Levingston scratches an itch

ALBANY rising star Morgan Levingston has scored a role in the upcoming children’s television series Itch two months before he planned to move to Sydney to pursue an acting career.

Mr Levingston told The Weekender he had a flight booked for April 1 but was more than happy to cancel it when he landed the role of a policeman.

Filming of Itch commenced on Tuesday at Middleton Beach and will continue across the region for two months.

Itch, penned by BBC broadcaster and author Simon Mayo, tells the story of 14-year-old Itchingham Lofte who discovers a new chemical element and has to protect it from secret corporations and government agencies.

“I don’t have too much information yet but my contract is in the mail,” Mr Levingston said.

“I’m really excited and absolutely stoked to be a part of Itch.

“It’s going to be awesome.”

The 21-year-old said he planned to visit the Itch production office tomorrow for a costume fitting and to determine his eight-week filming schedule.

The Weekender caught up with Itch pro-ducer Amanda Morrison, head of global development Melanie Halsall and director Renee Webster on Monday after a Welcome to Country ceremony at Middleton Beach.

Although she remained tight-lipped on the complete cast list, Ms Morrison said she’d found “fantastic” talent in town.

She has scouted multiple locations in Albany for filming and was pleased by the reception her cast and crew had received from the community.

“We’ve visited the University of WA Albany campus, the hospital, the entertainment centre, the town hall…” Ms Morrison said.

“There’s such beautiful variation in the architecture here and so many natural phenomenons.”

To facilitate the filming of Itch, traffic diversions will be in place along Proudlove Parade in the car park of UWA Albany on February 21 from 2 to 6pm.

Queries regarding traffic control can be directed to crystallocations@gmail.com.

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Fruit trees filched

SEVEN heritage fruit trees valued up to $1000 were stolen from Albany’s historic Strawberry Hill estate this week.

Volunteer coordinator Judy Williams discovered and reported the theft to Albany Police on Monday morning and believes the offence took place late on Sunday or in the early hours of Monday.

She said it had taken four years for the apple and pear trees to grow and it would be difficult to find replacements.

The trees had recently begun to flourish after fellow garden volunteers Frank McDonald and John Radys spent more than 30 hours replacing the clay that the trees were planted in with healthier soil.

Ms Williams estimated the trees’ value was close to $1000.

“We had 12 trees taken last year at the same time other people on Middleton Road had things taken from their gardens,” she told The Weekender.

“We received a grant to plant those ones for a heritage orchard, because part of Strawberry Hill’s aim is to capture the different time periods that people lived here in.

“We had spares to replace them when they were stolen, but we have no spares now.”

Mr Radys believes the thieves don’t understand the historic significance and value of the trees.

“Some of those fruit trees are very rare,” he said.

“I just don’t know whether we’d be able to replace them.

“Some can only be found in Tasmania or England.”

Ms Williams was both confused and disheartened with the theft.

“I think we’re so upset because they were just torn from us,” she said.

“The trees weren’t dug out, they were just ripped.

“And why would someone pull up trees in sum-mer?

“That’s just crazy.

“They aren’t likely to have any success with them.”

Albany Police Senior Sergeant Grant Pollard said there was no forensic evidence left at the scene or any CCTV footage.

He encouraged anyone with information about the incident to call Albany Police on 9892 9300.

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Dogs hit the spot

ALBANY entrepreneur Brad Hopperton has added to the dining landscape of the CBD by opening a food van at Albany Waterfront Marina.

Mr Hopperton said he had been eyeing off the ‘pop-up’ market for some time after opening Crusty Crab Fish and Chips Cafe with his partner, Kerry and working at Hybla Tavern.

He sought something simplistic and decided upon selling hot dogs.

Mr Hopperton’s first day of trading with Dogelicious was January 18.

“It was originally going to be in a sea container but it got a bit complicated with the developers of the block,” he told The Weekender.

“The van was a compromise.

“But, having a pop-up gives you more flexibility than a bricks and mortar store, so we can operate for nine months of the year and then pack up and move.”

Mr Hopperton said the business has a weekend focus and is trading on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm to 8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8pm.

He is currently trialling his allotted area at the end of the Due South car park on Toll Place while exploring a few other potential locations.

