Ground control

Sports clubs will decide if wet grounds are fit for play under a trial system.
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Ground closures will still be controlled by Maitland City Council Monday to Friday, but the clubs will manage them on weekends and public holidays.

The draft Wet Weather Ground Closure Procedure before council tomorrow night includes a wet weather ground assessment form that clubs will fill out and sign off on.

Council staff will assess the grounds on Mondays and if damaged will fine clubs $500 plus expenses for any repairs.

Maitland and District Schoolboys Rugby League president Dave Watson said it was a win for common sense.

“I’ll be ecstatic if the control comes back to the user groups after Tuesday night,” he said.

“We’re not going to destroy our grounds; we depend on them.”

Weeks of frustration and numerous complaints to the council has forced a rethink on wet-ground closures.

In response to this the council has reviewed the procedures in relation to blanket closures.

“Council has received a number of complaints and negative media coverage in recent months regarding council’s current grounds closures procedure,” report author Emily Morgan said.

“The newly developed guideline aims to empower the sporting community to have increased control over the grounds closure process for weekend fixtures.”

The procedure will be effective from July 13 and operate as a trial for the remainder of 2012, through summer, before a review ahead of winter 2013.

The draft policy stipulates that if ground users have any reservations about the condition before play a wet weather assessment form must be completed and forwarded to the recreation planning and development officer by 5pm the following Monday.

Any club found to be using a closed ground Monday to Friday will be subject to a penalty of $100.

If that use has damaged the ground an additional $500 penalty may apply.

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Richardson claims maiden Australia Cup series win

Gresford bull rider Lachlan Richardson has put himself in sight of a national senior title following his maiden Australia Cup Series win.
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The 19-year-old took out the Brendon Clark International at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Saturday night with an impressive performance, highlighted by triumphs in two of the three rounds.

This result reduces the gap between Richardson (pictured) and series leader Dave Kennedy on the overall standings of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Australia with two events left.

Richardson returned to the Hunter Valley for Saturday’s event following a successful stint in the US and he didn’t disappoint his home crowd.

After an 84.5 point ride in the opening round, Richardson struck back with an 89 point special on board George Hempenstalls, better known as Buster.

This gave Richardson a 5.5 point lead going into the championship round and after selecting Lab Rat, a two-time bucking bull of the year that Clark won his namesake event on last year, he received a score of 87.25 for his efforts.

The series now heads to Brisbane.

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No place for faint-hearted

Joby Patten.Maitland Pickers five-eighth Joby Patten struggles to recall many of the first grade games he has played in the Newcastle Rugby League competition but he remembers his first like it was yesterday.
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A 17-year-old Patten was on the bench for Central Charlestown in 2000 when captain-coach and former Newcastle Knights hooker Robbie McCormack called him onto the field.

“It was something I will never forget,” Patten said.

“I had been asked to sit on the bench by Robbie McCormack and when I was younger he was one of the players I used to look up to.

“I had already been asked to stand by a couple of times during the season and never got a go but with about 15 minutes left in a really tight game there was a head high tackle and all of a sudden there was a big blow up.

“Our guy was being led up the tunnel with his nose spread all over his face and my ears pricked up.

“I ran on and there were people still blowing up after we kicked the ball out but we got the mark, about 20 metres out and 15 in from touch and Robbie yelled out ‘Joby’.

“I had these blokes, who were absolutely seething, running at me full tilt and I got absolutely belted.”

That game was played against the Pickers at Maitland Sportsground and more than a decade on he will bring up his 200th first grade game at the same venue.

A rare milestone for any player to reach in their career according to Pickers coach Ron Griffiths.

“Two hundred grade games is a great achievement in itself but 200 in first grade shouldn’t be taken lightly,” he said.

“It is 10 years of commitment and shows the cloth that he is cut from.”

Patten joined the Pickers this season after five years at Cessnock, including three grand finals, five years at Kurri Kurri and a few at Central Charlestown.

He will be crucial for the Pickers on Saturday against the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs at Maitland Sportsground for the round 12 battle between third and fifth on the competition ladder.

Kick off is 3pm.

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Life, politics, religion and sport . . . it has all been discussed on the Seat of Knowledge

Noel Bishop would like to see the Seat of Knowledge reinstated in Dungog's main street.In the late 1950s and early 1960s the men of Dungog would while away the hours perched on a long bench in the centre of Dowling Street.
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Here they would talk about life, politics and anything else that took their fancy.

Over time the bench became known as the Seat of Knowledge and its occupants the carriers of many opinions.

Now, the descendant of the man who started the movement is calling for Dungog Shire Council to reinstate the once-famous seat.

“The Seat of Knowledge was one of those things that grew gradually out of the need for people to get together and talk, share, forge friendships ... that sort of thing,” Noel Bishop said.

