Ongerup OAMs return

HUSBAND-and-wife Order of Australia Medal recipients Barry and Jan Savage have moved back to Albany after more than 40 years living, working and volunteering in the small Great Southern town of Ongerup.

Since the Ongerup and wider Gnowangerup community threw the couple a farewell in March, the couple has been tidying up personal affairs in anticipation of their big move to Bayonet Head.

“We’re in Albany full-time now,” Mr Savage told The Weekender this week.

Last year he received an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of his prolific volunteer work as an ambulance officer, firefighter, and board member of Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre – among a string of other community roles.

Mrs Savage, who for 12 years served as Gnowangerup Shire President, received her OAM in 2005 for services to the shire and community.

In 1975 the couple moved from Albany to Ongerup to run the local tyre shop.

In Ongerup they raised a family and took on the school bus run.

Their recent return to the South Coast does not mean an end to their active community involvement.

“I think it’s important,” Mr Savage said.

“I’m doing a couple of [ambulance] shifts with St John’s, and I joined the local over-55 bike group and go riding every Wednesday.

“Jan’s joined the local book club and is still involved with Justice of the Peace work.”

On top of that, Mr and Mrs Savage are still active with the malleefowl centre, which ensures regular visits back to Ongerup.

“We’re going up this week for a Yongergnow meeting,” Mr Savage said.

Last week, the Yongergnow-Ongerup Community Resource Centre asked locals not to ride motorbikes or drive on tracks near the malleefowls’ enclosure, as a chick had died recently after possibly being frightened by a passing vehicle.

“What happened to it, whether it got spooked and ran into the fence, we’re not sure,” Mr Savage said.

“They’re becoming a little bit of a problem.

“The breeding success rate was a little bit too good.”

This year, Yongergnow malleefowls Maggie and Drei bred like billyo, producing no less than 19 chicks (‘Malleefowl love nest’ , March 30).

“We’re having a bit of trouble giving them all away,” Mr Savage said.

“We’ve got to get EPA approval for where we can put them.”

Asked if having too many chicks to find homes for was in some ways a nice problem to have, Mr Savage said: “It certainly is unique”.

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Bethel goes K-12

A NEW building addition to its campus and an expansion in the schooling program will make Bethel Christian School the fourth school in Albany to cater for students from kindergarten to year 12.

Principal Mim Butler guided The Weekender through an exclusive tour of the school’s new Early Learning Centre on Tuesday and said the $6.7 million, 18-month project is set to wrap up in early July.

Ms Butler said the new centre will have the capacity to hold 200 students and provide the school with the space to retain year 10 students through to year 11 and 12, after a need to expand the school’s K-10 status was identified.

The new Early Learning Centre will house kindergarten, pre-primary, and years one and two students.

The current Bethel campus will cater for years three to 12 students.

Next year will see the first group of year 11s continue their education at Bethel, and 2020 will be the first year the school has a year 12 graduating class.

“We’ve been landlocked for 37 years,” Ms Butler said, when asked why the school had not previously expanded.

“People would ask us why we don’t go to year 12, and I would say, ‘well, where are we going to put them?’”

Ms Butler said a survey was conducted in 2014 and it identified a need for the school to include year 11 and 12 in its program.

However, the issue of campus space still remained as the main barrier to the school’s expansion.

A silver lining appeared in 2016 when an acre-sized property across the road from the school hit the market.

The previous property owners’ daughter alerted the school to the sale and provided Ms Butler the opportunity she needed to increase the campus’s capacity.

The Weekender’s tour through the Early Learning Centre revealed its brand-new plush coloured carpets, colour-tinted windows, interactive whiteboards, whiteboard desks, a three-storey cubby house, slides and climbing walls.

Ms Butler said she is more than happy with the final product.

“I’m very excited,” she said.

“It’s been full-on but I’m happy.

“We’ve just got the carpark and stairs to go now.”

Ms Butler said the school will hold an official opening and celebratory event in October during the first week of term four to unveil the Early Learning Centre.

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Burn-off caution urged

AS INVESTIGATIONS continue into last month’s maelstrom of Redmond and Napier fires, the City of Albany has lifted one of two restricted burning periods but is still urging people to exercise caution when burning off.

Manager for Ranger and Emergency Services Tony Ward said the investigations are ongoing and are being coordinated by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, and that the City is working with DFES and the community.

