Acting Controller Ulmarra SES Dave Hardy sits in the doorway of their unit with a handy supply of sandbags, fresh water and tarpaulins for those who are coming for help in the rain event.
Acting Controller Ulmarra SES Dave Hardy sits in the doorway of their unit with a handy supply of sandbags, fresh water and tarpaulins for those who are coming for help in the rain event. Adam Hourigan

Year in review: Biggest stories of March 2017

MARCH 1: A YOUNG Grafton cafe employee who was threatened with a knife during an armed robbery on Monday will probably require counselling after the harrowing experience. South Grafton residents Caleb Jones, 20, and Damien White, 22, have since been charged over the incident. Both were refused bail in Grafton Local Court yesterday.

MARCH 2: THE wanton destruction inside the former Grafton City Bowling Club has taken the gloss off a possible sale for its owner Ron Skinner. Mr Skinner, who has owned the building on the banks of the Clarence River for about eight years, said he was looking at a $200,000 repair bill before he could hand the site over.

MARCH 3: THE immediate future of Clarence Valley Council general manager Scott Greensill appears to be in doubt. The council has called an extraordinary meeting for today with one agenda item: the General Manager's Employment Contract. It comes when Mr Greensill is off work, the council insisting this week he was on sick leave till March 13. Contacted by The Daily Examiner direct to discuss a slew of rumours about his future, Mr Greensill made it clear he had nothing to say. "Absolutely nothing. No comment," he said before hanging up.

MARCH 4: THE daughter of Donald Gordon, the man found not guilty of murder by a Supreme Court jury at Grafton, has expressed sympathy for the victim's family.

It took the jury just a few hours yesterday to reach its verdict - that Gordon was guilty of manslaughter, but not murder, over the death of his friend Danial Cotter near Baryulgil some time between November 6-7, 2013.

MARCH 6: A MAN convicted of a "humiliating" sexual assault on a woman by the side of a road in northern New South Wales faces sentencing later this month. Alessandro Bongiorno, 32, was last year convicted in Grafton District Court of the June 2014 assault, indecent assault and sexual assault on the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

 

Edwina Cameron has organised a public meeting at Maclean High School to try to get something done with the dispersal of the bats that hover over the school.
Edwina Cameron has organised a public meeting at Maclean High School to try to get something done with the dispersal of the bats that hover over the school. Adam Hourigan

MARCH 7: PARENTS with four children at Maclean High School have called a public meeting to thrash out an answer to the flying fox problem plaguing the school.

Robert and Edwina Cameron's children attend the high school and are disgusted with the conditions their children deal with every day at school. They have called a public meeting for next Monday and invited the Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis and the Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons, to address it. Mrs Cameron said the key to success in dispersing the bats was persistence. "You need to keep up whatever has been done to disperse the bats," she said.

MARCH 8: "I was a non-believer in sharks up this far. Not anymore." They'd always heard the stories about sharks in the Clarence, but it wasn't until they tried a big rod at Moleville Rocks that teens Damien Cauchi and Jacob Harvey hooked a bull shark.

The species, which is able to swim between fresh and saltwater, is rumoured to be throughout the river, but the pair say the deep water allows them to stay out of sight to most.

MARCH 9: A MEMORIAL to celebrate the life of missing Grafton teacher Sharon Edwards will be held this weekend. Scores of people are expected to pay tribute to the much-loved friend, mother and grandmother who hasn't been seen or heard from since the night of March 14, 2015.

Her disappearance is being investigated as a homicide but on the eve of the second anniversary with no answers about what may have happened since she went missing, her three sons decided it was time to say goodbye. Sharon's son Eli Edwards said the response from the community leading up to this weekend's memorial had been overwhelming.

 

Guitarist Johannes Moller warms up before his performance at the Clarence Valley Conservatorium.
Guitarist Johannes Moller warms up before his performance at the Clarence Valley Conservatorium. Adam Hourigan Photography

MARCH 10: IT WAS a race against time to get Yamba prawn trawler Claudia Rose ready for repairs. Unfortunately in this case, time won. By 5.30am yesterday morning the 45ft wooden-hulled vessel was completely submerged at its mooring in the Yamba Harbour. Roads and Maritime Services coordinated a response with Port Authority personnel and Yamba's Rural Fire Service to contain any potential diesel spills, while owner and skipper Dave Smith watched on.

