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Monday, March 30, 2009

Rare peek inside Willow Court

ART-LOVER or not, get yourself along to Willow Court for a rare look behind the barbed-wire fence. As part of the 10 Days on the Island festival, the historic site in central New Norfolk is hosting an exhibition of drawings and text from Matt Coyle's graphic novel, Worry Doll.

The exhibition is open from 10am-4pm daily until April 12 (closed on April 6 and 10) in the barracks building. Despite the 10 Days on the Island program saying there are "historic asylum buildings" open at the site, it is in fact only the barracks that is open. None-the-less, the exhibition provides a rare chance to look inside this heritage building which is generally off-limits, eight years into the Derwent Valley Council's "redevelopment" project.

Thanks to TassieLass for suggesting the NNNewsblogger visit the exhibition last weekend.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big Tone's big idea

NEW Norfolk's infamous mis-spelled "bicentennary" plaque looks like it is set in stone, with Derwent Valley mayor Tony Nicholson flatly refusing to have the inscription corrected. Speaking at the March council meeting, Councillor Nicholson said the public was unlikely to notice the errors on the plaque unless its critic, Damian Bester, proposed standing alongside to point them out. "What a great idea," Mr Bester responded.

Bester is now seeking opinions on whether balloons or streamers are most appropriate for festival day (in red, white and black of course).

Roadside hazard reductions for Molesworth

FEDERAL "black spot" funding of $160,000 has been allocated for roadside hazard reduction on the length of Molesworth Rd between the Lyell Highway and the Derwent Valley/Glenorchy municipal boundary. The NNNews contacted the office of Dick Adams MHR for information about the allocation, after the Derwent Valley Council appeared not to know what it was about.

“This $160,000 project to improve delineation and roadside hazard reduction in Molesworth has been approved under the $4.7 billion Nation Building Package," Mr Adams told the NNNews. “This piece of road is notorious, especially in the winter, and improved delineation and visibility through roadside hazard reduction will significantly improve the safety of the area,” he said.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gas leak being investigated

NEWS AS IT HAPPENS: POLICE have closed a New Norfolk street due to a gas leak at an undisclosed location. In the interests of public safety local police have closed Page Avenue, which leads to the New Norfolk Olympic Swimming Pool, while units from the Tasmania Fire Service investigate the leak.

UPDATE: The New Norfolk Olympic Swimming Pool was identified as the location of the gas leak, which was promptly attended to by the emergency services.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

$150,000 stage and rotunda for Tynwald Park

GRANTS of $242,000 have been approved for the Derwent Valley from the Federal Government’s $250 Million Community Infrastructure Program. Announcing the news today, Federal Lyons MHA Dick Adams described the funding as a shot in the arm for the local economy and local infrastructure. “The Rudd Government understands the importance of investing in community infrastructure in these tough economic times”, Mr Adams said.

The Derwent Valley Council will be asked to manage the $242,000 for local projects including: improvements to work on community halls at Granton, Molesworth, Westerway, Maydena, New Norfolk and Lachlan; refurbishment of the Bushy Park swimming pool; installation of barbecue facilities at the New Norfolk pool; stabilisation of the Lachlan riverbank and rehabilitation work to the Salmon Ponds ecosystem.

"Local projects like these are important in strengthening community bonds, and generating construction activity," Mr Adams said. "These projects will provide the community with better facilities and access to community infrastructure."

"The development of a rotunda and stage in Tynwald Park will provide a permanent space for the many outdoor functions that are held in the area. “Both tourists and the local community will benefit from many of the projects that are being funded. Work on these ready-to-go community projects will start in the near future. Without this important Federal funding, projects like these would have been kept in the too hard basket, and councils would not have been able to make these important infrastructure improvements," Mr Adams said.

The projects are as follows:

$150,000 Tynwald Park Stage and Rotunda: This project will build a stage facility and rotunda at Tynwald Park. The Derwent Valley Council holds numerous outdoor functions, some of which require a stage facility. Over the years it has met this need by hiring a stage or using the tray of a semi-trailer but this caused concern for some organisations, the elderly and disabled.

$25,000 Lighting Upgrade for Boyer Oval: Upgrading training lights at the oval will enable night football matches to be held. The work will be completed in stages and will be co-funded by the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program along with private and in-kind support. The project will involve contracting a lighting expert, the installation of light towers and the upgrading of the power supply as required.