He said the restricted burning period for the south-west sector of the city expired at midnight on June 15 and will not be extended due to the cold, wet conditions experienced over the past week.

But the restricted burning period within the north-east sector will remain under review.

“Residents in this sector [south-west] will be able to burn from Saturday without needing a permit,” he said.

“It is important though that people exercise common sense when lighting fires to ensure it is safe and they monitor their fires to ensure they do not pose a risk to anyone else or other property, and are extinguished if conditions become challenging.”

Updates to the restricted burning periods can be found on the City’s website at albany.wa.gov.au/council/council/public-notices.

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Peaceful camel rides get over council hump

A SIX-MONTH trial of Broome-like camel rides will take place from November 1 at Peaceful Bay, despite local opposition, and after the operator abandoned plans for rides at Parry Beach.

On Tuesday night, Peaceful Bay ratepayers Bob Eddington and Matt Mauger made the 50km trip along South Coast Highway to tell Denmark shire councillors they did not support the camel rides.

“The community of Peaceful Bay is very concerned about this proposal,” Mr Eddington, a permanent Peaceful Bay resident, said.

“The general consensus of the small population living at Peaceful Bay at the moment is: ‘No, we do not want camels at Peaceful Bay’.

“The beach is not Cable Beach, it’s Peaceful Bay and it’s very narrow.”

Mr Mauger, a regular visitor to Peaceful Bay, complained that the Shire had not written to ratepayers at the idyllic holiday spot advising them of the planned camel rides.

He said the tight-knit community only heard about the plans via an unofficial email.

Shire President Ceinwen Gearon told Mr Mauger that, at a recent meeting at the bay, Shire CEO Bill Parker had been quizzed about his administration’s approach to consultation and “agreed to look at it”.

Mr Mauger said Mr Parker’s commitment was “a bit late” for the camel debate.

“It’s like shutting the gate after the camel’s bolted,” he observed.

Denmark tourism operator Beverley Ford said she thought the camels were “a great idea” for Parry Beach, but not for Peaceful Bay where the beach was narrower.

But, in its response to public submissions, the Great Southern Camel Company said there was “an issue at Parry Beach in terms of positioning the camel station and the narrow aspect of the first 50m of beach”.

Accordingly, the company withdrew its request for rides at Parry Beach.

The company says camels are “placid, docile animals” that have “successfully integrated with cars, dogs, children and adults on many beaches around Australia without incident”.

Each camel ride will be between 15 and 30 minutes long, and the company’s three to four quadrupeds will roam the beach for a maximum four hours a day on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The camels will be housed at a lot on South Coast Highway at Nornalup.

Of 17 public submissions received, 10 objected to the camels, five supported them, and two had a bet each way.

The Nornalup Residents and Ratepayers Association welcomed the rides as “an attraction benefiting tourists and local businesses on the south coast”.

The Peaceful Bay Progress Association objected to the rides, opining that camels would conflict with vehicles, dogs, fishers and swimmers at the beach.

“The beach is very narrow, especially at high tide, and cannot accommodate these family activities as well as camel rides,” the Association submitted.

 

Photo: Bob Eddington and Matt Mauger opposed the camel rides.

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A stadium by any other name

CENTENNIAL STADIUM will no longer be known by that name if moves to sell the naming rights to Albany’s main football venue for at least $50,000 a year succeed.

In The Weekender, the City of Albany has sought proposals by 2pm on June 28 to buy the stadium’s naming rights.

The City says the sale is “a significant opportunity for a suitable organisation to grow their brand and marketing reach throughout Albany and the wider Great Southern region”.

The City asserts the arrangement would suit “an iconic national or Western Australian brand”, an outfit already established in the Great

Southern and wishing to grow its market share, one new to the region, one wishing to demonstrate its commitment to regional Australia, or one wishing to reinforce a “bricks and mortar brand position”.

A minimum $50,000-a-year deal over three years, with a right to renew for three years, is also on the cards.

President of the Albany Ratepayers and Residents Association Elizabeth Barton said rebranding the stadium with a corporate name disrespected the area’s rich sporting history.

She said the name ‘Albany Oval’ would be preferable to any corporate moniker.

“What?! $50,000-a-year?” she said when told of the minimum price sought.

“You’ve got to be kidding.

