Search for new Denmark CEO nearly over

THE Shire of Denmark is expecting to appoint a new Chief Executive Officer by March, more than 500 days since former CEO Bill Parker resigned from the top job.

Speaking with the Weekender early last year, Shire President Ceinwen Gearon anticipated the role would be filled prior to June 30, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic scarpered those plans.

Ms Gearon said Council made an informal decision to put the recruitment process on hold while WA’s hard border restricted travel.

“It was an informal consensus of elected members to delay the process due to uncertain- ties around the pandemic, particularly in relation to travel restrictions,” Ms Gearon told the Weekender on Monday.

“An external consultant has been engaged and Council have established a selection panel consisting of four councillors. Internal shire officers are also assisting with the process, as required.”

When Mr Parker left Denmark to take on a leadership position as General Manager of the Corporate Services Alliance at the City of Perth, the Shire’s Manager of Community Services, David Schober, was appointed Acting CEO.

Mr Schober, who’s previously held executive positions at the City of Albany and St John Ambulance, has filled the role since September 2019.

In accordance with the Local Government Act 1995, Mr Schober was awarded a 12-month contract as Acting CEO to September 2021, or until a permanent CEO is appointed.

Comparatively, the Shire of Plantagenet announced late last year it had found new CEO Cameron Woods about six months after long-serving executive Rob Stewart exited the job.

Ms Gearon wouldn’t apologise to ratepayers for delaying the selection process.

“The Shire is in good hands with the Acting Chief Executive Officer David Schober, who has done an outstanding job in very difficult circumstances,” she said.

An independent assessment of Mr Schober’s overall performance came back as ‘More than Satisfactory’.

But Mr Schober said he hadn’t yet made up his mind on whether he would take on the top job permanently.

“Now that the role has been advertised I will sit down with family and seek their feedback before making any decisions,” he said.

Applications for the position close on January 25.

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Taking theatre to the streets

IMPROMPTU theatre in the streets of Albany is not something you see every day, but one group is gearing up for a surprise performance.

Southern Edge Arts is offering a Making Theatre Everywhere Masterclass, a practical five-day course where people aged 15- plus will learn and create site- specific theatre performances.

Dr Alan Hancock will be running the course, where the group will pick specific landmarks or locations around Albany and create a piece of theatre to be performed in the public area.

Dr Hancock said they often draw on the locations history and create a theatre performance that’s related to it.

“It can be a kind of street theatre, where you can do it on any street and you’re interacting with passers-by, like what you’ve prob- ably seen before,” he said.

“Or it could be a piece that’s been designed for one particular place, for example if we chose the Brig Amity ship, we might create a piece of theatre around that site, drawing on its history and stories.”

Dr Hancock said the opportunity to create theatre in a new place opens up all kinds of possibilities you wouldn’t come across in a traditional theatre space.

“You’re creating theatre away from the theatre space in a way that they haven’t done before, so it’s something very novel, I find most people get very inspired by it,” he said.

“I find the audience start looking at the place in a different way, they keep expecting art to happen around them.

“I think art is very good at making you look at the world in a different way.”

There’s still a chance to register for the Making Theatre Every- where Masterclass, which will be running from January 18 – 22.

Those who prefer to act as the audience should keep their eyes peeled when walking around town this coming week.

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Blossom at Blush

BLUSH Retail Gallery is hosting a new vibrant art collection from artist Cynthia Orr, showcasing her expression of resilience, hope and perseverance through nature.

Blossom is a colourful, Australian nature inspired collection of acrylic paintings that took her 12 months to create.

Ms Orr was inspired by the events of 2020 to create a collection of 26 paintings that symbolised the rebirth of life after a devastating loss.

“With the things going on in my own life, all the fires over east and in the Porongurup’s and then Covid, this (nature and vegetation) is to symbolise that even when they’re ravaged by fire, they come back and they bloom again so beautifully even when you think they’re dead,” Ms Orr said.

