CRJC chairman Graeme Green and GDSC president Warren Tozer celebrate with GDSC CEO (front) Garry Williams at the announcement of the GDSC sponsorship for the Ramornie Handicap.
CRJC chairman Graeme Green and GDSC president Warren Tozer celebrate with GDSC CEO (front) Garry Williams at the announcement of the GDSC sponsorship for the Ramornie Handicap. Adam Hourigan

Year in review: Biggest stories of April 2017

APRIL 1-2: THE SES is monitoring more than 175 people cut off by floodwater in the Coutts Crossing area, but the feeling is the region has dodged the Cyclone Debbie bullet.

Clarence /Nambucca SES unit controller Caroline Ortel said that by yesterday excess personnel drafted into the Clarence had been sent north to help out in Lismore.

"We're still monitoring the river systems and have flood warnings out for the Orara River at Coutts Crossing and the Clarence River at Grafton,” Ms Ortel said.

"The flood peak is expected in Coutts Crossing on Saturday morning and in Grafton on Friday night.”

She said the river height in Grafton was predicted to reach 2.1m, in the minor flood category.

APRIL 3: FOUR teenagers allegedly armed with knives have been charged following an incident which resulted in a lockdown of the ACMENA Juvenile Justice centre in South Grafton.

According to Grafton police, officers were called to the detention centre about 8.15pm on Saturday night, where they located four teenage detainees allegedly armed with knives attempting to access an airconditioning vent in a common room.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis gives a hug to Florence Robinson after he gave a tribute at former member for Cowper and Page Ian Robinsons' funeral at the Christ Church Cathedral.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis gives a hug to Florence Robinson after he gave a tribute at former member for Cowper and Page Ian Robinsons' funeral at the Christ Church Cathedral. Adam Hourigan

APRIL 4: WEEKS of "unreasonably high” fuel prices across the Clarence Valley have finally come to an end, with the numbers beginning to wind down at most petrol stations across the region.

Last week, Grafton's average unleaded petrol price of 138.2 cents per litre made it the second most expensive region to fill up across New South Wales.

The previous week's average of 137.8 cents per litre saw Grafton at the bottom of the pile again for affordability, coming in at 54 out of 57 areas.

APRIL 5: ALTHOUGH the Clarence Valley escaped the full ferocity of Cyclone Debbie, there was still damage done.

The Maclean to Lawrence Rd was cut to one lane by a landslip, which is just one of a number of major clean-up operations confronting Clarence Valley Council in the coming days and weeks.

APRIL 6: A WOMAN tells the story of recovering from the tragic death of her son, who was "in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Robyn Shelley said finding support from a group called compassionate friends helped her manage her feelings of grief and despair and eventually turn her experiences into something positive for others.

APRIL 7: LOCKED in a classroom for his own safety following an alleged vicious attack on school grounds, Maclean High School student Glenn Schembri was left with only an ice-pack to nurse his swollen face and black eye.

It took more than 20 minutes after the incident, which occurred about 11am on March 27, before Glenn's girlfriend called his mother Carroll Connor to let her know what happened, and a further 10 minutes before he was picked up by his step-father and taken to hospital.

Ms Connor said she was "disgusted” by the high school's response to the alleged assault on her 16-year-old son, which left him with a fractured nose, black eye and bruising across his face.

APRIL 8-9: A Woolgoolga businessman has purchased Walkers Marina Hotel in South Grafton.

It was revealed the buyer was Harjap Dosanj, as company director of the Dosanj Family Pty Ltd. In September 2016 the same company bough the PO Hotel in Grafton.

Mr Dosanj said Walkers would continue to operate as a hotel. He denied there was a connection between the hotel purchases and his interest in the local blueberry industry.

APRIL 10: POLICE have appealed to the victim of an alleged attempted carjacking which occurred yesterday afternoon near Grafton to come forward as inquiries continue.

About 4.30pm yesterday, officers from Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command attempted to stop a black Toyota Rav 4 with Queensland number plates as it travelled north along the Pacific Highway, Clarenza.

