Year in review: Biggest stories of January 2017


January 2:

UNIMPRESSED long-term users of Brooms Head Caravan Park wanted nothing less than a full public meeting to debate proposed changes to the park, which include removing 17 camping places. On New Year's Day, Clarence Valley Council staff set up an information booth next to Brooms Head Community Hall to exhibit the council's concept design for the Brooms Head Holiday Park. The current park is run by Clarence Coast Reserve Trust, which is a council committee.

January 3:

Days after media published CCTV footage of a gang of teenagers stealing from and vandalising a $9000 Christmas tree at Yamba, more turned out in the early hours of New Year's Day to commit more vandalism.

January 4:

THE future of surf life saving has arrived in Yamba, with the first test run of Westpac's Little Ripper Rescue drones at Monday's Yamba Ocean Swims. Two years from now they will be providing a new perspective for every surf life saving club in Australia. That's according to operations director for Westpac Little Ripper, Ben Trollope, who told The Daily Examiner he thought drones would soon be fully integrated into local operations.

January 5:

YAMBA is celebrating the start of 2017 with a new millionaire couple in its midst. The couple checked their winning ticket online and confessed they were so stunned to see the six winning numbers in a line on their ticket that they had to repeatedly check their 12-game QuickPick ticket.

"I'm shocked, I'm so shocked!" the winning woman said. "Oh my! Thank you,thank you! It's unbelievable, I just can't believe it - you have no idea."

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No Caption Bill North

January 6:

A WOMAN and child have miraculously walked away from a "freak accident" in which a car rolled at least four times down an embankment off the Clarence Way. Today, 23-year-old Jessica Marshall is thanking emergency services and her lucky stars, as she thinks about buying a lottery ticket.

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No Caption Bill North

January 7:

IN A year that was the warmest on record in the Clarence Valley, Grafton saved the "best" for last, with 2016's hottest day, 41.8°C, on December 31. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has released its figures for 2016, which show records for coastal and inland areas at the weather stations at Grafton and Yamba. The weather station at the Trenayr Agricultural Research Station recorded Grafton's highest annual mean daily maximum temperature of 27.2°C.

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No Caption Bill North

January 9:

A COPMANHURST man has died from his injuries, after his car crashed into a tree at Pillar Valley. Tragically, his death makes it the first road casualty in the Clarence Valley for 2017. Police said the 65-year-old was travelling west along Wooli Rd at Pillar Valley about 8am yesterday when his vehicle veered off the road and into a tree.

Coffs/Clarence duty officer Inspector Tony Milner said there were no immediate witnesses to the crash, but members of the public, including motorists and nearby residents, tried to help the man.

January 10:

THE day Ann McLean had to call an ambulance for her husband John, there were fears an aortic aneurysm in his chest was going to burst.

"We're lucky that's not what it was, because we rung the paramedics and it was 45 minutes before they came," she said. "I know they are working as hard as they can but they're understaffed."

January 11:

A GLENUGIE man has appeared in court after a stash of unregistered guns, ammunition, more than $12,000 worth of drugs, and illegal fireworks was seized from his home. Glen Haig, 36, was yesterday granted conditional bail at Maclean Local Court on 12 charges, including two counts of possession of an unregistered and unauthorised firearm, not keeping a firearm safely, possess of ammunition without holding a licence and drug-related charges.

January 12:

SOME wildly differing petrol prices on offer in the Clarence Valley are giving motorists the opportunity to fill up before prices peak. While prices in the low 120 cents-a-litre range were still available yesterday, some stations - notably BP and Caltex - have already hiked the price to above 144 cents in Grafton and more than 146 cents in Yamba. The Clarence is doing better than neighbouring Coffs Harbour, where prices are already more than 140 cents at most service stations.

January 13:

A PROPOSED 150-bed worker accommodation development could be turned into affordable housing at the end of its lifespan, the applicant says. Yamba builder Neil Garrard has a development application with the Clarence Valley Council for the site in Challinor St, Grafton. The DA is on public exhibition until February 6. Challinor St is off North St and also connects to Queen St. Mr Garrard said there were no plans for permanent affordable housing now and it would not include the mobile buildings to be used in the current project.

January 14:

YAMBA'S business owners will head off on their annual post-Christmas break in the best frame of mind they've been in for years. "It's been as busy as I've seen it in my memory," Yamba Chamber of Commerce secretary Bev Mansfield said.

"Even now it's still pumping, although it's a bit more comfortable now than it was around Christmas.

"We were looking to go out for lunch and we couldn't find a place where we could sit down to eat, it was that busy at times."

January 15:

A CONNECTING road from Maclean to Townsend as part of the Pacific Hwy upgrade will be essential for the survival of Maclean, according to the Maclean Chamber of Commerce. The chamber proposal to Roads and Maritime Services, as well as Clarence Valley Council, is to connect Maclean and Townsend at Brooms Head Rd via Goodwood St from the new highway's eastern interchange. Maclean Chamber of Commerce president Peter Gordon said the new highway was splitting Townsend from Maclean.

