waterfront position on the approach to the township, a sprawling luscious 16 acres of gardens is an accessible oasis geared for families and people looking to create affordable beachside memories with a touch of nostalgia.  

Down the road you will find Mitchell's ambitious Angourie Rainforest Resort which saw a former horse ranch transformed in 2001 to become a well-thought out, family-friendly, eco-resort which was way ahead of its time.  

And while the Mitchell family has downsized their holdings to become co-owners of the multi-million-dollars developments as they move away from the day-to-day operations, Mitchell is still heavily involved in any new projects like the 2014 redevelopment of the Blue Dolphin to incorporate a water park and pool bar complex, bringing the resort up to the standards holidaymakers expect today.  

Mitchell's other business interests also extend to earthmoving and residential developments, as well as his passion projects motorsports and, of course, driving tourism in Yamba.  

A long-time member of tourism boards, this visionary has been instrumental in changing the face of the port town that hasve not only reshaped the landscape but also the community.  



HARRY Singh is a true enigma as we count down the 30 most influential people in the Clarence Valley.

He wields immense influence in the town where he and his family have enjoyed a rags to riches rise but he plays his cards close to his chest.

Older Graftonians remember Harry and his brothers selling apples and other fruit door to door as youngsters as the family established its business in town.

He has established a reputation for being a tough but fair businessman, who sticks his guns when managing an extensive property portfolio that takes in a large section of the Grafton CBD.

Although his interests extend outside the Jacaranda City, he maintains a strong interest in the city and has big visions for what he might do with his interests in the future.




IN APRIL 2013, Dr Allan Tyson was due to take centre stage for the opening of a section of the redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital.

He made it, but not before he was called away to help deliver a baby. In a nutshell, that captures Allan's role at the hospital in the 20-plus years he has worked there.

He's been a relentless lobbyist for medical services for the region, whether it's through carefully cultivated political contacts or his presence on bodies like the Area Health Board and the Staff Medical Council.

His work as an anaesthetist and emergency doctor also brings home the shortcomings of medical services in rural areas, inspiring him to fight harder for improvements.

A grateful community rewarded his work by naming him the Jacaranda Festival Guest of Honour in 2013.



NOT many people exemplify the phrase 'knowledge is power' in the same way Avery Brown did in his 28-year career with the Aboriginal Legal Service.

When he retired from the ALS earlier this year, he fielded calls from around the state from colleagues wondering how the service could replace his knowledge and experience.

Avery set the bar high when he first joined in the early 1980s to be a liaison between his people and the legal system.

Strictly old school in his approach to the job, Avery's strength was making sure he followed through on every avenue available for his clients.

His retirement has not spelt the end of his involvement with both his people and the wider community, as he has been able to step up his involvement with the New School of Arts in South Grafton.


There's no question that Richie Williamson has a presence around the Clarence. When you aren't listening to his familiar voice on breakfast radio, you are likely to encounter him in Grafton's main street where more times than not, he's in conversation with someone who has stopped him for a chat.

That kind of rapport with people is why he's a popularly elected councillor and former mayor of some eight years the number of openings he had officiated over the years, not worth trying to estimate.

Richie's affable nature, interest in government and love of his community is a combination that saw him have a (unsuccessful) tilt as an independent at state politics a few years ago, which gives you the impression there's more where that came from.

As mayor Richie saw council through the difficult transformational years of amalgamation providing the high profile thread that pulled the process together.

Heavily involved in his community, the avid cricketer and unofficial mayor of Coutts Crossing is the longest serving councillor on the current team that often lean heavily on his experience and influence.



DANIELLE Adams is one of the few female industry bosses in the Clarence Valley. Even more unlikely, the industry she is in charge of is also one of the blokiest - fishing.

Coming from another male-dominated field, the car industry, may have stood Danielle in good stead as when she was appointed the General Manager of the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative in Maclean in 2012, the first female general manager in the co-op's 72-year history.