Tahli Styles of Woolgoolga in the Novice Ballet (10yrs) at the Grafton Dance Eisteddfod
Tahli Styles of Woolgoolga in the Novice Ballet (10yrs) at the Grafton Dance Eisteddfod Caitlan Charles

APRIL 11: A 34-YEAR-old man sentenced to 15 months jail said he committed an eight-day spree ofcrimes that ended in a failed carjacking on the Pacific Hwy at Mororo "for love”.

Christopher John Elkerton, of Ferny Grove in Queensland, appeared in Grafton Local Court facing a string of charges following a week-long crime spree in company with his girlfriend Tamyka Blatch, 23, and a 15-year-old boy.

The spree began in Ballina on March 31, continued in Evans Head, South Grafton and Coffs Harbour on April 2, and ended with their arrest at Mororo late on Friday.

APRIL 12: RESIDENTS of the village of Tyndale, which straddles the Pacific Highway between Grafton and Maclean are fed up with the number of multiple-vehicle crashes on their stretch of road.

Two crashes in as many days has prompted the residents to call for a speed camera to be installed on the stretch of road they have christened "Death Valley”.

APRIL 13: THE lack of landline phone connections to a group of units at a Grafton lifestyle resort is a life and death problem for at least one of the residents.

A group of new residents at the Grafton Gateway Lifestyle Resort have been battling resort management to have landlines installed at their units since they began moving into the buildings in June last year.

For Susan Keeling and her partner Derrick, who has two aneurysms, the mobile service at the village has been patchy, so the lack of a reliable phone could be fatal.

The situation affects residents who have bought into the resort's latest development, a two-stage, 22-unit retirement village which began selling last year.

Kids at See Park show off the Easter Eggs they got from the Easter bunny on Good Friday.
Kids at See Park show off the Easter Eggs they got from the Easter bunny on Good Friday. Caitlan Charles

APRIL 14-16: A $255,000 spike in spending from the office of the Clarence Valley Council general manager could be the payout figure for exiting GM Scott Greensill.

Mr Greensill resigned last month from the position, although the council voted to keep details of his resignation, including his payout, confidential.

APRIL 17: POLICE resumed a search at first light on Easter Sunday morning for a missing 17-year-old boy who got into difficulty while swimming at Pebbly Beach, south of Grafton, late on Saturday afternoon.

Police have been told the teenager was swimming at the isolated and unpatrolled beach with four other people near the camping area in the Yuraygir National Park, when the group got washed into a rip current just before 4pm.

APRIL 18: EMOTIONAL scenes have played out on Clarence Valley's remote Pebbly Beach as family and friends vow to maintain a beach-side vigil until missing teenager Ali Mosawi is found.

The 17-year-old was swimming with four other people at the beach in Yuraygir National Park on Saturday afternoon, when they got into trouble in dangerous conditions. Three people made their way back to shore and assisted a fourth boy, but Ali hasn't been seen since. Police are now calling the search a recovery operation.

Yesterday morning, family members and friends held a prayer service at the site as emergency services got to work for a third day.

APRIL 19: WHILE Monicka Baird was waiting for her renewed licence to arrive in the mail, the last thing she was expecting to find was an image of it posted on Facebook.

Ms Baird's licence was one of 2693 photo cards that were incorrectly issued by Service NSW when cards processed at their Card Operation Centre were delivered to incorrect addresses, sparking a major privacy breach.

Ms Baird said an image of her licence was posted to Facebook in an attempt by someone to connect the licence to its rightful owner, but as a solicitor she was worried about the security impact this error could cause.

APRIL 20: CLARENCE Valley councillors do a backflip by voting for a proposal to increase costs to ratepayers.

Councillors who were elected in 2016 on a platform of opposing a special rates variation have changed tack and voted to support seeking approval to hike rates above the rate pegging limit.

