Centre built on legacy

AFTER 13 years, Graham Reside finds it quite humbling that his father is still being recognised for his contributions to the Great Southern community.

The Bill Reside Community Centre was officially opened last Thursday by the Albany Community Care Centre and Albany and Regional Volunteer Service, with an afternoon tea amongst friends and family.

Graham and his siblings, Ruth and Merv, cut the ribbon on the new centre, and fondly reflected on their father’s life.

Mr Reside was the first chairperson of the original Albany Lions Community Care Centre in 1987, and received numerous awards and medals in recognition of his community work, including the British Empire Medal in 1981, the Red Cross Service Award in 1988, the Long Service Medal in 1995 and Citizen of the Year in 1996.

ARVS manager Tracy Sleeman remembered Mr Reside’s legacy and his efforts across the Great Southern.

“He was instrumental in creating the first community centre and today we acknowledge the insight and commitment of Bill to our community,” Ms Sleeman said.

The afternoon tea also celebrated the launch of the Albany and Regional Volunteer Service’s newest project, the ‘Giving Whilst Living’ guide.

The booklet lists different groups in the Great Southern which rely heavily on ongoing community support and donations, and provides details on how to donate to them.

“This booklet gives much needed attention to local community support groups and not-for-profit organisations,” ARVS chairperson Judith Williams said.

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Kingfisher show takes centre stage

THERE was not an empty seat in the house for Great Southern Grammar’s Kingfisher Concert at the Albany Entertainment Centre last week, with more than 200 students showcasing their musical talents and dedication at the annual gala performance.

Students aged five to 18 years performed using a variety of instruments and vocals to provide an evening of entertainment for all.

Principal Mark Sawle was proud of his students’ efforts.

“The 2017 Kingfisher Concert was a sell-out success,” Mr Sawle said.

“The concert was a celebration of student achievement, rewarding their hard work and commitment to music, of which I am very proud.

“What is so rewarding is seeing the very young and the graduating students working together on items; it is a mutual learning and performance collaboration in the true sense.”

Great Southern Grammar’s own Suzuki Stars and Tiny Trebles performed, along with students playing hit songs from Beauty and the Beast, Into the Woods, New Orleans and Bach.

“The concert also showcased to the general community the breadth of the entire GSG music program; classical and contemporary, jazz and pipes,” Mr Sawle said.

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Graveyard shift

SIX paintbrush-wielding ‘cemetery fairies’ are working to ensure deceased Denmarkians, while gone, are never forgotten.

In 1995, the centenary of the town, Bill Pinniger, a professional fisherman now buried in the cemetery, donated granite for headstones to mark 224 unmarked graves.

But time and the elements had worn the headstones’ writing away.

Bev McGuinness, chairperson of the Denmark Historical Society, said she and five fellow fairies had spent the equivalent of 12 person-days repainting the headstones.

“Genealogy is a big thing these days,” Mrs McGuinness said.

“Being able to know where your missing relative is, and any information the headstones might contain, is invaluable for people researching their family histories.

“When we started here, most of the headstones were illegible.”

Fellow fairy Linda Humphries, who paints each headstone from the back, as she can see better through her bifocals that way, said it had been “a really rewarding task”.

“We’ve done this job out of respect for those who are interred here, and for the families that can’t attend to the headstones themselves,” she said.

The group had to strip each headstone back, as many were flecked with faded paint.

Despite the hard yakka and the gravity of their surrounds, the volunteers are quick with a quip.

Asked if painting the headstones was hard on his joints, cemetery fairy Ashleigh Murch said:

“That’s nothing to do with the gravesites, more with our proximity to them.”

Long-time Denmark local Don Redman said he observed the fairies’ work on September 10 when visiting on the birthday of his late mother, and thought it was “absolutely fabulous.”

“For us oldies, it brings back all sorts of memories,” the 76-year-old said.

“When I was a boy, there was a child kicked in the head by a horse and he died, and that’s the kind of story that’s out there.

“These stories must be passed on, and keeping the headstones in order is a good way to do it.”