Ms Orr wants people to feel happy and light when they step into the gallery and to feel an emotional tug.

“I think that it is a message of hope for people that no matter what you are going through, there is a season for everything, and it will pass and you will bloom,” she said.

While painting one of her favourites, words came to Ms Orr that she felt deeply resonated with her work and are now words that echo through every painting.

“You will not wilt under the pressure of the heat of the enemy, but … you will bloom in the face of it,” she said.

Blossom will be on show in the Blush Retail Gallery on York Street from January 8-30.

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New fireys promised

ALBANY is set to benefit from an increased number of firefighters as part of a McGowan Labor Government promise to deliver a statewide infrastructure and support package.

The $38.4 million commitment would see WA’s firefighting service strengthen at Albany, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie fire stations, with 36 new recruits trained and distributed within a nine-month period.

The infrastructure and support package investment would increase the staffing ratio from one station officer and three firefighters to one station officer and five firefighters, with a promised $4 million in new next-generation personal protective equipment.

Premier Mark McGowan said firefighters do an incredible job to keep Western Australia safe.

“Our emergency services workers and volunteers put their lives on the line for their fellow Western Australians, which is why we’ve invested heavily in building key infrastructure, training and equipment to better resource and support them and to keep our community safe,” he said.

At a press conference in Albany on Tuesday, Minister for Emer- gency Services Fran Logan MLA said he was pleased to announce the commitment to increase regional firefighters.

Mr Logan said firefighters have been campaigning for a long time for more crew members.

“The firefighters have argued they need a larger crew in place, particularly if they are going into a structure fire and they need the support of people outside and inside, should something go wrong,” he said.

Mr Logan also wanted to convey the good deeds of volunteer firefighters shouldn’t be forgotten.

“Regional Western Australia relies on volunteer firefighters and in Albany, you’ve got a great group of volunteers,” he said.

“You’ve got volunteer fire and rescue services who provide support to the career firefighters here in Albany and of course you’ve got the bush firefighters as well who do a remarkable job and go all over the south west protecting our communities.”

When asked if they intend to hire regional people, Mr Logan said it was a good point, but hasn’t raised it with the fire and emergency services commissioner.

“For every position that pops up, there are 2000 people that want to apply for the job,” he said. “I would imagine people from all over Western Australia would apply.”

The United Professional Fire- fighters Union has been running a Heroes Support Heroes campaign since October asking to have additional firefighters to help keep WA safe and they have welcomed the commitment.

United Professional Firefighter Union Secretary Tim Kucera said that the investment would help firefighters keep Western Australia safe.

“We are grateful the McGowan Government has listened to our Heroes Support Heroes campaign calling for additional firefighters, further investment in regional areas and new personal protective cloth- ing for firefighters across Western Australia,” he said.

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Passionate printers

PRINTMAKERS from across WA have gathered to exhibit their work in the Museum of the Great Southern this summer.

The South West Print- makers are a group of seven individual artists who were brought together by a passion for printmaking.

The established group of artists have been exhibiting together since 2005, most of whom met through studying visual arts at TAFE and Edith Cowan University in Bunbury.

Artwork from Helen Hulme-Gerrard, Lianne Jay, Janette Trainer, Sue Dennis, Christine Latham, Yvonne Dorricott, and Carol Farmer will be on display.

Their works depict a wide and varying range of printmaking techniques and styles, including lino, wood- cut, etching, stencil and screen-print and cyanotype.

South West Printmakers group member Lianne Jay said the exhibition is designed to bring forth awareness around printmaking and its versatility to the Great Southern.

“As a group we’re trying to be actively out there in the community in sharing our work,” she said.

“We’ve all got different skills, so we share amongst ourselves and we have workshops to educate each other on different skills and techniques.”

The exhibition is located in the Residency Heritage Building at the Museum of the Great Southern, where each room showcases a different artist’s work.