“The feedback we’ve had so far is that now people know we’re here, they will come back and eat here,” Mr Hopperton said.

“You see people come down here to eat anyway – with their Hungry Jacks – so here’s where it’s at.

“We’re trying to offer something out of the norm.”

Mr Hopperton’s desire for a simple menu stemmed from working for years in the hospitality sector.

“I’ve managed restaurants and pubs before and it gets so complicated.

This is user-friendly,” he said.

In the next week or two, Mr Hopperton said he might add loaded fries to the menu, and potentially offer a ‘gourmet dog’.

He confirmed that he does indeed have EFTPOS facilities.

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Vollie lauded

ALBANY Junior Cricket Association volunteer Amanda Thompson said she is still getting over the shock of being named the Female Country Volunteer of the Year by the Western Australian Cricket Association.

Every year the WACA recognises the hours of dedication that volunteers put into cricket associations and teams across the state.

AJCA president Jackie Boyce was also named a finalist in the awards.

“To be frank, I’m a bit embarrassed to have won the award,” Ms Thompson said.

“Jackie is an integral part of junior cricket in Albany and I really think that without her we wouldn’t have junior cricket.”

Ms Thompson said she joined the association nearly four years ago after her youngest son Matthew started playing cricket.

“My eldest son (Angus) was playing cricket and my younger son had started up and I decided it was time to give back,” she said.

“So I went along to a committee meeting and the unspoken rule of committees is that if you’re on one you are always given a job to do.”

Ms Thompson said when she started volunteering she didn’t know a single thing about cricket.

“I started off logging in the stats for players under the guidance of Mike Moriarty,” she said.

“I learned a lot and then learned how to score cricket and how to live score so people at home could watch the Country Week matches from Albany.”

Ms Thompson said the AJCA would not be able to operate without the volunteers it has on the sidelines scoring matches, organising registrations and booking fields.

“Jackie and I see this award as a win for Albany junior cricket,” she said.

“It really shows how hard and well our volunteers work together.

“We don’t volunteer for the accolades, we volunteer for the kids.”

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Fishing feedback

PUBLIC comment on plans to grow an oyster and mussel industry in 1461 hectares of sea in King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour close on February 15.

The planned aquaculture zone takes in much of Shoal Bay in the harbour, Frenchman Bay, Vancouver Peninsula around Mistaken Island, Oyster Harbour and the sea between Gull Rock and its adjacent beach.

The combined area of the planned zone in Albany is 1461 hectares.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development recently completed investigations for commercial shellfish aquaculture zones in Albany and Esperance to pave the way for approval to expand the industry.

Fishing Development Officer at Recfishwest, Matt Gillett, said he had received calls from Albany residents concerned at the impact of the planned zones on recreational fishers.

He said he had spoken to a “very helpful” person at South Coast Natural Resource Management – which is managing the consultation process – who had indicated recreational fishers would not be banned from the zones.

Mr Gillett said he welcomed that advice, as a one-page explanation of the zones on the NRM’s website had served to confuse local fisherfolk.

He said similar zones in the Midwest Region and Abrolhos Islands were “non-exclusive” ones where anglers could still fish.

“We’re happy to see investment in aquaculture, as long as recreational fishing is not affected,” he said.

The department is progressing initial approvals in a bid to resolve significant issues early so the zones are ready for the investment of commercial operators.

Mr Gillett said Recfishwest would make a submission.

To have your say, hit: https://southcoastnrm.com.au/south-coast-aquaculture-development-zone.

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Albany ring road idles

AMID mounting criticism the State was dragging the chain, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti this week revealed a request for Federal funding had finally been lodged for the Albany ring road project.

In Albany for a regional get-together with most of her State Cabinet colleagues, Ms Saffioti who has been in office for two years blamed delays on submitting the business case on the former Barnett Government having done “no work on it”.

“We had to prepare the business case from scratch,” she said.

She told The Weekender that completion of the ring road project had been submitted in April last year when the Commonwealth asked for infrastructure proposals to be delivered as part of a $3.2 billion GST top-up.

The ring road was not funded as part of that process.

