Year in Review
Year in Review

Year in Review: Biggest stories of April 2018

APR 2: ALISYA Lee, 4, did not take long to get into the swing of things at this year's Maclean Highland Gathering.

First time entrant Alysia Lee, 4 stands between some of the bigger girls after dancing in her first highland gathering.
First time entrant Alysia Lee, 4 stands between some of the bigger girls after dancing in her first highland gathering. Adam Hourigan

Alisya was at the showground watching the bigger girls dancing after performing her pas de basque on the Friday night and mum Melissa Mulder said she really enjoyed the experience.

APR 3: GRAFTON retiree Athol Green, 64, has a cautionary tale about prostate cancer, one with a happy ending.

With no indication of what was lurking in his body, he was surprised when a random blood test revealed a slightly elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, and while the level was mild, Mr Green's doctor wanted to know more.

A trip to the specialist followed and soon after surgeons removed his prostate. Ten years later and with no troubles to speak of, Mr Green is grateful for the early diagnosis.

APR 4: HOSPITALS in the Clarence Valley could become home to a "culturally appropriate space" for indigenous patients under a policy introduced by NSW Health.

The policy has been brought in after research found indigenous patients were at least 1.5 times more likely to leave hospitals before their emergency treatment began.

Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones said the new policy brought the region into line with the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

APR 5: COUTTS Tavern owner Barry Kneeves and licensee Evan Gough have a plan that should future-proof their investment.

The pair submitted a DA for a 22-unit motel-style facility alongside an RV Friendly point and it has been approved by Clarence Valley Council.

After getting countless requests for accommodation, the pair knew they were onto a winner and put together the plans to take to council.

APR 6: A RECORD $666,936 profit last year for the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club will mean some big changes at the club, says the woman who has overseen a dramatic turnaround in the club's fortunes.

Suzette Collen, Andrew McGill, Debbie Welsh, Bridie Tilse and Chris Gosewisch of South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club - good results from club this year.
Suzette Collen, Andrew McGill, Debbie Welsh, Bridie Tilse and Chris Gosewisch of South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club - good results from club this year. Adam Hourigan

The first woman to hold the club's secretary manager role in its 56-year history, Debbie Welsh has made changes that improved the club's bank balance by nearly $500,000 in 12 months from December 2016.

APR 7: THE prospect of a visit to the Valley by Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has a local aged care provider champing at the bit.

Clarence Village chairman Geoff Shepherd, was not forthcoming about what he planned to bring up with MrWyatt ahead of a meeting.

Mr Shepherd has said in the past the Clarence Valley has a shortfall in independent living space for elderly people, particularly those unable to afford the entrance fee.

APR 9: A GROUP of local Pacific Highway subcontractors battling to recover $7.5 million in lost payments due to the collapse of Ostwald Brothers say the RMS and State Government have turned their backs on them.

The Wave 5 Contractors group, representing 23 small businesses affected by the collapse of the Queensland-based firm, said they had drawn a line in the sand after requests for help were ignored and promises of work for the affected contractors had not come to fruition.

APR 10: A 144-bed residential aged care home for South Grafton could begin construction later this year and be operational by the end of 2019, says the company contracted to build and run the facility.

The CEO of Signaturecare, Graeme Croft, was in Grafton yesterday for a site visit by Federal Aged Care Minister, Ken Wyatt.

"We are just waiting for the State Government to agree to a compatibility report, which is with the minister now," Mr Croft said.

 

APR 11: THERE'S a new magistrate in town, but she's feeling the same frustration with drink drivers as her predecessor in the Lower Clarence.

Yesterday in Maclean Local Court, magistrate Karen Stafford revealed her impatience as she dealt with her fifth drink-driving offender before the morning tea break.

"This is the fifth drink driver I've sentenced in an hour," Ms Stafford told the court.

"I don't know what it is about the Yamba area, but everyone seems to be willing to run the gauntlet when they drink and drive.

"I would like everyone who's going to come before me with a drink-driving charge to think about this before a Section 10 (conviction without penalty)."

APR 12: A WIFE has lost a husband and a teenage son has lost his dad after a man drowned at Main Beach, Yamba, yesterday morning.

It is understood the 57-year-old Brisbane man was bodyboarding in the water with his son at the time of the incident.

APR 13: COULD one house set a precedent for breaking the rules of community planning controls in the future?

That was the question debated at the recent Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community committee meeting.

The Wright family, owners of 5 Angourie St, have sought development approval for their home.

APR 14: THE agent of the former tourist information centre building remains positive it will sell in the coming weeks despite being passed in at auction on Thursday night.

The sale of the Clarence Valley Council-owned building had generated a lot of debate in the community but that failed to translate into bids.

Grafton's former tourist building will be auctioned off today.
Grafton's former tourist building will be auctioned off today.

APR 16: NINETY corrections officers from Grafton jail walked off the job on Friday in support of the staff at Long Bay Correctional Centre.

With 90 staff expected to lose their jobs at the maximum security prison, Long Bay staff asked prison officers across the state to walk out in support.

