Fantastic Hats Off Festival

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WELL folks, how was your Hats Off? I had a ball!
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Apart from having to work on Friday afternoon and evening, I was pleased to get out a little early so I could catch part of Bill Chambers’ gig at The Pub.

He had Ashleigh Dallas join him on fiddle and banjo, as well as Ashleigh’s dad Brett on lead guitar, Ben Conicella on double bass and some bloke I hadn’t seen before on drums – but he could hit those skins.

ON SATURDAY I headed out about noon to begin my seven-gig plan of attack.

As it’s only a short festival, I wanted to catch as much of the action as I could, so I started out at the CCMA’s Hats Off to Tex Morton concert at South Tamworth Bowling Club.

On the way there I had 2013 Toyota Star Maker Kaylee Bell’s new album cranked up full bore and when I drove in to the car park, who do you think I saw?

I just wound the window down when I saw that sign-painted Star Maker mobile and Kaylee laughed her head off.

After an hour at the bowlo, I raced over to Southgate to catch a bit of the Jimmy Little Bronze Bust fundraising concert.

An hour later I was in the audience of Marie Hodson and Royden Donohue’s tribute to the timeless music of Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves.

They had a good house, considering it was winter in Tamworth – a very respectable 150 or so paying punters. Not a bad effort for a couple of indies.

Just after 3 I hightailed it to the Goodies for Kaylee Bell’s album launch and it developed a very festive feel before too long.

Industry guests, Star Maker winners everywhere you looked and fellow artist mates of Kaylee’s joined the friends and fans in the overflowing front bar.

Then it was back to the bowlo to catch Alby Pool doing what he does best.

I just love that man’s voice and repertoire. He’s a really great singer and a top bloke to boot and he’s proud as punch of his little girl, Melody, who’s kicking all kinds of goals with her debut release.

I was about to leave the bowlo when I met Marie and Gordon Hodson and Royden Donohue walking in to have dinner, so I stayed and had a bite with them, caught some more of Alby and the first part of Lee Forster’s show.

Lee had Anthony Walmsley playing lead guitar, Alby on bass and Rowan Scott on drums, even though you couldn’t see him sitting up there behind everybody else – we knew he was there!

I left there and headed over to Wests for the Turn The Page concert in Blazes.

Another very respectable crowd of about 250-300 turned out for this gig.

The four boys put on a great concert and showed they’re much more than pretty faces and a great voices. They were the band!

The only other accompaniment on stage was Mik McCartin on drums – the boys did the rest – and it was a beaut gig.

After my 10-hour stint, I was a wee bit exhausted so I headed home to prepare for Sunday.

First up was the Reg Lindsay bronze bust unveiling in the park. Lorraine Pfitzner is to be commended for her tireless work fundraising for these wonderful tourist attractions that enhance the status of the Country Music Capital.

Buddy Goode at Diggers was next on my dance card and by the time I left to head for the hills of Nundle, my face was aching from laughing so much. He’s a very naughty boy, but funny as all get out – and what a voice.

I was joined by Marie Hodson and two other mates, Emma and Jonathan Beckett, for the third and final Songwriters in the Round at The DAG Sheep Station.

Huge kudos to John and Belinda Krsulja for all the hard work they put into Hats Off and particularly, the inaugural singer-songwriters’ retreat out there.

It was the best possible way to finish off a fantastic four days of country in the capital.

SUNDAY afternoon if you’re feeling peckish, head on down to the Courthouse Hotel in Tamworth and have lunch at the new restaurant opened by Tamworth musician Joe Gatty.

As you’d imagine, music mixes very well with lunch, so there will be regular Sunday sessions with live music, a barbecue and more.

Joe will take off his apron long enough to join the boys in the band – Matt Parnell, Geoff Montgomery and Clayton Crosby – aka The Hunt Bros.

There will be different bands every week and it’s sure to become the latest musos’ hangout.

The music starts at 1pm.

