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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Councillor and Mr Hill

CONGRATULATIONS to Derwent Valley Councillor Narelle Molan and youth worker Matt Hill on their wedding at Hamilton last weekend. The ceremony was performed by Salvation Army Captain Christopher Garcia who made a special trip from Victoria for the happy occasion. Councillor and Mr Hill honeymooned in Melbourne and will make their home in New Norfolk. (Photo from Facebook).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New bridge on Molesworth Rd

A SOLID new bridge now spans the Sorell Creek at Molesworth, just along from the local primary school where Douglas Rd meets Molesworth Rd. The previous timber bridge was replaced last week, with the concrete replacement said to be on a better alignment.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eddie and Ollie win state rowing title

LOCAL rowers Oliver Wilson-Haffenden (New Norfolk) and Anthony Edwards (Molesworth) who the Tasmanian State Championship in the senior men's pair at Lake Barrington last weekend - thought to be a first for the New Norfolk Rowing Club in this event. The pair won in a time of 6.58 minutes and were elated with their win, bringing home the only state title for the NNRC.

Edwards will represent Tasmania in the open lightweight pair with Sam Beltz of Lindisfarne; Open Lightweight Four and Penrith Cup crew with Beltz, Tom Gibson (Huon) and Blair Tunevitsch (Tamar); as well as the Lightweight Eight.

Wilson-Haffenden will be representing Tasmania in the youth eight and rowing for the NNRC in the Under 23 lightweight pair and double with Sam Hall (Tamar) and open lightweight quad with Hall as well as Damien Richardson and Ashley Reardon (both from Buckingham) at the Australian National titles to be held at Lake Nagambie in Victoria in March.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rehabilitation work starts after Wayatinah fire

MORE than a fortnight after it was first reported, the Wayatinah bushfire remains contained. 25 personnel with nine vehicles from the Parks and Wildlife Service and Forestry Tasmania continue to patrol and extinguish hotspots in the World Heritage Area and in State Forests.

Tasmania Fire Service crews will patrol the fire boundary on private property when the fire danger is high to ensure that this section of the fire remains safe. Rehabilitation activities have started on sections of the fire which are deemed safe for these operations.

Long Spur (B station) Rd, Florentine Rd, Dawson Rd (north of the Pillies Link road) Rd the southern end of the Catagunya Rad remain closed to all people other than firefighting personnel and residents.

Deadline extension granted

THE Derwent Valley Council has extended its call for tenders for the Willow Court oval precinct by two weeks. At a special closed meeting last night, the council considered requests from representatives of two national organisations seeking more time to prepare their proposals.

The council voted unanimously to grant the extension and to re-advertise the tender process this weekend. General manager Stephen Mackey was charged with the task of contacting everyone who had already received the tender documents and to inform them of the changed circumstances.

The council also unanimously supported a motion from Councillor Damian Bester that the decision be made public. Councillors Scott Shaw and Narelle Molan were not at the meeting.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Extension sought to oval deadline

A SPECIAL closed meeting of the Derwent Valley Council will be held this week to consider a request to extend the deadline on tenders for the oval precinct at the Willow Court historic site. The council recently decided to seek tenders for the sale of the property after rescinding an earlier decision to sell the oval to a supermarket developer.

With less than a week remaining until tenders closed this Wednesday, a potential buyer late last week asked the council to extend the deadline until the end of the month. As the previous decision was made in a closed session, any move to alter the arrangements was required to be dealt with in the same manner. An advertisement calling a special closed meeting for Tuesday night appeared in yesterday's issue of the Mercury newspaper.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Premier's $90k to fill Derwent Valley potholes

AS the state election draws nearer, Premier David Bartlett today announced an immediate one-off grant to fix potholes in council-owned roads across Tasmania. The Derwent Valley Council will receive $90,000 and the Central Highlands Council will get $160,000.

