Shed fire destroys equipment

ORANGE police are investigating a suspicious fire at a sporting shed at Norton Park, a crime that made CYMS Junior Rugby League secretary Simone Arnold sick.
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The shed was used by CYMS Junior Cricket Club and the rugby league club to house sporting equipment and lawnmowers.

Ms Arnold said the crime was devastating to all the volunteers who put hours into fundraising for the equipment.

“We just don’t have enough money to replace all that equipment or to replace the shed,” she said.

“It’s so infuriating that you put so much work into something and someone just comes along and trashes it.”

CYMS Junior Cricket Club suffered the most. The fire was set in the right-hand side of the shed where the club had bags of equipment containing pads and bats. The bags were destroyed, along with two lawnmowers.

“There was a bag of cricket equipment on top of the lawnmowers … how they didn’t blow up is beyond me,” she said.

Ms Arnold said the blaze occurred on Friday night after the rugby league club had spent hours setting up the field for games on Saturday.

“They came in sometime after we left and tore down all the mini posts we’d set up and ripped off the pads,” she said.

“They even stuck a bit of paper through to the left-hand side of the shed in the hope that the other side would catch alight too.”

Ms Arnold said when club officials arrived on Saturday there was a bin smouldering and graffiti through James Sheahan Catholic High School.

Principal Mark Pauschmann said he was disappointed at the senseless act.

“It’s taking away facilities used by the local community,” he said.

“I feel really disappointed.”

Anyone with information on the fire can contact Orange police on 6363 6399.

SUSPICIOUS: Police are investigating a fire at a Norton Park shed. Photo NICOLE KUTER 0805nkfire

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Raiders hit high gear with 60-point victory

DUBBO Macquarie will have a week off at the start of the semi-finals after wrapping up the Group 11 minor premiership with a 70-10 win over Wellington at No.1 Oval yesterday.
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The break could be ideal for the Raiders, who were without halfback Josh Merritt (hamstring) and prop Kinni Tanaulucavu (shoulder) going into the match and spent most of the game with two men on the bench after Mason Williams (ankle) and Kyle Webb (achilles) succumbed to injury.

In total the Dubbo side raced in 12 tries to two, with coach Jade Williams crossing three times while hooker Jeremy Smith and the centre pairing of John Grey and Quentin Dickinson each bagged doubles.

For Macquarie captain Ash Conn the performance was exactly what he was looking for after the side suffered its first loss of the season the week prior at Parkes.

“We needed to hit back this week and I thought we did that well,” he said.

“To be fair, we didn’t actually play that bad against Parkes but it was good the boys were able to put that behind them and come out and wrap up that minor premiership.

“We still have a match to go before we worry about having a week off so it’s still business as usual.”

After a tight start, and a minor melee involving Macquarie’s Perry Meredith and Wellington’s Billy Stanley, the score was 12-10 in favour of the home side but a four-pointer to John Grey shortly after sparked a run of three tries in 12 minutes to see the Raiders lead 30-10 at the break.

One of Macquarie’s tries came on the back of a stunning 40/20 kick from Swade Dunn, which he launched from inside his own 20m mark and put out centimetres inside the corner post.

The pointscoring spree continued after the break as Macquarie piled on six further tries in 23 minutes before Smith, who finished with a personal haul of 30 points, scored in the dying seconds of the match.

Wellington captain Nathan Smith said his side’s 60-point loss came down to a sheer lack of numbers and some good play from Macquarie.

“We were missing our guys that work on the railway and Ali Beale pulled out just before the match so we were down a bit on players,” Smith said.

“But credit to Macquarie. They did a good job and didn’t give us much ball.

“When we did have it we just kept dropping it and they kept scoring.

“The good thing is it won’t stop us from getting into the finals in that fifth spot and we should have everyone on deck from next week so we are still a chance if we can put together a few good weeks of footy.”

Macquarie will travel to Cobar in the final round while Wellington will host Parkes at Kennard Park in their last match before the semi-finals.

Dubbo Macquarie 70 (Jade Williams 3, Jeremy Smith 2, John Grey 2, Quentin Dickinson 2, Viliame Cagibula, Swade Sunn, Etuate Gusuivalu tries; Smith 11 goals) def Wellington Cowboys 10 (Chris Daley, Kyle West tries; Lewis Stanley goal)

Macquarie lock Perry Meredith receives some attention from Wellington’s Luke Healy during yesterday’s match. Photo: JOSH HEARD

Raiders run riot over Narromine with a 60-point win

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A silver lining in the clouds of gloom hanging over London

There is an unseen silver lining in the clouds of gloom that seem to have eclipsed Australia’s sporting pre-eminence in London.
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One might even call it a cold English shower of reality. The apparent lack of success in the gold digging stakes should not be reason to overlook a dozen or so silver medals where each and every one represents a transcendent and laudatory feat. After all each represents being the second best in the world at a chosen discipline and that is extraordinary enough. But as onlookers we are a nation of winners and the gold drought cannot but help rankle.

