Extraordinary meeting on Council’s budget

Armidale Dumaresq councillors are reviewing 30 areas of Council expenditure.

THIRTY areas of Council expenditure will be reviewed by Armidale Dumaresq councillors on Monday as they juggle ways of making the books balance.

General manager Glenn Wilcox said councillors had spent the past six months workshopping ways of ensuring a balanced budget for Council.

On Monday, they will vote on recommendations to try rein-in expenditure.

One of the big-tickets items off the agenda is the planned $11 million upgrade of Armidale War Memorial Library.

Also under review are community services such as Armidale Volunteer Centre, environmental management such as weeding and spraying reserves and a return of open space to native vegetation areas.

“Council will work with the community and stakeholders to bring about the necessary changes to operations to achieve these goals [of achieving a surplus in 2019 and 2020],” Mr Wilcox said.

But also touted is Council’s biggest capital works expenditure of nearly $29 million.

Included in this are rehabilitating rural roads ($546,000), resealing roads ($960,000), phase 1of the new landfill ($12 million) and Erskine Street drainage ($890,000).

Monday’s meeting is open to the public and starts at 6pm in Council Chambers in Rusden Street.

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Owners welcome support

OWNERS of Avoca Homestead Ian and Barbara Law have welcomed the support shown to them as their property is considered for heritage listing.

Historic complex: Ian and Barbara Law showcase the Avoca homestead, and (above) the station store.

The couple bought Avoca Station 16 years ago after staying there with a cousin one year.

The property has made such an impression on Mr and Mrs Law, they accepted the offer from the State Heritage Office to apply for heritage status.

“So far we have had a lot of very good support,” Mrs Law said.

“We run Avoca as a hospitality business and people have said to us for quite some time that we should have it recognised as a heritage site.”

Mrs Law said local historian Harvey Johnson had done much of the work associated with applying for the status.

“It’s a lovely old place,” Mrs Law said. “People from all over the world come to stay at Avoca.

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Heritage list bid for Avoca

THE New South Wales Heritage Council is considering listing Avoca Station Complex on the State Heritage Register.

Bygone era: The homestead stables.

The homestead includes a stone and a drop-log dwellings and is located about 24km north of Wentworth township.

The official listing describes Avoca as once a primarily sheep grazing property, and was initially run in association with the neighbouring Popiltah Station.

It said the homestead complex was the hub of the station, providing accommodation and facilities for the pastoral operations.

In 1888, 120,000 sheep were shorn at Avoca with new Wolseley shearing machines.

The wool clip was transported by paddle steamer from the woolshed downstream via the Darling River to the Murray River.

Former owner Daniel H. Cudmore developed the station and installed pumps to irrigate lucerne and other fodder crops next to the homestead.

Mr Cudmore was a leader in the Wentworth region in the 1870s and 1880s.

He was honorary magistrate, and served as sheriff of the county and chairman of the Wentworth District Council and Agricultural Society.

Mr Cudmore helped fund construction of the state heritage-registered St John’s Church in Wentworth and paid its vicar. Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli encouraged district residents to support the application.

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Pierce Brothers on the big stage

LIFE has been getting crazy for the Pierce Brothers.

Pat and Jack started their musical careers as buskers. They now play to festival crowds that number in the tens of thousands.

“We still can’t believe it. It’s crazy that we are getting used to it,” Pat said.

“We still love busking in a place like Bourke Street where you can draw a crowd of 400 people in.

“When an audience like GTM is waiting for you it’s a bit of a mind blow.”

The Pierce Brothers have a new single dropping later in the year as well as a European tour.

“It’s been really hectic and we have been really focusing on the EP,” Pat said.

“We were hoping it would be released for this tour but we had a scheduling problem so we released the single as a little teaser.”

Pat promises the EP will be fantastic.

“We have never had this world class sound before and we’re excited about it,” he said.

“It’s an absolutely new experience working with a major label.

“We took about 19 songs to them and sat down to work out which were the best. It was a really great experience.”

A great experience is also what crowds can expect from the brothers at GTM.

“There will be a lot of energy, a didgeridoo, crowd singing and jumping around,” he said.

The Pierce Brothers play at Bendigo GTM at 11am.

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Ecca the enigma

ELECTRO-PUNK is a genre that is hard to pin down.

It may be best described as the enigmatic Ecca Vandal who will play at GTM tomorrow.

“It is a hard one to pin point. It’s maybe a post-grunge (sound) with a view to the dance floor,” she said.

“People have said it reminds them a bit of the Prodigy or of early Gwen Stefani. There’s all sorts of different things that align to it.

“There’s definitely a heavier side to (my sound) and some beats for the electro side of things.”

The Melbourne musician has only played a handful of shows and will be exposed to a bigger crowd at GTM.

“My set will be short and fired up. There’s a lot of stuff to get in there. I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

“It’s a good opportunity and I’m so stoked to be going.”

Vandal was influenced early by punk and 90s soul.

“I used to listen to early 90s CDs, soul music and jazz. I definitely have an influence from punk for the heavier elements of my music.”

After GTM, Vandal’s learning experiences continue when she heads to Canada for Canadian Music Week.

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Show me your beef wellington

by Justine Doherty

Social media getting you down? Is your partner spending more time on Facebook than on you?

While we can’t offer any solutions, you can take comfort in the fact you’re not alone.

A publicity release for a cafe chain has released statistics about technology use and manners this week.

The report commissioned by The Coffee Club looked at whether the devices designed to connect us instantly are in fact, diminishing the quality of our relationships.