Mr Bartlett said all 29 Tasmanian councils would receive a share of the fund in recognition of the extremely wet winter that had caused major road degradation leading to potholes across the state. “We had one of the wettest winters on record and I accept that this has created a major burden on council road maintenance budgets,” Mr Bartlett said. “I want to see the worst-affected roads fixed quickly and not just left in the forward works program queue.

“This is one of those occasions when I think it is more important for local and state government to work together to get things done than argue about whose responsibility it is to fix the problem.  So we will be making a total of just under $5 million immediately available to Tasmanian councils to address the worst-affected roads in their municipalities as a priority.  This will have the dual benefit of improving road safety and supporting construction jobs right across Tasmania.”

Mr Bartlett urged councils to use this one-off opportunity to use the rest of the summer season to fix the worst cases in their areas. “This is one occasion where we have been able to find the means to fix a problem that is affecting communities.  Before the predictable negativity from the opposition parties begins, let me make it clear that this is not an election promise – we have been able to find the funds to do this in the 2009-10 Budget and the money is available to councils immediately.

Mr Bartlett said the funds would be distributed among councils using the traditional Commonwealth formula for road funding.

$2.5m child and family centre moves a step closer

PREMIER David Bartlett has announced the appointment  of "social inclusion community liaison officers" to engage local communities in their soon-to-be-established "child and family centres". It is understood that former Valley Vision staffer Katrina Higgins has been appointed to the New Norfolk position and her erstwhile colleague Ian Brown will undertake similar work at Risdon Vale.

Child and family centres have been promised at New Norfolk, Burnie, Ravenswood, Beaconsfield, George Town, East Devonport, Chigwell, St Helens, Huon Valley, Queenstown and Clarence Plains, and further centres for Latrobe, Invermay/Mowbray, Goodwood, Risdon Vale and Warrane/Mornington were announced late last week.

Mr Bartlett said the aim of the new centres was to instil a lifelong love of learning in young children.“I am determined to see that our children get the best possible start in life in every way," he said.“I want Tasmania to be a national leader in the start that it gives its children and I believe we are on that track.We have the opportunity to shape lives for the better and our Child and Family Centres will help do that.”

Mr Bartlett said each of the centres would cost about $2.5 million each and the appointment of the social inclusion community liaison officers was "integral to promoting social inclusion through community engagement and participation, particularly with isolated, disadvantaged and at-risk groups, and where possible, they have been drawn from their local communities.”

Work on the first 11 centres was already under way as part of the State Government’s $76 million strategy to help children get the best possible start in life. “Child and family centres are an important part of our comprehensive strategy to enable every Tasmanian to reach their potential, at all stages of life and we plan to build up to 30 statewide,” Mr Bartlett said.

The state has also received $8 million through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Partnership for Indigenous Early Childhood Development to establish an integrated child and family centre at Bridgewater with an annexe at Geeveston.

Click here for an explanation of the role of child and family centres.

"Be My Florentine" forest cabaret

A WEEKEND of live cabaret acts, burlesque and circus performers, live music, DJs, food and forest walks will be on offer in the Florentine forest in the Upper Derwent Valley this weekend for Valentines Day. Dubbed the fourth annual "Be My Florentine forest cabaret" the event is being organised by the lobby group Still Wild Still Threatened Florentine forest blockade, Gordon River Rd, 21km past Maydena.

The show begins at 7pm on Saturday with live cabaret performances, the "Be My Florentine" beauty pageant and the inaugural Florentine forest air-guitar competition followed by two DJs. Sunday from 11am-5pm will feature live music acts. Admission $10. The Bush Kitchen will be serving meals and guided forest walks will be available throughout Sunday. For more information email

Wayatinah bushfire - contained!

AFTER a worrying week, the Wayatinah Rd bushfire has now been contained, the Tasmania Fire Service reports. As of 8pm today, six fire-fighting vehicles including a light aircraft are attending to the fire - a significant reduction from the resources allocated over the last week.

