Month: September 2019

Sale secures mill’s future

THE Kalangadoo Gunns timber plant has been sold to a South East forestry company as part of the wood processor’s divestment program of non-core assets.
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News of the sale was broken to the site’s 18 employees early yesterday morning, confirming South East Pine Sales had secured the deal.

The Border Watch understands the employees were jubilant with news their jobs would be transferred over to the new owner, given the uncertainty in the sector.

The sale follows ongoing concerns that the site – which has been operating since the 1930s – was on the verge of being mothballed.

The Gunns Auspine mill at Tarpeena – which employs around 200 people and is one of the largest processing sites in the region – has yet to be sold.

A spokesperson for Gunns yesterday confirmed an agreement had been reached between the parties.

While the sale price had not been released, she said Gunns was pleased it had been sold as a “going concern” and all jobs would be transferred.

“It is good news for the mill employees and the township of Kalangadoo,” the spokesperson said.

South East Pine Sales co-owner Karen Forster said she was pleased with the company’s new purchase.

“It will be business as usual at Kalangadoo,” Ms Forster said.

Explaining she had confidence in the long-term future of the timber sector, she said the industry was cyclical and experienced “peaks and troughs”.

She said they planned to expand the business and grow market opportunities.

“We will be under pressure for the short-term to reach our goal ahead,” said Ms Forster, who has been involved in the sawmilling sector since 1986.

“Our plan is to better the business – we think we can do it better.”

While explaining they sold the majority of their products into the Melbourne market, she said they intended to expand into other key areas.

According to a Kalangadoo Gunns worker, who did not want to be named, there were just 18 people left at the plant after it was downsized in recent years.

“All the workers are pretty pumped with the news because of the uncertainty over the future of the site,” the worker said.

“There is a really good vibe here.”

The employee said it was also great news for the small township of Kalangadoo.

“In the past 17 years, 14 businesses have closed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wattle Range Mayor Peter Gandolfi welcomed the news of the sale yesterday.

“It is very positive news for Kalangadoo and the workers at the mill,” Mr Gandolfi said.

He said the future of the Kalangadoo plant had been in doubt because of Gunns’ financial position.

“There were fears that it was on the verge of closing,” Mr Gandolfi said.

“I am very pleased the plant is back in local hands and has been bought by a family-owned business.”

He said the sale was timely given the uncertainty in the regional timber industry.

“It shows there is still confidence in the region,” Mr Gandolfi said.

OPTIMISTIC: South East Pines Sales co-owner Mark Forster stands with stacks of timber at his sawmill near Mount Gambier.

Eighteen cheers for miracle twins

FORMER Oberon twins Sharni and Blair Thompson will reacha milestone tomorrow when they turn 18.
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Sharni and Blair, who now live in Newcastle with theirparents Lori and Graham, are the grandchildrenof Oberon residents Lorraine and Colin Foran and Cheryl and the late RussellThompson.

The family was based in Oberon back in 1994 when Loriwent into premature labour and was rushed to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.

The twins were delivered on August 31, three monthspremature.

Sharni was born first and weighed 760 grams and measured26cm. Blair weighed 860 grams and was 29cm long. They were not expected to lastthe day.

With the assistance of modern technology – and a miracle– the twins not only survived but will both graduate from school this year.

The twins were hospitalised for 92 days. They spent aweek and a half in Orange, before returning home to Oberon. The family livedwith grandparents Cheryl and Russell, who were managing the Tourist Hotel inOberon at the time.

The twins were on oxygen until they were six months old.

After much fundraising from Oberon community, Sharnireceived her first cochlear implant aged four.

When the twins turned eight, Lori and Graham moved thefamily to Newcastle so Sharni could attend St Dominics, a specialised schoolfor hearing-impaired children. With one-on-one therapy, Sharni moved forwardand eventually attended main stream high school.

Last week, Sharni received a new cochlear implant.

Sharni loves horses and rides for Riding for the DisabledAssociation at Raymond Terrace. She was selected to ride at this year’s RoyalEaster Show.

Blair is focusing on school and is interested in pursuinga multi media course.

The family will spend five days in Melbourne to celebratethe milestone, before returning to Oberon to celebrate with their extendedfamily.

NOW: Blair and Sharni Thompson will turn 18 tomorrow

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Premier’s wind energy statement a hoax

CAN you spot the difference?
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One of the media releases in the picture above is from the office of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu. The other is a fake.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth distributed the hoax release (on the right) to journalists this morning.

Designed to look like an official release from the government’s media unit, the release included fake quotes from Mr Baillieu announcing a $552 million adjustment package for Victoria’s wind energy sector.

