Sapphire netball’s open and shut win

The 17 year and open Sapphire Coast netball representative teams travelled to Canberra recently to compete in the regional state league competition.
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• The undefeated Sapphire open team are (back, from left) coach Sue Beasley, Katherine Pajuczok, Shelley Bland, Mariclare Malone, Jamie Christensen, Aimee Rainbird, assistant Corinne Beasley, (front) Michelle Kelly, Magan Hergenhan, Brooke Morgan, Tyjana Thelan and Emma Moffitt.

The experienced open team was confident of winning the state league for the second consecutive year.

Strong play saw the team through the opening rounds undefeated.

A spirited performance from Queanbeyan in the final was not enough to worry the strong defensive combinations of this team.

The team displayed its great depth of talent, convincingly taking the game 57-20.

Meanwhile, the 17 year team was without key personnel for the weekend and faced tough opposition from within the region.

A first up win over Barellan was followed by losses to Queanbeyan and Eurobodalla on day one.

Day two started with an extremely physical loss by three goals to Southern Highlands, then another loss to a more experienced Ulladulla team.

The weekend finished for the 17s with another win over Barellan.

The teams now move on to further carnivals in WaggaWagga in preparation for the state championships in Sydney on the June long weekend.

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End of bushfire danger period

EVEN though the weather is cooling down, there is still the potential for fires to cause damage to life, property and the environment, warns NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) community safety officer Inspector Martin Siemsen.
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NSW RFS will end the statutory Bush Fire Danger Period in the Hunter Valley Team area at the end of March.

From Tuesday, fire permits will no longer be required in the Rural Fire District of the Muswellbrook Local Government Area.

However, residents living in the towns of Muswellbrook and Denman need a fire permit all year round.

These can be obtained from their local Fire & Rescue NSW station.

“Although fire permits are no longer required in rural areas, property owners must still adhere to the law regarding the use of fire,” Inspector Siemsen said.

“This requires people to notify neighbouring land owners and land management authorities 24 hours prior to burning, as well as taking appropriate action to ensure containment and control of fire so it doesn’t escape and cause damage.

“Penalties still apply for failing to notify neighbours that you are lighting a fire and for allowing fires to escape.

“We encourage people to get advice from their local RFS Fire Control Centre on how to safely conduct hazard reduction activities such as slashing, trittering and burning and how to prepare their homes for the next bushfire season.”

If residents do have to burn they should ask the RFS for advice, permits and approvals:

* Give fire authorities and neighbours 24 hours notice

* Check weather conditions/Total Fire Bans

* Delay the burn if concerning winds are forecast

* Create proper fire breaks

* Have adequate water resources on hand

* Supervise the fire at all times

* Call Triple Zero (000) immediately if fire escapes

For more information contact the Hunter Valley Team office on 6574 5186 or visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

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Black and Whites to continue experimenting

Group 20 rugby league
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DAVID Milne would field his strongest Black and Whites line-up for tomorrow night’s Paul Kelly Memorial Shield semi-final against Hay -if only he knew what it what it looked like.

WRAPPED UP: Griffith’s Peni Baleinausori is tackled by a Leeton player in Sunday’s Paul Kelly Memorial Shield clash.

The Griffith captain-coach is still sorting through a bevy of players, new and old, and will continue to experiment until he finds a combination that can turn the wooden spooners into a strong, competitive outfit.

The early signs are good after two wins from two at Wade Park last week but the former Canberra Raiders winger is not getting ahead of himself just yet.

“I don’t know what my best side is, still. We’ve only played three games,” Milne said.

“We’ll probably try and put a decent side in but I don’t know what I’ve got.

“I’ve got heaps of players but I can only use so many.

“It’s a matter of still seeing what we’ve got, how they go with each other, and matching different people with different people.

“We’ll see what works best.”

The Black and Whites beat Darlington Point-Coleambally 22-6 and then toppled minor premiers Leeton 18-12 in the preliminary round of the competition, and Milne came away more convinced than ever that Griffith’s darkest days are behind them.

Talented halfback Stephen Broome earned praise after scoring three tries against the Greens, leading his new boss to describe his performance as “unbelievable”.

“Everyone’s going to have their time to shine. They’ve just got to grab it when they get it,” Milne said.

“It’s only a knockout, you can’t take too much out of it.

“Until we play a full, 80-minute game, we’re not going to know how good we are.

“But we’re impressed with what we’ve got there and we think we can give the competition a fair shake.”

Tomorrow’s semi-final provides a good opportunity for the Black and Whites to test their progress -only three weeks ago, they travelled to Hay for a trial match and despite an encouraging first half, fell 54-22.

“The more we play the better we’re going to get. That’s just how footy goes,” Milne said.