“And, back then, the older men of the town would come and spend hours each day talking about politics and what the young people were doing with their long hair.”

Mr Bishop’s grandfather, George Arthur Bishop, appeared to be the nucleus of the Seat of Knowledge and would often lead conversations on anything and everything.

“During election time the politicians would come to town and talk on street corners then the men would return to the seat and analyse what had been said, and on budget night they would listen to the results on the radio then come to the seat and dissect that.

“They had opinions on everything, philosophies on life, on all aspects of life, and I’m sure many of them should have been at home with their wives.

“In hindsight they were basically a men’s shed 50 years ahead of its time and I think the Seat of Knowledge carried out a very important function for the people of the community at the time.”

Mr Bishop’s request went before council late last year but he is yet to receive a response.

The Mercury is also awaiting a response.

“The original seat has been demolished, but if we don’t step up and do something now, this part of history won’t be recorded and the memories will be lost,” Mr Bishop said.

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Cancer Research Forum to focus on Hunter survival rates

The incidence and survival rates of cancer across the Hunter New England Area will come into focus this week as part of the first Cancer Research Forum.
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According to the Cancer in New South Wales: Incidence and Mortality Report, the Hunter New England region has some of the highest cancer rates in the state, but survival rates are increasing and treatments continue to improve.

Research into diagnosing and treating cancer has been one of the main drivers of improved survival rates.

According to latest figures the Hunter New England Area Health Service has a higher than state average incidence of melanoma in males and females, a higher overall incidence of cancer in males, and a high incidence of lip cancer in males.

The Hunter also has higher mortality rates of prostate cancer than the state average.

The figures have also revealed that 104 Maitland men and women were diagnosed with melanoma between 2004-2008 and 906 local men were diagnosed with cancer during the same period.

Fifteen Maitland residents were diagnosed with lip cancer in that time and 328 died from cancer during the same four years.

The forum will be held at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday between 5.30pm and 7pm. Registrations are needed by Wednesday. For more information phone Sue Russell on 4923 0700 or email [email protected]南京夜网.au

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Elder’s trio have inside running

BIG NIGHT: Darren Elder has a busy card at Newcastle on Friday night.Darren Elder will have the inside running in three straight races at Newcastle International Paceway tomorrow night.
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The Louth Park trainer-driver will start from barrier one with Mosquito Coast, Tidy Module and Charli Dollar in races three, four and five respectively.

Mosquito Coast has a 2030 metre journey ahead, Tidy Module will travel a bit further (2550m), while Charli Dollar, trained by Darren’s father Brian, will run the mile (1609m) off a last start win.

All three races have $5000 prizemoney up for grabs.

Each of the 10 events are weighted the same at Newcastle tomorrow night and the Elder name appears in most.

Elder will contest all but two races with Impilo (trained by Glen Tippet), Paintmeacanvas, Noveau Shannon and Hezacamotion making up the rest of the contingent.

Racing at Newcastle starts at 6.24pm tomorrow.

Down the F3 the following night, Kurri Kurri driver Josh Osborn and Shane Tritton, who trains out of Keinbah, will chase the bigger prizemoney at harness racing headquarters in Menangle.

Osborn has drives on Aniromar (race four, number five) and Motu Miss Lilli (race seven, number one) while Tritton has a pair of runners in race five – Hawthornden and All About Art.

They are in the hunt for a combined prize pool of $56,000.

Racing at Menangle starts at 4.58pm on Saturday.

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Andrews takes his footy to highest level

NATIONAL STAGE: Nic Andrews will represent NSW Combined Independent Schools at the Australian schoolboys league titles.Hunter Valley Grammar School student Nic Andrews will fly the Maitland rugby league flag at the Australian Schoolboys Championships being held in Port Macquarie from Sunday.
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The talented teenager will be part of the NSW Combined Independent Schools (CIS) squad taking on the country’s best under-18 rugby league players at the annual week-long tournament.

Andrews, despite coming from a rugby union background, is no stranger to the national rugby league stage having participated in the under-15 version of the competition two years ago.

This time around the year 11 student will be up against more senior players, being aged just 16, but previous experience at this representative level will hold him in good stead.

The NSW CIS outfit play ACT in their opening encounter on Sunday before facing off against Combined Association Schools on Monday.

This completes the preliminary rounds before finals are played out from Wednesday to Friday.

The under-15 Australian Schoolboys Championships were held in Darwin last month and All Saints College students Brock Lamb and Jayden Butterfield helped NSW Combined Catholic Colleges to a 41-32 victory in the final.

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Be vigilant, not hysterical, says RSPCA

The RSPCA has warned dog owners to be vigilant following reports of more missing dogs.
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RSPCA Hunter shelter manager Samantha Shanahan said reports of missing dogs should prompt owners to secure their pets.