In her short time at the helm, the former Central Coaster has gained the trust and respect of the industry through her shrewd thinking, confident direction, and strong work ethic.

Her commitment and loyalty to her shareholders means the co-op has one fierce ally on their side which is particularly salient during this tumultuous time in the industry. Not one to suffer fools, Danielle's determination to ensure fishermen's rights are protected has been proven time and time again.



STEERING the Grafton Regional Gallery for almost half its existence, its director Jude McBean has brought a steady but effective hand to the 30-year-old institution.

The arts graduate has overseen a remarkable expansion of its collections of local, national and international significance.

Apart from acquiring the complete works of the local legends the O'Grady sisters and the entire back catalogue of gallery patron's Ken Done's screen prints, there is the rise and rise of the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award. This translates to our gallery now being in possession of one of the most important collections of contemporary drawing in the country.

But perhaps the most significant addition to the collection room are the rare JW Lindt photographs. Bought at auction by Sydney's Cullen family in 2008, they had never been to Grafton before their meeting with Jude but chose the gallery as the benefactor ahead of other interested parties including the Mitchell Library and the Art Gallery of NSW.

This collection has transcended its artistic and cultural significance to also become a powerful conduit in fostering a strong relationship with the first nations people of the Clarence.



CLARENCE Village board chairman Geoff Shepherd comes across as a favourite grandfather, but his kindly demeanour is paired with a sharp mind, making him a leader in his field.

His training as an accountant and running a successful travel business seem to have prepared him perfectly for his current role heading up one of the leading aged care providers in the region.

Geoff took over the chairmanship at Clarence Village in 2009 from Clarence Valley patriarch Bill Dougherty OAM and has not looked back.

At this year's annual meeting, it announced a $1-million net surplus for the year, the first time all the group's facilities have operated at a sufficient surplus to meet the forecast need for long-term refurbishment and replacement costs.

Looking ahead, Geoff has noted the growth of the industry in the Valley and is relishing the prospect of competing with new arrivals to the region.



GRAFTON Ghosts' first grade rugby league captain-coach Danny Wicks has turned around a real low point in his football career to become a role mode for all sports people.

Rather than let an 18-month jail term for drug dealing and a premature end to his NRL career define his life, Danny has thrown himself into a leader's role at the club which gave him a start in the sport as a junior, taking it to an undefeated Group 2 Premiership earlier this year.

Off the field, Danny has been just as impressive.

Club officials have spoken about how pleasantly surprised they were to see Danny working behind the scenes with younger players, passing on tips on how to handle themselves away from the game.

Danny Wicks has shown how sport can positively shape young lives from any starting point and for that reason he has earned his spot in the Clarence Valley's Power 30.




"WE'RE well and truly back," Clarence River Jockey Club chief executive officer Michael Beattie said after watching Mr O'ceirin win the 100th Grafton Cup in 2013.

That simple statement reflected Mr Beattie's ambition when offered a chance to return to Grafton to head up the CRJC and to ensure the July Racing Carnival shored up its reputation as the premier country racing carnival.

He was a man on a mission as he searched for ways to overcome dwindling crowds and the reluctance of the big-name trainers to nominate horses for the carnival.

Five years into his return Mr Beattie continues to work on the deceptively simple formula that ensures July Carnival success. Using all the considerable contacts he has gathered in a lifetime in the racing industry he is able to attract the best horses, trainers and jockeys to ensure crowds get the best racing action.



GIVEN Dr Sam Martin initially didn't plan to base himself in the Clarence, the orthopaedic surgeon has more than made up for that since he arrived in 2011.

After missing out on the Lismore job he had his heart set on, he accepted a position at Grafton Base, the first specialist in his field to be appointed.

Dr Martin found himself in awe of the place so much so when our northern neighbours came calling again later with that same job offer, he turned it down.

Now the good doctor has big plans for the place: the development of a specialist centre and private hospital adjacent to the Grafton Base Hospital, an ambitious project that will provide private health care options never seen on this scale for the residents of the Clarence.