It said NSW residents were the most guilty of interrupting time with family and friends to take a picture of their food/drink to upload to social media.

I don’t know about you, but the NOM NOM NOM posts on Facebook are highlights of my news feed and I never tire of seeing what people had for dinner or brekky. Especially if it was particularly unusual or in a fabulous or weird setting or looked like something that came out the back end of their pet.

My partner and I evolved the idea further by putting up a picture of our big seafood platter dish from the Balkan restaurant just off Taylor Square at Darlinghurst.

But it wasn’t while it was groaning with seafood – it was after, when we’d left only an oily film and some squashed lemon. We then continued this theme over the weeks, which was briefly taken up by others.

It was the ultimate Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah of one-upmanship – we weren’t even giving viewers the delight of the sight, just the aftermath as we burped with satisfaction.

I don’t see uploading food pics as rude as it’s usually celebrating in a public way the meal you’re about to have with your dining partner.

It’s when they sit there scrolling through their news feed that it’s rude. Very rude. Especially if it’s just the two of you.

The survey also said NSW had the highest number of people who believed that phones and internet were reasonable replacements for face-to-face time in relationships. Welcome to the age of the Jetsons.

It also said 1 in 3 Aussies acknowledge that it could be anywhere between a month and a year before they would catch up with their friends in person. That pretty much describes hermit me. Doesn’t mean I don’t love ’em though.

BTW, pictured above ismy lunch from last Thursday.

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Focus on start a big goal for Pios

VERSATILE: Jayden Burke from Golden Square attacks for the Bendigo Pioneers in their clash with Dandenong Stingrays. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

FIERCE intensity from the first contest is a goal for the Bendigo Pioneers in Saturday’s TAC Cup football match against Eastern Ranges at Epsom-Huntly Reserve.

Despite a winless start in their opening four matches,Pioneers coach Brett Henderson said the team’s workrate had lifted markedly the past two matches against Dandenong and Geelong.

“Against Eastern we have to be switched on from the start of the game,” Henderson said.

“We have spoken about cracking in from the first contest and keep working.

“Now it’s about actions and mindset.”

Henderson said a key for Bendigo would be maintaining a high level of pressure when Eastern has possession.

“They are a dangerous team when they have time and space.

“Eastern flicks the ball around a lot by hand, so it’s important we pressure them.”

The Pioneers will not only work on strong defensive actions, but also on quicker movement of the ball.

“Defence is vital, but we have to look at attacking play and putting heat on them.”

Among the changes for the Pioneers are the return of Billy Mahony, Mitchell Trait and Kobe Mutch.

The pacy Jonty Marciano from Red Cliffs makes his TAC Cup debut, as does Eaglehawk’sMatthew Higgs.

The Bendigo and Eastern match starts at 1pm.

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Lead pollution group to work with community

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THE newly established eight-member North Lake Macquarie Community Lead Reference group has been asked to meet as soon as possible.

The group’s membership – Karen McCraw (school representative), Nicole Gerrard, Emma Hale, Anne Sullivan, Tony Cade, Lloyd Hill (business representative), Wendy Harrison (Council representative), and Rob Denton (Council representative) – was announced this week.

The group, to be chaired by Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, will be a conduit between the community and the lead expert working group that was formed in December.

“Both of these groups will play an equally important role in reviewing previous work undertaken in relation to the contamination of soil with lead and lead slag from the former Pasminco lead smelter and in developing proposals to address any issues raised as a result of the review,’’ EPA chief executive Barry Buffier said.

Mr Buffier said he had asked the group to meet as soon as possible.

Mr Piper said he looked forward to working with the group and providing input into any future actions or recommendations made about lead contamination in the region.

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to work with the community, environment minister, government agencies and experts to address lingering concerns about the lead legacy once and for all.”

But not everyone is impressed by the group.

Boolaroo Action Group member Jim Sullivan said he pessimistic about what the group could achieve. ‘‘They are all good people and I welcome their assistance,’’ Mr Sullivan has been a vocal campaigner on the issue of lead contamination, said.

‘‘At the end of the day the EPA need a community reference group to sort out this problem; it simply needs the political to fix it.’’

Mr Sullivan said a similar group was formed in the early 1990s, however, it was disbanded several years later.

‘‘My view is the reference group is a stalling tactic. I doubt it will achieve anything,’’ Mr Sullivan said.

Producer on show in China

Produce showcased: Andrew Nemtsas, production manager at the Murray River Organics processing plant at Mourquong and (below) quality assurance staff working on the blue belt. Pictures: Carmel ZacconeLOCAL dried fruit grower and producer Murray River Organics will be taking part in Asia’s largest food and beverage show next week.

Two representatives of the company will attend SIAL China, which attracts 55,000 visitors each year with more than 2000 exhibitors.

The company, which has a processing plant at Mourquong and grows produce on surrounding blocks, will be one of nine promoting their business at the Australian Organic stand.

Murray River Organics director Erling Sorensen said the Shanghai event would draw a large crowd and looked forward to being more involved in China.

“It’s significant in that it’s the largest trade show for food producers and obviously the free trade agreement with China will have an impact on what we do,” Mr Sorensen said.

“Currently, there is a 10 per cent tariff on organic dried fruit, which is what we do and that will come down to zero.”

He said the company planned to meet with existing customers as well as look to build their customer base further.

“We’ve got a number of customers up there who we will be meeting with and of course we are looking to expand our market,” he said.

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