MARCH 11:CLARENCE Valley Council is looking for a new general manager after Scott Greensill officially resigned on Friday. The announcement, made in a press release at 4pm on Friday, said Mr Greensill's resignation came into effect at 5pm that afternoon. His resignation came a week after an extraordinary council meeting was called to consider a mayoral minute on the general manager's employment contract.

MARCH 13: SHARON Margaret Edwards was remembered by her family and friends as a devoted mother, sister, aunty, daughter, wife, cousin, friend, teacher and college at her memorial service on Saturday afternoon. The mood was sombre as more than 150 people filled the Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton to say goodbye to Mrs Edwards. The memorial service was an opportunity for Mrs Edwards sons, Eli, Josh and Zac, her family and friends to say goodbye to Mrs Edwards after she went missing two years ago.

MARCH 14: MACLEAN High School's NSW Teachers Federation representative John Ambrose has declared that either the bats go, or the school does.

The call came at a public meeting on the issue in the teachers' car park of the high school yesterday, where parents and residents gathered under rumbling storm clouds and screeching bats.

 

 

Mel Miller who will be holding a free belly dancing class for people aged 12 to 18.
Mel Miller who will be holding a free belly dancing class for people aged 12 to 18. Caitlan Charles

MARCH 15: THE ORARA river has been put on flood watch, with heavy rains predicted for the Clarence Valley today and tomorrow.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Jordan Notara said the heavy rain was the result of a low pressure trough moving from inland Australia and combining with a moist onshore flow, which was producing widespread showers across northern NSW.

MARCH 16: LOCALISED flooding, a minor rescue and cancelled plans have resulted from heavy rainfall across the Clarence Valley. Coastal areas copped the most rain yesterday, with Yamba drenched by close to 100mm in just three hours, according to Weatherzone. Concerns of potential flooding on low-lying Carrs Dr, Yamba led St James Primary School to give parents the option to collect their children from school early.

MARCH 17: THE winning consortium to build the new Grafton jail has promised it will provide a $560 million boost to the economy over the next 20 years. The jail will house 1700 prisoners.

It will create 1100 construction jobs and another 600 permanent jobs. The winning bidder, Northern Pathways consortium, is made up of a combination of Serco, John Laing, John Holland and Macquarie Capital and is a blend of prison management and construction expertise and private/public partnerships.

 

South Grafton RSL Sub branch president Bob Hayes and ccenotaph committee chair Fred Norris get ready for the upcoming dedication of the new cenotaph at South Grafton.
South Grafton RSL Sub branch president Bob Hayes and ccenotaph committee chair Fred Norris get ready for the upcoming dedication of the new cenotaph at South Grafton. Adam Hourigan

MARCH 18: THERE was a time when Lorraine Bruest, 60, worshipped the sun "every moment of the day".

That all changed in 2003 when the Lower Clarence Relay For Life committee chair noticed a suspicious mole on her calf, only slightly bigger than a pinhead.

"I didn't really know much about melanoma at the time but it just didn't look right," the former nurse said.

MARCH 20: LOCAL SES units were again called on to rescue people from fast-flowing water after large-scale storms hit the Clarence Valley this weekend. After a deluge of rain early Saturday morning, roads across the area including the Pacific Highway and Summerland Way were closed by flash flooding and rising rivers.

MARCH 21: YAMBA'S iconic Pacific Hotel and nearby residences have received a landslip warning after 200mm of rain fell in 24 hours over the weekend.

Clarence Valley Council works and civil director Troy Anderson said the heavy rainfall reached a trigger level for the Yamba hill on Saturday.

 

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ron Skinner at the Grafton City Bowling Club; Dame Bridget Ogilvie and Sarah Myer; Guitarist Johannes Moller warms up before his performance; Big River Gym Lunch Ladies with Iritana Grey and Lauren Bond; Acting Controller Ulmarra ESE Dave Hardy; Maggie Beer in Grafton; Edwina Cameron; South Grafton RSL Sub branch president Bob Hayes and cenotaph committee chair Fed Norris; Mel Miller held belling dancing classes for teens 12 to 18.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ron Skinner at the Grafton City Bowling Club; Dame Bridget Ogilvie and Sarah Myer; Guitarist Johannes Moller warms up before his performance; Big River Gym Lunch Ladies with Iritana Grey and Lauren Bond; Acting Controller Ulmarra ESE Dave Hardy; Maggie Beer in Grafton; Edwina Cameron; South Grafton RSL Sub branch president Bob Hayes and cenotaph committee chair Fed Norris; Mel Miller held belling dancing classes for teens 12 to 18. Caitlan Charles

MARCH 22: THE Clarence Valley is continuing to suffer in the aftermath of heavy rainfall from Friday night to Monday afternoon.