The fire has burnt an area of about 6350 hectares. The main fire activity is now in the Heals Spur area in the north-western corner, and Mt Thunderbolt in the south-western area. Strengthening containment lines has been the main focus for fire-fighting crews today. The western section of this fire has seen the majority of crew and dozer deployment.

Remote-area team personnel from the Parks and Wildlife Service and Tasmania Fire Service are operating in difficult terrain in the vicinity of Heals Spur. Smoke activity may be visible west of Wayatinah as a result. Due to variable winds this may affect communities of Ouse, Hamilton, Ellendale Wayatinah Westerway and Maydena.

A multi-agency incident management team consisting of members from Forestry Tasmania, Parks and Wildlife, Norske Skog, Information and Land Services and the Tasmania Fire Service continue to manage firefighting activities.

Public Safety Warning: People are strongly urged to stay away from the camping areas along the Broad River and Repulse Dam until further notice. Tasmania Police will be patrolling the area and enforcing this. Closed roads must only be entered by fire crews and local residents.
No public access will be allowed on the Florentine Rd south of Wayatinah to the junction of the Florentine River due to fire fighting operations.

Road closures: Long Spur Rd (B Station Rd), Florentine Rd, Dawsons Rd and the southern end of Catagunya Rd, Lake Repulse Rd from the Lyell Hwy to the Repulse Dam. All traffic on these roads is restricted to fire fighting crews and local residents.

Monitor ABC Local Radio 936AM Hobart and the Tasmania Fire Service website for further information.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wayatinah bushfire latest - 7.30pm Thursday

THE Wayatinah bushfire increased in size again today, but favourable conditions saw the alert level downgraded to "advice" and the nearby Mt Field National Park was reopened to the public.

Tonight's advice from the Tasmanian Fire Service is that the large bushfire between Wayatinah and Ouse is now about 5942 hectares in size. The main fire is between Wayatinah and Repulse Dam.

Fire crews from the Tasmania Fire Service, Forestry Tasmania, Gunns, and Norske Skog today concentrated their efforts on active fires between Mt Thunderbolt and Lake Repulse and also an outbreak at Heals Spur. Helicopters have been used to assist with water bombing, fire mapping and reconnaissance.

Cooler temperatures are predicted for next two days, but warmer weather is expected early next week.

Fire crews assisted by helicopter water-bombing will be concentrating their efforts on trying to protect Hydro and Transend electricity generation and transmission infrastructure in the Heals Spur area that may be impacted on by the fire in the next 24 hours.

A multi-agency Incident Management Team consisting of members from Forestry Tasmania, Parks and Wildlife, Norske Skog and the Tasmania Fire Service continue to manage firefighting activities. Crews from the northern TFS taskforce will return to the north of the state tomorrow morning.

Road closures in these areas, to tourists and passersby are: Long Spur Rd (B Station Rd), Florentine Rd, Dawsons Rd, Lake Dobson Rd and the southern end of Catagunya Rd. All traffic on these roads is restricted to firefighting crews and local residents.

Mt Field National Park has been re-opened , but the Lake Dobson road will remain closed until further notice.

If you are away from home: Returning to your home may not be possible as roads in these areas may be dangerous, please check with Tasmania Police or visit the TFS website. Stay informed in case conditions change. Listem o ABC Local Radio 936AM Hobart for further information

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wayatinah bushfire latest - 7.30pm Wednesday

THE Wayatinah Rd bushfire fire has today joined with the spot fire south of Catagunya Dam and is covering an area of about 5687 hectares between Wayatinah and Ouse. The spot fire between Broad River and Repulse Dam has now been contained

Fire that broke containment lines west of the Florentine Rd towards Heals Spur is being contained. The main fire is actively burning on the western side of the Derwent River with state forest continues to generate smoke in this area.

Fire crews from Forestry Tasmania, Gunns, Norske Skog and the Tasmania Fire Service will maintain work throughout the evening to strengthen containment lines around the fire.