“This is Albany, not Perth.”

Asked if the venue could be re-badged ‘Albany Stadium’ to promote Albany to tourists and investors, City Executive Director Corporate Services Michael Cole said the City had “made a substantial investment into the construction of the stadium and welcomes opportunities for public-private partnerships that will contribute to the ongoing sustainability of the facility and increase return on investment for ratepayers”.

Mr Cole said the deal was only for the stadium building, which would remain part of the Centennial Park Sporting Precinct.

Asked if the City’s Buy Local policy would apply to the arrangement, Mr Cole said the City would “look favourably” at a bid from a local group.

“In the absence of any suitable local or regional organisations wishing to take on the sponsorship, organisations that are from outside of the region will still be considered,” he added.

A glossy nine-page brochure explains that large signs featuring the successful tenderer’s brand will be erected on the stadium building.

Other benefits include the name of the brand on event tickets and advertising signs around the oval and scoreboard.

The successful tenderer will be offered free use of meeting rooms up to five times a year, the main hall twice a year, and the oval.

Further inducements include tickets to City of Albany events at the oval, two free adult memberships for the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre, and 10 free passes to the National Anzac Centre.

Asked whether the option of retaining the words ‘Centennial Stadium’ in a sponsored name had been considered, Mr Cole said, “The words used in the venue name will be based on the ability to deliver the appropriate level of brand recognition in line with the investment being made by the sponsor, subject to required selection criteria and sponsorship policy guidelines”.

He said the City “currently” had no plans to sell the naming rights of other venues.

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Redundancy call at Advertiser

THE Seven West Media conglomerate that owns the Albany Advertiser, Great Southern Herald and The Extra newspapers has called for redundancies at those mastheads weeks after the newspapers appointed a new reporter and advertised for another.

Recently, The Advertiser recruited a reporter from the independent Examiner newspaper in Perth’s eastern suburbs to fill the shoes of a journalist who had departed for Perth.

At the same time, the Great Southern Herald advertised to fill the role of its Katanning-based journalist who also moved back to Perth recently to take a job in the public relations industry.

Yesterday, the new CEO of Seven West Media Maryna Fewster told one of her business journalists that this week’s call for redundancies at the company’s 19 regional newspapers aimed to reduce duplication, and ensure a strong focus on editorial content.

The redundancies do not affect The Great Southern Weekender, which is the only locally owned newspaper to be delivered in Albany and around the Great Southern.

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Koji units approved

KOJONUP’S Felicity and Paul Webb received the nod from council on Tuesday night to build eight motel-style units in the town site after altering their initial proposal.

The proponents first applied for development approval to build worker’s accommodation at No. 4 Kojonup-Katanning Road at the May 15 council meeting.

The proposal was unanimously knocked back by council after submissions from St Bernard’s Church, St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School, a nearby landowner and the owners of Kojonup Caravan Park suggested the development would create unwanted noise, parking issues and that the proposal did not promote the growth of Kojonup.

The new application put before council this week proposed eight motel-style units for holiday accommodation and an office at No. 70 Albany Highway.

The proponents’ application letter and proposal stated three transportable units would each contain three self-contained motel rooms, equipped with an ensuite bathroom, queen-sized bed and tea and coffee making facilities.

“We believe that our proposal is in line with the Shire’s 10-year plan and complements, rather than competes with, existing accommodation facilities by attracting even more short-term visitors to our town, who in turn, contribute to Kojonup’s local economy,” the letter stated.

“The accommodation is not aimed at the budget traveller but more to short-term visitors, such as executives, consultants, auditors, government inspectors and the like.”

Shire councillors unanimously voted in favour of the new site and application on Tuesday.

Shire President Ronnie Fleay said the new proposed site was already zoned commercial and therefore deemed appropriate by council.

“Council has a very positive attitude towards projects supporting tourism,” she said.

“There is an issue of shortage of accommodation for when events are happening in the region, so hopefully this will add a bit more diversity for our accommodation.

“It’s a chicken and egg scenario.

“We are trying to bring more people here but there is nowhere for them to stay.”

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Prem breathes again

YORK STREET pedestrians could have been forgiven for thinking the burned out shell of the Premier Hotel was trading once more when National Party movers and shakers held a meet-and-greet there on Friday.