The other cemetery fairies are Leanne Laurie, Ross McGuinness and Margaret Pomery.

The fairies received a $200 ad hoc grant from the Shire of Denmark, which allowed paint, brushes and stripper to be bought.

There’s a litre or two of paint left. Anyone wanting a tombstone touch-up can call Mrs McGuinness on 9848 1781.

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Flinders Primary on show

UKULELES were strumming, children were laughing and families were appreciating the display of student achievements at the Flinders Park Primary School open night last week.

The school welcomed families and friends to their campus last Thursday, to invite parents and carers to learn more about their child’s progress, and to view their efforts from the past three school terms.

Principal Richard Bushell was very pleased with the open night’s success.

“We had lots of parents and grandparents visit the school to view samples of the students’ work,” Mr Bushell said.

“There were great conversations between students’ families and their teachers about the students’ learning, which was a positive result of the evening.

“There was a great buzz around the school, plenty of excitement, and a lot of positive comment by parents afterwards.

“It was a great opportunity to give families a snapshot of Flinders Park.”

Highlights of the evening included art teacher Sarah McNamara’s amazing efforts with students to create the Spectacular Shoe Show, sports teacher Tracey Menegola’s hilariously renowned skipping videos from the physical education program, and music teacher Mike Staude’s coordination of the assembly hall music extravaganza.

Flinders Park Primary is an independent public school, catering for students from kindergarten to year six, and is located on Yatana Road in Bayonet Head.

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Airstrip upgrade option flies for water bombers

UPGRADING a private airstrip north of Mount Barker to handle water bombers has been ditched in favour of a revamped public strip at Cranbrook that would provide better fire fighting coverage across the Great Southern.

At a meeting in Mt Barker today, CEOs of the shires of Cranbrook, Plantagenet, Kojonup and Broomehill-Tambellup will discuss if potential exists to upgrade the council-owned strip on the northern outskirts of the town of Cranbrook.

“We’d be receptive to the plan,” Cranbrook CEO Peter Northover told The Weekender.

“It’s been something that’s been dear to my heart for some time.

“It would be fantastic for the region.”

Mr Northover said that, working together, the four shires might attract state government funding to reform the Cranbrook grass strip as a gravel one, improve lighting, and build an apron and turn-around areas – which would allow the strip to handle water bombers.

“It’s probably one of the largest strips in the Great Southern,” he said of the 850m long runway.

“Adding water bombing operations would improve [bushfire] response times.

“[And the planned improvements] would open up the region for eco-tourism operations.”

Mr Northover said circuit-training operators might also be attracted, given the region’s “uncontested airspace and good visibility”.

He said upgrading the strip might also bring the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s Pilatus PC-12 single turbine aircraft into the picture to respond to serious highway crashes.

The planned Cranbrook upgrade follows a unanimous decision at last month’s Plantagenet shire meeting to jettison an earlier plan by that council to upgrade the grass airstrip at the former Karri Oak vineyard now owned by West Cape Howe Wines.

Plantagenet Shire President Ken Clements said $200,000 would be a “very ballpark” figure for the Cranbrook upgrade.

Cr Clements said that upgrading the larger Cranbrook strip would make more sense than revamping the smaller Mt Barker one.

“It is more centrally located and could service the Stirling Range, northern part of Plantagenet, out to Frankland, the northern part of Cranbrook, and the southern side of Kojonup,” he said.

Plantagenet councillor Brett Bell was the man who moved that the Cranbrook option be examined in favour of Mt Barker.

“The Karri Oak plan would have overlapped the range of the Albany water bombers,” he said.

“It’s all about making better use of taxpayer funded water bombers for more communities.

“And the Stirling Range National Park is really something that needs to be protected.”

An estimate provided in March by Plantagenet CEO Rob Stewart considered a minimum $139,000 would have been required to up- grade the Karri Oak airstrip.

The shire would also have needed to rent the strip off West Cape Howe Wines, adding $10,000 a year to the cost of the abandoned plan.