The Australia that has grown so used to winning doesn’t like this apparent lack of distinction and would prefer to sullenly hit the remote control with dismissive curses and flick over to a sport we are unquestionably the best in the world at – because no one else plays it.

So while there is the possibility that London 2012 will hint at nothing but the ugly possibility that we are a nation of sore losers there is also the danger is that we miss a great opportunity to take a closer look at our collective sporting selves. If Sydney Athens and Beijing represented a high point in our Niobe-like hubris of triumphalism then a quick glimpse at yesterday’s medal tally brings the national psyche crashing back down to earth.

Even the trite argument about “punching above our weight” falls flat when old neighbour and rival New Zealand has more to boast of.

There has been and certainly will be lots of hand wringing and soul-searching at a national level about the cause of the “ defeat”.

But there is also potentially a deeper lesson in all this for a sport-loving race. It is an increasingly spectator nation that most demands victory.

The vicarious joy of watching our appointed proxy loses its vitality if we have to have to face up to the reality of coming second. No one likes losing but the spectator has even less to walk away with, having largely been denied the physical thrill of competing. With the looming threats of obesity epidemics and the soft allure of an increasingly convenience-driven society, those old fashioned values of “games” and simply taking part could not be more important for physical and social well being.

Who knows, a return to and revival of the grass roots participatory sport in so many ways might even increase the talent pool that has brought Australia so much Olympic glory in the past.

Near enough but judged by many in Australia as not good enough.

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Businesses dumping waste illegally

ILLEGAL dumpers have been at it again and according to Mount Isa City Council mayor Tony McGrady, it’s now an issue out of Council’s hands.
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The latest pile of rubbish dumped by locals was found by residents and local business owners Duncan and Anne Cunningham near the power station at Mica Creek.

Having been on Clean up Australia Day boards and recycling committees during his recent term as Mount Isa City councillor, Mr Cunningham said he was appalled by what he continued to find daily dumped on the side of the road.

“We got letters and documents out of the rubbish with people’s names and businesses written all over them from our recent find on a road we drive down daily,” he said.

“They’re not the brightest bunch that’s for sure and it’s a daily occurrence now.”

Mr Cunningham said he had notified Mount Isa City Council of the illegal dumping, with evidence, and was promptly told it was a matter of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s concern.

“It’s something that I wasn’t aware of, illegal dumping should and always had been a big issue to Council,” he said.

“I’m a little disappointed that it has gone over to this department, if that’s the case.”

Mr Cunningham said he had given his evidence on the matter to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection but questioned why it was no longer an issue for Council to resolve.

“At the end of the day it’s a matter which requires somebody to act and fix the issue,” he said.

Mount Isa City Council mayor Tony McGrady said he had been informed of the complaint and state government act changes were a result of recent legislation movements.

“It’s gone from one act to another and is legislation I didn’t realised had been changed,” Cr McGrady said.

“Technically, now, it is a matter for the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to deal with, as I am informed, however this situation I believe needs to change.”

Cr McGrady said as long as illegal dumping remains a public issue, the power needed to be back in the hands of Council to issue fines and put an end to illegal dumpers in the city.

“A number of these processes need to be changed,” he said.

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City lauds Virgin return

VIRGIN Australia will be given a ‘welcome back’ party when it touches down in Mount Isa on Wednesday.
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It is the first time in 11 years North West Queensland will have a second major airline service to Brisbane.

In May, Xstrata Mount Isa Mines and Virgin Australia announced a heads of agreement for to re-start the Virgin Australia Embraer E190 week day return services from Mount Isa to Brisbane.

Xstrata Copper North Queensland Chief Operating Officer Steve de Kruijff said Wednesday will mark a special day for the city.

“More competition in the skies is a benefit for everyone in the North West region and in particular the Mount Isa community,” Mr de Kruijff said.

“As a business it is important to us that our employees and their families can affordably travel to the east coast of Queensland to visit their families and friends or to holiday at a reasonable expense.”

Mr de Kruijff said research found the high cost of airfares was one of the most critical obstacles to Xstrata staff staying in Mount Isa.

“Having a second airline service the Mount Isa to Brisbane route can only mean competition in regards to the cost of airfares for all Mount Isa residents and we hope the community embraces this new service.”