“People think their fences are secure until they find a small hole,” she said.

“Dogs can jump over [1.5 metre] fences and people should lock their gates.

“If anyone has any information that confirms illegal dog fighting rings exist they can call our hotline 1300 CRUELTY and our rangers will investigate.”

Tank the bulldog went missing and was found dead at Farley, with an autopsy ruling out foul play.

Tank’s owner Amy Cole said his death might not be suspicious but his disappearance from their Rutherford home on June 8 was.

“Since updating the Tank Facebook page a few people have suggested Tank was not stolen,” she said.

“I am very upset by this.”

Mrs Shanahan said there was a degree of hysteria concerning missing dogs at present.

“While we have seen the odd cut on dogs there is nothing conclusive to say it is a result of illegal dog fighting,” she said.

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Garbage gauntlet

UNACCEPTABLE: Paul Stoneman navigates his way through the 34 bins that line the footpath of William Street, East Maitland.Conditions placed on a high density housing development at East Maitland have been continually broken leaving pedestrians to navigate a maze of rubbish bins each week.
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As many as 34 bins are placed on the kerb in front of the 17-unit building in William Street each Monday night ready for collection the next morning.

And lined up along the kerb, the bins extend beyond the building’s 14 metre frontage, often blocking access to driveways on either side.

Neighbouring resident and spokesman Paul Stoneman flagged the issue with the council nearly five years ago and again this month.

“School children have to navigate their way past this unsightly, smelly labyrinth of garbage bins each Tuesday and we want council to uphold its promise that the bins be picked up internally,” he said.

Council issued this statement to the Mercury when asked about the issue: “The concerns raised will be looked into by council’s development surveillance officer [Daniel Beckett] and the appropriate action will be taken when all the facts are known.”

The issue was first noted in a report to the council, June 24, 2008 during the planning stages of the development.

“The applicant has stated that waste collection services shall be arranged with a private contractor, with the waste vehicles able to manoeuvre within the site,” report author Shannon Sullivan wrote.

Mr Stoneman told the council at that time a regular kerbside collection was unsuitable.

“Another 34 garbage bins on the kerb Tuesday mornings will be a pretty ugly site,” he said.

Mr Sullivan responded, in the same report, that it would not be an issue.

“The proposal has been designed to provide sufficient internal manoeuvring for waste vehicles to enter and exit the site in a forward manner,” he wrote.

Mr Stoneman said residents weren’t asking anything unreasonable, only that the council enforce the terms of the development approval.

“With all the heritage buildings in the area, East Maitland Public [School] just celebrating its 150th anniversary, it’s unsightly,” Mr Stoneman said.

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Raid on Winter Cup: Mackay has two chances in rich Brisbane race

CUP TILT: Richmond Vale trainer Jason Mackay has two starters in the Winter Cup at Brisbane.They may be different sexes and starting either end of the boxes but Young Snozz and Zipping Catra give Richmond Vale trainer Jason Mackay two chances in tonight’s group 1 Winter Cup final at Albion Park.
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Mackay’s charges, dog Young Snozz and bitch Zipping Catra, will jump from box two and eight respectively and have genuine chances of bringing home the $75,000 first prize from the Queensland track.

They both took out heats of the 520 metre series last week with impressive showings, most notably Young Snozz with a time of 30.37 seconds closely followed by Zipping Catra (30.75s) in a later event.

“There was three days of rain in the lead up to the heats but they both stood up,” Mackay said.

“Took two up and got two through which is a good start – but they have boxed well and they are both a chance [in the final].”

Young Snozz now has a career record of 10 wins from 26 starts after his startling Albion Park debut, while Richmond Oaks winner Zipping Catra has previous group 1 experience following an appearance in the Vic Peters final at Wentworth Park.

Mackay, one of the country’s leading trainers, is having a good run scoring a double with Tiz Now and Chisled at Bulli on Monday.

Mackay will be chasing more finals glory at Maitland tonight with two young up and comers in action. The experienced mentor is now looking after Fancy Tip, who will jump from box two in the Rod Higgins Bookmaker Mixed Final.

Fancy Tip arrived at his Richmond Vale kennels following last week’s heat win at the Maitland Showground track.

Fancy Tip is the fastest qualifier for the 450m decider after stopping the clock at 25.12 seconds on Thursday.

Mackay also has Gold Trump on a maiden run in the second event (450m) on the 10-race card.

Three heats of the Rural Country Cup will also be run during the twilight meeting while the 565m challenge (race five) should be evenly contested with three participants already breaking the 32 second barrier up against last week’s Maitland To City final winner Shelly Shelby.

Maitland Greyhound Club sponsorship and promotions manager Fred Robertson said Fancy Tip (race eight, number two) was his best bet of the day.

Racing starts at 4.02pm.

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