$20,000 Bushy Park Memorial Swimming Pool Refurbishment: This project will undertake the refurbishment of the change rooms. It will remove the old internal partition and seating, strip the paint from the floor and walls and replace with tiles. There will be new electrical work for upgraded lighting.

$15,000 Salmon Ponds River Restoration: The aim of the project is to protect, enhance and restore key sections of the Plenty River to improve the health of the river, reduce downstream impacts and provide healthy habitats for native species including the platypus.

$5000 Derwent Valley Railway Preservation Society Storage Facilities: The proposal is to extend the current shed to enable restoration works to be undertaken under cover.

$5000 Upgrade of New Norfolk Tennis Club: The removal of asbestos roof cladding on the tennis clubhouse and replacing it with Colorbond steel. The northern end of the building will be re-stumped, and weatherboards removed and repainted.

$5000 New Norfolk Olympic Swimming Pool BBQ: This project will install a barbecue facility at the pool to encourage more family use of the pool.

$5000 Stabilisation of the Lachlan River Bank: The aim of the project is to protect, enhance and restore sections of the Lachlan River in order to improve the health of the river, reduce downstream impacts and provide healthy habitats for native species as well as widening parts of the adjacent walking track.

$2000 Westerway Hall Plumbing Upgrade: Usage of this hall is limited in the winter months due to freezing of the water line. The project will rectify this problem and upgrade plumbing fixtures in the toilets and kitchen.

$2000 Verandah Extension at Molesworth Hall: This project will contribute to the extension of the covered verandah area of the new hall.

$2000 Security Lighting at Granton Hall: This project will install security lighting to assist those leaving the hall at night.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Funds flow into the Valley

NEWS of several major developments was given at tonight's Derwent Valley Council meeting, including a $171,000 allocation for the upgrading of the New Norfolk War Memorial Hall. Mayor Tony Nicholson said he had been advised of this by the Treasurer, Michael Aird MLC, this week.

Cr Nicholson said he had also been informed that Telstra planned to erect a mobile telephone base-station at Maydena and to upgrade the Gretna exchange, both of which would vastly improve telecommunications in the upper Derwent Valley.

Later in the meeting, Cr Bomfield mentioned that "black spot" funding had today been announced for the municipality and asked if the council knew the specific details, which it did not.

Mayoral manouevre misfires

TONIGHT'S meeting of the Derwent Valley Council descended into farce after mayor Tony Nicholson refused to receive a public statement he had previously agreed to hear. Persistent questioner Damian Bester went to the meeting with two questions and was surprised with a letter from Councillor Nicholson before the meeting started.

When called upon to put his questions, Bester said he first wished to make a short statement relating to the letter from the mayor. Cr Nicholson said he would hear the questions first, and if time permitted, Mr Bester could make his statement afterwards. With his two short questions out of the way, Mr Bester started on his statement but was told to resume his seat. Standing his ground, he reminded the mayor of his undertaking to hear the statement and pointed out that several councillors were nodding in agreement.

Cr Nicholson said the statement would be heard at another time, but Mr Bester proceeded to have his say. With the mayor repeatedly telling him to resume his seat, Mr Bester said the mayor had handed him a letter that night, noting that he had not yet taken up the mayor's offer to inspect an inventory of historical items relating to the Willow Court historic site. Mr Bester said his only comment was that he had been seeking a copy of the inventory, not merely a chance to look at it, and that was why he had not availed himself of the mayor's offer.

Mr Bester resumed his seat in the public gallery to the sound of mayor protesting that the statement "would not be heard".

Council policy sets aside 15 minutes of every open council meeting for public statements and questions. Despite a lengthy and interesting question from Michael Whitehead on the value of the Valley Vision group, the time limit had not been exceeded when the mayor refused to hear Damian Bester's statement.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chamber congratulates local enterprise

THE New Norfolk Newsagency has been congratulated on the recent achievement of being named the best home delivery agent in Tasmania. In a circular to members, Derwent Valley Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Laurelle Grimley commended proprietors Leigh, Pauline and Matthew Martin. "The Chamber is very proud that New Norfolk Newsagency is a member of the DVCCI," Mrs Grimley said.