The Gwydir Highway was closed late on Monday night and reopened on Tuesday afternoon after landslips at Lions Cage, Bellbird Cut, Hills lookout and the Gibraltar range.

MARCH 23: THE NSW Government has ruled out coal seam gas mining and exploration on the north coast. Deputy Premier John Barilaro put a line through it yesterday during the unveiling of the The North Coast Regional Plan at Coffs Harbour yesterday.

"We've heard the community's viewpoint on coal seam gas loud and clear and this plan states that CSG resources on the north coast will remain in the ground," Mr Barilaro said.

MARCH 24: POLICE are investigating the assault of a Clarence Valley high school teacher after he was attacked in the playground this week.

The NSW Department of Education has confirmed the teacher was attacked on the oval at Grafton High School on Tuesday afternoon. The teacher was taken to hospital for observation and police were called.

MARCH 25: THE quiet achievements of former member for Page the Honourable Ian Robinson, who died in Grafton on Thursday, will long serve the community he lived among for almost 92 years. Political and community leaders have praised the legacy of a man who sat in state and federal parliaments from 1953 to 1990. Mr Robinson entered state politics for the Country Party as the member for Casino in 1953, a seat he held until he decided to run for the federal seat of Cowper in 1963.

MARCH 27: THREE-year-old girl has died following a tragic accident when she was hit by a truck in South Grafton yesterday morning. Emergency services were called to an address in South Grafton about 8.10am Sunday morning and found the toddler critically injured after she had been struck by the truck.

Acting Inspector Matt Zimmer said the girl was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics and taken to Grafton Base Hospital, but died from her injuries a short time later.

 

Acting Controller Ulmarra SES Dave Hardy sits in the doorway of their unit with a handy supply of sandbags, fresh water and tarpaulins for those who are coming for help in the rain event.
Acting Controller Ulmarra SES Dave Hardy sits in the doorway of their unit with a handy supply of sandbags, fresh water and tarpaulins for those who are coming for help in the rain event. Adam Hourigan

MARCH 28: AS Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talks up the possibility of a Snowy Mountains Scheme 2.0, to add more hydro-electricity to the grid, a former mayor points out we already have it here. Mayor from 2008 to 2016 Richie Williamson said the historic Nymboida Hydro-Electric Power Station has sat idle on the banks of Goolang Creeksince early 2013.

MARCH 29: A STATE-of-the-art specialist centre and private hospital planned for Grafton could cure health issues plaguing the area says the surgeon driving it.

Grafton doctor and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Sam Martin has just submitted a development application to Clarence Valley Council for the specialist centre and private hospital on the corner of Queen and Arthur Sts, Grafton.

MARCH 30: THE Big River Group's plans to begin trading on the Australian Stock Exchange are good news for local works says its managing director Jim Bindon.

Mr Bindon said there would be expansion at the company's Junction Hill plant with equipment on order from China to upgrade its plywood manufacture capabilities.

MARCH 31: THERE was a distinct feeling of deja vu in the common room at the Grafton City SES headquarters as the locals welcomed a contingent of colleagues from the South Coast.

 

Ron Skinner sits in front of a full window pane that was pushed out and destroyed as vandals decimated the old Grafton City Bowling Club site he owns.
Ron Skinner sits in front of a full window pane that was pushed out and destroyed as vandals decimated the old Grafton City Bowling Club site he owns. Adam Hourigan

Only last weekend they farewelled a group from Wollongong, who had comeout to help handle the fallout from storms and people driving cars through flooded water courses. "Anyone here from last week?" asked the section controller Sharon Ahrens. "No but you had two here from our unit," came the reply.



Fishers angling for authorities to ramp up repairs

premium_icon Fishers angling for authorities to ramp up repairs

Community angered by loss of boat ramp use due to damage

UPDATE: Gwydir, Pacific highways reopened to traffic

UPDATE: Gwydir, Pacific highways reopened to traffic

Both major highways were closed due to grass fires

VIDEO: Bushfire threatens juvenile justice centre

premium_icon VIDEO: Bushfire threatens juvenile justice centre

Flames had entered Acmena grounds when first crews arrived at scene

Local Partners