FOR DAD: Dianne Lindsay and Peter Simpson really summed up Dianne’s dad, Reg Lindsay, in the two songs they chose to perform at the unveiling of his bronze bust in Bicentennial Park. Photo: Anna Rose

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22yo killed in horrific crash 

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A YOUNG woman has died after being thrown from a car in an horrific crash west of Moree.
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Just before 1.30pm yesterday ambulance and police rushed to the scene on the Gwydir Highway, about 60km from Moree, after reports of a truck and car accident.

When police arrived they were greeted by a van that was upturned and lying off the road on its roof.

A 22-year-old woman, who was a passenger, was thrown from the car and died at the scene.

Ambulance paramedics treated a 24-year-old male, who was behind the wheel of the van, for cuts to his right arm and other minor injuries.

He was taken to Moree hospital in a stable condition.

The 25-year-old male driver of the prime mover wasn’t injured but was transported by paramedics to Moree hospital.

Barwon detectives and crash investigators from Tamworth spent much of the afternoon and night trying to piece together what happened.

The crash closed the highway for several hours, with the SES called to bring in lighting as investigations went into the night.

Diversions were put in place with motorists directed to travel via Narrabri and Walgett to get to either Moree or Collarenebri, adding an extra three hours’ travel time.

The highway did not reopen until late last night.

Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the crash, or the events leading up to it, to contact investigators on 6757 0799.

FATAL COLLISION: A 22-year-old woman died as a result of a crash between a car and a truck on the Gwydir Highway west of Moree.

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Rixon Murder Trial: Apologies repeated by accused

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“Sorry, sorry, sir, sorry.’’
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Those are the words that Michael Allan Jacobs was heard to utter in the moments after an alleged shoot-out with Tamworth police officer David Rixon.

The NSW Supreme Court jury may consider it to be one of several confessions Mr Jacobs made to shooting Senior Constable Rixon, Crown prosecutor Pat Barrett said in his closing address yesterday.

The same could be said about evidence of Mr Jacobs’ repeated apologies to the officer’s colleagues soon after the shooting, Mr Barrett told the court.

“They were reflecting his state of mind, knowing that he had, in effect … been caught shooting a policeman,’’ he said.

“They are genuine expressions, made by the accused at that time, of remorse for what he had done.’’

Mr Barrett said there were other words spoken by Mr Jacobs that indicated his guilt, including comments in a conversation he had with his girlfriend, Sharon Strudwick, in which he allegedly said: “I wish I hadn’t have had the gun’’.

Mr Jacobs, 49, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Senior Constable Rixon on March 2, last year.

The jury has heard that as he lay suffering gunshot wounds outside the block of units on Lorraine St, Mr Jacobs named his drug dealer, Terrance James Price, as the gunman.

Mr Barrett said there was a lot of evidence that showed Mr Price, who has denied any involvement in the shooting, was not there that morning.

He said it was particularly telling that Senior Constable Rixon only fired four of 15 shots available to him.

“If, on the theory … that Terry Price was the true assailant and was running away, climbing over the back fence, why would Senior Constable Rixon have put his firearm away and handcuffed the accused instead of continuing to fire at the true assailant?

“He didn’t fire any more shots because he had no need to because he had stopped the accused.’’

Mr Barrett pointed to evidence that both partial and full DNA profiles consistent with Jacobs were found on a .38 calibre revolver from the scene.

“There was no DNA of Terry Price on the weapon at all, and DNA of the accused,” Mr Barrett said.

“Mr Price had no motive to shoot a police officer, whereas Jacobs, a disqualified driver who had injected drugs and fought with his girlfriend that morning, had reason.

“He had been angry, very angry you might think. He wasn’t supposed to be driving, he took a risk in driving the car. You might think his anger, frustration and aggression were heightened by the methamphetamine he used.”

Defence barrister Tim Hoyle, SC, began his closing address late in the afternoon, asking the jury to keep an open mind about Mr Jacobs.

Mr Hoyle said Mr Jacobs was critically injured that day, and was in no condition to be making up excuses or lies.

“People who are in situations where they are close to death … are less likely to make things up than people who are not,” he said.

“People who believe that they’re going to die often speak the truth, sometimes described as dying declarations.”

Mr Hoyle’s address will continue today.

RIXON MURDER TRIAL: Defence begins closing address.

