Can afford a drink but not a cab

A MAN who drove at more than four times the legal alcohol limit was on the end of a hiding from an Albany Magistrate who said he should get help before he kills someone.

Codey Robert Kelly was fined $1500 and had his licensed disqualified for 10 months in Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday for blowing 0.209g out on the road.

And Magistrate Raelene Johnston was far from impressed by Mr Kelly’s conduct.

“Why do you choose to drive with ridiculous amounts of alcohol in your system,” she said.

“You either have a problem or you don’t care.” Representing himself in court, Mr Kelly said he

decided to drink-drive because he couldn’t afford a taxi home.

“But you can afford to drink?” Ms Johnston swiftly replied.

The court was told Mr Kelly had drink-driving convictions in Queensland, but WA law prevented that history being taken into account.

“I can’t jail you because that’s the way the legislation works, but if you have those on your WA record … you would be going to jail,” Ms Johnston said.

“If you do have a problem with alcohol, and it seems like you so, very much so, you should get some help before you kill yourself or someone else on the road.”

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Truck Driver nods off

A FATIGUED truck driver who veered onto the wrong side of the road on Albany Highway has been slapped with a $1700 fine for dangerous driving.

Veteran truckie Slobodan Markovic, who pleaded guilty to the charge in Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday, was caught on camera in October nodding off at the wheel during a round trip from Perth to Denmark.

Mr Markovic was driving a Volvo Prime Mover carrying an empty fuel tanker when he intermittently drifted across solid white lines on Albany Highway and narrowly avoided collisions with oncoming traffic.

The 38-year-old’s defence lawyer said Mr Markovich usually drove night shifts but took on a day shift because one of his colleagues had called in sick.

The lawyer said Mr Markovich’s employer, Atlas Fuel, should never have asked him to fill in at last min- ute when he hadn’t had enough rest.

Mr Markovich got behind the wheel after just five hours sleep, the court was told.

The defence council said Mr Markovich deeply regretted his decision and wouldn’t drive in such a state again, arguing for a spent conviction.

But that application was denied by Magistrate Raelene Johnston.

“It’s dangerous driving on the higher end of the scale,” she said.

“It’s unfortunately all too common.”

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Pop-up stores create a scene

A NEW pop-up store is reinvigorating Mews Arcade with an exciting selection of Great Southern artworks.

A team of 13 members from Make A Scene Artists Collective have an exciting variety of art pieces ranging from paintings, textiles and photography to felt work, soaps, bath products, jewellery, pottery and home accessories.

The pop-up store is part two of a three-stage project to reinvigorate Albany’s arcades, where artists and tenants work together to create a vibrant space that encourages and increase customer traffic.

Make A Scene Chairperson Maleah Farrell said they want to encourage people to visit places and businesses they might have forgotten about.

“We’re going into Albany’s arcades and reinvigorating the space, activating empty retails spaces and trying to encourage people into spaces they haven’t been into in a while,” she said.

The Collective, which was established in 2014, works alongside other businesses in the arcade to draw in customers as well as provide artists with retail opportunity to sell their work.

“We’ve been working alongside businesses to encourage people into their business,” Ms Farrell said.

“Our objective is to be able to provide artists a retail opportunity to sell their work. It’s a great initiative.”

Make A Scene also offers short workshops for parents to engage with their children in bath product and skin care making, creation of hair accessories and sewing.

The project is supported by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions Program as part of the Regional Arts and Cultural Investment Program, Regional Arts WA and by the City of Albany Creative Enterprise Grant Scheme.

You can visit the pop-up store at Mews Arcade daily 9am-5pm from January 11-27.

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$3m for new SES facility

ALBANY’s State Emergency Service will relocate to a state-of-the-art headquarters out on Mercer Road after the State Government announced on Tuesday it would inject up to $3 million towards the project.

The new facility, which is expected to be finished by the middle of next year, can be used as a Level 3 Incident Control Centre to help with large-scale emergencies such as bushfires.