Letter to the editor: Concern over sentencing

I AM writing with my blood boiling over the pathetic sentencing of the protestors at the Triabunna mill as reported in the Mercury this week. I feel the justice system has been soft for a long time now, but this is just ridiculous! We have protestors on welfare paid by the taxes from proud forestry workers like my husband who are out at all hours of the day and night trying to make a living for our family.
This is not on! Who compensates the drivers who were left sitting at the gate, and their shift work partners who were unable to do night shift? Who pays the families the lost wages? The protestors aren't worried - our taxes are paying them! And in the instance that the drivers dipped into their holiday pay so that household bills could be paid, who is going to explain to their children that as the jobless tax-funded protestors decided to hold a protest daddy can't have a decent holiday with you this year. What a joke!
I support Gunns Ltd for issuing a writ for compensation - at least they are trying to support the forestry workers and are trying to show protestors that it isn’t a peaceful protest by trespassing and disrupting honest workers.
Magistrate Helen Wood has fallen short by saying the community was concerned at the large number of police and rescue workers having their time wasted by these protestors. The community is also frustrated and disappointed that a heavy sentence is not issued to deter these protestors. If they want to protest keep it peaceful and take it to the government as our elected members - don’t interfere with law abiding businesses and honest forestry workers.
As a proud supporter of the forestry industry within the Derwent Valley and indeed Tasmania as a whole, I think it is time that a political party steps up and declares their full support for this industry. No mincing words - we need to know who to vote for come election time. I feel confident that this will be the major political issue for the division of Lyons.
Instead of all the wasted media attention given to the greens and the protestors, the elected members need to recognise that there are only four Green members elected to state parliament and they and the protestors are a minority of the Tasmanian population.
And as for these protestors in the Florentine and Styx forests - GO HOME! The majority of these waste of space trespassers are not Tasmanian citizens, they don't reside here, contribute to our economy or contribute to our communities and are NOT wanted. As for the local losers such as the ones that waltzed into Triabunna and thought they were doing a wonderful job - GET A JOB!
The majority of Tasmanians like Tassie how it is.
Allison Morgan

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tell me more, tell me more

IN a spray at un-named critics in this week's Derwent Valley Gazette, Mayor Tony Nicholson expressed his frustration at those drawing attention to the slow rate of development on the Willow Court historic site. Cr Nicholson was quoted saying the council had been undertaking market research, conservation plans and maintenance.

"The cost of that sort of work has been conveniently overlooked by our critics," Cr Nicholson said, before going on to say the council was working to get the best value for taxpayer dollars.

But Cr Nicholson is mistaken, as his so-called critics overlook nothing. Any information he wishes to share would be welcomed by the people who have been bothering him for details of the council's proposed redevelopment of the historic site - a process he now seems to believe is "beyond a rural council" according to the report in the Gazette.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pot. Kettle. Black.

A STARTLING warning for some people to immediately cease parking in New Norfolk's central business district was the talk of the town last week. The front page of last week's Derwent Valley Gazette carried the surprising news that Derwent Valley Council planner Martin McCance had written to all CBD businesses warning that shop owners, occupiers and staff were not to park outside their premises.

It seems the council has had complaints that some workers were leaving their cars parked all day in "spots meant for customers". The New Norfolk Business Alliance agreed that this practice was equal to sabotaging local business, but the council's response seems a little extreme.

The article did not mention whether Mr McCance's edict also applied to council management and staff, many of whom enjoy all-day parking right outside their workplace - which is also in the central business district. Neither did the article say what authority a council planner has to prohibit any person from legally parking in any location in the CBD, whether it be a 30-minute spot or the five-minute zone outside the post office.

Instead of issuing an unenforcable instruction against lawful parking in the CBD, the council would be better advised to instruct its rangers to start enforcing all parking limits in High St and surrounds. After all, the 5 and 30-minute limits are designed to prevent long-term parking but are next to useless without enforcement.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Upper Derwent Valley health services boost

A $3 million project to boost health and community service infrastructure in the Derwent Valley has been announced by Health Minister Lara Giddings. It includes upgrades to the former Ouse District Hospital (now called the Central Highlands Community Health Centre), four "independent living units", additional aged care placements at New Norfolk, and a new community transport vehicle.

"I am delighted that such a positive set of services and investment has been agreed after months of working closely with the community to design better services," Ms Giddings said. "I thank the members of the consultative committee and the Central Highlands Council for their contribution to what I believe will be an exemplary health and social care service that will grow over time.

"This plan takes an integrated approach – it tackles both the health infrastructure and housing and telecommunications challenges the area faces. The community relies heavily on their local GP and part of the capital program involves upgrading the GP consulting rooms with an improved waiting area and administrative office.