“One year ago today my government made good on our election promise to stop the Victorian wind industry in its tracks,” the Premier was alleged to have said in the fake release.

“Already more than $887 million worth of developments have already be (sic) stalled or lost.”

The release outlined millions of dollars in spending for local communities and businesses affected by the decision.

In a small print at the bottom of the release, a disclaimer called the information a “parody”.

“This media release has been produced by Friends of the Earth Melbourne and uses parody and satire to comment on the public functions of Premier Baillieu,” it said.

“It does not contain genuine quotations from Premier Baillieu nor iterations of Victorian Government policy.”

Friends of the Earth campaign coordinator Cam Walker defended the release which he said was a stunt to generate publicity.

“I don’t believe it has backfired,” he said.

“We received legal advice that if we included a disclaimer at the bottom of the release we were entirely safe, so we decided to do that to draw attention to the loss of jobs and opportunity in Victoria’s wind industry over the past year.”

Mr Walker said a government transition package was urgently required for the wind industry.

“I have received a large number of responses from people who laughed about the release, including journalists and other stakeholders who agree we need an assistance package,” he said.

A spokesperson for the government was unimpressed.

One is real, one is a fake. Can you tell which? PICTURE: ANDREW RAMADGE

“The Friends of the Earth are as misleading as their press release,” the spokesperson said.

RMIT University journalism academicAlex Wake said producing fake press releases was “despicable”.

“Parody and satire are really important things in society, but they havevery little place in the news and it is not appropriate to mimic media releasesin this way,” Ms Wake said.

“Journalists should absolutely be looking at things very carefully butunfortunately too many of them are time poor and working in badly resourcednewsrooms, so to try and make their job any harder is despicable.”

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Glimpses of glamour at Garah

THERE were gorgeous gowns and garments at the Garah Glimpses of Glamour fashion show last Thursday.
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The P&C of Garah Public School held the event to raise funds for the committee.

Committee member, Justine Malone, said she was extremely pleased with the turnout on the day.

“We reached our limit of people and sold 100 tickets for the show, which we were ecstatic about,” she said.

The committee raised $4,300 on the day.

The main highlight of the day for many was seeing the garments modelled from different eras.

“There was a great response to the ladies bringing in their old clothes, and I’m sure it brought back memories for them as well,” Mrs Malone said.

The children from Garah Public School acted out a poem about the races for the crowd.

There were also two guest speakers who attended the day.

“Katrina Humphries and Mary Long were fabulous. Katrina talked about her love of gowns and Mary gave everyone tips for their gardens,” she said.

There were also three wedding dresses on show.

“They had to guess the eras of each dress to win. Maureen Arthur guessed correctly with 1920, 2000 and 1950,” Mrs Malone said.

There were many stalls that came for the day.

“Thank you to everyone who came along and helped out, thanks to the store holders and sponsors also,” she said.

Garah Fashion Show

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$3m expansion project begins

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Theschool currently has about 500 students but when it takes in the full yearseven cohorts in 2015 this will grow to 700, principal Domenic Camera said thisweek.

Theschool population was continuing to grow, even without the expansion caused bythe year sevens coming in.

“Wehave had 14 new enrolments in term two this year, six at the start of termthree and more are coming all the time,” he said.

“Wehave been scoped for 800 with our current facilities and the department willreview it regularly.”

Money forthe school’s building and upgrade program was allocated in the last statebudget and the school community had been working on the plans since last year.

Theplanned new purpose-built student services building was a significantdevelopment, Mr Camera said.

It wouldhouse the school nurses, psychologists, Aboriginal education officers and houseleaders.

“Itwill accommodate all counselling services and be very flexible,” Mr Camerasaid.

Moreclassrooms could be built later behind that building, on the western side, asneeded.

Theschool hall would be upgraded, with an entry statement in the new foyer, akitchen and improved toilets.

Thegymnasium’s toilets and change rooms should also be upgraded.

“Wehope to have all the toilets done,” Mr Camera said.

Theschool access roadway and car parks should also be upgraded, making them easierto negotiate and more functional.

The performingarts centre would be radically upgraded, refitted and carpeted. It would includea new green room, new recording studio and new music practice rooms. Musicwould be brought into the arts centre.

All ofthe work should be completed early next year, Mr Camera said.

Thestudent services building should be completed by early February and the hall bythe end of February or early March.

BRIGHT FUTURE: the builders get busy as Collie Senior High School principal Domenic Camera and school captains Lachlan Dent and Jacinta Byrne recheck the plans to see what they are getting for the government’s $3 million investment.

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