“We’re not going to be at our best until at least halfway through the season but if we can improve each week, that’s what we’re looking to do.”

The only definite Griffith absentee for the rematch is Graham Murray, who is nursing a rib injury.

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Career based on a passion for dancing

CHARLES Bartley simply loves to dance and that passion for dancing is clearly visible in every move he makes.
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BEAUTIFUL MOVES: Charles Bartley visited Singleton this week to give dance tutorials to students at St Catherine’s Catholic College.

The 2009 runner-up in the television program ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ was visiting Singleton this week to provide some tips on dance success to students at St Catherine’s Catholic College.

A graduate of Sydney’s Brent Street School of Performing Arts, Charles has been dancing for 17 years.

Currently working as a freelance artist he has performed in the musicals Fame and King Kong.

His specialty is jazz and hip hop but he said he can do every form of dance and sing and act.

“Its tough to get a gig s so you have to be very flexible and versatile to be chosen to perform, ”he said.

Charles grew up in Dubbo in the state’s Central West where copped a bit of flak in his primary schools years because of his love of dancing.

“But by the time I was in my senior years I was the cool kid because of my hip hop skills, ” he said.

He said so many of his contemporaries in Sydney grew up in regional and rural areas.

“They had a passion for the arts and developed a drive for knowledge, “ he said.

“We weren’t spoon fed like our city peers and thats a good thing.”

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Ararat couple celebrates 50 golden years

A 50 year marriage celebration for Margaret and John Young. Picture: PETER PICKERINGArarat – Margaret and John Young celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this month.
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Margaret and John Young were married on March 14 1964 in Maryborough. They met when John came to board with Margaret’s family in Maryborough.

They have lived in Ararat for 46 years and have four children, Jenny married to Paul O’Shea in Echuca, David married to Arlene in Perth and Paul and Rachel in Ararat.

They also have two grandchildren, Emily, 18 and Callum, eight.

Ararat Rural City Mayor Cr Paul Hooper presented the couple with a certificate recognising their golden wedding anniversary, Margaret’s bridesmaid Diane Adams from Beechworth made a surprise visit to help celebrate the occasion and Margaret’s sister, Nancye Turner made and decorated the cake.

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Change your clocks, change your batteries, says firies

Captain Derek Brown encouraged seniors to contact Cowra Fire Station if they need help changing their fire alarm batteries.Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) firefighters from Cowra Fire Station are urging seniors in the Cowra community to change their smoke alarm batteries when they change their clocks on April 6.
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As part of the Duracell-led “Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery campaign,” firefighters encourage those most at risk in the Cowra community – those aged over 65 – to contact their local fire station if they need help changing their smoke alarm battery.

FRNSW is also working in partnership with legacy and Home Care of NSW to identify those in need of assistance with their smoke alarm batteries.

“If you cannot climb a ladder and have no family, friends or neighbours to help you, we will come out and replace seniors’ smoke alarm batteries free of charge as part of the Smoke Alarm and Battery Replacement program,” Captain Derek Brown from Cowra Fire Station said.

“A fifth of all house fires involve seniors. So far in 2014, four people have died in house fires and all have been over 65.

“The most important thing those over 65 can do to reduce their risk of fires in the home is to have a working smoke alarm.

“A fire can take hold in just three minutes, filling your home with deadly smoke but a working smoke alarm gives you vital seconds to get out before you’re overcome.

“When Daylight Savings ends on April 6 and you change your clock, why not change your smoke alarm battery too.”

Captain Brown said it was also important seniors left keys in or near deadlocks so that they can escape quickly in an emergency.

“Don’t fight the fire – get out and stay out and call Triple Zero (000) from a safe place,” Captain Brown said.

Contact Cowra Fire Station on (02) 6341 1624. In case of an emergency, always dial 000.

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Black Dogs round up an impressive sum for charity

The 268 riders line up to start the Black Dog Ride near Short Street. Photo: LAURA McINTYREThe Black Dog Ride has raised an impressive $13,239.15 to be donated directly to Lifeline Australia.
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Organisers of the Black Dog Ride, Wayne Amor and Steven Gower were thrilled with the response they received from the event.

Mr Amor confirmed there was a grand total of 268 riders, with 220 bikes and 48 pillions on the back.

The total amount of funds raised from the ride on Sunday and online donations also includes some generous donations from local business according to Mr Amor.

The two auction items raised $1450 altogether, with a framed Ducati T-shirt selling for $1000 along with $450 worth of Quest, Hog’s Breath and Taronga Western Plains Zoo vouchers.

“We would like to thank all of the local businesses that have contributed so generously, either by donation of product or service,” Mr Amor said.