Albany SES currently operates out of a circa 1980s building on Sanford Road that was described as well past its use-by-date.

Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan said the funding was part of the WA Government’s Great Southern COVID-19 economic recovery package.

Mr Logan said the relocation was long overdue, with the Sanford Road building no longer fit-for-purpose.

“Albany SES Unit provides an invaluable service to the local community and broader region with the unit responding to 20 incidents last year including severe storms and land searches,” he said.

“A new, state-of-the-art headquarters will give volunteers the capacity and resources they need to better serve this growing region and conduct co-ordinated operations with other local emergency services.”

The Mercer Road facility will include a big response building, separate administration building, indoor and outdoor training areas and a six-vehicle bay garage that can house the region’s Incident Control Vehicle.

Local emergency services are hoping the flash digs and a fresh start will help reverse a declining number of volunteers.

Albany SES representative Robert Boyes said his unit was about 25 people short of where they would like to be.

“We are currently running at 57, and ideally with the demographics of Albany, we really should have 80-plus,” he said.

“Currently we’ve got four people who can respond during working ours – I’d like a lot more than that. Anybody out there who is a retired farmer who’s got a few skills, just come and see us.”

Mr Boyes said Albany SES had been trying to find a new home for years.

“I’ve been on the building committee for five years, we’ve had a few false starts, we’ve had land allocated to us that was unsuitable,” he said.

“The current site, although it’s not perfect, is pretty good, and it’s as good as we are going to get, although we would like a slight shift closer to Mercer Road, so we are more visible.

“Recruitment is easier if people drive past all the time and see us.”

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Historic Forts host laser battle

NEARLY 40 participants had the rare opportunity to experience Albany’s historic forts precinct in a new and exciting way when they competed commando-style in a laser tag event last Friday.

Run by the City of Albany and Laserscape Albany, the school holiday activity saw young people from across the Great Southern get a taste of history at the same time as figuratively blasting their friends to smithereens.

Princess Royal Fortress made for the perfect laser tag arena, with competitors hiding behind bush- land and old battlements to get the best vantage points.

Such was the popularity of the event, Community Development Officer Tammy Flett said the City was looking at scheduling another Laserscape later this month.

“The Forts played such a strategic role in the defence of Western Australia and the historic features of the site lends itself to this type of activity,” she said.

“Previous Laserscape events we have hosted at the Forts also received very positive feedback, so we have endeavoured to utilise the space again and it’s a great site for parents to stay entertained while their children participate in the event.”

Participants will again be able to purchase tickets for the holiday activity online, with the event open to young people aged 10-25 years.

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Peaks climb to final

MT BARKER and Manypeaks made it through to the Albany and Districts A-Grade T20 Grand Final as the only teams to win three matches in the four- round tournament.

The short-form decider was supposed to be played on Sunday afternoon, but was later postponed until February when rain stopped the final match from going ahead.

After losing their first T20 fixture to Royals back in December, Peaks looked like a completely different outfit in the New Year as gun recruit Daniel Rees piled on the runs.

The former Perth first- grader scored a brilliant 69 not out from 61 balls against Barker on Saturday in a peerless innings that included four sixes and three fours.

Barker suffered their first defeat of the season as they failed to chase down 126 for victory.

A middle-order collapse saw the Bulls finish the game on 8/92 from their 20 overs.

Rees backed it up again on Sunday, compiling a more restrained 41 off 43 balls facing Collingwood Park’s attack to secure Peaks a birth in this season’s T20 grand final – a first for the Association.

Chasing down Collingwood’s below-par total of 99, Rees was cool and collected at the crease as he guided his side to vic- tory in the 17th over.

Nathan Dovey regained some of the form that saw him top Park’s run scoring last season, hitting three sixes on his way to a rapid-fire 42-run dig.

Mt Barker struggled to find form with the bat on Saturday, but came back with a bang in Sunday’s fixture against Railways, tonking 149 batting first.