The fire danger rating in this area tonight is forecast to be low to moderate. Fires under these conditions are not expected to spread. Asset and property protection will remain a priority, although the fire is not expected to spread toward the nearby communities

Road closures: Lake Dobson Rd, Long Spur Rd (B Station Rd), Florentine Rd, Dawson Rd and the southern Catagunya Rd are restricted to firefighting crews and local residents only.

Mt Field National Park has been closed until further notice.

What to do:
  • Stay informed in case conditions change
  • Monitor ABC Local Radio 936am Hobart and the Tasmania Fire Service website for further information

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bushfire updates

"Drug Runners" hold charity night

THE New Norfolk RSL Club will be the venue for a Tupperware Shopping Night on February 11 to aid the New Norfolk Pharmacy team which will participate in this year's Tasmanian Cancer Council Relay for Life. Calling themselves "Drug Runners", the team joins many others around the state which are raising funds for cancer research.

Tickets to the shopping night cost $5 and everyone pre-purchasing their tickets at the New Norfolk Pharmacy (top of High St) will receive a gift bag. On the evening there will be lucky door prizes, spot prizes and load of giveaways. 

Road weather alert - Derwent Valley

Australian Government
Bureau of Meteorology

Road Weather Alert
Issued at 9:55pm on Tuesday the 2nd of February 2010

Renewal warning for the west and Derwent Valley

Motorists are advised that smoke from bushfires is likely to reduce visibility at times and pose a hazard to driving in these areas.

Wayatinah bushfire latest

THE large bushfire between Wayatinah and Ouse involves about 3400 hectares including the earlier spot fires south of Catagunya dam and another between Broad River and Repulse Dam. Fire crews are actively working on all fronts of the main fire and the spot fires.

Weather conditions today have allowed fire crews from the Tasmania Fire Service, Forestry Tasmania, Gunns and Norske Skog to focus on constructing and strengthening containment lines around the fire. Helicopters have been used to assist with water bombing, fire mapping and reconnaissance.

Asset and property protection near Ouse and Wayatinah remains a priority for fire crews, although the fire is not expected to spread further toward these communities.

Road closures in these areas, to tourists and passers-by, are Long Spur Rd (B Station Rd), Florentine Rd, Dawsons Rd, Lake Dobson Rd and the southern end of Catagunya Rd. All traffic on these roads is restricted to firefighting crews and local residents only.

Fire activity in the Wayatinah area has restricted Aurora Energy's ability to enter the area to repair fire-damaged infrastructure but they have been able to restore power to the Wayatinah village (see separate story below).

The fire is still burning on the western side of the Derwent River within state forest and continues to generate smoke in this area. Machinery is being used to establish containment lines on the western side of the main fire. Progress is being made to contain the fire in the Broad River area near Repulse Dam.

Ouse, Ellendale, Fentonbury and Westerway may be affected by smoke and ash any time in the next 24 hours.

The fire danger rating in this area is forecast to be high but there is no immediate threat to life and property from these fires. This bushfire is not controlled but is being contained by fire crews and additional support by utilising two helicopters conducting water-bombing operations in the Broad river area

This bushfire may create spot fires approximately up to 2-4km ahead.  These spot fires may threaten your home earlier than the predicted main fire front.

What to do in Ouse, Ellendale, Fentonbury and Westerway:
  • Activate your bushfire plan now
  • If your home is well constructed, prepared and actively defended, it may provide shelter.
  • If you don’t have a plan or your plan is to leave – leave now only if the path is clear
  • If you are away from home: Do not try to return to your home as the roads in this area could be highly dangerous.
  • Non-residents should stay away from the affected areas.
A multi-agency incident management team consisting of members from Forestry Tasmania, Parks and Wildlife, Norske Skog and the Tasmania Fire Service continue to manage firefighting activities.
A Tasmania Fire Service task force has been deployed from the north of the state to assist on the fire tomorrow and Thursday. Monitor ABC Local Radio (936AM Hobart) and the TFS website for further instructions and information.