The layout of the exhibition allows visitors to see not only the diverse nature of the works but also the uniqueness of the printmaking artform.

Alongside creating work for exhibition, the group collectively produce an annual ‘print share’ where each artist produces a piece of work in response to a theme, which is then shared amongst each other.

The South West Printmakers see the ‘print share’ as a way to ex- change collectable work and create a survey of

contemporary printmaking in the South West region.

Ms Jay said this year’s theme was to create three-dimensional un- folding work, designed to challenge the artists to try something new.

“We share our works, we get a beautiful collection of prints from everybody and it becomes part of our print collection,” she said.

The South West Printmakers work will be exhibited from January 9-24.

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Sailing icon moors in Albany

SAILING legend Jon Sanders AO OBE had no way of sneaking into Albany with his loyal and passionate fans tracking his every move, anticipating his entrance to the city, coupled with the colourful vessel he has sailed for the past 33 years.

The 81-year-old sailor moored in Albany after a 17-day stretch from Sydney, marking one of the final stops of his 11th solo circumnavigation of the world.

Mr Sanders is best known for his 658-day triple world circumnavigation, awarding him the world record for the longest distance sailed by any vessel or person.

After setting sail from Fremantle on November 5, 2019 he has so far endured nearly 45,000km of rough waters and challenging border restrictions.

Mr Sanders said he just missed out on the warmer Albany weather, docking before the 25-knot south-west winds hit.

“I tend to always cop the bad weather at night,” he said.

“But it’s alright because it gives my boat a wash.” The veteran sailor faced the worst conditions he’d seen in decades, confronting three colossal storm systems between Tahiti and Queensland.

His old faithful, the Perie Banou II vessel, braved damage to essential navigation equipment and its engine flooded.

The yacht, which has been in action since 1988, needed repairs in Bundaberg before setting sail again.

During his trip, Mr Sanders has been collecting water samples to filter and analyse the density of microplastics in the ocean along his route.

On board, the filtering system pumps 100 litres of water from just below the surface, filtering out microplastics to be sent to Curtin University for analysis.

The daily operation is part of the #NoPlasticWaste campaign launched by the Minderoo Foundation, aimed at finding solutions to the ‘plastic waste crisis’.

Mr Sanders said he hadn’t visually seen a lot of plastic along his quiet path, but he thinks it’s because all the plastic has sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

The results will be used to build a more extensive understanding of plastic pollution in the Southern Hemisphere oceans.

Mr Sanders is expected to make one last stop in Dunsborough before completing his 11th circumnavigation of the globe in Fremantle by the end of the month.

When asked about whether he’d set out to conquer a 12th world trip, Mr Sanders said he’d never say never.

Albany’s sailing scene is eager to mingle with the veteran sailing legend, as he awaits a COVID-19 test before being able to set foot on dry land again.

The local sailing fraternity were even offering Mr Sanders their hospitality from the dock in a quest to have the legend at their home for dinner.

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Albany art on display

ALBANY’S art community is thriving this sum- mer, with a group of local artists showcasing their work at the Vancouver Arts Centre.

The Albany Art Group (AAG) is hosting their 59th Summer Exhibition, embodying the work of 25 artists.

With up to 70 members, the group’s painters and potters attend an array of workshops throughout the week.

The exhibitions provide an opportunity for the members to exhibit and sell their work, a first for many beginner artists in town.

AAG President Colin Montefiore said the town is continuing to diversify its art scene.

“We have a wide range of artists from different backgrounds and experience levels, from beginners to those who have studied fine arts in Florence,” he said.

“In general, the bulk of our members are retirees, but we have a lot of younger members too.

“Now that we’re doing weekend workshops it’s become more inclusive, it’s a good activity to get out there and do something.”

The exhibition displays an extensive range of work, allowing visitors to appreciate the varying styles and techniques across the exhibition rooms.