Virgin Australia Group Executive Sales Judith Crompton said the services mark a new era in air services for the community.

“Our weekday services provide for the business and leisure traveller with convenient connections onto the Virgin Australia domestic, international and partner networks,” Ms. Crompton said.

Xstrata will continue to use Qantas and Virgin services to help ensure Mount Isa has two reliable and competitive airlines.

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AFL competition leader slips to third

NEW England Nomads and Tamworth Kangaroos set up a showdown for the minor premiership in Armidale next week with wins on Saturday.
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The Kangaroos got over Gunnedah 18-16-124 to 14-10-94 at Gunnedah while the Nomads rolled competition leaders Inverell 13-13-91 to 11-15-81.

It sees the Saints drop back to third with the Nomads and Roos sharing top spot with one game to go.

The Nomads got the jump on the Saints in the third quarter and led by four goals heading into the final term.

“They came back pretty well in the last quarter but we just managed to kick a couple of steadying goals,” Nomads coach Tom Granleese said.

“I was glad when the siren went.”

It was a fitting way to commemorate 50 years of AFL in Armidale and there were plenty of former players, officials and coaches on hand to watch.

“It was just fantastic to do it with all the old boys and old girls,” Granleese said.

He said their fitness and running game was probably where they got the

advantage.

“Our ground is so wide and we have quite a few smaller, zippy players,” he said.

Particularly in the third quarter they used that well.

“We played to our game plan and used our runners well.

“And our ball movement hurt Inverell,” Granleese said.

They also did a good job shutting down the feed into the Saints forwards.

“Our pressure upfield was what did it,” he said.

The midfield really worked hard to stop them getting quality ball to their forward line.

Ash Cruickshank led the way on the scoreboard for the Nomads, kicking five, while Caleb Dobos and Weston Whitby potted two each.

Whitby and Cruickshank were also among their best along with Zac Economou.

At Gunnedah, the Bulldogs launched a final quarter fightback but couldn’t bridge the gap after the Roos had led 109-58 at three-quarter time.

Dan Overeem and Matt Hodge were again the Roos’ main targets, booting four each, while Chris Gee kicked four for the Bulldogs.

Down at Muswellbrook the Cats kept themselves in the hunt for an unlikely finals berth with a hard fought 17-8-110 to 14-11-95 win over the Tamworth Swans.

It was a see-sawing contest with the Swans in front at the first and third breaks only for the Cats to over-run them and with a five-goal final term snatch a 15-point win and go level with the Bulldogs who are ahead on

percentages.

Stuart McAdam and Kenneth Garland were both prominent for the Cats kicking four, while Brendon Smith chipped in with three.

For the Swans, Paul Tapper and Scott Nowland booted three.

TABLE: New England Nomads 44 (161.58%), Tamworth Kangaroos 44 (138.33%), Inverell Saints 40, Gunnedah Bulldogs 16 (80.72), Muswellbrook Cats 16 (47.18%), Tamworth Swans 8.

Tamworth Kangaroos’ Lachlan Maloney just manages to squeeze this kick away before Gunnedah’s Scott Hardy can spoil. Photo: Barry Smith 040812BSE07

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Record numbers at Muster but more wanted in 2013

A RECORD 5000 people have helped elevate the annual Ernest Henry Mining Curry Merry Muster Festival to new heights, according to organiser Peta McIntyre.
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As the three-day celebration wound down late yesterday, Ms McIntyre and her weary band of volunteers were basking in the glow of success with figures up 50 per cent on the previous year.

“It’s been awesome,” said McIntyre who still looked fresh in her blue and white cowgirl fear and hat.

“We’ve had a lot of enquiries from interstate.

“There has been a lot of people travelling and we’ve been getting 2-3 calls per day over the past few weeks.”

That was reflected in the attendance at yesterday’s Bush Poet’s Breakfast where at least half the 90 attendees were from out of town, some from as far as Western Australia and Tasmania.

Ms McIntyre said she believed the success of the festival was her committee’s focus on ensuring there was plenty of family entertainment, “and not just a rodeo, to cater for everyone”.

“It’s also a lot to do with our advance brochures.

“A lot of competitors also came from out of town,” she said.

There were record numbers at nearly every event.

The street parade attracted 40 floats and cars on Saturday night, and numbers at the Country Teddy Bears Picnic on Friday morning caught organisers by surprise with about 60 children.

“The face painter was really working, but she was very patient.

“This (picnic) was our best one, by far,” she said.

Ms McIntyre said the committee made a conscious effort to “make everything affordable” to encourage people to stay longer.