"Funding will also go towards transferring to the local council five public housing units co-located at the health centre site and upgrading them to achieve a village-like feel. Supporting the elderly forms a significant part of this plan, with $1.2 million going towards the construction of four new independent living units suitable for frail residents, plus new high-care packages and support for residential care places in New Norfolk," Ms Giddings said.

Ms Giddings said the plan included:

  • $1 million to improve and upgrade the Ouse Community and Health Centre site;
  • $1.2 to design and construct four new accessible units for the frail and aged;
  • $100,000 towards upgrading and transferring five public housing units to the Central Highlands Council;
  • $422,500 partnership between Telstra and DHHS Telehealth to improve telehealth facilities, including the integration of leading edge technologies that will maximise the additional mobile phone coverage being installed near Hamilton and Ouse;
  • $600,000 towards supporting Corumbene Nursing Home at New Norfolk in its application for additional high care places from the Australian Government; and
  • A new all-wheel-drive community transport vehicle to be based at Ouse to transport residents to medical appointments and other health related activities.

April Fools Day, or Groundhog Day?

REGULAR readers of the New Norfolk News will have appreciated the irony of Derwent Valley Mayor Tony Nicholson's appearance on the front page of Friday's issue of the Mercury newspaper, where he lamented the State Government's back-room decision to fund a heritage site at Oatlands. The NNNewsblogger had to double-check his calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1.

The article described Councillor Nicholson as being "appalled" that New Norfolk had not been able to apply for the $500,000 in heritage funding which was announced for Oatlands earlier in the week. Cr Nicholson correctly stated that our own Willow Court historic site pre-dated Port Arthur and was worthy of government funding.

But the article did not mention that the Derwent Valley Council had already received funding from the State and Federal governments and that half of the money had been withdrawn due to inaction on the council's part. Also missing from the report was any information about what the council had done with the large pool of money from the sale of heritage buildings on the site.

It could even be suggested that the State Government is taking a leaf from the council's book when dealing with heritage matters. After all, this is the council that:

* Sold off heritage-listed buildings on several occasions without consulting the community.
* Refuses to say how much money was raised from the property sales.
* Wants to demolish heritage-listed buildings.
* Sold roads and footpaths to private developers.
* Refuses public access to the minutes of the Willow Court redevelopment committee.
* Apparently forgot who its representative was on the Willow Court committee.
* Appeared not to know the Willow Court committee was required to hold an annual general meeting and that the public must be invited to attend and be permitted to stand for election to it.
* Seeks to sell further parts of the historic site and refuses to deal with community groups proposing sustainable uses for the site.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Death of emergency services volunteer

SEVERAL of the Derwent Valley's emergency services organisations are this week mourning the death of volunteer worker Margaret Goss after a long illness. Mrs Goss, of Bushy Park, was also a nurse's aide at the Ouse District Hospital.

For more than 20 years, Mrs Goss was a member of the New Norfolk Division of St John Ambulance Australia. She served many years as its superintendent. For a similar period, Mrs Goss was a volunteer with the Tasmanian Ambulance Service, based at the New Norfolk Ambulance Station. She was also a past member of the New Norfolk unit of the State Emergency Service.

On Australia Day in 1999 she was honoured as the Derwent Valley's citizen of the year in recognition of her dedicated community service. She was also a recipient of the Service Medal of the Order of St John.

Mrs Goss, 60, died at the Royal Hobart Hospital on March 3, 2009. She is survived by her husband John, daughter Terri-Anne and several grandchildren.

Business people to meet infrastructure minister

TOPICS including the replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge and upgrading of local roads will be discussed when Infrastructure Minister Graeme Sturges attends a business dinner at New Norfolk this month. Organised by the Derwent Valley Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the March 19 dinner is for Chamber members and business people by invitation. Interested members of the local business community can call 0400 677 445 if they have not received their invitation.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Benefit raises $4000 for bushfire relief

SUNDAY'S benefit concert at the Derwent Valley Sport and Recreation Centre has raised about $4000 for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. A Derwent Valley Council spokesman said about 300 people had attended and enjoyed the four hours of entertainment, which included children's activities as well as choirs and bands. A demountable steel and timber stage was manufactured for the concert and will become a community asset, available for future use.

First century for New Norfolk NEWS

THE NNNews has reached its 100th news item since the website was established seven months ago on July 2, 2008. The site filled a gap in regional news coverage and quickly became required reading for our local elected representatives. The NNNewsblogger extends his thanks to the site's discerning readers for their feedback and encouragement. Keep commenting to