Year in review: The biggest moments of January 2016

JANUARY 1: The Clarence Valley has a drink driving problem, with the Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command recording the second highest race of alcohol-related crashes causing fatality in the state, and the third highest number of drivers busted for drink driving in 2015.

JANUARY 2: A Woodburn man spent the first night of 2016 in police custody over a high-speed pursuit. The man allegedly spray-painted the car to evade police after two separate pursuits.

JANUARY 4: The family of Deon Palmer, who is battling the debilitating effects of cystic fibrosis, struggles to find an answer after Centrelink denied their application for a disability allowance.

"It's just ridiculous, they can't even tell us why it hasn't gone through," his wife Kirstie said.

JANUARY 5: A decade-long project to develop a 162-lot residential subdivision in Iluka could be approved early this year, after the owners of a 19ha parcel of land submitted a development application for the project.

JANUARY 6: A disqualified driver who painted his car bright blue to evade police pleaded guilty to a series of high-speed pursuits through the Clarence Valley between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

According to police facts, the speeding car his speeds of almost 200kmh. The driver pleaded guilty to a series of high-speed driving offences.

JANUARY 7: Pharmacists warned Government changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme would mean customers who purchase PBS-subsidised prescriptions would have to fill more scripts before reaching the safety net.

The change will mostly impact pensioners and other concessional card holders, with 80% of PBS scripts concessional.

JANUARY 8: Unemployment figures for NSW show the Coffs-Clarence region boasted their best numbers since October 2014 with an unemployment rate of 4.2%, better than the state average of 4.9%.

JANUARY 9: Land values in the Clarence Valley have stagnated, with residential land value increasing by 0.88%, business land by 0.38% and rural land values rising by 5.41%.

JANUARY 11: Older drivers have reacted angrily to suggestions by NSW Police's head of traffic that seniors should hand in their licences once they pass the age of 70.

JANUARY 12: Clarence Valley icon Spiro Notaras died age 83. Spiro was a revered figure in both the timber industry and for his involvement, along with his cousin Angelo, in the resurrection of Grafton's Saraton Theatre.

JANUARY 13: More than 100 new jobs will be created by the potential upgrade to the Humes Grafton site at Koolkhan after the company lodged a development application with council for a $5-million upgrade to the Summerland Way site.

JANUARY 14: Stock and station agents are reporting an increased interest from overseas investors into the local agricultural industries with properties being snapped up on the market, with a low Australian dollar and strong beef prices an incentive to foreign investment.

Ray Donovan, of Ray Donovan Stock and Station Agents, said he had definitely witnessed an increase in foreign interests with a local farm only recently being sold to Chinese buyers.

JANUARY 15: The Clarence Valley is a generous community, and have the numbers to prove it.

The final tally of the Coles Australia Redkite Christmas card campaign was released, with Coles Grafton Mall raising a staggering $7000, the third highest total in the state.

JANUARY 16: An iconic Grafton home in the path of the second Grafton Bridge has been sold. The Greaves St address was a former private hospital and foster home, and was one of the last properties to be acquired by the RMS.

Julie Whetton of Grafton in her kitchen with views of the Grafton bridge. The house is in the planned path of the second bridge crossing the Clarence River.
Julie Whetton of Grafton in her kitchen with views of the Grafton bridge. The house is in the planned path of the second bridge crossing the Clarence River. Adam Hourigan

JANUARY 18: Close to 10 suspicious structural fires started in South Grafton in the past six months are under investigation as police continue to invest resources into the problem.

JANUARY 19: It was a full house at Christ Church Cathedral as the Clarence Valley community gathered to farewell Spiro Notaras.

The Christ Church Cathedral was full at the funeral of Spiro Notaras.Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
The Christ Church Cathedral was full at the funeral of Spiro Notaras.Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

 

Among the mourners were family and friends, as well as current and former Federal and State politicians and members from the business community.

Spiro's son Paul Notaras said: "Dad lived a full and fruitful life with no regrets."