She said the success of this festival has encouraged her to “take it to the next level” by organising a Volunteer Crew like at the Julia Creek Dirt ‘n’ Dust Festival.

“They have got it well organised and we need to do that for the future.

“We only have a limited number of volunteers.”

More pictures in sport, multimedia.

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Local Government Listening Tour receives a positive response

MORE business training for councillors is one of the suggestions that has been made to the Independent Local Government Review Panel as it winds its way to Dubbo.
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The panel is on its Local Government Listening Tour that will take in 18 regional communities by August 23.

It is the first of four rounds of public consultation as part of the review of local government, ordered by NSW Local Government Minister Don Page at the urging of the NSW Local Government and Shires Association.

Minister Page expected that the review would bring about a “genuine shift” in the way councils operated.

Across 12 months the panel led by Professor Graham Sansom will look into the financial sustainability of councils, the way they deliver services, the size and scale of councils of the future and the way they make community decisions.

Professor Sansom reported of the panel being “encouraged by the feedback” from regional and rural NSW communities.

“So far, we’ve heard stories of economic change, population shift and the struggle to provide and maintain community infrastructure from regional and rural communities, but we have also heard positive ideas for embracing new technologies and improving council revenue streams,” he said.

“What is clear from these discussions is that people care deeply about their communities and want to see them survive and prosper.

“Our challenge is to find a way of strengthening local government to support those aims.”

Other changes suggested to the panel have related to long-term revenue streams, the election system and fixing roads.

The current consultation is designed to set the scene for the review and focuses on a series of key questions, outlined in the discussion paper called Strengthening your Community.

The paper is available on the review website www.localgovernmentreview. nsw.gov.au.

The Local Government Listening Tour will include separate meetings for councils and the community in the Savannah Room of Taronga Western Plains Zoo on August 17 at 10am and 2pm respectively.

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Council’s cycle plan is exciting 

Cycle ways have been on the agenda of both Maitland City Council and residents for a number of years but while there have been many suggestions there has been little in the way of progress.
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That appears to be about to change with a comprehensive report outlining several routes for consideration to be voted on at the next council meeting on August 14.

Two suggested routes are between Maitland and Morpeth and Maitland and Walka Water Works – both of which are worthy of further consideration by councillors, being popular destinations in their own right.

More cycle ways would solve two of Maitland’s major problems; traffic congestion, and a lack of attractions to attract people to Maitland and keep residents from

looking to Newcastle and further afield for recreation and entertainment.

Cycle ways were part of the council’s Maitland 2021 strategic plan, and were seen by focus groups and others as one of the ways to create a more vibrant heart of the city.

Travel to any major European city and bikes are a major part of just that.

Already one Heritage Mall trader has had a vision of bikes-for-hire ventures at various locations in central Maitland, including the train station.

Bikes have also played a part in keeping traffic

congestion and environmental pollution in check.

Safety, however, must be of paramount importance; only last Thursday a cyclist died when his bike was hit by a car at Tarro, on the main road between Maitland and Newcastle.

The plan before council has much to offer, but as the mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore has said on many occasions, cycle ways need careful planning.

We’ve got to get them, but we’ve got to get them right.

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Leading table tennis players face off in Horsham

SERVE IT UP: Warrnambool representative Ben Taylor is a picture of concentration during play at the regional tournament. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERLEADING regional table tennis players went head-to-head in Horsham this weekend.
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Horsham Table Tennis Association hosted an annual regional tournament, which pits the association’s best players against counterparts from Mount Gambier, Hamilton and Warrnambool.

Association president Jeff Pekin said the two-day tournament, at the Maydale Pavilion at Horsham Showground, was a great success.

“It was good to see a lot of younger players involved and a lot of first-time association representatives too,” he said. “There was also some experienced players, with both Warrnambool and Hamilton having former state representatives in their teams.

“The standard was high.”

Warrnambool triumphed, winning 86 rubbers to collect the overall aggregate award.

Hamilton was runner-up with 44 rubbers, ahead of Horsham with 36 and Mount Gambier with 32.

Mr Pekin said Warrnambool dominated the competition, winning all three sections.

It won the Donahue Shield in the men’s competition, edging out Hamilton.

Horsham finished third, with both Leon Forrest and James Pyke winning six of their nine rubbers.

Warrnambool also took home the Beaurepaires Shield in the women’s competition.

Hamilton was again runner-up.

Mr Pekin made special mention of Jedda Heard, a Horsham junior who filled in for the Mount Gambier team.

Warrnambool also won the junior boys section, with Mount Gambier finishing runner-up.

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