2016 IN REVIEW: New mayor kicks off year of fresh starts
- BUNDY Book Tours partnered with P&O to run excursions to Bundaberg from Gladstone to Bundaberg. P&O began cruises stopping in Gladstone from March 10. The general manager of Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism, Katherine Mergard, said the venture was a first for the region.
- A 60-YEAR-OLD turtle known as the grand old lady of Mon Repos thrilled scientists by travelling nearly 650km up the Queensland coast during an exhausting four-week journey. The flatback - the world's longest-studied marine turtle - was tracked from Bundaberg to feeding grounds in Repulse Bay, north-west of Mackay. The travel secrets of the turtle - known as X23103 - were unlocked by a transmitter which provided researchers with a satellite record of her post-breeding migration.
- A BUNDABERG man has pleaded not guilty to a brutal 2001 murder on the Gold Coast. Bundaberg man Shane Anthony, Eric Hansen and Dean Mark Wills pleaded not guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court to the murder of Gold Coast man Darren John Britza. The court heard Mr Britza, a drug addict and thief, was bashed and stabbed repeatedly in an industrial complex in Southport in March 2001.
- TWO local auctioneers were left fuming after Bundaberg Regional Council gave an out-of-town company the rights to an upcoming plant dispersal auction. Bill Young of Ray White Auction Centre and Matt Beer of Bundaberg Auctions Australia Wide said they were bitterly disappointed that they, and every other local auctioneer, were overlooked to take control of a huge council auction on March 12. A spokesperson for Bundaberg Regional Council said Nasco Auctioneers won the job because of cost savings.
- A 54-YEAR-OLD Cordalba woman who grew and stockpiled marijuana in the hope of extracting oil for medicinal purposes has been fined $1800. Between August 31, 2014 and May 8 last year Kim Dawn Steffensen used exhaust fans and lights in a "semi-sophisticated” hydroponic set up to produce marijuana for personal use.
- "WE JUST want what everyone else has. We don't want a party, we want our voices heard and it's better when it's multiplied by many.” With these words a Bundaberg couple made an emotional plea for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Australia. Jasmine and Naomi Latcham travelled to Las Vegas to get legally married in October last year but in their home country that piece of paper meant nothing.
- A BUNDABERG resident called for urgent action the corner of of Winfield and Rosedale Rds. More than 150 people have signed a petition to upgrade the intersection. Bundaberg Regional Council backed the petition, but the response from the Department of Transport and Main Roads was cautious.
- A MAN who crashed his ute after leading police on a pursuit that started in Bargara on Boxing Day was jailed for two years. Shannon Hinchey, still recovering from a broken back after crashing in Gladstone where the chase in a stolen 4WD ended appeared from jail via video-link on a string of charges before Magistrate Penelope Hay. The charges include unlawful use of two stolen vehicles; trespass; assault; three counts of dangerous operation of a vehicle; driving unlicensed; failing to stop for police; stealing fuel; and 14 counts of breaching bail.
- THE Childers community was the first to see all five Bundaberg Regional Council mayoral candidates in action. Candidates Troy Madle, Reid Schirmer, Elise Cottam, Peter Wyatt and Jack Dempsey took the floor in front of 150 locals to outline their plans for Bundaberg.
- THE Queensland Electoral Commission dropped a complaint by a candidate in March's council elections against outgoing Bundaberg mayor Mal Forman. Division 8 candidate Tracey Jackson filed the complaint over what she called an "extraordinary public attack” by Cr Forman on Councillor Wayne Honor. An ECQ spokesman said the commission determined there was no breach of the law.
- THE Waves Sports Club took home two awards at the Keno & Clubs Queensland Awards for Excellence: best club in Wide Bay and best gaming venue.
- BUNDABERG woman Louise Laffey made her second trip to Ilfracombe this year to help give back to the drought-stricken community. Ms Laffey travelled to the town near Longreach in January with some friends as part of the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners event and said the trip was such an eye-opening and touching experience she wanted to do it again.
- A BURST water main turned See St in Bargara into a river. NewsMail delivery driver Carl Wurzbacher came across the incident on his routine delivery run and said the street was overflowing. "The water was bubbling out of the gutter on the edge of the road and was running down the driveway into esta- blishments at the bottom of the car park,” he said. "It was like a river. The water was overflowing and filling the top of the car park at the Windmill.”
- THE NewsMail asked 12 prominent people in our community what they think are the import attributes for a councillor. While the responses were varied, there were a few consistent themes. Someone who listens, respects and forges an effective and honest relationship with the community were seen as important.