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Second man arrested over Rutherford airport vandalism

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POLICE have charged a second young man with vandalising planes, including one owned by top gun pilot Matt Hall, at Rutherford airport.
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The Rutherford youth, 18, was arrested by Central Hunter target action group detectives yesterday and later charged with 13 offences including aggravated break and enter.

He was granted conditional bail in Maitland Local Court to reappear on July 26.

It followed the arrest of a 20-year-old Rutherford man on Tuesday, charged with 33 counts.

He was refused bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court today.

The Newcastle Herald reported last week that vandalism had allegedly grounded a number of pilots and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to planes and hangars at the site.

Letters: A pathway to safety at North Wollongong

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No-one can deny Wollongong’s Blue Mile is the jewel in Wollongong’s crown, envied and enjoyed by thousands, with credit due to both Wollongong City Council and federal government (who funded it).
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With its popularity comes people, and plenty of them from near and far, to not only the Blue Mile but the Bathers’ Pavilion, Flagstaff Hill and the Lagoon Restaurant to name a few.

One issue that is worth noting is the obvious danger increased pedestrian traffic creates; a glaring example is north of North Gong surf club.

Walking towards the Lagoon Restaurant, council has erected a sign warning of high pedestrian activity.

Hundreds if not thousands enjoy the walk down past the lagoon but it is an accident waiting to happen.

Not denying the outer suburbs have high priorities, nothing has a higher priority than safety, therefore the council has a duty of care to protect the community from a vehicle accidentally hitting someone.

The obvious answer is a footpath down from the surf club to the playground west of the lagoon.

Knowing there is a host of infrastructure required, common sense dictates that the safety of our community is paramount. This issue has been overlooked in the past with nary a word mentioned of this basic of needs.

This issue cannot lay dormant in the too-hard basket any longer.

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Berkeley boy ‘died after DOCS staff freeze’

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Kire Ivanovski. Picture: ROBERT PEETThe Coniston Department of Community Services office that was repeatedly warned about the risks posed to two-year-old Zoran Ivanovski before he was allegedly killed by his mother, had been decimated by a government freeze on the use of temporary staff to fill vacant positions, a caseworker says.
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The Berkeley boy’s death in August last year from multiple blunt-force injuries sparked industrial action by DOCS staff at the Coniston office, who described it as “tragic and avoidable”.

It was later revealed that Zoran had not been visited by child protection workers despite multiple reports from concerned carers at Towradgi Preschool, who saw fresh bruises and bites each time he attended.

MORE: Zoran’s dad tells of anguish

The toddler’s plight was discussed at a meeting of child protection workers one day before he died, but his case was not allocated to a caseworker because others were considered a higher priority.

Attention has refocused on the case after Zoran’s mother was arrested on a charge of murder two weeks ago, and following recent revelations about Kiesha Weippeart, the six-year-old Sydney girl who was murdered by her mother despite being known to DOCS.

A DOCS caseworker said staff shortages affecting the Coniston office had prevented Zoran’s case from being allocated.

“Unfortunately for this child, a decision was made that nobody could take the case, that it couldn’t be allocated at that time,” he said.

The caseworker asked that his identity not be revealed.

“We play Russian roulette with every case that comes before us. To some degree that’s always been a reality for us, but it’s getting worse.

“It’s horrific when this kind of thing happens – everyone in the whole office feels the effects, and lives with those effects.”

The caseworker said the failure to replace a number of caseworkers was dealt with by getting rid of one child protection team which only had two caseworkers left in it, moving those staff into two vacant Out of Home Care positions and thereby reducing the number of child protection teams from four to three.

He also said there had been a freeze on the use of people from the organisation’s temporary staff database to fill gaps left by staff going on leave or acting in management positions.

“We used to have temps to backfill those positions. But what the department did is to put a freeze on all temps. All the temp positions were terminated, and so the gaps just started appearing. It has a real impact on your office’s ability to respond to reports like the one about this child.”

A spokesman for Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward maintained her office’s previous position that vacancy rates had remained at their lowest level in many years.

“Caseworker numbers go up and down all the time, they always have,” the spokesman said.