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Free jabs for teens

GREAT Southern teenagers aged 15 to 19 years are encouraged to get the free meningococcal ACWY vaccine to help protect them and others against the life-threatening disease.

As a result of the recent increase in serogroup W disease in WA, a statewide meningococcal ACWY vaccination program for teenagers has commenced.

WA Country Health Service’s Kathleen Smedley said meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial infection of the blood or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

“The vaccine will help protect teenagers against meningococcal, and minimise the spread of the disease,” Ms Smedley said.

Meningococcal disease is most common in teenagers and young children, but can occur at any age.

In the Great Southern, the school-based immunisation team has offered vaccination to students in year 10, 11 and 12 at all high schools across the region.

Vaccinations are now available from local doctors for those 15 to 19 year olds who missed out at school or do not attend school.

For those not in the program’s age group, the meningococcal vaccine can be purchased from your doctor.

Vaccinations are also available at the Warden Avenue immunisation clinic, which is open at various times on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays via appointment.

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Masterpiece strikes gold

ZAC Caramia humbly accepted his second Southern Country Home of the Year Award at this year’s Master Builders Association Excellence Awards on Saturday night.

The Zac Caramia Homes build in Mt Melville has unparalleled views of Princess Royal Harbour and is a stunning addition to the suburb.

The three bedroom, three bathroom executive residence sits on a 900sqm block, but despite appearing flawless upon completion, it initially proved a difficult project.

“It was quite a challenge because of all the rock,” Mr Caramia said.

“The granite was higher than the floor level and blasting the rock out was a challenge, and it created a two-month delay.

“The rock levels were different to the blueprint, so overall it was a 19-month project.”

The home was on a turn-key contract, giving Mr Caramia complete control over the entire build before the keys were handed to the owners.

The judges commented on the evidence of a good collaboration between the client and builder, and the high-quality finish.

The award was one of seven that Zac Caramia Homes took away from the gala dinner at Albany’s Dog Rock Convention Centre.

Zac Caramia Homes previously won Country Home of the Year in 2009 for a build in Little Grove.

“It’s a great honour to receive this award,” Mr Caramia said.

“To achieve this level of quality and finish, and to be recognised for our efforts, is great.

“Winning awards like this gives clients the confidence to build with a builder.”

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New support group stands proud

A NEW safe and non-judgemental support group has been established in Albany for parents, friends and families of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, known as PFLAG, is an international organisation providing support, education and advocacy for LGBTIQ communities.

Albany’s new branch is currently being coordinated by Jule Ruscoe, who has actively been involved with support group Albany Gay and Lesbian (AGAL) for a few years.

PFLAG welcomes people of all ages and stands alongside the local LBGTIQ community to support equality for all, and to promote understanding and support.

The group is comprised of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends of the LGBTIQ community.

“We are very excited to start PFLAG Albany,” Ms Ruscoe said.

“We believe in keeping families together through acceptance and greater knowledge.”

Current PFLAG Albany members will soon have their business cards distributed throughout local high schools, doctors’ surgeries and Anglicare, to let people know how to get in touch with them.

“We are more than happy for people to come and have a chat with us, or go for a coffee with them,” Ms Ruscoe said.

“We want to be a point of contact for people.”

Ms Ruscoe is aiming for the group to commence regular meetings every two months, but welcomes informal meetings any time.

PFLAG Albany will be working closely with AGAL and can be contacted through their website, albanygayandlesbian.com.au.

PFLAG began in America in 1973 and has been operating in Australia for more than 30 years.

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Buckets raised for MND

EMU Point locals opened their hearts and their wallets on Saturday to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease at the ‘Get to the Point’ fundraiser at the Emu Point Sporting Club.

Organiser for the event Gus Woithe said the turn out was absolutely amazing.

“It was a tremendous effort by the attendees and those that donated their time for the event,” he said.

“So far we have raised over $22,000 and we’re expecting that amount to rise by the end of the week.

“Some donations haven’t been processed yet, so I’m hoping we break the $23,000 mark.

“We were raising money for a reason, and everyone was so generous in donating.”