- A CRASH on Saturday morning was 1200km in the making. Three young men and one girl ran from police through Childers and Gin Gin. All four ended up in a hospital. The crash south of Miriam Vale at 3.20am on Saturday left a 17-year-old girl with a suspected fractured eye socket, a 21-year-old man with a broken pelvis and another 21- year-old man with a broken jaw, sternum and ribs.
- "I COULDN'T believe that we found chairs and dog bowls and broken glass along with a lot of fast food rubbish and little scrappy bits of paper.” Kepnock Cub Scout Leader Emily Ayling said those were only some of the items that 42 cub scouts and 11 leaders came across when they took over the Mon Repos area for Clean Up Australia Day. The Bundaberg District Cub Scouts, made up of groups from Gin Gin, Childers, Kepnock, Milbank and North Bundaberg, travelled throughout the coastal region collecting rubbish and are now urging others to do the same to help take care of the environment.
- BUNDABERG police warned seniors to be more careful about who they trust after a spate of thefts by younger women. Police say a woman aged in her 30s knocked on the front door of a house in Bundaberg South asking to use the toilet. Later the victim noticed the woman had left and realised a Visa card and cash had been taken from his wallet.
- THE Bundaberg region was asked to put up a fight against a Tasmanian bid to win the HMAS Tobruk for Wide Bay. The region wants the HMAS Tobruk, which was decommissioned in July last year, to be scuttled off the coast as a recreational diving wreck at a 34m-deep site between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg. Scott Rowe, a member of the Regional Dive Wreck Advisory group, said they needed regional support to combat Tasmania's bid.
- COMPASSION, respect and working together are all keys to being a great leader for Michele Gardner who was appointed the new general manager of medicine for Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service. She has treated everyone from criminals in custody to Formula One drivers.
- A BUNDABERG solicitor asked a magistrate to consider charging two Bundaberg police officers with contempt of court after they detained a man for questioning inside Bundaberg Courthouse. But Magistrate Aaron Simpson said he regularly dealt with people who were contemptuous and it was his discretion whether or not to charge them.
- A CHILDERS man who sold methamphetamine to feed his own habit has been given the chance to turn his life around after he was released on parole. Jayden Mark Green, 22, was in a "dark space” from where he couldn't escape in September last year. He'd left his job after being bullied and was $40,000 in debt due to loans. Green was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for each offence and immediately released on parole.
- THE residents of Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village were upset that they were not notified of plans to install an Optus mobile phone tower outside the car park of the Bargara Lakes Tavern, less than 30m from their homes. The first they heard of it was in a village newsletter a week before - after objections closed. Carriers must give written notice to landowners and occupiers at least 10 business days before activity starts.
- WHEN Brooke Marie Glasson's boyfriend asked her to bring him a package to the Maryborough Correctional Centre, the pair had no idea their conversation had been overheard by authorities. On October 24 last year, the 24-year-old Bundaberg mother-of two tucked the package containing 16 individually wrapped patches of the narcotic pain medication Buprenorphine into her bra strap and headed to the prison. But Glasson avoided spending any time behind bars after she was immediately paroled.
- THE Bundaberg Health Services Foundation announced it was starting a new award in honour of midwife Melanie Robinson who was tragically killed in a car crash on February 4. Each year the foundation will fund $2000 for the Melanie Robinson Midwifery Award, open only to midwives who are working in a maternity (including ante-natal and post-natal) environment at Bundaberg Hospital.
- STUDENTS from Bargara State School, Childers State School and St Joseph's Primary School will be officially linked with Vignacourt Primary School in Picardy, France to commemorate Australian Diggers who served and died on the Western Front during the First World War. Bargara students were the first to begin stage one of the project, which involved researching a soldier and decorating memorial crosses. These crosses will be part of the annual Bargara Anzac ceremony and then tran- sported to Vignacourt for the local children to place at the foot of the soldier's grave.
- FORMER NewsMail employee Troy Allen Drews, 36, was jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty to one count of torture, two counts of deprivation of liberty, three counts of assault and one count of grievous bodily harm. At an Electra St home in the early hours of February 16 last year, Drews began a vicious assault on Peter Laurens, a vulnerable man who suffered from cerebral palsy. Declared a serious violent offender, Drews must serve eight years of the 10 year sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.