Forestry Tasmania joins the fight

FORESTRY Tasmania staff are helping to fight a number of wildfires around the state. In particular they are working with the Tasmania Fire Service to control a number of fires south of Wayatinah in the Derwent Valley, some of which are on state forest.
 Forestry crews are also working with the Parks and Wildlife Service on the Snake Rd fire on the boundary between the World Heritage Area and state forest on the crest of the Gordon Range west of the Florentine Valley. This fire was ignited by a lightning strike two weeks ago.

Information about current wildfire incidents is available on the Tasmania Fire Service website.

Wayatinah back on line

CREWS from Aurora Energy today restored the power supply to almost all properties in the Wayatinah area. Electricity was cut to more than 30 properties in the village and surrounds after the current bushfire destroyed more than a kilometre of power lines and at least 10 power poles.

Aurora spokesman Mal Conway said an intensive restoration effort involving eight Aurora trucks and more than a dozen crews resulted in the power being turned back on at around 2.30pm today. “The restoration efforts today were very pleasing considering the extent of the damage to our assets and the erratic behaviour of the fire yesterday,’’ Mr Conway said. A a handful of properties remained without power and services were expected to be restored later today.

Bushfire road closures

POLICE have closed several roads in the Wayatinah/Ouse area due to the ongoing bushfire danger and associated fire-fighting activity. The following roads are closed to all vehicles except emergency service vehicles and residents of those roads:

  • Florentine Rd, Wayatinah.
  • Long Spur Road, Wayatinah.
  • Dawson Rd, Ouse.
  • South Catagunya Rd.

Tasmania Police says the road closures will be in effect until further notice. Residents of the closed roads are asked to drive with extreme care as emergency service vehicles may be conducting operations in the area.  They are urged to slow right down and take extra caution.

Fire threat closes national park

MT Field National Park is closed temporarily as of this afternoon and will remain closed tomorrow and Wednesday as a precaution due to the Wayatinah bushfire. There is no immediate threat to the park and the Parks and Wildlife Service hopes the park can be re-opened on Thursday, February 4. Check the PWS website for updates.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"Safer places" opened as fire threat continues

RELOCATION centres dubbed "neighbourhood safer places" have been established at Wayatinah Caravan Park, Wayatinah Golf Club and the Ouse Golf Club today, as the fire danger to Ouse started to wain but.Wayatinah was placed on the "watch and act" alert level.

First reported at about 3.30 on Sunday afternoon, the fire grew in size and intensity overnight and today was covering an area of about 4500 hectares between Wayatinah and Ouse in the Upper Derwent Valley. A further three spot fires were also reported.

The Tasmania Fire Service says the fire danger rating in the area is high. Fire under these conditions can be unpredictable. This fire is not currently controlled and may affect the community at Wayatinah overnight. There may be embers, smoke and ash falling on the village and nearby caravan park.

Residents are asked to be vigilant and report any new fires by calling 000. What to do:

* Activate your bushfire plan now.
* If your home is well constructed, prepared and actively defended, it may provide shelter.

* If you don’t have a plan or your plan is to leave – leave now only if the path is clear. 
* There are Neighbourhood Safer Places at Wayatinah Caravan Park and Wayatinah Golf Club. The next nearest Neighbourhood Safer Place is the Ouse Golf Club.

If you are away from home, do not try to return to your home as the roads in this area could be highly dangerous. Non residents should stay away from the affected areas.

Monitor ABC Local Radio and for further instructions

Lake Dobson Rd closed

THE Lake Dobson Rd at Mt Field National Park has been closed due to the high fire danger in the Upper Derwent Valley. This road normally provides access to the alpine area of the national park.

Due to the potential threat to the alpine area of Mt Field by the Dawson Rd (Repulse)/Wayatinah fire, the Lake Dobson Rd was closed above the Tall Trees Track tpday. While the fire poses no immediate threat, there remains a risk that it may spot into the park with worsening conditions tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday.
The Russell Falls Track and the Tall Tress Track remain open at this time.