In September last year, Ms Saffioti’s representative in the Legislative Council Stephen Dawson told Southwest MLC Steve Thomas that the business case lodged on Saturday was to have been provided to Infrastructure Australia late last year.

This week, Dr Thomas, a Liberal, said time was fast disappearing for the business case to be considered before the looming Federal election.

“The closer you get to the election, the harder it will be to get funding,” he said.

“This process should have been completed well before now.

“It just suggests again it’s not high on the State’s priority and that’s a bad message to send to the Federal decision makers.”

Liberal MHR for O’Connor Rick Wilson threw Ms Saffioti a curve ball by suggesting that now the GST had been equalised for Western Australia the State should consider funding the entire ring road project.

Ms Saffioti said the Commonwealth normally contributed to such projects and she “could not understand” people who suggested the ring road was not worthy of Federal support.

Nationals leader Mia Davies said the State Government had jeopardised the Great Southern’s economic development by dragging its heels on submitting the business case.

An Infrastructure Australia spokesperson confirmed the business case had been received on Saturday and was being reviewed to see if it could be accepted for formal evaluation.

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Two shades of Grey

A CITY of Albany committee has been recommended to endorse concept plans which would see a one-way section of Grey Street East in Albany’s CBD be converted to two-way.

The plans released on Monday suggest the section of Grey Street East between the Premier Hotel and the Aberdeen Street roundabout be changed to allow traffic to enter York Street from the east and west.

The construction work was scheduled and budgeted for the City of Albany’s 2018/2019 financial year as a solution to relieve traffic congestion at “alternate west-east routes such as Peels Place”.

“Travelling west to east through the CBD from Grey Street is simple and the busy York Street can be avoided by use of the current one-way system through Grey Street East to Aberdeen Street,” the planning document reads.

“For the same traveller return journey, the one way system results in a limited number of return options which inevitably results in increased congestion at west-east route such as Peels Place.

“Ultimately, by reinstating the two-way traffic flow, west-east permeability is improved and with it a reduction in congestion.”

The origin of the one-way section of Grey Street is believed to be linked to the design of the Premier Hotel.

As revealed in The Weekender, the hotel is set to undergo a major facelift to include a new alfresco area facing Grey Street.

“Although information is vague, it is understood that the one-way system currently on Grey Street East was implemented to facilitate the extended alfresco area previously occupied by the Premier Hotel,” the planning document states.

“Works need to be carried out in conjunction with the Premier Hotel development to facilitate the new verandah and alfresco dining.

“The allocation in the budget for the Grey Street East works was done in order to meet the timeframes for the much needed building development.”

A site meeting was held on September 4 last year and three members of the public attended.

The main concern raised was the reduction of parking bays, which is expected to be 14.

The City has said it is working with the Premier Hotel developer to secure a lease over the rear portion of the property for parking use.

“This would have the provision of an additional 40 bays once finalised,” the document states.

“The proposed term of this lease is 20 years but subject to negotiation with the developer.”

The Development and Infrastructure Services Committee will meet on February 13 to make its decision ahead of a full council meeting.

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Smooth ride for first day

THE first day back at school went pretty smoothly for Little Grove Primary students Liesel Freebury and Darcy Griffith on Monday, once Darcy found his classroom.

The pre-primary student said he thought he was still in kindergarten and went through the wrong door.

“I thought my friend Hudson was in there but it was the wrong one,” the grinning tot said.

This year marks Darcy’s first full-time year at school, having completed kindy at Little Grove last year.

He is looking forward to playing with blocks and being with his friends.

On the other side of the school, Liesel is entering her final year of primary school and is excited for the future.

She “really likes” school and highly values her education.

“School is quite important to me,” Liesel said.

“I like to learn things because you need to know things to get around.”

Liesel was happy to see her friends again and plans to have lots of fun in her final year before embarking on her high school journey.

She thinks she’ll miss her teachers the most when she leaves, but is looking forward to extracurricular activities such as woodwork when she starts year seven.

Principal Darryn Martin said the 178-student school’s biggest cohort this year is the year six group, with 30 students.

One new teacher has joined the staff and there are seven classes in total.

Mr Martin said everything has been smooth sailing so far.

“One of our focus areas this year is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics),” he said.

