Pickers’ assignment is to keep winning

The equation is becoming simpler each week for the Maitland Pickers in their quest for a historic three-peat – keep winning.
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Maitland bounced back from their defeat at home against Kurri Kurri with a committed 38-18 win over Central Newcastle last Sunday for the reigning premiers to sit in fifth place on the Newcastle Rugby League competition table.

Maitland are on 14 points, two behind fourth-placed Kurri, although the Pickers still have a game in hand against Macquarie from round three and with their superior for and against could jump the Bulldogs into fourth.

The Pickers’ run home begins with three consecutive home matches at the Maitland Sportsground starting this weekend against the struggling Port Stephens Sharks, followed by South Newcastle and then Wyong.

Maitland’s season ends with two away fixtures, with a grudge match against Cessnock followed by a tricky trip to Cahill Oval to take on Lakes United.

Hooker PJ Ellis returns on Saturday against the Sharks after being ineligible against Central Newcastle due to the terms of his release, while Damien Frize (work) and lock Billy Towers (injury) are also back.

Jade Porter (NSW Country), Marco Delapena and Ryan Walker (injury) remain unavailable.

Port Stephens are rock bottom and without a win in 2012 but Maitland coach Ron Griffiths said his team won’t be taking the Sharks lightly.

“There’s not much difference between first and last on the table at the moment, probably depth across the park is the only obvious thing, but on their day they could beat anyone,” Griffiths said.

“The moment you take someone lightly in this competition you get beat and going into the semi-finals you don’t want to be winning one week and losing the next.

“We want six or seven wins to build that momentum, hopefully if we do make the semis it’ll be the catalyst for a successful period.”

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Lochinvar speed camera under review

The speed camera at Lochinvar has been identified as one of five that could be removed under a field review by the state government.
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Following the release of the first annual NSW Speed Camera Review yesterday, Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the report said 88 of the 97 fixed speed cameras across the state helped to reduce crashes and casualties.

But he said Lochinvar was one of five cameras the Centre for Road Safety would review.

Tell us your thoughts - does the Lochinvar speed camera improve road safety?

If the field review determined that any of the five cameras was not delivering the expected safety benefits it could be moved.

"We’re determined to ensure speed cameras are only in locations where they have a proven road safety benefit, and that they are not simply there as revenue raisers," Mr Gay said.

The other four cameras flagged for the review are on the Northern Distributer in Corrimal, Pacific Highway at Hungry Head, New England Highway at Kootingal, and South Head Road in Edgecliff.

*The Mercury's reporter Sam Norris will have more details on this developing story in tomorrow's edition

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Walka committee gives farmers’ market a big tick

A proposal for a farmers’ market at Walka Water Works, with its rural outlook, could be a winner, according to the historic site’s facilities advisory committee.
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Committee vice-president Ray Fairweather, after whom a park at Walka is named, said there were some real positives to the NSW Farmers’ Market proposal.

“The advisory group thought it was a tremendous idea that could raise some funds and improve the facilities out there,” Cr Fairweather said.

“From the general public’s point of view I think everyone is looking forward to seeing a farmers’ market in Maitland.”

NSW Farmers’ Market director Kevin Eade has made a presentation to the advisory committee within the past fortnight outlining his plans for up to 100 stalls.

Since then the operator of the Maitland Markets Catherine Blanch has revealed her plans for a “harvest market” at Maitland Showground for a similar number of stalls on a weekly, rather than fortnightly, basis.

“Kevin maintains he has the expertise to do it,” Cr Fairweather said.

“It’s just a matter of him following up the DA.”

The proposals have ignited interest in the community and resulted in dozens of blogs.

Support has been divided between the proposals with each having its supporters and detractors.

“I would certainly like to see farmers get an avenue for selling their produce,” Cr Fairweather said.

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Robbery in the name of Thunder

An artist's impression of Captain Thunderbolt.The origins of the name Captain Thunderbolt are believed to have first been used by Fred Ward during the robbery of Campbell’s toll-bar at the present intersection of the Wollombi Road and the New England Highway at Rutherford.
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On December 21, 1863 the innkeeper, a Mr O’Brien, was woken by a knock at the gate.

When he asked who was making the noise the reported reply was: “I am Thunderbolt, the noise I made was the thunder, while this is the bolt [referring to his revolver].”