Menacing all-rounder Nathan Crudeli hit 57 from 39 balls and Neil Ferreira chipped in for a classy 41 opening the batting.

Crudeli hit young pace- man Cooper Filipowski for two big sixes in the final over as Barker smashed their way to the tournament’s highest team total.

Tigers captain Coen Marwick was going to have to make a big score for Railways to have any chance of reaching the imposing total, but never looked fluent as he was out for six in the seventh over.

One wicket brought two, with Barker captain Jeremy Wood on a hattrick after trapping Ryan Davies lbw for a golden duck.

Tigers wicket-keeper Aiden Dallimore hit a run-a-ball 20 before rain stopped play in the 15th over and Barker was awarded the win via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

Royals played themselves out of grand final contention the day earlier after two mediocre batting displays saw them lose both their Saturday games against Barker and Collingwood Park.

The Lions have heavily relied on the run-scoring capability of prodigious batting talent Ryley Valli this season. But with the 16-year-old unable to get past 10 in both games, no one else stood up for Royals when they needed it.

Missing Captain Mitch Green through a broken finger, a youthful Royals side looked like they were one experienced batsman short.

Defending 96 against Mt Barker was always going to be a tough ask, although they gave it a fair crack. Managing just 88 against Collingwood Park would have been a far more disappointing result.

Park’s Dustin Boyce was the clear man-of-the-match, finishing with the impressive figures of 4/18 from his four overs.

The T20 results – which counted for premiership points – saw Royals slide to third on the A-grade ladder, while Manypeaks have jumped to second place on four wins and five losses.

Defending premiers Railways remain rooted the bottom of the table on three wins.

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Castelli fire ‘undetermined’

THE cause of a fire which burnt down a family holiday home at a winery in Denmark remains unknown.

A Tudor-style house located on Castelli Estate grounds caught alight on Friday afternoon, with a call to triple zero made just after 3pm.

Fire crews from Denmark and Albany attended the scene and brought the blaze under control just before 5pm.

Preliminary investigations by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said the fire was believed to have started in the roof of the two-storey home.

A DFES spokesperson told the Weekender the cause of the fire was “un- determined” and the dam- age bill unknown.

The blaze isn’t being treated as suspicious and no one was staying in the house.

Castelli Group Director Adam Castelli said it was sad to see a treasured family home go up in flames.

“There has been a lot of good memories there,” he said.

“It has been with us for 16-odd years now. It’s been a family retreat all those years.

“The volunteer firefighters did a great job and I’m very thankful for what they’ve done. It’s very sad what’s happened, but we will rebuild.”

Mr Castelli said the winery’s accommodation and restaurant – which is located about 50m away from the holiday home – were untouched and operating as per usual.

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Season is open for delicacy

THE West Australian marron season is well underway, with hunters eager to make the most out of the restricted four- week season.

More than 10,000 recreational fishers hold licences to catch the unique WA crayfish, as the anticipated short season runs from January 8 to February 5.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Senior Management Officer Rhiannon Jones said people were lucky to be able to fish and enjoy marron here in the State.

“It’s an activity lots of families take part in, go- ing down to camp along the south coast at this time of year to target marron,” she said.

“It’s a great recreational activity.”

Ms Jones said the controlled season is kept in place to protect the highly-valued marron.

“It’s to ensure the species is sustainable into the future,” she said.

In Albany, people of- ten fish along the King and Kalgan Rivers, but the best marron hunting grounds are highly- protected by local fishers.

Strict rules apply to the size, quantity, gear type and locations when fishing for marron.

Last month a man appeared in Harvey Court and was ordered to pay fines and penalties of more than $8,000 for il- legally fishing 66 marrons out of season.

Ms Jones said most recreational fishes comply with the rules.

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AYSA finds new home

THE Albany Youth Support Association (AYSA) is eagerly waiting to move into new premises on Sanford Road, with the finishing touches only 1-2 months away on a “one-stop-shop” for its outreach programs.