- WHEN Border Protection officers conducting aerial surveillance of the Great Barrier Reef spotted a boat inside a Marine National Park Zone (green zone), Ricki John Sa- vidge realised his boat was in a no-fish zone. The 40-year-old recreational fisherman spent September 25, 2014 fishing off the coast of Agnes Water with friends and hadn't realised his boat had drifted inside the green zone boundary. Savidge was fined $3500 for fishing in a prohibited zone and ordered to pay $89.80 in court costs.
- THE NewsMail caught a person making claims online about the upcoming council elections using the name and photo of car salesman from Sydney. The person impersonating Adam Burgess on Facebook had an axe to grind against the Labor party and unions and posted comments about candidates in the election. Mr Burgess was "confused, lost and worried” when the NewsMail contacted him to bring the Facebook profile to his attention. The photo was taken from the website of his workplace.
- BUNDABERG cyclist Ian Stapleton was on an early morning ride in Woongarra when he veered to cross a cane rail - and wound up in hospital. The bitumen around the rail near the corner of Langbeckers and Dahls Rds has worn away on either side of the rail, wide and deep enough for Mr Stapleton to fit his foot inside. Mr Stapleton said he was glad he had been wearing a helmet or he might have fared much worse. But he is concerned the rail gap might claim more serious victims if the road isn't repaired.
- ANOTHER important step towards Wide Bay becoming an international dive mecca was taken. State Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones sent a letter of support to sink HMAS Tobruk in waters between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.
- BUNDABERG Fruit and Vegetable Growers executive officer Peter Hockings resigned from his position to work for Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt. Mr Hockings said his decision to resign from BFVG brought mixed emotions of remorse and excitement: "BFVG has been a considerable part of my life over the past nine years, and I would very much like to continue striving towards the many opportunities possible for this region's horticulture industry,”
- BUNDABERG'S Zac's Meats had a winning day at the Wide Bay Australian Meat Council Sausage King competition at Bargara. The Bundaberg butcher took out three of the seven categories, Traditional Australian Pork, Poultry and Gourmet. Bargara Meats took out the Lamb category.
- A 64-YEAR-OLD Gin Gin man was charged with dangerous driving causing death following the death of his brother in floodwater. The alleged victim, a 68-year-old Bundaberg man, died when the car he was allegedly a passenger in was swept into floodwater south-west of Bundaberg in late January.
- STUNNING photos released by NASA showed what the Bundaberg region looked like from space. The photos were taken with equipment on the International Space Station, and show the importance of agriculture to the region. The photos show that the city is surrounded by mainly agricultural land, with very little, if any, bush. They also show how the scale of the development on the south side of the river dwarfs the development in the north.
- A 21-YEAR-OLD man who produced methamphetamine from his mother's garage was sentenced to four years jail. In the Bundaberg Supreme Court Joshua Leslie Challacombe pleaded guilty to 22 charges and four summary offences including 18 counts of supplying dangerous drugs, two counts of trafficking drugs and one count of producing dangerous drugs. Having already spent a combined period of 335 days in presentence custody, Challacombe will spend a further five months behind bars before the sentence is suspended on August 13. The remaining term will hang over his head for five years.
- BUNDABERG'S port could be set for a major upgrade due to its position south of the Great Barrier Reef's protected zone. Speaking in Queensland Parliament, State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said the port was ideally located to become an "economic hub. He said an investigation was under way to consider whether a state development area should be established at the port.
- CROCODILES are playing an important part - while getting a free feed - in helping eradicate pests in the Bundaberg region. Snakes Downunder and Reptile Park owner Ian Jenkins said up to 30 indian myna birds were given to the park each week as part of a Bundaberg Regional Council plan to wipe out the pest species. He said the birds were then euthanised humanely and included in the diet for two of the saltwater crocodiles, Macca and Alice, at the Childers reptile centre.
- DRIVING along with a load of food supplies, Bundaberg truck driver Arthur Jack Richardson fell asleep behind the wheel. The brief snooze at 6am caused Richardson, in Gladstone at the time, to lose control of his rig. Richardson, 42, pleaded guilty in Gladstone Magistrates Court to driving without due care and attention at 6am on Tuesday, February 16. Magistrate Penelope Hay fined him $1000, and said such crashes put lives at risk.
- BUNDABERG Sugar evicted illegal campers from its land at Norval Park Beach following complaints. In January the New Mail reported concerns from turtle researches Dennis and Patricia Amor, who were worried about their safety and the risk to turtles because of the campers. Bundaberg Sugar's Simon Doyle said the company had given the campers a week's notice to move on.