While he's not working on that project, he is pioneering knee reconstruction surgery through his ground- breaking, innovative techniques. His vision brings much-needed clout to a regional centre that lacks the specialists you generally only find north and south of the Clarence.



NOT many people think, "Oh, I can't wait to go food shopping", when the inevitable trip to the supermarket comes around. But if you live in Maclean, it's understandable if you do, thanks to Bob and Judith Little.

The husband and wife team are behind Australia's "friendliest" supermarkets, or at least that's the theme running through the many titles SPAR Supermarket Maclean has claimed since the mid-80s under the Littles' tenure.

Their business has been responsible for training thousands of Lower Clarence kids in customer service while instilling strong work ethics. Their much-loved motto We Pack, We Carry, We Care is no token promise to its customers.

The historical business still holds the title of Australia's longest continually running grocery store (established 1883) and is also a powerhouse when it comes to supporting the community in which it operates.

In a country where two supermarket giants have the monopoly, SPAR Maclean is still standing tall.



IF YOU'RE a Clarence coffee aficionado, then chances are you have consumed a few Boteros since the Maclean-based business began crafting its signature brews in 2009/2010.

But you certainly don't have to be in the Valley to indulge in a cup of the custom-roasted, fair-trade blends developed by its entrepreneurial founder Danny Young.

In fact you can be just about anywhere in the country where good coffee is king and you will see the brand's distinctive moniker.

The Harwood Island kid's vision for creating the best coffee he could roast is now a nationally recognised challenger in a very competitive field.

Danny and his wife Jilly, who has her own line of specialist teas, have created the business from scratch which now employs a sizeable team of loyal, passionate staff.

Danny's factory/cafe would not look out of place in an international city but, instead, a river town of 2600 is the home of the burgeoning business operation.

The Botero brand has broadened its appeal to include superior dining experiences and a commanding presence in a signature store in Brisbane city's Adelaide Street.



MIKE Dougherty came to prominence as the Dougherty family expanded its business empire in the 1970s.  

He joined Westlawn when the company was transforming into a full local finance company after nearly decade of operations on a smaller scale.  

He helped oversee the diversification into the property sector with the acquisition and development of commercial real estate.  

In that time Westlawn has grown beyond the bounds of the Clarence Valley, establishing offices across Northern NSW.  

Mike Dougherty brought his finance expertise to Ford and Dougherty Real Estate earlier this year, taking up a director's role as they put together an operation to provide locally tailored real estate solutions for local people.   Mike's other passion he shares with many in the Clarence is horse racing, where he is a keen owner and trainer. 



YAMBA's Bill Collingburn knows a thing or two about building boats.   

The man at the helm of Yamba Welding and Engineering for the past 43 years, his humble beginning due to the lack of work around for an ex-navy boat builder has grown to cater to specialist private constructions to million dollar government contracts with clients like Australian Border Force.  

His niche market of providing large aluminium boats sees his operation at the top of the tree here in Australia providing vessels that meet national and international standards ensuring his innovative and precise work transcends the Clarence they operate in.  

Many young apprentices have been trained under Collingburn's mantra of high standards of craftmanship, superior skills they take with them for life.  

His current plans to expand to include a marine industrial precinct at Palmers Island is ambitious and not without it detractors or hurdles but if it gets the go ahead has the potential to triple the company's output. Not bad for a Clarence business that already employs 32 including 10 apprentices and spends $2m a year here. 



BIG RIVER Group general manager Jim Bindon's has outstanding credentials for a spot in the Power 30.  

For more than a decade he has headed one of the region's oldest family-owned businesses and overseen its transition first to private equity ownership, then in May this year, to its listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.  

The public float has been a rousing success, both for the company and investors who snapped up the initial public offering of shares at $1.47.  

By mid-November the share price peaked at $2.32, an annualised return of close to 50 per cent.  