"He loved all his family and had a rich array of friendships."

JANUARY 20: It was a close-up look at the Clarence River and the way it influences lives in the Valley, but it caused quite a stir when ABC program Back Roads divided the residents of Grafton and South Grafton into "haves" and "have nots".

Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson believed was been left dismayed by the terminology used in the program, and believed it was unjustified, with South Grafton proving to be a bustling area of growth.

JANUARY 21: Animal Justice Party member Mark Pearson has called for a ban on greyhound racing at visit to Happy Paws, claiming live baiting was "systemic" in the greyhound industry.

"Within two days of the first report it was clear that live baiting was systemic," Mr Pearson said. "They tried saying it was one bad apple in the cart but it is more a case of the whole cart.

JANUARY 22: A Lismore surfer who drowned at Turners Beach was on a week-long holiday in Yamba to celebrate his birthday. The death was the first on a patrolled beach in almost 20 years.

The man's sister, Rhonda Shone, said it happened extremely quickly. "I just want to say thank you to everyone who assisted, from the surf lifesavers and off-duty paramedics to the girls who brought him in," she said.

JANUARY 23: The tragic drowning of a Lismore surfer and increasing tourist numbers sparked a call for an increased red and yellow presence on Clarence Valley beaches through summer. Clarence Valley lifeguard supervisor Greg Wyllie said with only one lifeguard patrolling the beach, it was a huge responsibility.

JANUARY 25: Christmas may have been a month ago, but Troy Cassar-Daley must have thought all of his had come at once after he collected five of the industry's biggest awards at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Troy Cassar-Daley poses for a photograph after winning five Golden Guitar's, at the 44th annual Golden Guitar Awards during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, in Tamworth, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. The Tamworth Country Music Festival runs from the 15th to 24th January, culminating in the Golden Guitar Awards night which celebrates the best of Australian country music. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING
Troy Cassar-Daley poses for a photograph after winning five Golden Guitar's, at the 44th annual Golden Guitar Awards during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, in Tamworth, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. The Tamworth Country Music Festival runs from the 15th to 24th January, culminating in the Golden Guitar Awards night which celebrates the best of Australian country music. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING DAN HIMBRECHTS

JANUARY 26: The momentum of the Jacaranda Festival is as healthy as it has ever been, with the influx of visitors at last year's celebration a good sign of the future, but to help steer the festival and help it grow, Ballina-based consultant Krista Hauritz has been employed by the Jacaranda Committee and Clarence Valley Council.

JANUARY 27: Surrounded by family and a little overwhelmed, Leone Roberts was announced as the Clarence Valley's Citizen of the Year in recognition of her extensive volunteer work.

"I've gotten so much back from all the work I've done; you always meet so many new people and just to see the people appreciate what you do is worth it," she said.

Muhammad Hasan shows off his citizenship certificate with a hand from his parents on his shoulder at the citizenship ceremony at Ellem Oval.
Muhammad Hasan shows off his citizenship certificate with a hand from his parents on his shoulder at the citizenship ceremony at Ellem Oval. Adam Hourigan

JANUARY 28: A Clarence Valley teenager who passed out at Turners Beach in Yamba was lucky lifeguards were on hand to help after their summer service was extended by a day. The girl, who was believed to have a pre-existing medical condition, fainted on the beach and was treated with oxygen therapy until an ambulance arrived.

JANUARY 29: Three prisoners were rescued from an over-turned prison van after the vehicle lost control on the Gwydir Hwy. The three male prisoners were being transported from Glen Innes Correctional Facility to Grafton for court matters.

A trapped inmate is freed from a corrective services van that tipped over on the Gwydir Highway.
A trapped inmate is freed from a corrective services van that tipped over on the Gwydir Highway. Adam Hourigan

JANUARY 30: Residents in the path of the second Grafton bridge have begun to pack up their things to make way for work on the long-awaited second bridge.



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