With a rebuild progressing at the hotel after an arson attack gutted the State heritage-listed building in 2016, the Nationals held a sausage sizzle in the al fresco area at the corner of Grey Street.

Nationals leader Mia Davies said there was no particular significance in her party’s choice of venue but she was happy to play a small part in the re-emergence of an important Albany landmark.

“We’ve had nearly the whole of our Parliamentary State team and two of our Federal candidates in Albany for an afternoon yesterday, a sundowner yesterday afternoon meeting community and non-government organisations and volunteers, and then we spread out today across the city meeting various people who fall within our portfolios,” she told The Weekender.

“It’s been a great two days.

“The name of the game is for us to be here listening and also to introduce the whole team and state very clearly that we as the Nationals have a very clear view towards [the] 2021 [State election] and regional West Australians can still count on us to take up the fight on their behalf.”

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Anzac leader lauded

HELPING to create the National Anzac Centre and develop an Anzac Day “on steroids” for the commemoration’s centenary are two reasons RSLWA State President and ex-Albany RSL President Peter Aspinall is now a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Mr Aspinall has been recognised for significant service to veterans and their families, especially through commemorative events in Western Australia.

His CV includes being President of the Albany Aero Club, Chair of the Albany Centenary of Anzac Alliance, President of the Albany Central Probus Club, and President of the Albany RSL sub-branch.

Mr Aspinall, 76, said he did not consider the award an individual one, as it resulted from the “efforts from a lot of people”.

Along with Albany’s Geoff Hand and Laurie Fraser, Mr Aspinall was instrumental in developing and negotiating the National Anzac Centre.

The trio’s efforts resulted in the re-enactment of the convoy that left Albany for the Middle East on November 1, 1914.

For many soldiers, Albany was the last Australian soil they stepped upon.

“Geoff recognised that November 1, 1914 was something no one else could lay claim to,” Mr Aspinall said, regarding discussions for Albany’s Anzac centenary celebrations.

Their dream came true on November 1, 2014 when thousands of people flocked to King George Sound to witness the re-enactment.

“When we were trying to work out what we were going to do, we thought: ‘It’s just another Anzac Day, but on steroids’,” Mr Aspinall laughed.

“We got six naval ships for the re-enactment.”

On the same day, the National Anzac Centre was opened and Mr Aspinall agreed it was “an extraordinarily overwhelming experience”.

“When you’re so close to a project, you get very precious about it, but it’s been an amazing success,” he added.

Despite these achievements, Mr Aspinall said the most rewarding part of his work in veterans’ affairs was being able to help other people.

“The most satisfying element is meeting and exceeding expectations of current veteran generations looking for support,” he said.

Mr Aspinall will receive his award in early September at Perth’s Government House.

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Sandalwood jobs ‘secured’

CREDITORS have accepted a plan receivers say will save all 221 jobs at floundering company Quintis that owns Albany’s Mt Romance sandalwood factory, and provide a better return for unsecured creditors than available under a liquidation scenario.

McGrathNicol partners Jason Preston, Shaun Fraser and Robert Brauer – who in January were appointed receivers of Quintis – say that on Monday the company’s creditors voted for an arrangement that “represents another important step in seeing the business emerge as a private company”.

The three receivers said Quintis would emerge in “a very strong financial position and well placed to continue its strategy as the world’s leading marketer, producer and seller of sandalwood timber, oil and products”.

Last week, the men said the arrangement would mean Quintis’ 221 workers – which includes staff at Mt Romance – would retain their jobs (‘Creditors to vote on Sandalwood jobs plan’, 7 June).

The men now say the vote is an endorsement of their strategy to recapitalise Quintis and its subsidiary companies with between $125 million and $175 million new cash.

They say the cash will be injected into the business to fund long-term operations, and the arrangement is the “best path forward for all creditors, including employees and growers”.

The men aim to complete the recapitalisation by late August.

Last week, they said the arrangement would see workers who were made redundant in the early stages of the receivership have their entitlements paid in full.

In March, a McGrathNicol spokeswoman told The Weekender none of the redundancies would be from the Albany factory (‘Sandalwood jobs axe misses Mt Romance’, March 1).

An additional $20 million had been made available for ongoing operations while the receivership concludes.

The 60,000sqm Mt Romance plant on Albany’s northern outskirts is the world’s largest distiller of sandalwood oil.

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