“There is no freeze on recruiting caseworkers in the Wollongong area, or in any areas across the state. There never has been.

“The government has not cut frontline child protection caseworker positions.

“The minister has instructed the director-general that the government expects budgeted frontline caseworker positions be filled.”

Zoran’s mother is expected to apply for bail in court tomorrow.

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Forum focuses on jobs and people

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ONLY a handful of Latrobe community members converged on Gilbert Street’s Memorial Hall as part of the state government’s community discussion forums yesterday evening.
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Latrobe residents gave their feedback to state ministers on how jobs and other community issues could best be delivered in their municipality.

Premier Lara Giddings, alongside Deputy Premier Bryan Green, emphasised the focus on jobs, people and opportunities.

“It’s just an opportunity for us as ministers of government to be able to mix and meet with community members across the state and ask them what they want in their local community,” Ms Giddings said.

Ms Giddings said she was surprised by concerns raised previously in Launceston about community members not valuing education enough.

“What you might think are the concerns of communities don’t just come out to be so,” Ms Giddings said.

Latrobe Mayor Michael Gaffney said his council had a list of priorities to be put forward both to state and federal government’s come election time.

These included upgrades for the Port Sorell main road, the development of the former Wesley Vale paper mill site and a Bass Highway upgrade.

“I would say people will Leg 3feel as if they have done it tough and are concerned with employment,” Mr Gaffney said.

“They are concerned about the security of jobs and security confidence in Leg 4political parties.”

A community discussion forum will be held at Wynyard today. For more information phone 6233 3464.

RAISING CONCERNS: At the community forum last night are, (from left) Latrobe alderman Lesley Young, Kentish Council’s Cait Clarke, Elizabeth Verhoeff from Latrobe’s neighbourhood watch program and the National Trust and Premier Lara Giddings. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

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Letters: Generosity of heart matters most

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For those still suffering from secular heartburn as a consequence of seeing one of the newly appointed federal government ministers holding the Koran during his affirmation ceremony, instant relief can be found merely by a reading of s.116 of the Australian constitution.
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Section 116 states “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth”.

In my humble opinion and apparently, as in the thoughts of our constitution’s draftsmen, it is the good intentions, freedom from secular bias and the generosity of heart present in those seeking to represent our society, rather than any written text they might elect to carry, that is of greatest value to our nation.

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Human element’s hand in Sandhurst closure

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The announcement of the closure of the Sandhurst Centre in the Bendigo Advertiser in recent days brings back to me and my family the repercussions of the actions of the government of the time in the closure of the Caloola Training Centre in Sunbury.
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In this facility there were many clients that were to be moved into and housed in the community, the same action as proposed by the government in the closure of the Sandhurst Centre.

The people that make these decisions don’t have the understanding of the client needs, nor do they have a close interaction with residents that call the facility home, often for many years.

These people require the care, love and support that is provided by staff who understand their requirements and who form close bonds with the residents.

I write with some knowledge, as my sister was a client for many years and cared for by the loving and kind staff at Caloola and after its closure was eventually placed in a communal house.

The change of environment was hard for her to adjust to, and she passed away after only six weeks.

The turmoil that change brings to the clients is not in their best interests and the decision for significant alteration to their life should always have their welfare as the guiding light.

PAULINE BROOKS,

Golden Square

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Facebook comments need investigating

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I CONGRATULATE the Bendigo Advertiser and journalist Kristen Alebakis on the balanced and substantially factual report headed “Draw blinds, parlour told” (Saturday, July 6).
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Now, perhaps as a journalistic exercise, you might investigate and report on the Facebook comments against me on the Anchors Away Facebook page.

I have been informed by others, as I do not have a Facebook account, that I have been variously described as a douche, loser, and take your pick of any other pejorative descriptors!

This malicious campaign has also been accompanied by a spam attack on my email address from their clients and supporters.

I hope that these people are proud of their ability to manipulate the bullying and slanderous potential of Facebook with impunity.

It shows their real value to the Bendigo community and society at large.

Yet another example in Bendigo of the disgraceful abuse of this social medium.

NOEL DYETT,

Bendigo

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