APR 17: TWO safety issues at the Grafton Regional Airport could cost almost $20,000 to fix.

A wide-ranging general manager's report to the full meeting of Clarence Valley Council in Grafton tomorrow will ask councillors to approve a budget variation to remedy the problems.

A Civil Aviation Safety Authority audit of the airport in November uncovered two potential safety problems, which required works to remedy.

APR 18: FORMER Member for Page Janelle Saffin is confident the latest ALP hopeful for her old seat of Page has a template for success.

Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith has confirmed he will stand for the party's federal pre-selection in the seat of Page.

But while he has a high profile in the northern part of the electorate, he is less well known in the Clarence Valley. But Ms Saffin said this was no hindrance to gaining the votes needed to win a seat.

APR 19: BEING more accessible and getting out into the community more have been two key focuses of Ashley Lindsay since he took over the Clarence Valley Council general manager role 13 months ago.

TOP JOB: Clarence Valley Council's new general manager Ashley Lindsay.
TOP JOB: Clarence Valley Council's new general manager Ashley Lindsay. Simon Hughes

At the recent council meeting, Mr Lindsay's six-monthly performance review was brought before the council, finding in the six months he'd been in the role officially (not as acting GM) he had predominantly met or exceeded expectations.

However, there were five areas found that needed work: governance around ensuring compliance against statutory reporting, financial performance meets strategic operational objectives, council's strategic focus, range and levels of service meet the community expectation, reporting of financial management, and business and service improvement.

APR 20: FURY among the Pacific Highway subcontractors at the lack of response from NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey has reached boiling point.

A group representing 23 subcontractors left with $7.5million in unpaid invoices when construction company Ostwald Brothers collapsed in August said they had lost all confidence in the minister.

The group, calling itself Wave 5 Contractors, said the minister had publicly made offers of help to the contractors but failed to follow through.

APR 21: IT GENERATES more electricity than 50 houses use and will ensure the longevity of one of our longest-running sawmills.

Yesterday, the switch was turned on for a massive solar installation at J. Notaras and Sons sawmill in South Grafton, and general manager Donna Layton said with rising electricity prices, it was a logical move.

APR 23: THE show's competitive side was once again embraced by the community given the number of entries across all its sections this year, but the figures on the gates told a different story.

Grafton Show president Rex Green said going on attendances from previous shows, Saturday's usually very healthy numbers paled in comparison this year, resulting in $10,000 less takings through the gate that day.

President of the Grafton Show Society Rex Green is concerned about the $10,000 loss in admissions to this year's show and feels the impact was a result of too many competing events.
President of the Grafton Show Society Rex Green is concerned about the $10,000 loss in admissions to this year's show and feels the impact was a result of too many competing events. Adam Hourigan

He believed the other two events held on Saturday - Grafton's Day Out at the Grafton District Services Club and the AYA Festival at the racecourse - impacted on the show's most popular day and time slot.

APR 25: IN GOOD news for Yamba residents, NBNCo has confirmed the start of construction of the fibre network will occur in June.

However, planning and zoning delays means the build dates for Maclean and Grafton have been pushed back until January 2019.

APR 26: YAMBA is still the best place to find a rental property in the Clarence Valley, though many may be unaffordable for locals in the Clarence Valley.

According to data released for March by SQM research, the Yamba postcode has 93 rental vacancies, or a total of 7.8per cent, well ahead of Maclean at 5.3per cent and Grafton which shows 1.3per cent or just 46 properties available.

Yamba's rental vacancies have maintained a steady seasonal trend since an almost doubling of vacancy in October 2016.

Elders Real Estate Yamba principal Vikki Seekamp said this was due to many properties converting from holiday to permanent when current infrastructure work in the area began.

President of Maclean Rotary Anne Farrell is calling for the Maclean Hospital helipad to be brought back into operation.
President of Maclean Rotary Anne Farrell is calling for the Maclean Hospital helipad to be brought back into operation. Adam Hourigan

APR 27: AFTER 43 years working at Maclean Hospital, with more than a decade as the director of nursing, Anne Farrell knows how important the helipad is to the community.

"When we called for a helicopter it was huge, it meant someone is in big bother and every minute wasted was crucial," she said.

Now as the president of Maclean Rotary, she is leading a campaign from the club to have the helipad rebuilt after it was closed last May.

APR 28: A GROUP of Pacific Highway subcontractors chasing $7.5 million worth of unpaid invoices have met to plan the next stage of the campaign to get their money.

Early on Anzac Day morning, the owners of seven family-owned businesses met in Gulmarrad for the latest meeting to discuss campaign progress.

APR 30: A dramatic story emerges about the rescue of a nine-year-old boy swept out to sea while swimming with his family at Pippi Beach, Yamba.



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First cab off the rank has a penchant for Hawaiian shirts.

Meeting reveals true impact of hospital restructure

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A full house gathered at Maclean Showground Thursday night

D-day looms for Lenny’s magnificent mullet

premium_icon D-day looms for Lenny’s magnificent mullet

Five-year-old to do his town proud at Mulletfest