“We have our STEM Club on Wednesday afternoons where the kids can learn more about things such as robotics, especially with the technology grant we received.

“We also received a CBH grant for an outdoor classroom/shelter, which we hope will be done by the end of term one.

“Darcy’s mum is an architect so she’s drawing it up, and Liesel’s mum is a landscaper, so she will be helping too.

“We’re a very family-orientated school.”

Term one will wrap up on April 12 for a two-week break before students return on April 29.

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Servo powers down

THE new Shell service station near Albany’s most notorious roundabout has had its opening date pushed back a month due to a delay in power connection.

Rod Booth, director of Perth-based Aurora Petroleum Pty Ltd, told The Weekender that his new service station, trading as Shell 5 Ways Albany, was meant to open on February 20.

But a delay in Western Power’s work has changed the date for the Albany Highway station.

“I don’t see us opening before March 20,” Mr Booth said.

“They’ve [Western Power] still got to do some work…they haven’t finalised the power.”

A Western Power spokesperson stated that the electricity company is in the process of finalising a “safe and reliable” underground grid connection.

This will require significant earthworks that may disrupt Albany Highway drivers and the company is awaiting approval to proceed.

“The underground cable connection will require excavation machinery and a large crew presence to work close to a critical roundabout on Albany Highway for an extended period of time,” the spokesperson said.

“The section of highway has heavy traffic use during the week as a key node for transport in the region and specifically is a junction for road trains hauling freight and delivering freight in the area.

“To operate safely in this environment, we are currently waiting on approvals from a third party to allow us to work near a complicated and busy section of Albany Highway.”

The spokesperson said this situation had delayed the original commissioning date of February 20 but work would commence on February 18.

Mr Booth has hired seven staff from Albany, Denmark and Mount Barker to operate the service station that will trade from 4am to 10pm, seven days a week.

He is unaware of who plans to move into the proposed lunch bar still under construction next door.

“I have no idea,” Mr Booth said.

“That’s under the developer.

“I’ve been asking but they can’t tell me, so I’ve given up asking.”

Weekender research last month ruled out Fresh Trading Co, Gloria Jean’s Coffees and Coles Express as potential occupants of the lunch bar site (‘Trio says ‘no’’, 17 January).

Proponent Peter D. Webb & Associates director Nik Hidding said he was “not permitted” to speak with media about the project.

Mr Booth said he wished to expand his Aurora Petroleum Pty Ltd operations down south, as he currently operates roadhouses and service stations in Kununurra and Narrogin.

This led to his decision to occupy the vacant site near Bunnings.

“We wanted to grow in the South West,” Mr Booth said.

“But we have no other expansion plans at this stage.”

The service station faced controversy due to its location near one of WA’s worst roundabouts, which was listed as sixth in the state and second in regional WA as a risky intersection in the RAC 2016/2017 Top 10 Risky Roads survey.

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Denmark finalist

A DENMARK woman has been named one of four finalists in the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for Western Australia.

Juliet Grist works across regional Western Australia in professional roles including executive officer of Regional Development Australia Wheatbelt, business consultant to the agricultural sector and in banking and finance.

She was nominated for her project Thrive Wheatbelt and Great Southern, as the award acknowledges women’s roles in rural industries, businesses and communities.

“Working in regional development, I’ve seen a real lack of support for well-being,” Ms Grist told The Weekender.

“So, I’m hoping to gather stakeholders to create a backbone support structure for the Wheatbelt and Great Southern.

“We are a really wealthy country but there is a growing divide…we are all neighbours and we have a responsibility to each other.”

Joining Ms Grist as finalists are Belinda Lay of Esperance, Leah Boucher of Kambaldah and Tanya Kitto of Geraldton.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Director General Ralph Addis congratulated the four finalists for their passion and commitment to regional industries and communities.

“This award provides opportunities to further women’s leadership, make a difference and inspire others,” he said.

The WA winner will receive $10,000 to help develop their project and will compete in the national awards.

She will follow in the footsteps of 2018 WA award winner Darrylin Gordon, a Jaru woman from Lamboo Station in the Kimberley, who is focused on development of a holistic on-station community training and empowerment program for land management and cattle production.

The WA winner of the national awards will be announced at a ceremony in Perth on March 7.

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