Equally as impressive has been the company's handling of its workers after a disastrous fire at its Junction Hill factory in November 2014.  

As it has done during other times of industry downturn, the company adopted strategies to keep as many workers on the job as possible.    



WHILE the current editor of The Daily Examiner has only been in hot seat for a few months, the role that comes with warming that chair is one with a very long and important history.  

Bill North took over the reins at 158-year-old media institution which has been Clarence Valley voice for longer than most of us can remember. Impressively it still holds the title of the longest, continuously running regional daily, a rare feat in this challenging age of newspaper publishing.  

And while what constitutes being an editor in the 21st century has substantially changed since the days of the prolific John Moorhead (1960-1977),

Bill knows that getting involved in the community with whatever 'spare' time you may have is part and parcel of steering a community newspaper.   

When he's not sitting in front of a computer screen, you may have seen the seasoned Thespian treading the boards for local productions at both the Pelican Playhouse and the Criterion Theatre or out on Clarence cricket and soccer fields.  




WHILE his day job is that of a hearing specialist, Greg Butcher's 'hobby' also ensures what you are able to listen to is quite extraordinary.

Conductor, artistic director and founder of the Clarence Valley Orchestra and Choir, Greg is the driving force behind our most prolific concerts. The Afternoon at the Proms series draws huge audiences every time and amasses funds which are directly funnelled back into the community.

Each year he raises the entertainment bar. The roll call of stars participating in his productions never ceases to impress. From Nicholas Hammond of Sound of Music fame, to celebrity pianist and character David Helfgott and the recent Christmas Carols event with Monica Trapaga funded by the Proms's proceeds, Greg Butcher is certainly a musical man on a mission.

But don't just take our word for it, even the NSW Premier thinks so. The former navy band member's dedication to arts in the Clarence was acknowledged by a surprise presentation of a State Government Community Service Award (one of two issued by the premier's office in the area each year) at the weekend's carols which he accepted in between directing the event and conducting the choir. Bravo.



THE photo of a tiny Sharryn Usher throwing her dimunitive figure in front of prison trucks during the picket of the Grafton jail became a defining image of the city's bid to save its jail in 2012.

Her fearless approach came as no surprise to anyone who knew the dedicated teacher and staunch unionist whose inexhaustible energy was a feature of the town's struggle in those dark days.

Sharryn has never shied away from a fight, whether it is with a government she saw taking her job when she taught at the jail, or stripping away the rights of others when TAFE campuses closed down around the State.

It doesn't matter if it's a picket line or politics in the pub, Sharryn's energy and focus has made her an effective and influential figure in the political life of our community.



DESPITE being tucked away in a back road at Eatonsville, most of the Clarence Valley would be familiar with the operation located along the route - Happy Paws - and more so the animal shelter's chief Sally Rogers.

It is guaranteed when Sally's name crops there will be a barrage of commentary that follows.

A passionate but often divisive figure whose genuine love of creatures great and small is often 'dogged' by investigations into her operational practices.

She has an army of critics who condemn those shortcomings loudly and unrelentlessly at every opportunity but she also has a band of avid supporters who will defend her without hesitation.

Coming from a corporate background, Sally also has the means and the chutzpah to stand up to whatever claims are thrown her way.

Not everyone likes how she goes about her business but giving a voice to the voiceless (in her case our discarded four-legged friends) does have noble intentions and for that reason Sally gets a top 30 guernsey.



JOHN Edwards has extended his core beliefs of nature conservation and sustainability from his family home into every aspect of life.

He has also proved tireless and effective champion for the environment, fearlessly taking on governments and business when they propose projects which affect the environment.

His lobbying during the planning for the Shannon Creek Dam led to a second Environmental Impact Statement after discovering shortcomings in the first.

Whether it's a plan to reroute the Clarence River inland a threat to an endangered species or the effect of agriculture on the local environment, John Edwards will present a passionate and rational argument for conservation.