- BUNDABERG farmers and tourism operators have had their hopes restored following a backdown by the Federal Government on a plan to hike tax for holiday workers. Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt joined Barnaby Joyce and Senator Anne Ruston in announcing the move, admitting it could damage agriculture. "I've had local fruit and vegetable growers and backpacker hostels express concern that the tax could lead to a reduction in backpackers coming to Australia to work,” he said..
- A P-PLATE driver clocked driving at more than twice the speed limit drew heavy criticism from police. The 17-year-old Bundaberg North man was caught driving a 2006 Silver Holden Commodore sedan at a speed of 148kmh in a 60kmh zone. He was fined $1099. The provisional driver had 28 days to pay the $1099 fine.
- A MAN who was tasered after threatening police while armed with a broken beer bottle was handed an 18-month probation order. On July 18 last year police were looking for 32-year-old Shane Paul Taylor after being called to a disturbance at his home. Magistrate Aaron Simpson said any offence against a police officer was serious.
- A BUNDABERG family says they will have to stop their seven-year-old son's medical treatment if the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital is not able to assist with timing of appointments. Gary Hondow said since treatment was moved to the LCCH 16 months ago, son Dallas had travelled 18 times to Brisbane to see half a dozen doctors. "The hospital is not able to give us appointments in consecutive days and the reason why always varies,” he said, at the time. A LCCH spokesperson said it was aware of the family's situation and had been working on a solution.
- THE weary but happy rangers and volunteers at Mon Repos are calling "game, set and hatch” after hosting a record more than 30,000 visitors this turtle season. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger-in- charge Cathy Gatley said she was thrilled with the 30,000- plus visitors, and thanked her team of rangers and volunteers who guided the tours each night as well as Bundaberg and North Burnett Tourism for managing bookings.
- BUNDABERG Cab Company announced it will soon go through a major transformation when the business merges with Brisbane-based company Yellow Cabs. Director of Bundaberg Cab Company Phil Shield said the taxi business sought expressions of interest from both Black and White Cabs and Yellow Cabs with the view of entering into a partnership arrangement that would continue to deliver excellence in customer service. "We are in the final stages of finalising a contract with Yellow Cabs Queensland Pty Ltd and our partnership with them is good news for Bundaberg consumers as their business model focuses on delivering a high level of service to the consumer,” Mr Shield said, at the time.
- BUNDABERG will be "the best-operating council in Australia”, Jack Dempsey has promised. With votes still to be counted, the region's new mayor celebrated his massive lead at the Bargara Golf Club with wife Christine and family and an army of supporters. With 57 of 135 polling booths counted so far, Dempsey captured 70.21% of the region's vote. His nearest opponent Troy Madle had 13.69%, followed closely by Elise Cottam (10.44%), and rounding off the ranks were Peter Wyatt (3.77%) and Reid Schirmer (1.89%).
- FIRE gutted a shed in Brieschke St, Elliott Heads with four fire trucks racing to the scene. Neighbour Shirley Cavanagh said she was startled by firemen yelling and running along her back fence to fight the blaze, which broke out in a shed on the edge of her yard.
- SENSORS that can detect when cars enter and exit CBD car parks before relaying that information back to local laws officers began a three-month trial period. The three-month trial by Bundaberg Regional Council will only be used to collect data but if implemented, local laws officers would be able to monitor the data on a mobile device. Sunday was the last night for the season and the final number of 30,227 visitors was a record since numbers were first noted in 1994-95.
- MORE than 200 marijuana plants in various sizes were uncovered by Bargara police after emergency services initially responded to a shed fire at Elliott Heads. District crime prevention co-ordinator Senior Constable Danielle Loftus said police were contacted by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and on arrival discovered about half of the 10x5 metre shed appeared to have been used for the production of marijuana.
- SPIRITS were high in Bundaberg following the announcement that Bundaberg Rum's Bundaberg Blenders Edition 2015 had taken top honours at the 2016 World Drinks Awards in London, after being named the Best Rum in the World. The win was the first time an Australian brand took the major prize at the World Rum Awards, part of the annual World Drinks Awards.
- GLADSTONE-BASED Buzz Superfood Bar announced plans to open a store on Bourbong St. Owner Chris Beasley said the food Buzz offered was unprocessed and in a natural state.
- IN A rather unusual story from the animal kingdom, a Kalkie cat took to suckling from a dog. Janet Bright's animals get on better than most - with her cat Aston kneading the belly of her dog, Layla, to get at her milk. Bundaberg North Vet Surgery vet Alex Mastakov said it was indeed "very unusual”.