“Special mention goes to the Short Street Store and the Commercial Hotel, for without their co-operation, this event would not have been possible.”

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Car parking stoush holds positive meet

A $1.6 million expansion of a main street pub at Dubbo may yet avoid a $300,000 bill for parking spaces in the city.
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Consultants for the Milestone Hotel and Dubbo City Council representatives recently held a “positive meeting” about the point of contention.

As a result the council anticipated it may receive new information to support a further reduction of the developer contributions.

Council environmental services director Melissa Watkins provided the update at this week’s meeting where the hotel expansion was on the agenda.

One week earlier, a council committee had recommended the developer pay a total of $319,150 for parking – a reduced rate of 30 per cent of the normal requirement – but some councillors argued the contribution was too high.

Their arguments had involved the hotel’s listing on the state heritage register and its importance as a business in the central business district (CBD).

The development application (DA) that triggered the debate included plans to reduce car parking at the hotel from 12 spaces to five, which would not satisfy council requirements.

Under the recommendation carried with the support of six out of 11 councillors the proponent would be encouraged to lodge a modified DA seeking a change to the contribution set for car parking, in which it addressed heritage conservation provisions.

This week there was new information to report to the councillors.

Ms Watkins said a positive meeting had been held with the applicant’s consultants, the result of which was they understood what the council required.

The consultants were proceeding to address the issues with a view to submitting more information to the council for its further consideration, she said.

The consultants were advised that if they provided the new information in the next week, a report could go to the council meeting in May, she said.

Cr John Walkom had called for a reduction in the developer contributions in the previous week but by Monday’s meeting he had changed his mind.

He said he was happy to make a backflip and support the motion.

He was not the only one to change his view – this week all nine councillors present voted for the committee’s recommendation.

It gave the DA approval subject to conditions, set the contributions for car parking at $319,150 and gave instructions for the developer to be encouraged to lodge a modified DA in the future.

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“It was the loss we needed … maybe”: Cats skipper

CRICKET
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Wagga City captain Dean Crane

WAGGA City captain Dean Crane concedes the semi final loss to South Wagga a fortnight ago could hold the club in good stead as it prepares for tomorrow’s decider.

While the Cats skipper said he hates losing any match, he admitted the defeat may have lit a fire in his players.

“It would have been better if we didn’t lose, but I guess it has brought our hunger up to a new level,” Crane said.

“We never like losing but I suppose in a way we might have needed it.

“It’s been a long season and we had been winning every week.

“I guess now we know we’re not unstoppable.”

The 34-run loss at the hands of South Wagga brought to an end the Cats’ 18-game winning streak.

The two powerhouse clubs will meet again at Robertson Oval to play for the shield this weekend.

Wagga City has named an unchanged line-up from the one that beat St Michaels in the preliminary final, while the Blues will field the same team from two weeks ago.

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Xstrata can’t be trusted: Alliance

XSTRATA Coal cannot be trusted to stick to its approved mining plans or to protect biodiversity offsets at its Mangoola mine, near Denman, according to the Lock The Gate Alliance.
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The group made these arguments to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) at the Muswellbrook and District Workers Club yesterday, as the PAC met to determine the company’s application to boost coal production at the mine by 28 per cent, up to 13.5 million tonnes per annum.

If approved, the application will allow Xstrata to significantly increase dust and noise pollution from the mine site, and to discharge saline water into the Hunter River, which it is presently prohibited from doing.

“Xstrata have continually misled the community about their plans for this coal mine, since they bought the undeveloped project back in 2008,” Lock The Gate Hunter regional coordinator Steve Phillips said.

“Xstrata has modified the mine approval six times since they bought it.

“The community is now facing a very different mine to the one that was approved seven years ago, and the impacts stand to be much greater.

“Xstrata has concealed the full extent of its plans for the mine, presenting them one piece at a time in order to keep the community in the dark, and avoid a full assessment of cumulative impacts.”

Lock The Gate argued the mine’s proposed “biodiversity offset” scheme was ineffective.

Xstrata is seeking to modify the approved offset area, as the company has been unable to secure two of the properties within it.

“Xstrata should never have been allowed to begin clearing the endangered bushland at Mangoola before it had secured and protected the offset areas,” Phillips said.

“That the company is shuffling around its biodiversity offset even now, seven years after the mine was approved, is a good example of what a feckless bureaucratic farce the biodiversity offset model for coal mine approvals in NSW is.

“There is no guarantee that the offset areas will not be mined in the future.

“Xstrata is already exploring for coal in the area surrounding the existing mine approval.

“Any expansion of mining would require the biodiversity offsets to be mined, as has happened with other projects in the Hunter, most recently at Warkworth.”

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