Every artwork sold will be replaced with a new piece, as the revolving exhibition allows people to take their purchases home on the day.

Mr Montefiore said many of their members, especially those exhibiting for the first time, value displaying their work as a part of a bigger collective.

“If you haven’t exhibited before it’s a little bit like walking naked down York Street,” he said.

“In these exhibitions everybody is allowed to put in, doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner artist or you’re very talented, we hang everybody’s paintings.

“And new members are always welcome to join the group.”

The Summer Exhibition will run until January 17 in the revamped Vancouver Arts Centre heritage building.

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De Hamel the local demagogue

LAST article, we met one of the most dynamic, yet divisive, residents of Albany in our short period of European history. Lancel de Hamel (1849- 1894) was an English lawyer and politician who came to Albany in 1886 and left a telling imprint.

To take up the story, he had been elected Mayor in November 1888 on the platform of restoring Albany’s access to the harbour and town beach after the new railway’s developers, the WA Land Company, had closed off all roads and crossings.

De Hamel had to convince the WA Governor, Sir Frederick Broome, to change the legislation to force the Land Company to install crossings or a bridge, but the Chairman of the WA Land Company, Thomas Powell, insisted on the railway’s land entitlements.

Embroiled in the cross- fire was conservative local Member of Parliament, Sir Thomas Cockburn-Campbell. De Hamel considered him ineffective and not sufficiently on the side of Albany in development issues.

For example, Cockburn-Campbell sided with the government to build a railway from York to Eucla, bypassing the original plan of including Albany on the route.

However, Cockburn-Campbell did move a Railways Amendment Bill which would allow Councils to apply to the Government to put railway crossings wherever they wished.

It appeared to be a sensible solution so it was understandable that de Hamel was outraged that the Governor planned to exempt the WA Land Company from the new Act.

The war of words got louder. Newspapers were the weapon of choice and the vitriol was toxic as it flowed between de Hamel’s Australian Advertiser, the increasingly ineffective Albany Mail, and the Perth newspapers which never lost an opportunity to insult Albany and de Hamel.

Matters got worse for Perth when de Hamel stood against Cockburn- Campbell for the seat of Albany in the Legislative Council in 1889. De Hamel had the support of the Albany town dwellers although the farming community mainly voted for the incumbent. He won, but some of de Hamel’s gloss was wearing thin.

De Hamel was now the Albany Mayor, the newspaper proprietor, the Member of Parliament and also captain of the voluntary militia force.

The description of him as a demagogue was becoming increasingly accurate. But he was generally undeterred and his abilities as a stirring orator usually saw him succeed.

Issues came to a head when the railway was completed in 1889. De Hamel was deliberately excluded from the guest list at the ceremony to mark the final spike- driving, although he sent an undercover agent to Beverley in his place – the editor of his newspaper, William Forster.

Forster witnessed a stinging emotional tirade against de Hamel by Thomas Powell, in his speech, where he concluded: “Now, I have done with Mr De Hamel for the present. I do not know whether he will provoke me to say or write more. If he does, I will turn my sleeves up and meet him in the Town Hall.”

The slander ended in court as de Hamel sued Powell for £5000 damages but the case was dismissed on a technicality.

De Hamel’s next political gambit came when responsible government was proposed for WA in 1890. He saw an opportunity to create a separate southern state, with the northern border somewhere between Rockingham and Mandurah, with Albany, of course, as the capital. No doubt de Hamel had his own eyes on the position of Premier.

This proposal was defeated and it was be- coming clear that even diehard Albanians were tiring of the constant battles. John Moir, a conservative, stood against de Hamel in the Mayoral election of 1889, and won by 14 votes. De Hamel’s star was on the wane.

While the Albany Mail had folded, a new news- paper, the Albany Observer, was started with WA Land Company funding, and they did all they could to limit de Hamel’s influence. They succeeded, and soon de Hamel was limited to his Perth parliamentary duties where he retained the Albany seat in the Legislative Assembly.