The robbery and the use of the name Thunderbolt was reported in the Maitland Mercury on December 23, 1863, although that reports that Fred Ward used the name while riding off.

These were the beginnings of a bushranging career, lasting seven years, during which Captain Thunderbolt became the longest roaming bushranger in 19th century Australian history.

Four significant sites relating to the life and death of infamous bushranger Captain Thunderbolt have been added to the State Heritage Register, Heritage Minister Robyn Parker said.

Ms Parker said the sites near Uralla in the state’s north-west, illustrated both the impact of bushranging on mid-19th century NSW and the place Captain Thunderbolt holds in the public’s imagination.

“The exploits of Captain Thunderbolt, aka Fred Ward, were recorded in newspapers of the day and were widely known across NSW,” Ms Parker said.

“The legend of Captain Thunderbolt has been romanticised over the years, helped along by his daring escape from Cockatoo Island in Sydney, his reputation as a ‘gentleman bushranger’ and for evading capture for seven years.

“Thunderbolt claimed he would never steal from someone poorer than himself and was often reported as never having shot anyone – although contemporary newspaper accounts differ.

“His success as a criminal is illustrated by the increasing rewards set out for his capture and despite his crimes he is remembered as the ‘Australian Robin Hood’ rather than a terrifying robber.

“The advent of bushranging led to a widespread expansion of the police force into rural areas and increased security for mail coaches and gold escorts.”

Captain Thunderbolt was born Frederick Ward in 1835 to former convict Michael Ward and his wife Sophia.

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Let’s get behind farmers’ market

Maitland is on the verge of something exciting – it’s very own farmers’ market.
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Residents – fed up with having to travel to farmers’

markets in Newcastle or further afield – may have an

alternative way to buy their fresh produce up and running within months.

There are several options in the wind.

Proposals have been floated for farmers’ markets at Maitland Showground and Walka Water Works, while some people believe markets also would be established in the city’s CBD.

The question that should be asked is whether we really have to choose between the proposals? Is Maitland of a

sufficient size to support more than one farmers’ market?

The answer will come down to the basic economic

theory of supply and demand but based on the number of blogs received by the Mercury since this proposal was first mooted, it is something that Maitland residents both want and would support.

Markets would also most likely attract visitors to the city for what is now a lifestyle choice for many people.

The Hunter region in general and the Maitland region in particular, was once a food bowl for the state.

While wine is vital to the local economy it is not the only “fresh produce” for which the region should be renowned.

One only has to drive through the outskirts of Morpeth, Hinton and the like to see the potential.

Let’s capitalise on the foodie revolution, lend our

farmers a helping hand and get behind the push to get a farmers’ market for Maitland.

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Job huntfor redundant Kurri Kurri workers

Paul O’Brien at the Jobs Expo. Shoulder to shoulder with more than 300 redundant employees, Paul O’Brien went to work finding a new job yesterday.
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The Australian Workers Union senior site delegate from Mulbring started at the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter on the potline 19 years ago.

“I’m in the same boat as everyone else – I just want to see what’s on offer,” he said.

“I might have to diversify a bit myself.”

Their employer Norsk Hydro and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations co-ordinated the careers expo, involving 69 stallholders looking to fill 6500 jobs across the Hunter and the nation.

“It’s a spectacular event,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I just hope it finds all our redundant employees jobs.”

The job losses are a result of Norsk Hydro’s announcement on May 23 it would curtail the remaining two potlines because of the high Australian dollar and low metal prices.

“I know a lot of the workers are fairly desperate to find work and many of them have families,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Like many of them I wish I was a little younger.”

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said it was a positive event in the darkest of circumstances.

“Hydro is a fantastic company that had to make a tough decision, but importantly they have met all their obligations to the employees,” he said.

Employment minister Kate Ellis said the job opportunities were real.

“I spend a lot of time talking about how lucky we are with this economy and the low unemployment rate – but importantly, we recognise that some industries and workers out there are doing it tough and we will work

with you.”

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Running for organ transplants

Paul Humphreys with Alison Brown who is a kidney transplant recipient.Runners from across the Hunter Valley will go through their paces on Sunday to raise awareness for those awaiting organ transplants.
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Transplant Australia has been named the preferred charity for the 2012 Coal & Allied Winery Running Festival staged in the heart of wine country.