January 17:

A HIGH-SPEED pursuit that started in Grafton came to a fiery end at Crabbes Creek Sunday afternoon, with two people arrested. About 10.50am on Sunday, a Ford Falcon allegedly failed to stop for a random breath test in Grafton when police first started the pursuit, before it was called off for safety concerns. Less than two hours later at 12.30pm, the vehicle was spotted at Wardell by police, who attempted to stop it. When it failed to stop, police began the pursuit again.

January 18:

AS THE number of empty shopfronts grows in Maclean's River St CBD, Chamber of Commerce president Peter Gordon believes people need a reason to travel into town to increase foot traffic. Currently there are six empty spaces in the retail centre of Maclean and, while some stores such as Sew Excited have changed location from one part of town to another, some spaces, such as the vacant block that used to be home to Boulevard Cafe, have remained vacant for more than a decade.

January 19:

HIGH demand for rental properties, fuelled by growing numbers of people relocating to the Clarence Valley, have sent rents sky-rocketing over the past 12 months, pricing many low-income earners out of the property market. From Grafton to Yamba, rental properties have been in short supply and unable to keep up with the demand, not only for residents already living in the area, but also the influx of people relocating to the Clarence Valley who are involved in infrastructure projects such as the Pacific Hwy upgrade.

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No Caption Bill North

January 20:

NEW South Wales will have its sixth premier in the past decade after Mike Baird shocked the state by announcing his resignation from politics yesterday. Fronting journalists in Sydney, a tearful Mr Baird reflected on his maiden speech, saying he never had any desire to be a career politician.

January 21:

TWO lifeguards have been praised as heroes after eight swimmers were rescued from Yamba's Pippi Beach in what Clarence Valley Lifeguard supervisor Greg Wyllie described as one of the most "impressive" mass rescues he had seen. Lifeguards Mikey Gilliman and Harry Fahey were on duty when at 10.35am on Tuesday morning, two bodyboarders and six teenage swimmers found themselves in trouble, being sucked 80m out to sea after a freak set of waves.

January 23:

IN THE moments before lifeguards Harry Fahey and Mikey Gilliman rescued eight people last Tuesday morning, a set of abnormally large waves rolled into Pippi Beach. "Just before the rescue, there was a big set that came through," Mr Fahey said. "Most sets were about four or five foot but a solid six-foot set came through."

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No Caption Bill North

January 24:

A 29-YEAR-OLD South Grafton man found with a loaded revolver in the city CBD has been jailed for six months. Matthew James Maton pleaded guilty to possessing a loaded firearm in a public place, possessing an unauthorised pistol and possessing an unauthorised firearm-pistol. He was sentenced in Grafton Local Court yesterday. Maximum sentences range from 10 to 14 years on these charges.

January 25:

LOCAL shoppers could have a bigger impact on the Clarence sugar industry than the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. US president Donald Trump has signed an executive order to withdraw America's involvement in the free trade deal but, according to Sunshine Sugar CEO Chris Connors, that should have little impact on the local sugar industry.

January 26:

INFORMATION from the public has resulted in the police seizure of more than $135,000 worth of cannabis at Townsend. About 3pm on Tuesday, officers attended an address in Diamond St, where they allegedly located 69 mature cannabis plants. They also located 290g of cannabis leaf and buds and a quantity of cannabis seeds. The plants have an estimated potential street value of $129,000, while the potential value of the cannabis is $7250.

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No Caption Bill North

January 27:

DIANE Lee just nods at people's amazement at what she does at 90 years of age. "It's just a number," she says matter-of-factly. Between volunteering as a welfare officer for veterans and their families, presiding over the Laurel Club, organising church services and volunteering for other support services, she was recognised on Wednesday night as the 2017 Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year.

Diane Lee of Townsend was named the 2017 Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year at a dinner at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club.
Diane Lee of Townsend was named the 2017 Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year at a dinner at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club. Adam Hourigan

January 28:

FOR years, Yamba woman Jennifer McKay has felt uncomfortable with the celebration of Australia Day on January 26. She is one of a growing chorus of Clarence Valley citizens joining the debate about whether it is appropriate to hold our most patriotic celebration on a day that represents the beginning of a dark era for indigenous Australians.

January 29:

THE amount of contaminated soil taken from the site of the Clarence Valley Council's super depot in South Grafton has exceeded the limits of its permit for the landfill site in Queensland. The latest report from the contractors handling the depot construction, Hutchinson Builders, said the company had applied to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection for a permit to increase the amount of soil to be dumped at the Swanbank landfill near Ipswich, from 35,000 cubic metres to 45,000 cubic metres.

January 30:

CHILDREN younger than nine, possibly on the drug ice, are breaking into houses and smashing windows in South Grafton, claim business owners and residents. Co-owner of South Grafton News and Gifts, Brad Layton, said CCTV footage of the latest attack on his shop showed three separate attacks, mostly involving children in their teens and younger.

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