He was effectively the first Opposition Leader in WA where he continued to oppose Governor Broome and new Premier Sir John Forrest.

De Hamel was devastated by the death of his wife Marion and his infant son Gerard in 1891. He left for the Coolgardie goldfields soon after but contracted typhoid and died there in 1894, leaving his three young children orphaned. It was a sad end to a colourful life.

His descendants funded a plaque still visible at the entrance to the Albany Town Hall, the site of so many of his political battles and triumphs. Albany was a more peaceful, but perhaps less interesting, place after his demise.

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Twilight twist for Denmark Aus Day

THIS year’s Australia Day celebrations in Denmark will have a COVID-19 safe twist.

The Shire of Denmark have decided to forgo their traditional Australia Day breakfast in favour of a family friendly Twilight Family Concert, complete with social distancing.

Live music, family entertainment, face painting, circus performances, bouncy castles, crafts and more will be part of the night.

Shire of Denmark Acting CEO David Schober said the Council wanted to do everything possible to ensure a Covid-safe event could go ahead in Denmark on Australia Day.

“This year’s Twilight Family Concert is designed to bring our community together for a safe and inclusive event,” he said.

Australia Day Ambassador Judith Fordham will join the night to deliver a welcome to the event and the Aussies Aussie Aussie Baking Competition will be judged by Denmark’s own local Masterchef celebrity Ruby Hughes.

Residents of all ages are encouraged to participate for a chance to win $500 ‘Denmark Dollars’.

Denmark’s Citizen of the Year awards will also be taking place in recognition of outstanding community members who have demonstrated leadership and contributed to building harmony in the community.

Basil Schur was voted Community Citizen of the Year in 2020 for his four decades of service in landcare.

“We are looking forward to once again celebrating our outstanding community members who have been nominated for our Citizen of the Year awards and announcing winners at the event,” Mr Schober said.

“This year, we are also happy to support local community organisations by providing a fundraising opportunity to Golden Hill Steiner School who will be raising funds for their Kitchen Garden Classroom thanks to gold coin donations collected from what I’m sure will be a very popular sausage sizzle.”

The event is free for everyone and is set to kick off at 4pm at Berridge Park on Tuesday, January 26. Participants are encouraged to bring their own water bottle, chairs and/ or picnic blanket.

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Midds festival returns with fan favourites

WITH WA going more than 270 days without a locally acquired case of COVID-19, organisers are continuing to push ahead with an action-packed 2021 edition of the Middleton Beach Festival.

The 2020 Festival ran over seven days from January 20-26, but this year celebrations will go for five days from January 22-26.

Twilight Markets at Eyre Park will kick off festivities on the Friday from 4pm, with live music, food vendors and local arts and crafts stores.

Due to popular demand, the Midds Mutts Market is back on Saturday, January 23 to showcase everything that’s great about our furry friends.

An Emergency Services Fun Day will take place between 9am-1pm on the Sunday, celebrating the amazing work of local police, firefighters and ambulance officers.

A selection of emerging local artists will be the headline acts as the sun sets at Eyre Park on Monday before an outdoor screening of 2019 Australian movie H is for Happiness, which was filmed in Albany.

Australia Day festivities will be jam-packed with outdoor activities, including a ninja obstacle course, dodgeball, face-painting, market stalls and a slow fashion festival by Green Skills.

Although celebrating Australia Day on January 26 remains a source of contention – with some local councils around Australia scrapping events all together out of respect for Indigenous Australians – the City of Albany is keeping with tradition.

Last year the temperature gauge tipped to just over 27 degrees on a picture-perfect Albany Australia Day, and organisers will no doubt be hoping for more of the same later this month.

If you are a local food vendor interested in being part of the Middleton Beach Festival, visit www.cityofalbanyevents.com/middleton-beach-festival for more information.

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