“This is all about spreading the message of organ donation and anything to promote this will hopefully increase the rate of donation,” Bolwarra kidney transplant recipient Alison Brown said.

“There are about 1900 people on the waiting list at the moment so we need to do all we can get people thinking about organ donation.”

Mrs Brown received a life-saving kidney transplant from her brother Adrian 12 years ago.

“I am happy to do anything that shows what organ transplantation can do,” she said. “My transplant gave me longevity and a fullness of life I otherwise would not have enjoyed.

“Once you have faced your mortality it becomes a no brainer to want to help others achieve this sort of life as well. The transplant community is forever grateful to those who have given us a second chance at life.”

For more information about Sunday’s event visit www.huntervalleymarathon南京夜网

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Maitland Farmers’ market: it’s Walka v Showground

Plans for a farmers’ market at Walka Water Works are
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progressing, according to the proponents, despite plans for an alternative proposal at Maitland Showground.

NSW Farmers’ Market director Kevin Eade has met with the Walka board in the last fortnight and was confident the tranquil ground could become the ideal venue.

“In respect with everything we want to achieve Walka ticks every box,” he said.

“It has the ambiance, the space and it would pull more traffic through the centre

of Maitland benefiting those businesses.”

Despite some delays Mr Eade said the plans were progressing and that he was talking with council to ensure everything was in order.

“I’ve just got to fix up a few things on council’s end of the business,” he said.

“DAs always take time and certain things have to be done.”

Mr Eade has operated the Newcastle City Farmers’ Market since 1999 with a focus on

produce direct from the farm.

“At the end of the day we want to improve the bottom line of farmers,” he said.

“We have a charter and they have to prove they are producers and farmers before they get a gong.”

Mr Eade said while timing was important his focus was on achieving the best result possible for farmers and shoppers.

“We want to do it right and we’re just going take our time,” he said.

“I’m not going to be in a race.”

Mr Eade said he was aiming for 100 stores with an emphasis on delivering quality food to patrons.

“Were not looking at 200 stalls out there, that will never happen, we’re talking about small producers and high quality produce,” he said.

“We’ve got a stack of farmers on our books and they know how we do things and are happy with what we do.

“We really want to further farmers’ interests.”

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Dungog rate payer brings dead wallaby to meeting

Dungog Council will “roo” the day they approved the Brisbane Grove subdivision on Martins Creek Road at Paterson.
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Irate ratepayer Kevin Rudd brought a dead wallaby into this week’s council meeting, leaving blood stains on the floor.

Mr Rudd, who addressed the meeting about a modification to a development application, was halfway through his speech when he went to the door and took a large hessian bag from a person waiting outside.

He threw the bag into the middle of the room and then lifted the dead wallaby from the bag by its tail.

He told the meeting that the 21-lot subdivision by Brisbane Grove Rural would result in wildlife being “dispersed from their natural habitat”.

A number of people in the gallery left the room during the outburst, which continued for more than five minutes. Council staff cleaned the blood from the carpet after the meeting.

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Energy bills cut in half

Maitland City Bowls, Sports and Recreation Club CEO Ian Martin with Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon and the power system that will be replaced.Maitland City Bowls, Sports and Recreation Club will halve its power bills after investing in a tri-generation system.
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The smart energy move will upgrade heating and cooling for the Rutherford venue, which is the first Hunter region club to install the $800,000 system.

The club will fund half the cost while a federal government Clean Energy Future grant will cover $403,607.

The clean energy system runs on natural gas and will be installed after its delivery from Britain in May, next year.

“The vision is for the club to produce its own heating and cooling through the use of the tri-generation system,” the club’s chief executive officer Ian Martin said.

“The club uses black coal for electricity at the moment, which is about 30 per cent

efficient. The new system will be 80 per cent efficient. There will be no carbon emissions and it will cost about eight cents a kilowatt hour.

“The club is making an investment and our costs will be covered in about three years.”

Power savings, estimated to be up to $25,000 a month, will go towards community donations and its next round of renovations.

This includes the recycling of 180,000 litres of water collected on site for use in bathrooms. But this will not happen for another two years, Mr Martin said.

“The club has always had a green philosophy, which includes recycling food, glass and cardboard and reducing energy use,” he said. “This simple technology (tri-generation) has been used across Europe for a long time.”

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