Check for updates at the Parks and Wildlife Service website or the Tasmania Fire Service website. Listen to ABC local radio and visit the Mercury newspaper website

But wait - there's more

A NUMBER of Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to various members of the Derwent Valley community at the Australia Day observance at Tynwald Park last Tuesday.

Presented with certificates for their services to the council and community were: Celia Hooker, Kaye Menzie, the late Helen McDiarmid, Tim Morris MHA, Jason Lawrence, and a group citation for the many New Norfolk Visitor Information Centre Volunteers.

Meanwhile, at the community celebrations held at Maydena on the same day, local resident Jack Spinks received his own Certificate of Appreciation for his services to the town.

Valley Vision to consider its future

THE Derwent Valley Council will continue to support the economic development group Valley Vision, but has encouraged the organisation to consider its future directions- and possibly to rename itself Valley 2020 in order to provide a readily identifiable ambition.

In a written report to the January council meeting, Councillor Damian Bester advised of a recent committee meeting held to discuss the Council’s future relationship with Valley Vision. Cr Bester said it was important to document the committee's recommendations in order to address "misinformation" which had been circulating following the resignation of Valley Vision's two council-funded staff.

"As requested, a committee consisting of Mayor Martyn Evans, Deputy Mayor Craig Farrell and Councillors Judy Bromfield, Scott Shaw and myself convened in the general manager’s office on January 7, 2010, to review Council’s relationship with Valley Vision," Cr Bester said in his report.

The committee recommended:

•    That Council continue the lease of 2 High St for a further term to be negotiated
•    That existing sub-leases at 2 High St be honoured
•    That Council offer meaningful employment to the two Valley Vision staff until the conclusion of their contracts later in 2010
•    That Council continue to fund Valley Vision to the same extent as at present (approx $26,000pa)
•    That Valley Vision staff funded by Council be relocated to the council offices
•    That Council services such as Planning be relocated to 2 High St
•    The Valley Vision consider rebadging itself as Valley 2020 or similar
•    That any future Economic Development Officer/Community Development Officer should be the responsibility of Council, reporting to Council
•    That Council consider options for the effective sourcing of grant funding

"It was resolved that the general manager communicate the committee’s recommendations to the Valley Vision staff as soon as possible, to prevent any misapprehensions or misunderstandings," Cr Bester said. "Subsequently, councillors were advised on the afternoon of January 8, 2010, that the two Valley Vision staff had tendered their resignations, effective January 15. The mayor issued a media release to the Derwent Valley Gazette, thanking the Valley Vision staff and wishing them well for the future."

In discussion, Deputy Mayor Craig Farrell thanked Cr Bester for putting the report forward. "There is a lot of confusion about Valley Vision as an incorporated body and as the co-ordinator of council-funded employees," Cr Farrell said. "It is pretty clear that council wishes to keep the model of Valley Vision as a good forum for the flow of information. Cr Farrell said there was no doubt Valley Vision needed "freshening up" and perhaps "re-badging". "I'd like to see a strong community board in place to work with council," he said.

Cr Judy Bromfield said she was a council representative on the Valley Vision board. "I think we do owe the Valley Vision board an opportunity to talk with council about where it wants to go," Cr Bromfield said. "We should meet with them and hear their thoughts."

Cr Barry Lathey supported Cr Bromfield's statement. "I haven't met them and I would like to," he said. "The resignations came as a complete surprise," Cr Lathey said. "I feel in my heart that those people did their best."

Cr Bromfield said it should be noted that no redundancies were paid.

Cr James Graham said it was good to see the record set straight. He noted that he and Cr Bester had been there at the start of Valley Vision, but "unfortunately Valley Vision morphed into a bit of a monster". That said, it was important to honour all the people who had done good work through Valley Vision in the past.

Cr Bester said it was important to note that no councillor had spoken in favour of Valley Vision continuing to operate in the manner in which it had done to date. Councillors voted unanimously to accept Cr Bester's report of the committee meeting as provided.