- A BLOCK of land near Bundaberg was found to contain Yellow Canopy Syndrome. Bundaberg Canegrowers chairman Allan Dingle said this was a development growers could have done without. He said the syndrome caused yield decrease and lower CCS in the crops.
- A NEW female emu was introduced to Alexandra Park Zoo to mate with the zoo's male emu resident, Jimmy. Jimmy lost former partner Matilda about six months before when she died from an infection as a result of becoming egg bound. But after searching far and wide Bundaberg Regional Council staff found a suitable match - just down the road at the Flying High Bird Sanctuary at Apple Tree Creek.
- RESIDENTS at Branyan had a close call when lightning struck a large tree, bringing it crashing to the ground. Vicki Fallon was house-sitting for her son in Bocks Rd when she heard a "massive crack” on Monday afternoon as a storm approached.
- CANE growers have reacted with shock to a Queensland Competition Authority recommendation to lift electricity prices for irrigators by 10.3%. Isis Canegrowers chairman Joe Russo said it was a "terribly disappointing” decision. Peak group Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan said the proposed hikes showed the electricity pricing system was broken.
- A CAR allegedly stolen from a Kepnock Rd home early Friday morning crashed into the brick wall of a patio and the fence of the house it was taken from. The driver of the car allegedly hit the wall, got out of the car and then, as witnesses watched on, jumped back into the car, hit the fence and drove off.
- A TAXI marshal will oversee patron behaviour at the Woongarra St taxi rank in a move to curb late night violence in the CBD. A licensed security guard will work from about midnight to 4am on Saturday and Sunday mornings after the Bundaberg Safe Night Precinct Board successfully applied for government funding for the initiative.
- A SIX-YEAR-OLD Bundaberg girl was flown to Bundaberg Hospital in a critical condition after being pulled unconscious from the water at Seventeen Seventy. A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said the girl's family rushed her to the fire station at Agnes Water where they met paramedics on Saturday afternoon. The girl was treated at the scene and the Bundaberg RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter was tasked about 3.30pm to fly the girl to hospital.
- DOMESTIC visitors to the Southern Great Barrier Reef region, which includes Bundaberg, increased by 89,000 people in the year ending December 2015. The figures make the destination the fifth most popular region in Queensland and the 14th region in Australia for domestic visitors. The 5% increase in 2015 compared to 2014 equated to 7.4 million domestic visitor nights in 2015 and a total of two million domestic visitors.
- BUSINESS is booming in Bundaberg, with the region one of the most confident in the state, second only to the Sunshine Coast, according to Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland figures. Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Yale Morgan said there had been a definite spike in enthusiasm for new eateries, boutiques and more, especially in the previous six months.
- THERE was a renewed push for a bridge over the Burrum River between Buxton and Burrum Heads. Since it was put forward on January 22, 247 people have signed an e-petition online while paper petitions have also collected signatures around the region.
- THE scale of Jack Dempsey's win in the race for the mayoralty become even clearer as the results in each division were taken into account. With 81 of the 135 booths scattered across the district now in and counted, Mr Dempsey's share of the vote never dipped below 60% in any of the divisions. Mr Dempsey took 71.45% of the votes counted, with Troy Madle second on 13.42%.
- JAIL sentences were handed to two men who used a crowbar to smash their way into a hotel and rob two pub workers at gunpoint. Jake Harold Norman Phillips, 27, and Robert Nicholas Wilson, 46, raided the East End Hotel in the early hours of September 12 in 2014. Phillips was sentenced to seven years in jail with a parole eligibility date of January 15 next year. Wilson was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail.
- POLICE say on the whole drivers were well behaved with only three stopped for excessive speeding across the Wide Bay during the Easter long weekend, In stark contrast to the horror Easter state-wide road toll last year which recorded eight fatalities, Queensland had a fatality free Easter period and Road Policing Unit officer-in-charge Acting Sergeant Dave Didsman said motorists in the Wide Bay were finally heeding the direction of police and motoring authorities
- EMERGENCY workers praised an eight-year-old girl whose actions may have saved her grandfather's life. Rylee Lavaring phoned 000 after Hugh Lavaring, 70, was hurt in a quad bike crash at his property west of Gin Gin. Critical care paramedic Nigel Beyer said Rylee "did extremely well”.
- BUNDABERG Snake Catchers' David Flack was called out to move a 1.8m coastal carpet python after it made itself at home inside a barbecue at a Delan home. Mr Flack said the home owner had been outside spraying a wasp's nest when he came face to face with this non-venomous Aussie reptile.