As a part of the festivities on Saturday some locals, including Mr Woithe, were ‘auctioned off’ for the pleasure of being able to dump a bucket of icy water over their heads.

“I had two buckets auctioned off at $100 each to be dumped over my head,” he said.

“It was a fun way to raise money.

“It was great to see so many people getting involved and being such good sports.

“The Ice Bucket Challenge was very successful in raising money in Australia.”

Since 2014 more than $3 million was raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge for MND Australia.

“The money we raised will be going towards getting proper beds and mattresses, cough assist machines and power chairs for MND sufferers,” Mr Woithe said.

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FIFO drivers run risk with midnight dash

GREAT Southern FIFO staff doing a midnight run up Albany Highway before flying out to start work are engaging in risky business, the mayor of Albany has told a parliamentary committee.

Giving evidence at a hearing of State Parliament’s inquiry into regional airfares last month, Dennis Wellington expressed concern that most fly-in, fly-out workers from Albany drive rather than fly to Perth before departing for the north of the state.

He estimated the number of FIFO workers driving to Perth from Albany exceeded the 173 mainly Rio Tinto staff that fly between the two cities.

Mr Wellington explained that many workers due to start a morning shift drive to Perth for an early morning flight to avoid spending a night in the state capital at their own expense.

“If people are doing that, then it’s dead-set dangerous,” Mr Wellington said.

He told the parliamentary committee the problem lay mainly with workers at BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Chevron sites, because unlike Rio Tinto those companies do not fly staff in from Albany.

His warning was echoed by a FIFO contractor who, until 12 months ago, had driven from Albany to Perth Airport and back for four years.

The man, who The Weekender cannot name, confirmed workers often left Albany around midnight to avoid spending about $200-a-night to stay at a Perth hotel.

He said fatigued workers would drive back to Albany straight after a long shift to avoid another $200 slug.

“I’ve got mates who do it and have done it in the past,” the worker said.

“That would be people working for BHP without a doubt, or FMG.”

He said the problem was not limited to Albany, with workers headed for the Pilbara driving to Perth from other places even further away, including Geraldton.

“One in 10 people on site would have a long drive,” he said.

“It’s a grey area.

“Everyone knows you shouldn’t do it, but it happens a lot.”

He said the major companies had fatigue management plans for their own staff, but contractors – who made up much of the FIFO contingent from Albany – often slipped through the cracks.

The worker said Rio staff flying from the Great Southern have Albany as their ‘point of hire’ and are funded to travel from there, but everybody else is deemed to be hired in Perth and must cover their own costs to Perth.

“Years ago when things were booming, if you came, say, from Albany, you could get companies to recognise that as your point of hire,” he said.

“But that’s not the case now.

“Conditions have dropped.”

One ray of hope is Mr Wellington’s revelation that a Rio executive last month expressed interest in a plan to pool resources with BHP, Chevron and FMG to fill a future shuttle flight that could regularly leave Albany for Busselton and then to the Pilbara.

“The interest started from a presentation [the cities of Albany and Busselton] made to Rio in Busselton,” Mr Wellington said.

“They said: ‘Well, we really don’t know. We’ve never been open to [pooling resources with the other companies] in the past, but in the future we would be’.
“In the not too distant future we want to approach the other companies because it’s in our best interests to have people working up north and living down here, because population is one of those things that we do need.”

Mr Wellington said such a flight would “absolutely” improve the viability of Albany Airport, which each year derives about $250,000, or 12 per cent, of its revenue from FIFO flights.

“If you had a decent plane, say a 737 that you could pick up 170 for one company and another 100 for another, well, they’re sharing the cost of the flight, which would make sense,” Mr Wellington said.

Fortescue CEO Nev Power said his company would be “open to exploring opportunities to increase the viability of flights from the southwest to the Pilbara”.

“The safety of our people is our number one priority, and we have clear guidelines on journey management and fatigue to ensure all of our team members get home safely at the end of every shift,” Mr Power added.

Chevron, BHP and Rio were contacted for comment.

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