APRIL 21: AS Clarnence Valley Council attempts to deal with budget blowouts and potential rate hikes, the cost of finding a new general manager has been revealed.

The council has budgeted on spending $35,000 to find a replacement for former general manager Scott Greensill, who resigned in March.

APRIL 22: THE prospect of a property boom in Grafton has prompted investors to snap up properties coming onto the market.

Bonville resident Craig Sullivan and Michaela Hiller were so excited at their purchase of a property in Villiers St, the brought along mum and dad to witness the event.

APRIL 23-24: AT the beginning of April, Jo Kelly of Yamba received an email from the US Consulate inviting her to meet a VIP later in the month and she was sure it was a scam.

"For starters, there was a spelling error in the header ... and it's not every day you get an email from the US Consulate,” Dr Kelly said.

But it only took one phone call to the consulate for Dr Kelly, the president of the Australia and New Zealand Art Therapists Association (ANZATA), to find out it certainly wasn't a scam and on Saturday she was winging her way to Sydney for discussion with Karen Pence, the wife of US vice-president Mike Pence.

APRIL 25: ON Australia's sacred day we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those, like Yamba's Bruce Leaney who returned.

Mr Leaney's brother was not so lucky, killed in action more than 70 years ago.

APRIL 26: CLARENCE Valley residents rose early to commemorate the landing at Gallipoli 101 years ago that started the Anzac legend.

Local people flocked to dawn services and marched to reinforce how important the sacrifices of all Australia's servicemen has been throughout our history.

APRIL 27: A CRITICAL incident investigation has been launched after a fatal crash south of Grafton.

Police were called to investigate the strange behaviour of a motorist south of Grafton. Soon after locating the car they found it crashed into a tree. The driver died at the scene.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Tahli Styles of Woolgoolga in the Novice Ballet (10yrs) at the Grafton Dance Eisteddfod; Steampunk artist George Zerner at the Plunge Festival Steampunk exhibition and gathering; Clarence River Jockey Club chairman Graeme Green and Grafton District Services Club president Warren Tozer celebrate with GDSC chief executive officer (front) Garry Williams at the announcement of the GDSC sponsorship for the $160,000 Ramornie Handicap in the July Racing Carnival; Member for Page Kevin Hogan looks over plans for Harwood Mill upgrade with operations manager Stephen King and NSW Canegrowers Association president Ross Farlow at an inspection of the site; Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis hugs Florence Robinson after he delivered a tribute at former member for Cowper and Page Ian Robinson's funeral at the Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton; kids at See Park show off the Easter Eggs they received from the Easter bunny on Good Friday.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Tahli Styles of Woolgoolga in the Novice Ballet (10yrs) at the Grafton Dance Eisteddfod; Steampunk artist George Zerner at the Plunge Festival Steampunk exhibition and gathering; Clarence River Jockey Club chairman Graeme Green and Grafton District Services Club president Warren Tozer celebrate with GDSC chief executive officer (front) Garry Williams at the announcement of the GDSC sponsorship for the $160,000 Ramornie Handicap in the July Racing Carnival; Member for Page Kevin Hogan looks over plans for Harwood Mill upgrade with operations manager Stephen King and NSW Canegrowers Association president Ross Farlow at an inspection of the site; Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis hugs Florence Robinson after he delivered a tribute at former member for Cowper and Page Ian Robinson's funeral at the Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton; kids at See Park show off the Easter Eggs they received from the Easter bunny on Good Friday. Adam Hourigan

APRIL 28: ANGLICARE North Coast is concerned about a rental crisis in NSW after the release of the organisation's annual Rental Affordability Snapshot.

The Clarence Valley is one of many regions nationally Anglicare is concerned about.

APRIL 29: FROM the outside, Yamba man Ian McDonald appeared to be a model friend to his former employers, selflessly helping a computer-illiterate couple pay household bills online and driving them to doctors' appointments.

But it was a sham and on Wednesday the 55-year-old was ordered by Maclean Local Court to pay back more than $89,500 which he took from the couple.



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