About a year ago the group was forced to pack up shop at its headquarters on Prior Street after co-tenants Comet Care School grew too big for the building to accommodate both organisations.

It meant AYSA had to look for an alternative venue to house its Outreach and Open Access programs, with 4 Sanford Road eventually leased and now in the middle of a significant renovation.

Those works are expected to finish early this year, giving AYSA a dedicated centre to run its outreach services and the capacity to further expand and develop new programs, according to Acting CEO Leon Delpech.

“We’ve been trying to make this happen for six months,” he said.

“This building will enable people just to turn up and say they ‘need some support’.

“We really want to have a drop-in centre here where people can come and access services really readily.”

As part of the renovation works, artist George Domahidy collaborated with Albany’s youth to paint a wall mural on the side of the Sanford Road building.

Open Access supports aspiring young artists and young people to get involved in arts activities, including music, multimedia, painting and urban art.

But without a home to house the artworks, AYSA Outreach Services Manager Chrystie Flint said it had been a huge challenge running the program.

“We’ve been running Open Access here there and everywhere, but it hasn’t been ideal,” she said.

“Albany has been missing a place where young people can call home and access support without having to have an appointment.

“For young people who are already transient and misplaced in the community, on a lot of levels it is really quite damaging.

“Numbers have significantly decreased during that time.”

Ms Flint said young people had been through a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has shocked me how much their mental health has been affected and how much they take it all on board,” she said.

“Job security, accommodation issues – it’s really impacted their mental health.”

Mr Delpech said youth homeless was a real issue in Albany and the Great Southern, even if you didn’t see it on the streets.

“It might be hidden, but it’s there,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t talk about it openly or see it. Roughing it in cars, couches – that’s the stuff we don’t see.

“It makes sense to have one place that people come. The door will always be open.”

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Denmark Visitors Centre reopens

MORE than 30 local volunteers have put their hand up to help revive the Denmark Visitors Centre as the town experiences one of its busiest tourist seasons on record.

The facility controversially shut between August and December after Amazing South Coast Tourism announced in February 2019 that it would cease operations.

A community group, Den- mark Tourism Incorporation, formed with the idea of revitalising the Visitors Centre, but its proposal was rejected by Council.

Heading into what was expected to be an incredibly busy summer for local businesses, it remained uncertain whether Denmark would have an official face-to-face visitor service for tourists.

But the Denmark Chamber of Commerce (DCC) saved the day at the last minute by offering to run the Visitors Centre between December 2020 and April 2021.

CEO Sumer Addy said she had been thrilled with the response from locals after putting out the call for volunteers.

“DCC worked intensely all of December to set up operations, recruit volunteers and open the visitor centre doors for service on Boxing Day,” she said.

“And we have heard nothing but positive feedback from businesses, locals and visitors.

“Town is incredibly busy. It is a ‘all-hands-on-deck’ situation where owners and employees are working at their maximum levels.”

Despite the Denmark Visitors Centre reopening its doors, the future of the purpose-built facility is still unknown beyond April.

The Shire of Denmark is currently developing a tourism strategy that will help guide that decision, with a draft strategy expected by April.

State, Federal and Local governments spent close to $750,000 constructing the tourism building in 2007, with then Shire of Denmark CEO Pascoe Durtanovich hailing the Centre “as an attraction in itself”.

“If it’s the view of experts that a bricks and mortar visitors centre is what’s required then that’s what will be recommended, but equally if the review and community and industry come up with an alternative, then that’s ultimately how council will be guided,” Shire of Denmark Acting CEO David Schober told the Weekender in October.

In the short-term, Ms Addy said the DCC was still welcoming volunteers to get involved with running the Visitors Centre this summer.

“In February, we are starting up bi-weekly Tea and Training sessions where a guest from the Shire comes in and shares their expertise with the team,” she said

“It is a great way to get to know Denmark and it’s amazing people.”

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